Time to go back and visit Wagamama

The last place we went out to eat before the lockdown in March 2020 was Wagamama at Cribbs Causeway.

We had thought that places might close or be restricted, so took a final opportunity to go out and eat.

Though we have eaten out since that visit, wanting to go out and eat for Father’s Day my children decided that we would go to Wagamama. The fact that we couldn’t book a table didn’t seem to deter them…

We drove up to the Mall, and like on our recent visit a few days earlier the M5 was rather busy.

However we did mange to get their okay. We had decided to eat at 2pm, so we could miss the lunchtime rush. Despite that when we got into the Mall there was quite a long queue for Wagamama. Though I prefer not to queue, this time I knew there were very few alternatives around and my children had their heart set on going there, so we decided to wait. The queue actually moved quite fast and we took the time while we were waiting to peruse the menu.

I was really torn about what I was going to have. I did think about having the cod mokutan soba which I had back in 2019 and despite the initial dish being burnt the returned dish was much better. Interestingly back then I said

It was the kind of dish I enjoyed, but probably wouldn’t have it again on another visit.

I did quite like the idea of having it again this time, shows what do I know about what I like!

Another dish which caught my eye was the grilled duck donburi. 

tender, shredded duck in a spicy teriyaki sauce. mixed with carrots, mangetout, sweet potato and red onion on a bed of sticky white rice and topped with a crispy fried egg, cucumber and spring onions. served with a side of kimchee

Or the teriyaki sirloin steak soba.

grilled sirloin steak with soba noodles cooked in curry oil with mangetout, bok choi, red and spring onions, chilli and beansprouts in a teriyaki sauce. garnished with coriander and sesame seeds

In the end after much consideration and flip flopping I went with the  shirodashi ramen

slow-cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg

The rest of the family went with their choices, yaki soba, chicken raisukaree, gluten free chicken ramen and chicken and rice noodles.

As is typical at Wagamama for me, everyone else’s dish arrived well before mine, and I was waiting for while for my food. The others trying to be polite wanted to wait, but I didn’t want their food to go cold. Anyhow I can eat quite fast, so was okay with them eating.

This serving as food as soon as it is ready, does mean that you get your food fresh, reality is that unless you don’t mind eating your dish whilst others have none, it strikes me more as lazy planning than “serving food as soon as it’s ready”.

Finally my food arrived and though not quite as good as the pictures on the website it did look nice.

shirodashi ramen  slow-cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg

I had anticipated the slow cooked pork belly to be tender and soft, but actually was crispy, which I wasn’t expecting.

I did enjoy the ramen and it was very tasty and delicious.

I did think about having a beer with my ramen, but in the end went with a  jasmine flowering tea – flowering lily and jasmine green tea.

asmine flowering tea - flowering lily and jasmine green tea

It looked great and tasted nice, it reminded me of the flowering tea I had at Tea Monkey in Bath back in 2012.

I wasn’t going to have desert, but was persuaded to by everyone at the table, and it was Father’s Day. Though I did think about cheesecake, I went with the smoked chocolate caramel cake.

For some reason I wasn’t expecting to get a slice of cake! But I did, the cake was layers of smoked chocolate mousse, salted caramel crushed biscuits, chocolate fudge brownie and chocolate ganache, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

smoked chocolate caramel cake

Not as rich as it sounds and the ice cream added freshness and balance.

Overall we all enjoyed the meal, and the service was excellent.

Nice to be back.

Time for tea and a scone

So there we were visiting the Cadbury Garden Centre, in Congresbury in North Somerset. We have been going there for years for garden stuff, other stuff and usually we stop for coffee and cake, or tea and a scone.

Of course with the restrictions in place, they have been forced to close their eating places. So it was nice this weekend with the easing of restrictions that we could go for tea and a scone in their cafe.

They had taken the time during lockdown to refurbish their cafe areas They have gone for a retro Victorian tearoom look to their eating area, Costa has gone and they now resemble posh tearooms. They are very white and bright.

It might be a Blue Diamond thing, as on a recent visit to Sanders Garden Centre they were also refurbishing their eating areas, in a similar but not quite the same style.

They had also lost their Costa franchise as well.

So back to Cadbury, with some restrictions still in place they have moved to table service. So you choose your own table and when you are ready to order you show a green card!

We got promptly served, we chose a tea and coffee, well a flat white, and shared a cream scone. We paid there and then which was convenient.

The service was quite fast, but they did in fact forget our scone as they hadn’t read their ticket properly. The fact that it was the manager who had forgotten was quite amusing, as she told us, she is always telling the staff to read their tickets properly!

The flat white was really good, nice and strong. The tea was served in a lovely china pot and a matching cup and saucer.

The scone was nice and fresh, fluffy and light and came with jam and cream, but no butter. It was rather nice and tasty. We weren’t rushed and after we had finished we went to do some plant shopping.

Time for a scone…

…with cream and jam.

Scone with cream and jam

I can never remember which way you should do the cream and jam when having a scone. I know that it is different in Devon to the way that it is done in Cornwall. One of them puts the jam down first, then the cream; the other puts the cream down first and then the jam!

I know I could use the Google to find this out, but I am not sure that even if I did I would remember. The real question is does it really matter, especially when you are in Somerset?

Last week I spent a lovely day in the sun exploring Dunster Castle and its grounds.

Dunster Castle

This is a National Trust property in West Somerset close to Minehead. I have been before, twice, the first time was in the 1990s, but when I arrived, the group I was they baulked at the entry prices and we left pretty sharpish to have fish and chips on the beach in nearby Minehead.

I did go in May last year, I had just received a National Trust membership as a birthday present, but our visit was cut short as one of my children wasn’t feeling well, so we left early. We had promised ourselves that we would visit again. So just under a year later we were back.

I do enjoy exploring these huge old houses, they have a certain charm and remind ourselves of a time when life was more sharply divided that it is today. Always an element of jealously as well as we see these huge bedrooms that have space, in one example at Dunster, a bed, a sofa, dressing table and a breakfast table with four chairs! I remember thinking that the library at Tyntesfield was bigger than our house!

After exploring the house, time to explore the gardens, which are mainly on steep slopes, so the paths go back and forth. However if you can find your way to the old water mill then you can find the National Trust tea room. This is not the most pretty of tea rooms, the one at Barrington Court for example is really lovely, very old-fashioned room with wooden panels and comfortable chairs and wooden tables. The tea room at Dunster was not as welcoming or as warm as others I have been in. For me the whole tea room experience is not just about the food and drink, it’s also about the environment, the feel, the room, the furniture, even the lighting.

Of course, if you find yourself in the tearoom then it’s time for tea and a scone. Oh and then photograph it and post it to the Twitter.

You never know who will respond to your tweets, but this one resulted in a reply from @nt_scones

I don’t remember how I encountered @nt_scones on the Twitter, but what a great idea (and motivation) for visiting the different National Trust places.

They not only talk about their own scone experiences but also comment and re-tweet other people’s too. They also now have a book out.

As I said in my tweet, the scone was a little dry, but was still very nice. The NT jam was nice and though I think it’s a terrible luxury, I do enjoy getting the jam in the small individual jars. There is also the nice clotted cream too. I did enjoy the tea and it did some in a proper china teapot and not one of those awful metal teapots which always dribble down the spout.

Overall a nice cream tea, but not that traditional tea room experience that I have come to enjoy when visiting National Trust properties.

T-Licious

This tearoom in Chepstow is a real treasure and a lovely place to go for a pot of tea. It has character, personality, excellent customer service and delicious refreshing tea served from china teapots.

There is a quirky decor inside, but it adds to the atmosphere of the place. Due to the layout of the building the decor changes as you move through the building and into the garden. The chairs and tables don’t match, but that adds to the feel of the place.

The tea was really nice, as was the food, as a result the whole experience was just the thought of thing I like.

Morning Tea

Morning Tea

The last time I went to Betty’s Tearooms in York was in 1990, though since then I did visit their tearoom in Harrogate a couple of years ago and had a lovely pot of tea and cream scone.

Visiting York we decided to visit Betty’s in the blizzarding snow for a second breakfast. I was surprised by how busy it was at 10am in the morning, we had to queue!

We were given a lovely table next to the window from which we could watch people struggling in the wind and the snow.

It was early so alas the cake trolley wasn’t available and to be honest I don’t think I actually wanted a cake at that time of the morning, so went with the second breakfast.

We ordered the Breakfast Tea, and this is very nicely served with loose leaves, and so you have a tea strainer. I will say that I wasn’t a fan of the tea, though I finished the pot. I think the last time I had tea at Betty’s I had a different, much nicer tea. Personally it was a little too strong for me.

Alongside my tea I went with toasted pikelets, I don’t recall having them before, but the best way I can think of to describe them is they reminded me of a squashed crumpet, and they certainly tasted more of crumpet than pancake. In some areas of the world pikelets are more like pancakes, the ones from Yorkshire are more like crumpets.

Alongside the pikelets we had toast and crumpets. This was all served very posh like on cake stands.

It was a lovely second breakfast and with wonderful friendly service we all felt we had been really spoilt. Even though the place was really busy, we weren’t rushed and the whole affair was very relaxed. By the time we finished, the snow had gone and we were ready to continue with our day.

Dragon 4 Flowers

When I last wrote about Tea Monkey in Bath I said the next time I visited I would try one of their flowering teas. So when I visited Tea Monkey recently I did go for one of their flowering teas, Dragon 4 Flowers.

Light lavender notes with a floral bouquet giving depth and body to this early season green tea.

It was certainly an interesting experience, a small dried “bud” in a clear teapot which as it brewed opened into a flower.

Certainly a spectacle to watch and the flavour was light and delicate.

Tea Monkey

Okay this may surprise a few people, but when I was in Bath the other day I went to Tea Monkey and had a pot of tea.

Tea Monkey #366photos

I went for a pot of Darjeeling.

Darjeeling (Margarets Hope*) – From one of Darjeelings best known estates…a lovely muscatel flavour with delicious astringency

They used a glass pot and loose leaves, no tea bags in this place.

It was a lovely cup of tea and I really enjoyed drinking it. There is something very different about drinking proper tea (in the same way I guess about how I feel about drinking proper coffee). The tea was very refreshing and certainly perked me up for the rest of the day.

There is plenty of choice at Tea Monkey and, yes if you want one, you can get coffee, but I think the real reason to go to Tea Monkey is to try the tea. Next time I may be adventerous and try one of their flowering teas.

I also liked the fact that they serve toast, even when it isn’t breakfast! If you want toast for lunch, then you can have toast for lunch. You could also have crumpets or a teacake. As well as the toasted stuff they have a range of sandwiches and cakes too.

Devon Cream Scones

Recently at a conference I was able to enjoy these delicious cream and jam scones.

Devon Cream Scones

I am no expert on cream scones or the cream tea, but I certainly do enjoy eating them, something very nice about clotted cream. Though for me the freshness of the scone is paramount too, all too often I have had a cream tea and the scones are nowhere near fresh.

It would appear in Devon that they prefer their scones without dried fruit too, I do prefer my scones with dried fruit.

And finally when eating scones with clotted cream, it has to be for me a nice cup of tea… yes tea!

Egg and Chips with a nice mug of tea

Egg and Chips with a nice mug of tea

Food and class. Great article from the BBC Magazine on Egg and Chips with a nice mug of tea!

For a lower-middle class boy from Liverpool, a plate of egg and chips at five o’clock was not the done thing.

Read more.

Being middle class I would never have tea at 5pm, more likely  we would have “supper” at 7pm. For me tea was a birthday tea with cakes, biscuits, crisps and sausages on cocktail sticks. I remember being very surprised when a working class friend invited me home for tea and we didn’t have a birthday tea, but had supper!

Photo source.

Redbush Tea

Redbush TeaI am currently enjoying a cup of Redbush Tea, which isn’t really tea at all.

It is made from a plant only grown near Capetown in South Africa. Redbush tea tastes a little bit like normal tea, but with a slightly earthy, naturally sweeter taste.

I drink it with milk, but you can drink it without.

It’s a refreshing change from normal tea.