Texas Grill, Southampton

DSC_0456Ever since I read an online review of Texas Grill, I’ve been itching for an opportunity to drive down to Southampton to try out the 8oz Beef patties stuffed with gooey Monterrey Jack cheese. Even the most vehement burger fan would find it difficult to drive 90+ miles to satisfy their beefy fix.

A family trip to the Isle of Wight was hastily arranged and even though its quicker to go via Portsmouth, Team HaloodieFoodie decided to go via the capital of Hampshire. Only real foodies plan their holidays around burgers!

We arrived at 7pm to a full restaurant, we were asked to wait for 30 mins. I promptly decided to take a short walking tour of Southampton. Upon my return, we waited for a further 20 minutes, after which we were very hungry and finally got a table. Texas Grills’ decor is best described as an American Diner/Ice cream hybrid with high padded U shaped booths and fixed wooden tables.

We ordered three burgers, the infamous Juicy Lucy, The Angry Angus and the Stuffed Joe. I requested the burgers to be cooked medium, as all good Gourmet burgers should be!!

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The Juicy Lucy is an 8oz beef patty stuffed with Monterey Jack Cheese, topped with American cheese, Turkey Bacon, Grilled onions,tomato slice, lettuce, ketchup and mayo! Served in a Brioche bun with a side of Sweet Potato Fries (an additional upgrade). I wanted to see the melted cheese inside, so I cut my burger in two and the cheese just oozed out onto the plate! A real feast for the eyes.

Juicy Lucy
Juicy Lucy

You would expect the Juicy Lucy to be a delicious patty stuffed with gooey melted cheese, sadly its seems the cheese had been stuffed between two processed burger patties. I was thinking that 8oz was an odd choice, Two 4oz processed Quarter Pounders crimped together!! After the first few bites, i realised that something was awry. After the strong taste of burger sauce (which i wasn’t expecting as its not stated in the description), I got a real kick of fattiness normally associated with machine made processed burgers. I found it very difficult to finish, even though I was famished.

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Closeup of the Juicy Lucy burger

The Stuffed Joe burger was virtually identical to the Juicy Lucy with the addition of Jalapenos instead of Grilled onions. This detour was disappointing…maybe the return from Portsmouth would’ve been a better option!

But all was not completely lost…the evening was partially salvaged by what I can safely say was the best burger of the night was the Angry Angus, It came with the normal accompaniments, such as turkey bacon, salad, mayo and ketchup.DSC_0468

The burger patty didn’t seem to be the processed and was cooked somewhere closer to well done than medium. I was pleased to see a comforting hint of pink, even though it was slightly dry. The cheese and the bacon worked well together and it was a reasonable attempt at a gourmet burger.

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As consolation, we felt that perhaps sampling the sweeter side of Texas Grill was warranted.

Texas Grill has a wide selection of ice creams to choose from, and the kids decided to get Milkshakes to soothe the effects of the arduous journey home. The kids enjoyed the milkshakes, but the disappointment grew further after tasting the salted caramel ice cream, which was dubbed “cheap toffee” by Mrs HaloodieFoodie.

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I left Southampton with a huge sense of disappointment at the displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of my expectations. At least the long drive back had some pleasant memories, primarily due to action packed break in the Isle of Wight.

Halal Status: Verified by owners Beef is HMC certified and chicken is HFA certified.

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Five Lads Peri Peri, Leyton, London

Whilst returning from an exhausting day shopping at Westfield Stratford City, 5 members of Team HaloodieFoodie decided to stop off at Leyton’s uniquely named Five Lads Peri Peri!!

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We arrived at around 7.30pm and the restaurant was brimming with diners and a queue of expectant people formed quite rapidly. The décor is modern and fresh, perfect for casual dining. Due to the sheer volume of people, the tables were quite tightly packed in places, and our team was squashed in between a group of teenagers! After a wait for around 20 minutes, we were seated. We had pre ordered our food whilst queuing and it soon arrived.

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Starters included an order of 12 Chicken wings, which were covered in a hot, tangy and spicy peri peri sauce. The chicken, whilst moist and succulent, was overpowered by the amount of sauce, especially considering the size of the chicken pieces. Perhaps less would have been more, and allowed true appreciation of both the chicken and the marinade.

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Gourmet Beef Burger £3.79

Mains ordered included the ‘gourmet’ beef burger – this was accompanied by a soft brioche bun, and the classic salads, lettuce,  red onion and a thick tomato slice, topped off with mayonnaise. The beef was of good quality, meaty and well seasoned.

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However, the size of the patty was a little too small and was overcooked, resulting in a dry burger, which could have benefited from the additions of further condiments such as aioli or blue cheese sauce. However, I am acutely aware that this is a Peri Peri chicken joint and this is probably not Five Lads speciality, so for a £3.79 burger, this was a very decent attempt.

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Chicken Breast Burger £3.49

It’s not often that I enjoy a chicken breast burger more than the beef. It was certainly the case in Five Lads. This burger was also served in a brioche bun and came with freshly cut tomato and lettuce. Additionally, the chicken breast burger came with a hot and spicy peri peri sauce. Much like Nandos, you can select the heat level to your liking.The chicken breast was cooked well, retaining some moisture, resulting in a luscious piece of meat, which is quite an effort considering the size of the chicken breast in the burger. The addition of Peri Peri sauce ensured that this formidable chicken piece was not bland and every morsel was packed with intense flavour.

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Whole Peri Peri Chicken. £9.99 As part of a platter inc 2 sides and a Drink

To go to Five Lads and not order a whole peri peri chicken would be in our eyes, a travesty, for this was the star of the show. The Peri Peri chicken was served piping hot, it was tender to the bone. The fiery sauce was zingy, but unlike the wings it was not overpowering. The chicken was not overly charred and was still juicy inside. At less than £10 for a Whole Chicken platter with two sides and drink, it is definitely tremendous value for money and worth a visit for this alone.

Five Lads Peri Peri, 308 High Road Leyton, London E10 5PW

Halal Status: HMC approved

Red Iron Burgers, Uxbridge, London

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The Red Iron Signature Burger

I’ve heard wonderful things about Red Iron Burgers via the Best Halal burger in the world group on Facebook.

When a work meeting came up in West London, I had an additional excuse to make the long trek along the North Circular and the infamous A40.

Two weeks prior to my visit I stumbled across the Red Iron review by the Halal Food Guy and became quite apprehensive about my proposed visit.

Did Red Iron have an off day?

Has their standards dropped?

I also consulted Halal Girl About Town’s wonderful blog. I was still undecided.

However, after some persuasion from a knowledgeable source, I decided to stick to my original plan and met up with some friends in Ealing (including a blind burger date! Dont ask!).

Red Iron is situated on Uxbridge High Street, conveniently close to Uxbridge Tube station. As I was driving, I parked in the Intu Uxbridge Shopping Centre (formally known as Chimes) for a very reasonable price.

The manager noticed us taking pics outside and quickly ushered us in! I met the owner of another Halal Gourmet Burger joint at Red Iron!! He recognised the HaloodieFoodie from the FatBurger opening. This coincidental meeting filled my foodie conscience with confidence. We were seated immediately and surveyed the menu. We ordered BBQ and Buffalo wings, which soon arrived piping hot.

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BBQ Wings
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Buffalo Wings

The BBQ wings were sweet and smokey and the Buffalo Wings were tangy with spicy kick, pretty standard flavours done reasonably, but not exceedingly well.

One of my diners is from Lancashire and the thought of having medium cooked beef patties excited him as much as seeing dark clouds approaching. After some HaloodieFoodie ‘Arm-Twisting’, the Southern Softies managed to coerce him into trying Medium cooked patties for the first time.

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The Red Iron Signature burger

The Red Iron Signature burger oozing cheese, garlic mayo, caramelised onions, jalapenos, red onion, lettuce and tomato. It was served with rustic hand cut chips. The patty was cooked perfectly medium, juicy and succulent, the brioche bun absorbed the juices well without breaking up. I’m not a great chips fan, but I enjoyed the hand cut rustic chips, which had a slight hint of beefiness and were nice and crispy. The quality of beef patty was apparent from the first bite, it was seasoned well and I noted that my ‘Northern’ compatriot declared that it was the best burger he’s EVER eaten.

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As a massive cheese fan and I opted for a personalised Bacon and Blue Cheese burger.

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It didn’t disappoint, the Blue Cheese and Turkey bacon combination worked well together. The buttery, sharp cheese with the smoky aftertone of the bacon, alongside a patty immaculately cooked to medium! I ordered sweet potato fries, but the hand cut rustic fries turned up. After notifying the waitress, the manager apologised for his error and promptly came over with a free batch of crunchy Sweet potato fries. #nomDSC_0125

Overall, we all enjoyed our visit to Red Iron Burger, it most certainly ranks as one of the better burgers I have eaten to date. If you in West London and would like medium cooked burgers made from quality ingredients, Red Iron is a hard choice to beat. I was very surprised to see the owner of a renowned competitor dining at Red Iron and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Actions speak louder than words!

Halal Status verified by owners.

http://www.redironburgers.co.uk/

FatBurgerUK Pre Launch Event courtesy of The Best Halal Burger in the World Group on Facebook!

IDSC_0108ts not often you look forward to a Monday, but today was different. I had the opportunity to dine with my fellow ‘Best Halal Burger in the World” Group members at the specially arranged Pre Launch Event @FatBurgerUK.

After making a mad dash from my base in Stoke Newington I finally arrived at 7.30pm. Hoping that one of the 150 free burgers had my name written on it!

As I walked through the door, I was greeted to a chorus of ‘Welcome to FatBurger’ from the workers behind the counter. Damn… there goes my cover….
I immediately recognised some group members! But would they recognise me!!
‘You must be HaloodieFoodie!’ and my evening really took off.

We were seated quickly and a waitress came and explained the menu for the evening. As this was a pre launch event, FatBurger were only offering single patty burgers.

DSC_0095Our burgers arrived in due course cut in half and wrapped in Fatburger branded Greaseproof paper. As the burger patties are small (2.5oz, I guess) it’s very difficult to cook medium or medium rare. However, the patties were still moist. You could tell the quality of the meat was of a reasonable standard, no grizzly bits of cartilage or sinew. The seasoning was ok and the special sauce inside the burger had a slightly sweet taste which was offset by the sour gherkin. The bun was pillowy soft, akin to the Fillet of Fish bun in McD’s.
For a fast food burger, It was head and shoulders above other ‘Non Gourmet’ burger joints. Although, I would prefer a double or even a triple patty burger to really satisfy my carnivorous side.

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Skinny Burger. Zero carbs version!

The star of the show were the Buffalo wings. I had Red Hot Ranch wings and the Lemon pepper. These reminded me of the offer in Sticky Wings in Whitechapel. Hot, spicy with a sour kick! #nom. My only complaint is the size of the wing were also tiny.

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Red Hot Ranch wings
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Lemon pepper Wings
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Chicken Tenders

I found the chicken tenders really succulent, but quite salty for my liking. The accompanying Ranch sauce complimented the salty chicken well.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience tonight. Both on a food and more importantly on a personal level. It’s fascinating to meet people who are as passionate about halal food, especially the food bloggers I met!

Finally, I would like to thank @fatburgerUK for making this possible via the efforts of Hussein Pirbhai and Sameer Chatoo. I hope and pray that this is the first of many events from the best halal burger group.

Garlic King Prawns in Lemon Butter with a Kick of Chilli!

 

FoodieChief Cooked Garlic King PrawnsGreetings, Inshallah this is the first of many posts I am able to share with you. Before we progress I would like to thank HaloodieFoodie for allowing me the opportunity to use this fantastic forum.

At this point it would be appropriate to put my culinary journey into context. In 1987, I moved away from home to study at university. It was the first time I came ‘home’ to an empty flat and the absence of the glorious smell of delicious home cooked food. Although, I did received a steady supply of ready-made spice mixes from my beloved mother, three years of trial and error gave me a thorough grounding into the road that lay ahead.

After graduating, my journey took an unexpected twist when I linked up my family to launch an Indian restaurant – this we successfully ran for twelve years, I enjoyed every moment, even though it was excruciatingly hard work, moreover the unsocial hours impacted on my family life.

Travelling and sampling different cuisines has really enhanced my understanding of food, this has played a key role in developing my skills that I have embraced. Over the years my travels have taken me to France, Italy, North Africa, South Africa, Middle East and of course India. To appreciate food you have to enjoy it, the enjoyment is even greater if you can try making it and sharing it!

Let commence with this simple starter – I love sea food and nothing annoys me more than having to eat over cooked prawns. Prawns and most other seafood are very delicate and are to be treated with care, over cooking any seafood will ruin the enjoyment of “fruit de mare” – Fruits of the sea.

To serve 4 people as a starter you will require the following ingredients:

24 headless king prawns with Shell

4 cloves of garlic

Fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish

1 lemon

40g of butter

3 tablespoon olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 red chilli or a pinch dried chilli flakes (or more if you like it hot) – this is totally optional but I do like the chilli kick

Method:

FoodieChief King PrawnsStep 1 – Prepare your prawns, when using king prawns I always make sure that they are de-veined. Wash and allow to dry before placing them in baking dish.

Step 2 – Peel and finely chop the garlic. Now scatter the garlic, olive oil and the butter over the king prawns.

Step 3 – Wash your fresh lemon in hot water and dry, grate the lemon and collect the zest.

Step 4 – Add seasoning to your king prawns, salt and pepper to taste and the lemon zest.

FoodieChief Garlic King Prawns Ready to Bake

Step 5 – Add the chilli (optional step) and mix the king prawns will all the ingredients.

Step 6 – Bake the king prawns in a pre-heated oven at 190o C / gas mark 5 for approx. 12 mins. A good indicator that the prawns are cooked – the shells will be pink in colour.

Step 7 – Garnish with finely chopped parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Ready to serve with a thick slice of tiger bread!

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Hope you are able to try this simple and very tasty recipe. Your feedback and suggestions are welcome.

FoodieChief

Prashad Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, Drighlington, Suburbian Bradford

My great aunt in Bradford is an amazing individual, and I always look forward to visiting her. Fortunately for us she also happened to live close to Prashad restaurant; and no visit to the West Yorkshire town was complete without consuming a feast of Gujarati snacks such as Khaman Dhokla and Chevdo.

IMG-20150405-WA0015 (1)Prashad rose to notoriety in 2010 by coming second in Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurant. This is the first time I’ve visited the restaurant after it was relocated. As you’ll expect, the premises are now much, much bigger and the level of décor has also improved markedly.

Before leaving for Prashad I was quite apprehensive. I vividly remembered that my last visit to a pure vegetarian eatery resulted in a quick visit to a famous burger joint on the way home!! Also, if you follow my instagram stream you’ll notice that although I’m Gujarati by birth I consume loads of meat. I blame it on my maternal genes. Thanks Mum!!

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Complimentary Amuse-bouche

Our group were seated upstairs after a short wait in reception. Before we ordered we were given a complimentary amuse-bouche; a piping hot potato and coriander cutlet served with a sweet and spicy tamarind sauce. The amuse-bouche was well seasoned with a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. It set the tone for a good evening.

We ordered the tasting platter which had a selection of 7 starters; Prashad’s award-winning Kopra pethis, a paneer and pea samosa, Hara bara kebab (spinach kebab), Khanda bhajia, Khuli kachori, Potato vada and a Stuffed pepper bhajia. The starters were served on a bed on pickled red cabbage and accompanied by a cooling coriander chutney.

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With vegetarian food there is no hiding behind a big piece of steak or a well marinated chicken breast. The tasting platter was made fresh to order and you could perceive the quality of the fresh ingredients. The undoubted star of the tasting platter was the award-winning Kopra Pethis; a ‘spice infused fresh coconut pâté within a potato casing’; which was an absolute delight. It’s flavours took me back to the street traders in Navsari, Gujarat.

We also ordered the Special chaat and the Dahi Puri. Both are pure Bombay street food dishes with a balance of textures and flavours. Sweet and spicy crispy puris and soft potato, drizzled with fiery chilli, a cool, subtly sweet yoghurt and a tart tamarind chutney. The dahi puri and special chat are very similar in taste and texture, with the main difference being the Dahi Puri has mini crispy puris which are easily shared.

Dahi Puri
Dahi Puri
Dahi Puri
Special chaat

For the mains we ordered Masala Dosa, which is a lentil & rice flour crepe with a spiced potato and onion curry served with daal and coconut chutney. This dish looked very similar to the Dosa found in East Ham’s South Indian eateries, but thankfully the comparisons stopped there. The dosa was light and crisp, the potato filling was smooth, silky and delicately spiced, and the daal was flavoursome, with a chilli kick. Finally the coconut chutney was creamy and indulgent, most unlike the ‘knock your socks off’ chutney found in East Ham.

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Masala Dosa

Our final dish was the South Indian themed Idly. The dish had a steamed rice cake which also comes with daal and coconut chutney. The idly were soft and luxurious, perfectly complimented by the daal and coconut chutney.

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Normal and Mango lassi
Normal and Mango lassi

No visit to an Indian restaurant is complete without a jug of mango lassi. Like the meal, it was perfectly balanced; not too thin or sweet. The yoghurt lassi we ordered was not sweet enough for our tastes; the waiter kindly had another sweeter lassi made free of charge!!

In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised by my latest vegetarian dining experience. We were so full we had to decline the desserts on offer…….Though I’ll admit I had to have a meat filled BBQ the following day to ensure my maternal genes were satisfied……

The Gourmet Hut II (TGH 2, The Return)

DSC_0024Six months after my initial visit, I decided to visit The Gourmet Hut again for my post-inspection visit! As I was going with a group of teachers, I decided to give an afternoons notice!!
The setting remains the same small, warm and cosy place with low slung pendent lighting and comfortable seating, studded with painted coins.

Starters:

Muddy Fries; Home cut chips with a generous topping of beef mince, jalapenos and melted cheese. The addition of the ‘twice fried’ cut chips had elevated this dish to another level.

Buffalo Soldiers; Large whole chicken wings (Drumette, Wingette and Tip) drenched in a homemade buffalo sauce. I found the wings slightly overcooked and the sauce a little too sweet for my liking. I prefer wings to have a subtle sweetness, with a definite chilli kick. My colleagues seemed to enjoyed the wings. I guess its just the way it goes!!

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Muddy Fries
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Buffalo Soldiers

Loaded Potato Skins; There’s a noticeable improvement here. The skins have been ‘loaded’ with more fillings with roasted red pepper, jalapeno and turkey bacon.

Hot Dogs: Chicken Sausage served in a soft and shiny brioche roll served with fried onions. Topped with mustard and ketchup, my colleagues seemed to like the hot dogs, I feel that the quality of the sausage must improve to move the hot dog into ‘Gourmet’ range of products.

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Loaded Potato Skins
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Hot Dog

Burgers
I got the TGH Big Brunch burger, I requested the burger to be served medium with a good level of seasoning. Thats exactly what I got. The burger was cooked perfectly medium and was juicy and not dried out patty I found on my previous visit. The egg had a lovely runny yolk and it added to breakfast themed burger. The brioche bun was soft and buttery.

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My colleagues got the Firecracker, and unlike my previous encounter is was fiery hot even for a native Indian!! Others received the TGH special with a double patty, which they struggled to complete and had to finish for additional homework! I didn’t hear many complaints, which is rare our staff meals!!
Overall, I am pleased with what was at offer today. If you’re looking for HMC approved Gourmet burgers then you can’t go much awry with a Gourmet Hut burger. I even had an informal chat with the owner and main chef!! and gave my suggested improvements, aged beef, beef bacon, pulled beef. We also made it clear that consistency is king in the food trade!!