We chose Ha ha Bar and Grill in Spinningfields.
|Buying garlic at the French Market|
Some of the market stalls were shutting down, but we did find a large quantity of garlic and other fruit and veg, a cheese stall and a woman selling all manner of sausages including the not-so French Chorizo. We just picked some garlic but we would have stocked up with loads of interesting produce had we not been going out.We'll definitely keep an eye out for further accessible French markets, and look forward to stocking up on all sorts of European goodies at the Christmas markets.
Back to Ha ha. First of all, we'd just like to say that from now on we will be trying to avoid the big chain restaurants, despite what vouchers may be emailed to us every day, trying to entice us in. Basically this is because the food is OK, but nothing special, and we did feel that whatever we chose from the menu, we could do it ourselves at home. Maybe to a similar standard, maybe better. We're not saying that Ha ha had the "counted out peas" feeling that some chain pubs give, but we'd rather spend our money elsewhere on food that is more special really.
We started off with a drink at the Mark Addy pub, on the opposite side of the canal to Ha ha, and decided that we'll try there for food sometime, as it is award-winning apparently. Although the expensive wine, was just OK rather than great.
We got to the restaurant and the bar area was full - mainly shirt and tie brigade, and rather noisy. All added to the atmosphere though. Plus Ha ha was clearly the most popular place along that stretch of restaurants. Maybe because of the separate bar area.
We were seated along the edge of the restaurant area, and given menus and we asked if we would like to order drinks. We said we'd like to look at the wine menu first, but actually decided on one of the recommended wines that we'd tried before. We were also offered water; still, sparkling or tap. So we went for a jug of tap and noted the plus point that tap water was actually offered.
We explained to the waiter that I was eating gluten free and he said he would find out exactly which dishes I could have. It turned out to be anything that was obvious, in other words no pasta or bread. I fancied a steak and he explained that the Stilton and mushroom topping was gluten free, but the other sauces were bought in and therefore couldn't be guaranteed gluten free. Top marks for the waiter, as he was very thorough in explaining everything, obviously knowing how serious food allergies and intolerances can be, but why, when there were at least two chefs on show to the restaurant are the sauces bought in? Counted out peas springs to mind.
We placed our order and sat with our wine for a bit. The pace of the service seemed good, not rushed at all. I had opted for the melon and serrano ham starter. I generally am not someone who goes for a sweet/savoury mix like that, but thought I'd give it a go. Tim ordered the pate. The waiter came over and said that the melon wasn't good enough to serve and asked me for another order. Again, top marks for the waiter, the manner in which he did this was great, and I'm sure some places may have just sent out the melon. But again, why did this happen? Early on a Friday night you would have thought that everything would be available. In the end I ordered the garlic and chilli prawns which was another one of my three options.
|Garlic and Chilli Prawns|