Boudin noir en-croûte

A few weeks back I was staying in London, having enjoyed recent French style meals at Côte I did wonder if there were any (independent) French restaurants in the area. I have had over the years some really nice French style meals in various places. Back in 2013 I had a nice meal in Oxford at Pierre Victoire, an independent family run French style restaurant. The now sadly closed La Buvette in Bristol did some great dishes. In Edinburgh in 2020 I had some excellent food at Petit Paris.

I wanted to try and repeat these experiences, so I did a Google search and found Ma Cuisine in Richmond, next to Kew Gardens tube station. I looked at the menu online and it had some nice choices. I headed out there in my car and parked up. The online menu was out of date, so the dishes I had in mind weren’t available.

After a typically French frosty welcome I sat down and perused the menu. For my starter I chose the boudin noir en-croûte with pear ketchup and Dijon mustard sauce. I went with the Guinea Fowl for my main course.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, I knew this was going to be a black pudding style sausage in pastry. So the dish was quite intriguing when it arrived. I don’t know why I was surprised that these looked like sausage rolls, as what do you call sausage meat in pastry, but a sausage roll.

Boudin noir en-croûte

There were three pieces and the dish was a lot larger than I expected. The dish was well cooked and nicely presented. The pastry was nice and crisp. I did think that the boudin noir lacked the intensity of flavour that I thought it should have. I also felt it was a little under seasoned. The Dijon mustard sauce on the other hand was a little overpowering in my opinion. Despite some reservations, overall I did enjoy the food.

After my plate was cleared I awaited my main course…

Time again for a Samba Box

Back in July 2021 when I was working in (what was then) a very quiet London I went to the Leather Lane street food market and after queuing in the rain had a delicious Brazilian Samba Box. 

Though since then I have been to the Leather Lane street food market many times, I hadn’t had a chance to repeat the experience. Mainly as there is a lot of choice in the market and I like to try different things, also, the queue for the stall is often very lengthy.

So on a return visit to Leather Lane street food market I decided I would have another Samba Box. I joined the queue and waited, no rain this time, and the queue moved quite fast. I chose the chargrilled chicken thighs which were served with Rio rice, black beans, coleslaw and lettuce. I also had some additional halloumi with my dish.

Samba Box

It looked great and was very tasty.

The chicken had lots of flavour, but this time was a little dried out compared to my previous visit. I liked the salad and the rice was nice as well I had mine served with chimichurri which was a nice accompaniment.

I really enjoyed the whole box and it was so nice to have something, fresh and tasty.

Back this week…

Back this week are the Greek Tzoumagias-Style Sausages from Lidl.

There are seven sausages and in the pack.

During a previous Greek week at Lidl I bought some Tzoumagias-Style Pork Sausages with Leek. I cooked them simply in a warm frying pan until they were browned and hot all the way through. These have a lovely meaty texture and some nice flavours. I have no idea how authentic these are, but I do like them.



I was in Cambridge for a conference and arriving the day before looked for a place to eat. I did think about going to Loch Fyne, where back in January 2020 I had enjoyed some nice seafood. However after walking down Trumpington Street, I realised that this branch of  Loch Fyne had closed down it was now a gastropub, called the Little Rose. In the end I didn’t go there, and went to Côte, but had been intrigued by the Little Rose menu.

So when the next day, after a conference drinks reception, someone suggest that we should have dinner at Little Rose, I was happy to go along with that suggestion.

We hadn’t booked, and we were quite a large party, but we were given a warm welcome and they had space for us.

I had the porchetta. This was described on the menu as maple glazed porchetta, smoked garlic potato, puffed crackling, with apple gravy.


This was an impressive looking plate of food, though more pub than gastro.

There was a chunk of pork belly, the porchetta. It was glazed with maple syrup, but personally I think it was slightly overdone on the grill, resulting in a little bitterness. Not enough to send it back, but it was just over.

I liked the mashed potato, and the puffed crackling added some nice crunch. There was some slices of apple as well, which helped to contrast the rich pork.

I did enjoy my meal, but it wasn’t amazing, something I probably wouldn’t order again if I ever found myself back at the Little Rose.

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.

Smashing breakfast

Drayton Court Hotel

Generally when I am staying away I do go for the full cooked breakfast. The Drayton Court Hotel does an excellent cooked breakfast which I have enjoyed many times.

This time though I decided to try something different and went with the smashed avocado, heritage tomatoes, chilli, slow poached Lycroft Farm eggs, rye sourdough toast. 

I’ve never had avocado for breakfast, so this was a new experience for me.

smashed avocado, heritage tomatoes, chilli, slow poached Lycroft Farm eggs, rye sourdough toast

The food was beautifully presented and had been dressed with pea shoots, chives and some dressing.

I really enjoyed this dish, the tomatoes were full of flavour. I liked the heat of the chilli that was mixed into the smashed avocado. The eggs were cooked well. It all came together as well. 

I think I would order this again.

Enjoyed that pizza

I was fancying pizza for lunch so I headed to Franco Manca. I have had pizza from here before, but have not written about it.

I went with their £10 lunch deal of a pizza and a soft drink.

You can choose from five pizzas and I went with the sourdough pizza with roasted cured ham, mozzarella, ricotta & wild mushrooms. The menu states that this comes with little tomato. This is more a white pizza.

The place wasn’t busy, so my pizza arrived very quickly.

It was a really nice pizza, I liked the mushrooms. It was a much better pizza than on my previous visit, but that time I had also enjoyed the pizza.

Service was excellent 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.

Not all scones are equal

One of the interesting things about visiting National Trust properties is that though there appears to be commonality and consistency across their cafes, the reality is that they are dependent on who is in the kitchen, more than most. As a result, one way to compare the different experiences is to look at something that is common across many of the menus and compare them. Once such common item found on lots of menus is the cheese scone.

On a recent visit to Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire I stopped for lunch and had a leek soup and a cheese scone.

Kedleston Hall is one of the finest and most complete examples of an 18th-century show-palace and parkland in Britain. Step inside and discover the Curzon family’s collection of fine art, furniture, and Asian objects.

The cafe is in, what was the kitchens of the Hall. I do like it when the cafe is in the main buildings, rather than a converted cow shed. I really liked how Chirk Castle’s cafe was in one of the towers for example.

The service was friendly, you placed your order and then your food is brought to the table.

The scone was lovely and fresh, soft, and delicious. It was full of flavour. I really liked it, so much that I nearly ordered a second scone.