Time for a Soho ’65

Staying in Loughborough and having had an interesting meal at the Harvester previously in Loughborough close to the hotel, I decided I didn’t want to make a return visit there and headed to the centre of Loughborough to see what was around.

After walking around for a while I decided I would have pizza at Pizza Express. It had been a while since I had been to Pizza Express. They had a new addition to their menu, the Soho ’65.

A slice of our heritage – tomato with garlic, fresh buffalo mozzarella, olives, rocket and shaved Gran Milano cheesSe.

So I ordered the Soho ’65 and a side order of halloumi bites. It wasn’t too long before my food arrived.

This is a rather simple, but tasty pizza. It’s also a square pizza. 

I think they forgot to add the shaved Gran Milano cheese, this I didn’t notice at the time. However I did enjoy the pizza and did like the combination of fresh mozzarella, olives, and rocket. The base was baked well and was crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and tasty.

Alongside (as I had a free side in the app) I had a portion of halloumi bites, this was crispy coated halloumi with Italian tomato dip and parsley.

Didn’t think much of these, the halloumi was okay, but I didn’t like the tomato dip. I think as it was (probably) from a jar and didn’t taste very fresh.

I did enjoy my meal and the service was excellent.

Steak Dinner

I was up in London for a conference and I was staying at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. I had stayed there before in December 2008 and had eaten in the restaurant. We had eaten a delicious meal there, but I wasn’t sure if the experience could be repeated.

 I had been looking around the area seeing what was around before defaulting and deciding to eat in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant wasn’t very busy, with only a few tables occupied. However I was hungry, so wasn’t too worried. They have an interesting looking menu, but in the end I went with their special and had the steak and chips with a drink. Chips were an extra, so I went with the truffle and parmesan fries. It wasn’t long before the food arrived.

The steak was much bigger than I thought it would be, it was also a very nice steak.  The fries were okay, but I think I would preferred them plain.

It wasn’t the best steak I have ever had, but it was a good steak. I thought, for a hotel dinner, it was value for money.

Ultimate Grill

When staying away I sometimes go out to eat and sometimes eat in the hotel. If it is a place like Drayton Court where the bar and restaurant are quite busy, then the place has atmosphere, making it a nice place to eat. Sometimes though the hotel restaurant can be empty, cold, and uninviting. This was certainly the case when staying at the Link Hotel in Loughborough. The restaurant was empty. I was charging my car, so looked locally for a place to eat, next door was a Harvester. Now I have never been to a Harvester before, so this was going to be an interesting experience.

Compared to the hotel this restaurant was bustling and busy. They however found me a table and I sat down and looked over the menu.

I wasn’t sure what to have, but looked over the different dishes. I was feeling quite hungry, so I decided to be greedy and went with the Ultimate Mixed Grill.

This was a quarter portion of rotisserie chicken, 8oz rump steak, a half rack of BBQ-glazed ribs, 7oz gammon, two pork sausages, two fried free-range eggs and two black pudding slices, chips, garden peas, tomato and onion rings.

I will be honest this was one big plate of food, and I thought I had made a mistake in ordering it.

I did make a visit to the salad bar, for my free salad bowl. I didn’t get a huge salad, as I knew I was getting a lot of food with the grill. There was a lot in there and I quite liked what I ate. Most of it was nice. The chicken was a little dry, but I have found that  rotisserie chicken can be quite dry anyhow. The gammon was nice, as was the steak. The BBQ-glazed ribs were very tender and the meat fell off the bones. Wasn’t that enamoured with the sausages, and though I like black pudding, I felt that it wasn’t needed on the plate. I liked the addition of the chips and onion rings, the chips were cooked, and I enjoyed the three crispy battered onion rings.

In the end I did eat a lot, but I didn’t finish the plate. It was an interesting experience, and I did like the food, but I am not sure I would order that dish again, it was way too much food.

Would I visit a Harvester again, not sure. If I didn’t have anywhere else to go, and the only other choice was an empty hotel restaurant, then I think I would go back to the Harvester.

Sasi’s Thai

When in Oxford, I usually visit the Covered Market and have a delicious plate of Thai food from Sasi’s Thai. 

My first experience of Sasi’s Thai was back in 2013 when I started working in Oxford and would go out for lunch. It was one of the many food outlets in the market and always served excellent delicious food. Even after I changed jobs, and stopped working in Oxford, if I was back in Oxford (or even passing through) I would stop for lunch and seek out Sasi’s Thai for some spicy food.

This was the case back in March 2023, when after a meeting elsewhere in Oxfordshire, I was on my way to another location, so stopped off in Oxford for lunch. I made my way to Sasi’s Thai and though it was busy, I joined the queue. I had the two choices with rice, and had the Crispy Pork with Basil  and the Chicken and Cashew Nuts. 

The crispy pork was nice and tasty.

The chicken and cashew nuts was also tasty. I did feel the chicken could have done with some more cashew nuts.

These are two dishes I would regularly have at Sasi’s Thai. Both dishes were delicious, quite spicy. The food was just as good as I remembered. 

Burger and Fries at the Airport

I had missed lunch and was flying from Edinburgh Airport, so decided to get something to eat from the departures lounge.

Upon arriving at Edinburgh Airport, there are quite a few places to eat. I would have probably gone with Bar Burrito, however they weren’t selling the tacos that I like. In the end I decided I would have a burger. I went to Hudson St Grill and took a seat and ordered my food from the app. 

This was an airport, so the food arrived quite promptly. It didn’t look half bad to be honest.

This burger was just okay, it didn’t really have a good flavour. They had dressed the burger with sliced tomato, gem lettuce, pickled pink onions, sliced gherkins and tomato relish. I had added a slice of Monteray Jack cheese to the burger as well.

Overall it was just okay, nothing special, but better than others I have had. The chips were nice.

There was an option to go to a mainstream high street chain at the airport, but the pricing wasn’t that much different, and at least at the Hudson St Grill and I got served at my table.

Steak Bowl from Marrakech Grill

In April last year I went to the Leather Lane Street Food Market in London and had a very nice steak salad bowl from the Marrakech Grill stall.

The salad were excellent, the chips were crisp, and the steak was delicious. I was really impressed with this bowl of food.

Though I have the preference for the Bristol street food markets, you can’t really dismiss the range and choice of food at the Leather Lane Street Food market in London. So on a recent visit to London and buying some lunch I headed off to Leather Lane. I did think about visiting the Mediterranean Grill having had some nice food from there, what I thought was recently, but was in fact back in 2021. However I found it was closed. I walked up Leather Lane and when I saw the Marrakech Grill stall, I remembered the food from my previous visit, so decided to go for it and have a bowl.

There was a bit of a queue, which to me is always a good sign.

This was a very generous bowl of food, with a range of mixed salads, chips, and a good sized portion of steak.

You can choose from a range of salads, I did think about having a bit of everything, but in the end chose a nice variety. It did cool down a little bit by the time I got back to the office, but even so, the salads were delicious. The chips could have been better, but they were nice. The steak was tender and tasty. I really enjoyed the bowl and would have it again.

Interesting the price had gone up, when I last had it, it was six pounds, this time it was nine pounds.

Rustica Black Truffle Salami & Mushroom Pizza

Bristol has a fair number of restaurants and places to eat. Cabot Circus has a fair few high street chains. One of my regular places is Zizzi, usually as I have some kind of offer.

This time I decided to use a Zizzi 25% offer I had received, combined with an existing balance on my Zizzi eGift card, though I could get a cheaper lunch.

I was given a warm welcome and pretty much allowed to choose where to sit. I took a table and looked over the menu. I went with the Rustica Black Truffle Salami & Mushroom.

A white base with truffle salami, mushrooms, crispy prosciutto, Fior di Latte mozzarella, riserva cheese, truffle-infused oil and crispy sage.

Pizza

The Rustica was thin and crispy. I do like white bases and this was excellent. I thought it was a good amount of toppings, not scarce, but also not overdone.

In the end there was a problem with the Zizzi eGift card, so lunch was not as cheap as I hoped it would be. However it was a nice pizza.

We’ve run out…

I was back in London and staying at the Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. I have been staying here for a fair few years now. It is significantly cheaper than central London, and with the Elizabeth Line, hitting central London is really fast. West Ealing Station is a few minutes walk from the hotel, from there you can catch a train to central London in less than twenty minutes. Downstairs is a bar with an extensive menu, that changes on a regular basis. They do a fantastic Sunday lunch,  and you also can get freshly cooked wood fired pizza as well.

Going down for dinner to eat. I decided I would have the whitebait and the pork belly. However, they had run out of pork belly. So, I decided to abandon the whitebait, and go with just the ribeye steak instead. This was Owton’s 8oz rib eye steak with triple-cooked chips, grilled tomato, baked field mushroom and peppercorn sauce.

The steak arrived, it was dressed with the grilled tomato, baked field mushroom, and some rocket. The chips came in a small metal bucket, and the peppercorn sauce was served in a miniature saucepan.

steak

The steak was cooked well but needed extra seasoning. The chips were crisp, with a fluffy centre. I also enjoyed the tomato and mushroom. I am not really a fan of peppercorn sauce, but this was nice and peppery.

Overall it was a good plate of food and one of the better steaks I have had at Drayton Court.

Crispy Crab Burger

I was back in London and staying at one of my regular haunts, the Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. I have been staying here for a fair few years now. It is significantly cheaper than central London, and with the Elizabeth Line, hitting central London is really fast. West Ealing Station is a few minutes walk from the hotel, from there you can catch a train to central London in less than twenty minutes. The hotel has an Ealing comedies theme, there are rooms named after films, and there are numerous photographs from the films framed on the walls.

Going down for dinner, I had the fish tacos for my starter, I had considered the whitebait which was on their specials menu, but after thinking about it, I went with the tacos. What they did have on the specials menu was a Crispy Crab Burger with triple cooked chips as a main course, so I went with that. I do enjoy crispy soft shell crab, and have liked it when I have had it before, however I do remember saying back then:

the deep fried soft shell crab was crispy, but didn’t have the crab taste intensity I was expecting. So overall I did enjoy the food, but was a little disappointed with the soul of the dish, the crab.

Even so, I did have quite high expectations. The burger arrived with a side of triple cooked chips in one of those mini metal buckets.

crab burger

As well as the crispy crab, there was avocado, lettuce, tomato, and sauce.

The crab was wonderfully crispy, some parts tasted of crab, some did not.

I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away.

Duck Takoyaki in my Bento Box

If you are a regular visitor to the blog then you will know I am a fan of the bento box from She Sells Sushi, one of the regular stalls at Finzel Reach (and Temple Quay) street food markets.

On a recent visit to Finzel Reach, it was raining, so the queues were shorter, so I didn’t have to wait too long for a bento box for my lunch. This time in my bento box I went with the beef donburi and some duck Takoyaki.

The beef donburi was slow cooked teriyaki beef rib on a bed of rice, topped with crispy onions and pickles.

I have had this dish many times, and it was delicious. The beef is cooked until it is tender. It is served on a bed of rice, and the pickles and crispy onions enhance the dish.

Usually in my bento box, I have the hirata bao bun. Having had that last time, this time I decided I would go for the Takoyaki dumplings. She Sells Sushi offer a choice between octopus and duck, I went with duck. It had been a while since I last had them in my bento box. I had enjoyed them then, so was looking forward to having them again. I was tempted by the XL Bento Box, in which you can add a third dish. I did think about getting a hirata bun alongside the beef and the Takoyaki. However I wasn’t overtly hungry, so I went with the standard bento box.

The Takoyaki were very nice. Nicely presented with sauces drizzled over them and garnished with seaweed and bento flakes.

I really enjoyed my bento box, and it was nice to have a change from my usual bento box.