Monday, 9 December 2013

All I want for Christmas is some reindeer moss

A Work in Progress by Rene Redzepi

Bound together in 3 interdependent books, Rene Redzepi's latest creation A Work in progress, is the epitome of his creative process; thinking about what people have done for ages, and coming at it from a completely different angle. Stands to reason, the centrepiece of this collection is not the recipes, but the journal with his musings as he tries to breakdown the process of creativity.  At the time of writing Noma was No.1 restaurant in the world, so if this was still a work in progress, then what does the future hold for Rene?

Monday, 2 December 2013


301-303. Chiswick High Road. London. W4 4HH

It almost feels like I don't belong here at all. Tucked away in an inconspicuous corner of up-and-coming Chiswick, the sleek Scandinavian lines and open plan concept looks startlingly out of place amongst the local family Italian restaurants and chains. That's not to say it's an intimidating place once you get through the door. Despite the eye-catching plaudits from elsewhere (a rare 18/20 from Andy Hayler, number 70 on the world's best list and a Michelin star within a year of opening), the kitchen gives off a serene, aloof aura of calm from the moment the chefs started to filter in right up to their almost meditative wiping of the counter tops at the end of the service. We visited for lunch and went for the tasting menu, which incredibly changes weekly according to the high quality produce they receive.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dissenting academy, Newington Green

Dissenting Academy @DissentAcademy
92 Mildmay Park, Newington Green N1 4PR

What gives a place that 'revisit factor'? The food? Ambiance? Service? Value? Convenient location? Attractive staff?! Maybe it's a mix.
There are some restaurants that I return to more than others. recent, The Dissenting Academy has been one of those places that I've gone back to time and again the past couple of months. The 'Cornwall Project', supplier of all things Cornish to places like the Ledbury, Pollen St. Social & Pitt Cue amoungst others, has taken over the kitchen, so you know the produce is of the highest quality. The beef they bring from Philip Warren is outstanding, one of the reasons that roast forerib dish at Clove Club was one of the standout things I've eaten this year. What's not elite is the cost, with most dishes at usual pub prices.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Food outta London: Lisbon

Originally I planned on going to Lisbon as a mini incentive to get myself in gear to finish my PhD thesis. Such as life, I've just got busier and busier. Starting my own business (Gourmet Focus) maintaining a couple of blogs, while doing a thesis is apparently not great if you like spare time. All the same, 4 days in Lisbon with glorious sunshine, culture and food has put me in great mood for the final assault. It also included without doubt the best seafood experience I've ever had.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Obika mozzarella bar

Obika @ObikaUK
11-13 Charlotte Street, W1T 1 RH

In the ruins of La Pearla, a great tequila bar and old haunt of mine and Shahz's, another branch of Obika, an Italian mozzarella bar has gone up. Along with my lack of interest in chain places, it's safe to say I had a few reservations on Obika. It's not they are inherently bad, just the concentration of the business becomes more about margins than the food. It's good to have your preconceptions challenged though, and be reminded to keep an open mind.
I like Obika due to their uncompromising focus on quality of produce from artisan producers. It really pays off with great simple food. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Grill at The Dorchester

The Grill is unlike any restaurant I've been to with bizarre Scottish tartan and murals of men in kilts, it was like eating in a plush Scottish shortbread tin, thankfully though they were playing soft jazz and not bagpipes. I doubt there are even places on the Royal Mile with this much tartan. Upon walking in there is a hushed atmosphere such is the level of decorum and slightly older clientele.

So onto the food. We went for the tasting menu, but realistically it was just a chosen set of the best dishes from the á la carte menu. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Smokehouse, Islington

Smokehouse @SmokehouseN1
61-63 Canonbury Road, Islington N1 2DG

Not long after leaving the John Salt, Neil Rankin is back stoking the fire at a joint venture between the Pig & Butcher and himself. Rankin (also ex-Pitt Cue Co & Barbecoa) has a vast background in all things barbecue, and armed with his collection of Green Eggs, like something out of Game of Thrones, an offset smoker, and a robata grill they have put together a menu beyond just pulled pork and ribs. With covers for well over 50 this place has far more elbow space than other revered BBQ places like Pitt Cue...and a fair few more beers on the menu to say the least

Saturday, 10 August 2013

This butter be good

WARNING: this post contains obscene amounts of delicious fat and calories. 

Many people are surprised when I tell them I have around 40g of butter every morning. Most people respond with 'Urrrgh' 'Why would you do that?', or a slap to the face. Bet you are sitting there thinking exactly the same. But why is there this instant reaction, after all butter is just churned cream, where the casein associated with heart disease and diabetes, is removed. Some of the healthiest people on the planet, Tibetans, are reknowned for their butter tea, and have ridiculously low incidence of heart disease. The dogma that fat is bad for you is not right, that half your required vitamins for you to work properly are fat soluble, does it not make sense that fat should be a larger part of your diet.
But before you take a big chunk out of that block of butter, please beware fats, and butters for that matter, are NOT created equal

A buttery prophecy

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Our top 3 burgers

It's fair to say looking at the list of places we've been to amoungst everything else, we've devoured a fair amount of burgers. To celebrated bursting through the 20 (and 21) mark we've come up with our favourites. We don't always agree, especially when it comes to optimal seasoning, so no surprise that we've come to different conclusions. I think the question of the top burgers in the game is always a contentious issue though. What would be your picks?

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Licky Chop

Licky Chop @LickyChops
Climpsons Arch, Arch 374, Helmsley Place London E8 3SB

I love the summer when the weather is like this (touch wood, sorry if I've jinxed it!). Eating Al fresco, and especially barbecue, really increases my enjoyment of social eating. However, most of the best BBQ joints in the city, like Pitt Cue Co, are inside. Bar a few pop up's and street food, there isn't enough to satiate my desires. 
Enter Licky Chop with their two wood fired oven behemoths. While it must be soo tempting to make a meat centric menu, LC give pride in place to some incredible vegetable dishes, as well as fish, and lesser used, but great tasting, meat cuts such as lamb belly, and onglet.

Thursday, 18 July 2013


HKK (@HKKLondon)
88 Worship St, EC2A 2BE

There's a lot of history between me and Hakkasan. My first trip to the Hanway Place branch was a housewarming present from my family when I started at UCL - and my first Michelin starred meal. It started a long-standing love affair with the groups restaurants, particularly Yauatcha, their informal dim sum patisserie in Soho (easily top 5 restaurants for me). When I heard that former head chef Tong Chee Hwee was designing a bespoke tasting menu at this City-based outpost, I just had to go.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The US burger invasion: An Honest retaliation

Much has been made of the ever growing population of burger joints in London and the much deliberated 'fast food for the middle class'. With select cuts of rare breed beef, medium rare patties, brioche buns and fries doused in rosemary salt are common place, it has really taking off with the most popular places like MeatLiquor, Patty&bun, Honest burgers have hour long plus waiting times. Clearly this trend hasn't escaped the attention of those across the pond with Five Guys opening to align with Independence day, and Shack Shack from NYC, already synonymous with queues, the day after. Oh yes, and they happen to be within 300 metres of each other.
Both couldn't have asked for better burger beating news storm that surrounded George Osbourne and his Byron burger last week, with Five Guys and Shack Shack's openings being named dropped at the drop of a hat in every news article.
But what of the UK response, is there room for another 2 huge burger joints? Honest Burgers got ahead, under the radar, opening another branch this time in Camden Lock Market and hope to open another soon near Kings Cross. It was a heavy week for me, Meat Market on Sunday, the BurgerMonday from Youngandfoodish (including an phenomenal pastrami poutine), and then these three. I think I need a lie down...

Monday, 1 July 2013

Bain's Big Bacon Burger

We've gone through a far amount of burgers since starting this blog. Although I don't cook many at home, burgers are best with a few mates and drinks, I'd like to think I know what consitutes the making a a fine burger, from a juicy patty, bun to toppings. Introducing the "Triple B™ burger", I put together the following

  • A good patty, I used The Butchery Ltd bone marrow burgers
  • Demi-brioche bun, from St.John's Bakery
  • Candied bacon, green streaky from The Butchery Ltd
  • Blue cheese aioli, inspired by Big Dirty Burger
  • Grilled lettuced, a la Pitt Cue Co
  • Grill Tomato slice

Friday, 28 June 2013

Mi Casa Su Casa - Casa Negra

Casa Negra (@CasaNegraLDN)
54-56 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3QR

Bodega Negra was one of our most memorable recent meals in Central London. I don't think that it was really down to the food. Don't get me wrong, we had some great dishes that night - the soft shell crab tacos stood out particularly - but it was more the combination of ambience, decor, service and music which made that evening special. If I had the money to (it is staggeringly expensive), it would probably be a regular choice in Soho, which probably explains why it's one of the biggest celebrity draws in London.

Pescado Tacos

Monday, 24 June 2013

Courgette flower power

It's been a while since I've wrote up any of my recent culinary conquests, it's quite time consuming writing a thesis.. such an inconvenience! That's not to say I haven't been in the kitchen slicing my fingers with a peeler and getting burnt from splashing oil. 
One of my latest purchases has been quite a revelation, the Salt Yard book. It's now one of my most used, the mackerel escabeche a particular delight. Something I wanted to try out was the courgette flowers that I have every time I go back to Opera Tavern, however trying to source them is a absolute pain. Until I randomly came across them at a farmers market opposite UCL. Check Wildco out HERE if you want to know where they are, got some nice cavolo nero from them as well.
The recipe is fairly simple as long as you are delicate with the flowers, if buying make sure you check the integrity, and few packets had flowers that were pretty much decimated. Not ideal, especially at £2.50 for 4.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Fantastic Feasts: Dinner by Heston

Dinner by Heston
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA

This was the second of our visits to Heston Blumenthal's London outpost (the first was 2 years ago).  In the time since our last visit it has rapidly picked up a Michelin Star as well as places on some pretty impressive lists. Rather than take full control over the venture himself, Heston has delegated a significant amount of control to Dinner executive chef is Ashley Palmer Watts, a Fat Duck alumnus who is beginning to gain a name for himself in the food festival circuit (he did a demonstration at the Taste Lab, for example).

Brown Bread Ice Cream

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Gogi Korean Grill

451 Edgware Road, Little Venice,W2 1TH

While many trendy places seem to be taking up Korean style influences (gochujang anyone?) actual Korean restaurants, still don't seem to be that well received with the gen-pop other than ex-pats. This might be due to the fact that their menus are always a mine field to negotiate, I normally go with someone who knows exactly what to order, their English translations often not enticing as the actual dish. 

Gogi is a new Korean Grill restaurant in leafy Little Venice. A little out of the way for most people but it's nice there are areas like this in London, everyone seems a lot less stressed walking along the canal, albeit predominately middle class.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Let me tell you a Story

Restaurant Story (@Rest_Story)
201 Tooley Street, SE1 2UE

I wasn't even meant to go. It was a scheduling conflict on Owen's part (would you turn down conference networking on the top deck of Tower Bridge? Thought not!), that prevented him from going. Not wanting to miss out on such a hot London ticket (memories of Dabbous abounded), me and Nathalie fulfilled the reservation on his behalf.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Goodbye Disco Bistro...for now

With Disco Bistro now finished it's residency at the Rising Sun, what better way to celebrate it's success than a closing party with some of the best chefs (and DJs) around. In the kitchen Carl Clarke headed up a 'Triple J' dream team of James 'Jocky' Petrie, James Lowe (Young Turks), and James Knappet (Bubbledogs Kitchen Table). Would there be a power struggle for trying to outdo each others dish, or a synergy for a truly memorable meal. If that wasn't enough, music and revelry played centre stage with top tunes pumping from DJs Ross Cuban, Justin Robertson and Gizzi Erskine. This '3' course meal was something I daren't miss out on

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Pig out at Porky's

Porky's @PorkysCamden
18 Chalk Farm Rd

Much has been the success of Pitt Cue Co, being synonymous with long waiting times, it's a surprise there hasn't been many that have challenged them for their BBQ crown, or at least appease the growing appetite for smoked meats. John Salt may have taken their ex-head chef but Rankin's use of the BBQ ends far beyond typical American cuisine. The Rotary Bar & Diner now has smoked barbecue offerings as an extension to their menu. So introducing Porky's, an unashamed American style barbecue joint, offering pulled pork, ribs & tips with house made pickles (sound familiar?). Just down the road from Camden Lock, it's a great addition to an area which is overwhelmed with diversity from traders at the market, but less so in quality that you would actually travel for. Since trying Memphis Minnie in San Francisco, I've been waiting for some more Memphis style over here. Porky's is a welcome addition.

Testament to the lengths they have gone to make this authentic as possible they shipped a smoker across the pond (does no one make these over here? I know the rotary had to do the same). Their main dishes are Memphis style ribs and tips, pulled pork and BBQ chicken cooked low and slow over hickory. Sides include garlic brioche, BBQ beans, mac'n'cheese and fried sweet potatoes.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

You are what they eat

Sometimes, there are books you read that not only change the way you think, but the way you live your life. I've been reading through the Ginger Pig book, as well as some great recipes, it has some fascinating info on rearing, and the conventional way of doing it, which has lead to me cutting out supermarket bought meats. Convenience is killing my meals and my health.

Dexter T-bone from the butchery, yellow fat due to being grass fed,

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

All you need is Lovage - Roganic

19 Blandford Street, W1U 3DH

I have to admit the timing of this review is not the most convenient, but then how many times do you visit a restaurant knowing it's going to close in 6 weeks? Having occupied its space on Blandford Street for the past two years to great success and spawning a very promising career for Ben Spalding (check out our reviews for the now defunct Ben Spalding at John Salt and StrippedBack for more) in its wake, we decided to try the 3 course lunch menu (£30, £35 with wine pairings!) whilst I still had my chance. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Big Dirty Burger

Over the last few years the popularity of 'fast food for middle class' has grown exponentially, with the humble burger being a dominant player. People are no longer satisfied with grilled to death low quality patties, much effort is spent in sourcing rare-breed cows, finely selecting choice cuts to give a perfect meat to fat ratio with the right flavour profile and cooking it to a perfect medium rare (shhh, don't tell Westminster city council). It's got the stage where this is big business, only this week first round of bidding for Byron was for an approximate £100m, based on profits of £10m(!) for this financial year (see The Independent)  Not bad for only 30 odd stores. Put it this way, that's about £920 profit for an average store each day, if open 7 days a week. Obviously, there is going to be a difference between their scale and somewhere smaller like Honest Burger, that won't have the same economies of scale, but still, most of the top burger joints are constantly packed with +1 hour waiting times. With Five Guys and Shake Shack coming over from across the pond, it's hard for new smaller players to get their foot in the door without necessary investment to compete. 
Street food offers that flexibility of not needing as much capital to get going, and less of a commitment as a bricks & mortar place. Notable mentions for Bleecker St Burger, Burger Bear, & Mother Flipper. Big Dirty Burger are plucky young 'part timers' yet to be able to fully commit, but with a great range of burgers, it's worth keeping an eye out for when they appear. Luckily for me, they appear most at Camden Brewery, one of my locals; burgers and Hells larger definitely hit the spot on a weekend!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Panino Giusto - Not just a sandwich

Panino Guisto @PaninoGiustoUK
1-3 Royal Exchange Buildings, EC3V 3LR

Enough of ubiquitous poor quality sandwich places, Panino Guisto (highly established in Milan) brings lunchtime Italy to the city. With individually sourced and imported ingredients such as fabulous 24 month aged Parma ham and Braesola from Valtellina, quality produce stands out from their usual fair. Something  as simple as this lives and dies on the quality produce especially in a such a food concious and critical city such as this. Obviously not everything can be imported, such as the bread, but they have gone to lengths to ensure authenticity by sourcing a local Italian baker who makes the panino bread bespoke fresh daily. They also have a carefully selected wine list, which the staff will recommend pairings with paninos. Great wine and ham beings back good memories of being out in Italy.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

How Bazaar

Chor Bizarre
16 Albemarle Street, W1S 4HW

Stepping off the street in one of London's most extravagantly cosmopolitan areas, it's almost ironic that stepping into an Indian restaurant has an almost homely familiarity about it in this city. Despite Chinese food overtaking Indian as the nation's favourite takeaway, (I suspect the proliferation of late night/24 hour Chinese takeaways has something to do with this...Indian takeaways rarely open during the later hours), the South Asian cuisine remains a firm favourite amongst Londoners, with more modern interpretations such as Amaya, Dishoom and Masala Zone packing out with punters as much as the ''older'' favourites.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Social climbing up Pollen Street

Pollen Street Social @PollenStSocial
8 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ

Given the responsibility of booking somewhere for my parent's birthday is always one riddled with high expectations, due to somehow having 'expertise' in the matter. My PhD funding doesn't exactly stretch a great deal, so needed to find a great value lunch deal that also had some edge of sophistication  After about 2 hours sifting through menus, reviews and locations, I finally came across Pollen Street Social with 3 courses for £29.50. Stands to reason then after all that time the Evening Standard published a great piece on set menus, not more than a few days after my tiresome search,  no PSS in it though. But after an ringing endorsement from Shahz  (worth 10 reviews!) I was pretty pleased to get a reservation for a Saturday lunch with a week to go!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bea's Diner - Butter(milk) me up

Bea's Diner @Beas_bloomsbury
Arch 76, Druid St, London Bridge

Recently, Maltby Street Market has been getting a growing reputation for great produce and food. However, not being a particularly early bird, I've always managed to miss out on the infamous St.John bakery custard doughnuts and breakfast at Bea's Diner. Having just got back from the US I really miss epic breakfasts that aren't as frequent to get over here, just your typical english fry up. This time would be different, after an 'early' wake up managed to get to Bea's Diner for about 12.30. They advertise they are open from 9-2am, but once things have sold out thats it. So if you are planning a visit get there for before 12, as by the time we got there, no orange juice, only one and half cups of 'bottomless' coffee. Least we managed to get their amazing buttermilk pancakes and roasted strawberries, and eggs benedict. Roasted strawberries are a bit of a revelation, can't say I've ever tried these before but wow that hit of flavour is fantastic. Great start to weekend.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Yum bun, it's all in the name

Yum Bun @Yum_bun
31 Featherstone St, EC1Y 2BJ 

The tide doesn't seem to be going out for these pop-up/street food to permanent ventures. From Pitt Cue Co, Flat Iron to Patty&Bun and a few more to be opened soon, seems like not a month goes by without another coming to fruition. Now it's Yum Bun's turn in the sun (which is where exactly?).

After a few months off the streets the much revered 'Yum Bun' are back and with their own place right near Old Street tube.  It's a very simple, small unit that has not lost it's streetfood roots as it's primarily a takeaway with little space in to eat (although you can take next door to the Rotary Bar & diner). They are much the same mini luxuries of a steamed bun with fantastic flavour combinations as we've had from their stall. The menu is beautifully cartooned above the ordering counter. As well as the usual staples we've enjoyed so much of pork belly with hoisin and portabello mushroom, miso & walnut, they are joined by ox cheek & coriander, and chicken with tartare sauce. It's £6 for 2 buns, so you can mix and match if you want, or get a bento box with miso soup, salad, and a gyoza if you really feel hungry. And if you fancy sweet to round it off there is the Ice Cream bun, with coconut meringue and ice cream from sorbitum ices, another street food success.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Second time lucky

Since we started this blog, we've managed to get through our fair share of burgers, however up until now, not had a chance to sample any of Lucky Chip's offerings, bar their tiny ones at Slider Bar. Lucky Chip have been expanding to different corners of the city, from their van in Neilt market, to Bethnal Green, Soho and now Kentish Town, while becoming Chilli Stand Off champions in between. Then, they moved onto another increasing popular fast-food staple 'done properly' with  their short lived Lucky Fried Chicken residency upstairs at the Grafton (no thanks to a cease & desist from the Colonel :(  ), and it was as good as fried chicken gets, the mash was pure indulgence as well. However it's gone now, but they are staying on purely as a burger bar. Maybe they should have kept on the chicken in a 'now you didn't see anything here, you hear' as a paper bag of edible goodies slides from under the counter.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Battle of the Brasseries: Balthazar vs Delaunay vs Zedel

So we recently had the pleasure of trying out the new hot table in town Balthazar as well as the slightly more established Delaunay. Instead of doing straight reviews, we thought we'd try something a little different with a post comparing the two restaurants as well as the other very reputable London brasserie, Brasserie Zedel. So without any further ado, let's get ready to rumble...

Round 1: Balthazar
Balthazar on Urbanspoon
4-6 Russell St, WC2E 7BN

First up is the new kid in town, the London outpost of the fêted New York original. Balthazar doesn't need much of an introduction from me, as you probably know it's one of the most hyped openings of the year so far and notoriously difficult to get a table for (one long day of repeated calling got us a table at 5.45 pm on the third day after opening).

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Clove Club Climax

The Clove Club  @TheCloveClub
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT

This is one clove club that won't leave your mouth numb, but after this meal you'll still be drooling. Taking permanent residence in the beautifully restored Shoreditch Town Hall is The Clove Club, set up by 'St.Vibes' after their successful stint (still ongoing) in Upstairs at The Ten Bells. With reviews from 'Upstairs at..' still scintillatingly superlative it seemed a no brainer to book in for their new place before it became impossible to get a table. The Clove Club is split up into 2 areas: the bar, with a great selection of beers, wines and bar food, and then the restaurant itself with open kitchen serving up the '5' course meal. At £46, it may seem like a lot.. but believe me, it was worth it.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Food Over....California - Part II

This is the second part of our Californian foodie journal, from a different perspective this time. Owen did a great job of covering the more typically American food in the last post, so in this one I'm going to cover some more cosmopolitan restaurants, including Mexican (lots of tacos!), Japanese, Chinese... and Modern Californian, which to me is basically Mediterranean-style cooking done with the excellent local produce available in the region.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

John Salt Part II - All Smoke, No Mirrors

John Salt @JohnSaltN1
131 Upper street, Islington

John Salt opened in November with Ben Spalding at the helm, with his much revered taster menus & bar menu. Much praise was lavished, including from us, but it was all cut short rather abruptly, with Ben replaced with Neil Rankin, former head chef of Pitt Cue Co. Neil was already in talks to go into another one of the 580 ltd group's pubs at the Owl & Pussycat in Shoreditch. Looks like John Salt have pulled another Ace out of their sleeve with this new signing, with food cooked on another spectrum (or a big green egg). With Rankin's renowned expertise with all things meat and barbeque and some rather exquisite Asian influenced dishes, the place is a haze again with recent glowing reviews in Timeout and the Metro, as well as from the smoke in the kitchen

Thursday, 14 February 2013

De Barcelona a Brixton

Boqueria (@BoqueriaTapas)
192 Acre Lane, Brixton, London, SW2 5UL

London has no shortage of options when it comes to tapas. Whether it be the genuine article (Barrafina, Jose, Brindisa), or the multitude of tapas ''fusion'' places such as Kopapa, Imli, Bocca di Lupo, Bodega Negra... the list goes on and on! So I must admit I always have a slight apprehension when it comes to trying new tapas places. Don't get me wrong, I've had some of the best meals of my life sitting atop cramped bar tops in Barcelona, but it's rather difficult to differentiate yourself from other places when there's two-a-penny serving the exact same dishes on every high street in the city.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Food over....California - Part I

While the blog is usually taken up with our culinary take on everything in London, it's good to get out now and again. Especially escaping the snow and rain to sunny California with warm weather..and most importantly some excellent food!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Thanh Binh - Taste of Vietnam in Camden

Thanh Biñh 
14 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AG

Among the latest upcoming restaurants and 'pop-ups' that you just have to get to within the next week otherwise you are just not 'on trend', there are those places that have remained stable and trustworthy for a while, . Thanh Binh is one of those (hell it's not even on twitter, heaven forbid!). I often take visitors to when around Camden, although I'm not sure if this is just the lack of choice near the Market that's guaranteed not to get a dodgy stomach from. It's a great little vietnamese, very modest interior and fantastic value, the food always arrives reasonably quickly although occasionally indifferent service.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Food over London and the Tentacles of Doom

Always keen to try something different, so after being inspired by the octopus dish at Opera Tavern, and Anthony Bourdains' No reservations in Lisbon, I wanted to recreate my own version. Good octopus isn't the most easiest to source with most supermarkets selling puny white things that are no doubt accountable for most comments of 'octopus just tastes like rubber' as well as inadequate cooking methods. Also, the internet is awash with loads of contradictory advice until I stumbled upon this video from Tom Kitchen.
I picked up a large atlantic octopus from a little Portuguese cafe in Kentish Town, called Wine Cellar, a gem of a place, the espressos and pastéis de nata they do are amazing. They also have a sizeable amount of Portuguese produce including Bacalhau and a great selection of frozen seafood. Downstairs is a huge wine cellar (as the name suggests), so it's well worth checking out if you are in the area. Since the octopus is frozen the first part of the tenderising process is already done.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Pitt Cue Co

Pitt Cue Co @PittCueCo
1 Newburgh St, Soho

Pitt Cue Co 1 year after opening is still as popular as ever, the fanfare for it is clearly still yet to die down. On the first week of January with hardly anyone back at work, empty streets, tumble weed floating about, and yet still have to wait for a seat at 6pm at PCC. This is testament to what they do here, some of the best BBQ meat in London. Queues are synonymous with Pitt Cue, even in it's 'early' days as the trailer at South Bank often had it's own snaking queue. With incredible quality meat, from such places as Philip Warren butchers, it's something unlike anything else in town at the moment. Despite visiting the trailer a few times to devour the pulled pork, big ode and the brisket, it's been a while coming to get here.

Friday, 18 January 2013

High and (mostly) Dry

Duck & Waffle (@DuckandWaffle)
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY

Duck N' Waffle
Zooming up in the much-discussed Roald Dahl-like glass elevator to the 40th floor of the Heron Tower is as much the exhilarating, if nerve-shattering, experience as has been discussed in other blogs. Once at the top, you are lead to the main dining room, a surprisingly intimate affair, with floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding three quarters of the space. The panoramic view here is largely unbroken and the table setting allows for pretty modest views even for the middle tables (unlike our experience with Galvin at Windows). We went for breakfast in this case, but they are impressively open all night. I'm guessing this for the benefit of the more industrious workers in the city, as well as late night revellers looking for something more adventurous than the standard dirty doner (must be quite a sight at 2 am!).

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Brasserie Zédel

Brasserie Zédel
20 Sherwood street

In a side street just off the hustle and bustle of central tourist haven Picadilly, the Uk's equivalent of Times Square lit up at night with advertising hoardings, lies a subterranean space unlike any you are likely to find in London.  The place is grandeur of the highest level, bordering towards the obscene. The amount of marble and lighting is on an epic scale. The dining room, with over 250 seats is more the size of a small field, and is packed out, even the grand piano looks diminutive at the side of the room. Despite it's size it's not that easy to get a walk-in, booking is recommended. For those of you unappreciative of the latest 'no reservation' trend, this is what you've been looking for. The cuisine is classical French, and while not in vogue, this place should be around for much longer than most, unless the upkeep of all the marble and brass puts them into liquidation.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Free Company @ House of Wolf

House of Wolf
181 Upper street, Islington

With London still revelling in 'pop-up' restaurants and short term chef residencies, House of Wolf has arisen trying to strike while the iron is hot, with the promise of experimental dining. Experiments are always a risk, but at House of Wolf  they simply relinquish control to the latest upcoming chefs with a series of residencies and pop-ups back to back. Most recently they had in Blanch & Shock to mixed reviews. This time round was a very short 4 day residency from Free Company, a trio of upcoming chefs most notably from the Salt Yard group, already a plus for me having so many times revisted Opera Tavern. I didn't want to miss them this time after hearing good things at their stint in the Endurance.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Street food revolution

The list of great street food places is almost never ending, from KERB to Broadway market, London is truly spoilt for choice. New vendors are popping up all the time and we have got on board the revolving door that is 'London's best street food'. Make sure to check out their twitter feeds to make sure where they are on a particular day.