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Wahaca – Covent Garden

On a walk across London to collect our Paralympics Opening Ceremony tickets we, quite by chance, stumbled across a Wahaca. We had no plans for lunch, other than to try something new, so as soon as my son realised there were Churros on the menu we decided to give it a go. It was a bonus for us that they don’t take bookings as we were able to stroll straight in and were taken down to the brightly decorated basement seating area.

We have Thomasina Miers ‘Mexican Food – Made Simple’ Cookbook so I knew we were in for something spicy. The waiters were great at suggesting milder options for George though, or offering to put the spicy salsa on the side.

Because we wanted to make sure we tried lots of different things on our trip the Street Food part of the menu was ideal, allowing us to try several smaller plates of food, leaving room for something else later. I started with a beer and the boy had a freshly made lime and mint soda to wash down the tortilla chips with an excellent guacamole that we both loved. This must have been obvious to our waiter as he offered to refill our tortilla tin; we finished them off in seconds.

Next we had Cactus Tacos: Pretty damned spicy grilled cactus with courgette, topped with grilled cheese on soft corn tortillas. My favourites were the Chicken Guajillos and George loved the Taquitos, so much so that we had to try to recreate them at home. The boy got his Churros that came with a cup of strong dipping chocolate. I thought it was nice that the waiter said we were welcome to just come in for Churros anytime, no need to have a whole meal if that was all we fancied.

It’s a good place to stop off for something fresh and tasty for lunch and it seems that Wahaca’s are popping up all over the place as we saw one later at Westfield, just outside the Olympic Park. The Street Food dishes are all under £4 too, so it’s good value.

We’d definitely go again, not least because we didn’t take Ed, so he wants to join in on our next visit…perhaps then we can hit a few of the 100% Blue Agave Tequilas.

California Grill – Disneyworld

When you think of Disneyworld you might not immediately think about good food, yet it was one of the things I looked forward to most when we were planning our trip to Florida. We booked a lot of our evening meals before we left the UK. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss some of the unique restaurants that I had read about.

One of these was the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort near Magic Kingdom. As it happens, due to a clash in our schedule I did speak to the Concierge about cancelling this meal, but she wouldn’t let me! She said she saved up to eat there and it was so good, if we didn’t go, she would turn up and pretend to be us so that she could take our table. So we decided to stick to our plan and head over there for dinner on our last night.

The foyer of The Contemporary Hotel, although perhaps a little dated, is quite something. With the monorail silently gliding right through the hotel, it’s an interesting start to the evening. When you check-in a host comes and takes you to an elevator that takes you up to the top floor to the California Grill.

The views from the table were fantastic as there are huge panoramic windows all around the restaurant. The sun was starting to set on the horizon as we looked over Magic Kingdom and across the lake to the more exclusive resorts and ordered our meal. We had our first bottle of wine of the holiday (we had been too tired to drink wine all the other evenings) and our waiter rustled up a special cocktail for the boy.

For starters I chose the Goat Cheese Ravioli that the Concierge had recommended and Ed had a delicious looking Shrimp Salad. For the main course Ed chose the Filet Mignon and I had T-Bone Lamb Steaks. Both of which were excellent. George wasn’t sure what he wanted from the menu as it was all quite ‘fancy pants’ so the waiter asked him what he really liked. They prepared him exactly what he requested: Roast chicken, roast potatoes, green beans and a jug of gravy. Perhaps not haute cuisine, but it was delicious (I may have tried some!) and served beautifully. It certainly takes the stress out of eating out with children when the staff are careful to make sure that the younger ones are happy.

      

The desserts were even better than the mains. I chose the Valrhona melt in the middle chocolate pudding with rhubarb ice cream, Ed had a banana praline thing and George had ‘Heather’s cookie plate’ which included mini whoopie pies, Meyer lemon bars, chocolate chip shortbread and a tiny cup of frothed milk. Gorgeous.

After a coffee, the only slight hiccup as it wasn’t very hot, we headed out to the balcony to get an unusual eye level view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.

    

I have no complaints about any of the food we had whilst at Disneyworld, the choice and quality were surprisingly good, and although the California Grill uses double tokens it was worth it for a really special meal to round off our holiday.

Jamie’s Italian – Nottingham

Last night was a night out for the girls. Our choice of restaurant for the evening was Jamie’s Italian in Nottingham. I love the online booking system at Jamie’s, it’s easy to see when a table’s available plus you get a text or an email to forward to your friends.

Cocktails

We arrived just in time for a drink in the bar and we ordered a selection of cocktails to set the evening off on the right track, I had my favourite Espresso Martini.

Our table was in front of the deli area, where huge hams, garlic and chillis are hung, and the antipasti planks are made up. We ordered a mixture of the Meat and Vegetable Planks plus the Bread Selection and the Crispy Squid. It was all delicious and perfect for sharing so it didn’t last long.

Jamie's Italian Planks

We were so busy catching up that I didn’t spend any time looking at the menu, so when it came to ordering mains I panicked and ordered by just pointing at something that I’d not tried before. It was the ‘Honeycomb Cannelloni 3 ways’ which was nice but perhaps a little bland. I do like the pasta dishes at Jamie’s, so perhaps I was just missing the rich meat flavour of the Ragù.

The ladies ordered steak and Fritto Misto, both of which looked lovely, the fish was very crispy and wrapped in vermicelli fried noodles. The side orders of posh and funky chips were delicious.  It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that, although the waitress was friendly and helpful she didn’t offer us any specials. I do tend err towards a special when it’s something that sounds interesting, but perhaps they had sold out.

I really like the environment at Jamie’s. The Georgian house that it inhabits is a beautiful building. There are lots of separate areas for diners that all have a different feel to them. Some can be used for larger groups and almost give a private dining experience. We made a note to bring a bigger crowd next time so we could have a room to ourselves. If we did that we would not be quite so close to the sweet couple at the side of us who were either fascinated by, or shocked by, our candid conversation.

The house is filled with interesting period details and furniture, all ‘contemporaried up’ with a Jamie Oliver style twist. The toilets are down in the basement in ‘the caves’ where they also store ‘merchandise’ and wine, all safely locked away.

We shared a couple of desserts which we couldn’t quite finish and gossiped and laughed until it was time to head home. Although the booking system tells you your table time is limited we didn’t feel rushed out in any way.

The bill was reasonable, especially as we included cocktails, wine and several sides and starters; it was around £150 for the 4 of us.

Jamie's - photo courtesy of Jamie Oliver.com

Photo courtesy of Jamie Oliver.com

It was a good evening and very enjoyable and we will definitely be back when we can think of a good excuse. Perhaps next time we will visit on a sunny lunchtime so we can sit out in the garden.

The Loaf – Crich, Derbyshire

the-loaf

There are not many places where you get welcomed as a friend, eat delicious food, but also get to take home baking equipment and bread making advice.

After my last post about Jeera in Crich, I promised to review The Loaf on our next visit to pizza night. It was only half way through eating my Capricciosa that I remembered this, so apologies for the rather rushed phone photos. Not much gets between me and my food.

Other than special events like Storytelling nights or Children in Need, The Loaf only opens as a pizza restaurant on Wednesday’s, but it’s a real midweek bonus if you remember to book one of the two sittings. The pizzas are baked in the ovens that are used to bake gorgeous bread for the cafe, and various other outlets, during the day. They have a perfect thin, slightly chewy crust and a traditional selection of toppings. The dessert options are delicious too, tonight we shared the lemon cheesecake and apple frangipane tart. There is no alcohol licence so you need to take your own wine if you fancy a glass, but Ed especially likes their coffee and always finishes the evening with an Americano.

To go along with their bread baking classes various baking accoutrements are now on sale. So tonight I have come home with a traditional cane proving basket, a grignette (a blade for slashing the dough) and a reclaimed oven stone for baking on. I also got a some invaluable advice on how to use it all.

So, Pizza Night is well worth a visit…and I promise that my next post will be a little farther afield than ‘right on my doorstep’.

Jeera – Crich, Derbyshire

A little decider

JEERA

This is fast becoming our ‘go to’ place for a tasty dinner when I don’t feel like cooking.

Jeera is a Bangladeshi restaurant in Crich which is a small village perched on a hill in Derbyshire. Crich is probably best known for being the location for ITV’s ‘Peak Practice’ and it’s also the home of the ‘National Tramway Museum’.

Truth be known Crich is a village we would really like to live in, it has several proper pubs, a handful of shops and our favourite artisan bakery, The Loaf. The Loaf serves excellent Pizza cooked in the bread oven, but only on a Wednesday, so we will review that another (Wednes)day.

Having a 10 year old we tend to eat early, so we are often the only diners in the restaurant, but it gets busier later in the evening. Tonight we sat in the bright, early evening sun and ate crispy poppadums with some super pickles. We then had rich Lamb Bhuna, a Chicken Rezala that’s packed with tiny green chillies, plus a milder Chicken Tikka Masala to please the boy. We had rice, hot buttery naan and a couple of drinks each. Everything was excellent and we can’t fault the attentive service.

The bill came to £45 and we are now happily all home before dark so we can watch a movie before bed.

Claire, Ed and George from Thingswemake