Not as good as it was

Back in 2018 I made a few visits to The Real Greek in Cabot Circus and had some great food. Of course with lockdown, any early return visit was scuppered.

So recently I was in the Westfield Shopping Centre with my son and we decided, on my recommendation, the branch of The Real Greek they have there.

It was quite a hot day and it was rather warm in the restaurant. We looked over the menu and thought about what to eat. The menu has changed since I ate there four years ago, so some of the things I had enjoyed then, were no longer on the menu.

In the end we went with the fixed price Filoxenia Dinner Menu.

You make one choice from the four options.

For the first option, I went with the Greek flatbread, whilst my son had the crudités.

As for the second option, my son chose the Houmous and I went with the Santorini Fava.

From the hot meze options, I went with the Loukaniko Beef & Pork Sausage Skewer, and my son chose the Fried Kalamari.

For the final option we had chips and the Saffron Rice.

The Santorini Fava was something I haven’t had before, and is yellow lentils from Santorini, cooked and blended with herbs and spices, topped with a salsa of tomatoes, onions, capers and caper powder. 

It was nicely presented  and worked well with the flatbread.

The houmous was a blend of chickpeas, rich in tahini and spiced with cumin, topped with paprika and roasted red peppers. I had a taste and it was really nice. 

For the hot meze, the Kalamari was crisp squid rings served with lemon mayonnaise.

Compared to the grilled kalamari I had in 2018 this was a real disappointment. The previous dish was described as “Our own unique version, using the freshest squid and a sticky Greek honey and paprika marinade.”

The Real Greek describe the grilled kalamari as “Our own unique version, using the freshest squid and a sticky Greek honey and paprika marinade.”

My thoughts back then were:

I think you can tell a lot about a restaurant on how they cook squid. The dish looked interesting and not quite how I imagined. The squid was tender and tasty, the marinade wasn’t overpowering and enhanced the dish.

This time, what we go was, squid rings in a crispy coating. It could have been okay, however the squid hadn’t been cleaned properly before cooking and a couple of pieces still had the inedible membrane attached.

As for my Loukaniko, Beef & Pork Sausage Skewer, this was a traditional Greek sausage from Thrace, chargrilled and served on a bed of Greek Slaw.

Well it was, what it said it was. The sausages was tasty and I enjoyed the slaw.

This was a very different dish to the one I had in July 2018, then you got a lot more sausage.

Loukaniko beef and pork sausage

Overall I was to be honest quite disappointed with the whole experience. I don’t think I will be making a return visit anytime soon.

Back at Bills

I have really enjoyed my recent meals at Bills. Back in September 2021 I had a really nice meal at the (now closed) branch of Bills in Ealing. In May I was in Manchester and had a nice fish supper at Bills. Last month we had a delicious brunch in Bath, well everyone else had brunch, I had tacos.

So it was with a little anticipation myself and my son headed out to the Baker Street branch of Bills. We had booked, so, after a warm welcome, we were shown to our table. I do like the quirkiness of the decor in the different branches of Bills, and Baker Street was no exception.

I looked over the menu (or should I say menus) and decided what to eat. As you might expect I was somewhat tempted by the tuna tacos again, as I had enjoyed them on previous visits. I also liked the idea of the crab cakes. There were lots of nice choices on the mains section of the menu, the chargrilled lamb rump did appeal, as did the lobster and seafood linguine.

One of the things I have found with Bills is that the menu changes quite often, so even though you may think, well I have that next time I visit, sometimes those very things disappear. So it does make, making a choice that little bit harder.

In the end we went with the set menu, with two courses for £13.95 which seemed very reasonable.

For my starter I had the chicken and sesame dumplings with Bill’s spicy chutney.

I got six pan fried dumplings, though I wouldn’t have called it a chutney, it was much more a dipping sauce. The pastry was nice and crisp, though the filling was a little bland for me. However the dipping sauce enhanced the dumplings, so in the end I did enjoy the dish.

My son went with the crispy calamari served with roast garlic & basil aioli.

He let me try some, the squid was really nice, tender and there was a nice crunch to the crispy coating. There was quite a bit of sliced red chilli on the dish, which I did try to avoid. I couldn’t taste the basil, but the aioli was quite tasty.

For my main course I weren’t with the chargrilled chicken and grains. This was described as coming with spinach, lentil and ancient grain salad, flatbread and tzatziki.

The flatbread was warm and fresh, and the tzatziki was tasty and refreshing.

As you can see, the lentil and ancient grain salad was served with pea shoots and not spinach, but I didn’t mind that as I preferred the pea shoots over having the spinach.

The chicken was chargrilled, but I did feel it was a little dry and overcooked. Of course you have to cook chicken properly, but this was cooked a little too much properly for my liking.

My son had the chargrilled minute steak with rosemary fries and  dressed pea shoots. 

Well the pea shoots were missing. He let me try some, this was an excellent dish, the steak was cooked perfectly and the fries (were fries) and tasted of potato

We decided to forgo desert and paid the bill using the QR code, which is becoming the norm for many places these days. 

I am looking forward to my next visit to Bills.

Chargrilled Lamb Shish Kebab

Now as we leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had 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 just plain forget to write up the meal. 

So this is quite a long wait for this review which was four years ago in May 2017 It was a beautiful sunny day in Bristol and during my lunch break I popped out for a walk and went down to the Temple Quay street food market.

There were lots of choices and lots of people queuing. One of the challenges of the Temple Quay street food market is deciding what to choose. In the end the smell of the charcoal grill and the menu on MurrayMays van was very tempting.

The Lamb Shish kebab was £6.50 which is a more than I usually spend for lunch (well it was back then in 2017). However it sounded so good. It was charcoal grilled marinated salt marsh lamb leg, smokey babaganoush, wild garlic, pesto and preserved lemon. The kebab was served with a house salad, flatbread and dukkah pomegranate.

It looked great, despite the big preserved chilli on top, which in the end I didn’t eat.

The lamb was tender and had so much flavour. I really liked the flavour that the charcoal grilled process added. The accompaniments were excellent and a nice mix of taste and textures.

Despite really enjoying the dish, and having a similar dish in October 2017 as well, I don’t think I have made a return visit to the MurrayMays van. Sometimes I think this is because I fancy something else, or the queue for the van looks too long. However I also noticed on return visits that the  Lamb Shish kebab wasn’t on the menu, and the other menu items didn’t appeal. However now as we ease lockdown and I expect to be in Bristol quite a lot more now, I think I will search out the MurrayMays van and have another kebab for my lunch.

Quick(ish) Greek Lunch

I don’t go to The Real Greek for a while and then I go not just once, but go again real quick.

I had actually intended to have pizza from Bella Vista down by Bristol Bridge, but they were really busy and there was going to be a long wait. I had enjoyed my recent visit to The Real Greek, so decided to go for their lunch deal again.

As before there was a warm welcome from the staff and this time I chose to sit inside. The Lunch Menu is a fixed price at £8.50, where you can choose between a Greek Trio or a Greek Plate or a Souvlaki Wrap & Side. This time I went with the trio of dishes.

I had the warm flatbread with houmous and taramasalata. A nice starter, though I should have asked for it to all come at once rather than separately. If I had chosen one of the other ramekins available, such as tzatziki, I would like to have that along with the main.

The middle of the trio was Loukaniko beef and pork sausage. A traditional Greek beef and pork sausage, chargrilled and sprinkled with oregano.

Loukaniko beef and pork sausage

I’ve had similar dishes before and really enjoyed them, this was a tasty dish, strong flavours and a really meaty experience. It was served with smoked chilli relish, which I didn’t really like, I found it somewhat harsh and overpowering.

The final choice was the Aegean Slaw, thinly shredded cabbage, carrot, red and green peppers, with an olive oil dressing. I was slightly annoyed that the Loukaniko sausage was already accompanied by a reasonable portion of the Aegean Slaw, so I got extra slaw. If I had know this I might have chosen a different final choice. This was nice, fresh and crunchy.

The service was excellent, and it was a pleasant lunchtime experience with some great food, great value and nice environment.

Go Greek (again)

The Real Greek

It’s been a while since I was last at The Real Greek and I have been meaning to make a return visit for a while. Well looking for a place to eat and sit, even though it was a Thursday with the Temple Quay market been very tempting, I with a couple of friends decided to visit The Real Greek.

There was a warm welcome and what with the music playing inside, we asked to sit outside. Now outside was a weird thing as we were inside Cabot Circus, a shopping centre in the heart of Bristol. Even though technically it was inside the shopping centre, the way Cabot Circus has been designed and built, it’s more of a covered shopping area, in some places you can see sky above you and the whole place is open to the elements. So even though we were outside the restaurant, there was a glass roof above us. Having said all that, once you were sat down, it didn’t feel like you were in the heart of a shopping centre, it felt more like you were in a street cafe sitting outside watching the world go by, without the cars and scooters you would probably find in Greece.

It was really nice that a carafe of water (as in free tap water) was provided without us needing to ask. The last time I went I said

The Real Greek has a great lunchtime menu, and if I visit again I will probably choose from that and it looks like great value. 

So I went to have a look this time at the lunch menu, though I was still somewhat tempted by the hot meze choices of grilled octopus and the lamb cutlets that I had on the previous visit.

The Lunch Menu is a fixed price at £8.50, where you can choose between a Greek Trio or a Greek Plate or a Souvlaki Wrap & Side.

The Lunch Menu

The trio’s are fun coming on an afternoon tea style rack with the starter on the top, the main in the middle and the accompaniment on the bottom. Well I think it should arrive like that. Both times I have been, the dishes have been mixed around… The trio is also a great choice if you are vegan, as there are plenty of vegan choices available.

I went with the Halloumi Greek Plate which was served with saffron rice, a Greek salad, tzatziki and warm flatbread.

Halloumi Greek Plate

The halloumi was very nice, grilled, but not overcooked. The interesting texture, saltiness and flavour was balanced with the vibrant Greek salad comprising peppers, tomatoes, feta and lettuce. I enjoyed the flatbread which was soft and fresh.

Overall I really enjoyed the plate of food in a pleasant environment (and great company).

I think I will go again.

Airside Small Plates

I am not a great fan of airport food, usually over priced, badly cooked and service can leave e a lot to be desired. I don’t know about you, but I try and avoid eating there if I can.

Having said all that I knew that for a variety of reasons that I would be eating at Glasgow Airport, so as you can imagine I had quite low expectations.

After waiting ages at one place and not getting served, I left and went to the Caledonia.

Not really wanting a sandwich and actually not really hungry decided to go with a couple of small plates and a side salad.

My first choice was the crab mayonnaise with flatbread soldiers. This was described as crab & chive mayonnaise with a stack of atbread soldiers & a lemon wedge.

crab & chive mayonnaise with a stack of atbread soldiers & a lemon wedge

The crab mayonnaise was nice, but only just about tasted of crab. The flat bread was toasted, but for some reason was covered in dry oregano.

My second choice was garlic prawns with flatbread. The menu describes this as king prawns roasted in garlic & herb sauce, olive oil & fresh lemon, served with flatbread.

king prawns roasted in garlic & herb sauce, olive oil & fresh lemon, served with flatbread

The prawns which I thought would be roasted came swimming in garlic butter, literally swimming, there was more melted butter than prawns. It came with flatbread too, and it was also covered in dry oregano.

The salad was small, consisting of salad leaves and tomatoes with a lemon and basil dressing.

salad leaves and tomatoes with a lemon and basil dressing

Overall it was something of a disappointment, and for the cost of each dish in excess of five pounds, I thought it was overpriced.