More tacos, oh and some nachos!

Crispy Chicken Taco

You can tell when I enjoy something I have it again and again. Its one of the reasons I blog about food, so I can tell I have too much of a good thing. I like to think I try different things, the reality is when there is something I’ve enjoyed, I do have it again and again.

This is pretty much the situation with the delicious tacos from Taco Barra at the St Nicholas Market. Needing lunch again in Bristol instead of choosing something new, I went with what I liked and enjoyed the last time I was in Bristol. Though this time I did go with something slightly different.

Halloumi Taco

I went with two tacos, one was the crispy chicken and the other was the fried halloumi. You have a choice of salsa, I went with mango, and they also include salad. They use white and blue corn tacos.which are heated to order. I enjoyed the crypts chicken taco which I had the pineapple salsa. The chicken was tender and tasty, and the salsa was a great contrast to the crispness of the chicken strips.

The halloumi was nice, I had BBQ salsa (or was that just BBQ sauce) which was okay, but I didn’t like it as much as the mango I’ve had before and the pineapple I had on the crispy chicken.

In addition to my tacos, I went with a side of nachos., these had some pineapple salsa and sour cream.

Nachos

They really needed more salsa and more sour cream, I think I would have liked some guacamole with them as well.

Overall I wasn’t as happy as I had been on previous occasions, the food was great, but the BBQ sauce wasn’t great and the nachos felt rather plain. I think I will go with the tacos again, probably won’r have the nachos though.

Time for a great coffee

One of the hidden treasures of the coffee scene in Bristol is Hart’s Bakery. Even finding the place is a bit of a challenge, as to say it’s off the beaten track doesn’t really do justice to the actual location. I find the best way to describe it’s location, is to say it’s underneath Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station. You can access it from the turning into Bristol Temple Meads from Temple Way. If you come out of the main entrance of Temple Meads and turn left, there is a metal staircase down and you can find Hart’s Bakery there.

They do some great food, but on my most recent visit, before I had to catch a train, I went with a Flat White. There was a warm welcome and after placing my order for the coffee, I sat down and my coffee was brought over to me once it was made.

Flat White

It was an intense coffee experience, smooth with great flavours.I really enjoyed the coffee and would certainly go again.

More Tacos

Halloumi Tacos

I enjoyed my tacos from Taco Barra so much last time I had them again on a recent trip to the St Nicholas Market. As with my last visit I went with the crispy chicken and pulled pork and the fried halloumi. You have a choice of salsa, I went with mango on the chicken and the halloumi, and red salsa with the pork. They use white and blue corn tacos.which are heated to order and then filled with your choice of filling.

As before they were delicious and tasty.

Time for some more tasty tacos

Crispy Chicken Tacos

In a previous blog post I talked about the new tacos place in St Nicholas Market in Bristol. I enjoyed the tacos I had there last time, so decided to pay them another visit and have some more tacos.

Halloumi Tacos

You can have a single taco for £3, two for £5 and three for £7. This time I decided to go with three. As with my last visit I went with the crispy chicken and pulled pork, for my third choice I decided to try the fried halloumi.

You have a choice of salsa, I went with mango, and they also include salad. They use white and blue corn tacos.which are heated to order and then filled with your choice of filling. I really enjoyed these tacos as I did before. Great mixture of textures and tastes.

Time for some tasty new tacos

There have been quite a few changes in the food markets at St Nicholas Market. The Brozen stall has been replaced with Low and Slow. Grillstock shut down and their space taken by Wokyko with an Asian inspired menu..The Sausage Station has closed and their stall has been replaced by Taco Barra which as you might guess from the name sells tacos!

Taco Barra

Regular readers of the blog will know I quite like tacos and so it wasn’t too much of a difficult decision to try out some from the new stall.

You can have a single taco for £3, two for £5 and three for £7. I quite like the concept of a single taco, sometimes wandering about the food market in St Nicks (and other foodmarkets) I sometimes wish I could get smaller portions, as I fancy eating a range of dishes (like tapas) rather than just a single bigger portion. A single tacos would be perfect in that scenario. However as no other stall really does that kind of offer, so I went with two tacos.

They use white and blue corn tacos.which are heated to order and then filled with your choice of filling. The menu changes, but I went two two tacos, crispy chicken and pulled pork. You have a choice of salsa and they also include salad.

crispy chicken tacos, pulled pork tacos

I liked the freshness, textures and varied tastes of these tacos.. The crispy chicken was tasty, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. The pork was tender and tasty. The salsa was full of flavour and added the necessary kick that the tacos needed.

Overall great customer service, tasty unique tacos and some great flavours. Definitely worth a return visit.

Time to grab some Thai

One of my favourite places to eat Thai food is Sais’s Thai in the covered market in Oxford. I now rarely get the chance to eat there having stopped working in Oxford in 2015. I did manage a return visit earlier this year and it was just as tasty as I remembered it.

Looking for somewhere to get some lunch when working in our London office I found GrabThai on Fleet Street. Looking at the menu it bought back memories of the delicious Thai food from Sais’s Thai.

Grabthai on Fleet Street

There is quite a bit of choice, from stir fries to curries to pad thai.

So what of the food?

I went with the Pad Prik King Pork, this is pork and fine bean stir fry in red curry paste and kaffir lime leaves served on a choice of rice. I went with the brown rice and extra cashew nuts.

Pad Prik King Pork

It didn’t look anything like the image on the website or on the menu, which was disappointing.

Pad Prik King Pork

Well it was quite nice, but I had such high expectations that no wonder I was slightly disappointed. There was a nice spiciness to the dish, the pork belly was tender, though I think I would have preferred it meatier or even slightly chewy! The brown rice was tasty and added texture. I did ask for extra cashew nuts, these were scattered on top, so I needed to mix it into the stir fry. There was a good proportion of stir fry to rice, sometimes I have found places give you loads of rice and very little of the main dish.

Would I go again? Well I think I might, but with so much choice in and around Fetter Lane, it might be some time before I go back.

Time for a cheaper pizza

In the past we’ve had some good experiences at the Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway and we’ve had some pretty poor ones too. We have been there a number of times, and they have revamped the places a few times over the years. Now it has a more of an American diner feel to it, rather than the Italian restaurant style it had before.

One of the key reasons we decided to return to eat was that we had a special offer. We used an offer code, so we only paid five pounds for each dish, which made the whole meal very good value for money.

Though we had to wait for a while, we were once our table was ready we were given a warm and friendly welcome and and it was quick and easy to place our order.

I ordered the Funghi Luganica – A ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

unghi Luganica - A ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

I’ve had this pizza before at Bella Italia and I enjoyed it last time, and I enjoyed it this time as well. The base is mushroomy (is that a word) and savoury, over the traditional tomato that you find on most pizza. The chunks of mushroom on the pizza were very nice and I really enjoyed them.

My son had the Queen Margherita pizza. Tomato and mozzarella base, oven-baked then topped with torn bufala mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, rocket and green pesto.

Queen Margherita pizza. Tomato and mozzarella base, oven-baked then topped with torn bufala mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, rocket and green pesto.

This looked great and he said it was fresh and tasty. It was finished off, which doesn’t always happen.

My wife had the fresh egg tagliatelle in a tasty carbonara sauce with crispy pancetta and leeks.

fresh egg tagliatelle in a tasty carbonara sauce with crispy pancetta and leeks.

However this didn’t look anything like the picture on the menu on the website when we got home, where are the leeks? Having said that she did say the pasta was very tasty.

Service was mixed, our main waiter was warm and friendly, but other staff looked rushed and flustered.

Overall though we had an enjoyable dining experience.

Time to enjoy the meal please…

Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol

I haven’t been to Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway for a while now, I think it was for my birthday last year following a game of bowling.

Okay having checked my blog, yes it was last year…

Time for a pizza and some antipasto

With just the three of us, and having just visited the cinema we ventured in, having booked a table earlier that evening. That made sense as the place was quite busy and we were given a nice booth.

One of the features of Pizza Express is that they individualise their restaurants depending on location. The Weston-super-Mare branch for example has beach huts. Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway has a number of Banksy inspired graffiti executed in his distinctive stencilling technique. I don’t think they are painted by him though.

Taking the time to peruse the menu I was tempted to have a salad, but in the end decided to go with the pizza option.

I was tempted by the Calabrese, which I have had before, but decided to try the new Funghi di Bosco. This pizza comes with portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella, rosemary and garlic oil, finished with fresh parsley and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

I was warned that despite no mention of this on the menu description, the tomato sauce that they use on this pizza was quite spicy, nice of them to warn me, but I decided to go down that road.

Before the pizza arrived we shared a portion of Calamari, described as lightly-crumbed, crispy calamari rings served with Çaesar dressing, a wedge of lemon and fresh parsley.

The squid was quite tender, even if the crumb wasn’t that crunchy. I thought it was okay, but I was a little disappointed. Regular readers of the blog will know that I find the way in which a restaurant serves squid or calamari, is a good way to compare or benchmark across various restaurants.

The pizza arrived and it was large, the Romana base, is stretched out and as a result is thin and crispy. I do quite like this kind of base.

Funghi di Bosco. This pizza comes with portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella, rosemary and garlic oil, finished with fresh parsley and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

I found the pizza delicious and tasty. There was plenty of mushrooms and they had a nice mushroom flavour, it was the reason I chose this pizza more than any other reason.

Our table also saw the Leggera Superfood Salad, a mix of black rice, edamame beans, red quinoa, mung beans, chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and kale in a vinaigrette, on a bed of mixed leaves, rocket, cucumber, roasted peppers, red onion and fresh parsley with our light house dressing.

Leggera Superfood Salad, a mix of black rice, edamame beans, red quinoa, mung beans, chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and kale in a vinaigrette, on a bed of mixed leaves, rocket, cucumber, roasted peppers, red onion and fresh parsley with our light house dressing.

This was delicious and fresh.

Another member of our party had the Fiorentina pizza on a classic base. This has spinach, free-range egg, mozzarella, tomato, garlic oil and black olives, finished with Gran Milano cheese. Apart from the olives, it was eaten with gusto and pronounced scrummy.

iorentina pizza on a classic base. This has spinach, free-range egg, mozzarella, tomato, garlic oil and black olives, finished with Gran Milano cheese.

Overall we were well pleased with the food, which was fresh, hot and tasty.

As for the service… well that’s a slightly different matter. To start off booking the table and the welcome we received was excellent. It was warm and friendly and we were made to feel right at home.

Alas our drinks order was incorrect and we had to send it back, even though I think it was a genuine mistake down to a noisy busy restaurant.

We had one big concern, the jug of tap water we were given without asking, was a nice touch. What did concern us was the huge crack in the glass jug which was leaking water. We were worried that the jug would break apart… We got a replacement, and an apology. That jug also had a crack, not as big, but still….

Our starter of calamari arrived promptly and we enjoyed eating it, but we hadn’t even finished our final mouthful when our pizzas arrived. I do like a bit of a gap between the starter and the main, and prefer not to have them on top of each other. We have gone out to eat and when going out it’s not just about the food, it’s the whole experience.

We hadn’t even finished our mains when we got asked a couple of times if we had finished. Rushing people isn’t needed (there were a fair few empty tables) and it can ruin what is actually a quite nice experience otherwise.

Overall not as good service as it could have been, the staff were certainly friendly, helpful and polite, but the service felt somewhat rushed and disorganised. When you get asked a few times if you want desert, you know that something is amiss.

Having said that we did really enjoy the food and overall the whole experience was good. Would we go again? Yes we would.

Time for some delicious pasta

Paesan restaurant close to the Exmouth Market

I seem to be spending more time in London these days, and generally I am only up there for the day. Last month I was there for most of the week so stayed overnight. I was staying in a hotel that I actually wasn’t expecting to stay in, so I hadn’t had the time to do much research about places to eat nearby and I really didn’t want to end up at the hotel restaurant, as they can be terrible food and over-priced.

I really liked the look of Paesan close to the Exmouth Market as I walked past on my way to the hotel, and decided that this was certainly a possibility. I also liked the look of the menu at Paesan, simple yet sounding really tasty, as well as authentically Italian.

Inside the plain brick walls, wooden floors and simple furniture gave the place a rustic warm atmosphere. You can see into the kitchen and see what the chefs are doing.

The staff were friendly and welcoming and I was shown to my table and I looked over the menu.

I was tempted by lots of the small plates, particularly the carpaccio or the calamari alla griglia. To be honest I think I could have quite easily ordered all of them, however I wasn’t hugely hungry and I was on a budget.

There was a wide range of pasta on the menu, in the end I ordered the a large portion of the orechiette pasta with nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa.

orechiette pasta with nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa

I could see into the kitchen and it was interesting to watch the chef cook my food.

Paesan restaurant close to the Exmouth Market

The food arrived in good time and looked great. I did expect it to be slightly larger than it was, but glad I didn’t go for the smaller “primi” size (which would be ideal for smaller appetites or lunch).

To be honest this was the best pasta I have had from any restaurant. The fresh pasta was cooked to perfection, al dente, the sauce was just about right.

I finished my meal off with a very Italian espresso, more like a ristretto.

Ristretto coffee

The menu changes quite frequently so I am tempted to go back and try something new.

Some good, some not as good as it could be

The last time I went to Wahaca at their Soho branch was in January this year and I enjoyed the dishes I had.

Though I was less impressed with the steak tacos I had, especially as I had really good steak tacos the week before at Charlotte Street.

Though I had completely forgotten about that when I visited the Soho branch for some lunch last month.

The Soho branch I suspect must get busy at lunchtime with tourists, but as I was eating just after the lunchtime rush, the place was quite empty and quiet. I find that each of the Wahaca branches has their own particular style which makes each of them a unique interesting place to eat.

I ordered three dishes, one of which was tacos with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole

Tacos with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole from

There use to be some really nice grilled steak tacos, I had these quite a few times. There were three soft corn tortillas which came with flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas with optional grilled cheese (I always avoided the cheese).

The new recipe called The Rib Eye, consists of two larger corn tortillas with chargrilled steak and is served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole.

You do get more steak and it is very tender compared to the skirt steak they use to do, but it is also more expensive, about three pounds more than the old steak tacos price (60% more expensive).

It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the tacos, I did, but I felt that the original recipe was really good and this wasn’t much of an improvement and certainly not a 60% improvement. I probably wouldn’t order them again.

My second small plate order was something I had ordered before which was buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo.

Buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo

This was again two larger flour tortillas with buttermilk friend chicken. I did think the chicken was slightly over-cooked, but it was crispy and the mayo and onions added flavour and texture.

My final small plate order was new on the menu, crab tostada dressed in chipotle mayo, served with pink pickled onions.

Crab Tostada dressed in chipotle mayo, served with pink pickled onions

You got two crispy tortilla with crab. I really enjoyed these, you could certainly taste the crab and it was a fresh tasty dish.

The only thing that let the meal down was the service, it took some time for my order to be taken and I had ordered some tap water with my meal and that was forgotten about, so I had to ask again. The fact that I had been seated around the corner meant that there wasn’t always an opportunity to get the attention of a member of the waiting staff to either place my order or ask for the water.

Overall the food was great and very tasty.