A Humbling Steak Experience - Grill On The Corner, Glasgow

I don't like being wrong.  It happens more often than not, and usually when I'm right I take great pride in letting everyone know.  So on the usual occasion that I am wrong, I eat humble pie and accept the facts.

When I visited Grill On The Corner last year, most were shocked when I had said that the service wasn't great.  As a steak fanatic, I was urged to return, and I have to admit - I was wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG.  Myself and Stevie visited GOTC on Friday evening to cure my steak craving.

Inside - Grill On The Corner

We were greeted at the door by a smiley, polite and friendly hostess.  Our table wasn't quite ready, so she beckoned us to the bar to have a drink (fellow critic Tam Cowan was there, but I was too shy to pop over and say hello!).  Just as my cocktail (French Martini) and Stevie's Jack & Coke were prepared, the hostess collected us from the bar, and kindly arranged for our drinks to be brought through to us.  We were seated next to the window - ideal for people watching!

Everything on the menu sounded absolutely glorious.  I was torn between salt and pepper chicken skewers, duck spring rolls and the cheese soufflé.  Everything Stevie said he wanted, I all of a sudden wanted.  Luckily, we both settled on our meals of choice.

Stevie decided to get the salt and pepper chicken skewers, served with a sweet chilli and ginger dip...

You must, MUST, order these.  The plump chunks of chicken were unbelievably tender and juicy, seasoned perfectly and garnished with some fresh spring onion and burning red jalapeños.  The sweet chilli and ginger dip had some kick to it, so use sparingly (unless you are a danger fiend).  Served with a wedge of fresh lime, this was an unforgettable start to the meal.  When I return, this will be my starter of choice!

I decided to go Oriental, and ordered the duck spring rolls, with a hoi sin dip...

Crispy, flaky filo pastry enveloping tender strips of duck, tucked in with shredded carrot and onion.  Served on a bed of fresh rocket, this was truly fantastic and bursting with flavour.  The hoi sin dip was thick and added a sweetness to the starter.  I attempted to eat this with a knife and fork - but get real guys, you're going to make much less mess by using your digits!

I was in the mood to douse myself with wine, and ordered the recommended bottle of house wine.  It was called Petit Papillon, a Grenache rose.  Very sweet and a little bit sharp, it was perfect with our steak (even Stevie agreed, who thinks Buckfast is acceptable).

Now, on to the main event!  Stevie went for a medium cooked fillet steak, with a side of chips, peppercorn sauce, and corn on the cob with chilli butter...

I adore the fact that the chips are served in a tiny little basket!  The chips were lovely too - very thick and chunky, and piping hot.  The corn on the cob was served chargrilled, with chilli butter slowly melting and running between the corn kernels.  The smell was outstanding, however I know personally that I should only eat corn on the cob in the safety of my own home.

My fillet steak was cooked medium-rare, with champ potatoes and a side of asparagus (which came with its own portion of béarnaise sauce).

I hadn't actually tried asparagus before, but I loved it.  Seasoned with rock salt, it was served al dente, and it was the perfect temperature to just tuck in.  The béarnaise sauce was thick and mellow, which was a fantastic accompaniment.  My steak was tender, and cut easier than butter with a hot knife.  The peppercorn sauce was creamy, but still had a gentle kick in the after-taste   The champ potatoes are the best thing ever: baby potatoes, crushed with spring onions and butter.  I knew before I had even stepped foot in the restaurant that I would be ordering them - honestly, it's potatoes like you've never experienced them before. The chef deserves a knighthood.

Feeling satisfied, but still perhaps a gap for dessert, we had a gander at the menu.  So many beautiful things to choose from, however the girly part of me knew exactly what to order:  the warmed chocolate fudge cake, served with ice cream.  Stevie also ordered this, however I'm sure it was a manly decision.

The only word that comes to mind is phenomenal.  The warm chocolate sauce oozed out from two moist layers of rich chocolate sponge.  The chocolate flavour was intense, but in no way sickly.  The creamy, cool vanilla ice cream melted gently against the warmth of the cake, creating a pool of gooey, chocolate-vanilla cake-y goodness.  It was sublime, and needless to say each plate was polished by the end.

My bottle of wine was still a wealthy challenge, so Stevie decided to order a White Russian whilst I drank myself merry.  It was comforting, milky and absolutely delicious.  Kudos to the bar staff - you make one hell of a cocktail.

With our bellies officially full, and my bottle of wine pretty much empty, we called it a night at GOTC.  I can fully retract my previous gripes about the service - all of the staff were really lovely, and highly commendable.  The whole experience for me was outstanding, and I can now say that GOTC is one of my favourite restaurants.

Do you know what, if getting proved wrong is as good as this, then I don't want to be right.  So there.

Contact Details:

Grill On The Corner
21-25 Bothwell Street
G2 6NL

Tel: 0141 248 6262

Website: http://blackhouse.uk.com/restaurant/glasgow/

Wheelchair access: Yes

Breakfast With a Wink and a Smile - Flirt, Bournemouth

I'm not a big breakfast eater.  I'm never awake in time to catch the morning meal, so I generally don't get too excited about it.  That was about to change.

Myself and a couple of friends decided to have a long weekend in Bournemouth, visiting our dear friend who now resides there.  He was emphatic about Flirt, a cafe that sells the most delicious breakfasts he has ever had.  Considering the horrendous hangover I woke up with (and I think my other friends can say they felt the same) we were not entirely convinced that a trip to Flirt would trump laying in bed, feeling no less than dead.

When you walk in to Flirt, you might think that you accidentally swallowed some type of hallucinogenic.  No chairs match (unless you count the two rows of aeroplane chairs they have at one table).  The walls are covered in electric pink paint, and some of the most eclectic artwork I think I've ever seen.


You choose your own table, then once you've decided what you would like, go and order it.  The menu itself is bold, bright and packed full of things to eat and drink.  It fried my brain a bit, however the masses of Jager & Rose wine the night before probably didn't help!

I decided to go for a sausage and bacon panini with cheese...

All of the plates don't match either, which is amazing!  This panini was an absolute godsend, and I am so pleased I ordered it.  The crusty, toasted bread encased the smoked, crispy bacon and slices of sausage.  There was a little bit of tomato sauce in there too, which was ideal.  Served with a delicious salad and creamy coleslaw, this truly aided my hangover and restored my faith in life.  My friend Suzanne ordered the same as I did, but without cheese.  You can pretty much order anything on the menu how you like, and they will do their best to accommodate it.

Matthew (a fan of mushrooms to my disgust) ordered a sausage and mushroom sandwich...

My only comfort was that he got a creepy plate that stared at him whilst he ate.  The sausages were cooked to perfection, and the mushrooms were served on the side.  He decided to layer them on himself, and delved in.  He says that he really enjoyed it, and the plate was cleared!

Our host Jonny ordered the bacon and waffles that he had talked himself hoarse about...

The syrup comes in a separate jug, so you can decide how much, or little, you wish to drown your breakfast in it.  The smell of fresh waffles and crispy bacon was intoxicating, and I would definitely order these next time I go to Bournemouth.

The highlight of my breakfast was my chocolate milkshake.  I felt like a bit of a bore ordering it (considering they offer Terry's chocolate orange, Creme Egg, Bubblegum Millions and so many more!) however it was actually the best milkshake ever...

To be honest, I'd go back for the milkshake alone (sorry Jonny).  Super chocolatey, creamy and thick, it was just perfection in a cup.

What I loved even more was that we had paid to begin with, so you can leave at your leisure.  For the four meals, two milkshakes, a vanilla latte, two apple juices, a fizzy orange and a bottle of water (I told you we were hungover) the bill came to £35.  Pretty good value for money, at about £8 a head!

If you do decide to go to Bournemouth, for whatever reason, then go to Flirt.  I wouldn't advise you to go to Easy Tiger afterwards like we did though.  I'll let you find out for yourself, if you're nosey, what that shop is...

Contact Details:

21 The Triangle

Tel: 01202 553999

Wheelchair access: Yes

The Heart Of The City - Nineteen, York

If you have read my previous post about the gourmet burgers we had in York, then you will know that our second meal would have to be something spectacular.  My sister, a fellow blogger, was recommended to visit Nineteen by one of her friends.

Nineteen is set at the end of a cobbled street in the heart of the city.  The restaurant is quaint and intimate, with only 6 tables on the bottom floor.  The roof is low, with beautiful wooden beams stretched across the ceiling.  There were some lovely little candles lit, and as the sun began to set, the restaurant absorbed the candlelight and cast a relaxed, dim glow over everything.

We were seated at a table for four, at the window.  It was great to watch the world go by, whilst having a look at the menu.  The menu isn't expansive, which I was a little apprehensive about.  I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy what I was ordering, as the dishes available were concoctions that I would never have considered.  What I did learn is that the chef is flawless at what he does, so the menu doesn't need to be massive.  I can assure you that although the dishes offered aren't 'the usual', it was truly great to try something new - and to fall in love with it.  Plus all the produce is sourced locally, so you know that it is going to be of a high standard.

For a starter, I decided to go for the home-made crab ravioli with chive and tomato butter.

Crab Ravioli

At first, I was disheartened to see the size of the portion.  After I had tasted it, I was even more disheartened as I wanted more!  This is in no way a criticism, as by the end of my meal I was fit to burst.  The crab meat was safely tucked inside the fresh pasta parcel, drizzled with chunks of juicy tomato and chives.  Crab meat is slightly salty, and not very fishy.  It was a delicious starter, and I could have eaten a whole bowlful of it!

My sister and father both went for Moules Mariniere (mussels in a creamy garlic and white wine sauce).

Moules Mariniere

Should I (or when I) visit Nineteen again, I shall order these.  Each mussel was so plump and meaty, the flavour was just outstanding.  The creamy, garlic sauce was drenching each mussel so there was never a lack of taste with each bite.  Mussels can sometimes smell/taste really fishy, which puts me off!  It is safe to say that these were cooked to perfection, and a delight to eat.

Mark decided to order the leek, blue cheese and pickled walnut tart, dressed with home-made apple chutney and salad leaves.

Leek, Blue Cheese & Pickled Walnut Tart  

I will be honest and say that before visiting Nineteen, I wouldn't have even thought about this as an option.  Mark is quite a fussy eater, and when he said "This is unlike anything I've ever eaten before" (and saying it in a good way!) it changed my mind.  The rich blue cheese aroma was amazing, coupled with the mellow tang of leeks was delicious, and needless to say the plate was cleared!

For the main course, both my sister and I decided to have the slow braised ox cheek, served with creamy mash, a red onion tartlet, root vegetables, bacon crisp and mushroom duxelle, all coated in a lovely rich jus.  (Please note that I asked for mine without the mushroom duxelle - I hate mushrooms!)

Slow Braised Ox Cheek

Oh. Oh my God.  This meal was DELICIOUS.  The lean braised ox cheek was so tender, it literally fell apart when my fork entered it.  The meat was juicy, and soaked in the rich jus, so each bite was packed with flavour.  The root vegetables were cooked al dente, so had a slight crunch.  The red onion tartlet was sweet on top, and savoury on the bottom - a perfect companion to the rich beefy flavour of the ox cheek!  The fragment of bacon was salty, smoky and incredibly crunchy.  It crunched apart like glass when you cut it, but it was easy to eat.  Definitely try this if you're a meat eater!

My dad - the carnivore that I take after - ordered the signature char-grilled rib-eye steak, served with mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, triple cooked chips and garlic butter.

Char-grilled Rib Eye Steak

As a fillet fan myself, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this.  The signature char-grilled flavour was definitely present, as it is a steak that hasn't tasted like any other!  The triple cooked chips were crisp on the outside, whilst the potato was feather-like inside.  Served in a pretty stack, these chips were amazing, and definitely co-starred in this dish!  Unfortunately this photo was taken nearer the sun going down - my natural light source was taken from me!

With my main meal, I decided to have a glass of wine.  I am a Rose wine connoisseur, so I was distraught when I found their only Rose wine available by the glass was tart and dry.  My dad found a red wine that was meant to be fruity - and whadday'know, I loved it.  It's called Carignan Vin De France La Cadence 2011, should you wish to try it - it's fruity, smooth and very light!

Tasty Red Wine!

Finally, Mark ordered Winter vegetable bread and butter pudding.  This was served with blue cheese cream, pickled apple and sweet walnut.

Winter Vegetable Bread & Butter Pudding

Again, not something I would have ordered, until I managed to snaffle a bit.  This dish is really packing some amount of flavour, especially considering it doesn't have any meat in it!  Each bite is a mixture of sweet, rich, creamy and savoury; the texture changes from crunchy to soft.  It was truly beautiful and I would urge the more adventurous eaters to perhaps try it.

The plates were cleared, and I knew I wanted a dessert.  The dessert menu is again small, but after the extravagant dishes we had, I was sure that the calibre of food was only going to get better.  No surprises then, that it in fact did!

I decided to get something indulgent: a bitter chocolate tart, served with goats milk panna cotta and marmalade sorbet.

Bitter Chocolate Tart with Goats Milk Panna Cotta & Marmalade Sorbet

Can I just say, that this has to be one of the desserts I've ever eaten.  Ever.  The chocolate tart was so rich, smooth and warm, encased in a lovely, slightly sweet, pastry case.  The goats milk panna cotta was creamy, mellow and had a hint of vanilla.  Ever so slightly gloopy (in a fabulous way) and thick, it was a great accompaniment for the tart.  Second to the tart, the marmalade sorbet stole the show.  A citrus, but not tangy, sorbet which was coupled with slices of mandarin and zest.  All together, this was perfection.  Not one complaint.

My sister and my dad went for the same dessert, and a personal favourite for them both - sticky toffee pudding, served with Baileys foam and whisky ice cream.

Sticky Toffee Pudding, Baileys Foam & Whisky Ice Cream

The sponge was warmed, and also soaked through with an incredibly sweet toffee sauce. The sauce itself was thick and gloopy (again, in a good way) and was perfect.  The whisky ice cream was also sweet, but not sickly.  The Baileys foam was absolutely delicious, and so perfectly matched to this dessert.

 Mark's dessert was actually someone similar to his main.  He ordered the apple and cinnamon bread and butter pudding, served with stem ginger ice cream and Calvados Creme Anglaise.

Apple & Cinnamon Bread & Butter Pudding

This pudding really went down a treat.  A thick, sweet bread pudding served warm with the most fragrant aroma of anything on the table.  Creme Anglaise is a fancier custard, and Calvados is an apple brandy.  Combine the two, and you have a very tasty topping for your bread and butter pudding!

We always like to try and guess the bill before it comes out, and whoever is closest wins... well nothing, but they have the glory of knowing they were right.  So the guesses came in - £200, £230...£250?  Nay to all of these!  Try £165.  Yes, for four people, each having three courses, two glasses of wine, a beer, and soft drinks, this was our bill.  Utterly fantastic value for money, and each of us were achingly full.

Get yourselves to York, immerse yourself in the wonderful history of the city, and make sure you have a table booked for Nineteen afterwards.

Contact Details:

19 Grape Lane

Tel: 01904 636366

Website: http://www.nineteenyork.com/

Wheelchair access: No

Restoring My Faith in Burger-kind - Gourmet Burger Kitchen, York

For my dad's Christmas, we booked him a super car driving experience in Elvington. Having done it before, and a greater range of masterpiece motors now available, it was the perfect gift. It also meant that I got a free trip to York out of it.

My dad was hellbent on getting a Subway sandwich once we arrived, however we walked past Gourmet Burger Kitchen (which I'll refer to as GBK) and instantly knew we wanted to go there.

GBK - Lendal, York

The style of ordering is similar to Nando's: peruse the menu, and once you've decided, order at the counter. The variety of burgers is overwhelming, and it was so difficult to choose.  It was the Sophie's Choice of all lunches.

The menu splits the different burgers into sections of what type of meat you have, I.e. chicken, beef, lamb or vegetarian.  Each burger is intimately described, so you know exactly what you are getting.  After much deliberation, each of us had decided which tantalising burger would be ours.

My dad went for the Traditional American cheeseburger, which as part of a lunch deal, came with a portion of chips.  The staff even ask how you wish for your burger to be cooked, and my dad opted for well done.  The cheese was gooey and melted all over the beef burger.  Fresh salad garnished the burger too, which was crisp and delicious.  My dad was really enthralled with the quality of the beef in the burger, which is a true compliment!

Traditional American Cheeseburger

Mark ordered the Camembert & Cranberry Grilled Chicken burger.  The chicken was juicy, and a full breast is in the bun.  The bun is also lightly toasted, which aided the melting of the massive slice of Camembert provided.  The cranberries were sweet and rich, perfectly complimenting the whole dish.  Dripping with relish, mayonnaise and also a fresh salad, this burger went down a treat as one of the best burgers ever had.

Camembert & Cranberry Chicken burger

My sister Sharon decided to go for the Chicken Satay burger.  The perfectly grilled chicken was marinated in a sweet satay sauce, which had just a slight kick in the after taste.  Topped with alfalfa sprouts and a lime & coriander mayonnaise, this burger was absolutely mouthwatering.

Chicken Satay burger

I really struggled with what to choose.  The minted lamb burger sounded sublime, and was very nearly my choice.  I then spotted one called 'The Taxidriver', and instantly I knew I had to have it.  A soft, toasted brioche bun, layered with American cheese, a crispy onion ring (there were actually two, to my utter delight!), Cajun relish, dill pickle, salad & smoked chilli mayonnaise.  The beef was cooked medium, and was so juicy and flavoursome.  The burger was also as big as my head, so I had to cut it in half prior to delving in.  I don't usually even try pickles, however I will never remove them from a burger again.  They are actually so tasty and really bring out the other flavours of the dish.  I would definitely get this burger again!

The Taxidriver burger

We also ordered a plate of chips to share, however the burgers are so filling that we struggled.  The chips were really delicious - crispy on the outside, fluffy clouds on the inside.  We also got a portion of garlic mayonnaise, which was blended with lime and coriander.  It was sublime and I would travel hundreds of miles for the mayonnaise alone.

Chips & Garlic Mayonnaise

What is the best thing to wash down a burger with?  A milkshake, of course.  I am a huge chocolate milkshake fan, so naturally that was my choice.  Sharon went for a refreshing banana milkshake, however Mark really picked the winner.  They had a special milkshake on, which was a blend of peanut butter and vanilla.  It was AMAZING.  I think I'll be attempting a homemade version when the sun comes out!  They are all served in the metallic milkshake cups which they are blended in, so they were ice cold, thick and creamy.  Blissful.

Chocolate Milkshake!

After we were done licking our fingers, wiping our mouths and comforting our new food babies, we decided to leave.  The great thing about restaurants like this is that the payment is already given at the start.  The total cost of our feast was just over £53, which works out at about £13 a head.  I would happily pay it all again!

What I have found out is that they have a GBK in Edinburgh.  This is obviously great for their business, just unfortunate for my waistline...

Contact Details:

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

7 Lendal

Tel: 0190 463 9587

Website: http://www.gbk.co.uk/

Wheelchair access: Yes