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.

South Coast Pork Chop

Fox and Goose

I was in London and staying at the Fox and Goose close to Hangar Lane. The restaurant is in the older part of the hotel, as the hotel part is now a new build at the back.

The menu changes every so often, and they always seem to have a range of choices, that means it can be difficult to choose what to have. Having looked over the menu I went with the South Coast pork chop, served with smoked mushroom, grilled tomato, onion rings and triple cooked chips.

The pork chop was cooked well, it was seasoned, and grilled to my liking. It was tender and moist. I couldn’t taste any smoke on the mushroom, but that and the tomato were ice. The chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the inside. The batter on the onion rings was nice crispy, but I felt they were a little on the greasy side. The pork was served with a small saucepan of gravy (or was it a sauce). Not sure it added much to the dish.

I enjoyed the food.

So, no fish on the menu then!

I was staying over at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing. This is a place I stay regularly when working away in London.

Went down for dinner, the menu changes regularly, and the sea bass had been recently added. I was going to have the fish tacos followed by the sea bass. However, both weren’t available. So, I had steak and chips instead.

This was described on the menu as Owton’s dry-aged 8oz rib eye steak with triple-cooked chips, grilled tomato, baked field mushroom and peppercorn sauce.

Owton's dry-aged 8oz rib eye steak with triple-cooked chips, grilled tomato, baked field mushroom and peppercorn sauce.

The plate looked good with the sauce coming separately in a miniature saucepan. The steak was excellent, and much better than some of the steaks I have had at Drayton Court Hotel. It was cooked well and reasonably well seasoned, I did add a little more seasoning. I liked the chips, tomato, and mushroom as well.

Overall it was a really nice plate of food.

Enjoyed that pizza

I was fancying pizza for lunch so I headed to Franco Manca. I have had pizza from here before, but have not written about it.

I went with their £10 lunch deal of a pizza and a soft drink.

You can choose from five pizzas and I went with the sourdough pizza with roasted cured ham, mozzarella, ricotta & wild mushrooms. The menu states that this comes with little tomato. This is more a white pizza.

The place wasn’t busy, so my pizza arrived very quickly.

It was a really nice pizza, I liked the mushrooms. It was a much better pizza than on my previous visit, but that time I had also enjoyed the pizza.

Service was excellent and friendly.

Time for a German Breakfast

I was staying in Berlin for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ in the heart of what was East Berlin.

I had breakfast in the hotel and I did find it interesting what was on offer and what I could have. I had never had breakfast before at a German hotel.

So once I got my coffee and a (disappointing) orange juice, I headed to the service area to choose something for breakfast.

There was a kitchen that cooked omelettes and fried eggs to order. On the hot plates were Nuremberg sausage or Nürnberger Rostbratwurst. These were small grilled sausages with a distinctive flavour. There was also scrambled egg, which was nothing to shout about. I quite liked the cheese covered grilled tomato, the cheese certainly enhanced that tomato. The streaky bacon was overcooked for my liking. I guess if you like crispy bacon then you would enjoy this streaky bacon, personally I prefer my bacon cooked, but still soft. Though initially a little apprehensive, I did quite enjoy the mushrooms in a cream sauce. 

There was a wide range of breakfast items available. I did expect to see cheeses and cold meats, but was a little surprised to see fresh salad alongside. That felt a lot more like lunch than breakfast. Next to the salad was a lovely selection of fresh fruit. Elsewhere there was yoghurts and cereal.

I really loved the bread selection, as well as a range of bread rolls, there was a great range of loaves which you could cut slices from. There was white bread, seeded bread and wholemeal bread. Along with the bread was pastries and croissant.

There was also a pancake machine, which you could use to make your own pancakes, to which you could add maple syrup.

This was a splendid selection of breakfast items and I really enjoyed eating breakfast at the hotel. 

Eating at the Cranside Kitchen

Cranside Kitchen

I was staying in a hotel in Glasgow close to the SECC where I was attending a conference. I had planned to just eat in the hotel restaurant, but found that the restaurant wasn’t open. Well that wasn’t helpful. I had a look around the area on Google Maps and found that, apart from other hotel restaurants there wasn’t much choice close by. I could have walked up to Argyle Street, but it was dark and cold, and to be honest I didn’t fancy walking back.

I did though went for a walk and looked at the Cranside Kitchen, from the outside it looked like it was now an Italian place called Romano’s. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Italian, so walked around the area a bit more, but didn’t find anywhere else apart from some hotel restaurants.

In the end I went to Cranside Kitchen. I found out then it was a little more than an Italian place. You scanned the QR code on the table and placed your order online. As well as the Italian menu, there was also Chinese, Thai and Japanese. So I discovered I had a wider choice of what I could eat.

Cranside Kitchen menu

I actually prefer proper restaurant service, but I can see the advantages of this kind of system. You can order from different places so if you were in a group you could order what everyone wants. It makes splitting the bill simpler, as people can order and pay for their own food and drinks. It is also easy to add stuff to the order as well. I spent some time looking over the menu before choosing what I wanted to eat. It was quite a challenge as there were quite a few choices that I liked the sound of.

In the end I went with the Seafood Cha Han, this was Japanese style wok fried rice topped with mayo and mix sesame.

Seafood Cha Han

I really liked this dish, it was fresh, full of flavour,  and really delicious. 

I also ordered some Bao Bun Box. You had to order a minimum of two buns, I decided to order three. I went with the chicken karaage, aromatic duck and enoki mushroom.

When the bamboo box arrived I was a little surprised by the size of the buns, they were bigger than I expected (and have had at other places). I think I could have got away with just two buns.

Bao Bun Box

The aromatic duck was my least favourite of the three, it was cooked duck in hoisin sauce. The chicken karaage was deep fried battered marinated chicken in a spicy sauce. The enoki mushroom was surprising, it was also battered and deep fried. The mushroom bao bun was my favourite.

As I had paid when I ordered, I could leave the restaurant when I had finished and wanted to. 

Steak and Chips

I was staying at the Doubletree Hilton in Ealing and was eating in the hotel restaurant. I had a look over their menu. There is something about hotel menus that can be rather depressing. Sometimes you find places that inspire and bring joy. Other times you think, I should have gone out to eat!

Now I will say having had steak and chips a fair few times recently at hotels, this dish was just a little disappointing in comparison.

The menu didn’t indicate the weight or the size of the steak, but I got what I felt was a rather thin piece of sirloin steak. The chips came in a small metal fryer basket. Alongside were some roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine, a roasted field mushroom and some watercress.

Having said it was a little disappointing, the accompaniments were all rather good, I think the dish was just let down by the main act. The steak was rather bland and lacked flavour. It was rather thin as well. It was cooked medium rare as ordered, but apart from that I was not impressed.