The Grove Restaurant, Cromer, Norfolk, England

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This is the second of three guest posts from, Phil, a good friend of mine – all restaurants visited while on holiday in Norfolk, England.

The Grove is attached to The Grove Hotel (review to follow separately) but operates as a restaurant in the evenings.

We were based at the hotel during our Norfolk foodie trip so decided to eat in the restaurant on our first night.

NB – Even though we had booked a room for three nights we still had to book a table in the restaurant.

On arrival, we were shown to the bar area and given our menus to peruse whilst partaking in a postprandial gin and tonic. We tried the local brand of gin, Black Shuck with Fever-tree tonic £7.50 a pop. Nice but not the most flavoursome gin and we both prefer Norfolk Gin (although it’s not widely available so we always buy a bottle or two when we visit).

Anyway, it was something to sip while we looked at the wooden menus. Yes, wooden. Quite a nice touch but you wouldn’t want to drop one on your foot.

The Grove’s menu is British through and through, well mostly British as I’m pretty sure that “Muntjac faggot open lasagne” (which was a starter) is half Chinese deer half Italian carbohydrate.

We quite like the idea of having a good old peruse and booze before being shown to your table as it avoids having to keep telling the waiter you need another 5 minutes to choose and then waiting 15 minutes for them to come back and take your order from your table.

As we finished our drinks, a waiter appeared took our food and wine order then showed us through to our table.

The restaurant is nicely laid out although, oddly, there were two separate dining rooms.

We were seated at the leftmost table in the picture directly above.

The other half won the battle for best PWP (People Watching Position).

We ordered some handmade sourdough bread which came with olive oil and balsamic glaze £3.95 and olives again £3.95. Not sure I like paying for bread (in restaurants, I don’t mind paying for it at Simmons!) but it was tasty as were the olives.

I also went for a chicken satay starter. There were three to choose from. Here’s the one with the coriander. A bit pricey at £8.95 but the chicken was tender and very well-seasoned.

We ordered two glasses of Malbec (£4.75 a glass) to have with our meals.

The PW (People Watcher) ordered Mrs Beeton’s lamb shoulder (£19.95) while I went for the pan-fried halibut (£19.95).

Most of the menu was gluten free.

The lamb shoulder got the thumbs up from PW. I didn’t enjoy the halibut. There was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on taste-wise (perhaps the lemongrass) the accompanying smoked paprika risotto was very good although it overpowered the fish. Overall, it just didn’t work for me, so much so, I forgot to take a photo but here’s the lamb.

Desserts were delicious. Salted Caramel Tart with Chocolate Ice Cream and Grove Cheesecake which came with passion fruit, sweet cicely (yep, we had to ask too) and garden elderflower sorbet. £7.25 each (as were all desserts, cheeseboard was £9.95.

As an aside, the hotel has extensive grounds (there’s even glamping) and a lot of the produce used comes straight from the kitchen garden and large vegetable patch (not the fish obviously) and it really does taste better for it.

We’ll be back but not for the halibut.

The Grove
95 Overstrand Road,
Cromer,
Norfolk,
NR27 0DJ.

http://thegrovecromer.co.uk/restaurant/

01263 512412

enquiries@thegrovecromer.co.uk

Upstairs at No 1 Cromer Restaurant, Norfolk, England

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I have three guest posts from, Phil, a good friend of mine – all restaurants visited while on holiday in Norfolk, England. Here is the first and the following two will appear over the next week.

No 1 is a Restaurant in Cromer, Norfolk.

It gets its name from being at, err, Number 1, New Street in, err, Cromer.

It has a traditional fish and chip takeaway and restaurant on the lower floor but also has “Upstairs at No1” which, offers a Modern British menu and fish and chips!

The restaurant is the latest venture of Michelin starred chef Galton Blackiston, a regular on Saturday Morning Kitchen and owner of Morston Hall which, if you can afford it, is well worth a visit for the tasting menu evenings they hold there.

No 1 isn’t quite in the same league (all the lightbulbs work at Morston Hall) but is worth a visit if you are on a trip to the Norfolk coast.

We were booked in ‘Upstairs’ which has its own entrance and two flights of (yup, you guessed) stairs that lead to the restaurant. Once inside and upstairs we were welcomed and shown straight to our table. It’s a nice clean restaurant with a modern feel. Light and airy with plenty of window seats which afford a good view of the sea and Cromer Pier, people frolicking in the waves and (if you get lucky) the chance of a stunning sunset.

For our meal we chose, wait for it… fish and chips! Not very adventurous, especially as there were some more, potentially, interesting offerings such as Cromer Crab Burger or Sri Lankan Monkfish & Prawn Curry on offer (menu here) and some of the dishes being served looked and smelled great. But we had heard these were the best fish and chips around so it had to be done if only to see if it could possibly be worth £12 a head for cod or haddock and chips!  Still, before we got stuck in to the mains, we thought it would be rude not to try a few dishes from the Bites Menu. All the dishes were £6.50 or you could pick three for £18. We went for the Popcorn Cockles, Mushy Pea Fritters and Grilled Mackerel.

All three were very well cooked and tasty with the Mackerel, which was chargrilled and served with a pickled cabbage being our favourite. The cockles were good too as were the pea fritters although there were three of them when two would have done as they were quite filling. Afterwards we did think that maybe we could have had six dishes from the Bites menu and ate ‘tapas style’.

Anyway, we had our mains to look forward to. I chose haddock and chips while my partner opted for the traditional cod. Both portions were huge. Both portions cooked to perfection. Both portions polished off. Were they worth £12? Well the equivalent from my favourite local chippy would come in at £8 or £9 so I’d say yes given the quality and the fact you’re eating in and don’t have to do the washing up (or open the dishwasher door).

Oh yes, nearly forgot. We decided to share a dessert. We were too full to get one each and I’m not a huge fan of the pudding. The closest thing to strawberries and cream they had (the dessert menu is constantly changing) was this.

It was delicious. Strawberries, mango panna cotta with the compulsory jus and tarragon

All in all, a very good meal, nice relaxed setting, good service and a pleasant view of the sea. Only gripe was the wine. Call me picky, but when does it ever make sense for 3 x 250ml glasses of a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon to be cheaper than buying a 750ml bottle?! Other than that, the wine tasted very smooth – as it should have done at £21.50 (or £7.10 a glass).

Definitely one to visit if you’re ever in the area but, unless you have a real craving for cod (or haddock) and chips, maybe go mad on the Bites Menu or choose something more adventurous from the main menu. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

No 1 Cromer
1 New Street,
Cromer
Norfolk NR27 9HP

http://www.no1cromer.com/

Opening Times 2017
Fish & Chip Restaurant Downstairs – 01263 512 316

Out of Season: (This is non school and bank holidays)
Monday to Saturday 12 – 8.00pm
Sunday: 12 – 7.00pm

Holiday Season:
Monday to Thursday 12 – 8.30pm
Friday and Saturday 12 – 9.00pm
Sunday 12 – 8.00pm

Upstairs at No1 – For bookings
call 01263 515983 or email eat@no1cromer.com

Out of Season: (This is non school and bank holidays)
Closed Monday and Tuesday (except in School or Bank holidays)

From June 27th Open Tuesdays 12 – 3pm & 5.00 – 8.30pm
Wednesday – Friday : 12 – 3pm & 5.00 – 8.30pm
Saturday: 12 – 8.30pm
Sunday: 12 – 7.00pm

Holiday Season: From 17th July
Monday – Thursday: 12 – 3.00 pm & 5.8.30 pm
Friday – 12-3.00 pm    5 -9.00 pm
Saturday: 12 – 9.00 pm
Sunday: 12 – 8.00pm

Zvonařka Bar/Restaurant, Prague, Czech Republic

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Zvonařka benefits from a huge outdoor terrace that looks out towards Nusle.

There’s also plenty of space inside (empty until 10pm during summer).

But space isn’t the only reason to visit – the beer and food are pretty good as well.

Gambrinus 10° 0,5 l is 38Kc
Pilsner Urquell 12° 0,5 l is 46Kc
I prefer Gambrinus, even if the price were the same.

The steaks are pretty good here, but the prices have slowly crept up. A 200g Pfeffersteak – Beef Sirloin with a mild Pepper sauce is now 375Kc plus 45Kc for steak fries.

On my last visit I tried the Salmon Tagliatelle Salmon (205Kc) and it was actually pretty good. Of course it wasn’t like being in Italy, but I’d have it again.

Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area – especially during the long Prague summer.

Zvonařka
Šafaříkova 1
Praha 2 Vinohrady

Tel:224 251 990

info@restauracezvonarka.cz

www.restauracezvonarka.cz

Monday-Thursday 11:30-24:00
Friday 11:30-01:00
Saturday 12:00-24:00
Sunday    12.00-23.00

Prague Metro Line A running historic metro cars – Saturday 12th August 2017

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Prague Metro Line A (the green line) celebrates its 39th anniversary on Saturday 12th August 2017. From 10:15am – 3pm the DPP will run an older style 81-71 model (ran from 1990 to 2005) with drivers in period uniform. There should also be older-style announcements – although I’m not sure how different they will be.

To my non-trainspotter eye, the 81-71 model doesn’t actually look that much different to the current versions. I’m hoping that the differences will become more apparent on the day.

A standard metro/tram ticket is enough to ride. The timetable is as follows:

 

So it looks like it misses four new stations at one end of the line and Depo Hostivař from the other end – the asterisks in the table indicate stop and go back.

 

I imagine that if you waited at Dejvická or Skalka, you might see more. But probably no need to get carried away – if you happen to live near a Line A metro station and are around at the right time then go and have a look.

The Facebook event page (in Czech) is https://www.facebook.com/events/1880186208969832/permalink/1880501552271631/

Papilonia Butterfly House, Prague, Czech Republic

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Hamleys is a famous British toy store that opened in 1760. I was amazed to see them open an enormous store in the centre of Prague last year. I think it’s bigger than the original Hamleys on Regent Street in London.

This month they’ve opened a live butterfly house in the lower ground floor. I went to have a look…

We entered Hamleys store. There is a lift to right and so we jumped in and pressed -1. Nothing happened. We asked the security guy near the entrance and he explained that you have to walk to the back of the store and take the escalator down. We found the entrance.

The cashier advised us to be careful that we didn’t step on any butterflies that may be on the floor and also to check that we didn’t leave with any extra passengers.

Inside was hot (26 deg.)  and really humid but it was a typically hot day in Prague and so we were dressed for warm weather. The place is themed like a Cambodian temple, although the plants need to grow a bit more.

There were large exotic butterflies everywhere.

One landed on my arm and was happy to stay while I wandered around. Then another landed on my hip while I was having this picture taken:

There was a butterfly hatchery:

 

I took a short video that shows just how many butterflies are flying around.

There’s a long mirror at the exit so you can check you aren’t carrying any butterflies.

We really enjoyed our visit. Apparently the butterflies change by season, but I can’t imagine visiting during cold weather as would overheat in the butterfly house. Maybe they should think about a cloakroom.

Papilonia Butterfly House
Hamleys, floor -1
Na Příkopě 854/14
Prague

Open every day from: 10:00 – 20:00

http://www.papilonia.cz/

Tel.: +420 777 77 40 40
E-mail: info@papilonia.cz
Entry:150 Kč
Child:100 Kč
Small family:350 Kč (two adults, one child)
Large family:400 Kč (two adults, three children)

Putica Restaurant by Retro, Prague, Czech Republic

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Putica was previously at Anglická 81/24 not far from IP Pavlova metro. The location was closed (landlord wanted the space back) and, after a while, a new Putica opened on Francouzská 75/4 – still not far from IP Pavlova but very close to Náměstí Míru.

I guess the owners of Putica made some deal with Retro restaurant and downstairs night club as the full name is now ‘Putica Restaurant by Retro’. The outside is a little confused as a long sign says ‘Retro’ and then there is a smaller ‘Putica’ sign. The new space has a large outside terrace, although the road isn’t that quiet.

Many of the staff are still there and the service and food are just as good. For example, here is the small 100g version of their classic burger (matured beef, smoked bacon, Cheddar, homemade ketchup, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce and honey mustard
140 Kč):

The large 170g is 240Kč but comes with fries and herb dip.

The interior has had some remodelling:

One thing that hasn’t changed is the focus on the lunch menu. I’m regularly tortured by their FaceBook posts offering interesting lunch dishes; pasta, lasagne, quesadilla, chillia con carne. But I can only make time in the evening when the menu reverts to the standard offering – it’s not bad, I’m just bored of it now. So we really only visit when we want a good burger.

I remember when the old Putica first opened, I had a really excellent, closest to Italy as you could get, Pappardella pasta dish – I’ve never seen that again. If they could start adding more evening specials then I’d definitely visit more often.

If you liked the old Putica then you’ll be happy here – especially if you’re lucky enough to have lunch there.

+420 603 176 111
info@putica.cz

Putica Restaurant by Retro
Francouzská 75/4
120 00 Praha 2

Monday – Thursday
11:00 AM-11:00 PM
Friday and Saturday
11:00 AM-12:00 AM
Sunday
12:00 PM-10:00 PM

http://www.putica.cz/en/

U Pečeného kolena bar/restaurant, Prague, Czech Republic

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U Pečeného kolena isn’t somewhere you’d find unless you lived locally or were invited by a local. I had to follow a friend’s instructions to arrive there:

To get there, take a tram 11 or 14 going out of town to Pod Jezerkou.
When you get off, walk forward 173 metres and take the oblique (not the hard) right when you pass the horrible grey building …. Walk forward 84.38 metres, beside the Botič stream. The restaurant is before the first block of flats, behind the hedge.

I found the place quite easily.

 

We sat outside the entire time. The Budvar 12 0.5 (39Kč) was good.

The food menu on the restaurant website is one of those old-fashioned page-turning apps – I wish they’d just write down the basic menu.

The food was all fine, nothing special but nothing bad. Here are some pictures:

Smoked salmon salad 130Kč.

Pork knee

If you find yourself in the area and want to drink and/or eat outside, then you’ll be fine here.

Restaurace U Pečeného kolena
U Michelského mlýna 75/37
140 00 Praha, Michle

Open daily 11:00 to 23:00.

420 241 442 075

www.upecenehokolena.cz

Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Westfield Centre, London, England

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Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) was started in London by New Zealanders Adam Wills, Greg Driscoll and Brandon Allen, in 2001. Now owned by Capricorn Ventures, most notable for operating Nando’s, there are 88 UK locations.

I’ve never been to any until two days ago. I probably wouldn’t return.

We visited the GBK in the Westfield Centre, near Shepherd’s Bush. The place looks okay – nothing fancy..

We were shown to our table and provided menus. But told we had to return to the cash register at the entrance in order to order items. I thought it was a full-service restaurant, but it’s actually similar to Nandos – fast food at restaurant prices. And that’s a concept I really dislike.

This was our order:

Big Mouth Special £9.95
6oz beef patty, Big Mouth beer cheese, bacon monster crunch, smoked chilli mayo, beef ketchup, salad, brioche bun

Classic Cheese 4oz £6.65
Beef, house mayo, relish, salad
Choose from mature Cheddar, Red Leicester, smoked Applewood or American cheese – I wasn’t asked what cheese I’d like

Sweet Potato Fries £4.15
With baconnaise

San Miguel (5.0%) 330ml £3.95

Budvar (5.0%) 500ml £5.95

The burgers weren’t anything special but at least they were served on plates – albeit bare. The fries were pretty small for £4.15.

The burgers were okay, but nothing amazing. They should be at least as good as Five Guys and they weren’t even close to that. Five Guys also sell beer, so the only difference is that these burgers are brought to your table and served on a plate.

Our GBK bill over £30 – too much for average fast food.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Unit 1072,
Westfield Shopping Centre,
White City,
London, W12 7GB

Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 23:00
Sunday 11:00 – 22:00

+44 (0) 2087 491 246

L’artista Italian Restaurant, Watford, England

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L’artista appeared on Watford High Street years before the lower end (by the shopping centre) was re-developed and filled with chain restaurants. I haven’t been for years as I usually choose to go to Barracuda just opposite. The last time I was in L’artista, there was a small, jolly Italian man who made a point of visiting tables and checking if everyone was okay. It was always a fun, casual, rather than fine dining place.

On this visit we were seated quickly and ordered a good bottle of Primitivo (£19.90) and a jug of tap water (free).

To start I ordered Pepata di Cozze – mussels in white wine with a dash of tomato. At £6.70 I expected this to be quite a small bowl, so I was delighted to receive a really generous portion.

The mussels were perfect.

For main I had the ravioli Artista – filled with ricotta and spinach (£9.90). Again, I was delighted to receive a generous portion.

I really enjoyed the ravioli.

The total bill, which included my dishes plus a soup, another pasta dish, a salad and bread, came to £61.71 – included a 10% service charge.

I hadn’t seen the little, jolly Italian and asked the manager about him. Sadly he died several years ago one morning in the restaurant.

The walls have hand-painted murals featuring a well-known Italians and also the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Some likenesses are better than others, but I think they make a good addition to what is a fun restaurant with good value dishes.

L’artista
61 The Parade, High Street, Watford
WD17 1AH

01923 210 055
01923 226 644(Delivery Line)

Opening Times
Mon – Fri 12:00 – 23:30
Sat – Sun 12:00 – 23:30

http://www.lartistawatford.com/index.html

Hlučná samota Bar/Restaurant, Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic

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Hlučná samota is named after a book called Příliš hlučná samota (1976) by Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. Příliš hlučná samota translates as ‘too much noisy loneliness’ – which I suppose could apply to any noisy bar where you visit alone and don’t know anyone.

The Hlučná samota website has a picture of Bohumil Hrabal with a beer, so I’m guessing that he visited at least once.

The Czech draft beers are:
Staropramen 10° 0,5l 37Kc
Postřižinská 11° 0,5l 39Kc

I usually drink the Postřižinská despite the pronunciation problems.

The food is good, traditional pub fare at a reasonable price. The menu, in Czech and English, is on their website. Inside looks like this:

There are tables outside in the street – the street isn’t very busy, especially at the moment as the street that crosses Záhřebská is under construction. I was amazed to see pictures of a courtyard garden on their website as I’ve never seen that open.

Just recently, I tried to book an outside table for eight people for a Tuesday evening – I went in on Monday. But was told that they don’t take reservations for outside tables. So that was eight people who drank and ate elsewhere that evening!

Nothing really special about this place, but if you’re in the area you’ll be okay there. Or, if you are looking for a great wine bar, then almost opposite is Le Bouquet.

Hlučná samota
Záhřebská 14,
Prague 2

+420 222 522 839

http://www.hlucna-samota.cz/

hlucnasamota@seznam.cz

Open every day 11:00 – 24:00