Coffee at the La Viola Cafe & Bistro

I was staying at the Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge and wanted a coffee. The room only had instant, and as I also felt like a walk, I decided to venture out into Edinburgh to see what was available (and what was open).

I found La Viola Cafe & Bistro and went in. Placed my order,  I had a flat white, I took a seat and my coffee was brought to my table. I like it when that happens.

 It wasn’t long before my coffee arrived, it was really nice.

Lovely place for a coffee and very different to the chains I usually find myself in.

Ultimate Grill

When staying away I sometimes go out to eat and sometimes eat in the hotel. If it is a place like Drayton Court where the bar and restaurant are quite busy, then the place has atmosphere, making it a nice place to eat. Sometimes though the hotel restaurant can be empty, cold, and uninviting. This was certainly the case when staying at the Link Hotel in Loughborough. The restaurant was empty. I was charging my car, so looked locally for a place to eat, next door was a Harvester. Now I have never been to a Harvester before, so this was going to be an interesting experience.

Compared to the hotel this restaurant was bustling and busy. They however found me a table and I sat down and looked over the menu.

I wasn’t sure what to have, but looked over the different dishes. I was feeling quite hungry, so I decided to be greedy and went with the Ultimate Mixed Grill.

This was a quarter portion of rotisserie chicken, 8oz rump steak, a half rack of BBQ-glazed ribs, 7oz gammon, two pork sausages, two fried free-range eggs and two black pudding slices, chips, garden peas, tomato and onion rings.

I will be honest this was one big plate of food, and I thought I had made a mistake in ordering it.

I did make a visit to the salad bar, for my free salad bowl. I didn’t get a huge salad, as I knew I was getting a lot of food with the grill. There was a lot in there and I quite liked what I ate. Most of it was nice. The chicken was a little dry, but I have found that  rotisserie chicken can be quite dry anyhow. The gammon was nice, as was the steak. The BBQ-glazed ribs were very tender and the meat fell off the bones. Wasn’t that enamoured with the sausages, and though I like black pudding, I felt that it wasn’t needed on the plate. I liked the addition of the chips and onion rings, the chips were cooked, and I enjoyed the three crispy battered onion rings.

In the end I did eat a lot, but I didn’t finish the plate. It was an interesting experience, and I did like the food, but I am not sure I would order that dish again, it was way too much food.

Would I visit a Harvester again, not sure. If I didn’t have anywhere else to go, and the only other choice was an empty hotel restaurant, then I think I would go back to the Harvester.

Nice coffee at Coffee #1

I went for a walk around Clevedon and decided to stop for coffee. I found a branch of Coffee #1 which was open, so popped in. The place was similar to other branches of Coffee #1 with lots of wooden furniture and Tintin artwork on the walls.

Wasn’t too busy and I ordered a skinny flat white. Once the drink was made I took a seat.

This was a delicious coffee, really nice flavour and well made.

I enjoyed sitting at my table looking out the window with the sun shining in.

Florentine Pizza

Whilst writing another blog post I realised I had not written about a meal I had eaten last year. Back in March 2023, I was staying at 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.

I was going to have the steak sandwich, but I misread the menu, they stopped serving sandwiches at 5pm. So instead, I had the fish tacos and then the Florentine pizza.

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. So I was quietly looking forward to see what I would get.

I ordered 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.

I wasn’t to be disappointed. This was an excellent generous pizza. A great base, cooked well, and delicious toppings. The dough was crisp with a soft centre, the toppings were full of flavour and there was just the right amount of tomato and cheese. The egg was a little overcooked for my preference, but this didn’t detract from the whole pizza eating experience.

All in all a delicious pizza.

Sasi’s Thai

When in Oxford, I usually visit the Covered Market and have a delicious plate of Thai food from Sasi’s Thai. 

My first experience of Sasi’s Thai was back in 2013 when I started working in Oxford and would go out for lunch. It was one of the many food outlets in the market and always served excellent delicious food. Even after I changed jobs, and stopped working in Oxford, if I was back in Oxford (or even passing through) I would stop for lunch and seek out Sasi’s Thai for some spicy food.

This was the case back in March 2023, when after a meeting elsewhere in Oxfordshire, I was on my way to another location, so stopped off in Oxford for lunch. I made my way to Sasi’s Thai and though it was busy, I joined the queue. I had the two choices with rice, and had the Crispy Pork with Basil  and the Chicken and Cashew Nuts. 

The crispy pork was nice and tasty.

The chicken and cashew nuts was also tasty. I did feel the chicken could have done with some more cashew nuts.

These are two dishes I would regularly have at Sasi’s Thai. Both dishes were delicious, quite spicy. The food was just as good as I remembered. 

I forget about those Fish Tacos

Whilst writing another blog post I realised I had not written about a meal I had eaten last year. Back in March 2023, I was staying at 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.

I was going to have the steak sandwich, but I misread the menu, they stopped serving sandwiches at 5pm. So instead, I had the fish tacos and then the Florentine pizza.

I’ve had the fish tacos many times before at the Drayton Court Hotel. These are crispy strips of battered fish served on flour tortillas, with salad, dressings, and a mango salsa.

It’s in many ways quiet a simple dish, but isn’t one I have recreated back home. I have made similar tacos using crispy chicken, and I have also made my own salsa as well. Though I’ve not made a mango salsa. 

These tacos were delicious, and I really enjoyed them.

Burger and Fries at the Airport

I had missed lunch and was flying from Edinburgh Airport, so decided to get something to eat from the departures lounge.

Upon arriving at Edinburgh Airport, there are quite a few places to eat. I would have probably gone with Bar Burrito, however they weren’t selling the tacos that I like. In the end I decided I would have a burger. I went to Hudson St Grill and took a seat and ordered my food from the app. 

This was an airport, so the food arrived quite promptly. It didn’t look half bad to be honest.

This burger was just okay, it didn’t really have a good flavour. They had dressed the burger with sliced tomato, gem lettuce, pickled pink onions, sliced gherkins and tomato relish. I had added a slice of Monteray Jack cheese to the burger as well.

Overall it was just okay, nothing special, but better than others I have had. The chips were nice.

There was an option to go to a mainstream high street chain at the airport, but the pricing wasn’t that much different, and at least at the Hudson St Grill and I got served at my table.

Disappointing Breakfast

One of the best hotel breakfasts I remember from my trips away was in 2008 staying at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. Back then I said:

Beautifully served, it consisted of an excellent meaty sausage, some very nice grilled bacon, a small bowl of baked beans, grilled (and skinned) tomato, mushroom, bubble and squeak, black pudding and egg. You had a choice of eggs (chicken or duck) and cooked to your liking, I had a poached duck’s egg. It was also garnished with lettuce, not sure about the lettuce.

It was also table service, you ordered from the waiting staff and the food was bought to the table.

I hadn’t used the hotel in the last twenty years, but last month I booked a one night stay as I was at an event close by and then was catching the train from Kings Cross. I was intrigued if the breakfast was as good as it was before. So you can imagine I had quite high expectations about the breakfast offering.

However I can say I was quite disappointed with what was on offer and what I ate.

They had done away with the table service, and replaced it with a breakfast buffet. That wasn’t really what I had hoped for. Alas though the quality of the breakfast was poor. Some of the hot food was overcooked and some of it wasn’t hot.

I appreciate that my expectations were high, and I was initially disappointed that there wasn’t table service. However the whole experience was disappointing. 

Better coffee

Drayton Court Hotel

I was back in London and staying at 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. 

One of the things about the hotel is the excellent breakfast, but the coffee was always a little disappointing. Interestingly their sister hotel, the Fox and Goose on Hangar Lane did a similarly excellent breakfast, but also had a coffee machine, so I could get my morning espresso hit.

I was pleased to see on my most recent visit to the Drayton Court Hotel that they had installed a coffee machine. This meant I could have a double espresso with my breakfast.

Pleased with that.

A new cafe to try

On a lunchtime walk I noticed that there was a new cafe on Wine Street next to the Tesco Express. Didn’t have a chance to go in and try it, but I have added it to places I might visit.

Looking online later, it was apparent it is part of a wider chain of Bristol based coffee places.

On our menu, there’s a rich selection of coffees, teas, chai and matcha lattes, and refreshing cold options like our fresh fruit smoothies and protein shakes. For lunch and light bites, we offer seasonal homemade sandwiches and wraps, toasted sourdough sandwiches, fresh salads, Cornish pasties and sausage rolls. A variety of vegan, vegetarian and meat fillings are included. For those seeking a sweet bite, we have freshly baked pastries, muffins, cakes, and more, perfect alongside a hot drink.