Have you learnt your lesson yet?

So there I was needing a place to go to lunch. I did actually fancy La Tasca, however they weren’t doing anything like their Tapas for a Tenner deal though they were doing quite a few deals if there were two of you (eat for £12). However I was on my own so that wasn’t going to happen.

I looked round, but didn’t fancy Spud-u-like or Burger King so with time running out, but with a little hesitation I decided to go to Café Rouge.

Now my past experiences with Café Rouge have not been always favourable.

When I went to the branch in Cardiff I said:

Overall I was disappointed with the food and the service, I know Café Rouge is a chain, but in this case the Cardiff branch was a real disappointment.

When I was at one of the Bristol branches I was also not impressed:

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.

Now it’s not always bad news, otherwise I would certainly not have gone again this time. I had a wonderful meal in Brighton a few years ago and I think that’s the reason I keep going back.

So what went wrong this time?

This time the food was up to scratch and I’ll start with that. What I did notice was that the merguez sausage was no longer on the menu, which is a personal favourite.

I went for the fixed price menu, which is very reasonable at £8.50 for two courses, even though the choice is limited to three items for started and mains.

For my starter I went with the Salade de Toulouse – A warm salad of smoked Toulouse sausages sautéed with new potatoes and caramelised onions on a bed of mixed leaves.

This was quite nice, the sausage though was no merguez sausage and I expected a little more flavour from it. The onions and potatoes were cooked just right and the salad was fresh and crisp. I enjoyed it and used some bread to soak up the dressing.

The other two choices were Champignons a la Creme – Chestnut mushrooms cooked in garlic & cream served with French bread and

Salade Niçoise – Classic Niçoise salad with tuna, anchovies, egg, olives, potatoes, French beans and tomatoes with mixed leaves.

For my main course I went with the Poulet et Dauphinoise – Roasted chicken leg with dauphinoise potatoes and thyme jus.

This was also very nice, the chicken was cooked fine, the dauphinoise potatoes had flavour and good texture. The thyme jus was very nice.

The other two choices for the mains were Filet de Colin – Pan fried fillet of hake served on a bed of Ratatouille and Omelette aux Fines Herbes – Fresh herb omelette served with French fries or mixed salad. The fish had run out so it was a choice between chicken and omelette in the end.

So the food was good, what went wrong, why are you not going again?

Well this time the service is what was awful.

When I walked in, the place was quite full, and the waitress did say there would be a 30 minute wait for food, I was fine with that. It just seemed to taken them an inordinately long time to take my order. The first course arrived within 20 minutes which was nice. But then I had a 30 minute wait for the main course! By this time the place was much much emptier. What annoyed me though was that other tables were getting served before me even though they had come in later. In other words I had been forgotten… this was also evidenced by the waitress asking if I had had my main course (with my empty starter plate in front of me).

I normally do tip, however on this occasion I felt that I hadn’t had any service let alone good service.

So next time I think about going to Café Rouge, remind me of this time, oh and that time too….

Chargrilled Squid with Chorizo Salad

As I have said before when ordering I usually seem to avoid ordering anything that may be too new and go with the familiar, and it was the same with this dish, chargrilled squid and chorizo salad. It was a meal I had in Auckland in New Zealand.

Now unlike many times I have had squid this was made with fresh squid and you certainly could tell the difference.

Chicken and Avocado Salad

In December 2009 I went to a conference in Auckland in New Zealand. I spent a couple of days after the conference exploring the area around Auckland. I had caught the ferry to Devonport and after climbing Mount Victoria went for some lunch.

I had this really nice salad of chicken and avocado.

The chicken was freshly grilled and served with the avocado, salad and a spicy dressing.

Italian Salad

Sometimes simple food can be delicious and tasty.

This Italian salad I made for lunch comprises some slices of salami and cold roasted pork loin. I served it with some mixed  lettuce leaves and tomato, with ripped mozzarella dressed with basil leaves, olive oil and vinegar.

Red Pepper, Basil and Tomato Salad

A nice accompaniment to grilled meats is a salad. This recipe is one of my regular salads and is very simple to make. It consists of lettuce, halved cherry or small tomatoes and thinly sliced pointed red pepper. This time I also added some basil leaves.

I dress the salad with olive oil, white wine vinegar and ground black pepper.

Simple, refreshing with a hint of heat from the pepper (red and black).

Oops, not quite what I meant!

So there you are, a famous chef, Antony Worrall Thompson, writing in a magazine distributed all over the UK. You are talking about salads and you recommend the weed henbane, to be “great in salads”.

All well and good you might think.

Okay let’s just check the definition of henbane.

A coarse and poisonous plant of the nightshade family, with sticky hair leaves and an unpleasant smell.



Nightshade (as in deadly nightshare)?

Unpleasant smell?

Methinks that Antony Worrall Thompson may have made a mistake!

From the BBC

In a magazine interview about watercress and other wild foods, Mr Worrall Thompson said the weed henbane was “great in salads”.

Healthy & Organic Living magazine’s website has now issued an urgent warning that “henbane is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten”.

The chef had meant to recommend fat hen, which is a wild herb. 

A nice green salad

 A nice green salad

One of the things I like to have with a meal is a nice and simple green salad.

A few mixed leaves, maybe some tomato. Dressed with olive oil and white wine vinegar and some freshly ground black pepper.

Simple yet delicious and refreshing.


I do wonder why a Mexican themed restaurant is called Chesters?

Regardless of the name, I went there for lunch today and was quite impressed.

I had the house specialty burrito.

A 10″ flour tortilla, crammed with cheese & onion and your choice of filling, served with salsa, sour cream & guacamole, complemented with a Chesters combi salad.

From the choice of fillings I went for the mexican chicken.

I was expecting it to be very spicy, but it wasn’t, it was spiced, but not so spicy to be uncomfortably spicy – as happens in some Mexican chain places I have been to in the past.

The salsa, sour cream and guacamole were nice as they tasted fresh and most certainly did not taste processed or out of a jar.

I thought the side salad was excellent, which was full of interesting salad type things, including shoots, cabbage, potatoes as well as other delicious stuff.

The coffee I had alongside was very nice too.

Overall I did enjoy my meal and thought it was very good value for lunch. My dining colleague enjoyed his risotto.

I would go there again (and more often) alas it is in Worcester and I don’t go there very often!