Review: The Quarter, Hanley

Another recent addition to Hanley’s emerging food and drink scene, The Quarter can be found just opposite Pockets on Piccadilly. If (Tsp.) and RAWR appeal to the hipsters of the six towns with their psychedelic cupcakes and quirky superfood creations then this venue is their cosy older cousin, offering home comforts and the perfect place to relax. After hearing about its launch, Mum and I decided to investigate for a mid-Christmas shopping lunch and I’m delighted to say we certainly weren’t disappointed.

Mismatched furniture and a variety of decorative signs filled the large, open-plan ground floor, including my personal favourite, “I like big cups and I cannot lie.” We chose a small table by the window and were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm as one of the team brought over our menus. Having deliberated over all the options, I finally settled on the The Quarter Bagel- stuffed full of smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado and rocket, while Mum opted for bacon and cheese oatcakes. I ordered our food and coffees at the till and paid on a very snazzy card machine.

Back at the table and looking out of the window, I was struck by the progress the city is making. I could see another fabulous cafe, a quality menswear store, an art gallery and a theatre all in my line of sight, and The Quarter felt like a natural addition to the scene.While you certainly wouldn’t feel out of place just popping in for a coffee, they also open throughout the evening for food, cocktails and even prosecco. The Quarter themselves will also be hosting a range of entertainment each week, making it an ideal spot for a Saturday night too.

Our food arrived promptly and my bagel exceeded expectations. Smoked salmon and cream cheese will no longer be enough for me – I’m going to need that avocado and rocket in there too and Mum was also very contented with her oatcakes. Accompanied by good quality coffee, we had a wonderful meal and will definitely be returning to support this local business again soon.

Advertisements

First Look: The Cultural Quarter’s new independents

Considering today is ‘Small-business Saturday,’ this presents the perfect opportunity to discuss the explosion of independent businesses that have opened up in Hanley’s Cultural Quarter. Our independent game is already going strong with the likes of tsp, Klay, 51-53 Store, Bottlecraft, The Art Department and RAWR so it’s fantastic to see even more places that can be added to the list! Here’s where you need to be heading next time you’re in town…

Piccadilly Brasserie

This restaurant is a real broad church when it comes to cuisine, clearly influenced by all sorts of European cultures. The menu boasts a range of grills, fish dishes, pastas and burgers as well as daily specials and they cater for “brunch, lunch and dinner.” You can find them just opposite the Regent Theatre, making Piccadilly Brasserie the perfect spot for a pre-theatre meal. However,they also offer coffee, cake and a Christmas Afternoon Tea so there’s something for all occasions. According to their website, the owners have 25 years of experience in the business so you’ll certainly be in safe hands.

The Quarter 

Opening on Monday 5th December, The Quarter brings something entirely different to the city centre. You can expect a cosy cafe by day and a bistro-style eatery by night, along with a delicatessen which is open right through their trading hours; but best of all, they will be hosting regular live entertainment from every genre you can imagine. Comedy shows, poetry reading, music to suit all tastes; customers will be able to enjoy events that they perhaps won’t find anywhere else. I had a quick peek inside their window last time I was in town and I can’t wait to bag a sofa and try out their food!

Sweet. 

I fear I might be pushing the boundaries of ‘small businesses’ by including this new venture, as there are already three other branches across the country, but I’m going to go ahead and include it anyway because folk need to hear about it! Sweet is a desserts bar like no other – you name it, they’ve got it! We’re talking waffles, crepes, classic puds, cookie dough, milkshakes and gelato to name a few, along with an extensive drinks menu and speciality hot chocolates. Launching next Friday 9th December, you can find them on Stafford Street for all your sweet-tooth needs.

My Christmas holidays start just at the right time to give these new businesses a try, so keep your eyes peeled for reviews in the next few weeks.

IN THE NEWS: Northern Quarter, eat your heart out…

During the obligatory 3pm scroll through my Facebook news feed at some point last week, a new Sentinel article caught my eye as they had likened Hanley’s very own Piccadilly to Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

At first, I was thrilled. The Northern Quarter is the epitome of cool. A quick wander around and you will find more hummus, start-up coffee roasters and craft beer than you can shake a stick at. However, you can’t help but notice that the overwhelming demographic roaming the area is bearded, cardigan-clad hipsters. Anyone who’s not wearing a rainbow-coloured, crocheted jumper and carrying a shopping bag full of quinoa and avocados might feel slightly out of place…

And I think here lies my slight objection to the comparison of these 2 places. The difference between Piccadilly and TNQ is that anyone can walk down the former without feeling too ‘uncool.’ Evidently, we have some incredible independent retailers, original galleries and unfathomably good food but I’m not sure we’ll ever be as polished or edgy as Manchester’s creative district…and that is no bad thing.

Part of Stoke-on-Trent’s charm is that it’s messy around the edges. We are a city that has been built with clay, and you don’t have to be a quality potter to know that you will struggle to create something beautiful without getting your hands dirty. Stoke will forever be a work in progress and that truth is what makes us unique. We’re in danger of cities becoming indistinguishable from one another, of one urban sprawl looking very much like any other, so let’s not exacerbate it by constantly comparing their strengths and weaknesses.

So, with this in mind, I’m proposing that we stop these cross-city comparisons and simply celebrate the fantastic things that are happening here. After all, we can have delicious coffee without it needing to compete with a cafe in Manchester and visit quirky pizzerias without worrying about fellow eateries in Birmingham. The atmosphere on Stoke’s Piccadilly is refreshing, welcoming, exciting…let’s just leave it at that!

tsp cafe

(tsp.)

20160405_175132

Klay Pizzeria


The original Sentinel article this post is based on: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Piccadilly-Hanley-s-answer-Northern-Quarter/story-29217287-detail/story.html

My reviews of (tsp.) and Klay which are both featured in The Sentinel’s article:

https://stokeingthefire.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/review-tsp-cafe-hanley/

https://stokeingthefire.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/review-klay-pizzeria-bar/

TOP FIVE: Breakfasts in the Potteries

Breakfast might just be my favourite meal of the day…(but then I say this about lunch and tea so perhaps I’m just a huge food fan all round?) and Stoke & its surrounding areas appear to have developed quite a range of tasty places to start the day. Here are 5 that I think are worth a try…

  1. Chiquito, The Hive

A Mexican breakfast might not be for everyone, but Rach & I are massive fans. There are various dishes on the menu but the Eggs Bravos is truly spectacular: poached eggs sit on top of guacamole and salsa-smothered sauteed potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce. They also serve a range of breakfast burritos as well as more traditional cooked breakfasts alongside coffees and smoothies. With a Student Chiquitos card, you can also receive 25% discount on your bill. ¡Hurra!

13077291_1207808122562716_107241252_n

Eggs Bravos & A Veggie Breakfast Burrito

2. (tsp.), Piccadilly

Yes I know I go on about how much I love this cafe, but they’ve got the lighter breakfast covered and most importantly of all, quality coffee. (tsp.) offer lots of pastries, bagels and crumpets- even their toast is absolutely delicious, which I believe is from Live Love Loaf Bakery in Leek. Sitting in the cafe, particularly on a sunny morning, is the perfect way to ease yourself into the day…

13082004_1207808145896047_836691003_n

(tsp.)’s trusty coffee

3. Melice, Intu Potteries

If pancakes and crepes are your cup of tea, then this is the place to come. They serve both savoury and sweet options – I can wholeheartedly recommend the nutella, banana & chantilly cream pancake. Melice also have a good range of drinks and with so many different French pastries in their cabinet, I challenge you to visit without taking a Strawberry Tart or a Mille Feuille home for lunch…

13084091_1207808135896048_1876253600_n

The banana, nutella & chantilly cream pancake

4. High Lane Oatcakes / London Road Oatcakes / Any reputable oatcake shop

It saddens me to think that the rest of the country don’t get to begin their day with some delicious & freshly-made filled oatcakes. Considering I’m a vegetarian, cheese & mushroom are my personal favourite but I know cheese & bacon is another cracking combination. I couldn’t possibly begin to comment on the best place to get your oatcakes, for it is a debate that will continue until the end of time, but High Lane Oatcakes and London Road Oatcakes are always a safe bet.

5. Bailey’s Tea Room, High Street

The first entry from Newcastle comes in the form of Bailey’s Tea room. Their breakfast menu features everything you would expect to find in a British tearoom, from a full English to eggs any way and toasted teacakes. Bailey’s scrambled eggs & smoked salmon is one of my favourites but I can’t deny I’m also partial to a toasted teacake.


Chiquito: http://www.chiquito.co.uk/

(tsp.) : https://www.facebook.com/tspcoffee/?fref=ts & Live Love Loaf Bakery http://www.liveloveloaf.net/ 

Melice: http://www.melice.co.uk/

Bailey’s Tea Room: http://www.baileystearoom.com/index.html

REVIEW: Klay Pizzeria & Bar

Every time I come home from university for the holidays, I try to take my sister out for food somewhere- it’s become a sort of (slightly expensive) tradition- and so when I discovered there was a new kid on Stoke’s independent food scene, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Klay Pizzeria & Bar offers wood-fired pizza (in their own wood-fired oven!) to eat in or take away “by the slice or circle” and you can find them in a prime location opposite the Regent Theatre on Piccadilly. The decor is refreshing with lots of white tiles, exposed ceilings and wooden stools giving it an industrial look. If you choose your seat carefully, you can watch your pizza being handmade before your very eyes in their open kitchen. Alternatively, you can grab a window seat and watch the world go by on Piccadilly (which I must say is looking quite quirky and cosmopolitan as of late!)

20160405_170618

The interior

So edgy are ‘Klay’ that they’ve even managed to make the food ordering process more interesting. When deciding what to go for, you’re encouraged to customise your menu as much as possible so that your order is exactly what you want; pencils are provided allowing you to scribble, tick and cross out to your heart’s content. Which brings us to the main event…

20160405_170226

The quirky menus…

The pizza. Klay offer a variety of pizzas on their set menu as well as a number of specials. These include old favourites like the ‘Straight up Marg’ (Margherita) and ‘The Pepperlonely’ (Pepperoni) as well as what can only be described as pizza brilliance in the form of ‘The MAC Daddy’ (Macaroni Cheese! On a pizza!) and ‘The Benedicto’ (Eggs Benedict.) Rach and I couldn’t resist giving the Mac Daddy a try and we also opted for ‘The Stavros’: a greek style mix of avocado, feta, olives and balsamic vinegar.

20160405_172018

The Mac Daddy & The Stavros

Unsurprisingly so, they were both heavenly. Some may argue that a mac ‘n’ cheese pizza is an unnecessary step towards complete carbocide [definition: death by carbohydrates] but I would respectfully disagree. The combination of a crispy base, al dente macaroni and a creamy cheese sauce made for a real taste sensation. Similarly, the Stavros was cooked to perfection and with all those greens on top, it could nearly be considered healthy! Prices for 11″ pizzas ranged from £8-£12, which I think is excellent value considering your average pizzas from Pizza Hut/Pizza Express can be even more costly and certainly not as delicious.

In addition to the pizza menu, Klay also offer a range of sides. Pizza cones and Flatbread are definitely on my list to come back and try, as well as the mozzarella sticks and nachos. In all the excitement, I somewhat overlooked the drinks menu but I am a big fan of any establishment that sells soft drinks for just £1. Other reviews have sang praises about their range of beers and wines too- including Brooklyn Beer which my friend Soph raves about- for very reasonable prices and so ‘Bar’ really does deserve to be in their title.

Overall, Klay Pizzeria & Bar makes a tasty addition to the already-amazing Piccadilly strip (thank you (tsp.) and Entrepreneurs et al). They’ve created a flexible space that could cater for all kinds of eating-out, whether it’s a slice and a beer for a quick lunch; a first date or a celebratory meal out and the quality of the pizza must make it one of, if not THE best pizza establishment in Stoke-on-Trent. Oh, and in case you missed it, it also comes highly recommended from Jason Manford & Phil Jupitus, not that you needed another reason to pay them a visit…

20160405_175132

Klay Pizzeria & Bar


 

Find Klay Pizzeria & Bar on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Klay-Pizzeria-Bar-961721717231373/  and on Twitter: @klaypizzeria

The Sentinel check out Klay Pizzeria: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/pictures/Klay-Pizzeria-Bar-Hanley/pictures-28949519-detail/pictures.html

REVIEW: NOM Restaurant, Hanley

Looking through my inbox and noticing an email from NOM advertising their lunch menu reminded me to get writing about this fab restaurant. NOM can be found on Stafford Street, slap bang in the middle of the city centre, meaning it’s easily accessible for all especially with bus stops and taxi ranks right outside the door. They’re also the biggest independent restaurant in Hanley so surely that’s reason enough to pop in and see what they offer.

On the occasions that I’ve eaten here I received a warm welcome from the front of house staff who showed us to our table and explained the different menus available. The interior is quite different to anything else I’ve seen in Hanley; a nice mix of furniture against almost-britpop wallpaper and low lighting which does in fact create an intimate atmosphere as their website describes. However, I will be encouraging my mum to bring a head torch if we ever visit together as while the lighting creates ambiance for most of us, it would certainly pose a few issues for those with impaired vision. Nevertheless, it creates a nice mood in which to peruse the menu.

Considering I’m a pescatarian (i.e. I only eat fish as opposed to meat) the dishes that I’ve ordered previously reflect this and so I can’t vouch for the quality or taste of the meat or other such things that I know are highly important to meat-eaters. I’ve often found the lunch menu to be excellent value, with 1 course for only £6.95, 2 courses at £9.25 and 3 courses for only £11.95. For starters, if the ‘Soup of the Moment’ is ever Broccoli & Stilton then I heartily recommend it as it is superb, although it’s possible that may just be because this is my favourite soup of all time. The garlic mushrooms are also both well-presented and delicious, served with a ciabatta and well-dressed salad! Moving on to mains, the best thing I’ve had has to be the fish goujon sandwich. Picture a fancy fish finger sandwich with their homemade chips and tartare sauce- it was brilliant! The smoked salmon focaccia that I had most recently is a close second though and comes in the most enormous portion size. Even I couldn’t quite finish it and I am usually Captain of the clean plates. I must admit I’ve not yet tried the puddings as I’ve always been too full from 2 courses but they always look divine with big portion sizes again.

In my experience, NOM has always provided top quality food for such a reasonable price. What’s more, it tends to feel a little more upmarket than some of the other eateries available in Hanley but still remains relaxed enough for a lunch with friends as well as an evening dinner out. I hope you manage to give their grub a go sometime soon and if you do, be sure to pick up a loyalty card as they offer a free drink on visit 3, a free dessert on visit 6 and a free meal on visit 10!

NOM

NOM


NOM website: http://nomrestaurant.com/ 

NOM on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NOMHanley