Mushroom Tagliatelle

I was in Norwich for a workshop and staying at The Georgian Townhouse on Unthank Road close to the city centre. It is a really nice hotel, part of small chain of boutique hotels with three hotels in Norfolk, one in Mumbles, Wales, and one in London. The rooms are a real nice mix of modern and old. 

I went down to the restaurant, which has all the character of a lovely old pub, I had eaten a nice plate of food the day before, so was looking forward to my second visit to the restaurant. 

I had enjoyed my starter, the pan-fried scallop and crispy pork belly, which was delicious.

For my main I went with the garlic roasted Portobello mushroom tagliatelle with a creamy plant based mushroom and truffle sauce, pumpkin seed pangratatta. I had been tempted by the Pumpkin ravioli, sage butter, roasted pumpkins, sautéed wild mushroom, crispy shallot & pumpkin seeds, however I didn’t want to have pasta for my starter and my main course. I did think about asking if they would do it as a main, but I didn’t want to make a fuss.

Whilst writing this I checked and I saw on the menu of one of the other hotels in the chain, they do offer the pumpkin ravioli as a main option as well as a starter. Maybe I need to stay there next time!

Though I went with the Portobello mushroom tagliatelle, I was a little concerned, as in Leamington Spa I once had a mushroom pasta dish which I wasn’t enamoured with, actually disliked it entirely, sent it back in the end. So, I wasn’t 100% sure that this was going to be the best choice for my dinner. However I do like mushroom pasta, and I think the Leamington Spa experience was just a one off bad experience. I had a little trepidation as I awaited my dish. Having had an excellent starter though, I did have quite high expectations. The pasta dish arrived, and it looked delicious.

bowl of pasta

The pasta was cooked well, and the mushrooms were tasty. I did think the sauce needed a more powerful punch of truffle in there, but it was nice. I liked the pumpkin seed pangratatta which gave some nice crunch to the dish. I enjoyed the dish.

They didn’t have what I wanted

I have enjoyed the meals I have had at the Fullers’ hotels I have stayed at, Drayton Court, and the Fox and Goose. I was recently back in London and I chose to stay at The Queen’s Head in Kingston, which is another Fullers’ hotel. Smaller, and more like a pub with rooms, I found it a lovely place to stay. The staff were warm, friendly and welcoming. I liked the bar area, which felt nostalgic, but still smart and tidy. I liked the wooden furniture and fittings. The room I had was nice, it certainly had character. It had very tall ceilings and all the furniture you would expect in a hotel room and then some.

I went downstairs to the bar to eat, there was a similar menu available to the other Fullers’ hotels. I had eaten a delicious tiny pork cheek starter. 

For my main course, well on the online menu they had roasted fillet of Owton’s beef with braised ox cheek coated in herb crumb, black garlic, brown butter celeriac purée, spinach and beef dripping emulsified sauce; so, I was going to have that.  However, on the menu at the bar they didn’t have that, instead for the beef choices, they had a sirloin steak and a cote de boeuf. 

Instead I chose the chicken ballotine , with tarragon, bacon, and mushroom stuffing. Alongside was an onion puree, cheddar potato cake and a jug of Marmite sauce.

This looked really great.

Though this was a good sized portion of ballotine , I had expected a bigger proportion of chicken to stuffing. However even so it was very nice. I really liked the cheddar potato cake, this was crisp on the outside, and soft and cheesy on the inside. I thought the onion puree needed a but more punch.  I liked the addition of the roasted carrots as well. I was a little concerned about the Marmite sauce, but it was rather nice.

This was a really nice plate of food and I really enjoyed it.

Going Vegan at Wagamama

When I was staying in London for a few days I went off to Ealing to get something to eat. I did think about going back to Polka, but it was closed on Mondays. Reinata was another place I had considered, but they had gone back to their Winter opening times, so wasn’t open in the evening until Thursday. After spending way too much time walking around Ealing I decided I would visit VanTan again. I had enjoyed my last meal there, so after looking at the menu outside and choosing the Braised Fish Claypot. This was described as braised fish steak caramelised in a sweet savoury sauce with steamed rice. I was given a warm welcome, and handed a menu. Alas though the fish dish was on the menu outside, it wasn’t on the menus at the table. Rather than have something else, I decided I would head off to Wagamama instead. 

I had an equally warm reception at Wagamama. I was shown to a bench and I had a look over the menu. I chose three dishes at Wagamama. Generally I would have two, but was feeling peckish, and it was difficult to choose.

The first dish I chose was the crispy chilli mushrooms. A vegan version of the crispy chilli squid. This was coated and fried crunchy oyster mushrooms. They were dusted with a red pepper powder and served with a chilli and coriander dipping sauce.

The crispy chilli mushroom was nice, not as nice as the chilli squid, but was tasty.

The second dish was one I have had before, which was the mixed mushrooms bao buns. This was mixed mushrooms with crispy panko-coated aubergine, creamy vegan mayonnaise. topped with coriander.

I did feel the mushroom bao buns could have had a lot more mushroom in them, what mushroom was there was slightly overpowered by the crispy panko-coated aubergine.

For my main dish I had the silken tofu gochujang rice bowl. This was something I hadn’t had before. It consisted of silken tofu coated in a spicy gochujang sauce with bok choi, pickled cucumber, snow onion slaw and red onion. It was served on a bed of sticky white rice. finished with spring onion, sliced red chilli, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and red pepper powder.

This was an interesting dish, and when it arrived it surprised me. Why it surprised me I don’t know. I guess I was expecting more of a hot tofu dish with rice, whereas this was more a salad with rice and deep fried tofu.

The silken tofu was excellent. I really enjoyed the dish, there was a nice mix of different textures and flavours. The bok choi was a little tricky to eat with chopsticks and there wasn’t a knife to cut it either.

I didn’t plan it, but all three dishes were vegan. Overall I enjoyed all three dishes and would certainly have them again.

Doing the Polka again, one more time

I first went to Polka earlier this year and actually had two excellent meals, I enjoyed my first meal so much, I went again the next day.

On previous visits to Ealing I had noted the Sowa restaurant, but had never gone there. The proprietors of that place moved to some nice new premises in Dickens Yard and renamed themselves to the Polka Kitchen.

So when I was back staying in Ealing, I decided I would make a return visit. The menu was the same. I looked over and thought about what I would have. There are only three starters on the menu, a beetroot dish, black pudding, and a steak tartare.

I went with the steak tartare. I had really enjoyed this the last time I was there.

It looked just as pretty as it did before. It consists of steak tartare and was served with egg yolk, pickled cucumbers, onion, and mustard seeds. This was such a pretty plate of food. Alongside I was given some sliced Polish bread. The steak was tender and fresh, I liked the addition of the pickles, and egg yolk. The pickled mushroom was a nice, and I enjoyed every mouthful. It was just as good as I remembered from the first time I had it.

As there was a (short) delay with getting my starter I was given a shot of Polish vodka on the house, which I quite enjoyed.

For my main course I had originally wanted the pierogi filled with goose meat, but that wasn’t available, so I went with the wild boar pierogi in a mushroom sauce. I did think about having one of the dishes I had before, but I hadn’t tried the pierogi before, so went with that dish.

The pierogi were nice and soft, but still had a bite to it, al dente. The pierogi filling had a robust strong flavour. The pierogi came with a mushroom sauce. I would have liked to have had more sauce.

Overall the food was delicious, and the service was excellent, friendly, warm, and welcoming. Though I’ve had a lot of things on the menu, I do think I will visit again.

Missing my Wild Mushrooms

mushrooms
Photo by Sweetyoga Justine on Unsplash

Back in the day, my local Tesco use to sell wild mushrooms.

Since the lockdown in March 2020, they’ve obviously had trouble getting them in, and have stopped selling them.

On a visit to Oxford earlier in the year, there was a stall in the covered market which was selling wild mushrooms, however I was just passing through on my way to London, so didn’t have the option of getting any.

Locally I have tried a few places, such as farmers’ markets, farm shops, but not really seen the kinds of mushrooms I use to be able to buy from Tesco.

Funghi di Bosco

I was looking through my email when I saw that there was a message about a pizza special offer for 7.99 and to try out some new pizza. I checked the Pizza Express app on my phone and saw the pizza offer.

I was thinking about what to do for lunch, so headed to Pizza Express at Cabot Circus. There was plenty of room, and I was given a warm welcome. I wasn’t exactly in a hurry, but I wasn’t really in the mood for a long slow lunch, so was pleased with the speedy efficient service.

I looked over the menu, and didn’t see any new pizza, well maybe I misread the email. The last time I was at Pizza Express I had the Fiorentina, so this time I wanted to have something different. I did quite like the idea of mushroom pizza, so decided to order the Funghi di Bosco on a Romana base.

The pizza arrived quite promptly and looked good.

Pizza

There were plenty of mushrooms. I liked how they used chestnut mushrooms; I much prefer chestnut mushrooms, personally I think they have a nice texture and flavour. The base was nice and thin, I do like the Romana base.

What was amusing was the email was actually from Bella Italia and not Pizza Express. So Bella Italia had new pizza on their menu. Well maybe next time I am out for lunch and fancying pizza I will visit Bella Italia.

Open Steak Sandwich

Joined some colleagues for lunch. Went to the Portwall Tavern. Though close to the office, I had never actually been there before. We ordered at the bar and took a table outside. I went with the open steak sandwich.

Open Steak Sandwich

This was a slice of toasted ciabatta, sliced grilled steak, served with field mushroom, roasted red peppers, Stilton, Dijon mustard sauce and wedges. I asked for the wedges to be replaced with fries. Not sure if that was the best decision once the plates of food arrived, the wedges did look good.

The steak was cooked well, and the sauce was quite intense, the Stilton and mustard sauce was strong in flavour (and a little salty). However I did enjoy the food

A colleague of mine went with the California Veggie. This was (in her case) a gluten free ciabatta with avocado, goat’s cheese and vegetable pickles, served with potato wedges.

She said it was excellent.

That is not Roast Beef Tenderloin

I was in London I was staying at the Crowne Plaza in Ealing and I had dinner in the hotel restaurant. They have an extensive menu with some interesting choices.

I had mixed opinions about my previous meal at the Crowne Plaza, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this meal.

For my starter I went with the Creamy Mushroom Toast – sliced mushroom in rich creamy garlic sauce served on toasted bread with balsamic glaze.

This was an interesting starter. It didn’t blow me away. There was probably too much sauce and not enough mushrooms.

When I had looked at the menu before arriving at the hotel I was quite intrigued by this on the menu. Roast Beef Tenderloin – medium cooked beef served with truffle mash potato, roasted root vegetables & thyme gravy.

I did a google search for “Roast Beef Tenderloin” and liked the look of what I saw.

So when it came to the meal, for me it was a bit of a no-brainer, and I ordered the Roast Beef Tenderloin. You can imagine my disappointment when what was served at the table was this.

Though I don’t think this was roast beef tenderloin at all… also it had been cooked on the griddle! It was nice, but I hadn’t ordered steak 

The truffle mash potato didn’t have a real truffle taste, which was a pity. I had some truffle mash from M&S a few months back and that had a really nice truffle kick to it, this one didn’t. It was though nice and smooth. I liked the roasted root vegetables.

This wasn’t the dish I thought it was going to be, it was something of a disappointment. Part of my knew I should have complained at the time, but I didn’t. Part of the reason was that I knew that they probably couldn’t do very much. I don’t think they would have changed the grilled steak for roast beef tenderloin. They may have said I could have something else from the menu, but I had chosen the beef. I certainly wouldn’t order it again if I ever return to the Crowne Plaza.

Back to Master Bao

It had been a while since I had eaten at Master Bao. I really do enjoy a good bao bun and my first encounter with the Master Bao eatery at Westfield was back in December 2019 and a return visit in January 2020. I then made a visit back in September 2021.

So on a recent trip to London and needing some lunch I headed to the Westfield Shopping Centre. I did look around, but in the end headed to Master Bao.

I went with the meal deal of two bao buns and a side. I ordered the Prawn Bao and the Shiitake Mushroom Bao. The side I chose was fried vegetable dumplings.

The Prawn Bao contained marinated king prawns, fried, pickled mooli, spiced spring onions.

The prawns were nice and crispy, I liked the additions, and the bun was soft and fluffy. A really lovely bao bun.

Whilst the Shiitake Mushroom Bao had teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, pickled onions, miso.

Really nice mushrooms, with a strong savoury flavour, which contrasted with the soft fluffy bao.

I’ve had both these bao before and these were just as good, nice and tasty.

The vegetable dumplings had been fried.

I think they would have been better steamed, and then potentially fried in a pan. They were a little too crispy for me, I mainly prefer my dumplings steamed.

Nice lunch.

Time for yasai yaki soba in Liverpool

Back in March I was staying in Liverpool and one evening I headed out to Wagamama for a meal.

Despite always thinking about ordering stuff I’ve not had before, this time I went with two favourites, the yasai yaki soba, and mushroom bao buns.

The yasai yaki soba looked really nice.

This is a teppanyaki dish of soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions,  garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

I did enjoy the dish, I always think it could do with more mushroom, but it is a tasty dish.

The mushroom bao buns are another favourite regular dish of mine.

The soft bao buns work well with the mushrooms.

Overall I enjoyed the food.