Back in the summer for an evening meal, we had slow roasted pork belly with potatoes and salad.
The pork belly was from M&S and comes already seasoned. It has no rind, so you don’t get crackling, but slow roasting usually (for me results) in rubbery crackling anyhow. It is a tasty joint and a favourite in our house.
I did small roast potatoes, using Maris Piper potatoes which are par boiled and then roasted in hot oil in the oven. I generally add a little butter towards the end of cooking to add colour and a final crispness.
The salad included a personal favourite of thinly sliced raw cauliflower in a spicy mayonnaise. We first had this eating out at acafe in Wapping Wharf in Bristol. We stole the idea and now have it on a regular basis.
So the cauliflower dish I have been getting from Marks and Spencer seems to have been taken off the shelves.
The Truffled Cauliflower Cheese described as cauliflower in a cheddar cheese and truffle sauce, topped with acheese, mushroom and chive ciabatta crumb was rather nice, and quick and easy just needing thirty minutes in the oven.
It was a really nice dish, plenty of cauliflower, nice sauce, good flavour of truffle. Though I think it needed more topping, this was more of a personal preference than a criticism.
Alas the last few times I have been to my local M&S there is no sign of it on the shelves, which was a pity. I didn’t think it was a seasonal dish, as it was there well before Christmas. There is a normal cauliflower cheese dish, but that doesn’t look the same and I suspect I would be disappointed.
Now as we enter a second 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.
Back in December 2019 I was heading South of the river in London for an event where I was delivering a presentation. With time for lunch I headed off to Wahaca on the Southbank. This was the branch where I had first eaten food from Wahaca back in August 2016. Then I had really enjoyed the fresh delicious food and thought at the time that I would really like to go again. Since then I have been quite a few times, however I hadn’t been to the Southbank restaurant for a fair few years.
The restaurant on the South Bank, is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels. These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. The team were friendly and welcoming.
I went with three dishes from the street food menu.
The Ancho Chicken Tacos was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.
These were very nice, I enjoyed the spiciness of the accompaniments and the fresh tender chicken..
On previous visits I have gone with the steak tacos, though this time I went with the slow cooked beef brisket tacos.
The beef was beautifully tender and I liked the accompanying pickles on top.
My third dish was the delicious crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.
I’ve had these before and these were really nice. The florets were larger than other times I’ve had this dish, but this didn’t make a difference, it was a delicious plate of food.
Overall I really enjoyed my meal and thought all the dishes were delicious.
I quite like cauliflower cheese and I have been enjoying eating this dish from Marks and Spencer’s with some recent Sunday lunches.
It’s described as cauliflower in a cheddar cheese and truffle sauce, topped with acheese, mushroom and chive ciabatta crumb.
There is plenty of caulifower and just the right amount of sauce. I liked the addition of the truffle and though I did think it needed more topping this was a personal preference, and I did enjoy the topping which browned nicely in the oven..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
It was just after the lunch time rush, so the place was quiet, but I was given a warm welcome and lead to a table. Each Wahaca I have been to, has a different feel and look and the Soho branch has a unique individual environment. There is a somewhat industrial feel to the place, but it’s warm and friendly, not necessarily cold and inhuman.
I looked over the menu and as it has been some time since I last went to Wahaca, there were some new choices on the street food menu. I did think about having my usual grilled steak tacos. Last time I was at the Soho branch they did a new (more expensive) version of the dish with ribeye steak. Back then I said:
The new recipe called The Rib Eye, consists of two larger corn tortillas with chargrilled steak and is served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole. You do get more steak and it is very tender compared to the skirt steak they use to do, but it is also more expensive, about three pounds more than the old steak tacos price (60% more expensive). It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the tacos, I did, but I felt that the original recipe was really good and this wasn’t much of an improvement and certainly not a 60% improvement. I probably wouldn’t order them again.
The new version is similar to the original version, but you have to have the cheese, unlike the original version where it was an option. However this time I decided that I would have something different and would not go with the steak.
I did think about having the buttermilk chicken tacos again, I have enjoyed them before. However as I was thinking about having the crispy cauliflower bites, I decided that I didn’t want too much crispy stuff, so decided to choose something else. For similar reasons I also decided not to go with the duck croquetas, crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa, which I really liked the sound of. When the waiter came to take my order, he showed me the specials, there were two, the grilled fish tacos looked interesting and tempting.
In the end I went with some beef tacos, grilled chicken tortillas and the crispy cauliflower bites.
The first dish to arrive were some slow-cooked beef tacos with mild spices, with black beans, served in three soft corn grilled tortillas.
These were excellent, the beef was full of favour, not too spicy. I really enjoyed the addition of the pickled cucumber on top of the tacos. It was a great blend of tastes and textures. They are certainly something I would order again.
The next two dishes arrived at the same time. One of the things you either like about Wahaca or you don’t is that dishes arrived when they are cooked rather than all coming together. This is fine if you are sharing dishes or eating alone, but less great when as a group or a family you have ordered individual dishes.
The first of the pair of dishes was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.
These were generously filled and I really enjoyed them. The chicken was sightly over-grilled for my liking, but they were still nice. I liked the avocado and the green tomatillo salsa added some nice spice to the dish.
My final dish was the crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.
These sounded really interesting and they looked great and tasted even better. I was really pleased to have ordered these. The little florets of cauliflower were covered in a light buttermilk batter, deep fried and were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. When I have tried to cook this kind of dish at home, I find that my batter is too thick. This kind of dish and inspired me to try again with a lighter thinner buttermilk batter. The roast serrano allioli was interesting and really worked well with the cauliflower. I think this was my favourite dish of the trio I ordered and would like to have them again.
The service was excellent, warm and friendly welcome, attentive, efficient service. Overall these were three excellent dishes and I really enjoyed them.