Coffee and Croissant

We were out in Weston town and we went for a walk along the seafront before heading into Revo for coffee and tea. We has considered going to Coffee #1 or somewhere else in town, but in the end decided that we would head to Revo.

There was a bit of a queue, I did think initially we should go elsewhere, but I was convinced to stay in the queue. In the end it moved quite quickly.

We were warmly welcomed, asked if we were in for a meal or just for coffee. We were shown to our seats, well chairs and a sofa. The place was quite crowded and full of people ordering meals. I have to say I was a little surprised by how busy it was. 

We placed our order. I had a flat white and a plain croissant. It arrived very quickly. Originally I was going to have a cake (well it late morning), but in the end wanting something not sweet, I went with the croissant.

I enjoyed the coffee and the croissant was nice and fresh.

It was nice to have table service for coffee, rather than queuing and waiting which we would have had to do at Costa or Coffee #1. Nice views of the sea as well.

Tim Hortons now open

An artist's impression of the drive-thru. - Credit: Tim Hortons
An artist’s impression of the drive-thru – Credit: Tim Hortons

The new Tim Hortons has opened in Weston-super-Mare. The Canadian chain which took over the old Pizza Hut restaurant and added a drive through.

When I discovered that there was to be a Tim Hortons, howeverI had no idea what a Tim Hortons was.  I was quite intrigued. Was this going to be a sophisticated coffee place? They have a number of outlets already in the UK, so I checked out the website. Yes they sell coffee, yes they sell doughnuts, but it looks much more like a burger chain than a coffee chain.

As I said before I probably won’t be visiting.

They’ve started construction work

Now that the Frankie and Benny’s restaurant has closed on Flowerdown Retail Park. The site will become a  Burger King with a drive-thru.

Image: Threadneedle UK

Planning applications posted to the council showed how the site will be converted into a drive-thru and local businesses were consulted on the change.

The restaurant was closed due to the pandemic restrictions put in place in March 2020, and by August with other restaurants now allowed to open, Frankie and Benny’s remain closed.

It never reopened.

I posted last August (2021) that the site was going to become a Burger King.

Now nearly six months later construction work has started on the site with the conversion of the restaurant into a drive thru and burger joint.

I ‘ve never being a great fan of fast food burger joints, so I think the chances of ever eating out there is very slim. If I am going out to eat I like the whole dining experience, queuing for a brown paper bag full of fast food, is not really my thing.

Combine this news with the new Tim Hortons drive thru opening up at the old Pizza Hut, the closure of Prezzo and Pizza Express, the eating out scene in Weston is slowly turning into one of fast food and drive-thru eating.

With all the exciting stuff that happens in Bristol on the food scene, it’s a pity that Weston is going down this fast food road.

Time for a Christmas Meal

Generally this time of year would be the time for Christmas meals, whether that be friends or family. I have been planning our traditional Christmas meal (for Christmas Eve) but in the past I have been to various Christmas meals for various things. 

My work would do a regular Christmas event with a meal, we didn’t have one last year (2020) due to the lockdown. I also didn’t go to the meal in 2019, as the one before in 2018 had been terrible. Rubbish food and awful service, didn’t want a repeat of that experience. I did  though have an excellent meal with the team I was in, in 2019 at the Mud Dock Cafe. Then I had a tasty homemade chestnut and parmesan gnocchi in a truffled mushroom and spinach cream followed by a rather delightful selection and beautifully presented board of cheese.

I am not attending an office Christmas meal this year, my (newish) team is rather geographically dispersed, but I did recently attend a festive gathering of our Scout Leadership team (I am a trustee). We went to the Fork ‘n’ Ale Taproom & Kitchen in Weston-super-Mare.

I drove down to the seafront, parked my car and walked to the taproom, it was blowing a gale and it was bitterly cold. I was reminded of Bill Bryson, who in Notes from a Small Island said of Weston-super-Mare.

First, you were born. This in itself is a remarkable achievement. Being born was easily the most remarkable achievement of your whole life. And think: you could just as easily have been a flatworm.

Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you were not. Soon you will cease to be once more. That you are able to sit here right now in this one never-to-be-repeated moment, reading this book, eating bon-bons, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing – just existing – is really wondrous beyond belief.

Third, you have plenty to eat, you live in a time of peace and ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ will never be number one again.

If you bear these things in mind, you will never be truly unhappy – though in fairness I must point out that if you find yourself alone in Weston-super-Mare on a rainy Tuesday evening you may come close.

It wasn’t Tuesday! Well at least it wasn’t raining, though I wish I had worn a hat. I opened the door to the Fork ‘n’ Ale and the wash of heat was welcome and needed.

First things first after finding everyone, was to buy some drinks. They had a really interesting selection of beers. As it was festive I went with the Christmas Nectar, a light beer which was delicious.

The service was excellent, friendly, warm and efficient.

For my starter I had the pulled chicken and maple bacon terrine. It was supposed to come with toasted chunky bread, but we had chunky bread (untoasted).

It was certainly an interesting concept and though I enjoyed the dish, I think it was something I wouldn’t have again. The bread was excellent though.

The turkey choice on the menu was a breaded turkey escalope with ham, and though it was turkey, the dish didn’t sound very festive, so I went with the lamb.

This was a lamb shank with a red currant and port gravy. It came with roasted potatoes carrot and parsnips. I don’t think it came with the butternut squash mentioned on the menu! Served alongside were the Forks collard greens, which was peas, beans, courgette and cabbage. 

The lamb was kind of what I was expecting, slow cooked lamb in a delicious gravy. The lamb was very tender and I enjoyed it. I expected it was brought into the pub and then heated as required and served, nothing special, but still tasty.

I did think though that the accompaniments were excellent, the roasted parsnip and carrots were delicious and I really enjoyed the collard greens. I could have done with a few more potatoes, but they were nice and crisp.

I would have preferred cheese and biscuits to finish, but that wasn’t on the menu, so I went with the brownie and ice cream. They had run out of coffee ice cream, so we were given a choice of a range of flavours. I went with vanilla.

The brownie was moist and had a rich chocolate flavour. That was a great end to the meal.

I have in the past had some terrible festive meals, this one was rather good. Some interesting choices made about the menu, but I did think there was some really tasty food on offer.

I had never been to the Fork ‘n’ Ale pub before to eat, actually not been there to drink either. They have a great choice of beers and the food was interesting, I think I would visit again.

Pizza Hut to be a Tim Hortons

An artist's impression of the drive-thru. - Credit: Tim Hortons
An artist’s impression of the drive-thru – Credit: Tim Hortons

After losing Frankie and Benny to Burger King, we now know that the old Pizza Hut restaurant in Weston-super-Mare is to become a Tim Hortons.

I had no idea what a Tim Hortons was. The initial news report I read said a Canadian chain which sold coffee and doughnuts. I was quite intrigued. Was this going to be a sophisticated coffee place? They have a number of outlets already in the UK, so I checked the website. 

Ah well looking at the menu, yes they sell coffee, yes they sell doughnuts, but it looks much more like a burger chain than a coffee chain.

I probably won’t be visiting when it opens.

Brunch time

I had taken my car in for some work and had an hour or so to kill. The original plan was for me and my son to go and have breakfast at the Brunello Lounge, something we had enjoyed recently for his birthday.

Having dropped the car off and walked to the Lounge, we were a little too early having arrived before it opened. So we went for a walk along the seafront. I was reminded of Revo, a restaurant that had opened in what was the old aquarium. I made the suggestion that maybe we could try there for breakfast for a change? Decision was made and we walked over to Revo and went inside. It was rather empty, but it was an early morning in September, but we were given a warm welcome and we had a wide choice about where we could sit, so we chose a table by the window. 

We looked over the menu, there was quite a choice. My son went with the Revo Breakfast, myself I decided to have steak and eggs. Two fried eggs on a 28 day aged bavette steak, wilted spinach and finished with a homemade chimichurri sauce. Not something I would probably usually have for breakfast, but it did sound quite nice. I was asked if I wanted my steak rare or well done (no opportunity for medium) so, and I like it that way, went with rare.

It took a little time for our breakfasts to arrive, which for me was a good sign, in that they were cooking them fresh to order.

Both dishes looked great.

I really enjoyed my steak and eggs. I think I might have liked some bread to go with it (not toast). However the steak was nicely cooked and had a good flavour. The bavette cut can have quite a strong flavour and it worked well with the eggs and spinach. The chimichurri cut through the dish in a pleasant way, though I have to say I did not eat all the sliced chilli in the dish (this was breakfast).

The breakfast looked really tasty, however the sausages were a little pink and the poached eggs were somewhat overcooked and rubbery. However my son didn’t want to complain, which was his prerogative.

The food was mainly excellent, the service friendly and warm. Not amazing value for money, but still a nice brunch and amazing views over the beach and the sea.

Prezzo to close in Weston-super-Mare

According to an article in the Evening Standard Prezzo in Weston-super-Mare is to close. Obviously it is closed now due to Covid restrictions, but is now not going to reopen.

Prezzo in WSM is part of the Dolphin Square development, we’ve already seen Pizza Express next door, shut. Loco Mexicana has moved from their unit to a new one on the seafront. T-Bone and Luda have also closed. That leaves just Costa at the back and Nandos on the corner still “open”. The Cineworld has closed due to Covid, as had clip and climb. Going forward what does this mean for the entire complex? 

Causal dining chains in Weston have taken a hit across the town, as Frankie and Benny’s over at Flowerdown has also shut.

An opportunity in the future for independent restaurants perhaps? Or will people travel into Bristol or up to Cribbs Causeway when they want to go out to eat in the future?

Quick Coffee Number One

With the new imminent lockdown coming on Thursday I took the the time and the opportunity to pop out to Weston town centre to do some shopping.

Wanting a coffee, I popped to one of my favourite regular haunts for coffee in Weston which is Coffee #1.

I first bumped into the Coffee #1 chain in Monmouth one lunch time a fair few years ago now. I thought at the time it was an independent, didn’t realise it was a chain.

Their branch in Weston opened shortly after that visit to Monmouth, so it became a place to go for coffee after shopping or after a walk along the seafront.

I ordered my flat white and they also had a vegan scone with cream (I know) and jam for half price, so I decided to have a coffee and a scone.

The scone was somewhat heavy, but I still enjoyed it.

The coffee was excellent, smooth milk and great tasting coffee. I was slightly disappointed that I had finished it, I think I might have had another one.

Weston Food Festival

Went shopping at the weekend in Weston-super-Mare, which to be honest, is now quite a depressing experience with all the shops that have closed down, and many of these closed down even before the covid-19 lockdown.

We went into the Sovereign Centre to go to Waterstones, this is a shopping centre that has a food hall with no food places from which you can buy food! They converted the Druckers Café into this food hall, no one took up the other kiosks or stands, Druckers closed and so we were left with a food hall where you can’t buy food! Well not entirely accurate, there is a Parsons’ pasty shop in the centre, but you’re not allowed to eat in the food hall as it has been roped off!

So as we walked outside the Sovereign Centre it was a nice surprise to bump into the Weston-super-Mare food fair.

We looked around the stalls, in the end we bought some gluten free scotch eggs, which were very nice. As with the recent Portishead food fair I was slightly disappointed with the stalls, but even so it was nice to see such a busy market in Weston.

Frankie and Benny’s in Weston-super-Mare may close

Update 21st June 2021: The restaurant has closed and is being converted into a burger joint with a drive through.

Update 27th August 2020: Updated the article with a photograph and text relating to the removal of the external signage.

Well after blogging about the closure of Pizza Express in Weston-super-Mare, it is now rumoured, but not confirmed, that the branch of Frankie and Benny’s in Weston-super-Mare will not be reopening after closed for lockdown. 

The fact that when taking a photograph for this blog post, all the main signage had been removed, says to me, it will not be opening again.

It should be said that the company behind Frankie and Benny’s was in trouble before the pandemic closed restaurants and was looking at closing branches across the country. I wasn’t too surprised, they changed their menu and branding to more of an American style, and though they were Italian-American, I think they started to lose some of their appeal by losing the Italian aspects of their brand.

I don’t recall my last visit there, I know we had a Christmas breakfast there in 2017 and I had a birthday meal there in 2015, but I don’t think I have been there more recently than that.

Initially we stopped going there as their gluten free offering was quite poor, but they did change that a few years ago I believe, so we went a few times in 2017. I think another reason was that too often we were disappointed with the food and service. Also with Prezzo and Pizza Express opening in Dolphin Square there was more choice about where to go out to eat. Though, what with Pizza Express closing and now the probable closure of Frankie and Benny’s means now we have less choice.

So now waiting for confirmation of closure.