Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cactus Jacks

I went to Salisbury for a getaway weekend break with my boyfriend and after walking in the pouring rain we came across Cactus Jacks a Mexican bar and restaurant. We took advantage of the lunch menu, which offered 2 courses for £8.85. I really liked the decor in the restaurant, over the mirror was a line of Jagermeister bottles, sombreros dotted around and random pieces. Our starters came out quick, we ordered the chicken wings and jalapeño hot shots, which are jalapeño peppers stuffed with cream cheese and then deep fried. The home-made sauce was tangy on the chicken wings with a spicy kick to it and very more some. 

For our mains we decided on smoked salmon and chorizo linguine and Fabada Mexican bean stew. From here our dining experience at Cactus Jacks went downhill. When the food came, we were given the smoked mackerel fillet instead of the salmon and chorizo linguine. It took us about 10 minutes to gain the attention of the waitress, where she apologised and went back to the kitchen to get it sorted. She didn't offer us any complimentary drinks, especially as I was then eating my meal on my own. When the linguine came out, it didn't have any chorizo in, after this we just  surrendered and swiftly finished the plate and left. I was a bit disappointed with the service, not for getting the meal wrong but not following it up with good customer service and then to serve the dish with no chorizo. The restaurant was not that busy when were ordered, only four other tables taken.

I have eaten at restaurants where they have made mistakes and have tried to compensate by offering the dish for free, or offering complimentary drinks or even discounted the bill, however we were not greeted with anything of this nature apart from a quick "sorry". After this experience, I sadly would not choose to come here again, which is a shame as we both thought the flavour in the dishes were good.

Chicken wings (also just noticed that the sour cream was not served with the meal)
Jalapeño hot shots
Fabada Mexican stew
Smoked salmon with NO chorizo linguine
Rating: 5.75
Service: 1/10
Presentation: 8/10
Taste: 7/10
Quality: 7/10

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New World Dim Sum

I really craved some authentic, traditional dim sum and my friend recommended New World to me. When I walked through the door there was already a large crowd in the reception area, waiting to be seated. Someone from the front house would give you a number and then you just wait for that number to be called out. I wasn't quite sure what to make of the interior, the place looked tired and reminded me of sitting in my grandparents house back in the 80s.

Dim sum is wheeled around in a trolley where the waiter stops at your table and you get to pick what you want. There was a large variety of dishes which we could try from steamed, baked and fried dim sim. My favourite dish was the prawns fried in a light pastry. 

The staff spoke limited English, so they don't really speak much and expect you to point at what you want and eat. I also asked for sweet chilli sauce and the waiter ended up giving it to another table. Apart from that, I did enjoy my meal here and would come here again to try other dishes, as I didn't order anything from the menu. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Eat Tokyo

My friend took me to a little gem down the side street of Leicester Square called Eat Tokyo. I've just found that there are other branches, but this restaurant is well hidden from the main roads. From the outside it reminded me of a ramen house in Japan with its wooden exterior and door hangings. When we entered the restaurant it was busy but we managed to get seated after a few minutes and it wasn't long before a queue was formed outside. The restaurant is quite small and the tables are placed closely together. I liked that you could sit at the bar and watch the sushi chefs make your food.

I ordered a bento box, which had terikayi salmon, sashimi, a selection of tempura, salad, rice and miso soup. I was very impressed with the food and the portion size. I absolutely loved the teriyaki sauce, really want to know what they put in it. The tempura was light and fluffy, just how it should be and the whole meal was great, everything just went well together. I'm also probably a bit more biased on this review as I do love Japanese food, but I thought it was very authentic and the prices were fair. My only negative is that the menu is pretty big, there is so much too choose from, which made deciding quite difficult.

Bento box

Rating: 7.5
Service: 6/10
Presentation: 8/10
Taste: 8/10
Quality: 8/10

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicken coma

My boyfriend and I visited the O2 arena as we had tickets to the ATP Final tour, as we were early we decided to dine in Harvester as usually there are massive long queues. I have been going to Harvester since I was a teenager and always find its a fun place to eat in. It's very family orientated, reasonably priced and the food portions are large. Not to mention that you get a free salad bowl, which makes you feel less guilty when it comes to picking a calorific main meal.

We ordered the Ultimate Chicken Platter, which consisted of a whole chicken, flame-grilled BBQ chicken wings, piri piri skewer, and a chicken & chorizo skewer, served with grilled corn on the cob and 2 side dishes, where we chose chips and mashed potato and not to mention the free salad bowl. If anyone had seen our table, they would have thought we hadn't eaten in years. There was so much food between us and after the food came, we realised that we could not take any food into the O2 arena, so we felt obliged to eat as much as our bellies could take. After 20 minutes of eating my belly was about to pop and I could feel the meat sweats coming, probably serves us right for ordering so much.

Ultimate chicken platter

Rating: 6.75
Service: 6/10
Presentation: 7/10
Taste: 7/10
Quality: 7/10

Friday, November 9, 2012

Best hotdog I have eaten

Before embarking on the aeroplane to leave the New York I ended up having some time for dinner and stumbled upon Todd English Bonfire. The menu was simple and straight to the point. I decided on the Kobe beef hotdog and this was a great decision. I have to put my hands up and say that this was one of the best hotdogs, which I have eaten. The photo below does not do it any justice. The bun was warm, soft and was smothered with a thousand island sauce. The hotdog was thick and juicy with melted cheese and caramelised onion on top, accompanied with Parmesan fries. This was my final meal in America and was one of my favourites, everything just came together. I'm either really hyping this hotdog or am just easily pleased.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Candy galore

I went a bit candy crazy and bought a lot of chocolates and sweets to give to friends and family. The photo below is only half of what I bought.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Brasserie - Ultimate Aged Burger

This is probably one of the more expensive burgers I have opted for in a restaurant, though from reading the caption in the menu, a burger lover like me could not resist.

I chose the Ultimate 30 day dry aged steak burger and I quote from The Brasserie menu:

"A perfect ratio of 30 day dry aged sirlion, rib eye and hangar steak. Full bodied, buttery, juicy, tender and bursting with bold taste. Holy cow!! Possibly the best burger you will ever have."

With a description like that, who is to deny me of this burger. I must admit that it was a great tasting burger and again with the soft, crunchy brioche bun. The meat was so juicy and melted in my mouth. It did definitely taste different and I would call this a proper burger, not a patty. Would I pay $20 again for this? Yes I would.

Aged burger with fries


This takeaway sushi place was an absolute gem, which we found inside a business building called Sushi-Teria. To order you input your choice on an ipad, stuck on the walls around the room, then the assistants call your name where you pay and are given a receipt. The sushi chefs are standing there making your sushi on the spot. The ingredients used looked so fresh and tasty, but I would imagine the sushi chefs would get some help from the kitchen behind if it was super busy.

The food was amazing! My biggest problem was that I wanted more. The flavours were so different in comparison to sushi I have eaten back at home or in Australia. Think they make it a bit more sweeter with sauce, nonetheless this place was just incredible.

Sushi-Teria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How do you say Chipotle?

I always struggle when it comes to the word Chipotle, but my American colleagues suggested this Mexican fast food restaurant. I liked the concept of choosing what you wanted to eat. Above the counter there is a massive placard and from left to right you pick what options you want from the different categories and build your perfect meal. I really liked Chipotle, like all food in America, the food portion was large. There were lots of different flavours in my Burrito Bowl, I decided on the grilled chicken with pinto, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. 

There is a Chipotle near Soho, which I definitely want to try.

Burrito bowl

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dining in Red Lobster

My friends and I were curious about Red Lobster, as the food advertised on the menu looked mouthwatering. The first time we walked past we could see a fish tank of fresh lobsters and could not resist.

I went for the Crab Lover's Trio which was steamed snow crab legs, crab and seafood stuffed shrimp with lobster butter and a creamy crab bake with a Parmesan crumb topping. The meal looked so colourful, I loved the Parmesan bake. The crab was a bit fiddly, as the legs were so thin and I spent most of my time dishing out the succulent meat, but I guess that's what it is all about here, getting down and dirty with seafood. I thought it was the seafood version of Nandos.

My friend ordered the Ultimate Feast which was a lobster tail, steamed snow crab legs, garlic shrimp scampi and Walt's Favourite shrimp. This looked immense and judging from his face, it was not long until he was in a food coma.

I was very pleased with the whole meal and the waitress was very helpful in helping us decide on the dish. I do usually avoid large chains like this, but would like to come back here and try other dishes on the menu.

Ultimate Feast
Lobster, crab and seafood stuffed mushrooms
Crab Lover's Trio
Rating: 8.25
Service: 8/10
Quality: 8/10
Taste: 9/10
Presentation: 8.10

Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

Colours of the rainbow in a sandwich

This is possibly the largest sandwich I have eaten. For about $5 I bought this jam packed sandwich, which was wedged with every vegetable under the sun,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thank God It's Friday!

My friend hadn't been to a TGI Fridays so we decided to check it out and for me, see if it was any different in comparison to the UK. For me everything was pretty much the same from the interior and menu. 

I ordered the Caribbean chicken sandwich, basted with Caribbean rum sauce in a brioche bun with avocado, pineapple and sweet potato fries as a side. Whereas my friend had the Sirlion steak, served with butter, parmesan fries, vegetables and ginger-lime slaw.

The burger was good and as I previously stated I really love brioche bun, so it couldn't go wrong. The sweet potato fries were different, the last time I tried these were in New Zealand. The meal was very filling and a bit oily for my liking.

Caribbean chicken sandwich
Sirloin steak
Rating: 5/10
Service: 3/10
Presentation: 5/10
Quality: 6/10

Heart attack on a plate

Today I tried something that I would never be able to buy in a cafe at home. Pancakes with maple syrup, crispy bacon and sausage patty. I couldn't even finish it, as it was so heavy and I could feel my arteries clogging up. One thing I have noticed here is that they don't have sausages like in the UK, its in a patty form instead, not really a big fan of it.

Pancakes with bacon, sausages and maple syrup

Giant gherkins!

I saw this jar of pickled gherkins in a local cafe and thought 'Wow, these are huge'!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Taste of the Orient in NYC

After a long day in New York my friend and I were pretty fatigued and ended up eating near our hotel at a Thai restaurant called Pad Thai. The interior was nicely decorated with wood and was quite busy when we arrived. For starters we ordered steamed prawn dumplings, which were to die for. My issue with these were that they were bite size, they should have been bigger as I just wanted more. They were soft, full of flavour and not overly cooked. The next dish was a sushi and I regret not getting the name of it. From what I remember it was salmon and avocado roll with salmon wrapped around, topped with crunchy salmon skin. This was delicious and by far one of my favourite things I tried in New York.

For our mains we had mango chicken and I think lad nar noodles. The mains were good and the food tasted very fresh. I'm not sure how authentic is was, but I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

Steamed prawn dumplings
Incredible tasting sushi rolls
Mango chicken
Lad nar noodles
Rating: 7.25
Service: 6/10
Presentation: 7/10
Quality: 8/10
Taste: 8/10

Pad Thai - NYC on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hard Rock Cafe - New York

Our first taste of American food was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square  Inevitably this American chain was so popular with tourists, at first we were told the wait was 30 minutes but we ended only waiting for half the time. Like all Hard Rock Cafes, this restaurant was pimped out with hundreds of rock memorabilia, I loved all the guitars strung up on the walls. 

I decided on the S.O.B burger with medium rare beef burger basted with spicy Chipotle Pepper puree, Montery Jack Cheese, which was served on a brioche bun with guacamole and grilled onions. This was great meal to kick start my culinary pallet with a taste of USA. The burger was huge, I had to cut it in half to eat. I really liked the toasted brioche bun, which gave it that extra crunch and the beef was tender and juicy. My negative was that the grilled onions were maybe grilled for too long as it tasted like charcoal, I ended up taking them out of the burger. Also it scared me to see how many calories I would be consuming in my meal, as my main was around 750 calories. On the plus side, it did help me avoid the burger which was almost 2000 calories!

Eating here was a great novelty, but Hard Rock Cafes are ultimately all the same with a few different twists on their burgers, nonetheless I did enjoy it here and the atmosphere was great.

S.O.B burger
The burger was huge
My burger split in half
Rating: 7.25
Service: 8/10
Presentation: 6/10
Taste: 8/10
Quality: 7/10

Hard Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon