Dinner Out: The Brasserie, Bordeaux Quay, Bristol

133aka, Brunchtime Boozing.
It’s fair to say at the point of turning up for lunch today at Bordeaux Quay, Greedy Boy, Mr Greedy and I weren’t feeling completely inspired. Hungry, but grumpy and cheesed off due to the typically woeful bank holiday weather and the previous hour spent pushing a trolley round the supermarket. There is something about this place though, that just cheers me up immensely. Maybe its the Bloody Marys.

Whatever it is, its a recipe that works. Whenever I come here, its busy, which is not something which can be said for a lot of places at the moment. Mostly popular with young families during the day, due to its emphasis on fresh, relatively healthy food (I won’t tell anyone about the chips, if you won’t). This is when we come, normally. Its a menu that translates well to younger palates, which they offer at £5 for kids portions. Today Greedy Boy had Burger and Chips, as did I, but this was no kiddy menu burger, it was a handmade, herby, best beef burger served medium-rare with a homemade tomato relish. And handcut chips. Beautiful chips. Crispy, light and fluffy chips. I think I’d have a side of those chips whatever I was having. Ok, maybe not with breakfast, but I’d be tempted. In the early morning or the evening, it feels more grown up. But not formal. They save that for the restaurant upstairs. Whatever time of day, this is a lovely warm and spacious place. If I have one reservation about this place, its that one or two of the staff can perhaps be a touch standoffish – and we couldn’t find anyone to bring us the bill –  but most are not. Most are absolutely charming. Thats my criticism of this place in a nutshell, by the way. That is literally all the bad stuff I can think of.

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Because today was Bank Holiday Monday, they had their Brunch and Barbecue menu on. Now, its not the weather for Barbecues, but it was too late for us to contemplate a full english. The choice was nowhere near like it would be the rest of the week, but still extensive enough, in my view, to give all but the choosiest (and I include Mr Greedy, when I say fussy) a fair choice. I was momentarily torn by the idea of porridge with almonds and honey but you know what? You can’t really drink alcohol with porridge and not feel like a full on alcoholic. And I was always going to have that Bloody Mary.
First off was some bread and olives. Fresh bread, made on the premises. Good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Various olives. I have terrible table manners when it comes to bread. Especially when it is bread as good as this. Especially when I am very hungry. Essentially what happens is I try to eat the entire bread basket myself. Regular dining companions are aware of this and take pre emptive steps. Alternatively, they hit my knuckles with the butter knife (I don’t blame them). I don’t know what the people who are not used to it do. Stare aghast whilst I stuff slice after slice of their bread into my mouth I guess…

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And then, the mains. As I mentioned, Greedy Boy and I had the Beef Burger and Chips. Mr Greedy had been torn between the fish stew and the whole grilled mackerel. I knew that Mr Greedy loved his fish stew, not by the response to my enquiry of how it was with an unusually enthusiastic ‘very nice’ (Mr Greedy is fairly understated in that way). No. Even if it had been his favourite food cooked by angels and personally fed to him by a troupe of scantily clad brazilian lovelies, he would probably not say anything more enthused  than a satisfied ‘delicious’ to that particular question. No, I could tell he loved it by the way he started eating it, and apart from a reluctant moment where he politely offered to let me taste a bit, didn’t stop. Didn’t say or do anything else until he had tidily cleaned the plate of every scrap of edible food, even mopping up all of the juice with his bread. That doesn’t happen every day. Must have been a very good stew.

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There was no dessert on the menu, given it was their brunch thing. Instead we were encouraged to go and choose one of the handmade cakes from the Deli (rather cheaper then their dessert menu). Mr Greedy and I instantly went for the chocolate truffle and raspberry cake and rather true to form, Greedy Boy plumped for the chocolate cookie. The cookie was apparently ‘brilliant’. But the cake, omg, the cake. Dense, choclatey, with a sweet sharp fresh raspberry filling. This place has won awards for it’s cakes and my god, I can see why. The best thing about this cake though, apart from the rather obvious ‘alllllll of it’ was the base. A sort of very short, very dense, chocolate biscuit/pastry base. I’m going to get the recipe for that cake. My only concern is that if I start making it, I’m never going to stop.  And I don’t even have a sweet tooth.

So, delicious. At nearly £60 for two and a half at lunch time (including service), it can hardly be described as the cheap option. As Mr Greedy says, ‘All that environmental claptrap don’t come cheap’. It’s environmentally friendly credentials are impeccable, by the way(see their website for more details), not that I ever particularly worried about that when I tucked into my dinner. But, when i comes to price, I’d rather have one lunch here than 10 mediocre pub lunches. Besides, pricing at this level keeps out the chavs. And you can’t pay enough not to have to listen to someone swearing at their kids all lunchtime, can you?

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Bordeaux Quay

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Thai Fish Cakes with Dipping Sauce

I think you probably do need a food processor to make these. If you have got one though, these fishcakes are incredibly quick and easy to make. Get coley, whiting or ling – you can usually find them in the frozen food section or a good fishmonger, as most supermarket fish counters and fresh fish shelves don’t display them. They’re not glamour fish, they don’t look that inspiring. But they are very cheap and you don’t need the best cod for this recipe. However, if you do decide to, you can make these with cod or haddock just the same. Serves 2 greedies with salad. Recipe converted from Rick Stein’s Fruits of the Sea

thai fishcakes

First make your dipping sauce:

  • dippeing sauce50 ml white wine or rice vinegar
  • 100g white caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 50g cucumber, very finely diced
  • 25g carrot, very finely diced
  • 25 g onion, very finely diced – a faff all of this, I know,but they are small quantities. Think of Zen gardens or something.
  • 1 red finger chilli, thinly sliced – deseed if you’re very worried about the heat.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the sugar, water and vinegar, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute and leave to cool. Stir in the remainder of the ingredients and then pour into a bowl or some ramekins. Then make your fishcakes:

  • fishcaes in processorabout 500g skinned white fish, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 lime leaf or 1 strip of lime zest, very very finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 40g french beans cut into tiny discs
  • 150 ml oil for frying (not olive oil)

Put everything in the food processor except the green beans and oil. Whizz until smooth. Stir in the chopped beans. Divide the mixture into 16 and roll each one into a ball in your hand, then flatten with your thumbs into a disc roughly 6cm in diameter. In a large frying pan, pour in your oil and bring up to heat. Fry the fish cakes in small batches for one minute on each side and then drain off any excess oil on some kitchen towel. Scoff.

Tandoori Chicken

First of all, do you have one of these? or these? I really want one. I think my life would be seriously improved by a tandoor. But I’m really not going to make one, I can’t afford to buy one, and I don’t think I’ve got the space for one. Would I use it though? Hell, I think I’d use it every day!  Sirriusly! Every regular reader of this blog knows I love a curry, but I love tandoori meats and naan breads the absolute mostest. Unfortunately, given I don’t have any of the specialist kit, its never going to be curry-house authentic. It can still be good though, as the below recipe will show you. I’ve chosen to cook this chicken on the barbecue – I think it took around 40 minutes, but you can do it under a hot domestic grill or in the hottest oven for 20-30. Chicken is cooked when juices run clear and the meat pulls easily away from the bone.Recipe enough to serve 4 with salad.Taken from the ever reliable The Complete Book of Indian Cooking.Don’t be surprised that your chicken is not curry-house red. You’d have to dye it with food colouring to achieve that. Just like they do.

tandoori chicken legs

  • 8 small chicken joints. skinned
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp maldon sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 clove
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 onion, very finely chopped
  • 300ml plain natural yoghurt
  • lemon and lime wedges for garnish and sprinkles

First off, slash a couple  of  big cuts into your chicken pieces with a big sharp knife. In a large pestle and mortar or blender, crush together the salt, chillies, garlic, clove, coriander and ginger. When as combines as you think likely, add the lime juice, you might want to give it another bash if you’re using a pestle and mortar and then stir in the chilli powder and garam masala. Transfer the mixture to a small non stick pan and heat through, gently. Add the onion and fry this for a few minutes. Stir in the yoghurt and remove the pan from the heat until cooled. Now, for first preference you want to get a large plastic food bag and pop the chicken and then the marinade in and squish it about. Or, get a non metallic dish and put the chicken and marinade and swoosh it about until fully coated. Either way, stick it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or upto 36.

Bring back up to room temperature when ready to cook, and either barbecue, put in your tandoor, or put in the hot oven or grill. Leave to rest 10 minutes and scoff.

Dinner Out: Tilleys Bistro, Bath

tilleysOk,  not dinner out but lunch out today.

Myself, I think I would have given this restaurant a more favourable review had I visited in the evening. At lunch time there is a set menu, with no a la carte option. This is alright for lunch, I guess, but I do like to have a choice. Set Menus are usally designed with economy in mind, and yes, while the food was delicious on this occasion I can’t honestly say I was so inspired by the menu that I would have picked any of the dishes from it. Having viewed the a la carte menu, I’m certain that given the standard of cooking, I will go back.

So we booked a table for two for a pre theatre, Saturday lunch. How Greedy Companion and I chuckled to ourselves as the person I spoke to said he ‘would see what he could do’ on the phone when I asked to book. When he confirmed the booking, we thought there was no way that it would be that busy right? Early Saturday lunchtime in a  recession? Well, seems like Tilleys was more popular than we thought, as the dining room upstairs was already full (of pensioners) when we arrived and the basement, which apparently seats 46, was starting to fill quite fast too.

We were shown quickly to our seat, and a basket of delicious bread and butter arrived on our table. We were asked if we wanted to order a drink? Wine? There was no drink menu, so we asked for a glass of dry white wine.He said he’d bring the house white. I guess this what was supposed to happen as I overheard people requesting drinks all through lunch, and yep, they given house wine too. Only trouble was the house wine wasn’t up to much and I would have preferred to pay maybe a pound more than the £3.75 which I paid for that not particularly dry, not particularly nice glass, and get something a little better. Our food order was taken fairly quickly by a polite, if rather brusque waiter. Greedy Companion says thats what french waiters are like. Maybe. We both ordered salmon and tilleysmenuasparagus tart for starter. It was very nice, but it was definitely a quiche rather than a tart, and it was not exactly bursting with salmon and asparagus. However, it was perfectly cooked with gorgeous pastry. My friend had a homemade steak burger or ‘biftoke’ with roquefort. I can vouch for the fact it was delicious. I had madiera pork, which was pork tenderloin in a…uhhh..madiera sauce. Very nice too. The carrots that came in the side of vegetables were hard. And given that the average age of the lunch customer was probably about 60, I’m wondering how easy they would be to eat with dentures. I mean, really, have a bit of consideration for your core patrons!

Dessert for me was Crepe Normandy – pancake filled with cooked apple and served with cream, and the other Greedy had the chocolate pudding. They were both fine. Portions are not huge. Really. I know I am greedy, and I know this is 3 courses  for just  £15. I know its nice not to feel too stuffed after lunch. But it did feel a bit light. Well made, properly considered, tasty food. Just a bit stingy in terms of portioning. My only other negative really was the piped music. Thankfully, it was playing quite quietly, I’m just not sure that Motown Crooners really struck the right mood.

So, if you’re not needing a huge meal, if you don’t mind a restaurant that has a *hint* of the geriatric ward about it, and you are fairly easy going about choice, then you could do a lot worse than come for lunch here. Especially in comparison to a lot of the chainey tourist toot tat that dresses up as ‘restaurants’ in Bath. Cafe Rouge, anybody? I still would recommend you hang on for dinner if you can though.

Booking, really recommended.Website

Creamy, Spicy Sausage Pasta

Comfort food at its best. Not only is this completely delicious, but aside from crumbling a few sausages into a frying pan by hand, there is no work aside from occasional stirring. Within about 15 minutes you have a perfectly lovely heartwarming (and bellywarming) dish and you won’t really even notice you’ve done it. I know it says spicy in the title. Its not hot though, just has a tiny kick to balance the cream. This was inspired by a Nigel Slater dish, once upon a time, but its been so long since I’ve looked at the recipe I can’t honestly say its the same thing anymore. Also, as I don’t weigh or measure anything for this recipe, is fair to say you could tweak a little without anyone really noticing. So, to serve 3 very greedy people:

sausage pasta

  • around 400g good quality pasta – shapes – radioatore, fusilli, or conchiglie. Mine was fusilli.
  • about 500g very best pork sausages. Really the best you can get. This will be rubbish without decent sausages. FREE RANGE pork please.
  • glass of dry white wine
  • small pot of double cream
  • scant tsp of chilli flakes
  • tbsp dijon mustard
  • small handful of basil leaves, torn.

I am assuming that your pasta will be taking 10-12 minutes to cook, so put your pasta on. Put a large frying pan on over a medium heat and just start squeezing the pork out of the sausages into the pan, crumbling it roughly whith your hands as you do. You don’t need to be too precious about this, put be prepared to break up big chunks with a wooden spoon or something. If they’re good sausages, they shouldn’t release too much water, but there likely will be some, so you might want to drain any liquid from the pan as you go if the sausage appears to be steaming rather than browning. When the crumbled sausage is brown in parts, pour in your wine, and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes while you stir the pasta, and probably get yourself another glass of wine, or poke your head round the kitchen door to watch Eastenders. Anyway, after a few minutes of that, stir in your chilli flakes and then your cream. Turn the heat down a touch but not too much and let it bubble away, stirring regularly. Stir in your mustard. I reckon your pasta will be done about now, so, drain it (but don’t drain it until bone dry, a tiny splosh of pasta water is good in any sauce). Chuck the torn basil leaves into the sauce, closely followed by the cooked pasta and give it a very thorough stir. Scoff.