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.

Time for TânVân

There are lots of places from which to choose from when eating out in Ealing. Some would say too much choice. There are a number of Vietnamese restaurants in the area and they all look inviting and interesting. Looking around all the different places I did like the look of the menu at TânVân.

restaurant frontage on a street with a sign on the pavement

After walking around a couple of times I went back to TânVân.

We are a family-run Vietnamese eatery and Cocktail Bar based in the heart of Ealing Broadway. We serve the Vietnamese classics such as phỏ ̉ noodle soups, bún noodle salads and bánh mì as well as having lots of vegan options! 

We are more than just a place to eat. We are a place to share, not just food, but love, memories, laughter. A place for your first date, a place to celebrate, a place to catch up with an old friend, a place for after-work drinks with your co-workers. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, we can assure that this is the place for you.

They have an intriguing menu, but the choice of starters or side dishes felt quite limited. However there were five dishes to choose from, maybe I am just being a little picky with that. Tempted by the chicken wings, in the end I wanted to try something new, so, I went with the beef wrapped in betel leaf topped with roasted peanuts.

plate of beef wrapped in betel leaf on noodles

This was not the most delicately presented dish of food, it did look a little thrown together. There was a plate of (cold) noodles, the beef wrapped in betel leaf, and it was topped with chopped peanuts. It was served with a chilli dipping sauce. This to me was quite a substantial starter, it probably didn’t need the noodles. The beef was tasty and I enjoyed eating all the food on the plate.

There are lots of choices on the menu for mains. As well as rice bowls, there is wide choice of Phở noodle soup, Bún bowls of noodle salad, and if you prefer you can have a bánh mi sandwich. For my main course I went with the Saigon pork belly stew.

This is on the specials on the menu, and is described as melt-in-your-mouth tender pork belly braised in a light and delicately sweet and sticky sauce. It came with a hard boiled egg, a side of rice and pickled vegetables.

pork belly stew with a hard boiled egg

The pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the sauce was not too sweet. It worked well with the rice and pickled vegetables.

a bowl of picked vegetables

a bowl of rice

I enjoyed this dish, it was delicious and tasty, and I was a little disappointed I had finished it, as I wanted more.

Alongside my meal I had a bottle of Bia Saigon beer, which was crisp and refreshing.

a bottle of beer on a table

The service was excellent, I was given a warm and friendly welcome.

This is certainly a place I would visit again.

Doing the Polka Kitchen

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

Now I have no idea how authentic the food is, having never been to Poland, I was still intrigued. They do appear to be popular on the Facebook with lots of comments in Polish.

They have a really intriguing and interesting menu, so much so, I was having difficult in making a choice. They have a somewhat limited choice of starters, but there are a range of soups on the menu as well. I do like a starter and prefer having a starter over pudding usually.

In the end for my starter I went with the steak tartare. It was served with egg yolk, pickled cucumbers, onion, and mustard seeds. This was such a pretty plate of food.

plate of food

Alongside I was given some sliced Polish bread and butter.

The steak was tender, I liked the addition of the pickles, and egg yolk. The pickled mushroom was a nice surprising addition. I relished every mouthful.

Having had a steak tartare from Cote recently, it was interesting to compare the two dishes. The plate from Polka was so much better, both in terms of presentation, flavours and texture. Almost no competition in that comparison.

For my main course I was torn between a range of choices, but in the end went with the pork tenderloin stuffed with chicken and saffron, wrapped in Serrano ham, and  served with lentils, spinach, and mushrooms.

plate of food

Another lovely presented dish. I did at one point wonder what the red sauce on the side was, and then realised it was the pattern on the plate. The plates were very pretty, but wonder if they distracted you from the food. Ah well not a huge issue for me.

The pork was nice, but I wasn’t that impressed with the chicken and saffron stuffing. I never noticed or tasted the saffron, and the chicken was rather bland. The rest of the dish though was really tasty. The lentils were delicious, and I liked the mushrooms with the spinach.

 I did think about pudding, but was quite full after two wonderful plates of food. They do have an excellent range of cakes and pastries though, so it was quite tempting.

The service was excellent, welcoming and friendly. The food was served efficiently, but I never felt rushed.

Time for some more Tapas

Last July I went to La Rueda, a tapas bar in Ealing in London. We had an excellent meal of different tapas dishes. In my review I said:

Overall the food was beautiful cooked and it was delicious. I do hope to visit La Rueda again.

It has been a while, but last month I made a return visit to La Rueda and had some excellent tapas again.

La Rueda Tapas Bar is a one-of-a-kind culinary establishment with a menu inspired by the idea of simple and honest cooking. Starting in 2000, we developed a unique dining experience for all of our guests using fresh and sustainable ingredients—taking you on a culinary journey like no other. From classic recipes to new-age kitchen adventures, each dish reflects our passion for high-quality food presented in a simple yet pleasing manner. 

I was given a friendly warm welcome. I looked over the menu. I decided to go for three dishes, a salad, a fish dish, and a meat dish. I went with choices that I wouldn’t normally choose.

For my salad choice I went with the Tomate Y Cebolla – Tomatoes & Onions salad.

Tomate Y Cebolla

The tomatoes were nice and fresh, and the sharpness of the red onions was a nice contrast. The salad was seasoned well.

For the meat dish I went with the Carrilleras de cerdo ibérico – Ibérico pork cheeks braised in Sherry.

Carrilleras de cerdo ibérico

I had seen this on the menu before and liked the sound of it. There was two portions of pork cheek, the cooking sauce, and some deep friend potato strings. The pork was tender and full of flavour. The crispiness of the potato add some textural variety. I think I would have liked some bread with this dish.

For my fish dish I was tempted to have the octopus that I had last year. I also liked the idea of the grilled sardines. However, in the end I chose the Boquerones fritos – fried fresh anchovies.

Boquerones fritos

This dish was similar to whitebait, but the anchovies were bigger. They were nice and crisp, and I liked the aioli, slaw, and lemon. 

I really enjoyed all three dishes.

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.

No.1 British Free Range Pork Ribeye Steak again…

Having enjoyed the pack of No.1 British Free Range Pork Ribeye Steak from Waitrose on our barbecue the other day decided I would get another pack to cook.

This time though I followed the instructions.

They said…

Remove bag from box. Place the bag in simmering water for 15 minutes, remove from bag and pan fry on a medium heat for 6-8 minutes using butter to baste.

Now it may just have been that pack, but I think it might have  been the way I cooked it. It wasn’t as good as the first time we had it. It was not as tender and lacked flavour compared to the barbecued version I had done.

Not sure I will make the effort to get it again, especially after the special offer period is over; it’s currently 20% off.

No.1 British Free Range Pork Ribeye Steak

I had seen this pack in Waitrose a few times now and was intrigued.

British pork ribeye steak with sage leaves and thyme sprigs. Free range pork ribeye steak, tender, succulent and full of flavour, from pigs sired by pedigree Hampshire boars, a breed renowned for excellent meat. All our pigs are reared to higher welfare standards by British farmers who share our values

I was planning a barbecue with a mix of meats, so decided I would add this pork steak to the mix.

In the box was a sealed plastic pack containing the pork. I cut it open and was pleasantly surprised to find two steaks in the pack.

I then read the instructions on the back of the box…


It said…

Remove bag from box. Place the bag in simmering water for 15 minutes, remove from bag and pan fry on a medium heat for 6-8 minutes using butter to baste.

Well I didn’t do that!

Anyhow I cooked the steaks on the barbecue and they cooked well and were very tasty.

Time for Tau Yew Bak 

I was in Bristol and popped down to the Finzel Reach street food market. Though I do visit other street food markets, the Bristol scene as one of my favourites. My personal challenge though when visiting is that I usually default to stalls I’ve been to before, and don’t necessarily try something new. So on this visit, I was going to go to King Fin, however they had sold out of their calamari, even so I was tempted by their soft shell crab burger. I then thought, there are lots of stalls that I’ve not tried before, so lets try something new. 

So I looked around and I decided to try out the Fat Rice stall which sells Malaysian comfort food.

Fat Rice stall

There were three choices on the menu, a beef rendang, kunyit chicken, and tau yew bak. I went with the tau yew bak. This was pork belly slow-cooked in soy sauce and spices. Served with basmati rice, fried onions and pickled salad.

pork belly slow-cooked in soy sauce and spices. Served with basmati rice, fried onions and pickled salad

This was a good sized meal and there was a decent portion of the main part of the dish, the pork belly. Sometimes I have found that you order a dish and the amount of the *star* of the dish makes you feel like you’ve been short-changed. 

The pork itself was nice and tender and full of flavour. I liked the chilli sauce that was served with the pork. The salad added zing to the dish and the rice was nice. Overall a delicious bowl of food.

The service was efficient and friendly. Thought it was interesting there was no vegetarian (or vegan) options. I certainly think I would visit the stall again and try out some of their other options.



I was in Cambridge for a conference and arriving the day before looked for a place to eat. I did think about going to Loch Fyne, where back in January 2020 I had enjoyed some nice seafood. However after walking down Trumpington Street, I realised that this branch of  Loch Fyne had closed down it was now a gastropub, called the Little Rose. In the end I didn’t go there, and went to Côte, but had been intrigued by the Little Rose menu.

So when the next day, after a conference drinks reception, someone suggest that we should have dinner at Little Rose, I was happy to go along with that suggestion.

We hadn’t booked, and we were quite a large party, but we were given a warm welcome and they had space for us.

I had the porchetta. This was described on the menu as maple glazed porchetta, smoked garlic potato, puffed crackling, with apple gravy.


This was an impressive looking plate of food, though more pub than gastro.

There was a chunk of pork belly, the porchetta. It was glazed with maple syrup, but personally I think it was slightly overdone on the grill, resulting in a little bitterness. Not enough to send it back, but it was just over.

I liked the mashed potato, and the puffed crackling added some nice crunch. There was some slices of apple as well, which helped to contrast the rich pork.

I did enjoy my meal, but it wasn’t amazing, something I probably wouldn’t order again if I ever found myself back at the Little Rose.



I made this homemade ramen.

For the base stock, I cheated slightly, and used a carton of Itsu ramen broth.

In the bowl I added some cooked rice noodles, pak choi, spinach leaves, baby corn, and some spring onion.

I used the itsu brillant broth which I heated up in a pan before filling the bowls.

After adding the broth I added a slice of slow cooked pork belly.