Tag Archives: review

Pret chilli beef soup review

I’ve been ill over the weekend so I indulged with a soup bread roll from Pret today as well as the soup. Greedy, eh?

Description: In a word, this is a Chilli. Slightly on the mild side, but unmistakably chilli. Pret’s website lists ingredients: beef, rice, kidney beans, tomato, onion, celery, red chilli, garlic, organic vegetable bouillon, cumin, paptika and cayenne pepper.

Health: 270 calories for a 14 oz portion… high fibre, protein, low on most other fronts… although a bit high on the salt for by Pret’s standards. The Artisan roll clocked up another 200 or so calories with butter, so that nailed my sub-400 calorie lunch target…

Taste: Amazing. Even better than Eat’s version, which is one of my favourite Eat soups!

Full-o-meter: Hard to tell, having had the bread as well. Feeling stuffed after the soup and the bread portion…

Verdict: 5/5. For me, this is a perfect lunchtime soup. Absolutely delicious, good health balance… Well done Nick Sandler!

Pret sausage hot pot soup review

My massive wedding blog post is still in production (will try to finish it off this weekend) but I’m back and eating soup for lunch again!

Another Pret day today (Eat’s soup was French Onion, not a fan) and Nick Sandler’s soup again. Hi Nick!

Description: A chunky, tomato based soup with good amounts of sausage and beans. Pret’s website lists ingredients: sausage, cannelini beans, tomato, red wine, onion, garlic, leek, worcester sauce, celery, organic vegetable boilloun, butter, parsley, rusk, thyme, bay leaf & sage.

Health: 278 calories for a 14 oz portion, so not bad. A bit high on the salt for the portion size, but not terrible. Sat fat not great, but really not bad at all.

Taste: Nice. Tomato-y, sausagey, beany. A bit sweet for my liking; could probably double up as a pasta sauce.

Full-o-meter: Pret’s soups are still too small!

Verdict: 3.5/5. Solidly good, but not as interesting/inspired as their Moroccan chicken.

Eat chicken and garden vegetable broth review – Very Big Bold @eat_news

Description: From Eat – “A hearty broth packed with loads of chunky vegetables, shredded chicken breast and fresh herbs. Garnished with freshly chopped flat leaf parsley and chives.” Hmm, ‘hearty’ and ‘broth’ I think are contradictictory in this case, but otherwise, yep, about right.

Health: Pretty good – only 404 calories for the Very Big size… and good amounts of protein and fibre. But as with all Eat soup, salty in the extreme – 2101mg of sodium!

Taste: Meh. Like chicken stock with meat and veg in it. Salt makes it moreish but the watery broth is not something I’m keen to return to without some kind of spicy kick to make it interesting (like the Pho soups have).

Full-o-meter: Decent at Very Big Bold size. At only 202 calories for the Bold you’d need bread to keep you going.

Verdict: 2.5/5. There’s nothing wrong with this soup, really, I just don’t like boring old chicken and vegetable broth. Should have risked the Sweet potato and chilli that @ahadfromcheam went for…

Crussh chicken chilli stew review – medium

On @LicenceToGil’s recommendation I discovered that Crussh had a shop near me so I called them up to establish the soup offerings were worthwhile and popped on over. Frustratingly, they didn’t warn me they were running out so only got a ‘medium’ – not enough for a normal sized man, but OK when supplemented with some sushi, it turns out.

Description: From Crussh: “This is a Crussh Original, Our chicken chili stew started out as a seasonal soup. But you missed it so much we had to bring it back, according to you it’s a soup for all seasons.” Popular it seems. Yes, it’s a chilli (in the Mexican sense of the word), but with chicken instead of beef.

Health: Pretty good on all counts – the medium is only loaded with 155 calories – low on sat fats, etc. But quite heavy on the salt – 1200mg or so!

Taste: Really very good. It tastes exactly like it sounds – a chicken chilli. As ever, I’d be happier with more spice, but good amount of meat, and nicely textured and spiced otherwise.

Full-o-meter: Meh. Only 12 oz portion to go on so hard to tell.

Verdict: 4/5 – tasty, but small portion, large amount of salt, a longer walk from work, and costing significantly more than Eat (£3.15 for 16 oz) and Pret (2.99 for 14 oz) at £3.60 for a 12 oz portion, I’m not sure I’m going back anytime soon.

Eat chicken laksa soup review – Big Bold @eat_news

Description: From Eat – “A Malaysian classic…lots of noodles and chicken in a spicy coconut creamy soup. Garnished with spring onion, spinach and freshly chopped coriander.” Hrm, as a Malaysian I have to point out that this only bears a slight resemblance to a proper laksa. But that’s not necessarilly a bad thing.

Health: Just bad. For soup, I mean, which is still better than most sandwiches, but whilst the 367 calories is low for a lunchtime meal, the 1000+mg of sodium, the 11g of saturated fat, and the low fibre content loses this points.

Taste: Salty, chickeny, creamy, coconutty tastiness. Nothing bad about ths smooth noodle texture and the rich tasting chicken. Could do with a bit more spice to bring it to Malaysian Laksa standards, but imagine it has been toned down for the general population.

Full-o-meter: Ok ish, but I suspect I’m going to be hungry in an hour. The coconut in the soup stock makes it quite heavy for a small pot of soup.

Verdict: 3.5/5. Would get a 4 if it was healthier, as tasty, and will have it again in spite of myself.

Will try to compare this with the Pret variant, but with the wedding coming up next Saturday it may have to wait until my return from the Far East…

Eat beef, chilli & ginger pho soup review – @eat_news

Description: Lightly spiced beef, ginger, chilli, egg noodles & fresh vegetables in a hot, salty broth, this is one of Eat’s staples – its available daily as all it takes to make it ‘fresh’ is pouring the hot broth onto the soup mix.

Health: Good on calories (307), bad on salt (1800mg of sodium, nearly a day’s recommended dosage).

Taste: Pretty good. I mean, the salt in the broth gives a pretty good umph factor (or umami, or whatever foodies call it), and the beef and crisp bean sprouts give a good contrast of flavours and textures. But for me, the ‘chilli’ is more or less absent and it feels a bit like cheating to make a dish taste mostly of salt.

Full-o-meter: Not brilliant. The use of broth, in my view, negates the value of this as a ‘soup’ as I suspect (by the theory that food suspended in water keeps you full longer, and water by itself is processed quicker by your body) that it just isn’t as substantial. That said, it is 32 oz of substance, so that should keep you going for a bit.

Verdict: 3.5/5. Pretty good – enjoyable enough to have on a semi-regular basis, but its not as tasty as its Tom Yum counterpart (although a bit more substantial), or as satisfying as the regular ‘bold’ soups. Just beware of the salt…

Eat chicken pot pie soup review – Big Bold

Description: Gloopy chicken, pea, carrot, onion & potato soup topped with a light pastry crust.

Health: Not the healthiest Eat soup, this scores highly on salt and calories, but on the ‘big’ (as opposed to very big) front it is not too bad – 366 calories.

Taste: Just wow. Salty, tasty, chunky, creamy, meaty – its practically a stew most days, and its a better man than me that can forego the pastry garnish. Do you eat the topping first, with the soup, or save it till the end? That’s the question.

Full-o-meter: Meh. Not brilliant at keeping you full. Relatively low fibre content and calorie count to blame there. Recommend a very big portion if you have the calories to spare (think that weighs in around 660 cals).

Verdict: 5/5. As I said, my fave soup tied with Italian Ragu & Pasta (and possibly a new favourite, Texan Chilli Con Carne Soup – review coming soon!).

Eat Italian ragu & pasta soup review – Very Big Bold

Description: Bits of light pasta suspended in a souped-up (i.e. watered down) beefy tomato ragu, topped with a smattering of delicious fresh parmesan.

Health: Weighing in at a modest 394 calories for the Very Big Bold portion, this is a pretty healthy soup to splash out on. Fat, etc., relatively low, but as with most Eat soups there’s a fair whack of salt in there, especially at the massive portion level.

Taste: This is one of my new indulgences. Having failed my driving test on Friday morning (BOO the DSA), I needed something to cheer me up before a busy client meeting and the rich tomatoey soup, tasty beef morsels and beautifully moreish parmesan are a fantastic tonic.

Full-o-meter: 32oz of soup would fill up most people, without need for bread or additional side. There have been occasions when I’ve struggled to get through it all (I tend to always find a way).

Verdict: 5/5. Tied first with the Eat Chicken Pot Pie soup for deliciousness (review pending, when its day comes up again). It is a good day when Eat serves up the Italian Ragu & Pasta soup.

Indiana Jones and the Kindgom of the Crystal Skull: be warned

(Reposted from my Flixster review).

There are so many thing wrong with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Here are some of them.

1) Shia Lebouf
2) That whole thing with the Fridge. Really.
3) A “space between the spaces” ship. Seriously.
4) Shia Lebouf again.
5) Monkeys
6) Ants
7) Tarzan Lebouf
8) Gunpowder magnetic drift
9) Rocket sleds
10) Generic Stalinist supernaturalist baddies
11) Shia Lebouf
12) Steven Spielberg’s penchant for leaving no loose ends or any ambiguity about the happy ending, and the new franchise…
13) …except insofar as the rules don’t apply to non-white characters and (obviously) Communist baddies, who all end up with a bullet in the chest or an exploded brain.

They should just make a proper film version of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and keep Shia Lebouf well, well away.

[Blog append: there are some brief, entertaining, familiar Indy moments. Stuff with the hat, the whip and some wisecracking. But really, not enough for 2.25 hours in the cinema hoping, dear god, for less exposition].

Burnout: Paradise – updated with PY’s point of view

Charlie Brooker:

A bewildering combination of utterly compelling car-smashing gameplay and infuriating design decisions, which means that playing it is simultaneously fun and irritating, like eating a delicious cake with the occasional drawing pin in it.

Yes (thanks, Gil, for the pointer).

I too, have been spending more time than I have on this game on Xbox 360, courtesy of EA (they send me review copies). On this occasion, they sent me a PS3 version as well, which Patrick will guest-review soon and I’ll add to the blog.

It is an absolutely beautiful and very entertaining game; the Xbox Live action is smooth, seamless and instantaneous (but won’t work if you don’t have a hard drive in your 360), the graphics amazing and the race modes as fun as they’ve ever been in Burnout. But…

…there’s no splitscreen option, that I can find. Which is half the way I enjoyed the game in the past, so its an annoying design decision, as Charlie points out.

…there’s no way to immediately ‘restart’ a race.

…free-roaming is all well and good, but it makes ‘instant action’ of the kind you might be inclined to have hard to come by (I used to spend more time than was healthy on ‘crash’ modes, or whatever it was called, when you had to cause lots of damage to passing vehicles).

Other than those – significant issues – this game is flawlessly executed. If you were ever a fan of Burnout, you’ll enjoy the visit. If you thought Burnout was a bit to linear and formulaic, you’ll love it. If you need split screen action… you’ll be disappointed.

Update: My Xbox copy crashes frequently and has caused red-rings (but the Xbox then works fine with Halo3). All a bit weird. Don’t know if this is a bug in the game, or anyone else has seen this? “Burnout Paradise Red Rings of Death” to help people looking up the problem find me… SEOtastic.

Update 2: This wasn’t a problem with Burnout Paradise. I was just experiencing the same hardware faults that plague so many Xbox owners. Second replacement Xbox (or repaired Xbox, rather), here I come. C’mon Microsoft! Sort it out!

Patrick says:

There are times when it rocks to be Armo’s mate – getting a free copy of Burnout on PS3 is definitely one of them. I’ve chatted with Armo about the game and can understand his annoyance at lack of split-screen, but IMO this is simply the best racing game out there. It’s so good I actually question whether I need to buy another ever again (probably a good thing) – and I’d be suprised if a slew of Paradise City-alike copycat games didn’t appear over the next 12 months.

Some don’t like it but I think the free-roaming aspect of the game, which once you’ve started doesn’t have any loading times or menus screens at all, is awesome. Do any event whenever you want, nomatter whether you’ve managed to complete earlier events. Yes, there’s no crash mode, but instead you have the similarly crazy Showtime mode available at any time, with records to be broken on every road in the city. Got to mention the online mode as well. I’m not a big online gamer at all, and generally can’t really be bothered to leave games to go through lobbies and find a decent (and non-abusive) opponent – it just takes too long and I don’t know that many people with a PS3 to make it worthwhile. But the online in Burnout is a revelation – totally integrated into the main game and available at the touch of a button. The first time you play eight-player Burnout is an insane experience. So basically it’s great. A shame about the lack of restarts and no split-screen, but in its place you can lure an unsuspecting newbie to the roof of a car park and then push him off, which for me, more than makes up for it.