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.

Flesh & Buns, Covent Garden

The clue is in the title – buns (the best kind of buns going if you ask me). Flesh & Buns offer delicious Japanese food with the buns being the star of the show – you can choose from a range of top-notch fillings and then pile them up yourself, at your table.
My parents and brother were visiting and so I decided Flesh & Buns was the perfect opportunity to show them what London has to offer. This is how it began:Ccz_lUxWwAAaPXJ.jpg-large
A chopstick lesson from Harry (my brother) for my Dad. The chopsticks didn’t last long. After much deliberation we went for the tasting menu. It was perfect for us as it gave us the opportunity to try lots of new things in manageable sizes. It’s a five course tasting menu which is reasonably priced at £35 or £54 if you want wine pairings.
In order of appearance…
1. Rice crackers with avocado shiso & tomato jalapeño. A glass of prosecco regardless of whether you have chosen the wine pairings option. Sorry, no picture the hunger pangs were too strong.
2. Salmon avocado roll & tuna tataki
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3. Fried squid and Korean fried wings
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4. Buns with crispy duck leg and crispy piglet belly (pork pictured bellow)
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5. S’mores – passionfruit marshmallows, almond chocolate and crackers
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Overall, we were four happy dinners at the end of the evening. I would eat every course again (everyday if possible) but a personal favourite was the salmon and sushi. My Dad and brother really enjoyed the Korean fried wings. Whether you’re a Japanese novice or expert, Flesh & Bun’s serve up wholesome, flavoursome food that will leave you tummy happy.

KaoSarn, Battersea

The “South East Asia in London” tour in London continues, and this time at an understated, family run restaurant called KaoSarn serving up the best Thai food. Where meals could be straight from a Thai kitchen, every dish is wholesome, flavoursome and generous.  Rosanna and I went for the Kauy Tiew Gai-Toon… that’s a Bangkok style noodle soup with bean sprouts, minced pork, fish balls and fried king prawns to you and me. And my oh my was it tasty.
image1 2The soup was packed full of flavour with just the right amount of spice – the waitress checked how hot we wanted it and we went for mild which was perfect for our British tongues.

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Sarah went for the Pad Thai which came with vegetables and tofu. All round top reviews from her too.
KaoSarn is Bring Your Own Booze – so don’t expect to to break the bank with a visit here with main dishes around £10. For real Thai food from the heart, head to KaoSarn (Battersea or Brixton).

DF/Mexico, Shoreditch

If you like…
  1. Mexican food
  2. Enough Mexican food to have the desire/need to undo the top button of your trousers… for under £10
  3. Mexican food that arrives in a flash
…then, would you believe it, I think I’ve found the place for you/my friend has found the place for you but I’m the one writing about you so I’m going to attempt to take the credit.
DF/Mexico is a self service style restaurant (but there are lots of friendly people too) with a great menu and very importantly, a great sauce collection too. If you like the sound of chipotle ketchup or mayo or may be salsa verde in a bottle then all your sauce dreams have come true. For those who aren’t excited by this, you may need to reconsider your priorities. I went for the daily special which was a buttermilk fried chicken torta (Mexican sandwich served New York style in a toasted brioche bun with smashed avocado, slaw and house pickle) served with crinkly chips. Let’s take a quick second to ponder on the thought that is WHY AREN’T CRINKLY CHIPS EVERYWHERE I GO?! Yep, let’s get crinkly chips of the chip map people.

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These delightful lot went for the chilli beef torta as well as the slow cooked pork burrito. They were also happy chappies – big up to Rosie the burrito eater for the recommendation.

 

You may be thinking – “why are they all picking up their plates… is that normal?” Well I can tell you they all ate it in one, plate and all. If that isn’t a strong recommendation for a meal that I don’t know what is. Let’s start the crinkly chip revolution!

Bluebird Café, Chelsea

You rock up to a restaurant to find they’ve finished serving brunch and you think WHY GOD WHY? But then you see their lunch menu and you think life isn’t so bad after all. First thing to note, brunch finishes at 11.30, lunch starts at 12.00. Second thing to note, this isn’t a bad thing, the lunch menu is pretty dam great. Third thing to note, the waiting staff are great and super chilled.
As you might have realised, we arrived just as brunch was finishing. Nevertheless, we were shown to a table and looked after until lunch was ready to roll. I went for the shrimp tempura with kalwanji seeds (what the hell are they?)  nori and spicy mayo, SEE YA LATER brunch you’re  not needed. Just me and the shrimp…
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The lack of brunch really got to us so naturally we had to have dessert…
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Apple crumble. The love of my life. What can you say about apple crumble other than it was warm, delicious, unhealthy and perfect? Nothing. If you want a chilled meal with options galore then Bluebird Cafe is ideal. I can’t comment on brunch but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s probably pretty fantastic too.

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…?

Home Sweet Home, Manchester

Can we just take a minute to think about breakfast and brunch and lunch and cake and dinner and coffee… Good. If you’d like to think of all these things whilst being in arms reach of them all, Home Sweet Home is your place. Alright, may be not all at once and you might have to pitch a tent in the place but I SAY WHY NOT?! It’s definitely on my bucket list. On a quick trip to Manchester last weekend my friends said “is there anything you want to do whilst you’re here”. Approximately 0.25 seconds later “HOME SWEET HOME” violently erupted from my mouth and trust me, you don’t mess with a case of food based torrets. It’s not clever and it’s certainly not safe. So my friends happily obliged – who wouldn’t? It’s not exactly a chore.
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Serving up all meals of the day including an incredible selection of extravagant cakes, the tex mex twist spoke to me and my greedy greedy soul. We shimmied on down for brunch… I HAD – Sun Devil Scrambler (house hash, taco sauce, chorizo, scrambled egg and chipotle sour cream). Could I think of a better brunch? No I could not. It was everything I ever dreamed of. And if that wasn’t enough, get a load of these CUTE mugs.

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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).