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.

Time for Tapas

Staying in London I did fancy some tapas one evening, we decided to head to La Rueda Tapas Bar in Ealing.

La Rueda Tapas Bar is a one-of-a-kind culinary establishment with a menu inspired by the idea of simple and honest cooking. Starting in 2000, we developed a unique dining experience for all of our guests using fresh and sustainable ingredients—taking you on a culinary journey like no other. From classic recipes to new-age kitchen adventures, each dish reflects our passion for high-quality food presented in a simple yet pleasing manner. 

We were given a nice warm welcome and allowed to choose where we wanted to sit. We could have sat outside, but it’s quite a busy street, so we sat inside. We looked over the menu and chose what to have. In the end we went with five different dishes.

Knowing me, I probably would have chosen the calamari, but this time I decided I wouldn’t choose that dish. I was also tempted by the paella, but in the end we went with the tapas selection.

We started off with some olives marinated in garlic and herbs. These were really nice, just the thing to nibble, whilst waiting for the dishes to arrive.

The first of these was the Patatas Bravas. Tripled fried potatoes served with a spicy Brava sauce and a helping of aioli. The potatoes were nice and crisp, the Brava sauce was quite spicy, but this was offset with the nice aioli that had a good flavour of garlic. I think I would have liked the spiciness to be taken down a notch, but otherwise it was a nice dish.

The next dish to arrive was the Gambas al pil pil. This was prawns with chilli, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. This was an excellent little dish, the prawns were nice and tasty. They hadn’t been peeled, but they were easy to peel.

The dish after this was Pulpo Gallego. Galician style octopus, saffron potato mash, pimenton. 

This was one impressive dish, and one kind of dish I have wanted to try for a while. The dish was a mound of saffron flavoured mashed potato topped with two grilled octopus tentacles. The octopus was very nice, tender and tasty. I think the mash could have been smoother (more butter), but was tasty.

Our final dish was Chorizo al vino, the classic Spanish sausage cooked in red wine sauce.

The chorizo was lovely and tender and I liked the sauce.

Overall the food was beautiful cooked and it was delicious. I do hope to visit La Rueda again.

Time for Las Iguanas

I have been tempted many times by Las Iguanas, but have never actually got there until recently when I was in Birmingham.

Looking for a place to eat the choice available was a decision maker for the group of friends I was with. Las Iguanas as they have a large menu covering Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, and beyond.

The place was really busy, but despite not booking they found us a table.

I looked over the extensive menu and thought about what I wanted.  For my starter I went with the Calamares, crispy squid served with creamy aioli.

The squid was certainly crispy, overcooked in my opinion, but this was more than just squid rings, this was squid in batter with a rather garlicky aioli.

For my main course I went with the Xinxim. A classic recipe from North Brazil. Chicken and crayfish in our creamy lime and peanut sauce. Served with spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain.

This arrived in two dishes, the spring onion rice, shredded greens, coconut farofa and sweet plantain on one plate, and a bowl with the Xinxim. 

Here is the plate with the rice and the plantain.

At first I didn’t think there was any crayfish in the dish, but it was hidden at the bottom. I added the bowl of Xinxim to the plate of rice. I did quite like creamy lime and peanut sauce and there was plenty of chicken. I would like to have seen more and bigger crayfish in the dish.

The rice didn’t seem to have much spring onion in it and the shredded greens were okay. I have to say I didn’t really like the sweet plantain, but having never had it before I couldn’t tell if this was representative of plantain or not. Something I might try again when I next visit the Caribbean Wrap in Bristol.

Overall I was a little disappointed. I think this was more down I had quite high expectations about the food, and it was just okay. I don’t think I will be going out of my way to visit Las Iguanas anytime soon.

The food could have been better

It has been a long time since I have eaten at Zizzi, but the last time I was there I enjoyed my pizza. So meeting up after work in Bristol we headed towards Zizzi to get something to eat.

It was more late afternoon than early evening do when we arrived there was quite a bit of space, when we left the place was full and there was a queue outside.

I don’t think I could quibble with the service, which was warm and friendly, however our food at Zizzi could have been so much better.

Checking the menu, I decided to start with the calamari before then having a Rustica Pinoli Pizza.

The calamari was nice, but they had run out of aioli and though I asked for some mayonnaise they came back with tomato ketchup (seriously) and a separate pepper sauce (which was nice), however neither of these really complemented the calamari in the way that the aioli would have.

We also had some gluten free garlic bread, which was nice and garlicy, however was slightly overdone. I was all ready to complain and ask for a replacement, but I was out voted!

My Rustica Pinoli Pizza had goat’s cheese, mozzarella, caramelised balsamic onions, baby slow roast tomatoes, pine nuts & riserva cheese.

I’ve had this before, and though I think it needed more pine nuts, it was rather nice. There is a nice mix of flavours, from the cheese to the caramelised balsamic onions which add to the pizza.

What was interesting was that the other Rustica Pinoli we had on the table was overcooked compared mine. I did offer to swap but this was turned down.

We did the Eat Out scheme so we got 50% off, which wasn’t a bad deal. However the lack of consistency of quality in the food, means I don’t know when I will be going back to Zizzi again.