Tasty coffee in the hustle and bustle

In the midst of shopping decided to stop at Paterisse Valerie in Cribbs Causeway for a quick coffee. Actually we didn’t want a quick coffee, what we wanted to do was take a break from the crowds, sit down and have a coffee. We did consider going to Pret a Mange, but the queue was really long, and at least with Paterisse Valerie we could sit down and chat while we waited and while we waited for the coffee.

We ordered a few drinks, but I went with a flat white, whilst my eldest went with a latte.

For a French sounding place I feel I really should have had a cafe au lait, but the reality was that no such coffee was on the menu.

The flat white was strong and intense with the smoothness of the milk offering a nice contrast.

The place was busy, so service was slower than I might like, but we spent the time chatting, so it wasn’t an issue.

Time for a toastie…

Looking for a reasonably quick lunch, I decided to venture to Cafe Rouge at Cribbs Causeway. Parts of this venue are quite nice, those tables hidden away in the inside, the tables out towards the entrance are less cosy and it feels more like a service station or typical food court than a French bistro.

My phone contract often provides me with special offers, one of which time was with Cafe Rouge where I could have any burger or croque sandwich for just £5.

I did think initially to have a burger, but decided to have a croque toasted sandwich.

I went with the classic grilled Emmental cheese sandwich on sourdough with béchamel sauce, served with frites. The filling I chose was Portobello mushroom with baby spinach, goat’s cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil.

I went with the classic grilled Emmental cheese sandwich on sourdough with béchamel sauce, served with frites. The filling I chose was Portobello mushroom with baby spinach, goat's cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil.

I did think the béchamel sauce was overdone. I was expecting a bit more crunch to the bread, but overall there were some nice flavours.

The fries were a little overdone for my liking and a little bit too much salt.

Service was friendly and welcoming. Maybe a little too attentive, for example, I had literally just taken my first bite when I was asked how was my meal!

Overall it was a nice quick lunch, quite tasty, not perfect, but good value for money.

Time for a cheaper pizza

In the past we’ve had some good experiences at the Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway and we’ve had some pretty poor ones too. We have been there a number of times, and they have revamped the places a few times over the years. Now it has a more of an American diner feel to it, rather than the Italian restaurant style it had before.

One of the key reasons we decided to return to eat was that we had a special offer. We used an offer code, so we only paid five pounds for each dish, which made the whole meal very good value for money.

Though we had to wait for a while, we were once our table was ready we were given a warm and friendly welcome and and it was quick and easy to place our order.

I ordered the Funghi Luganica – A ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

unghi Luganica - A ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

I’ve had this pizza before at Bella Italia and I enjoyed it last time, and I enjoyed it this time as well. The base is mushroomy (is that a word) and savoury, over the traditional tomato that you find on most pizza. The chunks of mushroom on the pizza were very nice and I really enjoyed them.

My son had the Queen Margherita pizza. Tomato and mozzarella base, oven-baked then topped with torn bufala mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, rocket and green pesto.

Queen Margherita pizza. Tomato and mozzarella base, oven-baked then topped with torn bufala mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, rocket and green pesto.

This looked great and he said it was fresh and tasty. It was finished off, which doesn’t always happen.

My wife had the fresh egg tagliatelle in a tasty carbonara sauce with crispy pancetta and leeks.

fresh egg tagliatelle in a tasty carbonara sauce with crispy pancetta and leeks.

However this didn’t look anything like the picture on the menu on the website when we got home, where are the leeks? Having said that she did say the pasta was very tasty.

Service was mixed, our main waiter was warm and friendly, but other staff looked rushed and flustered.

Overall though we had an enjoyable dining experience.

Time to enjoy the meal please…

Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol

I haven’t been to Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway for a while now, I think it was for my birthday last year following a game of bowling.

Okay having checked my blog, yes it was last year…

Time for a pizza and some antipasto

With just the three of us, and having just visited the cinema we ventured in, having booked a table earlier that evening. That made sense as the place was quite busy and we were given a nice booth.

One of the features of Pizza Express is that they individualise their restaurants depending on location. The Weston-super-Mare branch for example has beach huts. Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway has a number of Banksy inspired graffiti executed in his distinctive stencilling technique. I don’t think they are painted by him though.

Taking the time to peruse the menu I was tempted to have a salad, but in the end decided to go with the pizza option.

I was tempted by the Calabrese, which I have had before, but decided to try the new Funghi di Bosco. This pizza comes with portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella, rosemary and garlic oil, finished with fresh parsley and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

I was warned that despite no mention of this on the menu description, the tomato sauce that they use on this pizza was quite spicy, nice of them to warn me, but I decided to go down that road.

Before the pizza arrived we shared a portion of Calamari, described as lightly-crumbed, crispy calamari rings served with Çaesar dressing, a wedge of lemon and fresh parsley.

The squid was quite tender, even if the crumb wasn’t that crunchy. I thought it was okay, but I was a little disappointed. Regular readers of the blog will know that I find the way in which a restaurant serves squid or calamari, is a good way to compare or benchmark across various restaurants.

The pizza arrived and it was large, the Romana base, is stretched out and as a result is thin and crispy. I do quite like this kind of base.

Funghi di Bosco. This pizza comes with portobello mushroom, tomato, mozzarella, rosemary and garlic oil, finished with fresh parsley and shaved Gran Milano cheese on a Romana base.

I found the pizza delicious and tasty. There was plenty of mushrooms and they had a nice mushroom flavour, it was the reason I chose this pizza more than any other reason.

Our table also saw the Leggera Superfood Salad, a mix of black rice, edamame beans, red quinoa, mung beans, chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and kale in a vinaigrette, on a bed of mixed leaves, rocket, cucumber, roasted peppers, red onion and fresh parsley with our light house dressing.

Leggera Superfood Salad, a mix of black rice, edamame beans, red quinoa, mung beans, chickpeas, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and kale in a vinaigrette, on a bed of mixed leaves, rocket, cucumber, roasted peppers, red onion and fresh parsley with our light house dressing.

This was delicious and fresh.

Another member of our party had the Fiorentina pizza on a classic base. This has spinach, free-range egg, mozzarella, tomato, garlic oil and black olives, finished with Gran Milano cheese. Apart from the olives, it was eaten with gusto and pronounced scrummy.

iorentina pizza on a classic base. This has spinach, free-range egg, mozzarella, tomato, garlic oil and black olives, finished with Gran Milano cheese.

Overall we were well pleased with the food, which was fresh, hot and tasty.

As for the service… well that’s a slightly different matter. To start off booking the table and the welcome we received was excellent. It was warm and friendly and we were made to feel right at home.

Alas our drinks order was incorrect and we had to send it back, even though I think it was a genuine mistake down to a noisy busy restaurant.

We had one big concern, the jug of tap water we were given without asking, was a nice touch. What did concern us was the huge crack in the glass jug which was leaking water. We were worried that the jug would break apart… We got a replacement, and an apology. That jug also had a crack, not as big, but still….

Our starter of calamari arrived promptly and we enjoyed eating it, but we hadn’t even finished our final mouthful when our pizzas arrived. I do like a bit of a gap between the starter and the main, and prefer not to have them on top of each other. We have gone out to eat and when going out it’s not just about the food, it’s the whole experience.

We hadn’t even finished our mains when we got asked a couple of times if we had finished. Rushing people isn’t needed (there were a fair few empty tables) and it can ruin what is actually a quite nice experience otherwise.

Overall not as good service as it could have been, the staff were certainly friendly, helpful and polite, but the service felt somewhat rushed and disorganised. When you get asked a few times if you want desert, you know that something is amiss.

Having said that we did really enjoy the food and overall the whole experience was good. Would we go again? Yes we would.

It was different

Though I like to try different things when I go out to eat, it would appear that when I visit Wagamama that I seem to go for the Wagamama Ramen and if I have a side, it’s the Chilli Squid.

So on my most recent visit to Wagamama I made the bold choice of going for something different and it was. I went with their Shiitake Donburi.

shiitake mushrooms and broccoli omelette served on brown rice in a teriyaki sauce garnished with shredded carrots, spring onions, chilli and pea shoots

This is shiitake mushrooms and broccoli omelette served on brown rice in a teriyaki sauce garnished with shredded carrots, spring onions, chilli and pea shoots.

This was (for me) an interesting combination of flavours and textures. I really like the taste and texture of the shiitake mushrooms, which combined with the smoothness of the egg, the roughness of the rice and the saltiness of the teriyaki sauce resulted in a delicious dish of food.

The addition of the carrots, spring onions and pea shoots added a freshness and crispness to the dish.

Overall I was pleased with the dish, though I don’t think I will go for it again, I will either (more than likely) go with the ramen again, or try something new.

Time for teriyaki lamb

I do enjoy my visits to Wagamama, though I haven’t been for a while. The Cribbs Causeway branch of Wagamama doesn’t have the most welcoming environment, it feels like it is perched on a Mezzanine and certainly doesn’t have that warm cosy feeling that a more traditional Wagamama has. Having said that the staff were welcoming and we had excellent service.

I went with the grilled teriyaki lamb with mushrooms, asparagus, kale and mangetout served on a bed of soba noodles in a pea, herb and wasabi dressing.

Time for teriyaki lamb

The teriyaki lamb was one of the specials and was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu. My food arrived last (and later than expected) compared to the rest of the table. The policy of Wagamama is that the food arrives when it is ready and not necessarily all together. I don’t see this as too much of a problem if this was a tapas or mezze, or even a oriental buffet. It feels slightly wrong though when you are a family eating out and the food you’ve ordered arrives at different times you’re not sure if you should wait (and your food goes cold) or start and sit around as you wait for others to finish!

Once my lamb had arrived it looked great, it tasted great too. The lamb was tender and quite spicy. I liked the noodles and the dressing. It was quite salty though.

Spicy

After going to watch a film at the cinema for a birthday treat (not my birthday) we decided to follow up with a meal at the local Pizza Express.

They have created an interesting environment for the Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway, with a lot of Banksy’esque style artwork on the walls.

I have had some excellent pizza at Pizza Express and was looking forward to another one. Perusing the menu I reminded myself that I should choose one that I hadn’t had before. I have been trying, when going out to eat, to not have what I have had before.

In the end I went with the Calabrese, this is described in the menu as fiery, soft ‘nduja sausage and spicy Calabrese sausage D.O.P with fresh red chilli, Roquito peppers, roasted red and yellow peppers, mozzarella and tomato, finished with light mozzarella, rocket, pesto and Gran Milano cheese.

pizza fiery, soft ‘nduja sausage and spicy Calabrese sausage D.O.P with fresh red chilli, Roquito peppers, roasted red and yellow peppers, mozzarella and tomato, finished with light mozzarella, rocket, pesto and Gran Milano cheese

I really liked this pizza, nice base and a great mix of spicy toppings. This was quite a spicy pizza, so don’t get it if you don’t like spicy.

We also had some great service, so overall a really nice meal out.