I knew it was going to be sweet…

Walking around the Haymarket in Edinburgh, there was quite a wide choice of places to eat. My first choice was the Le Marche Francais, however that wasn’t open that evening.

There were quite a few Vietnamese places, but in the end I chose the HauHan.

“Serving up British style Chinese food inspired by the dishes of Hong Kong.”

There was a lovely warm welcome from the staff and as the place was quite empty I had the choice of tables where to sit. Inside is clean and tidy. I liked the Hong Kong style decor, it was elegant and simple. There was nothing pretentious about this place.

From Sunday to Thursday they do a meal for one deal, where you get a starter, a main and a side, served with prawn crackers.

I started with the Ja Ha Mian Bao, Sesame Prawn Toast with Sweet Chilli Dip.

Ja Ha Mian Bao, Sesame Prawn Toast with Sweet Chilli Dip.

These looked homemade and you could taste the prawns. They were for me slightly too oily and greasy, but even so I did eat all four slices. The sweet chilli dip was rather nice, I thought it might be sticky and sweet, but it wasn’t.

For my main, I chose the Go Lo Gai, Sweet & Sour Crispy Chicken in an Orange, Lemon, Ginger & Garlic Sauce with Green Peppers & Onions. I had it served with a portion of Jasmine Rice.

Go Lo Gai, Sweet & Sour Crispy Chicken in an Orange, Lemon, Ginger & Garlic Sauce with Green Peppers & Onions.

This was a good size portion of food and rice. There were no green peppers, but there were onions, red peppers and carrot. The chicken portions were crispy and tasty. I liked the scattering of sesame seeds. The sauce was sweet with only a hint of sourness. I kind of expected that with a sauce containing orange and lemon.

It reminded me of Chinese takeaway food, but without the excessive salt and grease that you sometimes have. The portions weren’t too small, nor were they excessive.

Service was excellent, with friendly staff, not over-bearing and efficient.

Overall it was a really nice meal and I enjoyed it.

Time for a quick, nice espresso

quick, nice espresso

Arriving at Weston-super-Mare railway station for my train to Manchester I had some time for a quick coffee.

I usually catch my trains from Worle station, I am still astounded that for what is a relatively small town, Weston-super-Mare has three railway stations. The main station at Weston-super-Mare which is on a loop from the main line. This opened in 1841.

There is a halt further down that loop called Weston Milton. This station opened in 1933

Despite having two stations, a third station, Worle Station was opened in 1990.This was the fourth station to serve Worle, the previous station to serve Worle closed in 1964.

What is nice is that the mainline trains to London from the West start their route as commuter trains from Taunton or Weston to Bristol and stop at these smaller stations. In the olden days (okay a few years ago) when the London trains were HSTs, the trains were too long for Worle platform so only four coaches would be able to open their doors, the same happens today with the new nine coach Inter-City Express Trains (IETs).

Weston-super-Mare railway station

Anyhow I was at Weston-super-Mare as I was catching a CrossCountry service to Manchester and this train calls at Weston-super-Mare and then calls at Bristol Temple Meads, so it doesn’t call at Worle.

At Weston-super-Mare station there are two cafes. One which has been there for a while is a typical old school station cafe and I have never really been enamoured with the refreshments available from there, I have had the odd cup of tea, but usually I just avoid it. The other new cafe is much more my cup of tea… though I usually drink coffee. Actually to call it new, just shows I am getting old, as it had been there quite a few years now. I can’t quite remember when it opened, but I have had some nice coffee from there, and it’s also a nice place to sit and wait for the train. I think it has changed hands a few times as well between when it opened and now.

So this morning having about fifteen minutes before my train I decided to pop in and have a quick coffee. They have stools, sofas and chairs. The decor is rather quirky with old trunks serving as tables and lots of old wood. The walls (which I remember once they had artwork on the walls) are covered in coffee names and slogans.

I chose a simple single espresso. What is nice is that when drinking in, they serve their coffee in a proper china cup. This was great coffee, strong, intense and delicious. I could have had another one, but my train arrived.

I actually wanted the chicken…

So after going for a walk over my lunch break I decided after thinking about it for a while that I fancied something spicy, so decided to visit Nusa Kitchen.

Nusa Kitchen

It’s at times like this that I really should read my own blog, as on my previous visit there I wasn’t impressed.

My initial reaction on opening the box was one of disappointment, I was expecting grilled chicken, it wasn’t grilled, well it might have been but there was no grilled look or flavour. The sauce was scattered across the chicken, however it lacked flavour. I couldn’t detect the coconut in the coconut rice, but it was otherwise cooked well, nice and separate and not sticky. The salad was fresh and interesting. Even with the disappointment of what it looked like, alas the eating experience didn’t change my perspective, and it was a disappointing meal overall. I don’t think I will return.

One of there reasons I blog about my eating experience is to remind me not to buy and eat at places I had eaten at.

So forgetting about my last experience completely I went there again. I vaguely remember eating from there before, but I couldn’t recall exactly what I had ordered and what it had been like… simple solution read my own blog!

I chose the Vietnamese Chicken, fragrant flame grilled chicken served with coconut rice and salad, which is what I had before and was disappointed with.

This time I was disappointed again, not because it wasn’t any good, but I never got any, as they had sold out of the chicken.

Looking over the menu I went with the Asian Inspired Tofu & Mushrooms.

Asian Inspired Tofu & Mushrooms

The tofu was interesting, but the mushrooms lacked flavour.  The sauce was scattered across the tofu and the mushrooms (as before) and it also lacked flavour. The menu describes the rice now as just rice, no mention of coconut, this was cooked well, nice and separate and not sticky. The salad was fresh and interesting. 

However as before the overall experience was this time just okay. I must remember both this meal and the previous one, next time I go out for lunch.

Kingfin Calamari

Over the summer I have been finding myself in Bristol on a Friday so I have had the chance to eat at the Finzel Reach market. There is a wide choice of stalls with a varied choice of food. You can have Thai, Pizza, Vegan, Mac ’n Cheese, Dumplings to name a few of the many choices.

Though I do like to try out new things I have found myself over recent visits going to SheSellsSushi and having their delicious Bento Box of beef donburi and a chicken flapper hirata bun.

On my most recent visit there was a new stall I hadn’t seen before, Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips. As well as their fish wraps, which sounded rather tasty, what really caught my eye was their special, which was Calamari. Everything was cooked to order which was nice to see.

Kingfin Calamari

The squid rings were coated in a flour mix and then deep fried. They were served with aioli, some salad and rosemary fries. This was quite a substantial meal and I had initially thought I might be just a snack and I might need more food, but I was glad to be proved wrong.

Kingfin Calamari

There was quite a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh, rather than heating up or second cooking pre-cooked squid. The fries on the other hand were pre-cooked and then fried again, but this didn’t matter that much. I would have liked more salad. Overall though I really enjoyed the food and would certainly have it again.

Argentine Steak from the market

Near the office there are plenty of places for lunch and on Wednesdays in New Street Square there is a street food market. On my most recent visit to the office I had forgotten about the market, so it was a nice surprise, when popping out for lunch that the market was running.

There were a wide range of stalls with a variety of choices. I was tempted by the Polish pierogi stall, then there was the Bao stall, I do like a nice steamed Vietnamese bun. I quite liked the look of the paella as well. In the end I went with the Argentine Grill, Criollo. They had a steak sandwich or a steak and salad box on their menu. I went with the steak and salad box.

Criollo street food stall

It comprised a box of mixed green leaves, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers with grilled bavette steak cooked with cheese. It was served with a fresh chimichurri sauce.

steak and salad box

This was one tasty box, the steak, though not melt in the mouth, was tender and full of flavour. The salad was fresh and delicious. The salad was simplistic, but complemented the steak and cheese. I think the only thing missing was some staple, I actually popped into Coco di Mama and bought some bread to go with my lunch.

Overall I was pleased with the dish and enjoyed it.

More tacos, oh and some nachos!

Crispy Chicken Taco

You can tell when I enjoy something I have it again and again. Its one of the reasons I blog about food, so I can tell I have too much of a good thing. I like to think I try different things, the reality is when there is something I’ve enjoyed, I do have it again and again.

This is pretty much the situation with the delicious tacos from Taco Barra at the St Nicholas Market. Needing lunch again in Bristol instead of choosing something new, I went with what I liked and enjoyed the last time I was in Bristol. Though this time I did go with something slightly different.

Halloumi Taco

I went with two tacos, one was the crispy chicken and the other was the fried halloumi. You have a choice of salsa, I went with mango, and they also include salad. They use white and blue corn tacos.which are heated to order. I enjoyed the crypts chicken taco which I had the pineapple salsa. The chicken was tender and tasty, and the salsa was a great contrast to the crispness of the chicken strips.

The halloumi was nice, I had BBQ salsa (or was that just BBQ sauce) which was okay, but I didn’t like it as much as the mango I’ve had before and the pineapple I had on the crispy chicken.

In addition to my tacos, I went with a side of nachos., these had some pineapple salsa and sour cream.

Nachos

They really needed more salsa and more sour cream, I think I would have liked some guacamole with them as well.

Overall I wasn’t as happy as I had been on previous occasions, the food was great, but the BBQ sauce wasn’t great and the nachos felt rather plain. I think I will go with the tacos again, probably won’r have the nachos though.

Time for a great coffee

One of the hidden treasures of the coffee scene in Bristol is Hart’s Bakery. Even finding the place is a bit of a challenge, as to say it’s off the beaten track doesn’t really do justice to the actual location. I find the best way to describe it’s location, is to say it’s underneath Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station. You can access it from the turning into Bristol Temple Meads from Temple Way. If you come out of the main entrance of Temple Meads and turn left, there is a metal staircase down and you can find Hart’s Bakery there.

They do some great food, but on my most recent visit, before I had to catch a train, I went with a Flat White. There was a warm welcome and after placing my order for the coffee, I sat down and my coffee was brought over to me once it was made.

Flat White

It was an intense coffee experience, smooth with great flavours.I really enjoyed the coffee and would certainly go again.

Temps pour un steak baguette s’il vous plaît

In the past I have had some poor eating experiences at Café Rouge so have generally avoided their branches when looking for somewhere for lunch. Either the food wasn’t as good as I was expecting, or more usually poor and late service. However I still like the concept of a French bistro and the menu often is quite enticing.

I had arrived early in Cheltenham for a meeting and wanted somewhere I could get some lunch I hadn’t even considered Café Rouge. I had a look round, and not wanting something too heavy or too expensive I wasn’t sure what to have. I then saw Café Rouge and recalled seeing a special offer with my Three Wuntu app.If you have a mobile phone contract with Three then you often can get special deals and offers. The Wuntu offer was for a baguette, burger or croque for just five pounds. Well that fitted the bill, so in I went, though I was a little cautious. There was a warm and friendly welcome and I was able to choose where to sit from a few options offered to me, which was nice. Alas for some reason I was unable to get a decent 4G signal at my table so was unable to do the work I had intended to do over lunch. Not sure why, probably the construction of the building. Glad I managed to sort out the special offer on my phone before I went in. This branch of Café Rouge looked similar to their other branches, they have tried to give the place a French feel and look. It works for me.

I perused the menu and in the end decided to go with the Steak Baguette. I didn’t really fancy a burger or croque so I went with the steak baguette. The steak baguette was filled with sliced Black Angus rump steak with red onion chutney, watercress and Dijon mayonnaise and served with my choice of fries or salad. I went with the fries.

sliced Black Angus rump steak with red onion chutney, watercress and Dijon mayonnaise and served with fries

It arrived on a narrow wooden platter with a bowl of fries. I wasn’t too sure about how I was going to eat this, as it felt like it might be a bit messy to eat. I should have asked for a plate!

The steak was cooked as requested and was quite flavoursome and tasty. I think it could have been sliced more thinly in order to make it easier to eat. The watercress and Dijon mayonnaise worked well with the steak, but I did feel the red onion chutney was a bit of a miss and I think it could have been left off entirely. The baguette was fresh, with a crispy crumb and fluffy inside. The fries were crispy and hot and were a nice accompaniment.

The only complaint I had wasn’t about the restaurant, but was about the deal, the steak baguette incurred a £2 supplement, which wasn’t clear in the offer terms and conditions. Also the steak baguette was cheaper than the burgers, so still not sure why it had the supplement. So it was £7 not a fiver, but that was still quite a good deal. It was nice to sit down and eat, rather than grab a sandwich on the go.

You never know I might go again!

More Tacos

Halloumi Tacos

I enjoyed my tacos from Taco Barra so much last time I had them again on a recent trip to the St Nicholas Market. As with my last visit I went with the crispy chicken and pulled pork and the fried halloumi. You have a choice of salsa, I went with mango on the chicken and the halloumi, and red salsa with the pork. They use white and blue corn tacos.which are heated to order and then filled with your choice of filling.

As before they were delicious and tasty.

Time for an Italian salad

Fetter Lane

When the weather is hot and sunny and I am working in London, I usually prefer to have a salad for lunch rather than a hot lunch. Near the office there are plenty of places for lunch and lots have a wide choice of salads. I have enjoyed those from the Natural Kitchen where you choose from a selection. Another place I have had salad a few times is the branch of Coco di Mama which is close to the office. They have a wide choice of pasta dishes as well as salads.

I decided to have the Sun-Sational Speck & Bufala Salad. This has crispy speck, bufala mozzarella, mixed Italian beans & quinoa, mango, avocado, pepper pearls, capers, pesto-harissa and pea shoots. It was quick and easy to pay and the service was warm and welcoming.

Sun-Sational Speck & Bufala Salad

It was a really tasty salad, it didn’t overdo the mixed leaves unlike some pre-packed salads I have had from other places. I like the use of mixed Italian beans in the salad which was something I do have at home, but not often seen before. The mango added colour an sweetness, as did the pepper pearls (with a hint of heat).I like pea shoots and these were really nice and added a distinctive flavour to the salad. I wasn’t enamoured with the buffalo mozzarella, and I didn’t think the crispy speck added anything to the salad, I would have preferred to have fresh speck. Having said that, these are minor criticisms, of what was a really tasty salad. Something I would certainly have again. As well as tasty food, they have great service, so a return visit is very likely.