Rocket’s Burger

I was over in Dublin for an event, and having arrived late to my hotel, I decided I wanted a quick lunch, but didn’t really have the time to head into the city centre or even looking around. I could have eaten in the hotel, but I thought it was a little bit pricey.

After a quick browse around the area I decided to try out Rocket’s and have a burger and fries. The look and feel, the menu and the concept reminded me of Five Guys in the UK.

There was a lot of choice of different burgers, but in the end I went with a cheeseburger with fries, and a coke. After placing my order I took a seat and my burger was served to me at my table, which is always nice.

Burger

It was a good burger, tasty and nice toppings, you could also taste the cheese. The burger had a good meaty beefy flavour and I liked the sauce it was dressed with. I did feel that it was a bit thrown together, but that does seem to be the norm with this kind of burger though. I had a similar experience recently at 1885 Burgers in Harwell. As a result it can be quite challenging to eat, without making a mess. Can I be the only person who eats a burger with a knife and fork now and again?

fries

The fries were okay as was the drink. 

Would I go again? Well I think it’s unlikely I will be in Dublin in that location again for sometime, so I would have a burger there, but I don’t think that will happen in the foreseeable future.

Disappointing main course

I was attending a team away day at Ashorne Hill Conference Centre and it was time for dinner. As part of my job I will often attend events and conferences. Sometimes these will be in hotels and other times they are in dedicated conference centres. I usually have lunch, which usually defaults to some kind of buffet lunch. For some events and conferences I stay over and that means having dinner.

So there I was attending an “away day” at the Ashorne Hill Conference Centre near to Leamington Spa. It was a lunchtime to lunchtime event, so there was dinner in the evening. For my starter I went with the smoked salmon on a crumpet, with a poached egg and topped with hollandaise sauce and a chive crumb, which was rather nice.

My main course, though was rather disappointing. I had gone with the mushroom pasta carbonara.

pasta

Though this was a vegetarian dish, I could quite easily see the mushrooms replacing the pancetta or the guanciale. What I didn’t expect was the pasta, that pasta that was used was pasta shells or conchiglie.

Usually with carbonara, spaghetti is the most common pasta, but fettuccine, rigatoni, linguine, or bucatini are also used.

The garlic bread appeared to be made from naan bread!

The dish just didn’t work for me, it didn’t taste right and I didn’t like it (and I usually like pasta).

In the end I returned the dish and had it replaced it with some pork belly, which was much better.

A disappointing roasted pigeon

I was staying up in Manchester. I was staying at the Macdonald Manchester Hotel. I had stayed at the hotel before in 2015, though back then I didn’t have dinner in the hotel. This time I was eating in the hotel.

Sometimes before eating out I will check out the menu and then also look at pictures on Google or Trip Advisor and see what the dishes look like.

So one dish I did quite like the sound of was the Roasted Pigeon. This was pigeon supremes, blueberry vinegar, with crispy bacon and mash.

I did find this image of the Roasted Pigeon on Instagram. 

It looked like a really impressive dish. So you can imagine my disappointment when, after ordering the dish, I was served this.

Yes, these two things are not the same.

The mash was quite nice, the pigeon was a little too charred for my liking and, though I asked for medium, it was served well done. As a result it was a little tough and chewy. The bacon was rather sad as well.

Yes this dish could have been excellent, I was expecting what I saw in the photograph. What I got was a real disappointment. 

Nice smoked salmon starter

I was attending a team away day at Ashorne Hill Conference Centre and it was time for dinner.

As part of my job I will often attend events and conferences. Sometimes these will be in hotels and other times they are in dedicated conference centres. I usually have lunch, which usually defaults to some kind of buffet lunch. For some events and conferences I stay over and that means having dinner. I have had some outstanding food at some conference venues. I had been to Ashorne Hill Conference Centre before, last year I had an okay meal of crispy chilli beef, chicken, and cheese and biscuits.

So there I was attending an “away day” at the Ashorne Hill Conference Centre near to Leamington Spa. It was a lunchtime to lunchtime event, so there was dinner in the evening.

For my starter I went with the smoked salmon on a crumpet, with a poached egg and topped with hollandaise sauce and a chive crumb.

I did think the crumpet was an interesting choice, but overall I really enjoyed the starter. The smoked salmon was excellent, the poached egg was cooked perfectly and the sauce and crumb just added to the dish. 

A really lovely way to start a meal.

Barnsley Chop

I was staying up in Manchester. I was staying at the Macdonald Manchester Hotel. I had stayed at the hotel before in 2015, though back then I didn’t have dinner in the hotel. This time having arrived late into Manchester, I decided to eat in the hotel restaurant.

It was a Monday evening, so I didn’t expect the place to be that busy. There were quite a few people eating in the bar, so I did think that there might be some people eating in the restaurant. When I arrived the restaurant was empty, but it was late, and I was hungry.

The restaurant is called The Scottish Steakhouse and if you go to the hotel website it says:

True to our Scottish heritage, the beef we serve comes from fully accredited Scottish farms and supplied to us by Scotbeef, suppliers to the highest quality retailers in the country. The beef is then traditionally aged for a minimum of 21 days on the bone and hand cut by highly skilled butchers using time-honoured techniques, delivering the perfect Scottish dining experience. 

However the menu actually says:

All our steaks are from the North West England! Straight from Dukesmoor Farm who have a range of superior and traditionally reared British cattle.

So, which is correct? Well who knows, I suspect the menu is now right.

Looking over the menu, I decided that I would have something from the grill. I do quite like a nice lamb chop, so went with the Barnsley Chop, which the menu said was served with grilled mushrooms and roast cherry vine tomatoes.

I did ask if the dish came with chips, I was told it came with fries, but did I want chips, I said I was happy with fries. I thought they might be extra. Well when I got the bill they were an extra, I didn’t mind as I wanted some fries, but didn’t appreciate the confusion.

My meal arrived promptly and looked very nice.

Overall it was a nice plate of food. The chips was nice, as were the mushrooms and tomatoes. The lamb was cooked well, was tender and tasty. I think the lamb could have been better seasoned, but that was a minor comment.

Thought the initial service left a lot to be desired, the service after the meal was friendly and excellent.

Breakfast Time in Wimbledon

I was staying in Wimbledon at the Hotel du Vin and staying overnight I had breakfast a couple of times.

Unlike a lot of hotel chains, there wasn’t a full buffet breakfast. You helped yourself to toast, croissant, fruit, and so on. However for hot food though you ordered off the menu. It was a similar story with hot drinks.

I did like the fact that I could order a “proper” coffee of my choice with my breakfast, so I went with a double espresso. This was much nicer than the filtered coffee you usually have at hotel breakfasts.

There was a fair few choices on the menu, Eggs Benedict, Avocado on Toast, Grilled Kipper. In the end though I went with the Classic Full Cooked Breakfast. This was Cumberland sausage, sweet cured bacon, black pudding, grilled tomato, mushroom and eggs (cooked to your liking). I went with poached eggs.

Having taken my order the breakfast was cooked to order. The kitchen was in the Orangery at the hotel, so I could (if I was closer) see my breakfast being cooked. My breakfast then arrived on the table.

Classic Full Cooked Breakfast

I have to say I was a little disappointed. The bacon didn’t look that appetising. However it was nice and fresh, and did taste delicious. I enjoyed the tomato and mushroom, the sausage and black pudding were good, and the eggs were cooked well.

On the second day I was there, I went with the same classic breakfast and this was much better.

Classic Full Cooked Breakfast

The bacon this time looked a lot nicer, but otherwise it was much the same as the day before (consistency is a good thing).

Overall, despite my initial (minor) disappointment, this was a nice breakfast. The continental selection was good, nice choice of jams  and butter. Excellent coffee as well.

Porchetta Bianca Pizza

I was staying in Wimbledon at the Hotel du Vin and had dinner a couple of times in their Italian themed restaurant. I had a nice starter of Ministrone Soup. I even surprised myself and went for a pizza for my main course, the Porchetta Bianca Pizza.

This was a white pizza topped with slow roasted pork belly with rosemary, mozzarella, mascarpone, white truffle oil and pecorino.

The base was really nice, as this was a white pizza there was no tomato on the base. There was ample toppings, and I did like the flavour of the pork belly, which contrasted well with the mascarpone cheese.

This was an excellent pizza, I would have liked more truffle oil though.

Alongside my Pizza I went with the Zucchini Fritti, which was thin strips (or shoestrings) of courgette deep fried. They were rather moreish.

What should I have?

I enjoyed my last visit to Bills on Baker Street in July. So it was with some anticipation we headed there for dinner on a visit to London. Bills has an interesting dining environment, the different branches seem familiar, but different at the same time. The Baker Street branch appears to be smaller than other Bills I have been to.

Upon entering we were given a warm welcome, we had booked, and were shown to our table. One of the things I have found with Bills is that the menu changes quite often, so even though you may think, well I have that next time I visit, sometimes those very things disappear. So it does make, making a choice that little bit harder.

I was expecting to see the set menu we had in July, but it had changed already. It had gone up by two pounds and had lost the steak and chicken dishes we had had back then. So after reviewing what was on the set menu, we looked at the main menu.

While the rest of the table went with steak and chips, I wanted something different.

I was tempted by the chargrilled lamb rump. However having had an outstanding lamb rump in 2018 from the (now sadly closed) Cattle & Co in Euston, I knew I would have high expectations. The menu description of marinated lamb rump steaks I knew I might be disappointed. The sound of the Black & Gold Burger was quite tempting.

Chargrilled beef patty topped with cheese & truffle fondue, 24 carat gold flakes & grated black truffle. Served with rosemary salted fries.

As was the description of the Triple Truffle Shuffle Burger from the specials menu.

Topped with truffle mac & cheese, white truffle oil & dusted with freshly grated truffle. Served with rosemary fries

However I didn’t really fancy a burger, having only had one the other day in Harwell.

In the end I went with a dish I had been tempted to before on previous visits to Bills, which was the Lobster & Seafood Linguine.

Lobster & Seafood Linguine

Lobster, king prawn & squid in a rich tomato & chilli cream sauce with lemon oil.

The dish was nicely presented.

There was a nice lot of seafood in the pasta dish, which meant as you ate the dish you kept finding prawns, squid and lobster on your fork. Some places I have eaten this kind of dish, you get a meagre amount of seafood. I wasn’t overly impressed with the lobster, which either lacked flavour or was overpowered by the sauce. If it wasn’t there I don’t think I would have missed it, which was a pity.

I did enjoy the dish, I liked the cherry tomatoes with the pasta. Though I think it wouldn’t be something I would order again, if it was still on the menu. It didn’t blow me away. 

As for the rest of the table, well they all went with chargrilled 8oz sirloin steak with rosemary fries.

chargrilled 8oz sirloin steak with rosemary fries

They all enjoyed their dishes, but they did say I cooked a better steak.

Service was excellent, efficient and friendly. 

Overall we had a really nice meal.

Vegan yasai katsu curry

We had spent the day in London and were back in Ealing and decided to get something to eat and headed to Wagamama.

As it was more late afternoon, than early evening, there was no queue and we were quickly shown to our table. I started looking over the menu. I was torn between choosing the vegan yasai katsu curry or the yasai yaki soba, both of which I have had before.

What I actually wanted, was a proper seafood ramen, which Wagamama no longer have on the menu and haven’t had so for a while. I think I will need to look elsewhere for that kind of dish.

As I had had the yasai yaki soba quite recently I went with the vegan yasai katsu curry.

My dish arrived quite quickly and is a substantial dish.

I got two slices of sweet potato, a slice of butternut squash and a smaller slice of aubergine. All were coated and deep fried in crispy panko breadcrumbs. They were served with sticky white rice and coated in an aromatic katsu curry sauce. On the side was a dressed salad and some Japanese pickled ginger.

I enjoyed the dish, the vegetables were crispy, but you could still taste the vegetable. I liked the aromatic katsu curry sauce. The salad was a refreshing addition.

Time for some Risotto Nero

I was staying in Wimbledon at the Hotel du Vin and had dinner a couple of times in their Italian themed restaurant. I had a nice starter of Fritto Misto. I went with fish for my main course and had the Risotto Nero.

Roasted scallops and squid seared in the pan served on a black squid ink risotto.

You have to say that the dish is very black, very black indeed.

A few weeks ago I had a squid ink paella and it was also very black. I have to say that it didn’t  look that appetising, however it was very tasty. There was squid and prawns in the rice. I am not sure I would have it again, but I am glad I tried it and it was good. So seeing the risotto nero on the menu I decided that I would give this squid ink dish a try.

Well the risotto I had was also very black. However the scallops and squid had been cooked separately and were added to the dish at the end. So it did look much nicer.

The risotto was al dente, and was quite good. It didn’t have the flavour of the paella, but I did enjoy it. The scallops were cooked well and were nice. The squid, was a little over cooked for me.

Overall I did enjoy the dish.