Chik’n Not So Chik’n Sandwich

Chik'n Not So Chik'n

We were in London recently and stopped off at Chik’n to try their Not So Chik’n sandwich (or a burger, to you and me). We found them on Baker Street, not far from the tube, and got our orders in.

It’s very much a fast food experience in that you place an order at the till, stand and wait for your food to come out, and then sit and eat or take it away. However, I did find the staff very attentive, offering to bring the tray over for us and checking that everything was fine with our order. 

We picked up the following:

NOT SO CHIK’N: Veggie Chik’n, Lettuce, Buttermilk & Herb Mayo, Pickes – 5.45

CHEESY FRIES – 3.95

FREESTYLE SODA – 2.75 read more

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Video: Pear French Toasts

Pear French Toasts

This week our recipe is oh-so-indulgent pear French toasts, drenched in sweetness and perfect for special occasions. If you ate these every day you’d probably end up diabetic, but for a festive treat, they certainly do the trick.

We had these for an early lunch/late brunch and even then the sweetness was very heavy, so if you don’t have a sweet tooth, they probably won’t be too your liking. But if you’re the type to pour sugar over your cereal, they will go down a storm.

The texture may surprise you as these toasts can actually end up feeling more like pancakes when they get really soft in the pan. Of course, you can adjust the recipe to be a little less “wet” and cook with the heat turned up a bit to make them crispier. Personally, this texture is really great with the sweetness.

We’ve got our video down below of how to make them, as well as the recipe written out so you can follow it. Give this one a try and let us know how you get on!

Oh, and by the way – if you hate waste like we do, you’ll be wondering what to do with your leftover mix that you soaked your toasts in. Well, pour it all into the pan after you have finished cooking and get it nice and hot. It won’t fry into a solid shape, but with a bit of thickening up, you’ll have something fairly close to a porridge.

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Cheese Posties: French Onion Soup

Cheese Posties

Recently we received a complimentary Cheese Posties delivery for review, and we’re itching to share that experience with you. You’ve heard of box subscriptions in almost every category that you can think of, but this one is super interesting – it’s a cheese toastie delivered to you at regular intervals so you can make your own with fancy ingredients and unique flavours. This is gourmet DIY toasted sandwich goodness all delivered in a quirky package – and did we mention their name is just about the best pun ever?

We opted for a French Onion Soup toastie – after all, we’ve perfected our own version of the recipe and wanted to see what it was like in sandwich form! It arrived soon after and we were super excited to get inside and see what it was all about.

Each delivery comes with a few other elements, not just the food itself. You get a ‘Top Trumps’-style playing card telling you the details of your toastie, the instructions on how to make it, a Cheese Posties sticker, and an envelope-like tool which allows you to pop your sandwich into a toaster with no spillage. It’s also reusable, so you can simply wash it and then make more toasties in the future.

Under those are all of the elements of the sandwich itself, in individual compartments measured out to provide the best possible combination when eaten. Your task then is to open each of the compartments (I say task – I couldn’t do it – luckily J knows I am infamously bad with packaging and he got them open with a bit of effort!) and introduce them to one another.

While I was spreading mustard and caramelised onion onto the soft white bread, layering in some gruyere cheese, and then buttering both sides of the sandwich, there was another little goody to try. Each playing card comes with a video, too, so you can find out more about the product.

With the app you can share photos, watch the funny videos, and get the chance to win more posties as well. It’s a great little extra, and we love the way they have branded everything. The website is great to explore so make sure you head over there and give them a look too!

Now, back to our sandwich! When it emerged from the toaster (on a mid-level setting), it was gloriously golden-brown and the cheese was nicely melted. The butter really helps to crisp up those sides with the right “grilled cheese” feel, really adding to the luxurious feel of these special toasties.

This being a democratic household, we opted for half a sandwich each to avoid in-fighting. At the sight of this sandwich, it was a close one, I tell you – the smell alone was enough to make me debate whether it was worth a fight. Given that J goes to the gym and lifts weights approximately 900 times more than I do, probably going halves was the right decision. It was time to give it a try!

Going by the name of the sandwich, I admit to being a bit disappointed. Yes, the ingredients do sort of make up a French onion soup, but the sandwich really tastes like a sandwich made of those ingredients, not like the soup. In fairness, you would need a whole lot more onions that were a whole lot more caramelised in order to achieve that, and they probably wouldn’t survive the shipping. Still, I did want a bit more of that authentic taste.

Judging it as a sandwich on its own merits, however, I have to say it was pretty good. We both enjoyed the cheese and onions very much, and it was to my surprise that what looked like a lot of mustard was actually in no way overpowering. In fact, it blended in with the taste of the other ingredients, which was definitely a plus point for me. Everything was super melty and the texture was fantastic, and it was very moreish. Maybe I should have fought J for the other half after all….

Now we’ve tried one, we’re definitely curious about the other flavours. Their range includes some crazy options based on desserts which sound really interesting, and we’re inspired to give them a try at some point. The pricing does make this more of a luxury sandwich – to be fair, you’re mostly paying for shipping, but it’s still going to cost more than a quick sandwich from the local shop – and for us it will probably be a nice treat on special days or when we’re relaxing after a big work project comes to an end. It’s nice to have something really interesting for lunch without having to make it yourself – or even go out and get it from a shop. Plus, we’re really competitive about our games and we want to get some more of those playing cards to start up some Postie tournaments!

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TGI Fridays – Veggie Sandwich

I’ve been to TGI Fridays a couple of times, although the last time was a while ago. I don’t know whether they have changed their menu recently, but I certainly remember having a much better meal the first time I went. Whether the food has changed, or whether it was the fault of the particular chefs, I’m not sure – but I expected a bit more from this burger, or “sandwich” as they call it, than I got. To start with, it was brought out first with the wrong fries, and out of a table of eight there were four mistakes when they brought the food out, with another plate arriving very late. Three out of eight is not a good start. read more

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Where to Eat Veggie in Budapest

Recently, I spent some time in Budapest, and gathered plenty of information about where you can find the best vegetarian or vegan meals while you are there. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but is based on my own experiences – and I did a lot of research both beforehand and while we were there in order to find the best possible options throughout the week. There is a lot to cover here, so I will get started right away…

One of the restaurants that we read about on TripAdvisor and decided to check out in person was Macska. There is a lot of character in this small bar, and the full vegan/vegetarian menu which is changed every single night and written on chalk boards above the bar offers a lot to make your mouth water. On the night that we went, we decided to opt for the cheap and delicious-sounding vegetable soup with sour cream and pita bread. In fact, the sour cream was not mentioned on the menu, but was provided as an optional extra for those who are not vegan. The soup itself was filling and hearty despite looking somewhat weak when you lifted it with your spoon, and contained a variety of winter vegetables served hot. The sour cream cooled it down very nicely and presented a good contrast in flavour and texture, while the nice warm pitas were the perfect complement to the meal as a whole. Despite this very simple meal which only cost us a couple of pounds, we were completely full afterwards and even felt as though we might have difficulty walking around comfortably. The atmosphere was good, even though there seemed to be a larger percentage of locals there. One caveat was the lemonade – if you order lemonade, you get lemon juice, not the fizzy drink that we would expect. It was very strong, so beware!

Another venue that we searched out after seeing it online was Falafel. You can read my full review of their veggie burger here, but the rest of their food is also all fully vegetarian, with some vegan options as well. They have homemade drinks and plenty of salad elements, all centred around a salad bar where you can fill pitas, plates, and other containers depending on how much you would like to pay.
 
At the recommendation of someone that we met in Budapest – a Canadian student at the local university – we also tried out a tapas place called Pata Negra. I don’t have any images of the food there – we were cramped into a very small table and the dishes were not presented in a way that was particularly pretty, so I didn’t bother taking any. The dishes did not have a particularly Spanish feel to them and I suspect that this was simply a Hungarian interpretation of the tapas menu. There were quite a few vegetarian options, however, and I did really enjoy their patatas bravas – nothing at all like the patatas bravas I’ve eaten in Spain, but nonetheless very tasty with a sauce that I could happily have eaten on everything.

There were two places we couldn’t find, which we had wanted to try initially. Either we’re stupid, or they don’t exist any more, so make sure that you check this out carefully if you are currently planning a veggie trip to Budapest. These were the Basil Ica Salad and Pancake Bar, and Nemsuti bisztro. At the time of writing, I haven’t seen any more reviews added for them, so it could well be that they are now gone. Although we did manage to find it, we didn’t try Govinda, as it was very far away from everywhere but the Parliament buildings and we preferred to go back closer to the hotel before eating and losing our momentum.
 
Although it was not a full meal, we did also stop for a sandwich in the Gellert Spa after enjoying some relaxation there. They only had one vegetarian sandwich at the time, which was filled with varying cheeses and salad. There were harder, sliced cheeses, soft cheese spreads, tomatoes, cucumber, and lettuce, all of which was quite fresh. The bread was a little chewy but otherwise fine. When it comes to sandwiches, you may find yourself a little suspicious from time to time as full descriptions of the ingredients do not seem to be the norm – but so long as you can check it over fully, you should be fine. This one was passable, but nothing special at all.

 
One of the places that we just had to try was the Cat Café. Just like the name suggests, the café is full of cats who stay there and will prowl around while you eat! This is a growing phenomenon in Europe and is becoming increasingly popular. Unfortunately our experience here was a bit underwhelming: the cats were not bothered about going anywhere near people who did not have treats on them, and one cat came to check out our table before deciding we nothing of worth and going to sleep. While we were there we had some sandwiches, but they were listed just as vegetarian so we had to check what was in them. This turned out to be cheese, tomato, and sweetcorn, a bit of an odd mix and one that did not entirely satisfy my tastes. The bread itself was quite odd – it was thick and reminded me of the last slice of bread in a loaf, or in other words plenty of crust and not much of the soft insides.

The first place that we went to also turned out to be one of our favourites, and we did return there again before coming home. This was the Hummus Bar, which more or less does what it says on the tin! It is a small café/restaurant set up and there are actually a few different venues throughout the city, though we stuck to the Kiraly Utca one. They had lots of veggie options, including the hummus complete, which was recommended to us right away because it serves as a kind of sample platter of all of the different things that they serve. It is vegetarian, although there are a few options on the menu that are not, so watch out for those. The hummus complete was made up of some delicious fried mushrooms which I really could not get enough of; some watery chickpeas which were not very impressive and hardly any taste, though my partner in crime did actually enjoy them, so it must be down to taste; a large amount of the hummus itself, which was very tasty and had a great texture; and the falafels, six of them in this case, which were crispy, clean tasting, and delicious, even if they were somewhat small. There was also some oil on the top of the hummus, and some herbs spices scattered on top. The presentation was really fantastic, with the bowl being made to look like a huge endless pile of hummus with a swirl of it all the way round the outside edge, and the use of paprika made the plate really striking.
 
You also had the option to add on pine nuts for 100 fts – ridiculously cheap – and after I tried this version I liked it even more. We were delighted to find that you would be offered free teas every time you visited, depending on the weather and hour – warm teas when it was cold and dark, and lighter, more refreshing teas during the day. The hummus complete was supposed to come with just two pitas, but every time, we were given extra pitas at no extra charge. What is more, they had baklava on sale if you wanted to get a dessert (but we were absolutely stuffed after eating this plate and just took the baklava to eat later on). For a very low price of less than £10, we were able to get two main courses and two drinks, as well as the free teas and some free dips that were put out for us. All in all, it could not be beaten on value.

 
We also stayed at the Atrium Fashion Hotel, just outside the main part of the city, which offers free breakfast included in the room fee. The hotel breakfast was amazing, with lots of pastries both sweet and savoury on offer. These included cinnamon swirls, fruit turnovers, croissants, and some more unusual options like the pizza swirl (so we dubbed it). This was a pastry just like the cinnamon swirl, but instead of being sweet, it was coated with tomato paste and herbs and covered in cheese. Even served cold, they were delicious, and we found plenty of similar pastries on sale in the ubiquitous Spar shops that Budapest has on offer.
 
Along with the pastries, you could also opt for cooked food, such as scrambled egg served with paprika, potato rostis, and various roast veggies. In the image below you can see the eggs, rosti, and some roasted sweet potato. The egg did contain meat one day, so that’s something that needs to be kept an eye on. You could also take your pick of fruit and cold salad, and help yourself to coffees, teas, and some very sweet fruit juices. All in all it was certainly satisfying, and allowed us to walk around just about the whole of the city centre every day without needing lunch early.

We also tried a restaurant on Erzsebet called Taco Loco, which was another favourite of ours and definitely deserved a double visit. Here you could find Mexican food – a bit random in the middle of Budapest – but done very well for a low price. They had cheese and spinach quesadillas which were just fantastic, served with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. They were huge, and very filling! You could get an alternative with cactus instead of spinach that was very interesting, and their horchata was thick and creamy. We did try their nachos the first time that we went, but it just was not worth it as they were simply plain tortilla chips served with more of the same dips. The second time we went, we opted for dessert – in my case, a banana split that went down a treat. I would absolutely eat there again if we were to go back, even despite the fact that the waiters are not very attentive and the premises need a bit of attention!

 

Overall, there are plenty of fantastic places to eat vegetarian in Budapest, and for vegans it is relatively easy as well. This definitely makes the city rank a lot higher in terms of how much I enjoyed my experience, and also means that I know it would be easy to go back there again. With prices so low and food that is very tasty, it is hard to go wrong here. Just steer clear of the huge tourist streets (you’ll recognise them from the Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores) and you will be fine. In fact, you can eat like a king!

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Subway Veggie Patty

Before I begin this review, I have to state that the problem with Subway is the amount of customisation which is possible. I will give a review of the patty itself as much as possible, but it has to be noted that my experience of it may be different to someone else’s due to the different bread, salad elements, and dressing which can be chosen. With that in mind, I will describe the exact Subway sandwich that I almost always order: a six inch veggie patty on Italian herb and cheese bread, with cheese, lettuce, sweetcorn, red onion, and ranch dressing. I’ve been eating it this way for years, and I doubt that I’ll be changing any time soon! read more

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