Steak and Chips

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel another night I had another meal.

This time I went for the steak and chips. This was described on the menu as Owton’s dry-aged 12oz sirloin steak on the bone, triple cooked chips, watercress & pickled shallot salad, peppercorn sauce.

I didn’t read the menu properly, so didn’t realise that this was steak on the bone. I asked for it rare, mainly that I find too often steaks are over-cooked, however this steak was cooked rare. It was a nice steak and I enjoyed the peppercorn sauce as well.

I am not a fan of triple cooked chips, it feels like they are overcooked, but these were okay. They were nice and crispy and did taste of potato. The salad garnish was simple, but rather good.

Overall it was a nice plate of food, but I do feel it could have been better.

Chipotle Tacos

I was once a regular listener to the This Week in Google podcast though I have been listening infrequently these days with less commuting. You may well be asking what has this got to do with food and tacos.

Well when I was listening, Jeff Jarvis and Gina Trapani would often mention the Chipotle chain of stores, I really liked the concept that the would often talk about. When I realised that there were branches in London I thought I must try it out some time…

It was one of the places I wanted to go, but despite visiting London on a regular basis it was never really close enough to visit when I was looking for lunch.

So ten years later’ I still had never gone to Chipotle. 

Then on a recent visit to London, I was on Chiswick High Road, going to the M&S Food Hall when I actually realised there was a branch of Chipotle on the other side of the road. Hmmm I thought, well this was my chance to try some tacos.

I went with the grilled steak tacos. I was warned that these might be a bit spicy, but I thought no, let’s go for it. I went with the fresh tomato salsa

I did think the guacamole was a little overpriced, at £2.10. I said no to that, knowing I had some already. Having looked at the menu before going in, I actually got some, well a whole tub, from Tesco for £1.15 before then heading back to Chipotle.

I did have the sour cream, cheese and some beans as well.

I then headed back to the hotel with my food.

The beef was spicy (as promised) and I would have liked a little more sour cream. They were also a little cold, think they really needed to be eaten straight away rather than wrapped and taken away.

These were nice tacos, but nothing special. I don’t think I would go out of my way to get them in the future.

Steak “Benedict” Pot with Egg

It was time for lunch and I was trying to be quick, so after a short walk I headed to Yolk in New Street Square for one of their lunch pots.

I went with the Steak ‘Benedict’ Pot, which was rice, medium rare bavette steak, béarnaise sauce and a poached egg.

Steak “Benedict” Pot with Egg

I think I can best describe this as bizarre, more than anything else. Steak and rice work well, but throw in the béarnaise sauce, and that adds something weird. Then add a poached egg, and it becomes more than weird, it becomes bizarre.

I don’t think I would have it again, even though I did find it quite tasty.

Brunch time

I had taken my car in for some work and had an hour or so to kill. The original plan was for me and my son to go and have breakfast at the Brunello Lounge, something we had enjoyed recently for his birthday.

Having dropped the car off and walked to the Lounge, we were a little too early having arrived before it opened. So we went for a walk along the seafront. I was reminded of Revo, a restaurant that had opened in what was the old aquarium. I made the suggestion that maybe we could try there for breakfast for a change? Decision was made and we walked over to Revo and went inside. It was rather empty, but it was an early morning in September, but we were given a warm welcome and we had a wide choice about where we could sit, so we chose a table by the window. 

We looked over the menu, there was quite a choice. My son went with the Revo Breakfast, myself I decided to have steak and eggs. Two fried eggs on a 28 day aged bavette steak, wilted spinach and finished with a homemade chimichurri sauce. Not something I would probably usually have for breakfast, but it did sound quite nice. I was asked if I wanted my steak rare or well done (no opportunity for medium) so, and I like it that way, went with rare.

It took a little time for our breakfasts to arrive, which for me was a good sign, in that they were cooking them fresh to order.

Both dishes looked great.

I really enjoyed my steak and eggs. I think I might have liked some bread to go with it (not toast). However the steak was nicely cooked and had a good flavour. The bavette cut can have quite a strong flavour and it worked well with the eggs and spinach. The chimichurri cut through the dish in a pleasant way, though I have to say I did not eat all the sliced chilli in the dish (this was breakfast).

The breakfast looked really tasty, however the sausages were a little pink and the poached eggs were somewhat overcooked and rubbery. However my son didn’t want to complain, which was his prerogative.

The food was mainly excellent, the service friendly and warm. Not amazing value for money, but still a nice brunch and amazing views over the beach and the sea.

Tasty Tacos and Steak

I has driven to Ealing to get something to eat, I really didn’t know what I wanted, so walked around a fair bit. I did think about going to Cote or Bills. When I walked past Pizza Express I thought that looked familiar, then I remembered we had eaten there as a family in August 2018.

However in the end I went back to Pasta Remoli. I did ask if they had a table outside, the response was they needed to talk to the manager. It was very warm inside the restaurant, uncomfortably warm. Having waited a while and with a couple behind me (who had booked a table) I realised there probably wasn’t going to be a table free. So I left. I did think again about Bills, but realised I wasn’t hungry enough for two courses. I think a combination of the heat of the day, eating a few snacks when I got back and curbed my appetite somewhat. So, I headed back to my car and drove back to the apartment, and I had bread, cheese and salami.

The following day, after work I headed out to Ealing to get something to eat. This time I was hungry and had decided I would probably go to Bills. I did want to check out the tapas place I had seen on Google maps. La Rueda looked interesting and I liked the idea of the menu. However I think to have a good meal I would need to spend a fair amount of money, so decided no. Maybe the next time I was in Ealing.

I headed to Bills which had plenty of free tables outside, which I could choose from. I was a little concerned that there might be some rain (there was a 90% chance of rain according to my weather app) however it was still lovely and warm. I sat down and looked at the menus. I had pretty much made my choice earlier, however I did look again. They had a set menu and I did think the  chestnut mushroom, spinach and truFFle risotto, topped with a poached egg, pumpkin seeds and pea shoots sounded very nice. I guess my hesitation was that this wasn’t likely to be cooked to order, but maybe merely be a heated up prepared dish. Though I with the choice of calamari for a starter it was a possibility. 

In the end I went with the main menu. What had struck me from the list of starters were the tuna tacos. So decided to have those and the Dinner Special, an 8oz sirloin steak.

I placed my order and asked for some tap water along with the food.

The tuna tacos arrived very quickly and it was an interesting looking dish. 

It was seared raw tuna, avocado & spicy cherry tomatoes on crunchy blue corn tortillas, with crème fraîche, coriander & toasted sesame seeds.

I don’t know why, but I was expecting tacos, rather than the serving of tune, avocado and tomatoes on crunchy blue corn tortillas. However I did like the presentation. The tuna was excellent, and liked the taste and texture. The avocado and tomato was nice as well. The tortilla were a little too crunchy for me, I think some soft blue corn tortillas might have been a better choice. The crème fraîche added some nice coolness and freshness to the dish, though I do think there was a little too much red chilli for me.

Having finished my starter and the table was cleared, I had to ask again for some tap water, which hadn’t arrived. I waited for my main course. I went for the dinner special, the 8oz sirloin steak served with rosemary salted fries, a green leaf & mixed seed salad and garlic butter.

This arrived promptly. This was an excellent steak, nice fries and the salad was a nice touch. This was so much a better dish than the steak I had at Cote a few weeks back. It had flavour, was well seasoned and cooked expertly.

I really enjoyed the steak and it was a really nice meal. I enjoyed sitting outside and the weather was perfect that reminded me of eating out in Greece and Spain, but this was Ealing in London in September.

As I was finishing up and paying my bill, the table next me were served with their order of calamari, I was quite pleased I hadn’t ordered it, and had gone with the tuna tacos, as it wasn’t what I had imagined. I thought it might be like the squid you get at Wagamama or Yo! Sushi, but they looked like breaded calamari rings. Something I won’t order next time I go to Bills.

The service was efficient, but I think it a little cold as a result. Having said that I did think overall, good service, excellent food and a nice atmosphere. I will go again, but thinking that the weather will change will mean I will be eating inside.

Time for some French food

I do quite like French food, probably an echo of eating out on French holidays back in the 1970s and 1980s. Over the years I have had some really nice meals, some excellent meals, and some not so good.

I was in London for a few days working. One evening, for dinner, I decided to head out to Ealing. I parked in the shopping centre and had a look around. I saw the Amazon Fresh shop, the one where you walk in pick things up and walk out and everything is charged to your Amazon account. I didn’t go in.

I had a look around for somewhere to eat. I did consider getting some cheese and bread from M&S. I saw they did a smaller version of the French cheese platter I have had in Weston. However there was no bread left. I did think about Wagamama, but it looked very busy. In the end after some procrastination and a bit more exploring and walking around, I went to Côte Brasserie, a chain of French style restaurants.

They had some tables free and I was given a choice of where I could sit, so I had a nice small table by the window. It was a decent environment, comfortable, inviting.

I had checked out the menu earlier online, so was pretty much convinced about what I was going to have. I went with the fixed price menu.

There was a nice choice of starters, but I decided that I would go for the Tomates ‘Breton’. Brittany heritage tomatoes topped with pistou on toasted pain de campagne.

Brittany heritage tomatoes topped with pistou on toasted pain de campagne.

It looked amazing, I was really impressed with the presentation of the dish.

I wasn’t sure what pistou was so checked up on Wikipedia later.

Pistou, or pistou sauce, is a Provençal cold sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil. It is somewhat similar to the Ligurian sauce pesto, although it lacks pine nuts.

It was a lovely plate of food, the bread was nice, the tomatoes were well seasoned and the pistou added a nice touch.

For my main course I had the steak frites – chargrilled steak with frites and garlic butter. I upgraded to the ribeye.

steak and frites

The dish came with some additional watercress, which was a nice touch.

The steak wasn’t fantastic, it lacked seasoning and wasn’t as tender as I thought it was going to be. Upon reflection I probably shouldn’t have upgraded.

Alongside I had a Meteor beer, which was fresh and smooth.

The service was excellent, warm, friendly and efficient.

This was my first experience of Côte Brasserie and I enjoyed the experience and the food.

Barbecuing in the sun

With the lovely weather we have been having a lot of barbecues recently. I try and cook different things, and we usually have a selection of salads alongside the grilled meat.

I do like cooking boned and flattened chicken thighs on the barbecue.

These were marinaded in lemon juice, olive oil and herbs. I leave the skin on as this is the best bit.

I also do ribeye steaks, but I find you need to have the temperature just right otherwise they can either be bland or overdone. I season my ribeye steaks with salt and pepper and a little garlic oil.

The lamb leg steaks were marinaded with olive oil and rosemary.

I am also know to do burgers, but I try and use a good quality burger to get the best results. These are served in a brioche bun with cheese and salad.

With sausages, like the burgers I like using a good quality meaty sausage. I prefer chipolata sausages, they remind me of the French sausages we cooked when we were on holiday, but sometimes I use  other kinds.

With pork belly slices I find it best to marinade them for a few hours in a salt and pepper marinade for a few hours to tenderise the pork.

Thinking now about other possibilities.

That Wahaca Time in Clifton

Now as we start to leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some meals I had out over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

I had forgotten that I had eaten at Wahaca in Bristol in 2017. I had got a money off voucher from a meal kit that I had bought in a supermarket, so though I wouldn’t normally spend the kind of money that this lunch would cost, with the money off voucher  it made it a lot cheaper and value for money.

This was my first (and to date) only visit to the Wahaca branch in Clifton, Bristol. I have eaten at a fair few branches in London over the years, but  I have only visited the branch in Clifton just this once.

I had a warm and friendly welcome and was shown to a table. It was later in the day for lunch so the place was quite empty.

I went with three dishes. The first of these was the Grilled Steak Tacos.

These are three flash-grilled skirt steak filled toasted soft corn tortilla tacos with chipotle & tomatillo salsas. You could have had it with grilled cheese, but I chose to go without. When I last visited Wahaca in London last year the cheese wasn’t optional, I don’t think it needs the cheese. The tacos were delicious, the steak was cooked well and the different salsas added heat and spice.

The second of my dishes as the Ancho Chicken Baja Tacos.

Two corn and flour tortillas inspired by the beaches of baja filled with grilled chicken thighs marinated with sweet & smoky ancho chilli, topped with  and jalapeño-pickled carrots. I really enjoyed these the salad adding freshness to the dish, with the warm tasty grilled chicken.

As for my third dish was a special, the Mushroom Fundido.

Mushrooms roasted in garlic, thyme, chipotle and hibiscus glazed, baked in mozzarella, cheddar and local queso fresco.

When writing this article I checked what the dish was called from my Instagram feed when I posted a photo of it back in March 2017.

I then did a Google Search for more details about the dish and this tweet from Wahaca came up.

As you can see what I got looked very different to how the dish should have looked. Having said that, the dish tasted a lot better than it looked.

Overall three tasty dishes, excellent service.

Back in January…

So there I was going though some photographs from January when I saw some delicious looking dishes from Wahaca. I realised that I had this great meal and hadn’t written (well I had started but not finished) a blog post about it.

Well, so back in January I was in London for a morning meeting, so I had been up early and was feeling hungry so was looking somewhere for lunch. I know how much I had enjoyed the food at Wahaca I decided it was pretty much a no brainer to go there for lunch, especially as I had a special offer in my email inbox.

The nearest branch to me was the Covent Garden one. Each Wahaca branch has its own style and feel. The Covent Garde branch is downstairs in the basement, but does feel quite bright and open.

There was a lovely warm welcome from the staff and I sat at the table and viewed the menu.

I had a special offer which meant I could get a dish for a pound.

Pack your January with veg and treat yourself with our ultimate range of vegetarian street food dishes. From buttermilk cauliflower bites to our mushroom and grilled cheese tacos there’s plenty of delicious veggie dishes to add to your meal. Just show this email to your waiter to get your dish for £1 

For me that was an easy choice and I went with the crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

These were delicious crunchy florets with a soft melt in the mouth centre, accompanied with a tasty allioli. I really like these and enjoyed these.

I had another dish, the prawn cocktail tostada. 

prawn cocktail tostada

This was sustainably sourced prawns with red chilli mayo, crisp lettuce & avocado on crispy tostada. This was the Wahaca version of the prawn cocktail. It was not as good as I hoped, the prawns lacked flavour, as did the avocado, but it was still fresh and tasty.

My third dish was grilled mushroom & cheese tacos.

grilled mushroom & cheese tacos

These were sweet ancho rubbed mushrooms with crispy grilled cheese. The mushrooms were delicious and I really enjoyed that strong flavour of funghi and spicy ancho. I do find that Wahaca often add crispy grilled cheese to dishes, which I don’t always see that it adds anything to that dish.

I was feeling hungry, so I went with another dish and went with the steak and cheese tacos.

steak & cheese tacos

This was chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese, chipotle salsa & avocado. Again more grilled cheese. This use to be an optional extra, but now was part of the dish. I’ve had this dish a fair few times, and this was not the best version I’ve had of this dish, but it was still quite tasty.

Overall I enjoyed my four dishes, the mushrooms and cauliflower were certainly the ones I enjoyed the most.

Time for Steak Fajitas

I make versions of this dish quite often, but the method is pretty much the same. My main variation is on the kind of steak I use. I like using ribeye, but other cuts work just as well. For this version, I used a bavette cut of steak, I fried this in a frying pan and when I was happy with how it was cooked, I removed the steak from the pan and let it rest.

Whilst the steak is resting, in the same pan, I cook the onions and peppers. I usually add some fajita seasoning at this point. For one piece of steak I use one pepper and one onion. Though as I like different coloured peppers, I might use a third of three different kinds.

I do find when I am usually cooking a bavette cut that I undercook it, so after the steak had rested I sliced it and then finished off the steak in the pans with the onions and pepper.

The fajitas I serve with warm tortilla wraps, sour cream, guacamole and salsa. I also like to add some pea shoots into the mix as well and thinly sliced radishes.