SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES

SummerDine at Highcross, Leicester

There's no denying that the Highcross redevelopment several years ago has improved Leicester city centre no end. It brought us locals so much more variety, it brought me more plus size high street shopping options and it brought us new higher end options in one beautiful contemporary environment. The other thing it brought to the city was lots and lots more dining choices and this has continued to grow and evolve over the years into a really impressive outdoor restaurant court. 

I recently went on a lovely little evening jaunt with Steph, Sophia, Emma and Hareem (organised by the lovely Gabby) to do a mini tour of a few of the restaurants at the Highcross. We started off at Bills for a selection of appetisers, then on to Handmade Burger Co for mains and we were meant to then trot off to Patisserie Valerie for dessert but we kinda ran out of time and sadly they couldn't provide us with puds to go so we did dessert at Handmade Burger Co. too.
So our first destination where we all met up was Bills. I've only ever been to Bills once in Covent Garden for a quick fuel stop after a London Fashion Week show and to be honest I didn't really pay attention to what I was eating I just threw sweet potato fries into my face and glugged a few aperol spritzes, so I was really pleased to be able to properly see what they could do. 

We arrived to a table loaded with beautiful looking small plates and starter boards with a really playful eclectic mix of cuisines. We hit Mexico with gorgeous spiced homemade tortilla chips with quacamole, salsa and a herbed yoghurt. We hit Greece with perfectly fried halloumi cheese and gorgeous olives and Italy with calamari and bruschettas topped with mozzarella and sun dried tomato pesto. One of my favourites was a Spanish English mash up of a chorizo sausage roll that came with a dish of piccallili to offset the richness of the meat and pastry. Everything was wonderful and I'll definitely be returning with the hubs to try mains and desserts here. It was really fun, interesting and varied food which is right up my street! 

Next we trotted over the road to Handmade Burger Co. where we were greeted by some of the loveliest staff I've experienced in a restaurant, seriously they were all super nice and got us settled before taking our orders. I really love that they're well up for you mixing things up so you can order whatever the hell you want, whatever combos whatever extras, they're all over it.

I decided to try one of their new barbecue inspired burgers, it was a beef patty stuffed with Swiss cheese and then topped with barbecue sauce and bacon along with mayo, red onion and shredded lettuce. I have to caveat this with the fact that I am a full on burger snob... it was a great mix of flavours, classic barbecue and done with good quality ingredients, but to me it just wasn't an amazing burger only because they fell into the trap most placed do making the patty too dense and using a bun that was too thick and not moist enough. I'm not saying that the burger should be falling apart but it should be moist and easy to bite through with a nice mouth texture, then you have to have the bun to burger ratio bang on or you end up just tasting bread and sauce and the beef flavour gets lost. Again I want to say this was not a bad burger, it just wasn't my idea of a perfect burger, but it may well be totally your jam so y'all should go try it for yourself.

And if you do, you better get yourself some sweet potato fries and get them with the rosemary salt. Oh my lordy they were good, I would say the best sweet potato fries I've ever had. You'd think something so simple would be easy to do but I've had some really bad SPF in my time and these were perfect. The perfect size, perfect crispness, perfect fluffy centre and the rosemary salt just tipped them over the edge. Wonderful!

Another thing that a few of us couldn't resist was the milkshakes. I love a good milkshake and these were very nice, the only thing I'd say is that bigger straws were needed! Steph and I shared the orea which was lovely and topped with big cookie chunks and whipped cream and then I took home a peanut butter and butterscotch combo to share with Pete. They were both creamy dreamy lovely and you should put one in your face.

Last up we tried the HBC dessert sundaes - which we didn't realise were sundaes until they arrived, doh! That'll teach us to pay more attention to the menu... We tried one of each of the four options; apple pie, strawberry cheesecake, banoffee pie and brownie and waffle. It was a nice twist turning each dessert into a sundae and they all worked really well, we all especially loved the butterscotch in the banoffee and as I'm very fond of the apple and cinnamon combo the apple pie was high on my list!

Like I said earlier, I love what Highcross has brought to Leicester and it's restaurant scene. I can't wait to try out even more, hopefully soon I'll be able to tell you about every one in the food court!
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*This post contains items that were gifted for review. For more information head to my disclaimer page.
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