Reminiscing on the bento boxes

Finzel Reach Market

Now as we leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

Back in May 2019 I had visited the Finzle Reach Street Food market in Bristol. At the market there are various stalls however I was drawn once more to She Sells Sushi. As usual I was tempted by the ramen or the sushi, however I went with my favourite which was the bento box with the Beef Donburi and Hirata Bun.

So I had the delicious Beef Donburi. This is succulent short rib slow cooked in a teriyaki style marinade of soy, fresh ginger and garlic. It was served on a bed of rice  with beni shoga, mayu and spring onion.

Beef Donburi

As usual it was delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. 

I had the tempura chicken hirata bun. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside I had the tempura chicken, known as the Finzel Flapper, complete with spring onions and Japanese mayo.

Finzel Flapper

I do like the combination of flavours and textures in the bun. She also does a pork belly hirata bun, which is just as tasty, but I like the textures you get with the tempura chicken.

Lisa from the stall always takes real care to cook and create great tasting and wonderful looking dishes.

I am looking forward to getting back to working in Bristol so I can once more eat some delicious street food.

Time for some Ah Ma’s Dumplings

Now as we start to leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

Back in March 2017 I had visited the Temple Quay Street Food market in Bristol and had some great dumplings from Ah Ma’s Dumplings.

I first had dumplings from this stand a year before and had been impressed.

The stall has these huge towers of bamboo steamers laden with freshly steamed dumplings containing a choice of fillings.

My dumplings were then fried off in a pan. Alas the stall (at the time) fries the vegetarian dumplings in the same pan they fry off the meat ones. So if you are vegetarian you may want to have yours steamed and not fried off.

My dumplings were served with a delicious salad. I really enjoyed the dumplings.

That Wahaca Time in Clifton

Now as we start to leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some meals I had out over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

I had forgotten that I had eaten at Wahaca in Bristol in 2017. I had got a money off voucher from a meal kit that I had bought in a supermarket, so though I wouldn’t normally spend the kind of money that this lunch would cost, with the money off voucher  it made it a lot cheaper and value for money.

This was my first (and to date) only visit to the Wahaca branch in Clifton, Bristol. I have eaten at a fair few branches in London over the years, but  I have only visited the branch in Clifton just this once.

I had a warm and friendly welcome and was shown to a table. It was later in the day for lunch so the place was quite empty.

I went with three dishes. The first of these was the Grilled Steak Tacos.

These are three flash-grilled skirt steak filled toasted soft corn tortilla tacos with chipotle & tomatillo salsas. You could have had it with grilled cheese, but I chose to go without. When I last visited Wahaca in London last year the cheese wasn’t optional, I don’t think it needs the cheese. The tacos were delicious, the steak was cooked well and the different salsas added heat and spice.

The second of my dishes as the Ancho Chicken Baja Tacos.

Two corn and flour tortillas inspired by the beaches of baja filled with grilled chicken thighs marinated with sweet & smoky ancho chilli, topped with  and jalapeño-pickled carrots. I really enjoyed these the salad adding freshness to the dish, with the warm tasty grilled chicken.

As for my third dish was a special, the Mushroom Fundido.

Mushrooms roasted in garlic, thyme, chipotle and hibiscus glazed, baked in mozzarella, cheddar and local queso fresco.

When writing this article I checked what the dish was called from my Instagram feed when I posted a photo of it back in March 2017.

I then did a Google Search for more details about the dish and this tweet from Wahaca came up.

As you can see what I got looked very different to how the dish should have looked. Having said that, the dish tasted a lot better than it looked.

Overall three tasty dishes, excellent service.

Brazilian Prato Feito

Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past.

Back in March 2017 I went to the St Nicholas Street Food Market in Bristol. There is always a lot of choice in the market itself, but back then on Wednesdays there was a range of additional stalls on Wine Street which widens the choice.

Looking over the stalls I went to the Tia Julia Brazilian Food Stand.

Lots of nice choices, but I went with the Prato Feito. This was a dish comprising of a Brazilian style cuts of rump steak, flash fried on the griddle with onions, peppers and melted cheese. It was served with tomato salsa, pinto beans and rice.

The steak was full of flavour and very tasty, I really enjoyed this dish. I really liked the fact it was cooked to order, so I could see it being prepared.

So on this day two years ago….

On this day two years ago I was in London for various meetings. Over lunch I went for a walk around Covent Garden and enjoyed looking at the Christmas decorations. Since 2015 when  I started working at my current organisation I would go to London quite frequently and in December it is really nice to see the different ways in which they decorate Covent Garden and other places around London.

Covent Garden

Of course since the Covid-19 lockdown I’ve not been to work or meetings in London since March.

However back to 2018, so I headed towards Kimchee on the Strand to get some lunch. Since my previous visit a few months earlier they have changed dramatically how they sell and serve food. Before you would pick things up from the hot and cold units and then either (as I usually did) take it back to the office or there were tables you could eat at. However now there was a big kitchen area, you would place your order, get a buzzer thingy and wait until the food was cooked to order. I quite like getting freshly cooked food, so was happy to wait.

I ordered the Deopbap Chicken Bulgogi and the Pa Jeon. I then had to wait for my order. Deopbap Chicken Bulgogi was Korean BBQ Chicken in a rice bowl.

The grilled chicken marinated in a blend of ginger, dark soy and garlic, was coated in a sauce and served on a bed of rice and salad. It was quite tasty, but not really barbecued chicken. It was just okay and nothing special and at nearly nine pounds I thought it was overpriced and wasn’t value for money.

I really liked the sound of the Seafood Pa Jeon, a Korean savoury pancake. Pajeon is a variety of jeon with scallion as its prominent ingredient, as pa means scallion. It is a Korean dish made from a batter of eggs, wheat flour, rice flour, scallions, and often other ingredients depending on the variety.

However the end result was a greasy stodgy undercooked pancake with no real flavour. I couldn’t actually finish it. I certainly won’t be going again.

On a later visit to London in 2019 I found that the branch of Kimchee had closed down. I wasn’t too surprised as the essence of what they had which worked was lost, as well as the downturn in the quality of the food as well as more expensive dishes. It also took longer to get served and I am sure that had an impact on those wanting to pick something up quickly and head back to their workplace.

Quick lunch in Cardiff

Last November I was attending some meetings in Cardiff, after they were over I was walking back to the car park to get my car and drive home. I realised I was hungry and decided to get something to eat.

Cardiff has quite a bit of choice of places to eat, but I didn’t really have the time to look round find somewhere so in the end I chose Barburrito.

I’ve had Barburrito tacos before at Paddington and Bristol Airport, so it was something I knew I liked.

I had three Barburrito tacos with pork and chicken. You also get a handful of tortilla chips and salsa. I like how you have some choice over which salads and extras you get with your tacos.

Though I always think with Barburrito that the meat is generally overcooked, however I did enjoy my tacos and the salad and toppings tasted very fresh.

French Excellence in Edinburgh

Last November I was off to Scotland, staying overnight in Edinburgh, for some meetings and events. I took an afternoon flight from Bristol. I took the tram to the heart of Edinburgh and then walked over to the hotel the Radisson Blu. The room was nice and modern. After dropping off my stuff I went for a walk around Edinburgh.

I realised as I walked around Edinburgh having checked into my hotel, that I have been to Edinburgh many times over the last twenty years for work, but have never actually visited the place in a personal non-work capacity. I go to London a lot for work, but also go there with family to visit and explore. So I am thinking about possibly visiting Edinburgh in the future to explore and have a proper look around.

It was getting dark even though it was only 4pm, well it was November. I walked around the old town before heading up to the castle.

It was way too late to visit the castle proper so I just took in the evening views across Edinburgh.

There was a couple of shops I wanted to have a look at before I went back to the hotel so walked further into the heart of Edinburgh with the intention of walking around Princes Street and back to the hotel. On my way I passed what looked like a really nice French place, Petit Paris on Grassmarket. The menu looking really interesting and inspiring. They had a pre-theatre deal that looked good value. It was not as though I was going to go to the theatre, but  could take advantage of the deal.

As it was afternoon, I continued to explore Edinburgh, however as I walked around the weather got worse, so I stopped at a Caffe Nero for coffee and catch up with work stuff. I went back to the hotel more directly to get changed and then I headed out to get something to eat.

I went out to Petit Paris for dinner. The place was quite busy and I was given a nice welcome, before being taken down into the basement where there was a free table.

I looked over the menu and there was so many tempting dishes on there. I had to make a choice though, so for my starter I went with the garlic mussels.

This dish reminded me of snails in garlic butter, but this dish was done with mussels. It had just come out of the oven was really hot, so I was careful not to scald my mouth when eating it. Very strong garlic flavours, slightly overpowering the mussels, but still a nice start to the meal.

There was a lot of choice for the main course, in the end I went with something that I probably wouldn’t have ordered, but did so as I wanted to try a new kind of dish. I went with fish in a cream sauce with mashed potatoes.

It was delicious and very nice. The potato was smooth and creamy, the sauce was tasty and not too rich and the fish was cooked really well.

I didn’t want a sweet end to the meal and I like cheese so I went with some cheese.

There was a nice choice of cheeses.

Overall this was one of the best meals out I have had for a long time, the food was delicious.

If I get a chance to get to Edinburgh again I think I will try and visit Petit Paris again for a meal.

Pizza at The Old Leadworks

Having spent the afternoon in Bristol last November, we had  choice, did we go home and cook, or did we go out and eat first in Bristol. We did venture first to Bella Italia, but it was fully booked. To be honest I wasn’t sure if it was as there was plenty of free tables. However I wasn’t willing to argue with the staff. We didn’t want to spend ages walking around to find somewhere to eat. The challenge was that we needed to find somewhere which had a good choice of gluten free items as well.

I recalled that over by at-Bristol or now as it was called We The Curious in the old Leadworks was a branch of Prezzo. So we decided that we would try there, if unsuccessful we would go home. So we headed towards Prezzo on the Harbourside.

Back in 2000 I actually worked at at-Bristol and my desk was in the offices on the first floor in the old Leadworks. At that time the restaurant was a Firehouse Rotisserie, which sold chicken. I did think about going there a few times, but never did. It was too expensive for lunch and it was somewhere we ever went in the evening either. I am not sure when it became a Prezzo, but it was now a Prezzo.

We were given a lovely warm friendly welcome. I looked over the menu, and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. In the end I went with the Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and egg.

I have had this pizza a few times before and enjoyed it each time. This time it was just as nice.

There was a lot of pizza but I did manage to finish it.

It was a lovely relaxing meal and we all really enjoyed our food.

Christmas time at the Mud Dock Cafe

December is often the time for office Christmas meals. With the number of staff in our office, the main Christmas meal we have is often dictated by the availability of the venue and to be perfectly honest I have not been too impressed with the food at the last few I have been to. The fact you also need to order your choices weeks in advance is also a little annoying. What I fancy eating in November, may not be what I actually want on the day. Then again do you really go to an office Christmas meal for the food?

Having missed the main office Christmas dinner (intentionally) last December, I was looking forward to our team Christmas meal which was taking place the week after. There was only going to be a few of us so it wasn’t going to be that massive crazy kind of event. The plan was to have a meal at the Mud Dock Cafe in Bristol.

We had a meeting before heading off to the venue. What I did like about this meal was that we could choose from the menu. As I looked over the menu we were impressed with the salad that a neighbouring table was eating. However we couldn’t work out what it was and didn’t appear to be on the menu. I then cheekily asked the neighbouring table what they had ordered, they were very happy about the query and told us it was the Caesar Salad from the specials board up on the wall!

One of my colleagues was impressed enough that he ordered the salad for his meal.

It looked really impressvive and delicious. Though I was tempted by the salad, in the end I went with the Festive menu. For my starter I had the ballotine confit of turkey leg, cranberry compote and dressed leaves.

This was rather tasty, though as with these kinds of dishes, I could have done with more bread.

I wasn’t sure what kind of main course I wanted, but when I read truffled mushroom I went with the homemade chestnut and parmesan gnocchi in a truffled mushroom and spinach cream.

This, though rather hot (as in temperature) was a rich comforting plate of food. It was tasty and I really enjoyed it.

I was persuaded to have a desert, so I went with the selection of West Country cheeses.

A rather delightful selection and beautifully presented board of cheese.

Overall it was one of the better Christmas meals I have had. It was nice to have a choice and choose on the day, rather than days or weeks in advance.

This year I don’t think we will be having any kind of festive office meal but if and when we can do that kind of thing, I hope to return to the Mud Dock Cafe.

A nautical theme

Before the pandemic I would travel a fair bit for work and stay overnight in cities across the UK. In August last year I had a meeting in Liverpool and was staying at The Liner Hotel. 

This hotel has a real nautical theme to it, complete with portholes in reception as well as extensive use of blue and white in the rooms.

Having arrived quite late into Liverpool I decided I really should get something to eat. I initially thought about eating at the hotel, then thought I would find somewhere cheaper in the heart of the city. As I looked around the place I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted and walked round for a bit. I didn’t really know what I wanted so never actually could decide what I wanted. In the end, as it was getting late I went back to the hotel and decided to have a late dinner there.

The welcome was warm and friendly. The place wasn’t very busy (well it was quite late) and I looked over the menu. I started off with some halloumi and felafel kebabs.

These were very nice and well presented.

For my main course I went with a favourite of mine lamb rump.

This was served with cabbage and some very nice, but brightly coloured, beetroot gnocchi. It was a little salty for my taste, but was cooked well and an interesting dish to look at and taste.

I ran out of time for pudding, but I was quite full as well. I did in fact really quite enjoy my meal.