Steak and Chips, once more

Steak and Chips

Staying at the Drayton Court Hotel I went for dinner and I went for the steak and chips. This was described on the menu as Owton’s dry-aged 9oz ribeye steak on the bone, triple cooked chips, watercress salad, and a peppercorn sauce.

It arrived promptly and it looked very nice.

The steak was much better than the last steak I had had at the Drayton. As I have mentioned before, I am not a fan of triple cooked chips, it feels like they are overcooked, but these were okay. I did enjoy the peppercorn sauce as well.

Time for some French food

I do quite like French food, probably an echo of eating out on French holidays back in the 1970s and 1980s. Over the years I have had some really nice meals, some excellent meals, and some not so good.

I was in London for a few days working. One evening, for dinner, I decided to head out to Ealing. I parked in the shopping centre and had a look around. I saw the Amazon Fresh shop, the one where you walk in pick things up and walk out and everything is charged to your Amazon account. I didn’t go in.

I had a look around for somewhere to eat. I did consider getting some cheese and bread from M&S. I saw they did a smaller version of the French cheese platter I have had in Weston. However there was no bread left. I did think about Wagamama, but it looked very busy. In the end after some procrastination and a bit more exploring and walking around, I went to Côte Brasserie, a chain of French style restaurants.

They had some tables free and I was given a choice of where I could sit, so I had a nice small table by the window. It was a decent environment, comfortable, inviting.

I had checked out the menu earlier online, so was pretty much convinced about what I was going to have. I went with the fixed price menu.

There was a nice choice of starters, but I decided that I would go for the Tomates ‘Breton’. Brittany heritage tomatoes topped with pistou on toasted pain de campagne.

Brittany heritage tomatoes topped with pistou on toasted pain de campagne.

It looked amazing, I was really impressed with the presentation of the dish.

I wasn’t sure what pistou was so checked up on Wikipedia later.

Pistou, or pistou sauce, is a Provençal cold sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil. It is somewhat similar to the Ligurian sauce pesto, although it lacks pine nuts.

It was a lovely plate of food, the bread was nice, the tomatoes were well seasoned and the pistou added a nice touch.

For my main course I had the steak frites – chargrilled steak with frites and garlic butter. I upgraded to the ribeye.

steak and frites

The dish came with some additional watercress, which was a nice touch.

The steak wasn’t fantastic, it lacked seasoning and wasn’t as tender as I thought it was going to be. Upon reflection I probably shouldn’t have upgraded.

Alongside I had a Meteor beer, which was fresh and smooth.

The service was excellent, warm, friendly and efficient.

This was my first experience of Côte Brasserie and I enjoyed the experience and the food.

Barbecuing in the sun

With the lovely weather we have been having a lot of barbecues recently. I try and cook different things, and we usually have a selection of salads alongside the grilled meat.

I do like cooking boned and flattened chicken thighs on the barbecue.

These were marinaded in lemon juice, olive oil and herbs. I leave the skin on as this is the best bit.

I also do ribeye steaks, but I find you need to have the temperature just right otherwise they can either be bland or overdone. I season my ribeye steaks with salt and pepper and a little garlic oil.

The lamb leg steaks were marinaded with olive oil and rosemary.

I am also know to do burgers, but I try and use a good quality burger to get the best results. These are served in a brioche bun with cheese and salad.

With sausages, like the burgers I like using a good quality meaty sausage. I prefer chipolata sausages, they remind me of the French sausages we cooked when we were on holiday, but sometimes I use  other kinds.

With pork belly slices I find it best to marinade them for a few hours in a salt and pepper marinade for a few hours to tenderise the pork.

Thinking now about other possibilities.

Birthday Bash with Benny (and Frankie)

I went out for a meal with the family, at Frankie and Benny’s to celebrate my birthday. I had thought about cooking a meal, or even going further afield, however as it was a school night we decided to go somewhere local.

As it was my birthday, I “joined” the F&B Birthday Club, which means that my meal was free, if another main course is purchased. Now I did think what that actually meant was that I had to buy one meal, and get one free, with the cheapest one being free. What it actually meant was that the meal that I chose would be the free one. So looking over the menu I decided on the rib eye steak.

Our succulent 8oz* 28 day aged rib eye steak is best cooked medium, served with a roasted tomato, flat mushrooms, onion rings and a fresh watercress garnish. Choose from house fries, salad or a jacket.

I felt slightly cheeky as this was the second most expensive item on the menu, only the Mixed Grill was more expensive, but I like a nice rib eye steak. I was secondly cheeky asking for half and half, fries and salad. When asked how I liked my steak, I said medium-rare.

The restaurant was quite busy, so the food took a little while to arrive, as I cut into my steak I was disappointed to find that it had been cooked well-done, as a result it was slightly tough and lacked flavour. Not too happy about that I called over a member of the waiting staff. I showed her the cut steak, and she was excellent about it, she said she would get a fresh steak for me.

As that was cooking, she came over and explained that another customer had complained that her steak was underdone, they believed there had been a slight mix-up in the kitchen.

My new steak arrived, a complete fresh dish. with new fries and new salad. This time the steak was done to my taste, it was tender and tasty and a nice chargrilled flavour. The fries were crispy, with a nice crunch. The salad was simple, it came already dressed and was fresh and tasty. Overall I was pleased with the dish.

As for everything else, the food was great and enjoyed by all. When the bill came, not only was my meal free, but they had also paid for my drink due to the kitchen mix-up, nice little extra piece of good service.

Steak with Peppercorns and Pancetta

This is quite a quick meal and can be served with steamed vegetables and crispy potatoes.

I normally prefer ribeye cut of steak these days, with sirloin as second choice, as I prefer the flavour of ribeye. Rump, though cheaper, is often tougher than either ribeye or sirloin. I find fillet, not just more expensive, but often lacks flavour. Though in this dish it would work as the peppercorns and the pancetta add a striking flavour to the dish.

I prepare the steak by rubbing in some olive oil. Then in a plain unoiled hot pan I cook the steak. About half way through cooking I added some black peppercorns.

In order to save time, in a seperate pan I cooked off some pancetta and once they were nearly cooked added the mushrooms.

Removing the steak from the pan, once cooked, I added the pancetta and mushrooms and added half a tub of creme frache, which I let heat through.

I sliced the steak, put on the plate, poured over the sauce and served with steamed vegetables and crispy potatoes. It would also work well with plain rice.

Summerhouse Steak

Out of all my local pubs and eateries, coffee shops aside, I have probably been to the Summerhouse more than any other.

A few years ago it went through a phase of poor quality and a lack of imagination, but on a more recent visit, the magic seemed to be back. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a gastropub or a magnet for foodies, this is a pub that sells pub food. It’s of decent value and my experience recently is that it is also of decent quality.

One of the nice things about the menu, are the specials, and though these disappeared a few years ago, they have been back on the menu now for a while. The main menu alongside the traditional pub fare has a few things that raised my eyebrows. Kerlan Cod, a cod loin covered in a Keralan sauce made with coconut milk, mussels, spinach, green chilli, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Greek Lamb, tender lamb with cherry tomatoes, raisins, aubergine and black olives in a red wine and mint sauce, served with cous cous.

On a recent visit, though tempted by the specials, I in the end opted for the ribeye steak with chips. A very traditional pub meal and one that really shouldn’t be a problem for any decent pub kitchen.

Well so how was it?

I asked for my steak to be cooked rare, and it was cooked just how I like it, medium-rare. It was a good steak and was quite tender. The chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the inside. These were traditional chips, no french fries here (though I do prefer fries). The mushroom was grilled, as was the tomato and worked well. The peas were peas and nothing special there.

I got what I ordered, it was cooked well.

Alongside my steak I had a pint of Marston’s Pedigree, there is a wider choice of beers in the bar area, and you could have one of those if you wanted.

As for the service, it was just right, not too intrusive and there just when you needed it. That is quite a challenge, sometimes the service can be too “in your face” which is a style that has come over from America, that doesn’t always work too well here in Blighty, or you have the other extreme, where you can never find a member of the waiting team when you need them.

Overall we enjoyed our experience and food and will be going again. It’s as though the magic has returned to the Summerhouse.

Ambassadors at Bloomsbury Part One

I was recently up in London and stayed at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. Staying with friends we had the Christmas dinner at the Number Twelve attached restaurant. I started off with the Chestnut Pasta and had the Ribeye steak for my mains.

The home made chestnut pasta was served with seasonal wild mushrooms and a white butter sauce. I did enjoy this dish, the pasta was cooked well and nice selection of mushrooms.

For my mains I had ribeye of 28 day Donald Russell beef, served with celeriac, braised red onion, wild mushrooms and roast potatoes.

ribeye of 28 day Donald Russell beef

The steak was not the best I’ve had, slightly tough and was certainly not full of flavour compared to others I have eaten. The celeriac was nice as was the onions and mushrooms.

Overall I did enjoy both the started and the main course.

The perfect Italian steak

There is a skill in cooking a steak on a griddle, especially if you want it to turn out well and tasty.

My technique is not perfect, but I get some good results.

Firstly I heat the pan, the heat will be the guide to whether I am cooking a rare, medium or well done steak, though it must be, even for a well done steak, quite hot.

I take the steak, preferably at room temperature and rub seasoning and oil into the steak. This is black pepper, some Italian herbs and olive oil.

I prefer using ribeye, but in the photo below I was using sirloin, as I can’t always get hold of ribeye.

perfect steak

I do not add oil to the griddle.

Once the pan is hot, I then griddle the steak.

This ensures I get the nice chargrill lines on my steak.

I serve the steak with some freshly cut lemon.

Steak and Mushrooms

Last night I cooked a very nice (and quick) meal.

I took some sirloin steak, I actually prefer ribeye but sometimes you have to have what is available and not what you want or prefer.

I heated the frying pan without oil, the steaks were oiled though and then placed in the hot pan.

In a separate pan I fried some pancetta and onions, once they were nearly cooked, I remove them, turned the heat up and added the mushrooms so they fried rather than steamed.

Once the steaks were cooked I removed them from the pan, and put them on a warm plate to rest (really important to let steaks rest for a few minutes before serving they will be a lot more tender).

I then added the onions, pancetta and mushrooms to the steak pan and a couple of large spoonfuls of creme frache.

Then in a pan of rolling boiling water I put some gnocchi.

In two minutes the sauce was ready, the gnocchi was ready, so serve.