Lunch Date: Loch Fyne

Lunch Date is my intermittent blog series where I write about restaurants I have visited. These are previous establishments that I have posted about:

The Good Life Cafe/Buddy’s Diner/Carluccio’s

I hope they make for a pleasant read!

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            If one cannot be spoilt on one’s birthday, then there is no justice in the world. That makes me sounds awfully bratty, but I confess, I was looking forward to being fussed over on my 21st birthday. The chap rose to the occasion wonderfully.

I was showered with gifts when he first arrived. I found myself falling for him even more with each unwrapped parcel. The man bought me pyjama bottoms, I know he is a keeper. The indulgence didn’t stop there, as I was whisked off for dinner at Loch Fyne.

Although I frequently walk past it, I have never visited any of the Loch Fyne restaurants. We were welcomed into the spacious venue by an enthusiastic waiter. We were informed about the choices on the fresh counter and the catch of the day. Loch Fyne predominantly (although not exclusively) serves fish.

We sat down at our table and perused the menus. All manner of seafood, fillets and whole fish tantalised us both. I am a big advocate for fish although I haven’t sampled many varieties. The chap had whispered the golden words; I could order anything I desired. Perhaps it was the unavoidable status of being a student, or an innate sense for a bargain but I was leaning towards the set menu. Then two dishes grasped my attention fully and I confirmed my order from the set menu. The chap followed suit.

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My starter was a simple charcuterie plate. Everything tasted fresh, delicious and was displayed in order to make an impact. It’s not often that I go to a restaurant that can be referred to as “fancy”. Even on a Monday evening, the place hummed with a warm atmosphere. It’s nice to be in the company of other diners, even if you don’t engage with them. We sipped our wine, a true extravagance, and relaxed into the evening.

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My main course was beautiful. A kiln smoked salmon fillet on top of a salad of pear, butternut squash and pumpkin seeds. The dish leapt out at me from the menu, as it featured some of my favourite ingredients. The fact that it came with a side of twice cooked chips was a real treat. I can honestly say I enjoyed every mouthful.

The chap started with crab cakes and had a whole mackerel alongside chips for his main. He enjoyed his dishes too and would like to return. The feeling is mutual.

If we didn’t order wine, the entire meal would have been £19.90. I think the set menu was incredibly good value for the quality of the dishes. Both menus were extensive, but they do specialise in fish and rarely deter from that, which is worth bearing in mind. I happen to love fish, so it was the perfect option for me. Heartfelt thanks to the chap for making me feel so special.

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Lunch Date: Carluccio’s

 

I’m often asked by my friends and peers how it is that I am able to do so much with my paltry student budget. There is no big secret. I don’t really drink. That may seem unfathomable to certain students out there, but I’ve never really been bothered by it. So the £20 (or more) that can be zapped for a night out bought me an all day travel card to London.

It was a truly wonderful day yesterday, the sort that you commit to memory. Me and my chap were given tickets to see The Lion King on the West End at Christmas time. The day itself came round far too quickly. We made a day of it by heading into the capital earlier than our matinee performance, to spend a couple of hours behaving like shameless tourists.

We decided to have lunch at Carluccio’s as the chap had dined in one at Reading and was impressed by their gluten-free menu. Me, being of the ever-organised sort, couldn’t resist looking up the menu beforehand. The gluten-free options were indeed extensive and even included puddings, something I’m not accustomed to seeing. Although we didn’t indulge yesterday, it’s something to remember for future meals.

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For yesterday’s meal, we both chose a juice and a pasta dish. The chap had peach juice with a bowlful of Rigatoni Amatriciana. I had (g-f!) Pasta con Funghi, washed down with a cloudy cherry juice, something I’m pleased to find on sale at Sainsbury’s.

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Our meal cost us £23 and I think that’s a bargain. My dish was intensely flavoured, as if the great Antonio Carluccio himself had whipped it up. The staff were so accommodating too, deserving of their tip. I would certainly return to any of the Carluccio restaurants, although I did enjoy the lavishness of the Covent Garden branch. It was a meal fitting to our “being spoilt” day.

The show was a wondrous spectacle, vastly improved by our great seats. Sitting next to the aisle was a true experience, as anybody who has seen the show will know. Crossing the bridge on our way back to Waterloo Station offered time for reflection. Firstly, I know I want to live in London as soon as possible, and the chap shares this dream. Secondly, if I have to be thrifty until I achieve that dream, saving my money to make days like today so perfect, then that’s what I shall do. And I will be very content to do so.

Lunch Date: Buddy’s Diner

I love Sundays. I love the peaceful feeling that accompanies them. It is a day of lazing before an evening of gentle preparation for the working week ahead. Even if I have to work on a Sunday, it never feels like much of a chore, because I’m guaranteed to be finished by 5pm.

I had the perfect Sunday last week. I woke up slowly and proceeded to dress and head out with my housemate bright and early. Well, early at least, the freezing conditions didn’t allow sunshine. But that was not to dampen my mood, as we were on our way to the farmer’s market.

The best bargain of the day had to be two 400g packs of frozen organic beef mince for £4. Seeing the decent prices of the meat and the selection of produce available really turned my housemate’s head. She said she’s definitely going to go along to the next one. Another person for the cause! One thing I find great about consistently going to the market is that you start to recognise stall holders and other visitors. When I approached my normal egg stall, he was already packing half a dozen eggs up for me. It’s great to feel part of the community in that way.

With full shopping bags, we headed to Buddy’s for breakfast.

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The Americana themed diner is my favourite restaurant in Winchester. I have been there countless times for breakfasts, lunches and dinners with various friends and family members. The staff are friendly and the food is always exceptional. If it was lunch or dinner, I’d soon have a plate of sticky BBQ ribs in front of me, meat falling off the bone. But as brunch was the meal of choice, the order of the day was The Buddy Breakfast.

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It beggars belief that you can get all of this food for £5.50. Sure, it’s not a healthy option, but on a lazy Sunday morning with latte and good conversation, there is really nothing better.

I didn’t realise how popular it is to go out for breakfast on a Sunday morning; we had to wait for our booth. It was a treat for me personally and not something I would undertake every week. One, because my student budget wouldn’t allow it. Two, because I have no control on how it is cooked, it’s not really a nutritious start to the day. And three, you can whip up most breakfast dishes for a lot cheaper at home. Take breakfast for me this morning, two chipolata sausages, a mini can of baked beans, a slice of griddled bread and a mug of tea. Grand total? 72p!

Whilst it’s very nice to sit amongst the Winchester set, sip coffee and set the world to rights, it’s often even better to spend a relaxing time at home with a big (cheap!) breakfast and a glossy magazine. Ah me, living for the weekend.

Lunch Date: The Good Life cafe

Welcome to my first regular feature on my blog. I shall be posting reviews from time to time, based on meals out I have with my boyfriend, friends or family. This should have been posted accordingly on Sunday, but you know how life is! I’d love to hear what you think.

 

What a treat! To go out for lunch with my chap. We decided to make the most of a rare Saturday free from work and I had just the place in mind.

            After my first venture into The Good Life farm shop, I was desperate to sample whatever their cafe had to offer. I was a little concerned that there would be no room at the inn on this sunny Saturday afternoon, but we found a two person table right in the heart of it all. There were enough diners to create atmosphere, without feeling overcrowded.

            It really did feel like an oversized country kitchen. The exposed beams, the blackboards detailing the specials and even a huge fireplace in the corner, flanked by leather armchairs, made me feel welcomed. After a brief glance at the menu, I thought I was going to have to resort to the gluten intolerant staple of jacket potato. That was until my beloved pointed out that gluten-free bread was offered. Hurrah! I was joyful in placing my order of soup of the day, accompanied by gluten-free bread. I was soon to be disappointed as a waitress arrived shortly after saying that their stock was completely empty, but would I like a large portion of carrot and parsnip soup to compensate? I took their offer and was very pleased to have done so.

            It certainly was a large portion. I knew as soon as the bowl was put in front of me that I would never reach the bottom. I plunged my spoon in regardless and let the orange liquor pour into my mouth. Gosh, it was delicious. Perfectly homemade with that blended texture, sweet and creamy too, I followed that spoonful with several more. I couldn’t have any more once I was full, but it was a truly flavourful dish.

            I ordered a hazelnut latte with my soup, as my quest to find the perfect latte continues. This one is a very high contender. There was just enough foam and the hazelnut flavour came through without being too sweet.

            My beau had an orange and apple juice drink with his three-cheese Panini with side salad. He, as a manly man, only picked at the salad, but said the Panini was delicious. Our meal came to £17 in total. Pretty steep for lunch, but I do not begrudge paying out for such a delicious meal, served by warm and attentive staff. I’m sure I will visit again, even if it’s just to get a second round with that delectable latte!