Reminiscing on the bento boxes

Finzel Reach Market

Now as we leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had 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. 

Back in May 2019 I had visited the Finzle Reach Street Food market in Bristol. At the market there are various stalls however I was drawn once more to She Sells Sushi. As usual I was tempted by the ramen or the sushi, however I went with my favourite which was the bento box with the Beef Donburi and Hirata Bun.

So I had the delicious Beef Donburi. This is succulent short rib slow cooked in a teriyaki style marinade of soy, fresh ginger and garlic. It was served on a bed of rice  with beni shoga, mayu and spring onion.

Beef Donburi

As usual it was delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. 

I had the tempura chicken hirata bun. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside I had the tempura chicken, known as the Finzel Flapper, complete with spring onions and Japanese mayo.

Finzel Flapper

I do like the combination of flavours and textures in the bun. She also does a pork belly hirata bun, which is just as tasty, but I like the textures you get with the tempura chicken.

Lisa from the stall always takes real care to cook and create great tasting and wonderful looking dishes.

I am looking forward to getting back to working in Bristol so I can once more eat some delicious street food.

Time for some Ah Ma’s Dumplings

Now as we start to leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had 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. 

Back in March 2017 I had visited the Temple Quay Street Food market in Bristol and had some great dumplings from Ah Ma’s Dumplings.

I first had dumplings from this stand a year before and had been impressed.

The stall has these huge towers of bamboo steamers laden with freshly steamed dumplings containing a choice of fillings.

My dumplings were then fried off in a pan. Alas the stall (at the time) fries the vegetarian dumplings in the same pan they fry off the meat ones. So if you are vegetarian you may want to have yours steamed and not fried off.

My dumplings were served with a delicious salad. I really enjoyed the dumplings.

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.

Brazilian Prato Feito

Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past.

Back in March 2017 I went to the St Nicholas Street Food Market in Bristol. There is always a lot of choice in the market itself, but back then on Wednesdays there was a range of additional stalls on Wine Street which widens the choice.

Looking over the stalls I went to the Tia Julia Brazilian Food Stand.

Lots of nice choices, but I went with the Prato Feito. This was a dish comprising of a Brazilian style cuts of rump steak, flash fried on the griddle with onions, peppers and melted cheese. It was served with tomato salsa, pinto beans and rice.

The steak was full of flavour and very tasty, I really enjoyed this dish. I really liked the fact it was cooked to order, so I could see it being prepared.

Pizza at The Old Leadworks

Having spent the afternoon in Bristol last November, we had  choice, did we go home and cook, or did we go out and eat first in Bristol. We did venture first to Bella Italia, but it was fully booked. To be honest I wasn’t sure if it was as there was plenty of free tables. However I wasn’t willing to argue with the staff. We didn’t want to spend ages walking around to find somewhere to eat. The challenge was that we needed to find somewhere which had a good choice of gluten free items as well.

I recalled that over by at-Bristol or now as it was called We The Curious in the old Leadworks was a branch of Prezzo. So we decided that we would try there, if unsuccessful we would go home. So we headed towards Prezzo on the Harbourside.

Back in 2000 I actually worked at at-Bristol and my desk was in the offices on the first floor in the old Leadworks. At that time the restaurant was a Firehouse Rotisserie, which sold chicken. I did think about going there a few times, but never did. It was too expensive for lunch and it was somewhere we ever went in the evening either. I am not sure when it became a Prezzo, but it was now a Prezzo.

We were given a lovely warm friendly welcome. I looked over the menu, and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. In the end I went with the Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and egg.

I have had this pizza a few times before and enjoyed it each time. This time it was just as nice.

There was a lot of pizza but I did manage to finish it.

It was a lovely relaxing meal and we all really enjoyed our food.

Christmas time at the Mud Dock Cafe

December is often the time for office Christmas meals. With the number of staff in our office, the main Christmas meal we have is often dictated by the availability of the venue and to be perfectly honest I have not been too impressed with the food at the last few I have been to. The fact you also need to order your choices weeks in advance is also a little annoying. What I fancy eating in November, may not be what I actually want on the day. Then again do you really go to an office Christmas meal for the food?

Having missed the main office Christmas dinner (intentionally) last December, I was looking forward to our team Christmas meal which was taking place the week after. There was only going to be a few of us so it wasn’t going to be that massive crazy kind of event. The plan was to have a meal at the Mud Dock Cafe in Bristol.

We had a meeting before heading off to the venue. What I did like about this meal was that we could choose from the menu. As I looked over the menu we were impressed with the salad that a neighbouring table was eating. However we couldn’t work out what it was and didn’t appear to be on the menu. I then cheekily asked the neighbouring table what they had ordered, they were very happy about the query and told us it was the Caesar Salad from the specials board up on the wall!

One of my colleagues was impressed enough that he ordered the salad for his meal.

It looked really impressvive and delicious. Though I was tempted by the salad, in the end I went with the Festive menu. For my starter I had the ballotine confit of turkey leg, cranberry compote and dressed leaves.

This was rather tasty, though as with these kinds of dishes, I could have done with more bread.

I wasn’t sure what kind of main course I wanted, but when I read truffled mushroom I went with the homemade chestnut and parmesan gnocchi in a truffled mushroom and spinach cream.

This, though rather hot (as in temperature) was a rich comforting plate of food. It was tasty and I really enjoyed it.

I was persuaded to have a desert, so I went with the selection of West Country cheeses.

A rather delightful selection and beautifully presented board of cheese.

Overall it was one of the better Christmas meals I have had. It was nice to have a choice and choose on the day, rather than days or weeks in advance.

This year I don’t think we will be having any kind of festive office meal but if and when we can do that kind of thing, I hope to return to the Mud Dock Cafe.

Back in time for nice pizza

Working from home, literally every day now, means I rarely go our for lunch. When I was working and travelling away from the office I would go out for dinner and lunch. So there I was working in Bristol back in January, and with a colleague we went out for lunch. I wasn’t sure where we could go, but in the end we chose Bella Vista.

This is an independent Italian restaurant and I have been there for pizza, but usually to takeaway. So I would get a pizza and take I back to the office. This time however we decided to sit in and go for their lunch offer, which was a menu of various choices including pizza and pasta, with a free salad buffet. The staff are friendly and attentive.

I went with the Pizza Vegetarian which came with the following toppings of onions, mushroom, peppers, olives and artichoke.

pizza

It came really quickly and I really enjoyed eating this pizza. It was freshly cooked and tasted great. These are delicious homemade pizza, I’ve enjoyed them before when I had them as takeaway, and I enjoyed it this time too.

There was a wide choice of salads along with garlic bread.

Overall a great place for lunch.

February Funghi Calzone

I never really know if I like a calzone or not. So back in February after a game of bowling we headed off to Bella Italia for a meal. This was pre-lockdown and they had their full menu available.

I looked over the menu and decided that I would try a calzone. I went with the Funghi Calzone.

This was described as a traditional Neapolitan folded pizza filled with chestnut mushrooms, leeks, mozzarella cheese in a mascarpone and porcini sauce.

As with most times I’ve had a calzone, what arrives at the table looks like a large Cornish pasty!

I did quite enjoy the pizza, you could taste the mushroom in the dish and I finished it all. 

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.

Eating out (again)

The last time we went out to eat was in March, a week before the lockdown resulted in every restaurant closing their doors.

It was me eldest’s birthday and as a surprise we took him to Prezzo in Bristol. Most of the restaurants in Weston-super-Mare are still closed and we had some surprise guests for him coming from London, so Bristol was a better choice for us.

We had visited this branch in the old Leadworks before back in November, well before all the Covid-19 stuff and had a really nice meal.

This time, we booked in advance, as it was a Thursday, we couldn’t do the Government Eat Out scheme, but that wasn’t really an issue for us. Though from what we heard the day before with the Government Eat Out scheme they were really busy.

The Covid-19 restrictions meant that they had a one way system in the restaurant and they had reduced quite dramatically the number of tables in the restaurant. I think this was slightly exacerbated by the fact we were a party of eight, so putting all the tables together meant that it looked a little more sparse and barren than “normal”.

We were slightly early, but we were given a warm welcome and shown to our table. You can use an online process for ordering food and drinks, but we were given the option of ordering from the waiting staff, which we chose. We did this partly, as I didn’t want to use the phone to order, but also to ensure that when we did order the gluten free dishes we knew we would need that this would be taken down and recorded accurately. It was also nice to interact with a real person. Ordering by phone reminds of the self service tills you find at supermarkets, they have their place, but sometimes you need to or want to interact with a person. I think there is a time and place for self-service or automation, then there is also a time and place for service by a real person. When I go out to eat, it’s not just the food I am going for, but the whole dining experience, which includes service and atmosphere as well as excellent food.

We ordered some drinks, well coffee for me as we waited for the rest of the table to arrive. As we waited I looked over the menu. Prezzo currently have a limited menu, about 50% I think of the old menu, but there was still quite a bit of choice of starters and mains.

I wanted to start off with the calamari, but they had run out, so I went with the hummus instead.

This was rather tasty and there was a nice portion of fresh flatbread to go with it. It was a nice start to the meal.

For my main course I wasn’t sure if I wanted a pizza or something else. In the end I went with a large Mushroom, Spinach and Olives Pizza that came topped with rocket leaves.

Mushroom, Spinach and Olives Pizza

This was a really tasty pizza and I enjoyed eating it. 

It was nice not to be rushed, and we spent quite a bit of time in the restaurant eating and talking. We finished off the meal with some more coffee.