Time for La Lola

It was a Monday and I was in Bristol looking for a place to eat. I had planned to visit The Real Greek, but they were full and had no free tables. I then decided to head over to the St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade, there would be plenty of choice there. I was thinking that Portuguese Tastes would be an option. As it was late I knew that Low and Slow would have virtually sold out (they had).

Alas Portuguese Tastes was closed, though on the other side of the market was the (new) Spanish place, La Lola

La Lola has taken over the stall, Pure Pasta, an Italian pasta place. Despite my many visits to St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade over the years, I never actually ever managed to get lunch from Pure Pasta. I had seen them fitting out the La Lola stall a few weeks back and liked the look of the menu, but had forgotten to check them out when they opened. 

La Lola have quite a limited menu, which I actually think is a good thing. Two variations of paella, eggs with chorizo or ham, and what I liked the sound of, crispy squid.

Waiting to be served was a little slow, as the couple in front of me were having a long chat (in Spanish) with the member of staff. You know me I hate queuing. However it was getting late for lunch, I was hungry and I did like the sound of the menu. Eventually I was served, maybe I was a little inpatient, I asked for the squid and wanted to eat in.

They have a couple of tables and some benches. One of the tables was free so I took that one.

It wasn’t long before my food arrived.

In a cardboard carton.

I kind of expected and hoped that it would come on a plate. Portuguese Tastes, Caribbean Wrap and The Moorish Cafe all serve their “eating in” food on plates. I was a little disappointed, I think my expectations that there would be plates was based on the display at the front of the stall which showed the (actual) dishes available served on plates.

The squid was served with “chipped” potatoes, salad and aioli.

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon. I really enjoyed the squid and it was certainly what I was expecting. The “chips” were also really good, they used fresh potatoes, I saw them peeling and cutting them up. They were more like thick crisps, as they had cut the potatoes into slices (and cut the bigger slices in half). Again cooked to order. The aioli was light with a good taste of garlic. The only part of the dish I was disappointed with was the salad. Shredded iceberg lettuce, slices of tomato, grated carrot and sweetcorn. All nice and refreshing, however no flavour. I did think that this part of the dish let the rest of the plate (sorry carton) down. I think something like a Pipirrana salad would have been nice. Pipirrana is based on four ingredients: tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumber, dressed with  olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Now that would have been a nice Spanish option. 

Apart from the salad the dish was excellent. Service (well apart from the slow start) was great, warm, friendly. The chef checked I was happy with my meal for example.

Overall I really did enjoy the food and I look forward to returning to try out the paella, or the eggs. Hmmm choices.

Time for Thai at the Thai Canteen

I was staying in London again and popped out to Ealing in the car to get something to eat. I wasn’t sure what I wanted. The tapas place was full (and a good meal would be a little pricey). I did initially think about Bill’s but wasn’t 100% sure. Next door was the Thai Canteen, the menu looked interesting. I walked down to Cote, but didn’t really fancy anything on the menu. So I walked back to the Thai Canteen and decided I must stop walking and go somewhere to eat. So, I looked over the menu. It was a little difficult to read outside, so I went in and was given a nice warm welcome.

The menu was quite extensive, some reminded me of my local Chinese takeaway, so I decided that I would try and have something from the Thai end of the menu.

However for my starter I went with what I have quite a lot eating out which was squid, the starter I chose was the crispy baby squid with wasabi mayonnaise.

This was a good portion of freshly cooked squid. I liked the wasabi mayonnaise, but the squid for me was too much crispy batter and not enough squid. Well it was “crispy squid” what did I expect?

For my main course I had the Yen-ta-Fore, fat rice noodles with seafood, morning glory and crispy wonton.

This was a huge bowl of food. There was a selection of seafood, and I’ll be honest I am not sure what was what. There were prawns, these I did recognise. But there was also some fish balls and some deep fried cubes of something! The broth was nice and spicy. The wontons were crispy, but quickly became soggy as they sank into the broth. It was all very tasty though.

Overall I did struggle to finish the dish, there was a lot of food, and I think if I went back I would not have had a starter.

The service was excellent and I enjoyed the food.

Some delicious Calamari

I was working in Bristol on a Thursday again, which meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. Having been off work for a while it was nice to be back in Bristol and having the opportunity to get some tasty street food.

My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. 

Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips, they also do specials, and the one they were selling this time was calamari once more. I did think about getting the mackerel wrap, but in the end defaulted as one does to the calamari.

The squid rings were coated in a flour mix and then deep fried. They were served with aioli, some salad and rosemary fries.

This was quite a substantial meal not just a snack. I really like this dish and I found it just as tasty as on previous occasions. There was quite a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh, rather than heating up or second cooking pre-cooked squid. 

The food was absolutely delicious.

Delicious Gastro Pub Food at the Canbury Arms

It was August and we were staying with family in Kingston. The night before we had had some great sushi at Obon and on this evening we were visiting the Canbury Arms.

This is a pub, probably what most people would call a gastro pub, there was a section of the pub for people who wanted to drink, but there was a larger section with tables for people who wanted a meal. There is a difference in decor between the two sections, the restaurant area looks a lot more like you would imagine a restaurant should look like, whilst the bar area has lots of wood.

We were shown to our table and I looked over the menu, I have to say I had cheated and looked at the menu online before, but even so looking at the menu in the flesh, I wasn’t sure what I would have.

For my starter I decided to have the calamari and share it with my son. I kind of default to calamari as a starter, something that I do enjoy, and I have had great calamari in a variety of places, but sometimes I think I should have something else as a change.

It was nice, but nothing special, I think if I went again I would choose something different from the menu.

My sister in law went with the farmhouse pork, black pudding & sage scotch egg, brown sauce.

Now it was only later when I had posted the picture to Instagram (as one does) that someone commented on the saucy nature of the presentation of the food. Having said that I was offered half of the scotch egg, to which I said, yes please. This was actually rather excellent, and I really enjoyed the intensity of flavour in the pork around the egg. I could have eaten all of that dish.

For my main, there were some lovely choices, but I decided that I would go against my usual choices and have the chicken. Usually I would avoid the chicken, as I have it quite a lot at home, but this time I decided I would go down a different route and I would choose the chicken. This was a chicken supreme, asparagus, butternut squash puree, sautéed wild mushrooms & tarragon butter. I think what sold it to me was the wild mushroom element of the dish.

The chicken was cooked to perfection, tender and moist and full of flavour. The butternut squash puree was to die for, it was so smooth, buttery and full of flavour. The mushrooms weren’t as good as I was hoping, but I did enjoy them. The tarragon butter was an addition that in my mind brought the dish together. This was a delicious plate of food and I really enjoyed eating every mouthful.

We had some great food across the table, some great looking steaks. I did quite like the look of the sea bass fillet, on crushed jersey royals, peas, spring greens, with caper butter.

The salad from the specials menu was also outstanding. Black Quinoa Salad with roasted cauliflower, feta, pomegranate and harissa dressing.

Overall we had a wonderful meal, delicious food and we left feeling very happy and satisfied.

Time for some Oishi

Back at the beginning of September I was staying in Brentford for work and I needed to have something to eat. I did think about going out to eat, but I was tired. I knew that there were a few takeaway places nearby, one which caught my eye was Oishi.

Having had some great sushi at Obon a few weeks earlier I did quite fancy some more Japanese food. 

I went with the Yaki Udon, stir fried Udon noodles with vegetables, garnished with pickled ginger, spring onion & sesame seeds.

I also ordered the Assorted Tempura which was two crispy battered prawns, two soft shell crabs, three squid, and six vegetables.

I ordered online for pickup. This process was simple and the staff were friendly.

Getting back I looked at what I had. The Yaki Udon was in a bowl and the tempura was split across two individual bowls.

I have to say it looked good, but alas it wasn’t as tasty as I thought it would be.

The Yaki Udon was overpowered by the sauce, so much so, that I couldn’t actually finish the dish. It needed a lot less sauce.

The tempura was interesting, quite greasy, more like something I would get from a chip shop rather than delicate crisp tempura. I did enjoy the tempura, but the greasiness eventually got to me.

Overall I had high hopes for the food, but was left disappointed.

Disappointing Deliveroo, well not really

Despite the pandemic and the growth of delivery services, it was only in July of this year that I finally bit the bullet and used a delivery service.

I was away, working in London, and I was staying at a hotel which didn’t have a restaurant. I didn’t really want to go out to eat, so decided that maybe this time I should use a service like Deliveroo.

There was an opening offer, so that made it quite cost effective and cheaper than I thought it was going to be.

I looked over the choices and in the end went with Wagamama.

I was quite hungry so I ordered Yaki Soba with Chicken and Prawns, a portion of Chilli Squid and some vegan mixed mushroom bao buns.

The process of ordering was really quite simple and the communication was good as well. There was a slight issue in the driver finding my hotel, but a quick phone call sorted that.

So why was the meal disappointing?

The food was cold and I had to reheat it in my hotel room (which luckily was equipped with a microwave).

I did think that initially this was down to Deliveroo.

Well I actually don’t think the problem was with Deliveroo, but actually was with Wagamama.

When I went to Wagamama in Edinburgh recently, they were preparing orders for delivery services and the food was left on a table without any thought to it getting cold. I suspect it was a similar process when I used Deliveroo for my Wagamama meal.

The thing is that, this really put my off using Deliveroo again for a hot meal delivery. I did use the service recently for some wine from Morrisons which was also efficient and quick.

So what about the actual food.

Well the Yaki Soba was rather nice, and once warmed up in the microwave was tasty. 

The chilli squid though looked great.

chilli squid

This was crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi. served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce.

However this dish was quite cold, and even though I warmed it up in the microwave, I do think this made the squid somewhat rubbery and softened the crispiness. It was certainly not as good as when I have had it in the restaurant fresh to the table.

There was though one star dish amongst the ones I ordered which was the (vegan) mushroom steamed hirata buns.

mixed mushrooms + panko aubergine hirata steamed buns - two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and vegan mayonnaise

These were mixed mushrooms + panko aubergine hirata steamed buns – two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and vegan mayonnaise.

These were delicious and I really enjoyed them.

So the next time I fancy some food from Wagamama, I think I will take the time to visit the restaurant and eat there.

Time to go back to Oxford for some Thai

Sasi’s Thai Food

As time passes I realise that many of the places I have written about in this blog have disappeared or have changed beyond recognition. Covid-19 has exacerbated and accelerated this process. I sometimes don’t want to search up for somewhere just in case they have closed. So one of my favourite places to eat Thai food was Sasi’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 there in 2019 and it was just as tasty as I remembered it. I had hoped to visit again, but with covid-19 and lockdown, those plans were scuppered. So on a recent quick visit to Oxford I decided I would grab lunch again at Sais’s Thai. I wasn’t actually sure if it would still be there, as with lockdown has resulted in many places closing (and walking through the covered market, many stalls and shops had closed). However I was pleased to see that it had survived and was open.

They had a really wide choice of dishes and it was difficult to decide what to have. In the end, despite wanting to try new stuff, I went with the familiar and had rice with two selections, choosing the crispy pork and the spicy squid.

I really like the crispy pork dish, so much so that I often try and recreate it at home. The combination of crispy flavoured pork, a variety of vegetables and a nice spicy sauce is delicious. Eating it I was reminded that though I enjoy my version, it still isn’t the same as the original. It was delicious.

I’ve always liked the squid dish from Sasi’s Thai and this time enjoyed it just as much as I did on my regular visits in 2014 and 2015. The squid was tender and the sauce was spicy but full of flavour.

Despite eating both dishes and feeling full, I was so tempted to order some more food, as it was so good.

I really enjoyed that lunch, it was a real blast from the past and it was nice to see they had maintained their quality and range of dishes. It was a little more expensive than I remember, but okay it was over six years ago when I went on a regular basis, so I can live with that.

More calamari please

calamari

I was working in Bristol on a Thursday, which meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. The pandemic has meant that there are a lot less stalls there than there was before. Despite the limited choice I was tempted by a few places but in the end I went with the Kingfin stall. My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. 

Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips, as well as their fish wraps, which sounded rather tasty, what really caught my eye back then was their special, which was calamari.

So it was no real surprise that this was what I chose this time.

The squid rings were coated in a flour mix and then deep fried to order. They were served with aioli, some salad and rosemary fries. This was quite a substantial meal not just a snack. I really like this dish and I found it just as tasty as on previous occasions. There was quite a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh, rather than heating up or second cooking pre-cooked squid. The fries on the other hand were pre-cooked and then fried again, but this didn’t matter that much. I would have liked more salad. Overall though I really enjoyed the food.

Calamari on the dock of the bay

I was working in Bristol on a Thursday again, which meant that for lunch I could visit the Temple Quay Market. Having been off work for a while it was nice to be back in Bristol and having the opportunity to get some tasty street food.

My introduction to Kingfin was back in the summer of 2019 on a visit to the Finzel Reach Market. Kingfin who sell fish wraps and chips, they also do specials This time they were selling this time was calamari and loaded crab fries.

Kingfin stall at Temple Quay Market

I did think about the crab loaded fries, but having seen a portion, decided to stay with my initial choice (and firm favourite from Kingfin) some calamari.

The squid rings were coated in a flour mix and then deep fried. They were served with aioli, some salad and rosemary fries.

I sat on the side of the river and ate them in the sunshine. They were delicious.

 

Lidl Fritto Misto

Lidl Fritto Misto

Though I have bought the Lidl Fritto Misto from their Italy week quite a few times, the reality is that it’s okay, but not good. It’s mainly squid, in a crispy batter.

It can be quite challenging to cook, as some of the pieces are stuck together, making them quite large chunks and these are difficult to cook as they are large. If you try and break them apart then the batter breaks which means the pieces also don’t cook properly.

Having said that, I quite like the taste and texture.