Good food, not so good service

We visit Wagamama quite a bit compared to other places, however we have never been to the branch at Cabot Circus. It was a bank holiday and the place was busy and we had to queue (as you can’t book tables at Wagamama).

We were kept informed about the wait, I think partly to put people off, but we continued to wait. Eventually we were shown to a table and we looked over the menu.

I did consider having the shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken which when I went to Wagamama in Manchester was off the menu. I also thought about the spicy miso mackerel kokoro bowl. In the end I decided I would have a katsu curry. I chose the vegan yasai katsu curry. This was aromatic katsu curry sauce, vegetables in crispy panko breadcrumbs, sticky white rice, side salad, japanese pickles.

The vegetables were aubergine, sweet potato and butternut squash. I did think that usually I would have gone with the chicken katsu, but I what I wanted from the dish was the curry sauce, the rice and the texture of the crispy panko. The chicken wasn’t necessary and I liked the idea of different vegetables.

I did enjoy the dish, though I wasn’t enamoured with the curry sauce, maybe I should have gone with the hot spicy version. The panko vegetables were very nice, I liked the crunch and you could taste the vegetables.

To accompany the curry I had a Singha beer, which was nice and fresh. I would have preferred the beer to be colder though.

As for the service, I was less than impressed. I know at Wagamama the food arrives when it is ready, so dishes won’t be served together. Normally I am alright with this, but this time the first two dishes arrived quite quickly, the other two took much longer to be served. By the time the final dish arrived, we had nearly finished our food. We ordered some more drinks, and they spent a lot of time on the bar, before they were brought to the table. There appeared to be a fair few staff. I think part of the issue was they were being inundated with online takeaway orders which was swamping the kitchen.

So good food, not so good service.

Time for a Raisukare

We went out to eat at Wagamama at the Mall at Cribbs Causeway, which is one of our regular haunts for meals out

The restaurant environment is so different to other branches of Wagamama as it sits on a mezzanine at one of end of The Mall. Those with long memories will recall that the location was the home of the deli style eating establishment, Café Giardino.

When we arrived the Wagamama, the place was busy and there was a queue. We didn’t mind so much, so we waited patiently for our turn to get a table and eat some food.

This time we had to wait a while as they were understaffed, but it didn’t feel too long before we were shown to a table.

I looked over the menu, I was tempted by dishes I had before but in the end I decided to have the Tofu Raisukare. This was a vegan curry of tofu, mild and citrus coconut sauce, mangetout, peppers, red and spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli, coriander, served with fresh lime and white rice.

This was a nice fresh mild curry, though the red chilli added a bit of heat. The tofu had an interesting texture and wasn’t quite what I expected. I had thought the tofu would have a little more bite. The sauce was nice, the vegetables were very crisp.

Overall I enjoyed the dish and something I would order again.

In the end we ended up at Amarone

Edinburgh Castle

I have been to Edinburgh many times for work and have eaten out there when staying overnight. I had an excellent French meal back in November 2019. However though I have been there for work I have never been there for a personal visit. So when planning a short holiday for the summer we decide we would visit Edinburgh in August for a short city break.

On our first night we decided that we would go to Bella Italia, but they were full, so we then decided we would visit Wagamama which was just around the corner from the hotel. You can’t book a table for Wagamama, you just have to turn up and hope for the best. Alas there was a long queue for Wagamama so we needed so go somewhere else, and of course we hadn’t booked anywhere else either.

I was looking at booking a place on my phone when we checked across the road from Wagamama and there was an Italian restaurant called Amarone which was open and had free tables.

Amarone

So in we went and were shown to a comfortable booth. The decor was nice if a little over the top really, however as the place had once been a bank you realised that explained the high ceilings. It reminded my of Harrods with the lights and pillars and use of brass.

There was quite a good menu, however it was a limited menu due to Covid restrictions in the kitchen.

I chose a pasta dish, the rest of the table, one had a vegan pizza, the other two had gluten free pizza.

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare, this was mixed seasonal fish and shellfish with olive oil, garlic & parsley. I was given a choice of rich tomato or bianco sauce, I had the bianco sauce.

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare

This wasn’t a huge dish of food, but there was a generous serving of fish and shellfish. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the sauce was delicious. I really enjoyed this plate of food.

The vegan pizza was interesting and tasty. The Ortolana Vegana was a hand-stretched & stone-baked sourdough pizza base, vegan mozzarella, marinated and grilled courgettes, aubergine, mixed peppers, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Ortolana Vegana

I had a slice and it was interesting and tasty, not so sure about the vegan mozzarella.

The gluten free pizza were simplistic but tasty.

gluten free pizza

The service was warm, friendly and efficient. We had a lovely welcome and given time to both order and eat despite the busyness of the place. Certainly somewhere I would go again if I was back in Edinburgh.

Disappointing Deliveroo, well not really

Despite the pandemic and the growth of delivery services, it was only in July of this year that I finally bit the bullet and used a delivery service.

I was away, working in London, and I was staying at a hotel which didn’t have a restaurant. I didn’t really want to go out to eat, so decided that maybe this time I should use a service like Deliveroo.

There was an opening offer, so that made it quite cost effective and cheaper than I thought it was going to be.

I looked over the choices and in the end went with Wagamama.

I was quite hungry so I ordered Yaki Soba with Chicken and Prawns, a portion of Chilli Squid and some vegan mixed mushroom bao buns.

The process of ordering was really quite simple and the communication was good as well. There was a slight issue in the driver finding my hotel, but a quick phone call sorted that.

So why was the meal disappointing?

The food was cold and I had to reheat it in my hotel room (which luckily was equipped with a microwave).

I did think that initially this was down to Deliveroo.

Well I actually don’t think the problem was with Deliveroo, but actually was with Wagamama.

When I went to Wagamama in Edinburgh recently, they were preparing orders for delivery services and the food was left on a table without any thought to it getting cold. I suspect it was a similar process when I used Deliveroo for my Wagamama meal.

The thing is that, this really put my off using Deliveroo again for a hot meal delivery. I did use the service recently for some wine from Morrisons which was also efficient and quick.

So what about the actual food.

Well the Yaki Soba was rather nice, and once warmed up in the microwave was tasty. 

The chilli squid though looked great.

chilli squid

This was crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi. served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce.

However this dish was quite cold, and even though I warmed it up in the microwave, I do think this made the squid somewhat rubbery and softened the crispiness. It was certainly not as good as when I have had it in the restaurant fresh to the table.

There was though one star dish amongst the ones I ordered which was the (vegan) mushroom steamed hirata buns.

mixed mushrooms + panko aubergine hirata steamed buns - two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and vegan mayonnaise

These were mixed mushrooms + panko aubergine hirata steamed buns – two small, fluffy asian buns stuffed with mixed mushrooms and panko aubergine, served with coriander and vegan mayonnaise.

These were delicious and I really enjoyed them.

So the next time I fancy some food from Wagamama, I think I will take the time to visit the restaurant and eat there.

May contain milk

If it may contain milk then it isn’t vegan. Just saying.

Saw this Galaxy vegan chocolate bar in the Free From aisle at Morrisons, where I was getting some gluten free stuff.

I did think that the only real ingredient in chocolate bars which isn’t vegan is the milk.

I can appreciate that it may not be possible to set up a separate factory, but seems a lost opportunity as I suspect many vegans will not bother with these as they don’t want to take the risk of accidentally eating a milk based product.

 

Time for a Calzone Verdure

Celebrating a birthday we headed for Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway. We had booked in advance, which was a good thing, as the place was busy, buzzing and full of people. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions we had to wear masks in the restaurant when we weren’t sitting at the table.

Virtually all the Pizza Express restaurants have their own character, this is certainly the case with the Cribbs Causeway branch. It has a Banksy feel with stencil graffiti on the walls in a Banksy style.

We had a nice warm welcome and were shown to our table. Though we could have looked at the menu online on our phones, we did ask for physical menus.

I ordered a Peroni Libera, Peroni’s non-alcoholic lager, as I was wanting something that wasn’t a soft drink, but as I was driving I didn’t want alcohol. I don’t mind non-alcoholic lagers, however I wasn’t a fan of this one. There was something that wasn’t quite right, and compared to other non-alcoholic lagers I have had it wasn’t as tasty.

For my starter I chose the calamari. These were breaded squid rings served with a Caesar dressing, lemon and parsley. I think I should have remembered my experience from last year. 

I thought it was okay, but I was a little disappointed. 

It was a similar experience this time.

Again I thought it was just okay, but I was a also a little disappointed. The squid was tender, the coating crunchy, but I am not sure it was what I wanted from a dish of calamari. The thing was looking at the other starters there wasn’t much I liked from the menu, so defaulting to the squid.

For my main course I was tempted by the Fiorentina pizza I have had before, but thinking I always have that, lets try something different I did like the sound of the Calzone Verdure. The menu describes this as roasted peppers and aubergine with spinach, smoky tomato harissa, hot chilli, tomato with garlic and topped with rosemary and served with salad and balsamic dressing.

So I decided to go with that.

I really quite liked the calzone. The dough was delicious and tasty. The filling was a lot spicer than I was anticipating, but I think that’s because I didn’t read the description properly and missed the mention of hot chilli. So probably a little too spicy for me, but the filling was very tasty and full of flavour.

What I didn’t realise was that this was a vegan dish, well not that was an issue, this was a very tasty calzone pizza and I really enjoyed it.

Spicy Pumpkin Wrap

For me one of the challenges I find deciding what to choose from the many lovely food stalls in St Nicholas’ Market is not only which stall to buy lunch from, but once that choice is made, what do I choose from the menu.

The choice of stalls is not vast, but the variety is certainly there, you won’t finding anyone selling toasted panini or boring sandwiches. There are still a few stalls I’ve not yet tried, it does appear I like to go back to where I have been before.

I have really enjoyed the many dishes I have had from Caribbean Wrap in the market. The Jerk Chicken is delicious and I love the accompaniments that come with it, the spinach is scrummy.

So out for lunch the other day, I decided after perusing all the different places (as one does) to try something new and different and so I went for the Spicy Pumpkin Wrap.

Spicy Pumpkin Wrap

This huge beast of a wrap was stuffed with beautiful cooked spiced pumpkin chunks, spicy chick peas and fresh avocado and served with a swirl of hot sauce. The combination of flavours and textures was delightful. Oh it was vegan too.