Open Steak Sandwich

Joined some colleagues for lunch. Went to the Portwall Tavern. Though close to the office, I had never actually been there before. We ordered at the bar and took a table outside. I went with the open steak sandwich.

Open Steak Sandwich

This was a slice of toasted ciabatta, sliced grilled steak, served with field mushroom, roasted red peppers, Stilton, Dijon mustard sauce and wedges. I asked for the wedges to be replaced with fries. Not sure if that was the best decision once the plates of food arrived, the wedges did look good.

The steak was cooked well, and the sauce was quite intense, the Stilton and mustard sauce was strong in flavour (and a little salty). However I did enjoy the food

A colleague of mine went with the California Veggie. This was (in her case) a gluten free ciabatta with avocado, goat’s cheese and vegetable pickles, served with potato wedges.

She said it was excellent.

Doing the Polka Kitchen

On previous visits to Ealing I had noted the Sowa restaurant, but had never gone there. The proprietors of that place have now moved to some swanky new premises in Dickens Yard and renamed themselves to the Polka Kitchen.

Now I have no idea how authentic the food is, having never been to Poland, I was still intrigued. They do appear to be popular on the Facebook with lots of comments in Polish.

They have a really intriguing and interesting menu, so much so, I was having difficult in making a choice. They have a somewhat limited choice of starters, but there are a range of soups on the menu as well. I do like a starter and prefer having a starter over pudding usually.

In the end for my starter I went with the steak tartare. It was served with egg yolk, pickled cucumbers, onion, and mustard seeds. This was such a pretty plate of food.

plate of food

Alongside I was given some sliced Polish bread and butter.

The steak was tender, I liked the addition of the pickles, and egg yolk. The pickled mushroom was a nice surprising addition. I relished every mouthful.

Having had a steak tartare from Cote recently, it was interesting to compare the two dishes. The plate from Polka was so much better, both in terms of presentation, flavours and texture. Almost no competition in that comparison.

For my main course I was torn between a range of choices, but in the end went with the pork tenderloin stuffed with chicken and saffron, wrapped in Serrano ham, and  served with lentils, spinach, and mushrooms.

plate of food

Another lovely presented dish. I did at one point wonder what the red sauce on the side was, and then realised it was the pattern on the plate. The plates were very pretty, but wonder if they distracted you from the food. Ah well not a huge issue for me.

The pork was nice, but I wasn’t that impressed with the chicken and saffron stuffing. I never noticed or tasted the saffron, and the chicken was rather bland. The rest of the dish though was really tasty. The lentils were delicious, and I liked the mushrooms with the spinach.

 I did think about pudding, but was quite full after two wonderful plates of food. They do have an excellent range of cakes and pastries though, so it was quite tempting.

The service was excellent, welcoming and friendly. The food was served efficiently, but I never felt rushed.

Ye Olde London

This was not a planned meal, I had been attending a training course in London and a few of us decided to head out for a beer and a meal.

We ended up at Ye Olde London, a Greene King pub situated on Ludgate Hill in the City of London close to the spectacular St Paul’s cathedral.

We went downstairs and I looked over the menu, lots of pub food. I chose the 28-day aged flat iron steak served with rosemary & sea-salted fries, blistered vine tomatoes and salsa verde.

The steak was pre-sliced and was was cooked well. I quite like a flat iron steak. Not sure if there was any rosemary on the fries, but they were nice and crisp. The salsa verde was fresh and zingy.

Overall I liked the plate of food and we had excellent service.

So, no fish on the menu then!

I was staying over at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing. This is a place I stay regularly when working away in London.

Went down for dinner, the menu changes regularly, and the sea bass had been recently added. I was going to have the fish tacos followed by the sea bass. However, both weren’t available. So, I had steak and chips instead.

This was described on the menu as Owton’s dry-aged 8oz rib eye steak with triple-cooked chips, grilled tomato, baked field mushroom and peppercorn sauce.

Owton's dry-aged 8oz rib eye steak with triple-cooked chips, grilled tomato, baked field mushroom and peppercorn sauce.

The plate looked good with the sauce coming separately in a miniature saucepan. The steak was excellent, and much better than some of the steaks I have had at Drayton Court Hotel. It was cooked well and reasonably well seasoned, I did add a little more seasoning. I liked the chips, tomato, and mushroom as well.

Overall it was a really nice plate of food.

Dining in Cambridge

I was in Cambridge for a conference and arriving the day before looked for a place to eat. There is a wide choice, but having enjoyed my recent meals at Côte in Ealing I ended up at Côte wanting to try some things out I had seen on the menu before.

For my starter I went with the steak tartare, hand-cut raw beef, cornichons, mustard dressing, toasted sourdough baguette.

I’ve not had tartare before, but not sure that was this the best introduction to the dish. I felt it was both under seasoned and overpowered by the vinegar in the dressing. Though, as I’ve not had tartare before I couldn’t really tell you if this was “normal” or not.

For my main course I had the roasted lamb rump with ratatouille, harissa, tapenade and basil.

The lamb was done rare, and though I quite like it like this, I felt that the lamb needed a couple more minutes cooking time. The ratatouille was nice addition.

Despite some reservations, I did enjoy the food. Along with my meal I went with a basket of bread and butter.

The service was efficient and friendly.

Minute Steak and Fries

We headed to Cabot Circus to have a celebration meal. The place that was chosen was the Coal Kitchen.

Though it took me a while to work it out, the last time I had been to Coal, was over ten years ago, in January 2013, when it was called Coal Bar and Grill and I had a burger.

It is now called the Coal Kitchen. We had booked, but were still given a choice of tables. They have quite an extensive menu, but also a set menu. I went with the set menu and started with the chicken tacos.

This was followed by the Steak Frites from the set menu.

Minute Steak and Fries

A 5oz minute steak served pink, garlic butter, with skin on fries.

The steak was cooked well and was pink. The garlic butter was quite strong, but complemented the steak. The fries were nice and crispy.

I finished the meal off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an espresso. The ice cream was nice, the coffee, not so much.

Nice steak

I was in London and staying at the Fox and Goose close to Hangar Lane. This is a Fullers Hotel and is part of the same chain at Drayton Court, which I have also stayed at.  The restaurant is in the older part of the hotel, as the hotel bit is now a new build at the back.

When I was staying at the Drayton Court Hotel I had some excellent meals. The Fox and Goose had a slightly different menu than the Drayton Court, but there were similarities. 

I had stayed here before, and on that visit I had the starter of Owton’s dry-aged skirt steak back then.

The steak was lovely and tender and the chargrilling added flavour and texture to the surface of the cut of meat. The pecorino  and salsa verde added some nice saltiness to the dish. The accompanying pea shoots gave the dish a little bit of freshness.

I have to say I enjoyed the starter so much that on the following night I had it again! 

They have changed the menu since then and sadly the skirt steak is no longer on the menu.

On the mains though was a Owton’s Dry-Aged 6oz Fillet Steak with dauphinoise potatoes, wilted spinach and peppercorn sauce. I had steak at the Drayton Court and though once I wasn’t too impressed, on other occasions the steak was really nice.

My steak arrived, I did feel though that this was somewhat a small dish. Not that I wanted a huge plate of food, but if you were expecting a decent sized plate of food for dinner, I think you would feel a little disappointed.


The steak itself though was quite large (for fillet steak), but the dauphinoise potatoes seemed lost under the steak and watercress garnish. The steak was sitting on some wilted spinach and there was a micro saucepan of peppercorn sauce. The sauce came with the dish and wasn’t a paid for extra.

I felt it was a little heavy on the chargrilling, almost burnt and bitter in places. However, the steak itself was delicious, it was very tender.

The dauphinoise potatoes were nice and creamy, and I enjoyed the sauce and wilted spinach.

Overall it was a really nice plate of food, and would be something I would have again.

Steak Frites

I was up in Manchester staying at the Copthorne Hotel on Salford Quay and went for dinner in the bar, the restaurant was closed as the kitchen was being upgraded.

I had ordered Steak Frites. This was steak with garlic butter, fries, a parmesan and rocket salad. Unlike the previous time I ordered this, this time the steak came with the garlic butter. 

Though the steak came with the garlic butter, and I had fries, the kitchen had obviously run out of rocket and the salad was made with chard lettuce leaves, this did not work as well as rocket. Though I had asked for medium-rare, the steak was cooked rare, which I didn’t mind. The steak was much tastier with the garlic butter.

It was a better experience than I had before.

Well at least I got fries this time…

I was up in Manchester staying at the Copthorne Hotel on Salford Quay and went for dinner in the restaurant, finding it was closed, no reason given, but food was being served in the bar area.

I decided to have the mackerel pate, however it wasn’t available. So I went with the soup of the day. Today it was tomato.

I had expected to get cream of tomato soup, like you get out of a Heinz can, but what I actually got was a really nice fresh tasting tomato soup. It was rather good. It came with some toast, I think toasted white bread is okay when cooking soup at home, but in a restaurant setting I think I would like to have seen some toasted sourdough or ciabatta. 

Though I hadn’t finished my soup, my main course arrived. So I quickly finished my soup and was about to start my main course, when I realised I had no cutlery. So it was back to the bar to get a knife and fork.

I had ordered Steak Frites. This was steak with garlic butter, fries, a parmesan and rocket salad.

In a previous visit to the Copthorne Hotel on Salford Quay I had ordered Steak Frites and I wrote this.

Well, yes it was a sirloin steak, yes it was served with herb garlic butter (and it was quite garlicky), yes there was some rocket. However those were not fries, they were chips! Okay maybe being a little petty, but the menu describes the fish and chips as coming with chips, the steak and ale pie talks about being served with chips, but when I see a menu say it is served with fries, I do expect to get fries. 

Well at least I got fries this time… 

The rocket and parmesan was nice and would be something that I would try and make myself.

Alas unlike my previous visit, the steak was rather disappointing.

The steak was unseasoned and had very little flavour, the garlic butter was missing. It was still cooked medium-rare as requested. I decided that I would add some salt, and I literally never add salt to my food when eating. However there was no salt on the table, so I had to go back to the bar and ask for salt.

Overall I liked the soup, I was pleased with the fries, but was disappointed with the steak.

Time for Filetto di Manzo e Rucola

I was staying in Berlin in December, for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie” in the heart of what was East Berlin. I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin.

I did feel a little guilty going to an Italian restaurant while staying in Germany, but when you realise that Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain’s restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle, it certainly has some German food credentials.

The service was simple, in that you ordered from a screen, took a buzzer, and then collected your food from the kitchen. Looking over the menu, I initially decided I wouldn’t have pasta or pizza, but would probably go with a risotto.

I did though look over the pasta menu, I liked the idea of choosing your own type of pasta, and it was fresh pasta. So, I changed my mind and went with the Filetto di Manzo e Rucola, or Beef Fillet and Rocket.

The menu could be accessed in English, so the description of Rinderfilet, Weißwein, Karotten, Zucchini, Champignons, Lauchzwiebeln, Zwiebeln, Rucola, could be translated to beef fillet, white wine, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, spring onions, onions, rocket.  Saw I could add “brot” for free, so I did. Well, my Grade 4 CSE German comes in handy when I remember that ‘brot’ is German for bread and it was a free extra to my food.

When my buzzer buzzed, I went to the kitchen to collect my food. The dish looked great.

It also tasted great. It was fresh and delicious. The steak was tender and I liked the addition of the rocket to the dish. The rest of the ingredients in the dish added to the flavours and textures.

I really enjoyed the pasta dish. The bread was nice as well.

Though I had intended to have the Bruschetta as a starter, because of the process of ordering through a screen meant that the Bruschetta and the pasta arrived at the same time. The Bruschetta was toasted bread with fresh tomatoes, onion, and rocket.

It was a great combination of textures and flavours. The tomato was nice, fresh, and it was well seasoned.

Tasty. Though another time I think I would order my starter first and then order the main course.

Had an Orangina as well to drink.