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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Sunday Roasting at the Victoria Park

Last month Mr Popple messaged me asking if I fancied helping him eat a free roast and dessert at the Victoria Park pub in Bedminster. Not one to turn down free food I accepted very readily, whilst also inviting Rich and our friend Michael. It was my first time at the Victoria Park and it's a charming pub, lots of light coming through the windows and a pretty good drinks selection. Our table was booked for 12 so when we got to the pub it was fairly empty and we were shown to our spot, how we all laughed at the reserved sign for Jim Popple (sorry Tim).  With a choice of a hearty nut roast, beef, pork and chicken or a mix of all three meats we quickly decided, three mixed and one pork for me. What is quite a nice touch is that for £1 they will let you add a Yorkshire pudding to any of the roasts that wouldn't normally have them included.

Victoria Park Pub Bristol

Victoria Park Pub Bristol

Victoria Park Pub Bristol

First things first, you get a big plate for your £10, or £12.95 for all three meats. Let's start with the good things. The veg was varied and plentiful and not in any way soggy, a bonus if you ask me, The Yorkshire was huge and both fluffy and crispy perfect for mopping up gravy. The roast potatoes were decent, nice crispy edges and soft centres. The crackling was some of the best I've had for a while nice and crunchy with lots of salt.

My main gripe was the pork was quite dry and flavourless and I personally found the mini onions dotted around the plate unnecessary. I tried a bit of the beef that Rich had and it was really tasty, definitely made me wish I'd gone for beef. Beef can be cut so thinly and cooked too well for my liking so I usually pick a safer option like pork or chicken when I am out. But this time the beef was definitely much better than the pork and much more thickly cut than I expected.  A solid roast for the money just aim for the beef in my opinion. We ordered our desserts, a good mix of the usual suspects, brownie, sticky toffee pudding, cheesecake and earl grey creme brulee.
Victoria Park Pub Bristol

Victoria Park Pub Bristol

Victoria Park Pub Bristol

Tasty desserts, Rich particularly enjoyed the banana ice cream that crowned his brownie, a touch different to the standard vanilla. I was pretty full and glad of the journey back to temple meads to walk off some of the food. I enjoyed visiting the Victoria Park pub it was relaxed and the food was pretty tasty. I am curious about the weekday menu so that might be one to check out in the future. To find out more about the Victoria Park pub visit their website.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Michelin Dining at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Last month I was surprised. My good friend Kathryn said she was taking me out for dinner and drinks for my birthday present, what she didn't tell me at the time was where. I was due to go on a copywriting course in London at the end of March so we decided to combine business with pleasure in one trip.  A few days before Kat told me there was a dress code for the restaurant we were visiting, basically be smart. Finally the name of the restaurant was revealed as L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, which is in central London very near The Ivy. There are a dozen of these L'Atelier restaurants dotted around the globe, Paris, Tokyo, New York and so on and they have collected up 25 Michelin stars between them all with a reputation for theatre and precision, according to their website.

So I was pretty excited, to say the least. Dressed in my best, which is a bouncy floral Ted Baker skirt, I hurried off my train to meet Kat at the restaurant. Jay Rayner once described the decor "like being locked in a PVC fetishist's knicker drawer" I know what he means with all the heavy curtains, accents of red, shiny black surfaces and no daylight but I guess that is all part of the theatre. L'Atelier do a set lunch (12-3) and early evening menu from 5.30 if you order before 6.15. The prices start at £31 for two courses or £45 with matching wines. We decided to go with the full four course set menu with wines, and Kat had very kindly already ordered a glass of champagne to greet me, well we were celebrating. 
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon London
watching the chefs work
We ordered our chosen selections from the three choices for each savoury course; cold starter, hot starter and main and were left with the excited feeling of being brought something extra special. I decided for my courses to pick lentil salad with foie gras shavings and smoked duck breast followed by shitake in a chicken broth with fresh herbs and finally braised beef cheek cannelloni with seasonal vegetables.  But before all that we were brought an amuse bouche which was all foam and foie gras mousse but still very delicious and with the champagne felt very decadent indeed.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon London
lentil salad with foie gras
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon London

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon London
beef cheek cannelloni
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon London
Dreamy sculpted Mash
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon London
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon London

Everything I ate was divine. Lots of textures and flavours working together in perfect tasting harmony. Plus all of the wines I had paired with my dishes were excellent. My favourite things were the lentil salad, so much flavour and richness from these little pulses, the mash, hands down the best mash of my life, the man even brought me a second bowl when I cleared up the first one.  The mash was buttery and velvety smooth and there was comfort in every bite, although technically I didn't even need to chew. And the Paris-Brest dessert, perfect choux pastry filled with the lightest praline cream one of the best desserts I've had in a long time.

They even brought over a birthday plate with caramel chocolates, pistachio cakes and yuzu flavoured marshmallows, which tasted very gin and tonic like. Basically if you fancy a treat then definitely try and check out the lunchtime/early evening set menu at L'Atelier if you find yourself in London and fancy a treat. I definitely want to head back for a special occasion again soon. To drool over the menus head over to the restaurant's website.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Lazy Roasting Sunday at The Steam Crane

A few Sundays ago we were celebrating. Beth had just finished her massive almost 20k word dissertation and my treat to her was lunch or dinner of her choice. A roast at the Steam Crane was chosen. We decided, as it was a sunny day, to take the boat down to the S.S Great Britain and then walk the rest of the way via Southville Deli.  The Steam Crane was quite quiet but we had booked at 3.30 so we were directed to a small table by the windows and immediately ordered ciders and a packet of those Snyder's of Hanover pretzel bites, if you haven't tried these you really should they are super addictive, they should be your next drink snack of choice. I personally recommend the hot buffalo wing or cheddar cheese flavours but to be honest they are all delicious and I am drooling right now just thinking about them.

The Steam Crane had two roasts on offer pork belly and beef, at a top of the range price of £14.95, we decided to all go for pork, although note that as tradition dictates Yorkshire pudding is not included with the pork, which is a shame as who doesn't like a Yorkshire? More ciders were ordered all round, well we were celebrating, whilst we waited for our food to arrive.
pork belly and greens

roast, with added beets and carrots

apple sauce
Well it is quite the pretty picture isn't it? A huge dish of roasted beetroot and carrots was placed next to us as well as a mini gravy boat each. Everything tasted really delicious. The pork was especially pleasing. Some of the carrots and beets were a little on the hard side but the potatoes were crunchy and fluffy in the way that everyone wants their roasties. I did miss having a Yorkshire pudding especially as the gravy was plentiful needed something extra to mop it up. Was it worth nearly £15 though? I am not so sure, it was tasty but it is a little above my comfort zone for roasts personally speaking.

We did fancy the toffee, apple and cinnamon crumble for dessert but that had sold out so we opted to share the chocolate tart with salted caramel and vanilla cream, but at £7 we decided sharing was the best option for this. Hugely rich and indulgent I was glad that we shared the tart was quite good but could have done with more than the scanty amount of salted caramel swirled on the bottom of the plate.

I did enjoy the roast at the Steam Crane, flavour wise it was pretty much spot, on the portions were good but not enormous but the price won't have me hurrying back I'm afraid. Also they really need to sort out the toilets they are freezing for one thing but also really in need of a good spruce up. To find out more about what other food the Steam Crane do, check out their website

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Saturday Night at Everyday Thai

I have eaten a lot of Thai food recently, and all different places, which is good, mainly because I love Thai food but also I am always happy when new Thai restaurants open in Bristol. I recently became aware of Everyday Thai in Fishponds. I understand this opened Summer last year and as Rich's youngest sister Natalie and her boyfriend have just moved not too far away from this area, and loves Thai food, we decided to check it out. The restaurant is tiny, probably only sits about 25 people when full, but the walls are covered with lots of interesting things to look at. The other thing to note is that currently they do not have a liquor licence so all beer and wine served is alcohol free, to be honest this didn't bother me too much but I know the table next to us were not happy. 

The service here was very welcoming and friendly from the start, they want you to have a nice meal, and they actually mean it. The menu is full of a lot of the usual Thai favourites along with a couple of new things, the prices are very reasonable as well, a chicken pad Thai for example is £6.50. We decided to share two lots of mixed starters between us plus I chose the special lamb massaman curry, which came with rice, for £9.99.
Everyday Thai Bristol
mixed dips
Everyday Thai Bristol
mixed starters

For two people, a pretty substantial starters platter with assorted dips, I would personally take more two more satay over spring rolls but that is my preference. The prawn rolls were really good, extra large prawns and with a great flavour. Basically between two people it works out at just under £6 each which isn't bad for all that food. On to the mains.
lamb massaman Bristol
lamb massaman curry
Pad Thai Bristol
chicken Pad Thai

A huge portion of lamb massaman sat in front of me, there was a lot of lamb in this bowl and it was super tender and fell apart. This was excellent. Creamy, nutty, indulgent, I ate the whole bowl it was too good not to. Rich's pad Thai was well received and for the price the noodles seemed to go on forever, which is exactly what I want from noodles, for them to be everlasting.

Fishponds has new places opening up all the time and this is a wonderful new edition to the neighbourhood I for one will be visiting again as it's a good tasty meeting point for us and Natalie. To check out what else Everyday Thai has to offer check out their website.  They also offer a takeaway service, so you can go and collect delicious Thai treats to snaffle at home with 20% off the price.