About Toby

An ICT Teacher from London, UK.

Eiffel dining, but not as we know it

Las Vegas is apparently the city that never sleeps and home to some of the most extravagant and lavish [anything] on the planet. We however, were a little more reserved when jaunting around in Nevada last month and tried to absorb some of the finer things that the heart of the silver state had to offer.

Designer dining is everywhere you look in Las Vegas as most people come to the Sin City for a royal good time, and what can be more centric to this kind of experience than decent food served with a smile.

The pinacle of the dining experiences that we had was at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant  No, not a throwback to European holidays, but in the Paris Las Vegas which is home to a half scale, 541-foot (165 m) tall replica of the Eiffel Tower.

The dining experience here is one of the best in Las Vegas if not only for the amazing views up and down Las Vegas Boulevard and the extravagant vistas of the Bellagio Fountains.

Once you have gotten over such amazing views, the food here is just tremendous. To start things off, there was an amuse-bouche of mushroom muse with truffle shavings and a cheese pastry to get things moving in the mouth.

Next up was the starters that were tailored for the season. I started with Autumn Greens: Roasted Beets, Walnuts, Bartlett Pear, Petite Frisee. This was a delicious light start to the meal and welcome relief from the hugely rich intake of the past few days.

Nina went with a more traditional start of Creamy French Onion Soup.

The mains were just as impressive. A friend recommended the steak in this restaurant, so I had to see what all the fuss was about and opted for the Open Faced Steak Sandwich: Blue Cheese, Horseradish, Crispy Shallots.

Needless to say that there was cause for fuss as the tender steak fell apart in the mouth with its sweet flavours and backup from the toasted bread beneath that served well to soak up anything lost by the meat.

Nina made her way through the Chopped Romaine: Chicken Two Ways, Caesar Dressing, Poppy Seed Tuile.

Thinking that the ‘salad’ option would be lighter, this was quite the helping. So much to say that I had my fair share and this mix of salad and chicken was pretty rich and thus very satisfying.

All in all, if you are in Las Vegas and fancy a refined meal with exceptional service, ambience and probably some of the best views any city can offer, you cant go too far wrong with the Eiffel Tower Restaurant.

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Between courses

It has been a while since anything has been posted, and we are sorry. Not to make excuses, but we have been rather busy and unfortunately, the posts about our daily foodie frolics have gone dark.

We are slowly moving back to a ‘regular’ existence now that should have plenty of time in it to post on the internet about food. It is reassuring to know that there are people out there who do actually read this as we have been featured in our local paper!

Foodie fame

So here is to the frolics to come! We have plenty up our sleeve.

Brunch at Balans

It was shortly before noon and we were dashing around in Bluewater and realised that breakfast had been missed and lunch was soon needed. We opted for ‘Brunch‘ and were lured into Balans for an all day breakfast that had been advertised on a sign at the most reasonable price of £7.95.

A full english was enjoyed with superb loose leaf tea and seriously strong coffee that blew away any cobwebs there might have been. The ‘full english’ was made up of eggs (any way you like them), sausage, bacon, mushroom, tomatoes, beans, toast (white, brown or granary and served with butter, or a range of preserves) and ‘balans potatoes’, a sort of sautéed potato with spring onions and chilli.

This meal wouldn’t normally have made it on here, but the shining feature of this Brunch was the superb service. To be asked how you like the eggs in a full english (it is normally fried by default) and given the choice of bread for toast is service above what is normally expected. Water was also offered mid way through without prompt from us. So much to say that the service charge was paid without complaint.

We will be back to Balans to see what else this simply wonderful gem has to offer from an evening menu!

Golcar Lily

The Golcar Lily is beautiful pub and restaurant in the rolling hills above the Yorkshire Town of Huddersfield. We were fortunate enough to spend quite some time here this week and enjoyed soaking up the relaxed and tranquil atmosphere the town of Golcar had to offer.

Not to be too distracted by the breathtaking views, the at the Golcar Lily is a local and regional favourite for a good reason. You really cannot beat sitting with a beer and looking over the hills, there are even cows – a rare sight for us Southerners.

Nina went with a fairly standard Beaf in Blackbean sauce stir-fry with rice, but this somehow managed to stand out. Deep oriental flavours came from this seemingly humble dish. Chinease food can so easily be got wrong and be left too bland or too highly flavoured, this was perfect and tasted like a homemade dish.

Mine was Crispy Belly Pork on a bed of Creamy Onion and Sage Sauce. The pork was cooked to near perfection and the sauce was a simple triumph of what can be done to add to the flavours of delicious locally sourced pork belly.

All of this was served up with traditional vegetables and rice for the stir-fry.

What can not be understated is the ambience of this place. In front of me was a delicious plate of food and to my left, the most breathtaking view, looking out over Huddersfield (somewhere down there anyway)

If you in the area, you must pop in to sample some of this local goodness and revel in the atmosphere.

Dartford Greek Taverna Resturaunt

It was a Friday afternoon after the pub and we had a school theatre performance to get to that evening. Time was short and we needed something local to sate us for the evening ahead. A friend of ours had a taste card that that gives her and friends up to 50% discount in many local and independent restaurants, and one of these was the Dartford Greek Taverna restaurant. This is a local place I have passed regularly for many years and heard many good things about, but had never actually been in.

The place is pretty retro, but has a fantastic atmosphere and very friendly staff.

In haste, we opted for a medley of starters of home made Hummus, Tzatziki, Taramasalata and grilled Halloumi, served with toasted pita bread. You might see on the left, a bottle of Retsina, a Greek wine that matures in barrels made of olive wood. It has a distinctive herby and olive taste and is totally delicious. I last had this in Barcelona a few years ago and this was just as good!

For my main, I went for Sheftalia: Home made mince, rolled with herbs & spices, charcoal grilled. Refreshing and satisfying, this tasted just like Greece on a plate!

Nina went for Chicken kebab: Pieces of marinated chicken breast, skewered & grilled. I have it on good authority that this was also very good, however, I was too busy chowing on my own plate of greek grub!

Overall, The Dartford Greek Taverna Restaurant was a great value way of getting a quick fix of delicious Greek grub. We will have to go back there for a more drawn out experience of delicious greek food!

BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend

We were fortunate enough to have received tickets to BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend on the Saturday of this past weekend. The atmosphere was alive and typical of a good British festival. We were also impressed by the general atmosphere in and around Hackney itself, not to mention the huge plethora of different restaurants we saw on the way there sporting everything from Nigerian to Lebanese cuisine.

Not to be too distracted by the likes of Nicki Minaj, Jay Z and the rest of them on show, we could not help but scope out the arena for some tasty foodie goodness!

I opted for some Steak and Halloumi – Greek Style! There was all sorts of nasty burgers and chips about the place, so this place stood out as something alternative to the greasy regulars. I was not jus me that had the idea as this place had the longest queue of any other vendor in the area by far!

For a handsome £5.50, a ciabatta bread was laden with Steak and Halloumi, topped off with some shallots and smothered in a yogurt and mint dressing. The whole thing was deeply refreshing and just what any weary festival goer might need as a pick-me-up.

Nina went for an even more exotic choice of… Ostrich BBQ. Yes, a huge great chunk of BBQ’d Ostrich, slap in the middle of a bun.

What an interesting flavour this was. We have long wanted to try the ones in Borough Market, but have never really got around to it. With a tick in the Ostrich box of weird foods to try, we can safely say that it is both tasty and fulfilling. To compare it to something, think steak and chicken hybrid.

Butterbean and Beetroot Hummus with Pita Chips

We much prefer a starter to a desert (though frequently have all three courses). This is a quick, easy and impressive starter if served in individual ramekins, a tasty lunch or a buffet/mezze style starter.  Hummus is everywhere at the moment, on restaurant and bar menus, we put a spin on it with butter beans rather than chick peas as the main ingredient.

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of Butterbans
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Beetroot
  • Garlic oil
  • Fresh chives
  • Granary pita breads
  • Garlic oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Drain the butterbeans, but leave a little excess liquid in the can
  2. Empty into a food processor
  3. Add two cloves of garlic and start the food processor
  4. After about thirty seconds, start adding the garlic oil until the mixture becomes thick and smooth
  5. Add the chives so that there is a smattering of green in your mix
  6. Keep whizzing until the mix is smooth and not too watery – just like the consistency of hummus!
  7. Chop the beetroot into small chunks and then fold into the mix. Fold gently – do not stir madly as you do not want the Beetroot to completely mix with  the butterbeans
  8. Decanter into a serving bowl or ramekins and then straight to the table, or to keep in the fridge for a day or two
  1. Cut the pita chips into little squares / triangles / whatever shapes you want, but make sure you separate the two sides. You should also remove any pappy soft clumps that might be in the middle.
  2. Arrange these on a baking tray evenly and cover (or spray) with your oil and then season to taste. Salt and pepper work a treat, but you might want to be a bit more adventurous. Bake at 170°C until chip-like (about 15 – 20 minutes)

This is a great cheap and easy starter that is bound to impress with its festive colours, rich textures and soft flavours.