What should I have?

I enjoyed my last visit to Bills on Baker Street in July. So it was with some anticipation we headed there for dinner on a visit to London. Bills has an interesting dining environment, the different branches seem familiar, but different at the same time. The Baker Street branch appears to be smaller than other Bills I have been to.

Upon entering we were given a warm welcome, we had booked, and were shown to our table. One of the things I have found with Bills is that the menu changes quite often, so even though you may think, well I have that next time I visit, sometimes those very things disappear. So it does make, making a choice that little bit harder.

I was expecting to see the set menu we had in July, but it had changed already. It had gone up by two pounds and had lost the steak and chicken dishes we had had back then. So after reviewing what was on the set menu, we looked at the main menu.

While the rest of the table went with steak and chips, I wanted something different.

I was tempted by the chargrilled lamb rump. However having had an outstanding lamb rump in 2018 from the (now sadly closed) Cattle & Co in Euston, I knew I would have high expectations. The menu description of marinated lamb rump steaks I knew I might be disappointed. The sound of the Black & Gold Burger was quite tempting.

Chargrilled beef patty topped with cheese & truffle fondue, 24 carat gold flakes & grated black truffle. Served with rosemary salted fries.

As was the description of the Triple Truffle Shuffle Burger from the specials menu.

Topped with truffle mac & cheese, white truffle oil & dusted with freshly grated truffle. Served with rosemary fries

However I didn’t really fancy a burger, having only had one the other day in Harwell.

In the end I went with a dish I had been tempted to before on previous visits to Bills, which was the Lobster & Seafood Linguine.

Lobster & Seafood Linguine

Lobster, king prawn & squid in a rich tomato & chilli cream sauce with lemon oil.

The dish was nicely presented.

There was a nice lot of seafood in the pasta dish, which meant as you ate the dish you kept finding prawns, squid and lobster on your fork. Some places I have eaten this kind of dish, you get a meagre amount of seafood. I wasn’t overly impressed with the lobster, which either lacked flavour or was overpowered by the sauce. If it wasn’t there I don’t think I would have missed it, which was a pity.

I did enjoy the dish, I liked the cherry tomatoes with the pasta. Though I think it wouldn’t be something I would order again, if it was still on the menu. It didn’t blow me away. 

As for the rest of the table, well they all went with chargrilled 8oz sirloin steak with rosemary fries.

chargrilled 8oz sirloin steak with rosemary fries

They all enjoyed their dishes, but they did say I cooked a better steak.

Service was excellent, efficient and friendly. 

Overall we had a really nice meal.

Chiquito

I’ve only been to Chiquito a couple of times, but I have always liked the idea of the menu.

We went as a family and had some interesting dishes. I don’t think we were overly impressed with the experience, and I can’t see us making a return visit anytime soon. The food was okay, buy nothing special.

I had the chilaquiles, these were nachos tossed in sauce, oven baked with mozzarella until crispy on top and soft at the bottom, topped with a fried egg. I had mine with the barbacoa beef and chimichurri sauce.

It was just okay, I thought it was interesting with the egg. I didn’t really enjoy the soft nachos.

My eldest went with the chimichanga, fried tortilla packed with rice, refried beans, mozzarella and jalapeño cheese sauce. Served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

He did enjoy the dish.

My other son with the topped salad with a chicken + chorizo skewer. 

The salad was mixed leaves, grains, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot, pink onions and crumbled feta cheese in a citrus dressing. Interesting salad and combination of flavours.

The other dish on the table was a 6oz juicy tender steak, mixed salad and homemade sweet potato wedges.

The steak lacked flavour, and the sweet potato wedges were undercooked.

Overall it was just okay as a meal out, the service was lacklustre.

Time for Tacos at Wahaca

The last time I went to Wahaca it was just before lockdown. In May 2022 I was up in London for an event with my son, and afterwards we decided to get something to eat. Our first choice was Bills in Victoria, but they were full. So, I suggested that we head to Oxford Circus and go to Wahaca. We caught a tube across London.

We arrived to find there was a bit of a wait for a table, well it was a Friday evening in London, not too surprising. We decided that we would wait. It wasn’t too long before a table was free, we sat down and looked over the menu.

We chose six dishes, the one we started with, was the Mexico City nachos which I discussed here and was the highlight of our meal.

We also had three plates of tacos.

We had the grilled chicken and avocado tacos with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa, served in two soft corn tortillas.

I have had these before, the chicken for me was slightly overcooked, but the flavours were excellent. I like the addition of the guacamole to the spicy chicken.

There was also the chargrilled steak & cheese tacos, chargrilled bavette steak with grilled cheese, chipotle and avocado salsas, in two soft corn tortillas.

Another dish I have had before, these were very tasty. Though I think I have had better ones before. The steak was nice and tender and the salsas added a contrast of flavours and textures. Never see the point of the grilled cheese, preferred it when it was an option and I could choose not to have it.

Our final choice of tacos were the buttermilk chicken tacos, this was crispy fried chicken, with pink pickled onions and spiced mayo, in two soft flour tortillas.

I have had these before also. The chicken was overcooked and dry, but I liked the pink pickled onions. 

Overall these were nice tacos, not the best I’ve had, but certainly they were tasty.

Back at Bills

I have really enjoyed my recent meals at Bills. Back in September 2021 I had a really nice meal at the (now closed) branch of Bills in Ealing. In May I was in Manchester and had a nice fish supper at Bills. Last month we had a delicious brunch in Bath, well everyone else had brunch, I had tacos.

So it was with a little anticipation myself and my son headed out to the Baker Street branch of Bills. We had booked, so, after a warm welcome, we were shown to our table. I do like the quirkiness of the decor in the different branches of Bills, and Baker Street was no exception.

I looked over the menu (or should I say menus) and decided what to eat. As you might expect I was somewhat tempted by the tuna tacos again, as I had enjoyed them on previous visits. I also liked the idea of the crab cakes. There were lots of nice choices on the mains section of the menu, the chargrilled lamb rump did appeal, as did the lobster and seafood linguine.

One of the things I have found with Bills is that the menu changes quite often, so even though you may think, well I have that next time I visit, sometimes those very things disappear. So it does make, making a choice that little bit harder.

In the end we went with the set menu, with two courses for £13.95 which seemed very reasonable.

For my starter I had the chicken and sesame dumplings with Bill’s spicy chutney.

I got six pan fried dumplings, though I wouldn’t have called it a chutney, it was much more a dipping sauce. The pastry was nice and crisp, though the filling was a little bland for me. However the dipping sauce enhanced the dumplings, so in the end I did enjoy the dish.

My son went with the crispy calamari served with roast garlic & basil aioli.

He let me try some, the squid was really nice, tender and there was a nice crunch to the crispy coating. There was quite a bit of sliced red chilli on the dish, which I did try to avoid. I couldn’t taste the basil, but the aioli was quite tasty.

For my main course I weren’t with the chargrilled chicken and grains. This was described as coming with spinach, lentil and ancient grain salad, flatbread and tzatziki.

The flatbread was warm and fresh, and the tzatziki was tasty and refreshing.

As you can see, the lentil and ancient grain salad was served with pea shoots and not spinach, but I didn’t mind that as I preferred the pea shoots over having the spinach.

The chicken was chargrilled, but I did feel it was a little dry and overcooked. Of course you have to cook chicken properly, but this was cooked a little too much properly for my liking.

My son had the chargrilled minute steak with rosemary fries and  dressed pea shoots. 

Well the pea shoots were missing. He let me try some, this was an excellent dish, the steak was cooked perfectly and the fries (were fries) and tasted of potato

We decided to forgo desert and paid the bill using the QR code, which is becoming the norm for many places these days. 

I am looking forward to my next visit to Bills.

Would you like fries with that? Yes I would please!

Having arrived late one Sunday into Manchester and was staying at the Copthorne Hotel in the Salford Quays. I was quite hungry after a long drive. I headed down into the hotel foyer where I found the restaurant had just closed, but the bar was still open for food. They had quite a good menu, in the end I chose the Steak frites, this was described as a sirloin steak served with rocket, fries and herb garlic butter.

This is what I got.

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.

The menu says steak frites, this means steak with fries, not chips. Fries are not chips, chips are chips and fries are fries.

Well apart from the fries disappointment, the chips were okay. The steak was nice, the herb garlic butter was probably a little too strong for me, but I did like it. The rocket salad, was okay. Overall, I was hungry, this was a nice plate of food.

Steak and Chips again and again

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel I went for dinner and I really wasn’t sure what to have. There is a good choice on the menu, but I was in that kind of mood when, I was hungry, but I didn’t really know what I wanted. I looked over the menu, trying to make a choice, in the end though I went for the steak and chips. They had changed the menu from the ribeye to a sirloin. I have noticed that they make changes to the menu quite often, so much so that I noticed the menu on the board outside the hotel is out of date.

This was described on the menu as Owton’s dry-aged 12oz sirloin steak on the bone, with triple-cooked chips, baked mushroom, grilled tomato and a peppercorn sauce.

I have had the sirloin before, which I enjoyed, but wasn’t overly impressed with. That time it came with a watercress & pickled shallot salad.

My usual experience with the Drayton is that they are quite fast at service, but this time, it took it’s time. So much so that I nearly went to ask where my food was. Well I wasn’t in a hurry, so it wasn’t to much of an issue.

When my food finally arrived, it did look very good.

However there was no baked mushroom and there was the addition of a watercress salad. To be honest though I did quite like the idea of the mushroom, as it had taken to long to arrive, I decided not to question this or return the plate, I was hungry as well.

The steak was well cooked and was lovely and tender. It was much better than when I had it previously. Overall I enjoyed the meal.

Steak and Chips, once more

Steak and Chips

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel I went for dinner and I went for the steak and chips. This was described on the menu as Owton’s dry-aged 9oz ribeye steak on the bone, triple cooked chips, watercress salad, and a peppercorn sauce.

It arrived promptly and it looked very nice.

The steak was much better than the last steak I had had at the Drayton. As I have mentioned before, I am not a fan of triple cooked chips, it feels like they are overcooked, but these were okay. I did enjoy the peppercorn sauce as well.

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.