Would you like fries with that? Yes I would please!

Having arrived late one Sunday into Manchester and was staying at the Copthorne Hotel in the Salford Quays. I was quite hungry after a long drive. I headed down into the hotel foyer where I found the restaurant had just closed, but the bar was still open for food. They had quite a good menu, in the end I chose the Steak frites, this was described as a sirloin steak served with rocket, fries and herb garlic butter.

This is what I got.

Well, yes it was a sirloin steak, yes it was served with herb garlic butter (and it was quite garlicky), yes there was some rocket. However those were not fries, they were chips! Okay maybe being a little petty, but the menu describes the fish and chips as coming with chips, the steak and ale pie talks about being served with chips, but when I see a menu say it is served with fries, I do expect to get fries.

The menu says steak frites, this means steak with fries, not chips. Fries are not chips, chips are chips and fries are fries.

Well apart from the fries disappointment, the chips were okay. The steak was nice, the herb garlic butter was probably a little too strong for me, but I did like it. The rocket salad, was okay. Overall, I was hungry, this was a nice plate of food.

We waited a day…

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, restaurants from the 12th April were allowed to open for outside eating only. To be honest I wasn’t that excited about this, however with my birthday on the 13th we made the decision to go out to eat to celebrate. Last year on my birthday we were in the full lockdown and there was very little we could go and do, so had a lovely celebration at home and we had a fish supper with stir fry. So this year we were thinking could we do something different and could we go out to eat. 

We booked a table at Zizzi at Cabot Circus in Bristol. This is “outside” but is in many ways under some kind of cover as well. So if it did rain, it shouldn’t have too much of a negative impact on the experience. We did wrap up warm though.

We had a warm if slightly confused welcome from the manager and we were shown to our table.

The paper disposable menus provided a wide choice, but I did quite fancy pizza so I went with the Rustica Primavera which has goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes & super green pesto.

It looked great when it arrived.

Rustica Primavera

I really liked the freshness of the spinach, rocket and fresh pesto on the pizza. Though I like goat’s cheese, I actually think that I might prefer this pizza without it. The dough base was nice, and as it was stretched some areas were thin and cripsy, whilst other parts of the pizza were thick and doughy. I liked the olives and artichokes along with the tomatoes and peppers.

I have had this pizza before, and enjoyed it back then too.

Overall a very tasty pizza.

Nice Pizza

To celebrate a birthday we decided to end up at Zizzi in Cabot Circus. The place was busy, and we had to wait about ten minutes for a table. Well to say the place was busy, was a bit of a poor description. There were plenty of free tables, but I think they were short-staffed, so couldn’t serve all the tables, or cook the food. Regardless of the reason, there were empty tables, and we were shown to our (small) table.

The welcome was warm and friendly and it was easy to order our food. Our dietary requirements were taken care of and we pursued the menu.

I went with the Rustica Primavera, which is their stretched pizza with goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, super green pesto & rocket.

Rustica Primavera, which is their stretched pizza with goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, super green pesto & rocket

The pizza was cooked well and there was an abundance of toppings, even so I would have liked a but more artichoke. The pesto was nice, and I quite like fresh rocket on my pizza, I feel I am eating something healthier than it actually is.

I really enjoyed my pizza, there is something consistent about the quality of the food and the service at Zizzi, which means I go there a lot, more than other chains. Having said that, looking over the blog, I realise not only am I going to Zizzi a lot, I am also basically eating the same pizza each time I go.

Time for a tasty pizza (again)

It was a nice pizza

Rusty Pizza

I think it’s time for a change, not just from Zizzi, but also from pizza.

A different kind of pizza

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.

Gamberi Pizza

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.

Mozzarella, Tomato & Pesto Salad with Rocket & Pine Nuts

Fancying a salad for lunch I found this Mozzarella, Tomato & Pesto Salad with Rocket & Pine Nuts in Sainsbury’s.

Pesto Pasta with Mozzarella and Tomato

It was quite nice. The pesto wasn’t overpowering, there was enough to cover the pasta and there were ample pine nuts too. The pasta was the right texture, the sunblush tomatoes were nice and the mozzarella was fine.

Overall it was a nice packaged salad and certainly much nicer than a sandwich.

Bruschetta Salami

On a recent visit to Pizza Express (had some Tesco vouchers to use up) I chose for my starter, the Bruschetta Salami at £4.75, the menu said it consisted of mozzarella, cured Italian meats, olives, rocket and grana padano.

Reading the menu and seeing bruschetta, I anticipated seeing some toasted ciabatta topped with all the other ingredients. So I was quite surprised when it arrived…

Using a pizza style base was certainly not what I expected and was quite surprised by. However the dish as a whole worked well and I really enjoyed it.

Linguine with pesto, green beans and rocket

I wanted something quick and easy to cook, I decided to cook linguine.

I took a large pan of boiling water and placed the linguine to cook. I also in another pan cooked some sliced green beans.

When the linguine was cooked, I drained it and added a splash of olive oil. I then stirred in some pesto, pine nuts, the rocket and the cooked green beans.

Though nice on its own, I served mine with some chargrilled pork steaks.

Wild Rocket

Found this at my local Tesco.

It’s a packet of unwashed wild rocket.

Certainly felt a lot fresher than the stuff in bags (and I hope a lot less chemicals too).

Of course the obvious thing to do is not buy the stuff, but grow my own rocket.

Merguez aux Lentilles de Puy

Though I always have reservations about Café Rouge there is one item on the menu that I do like that always tempts me to try the place again, and that is Merguez aux Lentilles de Puy or grilled spicy Merguez sausage on a bed of puy lentils in a ceramy sauce and topped with a rocket salad.

They do a very good merguez sausage and it is always very well done, well cooked and nice and spicy.  The lentils were quite good too.

However the dish was let down by something as simple as rocket leaves. They were not fresh, old and somewhat manky! A disappointment using not just old rocket leaves, but ones that looked as if they were verging on going off.

Once more Café Rouge disappoints, I need to learn from this.

Lemon and Rocket Risotto

I am going through a risotto phase at the moment.

This is my original lemon risotto recipe.

Lemon and Rocket Risotto

In a large frying pan, place some olive oil and butter. Then add some finely chopped onion and the zest of two lemons.

Soften the onions.

Bring up the heat.

Add the risotto rice and ensure that the rice is coated in the oil and butter.

Add a splash of white wine.

Now add some chicken stock.

Keep topping up with stock to ensure that the rice doesn’t dry out.

Once the rice is virtually cooked, add the juice of the lemons, a large handful of grated parmesan, some roughly chopped rocket and some freshly ground black pepper.

Serve, garnish with a few slices of lemon.