Search This Blog

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Feasting at Flour & Ash

I have had two opportunities to visit Flour & Ash, on Gloucester Road, and I grabbed them hard with both hands and wouldn't let go. Two visits in two weeks might seem extreme to you but once you try their pizzas you will understand. I will keep this brief, as brief as a chatty person can, Flour & Ash is immense. The first visit we were able to take advantage of the two pizzas for £10 with a glass of wine, only on selected pizzas but that was good enough for me. I chose the chorizo with pickled chilis, nice and thick chorizo slices and spicier than you'd expect chilis, awesome. The second visit I was able to sample the already hallowed ox cheek ragu with bechamel and aged provolone. 
Flour and Ash Bristol

Flour and Ash Bristol
chorizo and pickled chilis
Flour and Ash Bristol
ox cheek ragu pizza
Despite the ox cheek ragu as being a firm favourite of visitors to Flour & Ash, it wasn't as nice as the chorizo and pickled chili one I had on my first visit. It was still excellent though. The thing that makes those pizzas the best I've ever had is the dough. Rich will tell you that I don't always eat all the crust on a pizza but here I polished off the lot. It is chewy yet fluffy and given the chance I could probably eat two in a sitting. I would recommend them offering up a pot of the arancini tomato sauce to dip any crusts in, that sauce is beautifully smooth and full of flavour, offer it as a dip Flour & Ash I implore you. Although the arancini themselves are worth ordering too, melt in the mouth deliciousness.
Flour and Ash Bristol
Seafood pizza
The toppings are sometimes more inventive than your standard pizza place but the high quality of the ingredients shines through. Just look at the seafood pizza above, jam packed full of seafood and a bit different from your average. I thought I had found the best pizza place in Bristol but I think I have had my mind changed, Great chatty and friendly service makes you feel really at home.  I haven't even mentioned their home made ice creams yet. All you need to know is they are wonderful, I had chai flavour and a scoop of pineapple sorbet and both were excellent a nice little sweet treat to end the meal, and at £2 it is good value for such a generous scoop. I am officially an addict. Check out what Flour & Ash have to offer on their website

Monday, 15 December 2014

London Celebrations at Ping Pong

Last month was the birthday of my favourite part Panamanian, Martha Stewart fanatic and all round good egg Carla, aka Can Be Bribed With Food.  After a night out shouting "stop trying to make fetch happen" at the Mean Girls bitch along in Leicester Square the following day required a feast for lunch, Carla suggested Ping Pong for dim sum. There are a number of these restaurants dotted around London and on Sundays they offer all you can eat dim sum for £20.95, that's a lot of dumplings. We went to the Soho branch and the restaurant is pretty big, huge round tables downstairs with inbuilt lazy Susans.
Ping Pong London Dim Sum

The menu is also pretty extensive with most of the traditional dim sum dishes you would expect as well as some new creations. We ordered 4 dishes each to share round and then hungrily waited for their arrival whilst sipping, in my case, green tea.  With a mix of fried, steamed and rice dishes including char siu pork puffs, black prawn dumplings, duck spring rolls plus a chicken and mushroom rice pot we were able to sample a good portion of the menu.
Ping Pong London Dim Sum
roast pork puffs
Ping Pong London Dim Sum
duck spring rolls
Ping Pong London Dim Sum

Ping Pong London Dim Sum
squid ink prawn dumplings
Ping Pong London Dim Sum

Ping Pong London Dim Sum
Har Gau
We were lucky that most of the dishes we ordered came with 3 portions otherwise there would have been fisty cuffs. For the traditionalist dim sum lover this perhaps should not be at the top of your list as they do some different dishes, like the potato and edamame cake which you normally wouldn't see on the menu.  I felt the steamed dishes fared worse as they felt a bit wet to me, more than they normally should, which watered down the taste.

The best dishes we had were the char siu roast pork puffs, stuffed full of pork and very indulgent. The chicken and mushroom rice was also excellent, really nicely seasoned with garlic, ginger and soy. Probably the best dumpling was the squid ink prawn and garlic one, it tasted quite different but was also a bit luxurious, if you can call a dumpling luxurious, which I am.
Ping Pong London Dim Sum
some of the feast
I would recommend Ping Pong as a good place to meet up with friends after work for a nibble and a chat, It's not the best dim sum in London to be sure but you get a good tasty feed and for a mini chain it is miles ahead of what a lot of them offer. The all you can eat dim sum offer on Sundays is pretty good value when you consider how much you would normally pay to sample that many dishes. To see what else Ping Pong have to offer check out their website.
The Birthday Girl and Myself

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Christmas Lunch at Wally's Kaffeehaus

Last week mum and I went on our yearly Christmas shopping trip to Cardiff, it's more of a window shopping affair with a nice lunch, nevertheless it is something we look forward to each year. Once you reach the big shopping centre from the train station you are hit by a sea of chain restaurants such as Jamie's Italian, Wahaca, Wagamama and GBK. It can be a little tricky to find somewhere independent near the main shopping thoroughfare however on our trip to Wally's Delicatessen, my favourite shop in Cardiff, we decided to check out their kaffeehaus. Modeled on a Viennese coffee house, Wally's Kaffeehaus offers a selection of traditional Austrian cakes, open sandwiches and wursts, mostly from produce from the deli itself.

Mum decided to treat herself to a beer whilst I went for one of the Orchard Pig juices. As for food we were a little torn. Wally's have a great selection of open sandwiches topped with sliced meats and cheeses from downstairs in the deli, as well as fresh soups and don't even get me started on the sausage lunches, enough to satisfy the German in you. We decided to order two of their festive open sandwiches; smoked turkey with stuffing, Perl Wen and Bowland cheeses, cranberry sauce and rocket on wholemeal bread all served with a German style potato salad

I wasn't feeling festive before this but I certainly am almost ready to jingle those bells now. The nicest lunch we've had in a long time. The flavours all worked together, the creamy Perl Wen was like a mild brie was very indulgent. I particularly loved the Bowland red onion cheese with the slices of turkey and peppery rocket. Basically I could have eaten two of these sandwiches they were that good. So I urge you to check out Wally's if you find yourself in Cardiff the fresh produce is wonderful and really reasonably priced, this sandwich was only £6.50. Plus the staff are really friendly and professional their attention to detail was great. We decided that we couldn't leave without sampling a cake so mum picked the mango and passionfruit mousse cake and a pot of tea. 

A lovely light and fruity cake the perfect accompaniment to a pot of tea before going back to browse the shops. So if you find yourself in Cardiff do check out Wally's the deli is fantastic lots of German and local produce, I found myself buying quite a few little Christmas presents in here. If you want to find out more about Wally's Kaffeehouse check out their website.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Impromptu Curry at the Rajpoot

The other week I had a bit of a sore throat. I had that sinking feeling it was going to turn into a full blown cold. It was the first properly cold night of Winter and Rich prescribed a curry, and who was I to argue with such a medicinal suggestion. I wasn't in the mood to walk to our current favourite curry house, Bombay Spice in Clifton by the way, so we looked at closer to home options. As we had already been to Kohi Noor we decided to give the Rajpoot, right at the top of Whiteladies, a try.

Gratefully stepping into the warm we walked in to a small yet smart and cosy restaurant, it was like a reverse Tardis, if you will. We were welcomed and shown to a little table near the back of the room and handed some menus. The menu is smaller than most curry houses and there are few curries you won't recognise and some you might expect to be there but aren't. However don't be put off there are still plenty of interesting dishes to choose from. We decided to chose, apart from the obligatory poppadoms, a lamb jalfrezi and a honey chicken and peshwari naan. All their curries come with rice and are mostly priced at the £12 mark, which is a little more expensive than most curry houses however this is more of a fancy number that you might choose for a date, upping the price for the atmosphere if you will.

see, romantic and fancy
The poppadoms and chutneys were good, the lime pickle was especially good, and I don't even really like lime pickle but this was pretty fresh tasting and not too mouth puckering. Once the curries arrived a short time afterwards we realised that we'd have to stick to our choices. The curries were plated up in such a way that it would not be as easy to share, rice turret and individual curry bowl. See I told you it was fancy.

The curries were really very good, the lamb melted in the mouth and was nicely spicy. The honey chicken was ok but I've had better. The main disappointment was there was not really enough rice to go round and although it looked nice compared to the amount of curry dished up it was frugal. However not to be too downbeat Rich and I did really enjoy the romantic atmosphere and the food was on the whole pretty delicious, the naan was particularly good, for the lamb jalfrezi alone I would return.

So for something a bit different tempt yourselves out of the house to the Rajpoot it means you have the excuse to go for an after dinner cocktail at Hausbar, which is my favourite cocktail place in Bristol. For more information check out the Rajpoot website.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Fast Fooding at Five Guys

Five Guys, when it arrived in the UK caused quite a frenzy. The American chain of burger fast food eateries had been long rumoured to be the best burger pick for a lot of people. Now we have a couple of Five Guys in the UK word is spreading fast, whispers of  'best burger' were floating about the ether, a bold claim I hear you cry. Anyway Rich and I were invited to Five Guys in Cabot Circus in opening week to see what all the fuss was about. We chose to go after work and I was starving by the time 6pm came around.

When we arrived Five Guys was crazy busy there was a queue out the door, it was moving fairly swiftly however so we weren't waiting long. There is a very simple menu, your burger can contain cheese, bacon or cheese and bacon. As for the salad parts, these are completely customisable and free, options include; chilis, mushrooms, tomatoes, mustard and mayonnaise. You might be a bit taken aback by how much a normal sized bacon and cheese burger costs for a fast food restaurant, how do you feel about paying £8.75, not including fries? I was a bit shocked to be honest, to our order of bacon and cheese burgers we added two small fries of both standard and cajun seasoned. 
Five Guys Bristol

One of the big sells of Five Guys, for most people, is the 100+ soft drinks and free refills. For £2.50 you can sample as many varieties as Schweppes, Coca-Cola and Fanta make, and most of these you won't realise existed, mainly because they are US only. I am not a huge consumer of fizzy drinks to be honest but this selection is rather impressive. 
Five Guys Bristol

As we were waiting for our order to be called from the highly organised preparation area we helped ourselves to cherry and vanilla coke and a diet raspberry coke, the raspberry one was especially nice, shame it's not readily available in the UK. After about a 5-10 minute wait with complimentary peanuts, if you help yourself from the huge stack at the front of the restaurant, we were in possession of our brown paper bag of burgers and fries. 

bacon and cheese burger
Five Guys Bristol
cajun fries

Five Guys Bristol
oozy cheese
Compact and meaty burgers greeted us when unwrapped from their foil confinements. I had chosen to add gherkins and chilis to mine as well as the obligatory lettuce and mayo. The cheese was American and very oozy and melty, the bacon had been cooked so it was crispy and dry, which was a nice touch.  The burger was tasty and juicy, very American diner style, which I guess is what they were going for. The best burger I've ever had? No but it was pretty good. The chilis were nice and spicy and the portion of gherkins was generous which was great because I love them. The buns were surprisingly resilient and I love sesame seeds on burger buns. The cajun fries were spicy but over salted I found so I didn't finish mine for fear of dehydration but also because I was full.  The standard fries fared a bit better but still too salty for me. 

Five Guys does create a tasty burger, but for £8.75 without fries and considering it is a fast food restaurant I would expect it to be astounding because of the restaurant experience you are losing. I am not really sure what I was expecting to be honest but my personal point of view was this is not my favourite burger in Bristol but I think people do have different view on what makes a burger great to them. Five Guys might be further up my list if the price was dropped a bit more. If you go to Five Guys I would love to hear what you thought of it. This meal was complimentary but that did not affect the outcome of my review. If you want to learn more about Five Guys visit their website.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Cheap Evenings Out For Hungry People

In this blog post I am going to try and list a selection of places where you can get a deal on your evening out. I don't know about you but I am always looking for a bargain, especially when it comes to going out. Much as I love cooking there is something extra enjoyable about a spontaneous decision to dine out.  So I have gathered a list of places where you can dine out for £10 and under.  Perfect for students looking for tasty food on a budget.

Small Bar, are beer and meat your thing? Is that a stupid question? You can order hotdogs, big meat sandwiches and sides galore, most of which are under £7 hugely filling snacking to go along side the multitude of beers they have in their drinking arsenal.  And if bread and meat are your thing then you can also fare very well at Bagel Boy. These guys, based on St Nicholas Street, offer a huge selection of bagels, I personally recommend any of the ones with salt beef in. These are all easily under £10 and it is open late into the night so you can catch up over a pint and several bagels.
salt beef bagel from Bagel Boy

Or The Clifton pub host a fixed price menu full of comforting food with 2 courses for £10 expect burger, ham egg and chips and macaroni cheese. Likewise The Social on Cheltenham Road, a firm favourite with Bristol, they take special care with vegetarian and vegan menu items so you can be assured you won't feel like a second class citizen when it comes to choosing food. On Mondays after 5pm The Social offers 25% off any item from the dinner menu and a drink. For Winter they are offering lots of comforting food items like roasted meats with seasonal greens designed to centrally heat you for the walk home in the cold.

Fancy some Japanese cuisine but don't want to break the bank? Just look to Yume and Bento Boss. Yume's ramen, katsu and teriyaki dishes all come well below the £10 mark, some cheap enough to squeeze in ordering a side as well. Likewise Bento Boss does a vast selection of ramen, fresh baos and bento boxes for £10 and under you will still be spoiled for choice.
tempura prawn ramen at Yume
sungal pelek village rojak from Bento Boss (chef's hometown specialty)
Feel like pigging out on a burger, there are a number of deals. Racks does 2-4-1 burgers on a Monday evening which work out as £5 each. Start the Bus also offers 2-4-1 burgers, but on Tuesday I recommend the chorizo and grilled halloumi burger but if you're feeling adventurous then they do offer one with pickled onion monster munch and emmental. However you don't have to restrict your visit to just Tuesday the hot dogs, burgers and fried chicken all come in under the £10 mark as it is.  The Aviator on Chandos Road offer a couple of burgers for £8.75 which includes some delicious seasoned chips.

Chomp will do you a burger and fries for £10 and it's one of the best in Bristol.  If you are looking for a quick feed after a couple of drinks then YoYo burger may surprise you, some seriously delicious burgers and a huge menu to choose from, even a wagyu burger.
Start the Bus burger and skin on fries
I am always on the look out for pizza deals, mainly because they are Rich's favourite choice for going out, so Planet Pizza's 2-4-1 on Mondays and Tuesdays between 5-7, is a firm favourite. Super thin bases and generous toppings, the mushroom, walnut, artichoke and blue cheese pizza is one of my favourites. All pizzas at Al Bacio are under £10 I personally recommend their calzone it is huge and the dough is really moreish. Or The Stable for pizza, side salad and a drink from 5pm every Tuesday. In addition Flour & Ash on Gloucester Road will do you two pizzas and two glasses of wine for £20 before 6.30 and they are my favourite pizzas in the whole of Bristol.

Flour & Ash -Chorizo and Pickled Chili
pizza from The Stable
Planet Pizza yumminess
Other bargain dining venues include Mathilda's Chili Bar in the Bear Pit with offers from £6.95 for 3 bean chili or £8.95 for Texan brisket chilli, all served with rice, jalapenos, guacamole and sour cream, perfect for any cold snaps. I also really like Thai Pepper a neat little BYO on Gloucester road with a pretty extensive menu all mains are under £10 and the corkage charge is just a couple of pounds.  

Or for an extra special treat The Ox does a deal Monday-Friday until 7pm, a 6oz rump, fries, sauce and a drink for £12.50.  I am keen to try this myself, it is meant to be the best place for steak in Bristol. So enjoy seeking out frugal dining out in Bristol, these are my personal recommendations, if you have any favourite tips pass them on and I'll add them in. Happy dining! 

Friday, 31 October 2014

Sunday Burgers at Byron

Two Sundays ago we were invited by Byron to try their newly opened restaurant on the Triangle. Byron, supplier of 'proper hamburgers' is well known in London and with branches opening further from the capital it was only a matter of time before Bristol got their own one. Burgers are Bristol's thing at the moment you can't move without running into a new burger place, whilst I love a good burger the market is a little saturated.  Byron's manifesto is simple burgers done well. So don't expect to be able to order sky high burgers with pulled pork, black pudding or macaroni cheese.   What you can expect is bacon, a selection of cheeses, pickles and dips.
Byron Burger Bristol

Byron Burger Bristol

The venue itself is a mix of dark woods and distressed tiles, at the back to be honest it looks a little more on the shabby side of shabby chic but as we weren't sat at that end it was more of a fleeting thought.  On to the menus. There is a big selection of fairly pricey beer, above average soft drinks selection, a slew of milkshakes and to Rich's delight, root beer. I chose a Fentimans ginger beer. The food menu is fairly small, keeping it simple afterall, so I decided to go for the Shady, which is their current special and Rich picked the Smoky.  Both these burgers cost £9.95 which is a touch steep for a burger which leads me nicely on to my next point.

One thing to note when ordering is that sides are not included, this is definitely something that annoys people when going to a burger or steak restaurant. Very few people would want to order either without some accompaniment so why consider it an extra?  Rich picked fries and I went for the skin on thick chips, which will set you back £3.50 if you decide to go for them, plus chipotle mayo and blue cheese dips. It didn't take too long for our food to arrive which was lucky as I hadn't eaten breakfast.
Byron Burger Bristol
The Shady
Byron Burger Bristol
Byron Burger Bristol

The burgers were tasty. I particularly liked the crispy cheese in my Shady, think toastie run off, they should add it to the house toppings rather than just making it a special. Rich was impressed by the barbecue sauce in his Smoky and the structural integrity of the bun.  I liked the burgers but I wasn't in love with them. Mine was not as pink as Rich's was and I was a touch disappointed over all. Where I was impressed was with the chips, some of the nicest thick cut chips I've had with a burger but for £3.50 they would have to be something special. I also recommend getting the chipotle mayonnaise, if you like more spice than usual then this will be right up your street, it has a proper kick to it and is a worthwhile dip.

Byron is good but not quite good enough to tempt me away from my two favourite burger places, The Burger Joint and Three Brothers Burgers, especially for the price. But the milkshakes and sundaes are meant to be excellent so if you find yourself on the Triangle it is worth popping in to check out, but I think they should consider lowering the prices by a couple of pounds on the burgers or at least start including chips because there are better deals in Bristol. Check out what Byron has to offer by visiting their website.

Please note that this meal was received free of charge by Byron but this did not have any affect on my opinion, as you may be able to tell.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Friday Night Tapas at Pata Negra

The end of our first full week in the new flat and with most of the boxes disposed of I felt safe to leave the confines of unpacking and head out to be sociable. Wuthering Bites had invited me to try Pata Negra with her and as no one can resist tapas, I gladly accepted. Pata Negra, the fancy Spanish cousin to The Ox and The Milk Thistle, has quite a big space to fill.  Lunch runs from 12-3pm where you can purchase 3 tapas for £10, if you arrive after 3pm pintxos are available at the offer of 3 and a glass of sherry for £7, until they run out. 
Pata Negra Bristol
pintxos on display
pintxos upclose
I was ushered to a high table for two with a stool and a window seat. I chose the window seat which for a short person was a bit of a mistake as there was nothing to rest your feet on so I almost slipped off my unstable perch several times.  I digress. I ordered a very quaffable glass of Spanish red whilst Sarah went for the strong gin and tonic made with their own Pata Negra gin and garnished with rosemary. Food wise we decided to order the signature 36 month hand carved pata negra ham, obviously. We also picked tortilla, chestnut mushrooms with red wine garlic & rosemary, chorizo cooked in cider with a poached egg and breadcrumbs and the slow cooked pork shoulder.
Pata Negra ham Bristol

Pata Negra Bristol

Pata Negra Bristol

Pata Negra Bristol

Verdict? Good. Not quite my favourite tapas in Bristol, let's call it my second favourite because it does have a very tasty selection. If you visit Pata Negra for one reason, let that reason be the ham, it is the jewel in their crown. Number one for ham in Bristol I would stick my neck out and say it. Melts in the mouth and is full of a luxurious rich flavour, yes like angels dancing on your tongue.  I also really rated the chorizo cooked in cider with poached egg and breadcrumbs, really tasty, should have ordered some bread to mop up the juices with.

I would say that the tortilla was too solid. Sounds like a strange thing to say however when Javi, our Spanish friend, came round the other week he bought a home made tortilla and stated it always has to be soft towards the centre. This is something that can be easily rectified however. Also I would love to see croquettes on their menu in the future ham or salt cod they are still one of my favourite tapas dishes.

So if you fancy an afterwork treat check out Pata Negra, although the space is bigger than most traditional tapas places, you can get some great dishes here, they particularly excel at meat so be sure to sample as much possible. To see what Pata Negra has to offer check out their rather fancy website.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Neighbourhood Exploring at Aviator Bar

We've been in our new flat just over a week now and last week we decided to check out The Aviator with our friend Michael in tow. On a Tuesday evening this little bar was pretty quiet but we welcomed the warmness of the place after the dipping temperatures of Autumnal nights. Beer lovers rejoice, the selection here is excellent and you will be spoiled for choice. I took advantage of the Prosecco on tap and pretty tasty it was too so we sat among the aviation paraphanalia.

The food on offer at Aviator is kept to a small menu of mainly burgers, ribs and pies, Pieminister of course. So keen to sample as much as possible and because we are pretty hungry we ordered one of their sharing platters as a starter and a burger each for main. The sharing platter consists of some cured meats, olives, bread, cheeses and half a rack of ribs.
Aviator Bar Bristol
Aviator Bar Bristol
For £10 we all agreed this was exceedingly generous a portion.  The cured meats were extremely tasty particularly the bresaola, the blue cheese was creamy and not over poweringly strong like I was expecting. Although I do enjoy a cheese that knocks your socks off as well. The ribs were juicy and had a great sauce on them. My main gripes were that the bread provided was really soft, almost brioche in texture which didn't suit soaking up the oil and balsamic. Speaking of which, the oil to balsamic ratio was way off so next time if the oil wasn't quite so high up the dish so the bread can have a bit of both liquids that would be better, after we poured some out it was tastier.
Aviator Bar Bristol
bacon and cheese burger
Aviator Bar Bristol
seasoned fries
Soon after the burgers arrived. We had all gone for the cheese and bacon burger, aka The Beaufighter, which came with a side of seasoned fries and Michael managed to wangle a pot of chili jam on the side.  The burgers looked quite small but the patty was chunky so with a massive pile of fries, for £8.75 this was also great value. The burgers were juicy and the bacon was thick.  If you can sample the chili jam, do, it's really very tasty on top of the burgers. The star of the show was the fries if I am honest. The seasoning on these beauties was epic really moreish and highly recommended.

The Aviator has a charming vibe about it, the staff are friendly and are happy to recommend you a beer as if you were an old friend. I can see this fast becoming my preferred local bar and not just because of the proximity. To see what else the Aviator has to offer check out their website