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.

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.

Chipolatas on the Barbecue

One of the nice things I have enjoyed when self-catering at a Eurocamp in France is the gas barbecue that is outside every caravan. Something I have never experienced in the UK (maybe it rains too much).

One of the advantages of the barbecue is that you can avoid using the oven or grill in the caravan which can heat up the living area considerably, which when it is hot anyhow, makes it very uncomfortable.

On the first evening of our recent holiday to France, we popped to the local campsite shop for some quick extra supplies (we had brought some basics with us, as well as enough food for the first meal). However as we had time we thought we might get some French food for the evening meal.

I picked up a pack of Chipolatas sausages, which I grilled on the barbecue.

These were really nice, meaty, tasty and delicious. We had these quite a few times over the holiday.

Over the week, as well as Chipolatas I also did Merguez sausages, lemon chicken and some nice peppered rump steaks.

Most of the time we had these with salad, though I did cook Pommes Rissolées a couple of times, and also made a (gluten free) pasta salad as well.

The only challenge was on the final evening, though I regularly cleaned the griddle part of the barbecue, the bottom part did have too much grease on it, so we had some flames which resulted in certain pieces of food getting somewhat charred! When we go again I will clean this part of the barbecue as well.

Part of the (new) housekeeping agreement with Eurocamp, as well as emptying the fridge and doing the washing up, you also had to clean the barbecue.

Knowing this in advance, I did bring some metal scouring pads and cloths for this purpose. It came up okay, but having some proper cleaning spray or similar would have been useful. However I got there in the end.

I really enjoyed cooking on the barbecue during the week, it was quick to light up and made catering much quicker and easier.

That time I was in London for tacos

On one of my last visits to London before the lockdown I did pop to Wahaca at Oxford Circus. I have been there quite a few times and have enjoyed the atmosphere and the food.

As we were in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, this was a couple of weeks before the full lockdown, the place was still open. I was a little cautious about going to a restaurant and sitting down with others to eat. With hindsight I probably wouldn’t have gone, but at the time the risk seemed quite low and there was sanitiser available, and I was washing my hands a lot.

Each branch of Wahaca has it’s own charm and style, there are similarities across the different restaurants, but each has an element of individuality.

I was given a warm welcome and there were plenty of seats available. I looked over the menu and decided to go with some old favourites as well as trying out a new dish.

For my first choice, I chose a dish that I have had a fair few times before, which was the crispy cauliflower bites.

crispy buttermilk-battered florets of cauliflower, with roast serrano allioli

These are crispy buttermilk-battered florets of cauliflower, with roast serrano allioli.

These were delicious and lovely and crispy. I enjoyed the allioli which complemented the crispy florets. They are very moreish and tasty,

My other favourite was steak tacos.

chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese, chipotle salsa & avocado

These are two tacos filled with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese, chipotle salsa & avocado. I much preferred these when the grilled cheese was optional, I don’t think the grilled cheese adds much to the dish. The steak was full of flavour and very tender.

The dish I ordered that I hadn’t had before, was the grilled mushroom & cheese tacos

sweet ancho rubbed mushrooms with crispy grilled cheese

These are sweet ancho rubbed mushrooms with crispy grilled cheese. The mushrooms were delicious, again not a fan of the grilled cheese.

I really enjoyed the three dishes which were tasty and delicious. The service was warm, friendly and welcoming, the food arrived quickly and efficiently.

At the time I was planning to come back to London later in March, so didn’t think this was going to be my last lunch in London for a long time. At the time of writing I have no idea when or even if I will be going back to London for work. As we know restaurants are closed and looking unlikely to re-open in the short term. I am though looking forward to the time when I can go back out to eat, but hopefully I will be able to visit Wahaca in the future and have some great food.

Argentine Steak from the market

Near the office there are plenty of places for lunch and on Wednesdays in New Street Square there is a street food market. On my most recent visit to the office I had forgotten about the market, so it was a nice surprise, when popping out for lunch that the market was running.

There were a wide range of stalls with a variety of choices. I was tempted by the Polish pierogi stall, then there was the Bao stall, I do like a nice steamed Vietnamese bun. I quite liked the look of the paella as well. In the end I went with the Argentine Grill, Criollo. They had a steak sandwich or a steak and salad box on their menu. I went with the steak and salad box.

Criollo street food stall

It comprised a box of mixed green leaves, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers with grilled bavette steak cooked with cheese. It was served with a fresh chimichurri sauce.

steak and salad box

This was one tasty box, the steak, though not melt in the mouth, was tender and full of flavour. The salad was fresh and delicious. The salad was simplistic, but complemented the steak and cheese. I think the only thing missing was some staple, I actually popped into Coco di Mama and bought some bread to go with my lunch.

Overall I was pleased with the dish and enjoyed it.

Temps pour un steak baguette s’il vous plaît

In the past I have had some poor eating experiences at Café Rouge so have generally avoided their branches when looking for somewhere for lunch. Either the food wasn’t as good as I was expecting, or more usually poor and late service. However I still like the concept of a French bistro and the menu often is quite enticing.

I had arrived early in Cheltenham for a meeting and wanted somewhere I could get some lunch I hadn’t even considered Café Rouge. I had a look round, and not wanting something too heavy or too expensive I wasn’t sure what to have. I then saw Café Rouge and recalled seeing a special offer with my Three Wuntu app.If you have a mobile phone contract with Three then you often can get special deals and offers. The Wuntu offer was for a baguette, burger or croque for just five pounds. Well that fitted the bill, so in I went, though I was a little cautious. There was a warm and friendly welcome and I was able to choose where to sit from a few options offered to me, which was nice. Alas for some reason I was unable to get a decent 4G signal at my table so was unable to do the work I had intended to do over lunch. Not sure why, probably the construction of the building. Glad I managed to sort out the special offer on my phone before I went in. This branch of Café Rouge looked similar to their other branches, they have tried to give the place a French feel and look. It works for me.

I perused the menu and in the end decided to go with the Steak Baguette. I didn’t really fancy a burger or croque so I went with the steak baguette. The steak baguette was filled with sliced Black Angus rump steak with red onion chutney, watercress and Dijon mayonnaise and served with my choice of fries or salad. I went with the fries.

sliced Black Angus rump steak with red onion chutney, watercress and Dijon mayonnaise and served with fries

It arrived on a narrow wooden platter with a bowl of fries. I wasn’t too sure about how I was going to eat this, as it felt like it might be a bit messy to eat. I should have asked for a plate!

The steak was cooked as requested and was quite flavoursome and tasty. I think it could have been sliced more thinly in order to make it easier to eat. The watercress and Dijon mayonnaise worked well with the steak, but I did feel the red onion chutney was a bit of a miss and I think it could have been left off entirely. The baguette was fresh, with a crispy crumb and fluffy inside. The fries were crispy and hot and were a nice accompaniment.

The only complaint I had wasn’t about the restaurant, but was about the deal, the steak baguette incurred a £2 supplement, which wasn’t clear in the offer terms and conditions. Also the steak baguette was cheaper than the burgers, so still not sure why it had the supplement. So it was £7 not a fiver, but that was still quite a good deal. It was nice to sit down and eat, rather than grab a sandwich on the go.

You never know I might go again!