Chinese Laundry, Angel

I think I’ve got a problem, it may require help and it certainly is not in keeping with January healthy eating (not that I’m big on that anyway). I can’t get enough of Asian food at the mo, no matter how much I eat, I just can’t shake the obsession. This weekend alone I’ve had, Chinese, Japanese and Thai and even sriracha on my breakfast eggs. Send help!
It’s not surprising that I ended up at the Chinese Laundry then, there was nothing I could do. I’ve been meaning to go for a while having seen it here and there recently.
The interior itself is pretty cool with a 80s Chinese family vibe, it’s cosy. Who doesn’t love cosy? The menu is perfect for meat lovers and veggie’s alike. The service is supper friendly and accommodating, including warnings on how long the next batch of pork or rice is going to take.
We went for a medley of meaty, fishy and veggie and ended up with this…
Smashed cucumber, XO potato, chestnut duck leg, lava chicken, salted cod & aubergine and sweet basil chicken popcorn. Not forgetting rice and 2 mantou buns as well.
We enjoyed all the dishes, sharing bits here and there. We didn’t realise the clear chilli on the menu meant the dish was cold so were a little taken a back when the chicken and potatoes arrived cold. Nonetheless, the chicken was jam packed full of flavour and yummy things and deliciously moist. The duck fell off the bone and was served with a great sauce. The chicken popcorn – well, never have I ever met a fried piece of chicken I didn’t like and this was no exception. It was crispy and fragrant with a hint of spice.
Overall, the meal was greatly enjoyed by all and I was very pleased to have finally made the trip. We did however think it was a little pricey for what we got. It came to just over £50 including service which was a little steep in our opinion. Having said that, the food was top notch, tasty comfort food, something more special than your average takeaway, or Chinese restaurant.

Budapest

It only seemed right that whilst we were in the beautiful city of Budapest, that we should also eat amazing food. Am I right? We didn’t do too much planning ahead and instead used TripAdvisor whilst there as well as did some good old traditional exploring and followed the loose motto ‘if it looks busy, it must be good’.
So a quick list of places you should try if you are staying in the area..
1. Cirkusz
We went for breakfast… twice. Cirkusz has a great selection of light and hearty breakfasts, good coffee and service is top notch. All of the staff spoke perfect English and were really friendly. Prices are also pretty bloody great too.
2. ÉS Bisztró
We stumbled across this place on our first evening in Budapest. It had a great atmosphere, packed with local diners venturing out for a Friday night meal. The menu had a good mix of Hungarian classics and dishes from further afield. The confit goose leg was on the specials menu and my did it deserve to be there. Served with brussel sprouts, red cabbage and potato dumplings, it was the perfect start to our holiday!
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3. Gerbeaud
If you’re looking for a warm spot to rest your legs for a moment or two – drowned in delicious, rich hot chocolate, this is the place for you! They have a wide and wonderful selection of cakes and pastries too. I had a milk hot chocolate made with lavender milk which warmed me through and through.
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4. Terzo Cherchio
A great Italian restaurant in the Jewish Quarter which had plenty of choice and delicious food. The restaurant was packed when we went so we had to sit downstairs which was just as cosey as upstairs. A great meal and great service.
It seems like the people of Budapest know what they’re doing when it comes to food. They’ve got it all sussed… build a beautiful city that you can walk around and produce soul warming food to get you from one spot to another. Over and out.

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Nutbourne, Battersea

If you’ve been to or heard of The Rabbit or The Shed, you’ll know that the food is top quality, full of seasonal produce and down right delicious. You’ll also know that the menu is packed full of interesting and different ingredients which is the beauty of eating somewhere like this where you can trust the concoctions put together through and through, even if you haven’t heard of half of the menu.
Four out of five of us went all out and ordered the fillet steak, served with truffle duxelles. They were four happy diners, each making happy noises whilst shovelling in the rare steak.
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We were all impressed with the vegetables on offer. Everyday veg pimped up to be the star of the show. Grilled baby gem salad, cucumber, onion seeds and red onion, BBQ heritage carrots, almond, honey and thyme and finally Brussel sprouts with apple and granola. I went for the bone marrow tortellini with sherry butter sauce. I felt it was lacking salt, it needed something with a little bit more flavour given it had a healthy portion of garnish on top. I had the larger portion which came with 5 pieces of tortellini (£13.50), given it was supper time I would have hoped for a few more pieces.
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Next up was dessert and hooray! There is such an interesting selection of things to choose from. I went for lovage and whey ice cream with golden grapes and basil. It was like nothing I’ve had before but in all the right ways. A delicious and light way to polish off the meal.
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Overall, a brilliant meal from Nutbourne. I was left feeling underwhelmed compared to my fellow diners but still had a fantastic meal. It is rather pricey here with most of the mains requiring several sides but it really does give you the opportunity to embrace the seasons and try lots of new and exciting flavours.

Tonkotsu, Soho

With the colder weather setting it, there’s no better time to fill up on ramen. Who am I kidding, I eat ramen all year round but ya know, cold weather and a bowl of hot deliciousness just seems like a match made in heaven. Any excuse. Having been to Bone Daddies more times than I can recall, it was about time I branched out. To Tonkotsu! A similar style restaurant where queues can pile up and there’s a small but tempting menu.
We began our meal being rained on. Yep, being rained on, inside. Weird? Dangerous? Confusing? All of the above. But we were swiftly moved to a new table despite the growing queue of eager ramen eaters. Good luck to those we left behind with water dripping from the ceiling, plopping into their bowls. Upstairs was considerably drier, but service was slow. Very slow indeed. We had to call over the waiter to make any kind of headway with our meal whether it was ordering drinks or asking for the bill. But once ordered the food arrived quickly, so quickly in fact that we hadn’t even got our drinks…
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And boy did we need those drinks as the ramen was a taste sensation but also a salt overload. So much so that I woke up in the night ready to drink a river. I went for the ‘Tonkotsu’ which was – rich, sea salt-based pork stock and thin noodles topped with slices of melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, half a seasoned soft-boiled egg, menma, bean sprouts and spring onions. So sure, given the description may be I should have expected to be rather thirsty after consuming a whole bowl of sea salt-based pork stock. Regardless I didn’t enjoy the effect the saltiness had after the meal but of course, as with most salt packed food, enjoyed it immensely whilst consuming. The pork was as described, melt in the mouth and the noodles still had a little bite without being under done. All in all, I would head back here again for more of this meaty ramen but would be more careful as to stock up on liquids afterwards. May be I’m just being precious so I would love to hear about your ramen experiences!

Maison MK, Marrakech

First things first, go to Marrakech! The perfect holiday for a little bit of everything – exploring, relaxing, shopping and most importantly EATING! We were celebrating a birthday whilst there so naturally we thought we book a sophisticated dinner – like the sophisticated girls we are…! After some considerable internet research we settled with Maison MK who offer a 5 course tasting menu served up with tip top service, brilliant views and a delicious selection of drinks (something we found harder to come across).
The whole experience (and it really was an experience opposed to just a meal) was simply put, amazing. We started the evening on the roof top with cocktails (drinks not included in the tasting menu price) and canapés. We were treated like royalty and spent just the right amount of time enjoying the view before heading back downstairs for supper.
 The restaurant is absolutely beautiful with tables set apart from one another and secluded. First of all we enjoyed a spiced tomato consommé with a jail (Moroccan cheese) beignet. It sure did whet our appetite for the courses to come. Just the perfect size to get us going and packed full of delicious flavours.

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Next up was a pressed chicken terrine with apricot pureé, pistachio crumb fakass (a Moroccan bread). It was light and fresh and we ate it as fast as the first course.

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We had the star of the show next which was de constructed tagines… filet and slow-cooked lamb mechoui with fondant potatoes for three of us. Kaab lghzal ravioli for the final diner. The filet of lamb was superb, the finest lamb I have eaten. The sweetness of the pomegranate was a match made in heaven. We were left feeling content and not over full, ready for our final two courses.
A light and unique sweet dish next. Moroccan strawberries and cream which had black pepper with the strawberries and five peppers in the ice cream. It was the perfect twist of Morocco with a otherwise very normal dessert.

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Chocolate mille feuille was the next and final course. Served with chocolate and orange blossom mousse, vanilla shortbread, salted caramel and chocolate & cardamon ice cream. It was so delicious that I instantly forgot to take a picture. Another light dish perfectly suited to the menu.
Maison MK is the perfect venue for a special meal whilst in Marrakech. It’s an experience that has been crafted to perfection right from the food through to the service and surroundings. It’s like a small haven in the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.

Burgers & Cocktails, Marylebone

Burgers & Cocktails is on the busy, food-filled street of James Street. Great for a hot day, the open plan restaurant has a nice breeze and light and airy feel, something that is often lacking from burger joints around the city. It has a solid selection of burgers to choose from (who would have thought?) that goes beyond (but does include) the common found pulled pork burger.
I decided to go for the Korean Burger – beef patty, sriracha & lime ailoi, pickles, kimchi slaw with cucumber, korean bbq sauce & crispy shallots. image2 2
For me, the burger was heavy on the slaw meaning the sriracha I was looking forward to was rather underwhelming. Whilst it was a tasty burger, it was the sriracha which caught my eye and so I was disappointed that it was lacking in any kind of spice. However, everyone else had 10/10 reviews for their burgers which included The Matador and The Rodeo Chicken Burger. We also had some Sloppy Joe Fries (smothered with chipotle beef chilli & melting cheese)…
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On paper and in the flesh they looked like everything I had hoped for in a chilli-cheese-chip combo. It was Korean Burger take 2 in that the chilli lacked spice – who wants Bolognese with kidney beans on chips? Not me thanks. Also the cheese added little but the stringy consistency you get from melted cheese. Priced at £4.95 I would have hoped for something a little more memorable.
Given the reviews of the other burgers I would like to head back here to try the others on offer before ruling the place out completely. Burgers are everywhere in London and Burger and Cocktails simply can’t compete in an already packed market. Patty & Bun is just across the road, Meat Liqour is a short walk away, both of which I would choose over a further visit here.
Overall, Burgers and Cocktails offers everything I look for in a meal out but unfortunately on this occasion just failed to deliver the goods.

 

Grain Store, King’s Cross

The dream would be to have my own restaurant. Let me be more specific and relevant to the blog post title The dream would be to have my own restaurant exactly like Grain Store. Why? Well let me tell you…
  1. The food is a dream come true – I could have had anything and everything! There’s one thing that makes good food taste even better – knowing you are eating seasonal produce with sustainability at it’s very core. Plus you’ll see a good number of small suppliers on their website.
  2. The drinks are exciting and delicious – you’ll be sure to try something new whether it’s a juice, smoothie or cocktail. And importantly, you know you can trust these lot to throw together a corker, even if you haven’t heard of half of the ingredients.
  3. It’s just a cool kinda place to be – mix matched water jugs, your bill in wooden pear. It’s a pretty big restaurant and it seemed busy yet spacious. Plus you can book – call me Grandma but gotta love a good old fashioned booking at a popular place like Grain Store!
  4. The open kitchen. I found myself watching the chefs as they served up dish after dish – creepy? Sorry about that but can’t promise I won’t do it again on my next visit.
Time to look at pictures! I opted for kimchi & mince pork Chinese pancake, peanut sauce, coriander & spring onion… Yes please and thank you very much, I will have that again.
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Dessert – a rare occurrence for me but the light and fresh options offered up meant I couldn’t resist… Another beautiful dish which made the fruit the star of the show. Fresh strawberries, goats’ milk pannacotta with fennel pollen. Fennel pollen? Yeah, I’m not sure either but I can tell you it tastes good.
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Grain Store is a place where you can expect style and substance. Where you know you can place your trust in the genius creatives behind the menu when they offer up things like kaffir lime green tapioca with sweet potato for dessert. I would go back again and again – I won’t be having the same thing twice but only because, like a true trooper, I must try everything on the menu.

 

Queenswood, Battersea

Queenswood – a cosey restaurant set in Battersea Square with a small but strong brunch menu. Our visit started with a frosty welcome and service was a little slow with things like tap water and sauces failing to arrive. But overall the staff were friendly and welcoming. I spent a good ten minutes trying to decide between the Mexican Egg and the Smoked Haddock Kedgeree… I went for the Mexican Egg but wished I had gone for the latter after it arrived. The egg was over baked and looked like it had been left under a heat lamp for a few minutes too long. The smoky pepper sauce lacked the smokiness I was hoping for… tasty but rather mediocre. The bread also had the same appearance as the egg – something a bit softer would have been nice for mopping up the sauce.

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Sarah went for the avocado on toast with a side of bacon. I had food envy and food envy does not suit me. I don’t deal well with it. She gave it a solid 10/10. It had a healthy helping of avocado and an egg cooked to perfection. Do I sound bitter?

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We had one gluten free diner who went for the QW English – unfortunately there wasn’t much in the way of gluten free alternatives for the sausages and bread so these were removed. I thought it was a little off that they still charged the same price for the dish and didn’t offer to replace for extra bacon or beans.
I will definitely be heading back here to sample the dinner menu which looks right up my street.

Dip and Flip, Wimbledon

Gravy. No roast is complete without gravy. I feel strongly that this could be extended to chips, sliced meat sandwiches and burgers. Obviously. To make all your dipping dreams come true Dip and Flip serve up a side of gravy with every burger and sandwich. As if they weren’t tasty enough already, the gravy adds that little bit of… hmm… that little bit of… DAM tastiness. You get me? Wondering why my sandwich has a candle in it? Yeh! It was my birthday meal venue of choice and I don’t regret it one bit.
I went for the sliced beef sandwich with Dijon mustard, gherkins and white cabbage slaw. Gravy in it and gravy on the side. Chips were smothered in mozzarella and… gravy!
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On previous visits I’ve had the Dip and Flip burger – cheese burger topped with sliced lamb…

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This is a no book kinda establishment so get in early or be ready to queue. The Wimbledon branch is the biggest so head here if you’ve got a large party. Otherwise go to Clapham Junction or Tooting. For true comfort food that goes above and beyond your standard burger, Dip and Flip is the place.

Department of Meat & Social Affairs, Northampton

Now that’s a mouthful. You’ll also be getting a mouthful of top notch British produce crafted into beautifully mouthwatering meaty treats at Dept. Meat. The menu boasts an array of burgers and hotdogs which are topped with things you have only dreamed of. Now if that doesn’t tempt you I don’t know what will. Well, may be the TRAYS of meat, now I like the sound of meat, on a tray. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the menu here.
Five of us piled into the cosy venue at the bottom of Bridge Street – depending on which way you approach it, you can’t miss it. The food they served up did not dissapoint:
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Hot dogs were GOOD. Burgers were GOOD. Sides were GOOOOD. We opted for a burger/hot dog each and shared five sides between us including chips (x2), nachos, onion rings and mac n cheese. All were quickly inhaled. My hot dog (the one with mac n cheese AND bacon) was delicious. The only thing I’d say is that I preferred the taste of the side mac n cheese as opposed to the one on my hot dog (probably because it had even more cheese and you can never have too much cheese). But I would order it again and again and again. Well, I wouldn’t because I plan on trying the whole menu and that would just slow me down.
What surprised me about the place is that it was remarkably light and quiet (noise wise, not people) for a place that I thought would have dimmed downed lights and loud music. We were sat in the same room as the bar which only had two tables and so the other room may have had a more lively atmosphere. This prompted mixed reactions from my fellow diners. Let me give you some examples:
  1. Dad – it was jolly nice to be able to hear each other talking (Dad also mentioned that it is very reasonably priced – he couldn’t believe how the amount of food and drink we got for what he paid).
  2. Those below the age of 30 – the atmosphere was a little lacking, a good place to take those who don’t appreciate having to battle with loud music.
So if you’re looking for a burger in Northampton I’d head to Dept. Meat if you’re going for a family meal. If you’re heading out for a more larey evening then head slightly more into town to MuMu. Both however have the following thing in common – they know how to cook a good plate of food.