Pan-Roasted Cornish Hake

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel overnight I had a meal. I went down to eat, planning to have the roasted belly of pork, only to find that they had changed the menu overnight!

So in the end, I chose the pan-roasted Cornish hake with St Austell Bay mussel velouté and sea vegetables.

pan-roasted Cornish hake with St Austell Bay mussel velouté and sea vegetables

The dish looked fantastic, a nice piece of fish on a bed of vegetables and there were a number of mussels in the velouté.

The fish was well cooked and the sea vegetables added different tastes and texture to the dish. The velouté was smooth and creamy. I only wish I had a spoon to finish it off.

Though I think the dish was as nice as it was, I think some bread would have been a nice accompaniment. If I was cooking it at home I might have served it with some creamy mashed potato.

Steak and Chips

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel another night I had another meal.

This time I went for the steak and chips. This was described on the menu as Owton’s dry-aged 12oz sirloin steak on the bone, triple cooked chips, watercress & pickled shallot salad, peppercorn sauce.

I didn’t read the menu properly, so didn’t realise that this was steak on the bone. I asked for it rare, mainly that I find too often steaks are over-cooked, however this steak was cooked rare. It was a nice steak and I enjoyed the peppercorn sauce as well.

I am not a fan of triple cooked chips, it feels like they are overcooked, but these were okay. They were nice and crispy and did taste of potato. The salad garnish was simple, but rather good.

Overall it was a nice plate of food, but I do feel it could have been better.

Crispy Duck Leg Cassoulet

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel having had a great starter for my evening meal, it was then onto the main course.

I had ordered the Crispy Gressingham duck leg, which was served with a bacon, sausage and bean cassoulet.

It was supposed to come with a parsley crumb I think, but there was crispy kale instead.

I had had a really nice duck cassoulet at Côte Brasserie at the end of last year, so it wasn’t too surprising that I compared the two dishes as I tucked into the cassoulet from the Drayton Court Hotel. The duck was tender, but I do think the skin onto could have been crispier. The cassoulet though was rather good, filled with bacon, sausages and beans. I also enjoyed the crispy kale that garnished the dish. 

Overall I think both dishes were great, I preferred the duck at Côte, and it was difficult to choose between the cassoulets, but Drayton Court had the edge.

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel I did quite fancy a starter with my evening meal. The menu talks about bar snacks, rather than starters. However one item on the menu caught my eye, which was fish tacos with mango salsa. I liked the idea of that so I ordered it.

The dish arrived promptly. It comprised three tacos, each was served with a piece of fish in a crunchy coating, shredded lettuce, mayo and the aforementioned mango salsa.

The fish was nice, full of flavour, the mango salsa was nice as well. The actual tacos though were a little dry and tough, as though they spent too long hanging around. I would have preferred mine to be warm and soft, rather than dry and hard. Having said that I would order them again.

Good food, not so good service

We visit Wagamama quite a bit compared to other places, however we have never been to the branch at Cabot Circus. It was a bank holiday and the place was busy and we had to queue (as you can’t book tables at Wagamama).

We were kept informed about the wait, I think partly to put people off, but we continued to wait. Eventually we were shown to a table and we looked over the menu.

I did consider having the shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken which when I went to Wagamama in Manchester was off the menu. I also thought about the spicy miso mackerel kokoro bowl. In the end I decided I would have a katsu curry. I chose the vegan yasai katsu curry. This was aromatic katsu curry sauce, vegetables in crispy panko breadcrumbs, sticky white rice, side salad, japanese pickles.

The vegetables were aubergine, sweet potato and butternut squash. I did think that usually I would have gone with the chicken katsu, but I what I wanted from the dish was the curry sauce, the rice and the texture of the crispy panko. The chicken wasn’t necessary and I liked the idea of different vegetables.

I did enjoy the dish, though I wasn’t enamoured with the curry sauce, maybe I should have gone with the hot spicy version. The panko vegetables were very nice, I liked the crunch and you could taste the vegetables.

To accompany the curry I had a Singha beer, which was nice and fresh. I would have preferred the beer to be colder though.

As for the service, I was less than impressed. I know at Wagamama the food arrives when it is ready, so dishes won’t be served together. Normally I am alright with this, but this time the first two dishes arrived quite quickly, the other two took much longer to be served. By the time the final dish arrived, we had nearly finished our food. We ordered some more drinks, and they spent a lot of time on the bar, before they were brought to the table. There appeared to be a fair few staff. I think part of the issue was they were being inundated with online takeaway orders which was swamping the kitchen.

So good food, not so good service.

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.

Time for something that was not as good as it could be

In my first visit to Manchester since September 2019 I was needing a place to eat dinner. I did consider going to Reds the barbecue place, but in the end decided that the last time I had eaten at Reds, in Leeds, it wasn’t the best meal I had had. Back then the brisket was a little dry. The menu had changed, so I couldn’t order the mixed platter with the short rib as I had done in Leeds. I then decided I quite liked the idea of tacos, but Chilango who did some nice tacos back in October 2016, tacos were no longer on their menu. They did burrito and boxes, but I fancied tacos.

In the end I went to Wagamama. It was quite busy, but they found me a seat. I looked over the menu and thought about what I wanted.

I wanted to have the shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken, turmeric, garlic and ginger marinated chicken, roasted and served on a bed of coconut and lemongrass dressed rice. pickled slaw and radish. chilli. coriander. caramelised lime. However they had run out of the turmeric, garlic and ginger sauce. This also meant they couldn’t do some of the other dishes as well.

In the end I ordered the teriyaki chicken donburi, this was chicken in teriyaki sauce with sticky white rice, shredded carrots, pea shoots and onions. garnished with sesame seeds and served with a side of kimchee.

It did look really nice. The chicken alas was overcooked and a little dry. It could have done with a  little more sauce in my opinion. I enjoyed the rice.

Alongside I had the vegan mixed mushroom hirata buns. These are two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and mayonnaise.

These were nice and full of flavour. I also had a green tea which alas wasn’t hot.

Overall it was okay, certainly not as good as I have had at other branches.

I then went back to the hotel where I had a (hot) green tea.

Back to Côte Brasserie

I have been to Côte in Ealing a couple of times, on a recent visit I really quite enjoyed the cassoulet I had. I was needing dinner and decided that I would visit Côte for food. It was quite busy, which I found out later was down to the pre-theatre crowd. However A table was found for me and I sat down and looked over the menu. I was tempted by the cassoulet, which I’ve had before, or trying out the Breton fish stew.

As it was a weekday there was a prix fixe (fixed price) menu, so I went with that having two courses, a starter and a main. 

If I am eating out I generally prefer a starter over a desert. There was a limit choice of four starters, though tempted by the wild mushroom soup, I went with the Pork Terrine with spiced apple chutney and pain de campagne.

It was a nice terrine and the accompanying chutney was a good contrast. I think a stronger flavour would have worked for the terrine, but it had a nice texture. My pain de campagne was well toasted, slightly burnt on the edges. I would have preferred a more lightly toasted bread with my terrine.

There were five choices for the mains. I did think about ordering the Toulouse Sausages with puy lentils and sautéed kale with a Dijonnaise dressing for my main. However I went with the Poulet Grille. This is a chargrilled chicken breast with a creamy wild mushroom and thyme sauce served with gratin potato. 

The presentation of the dish was rather messy I thought. The gratin potato was nice and creamy, but there was no golden crust. I think I was expecting more of a defined structure of potato. The wild mushroom sauce was nice, but lacked flavour, partly down to the excess cream from the gratin potato which diluted the sauce. The chicken was slightly overcooked, but I enjoyed the flavour.

I did enjoy the food and it was tasty. Service was warm, friendly and efficient.

No time for waiting

I was staying in Birmingham and was looking for somewhere for lunch. My original plan was to go to Pierre Bistrot, as I did quite fancy some French food.

I went in, there was the usual “please wait to be seated” sign. So I waited, then I waited a little more. Finally someone saw I was waiting and I asked for a table.

I sat down and looked at the menu. Then I waited, I waited and I waited.

I knew I had a meeting in my diary in less than an hour, but looking around seeing other people waiting for food and others waiting to order. I realised that there was no way I was going to order, get my food, eat the food, and pay my bill in the hour I had for lunch. So instead of waiting, I left my table and exited the restaurant, which was a pity as I did like the idea of eating French.

Still knowing I needed lunch (and that I was going to eat late that day) I headed off to Wagamama at Brindley Place.

Much better service. 

I went upstairs and there was no queue and I was quickly shown to a table I looked over the menu and chose to have some chilli squid, which I hadn’t had for a while and yasai yaki soba, which I had had more recently.

I didn’t have to wait too long before the food arrived. The yasai yaki soba arrived first and looked like the dish I had before and on the menu.

This was soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Though I enjoyed the dish, I don’t think it was as good as the last I had it, which surprised me a little.

The chilli squid arrived and I liked the look of the dish.

This was crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce.

I was though disappointed with my squid. I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in hard crunchy batter. I think it could have been so much better. I think I should have had the bao buns instead, maybe next time.

I used the QR code process to pay the bill, so I didn’t need to wait for that, and left feeling I had a nice lunch.

Creamy Pizza

We had spent the day in London, having driven up and parked at the Westfield Centre, we decided we would eat there before heading home.

I had some vouchers, so we went to Zizzi, and they also do a decent gluten free pizza as well.

I quite like a white base, so after looking over the menu I went with the Rustica Slow-Cooked Beef & Burrata Pizza. 

With slow-cooked beef, smoked burrata and scamorza cheese, mushrooms and rocket on a white base.

It was rather tasty.