Tag Archives: review

This little piggy went to market…

Borough Market used to be a weekly haunt of mine when I lived south of the river, but since affecting to North London I seem to have neglected it totally. However, another great toptable deal gave me the perfect excuse to get my ass down to Roast, a meat orientated restaurant situated in the floral hall above the market.

Me and my friend Hannah were taking advantage of the 3 course market menu at £26, which I realised after looking at the prices on the rest of the menu, was a very good deal indeed.

We were served a basket of delicious bread from the Flour Power City Bakery, who have a couple of stalls in Borough Market as well as a few other locations in and around London. Bread and butter are my nemeses, in hindsight I wish I’d been able to resist them or at least refuse the top up from our very attentive waitress. I just wasn’t aware how much food there was to come…

For my starter I had a pot of pickled Dorset herrings with beetroot, sour cream and horseradish. I’m a real sucker for kilner jars and was totally won over on first appearances. However, it not only looked amazing but the little jar was chocka block full of flavour and delicate, melt in the mouth herrings…

Han opted for pressed ham hock with toast and picalilli. And despite the fact that the toast actually turned out to be bread and the picalilli portion was a little stingy, she was very impressed…

I chose my main on the grounds that it came with a ‘Franconian cheese sausage’, which intrigued me…German sausage plus cheese…a match made in heaven surely?

The complete dish was grilled saddleback bacon chop with aforementioned Franconian cheese sausage, crabapple jelly and chips, which were served in their own little deep frying basket…

I would liken the sausage to a cooked Polish kabanos with veins of cheese running through it, weird but wonderful!

Hannah had the pot roast featherblade of beef with caramelised onion and thyme dumpling, which was so tender and succulent that it fell apart, no knife required!…

We were pretty full at this stage (darn that bread!) but as usual, I’d already eyed up the dessert menu and knew I’d regret not sampling it. It was a nightmare for a dessert loving, indecisive diner like me as everything just sounded soooo good. I decided to forego the Cornish Yarg cheese (one of my favourites) and instead chose the perfect dessert for a cold, wet, January evening…rhubarb, bramley apple and almond crumble with English custard…

Hannah was nearly passing out from over indulgence so chose what she hoped would be the smaller, lighter, but no less tastier option of lemon posset with vanilla thins…

We savoured our puds in silence, wishing that we could somehow be transported magically back to our sofa’s without having to brave the nasty weather. Unfortunately that’s not yet included in the service at Roast. They were very accomodating and welcoming but as yet don’t provide food coma recovery beds!

I’m sure I’ll be back again soon to sample their breakfast menu or just to savour one of their legendary Lorne sausage Scotch eggs and a few cocktails in the bar

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Sunday Club at Tapped and Packed

The Christmas party season started early for me this year with a mulled wine fuelled weekend. But somehow on Sunday morning, powered by intrigue, me and my hangover managed to struggle out of bed, brave the icy chill and venture down to Tapped and Packed for the first ever ‘Sunday Club’. It was all a bit of a mystery to me but the concept of a club devoted to coffee appreciation really appealed…so I took the gamble and found myself involved in my first ever cafe lock in. I was ridiculously nervous on the approach but the shopfront shone out like a welcoming beacon. I knocked on the door, muttered ‘Sunday Club’ and was admitted into the cosy confines of the cafe at 26 Rathbone Place…

I made myself comfortable in a seat with a good view of the coffee preparation area but was still pretty unsure of what I was meant to be doing. My motto in situations like these…if in doubt talk random rubbish to the poor person sitting next to you, who on this occasion was a young gentleman barista from Fernandez and Wells. He was the font of all knowledge on all things coffee and has made me think I definitely need to schedule a trip down to their espresso bar in St Anne’s Court to sample their wares!

We waited for a few more stragglers to arrive and then the tasting kicked off…We were sampling the new ‘Jabberwocky’ blend from Has Bean Coffee, so named by Steve the owner who felt the words of his favourite Poem by Lewis Carroll described it perfectly, in particular…’the jaws that bite, the claws that catch’. He explains it in more depth on his ‘In my Mug’ video blog.

First off we were given three cups containing the three elements that make up the Jabberwocky blend as described on the menu above. Each one was accompanied by a small tasty morsel designed to compliment the particular tastes within each of the coffees…a raspberry filled with popping candy, an apricot bathed in peach schnapps and champagne sorbet sprinkled with a special orange zest and sugar powder…

It was very clever and totally delicious although I did find the peach scnapps slighty too reminiscent of my misspent youth 🙂

It was all very relaxed and there was plenty of time to take in the eclectic surroundings and chat with my fellow Sunday Club members…

We were given a palate cleanser of chilled coffee cherry tea and sparkling water…

Before finally sampling the complete Jabberwocky espresso…

It was a powerful, zingy, zesty, fresh coffee, just as Steve had descibed. I was amazing how well all of the elements worked together and how having sampled them separately, I could identify the different layers within it.

We got chatting to one of the owners of Tapped and Packed, Vic Frankowski, a very talented photographer as well as barista, who told us all about his recent trip to Costa Rica with Union Hand Roasted, visiting coffee farms and regaled us with his plans for future projects…his knowledge is astounding!

I’m a coffee lover but Sunday Club took coffee loving to a whole new level. The Tapped and Packed barista’s really know their stuff and are ready and willing to share it. Every month is set to be different as the Sunday Club format evolves. The next one’s taking place in January…I’m looking forward to it already!

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ooooo Betty!

My love of autumn has been revived by a gorgeous weekend in York…bright blue skies, fluffy white clouds, amazing autumn leaves…

and afternoon tea at a real northern institution…Bettys

Bettys is ever so popular and there’s always a queue of eager sweet toothed tourists awaiting their turn to sample the delicacies…

With this in mind I’d booked a table upstairs in the ‘Belmont Room’…

what it lacked in busy buzzy cafe atmosphere it made up for with its elegant cruise liner inspired art deco features. The waitresses were dressed in period clothes and a live pianist serenaded us…all very sophisticated!

But let me get back to the main event…

A pot of Bettys tea room blend tea…

and a tower of delicate goodies…

dainty but well filled, crustless roast ham and smoked salmon sandwiches (with real butter of course)…

a sultana scone, which had a very pleasant lemon zing to it served with strawberry jam and clotted cream…

and to top it off a minature chocolate eclair, a fresh fruit tart and a lemon financier…

The financier was so very moist and had a crunchy lemon drizzle topping (definitely on the ‘must bake’ list) but for me the raspberry tart really stole the show…extremely light pastry, a sweet, creamy custard filling to die for, topped with tart but succulent raspberries. It definitely deserves a picture of its own…

Despite having filled myself up with a huge breakfast at the hotel I managed to polish the whole.lot.off…

On the way out I had a recce of the shop, which was chock full of Bettys goodies…

It may have become a Mecca for tourists but the experience of a trip back in time to this wonderful afternoon tea emporium remains a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

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Come on…chop chop

My friend Owen recently accused me of neglecting the, let’s say, ‘less posh’ eateries of London on my blog. I tried to assure him that I still regularly frequent aforementioned venues but probably too frequently to be able to keep up with blogging them all! 

However, I thought I would pander to him on this occassion, especially as he was the instigator of our foray into the world of Shepherds Bush’s noodle bars.

So…if you’re ever short on time before a gig at Shepherds Bush Empire, which is exactly the situation we found ourselves in on Tuesday, I highly recomend a visit to Chop Chop. Just minutes away from the Empire, behind a pretty generic looking shopfront lies bowl upon bowl of steaming, tasty noodles and soups and…most of them are under £4!! bargain!

I’ve actually been hankering after noodles for a good few weeks (mostly when hungover) but have been lured away from them in favour of other food genre’s so I was glad to finally get my way.

The Chop Chop menu was pretty extensive, which is always problematic for me and my indecisiveness, but the minute I saw that they did kway teow I had to have it! I have very fond memories of it as my favoured dish when travelling through South East Asia a few years back. A plate piled high with flat, juicy rice noodles, crunchy beansprouts, pieces of pork and chicken and ginormous king prawns mmm….

Owen had the Laksa, which apparently he always has when he visits Chop Chop and only falls slightly short of the BEST, which he told me he tasted in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo…praise indeed I reckon!…

The king prawn noodle soup looked pretty impressive too…

and rest assured…all of the above were eaten with extremely hygienic chopsticks :)…

and washed down with some tasty Tsingtao beer.

I’ve been told good things about the Kings Cross branch too so come on…Chop Chop!

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Tea at Bea’s

Bea’s of Bloomsbury has been on my list of ‘must visit’ café’s for ages so when my friend’s Japanese girlfriend mentioned that she’d love to experience a traditional English afternoon tea I knew exactly where to take her. I gathered together a motley, cake eating crew and we headed on down to Bloomsbury to the cake haven that is Bea’s…

The shop front is quite understated and if I hadn’t been purposefully going there I think I would have walked straight past completely oblivious to the amazing cake-like goodies awaiting me inside…

We had to wait a few minutes for our table to be vacated and relaid, which wasn’t a problem as I had the cake display to keep me occupied…

The staff were really friendly and very accommodating when 2 extra friends came along as late entries to join our table. 

Once settled, we were asked to choose from the tea menu…

I went for the vanilla black, which was delicious and fragrant and the perfect accompaniment to the afternoon tea, which consisted of a scone with jam and clotted cream, a cupcake, a mini valrhona brownie, a mini belgian blondie, a mini meringue and a home made marshmallow…

The scones were my favourite part, they were so moist, light and mouthwatering-ly delicious (even more so when piled high with strawberry jam and lashings of clotted cream)…

There were a few varieties of cupcakes on our stand, the choice was tough but in the end I opted for this one…

I didn’t sample them all but I was reliably informed by my friends that they were all delicious. Both the sponge and the frosting were extremely light and I loved the fact that although sweet they weren’t too sickly, plus they were beautiful…

We made a valiant effort to do as we were instructed on the cake stand…

but in the end we were beaten by cake (I never thought I would see the day) and had to leave a few lonely morsels amongst out afternoon tea aftermath…

Our Bea’s experience was lovely…totally unpretentious, delicious and such a bargain at only £9.90!

I was very excited to read on my way out that a second Bea’s is due to open at the end of October in St Pauls…

Right around the corner from where I work…danger danger!

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A trip to the Haberdashery

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit recently but I’ve been terribly busy sunning myself on the Dalamation coast in Croatia, eating amazing seafood, drinking copious amounts of strong Croatian coffee and doing a fantastic job of pickling my liver! It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it!

I’ve only been back in London for a few days but have already been having brunch withdrawal symptoms. My friend Mark recently moved down the road to Crouch End and has been trying to coax me over the hill to visit him ever since. He finally succeeded by telling me about a cafe called The Haberdashery. I checked out their website and menu I didn’t need any more convincing…

The Haberdashery advertises itself as an eatery and coffee house that sells old vinyls. It’s a really cute place with a great atmosphere. It retains a really light and airy feel even though the walls and shelves are filled with cool little trinkets, crockery and original artwork.

There’s also a lovely garden out the back…

where we started our Haberdashery experience…on a picnic bench in a sunny corner soaking up the rays…

We arrived just as the breakfast menu was finishing and the daytime menu was starting. It was such a gorgeous sounding menu that it wasn’t any great hardship…

We started off by ordering coffee to assist us in our decision making…an americano for me with the milk served in a little tea pot..

and a bowl of flat white for Mark…

I ordered a salad of parma ham, grapefruit, avocado, toasted pinenuts and parmesan shavings on a bed of baby spinach leaves, which was served with a rustic olive bread pot…

If I’m honest, the main reason for choosing a salad wasn’t for it’s health benefits but for the accompanying rustic bread pot, which I’d spotted on entering the cafe and fallen in love with!…

Mark had the halloumi sandwich served with rocket and olive jam on rosemary bread…

The food was nothing short of amazing – so fresh and tasty! and although we were both pretty full we decided that it’d be rude not to sample a cake for pudding. We moved to a table inside the cafe for a change of scenery and to soak up the atmosphere and were faced with an array of very tempting cakes…

muffins and pastries…

and a very difficult decision to make.

We ordered another round of decision making coffees and after suffering a severe bout of bowl envy after our first round I ordered an americano in a bowl…

I thought I should put into context just how enormous this bowl of coffee was…

It required two handed lifting and actually sent me into a complete caffeine spin out, which was heightened by the sugar rush that we got from the yummy blackberry crumble cake that we eventually chose…

Everything about The Haberdashery was spot on, the food was amazing, the coffee excellent, it was the right amount of quirky without trying too hard and the staff were very friendly and accomodating!

I highly highly recommend a trip to The Haberdashery…get on your bikes and brave Crouch Hill…a real treat awaits!

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J+A Cafe

I’ve been working in Clerkenwell for over 2 years now and am ashamed to admit that I don’t know the area at all. But recently I’ve been on a journey of discovery. On a recent reconnaissance mission I found myself drawn down a little alleyway just off Great Sutton Street and happened upon J+A cafe. Unfortunately at the time I was on the way to meet a friend so couldn’t linger but I stored it away in my memory banks for another day. That day came around yesterday, when I met a friend for lunch in the sunny courtyard of J+A…

The menu sounded amazing with loads of fresh, home made salads, sandwiches, tarts, quiches and cakes. I had real difficulty choosing what to have but finally settled on a roast chicken open sandwich on Irish soda bread with wholegrain mustard mayonnaise…

The bread, baked on site, was delicious and the chicken was succulent and plentiful. The whole meal was to die for!

My friend had a club sandwich, a triple decker filled with chicken, bacon, avocado, salad, tomato and mayo…not for the dainty or sparrow stomached…

I loved the feel of the place, the atmosphere and their quirky details like their old fashioned bottles used refilled with tap water…

and the fact that they have planted flowers in old butler sinks…

Our bill including 2 coffee’s and a soft drink only came to about £17, generally more than I would pay for a normal ‘nip out of the office’ lunch but definitely good value for money considering the amazing quality and deliciousness of the food. I have just found out that they serve afternoon tea from 3-6pm…I’ll be revisiting J+A sometime very soon!

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