Time to visit the Pelican State

When visiting London earlier this year I had gone for a walk around Bloomsbury before heading back to my hotel for steak and chips. On that walk I had noticed the brand of Pelican State and added it to places I thought I might like to try.

So on a more recent visit to London I decided I would head to the Pelican State and try out their food. I went with the Crispy Seafood Lunch Deal. This was prawns, green-lipped mussels, squid rings, red potatoes, large portion of fish and a sauce of my choice. I went with the aioli. 

It was served very quickly.

plate of crispy seafood

It was quite a substantial plate of food. I found the crispy coating more crunchy than crispy. It was a nice selection of seafood. I liked the prawns and squid, the mussels could have been better, as the crunchy coating made the mussels difficult to shell and eat. There was a large portion of fish. I think I should have had a side of coleslaw with it.

Overall I did enjoy the dish. They also do a Prawn Boil lunch deal, but I did think that it might be a bit messy to eat.

Back to Master Bao

It had been a while since I had eaten at Master Bao. I really do enjoy a good bao bun and my first encounter with the Master Bao eatery at Westfield was back in December 2019 and a return visit in January 2020. I then made a visit back in September 2021.

So on a recent trip to London and needing some lunch I headed to the Westfield Shopping Centre. I did look around, but in the end headed to Master Bao.

I went with the meal deal of two bao buns and a side. I ordered the Prawn Bao and the Shiitake Mushroom Bao. The side I chose was fried vegetable dumplings.

The Prawn Bao contained marinated king prawns, fried, pickled mooli, spiced spring onions.

The prawns were nice and crispy, I liked the additions, and the bun was soft and fluffy. A really lovely bao bun.

Whilst the Shiitake Mushroom Bao had teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, pickled onions, miso.

Really nice mushrooms, with a strong savoury flavour, which contrasted with the soft fluffy bao.

I’ve had both these bao before and these were just as good, nice and tasty.

The vegetable dumplings had been fried.

I think they would have been better steamed, and then potentially fried in a pan. They were a little too crispy for me, I mainly prefer my dumplings steamed.

Nice lunch.

Smoked Salmon and Prawn Cocktail

When I go somewhere to eat and if there is a specials board, I do like to try something from the board, as if I go again, it probably won’t be on the menu again. Not all places have a specials board, and most chains don’t. Of course you then have something like Bills where the menu changes on a regular basis, they probably don’t need a specials board.

I am a semi-regular visitor to a couple of Fullers’ hotels in London, Drayton Court and the Fox and Goose. Now and again they will have a specials board (or menu). On a recent visit to the Fox and Goose they had their specials board and I had a look over it. 

Specials board

Two of the items on the board were standard menu items, they were just telling punters what the soup was and what the pie was.

The chicken shnitzel (sic) was something I had before at Drayton Court. I did though quite like the sound of the starter on the specials board. 

Fullers’ London porter smoked salmon & prawn cocktail with Bloody Mary sauce and sourdough. So I went with that.

Smoked Salmon and Prawn Cocktail

The dish arrived, without the bread! So I asked and out it came. It was a large sized starter, bigger than I thought it would be.

I did think that the smoked salmon was more like smoked mackerel. This wasn’t slices of smoked salmon, more chunks of salmon.

The prawns were plentiful and good. I did wonder about the sauce, I didn’t really taste the vodka in there, and I felt there needed to be more sauce. I did like the addition of the cucumber and the tomato.

I think the sourdough could have benefited from being toasted, it felt slightly stale and dry.

Overall it was an interesting dish and an interesting interpretation of a prawn cocktail. I think though it could have been a much better dish with a few tweaks.

A disappointing chicken karaage

I was in London and looking for lunch, it was raining, so the Leather Lane street food market was struck off my list of possible places as I didn’t want to get too wet. In the end I went to K10 and looked over their menu of hot food.

I decided I would have the chicken karaage. Chicken karaage is inspired by Chinese fried chicken recipes, karaage is a delicious izakaya or bento box favourite, comprised of crunchy, deep fried pieces of marinated chicken.

My food arrived promptly and I took it back to the office.

chicken karaage

The box was a bed of rice with chunks of deep fried chicken, chunks of cooked onion and pepper with spring onion and sliced chilli. This is then covered in a sticky sauce.

Alas, though I was looking forward to the dish, I was somewhat disappointed. The chicken was over-cooked and had dried out as a result of probably hanging around for a while. 

The accompanying onions and pepper were better, though I think they should have been cut up into smaller pieces.

I also ordered a side dish of prawn katsu. What I got was panko prawns, on shredded cabbage and carrot, with a sweet chilli sauce.

Overall I was quite disappointed with the food and I think I would have preferred to have got wet and got much better food from Leather Lane.

Breton Fish Stew

I was staying in Ealing and having been disappointed that Reineta was closed I went to Côte. Reality was I did walk around Ealing to see what else was there and looking at various menus. So, in the end I ended up at Côte.

I had the Crab Maison for my starter. I stayed with seafood and I had the Breton Fish Stew for my main course.

This is a traditional coastal stew from Brittany with mussels, prawns, squid, seabream, in a tomato, white wine and chilli sauce. It was served with some French baguette.

There was a lot of seafood in this dish, yes it was mainly mussels, and there was only a single piece of seabream. There were plenty of prawns and squid rings.

I enjoyed the sauce, it was though similar to a soup rather than a sauce. The seafood was cooked well and wasn’t overcooked, which I did think it might be.

The bread was two slices of sourdough baguette. I think I would have preferred a more traditional French flute type baguette over the sourdough slices. 

I had wanted to try this dish for a while, and I enjoyed it. However it wasn’t amazing, so it probably wouldn’t be a dish I would order again.

To accompany my meal, rather than wine, I had a bottle of Meteor lager, which was crisp and refreshing.

Yeah, it was what I expected…

I was up in Manchester for some meetings. I had planned in eating my evening meal in the hotel I was staying at, but it was closed, no reason given, but food was being served in the bar area. With a rather limited menu I decided to head off to the Trafford Centre, having enjoyed a meal at Bills there back in May last year. This time there wasn’t anything on the menu that inspired me.

The menu at Tru Street looked quite interesting with choices including bao buns for a starter, and lamb chops for the main. However it was a little more than I wanted to spend, and with the mandatory 12.5% service charge, would have stepped up the bill. What finally clinched it for me, to not to go, were the reviews on Google. Over a thousand reviews and the rating was 2.9 stars out of five. Put that into perspective, Bills has 4.2 stars out of five.

There is a huge choice of places to eat at The Trafford Centre, almost too much choice.

I did consider heading to Zizzi to have pizza, especially as I had a 30% off food voucher. However there was a bit of a queue for tables, and though I joined the queue, it wasn’t moving. I hate queuing so made the choice to go somewhere else. Next door was Thaikhun, a Thai buffet restaurant. They had an introductory £5 off deal, so kind of expecting nothing special I waited to be seated.

This was a self-service buffet restaurant with quite a selection of Thai based dishes. If you have been other buffet restaurants you might feel a little short-changed as compared to places likeZa Za Bazaar in Bristol the menu is limited to just Thai food.

Of all the dishes I had, I really enjoyed the seafood dish which included squid and prawns. 

Compared the excellent Thai food I have had at places such as Sais’s Thai in Oxford, this could be seen to be rather disappointing. However I wasn’t expecting anything special, so I did enjoy the food I had. Would I go again? Probably not.

New Year Fish Supper

An annual tradition in our house is to have a fish supper on New Year’s Eve. This year we had a great selection of fish and seafood.

I bought some prosecco & lemon butter lobster tails from Aldi, these were rather good.

I made some crispy squid, using some fresh squid, which I then coated in seasoned flour and fried in oil. A combination of a crisp crunchy coating and sweet tender squid.

I also cooked some queen scallops, simply pan fried in butter.

I did baked lemon salmon fillets in the oven.

The prawns were cooked in a pan with herbs and butter.

All served with homemade paella.

German Pasta

I was staying in Berlin in December, for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie” in the heart of what was East Berlin. I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin.

I did feel a little guilty going to an Italian restaurant while staying in Germany, but when you realise that Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain’s restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle, it certainly has some German food credentials.

The service was simple, in that you ordered from a screen, took a buzzer, and then collected your food from the kitchen. I had started with soup, after finishing that, I then went back to the screen to order some pasta.

I ordered the linguine with beef tenderloin, shrimp, lobster sauce, carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions, spring onions, basil, brandy. I liked how you could use the type of pasta in your dish and add extras if needed (such as cheese).

The pasta was perfectly cooked and the rest of the dish was very tasty, though I didn’t really taste the lobster in the lobster sauce. 

It was certainly an interesting pasta dish and I enjoyed it. In some ways it was a strange combination of ingredients, though you often have prawns and steak together as a surf and turf. Would I have it again, probably.

At the airport, time for a quick lunch

I had been on a visit to Scotland and was making my way home. I really didn’t fancy eating on the plane, it was a short flight, but it was over lunchtime. So having time at Edinburgh airport I went to All-Bar-One for a quick small lunch. I did in fact fancy tacos from Bar Burrirto, but the airport branch didn’t sell them. The branch of Yo! Sushi, which I had visited before, had closed down in 2020. Liking the idea of small plates I went to All-Bar-One. I ordered two small plates which arrived promptly. This is kind of important in an airport situation as you are often time constrained.

The calamari was excellent and it was a good sized portion for a small plate dish. 

The squid was tender and the batter was crispy. It was served with a sweet chilli sauce. I really enjoyed the squid and would have it again, if I ever fly from Edinburgh.

The prawns in panko breadcrumbs was though slightly disappointing. When it arrived I actually thought they had bought me the wrong dish. What I got was in fact a skewer of prawns, which was then covered in panko breadcrumbs. 

I felt that this was a difficult small plate to eat (and would be difficult to share). The dish lacked flavour and I couldn’t really taste the prawns. 

My gate number was called, so it was time to pay the bill and head to the plane.

Homemade Gluten Free Fritto Misto

One thing I do quite like is seafood in crispy batter, what the Italians call Fritto Misto.

So after enjoying my recent attempts at gluten free Frito Misto, I thought I would cook it again. I went with the recipe I had used before.

Again I used the mixed seafood mix from Lidl. As part of their Andalusian range, Lidl had a bag of frozen prepared mixed seafood. It contains pieces of skin-in cod pieces, anchovy fillets, squid rings, chopped Indian squid and peeled shrimp. As I said before I do think there could be more shrimp (prawns) in there, but it is a good mix of seafood. I did take some of the squid rings and cut them into smaller pieces.

I took the seafood and defrosted it in a bowl and removed any excess water. I coated the seafood in seasoned flour and then left it for a while, a couple of hours all in.

I cooked the seafood by deep frying in hot oil. The end result was a crunchy coating on the seafood. This was then seasoned with a little salt.