Time for a quick, nice espresso

quick, nice espresso

Arriving at Weston-super-Mare railway station for my train to Manchester I had some time for a quick coffee.

I usually catch my trains from Worle station, I am still astounded that for what is a relatively small town, Weston-super-Mare has three railway stations. The main station at Weston-super-Mare which is on a loop from the main line. This opened in 1841.

There is a halt further down that loop called Weston Milton. This station opened in 1933

Despite having two stations, a third station, Worle Station was opened in 1990.This was the fourth station to serve Worle, the previous station to serve Worle closed in 1964.

What is nice is that the mainline trains to London from the West start their route as commuter trains from Taunton or Weston to Bristol and stop at these smaller stations. In the olden days (okay a few years ago) when the London trains were HSTs, the trains were too long for Worle platform so only four coaches would be able to open their doors, the same happens today with the new nine coach Inter-City Express Trains (IETs).

Weston-super-Mare railway station

Anyhow I was at Weston-super-Mare as I was catching a CrossCountry service to Manchester and this train calls at Weston-super-Mare and then calls at Bristol Temple Meads, so it doesn’t call at Worle.

At Weston-super-Mare station there are two cafes. One which has been there for a while is a typical old school station cafe and I have never really been enamoured with the refreshments available from there, I have had the odd cup of tea, but usually I just avoid it. The other new cafe is much more my cup of tea… though I usually drink coffee. Actually to call it new, just shows I am getting old, as it had been there quite a few years now. I can’t quite remember when it opened, but I have had some nice coffee from there, and it’s also a nice place to sit and wait for the train. I think it has changed hands a few times as well between when it opened and now.

So this morning having about fifteen minutes before my train I decided to pop in and have a quick coffee. They have stools, sofas and chairs. The decor is rather quirky with old trunks serving as tables and lots of old wood. The walls (which I remember once they had artwork on the walls) are covered in coffee names and slogans.

I chose a simple single espresso. What is nice is that when drinking in, they serve their coffee in a proper china cup. This was great coffee, strong, intense and delicious. I could have had another one, but my train arrived.

Time for some delicious pasta

Paesan restaurant close to the Exmouth Market

I seem to be spending more time in London these days, and generally I am only up there for the day. Last month I was there for most of the week so stayed overnight. I was staying in a hotel that I actually wasn’t expecting to stay in, so I hadn’t had the time to do much research about places to eat nearby and I really didn’t want to end up at the hotel restaurant, as they can be terrible food and over-priced.

I really liked the look of Paesan close to the Exmouth Market as I walked past on my way to the hotel, and decided that this was certainly a possibility. I also liked the look of the menu at Paesan, simple yet sounding really tasty, as well as authentically Italian.

Inside the plain brick walls, wooden floors and simple furniture gave the place a rustic warm atmosphere. You can see into the kitchen and see what the chefs are doing.

The staff were friendly and welcoming and I was shown to my table and I looked over the menu.

I was tempted by lots of the small plates, particularly the carpaccio or the calamari alla griglia. To be honest I think I could have quite easily ordered all of them, however I wasn’t hugely hungry and I was on a budget.

There was a wide range of pasta on the menu, in the end I ordered the a large portion of the orechiette pasta with nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa.

orechiette pasta with nduja, pancetta & cime di rapa

I could see into the kitchen and it was interesting to watch the chef cook my food.

Paesan restaurant close to the Exmouth Market

The food arrived in good time and looked great. I did expect it to be slightly larger than it was, but glad I didn’t go for the smaller “primi” size (which would be ideal for smaller appetites or lunch).

To be honest this was the best pasta I have had from any restaurant. The fresh pasta was cooked to perfection, al dente, the sauce was just about right.

I finished my meal off with a very Italian espresso, more like a ristretto.

Ristretto coffee

The menu changes quite frequently so I am tempted to go back and try something new.

Another visit to Prezzo

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.

Caprese Salad

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.

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.

Hey EasyJet do you know what an espresso is?

Hey EasyJet do you know what an espresso is?

Flying with EasyJet I knew that when I asked for an espresso that was highly unlikely to be a proper espresso. The kind that is made with high pressure nearly boiling water through coffee grounds. That kind wouldn’t be done on a plane, there are probably safety issues. This kind was made from a packet, an instant espresso, well one with fine coffee grounds in it.

Having said that I was a little perplexed and surprised when I was asked if I wanted milk with my espresso.

Ah, I think not.

This happened both on the outward and the return flights.

Faculty – Artisan Coffee

Faculty

Visiting Birmingham recently I took the opportunity to visit Faculty, an artisan coffee and tea shop in the heart of Birmingham. This is in the Piccadilly Arcade close to New Street Station. A typical hipster coffee place, with a mix of wooden furniture and bare floors.

I went with the espresso, which really tests the skills of the barista and the quality of the coffee.

espresso

Service was excellent, once they knew I was drinking in, they asked me to take a seat and they would bring me the coffee. I really do like that, allows you to get on with stuff at a table, rather than just standing around waiting whilst they make your coffee. You usually get this in the chains, so I always appreciate it when you visit an independent coffee place.

The coffee was, well the best way to describe it for me, it was different. There was a flavour to the coffee that I found not really to my taste. It was smooth and had an excellent crema.

I did like the environment and the food menu looked really interesting, I might go again, maybe go with a different kind of coffee.

It was supposed to be a macchiato…

espresso macchiato

So what do you think that was?

That is a small espresso cup by the way.

It was supposed to be an espresso macchiato.

From my understanding, an espresso macchiato, is simply a shot of espresso with some foamed milk. This was a single shot of espresso with a dollup of hot milk!

I have had a decent espresso macchiato from the Pumpkin Cafe chain at railway stations before, so was unimpressed with this effort. I was going to complain, but ran out of time as I was heading for a train.

Now checking the wikipedia, I can see that globally there is a fair amount of varation in how people interpret the macchiato, in some cases it appears to be more like a flat white than a small espresso based coffee.

Next time, I will be more explicit about what I want when I order.

Coffee at Caffé Veneto

Having had some good coffee at the Portivo Lounge in Gloucester I have for a while been meaning to try out the Pinto Lounge in Banbury. Having some time for lunch, I took a walk down to the centre of Banbury to have a look at the Pinto Lounge and see if it was a good place to have something to eat. Having had a look over the menu, I wasn’t that inspired, not that there was an issue with the menu, just that there didn’t seem to be anything that really took me. Maybe another time…

Having a quick wander around the area, I found the Caffé Veneto, this is an independent coffee shop with an continental feel to it, that only opened in April 2014.

Caffé Veneto

Entering the place you immediately feel that this is a comfortable environment for drinking coffee. There is the bar, but unless you are taking away, then sit at a table and your order will be taken and presented at your table. This is quite an Italian thing, whenever I was in Italy I would often order coffee whilst sitting in a café and was waited upon. The concept of ordering from a barista and then waiting for your coffee, is much more an American way of ordering coffee. The decor is not very traditional Italian, but has wooden floors, round tables and chairs and a range of coffee sacks attached to the walls. It’s a calming environment, and sitting down you feel relaxed and comfortable. Service was friendly and efficient and you were made to feel very welcome.

Sat at the table I looked over the menu, there isn’t a huge amount of choice, a range of sandwiches, panini, lasagne and salad.

I quite liked the idea of a salad, so I went with the chicken caesar salad, along with an espresso.

Espresso

I enjoyed the espresso, but I am not really a fan of drinking out of, what is basically, a shot glass. Glass conducts heat really well, so it’s not easy to lift and drink a hot coffee. Despite that it was a really good coffee, and the little biscotti was a nice touch.

The salad was good, nice plate of cos lettuce, chicken and olives. The dressing was tasty, just the right amount, not too much and not too little either.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Overall I was pleased with the food, the service and the ambience. I think they should reflect on their menu and possibly add more options for lunch, but I may be missing the point, it is first and foremost a place for coffee, rather than a place for lunch.

Single Espresso please

Single Espresso please

More and more I have been disappointed with places that sell coffee that can’t get the simple Americano right. It’s not difficult is it, just take some espresso coffee and add some hot water.

I think part of the issue is I quite like a strong Americano, but don’t want to pay for an extra shot, so I ask for less water, doesn’t always quite work. Also the other issue with have too much water, is it is quite difficult to drink or carry a cup filled to the brim without spilling it. Or am I just clumsy?

As a result I have moved much more over to drinking espresso, sometimes a single, usually a double.

Espresso in the car…

You just know that I want to get one of these…. Perfect for those long journeys, or when queuing for petrol when there’s a tanker strike on, or as happens way too often the M5 grinds to a halt.

Only €149

Caffe Nero

Had a nice coffee at Caffe Nero, an espresso.

Out of the many chains you can buy coffee from, I do quite like Caffe Nero.