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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Lunching at Tradewind Espresso

Bristol isn't short of coffee venues, that's for sure and Whiteladies definitely has it's fair share. In the Autumn of last year Tradewind Espresso joined the ranks. A neat little cafe opposite the Kitchen's shop. Jo and I met for lunch one Friday to try out their food offerings. Priding themselves on seasonal menus of cafe classics with as much locally sourced produce as possible, Tradewind make all their own cakes, chutneys and even nut milks.

I decided to try out their Buddha Bowl, a roasted pumpkin and grain salad, with the optional poached egg and a date and walnut aioli dressing. Jo decided to opt for their Full Easterly, a full English breakfast. We sipped at green teas whilst taking in the decor. It's simple and the cushions and natural light make for a relaxed atmosphere. We weren't waiting too long before our food arrived.
Tradewind espresso Bristol
Buddha bowl

Tradewind espresso Bristol
Full Easterly

My bowl of goodness looked beautiful and Jo passed on her mushroom to me to add to my salad. The dressing was gorgeous really flavoursome. The egg was runny and went well with the quinoa. The only downside was that some of the leaves used in the salad were a touch too bitter for my personal tastes. And for £8.50 I did think it was a bit steep price wise. Likewise the breakfast was £9.50 which for a breakfast is above what the expected rate is. We decided to take in some of their home made cakes to finish off our visit so I had the apple one and Jo picked a brownie.
Tradewind espresso Bristol

Tradewind espresso Bristol
raspberry brownie
The cakes were perfect. I rarely find a decent apple cake and this one hit the mark. I hope this is one that's in their regular selection during the Winter. The brownie was gooey but the raspberries added the necessary tartness, both were devoured swiftly. Tradewind offers some great quality food and flavours, worth a visit perhaps more of a weekend treat than an every day lunch venue just because of the price. To find out more about Tradewind check out their website.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

New Years Roastings at The Vittoria

New Year New Roast I say. The first Sunday in January we had a table booked at the Vittoria on Whiteladies road to try one of Chris & Jo's roasts. There have been murmurings about how good their food is and so wrapping ourselves up warm we went to meet friends for lunch. For anyone who hasn't been to the Vittoria it is a tiny pub, so booking is always advisable for Sundays. We were given a friendly and warm welcome as we ordered some drinks and browsed the menu.

The most refreshing thing to note is the roasts are all under £10 which these days is almost unheard of. Roasts have got very expensive in the last few years, many places charging £15 and up which I find difficult to swallow at times. The meat is the pricey part, sure, but potatoes and veg as we know are relatively cheap commodities, is it the labour then? What makes a £15 roast better than a £10? Are there any hard and fast rules? We don't really go out for a roast more than a couple of times a year because of this, plus if I make a roast I can eat approximately a billion roast potatoes as opposed to the allocated 3-4 given to me if I go out for one.

Back to the Vittoria. On the menu was chicken, beef, pork and a veggie/vegan option. Each roast has it's own appropriate sauce accompaniment, chicken for example has bread sauce, Chris & Jo are very happy to discuss gluten free options and ingredients as one of our table can attest. I decided to go for the pork belly, definitely a soft spot roast wise, Rich went for chicken. Beth and I decided to share a home made scotch egg to curb our hunger whilst we waited for a roast, at £2.50, it would have been rude not to.

Chris & Jo's Kitchen Bristol

Chris & Jo's Kitchen Bristol

Chris & Jo's Kitchen Bristol

A huge plate piled with an array of roast items arrived in front of us. This was a proper roast plating such as you get at home. There was stuffing, mashed swede, cauliflower cheese, green beans, red cabbage, parsnips plus roasties, a yorkshire and a big slab of pork belly. We tucked into the feast with gusto. There is no doubt that Chris & Jo know how to do a roast. It was tasty and I mean really tasty. All comfort food piled up on a plate. No super fancy presentation, the way most roasts seem to be going, just home cooking that completely hit the spot. Very much recommended, one of the best roasts I've had out in ages. Booking is definitely required but get yourself down there, I wasn't able to eat for the rest of the day which is what I want from my roast.

The secret is already out as Chris & Jo's roasts are already proving pretty popular, I can't wait for my next visit it is the perfect thing to warm you up in the sub zero temperatures we are currently experiencing. To keep up to date with all things Chris & Jo, check out their Twitter feed. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Multi Celebrations at The Ox

Just before Christmas we decided we deserved a treat. As the Ox Clifton had just opened up five minutes from our door we thought testing out their lunch steak deal would be wise. £12.50 for a 6oz rump steak, chips and your choice of sauce plus a glass of wine. However this blog post will mainly focus on our evening visit, the day after new years day, aka Bud's birthday. Just after New Years you might still be feeling a little fragile from the festivities of welcoming in 2016 or you might be annoying friends all over social media with the smug posts about detoxing. I however was embracing the opportunity to check out the evening menu at the Ox.

Often stated as a fact that the Ox is the best place to enjoy a steak in Bristol. As I am partial, read extremely here, to a steak a visit was embarrassingly long overdue. The Clifton branch of the Ox only opened a few months ago but considering the date soon after Christmas it was pretty busy in there. The decor is vintage, lots of dark wood, classical art, taxidermy and pre war advertising. Think the kind of place Don Draper would take clients in Mad Men and you've got it about right.

Steak is the general focus of the menu but there are some tempting mains and starters to sway your decision making. Our lunch visit for example tempted us with some ribs to start the meal with. Also they offer a lot luxurious items on toast everything from charcoal roasted mushrooms to bacon, pigs trotters and foie gras. They also have an impressive wine list I tested a glass of rioja out and it was silky smooth, the boys ordered some beers of which there is a decent selection of crafts to suit all tastes.

Food wise ordering was pretty straight forward we all went for rib eyes, because in my opinion it's the best cut of steak, and a few extra sides like macaroni cheese and their version of a mini caesar salad. Service at the Ox is very friendly, relaxed but attentive enough to make you feel at home, which can be something which is hard to pitch right.

The Ox Clifton
fall off the bone ribs starter from our first visit
The Ox Clifton
ribeye and triple cooked chips

The Ox Clifton
6oz rump lunch deal with peppercorn sauce

The Ox Clifton

The Ox Clifton
mac n cheese
Steaks arrived and we got stuck in. First things first the Ox do the best chips I've had with a steak, a real crunch but also fluffy, these things are super addictive I could eat plates and plates of them dipping them in peppercorn or bearnaise sauce, absolutely gorgeous. The salad that Rich and I had to share was also really great, generous shavings of parmesan but not too much dressing to overwhelm the crisp cos lettuce. Our friend Michael kindly let us try the macaroni cheese, which he was deeply enamoured with, it was very rich and creamy but for me a touch too salty.

As for the main event. The steak was good. Cooked medium rare as requested, a tasty piece of beef. Definitely up there for steaks I have had in Bristol. Price wise its slightly more than the Cowshed down the road so perhaps best saved for a special occasion but the lunch deal is very good value although I found the rump not as juicy as the ribeye but that's rump for you. For £12.95 you can't knock that level of deal. The atmosphere is also particularly engaging, it won't be my last visit to the Ox, particularly with it being right on my doorstep. To find out more about the Ox visit their website.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Testing out Deliveroo

The week before Christmas for me is either filled with fraught panic buying or a time of laidback nonchalance, convincing yourself you're done with all the shopping. To address the mid-week slump and knowing that the fridge was down to a few hunks of cheese and some various half-consumed condiments, we decided to take advantage of the credit we had been offered by Deliveroo to try out their service. Rich and I had stopped ordering usual takeaways because they are often so disappointing in taste and quality. We were really hoping this would break the mould

You've probably seen the aqua Deliveroo drivers swarming round the city like busy bees, delivering food from chain and independent restaurants alike to those of us who want their favourite dishes in the comfort of our own home. They are present in many of the larger cities in the UK and a good number in mainland Europe too.  The Deliveroo website is slick and the iPhone app is very easy to use. The layout is clear and there is a helpful leading delivery time for each restaurant so you can see how long you are likely to be waiting. Rich and I had £35 to spend and after much deliberation we decided to try out Koh Thai Tapas. We ordered some lamb massaman curry, chicken pad Thai, coconut rice and crispy chilli beef. You can also choose to tip your driver on top of your bill which is a nod to tipping waiting staff, a nice touch, so we added on a tip to ours.  

Whilst we waited the stated 45 minutes we had a drink and caught up on the latest Masterchef The Professionals, compulsive viewing even just to watch Gregg's over active facial expressions. I occasionally looked down at the app to check on our delivery’s progress, as Deliveroo has a live updater. I was pleasantly surprised to see that our food would arrive ahead of schedule and, sure enough, after 35 minutes I got a call. The scooter delivery driver was extremely friendly and pleasant and I took the hot bundle of Thai goodness into the kitchen to unwrap and serve. Everything was really well sealed and wrapped, so it was nice and hot and everything all smelled wonderful.

Deliveroo Bristol

Deliveroo Bristol

Deliveroo Bristol

I piled the food on to our plates and we got stuck in. It was all delicious; the crispy chilli beef particularly so. We've eaten at Koh Thai Tapas before and enjoyed the food there so we were pleased to note that none of the taste or quality had been lost, so we could dine on our sofa with restaurant-grade food. Deliveroo is more expensive than your usual takeaway place but you are paying for generally better quality food. It’s still less expensive than going to the restaurant itself because you have your own drinks. Deliveroo is a service I’ve used again since as the service is friendly and the selection of restaurants is also pretty good. You'll see many of your favourites on the list, particularly for burgers like 3 Brothers and Burger Joint, but it would be good to see a tasty Chinese option or an Indian one to complete the set. Deliveroo is a great addition to Bristol and it would be nice to see them expand their delivery area so more people can enjoy the service. Hopefully that will come in time.

To find out more about Deliveroo visit their website. Although we received credit to test out Deliveroo this did not affect my opinion. The following week we used the service again with our own money and found exactly the same great service and excellent food quality. Have you tried Deliveroo yet, what was your experience like?