Chiquito

I’ve only been to Chiquito a couple of times, but I have always liked the idea of the menu.

We went as a family and had some interesting dishes. I don’t think we were overly impressed with the experience, and I can’t see us making a return visit anytime soon. The food was okay, buy nothing special.

I had the chilaquiles, these were nachos tossed in sauce, oven baked with mozzarella until crispy on top and soft at the bottom, topped with a fried egg. I had mine with the barbacoa beef and chimichurri sauce.

It was just okay, I thought it was interesting with the egg. I didn’t really enjoy the soft nachos.

My eldest went with the chimichanga, fried tortilla packed with rice, refried beans, mozzarella and jalapeño cheese sauce. Served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

He did enjoy the dish.

My other son with the topped salad with a chicken + chorizo skewer. 

The salad was mixed leaves, grains, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot, pink onions and crumbled feta cheese in a citrus dressing. Interesting salad and combination of flavours.

The other dish on the table was a 6oz juicy tender steak, mixed salad and homemade sweet potato wedges.

The steak lacked flavour, and the sweet potato wedges were undercooked.

Overall it was just okay as a meal out, the service was lacklustre.

Time for Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit

We were up at Cribbs Causeway doing some shopping and we stopped at Patisserie Valerie for a coffee and a snack. There are quite a few places you can have a coffee at Cribbs, but what I like about Patisserie Valerie is that it is table service. So we sat at our table and looked over the menu. The place was busy, but the service was excellent, and we didn’t have to wait long to order.

Whilst my son went with the traditional breakfast, my first choice was an apricot danish, however they had run out. So I went with my second choice, which wasn’t a pastry, but Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit. Our food arrived promptly, which was nice, especially as the place was quite full of diners. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit was toasted bloomer bread topped with a poached egg, tomato chutney, cheddar, mustard & served with a side salad.

I don’t think I have ever had Rarebit before, so I was interested to see what it was going to be like. This was a nice cheesy toast dish, the mustard was subtle and added warmth. The poached egg was perfectly cooked. I liked the tomato chutney, which was on the side, I did think it was a little too sweet for me. Overall it was a really nice light meal.

I think one of the reasons I hadn’t ordered or had this dish before, was that usually I am looking for cake, or a full meal. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit for me is more of a snack, or a light meal.

Alongside I had a flat white, not the best flat white in the world, but it was a good coffee.

Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza

I have had the Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza before, which apart from the chilli I had enjoyed. On a visit to Bella Italia for my birthday back in April I decided to have the pizza again. The Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza comes with basilicata sausage, tenderstem broccoli, red chilli & garlic topped with mozzarella and pecorino cheese on a creamy mascarpone base with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

I did enjoy the white base, and toppings. I did this time remove most of the chillis.

Time for a Raisukare

We went out to eat at Wagamama at the Mall at Cribbs Causeway, which is one of our regular haunts for meals out

The restaurant environment is so different to other branches of Wagamama as it sits on a mezzanine at one of end of The Mall. Those with long memories will recall that the location was the home of the deli style eating establishment, Café Giardino.

When we arrived the Wagamama, the place was busy and there was a queue. We didn’t mind so much, so we waited patiently for our turn to get a table and eat some food.

This time we had to wait a while as they were understaffed, but it didn’t feel too long before we were shown to a table.

I looked over the menu, I was tempted by dishes I had before but in the end I decided to have the Tofu Raisukare. This was a vegan curry of tofu, mild and citrus coconut sauce, mangetout, peppers, red and spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli, coriander, served with fresh lime and white rice.

This was a nice fresh mild curry, though the red chilli added a bit of heat. The tofu had an interesting texture and wasn’t quite what I expected. I had thought the tofu would have a little more bite. The sauce was nice, the vegetables were very crisp.

Overall I enjoyed the dish and something I would order again.

Time for some yasai yaki soba

One of our regular haunts for meals out is Wagamama at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. It was the last place we ate out at, before the March 2020 lockdown.

The restaurant environment is so different to other branches of Wagamama as it sits on a mezzanine at one of end of The Mall. Those with long memories will recall that the location was the home of the deli style eating establishment, Café Giardino. I quite liked the concept of Café Giardino and their sandwiches, but as I recall I didn’t eat there very much.

When we arrived the Wagamama, the place was full and there was a queue. We didn’t mind so much, so we waited patiently for our turn to get a table and eat some food.

It wasn’t long though before we were been shown to our table.

I looked over the menu, I did think about having a ramen, but in the end decided that I would have something that I wouldn’t usually choose, and went from a dish from the teppanyaki side of the menu.

I went with the yasai yaki soba. This was soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions. garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

yasai yaki soba

It looked great. There was some great flavours in the dish and I really enjoyed eating it. I did feel though it could have done with a lot more mushroom. My son had the prawn and chicken maki soba and compared to my dish, he had a lot more prawns and chicken than I had mushrooms.

I think I will try and create this dish myself at home.

Time for Bakers and Baristas

There are a fair few places you can grab a coffee at when visiting the Mall at Cribbs Causeway. I have been to fair few of them (well would you expect anything less). Back in May we were shopping at the Mall and decided to stop for coffee. Bakers and Barista wasn’t busy so we went there and had a flat white and a muffin. 

The muffin was just okay (not enough raspberries in it) and the coffee was nice.

There was a good range of food when we visited. Not a bad place to have a coffee and they have real china cups as well.

That was an interesting pizza

Back in July we went out to eat for a family celebration. We went to Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway, having quite enjoyed our last visit there in June. The fact they do some good gluten free dishes was also a factor in us choosing it.

We had a lovely warm welcome from the staff and they showed us to our table. We had a good look over the menu.

I had a starter, it was the Tomino con Parma. This was soft Italian cheese wrapped with prosciutto ham and fresh sage, baked in the oven and served with pasta fritti. I hadn’t seen a picture and was a little surprised by what I got.

Having said that, it was an interesting starter, but I really didn’t think much of it, and I wouldn’t have it again.

For my main course I went with the Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza, this was pizza with Basilicata sausage, tenderstem broccoli, red chilli & garlic topped with mozzarella and pecorino cheese on a creamy mascarpone base with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Salsiccia Broccoli Pizza, this was pizza with Basilicata sausage, tenderstem broccoli, red chilli & garlic topped with mozzarella and pecorino cheese on a creamy mascarpone base with a drizzle of balsamic glaze

What I liked about the pizza was that this was quite different to regular pizza, the addition of broccoli and a white base was really nice. I liked the different cheeses as well. It was tasty, but for me there was a little too much chilli on the pizza.

Overall I have been impressed with my most recent visits to Bella Italia. The food has been more interesting, better quality and the service we have had, has been excellent. Well impressed.

Made myself a grilled cheese sandwich

grilled cheese sandwich

As a child I would often eat cheese on toast, these days not so much. Back then we even had a Breville sandwich toaster, which was a bit of a fad in the 1980s, but you can still buy them today.

I remember when a panini was something you would only find in Italy, then they were available everywhere.

These days I will avoid having sandwiches for lunch, and I can’t remember the last time I had a panini. One thing I have had a few times are toasted sandwiches, usually cheese and mushroom.

The other day we were up at the Mall and I needed a break to rest, so we decided to get some coffee and a quick snack. We eventually decided on the Soho Coffee Company, not one of my first choices for coffee, but it wasn’t too crowded. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to eat, I didn’t really want a cake, nor did I want a sandwich, so in the end I chose the mushroom & swiss cheese sourdough toastie. This was described as roasted mushrooms with garlic & black pepper. Swiss cheese & SOHO toastie sauce. Topped with even more Swiss cheese for extra ooziness! Though when it arrived I think the topping of Swiss cheese had been missed off. Still it was rather nice, crunchy bread, melted cheese and nice mushrooms.

So at home and wanting some lunch, I did think about what I wanted and I thought to myself I might create my own grilled cheese toastie. 

I had some M&S San Francisco sourdough bread, which I added some butter to the inside, a slice of Gouda (I had no Swiss cheese), some grated cheddar cheese and a slice of Serrano ham. 

In a frying pan I added some olive oil and some butter and once the butter was melted I added the (what was then) sourdough sandwich. I put a lid on the frying pan, so that the heat would be retained and melt the cheese. I then removed the lid so that the final part of cooking would crisp up the bread.

This was then put on a plate and served. The bread was lovely and crunchy on the outside, but still soft on the inside. The cheese had melted and was oozing out of the sandwich and the ham added an element of saltiness.

It was really nice, so much so I did think about making myself another one, but I resisted temptation.

We went out to eat

Our initial idea was to go to the cinema, though there was nothing at the cinema we could watch, so made the decision we would go out to eat at Bella Italia at the Mall. Virtually all the major chains in Weston have closed now, so wanting to ensure that the menu had gluten free options, we decided to head to the Mall. 

Well as we hit the M5 northbound it was chocked full and slow moving, we thought we made a mistake. But eventually it thinned out and we could go faster. We got to Bella Italia just in time.

We had a lovely warm welcome from the staff and they showed us to our table.

We had a good look over the menu. It looked like there was a lot more on there than when I last looked (which was probably last summer).

Though I like starters I usually don’t have a starter, but as others in the family were going for garlic bread, I looked over the possible choices. The calamari would have been an obvious choice for me. So I decided on the Calzonetti ‘Nduj, as I was thinking about pasta for my main course. However a last minute change of thought resulted in me actually ordering the Arancini al Granchio

There are crispy rice balls filled with crab, prawns and fennel with a side of lemon & cracked pepper mayonnaise.

They were very nice, not outstanding, but they were nice. You could taste the crab and the mayonnaise with the crunchy exterior.

For my main course I went with a pasta dish, Salsiccia Mezzaluna.

Fresh mezzaluna pasta filled with Luganica sausage & radiccio, cooked in a sage butter and finished with toasted hazelnuts and a beef dripping pangrattato crumb. 

This just sounded divine and to be honest it was totally delicious. The pasta was al dente, the filling had a nice flavour, I think it could have been stronger, but I loved the sage butter and the toasted hazelnuts and pangrattato crumb added real silkiness and crunch to the dish.

I loved it.

I wasn’t full, so went for a dessert, the raspberry and pistachio semifreddo with white chocolate and marshmallow sauce.

This was nice, but I felt it could do with more pistachio and more sauce. Having said that I really enjoyed it.

As for the rest of the family, my better half went with the  Funghi Crema made with chestnut mushrooms in a porcini, mascarpone & pecorino cheese sauce with fresh mafalde pasta ribbons.

She really enjoyed the dish and it looked great.

My youngest had a gluten free Marghaerita, whilst my son had the gluten free Pepperoni with tomato, mozzarella, salami piccante, red onion, garlic and rocket.

They both enjoyed their pizza.

My son also had the warm gluten free chocolate brownie with white chocolate chunks served with vegan vanilla gelato and a sprinkling of honeycomb.

He finished off the plate of food

This was probably one of the best meals I have ever had at Bella Italia, really enjoyed the experience, the food and the service.

Time to go back and visit Wagamama

The last place we went out to eat before the lockdown in March 2020 was Wagamama at Cribbs Causeway.

We had thought that places might close or be restricted, so took a final opportunity to go out and eat.

Though we have eaten out since that visit, wanting to go out and eat for Father’s Day my children decided that we would go to Wagamama. The fact that we couldn’t book a table didn’t seem to deter them…

We drove up to the Mall, and like on our recent visit a few days earlier the M5 was rather busy.

However we did mange to get their okay. We had decided to eat at 2pm, so we could miss the lunchtime rush. Despite that when we got into the Mall there was quite a long queue for Wagamama. Though I prefer not to queue, this time I knew there were very few alternatives around and my children had their heart set on going there, so we decided to wait. The queue actually moved quite fast and we took the time while we were waiting to peruse the menu.

I was really torn about what I was going to have. I did think about having the cod mokutan soba which I had back in 2019 and despite the initial dish being burnt the returned dish was much better. Interestingly back then I said

It was the kind of dish I enjoyed, but probably wouldn’t have it again on another visit.

I did quite like the idea of having it again this time, shows what do I know about what I like!

Another dish which caught my eye was the grilled duck donburi. 

tender, shredded duck in a spicy teriyaki sauce. mixed with carrots, mangetout, sweet potato and red onion on a bed of sticky white rice and topped with a crispy fried egg, cucumber and spring onions. served with a side of kimchee

Or the teriyaki sirloin steak soba.

grilled sirloin steak with soba noodles cooked in curry oil with mangetout, bok choi, red and spring onions, chilli and beansprouts in a teriyaki sauce. garnished with coriander and sesame seeds

In the end after much consideration and flip flopping I went with the  shirodashi ramen

slow-cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg

The rest of the family went with their choices, yaki soba, chicken raisukaree, gluten free chicken ramen and chicken and rice noodles.

As is typical at Wagamama for me, everyone else’s dish arrived well before mine, and I was waiting for while for my food. The others trying to be polite wanted to wait, but I didn’t want their food to go cold. Anyhow I can eat quite fast, so was okay with them eating.

This serving as food as soon as it is ready, does mean that you get your food fresh, reality is that unless you don’t mind eating your dish whilst others have none, it strikes me more as lazy planning than “serving food as soon as it’s ready”.

Finally my food arrived and though not quite as good as the pictures on the website it did look nice.

shirodashi ramen  slow-cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg

I had anticipated the slow cooked pork belly to be tender and soft, but actually was crispy, which I wasn’t expecting.

I did enjoy the ramen and it was very tasty and delicious.

I did think about having a beer with my ramen, but in the end went with a  jasmine flowering tea – flowering lily and jasmine green tea.

asmine flowering tea - flowering lily and jasmine green tea

It looked great and tasted nice, it reminded me of the flowering tea I had at Tea Monkey in Bath back in 2012.

I wasn’t going to have desert, but was persuaded to by everyone at the table, and it was Father’s Day. Though I did think about cheesecake, I went with the smoked chocolate caramel cake.

For some reason I wasn’t expecting to get a slice of cake! But I did, the cake was layers of smoked chocolate mousse, salted caramel crushed biscuits, chocolate fudge brownie and chocolate ganache, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

smoked chocolate caramel cake

Not as rich as it sounds and the ice cream added freshness and balance.

Overall we all enjoyed the meal, and the service was excellent.

Nice to be back.