The Ivy, Covent Garden

 The first hurdle was getting in but after several laps of the building we found door that was very much so a door. How did we not see it sooner? We were greeted warmly and shown to our table. Set in a beautifully furnished room and sat right next to an incredible bar our hopes were high for the food to come. You might know The Ivy as being rather expensive and you wouldn’t be wrong but there is a very reasonably priced set menu (two courses for £21.75). I was umming and arring but when I caught a glimpse of the food buzzing around me, my mind was made up. For starters:
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Fried duck egg, black pudding bon bons, girolles & toast. It was the perfect starter – hearty enough to not feel like you’ve been served a plate of fresh air but not so feeling you feel threatened by the idea of a main. The egg was cooked as an egg should be and beautifully runny and rich. For mains:
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Cornish cod fillet, creamed spinach, cauliflower, trompettes & bacon. Trompettes? What a great word. Well it’s a kind of mushroom and a tasty one at that. In fact they were possibly one of my favourite parts – big up to the trompettes. The cod had a lovely crispy skin and flaked away like a dream come true.
So don’t rule The Ivy out if you’re not up for splashing the cash. The set menu provides a good selection and is kind on the wallet. Granted it’s still a tad bit more expensive than your standard 2 course menu but you pay for great, attentive service as well as some mighty fine loos.

Comptoir Libanais, Soho

The most dangerous places are those that serve great food AND sell the recipe books telling you how to bloody well make it. Am I in a dream or a nightmare? All I know is my soul is happy about it but my waistline is yelling NOOOOO. Well no fear, back off waistline, I don’t care about you. The vast menu of words I have never heard before left me fearing for my soul but our great waitress answered all our questions; she showed us pictures from the recipe book and bought us little bits and bobs to try to help us make up our mind. We got some Baba Ghanuj to share which was really tasty and got our tastebuds ready for the delights to come.
IMG_5427In the end I went for the Fattet Lamb Kibbeh (minced lamb wheat parcels with pine nuts, warm tahini yoghurt, garnished with crispy pita & fried onions) and my oh my I’ve landed in yoghurt heaven.
IMG_5432The waitress told us we wouldn’t need any sides and she was right. The fattet was so rich with the hot yoghurt that we were bursting at the seams. The crispy onions and pomegranate were delicious on top of the lamb and yoghurt and balanced it out nicely. Head to Comptoir Libanais for tasty, heart-warming food with great service! What more could you want…?

Gazette, Battersea

A few weeks back my aunt visited London. This meant one thing, food everywhere. She came armed with curly wurly brownies from Borough Market as well as cheese. Brownies for us lot, cheese for some other lucky buggers – don’t touch the cheese, I didn’t touch the cheese, I knew better than to touch cheese than didn’t belong to me (I really wanted the cheese though OK?!). Anyway, this post isn’t about cheese.

We headed to Gazette which is right by Wandsworth Bridge. Whilst it’s a cosey French restaurant, it actually seats quite a few but the service felt personal and quick. We went on a Wednesday so it was ladies night (a free cocktail or pudding – since we had the brownies at home, we went for the cocktails). I had a mojito…
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It was a super tasty mojito with an added swirl of strawberry puree at the top. It was a pleasant surprise and it went down far too easily. For starter I had Cocotte Meurette – fried eggs and toast with pancetta and mushroom in a red wine sauce. It was absolutely delicious but perhaps a little large. No one needs three fried eggs, especially in a starter. “too big?! Don’t eat it all then”… IMPOSSIBLE. I can’t control myself when it comes to food, especially food that tastes this good.

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The eggs were perfectly cooked and the flavour of the mushroom and pancetta were delicate.  Next up I had Le Burger Gazette – now we don’t need to speak French to work that one out. It came with cheese, a warm tomato relish and salad. Of course there were chips – crispy but chunky (one of the few places you don’t have to buy chips at an additional cost).

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It was a very tasty burger but I was left feeling a little jealous of my fellow diners steaks. With the competition of burgers in London the Gazette burger could not compete. It lacked the real juiciness packed full of flavour I have tested in rival burgers, this is not to say it was dry!

Overall it was a delightful meal, the starter was outstanding, the main less so. The drinks were quick to arrive and a little different (in a good way).

Dishoom, Covent Garden

The rule that if a place looks busy then it must be good is a rule I like to live by. When I saw the the long queue forming outside of Dishoom I thought, well, this is a place I need to visit. We shipped in some friends straight after work to get us a table and joined them a tad later. The smells coming from the open kitchen on the ground floor assured me we were in for a treat. Treats all round! For main I had the Chicken Ruby – ‘a good and proper curry redolent with spice and flavour. Tender chicken in a rich silky ‘makhani’ sauce’ according to Dishoom. With it I had garlic naan and basmati rice. It sure was a treat and made for a fantastic Monday night.

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The curry was packed full of flavour, the sauce nice and thick. It had a slight kick but it didn’t overpower the dish. The chicken was so tender it just fell apart in my mouth. And let me tell you, dunking that garlic naan in the curry was a dream come true. I was full to the brim but decided whilst I was here, a dessert was in order. I had pineapple and black pepper crumble… tangy fresh pineapple infused with black pepper and Keralan vanilla, bedded beneath a layer of crumble topping. Served warm, with custard on the side. I do love a good crumble and this one was up there in my crumble rankings. The pineapple wasn’t too sharp, a delicious crumble filling I have to say!
image 4By this point I really was ready to burst. The food overall was heart-warming and true in true comfort food style tasty yet plentiful. I really want to head back soon to try the Dishoom brunch menu which looks fantastic. So get in line and try Dishoom. It’s a comfortable and warming place to eat with really friendly staff.

 

Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Clapham Junction

The GBK menu is one that filled me with confusion and despair. I have never seen such a long list of delicious sounding burgers. Do not fear though, it was a Saturday afternoon and I had all the time in the world to decide which burger to choose. After a lot of deliberation, writing up pros and cons of my favourite sounding burgers I went for the Camemburger. Want to know more… it had camembert, hash brown, truffle mayo, onion jam and relish all in a brioche bun.  Want to see more…
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Don’t tell me that isn’t one fine looking burger. Well I can tell you it sure tasted like a large helping of heaven. The Camemburger had it all. Juiciness, crispiness, cheesiness and just great old tastiness. Naturally I had to have a side of chips. I went for the sweet potato fries with baconnaise. BACONNAISE. Why haven’t I heard about this before? Why isn’t it next to the mayonnaise in the supermarket because that stuff is out of this world. It’s freshly made in the GBK kitchens which means we may have to wait a little longer until we can stock it in our own fridges so for now get yourself to GBK to try this taste sensation.
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I don’t want to seem over dramatic or anything but I walked out of GBK that day feeling great. Yes, I had just eaten my bodyweight in not-so-healthy food but YES it was brilliant and I don’t regret it one little bit. I can’t guarantee you’ll get this sense of achievement too but I would like to say it’s pretty dam likely.

The Orange, Victoria

I had the weekend from foodie heaven last weekend. My parents came to visit and  there’s only one thing beef farmers’ like more than a good plate a beef and that’s a good plate of beef they haven’t had to cook. We went to The Orange before heading to see Billy Elliot (which, by the way is incredible, you must see it!). The bar was heaving as we entered, whilst this was a good sign we where glad to be ushered upstairs to enjoy a more peaceful meal. It had a great atmosphere – a family feel and the waitresses were relaxed and chatty. We skipped straight to mains…
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Proper grub. Becky had the pork belly (with rosemary white beans, kale, apple & saffron chutney and brandy jus) which she said was delicious and not too fatty. It certainly looks good – you can’t tell me it doesn’t look good (?!). I had the Chorizo, Fivemiletown goat’s cheese, spinach & red onion jam wood fired pizza. There was just the perfect about of goats cheese as it was quite rich and the chorizo was light yet really flavoursome. It arrived… “you’ll never eat all of that” was the general consensus around the table. 15 minutes later, not one slice left. Not impressed? I also finished off a side of the truffled macaroni cheese which was glorious.
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Still not impressed? I had only had brunch 5 hours beforehand. STILL NOT IMPRESSED? Well I give up. Anyway, back to the food (as if it was ever not about the food). I was IMPRESSED by the food offered up by The Orange. Five of us dined and we were all more than happy with our choices. My Dad, the classic steak eater had a funny turn and had the mussels with a side order of chips. The slurping noises from across the table assured me he was happy with his choice and thank god otherwise we wouldn’t have heard the end of it. 
So, book Billy Elliot and go for lunch/supper at The Orange. I can guarantee you will have a fantastic time. What better combo than good food and good entertainment? I can’t think of one.

Mama Wangs Chinese Street Food Cookery Class

When I think of Chinese food I think of millions of ingredients, most of which I have no idea what they are or where to find them. Jessica, the founder of Mama Wangs Kitchen quickly changed my mind after we made three delicious meals during one of her street food cookery classes last weekend. Taylah and I have been to a few cookery classes now and the Mama Wangs class certainly did not disappoint.
We began with Duck Jian Bing (classic Chinese breakfast crepes with roast duck)… Minimal ingredients, quick to make and absolutely delicious.
image 2It had a cracked egg on top and was smothered in hoisin sauce. Unfortunately it didn’t last long as I quickly demolished it. The class was really hands on and we were given the chance to make everything from scratch. Whilst we were a little short for time, I’m glad Jessica managed to cram three dishes in as they were all so different and tasty and I will certainly be making them again. Next we started making the Jisi Liangmian (tossed chicken noodles with a creamy sesame paste sauce). A cold, lighter dish crammed with fresh vegetables…
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Finally we made Roujiamo (Chinese flatbread sandwiches with red-braised pork belly) which was so rich and decadent. We even made the flatbread ourselves and then ate them in about two mouthfuls. We cooked the pork belly in a sauce that quickly turned thick and sticky.
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We left feeling full to the brim. The only thing I would have liked was the opportunity to sit down to enjoy our food. As the class over ran we had to shovel it down quite quickly and the food was so delicious that I would have liked the time to really enjoy it. We could have taken some home with us but we weren’t told to  bring tupperware and none was provided so we stored it in our stomachs.
Jessica was a fantastic host and kept an eye on us all to make sure we made the best possible food. I learnt some truly great dishes that I hope to share with others – I’ve already bought the duck so WATCH OUT I’m making crepes!

Byron, Kings Road

I am beginning to think of myself as a burger connoisseur. Is that a thing? Well if it’s not, it should be. And if it is, I’m looking to become a professional. The burger I had a Byron was up there in one of the best burgers I’ve had in a restaurant (yes Mum, your burgers are still number 1).  Initially I was sceptical about Byron as I saw it as more of a fast food chain style restaurant. Whilst it is a chain and the service isn’t exactly slow, there is nothing slapdash about the food they serve up. I went for the Smoky (smoked Cheddar, streaky bacon, crispy fried onions, shredded iceberg, pickles and smoked chilli BBQ sauce). We also had sides of onion rings and skinny fries.
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There’s not an awful lot you can say about burgers other things like juicy, flavoursome, meaty and basically delicious. This burger was all of these things. The bacon was perfectly cooked – CRISPY. They serve a smashing gherkin too. Whilst Patty and Bun are still my favourite place to head for the ultimate burger, Byron is not far off and I will certainly be returning soon.

Bone Daddies, Soho

Ever wondered what real ramen tastes like? Ever wondered what it looks like? Well, Bone Daddies ramen is a treat for the eyes and mouth. Just take a look at the pictures below… if they don’t get your tummy rumbling then I don’t know what well. Gone are the days of tasteless, watery ramen, enter flavour that warms you to the bones and enter bowls jam packed with treats. I mean look at those eggs…

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On my first trip to Bone Daddies I had the Kimchee Ramen – prawns, mussels, kimchee and chilli in chicken bone broth. The soup itself was rich in flavour, I could have eaten it by itself. Throw some prawns, mussels, sweetcorn, spring onions and egg into the mix and you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven. I went again last week when fellow blogger Taylah was visiting London… I knew I could rely on Bone Daddies to deliver the goods. This time I had pork ramen from the Specials… the chilli paste was just the right amount of heat. And doesn’t it look pretty?! The liquidy fun doesn’t end there. They do some really yummy soft drinks too.

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So, wonder no more. Give your tastebuds a treat and visit Bone Daddies as soon as humanely possible. It’s a keeper.

Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill, Sky Garden

A few weeks ago I had an evening of extravagance with some friends at Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill at the Sky Garden in 20 Fenchurch Street. This sort of restaurant isn’t my usual eating establishment but it was great to experience the upmarket vibe.  We were greeted by a member of staff at every twist and corner of the building which was great.

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The evening  started with some delicious cocktails. They were a little slow to arrive but were garnished beautifully. After these, I thought it was only right to continue with the extravagance so I ordered the half native lobster which came with a butter sauce and a side salad. It was fresh and flavoursome. I wouldn’t usually spend so much money on a main but I was rolling with it and I’m glad I did.

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Dessert was the star of the show. I had the rhubarb soufflé which was so light it was like eating a rhubarb flavoured cloud. It was the perfect temperature and left me feeling perfectly full.

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Overall, it was a fantastic evening. The waiting staff were extremely attentive and knowledgeable about the menu. We had a lovely, relaxed evening and whilst I probably wouldn’t head back because of my bank balance I would certainly recommend it for a special occasion. The only thing that was a tad disappointing was that we weren’t able to enjoy the view as we were sat the in the middle of the restaurant.