Gourmet Hotdog – The Picture House, Stafford

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This was a lunch stop on a recent trip out of the big smoke and have to say what a gem Tweet and I managed to find. The original scheduled stop was another couple of hours away and we both didn’t want to have lunch at 4pm in the afternoon. So made an impromptu stop at the next closest town on the motorway with absolutely no idea what we will find.

The only thing we know about Stafford is it’s famous for Wedgwood pottery. Lately the high streets of small towns are blighted by pound shops, charity shops and payday lenders, was not surprised Stafford suffered a similar faith. Fortunately, the town center has enough distinctive architecture to make it not as depressing as the some of those we have been.

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So while walking down the high street looking for possible lunch location, came across this Wetherspoon pub and took a punt knowing the food though not out of this world, the price will definitely be a bargain. What we saw made our jaws dropped!

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Apparently, this is an old cinema which Wetherspoon had taken over and remodeled into a pub in the 90s. The building kept the old style ticket booth and also has weekly movie nights where punters are encouraged to dress up in the spirit of the movie on show.

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The interior of the pub was equally impressive. The moldings on the ceiling was probably as per how the cinema had it and the full length bar under the movie screen was a fantastic showcase. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Anyway, seeing it was a nice day, we headed out to the beer garden which is above a small river, or should I say canal. If you don’t fancy the intimate lightning in the main cinema hall, the beer garden is a good alternative.

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Enough ambiance gawking,  on to the food. As you can see from the menu, there were many deals to be had. From 2 for chump change to meal deals with drinks.

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The last time I went to a Wetherspoon, I missed out on the hot dogs so I decided to go for the Gourmet Hot Dog with an alcoholic drink which set me back £6.95. Look at the size of the dog and the generous chips and onion rings! Not bad for £6.95 eh?

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Taste wise, have to say I was disappointed. The frankfurter was missing the compulsory snap and the filling was slightly too mushy for my taste. The chili and melted cheese helped the lackluster texture of the hot dog to be let down again by the baguette. It’s a hot dog and thus it should be soft and fluffy hot dog buns. I have nothing against baguettes but the crunchy crust and chewy texture is just wrong and makes the entire thing hard to eat.

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Anyway, at £6.95 with a pint of cider, can’t really complain especially when it is served in such an unique location!

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The Picture House
Bridge Road
Stafford
Staffordshire ST16 2HL
01785 222941

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Bun Bo Hue and Banh Mi Dac Biet – Pho, Spitalfields

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Had a team Xmas booze up last night and you can imagine how I feel today. Well, at least I managed to get to the office on time. Did bring my leftover mutton curry for lunch but need some comforting as I’m feeling rather fragile. Weird that seeing I’m such a big soup noodle fan, I only went to Pho at Spitalfields once.

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Instead of ordering my usual pho, I decided to order a bun instead, the Bun bo Hue to be exact . Not bun as in a bread bun silly, it’s Vietnamese and refers to the cylindrical rice noodles used in the dish as compared to the flat rice noodles used in pho. Also ordered a banh mi in case I still feel hungry after the noodles. The bun cost £6.45 while the banh mi was £5.50. Not a cheap lunch but the Junk needed some soothing.

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Like the pho, the Bun bo Hue came deconstructed, almost all components are packed separately to ensure freshness but can be a pain if you are starving. I guess it makes putting together a takeaway order easier as well as I bet the kitchen would have packed some containers beforehand. The bun was a nice change from the usual pho, the broth was spicy but still has a deep beefy taste. The lean beef was thinly sliced which is good and the plethora of herbs added freshness to the dish. Only complain would be that the portion seems to be rather small, much smaller than I recalled.

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There was 2 options for the prepacked banh mi, a chicken and a grilled pork. I went with the grilled pork and was pleasantly surprised that it’s says Banh Mi dac Biet on the receipt. if I’m not wrong, dac Biet means special in Vietnamese. You will be asked whether you want to add some Sriracha sauce (thai chili sauce) to be added while the Maggi seasoning sauce is added by default. The baguette is nice and light, pretty close to the ones I had when I was in Ho Chi Minh with slices of roasted lean pork, a smearing of pate and stuffed with picked mooli, carrots, coriander and spring onions. Perhaps I waited too long to have it, the baguette went a big soggy on me. How I wished I had more banh mi when I was in Vietnam, the £5.50 I paid could have bought me probably 10!

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In all, a good lunch. But food can’t rid hangovers, only time and loads of liquid will 😦

Pho
48 Brushfield Street
London E1 6AG
0207 377 6436

Polish Sausage Baguette – Cafe 1001, Brick Lane

Polish Sausage Cafe 1001 intactBack to your regularly scheduled programme, i.e. Lunch! So this is my go to sausage baguette place where I work. At £4.70, I think it’s really value for money. You get 2 sausages in a full size baguette with a choice of sauces and a salad as well. Not too sure why it’s called Polish Sausage. Any Polish out there willing to enlighten me? You can get your grubby fingers on it at the outdoor barbecue area outside of Cafe 1001.

Barbecue area of Cafe 1001

The barbecue station of Cafe 1001

Cafe 1001 seating

Inside on the outside

Cafe 1001 is a hybrid cafe cum club selling a range of filled breads, pre made salads, pastries, drinks and coffee. The outside barbecue area serves a range of food from burgers to mixed grill and my lunch for today. There are seats both inside and outside the cafe and when the weather is nice, they will open up the glass doors to merge both the inside and outside space.

How to order

If there is a queue, be like the British and queue up. If you are lucky and there is no queue, walk up to the cash register on the right of the barbecue area. There will usually be someone either doing the grilling or just hanging around. Tell the server what you would like, pay and collect your order. Simples! *Squeak*

Reason why this is my go to sausage is because the sausage is fat and juicy and its skin has that snap that every banger should have. The stuffing is not too grainy but also not totally smooth in consistency. If you are lucky, you might get some fatty bits as well. Even though the sausages are pre cooked, they will reheat it slightly upon order. The baguette also gets a bit of a toasting. Nothing like getting my nashers into crusty bread. Yummo!

Sausage - Easier to handleSome tips. Do get the server to add the salad on the side. It’s already a mouthful to eat without the salad in the baguette. Can’t imagine if it’s loaded with salad! Also get the server to add the sauces of your choice in the baguette instead of on the sausages. Less of a messy feed this way. Lastly, I find tearing the baguette in half, each half containing one sausage the way to go.

So if you are ever in Brick Lane and don’t fancy a curry, give the sausage baguette at Cafe 1001 a try, I bet you, you won’t regret it!

Cafe 1001
91 Brick Lane
London, E1 6QL
0207 247 6166
Mon-Sun 0700-0000

p/s: Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. There’s a land that I dream off, once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dreams really do come true…

Double one at that! Maybe things will take a better turn from now? Sorry random guy caught in my pic!

Seeing double?