Thursday, 25 October 2018

Campo Blanco, Whitefield

Campo Blanco, Whitefield
About bloody time really. We shamelessly stalked the opening of Campo Blanco after a summer of whinging 'we need a good tapas place round here'. Then one day we saw a sign go up, there was activity inside, and we were poised. A right little temptress on Instagram, they were driving me crackers! Then on Sunday we finally found ourselves spending a damp afternoon sampling their wares.

We walked in to see a well stocked bar, packed with some unusual bottles and an eager barman. I got chatting to Aaron, who co-owns Campo Blanco with his fiancĂ© Faye Jennings, who told me all about their future plans and how they've strived to make it as inclusive as possible. Gluten free-ers, veggies and vegans worry not, for you will be fully catered for. He talked passionately about their organic wines, and how they make families welcome whilst not interrupting couples wanting some peace. 
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
The menu is extensive without feeling like you're faced with a wall in a Chinese takeaway, and once agin provided the age old conundrum of 'what in the hell do we order?' I think we did alright you know. 

Flatbread with manchego and chorizo: Thin, crispy bread with cheese and meat, which I really wish we had saved to mop up sauces. Note for the future. Or just order more.
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
Mussels - steamed green shell mussels in a green chilli and parsley sauce: These were Phil's choice, as you know I don't do shellfish as a rule. I did however steal some of that sauce, which was absolutely delicious. He demolished these pretty quickly.
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
Fried peppers - pan roasted baby peppers drizzled in green mojo (homemade green sauce made with coriander, parsley, garlic, chilli, shallots and sherry vinegar): A lovely piquancy to these. Could have been a little softer, but still great flavour.  
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
Sweet potato fries with bravas sauce and fried onions: Poor picture, great dish. We both loved the large pieces of onion on these. Great for dipping in sauce if you've been greedy and eaten all your bread early doors.
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
Crispy chilli chicken - fried chicken thighs coated in a homemade spice blend served with chillies, spring onions and chipotle mayo: Imagine if KFC was actually good, and didn't leave you feeling dead inside. Bingo. Not a smattering of grease, these were beautifully spiced and that chipotle mayo was top notch.
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
Steak medallions - tender medallions of beef, drizzled in chimi churri (homemade green drizzle with pepper, onion, olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika and ancho chilli): One of my two favourite dishes. Zingy, fresh chimi churri was utterly perfect on the tender beef.
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
Black pudding and blue cheese - traditional Spanish black pudding served with a blue pico cheese sauce: My other favourite. That sauce is unbelievable. If you don't like blue cheese, do not fret. It's incredibly delicate, and is the perfect partner to the local black pudding. I must insist that you order this. 
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
Churros with dulce de leche: Churros have to be ordered if they are on the menu. It's essential. I have to say, these are some of the best churros I've ever had, and this greedy girl has eaten a lot. They had the balance of crisp exterior and soft interior just right. 
Campo Blanco, Whitefield
We had such a lovely time at Campo Blanco that we are already planning to go back for brunch, and another trip for cocktails in the evening. I loved the passion of everyone involved, from the ideas being cooked up by Aaron and Faye, to their chef wanting every dish to look just perfect. They are nice people living their dream, and taking us along for the ride. I can't wait to see what they have up their sleeve in the future, as this seems to be an ever evolving venture.

Go here for a relaxed lunch, or enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy evening service. Either way, you're going to eat some great food! I'll report back on that brunch.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Rock Spice - Stretford, Manchester

Rock Spice, Manchester
Bubbles, lots of lovely food, good company and even a bit of magic. Sounds like a fun filled Friday evening to me.

Rock Spice is tipped to be a new breed of Asian restaurant, taking a step away from the local curry house, and fusing Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi cuisines with Western influences. They appear to be setting their sights high, with another three sites planned for Blackpool, Liverpool and London, with 20-30 eventually on the cards. Literally in the shadows of Old Trafford's East Stand, it's an ideal place to go pre or post match, although I fear if I went beforehand, I would sleep through the game. Although that may be a blessing at the moment...
Rock Spice, Manchester
Bubbles were flowing on arrival, and we soon spotted blogging pals Charlie and Simon (Gin Fuelled Blue Stocking), and Carl and Stephen (The Gourmet Gays).

So to the food. We were given lots of dishes to try, which the team felt showcased what they had on offer. Apologies in advance for the poor lighting, we were not in a photo friendly spot! I'm sure you'll get the gist though.

Tandoori fish and vegetable canapés: Lovely bitesized pieces of white fish or vegetables covered in tandoori style spices, with tamarind and mint dips. Perfect with a glass of fizz. I'm not even going to lie, our table ate a lot of these.
Rock Spice, Manchester
Golgappas topped with panipuri: It was very unclear what was going on here. One was mint, the other was 'spicy', both had a little panipuri on the top, filled with spicy onions. Jeez Louise these packed a punch! A little strong for me, but a fun concept which got the table talking. They are hot dammit. 
Rock Spice, Manchester
Rock Spice, Manchester
Between courses, the delightful Harry Robson (fresh out of Hogwarts) was entertaining us with some magic tricks. I'm the first to say I hate table magic, and most magicians in general, but Harry is a right little diamond. He brings humour and some really clever tricks. Met with a table of over-thinkers and hand watchers, he managed to baffle us all by getting Simon's card into a sealed envelope. You're a wizard Harry.
Rock Spice, Manchester
Mixed grill platter: I'm pretty sure this is the Bolton influence in this 'fusion' style of cuisine. A big platter of meat which was very well received at this stage, as we were mightily peckish. My highlight was the charred spicy lamb chop.
Rock Spice, Manchester
Mixed pepper and mango salsa: Who even knew that I'd be sat here raving about a salad? This was absolutely delicious. Shards of tricoloured peppers with ribbons of carrot, mango and coriander. I could have eaten this whole platter. I want this with every curry from now on. A real star of the show considering it was something so simple.
Rock Spice, ManchesterChicken biriyani: God bless the arrival of carbs. My cousin's wife is from Pakistan (special mention to Sakba), and makes the best chicken biriyani. Very few come close, but I have to say this was pretty near. The chicken was well marinaded, and the rice had taken on rich flavours from the cooking liquor. 
Rock Spice, Manchester
Channa masala: Lifelong carnivore, absolutely loving this dish. The only one that we ate every scrap of. Cooked down to perfection, this was best paired with fluffy naan bread. Could just have this now. Furious.
Rock Spice, Manchester
Chicken afzaa: A pleasant creamy dish, which I expected to taste like a korma because of its colour. It was actually nowhere near as sweet, yet still very creamy.
Rock Spice, Manchester
Lamb karahi: Tender slow-cooked lamb in a thick, fragrant sauce. Great with rice. It was nice to see three very different sauces showcased over the variety of curry dishes.
Rock Spice, Manchester
Garlic butter naan bread: The lovely fluffy variety, rather than the type where the edges are like toast. The addition of melted butter infused with garlic kept them wonderfully moist too. Perfect for dipping in those sauces.
Rock Spice, Manchester
The chefs at Rock Spice had a lot of people to serve on Friday, all on the same sitting. Much respect to the kitchen, who managed to turn out great food which was fresh and piping hot throughout the night. Evenings spent eating lots of tasty food, catching up with friends, and sipping bubbles are the best type. Huge thanks go to Caroline and the Rock Spice team for our invite, and a very pleasant evening indeed.

Disclaimer: This was a free press event. I was not coerced into saying nice things, and to the best of my knowledge, no spells were put on me by Harry in order to sway my judgement. I just really like curry. 

Monday, 22 October 2018

Levanter, Ramsbottom

Levanter, Ramsbottom
I gave a huge cheer as Ramsbottom's Levanter won 'Casual Restaurant of the Year' at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards. I don't mind telling you that they got my vote after our visit a few weeks ago. Hidden behind the main flurry of shops and restaurants, Levanter and sister restaurant Baratxuri are nestled on Square Street, which feels like a peaceful little place to spend an afternoon eating tapas. 

First rule of tapas - staring blankly at the menu, fully aware of the fact that I will be unable to choose an adequate amount of dishes, owing to the fact 'they all sound so nice'. Cue a meat platter! Happy days. Lots of carnivorous 'bits' to keep me happy. Look at this meat!
Levanter, Ramsbottom
I will always over-order carbs. Every time. However, Levanter's sourdough comes with these nice salsa and oil/vinegar dipping pots, which made me feel continental rather than greedy. 
Levanter, Ramsbottom
Levanter, Ramsbottom
Garbanzos - chickpeas, spinach and egg with cumin seeds, garlic and breadcrumbs: A festival of textures awaits in this dish. Not only is it packed with flavour, but the breadcrumbs and slightly toasted edges on the chickpeas gave a nice crunch too. Pop open that yolk!
Levanter, Ramsbottom
Rabo de Toro - ox tail braised in Rioja, served with tomatoes, celery, carrots, butter beans and garlic: Star of the show. Beef in red wine will always be a hearty little number, but add in those smooth butter beans, which seem to have been steeped in the flavour of the dish, and it's sent to another stratosphere.
Levanter, Ramsbottom
Merluza Y Salsa de Tomate - Hake fillet seared on the plancha, with sun-dried tomato and anchovy salsa: I'm not a fan of seafood but Phil is, so we always get at least one fish dish. He loved this one, which came served on a generous bed of salsa. This was a little too fishy for me, but even I loved the meaty hake.
Levanter, Ramsbottom
It's always nice to have a ride out to Ramsbottom at the weekend, especially when wonderful food like this awaits. All the staff were warm and friendly, spoke about the dishes with some vigour, and seemed genuinely pleased to serve their guests. We got chatting to a nice couple who were sat next to us too, who were already planning their next trip, which would involve staying over and lots of wine! 

Go here for a relaxed dining experience when you have lots of time. Do not rush this one. Your food comes when it's ready, so you could happily spend all afternoon here without even noticing the time. We're also plotting an evening trip, and a visit to sister restaurant Baratxuri. 
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