Frankly it was rather disappointing

On visits to the Leather Lane market well before the Covid lockdown I had seen the Argentalia market stall a few times, but had not bought lunch there, though I did quite fancy the concept.

So on a recent visit a couple of months back, I had the opportunity to try out the stall. I went with the Argentalia Barbeque Box, which comes with Asado (ribs), Vacio (flap meat), Chorizo (sausage), Morcilla (black pudding), Pollo (chicken), Pork with chimichurri and variety of salads or fries.

This had the potential to be outstanding box of food, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

The salad was flat and insipid.

The fries were okay, but nothing special.

So what of the main attraction, the barbecued meat?

I think if the meat had actually been barbecued then this would have made the dish so much better than it was. The problem with the meat was that it was quite tough and chewy. It was almost braised, steamed rather than grilled.

I am not even sure I got everything on the list. 

Overall I was looking forward to a great box of barbecued meats, what I got was frankly rather disappointing.

Birthday Breakfast at the Brunello

I have been to the Brunello Lounge before on the seafront at Weston-super-Mare, though mainly for coffee. We did go there for a Christmas Eve breakfast back in December 2019 (though I didn’t write about it).

The Brunello Lounge is one of a range of lounges across the South West. They all have their own names, the one in Gloucester is the Portivo for example. They have a pretty eccentric decor, where we sat in the Brunello there was a huge soviet era painting of Lenin on the wall. I actually quite like the eccentricity of the decor.

We were celebrating a birthday, so we headed out to the Brunello Lounge. We were given a nice warm welcome and we looked over the menu. One of the things I like about the Brunello Lounge is that their gluten free menu is extensive and wide ranging. No limited choices here, the menu is nearly as wide at the “normal” menu.

We looked over, and we made our choices. I went with the muffin with bacon, sausage and a fried egg.

We placed our orders at the bar, gave our table number and waited.

We didn’t have to wait long and the breakfasts arrived.

They were eaten with gusto and I enjoyed my muffin. The sausages were excellent, but I found the bacon a little too salty, probably because it was slightly overcooked compared to how I like my bacon.

Everyone enjoyed their breakfasts.

That time I had a Smoke Catering BBQ Box

Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past.

Back in June 2017 I was working in Bristol and looking for a place to eat to have some lunch. I went to the Temple Quay Market which had a wide range of stalls from which to choose from.

In the end I chose the BBQ Box from Smoke Catering. I had really enjoyed the BBQ Box I had in March of that year. It was an easy choice to make as I liked the food.

The box contained homemade slaw, garlic mash and beans. On top of the box was some smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and a smoked pork and chilli sausage. 

Smoke Catering BBQ Box - smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and a smoked pork and chilli sausage

It was delicious. The mash was smooth and creamy with a hint of garlic, no bitterness or harshness. The slaw was fresh and crunchy. The beans spicy and full of flavour.  

The smoked beef brisket was tender and delicious, it was melt in the mouth. I like the tender beef and the crunch of the barbecued outside. I remember when I went to a barbecue restaurant in Glasgow and ordering smoked beef brisket and getting a little disappointed as that beef was dry and nothing like the beautifully flavoured and tender beef brisket from Smoke Catering.

The sausage was very meaty and tasty, the chilli enhanced the flavour and didn’t overpower.

I also enjoyed the smoked and pulled pork, which was tender and tasty, though I preferred the sausage and the beef.

Hopefully some time in the future I can get some more excellent food from Smoke Catering.

Better late than never…

Back in December 2019 I was staying at the Taplow House Hotel in Maidenhead. I had chose the hotel in the main as it was cheaper than some London hotels, also parking was available. 

I had not eaten at the hotel the evening, as It was late when I arrived at the hotel. I had left leaving for the hotel much later than I had planned. So I had eaten at home and when I arrived, it was basically make myself a cup of tea, read and then get some sleep. I had a really nice classic room.

I had to be in central London in the morning, so I wanted an early start. I got myself washed and dressed and went down to breakfast. However they weren’t quite ready, so I had to wait outside, as it took the staff ages to open the dining room for breakfast. 

Once in I was ready to place my breakfast order, but this didn’t happen very fast and then a little longer for it to arrive at my table. So I was a little rushed, but having said all that it was a really nice breakfast.

The bacon was nice and thick, the sausage was meaty and tasty. The fried bread was done right, but my poached egg was overcooked. I also enjoyed the mushrooms, tomatoes and black pudding.

However I didn’t really enjoy the breakfast as much as I would like, as I was rushing. I much prefer a more relaxing breakfast.

I left the hotel about 30 minutes later than I wanted to, so I hit traffic on my way into London. It took me slightly longer as a result to get to the Westfield Centre, park and then catch the tube to central London for the event where I was presenting at an event. In the end I was just on time! I missed the start of the event, but was on time to present my piece and listen to some others as well.

Time for Reds

There was a time when I would travel for work, stay overnight and then go out and get something to eat.

Well I am not doing that now and don’t expect to be doing it for a while either. I have though still a few places to write about and review that I didn’t do so at the time. This is one such review.

Back in January when I could and did travel I was staying overnight in Leeds. I needed a place to eat. I rarely eat at the restaurants in the hotels, usually either they are very expensive and out of budget, or as was the case in Leeds, the hotel I was staying didn’t really have a proper restaurant, serving a few bar snack type meals only. The other thing I do find with hotel restaurants is that it can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to the quality of the food.

Around the corner from the hotel there was quite a choice of restaurants, this is so much easier these days with Google or Apple Maps which show the restaurant close to you.

I was checking the menus of a few nearby places, when I saw on their website, that Reds True Barbecue in Headingley had a 51% discount offer in January, if you pre-booked. So I decided I would go there to eat, the menu looked great as well. It was simple to book online and I walked down to the restaurant.

The outside looked very American to me, though I’ve never been to America and have thus never eaten at a proper American barbecue joint, and so have no frame of reference to what a real barbecue place is like. However if I was to say what I thought an American barbecue joint was like based on the films and TV programme I felt it looked like what I thought an American barbecue joint should look like.

Reds True Barbecue in Headingly in Leeds

Having walked through the door I was given a warm and friendly welcome. The place was crowded, considering it was a Tuesday night. Being in Headingley the clientele were quite young and I am guessing a fair few were students. Probably taking advantage of the 51% offer. I liked the look of the place, slightly industrial, wooden tables and American signs.

Though I had seen the menu online, I still took my time to have a good look over the menu choices. There were a range of starters, barbecue platters and to quote the menu, “things in bread” which had a range of burgers.

Having travelled up to Leeds during the day and missing lunch, I was quite hungry. I went with the barbecued three meats with two sides deal.

barbecued three meats with two sides

I chose the smoked brisket, the short rib and the sausage. For my sides I went with fries and onion rings. Though I was tempted by the chicken wings and the pork belly. To drink with the meal I ordered a bottle of Corona.

The food arrived pretty quickly and I was impressed with the look of the food and the portion size.

The sausages were really nice, meaty and spicy. The short rib was delicious and very tender. The brisket was nice, but I felt it was a little dry. I enjoyed both the sides, though I think on reflection I probably should have had some slaw alongside.

My meal should have cost £25, but with the 51% discount on food, in the end it was just £14.54 which was really good value.

Though I don’t expect to be going to Leeds anytime soon, I hope that I can because I think I would like to have a return visit to Reds for some more excellent barbecued food.

Time for some breakfast

So there I was at an event in London and needing to book a hotel for the night. Going through the booking system we use at work, there was a cheap hotel almost next door to the venue, well that made a lot of sense, so I booked it.

Well it was a very tired hotel, it was dated and in the end quite noisy as well. I did though have breakfast included.

The breakfast was limited in choice, but it wasn’t half bad.

breakfast

Well the coffee was plain awful, I wish I had tea, those knowing me, will realise that’s saying something. It should be said I rarely find outstanding coffee when I have breakfast in a hotel, but this was on another level entirely.

The breakfast itself was all hot (and you can’t always say that about the breakfast buffet at some hotels), the eggs were cooked perfectly to my liking, I liked the tomato and the sausages. I wasn’t too enamoured with the bacon, but it was okay. As for beans, I don’t really like beans, so won’t comment on that.

I enjoyed the toast and there was a good choice of jams.

Overall the hotel was somewhere I wouldn’t want to stay again. The breakfast though, wasn’t too bad for a hotel breakfast.

Quick(ish) Greek Lunch

I don’t go to The Real Greek for a while and then I go not just once, but go again real quick.

I had actually intended to have pizza from Bella Vista down by Bristol Bridge, but they were really busy and there was going to be a long wait. I had enjoyed my recent visit so decided to go for their lunch deal again.

As before there was a warm welcome from the staff and this time I chose to sit inside. The Lunch Menu is a fixed price at £8.50, where you can choose between a Greek Trio or a Greek Plate or a Souvlaki Wrap & Side. This time I went with the trio of dishes.

I had the warm flatbread with houmous and taramasalata. A nice starter, though I should have asked for it to all come at once rather than separately. If I had chosen one of the other ramekins available, such as tzatziki, I would like to have that along with the main.

The middle of the trio was Loukaniko beef and pork sausage. A traditional Greek beef and pork sausage, chargrilled and sprinkled with oregano.

Loukaniko beef and pork sausage

I’ve had similar dishes before and really enjoyed them, this was a tasty dish, strong flavours and a really meaty experience. It was served with smoked chilli relish, which I didn’t really like, I found it somewhat harsh and overpowering.

The final choice was the Aegean Slaw, thinly shredded cabbage, carrot, red and green peppers, with an olive oil dressing. I was slightly annoyed that the Loukaniko sausage was already accompanied by a reasonable portion of the Aegean Slaw, so I got extra slaw. If I had know this I might have chosen a different final choice. This was nice, fresh and crunchy.

The service was excellent, and it was a pleasant lunchtime experience with some great food, great value and nice environment.

Time for breakfast

breakfast at The Walton

I occasionally have to stay away as part of my job, and I find it surprising that I have become something of a breakfast snob when it comes to hotel breakfasts. I know that it is nice to have someone else make you breakfast.

A recent breakfast experience at the Holiday Inn Express was very disappointing, with minimal choice, not much different a previous experience a few years back. However recently I was able to repeat the breakfast experience at The Walton Hotel in Nottingham. I first stayed at The Walton back in 2016.

The Walton Hotel in Nottingham

This is a unique hotel experience and nothing like the bland chains that I usually find myself in. The quirky decor and furniture makes fort a very different hotel experience.

The Walton Hotel in Nottingham

Last time the breakfast was very quirky in its presentation.

breakfast at The Walton

This time I was expecting something different, as I had noticed that the dinner menu was radically different to what I had seen on my last visit. Last time I had a really nice pork done three ways. Looking back through the blog I realised I hadn’t blogged about that dish or the breakfast.

Pork done three ways

That pork dish was very clever and delicious, but as you can see it had quite a quirky presentation. I think I remember seeing a similar sounding lamb dish back then, so was looking forward to having that this time on my return visit. However looking over the menu it was apparent that they had changed chef and were going for “safe” options such as steak and chips, steak and ale pie, fish and chips, etc…

The new menu didn’t inspire me so was expecting a more “traditional” breakfast. However this time the breakfast was similar, it was served on a plate, though the beans were still in a miniature saucepan.

breakfast at The Walton

The mushroom was full of flavour and well cooked, not broiled for ages as you find at a breakfast buffet. Likewise as it was cooked to order the bacon was very tasty and not dried out, the eggs were also similarly freshly cooked and still had runny yolks. I liked the beef tomato that came with the breakfast. The sausage was meaty and tasty. The breakfast came with some nice toasted bloomer bread and a cafetière of freshly brewed coffee.

These were high quality ingredients and were cooked well and tasted delicious.

French Sausage at the German Market

Birmingham's German Christmas Market

I have been to a few German markets in my time, but have to admit I rarely buy anything from them, usually it’s time, sometimes it’s price and other times what on earth are they selling!

Most German markets I have been too have had some beautiful Christmas decorations and bits, but there are also lots of food stalls.

Birmingham's German Christmas Market

On the odd occasion, though I make a purchase, this time I went with what was described as a French Hot Dog. They looked really quite nice cooking on the griddle.

The blackboard was chalked with £4 each or £6 for a double. What you actually got was a split sausage for £4 and the £6 was for a whole sausage.

It was served in a split section of baguette, along with grated cheese and french mustard mayonnaise.

So what was it like? Well to be honest it was a bit of a nightmare for street food. The sausage was fine, but the skin was really tough, making it very difficult to bite through. I also thought the sausage was rather too salty. The cheese was nice, strong flavoured, but the mustard was a little harsh. Overall a bit of a disappointment, and I thought for £4 was somewhat overpriced.

Penne with Spicy Sausage

I recently had lunch at a small Turkish place and decided to go with the penne pasta in a chilli sauce with spicy sausage.

It was very nice and quite tasty.

I don’t think the pasta was freshly cooked, it tasted in some respects like fresh pasta, but knowing the place I was in, I wonder if they used frozen pasta? The chilli was done well, nice and spicy but still subtle and not overpowering.