Tag Archives: breakfast

Souk Kitchen, So Loud But Hard To Resist

From the outside, Souk Kitchen looks like one average sized room with a bright and colourful menu posted on the window. The bright pink, yellow and blue of the menu is not exactly what I expect from middle-eastern cuisine with its modern brightness. I also find it surprising that they do a breakfast menu but it’s 11.40am and it will have to do since the Tobacco Factory does not open until noon.

We are seated quickly at the last empty table and the service is friendly. The dark brown tables look similar to the ones at Flinty Red and the wooden white chairs are comfortable. The place itself though is so loud. We can barely hear ourselves across the table and have to repeat things and point to menu items. There are 10 tables in the restaurant and four of them are playing host to infants. There’s a very cute six-seven month old who finds it entertaining to practice her new noise-making skills. At the start of the meal this is lovely but by the end it has become mind-numbing.

Suki: tea of the month – Mango Tango £1.70

Weekend specials
Vegetable chorba soup, cauliflower puree, toasted almonds + bread £3.95
Souk Mezze + grilled flat bread £7.50
Chicken Shawarma wrap, hummus, red cabbage & fennel slaw £6.95

The food specials sounded delicious and colourful but I didn’t think there was much you could do with breakfast. I was wrong.

They had ‘the local’ for £6.25 which comprised Lincolnshire sausages, grilled back bacon, two free-range fried eggs, fresh grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, homemade bubble & squeak cake, toast with butter + jam or marmalade; eggs on toast with possible extras; basket of toast; basket of pastries; granola;and french toast with the possible toppings of – cinnamon +almond French toast, with seasonal fruit compote, crème fraîche and maple syrup £3.95, – Crispy bacon, grilled banana and maple syrup for £4.50.

I didn’t go with any of those and instead we both chose something that sounded more like a special, the Shakshouka, which for £4.95 was described as a typical Middle Eastern breakfast dish of poached eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions + spices, served in the pan with homemade zatar flatbread (extra grilled merguez sausage £1.50 or feta 50p). I ordered mine with both sausage and feta while companion chose only the feta.

The dish was very tasty and the eggs were cooked (poached) well but with a yolk still runny while the whites were firm. There were peppers in the sauce which itself was well seasoned and fresh tasting. The feta cheese was very good, and I’ve tasted many varieties over the years. This was a salty and firm cheese that wasn’t too sour while the heat from the food helped it become even creamier. The sausages were firm and spicy and well suited to the dish.

The breads were also very good with a spicy rub as a topping and served warm in a basket.

I ordered a decaf Americano which I enjoyed and there was a special little touch of bringing heated up and frothed milk as an accompaniment (a shame I didn’t use it). My companion ordered a green tea which was served in an individual teapot so that it was freshly brewed from tea leaves rather than a tea bag.

If I was awarding marks then Souk Kitchen would easily get 5 / 5 or 10 / 10 for food. The service and atmosphere, however, were a whole other story. Admittedly there were only two people serving and while the guy seemed distantly friendly, the service from the woman was poor and sloppy. My coffee was sloshing away as it was placed down with the waitress barely breaking stride before she was off to the table behind us. I saw her smile only once when an older woman walked out after asking her a question and not waiting for a reply – it was more of a ‘why are people so strange’ expression that included a smile. It was the kind of service that didn’t expect a tip so I didn’t leave one.

The noisy children and the groups of people on tables made the place very loud and conversation for us was nearly impossible. I ended up writing in my notebook while he read a book he had with him.

The food may be too tempting though, enough to overcome the atmosphere. Some more dishes:

  • Chargrilled lambs liver, cabbage, walnut & barberry bulgar pilau, pomegranate & cinnamon molasses £10.50
  • pan fried salmon, zatar roast anya potatoes, roast red peppers, courgettes, harissa & mint £10.95
  • Greek yoghurt panna cotta, saffron poached fig £3.95

They sound quite hard to resist.

Souk Kitchen, 277 North Street, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1JP, 0117 966 6880

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Folk House Cafe, Bristol

In the last few years, my experience of visiting the Folk House has been one of walking through the alleyway off Park St, walking into the little concrete garden, noting that there was no one about and then walking swiftly out again. I must have done it three or four times so this time I became determined I would stay and eat something.

The cafe reminds me of some type of school / Uni / community centre dining room where it all feels casual and affordable. The best dressed person in there is a teenager who is in his school uniform still wearing his blazer.

There is a coffee and muffin deal for £2.70 and the choice is either apple and almond or raspberry and banana. I opt for the first and note that the cakes are more of the cup size than muffins and have no icing.
The tables are covered in easy to clean vinyl tablecloths. There is a little ant on mine who keeps trying to find something exciting but to no avail. It walks up to my mug of black coffee and back towards the edge of the table again.

The ‘muffins’ are quite airy and more sugary than fluffy but that’s probably the almond part. I have two poached eggs on toast (buttered) (£3.50) and they are quite nice but there is no visible salt and I don’t ask for any. They already have a little bit of pepper added.

The breakfast was lovely enough and the environment pleasant with the uni students next to me reading the Guardian. I didn’t mind it but nothing particularly stood out although it does seem to offer a lot more than just food and beverages. There is a board by the door outside the cafe where a whole host of activities are listed for all hours of the days of the week. Dancing, writing, cooking, poetry, singing and lots more. The community feel to the cafe may be better explained as a consequence of all the other activities going on. At least I managed to visit this time and stay for a while. Next time I’ll have to take part as well.

40a Park Street, Bristol BS1 5JG, 0117 926 2987 http://www.bristolfolkhouse.co.uk/

Breakfast thoughts

Before a long run, my usual breakfast is porridge boiled up with water and augmented with yoghurt (either vanilla or Greek style/honey) and bananas. Within two hours of eating I am ready to go out and I am happy for this to be my breakfast on the day of the run. However, how do I boil up porridge in a hotel in a strange city? Do I take the box with me and ask the kitchen to help out? I’m not so sure. Just in case I need an alternative plan, I am giving Weetabix a go this week. Same concept but I only need to add boiled water to soften them up before the addition of yoghurt / honey, fruit and nuts and the banana.

The advice I’ve read, and heard, suggests that you add nothing new to your routine on the day. Everything should have been practised and tried and tested before. I did get some further advice however from Justin Miles who is doing the Last Great Challenge which is an expedition to and from Antarctica with Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions, via their camp at Patriot Hills near the Antarctic coast.

He prefers a choice of either cold pasta or a special home made muesli mix made up as follows:

Good quality muesli, mixed the night before with natural yoghurt, a little milk if it gets too thick, grate in a little apple and pear, add some sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon. This mixture made up the night before will see you through the day well enough.

Also consume a little protein, eggs are great (boiled eggs travel well), and don’t forget your High Five 4:1 (energy mix).

For the pasta, use as you like. Maybe pasta with a little tuna for the protein content, some oil, and a little pepper (no salt).

Justin is currently taking part in the Marathon des Sables which is a 6 day / 151 mile (243km) endurance race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. I trust that he knows what he is talking about and as always, advice is appreciated.

With 16 days left until the London Marathon there may not be much space for advice any more and while I understand this I am still enjoying reading it all. I have been following Steve Halsall’s posts on the Mirror.co.uk blog and have found it very helpful.

Not long to go now and I will have my breakfast plans finalised this Sunday. Lots of luck to anyone else doing the same.

Starting my day at La Bocqueria (July 2009)



Starting my day at La Bocqueria, originally uploaded by still awake.