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. Whilst going through photographs of my food I realised I had never mentioned Portuguese Taste in all my blog posts on food from St Nicholas Market.
This was quite interesting as I realised that I had eaten there many times over the years I have been working in Bristol. It is one of my favourite stalls in the market. They have a real mix of dishes and every day there are different choices.
I had a delicious Portuguese Chicken meal back in December 2017 which consisted of chicken in a cream sauce served with rice, potatoes and salad.
It is a weird thing I find to have rice and potatoes, but that’s how they serve a fair few of their dishes. The menu has some quite inspiring choices and fish makes a regular appearance as does lamb and pork.
One dish I have had a few times is Portuguese Pork Steaks with Egg.
This was the plate I had in April 2016.
Whilst here is the same dish from a visit in July 2017.
The pork can be a little chewy, but the slow cooked onions and egg really add to the dish.
In May 2016 I had this dish.
I think this was also pork and egg dish, but came with a spicy tomato sauce and no salad!
Though the stall is somewhat small, they do have tables and chairs and I would usually eat my lunch inside the stall. Mainly as it was hot, and it came on a proper plate, but was a nice change from eating in the office out of a cardboard box!
Having spent the afternoon in Bristol last November, we hadchoice, 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.
Not going out to eat over the last three months has meant that I’ve had no meals or dishes to blog about. I have caught up with some recent meals, but have now been going back further into my photo library to see if there were dishes and meals that I may have not blogged about. One of these was a breakfast, which was not amazing!
In August of 2019 (only last year) we went to Brittany in France for our summer holiday. We took the ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg before driving down to a Eurocamp close to Dol-de-Bretagne.
Though the weather wasn’t that great, we did have a nice holiday.
We drove down to Portsmouth to catch the morning ferry. I hoped we could have breakfast at the port, but the process was very much queue up for passport control and then board the ship.
We were catching the fast ferry, the Normandie Express. It is a high-speed catamaran cruise ferry, owned and operated by Brittany Ferries.
The car deck was packed with cars and we scrambled through to the passenger deck.
Knowing that everyone was hungry we went straight to the café to get some breakfast and avoid any queuing or no seating.
I was anticipating something rather special, as I had seem this video on the Brittany Ferries website.
The menu looked a little bit strange, but I ordered some croissants, a few cooked breakfasts as well as some gluten free rolls. Oh and of course some coffee!
The breakfast looked like this!
There was some bacon, sausages, scrambled egg and bizarrely mashed potato!
It was an interesting experience, not one I would want to repeat. The sausages were fine, the egg was passable, however the mashed potato was just bizarre and the bacon did not taste like bacon.
The croissants were okay, fluffy and the French butter was very tasty. As for the gluten free rolls, well they were not very nice.
I think this could have been so much better and it was a bit of a flat start to our holiday. One of the reasons I wanted to go to France was for the food.
The breakfast was completely forgotten about though once we reached the open sea, as the water was very choppy and there were strong winds.
The day before the service had actually been cancelled due to the weather, and though the wind was not as strong as the day before, the waves were still there and it was a very rough crossing.
We had a lovely holiday and some great food. On the way back, we took a homemade packed lunch!
So there I was at an event in London and needing to book a hotel for the night. Going through the booking system we use at work, there was a cheap hotel almost next door to the venue, well that made a lot of sense, so I booked it.
Well it was a very tired hotel, it was dated and in the end quite noisy as well. I did though have breakfast included.
The breakfast was limited in choice, but it wasn’t half bad.
Well the coffee was plain awful, I wish I had tea, those knowing me, will realise that’s saying something. It should be said I rarely find outstanding coffee when I have breakfast in a hotel, but this was on another level entirely.
The breakfast itself was all hot (and you can’t always say that about the breakfast buffet at some hotels), the eggs were cooked perfectly to my liking, I liked the tomato and the sausages. I wasn’t too enamoured with the bacon, but it was okay. As for beans, I don’t really like beans, so won’t comment on that.
I enjoyed the toast and there was a good choice of jams.
Overall the hotel was somewhere I wouldn’t want to stay again. The breakfast though, wasn’t too bad for a hotel breakfast.
On my most recent visit to Prezzo, I decided to have something different, however they had a run on the Calabria Burger so I had to choose something else. I had enjoyed the Fiorentina Pizza on a previous visit. So needing to make a quick decision, I decided to go again with the Fiorentina Pizza that I had last time.
The Fiorentina Pizza is a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg. The last time I thought this was a very tasty pizza, I really liked the toppings and the base was cooked well.
So as you can imagine my expectations were quite high, however though my pizza was nice, the egg, which last time had a nice soft yolk, was fully cooked this time. The flavour was still there, but I had a slight twinge of disappointment that it didn’t look like this.
I did contemplate complaining, but wasn’t sure if I had grounds for a valid complaint, especially as I wasn’t sure how the egg was supposed to be cooked on the pizza, maybe the last time I had it, it wasn’t supposed to have a soft yolk.
It took five years from my first visit to Prezzo to visit it again. This time is was less than month since my previous visit to go there again.
Having had an enjoyable meal at their branch in Euston, this visit was a family celebration at the branch in Weston-super-Mare. This is quite a new branch, less than a year old. We arrived early evening on a Saturday, or you could have even described it as late afternoon. It’s a nice smart clean restaurant with a variety of seating options available. We were quite a large party so we just had some tables pushed together. We were given a warm welcome and we sat down perused the menu. Unlike a lot of places these days, their set menu is available all the time, seven days a week and it is quite a good set menu at that.
I started with the Caprese Salad, tomato and burrata cheese with basil pesto and balsamic glaze.
The tomato was ripe and the burrata cheese was fresh and tasty. A really nice starter.
I had the Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg.
This was a very tasty pizza, I really liked the toppings and the base was cooked well.
I wasn’t going to go with a desert, but I did fancy a coffee, looking over the dessert menu, I went with the Affogato. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream served with a double shot of espresso and a lemon cannoli. Wasn’t too enamoured with the cannoli, but did enjoy the espresso over ice cream.
Overall a tasty meal. The service did leave a little bit to be desired, initially it started off well and our food arrived in a timely manner. However we did get asked three times if we wanted dessert, seemed they were desperate to provide us with dessert. They also provided us with the wrong bill. Ah well, it was a tasty meal.
I occasionally have to stay away as part of my job, and I find it surprising that I have become something of a breakfast snob when it comes to hotel breakfasts. I know that it is nice to have someone else make you breakfast.
This is a unique hotel experience and nothing like the bland chains that I usually find myself in. The quirky decor and furniture makes fort a very different hotel experience.
Last time the breakfast was very quirky in its presentation.
This time I was expecting something different, as I had noticed that the dinner menu was radically different to what I had seen on my last visit. Last time I had a really nice pork done three ways. Looking back through the blog I realised I hadn’t blogged about that dish or the breakfast.
That pork dish was very clever and delicious, but as you can see it had quite a quirky presentation. I think I remember seeing a similar sounding lamb dish back then, so was looking forward to having that this time on my return visit. However looking over the menu it was apparent that they had changed chef and were going for “safe” options such as steak and chips, steak and ale pie, fish and chips, etc…
The new menu didn’t inspire me so was expecting a more “traditional” breakfast. However this time the breakfast was similar, it was served on a plate, though the beans were still in a miniature saucepan.
The mushroom was full of flavour and well cooked, not broiled for ages as you find at a breakfast buffet. Likewise as it was cooked to order the bacon was very tasty and not dried out, the eggs were also similarly freshly cooked and still had runny yolks. I liked the beef tomato that came with the breakfast. The sausage was meaty and tasty. The breakfast came with some nice toasted bloomer bread and a cafetière of freshly brewed coffee.
These were high quality ingredients and were cooked well and tasted delicious.
I haven’t been to itsu for a while now, since I stopped working in Oxford, I made quite a few visits there for sushi and pots of noodles. I haven’t been to the branch in London (too many other choices) however in December a new branch opened in Bristol.
As on my previous visit, there was a lot of choice and within the different types of food on offer lots of variation. I found it difficult to decide on what to have.
There is a big choice of salad and sushi in the fridges and then there are the hot options, pots of soup, rice, noodles or dumplings.
In the end I went with the Vietnam beef salad. This was roasted beef, hard boiled egg, spicy sauce, sushi rice, greens & ginger, roasted seeds, chives, red ginger, `no lettuce´ salad and salad seasoning.
It looked really nice and was well presented. I found the beef tender and actually quite tasty. The salad and rice was also really nice. The overall combination was delicious and I really enjoyed the salad.
I recently wrote about my dinner at the Holiday Inn Expressx and I wasn’t that impressed. You can imagine that my expectations about breakfast weren’t that high, but how badly can you cook a hotel breakfast. As it happens quite badly!
Even though I certainly don’t travel that much, I think you can tell a lot about the way a hotel cares about it’s guests by how it prepares and serves breakfast. When attending events and conferences I like to have a good breakfast so that I am set up for the day and it won’t matter so much if I miss lunch or dinner. To be honest it is also really quite nice when someone else cooks you breakfast.
Most hotels I have stayed at have the breakfast buffet model, you come down, queue, hand over your room number and help yourself. There are variations, in some places you get toast served to you at the table, at other hotels you can burn your own toast!
Once I was staying at the St David’s Hotel in Cardiff and having breakfast in your room didn’t cost anything extra! There was (at the time) no tray charge, usually hotels charge another £5 to bring you your breakfast. So I took advantage and it was a really nice breakfast, still warm too!
Attending meetings in London, I stayed at the Ambassadors hotel in Bloomsbury London a few times I was always impressed with their service and food. The first time I had breakfast, though there was an element of help yourself, if you wanted hot food, you placed your order with the waiting staff and they served you at your table. The breakfast was also very different to your typical full English breakfast.
Not so sure about the lettuce, but the rest of the breakfast was cooked to perfection and tasted delicious. They used “proper” sausages that had been grilled and not deep fried. Too often when eating breakfast the sausages have been cooked in a deep fat fryer! The breakfast I had at Bloomsbury was so very different and was delicious. This was so much more civilised than trying to fight with others around the buffet table.
One piece of advice I would give is don’t leave it too late in going to breakfast, there are two key reasons. Firstly the food is not only fresher and hasn’t spent ages under the heat lamp or in an oven. Secondly, there are usually a lot less people. The other piece of advice I would give about what time to go to breakfast is that people usually go on the hour or half-hour. Most people will say let’s have breakfast at 8:00 or 7:30, no one every says 7:48. Of course what this means is that there are large crowds, and so long queues, just after 8:00. Arriving twelve minutes before means that the 7:30 rush is over and you get not only much better service from the staff, but the experience doesn’t feel rushed and hectic.
One disappointment about the breakfast buffet are the eggs, they have usually been under a heat lamp or on a hot plate. As a result they can be dry and overcooked. I personally prefer my eggs to be freshly cooked, so nine times out of ten I ask for poached eggs, these are cooked to order, so though I have to wait, I get freshly cooked eggs.
As you might expect I am virtually always disappointed with the coffee at breakfast, so much so, that more often than not I will have tea instead!
So what about the breakfast at Holiday Inn Express in Burnley? When I arrived for breakfast, I could just walk in, no checking by staff. Probably because they were dealing with the smoke from the burning toast… I wasn’t that enamoured with the breakfast, the hot buffet was very limited, sausages, scrambled egg and baked beans; that was it, no other choices and certainly no possibility of a freshly cooked poached egg! You could also have fruit and yoghurt, as well as cereal. There were croissants and you could make your own toast. The coffee was from a machine (using instant) so I had tea.
However this isn’t the worse cooked breakfast I have had (it came close though), the worst was at a Travel Lodge in central London. So bad that on the second morning, I went out to get breakfast.