ymco harrogate
The Yorkshire Meatball Co. – or, The YMCO – sounded like my worst nightmare until I visited their website.

I urge you to take a look. It deserves an award.

Telling patrons that they’re a “speciality Meatball Bar leading the fight against average, tasteless, meatless meatballs”* pretty much dissolved each and every reservation I had. And thank goodness it did: I wouldn’t call myself a ‘meatball woman’, but I’m more than happy to call myself a YMCo woman.

Kicking things off with a naughty glass of their Yorkshire Iced Tea (hello, gin!), my dining partner and I decided to share their Yorkshire Platter as a compromise for wanting each and every one of their starters. As you can see, we were not left unsatisfied. The long cutting board was furnished with pressed York ham hock terrine, a selection of fresh local cheese, a ‘shot’ of soup (a starter in itself!), a hard boiled hens egg, pickled onions, dressed leaves, flatbread and roasted garlic mayo. With balls to come, it would have been impossible for us to finish…but we tried our very best.

The main portion of their menu focuses on the idea of ‘Balls’ (your choice), ‘Beds’ (veg, mash, greens, et al), and ‘Blankets’ (sauce), all of which my companion couldn’t ignore. He opted for the ‘Hot Balls‘ (hand-rolled meatballs with a hint of chilli pepper), root veg (roasted in olive oil with fresh garlic), a complimentary Yorkshire pudding (you can choose not to have one, though I’m not quite sure why you wouldn’t), and Herby Ketchup (fresh tomato and herbs). You better believe he licked the dishes clean.

I was slightly jealous until my ‘Naked Bals‘ arrived 2.7 seconds later. Their ‘Naked’ concept comes with no blankets or beds; instead, a bed of salad and toppings to compliment your choice of Balls. As I couldn’t ignore the haddock, chorizo and parsley Fish Balls, my ‘meat’ was balanced atop a large pile of watercress, avocado, raspberries and lime. With a Birdie Ball ‘Taster’ (just £2 for a ball on a small, lightly toasted brioche bun!) on the side, I was engulfed in a mushroom pesto blanket delirium.

To date, I have not had a more filling, delicious, and affordable lunch in the North. My only regret is not leaving room for their cheesecake balls.

* It must be mentioned, I believe they’re selling themselves short on the ‘meatless’ – I’ve seen rave reviews for their veggie balls.

ymco harrogate
ymco harrogate
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white rabbit london
The gastronomic creativity in Dalston is – categorically – nothing to shout about. When menu-hopping the interwebs (as one does), I was surprised to see how inventive Dalston’s White Rabbit sample menu read.

DSLR in hand. Underground-friendly heels on feet. Food to eat.

With a few ‘snacks’ on offer before delving into a kinda European/kinda Latin/kinda Asian menu of tapas and mains, The Manfriend and I decided to tease our tastebuds with moreish rosemary salt-dusted pork scratchings. Then the fun began.

To share, we ordered tapas-style plates of Hake with samphire, mache, potato dumplings and paprika aioli alongside an incredibly tender lamb belly (braised for four hours, I’ll have you know) with miso Baba Ganoush, spring onions and radish. The highlight? The most incredible Spaetzle I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Somehow, a blend of peas, ricotta, hazelnuts and summer truffle create a sweet, woody blanket of flavour over a dish that would have otherwise been snubbed my carnivorous tendencies. A cult dish in the making.

With such piquant scents popping off of our plates, we couldn’t help but share our mains, as well. For sir? Duck breast with baby carrots, carrot puree, wheat berry and szechuan pepper. For madam? A Chateaubriand-esque Onglet (I kid you not), with aji, burnt shallots, roasted beets and watercress. I would trade my first born for either.

While the lightest dessert option (macerated strawberries covered with crisp cherry meringue, vanilla gel and clotted cream) took my fancy, the steeped sweet corn junket with raspberries and blackberries was too intriguing to refuse. Or at least push onto someone that wasn’t me (one with a sweet corn phobia).

Go now. You will not find such a spot-on combination of service, cuisine, and atmosphere in all of London. Dalston, at least.

white rabbit london
white rabbit london
white rabbit london
white rabbit london
white rabbit london
white rabbit london
white rabbit london
white rabbit london

the pig new forest
The Pig (in the Forest) was the highlight of my yesterweek. Known also for its rave-reviewed and shabby chic hotel, the real magic lies in its cuisine; The Pig is a self-identified ‘restaurant with rooms‘.

What first appears to be a contemporary country escape hidden in Victorian clothing is, in fact, much more. At the helm you will find Head Chef James Golding (Soho House New York, Mark Hix, et al) setting the tone and calling the uncomplicated shots of a restaurant that boasts an incredible British menu based on the micro seasons of the forest. In the truest sense of the phrase ‘home-grown’, everything on the menu comes from The Pig’s walled gardens, surrounding grounds, or suppliers within a 15 mile radius.

Starting our day with a tour of the gardens, it was impossible to be unaffected by Golding’s infectious love for his work. While my house in London would be lucky to sprout a mushroom, James’ extensive fruit and vegetable beds feature unusual and impressive ingredients – from sea beet to lemon chilli – which we were encouraged to touch, smell, and build a Pig-sized appetite for. With the culinary experience being so dependent on the gardens, in fact, the menu can often be changed by the hour.

Obviously, our menu was saturated with fresh, fine food. Settling into the gorgeously vine-clad conservatory dining area, we were welcomed with a selection of ‘Piggy Bits‘ (£3.50 each); Saddleback crackling & apple sauce (the lightest I have ever eaten), crispy lardo & smoked chilli sauce, and Brock eggs & Colman’s dressing.

Insider tip: When you feel you could eat a lunch of £3.50 dishes alone, you are guaranteed a phenomenal dining experience.

The menu did not disappoint one foodie at the table. As a starter I opted for home-made black pudding & a poached hen egg with garden apple, red watercress, and Perry dressing (£7). The texture, flavour and simple warmth of the dish was exactly what a starter should be; the foreplay. The exciting build-up – with a handful of twists and turns – that you would happily enjoy on its own.

By the time the mains arrived, our table of seven was titillated. One brave companion ordered the Whole Roasted Bath Chap (on a board) with Nasturtium mash and homemade apple sauce (£14.50) – a dish so fresh the teeth were left in. Others opted for plates erring on traditional; a 24oz Double Romsey Pork Chop (£20) which arrived with onion rings, sprout tops, and a creamy mustard sauce and ‘The Pie @ The Pig‘ (£15.50) with Hampshire lamb, minted potatoes and garden chard. Plates stacked with love and technical genius.

My own main, hand-dived Lyme Bay scallops & crispy bacon with creamy mashed potato and monk’s beard (£19.50), has become an all-time hero dish. My tongue is rather judgemental when it comes to the individual ingredients in this dish, so I was eager to see how everything would tie together (and, critically, what would let the dish down). Nothing let the dish down. Savoury and fresh, the scallops came out at a perfect consistency and – alongside the creamy potatoes – offered a delicious taste between strong flavours.

After our meal, we took an ever-so-slightly merry trip to the new baby of The Pig Family, Southampton’s ‘The Pig in The Wall‘ – a boutique hotel with the same kitschy luxury of The Pig In The Forest. Quite literally a stone’s throw from your next ferry to the Isle of Wight, the bed and breakfast has everything you would need for a short stay, including a complimentary shuttle to ‘The Pig in The Forest’ for your dietary delights.

Who knew I could ever feel such affection for a Pig? (Barring micro pigs. Hello.)

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bond and brook
When invited to dine in Fenwick Bond Street, a lady certainly does not decline. That is why I was thrilled to spend an afternoon at Bond and Brook – Fenwick’s second floor eatery and lovechild of the rhubarb family.

Upon arrival, I felt immediately at home. Right in front of our table was an enormous version of the fifth photo in my “Best of Tumblr – Chandeliers”, which happens to be one of my favourite photos of all time.

And the food and drink certainly matched it’s setting. Starting with a glass of champagne and some fresh apple juice, I perused through their delicious-sounding offerings (seriously, look at the menu) and settled on a three course set menu.

My boyfriend did the same, as our starter – an intricate place which showcased carpaccio of beef – was exactly our taste. Nothing but the loveliest, simplest flavours expertly combined.

From then on, our tastes shifted to completely different dishes. He opted for a creamy main of chicken, biscuits (the American kind… without the lackluster American flavour), and mushrooms, while I settled for a perfectly portioned – but loaded – fine fish omelette.

Then, waistlines expanding, came dessert. For The Boy With A Taste for Cake, a generous lemon creation that had an incredible, colourful zest. For The Girl Who Believes Fruit Negates Excess, a delectable serving of poires belle helene.

Finished with a richly crafted latte and a small serving of M&Ms (charmingly coloured in Pantone PMS 245), I believe this is probably the most delicious – and enormous! – meal I have had in over 3 months. Chic, understated quality all round.

Enjoy the photos!
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