Time for teriyaki lamb

I do enjoy my visits to Wagamama, though I haven’t been for a while. The Cribbs Causeway branch of Wagamama doesn’t have the most welcoming environment, it feels like it is perched on a Mezzanine and certainly doesn’t have that warm cosy feeling that a more traditional Wagamama has. Having said that the staff were welcoming and we had excellent service.

I went with the grilled teriyaki lamb with mushrooms, asparagus, kale and mangetout served on a bed of soba noodles in a pea, herb and wasabi dressing.

Time for teriyaki lamb

The teriyaki lamb was one of the specials and was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu. My food arrived last (and later than expected) compared to the rest of the table. The policy of Wagamama is that the food arrives when it is ready and not necessarily all together. I don’t see this as too much of a problem if this was a tapas or mezze, or even a oriental buffet. It feels slightly wrong though when you are a family eating out and the food you’ve ordered arrives at different times you’re not sure if you should wait (and your food goes cold) or start and sit around as you wait for others to finish!

Once my lamb had arrived it looked great, it tasted great too. The lamb was tender and quite spicy. I liked the noodles and the dressing. It was quite salty though.

So what’s close by?

I have really enjoyed my previous visits to Wahaca, visiting central London and looking for somewhere to eat, I did wonder if there was a Wahaca close by, a quick search and 0.2 miles away on Charlotte Street.

This is a very different establishment to the one on the South Bank, more traditional in appearance from the outside. Inside it felt more like the one on the South Bank, the furniture was very similar. The staff were friendly and welcoming. Inside there were the similar tables and chairs, but as the place isn’t made from shipping containers, the walls were brick and the ceilings high.

Looking over the menu, I decided to go with one of the specials as they were different from those at my last visit. There was a choice of two, so I went with the lamb taquito, this was slow-braised lamb shoulder marinated in ancho chilli and orange rolled in a crispy fried tortilla.

slow-braised lamb shoulder marinated in ancho chilli and orange rolled in a crispy fried tortilla

Unlike my previous experience with taquitos, these were very tasty, strong flavours. The fried tortilla was nice and crip and I enjoyed the accompanying slaw.

I also went with the Tostadas, two crispy corn tortillas topped with fresh, light layers of Mexican flavour, served chilled.

Tostadas, two crispy corn tortillas topped with fresh, light layers of Mexican flavour, served chilled.

These were smoky chargrilled chicken, avocado, guacamole, chipotle mayo and fresh slaw. This was delicious and refreshing. A wonderful combination of tastes and textures.

I did also order a dish I had before, and went with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa.

three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa

They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole. As before they were delicious. I was asked if I wanted grilled cheese with them, I said no, but they arrived with the grilled cheese. I felt this added very little to the dish and wasn’t really needed, pleased that I wasn’t charged for this extra.

Another enjoyable visit to Wahaca and some great food.

Time for a salad

St Nicholas Market

If you are in Bristol looking for somewhere to lunch, there are lots of chains of restaurants and coffee shops across the city centre; however those looking for something different, tasty, individual and good value, need to look no further than St Nicholas Market. Within the narrow passages you can find all manner of foods and tasty treats. The range of smells, flavours and colours as you walk between the crowded stalls both stimulates and inspires, as well as making your mouth water. The choice is almost overwhelming, you can choose Portuguese, Chinese, Caribbean, Moorish, Italian, Vegetarian, Vegan, Modern, American BBQ, so much choice you often have no idea where to start. The place is usually packed and there are long queues for virtually all the stands, so I am sure they move quite quickly otherwise people wouldn’t join them.

Down in the St Nicholas market there is the Kofta Bar, well I think it’s the Kofta Bar, the aprons of the staff say the Olive Company. Well whatever they are called, if you do know please let me know in the comments, they do offer some lovely food, including freshly made wraps.

The salad boxes are my favourite. You get to make four choices from a wide variety of salads and what they call tapas choices.

They include cous-cous, mixed pulses, butterbeans in harissa dressing, Greek style salad, dolmas, sun dried tomatoes, pesto pasta salad, pecorino salad, falafel and a wide choice of olives.

On top of this you can choose between hummus, focaccia or flat bread as an extra.

There is also a choice of dressings, including pesto, yoghurt and harrisa. What this means is that it makes very easy never to have the same salad twice.

You can have extras added to the salad, a choice of lamb kofta, grilled chicken or halloumi.

The cost of a salad box is £4.50 and with the addition of 50p you can choose from a choice of cans of San Pellegrino or a bottle of water. Lamb and chicken salad boxes are a reasonable £5.50.

Though I’ve not tried them, the wraps look equally tasty.

So if you are looking for a nice salad for lunch then I would recommend the salad bar in St Nick’s market.

A Wonderful Staff BBQ

Spit Roasted Lamb

The catering students and staff at Gloucestershire College did an outstanding event last week. Every year the college staff get together in an annual barbecue. Now for a lot of people a big event like this means well done burgers, cheap sausages and if you’re lucky a chicken drumstick, still raw in the middle…

Well this staff event was totally different. There were three food stands. The first wasn’t really a barbecue, but was paella. This was a really well cooked paella with huge kings prawns. This was really nice and very tasty, even if it was a but messy shelling the prawns. There was a vegetarian alternative for those that didn’t want to eat fish. I should say (for regular readers of the blog) that it appeared they had stirred their paella…

The barbecue stand had a nice choice of vegetarian kebabs, satay chicken and barbecued pork ribs. The ribs were perfect, the meat fell off the bone and was beautifully tender. So good you could use a knife and fork, so need to get sticky fingers. I didn’t try the chicken as when I arrived at the stand they had run out and were cooking a new batch. The vegetarian kebab was perfectly cooked and the halloumi cheese that was on there alongside the vegetables was delicious.

My favourite stand though was the Moroccan lamb wrap. They had spit roasted a whole lamb and this was served in a wrap with houmous, yoghurt, sliced courgette and chilli. Absolutely delicious. For those that didn’t eat lamb there was a really nice looking butternut squash alternative.

This was outstanding high quality food for a superb event. It was an extra special event this year as our Principal is retiring.

Winter Fuel

The Dining Room at the Gloucester Campus at Gloucestershire College is in many ways one of the best places I have ever eaten at in an educational institution. They use fresh ingredients and cook the food everyday. There is no pre-processed food here, well not too much. There are usually at least three options on the menu. A recent meal was homemade Lancashire Hotpot served with mashed swede and carrot and cabbage.

Lancashire Hotpot served with mashed swede and carrot and cabbage

Perfect food for a cold winter’s day. The lamb was very tender and full of flavour, the potatoes on the top were cooked through with crispy edges. Overall a delicious meal and excellent value at £3.10.

It’s not the best educational place I have eaten at though (and remember I haven’t eaten everywhere). I use to work at City of Bristol College in the 1990s (or as it was back then Brunel College) and they, like a lot of colleges had a training restaurant. I never use to eat there for lunch, as they did full silver service, you had to have three courses and as a result needed a couple of hours for lunch, and even back then no one had that sort of time for lunch. Then one year a decision was made to move the restaurant from a silver service restaurant to a bistro approach. As a result you could have just a main course and service speeds were much faster, so you could order, eat and pay the bill in about 30 minutes, perfect for a lunchtime in a busy college day. It was also so much nicer than eating a sandwich at your desk. The food was excellent, I remember it been cooked to perfection and seasoned correctly and delicious. There was something rather nice about having a restaurant quality meal for lunch during a busy day, had a really positive impact on morale.

Alas it was a short term venture and before we really grasped what a good idea it was, the concept was reversed. The result, we stopped going there for lunch.