Crispy Squid

One dish I eat on a regular basis at restaurants is crispy squid.

I’ve recently eaten crispy squid at Las Iguanas, though the squid in my opinion was rather overcooked. 

I also had chilli squid at Wagamama.

That time I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in a hard crunchy batter.

The second time I had calamari from La Lola at the St Nicholas Market in Bristol it was excellent.

calamari

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon.

Alas the calamari from Kingfin from the street food markets in Bristol was one of my favourite lunch dishes. You got a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh.

However they have changed their menu recently so you can’t get it anyore.

As well as eating crispy squid I also make it at home. This is a recipe for making my own gluten free crispy squid.

I take some squid, sometimes I use fresh squid, I score the squid and slice into chunks. Other times I use defrosted squid rings that I cut so I get strips of squid rather than rings.

I coat the squid in seasoned gluten free plain flour. This I leave for at least fifteen minutes and check that all the squid is coated in the flour.

I then deep fry the squid in hot oil. Season and serve.

Time for Las Iguanas

I have been tempted many times by Las Iguanas, but have never actually got there until recently when I was in Birmingham.

Looking for a place to eat the choice available was a decision maker for the group of friends I was with. Las Iguanas as they have a large menu covering Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, and beyond.

The place was really busy, but despite not booking they found us a table.

I looked over the extensive menu and thought about what I wanted.  For my starter I went with the Calamares, crispy squid served with creamy aioli.

The squid was certainly crispy, overcooked in my opinion, but this was more than just squid rings, this was squid in batter with a rather garlicky aioli.

For my main course I went with the Xinxim. A classic recipe from North Brazil. Chicken and crayfish in our creamy lime and peanut sauce. Served with spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain.

This arrived in two dishes, the spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain on one plate, and a bowl with the Xinxim. 

Here is the plate with the rice and the plantain.

At first I didn’t think there was any crayfish in the dish, but it was hidden at the bottom. I added the bowl of Xinxim to the plate of rice. I did quite like creamy lime and peanut sauce and there was plenty of chicken. I would like to have seen more and bigger crayfish in the dish.

The rice didn’t seem to have much spring onion in it and the shredded greens were okay. I have to say I didn’t really like the sweet plantain, but having never had it before I couldn’t tell if this was representative of plantain or not. Something I might try again when I next visit the Caribbean Wrap in Bristol.

Overall I was a little disappointed. I think this was more down I had quite high expectations about the food, and it was just okay. I don’t think I will be going out of my way to visit Las Iguanas anytime soon.

Fritto Misto

I have always enjoyed the calamari from the Kingfin. My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. Kingfin have recently revamped their menu. They have lost their calamari, but you can now have a softshell crab burger, a cod goujon wrap or fritto misto.

Since I found out about the new menu I was tempted by both the softshell crab and the fritto misto.

So when I was in Bristol one Thursday, this meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. It was nice to have the opportunity to get some tasty street food and I was pleased to see Kingfin at the market.

 A few weeks back when I was in Bristol, I had intended to pay a visit to Kingfin at the Finzel Reach Market to try out their new menu. However upon visiting the market they weren’t there, so went to La Lola at the St Nicholas market.

So I joined the queue and ordered the fritto misto. There was a bit of a wait as they had a bit of backlog, a sign the stall was popular. They had already sold out of the cod goujons and their kedgeree scotch egg.

Whereas the calamari came with rosemary chips and salad, the fritto misto was just fritto misto. I could have ordered chips for another £3 but I wasn’t that hungry.

The dish contained calamari, prawns, whitebait, small pieces of cod, and some courgette slices. It was served with a slice of lemon and some bright yellow garlic aioli.

Overall, if I am honest, though I enjoyed the dish, I was a little disappointed. The calamari was great, but the rest of the fish was a little soggy, despite having just being deep fried. There were two prawns in the dish, one peeled prawn and one whole prawn. The courgette was floppy and was quite greasy.

I really loved the calamari special I’ve had in the past from Kingfin and would be happy to order that again. Would I order the fritto misto again, probably not.

Time again for La Lola

Bristol Bridge

I was working in Bristol and had intended to pay a visit to Kingfin at the Finzel Reach Market to try out their new menu. However upon visiting the market they weren’t there. There wasn’t a stall that I did fancy getting my lunch from, mainly as I did quite fancy seafood or dish. Then I thought I know where I could go.

Back in December I paid a visit to the St Nicholas Market in Bristol and had some excellent calamari from the new(ish) Spanish staff in the market, La Lola.

La Lola took over the stall, Pure Pasta, an Italian pasta place.

I had enjoyed the calamari last time, so decided to head over there for lunch. It was a short walk over Bristol Bridge to the St Nicholas Market

They had a much wider menu this time, but as I was in the mood for seafood I went for the calamari. I placed my order and took a seat. It wasn’t very long before my food arrived. The squid was served with “chipped” potatoes, salad and aioli.

calamari

The squid as before was  freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon. 

Like last time, I really enjoyed the squid. The “chips” were also really good, they used fresh potatoes. They were more like thick crisps, as they had cut the potatoes into slices (and cut the bigger slices in half). The aioli was light with a good taste of garlic. As before the salad could have been better, but was fresh.

Overall I did enjoy the dish and I am already looking forward to my next visit to La Lola.

Time for La Lola

It was a Monday and I was in Bristol looking for a place to eat. I had planned to visit The Real Greek, but they were full and had no free tables. I then decided to head over to the St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade, there would be plenty of choice there. I was thinking that Portuguese Tastes would be an option. As it was late I knew that Low and Slow would have virtually sold out (they had).

Alas Portuguese Tastes was closed, though on the other side of the market was the (new) Spanish place, La Lola

La Lola has taken over the stall, Pure Pasta, an Italian pasta place. Despite my many visits to St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade over the years, I never actually ever managed to get lunch from Pure Pasta. I had seen them fitting out the La Lola stall a few weeks back and liked the look of the menu, but had forgotten to check them out when they opened. 

La Lola have quite a limited menu, which I actually think is a good thing. Two variations of paella, eggs with chorizo or ham, and what I liked the sound of, crispy squid.

Waiting to be served was a little slow, as the couple in front of me were having a long chat (in Spanish) with the member of staff. You know me I hate queuing. However it was getting late for lunch, I was hungry and I did like the sound of the menu. Eventually I was served, maybe I was a little inpatient, I asked for the squid and wanted to eat in.

They have a couple of tables and some benches. One of the tables was free so I took that one.

It wasn’t long before my food arrived.

In a cardboard carton.

I kind of expected and hoped that it would come on a plate. Portuguese Tastes, Caribbean Wrap and The Moorish Cafe all serve their “eating in” food on plates. I was a little disappointed, I think my expectations that there would be plates was based on the display at the front of the stall which showed the (actual) dishes available served on plates.

The squid was served with “chipped” potatoes, salad and aioli.

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon. I really enjoyed the squid and it was certainly what I was expecting. The “chips” were also really good, they used fresh potatoes, I saw them peeling and cutting them up. They were more like thick crisps, as they had cut the potatoes into slices (and cut the bigger slices in half). Again cooked to order. The aioli was light with a good taste of garlic. The only part of the dish I was disappointed with was the salad. Shredded iceberg lettuce, slices of tomato, grated carrot and sweetcorn. All nice and refreshing, however no flavour. I did think that this part of the dish let the rest of the plate (sorry carton) down. I think something like a Pipirrana salad would have been nice. Pipirrana is based on four ingredients: tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumber, dressed with  olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Now that would have been a nice Spanish option. 

Apart from the salad the dish was excellent. Service (well apart from the slow start) was great, warm, friendly. The chef checked I was happy with my meal for example.

Overall I really did enjoy the food and I look forward to returning to try out the paella, or the eggs. Hmmm choices.

Some delicious Calamari

I was working in Bristol on a Thursday again, which meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. Having been off work for a while it was nice to be back in Bristol and having the opportunity to get some tasty street food.

My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. 

Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips, they also do specials, and the one they were selling this time was calamari once more. I did think about getting the mackerel wrap, but in the end defaulted as one does to the 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 not just a snack. I really like this dish and I found it just as tasty as on previous occasions. 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 food was absolutely delicious.

Delicious Gastro Pub Food at the Canbury Arms

It was August and we were staying with family in Kingston. The night before we had had some great sushi at Obon and on this evening we were visiting the Canbury Arms.

This is a pub, probably what most people would call a gastro pub, there was a section of the pub for people who wanted to drink, but there was a larger section with tables for people who wanted a meal. There is a difference in decor between the two sections, the restaurant area looks a lot more like you would imagine a restaurant should look like, whilst the bar area has lots of wood.

We were shown to our table and I looked over the menu, I have to say I had cheated and looked at the menu online before, but even so looking at the menu in the flesh, I wasn’t sure what I would have.

For my starter I decided to have the calamari and share it with my son. I kind of default to calamari as a starter, something that I do enjoy, and I have had great calamari in a variety of places, but sometimes I think I should have something else as a change.

It was nice, but nothing special, I think if I went again I would choose something different from the menu.

My sister in law went with the farmhouse pork, black pudding & sage scotch egg, brown sauce.

Now it was only later when I had posted the picture to Instagram (as one does) that someone commented on the saucy nature of the presentation of the food. Having said that I was offered half of the scotch egg, to which I said, yes please. This was actually rather excellent, and I really enjoyed the intensity of flavour in the pork around the egg. I could have eaten all of that dish.

For my main, there were some lovely choices, but I decided that I would go against my usual choices and have the chicken. Usually I would avoid the chicken, as I have it quite a lot at home, but this time I decided I would go down a different route and I would choose the chicken. This was a chicken supreme, asparagus, butternut squash puree, sautéed wild mushrooms & tarragon butter. I think what sold it to me was the wild mushroom element of the dish.

The chicken was cooked to perfection, tender and moist and full of flavour. The butternut squash puree was to die for, it was so smooth, buttery and full of flavour. The mushrooms weren’t as good as I was hoping, but I did enjoy them. The tarragon butter was an addition that in my mind brought the dish together. This was a delicious plate of food and I really enjoyed eating every mouthful.

We had some great food across the table, some great looking steaks. I did quite like the look of the sea bass fillet, on crushed jersey royals, peas, spring greens, with caper butter.

The salad from the specials menu was also outstanding. Black Quinoa Salad with roasted cauliflower, feta, pomegranate and harissa dressing.

Overall we had a wonderful meal, delicious food and we left feeling very happy and satisfied.

More calamari please

calamari

I was working in Bristol on a Thursday, which meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. The pandemic has meant that there are a lot less stalls there than there was before. Despite the limited choice I was tempted by a few places but in the end I went with the Kingfin stall. My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. 

Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips, as well as their fish wraps, which sounded rather tasty, what really caught my eye back then was their special, which was calamari.

So it was no real surprise that this was what I chose this time.

The squid rings were coated in a flour mix and then deep fried to order. They were served with aioli, some salad and rosemary fries. This was quite a substantial meal not just a snack. I really like this dish and I found it just as tasty as on previous occasions. 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.

Tasty Tacos and Steak

I has driven to Ealing to get something to eat, I really didn’t know what I wanted, so walked around a fair bit. I did think about going to Cote or Bills. When I walked past Pizza Express I thought that looked familiar, then I remembered we had eaten there as a family in August 2018.

However in the end I went back to Pasta Remoli. I did ask if they had a table outside, the response was they needed to talk to the manager. It was very warm inside the restaurant, uncomfortably warm. Having waited a while and with a couple behind me (who had booked a table) I realised there probably wasn’t going to be a table free. So I left. I did think again about Bills, but realised I wasn’t hungry enough for two courses. I think a combination of the heat of the day, eating a few snacks when I got back and curbed my appetite somewhat. So, I headed back to my car and drove back to the apartment, and I had bread, cheese and salami.

The following day, after work I headed out to Ealing to get something to eat. This time I was hungry and had decided I would probably go to Bills. I did want to check out the tapas place I had seen on Google maps. La Rueda looked interesting and I liked the idea of the menu. However I think to have a good meal I would need to spend a fair amount of money, so decided no. Maybe the next time I was in Ealing.

I headed to Bills which had plenty of free tables outside, which I could choose from. I was a little concerned that there might be some rain (there was a 90% chance of rain according to my weather app) however it was still lovely and warm. I sat down and looked at the menus. I had pretty much made my choice earlier, however I did look again. They had a set menu and I did think the  chestnut mushroom, spinach and truFFle risotto, topped with a poached egg, pumpkin seeds and pea shoots sounded very nice. I guess my hesitation was that this wasn’t likely to be cooked to order, but maybe merely be a heated up prepared dish. Though I with the choice of calamari for a starter it was a possibility. 

In the end I went with the main menu. What had struck me from the list of starters were the tuna tacos. So decided to have those and the Dinner Special, an 8oz sirloin steak.

I placed my order and asked for some tap water along with the food.

The tuna tacos arrived very quickly and it was an interesting looking dish. 

It was seared raw tuna, avocado & spicy cherry tomatoes on crunchy blue corn tortillas, with crème fraîche, coriander & toasted sesame seeds.

I don’t know why, but I was expecting tacos, rather than the serving of tune, avocado and tomatoes on crunchy blue corn tortillas. However I did like the presentation. The tuna was excellent, and liked the taste and texture. The avocado and tomato was nice as well. The tortilla were a little too crunchy for me, I think some soft blue corn tortillas might have been a better choice. The crème fraîche added some nice coolness and freshness to the dish, though I do think there was a little too much red chilli for me.

Having finished my starter and the table was cleared, I had to ask again for some tap water, which hadn’t arrived. I waited for my main course. I went for the dinner special, the 8oz sirloin steak served with rosemary salted fries, a green leaf & mixed seed salad and garlic butter.

This arrived promptly. This was an excellent steak, nice fries and the salad was a nice touch. This was so much a better dish than the steak I had at Cote a few weeks back. It had flavour, was well seasoned and cooked expertly.

I really enjoyed the steak and it was a really nice meal. I enjoyed sitting outside and the weather was perfect that reminded me of eating out in Greece and Spain, but this was Ealing in London in September.

As I was finishing up and paying my bill, the table next me were served with their order of calamari, I was quite pleased I hadn’t ordered it, and had gone with the tuna tacos, as it wasn’t what I had imagined. I thought it might be like the squid you get at Wagamama or Yo! Sushi, but they looked like breaded calamari rings. Something I won’t order next time I go to Bills.

The service was efficient, but I think it a little cold as a result. Having said that I did think overall, good service, excellent food and a nice atmosphere. I will go again, but thinking that the weather will change will mean I will be eating inside.

Calamari on the dock of the bay

I was working in Bristol on a Thursday again, which meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. Having been off work for a while it was nice to be back in Bristol and having the opportunity to get some tasty street food.

My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips, they also do specials This time they were selling this time was calamari and loaded crab fries.

Kingfin stall at Temple Quay Market

I did think about the crab loaded fries, but having seen a portion, decided to stay with my initial choice (and firm favourite from Kingfin) some calamari.

The squid rings were coated in a flour mix and then deep fried. They were served with aioli, some salad and rosemary fries.

I sat on the side of the river and ate them in the sunshine. They were delicious.