Crispy Calamari with Asian Salad

For a number of years, I’ve been staying at the Drayton Court Hotel in Ealing. It’s a budget-friendly alternative to pricier central London options. Plus, the Elizabeth Line makes getting downtown a breeze. West Ealing Station, just a short walk away, whisks you to central London in under 20 minutes by train.

I was eating in the restaurant and for my starter I went with the crispy calamari with asian salad and miso mayonnaise. I have found that how a restaurant cooks calamari is a good indicator of how they approach their menu and their cooking.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, so what I got was quite a surprise.

I wasn’t really expecting the asian salad to be so dominant on the plate. I was expecting a little more calamari than what was on the dish. I am not sure how well the batter worked, it was certainly crispy, but I do feel that it overpowered the squid.

I think the best way to describe this plate of food was “interesting”. I don’t think I would order it again if it was back on the menu. However it was a very different interpretation of crispy calamari and I would applaud Drayton Court for putting this kind of starter on their menu.

Time to visit the Pelican State

When visiting London earlier this year I had gone for a walk around Bloomsbury before heading back to my hotel for steak and chips. On that walk I had noticed the brand of Pelican State and added it to places I thought I might like to try.

So on a more recent visit to London I decided I would head to the Pelican State and try out their food. I went with the Crispy Seafood Lunch Deal. This was prawns, green-lipped mussels, squid rings, red potatoes, large portion of fish and a sauce of my choice. I went with the aioli. 

It was served very quickly.

plate of crispy seafood

It was quite a substantial plate of food. I found the crispy coating more crunchy than crispy. It was a nice selection of seafood. I liked the prawns and squid, the mussels could have been better, as the crunchy coating made the mussels difficult to shell and eat. There was a large portion of fish. I think I should have had a side of coleslaw with it.

Overall I did enjoy the dish. They also do a Prawn Boil lunch deal, but I did think that it might be a bit messy to eat.

Time for some Tapas at the Brunello

We were out and about in Weston last April. Feeling peckish, we decided to head to the Brunello Lounge for a bite to eat. I did the tapas deal for three tapas dishes. They have a nice range of tapas dishes, I think they would work well if you spending an evening in the Lounge drinking (and chatting). They also work well for a light lunch.

I went with the hummus, crispy squid, and some chicken wings. The hummus was my favourite of the three little plates of food.

plate of hummus

This was a nicely presented dish, the garnishes enhancing the hummus. I liked the flavours and there was enough flatbread to go with it.

The crispy squid was a little overcooked for my liking. 

crispy squid with a wedge of lemon

The coating was a little too crispy, more like crunchy.

I liked the chicken wings, but I wanted more of them.

chicken wings

Overall I enjoyed the three dishes, it was a nice snack for lunch.

An Oxfordian blast from the past

When I am in Oxford for visits and meetings, I do like to take the time to revisit old haunts from my days working there ten years ago. Of course, some places have closed or changed hands. One place I would visit regularly for lunch back in the day was Sasi’s Thai in the Oxford Covered Market. One of the ways in which you could describe it, was imagine a market cafe, however this one served excellent Thai food rather than a full English breakfast! There is a counter with all the available dishes to see. You place your order, it is served up on a plate, and then you pay. Within there are numerous tightly packed tables and chairs. They even have a few chairs outside as well. Sometimes you will need to share your table, but as well as sharing the space you are also sharing the experience. I always had this impression that the informality and feel of the place was what it could have been like eating in a similar eating establishment in Thailand. They served this delicious Thai food. I have no idea how authentic the food was, as I have never been to Thailand. However it was extremely popular. I remember having some delicious meals there, but most times I would choose the chicken cashew, crispy pork belly, or when it was on the menu, the squid. It was always quite spicy, but alway tasty.

I was looking through some photographs of food, and realised that in April when I was travelling around, there were some meals which I hadn’t blogged about. Sometimes I write up the dining experiences I have on the same day, in the same week, or quite soon after that. Now and then I have food and then never get around to writing a blog post about it. In April I had been quite busy travelling across the UK to attend meetings and conferences.

I had been at a meeting and had time for lunch and I was quite close to Oxford, so I headed to Sasi’s Thai in the Oxford Covered Market for some great food. I was lucky in that though it was busy, there wasn’t a huge queue and they had spare tables.

I ordered the two dishes with rice, and had the chicken and cashew nuts, and the squid.

Thai food on rice

These were nice and generous portions. The chicken was nice and tasty, and the squid was tender and full of flavour. There was plenty of onions and peppers in the servings as well. You could taste the vegetables, chicken, and squid through the spicy sauce, and the rice was a nice accompaniment.  My only note of criticism was that the dish was really lacking cashew nuts, I think I had two. These though were delicious fresh dishes; you can often see them replenish their counter with pots being brought down from the upstairs kitchen. Sasi’s Thai is one of those places where though full after eating, you always feel tempted to go for a second round and try two other dishes. I did resist temptation.

A really disappointing Thai meal

I was looking through some photographs of food, and realised that in April when I was up in London I had a few meals which I hadn’t blogged about. Sometimes I write up the dining experiences I have on the same day, in the same week, or quite soon after that. Now and then I have food and then never get around to writing a blog post about it. In April I had been quite busy travelling across the UK to attend meetings and conferences. Having said that, I think the reason I didn’t write this meal up, was that I had quite high expectations about the meal and was then somewhat disappointed with what I actually had. So, why was I disappointed with the meal, lets read on.

I had eaten at a branch of Rosa’s Thai in Liverpool’s Albert Dock the month before and that had been really nice, so finding a branch in Ealing I decided I would have dinner there. It had a similar look and feel to the branch in Liverpool, even though it was not in a docks area.

I had a look over the menu and there was quite a bit of choice, but I wanted to have something different from what I had eaten in Liverpool. 

For my starter I went the salt and pepper squid. 

plate of crispy squid

This was pieces of squid deep fried in crispy batter, served with a dipping sauce and quite a large amount of fresh chilli. It was rather nice and tasty.

For my main I had the Crab Fried Rice. I was asked if I wanted anything with the rice, I had assumed though at £13.50 and where it was in the menu this was a main, not a side dish. It was described as fried rice (or khao pad), a simple, wonderful Thai staple. Jasmine rice, stir-fried with eggs, onions, ginger, spring onions and crab meat. It sounded really nice. However what I was served was this.

plate of fried rice

I challenge you to spot the crab in the dish! I was really disappointed with the rice dish. There was almost no crab in the dish, and certainly I couldn’t taste the crab. I did think about complaining, but to be honest I wasn’t sure what I would be complaining about, I had ordered a dish, and it arrived as described. I had also been asked to clarify that this is what I wanted when I ordered it. I think, though the dish was disappointing, there wasn’t an actual problem with the dish. I also thought about ordering another main dish to have with the rice, but this would have racked up the cost of the meal. In the end I would have to chalk this one up to experience and I would most certainly not order this again.

Whilst writing this, I saw that it was still on the menu, it’s more expensive at £16, but now comes topped with crispy fried soft shell crab. Still, even then, I wouldn’t order it again.  I wonder if other people had had the dish, but had complained, which is why they changed it.

Very Crispy Squid

I was in London and staying at The Fox and Goose close to Hangar Lane. The restaurant is in the older part of the hotel, as the hotel part is now a new build at the back. 

The menu changes every so often, and they always seem to have a range of choices, that means it can be difficult to choose what to have.

One dish I have a lot, at a lot of different places is crispy squid. So seeing it on the menu this, I decided I would try this version.

This was a nice sized portion for a starter, the squid was in a crispy batter and was garnished with coriander, sliced red chilli, a wedge of lime, and some sriracha aioli.

Crispy Squid

The batter was very crispy, probably too crispy. When I tried to cut the squid, the batter more often than not fell off the squid. The squid was tender though. I  wasn’t totally enamoured with the sriracha aioli, I think I would have preferred to have some good old plain aioli.

I did enjoy the starter, wasn’t the best crispy squid I have had, but certainly it was better than most.

Calamari and Fries

I was in Bristol and on my lunchtime walk I headed off to the Finzel Reach street food market. There were lots of stalls to choose from, I got a portion of calamari from King Fin along with some rosemary fries. The calamari (as usual) was cooked fresh to order.


This was a lovely generous portion of calamari. The batter was nice and crispy, but not too thick to overpower the squid. It was cooked just right, as well as light batter, the squid was nice and tender. The fries were tasty as well.

Last time I said “Must remember next time to ask for less salt though.”  This time I did remember to ask for less salt, they did say that the batter for the calamari has salt in, but it was only the extra salt I wanted to avoid. I was pleased I did, as the calamari was well seasoned and didn’t really need extra salt.

I enjoyed my food and would certainly get it again in the future.


I fancied a snack and the Temple Quay market was running in Bristol, so headed down to see what was on offer.

I got a portion of calamari from King Fin. They (as usual) were cooked fresh to order.

This was a lovely generous portion of calamari. The batter was nice and crispy, but not too thick to overpower the squid. It was cooked just right, as well as light batter, the squid was nice and tender. Sometimes when I have squid it can be overcooked, so the batter is more crunchy than crispy, and the squid can be somewhat chewy. This squid though was cooked really nicely. Must remember next time to ask for less salt though.

Tapas at Brunello

We went for lunch in Weston and decided to head to the Brunello Lounge.

We weren’t really that hungry, so decided against a full size main course, and we ordered three tapas dishes, some fries and onion rings. Service was quick and efficient, which is always nice when you don’t have a huge amount of time for lunch.

We had some chicken wings, the salt & pepper squid, and the hummus.

The chicken wings were fried crispy chicken wings, which had been coated in a sticky sauce and dressed with sesame seeds.

For me the chicken was overcooked. Probably a result of being cooked twice more than anything else. I do like chicken wings, but these weren’t my favourite.

The squid was nice and crispy and there was a large dollop of aioli in the middle.

My favourite of the trio of dishes was the hummus. This was beautifully presented little dish of hummus with fried chickpeas, chilli and parsley. This was served with some flatbread.

The fries were nice and crispy, as was the batter on the onion rings.

Overall a nice snack for a quick lunch.

Monkfish Tempura

I was in Bristol and went for a walk at lunchtime. Went to the Finzel Reach market intending to have something from Big Nath’s BBQ stall, but they weren’t there, so went to King Fin instead. 

Was torn between the calamari and the new monkfish tempura. Whatever I chose I was going to have chips anyhow. In the end I went without the chips and went with both the monkfish and the calamari.

The calamari was excellent as usual (maybe a little too salty), but they were cooked to order, so the squid was nice and tender, and the coating was nice and crispy. The and cider vinegar slaw was a nice accompaniment.

The special, monkfish tempura was new to me. 

The pieces of monkfish were deep fried in a tempura batter, and served with a lime and coriander yoghurt, tamarind, crispy sweet shallots and curry leaves.

The monkfish was cooked perfectly, and the batter (on top) was nice and crisp. Alas by the time I got back from the market to the office, the batter on the underside of the fish had got a little soggy from the yoghurt. I think if I had eaten the dish as soon as I was served it, it would have been fine. If I was to offer one piece of advice, I would probably say serve the yoghurt on the side, rather than on the bottom of the box. Or have something to separate the crispy fish from the yoghurt. Even so I liked the lime and coriander yoghurt which added a sharpness to the fish. I also enjoyed the tamarind, crispy sweet shallots and curry leaves.

Overall it was a little extravagant to have two mains, and no fries, however I really enjoyed having the calamari instead of fries.