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Off Menu!

Throughout the 2020-2021 lockdowns in the UK, I have listened to a lot of podcasts. A particularly great one is ‘Off Menu’ with James Acaster and Ed Gamble. The concept is that the guest is attending a magical restaurant where a Genie will serve their dream meal, so all you have to do is choose your favourite starter, main course, side dish, dessert, and drink. There are no further rules, you could choose pizza for all four if you really wanted to.

I thought this was a great idea and spent far longer than I should have thinking about all the wonderful restaurants and pubs that I have eaten in. Call it a momentary escape from lockdown, with the endless cooking and washing up, but I am feeling hungry as I type this!

So here is my ‘Off Menu’…

Firstly, I would always choose still water and when bread is on the table, I am a happy girl. The ultimate bread is Honey Wheat from The Cheesecake Factory. No other Honey Wheat has met this bar yet even though I have sampled thoroughly.


Tiropita. This is a cheesy egg filling encased in filo pastry. Whilst ravenous from the flight to Athens, I devoured a spinach one of these at the airport and did not look back. It is delicious! I had a few from various eateries during my visit to Athens, and every one of them was heavenly, I am therefore just going to say a non-specific Tiropita from Athens. My tummy is already starting to rumble, and we are only on the starter!


Sirloin Steak (medium) with beef dripping chips and roast carrots in a maple glaze from FX Buckley in Dublin. I had never really enjoyed steaks prior to eating at FX Buckley, I was always a bit overwhelmed by the different cuts and the fact that you have to instruct the chef how you would like it cooked, and just avoided. This was a special occasion though and oh, it was absolutely delightful. The whole restaurant is designed to help you learn more about what you are eating and where your food comes from. Every part of the meal was wonderful, the maple glazed carrots were a particular favourite, and I did leave as a convert to steak meals.


Aberdeen Butteries from a little bakery in Aboyne, Scotland. We used to visit family in the Highlands every summer when I was growing up and we always stopped off in Aboyne to pick up a car full of these buttery treats. They are like a compacted croissant and absolutely scrummy when heated in the oven and smothered in jam.


Dutch Apple Pie from Winkle 43, Amsterdam. This one took literally no time to be added to the list. I would walk back to Amsterdam to get another slice of this pie. Everything about it is perfect, the crust, the filling, the cream… I spent four days in Amsterdam and only visited here on day two, I visited again before I left and since I got home, I really regret not having bought several other pies back with me!


This is where I exploit the subclause of there are no rules. I am choosing a soft drink, alcoholic drink and after dinner drink.

Starting with soft drink; Dr Pepper. I wish everywhere had this as readily available as Coca Cola and Pepsi.

Alcoholic drink; Toronto cocktail from Nightjar, London. This is such a great speakeasy in Shoreditch and the cocktails are expertly mixed with an extravagant flair. The Toronto is a bourbon-based cocktail with coffee and pecan maple syrup topped with a candy floss stick. Fabulous! You also get a pack of playing cards, a great way to take the menu home.

After dinner drink; Tea. English Breakfast tea is my lifeblood and the answer for me is always tea. I am really not fussy about where I get my tea from but for this task, I have chosen to have it at The Breakfast Club. The reason is simple, they serve it in awesome mugs. So, I will have tea with milk, no sugar in a Zippy from Rainbow mug please.

It was hard to narrow down my choices from so many wonderful eateries and if you ask me in a week, I will probably want to add new ideas to the pot. What would your dream menu be?


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