Nice Flat White

I was heading to a meeting in Central London and misjudged the time it would take, so I had forty minutes before I needed to be in the room. So I decided I would go for a coffee. I had anticipated visiting a Caffe Nero or similar, but did quite like the look of The Route on the Strand. I went in, and ordered a flat white and took a seat.

It’s not a huge place, there are four seats inside and four on the street. If it was busy you would probably have to make do with a takeaway cup.

This was a lovely looking coffee, made with care. It also tasted great as well.

Time to visit the Pelican State

When visiting London earlier this year I had gone for a walk around Bloomsbury before heading back to my hotel for steak and chips. On that walk I had noticed the brand of Pelican State and added it to places I thought I might like to try.

So on a more recent visit to London I decided I would head to the Pelican State and try out their food. I went with the Crispy Seafood Lunch Deal. This was prawns, green-lipped mussels, squid rings, red potatoes, large portion of fish and a sauce of my choice. I went with the aioli. 

It was served very quickly.

plate of crispy seafood

It was quite a substantial plate of food. I found the crispy coating more crunchy than crispy. It was a nice selection of seafood. I liked the prawns and squid, the mussels could have been better, as the crunchy coating made the mussels difficult to shell and eat. There was a large portion of fish. I think I should have had a side of coleslaw with it.

Overall I did enjoy the dish. They also do a Prawn Boil lunch deal, but I did think that it might be a bit messy to eat.

Time for Sushi

There are a number of places for sushi in Weston-super-Mare and after doing some research decided we would visit Sakura Finest on the Boulevard. They had a good gluten free offer. They don’t really have an online presence, so I actually went there to check the gluten free options and to book a table. They limit the number of covers they do, so to ensure that everyone has a better experience; over filling the place with people.

On the day itself, we arrived a little early and were given a warm welcome, we took our seats and poured over the menu. There was a lot of choice. I found it difficult to make a decision but got there in the end.

I had some tempura soft shell crab maki.

This was a beautifully presented dish. The crab had a crispy tempura batter and tasted of crab. They were delicious.

I also had a portion of Tori Kuwayaki, crispy chicken in a teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. 

We had this made gluten free. I did think the salad garnish was a little bit on the large side. The chicken was tender and tasty.

I had some maguro (tuna) nigiri.

The nigiri was presented lovely, and looked fantastic. The tuna was lovely and fresh.

Feeling a little peckish, we ordered some more sushi, and this time I had some hokigai (surf clam) nigiri.

It was very interesting, and I was intrigued about the dish. It again was beautifully presented. The clam was a little chewy, but it was tasty.

Overall we had a delicious meal. 

Illy no more

Back in 2023 I had made a couple of visits to the Illy Cafe at the top of Park Street. On a recent visit to Bristol I did like the idea of a coffee and so headed to the Illy Cafe and was disappointed to find it had closed down. So, went to Caffe Nero instead.

A really excellent Illy coffee

I was visiting Cambridge and walking down Burleigh Street. I was on my way back to the railway station. However it started to rain. I did think about walking back to Fitzroy Street and visit the Caffe Nero there (as I had my £1 offer code). However I thought I might get too wet. On Burleigh Street was Giovanni’s caffe’ and pizzeria. 

modern cafe building with an awning and seating outside

They had an Illy coffee sign outside, which is always a good sign so went in.

I was give a nice warm welcome by the chef attending the pizza oven, and beckoned to take a seat. Outside it was quite a modern building, inside it had more of an Italian taverna feel. The place was dominated by the huge pizza oven. I looked over the menu, if I was hungry I might have chosen a pizza, but I only really wanted a coffee.

I went up to the bar and ordered an espresso macchiato. They also had a lovely selection of cakes, and I did think about it, but in the end went with just the coffee. Went back to my table and waited for the coffee to arrive.

Really nice to get a “proper” coffee complete with a glass of water (and hidden around the back a biscuit).

tray with coffee, water and sugar

It was an excellent coffee. I was very tempted to stay in Cambridge and go there for dinner. Another table had ordered pizza and it looked great.

No sooner had I finished my coffee, then the rain had stopped (or eased off) and I could head off to the station.

Beef short rib bao bun

One of the regular places I stay when in London is the Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. I have been staying here for a fair few years now. It is significantly cheaper than central London, and with the Elizabeth Line, hitting central London is really fast. West Ealing Station is a few minutes walk from the hotel, from there you can catch a train to central London in less than twenty minutes.

Having dinner there, for my starter I went with the Beef short rib bao bun with bourbon maple glaze, aioli, coriander and peanuts.

bao buns

I have had these twice before and really enjoyed them. These though looked very different to the bao buns I had before at Drayton Court.

The beef was very tender, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t short rib. I couldn’t really taste the bourbon maple glaze. They were good, but I did feel something was missing from the dish.

Pumpkin Ravioli

A favourite spot I frequent in London is the Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. It’s been my go-to for years now. Compared to central London, it’s much easier on the wallet, and the Elizabeth Line makes getting downtown a snap. West Ealing Station, just a short walk away, offers trains that zip you into central London in under 20 minutes.

They have an ever changing menu and they have a specials menu. One of the specials was a roasted pumpkin & sage ravioli with maple roasted prince pumpkin, herb pesto, creme fraiche & toasted seeds.

This vegetarian dish sounded interesting, so I had it for dinner.

Pumpkin Ravioli

It wasn’t the most appetising looking dish I have had at Drayton Court. I think a swirl of creme fraiche would have enhanced this dish. The menu description said creme fraiche, but I am not sure if either it was missed off, or mixed in with the pesto.

The ravioli was cooked well, too easy to overcook filled pasta, but this was still al dente. I liked the deep fried sage which added flavour and texture to the dish, as did the toasted pumpkin seeds. I enjoyed the chunks of maple roasted prince pumpkin which were quite tasty. Overall it was an interesting dish, not sure I would order it again though.

Mediterranean pizza with mushrooms, artichoke & olives

Drayton Court Hotel

One of the regular places I stay when in London is the Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. I have been staying here for a fair few years now. It is significantly cheaper than central London, and with the Elizabeth Line, hitting central London is really fast. West Ealing Station is a few minutes walk from the hotel, from there you can catch a train to central London in less than twenty minutes. The hotel has an Ealing comedies theme, there are rooms named after films, and there are numerous photographs from the films framed on the walls in the bedrooms.

The staff are always welcoming and friendly, and the whole place has a real charm to it. The dinner menu is excellent and unlike other Fuller Brewery hotels they also have an extensive pizza menu.

I usually avoid pizza in hotels as they usually use pre-cooked bases, or even prepared pizza. I remember once having a pizza at the Doubletree Hilton and being very unimpressed with that pizza.

I think they had used a pre-cooked base, rather than making it fresh. I wasn’t too surprised by that. I was a little surprised that the tomato base was tomato puree and not passata or other kind of tomato sauce. This I wasn’t too impressed with. The toppings were nice and fresh though.

The Drayton Court Hotel however has a proper pizza oven and use proper pizza bases. I had enjoyed the time I had pizza there back in March 2023. I had the Florentine Pizza, which included spinach, mushrooms, olives, and an egg. It is one of my favourite pizzas and I have quite often when visiting pizza places.

This time I ordered the Mediterranean pizza with mushrooms, artichoke & olives. This is in fact a vegan choice, so I asked to swap the vegan cheese for “normal” cheese. I am not really a fan of vegan cheese.

It wasn’t long before my pizza arrived, in a box. I wasn’t expecting that. As the weather was nice, I headed out into the beer garden and had my pizza al fresco with a beer.

There was a generous amount of mushrooms, artichoke and olives on top of the pizza. The base was freshly cooked, crisp on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. I really enjoyed the pizza, it was very tasty.

Citrus Brazilian BBQ is back!

It was nice to see that the Schwartz Citrus Brazilian BBQ seasoning is back in stock at Aldi. This is one of a temporary range, which also includes Monterey Steak and Shish Kebab.

I wrote about this seasoning pack back in September 2022 and how I used it to cook some chicken thighs.

I picked up some packs from Aldi and will use them to cooks some chicken. I might even try cooking it on the barbecue this time.

Spicy Korean Chicken with Rice and Takoyaki

I was visiting the University of Birmingham and wanted a bite to eat. There was a branch of Kimiko. I had seen it on a previous visit to the university. I went in and ordered the spicy Korean chicken, with rice, and a portion of fried octopus takoyaki.

The spicy Korean chicken came with rice and was garnished with spring onions. 

chicken dish

The chicken sadly wasn’t freshly cooked and was a little dry, even with the sauce. The sauce was good though.

The takoyaki was presented with sauce and pickled ginger.

takoyaki

These were excellent and very tasty. I enjoyed these (more than the chicken).