I know I’ve been quiet on the blog recently…there’s no excuse really! So when my OH told me that he had booked us a table at The Flowing Well for a free meal to taste their new menu, I knew I had my next post!
The Flowing Well has undergone a facelift recently. While before it felt like a pub you might get a bite to eat it, it’s now a lovely open restaurant with a comfy bar area, complete with lush sofa’s & a woodburning stove.
Upon arrival we were given a menu & quite an extensive wine list. I was very pleased to see more than one option for veggies and plenty of options for pescatarians & carnivores alike. I had a large glass of merlot, which went down a treat! And it was quite reasonable at about £5. I opted for the roasted beetroot & creamed goat’s cheese starter. It was delicious! And it was the perfect size starter. I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture of it! My OH had the crispy fried chilli squid & thought it was delicious.
There was just enough time between the starter and the main course. There was quite a bit of choice on the menu – from pizza to pasta & risotto. This time I opted for the roasted aubergine, pepper & chickpea tagine with couscous & minted yoghurt. It was really tasty and very filling. Everything worked well and it was cooked to perfection. My OH had the burger & chips (which were super tasty!) and he really liked it, though felt that the burger could’ve done with a minute longer on the grill. The atmosphere was fab & I really like the feel of the place.
Then the waitress returned to take our pudding order. They did have my ultimate pudding, crème brulee, on the menu. But they’d broken one of my rules & flavoured it with lemon! Noooooo! So I opted for my second favourite pudding – Brownie with chocolate sauce & cream. It was a most excellent choice. The brownie was huge & warm. I was delighted! The cream was perfect and there was just enough to go with the brownie. My OH ordered the crème brulee. Traitor. It came with a handful of rasperries & a small shortbread. He really liked it. I tried it and while it’s fine, it’s not for me. Them’s the rules!
I really like this place & am already thinking of when I can go back and who I can take there. I have pretty much decided on what to have next! I am so impressed with the changes they’ve made & it’s really a lovely dining experience.
As I was in Oxford Tuesday night & my OH was going to pick me up, we thought that we could have a bit of dinner in Oxford. It’s something that we used to do quite a bit when we lived there so I was looking forward to it. We couldn’t decide where to go – Wagamama or Turl Street Kitchen. We both love Wagamama & find that their food is filling & reasonable. But Turl Street Kitchen is new & has been all over Twitter. All we had to do was wait for their menu.
TS Kitchen uses local produce as much as possible & therefore only decide what they’re cooking on that day. I completely support this because then you know that you’re getting fresh produce that’s supporting local producers. The downside is, if, like me, you like to know what’s available in advance, you have to stick to Twitter like glue for the release of the menu. In my case, this isn’t a huge problem. I’m a Twitter addict!
We went in after 8.30pm & it was still quite busy. The restaurant has been decorated amazingly well. It has a lovely feel about the place. There is a nice small bar area, a little ‘snug’ with big comfy chairs & a larger space with tables. We were met by a pleasant waiter, asked to wait for a bit while they cleared a table so we got some drinks. I had a Dandelion & Burdock – Love this! – while my OH had a pint of local lager. We didn’t have to wait too long & soon we were sitting at our table. There were a few veggie options & I went for the red onion, tomato & red pepper tart. My OH opted for the lamb hotpot. We also asked for two portions of the bread & butter to start.
We didn’t have to wait long for the mains, but the bread (& only one portion of it) came with the main course. The portions were quite small. I’ve seen that size of portion served as a starter. But this didn’t bother me as it was enough & it came with a side salad. What did bother me was the price. My small slice of tart was £8. The lamb hotpot was £9.50. Now I know that good quality meat is expensive so I wasn’t surprised by that. But £8 for a small slice of tart & a salad?! That did surprise me! And, as I’m watching my pennies, it’ll put me off going back for an evening meal.
After my disgusting visit to the loos at The Rose, I knew I had to visit them at TS Kitchen. Well, they were amazing. Freshly decorated, clean & with the original parts of the buildings exposed, they were impressive. The Rose could learn a thing or two from here!
Yesterday afternoon I had some time to kill between a meeting & my Cath Kidston Craft event (more on that later!). Oxford City Guide had tweeted that The Rose had been listed as one of the top ten tea rooms in Britain. So I thought I’d give it a go. I like tea & cake so it seemed like a win-win. I read through the menu beforehand, obviously, and saw a few things that I could eat. Off I went.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a very nice waitress. The tea room wasn’t too full but it wasn’t empty either. I was given a tea menu but was torn between a sandwich & a cake. I had to ask for the sandwich menu but went for a delicious flour-less chocolate & almond cake. It came with a decent sized dollop of cream on the side. I opted for the Assam tea. It was lush. And the pot seemed to go on for ever & it didn’t stew. I stayed for a while, reading my book. The only thing it could’ve done with was a little bit more atmosphere – maybe a bit of music. When I was ready to go, I paid my bill & popped to the loo. The stairs were, um, small but this wasn’t the worst thing. When I got downstairs there was a hideous smell. It made me feel sick. If I’d gone down there first, I wouldn’t have been able to stay. I needed fresh air. The loos are tiny & the hand drier isn’t positioned well. A bit of a let down & it spoilt my time there. I’ve been in way better tea rooms & The Rose doesn’t fit into my top 10. Maybe top 15, but that’s as far as it’d go.
In case you hadn’t noticed, good vegetarian food is important to me. I am a vegetarian because of ethical reasons and have been since 2003. I don’t want animals to die for me to eat. This is my choice & I don’t impose it on anyone (well, maybe my OH because I won’t touch meat!)If people want to eat meat, that’s their choice. If they must, I’d rather they ate organic, free-range meat. I also wish that ‘vegetarians who eat fish’ wouldn’t call themselves vegetarians because they aren’t. They’re pescatarians. Anyway, I digress.
I do agree that meat-eaters should know & respect where their meat comes from. When I found out about the living conditions of mass-produced meat (this is pre-Jamie & Hugh F-W), it put me off eating anything like that. I know not all meat is grown in those conditions now, but when I think of tucking into a bacon sarnie, all I can see is something like the image below & I feel sick. No meat for me.
So when I saw that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was making a programme about veggie food & was going to be meat-free, naturally I was intrigued. As a veggie, you often feel like you’re an after thought in restaurants, which is why I like Atomic Burger, Atomic Pizza & Big Bang so much. There was actual choice. Sometimes you feel lucky to have anything that’s not just a broccoli & cauliflower bake (Gross!) I watched last nights episode and was really pleased with the food that they produced. I think that Hugh & River Cottage showed that being veggie isn’t about lentils & evangelising about the woes of meat.
The show has certainly encouraged me to eat a wider variety of vegetables (am in somewhat of a food rut) & I’d like to have a go at growing them too. I hope this show encourages restaurants to offer more choice for everyone, not just vegetarians. The meat industry is having an impact on the environment, health & people’s bank balances. As a nation we don’t eat enough veg so hopefully this will encourage us all to look at our diets and see if we’re eating the right things for us, for the planet & for the super-cute farm yard animals. x