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Thursday 28 March 2013

Pre-cocktail Munch at Bauhinia

If you land in Clifton village from Victoria Square Bauhinia is one of the first places to greet you as you pass Arch House Deli. Quite a small shop front from the outside, like the tardis, inside will surprise you with the space. Bauhinia, the floral emblem on the Hong Kong flag, prides itself on serving up pan Asian cuisine that won't break the bank. Before 7pm every day you can order 2 courses from their set menu for £8.90. Jessie and I arrived after 7pm on Saturday and stepped up to the busy bar, doubtful that there would be a table free. However we were in luck and we were ushered to the lone table right by the door and the bar, not exactly ideal but beggars can't be choosers.

It took us a very short time to decide what to have, so we picked two Pad Thai's and some Thai prawn crackers with peanut satay and sweet chilli dips, not forgetting two large glasses of Pinot, it had been that kind of week. Despite feeling like were dining in a bar the service was really friendly and efficient.

Bauhinia Bristol
Thai crackers with dips
The peanut satay dip was the king here, a perfect accompaniment to the slightly zingy prawn crackers, reminded me I need to work on making peanut satay sauce for a chicken dish, this long weekend would be the perfect time to try. The Pad Thai arrived soon after, it was a medium sized portion I was disappointed to see that only two prawns came with the dish and only a bit more chicken. I have been spoiled when it comes to Pad Thai, huge plates of tamarind pink tinged rice noodles from Hong Kong Bistro are still my favourite.
Bauhinia Bristol
Pad Thai at Bauhinia

Thai food Bristol
Close up

The noodles did need a little more zing and flavour but they were tasty enough and the prawns were well cooked. The meal only worked out at about £16 each including wine so it was perfect for a cheap treat. I was still a little hungry afterwards but I staved off my hunger with a Thai daquiri from Amoeba, round the corner, definitely one of my favourite cocktails.
Thai daquiris
Bauhinia is a good choice for a quick and cheap bite to eat but to be honest the crackers were the best thing about the meal for me, although the Pad Thai was tasty I have had much better elsewhere. It wouldn't stop me returning though and trying something else because I really liked the atmosphere and service. To see what else Bauhinia has to offer visit their website.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Lunch at Matina, St Nick's Market

Last Wednesday Jayne T and I went on one of our lunch dates to St Nick's market. In the last month Matina, a provider of Middle Eastern grills and freshly made naans, opened up right at the end of the glass arcade. Jayne and I had spotted it the previous week after our lunch at Al Bab Mansour and decided to give it a go. There was a disorderly gathering by the ordering hatch and we gingerly waited in the group before being called over to order.

St Nicholas Market Bristol
Jayne, who had visited Matina the previous weekend, had warned me how giant they make the naans so when I ordered and was asked what I wanted to accompany my grilled chicken so I asked for cous cous and salad. The choices on the menu are slight but there is something for all. You can choice between grilled chicken, grilled lamb, or both, or if you are veggie you can have halloumi and roasted vegetables. We waited about 10-15 minutes, there were a lot of people queuing, so some people may have received their order earlier than others. I should think this could be solved by a ticketing system.

Once receiving our lunches we wandered off to Seamus O'Donnells to eat and have a drink. When I opened the takeaway box I was astonished at the amount of food that Matina gives for £4 it is wonderful and deceptively filling. Jayne's naan wrap was enormous I tried some of the bread and it was very light, fresh and delicious but I think most people would struggle to eat a whole one.
Matina Bristol
grilled chicken and cous cous box

Matina Bristol
Jayne's Chicken Wrap
I urge everyone strongly to check out Matina. Their food is superb. The chicken was still juicy, the salad crisp and the home made hummus exactly how I like it, just garlicky enough. What is great is that aside from cous cous you get a number of different things in the box, such as pickled chillis, red cabbage, zingy tomato sauce and perfectly cooked chicken. Plus it helps that it looks so vibrant and healthy.
Matina Bristol
grilled chicken and cous cous close up
So please form an orderly queue at Matina I will be seeing you there I am sure, this might be my new favourite place to lunch in St Nicks, and hopefully it will be yours too. Now go snap up some lunch before they put up the price, £4 is a complete bargain. 

Thursday 14 March 2013

Pre-Theatre Dinner at The Riverstation

On Saturday Elisa, Jane, Jamie and myself decided to have an early dinner before going to watch a play at the Old Vic. The Riverstation was suggested, as they have a very reasonable bar menu on offer and it was close by, 6pm was chosen the designated meeting time. To my shame I have never visited either the bar or the restaurant at the Riverstation before and after Saturday it definitely won't be my last visit. Despite only being 6pm the bar area was already over half full with diners. The bar menu is made up of small plates, medium plates and large plates, so you can mix and match your own tapas with the small plates with 3 for £10 if you so wish.  
The Riverstation Menu
Menu for our evening
We all decided to go for large plates, all of these are under £10 and a complete bargain. Although there are only 6 plates to choose from they are good enough that I was still umming and ahhing over what to have. In the end I went for the risotto with Jerusalem artichokes, chestnuts and pea-shoots which is something different for me, normally I would have gone straight for the minute steak. Elisa went for the chicken with grilled polenta, Jamie, the smoked haddock chowder and Jane the savoury tart of the day. 
The Riverstation food Bristol
artichoke and chestnut risotto
The Riverstation food Bristol
goats cheese and butternut squash tart
The Riverstation food Bristol
free range chicken breast with grilled polenta, kale, mushrooms and red wine
Thanks to the generosity of my friends I got to sample all the dishes. First off my risotto was perfectly cooked, the rice still slightly al dente the artichokes creamy and melt in the mouth, for me personally I am not sure the chestnuts worked, the texture jarred a little for me with the rest of the dish. However a good risotto is hard to find, and this was a good risotto. Jane's tart was the fluffiest savoury tart I have ever tasted it was so light in texture. 
The Riverstation food Bristol
smoked haddock chowder
The smoked haddock in the chowder was pronounced cooked to perfection by all, although Jamie reckoned that just using regular haddock would have worked just as well and produced a subtler flavour. For me however out of all the dishes this was my favourite, I quietly lamented not ordering it. Elisa's chicken dish was also a delight, here sat four happy ladies content with the plates in front of them.

I should mention our waiter for the evening was a cut above the average, instead of treating all tables in the same way he took time out to chat a little, which makes me, as a diner feel special and not just another number. He brought back the menu for us to look at the desserts, they all sounded delicious but we only fancied a small sweet bite to end the meal so we made our way to the cake bench.
The Riverstation food Bristol
cake and pastries selection
The Riverstation food Bristol
pastel de nata
We settled on a little custard tart each, pasteis de nata, the Portuguese contribution to dessert pastries. These were slightly deeper than traditional custard tarts you get in Portugal but were extremely tasty, enhanced by a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg, which really rounded off our meal nicely. I was very impressed by the Riverstation and I feel ashamed not to have visited before. I look forward to my next visit and at some point trying the restaurant menu upstairs, arguably they have one of the nicest evening atmospheres in Bristol, there is something slightly magical about eating next to the river at night. To check out more visit their website.

Monday 11 March 2013

A Quick Supper at Thai by the Weir

On Wednesday I met mum in Bath. We were off to see Mary Berry give a talk, as organised by Topping's book shop, and needed something quick to eat before we went. I had passed Thai by the Weir, on Pultney Bridge at least three times in the past as it is next door to my dentist, and it had peaked my curiosity enough to suggest it as an option. Well you know my weakness for all things noodley.

A bright restaurant greeted us on the inside, apart from a table of 6 the restaurant was empty, it was pretty early for dinner so we had our pick of the seats. We chose a table by the window over looking the weir, a great view of Bath in twilight, it was a promising start. The menu is made up of pan Asian dishes rather than just Thai, with the Indonesian classic mee goreng and Japanese yaki udon, but there are plenty of the Thai staples like tom kha gai and green curry. Mum picked the sizzling noodles with chicken and I went for mee goreng plus an order of spring rolls to share.

Thai on the Weir Bath
spring rolls with honey and chilli dip

Thai on the Weir Bath
mee goreng
As described mum's sizzling noodles were brought noisily to the table and smelling delicious. The first thing that we noticed was how fresh and vibrant the dishes looked, full of crisp vegetables and heavenly scents. The sizzling noodles had spears of fresh ginger and all combined with a black bean paste, it made me rather envious. My mee goreng was really tasty, described as spicy, it wasn't at all, but luckily there was some hot sauce on the table I added for a bit of a kick. The noodles were not at all greasy and were full of flavour with plenty of chicken, I was very impressed with the quality. The spring rolls we had were wonderfully crisp and packed with vegetables, makes a nice change from the thin oily offerings you get from all you can eat buffets. 

Thai on the Weir Bath
Mee goreng close up
Thai on the Weir Bath
Empty plates and full tummies
Served very quickly and a meal for two costing a reasonable £25 with drinks, Thai by the Weir exceeded our expectations, this was the perfect dinner in a hurry and we were well in time to get a place near-ish to the front of the queue for seeing the Queen of baking. Mary Berry did a wonderful talk, it was basically like having a chat with the loveliest gran, she told us who she'd met, what bargains she had bought at the shops she gave us advice on sponge cake and how to cover up kitchen disasters. The next blog post will be on my pre-theatre dinner at The Riverstation. Check out the menu for Thai by the Weir on their website.
Signed Mary Berry Book
the spoils of my evening

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Friday Night Curry at Kathmandu

On Friday we had a mini blogger meet up at Kathmandu, diagonally opposite Colston Hall, and known for serving up Indian and Nepalese cuisine. I had visited this restaurant only once in the past but that was about four years ago so it was well overdue a revisit. Our party of 6 arrived at 8 for our reservation and we were quickly shown to our table. Eight is a bit later than I would normally eat dinner so I was starving by the time we were seated. 

I remember before enjoying the curry I chose (lamb saag, don't ask me how I remember I just do) but not being bowled over by it. This time I was very interested in the Nepalese side of the menu and as it turned out so was the rest of our party. We ordered 3 portions of mo-mos, Nepalese dumplings, and Phil went for the rashmi kebab, minceChicken and lamb combined with onions, green chillies, mint and coriander and charcoal grilled.
Kathmandu Nepalese Restaurant Bristol

Mo-Mos Nepalese cuisine Bristol
Close up Mo-Mos

Mo-Mos are dumplings, very much like the Japanese gyoza in texture, filled with vegetables, chicken and spices. On the top is a nutty tasting sauce which apparently is made from ground cumin seeds, it tasted like a spicy satay to me, and I thoroughly recommend trying the mo-mos they were extremely moreish and delicious. It made Rich and I sad that we only ordered one portion to share. 

For our mains everyone ordered from the Nepalese menu again but standard curry dishes like madras, tikka masala and bhuna are available. I ordered the chhoyla, lamb flavoured with garlic and ginger cooked over charcoal and brought sizzling to the table. Rich chose the lamb kritipur a whole spices curry both of which we ordered with rice and a peshwari naan to share. 
Kathmandu Restaurant Bristol
Kathmandu Restaurant Bristol
Rich's Lamb Kritipur (right) Kym's Saag Paneer (left)
The food impressed me a great deal more than I was expecting. My lamb was still pink in the middle, as it should be, and was fully flavoured with a medium level kick. Seriously tender meat and with the added bonus, for me at least, of plenty of ginger spears to up the flavour. I am quite the ginger nut so eating chunks of ginger is always a bonus. Rich's curry was very earthy and hotter than I was expecting when I sampled it, but the sauce was extremely fragrant with what I suspect was turmeric, cinnamon and pepper. 
Kathmandu restaurant Bristol
Chholya with pilau rice
All in all I was extremely impressed with what Kathmandu had to offer us, I'd never tried Nepalese food before and I think I would be reluctant to return to their Indian menu because the Nepalese cuisine here is the clear star. The service was efficient but not intrusive and the prices for mains are around the £9-10 mark which makes it a great treat option without breaking the bank. I've had a recommendation from Jamie of Namaste Nepal behind The Hatchet pub so will aim to check that out soon. For a browse of the menu check out the Kathmandu website