Having some time to kill in the Kelvinbridge area of Glasgow, I was looking for somewhere to have lunch.
Roots, Fruit and Vegetables is a combination of cafe, deli and greengrocer. It looked very inviting and had a lot of character, maybe a little too hipster for some. The welcome was warm, friendly and open. I took my seat at a table and perused the menu.
There was a lovely choice of meals and snacks on the menu, but in the end I went with the savoury tart with salad.
This was an olive and manchego cheese tart served with some salad leaves and a choice of some delicious looking salads. I went with the orzo pasta salad with red onion and butternut squash.
In no time at all, I had in front of me a lovely generous plate of food. The tart was warm and a delicious combination of smooth cheese, crusty pastry and salty olives. The orzo salad was seasoned perfectly and the so called leaves included peppers and tomatoes and a little drizzle of dressing.
I am not a great fan of airport food, usually over priced, badly cooked and service can leave e a lot to be desired. I don’t know about you, but I try and avoid eating there if I can.
Having said all that I knew that for a variety of reasons that I would be eating at Glasgow Airport, so as you can imagine I had quite low expectations.
After waiting ages at one place and not getting served, I left and went to the Caledonia.
Not really wanting a sandwich and actually not really hungry decided to go with a couple of small plates and a side salad.
My first choice was the crab mayonnaise with flatbread soldiers. This was described as crab & chive mayonnaise with a stack of atbread soldiers & a lemon wedge.
The crab mayonnaise was nice, but only just about tasted of crab. The flat bread was toasted, but for some reason was covered in dry oregano.
My second choice was garlic prawns with flatbread. The menu describes this as king prawns roasted in garlic & herb sauce, olive oil & fresh lemon, served with flatbread.
The prawns which I thought would be roasted came swimming in garlic butter, literally swimming, there was more melted butter than prawns. It came with flatbread too, and it was also covered in dry oregano.
The salad was small, consisting of salad leaves and tomatoes with a lemon and basil dressing.
Overall it was something of a disappointment, and for the cost of each dish in excess of five pounds, I thought it was overpriced.
I haven’t been to itsu for a while now, since I stopped working in Oxford, I made quite a few visits there for sushi and pots of noodles. I haven’t been to the branch in London (too many other choices) however in December a new branch opened in Bristol.
As on my previous visit, there was a lot of choice and within the different types of food on offer lots of variation. I found it difficult to decide on what to have.
There is a big choice of salad and sushi in the fridges and then there are the hot options, pots of soup, rice, noodles or dumplings.
In the end I went with the Vietnam beef salad. This was roasted beef, hard boiled egg, spicy sauce, sushi rice, greens & ginger, roasted seeds, chives, red ginger, `no lettuce´ salad and salad seasoning.
It looked really nice and was well presented. I found the beef tender and actually quite tasty. The salad and rice was also really nice. The overall combination was delicious and I really enjoyed the salad.
I don’t know about you, but I quite like those quirky independent cafes and coffee places.
In Newcastle for a meeting, we went for lunch in one of these, it did have a slightly bizarre name, Sweet Memories at Study Café. Various tables and chairs with bright coloured walls, interesting artwork across the walls provides the quirky environment which you don’t find in the high street chains (even when they try to do that like Coffee#1).
It also has a slightly bizarre attitude to the menu, with a load of lovely vegetarian and vegan options, along with a range of breakfast dishes that include bacon and sausages! You can see the vegan scones and cakes in the window, I do wonder if they might annoy vegans and vegetarians who might not want to eat at a place that serves bacon. Likewise those who are not vegetarian might not consider the place, because they may think it serves just vegan food from the window displays. Having said all that, it was quite busy!
Looking over the menu, I was quite tempted by the eggs Florentine, but it did feel a little bit too close to breakfast and I had had eggs for breakfast. So I went with the mushrooms and halloumi in pitta bread served with salad.
I really enjoyed the mushrooms which were cooked well and full of flavour. Likewise the halloumi was nicely cooked and just how I like it. Alas the pitta bread was cold and stale, it could have been so much better if it had been warmed or even toasted. The salad was tasty and refreshing drizzled with a balsamic glaze.
I have been to a few of these new “gastro” burger places and have enjoyed most of them. In Newcastle overnight for a meeting the next day, myself and a colleague from work were looking for a place for a bite to eat. We chose Byron.
We were given a warm welcome from the staff and given a really nice table by the window. It’s quite a large place and for a Tuesday night I thought it was quite busy. It’s a relatively smart décor combined with a warm atmosphere made it quite a pleasant place to be on a cold wintery evening.
Looking over the menu, I decided that I didn’t really fancy beef or chicken, so went with one of the vegetarian options.
This was a grilled Portobello mushroom, with goat’s cheese, roasted red pepper, baby spinach, tomato, red onion and aioli. Served in a squishy bun.
I had it alongside some fries and the house salad.
The burger was nice and full of flavour. The combination of ingredients worked well and it was very tasty.
The fries were crisp, hot and fresh, maybe a little too much salt, I prefer my fries without salt.
The salad was a nice simple salad, alas it was overdressed, I would have preferred it with the dressing on the side.
Overall a really nice meal, great service and nice environment. It was quite a limited menu, it’s just burgers, but if you are looking for a burger then why not have a look.
If you are in Bristol looking for somewhere to lunch, there are lots of chains of restaurants and coffee shops across the city centre; however those looking for something different, tasty, individual and good value, need to look no further than St Nicholas Market. Within the narrow passages you can find all manner of foods and tasty treats. The range of smells, flavours and colours as you walk between the crowded stalls both stimulates and inspires, as well as making your mouth water. The choice is almost overwhelming, you can choose Portuguese, Chinese, Caribbean, Moorish, Italian, Vegetarian, Vegan, Modern, American BBQ, so much choice you often have no idea where to start. The place is usually packed and there are long queues for virtually all the stands, so I am sure they move quite quickly otherwise people wouldn’t join them.
Down in the St Nicholas market there is the Kofta Bar, well I think it’s the Kofta Bar, the aprons of the staff say the Olive Company. Well whatever they are called, if you do know please let me know in the comments, they do offer some lovely food, including freshly made wraps.
The salad boxes are my favourite. You get to make four choices from a wide variety of salads and what they call tapas choices.
They include cous-cous, mixed pulses, butterbeans in harissa dressing, Greek style salad, dolmas, sun dried tomatoes, pesto pasta salad, pecorino salad, falafel and a wide choice of olives.
On top of this you can choose between hummus, focaccia or flat bread as an extra.
There is also a choice of dressings, including pesto, yoghurt and harrisa. What this means is that it makes very easy never to have the same salad twice.
You can have extras added to the salad, a choice of lamb kofta, grilled chicken or halloumi.
The cost of a salad box is £4.50 and with the addition of 50p you can choose from a choice of cans of San Pellegrino or a bottle of water. Lamb and chicken salad boxes are a reasonable £5.50.
Though I’ve not tried them, the wraps look equally tasty.
So if you are looking for a nice salad for lunch then I would recommend the salad bar in St Nick’s market.
One staple of many of the salads I have been making over the recent weeks has been grilled halloumi. I don’t recall the first time I had this Greek cheese, but I have over the years found it a tasty addition to salads. Halloumi is a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk.
I usually slice mine into 5mm slices and then fry (so not grilling) in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil. They only take a few minutes to cook on each side. The end result is a crispy outer and a soft salty inside, that complements the greenness and freshness of a salad.
Some people like to add a little rock salt to their halloumi, but I find it salty enough.
One thing I have not tried yet is cooking it on the barbeque.
Down on Baldwin Street in the heart of Bristol is a little piece of France. La Buvette is a characterful little wine bar which also serves some really nice food.
La Buvette is owned and run by the Riverstation’s Peter Taylor. Peter runs a hotel in rural France called Auberge de Chassignolles and when it closed for the winter months, Peter came back to Bristol in December and he opened Bar Buvette a pop-up Parisian-style natural wine bar. It seems to have been a success and has become more of a permanent feature.
I found out about La Buvette from an article in the Evening Post weekend supplement. So the following Tuesday thinking that this would be a nice place for a quick lunch I popped down to find it closed. Alas they only open for lunch on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so I had to find somewhere else…
Last week I was in Bristol on a Friday, so I thought, hmm, this could be a good time to try out La Buvette. I arrived at quarter past twelve, it was open and only one other table was taken, well it was quite early for lunch. The staff were welcoming and friendly and as they were still writing the menu out on the blackboard.
Listening carefully I decided to go with the boudin with duck egg. When it arrived I was a little surprised to find that it was black pudding, or boudin noir! Maybe I should have listened a little more carefully. The waiting staff did say that this was a small dish, so I ordered a beetroot salad alongside the boudin noir.
The environment was really atmospheric, it felt very French, the wooden furniture, the bottles on the wall and the pictures on the wall.
The boudin noir was cooked to perfection, it was soft and full of lovely flavours, and the richness of the duck egg complemented it well.
The beetroot salad was made from different dressed roasted beetroot complemented with goat’s cheese curds. This was sharp and tasty.
Upon reflection I think I might have ordered just one dish along with some bread. This would have been better value for lunch, but I did really enjoy both dishes. The total cost was £12.50 as I basically had two dishes, with bread the cost would have been around £7.50 which is better, but still quite expensive for lunch. However the food was great, the staff friendly and excellent service, it will be a place I would like to visit again.
This is a quick and easy addition to any salad or as a starter.
Halloumi s a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk. I slice the cheese into 5mm slices and these are then placed under a hot grill, cooked on both sides until browned.
For speed though I have been taking a large frying pan, using some a little olive oil and then frying the slices until browned on each side. You need to take care, as it can be easy to overcook the slices.
There are many places to grab lunch in Oxford, I have walked past the Art Café quite a few times as it is quite close to where I work.
The Art Café in Boon Square in Oxford, as well as being a café also does a takeaway service. I’ve not yet eaten upstairs, but have had the odd sandwich from them too. They have a nice selection, with a range of breads, interesting fillings and they are quite tasty too.
This time I chose the Chicken Pesto Salad, which includes chicken breast, mixed salad leaves, green pesto, mozzarella and pinenuts.
It did look very nice. It comprised a bed of a variety of crisp lettuce leaves, quartered tomatoes, slices of cucumber, some slices of chicken and mozzarella. On top was, what I thought was a small amount of pesto, enough for the chicken, but not really enough for the salad, and a scattering of pinenuts.
Probably the best way to describe the salad was okay. It wasn’t disappointing, neither though was it good. It was a good sized portion for the price, however I think the main issues was that the salad, as in the lettuce and tomatoes looked good, but lacked flavour. If there was more of a dressing, this might have made up for the blandness of the salad.
Overall I much prefer the sandwiches and baguettes they sell at the Art Café and I am not sure if I will get a salad again.