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Anything but run-of-the Ruskin Mill

As promised, here’s the first of our food guides, hastily written before we stop off and debauch ourselves at Little Chef. Friday night’s food was provided by the cafe upstairs at our lovely venue. Ruskin Mill is, along with a significant number of establishments, run by a charitable educational trust ( – at the Mill, young people with autism and learning difficulties learn practical skills, and the cafe plays its part in that. We, along with one of our mummies, were given a hefty veggie chilli with intrepid side salads. Indeed most of the organic menu is of a vegetarian and healthy leaning. Except the cakes, which delicious as they looked, were forbidden as we are both on diets. It’s worth noting that the cafe isn’t licensed (not that that stopped us).

The folllowing night we dined at Shardana in Guildford (, accompanied by our personal GP. Both traditional and modern (like us), trendy yet family-friendly (unlike us), it serves Italian cuisine with a Sardinian twist, in an attempt to pack them in.  And very large glasses of wine, so we’re struggling to remember what we had. Certainly garlic bread – that’s stayed with us, as it did during the concert that night. PS’s parpadelle porcini had a delicate hint of truffle, but lacked sherry, whilst PS’s tagliatelli al bue certainly went on a while. Altogether a pleasant, if hazy experience.

Last night featured Norwich’s Spice Paradise ( On the surface, it was an amalgam of all that is dodgy about such establishments. Unprepossessing on the outside, the inside plumbs 1970s-style depths, with salmon-pink partitions, suspiciously-stained ceiling tiles, gaudy menus and Gallic facilities (even before we arrived). However, we weren’t there to admire the decor, or even the presentation of the food, which could be described as homely, especially if you’ve seen PS’s cooking. Once we had finished prevaricating and chosen from the selection of North and South Indian dishes, we were in for a gustatory treat. Just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, nor a restaurant by its tablecloths.

Next, a special mention to Gill Munday, who responded to our pleas in our previous post and presented us with a bottle of homemade damson or sloe liqueur – she couldn’t remember which (we wonder why) – at Norwich Folk Club. We can now confirm it was a wonderfully syrupy damson conconction. The gift was made all the more sweet by the knowledge that it was originally intended for Spiers and Boden, but we were delighted to inform Gill that neither of them drink.


Yesterday’s lunch was taken at Smith’s at No. 4 in Oundle ( The food didn’t quite live up to the sophisticated prices, nor match the quality of the all-female service, but it was a pleasant spot in which to break up our Norfolk to Wales marathon.

Supper was cooked by our old friend and colleague John Hymas. Not the threatened veggie chilli (thank goodness) but frittatta accompanied by homegrown purple-sprouting broccolli presented in an Ottolenghi-inspired tahini-based dressing. We allowed ourselves dessert – all the benefits of a healthy dose of homegrown rhubarb were negated by dollops of cream, then washed down with large amounts of ‘Up and Down’ and ‘Spitfire’ in the Duke’s Arms. Look out for John’s pop-up restaurants in Presteigne, and check out his music at

Off to Newtown today, and looking forward to more of you taking a lead from Gill Munday’s example. Bon appetit.