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We want to build an occasional guest post on a cluster of low tech sites, into a community that promotes those small, independent, local eateries offering a little extra. Those special, out of the way places that are impossible to find and who need all the help they can get right now.
Unassuming and unpretentious it would be easy to miss the Cedar Lebanese Restaurant opposite the Kings theatre on a busy part of Albert Road, in Portsmouth.
But once you step through the door there is no mistaking the traditional Lebanese music, authentic tasty food and outstanding hospitality and service.
The traditional menu offers a breakfast selection featuring zaatar manoushe and given that I am not that familiar with Middle Eastern traditions and that they open at one in the afternoon and close at one in the morning, I didn’t dare ask.
There is a limited but good selection of salads, hot and cold mezze as well as charcoal grilled dishes, platters, wraps and sweets to round the meal off.
But be warned the portions are generous and if you have an eye for the desserts don’t overdo it.
We travelled up to London by train and after we got everything sorted out at the Embassy we went looking for a late breakfast.
Despite reservations, I have learnt not to argue when she is hungry. So I allowed myself to be steered towards a table in what at first appeared to be a traditional English tea shop festooned with garlands of roses.
Yes, it was a tea shop.
Yes, they serve cream teas and offer an exciting array of home baked cakes and pastries. But I needn’t have worried. Because breakfast all but forgotten, what caught my eye was a lentil soup. Slightly spiced and served with a cheesy pastry twist and crunchy bits you toss into the soup.
Although I did also order a croissant with scrambled egg and haloumi. Just as a reminder of why we were there.
Inadvertently we had found our way to Fait Maisson. A French inspired, Palestinian owned, traditional English tea room serving Middle Eastern food from a menu that also offers both traditional English and Middle Eastern breakfast options and possibly the best Maqluba to be found in London.
An interesting experience and the best lentil soup ever
There is something about street food you don’t get in a regular restaurant and in Portsmouth you get the best of both at Outside-In.
Centrally situated in a renovated warehouse amongst the University buildings and a short walk from the train station. It is a food court bringing together some of the best food vendors in the area and where I was introduced to Natty’s jerk chicken and the taste of the Caribbean.
Jerk chicken is a spicy grilled chicken dish mostly associated with Jamaica but common throughout the Caribbean. A style of cooking in which the main ingredient—which most often is chicken but may also be beef, pork, goat, boar, seafood, or vegetables—is coated in spices and slow-cooked over a fire or grill, traditionally composed of green pimento wood positioned over burning coals; the resulting smoke is key to the flavour of the dish.
Not forgetting to mention the jerk slow smoked baby back ribs and the house special, goat curry.
Vibrant exciting food to warm the very soul. Street food as it should be.
Ask a local about home cooked meals, tea rooms, cakes and bakes and it is odds on, they will steer you to The Deli in Aldwick.
Stunning fried free breakfasts. Freshly made using free range eggs, premium butchers sausages and bacon. Served with beans real toast, sauteed potatoes or bubble and squeak
Home made daily lunch specials with a traditional roast on Thursdays.
Then there is Friday which is pie day. Cumberland pie, lamb and mint pie, chicken, mushroom and peppercorn sauce pie, sweet chilli, cheddar and spring onion quiche and a Brie, cranberry and stuffing strudel.
As tasty as the choices which one has, are imaginative.
Leaving the best to last. Cakes, Bakes, Millionaire Shortbread and their house speciality Rocky Road slices.
Cornwall is a popular, must do destination for visitors to the UK. As is the traditional hospitality, pub food and real Cornish ales found at one of the oldest pubs in the UK, The Crown Inn Lanlivery.
Offering simple hearty dishes all their meat, seafood and fresh produce is all sourced locally.
The braised beef is excellent as are the homemade hamburgers.
Simple tasty traditional pub food
Served with a choice of either Sharps or Skinners real Cornish ales
In front of a open log fire on a cold winters day. Hard to beat. Well worth a visit.
Local, seasonal and organic, a menu and dishes which are as delicious as they are imaginative.
Options like Spinach, pistachio and red onion filo served triple cooked chips and ginger pickled pear, at Tierra Kitchen in Lyme Regis. The fact that this eatery is vegetarian gets lost in the mix.
Situated in the cultural quarter of Lyme Regis on the South Coast this restaurant has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. A warm, rustic feel with a sunny stream-side terrace outside.
Serving brunch and dinner with a strong Mediterranean, Spanish, French and North African influence. As well as a range of coffee, teas, juices and in-house homemade cakes and pastries.
The Park Tavern is a Fullers Pub and one of the best places to lunch in Chichester.
Relax at an outside table overlooking Priory Park and enjoy a cold beer before ordering from a menu offering one a choice of superbly cooked meals
Sundays come with a special menu and a roast which is not to be missed
One of the first pubs I was introduced to after arriving in the UK was the Black Boy in Winchester.
The sort of Old English pubs where they care more about the quality of their Ale rather than the casual vistor asking for the wine list.
The food is not bad. But it is not great either. It is generally busy. Particularly on Sundays and sometimes it shows.
But it is not the food you are after. Its the bric-a-brac, the pub memorabilia, the Old English tavern type atmoshphere that makes the Black Boy special.
The narrow passages, the books, the tradition and the beer of course.
I make a point of trying to avoid the hustle and bustle that comes with takeaway coffees and people in a rush.
Which is reason enough to pick up a newspaper and settle down at the Eternal Baker
A retreat that that is a bit different. Busy in a different sense of the word.