Usually I book somewhere but what with all the focus on Cheltenham last week (which went very well, thank-you) I did not get around to trying to organise something until Saturday itself. When I rang Denis they could not fit us in until after 9pm, so we decided to chance our arm and walk into Pioneer Square and see if we could get in to one of the three new restaurants there all of which we've been to and enjoyed before.
I was struck by how lively and vibrant the whole area of the square was. The new restaurants and the cinema have brought the centre of Bicester alive and it was great to soak up the atmosphere of lots of people around all enjoying themselves. I really do believe that this new development is the best thing ever to happen for Bicester and as more units fill up it will get even better.
The drawback of all off this was that the restaurants were all full up. We enquired first at Nandos and then at Prezzo but both had significant waits for tables. We had a look in Deans which looked full too but didn't enquire. I see that more as a lunchtime place, it's brash and bright and fun but not so much the place for us two wanting a quiet meal for two. If we'd had the kids with us it would have been a different story, as it's perfect for them though.
This left us a little short of options. We didn't want to go to the Copper Kitchen this time as although really good we went there last time. There are quite a few places that we don't fancy because of our own personal likes and dislikes. Claire doesn't like fish, I don't like curry (even the smell of it makes us heave) and neither of us is keen on Thai so Trinity has been off the rota since it got taken over. I really miss Maba which was my favourite - every time we went there it was superb. I could have a good old steak and chips without a lot of fuss. Some might scoff at my traditional tastes but I know what I like and I'm a confirmed, heart on the sleeve, meat and potatoes man and always will be.
However, what I do like is a good chinese and so we thought, "let's try the Yin Hong". This is one of Bicester's oldest established restaurants and I've visited many times over the years but with all the fuss over the new establishments, I'd almost forgotten about it of late. We went round there and although busy they managed to squeeze us in a table for two and I'm so glad they did. I've always enjoyed the food in there, but it seems better than ever now - clearly with all the new competition they are right at the top of their game. They do an "all you can eat" menu for a set price of £15.95, though there are limits - you can't just order everything on the menu. Not that this was a problem for me - we ordered a plate of mixed hors d'oevres to start - all excellent. The ribs were some of the best I have ever had - pure meat coming straight off the bone, no chewy bony gristly bits that you often get in takeaways. We then had some duck with pancakes. I ordered a 1/4 duck but it seemed a lot more than that. Again excellent. We then had 3 mains and a bowl of rice. All of this was more than sufficient and I felt quite stuffed afterwards. There was certainly no room for dessert!
It was only my second day of the month consuming alcohol so along with the meal I ordered a nice bottle of Shiraz. I know I have said it before but alcohol is so much nicer now it is a treat. This was pretty powerful stuff as I noticed on the bottle it was 15%. That's really high for wine, almost fortified like Port. Usually I buy wine with around 12% - 13% from Majestic so it was really noticeable. Afterwards we planned to go for a few drinks so we went down to the Kings Arms to see our old pal Funky Mike in action (playing to a rather mature audience on this occasion) but we were so stuffed full of food, even one pint was hard work to get down, so we were home well before midnight.
It was really good going to the Yin Hong again and great to see them doing so well in the face of all the new openings and it was great to see all the new places fully booked and thriving as well. It's not that long ago that a comment complaint about Bicester was that it was full of Indian restaurants and little else. Now there's a real choice and something for everyone.
Just before I go, I'm pleased to announce that my first book, Fortysomething Father now has a brand new professionally designed cover. Why have I changed it - all shall be explained in my next blog entry!
|NB: The bags of crisps and pepperamis|
are in the back pockets!
Jason's third book all about his adventures in the world of sausages, is now available. Click here for more details: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sausage-Man-Britains-Official-ebook/dp/B00IF4LB8S