Search This Blog

Wednesday 28 August 2013

A Thursday Evening Catch Up at The Botanist

Last Thursday I met up with Jane for one of our catch up dinners. The Botanist was suggested as they do an early evening deal of two courses for £11.95 before 7. There is a set menu for this, the mains are a bit uninspiring, lots involving bread with meat sandwiched in between but having said that if you take a trip to The Burger Joint they make it into an art form of deliciousness. The Botanist is rather nicely decorated inside the dining areas have a slightly French rustic feel to them which is an improvement on when it was Bar Ha Ha.
The Botanist Bristol
mini dining area to the side of the bar
The Botanist Bristol

I decided to choose for my starter the chicken wings with plum sauce and sesame seeds and the rib-eye steak sandwich with frites for my main. Jane meanwhile picked the asparagus with poached egg, parmesan and herbs and a chicken Caesar salad to follow. We didn't have to wait too long for our food to arrive which I never know whether to be worried or pleased about, depends on how hungry I am I guess. What was brought to my table was not exactly what I was expecting. There was no mention of huge chunks of watermelon and no sesame seeds to be found.
The Botanist Bristol
chicken wings with 'plum' sauce
The Botanist Bristol
asparagus with poached egg and parmesan
Sadly for me the disappointments continued, the chicken wings were extremely small and very dry. The plum sauce didn't taste that plummy and was really too sweet for the chicken wings, what the watermelon was doing on the plate I still have no idea as it added very little. Not being a huge fan of watermelon I ate what I could and prayed the main course would be much tastier. Jane had a bit more luck with her starter though it was woefully under seasoned and the sauce, I assumed was hollandaise tasted of nothing as well, however the asparagus was nicely cooked. 

Not a great start but actually the mains were a big improvement, the steak sandwich was a lot smaller than I was expecting and there were too many onions for my personal taste but the meat was perfectly cooked and really flavoursome. Points also go to the frites which were suitably salted and crunchy a la Belgian style. Jane's salad had a nice lot of chicken although curiously the croutons were all soft, basically warm bread with oil drizzled on them, which was slightly unexpected. 
The Botanist Bristol

The Botanist Bristol

The Botanist Bristol

So all in all a bit of a curate's egg of a meal. I am not that fussed about returning to be honest. It is interesting to see how much more their main menu costs and I wonder if the quality changes once you upgrade. I was disappointed really as had heard good things about this place from a few people but I think they just need to try a bit harder. I know the menu only cost us £11.95 each so it is easy not to nitpick at that price, however maybe sticking to a more simplified set menu, especially for the starters, would reap better tasting rewards. To see what The Botanist has to offer check out their website.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

A Sunday Curry at 4500 Miles From Delhi

Finally a new blog post, feels like it's been a while, I have no excuse, but I hope everyone has been keeping well and enjoying the typical unpredictable weather we have come to expect in Summer. So on Sunday we headed on down to 4500 Miles From Delhi with Jamie, Boz, Phil and Javier to sample the curry buffet. Curry is not something I generally eat at lunch time, it feels way more of an evening meal type of cuisine to me, but here I was ready to be tempted. My first impressions were good, they have done a lovely job of sprucing up the old La Tasca restaurant, which was so dark and gloomy, now the place is wonderfully light and welcoming. 
4500 Miles from Delhi
So after receiving our drinks order we headed on over to the buffet area to see what was on offer. The choices are not as plentiful as one might expect at all you can eat buffets such as Za Za Bazaar and Cosmo but this is not necessarily a bad thing, if it is cooked well. The first options you come to are a mound of poppadoms, chutneys and other starters like tikka chicken wings.
4500 Miles from Delhi

First signs were good, the chutneys are all home made and nothing was swimming in grease it all looked lovely and fresh so I helped myself to a load of poppadoms and mango chutney, some chilli chicken, vegetable pakoras, tikka chicken and seekh kebab. The mango chutney was lovely, fruity but not too sweet like ones from a jar, it was a shame the poppadoms tasted a little stale but I suspect they are quite hard to keep super crisp in a buffet style environment. The seekh kebab was a touch dry but nicely spiced but the tikka chicken was well done, not at all dry and actually had a bit of a kick to it. I think my two favourites of all my starters were the vegetable pakoras, they weren't at all greasy and you could really taste the cumin. The chilli chicken was also really tasty, almost like a sweet Thai chilli chicken. 
4500 Miles from Delhi

4500 Miles from Delhi

What was interesting about the food was that it actually had varying levels of spice in the dishes. It can be tempting for buffet restaurants to keep spice levels at a low to cater for people with a small tolerance for spice, but 4500 Miles for Delhi were a bit more adventurous and some of the dishes did have a good kick to them which was a refreshing change. 

After our starter plate Rich and I moved on to the curries, there were three vegetarian mains, as well as a couple of side dishes, and three meat main curries. I sampled all the meaty mains, chicken tikka masala, lamb rogan josh and chicken chettinad, I also had a spoonful of the palak paneer, a creamy spinach dish with big chunks of paneer. Again I was on the whole impressed, the chicken chettinad was the best of the meat curries but actually I still preferred the palak paneer over all, earthy yet still slightly creamy and it perfectly complimented the texture and subtle flavour of the paneer. What is a nice touch is they bring a bowl of freshly cooked chapatti bread to have along side your curry, and very nice they were too.
4500 Miles from Delhi

4500 Miles from Delhi
curry medley
4500 Miles from Delhi
fresh chapatis
On the whole I was pretty impressed with 4500 Miles from Delhi, the curry was of a good standard and the home made chutneys and fresh chapatis showed care for the small details, I still am not sure if I am a big lunchtime curry person, although the place in St Nicks has tempted me on occasion, but I would definitely revisit this restaurant but perhaps in the evening. As far as I am aware they also do a la carte in the evening which allows for wriggle room for customers who don't really fancy the buffet experience. Buffet prices for lunch are £10.95 for the three course buffet experience or £7.95 for the two. To see what 4500 Miles from Delhi has to offer check out their website

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Lunch at Ronnie's of Thornbury

Last Wednesday Rich and I found ourselves in Thornbury doing wedding related things and we thought whilst we were here we would take in a tasty lunch. Ronnie's, run by the very talented Ron Faulkner, is somewhere I've been wanting to try for a while ever since enjoying Ronnie's taster menu at Eat Drink Bristol 2012. Ronnie's of Thornbury is situated just off the main high street and does some tasty lunch deals, a set 3 course menu for £13 or for a wider choice two courses for £15.
Ronnie's of Thornbury

Ronnie's of Thornbury

A lovely bright restaurant greeted us when we walked in, as expected for a Wednesday lunchtime it was not packed but there was a good stream of customers that wandered in as we were dining. We decided to go for the two courses for £15 option plus a bottle of wine, we were celebrating after all. The options for mains were great I could have happily eaten all of the five options. I decided to go for the mushroom risotto with champagne and truffle oil, after my heavenly experience at the taster menu last year, whilst Rich picked the rib-eye steak and fries. We also ordered some lovely Hobbs House bread to start us off as we were rather peckish.
Hobbs House Bread
mixed Hobbs House bread
Steak with Chimichurri sauce
rib-eye steak, fries and onion rings
wild mushroom and truffle risotto
wild mushroom and champagne risotto with truffle oil
Absolutely sublime food. Rich's steak which was perfectly cooked, was coated in a chimichurri sauce which really brought a light, fresh zingyness to the meat, perfect flavours for Summer. The menu doesn't give much away on detail, which I actually kind of like because you aren't completely sure what to expect and for the steak this was an extremely welcome and pleasant surprise. With regards to my risotto, I tried to eat it as slowly as possible to savour it. Terribly rich and indulgent but with ingredients such as champagne and truffle oil I would have been disappointed at an insipid flavour, it was gorgeous. The earthy truffle oil helped balance out the creaminess neither of which overwhelmed the mushrooms which were the stars of the show. I would eat this every week if I could. 

The delight of the main course made us wonder if the pudding could follow such an enjoyable dishes, our concerns were misplaced. I ordered an Eton mess and Rich the caramelized lemon tart with lemon sorbet, as I don't really like citrus desserts we rarely have them at home, here was a chance for him to go the whole lemon hog and he went for it.
Ronnie's of Thornbury
caramelized lemon tart with lemon sorbet
Ronnie's of Thornbury
eton mess
Ronnie's of Thornbury
a closer look
As you can see the Eton mess in particular was a thing of beauty. Not at all what I was expecting but actually it was better than the usual expected Eton mess. As the slate arrived and was set down I got a waft of pure strawberries, this was the essence of Summer I cannot enthuse about this dessert enough it was sweet yet light possibly one of the best desserts I have ever had, and I don't really have a sweet tooth. Rich was very pleased with his lemon tart, described as wonderfully refreshing and definitely satisfied his craving for a good pudding, they are his speciality after all.

We left in a very satisfied haze of good food and wine remarking that it is worth the 50 minute bus journey to Thornbury just to take lunch at Ronnie's, it's a lovely family friendly restaurant with superb food, we even saw the man himself checking in with diners, which is a nice touch. So hopefully this has all peaked your interest and will get you planning your trip to Ronnie's, check out the sample menus on their website.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Spanish Paella from a Bristol Kitchen

Sunday night I had a hankering to christen my paella pan. Mum had bought me over some vacuum packed chorizo back from Spain so this seemed like a golden opportunity to experiment with a paella recipe. So I did a little research and thought what I might like to do and gave it a go. The recipe itself is fairly simple although the main challenge is getting an even heat across your whole pan so the rice can cook evenly, on a halogen hob this is difficult but not impossible, you just have to make sure you move it around a bit to get an even heat. Anyway without further ado this is my paella recipe. 

meat paella recipe
Paella in it's pan
You will need:
400g chunkily chopped chicken thigh fillets
Half a chorizo ring, or more if you love chorizo (who doesn't?)
300g Paella rice, although I used arborio and it worked fine, it's the short grain that counts
Half a can of chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 pints of chicken stock
Pack of runner beans trimmed and sliced in to 2 inch pieces
1/2 can of butter beans (optional) I personally found that they made the dish even more filling so not sure I would use them next time but they are traditional so up to your personal tastes.
1 red pepper cut in to cube like chunks
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
3-4 strands of saffron (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat up some olive oil in your paella pan, or whatever wide flat pan you can find and fry the chicken chunks for about 4-5 minutes and then remove

2. Add the crushed garlic and stir in the pan for 1-2 minutes before adding the runner beans stir well then add the chicken back to the pan and add the chorizo too.

3. Whilst the beans are cooking add the chopped tomatoes, smoked paprika and stir well then add the saffron to some chicken stock before adding all the stock until it reaches almost the top of the pan

4. Bring the mixture to the boil on a high heat for about 15 minutes and season with salt and pepper

5. Add the rice and pepper chunks and make sure it is all covered by the mix leave on a fairly high heat for 20 minutes and do not stir it when the rice has absorbed the liquid take off the heat and stir in the butter beans, if you want to use them

6. Leave the paella off the heat for about 5-10 minutes if the rice is cooked correctly the grains will be loose but slightly al dente.

7. Serve immediately to hungry people

Will feed about 4 moderately hungry people or 3 ravenous ones

meat paella recipe
paella on my plate
meat paella recipe
and another because it was just so damn tasty
Anyway give it a go if you get the chance it is a tasty recipe I cannot wait to make it again. Next blog will be a review of our lunch at Ronnie's in Thornbury cannot wait to show you the lovely photos I took, especially of the pudding.