Time for a sandwich, well a nice sandwich

Portwall Tavern

Went out for a walk at lunchtime. I did consider Low N Slow at St Nick’s market, but the brisket wasn’t looking that good today, it looked excellent last week. I then went to the Finzel Reach street food market. I did consider getting lunch from She Sells Sushi, but I’ve had that quite a lot recently, so thought no. 

I had a look at La Panza next to the office, which has a £10 lunch deal. I was very tempted, but disappointed to find out that the deal had only one choice of pasta, which was a cheesy broccoli bucatini pasta, which I didn’t really fancy. I had hoped they would have a choice of pasta, but they only had a pasta of the day.

I then remembered I had enjoyed a sandwich dish from the Portwall Tavern, so went there and had the pulled lamb ciabatta with potato wedges. 

The last time I visited the Tavern I had swapped the wedges for skin-on fries, this time I didn’t. That was because last time the wedges had looked so good.

This was a substantial open sandwich. There was a slice of ciabatta with salad and a good sized portion of the slow cooked (pulled) lamb. The lamb was garnished with some mint yoghurt.

I don’t normally do sandwiches, but this wasn’t a sandwich, this was quite a substantial meal. The lamb was full of flavour, very tender, and tasty.

I enjoyed the sandwich. Generally I don’t do sandwiches.

Mixed Grill at the Gardens

Entrance to a hotel

We were on holiday at the Cerro Mar Gardens in Albufeira in Portugal we made a couple of visits to the hotel restaurant. On my first visit I had an excellent swordfish dish.

On our second visit, I was tempted by the cataplana, but it was for two, and everyone else was choosing different dishes. I even considered just having the cataplana to myself.

Cataplana is a traditional Algarvian dish cooked in a special copper pot of the same name. The ingredients typically include onion, red and green peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, tarragon, parsley, white wine, and a variety of meat or seafood, such as cubed pork, chouriço sausage, chicken, fish, prawns, clams, or other shellfish.

In the end I went with the mixed grill. This was steak, lamb, chicken, sausage, and two kinds of pork. It was served with fries and a tiny salad.

I thought the swordfish was excellent, this dish, not so much. I was rather disappointed. Maybe it was too simple, but the cuts of meat were rather thin and were overcooked and slightly dry. I would like to have had more salad. The fries were okay. That really though sums up the whole dish, it was okay, nothing special.

I wish now I had ordered the cataplana.

Why the slice of orange?

I was staying in York and was thinking about where to eat. I had seen La Terrazzina when out walking on previous evenings and I had been intrigued by the menu.

They describe themselves as

Welcome to La Terrazzina, the best Italian, Mediterranean & Asian restaurant in York! Our restaurant offers a unique and exciting dining experience that combines the flavors and aromas of Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisine.

This was intriguing.

So I walked from my hotel down to the restaurant and I went to read the menu outside, at which point one of the waiting staff came outside and invited me in. This is something that I had seen in Portugal, Spain, and other places where I had been on holiday, not something I have seen very often in the UK. As I was pretty much made up in my mind that I was going to eat there, I went in and sat down.

One of the reasons I liked the idea of eating here was they had rack of lamb on the menu, so I was pretty much happy to order that.

I was given some bread and butter, which I had to return as the butter had mould on it. Well it looked like mould. It was replaced with some fresh bread and butter.

My lamb arrived.

This wasn’t though a rack of lamb, these were grilled lamb cutlets.  The lamb came with vegetables and potatoes, gravy, and a slice of orange. Not sure what the orange was about. I’ve had orange with duck, but never with lamb! The vegetables were al dente, and it was a good sized portion.

The lamb was cooked, slightly overdone for me. I think I would have preferred a “proper” rack of lamb that had been browned in a pan and then finished off by being roasted in the oven. Then carved into cutlets. The other option would have been to describe the dish as lamb cutlets.

Overall it was a nice dish.

Service was attentive and polite. The place doesn’t have an alcohol licence, but there is a Sainsburys Local next door, so you can pop there for wine or beer.

Still not sure about the orange slice.

Dining in Cambridge

I was in Cambridge for a conference and arriving the day before looked for a place to eat. There is a wide choice, but having enjoyed my recent meals at Côte in Ealing I ended up at Côte wanting to try some things out I had seen on the menu before.

For my starter I went with the steak tartare, hand-cut raw beef, cornichons, mustard dressing, toasted sourdough baguette.

I’ve not had tartare before, but not sure that was this the best introduction to the dish. I felt it was both under seasoned and overpowered by the vinegar in the dressing. Though, as I’ve not had tartare before I couldn’t really tell you if this was “normal” or not.

For my main course I had the roasted lamb rump with ratatouille, harissa, tapenade and basil.

The lamb was done rare, and though I quite like it like this, I felt that the lamb needed a couple more minutes cooking time. The ratatouille was nice addition.

Despite some reservations, I did enjoy the food. Along with my meal I went with a basket of bread and butter.

The service was efficient and friendly.

Lamb Kofta Starter

I was staying at the Doubletree Hilton in Ealing and was eating in the hotel restaurant.

I decided to go for a starter, choosing the lamb kofta, which was served with mint yoghurt and pomegranate.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the dish and how the food was presented. I did enjoy the lamb and it was an interesting mix of tastes, textures, warm and cold. If I get the chance I think I would order it again.

Pan-roasted lamb at the Fox and Goose

I was in London and staying at the Fox and Goose close to Hangar Lane. This is a Fullers Hotel and is part of the same chain at Drayton Court, which I have stayed at for a few times now. When I was staying at the Drayton Court Hotel I had some excellent meals. The Fox and Goose had a slightly different menu than the Drayton Court, but there were similarities. 

Looking over the menu there was a lamb dish, pan-roasted Dorset texel rack of lamb with pine nut pesto crust, Jersey Royal potatoes, crushed minted peas and anchovy & caper butter.

I did like the sound of that, so I ordered it.

pan-roasted Dorset texel rack of lamb with pine nut pesto crust, Jersey Royal potatoes, crushed minted peas and anchovy & caper butter

The dish a bit of a mix of good and not so good. The lamb was lovely and tender and had a great flavour. I wasn’t enamoured with the pine nut pesto crust, which I think could have had a stronger flavour and a firmer crust. I enjoyed the Jersey Royal potatoes and the peas. I wasn’t sure about the anchovy & caper butter, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

Overall it was a nice dish and I enjoyed it. It’s not the best lamb dish I have had, but it was a good plate of food.

Barbecued Lamb

Last August I barbecued some joints of lamb on my barbacue.

Cooking joints of meat on a barbecue is not a simple process, you can have undercooked or raw on the inside and burnt and charred on the outside.

I used this process to cook two different kinds of lamb joint. I had a mini lamb shoulder and a boned half leg of lamb.

The first thing I did was to prepare the lamb by seasoning with salt and pepper and then marinating with rosemary, and some olive oil.

Though you can cook these kinds of joint directly on the barbecue, it can be quite challenging to ensure that the lamb is properly cooked, through, without burning or overcooking the outside. Part of the issue is that it is difficult to control the temperature of the barbecue unlike a normal grill. The key process is to recreate some aspects of a “normal” oven as opposed to the usual way of using a barbecue as a grill.

After the coals have reached cooking temperature, move them to the sides of the barbecue, so that when the lamb is placed on the grill, it is not over direct heat.

The lamb was then covered, I used a wok lid, but this is where a kettle barbecue comes into its own.

The end result was a properly cooked lamb, which was moist and succulent and full of flavour.

Barnsley Chop

I was staying up in Manchester. I was staying at the Macdonald Manchester Hotel. I had stayed at the hotel before in 2015, though back then I didn’t have dinner in the hotel. This time having arrived late into Manchester, I decided to eat in the hotel restaurant.

It was a Monday evening, so I didn’t expect the place to be that busy. There were quite a few people eating in the bar, so I did think that there might be some people eating in the restaurant. When I arrived the restaurant was empty, but it was late, and I was hungry.

The restaurant is called The Scottish Steakhouse and if you go to the hotel website it says:

True to our Scottish heritage, the beef we serve comes from fully accredited Scottish farms and supplied to us by Scotbeef, suppliers to the highest quality retailers in the country. The beef is then traditionally aged for a minimum of 21 days on the bone and hand cut by highly skilled butchers using time-honoured techniques, delivering the perfect Scottish dining experience. 

However the menu actually says:

All our steaks are from the North West England! Straight from Dukesmoor Farm who have a range of superior and traditionally reared British cattle.

So, which is correct? Well who knows, I suspect the menu is now right.

Looking over the menu, I decided that I would have something from the grill. I do quite like a nice lamb chop, so went with the Barnsley Chop, which the menu said was served with grilled mushrooms and roast cherry vine tomatoes.

I did ask if the dish came with chips, I was told it came with fries, but did I want chips, I said I was happy with fries. I thought they might be extra. Well when I got the bill they were an extra, I didn’t mind as I wanted some fries, but didn’t appreciate the confusion.

My meal arrived promptly and looked very nice.

Overall it was a nice plate of food. The chips was nice, as were the mushrooms and tomatoes. The lamb was cooked well, was tender and tasty. I think the lamb could have been better seasoned, but that was a minor comment.

Thought the initial service left a lot to be desired, the service after the meal was friendly and excellent.

African Spiced Lamb Rump

I was up in Manchester staying at the Copthorne Hotel on Salford Quay and went for dinner in the restaurant. I had a table overlooking the water, I settled in and looked over the menu and ordered.

Well after a somewhat disappointing starter, I did have quite low expectations about my main course. I had ordered the African spiced lamb rump with roasted Mediterranean cous cous.

Unlike my starter I got what was described on the menu.

The lamb was nice, tender, but lacked flavour. There wasn’t s lot of African spice there. The cous cous was nice and there were some nice roasted Mediterranean vegetables hidden in there. The dish was dressed with a yoghurt dressing.

I have to say, I did enjoy the dish, it wasn’t that impressive, but it was okay. If I was at the Copthorne again, would I order it again, probably yes.

Lamb Hotpot

Needing an evening meal and not having much choice I ate in the bar at the Copthorne Hotel in Salford in Manchester. There is a typical bar menu, this time I ordered the lamb hotpot.

The dish comprised the lamb hotpot covered in sliced potato, some red cabbage slaw and some toast.

lamb hotpot

The lamb hotpot wasn’t half bad, the lamb was tender and there was a good portion, it was quite tasty. The potato slices in my mind needed to be cooked for a little longer and I prefer my potato crispier. The red cabbage slaw was nice, I think it would have been easier to eat if it had been sliced thinner. I wasn’t sure about why there was toast, then I worked out it was for mopping up the sauce.

In the end it was just okay, nothing special.