Don’t overcook the squid!

A recent birthday treat was to go to the new Frankie and Benny’s in Weston-super-Mare. As it was lunchtime, I went for the lunchtime menu special, which seemed reasonable value. For my starter I went with the Bruschetta, a homemade mix of fresh tomato, red onion, basil, olive oil and cracked black pepper served over toasted garlic ciabatta bread, finished with a balsamic glaze. I was not that impressed with this, I found the red onion very harsh and astringent. Normally red onion can be very sweet when raw, however I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would.

The Calamari Caesar Salad came next, which consisted of (according to the menu) lightly fried and seasoned calamari, crispy Cos lettuce leaves, white anchovy, tomato and fresh garlic ciabatta croutons drizzled with our Caesar dressing, topped with Grana Padano and served with a wedge of lemon.

Calamari Caesar Salad

I would probably take exception to the phrase “lightly fried” as the squid had been overcooked to the point where the calamari was crunchy on the outside and quite rubbery on the inside. It wasn’t unpleasant, but I do think that Frankie and Benny’s could do a much better job of cooking the squid. It’s not difficult to cook squid well, however I think that the squid at Frankie and Benny’s is double cooked, it is cooked already and then cooked again when it is ordered. I of course don’t know that for sure. The chef has used the larger outside leaves of the Cos lettuce for the dish, which meant they were more limp than crispy. Overall I did enjoy the salad and it was a good sized portion and value for money.

Very nice indeed…

I have a kind of love hate relationship with Café Rouge. I really like the concept behind Café Rouge and like the menu, but then I am let down either by poor service or over seasoning.

However on my latest visit with the family, we had excellent service, great food and it was all, very nice indeed…

It was, how it should be, how I expect it to be, and what I want when I go out and pay for lunch.

My son, avoiding the children’s menu, he went for the Tartine Marocaine, an open sandwich of sautéed spicy Merguez sausages & caramelised onions with houmous and crisp chicory on grilled sourdough bread served with a minted crème fraîche.

Tartine Marocaine

I am a great fan of Merguez sausages and these, though slightly overdone for me, were very nice, and my son really enjoyed the dish. I was quite surprised how much he enjoyed the onions, the crisp chicory (which is quite bitter) and the salad. He wasn’t that impressed with the minted crème fraîche, but once he worked out that it helped cool the spiciness of the Merguez sausage he understood how it fitted into the dish. I have had this dish myself before and enjoyed it back then.

My wife went with the Salade de Chèvre, grilled goat’s cheese croutons on a bed of marinated red peppers, black olives and herb salad with a light vinaigrette.

Salade de Chèvre

She let me try the salad and I liked the freshness of the salad leaves with the marinated red peppers and black olives. The goat’s cheese had a subtle flavour, but was nice.

I went with the Tartine au Maquereau, an open sandwich of pan-fried mackerel fillets, baby plum tomatoes, horseradish mayonnaise and rocket on grilled sourdough bread.

Tartine au Maquereau

I really enjoyed this dish, the mackerel was cooked really well and the tomatoes, rocket and horseradish mayonnaise complemented the fish. The dish was full of flavour and was delicious.

My two younger ones had meals from the children’s menu, they enjoyed their food, but the fries came with salt on them… personally I think they should come without salt, especially on the children’s dishes.

So what about the service? Despite the fact it was a busy Sunday, we got a table as soon as we walked in, and the waitress was friendly and efficient. The food came within a reasonable time frame and we weren’t rushed or anything. As a result it was a very relaxing and enjoyable meal out.

Very nice indeed…

Spicy Salad

I know that some people get bored with plain lettuce, but it doesn’t take much to take that plain lettuce and jazz it up!

For this salad, I took some mixed leaves and added slices of tomato and cucumber. I do like to use “proper” tomatoes, you know the ones that actually taste of tomato.

To jazz it up, I added some mini chilli salami (no not pepparami, but a posh version) and some Spanish manzanilla and couchillo olives.

I didn’t add a dressing, as there is plenty of flavour in the olives, the oil from the olives and the spicy salami. However if you are that way inclined I would make a simple dressing of good olive oil and some white wine vinegar.

Mozzarella, Tomato & Pesto Salad with Rocket & Pine Nuts

Fancying a salad for lunch I found this Mozzarella, Tomato & Pesto Salad with Rocket & Pine Nuts in Sainsbury’s.

Pesto Pasta with Mozzarella and Tomato

It was quite nice. The pesto wasn’t overpowering, there was enough to cover the pasta and there were ample pine nuts too. The pasta was the right texture, the sunblush tomatoes were nice and the mozzarella was fine.

Overall it was a nice packaged salad and certainly much nicer than a sandwich.

Salad Bar

Pizza Hut Salad

On a recent visit to Pizza Hut I was once more disappointed with the salad bar. Credit to Pizza Hut in that they are currently giving away unlimited salad if you order a main course, so maybe I am been slightly disingenuous as the salads are free.

Yes there was lettuce, but it was iceberg lettuce. Yes there was cucumber, but it was thick chunks rather than slices. No tomatoes though… The coleslaw was okay, however the potato salad lacked texture and bite.

I think part of my disappointment is the result of a memory from the early 1990s when I visited a branch of the Deep Pan Pizza company and on their salad bar they had chicken wings, fresh pineapple slices and a fantastic range of salads.

Of course as Deep Pan Pizza closed in 1998 there is no chance of visiting them again!