When we went into Belle and Herbs today, I didn’t really feel hungry enough to tackle anything the size of their sandwiches, so I decided to try one of their paninis – which I’d not done before.
The Black Forest Panini contains a fantastic mix of Smoked Ham, Melted Cheese and Sliced Green Apple, served with both a green and a pasta salad. Any of these ingredients on their own would have been wonderful. Together they were amazing.
I don’t tend to be a big fan of cake. It’s often too sickly sweet for me, so I tend to pass. This time, however, since Elly was dead keen on the chocolate cake, I thought I’d try this lemon curd layer cake.
I was very very pleasantly surprised. It was moist and just the right balance of tangy and sweet. Refreshing and delicious!
I usually try to resist looking at the cakes on the way into Belle and Herbs, as I know if I do look then I’ll just end up eating cake. I didn’t manage today as there was someone else looking as we walked in the door. Having seen this, rather decadent looking, chocolate cake, I knew I had to leave room for a slice.
And I’m so glad I did coz it’s ‘da bomb’!
This is undoubtedly the best sandwich I have EVER had. Beef steak strips, caramelized onions, grated Monterey Jack and wonderful soft white doorstop bread.
The most impressive thing was that the steak was just perfect. I mean I order steak AS A MEAL in a lot of places and they screw it up. Here it was just a sandwich ingredient, but it was lovely and tender, pink in the middle and not at all chewy. I think hidden in Belle & Herbs’ kitchen is one hell of a chef.
The cheese was mild enough not to overpower the other flavours, which was nice. The onions were lovely and sweet and as I’ve already mentioned the bread was fresh and soft.
One of the things that impresses me every time at Belle and Herbs is that they not only have an innovative menu, but also go to a great deal of effort to do every dish magnificently.
I love Waldorf Salad, so when this sandwich leapt off the menu at me, I just had to have it.
And it was absolutely gorgeous. The Brie was creamy and delicately flavourful, the Apple was crisp, still with it’s bright green skin attached, and the Walnuts where roughly chopped with a decent (but not overpowering) coating of really good Mayonnaisse. All between thick slices of soft white bread. Excellent!
The best thing about having a smoothie at Belle and Herbs is that after you order it you tend to see someone go past with an entire jug of fruit pieces. If you crane your neck a bit you can also see them blitz it into mush and add all the juices and ice and things.
This melon and orange smoothie was lovely. I thought they did particularly well to not overpower the delicate melon flavours with too much orange.
Originally uploaded by ellythompson.
There’s a whole section of the Belle and Herbs drinks menu dedicated to Smoothies. You can either pick one of their specials, or design-your-own from a list of fruit. The best thing is watching people wandering between front-of-house and the kitchen with jugs full of fruit.
The Strawberry & Raspberry (with fromage frais) Smoothie I had was delicious. Sometimes you get a smoothie where one of the flavours completely overpowers all the others. This is not the case here. It’s fruity and creamy and absolutely heavenly.
Belle and Herbs have a fantastic lunchtime offer where you get a bowl of soup and a sandwich for five quid. I chose this sweet potato & bacon soup, with an ABC (Avocado, Bacon and Chicken) sandwich.
The soup was delicious — an interesting combination of sweet and savoury flavours, with a great texture. The sandwich was really good as well — soft white bread, slices of moist chicken breast, crispy bacon and lovely ripe avocado. Yum!
With its Bacon bits and Poached Eggs with a Balsamic Vinegar Dressing on mixed greenery, this salad is pretty much a traditionaly Salad Lyonnaise, but without the pesky croutons, and with a better dressing. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I haven’t eaten a salad as quickly as I ate this one in a long, long time!
Tangy apple sauteed in butter & cinnamon, spread over two pieces of thick toast and covered in molten mature cheddar might seem a bit of a strange combination, but it really works.
The apple was very evidently fresh, having just been sliced and briefly sauteed. This made it tangy and textured enough that it wasn’t too sweet to mix with the flavour of the cheese. Cinnamon just took the edge off a little and there might have been a little nutmeg in there too.
The real triumph of this dish, however, is the texture — difficult to describe, so you might have to try it for yourself!
The California Benedict consists of a toasted English muffin, crispy bacon and poached eggs, covered with guacamole. I assume it must be a Belle & Herbs invention, since I’ve never seen it anywhere before and a quick Google turns up nothing of the sort.
Although the generic Benedict ingredients were up to their usual high standard, the guacamole was a bit over-spiced for this combination. It overpowered the flavours of the eggs & bacon, which was unfortunate.
Not a bad dish at all, I think you just need to enjoy guacamole more than I do to really love it!
Part of the problem as well is that this was the morning of the tragic cat incident so having had all that happen, we weren’t really too hungry.
For those of you who missed the first installment, the Eggs Benedict consists of a toasted English muffin, 4 rashers of bacon topped with 3 poached eggs and smothered in Hollandaise sauce.
Since it was already perfect the first time, the only real improvement on this occasion was that we had a better camera and got some better shots of it!
The Ulster Breakfast comprises 2 sausages, two slices of bacon, 2 fried eggs, 2 fried black pudding, 2 white pudding, boxdy potato cakes and soda farl fried in butter.
This breakfast really is a heart attack on a plate, but the nice thing is that it really doesn’t seem greasy at all when you’re eating it. As is always the case at Belle & Herbs, the eggs were done to perfection, not at all jellified as is so often the case.
The most interesting thing in this breakfast were the boxdy potato cakes. When I read the menu I had no real idea of what these would be like — they turned out to be gorgeous though! Small cubes of potato, with plenty of onion, bound together by egg or possibly some sort of batter. Yum!
The black and white pudding were both really good as well — fried so they were crisp on the outside without being dry. Personally I don’t always like these puddings, just because they’re quite heavily spiced for a breakfast food, but I did enjoy them this time.
When I ordered this I was expecting something smaller… Little pancakes with apple pieces, perhaps.
I was amazed when I was delivered a platesize apple and sultana pancake, an inch thick, with a little pot of toffee syrup to pour over it. Yummy!
Toasted English muffin with four rashers of bacon, topped with three poached eggs and the best Hollandaise sauce I’ve ever tasted.
I love poached eggs, but every other restaurant/hotel/etc where I’ve ever had them before has messed them up. They’re either overcooked, stringy and no longer whole, or raw in the middle because they’ve been shaped in a poaching pan.
At Belle & Herbs, the eggs are poached properly — in a pan of hot water with vinegar. At least, this is how I assume they get them so perfect — yolks lovely and runny, white solid but not hard.
The overall experience of the dish is as good as the eggs are on their own. The muffin is well-toasted, the bacon crisp and the Hollandaise tangy enough to give a nice edge, but without overwhelming the other flavours.
Overall, the absolute best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had.