Bristol has many places to eat and as well as high street chains there are many independent places. Having been invited to dinner the family headed off to one such independent place, the Florence Lounge in Totterdown in Bristol.
It certainly is a popular place with most tables reserved, even though we went to eat in the early evening. It was a hot and sunny day, so they had put most of their tables outside. They don’t have air-conditioning, so on a hot day you will want to sit outside.
I went with the Gamberi pizza. It came with a base covered in homemade tomato sauce, baby spinach, mozzarella, king prawns, silver skin anchovies, roasted asparagus, black olives, lime and rocket.
I loved how there was a varied selection of toppings on the pizza and the handful of fresh rocket was a nice addition. The prawns were very tasty and I enjoyed the silver skin anchovies. If these had been traditional salted anchovies then I may not have ordered the pizza. The base was cooked well and wasn’t soggy. I have had better bases recently and I felt that it let down the pizza slightly.
Unlike many other restaurants, you order and then pay at the till. The food is then bought to your table.
For those who are gluten free, unlike many pizza places these days, the only gluten free option is gluten free pasta and there is no gluten free pizza available.
Be aware that it is cash only, but there is a free ATM next door in the Tesco. Also it doesn’t have a licence, but you can bring your own alcohol if you want to (again useful having the Tesco next door.
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.
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.
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.
Overall it was something of a disappointment, and for the cost of each dish in excess of five pounds, I thought it was overpriced.
For New Year’s Eve we decided to have a fish and seafood platter. It was an opportunity to cook and eat some great food. However one problem, as you may recall New Year’s Eve is not only part of Christmas, it’s also a Monday. As a result it was virtually impossible to find any fresh fish or seafood. Generally the fishing fleets don’t go out at weekends and I suspect that they certainly wouldn’t go out over a weekend during the festive season. As a result we went with frozen seafood, not my first choice, but with what we wanted it was better than nothing.
We got some frozen king prawns, scallops and squid from Sainsbury’s as part of their Taste the Difference range. One of the key things to do when using frozen seafood is to defrost and defrost safely. If you cook frozen seafood from frozen, generally what happens is that you overcook it and it becomes very rubbery. You need to take care when defrosting to avoid food poisoning. The best way to defost is in the fridge, but this takes time. If you do defrost at room temperature, make sure you move the seafood to the fridge once it has defrosted.
The prawns I cooked on my griddle, whilst the scallops were cooked very quickly on a hot flat frying pan, as were the squid rings.
The scallops were perfect and I was really pleased with how I cooked them. They were browned on each side, but were only just done on the inside. As a result they were melt in the mouth tender, and full of flavour. The prawns were very good, and served with some lemon were delicious. I was less impressed with the squid rings. In the past when I have cooked squid, I have bought frozen whole squid from Tesco and cut it into pieces of squid. I much prefer using this way of preparing squid, usually scoring one side to ensure even cooking and browing of the edges. The squid from Sainsbury’s comes ready sliced into rings. It cooked fine, but it lacked the depth of flavour I have had in the past with squid from Tesco. Why didn’t I get my squid from Tesco, well they’ve seemed to have stopped selling it.
Alongside this plate of seafood I also grilled some giant tiger prawns in their shells. These were placed under a really hot grill, after they were fully defrosted and brushed with some olive oil. The main reason for these prawns is twofold, one is the visual impact, secondly was flavour. They were delicious, though of course were quite messy to peel.
We also had some dressed crab, these were small crab shells filled with a crab pate and white crab meat. They looked really nice, but lacked the depth of flavour I would liked to have. This was served with some fresh crusty bread.
Another successful dish was some clams. I got a pack of frozen Big and Juicy clams from the Big Prawn Company which I mananged to buy at Waitrose.
Again the key was to ensue they were properly defrosted before cooking, well they’re cooked already, all they really needed was heating up. I did this in a pan with some freshly chopped garlic and parsley. I thought they were delicious and very good value at £3.29. I think they would also work with linguine if wanted pasta and seafood.
We also cooked some salmon, this was roasted in the oven with a little olive oil.
Overall this was a delicious meal, we served it with some fresh salad and I also made a paella.
Made a quick paella the other day. I took a large frying pan and added a splash of olive oil. To this I added some diced onions and cooked them until soft. I then added the paella rice and it always makes sense to use paella rice, and never any other kind of rice. I ensured that the rice was well coated in the oil and onions before adding some chicken stock and saffron. Always got to use saffron.
Simmer for twenty minutes adding more stock if required.
While this was cooking I grilled some cod and prawns that I served on top of the paella rice.
I didn’t have any “proper” chorizo so I cooked some sliced chorizo which I placed on the finished dish with the cooked prawns and cod.
Though delicious and all eaten up, I was slightly disappointed with the paella rice I had used, which was from Sainsbury’s. My normal paella rice is the one from Tesco, so I think next time I will buy that instead.
When I bought my paella the other day, it was part of a deal, buy two meals from the range for £5. The other dish I got was one with king prawns and orzo pasta.
King prawns with orzo pasta, roasted red onion, red and yellow peppers and courgettes, cherry tomatoes, baby leaf spinach and a tomato dressing.
I thought this was a much nicer meal than the paella. It did taste fresh and the addition of the fresh tomato sauce worked well. If I was to change one aspect of the dish, that would be the prawns, as they were already cooked, heating them up with the rest of the dish did “ruin” them. Though all the ingredients were cooked and just needed reheating, some ingredients do better than others when reheated. Prawns shrink and become chewy. If I was got get this meal again, I would probably remove the prawns before reheating and then add them at the end.
Of course the other option is to make this dish from scratch (always challenging when at work, but easier to do at home) I would use raw prawns rather than cooked ones.
I did enjoy this dish, it tasted fresher compared to other meals from Sainsbury’s however with a standard price of £3.70 I think it is quite expensive, good value as part of the deal, less so on its own.