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!

Laos Cafe by Saiphin, Victoria

I always thought of Victoria as a place with very little in the way of great food. Well, those days are over… enter Laos Cafe! I decided it would be a good idea to meet here with a few friends to reminisce over travels long ago; any excuse to eat. The pop up is sticking around until the end of Feb when it will then close for refurbishment and open again in March, bringing with it a flavour of Rosa’s Thai Cafe – what’s not to like? I’ll tell you more…
The cafe in its current state is basic but cosey – as you walk in you see chefs in full action and get wafts of delicious things to come. We started with a few nibbles…
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On the left, spicy pork patties (laab tod) which were (as described) spicy, meaty and they certainly whetted our appetite for things to come. On the right, isaan sausages (saigrok-isaan) which were really juicy and tender and probably my favourite of the two.
The Laos Cafe serves sharing dishes, the idea being you get a mixture of meats, salad and rice/noodles to share with people you like (or people you don’t like, who cares, as long as there’s plenty of food). We went for a papaya salad which had a delicious nutty dressing. We also had spicy minced duck which sure was spicy and very nearly caused tears at the table, char-grilled chicken which was beautifully simple and served with a spicy dipping sauce and finally sticky white and brown rice. My favourites were the chicken as well as the sticky rice. I probably wouldn’t have the duck again, purely because I’m pathetic and couldn’t handle the spice, but it was really tasty when wrapped with the lettuce served with it.
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Overall, a top evening packed with great food. The drinks menu is small but varied – a good selection of wines as well as Chang beer and iced teas. The service was friendly and the food arrived quickly. So if you want to remember times gone by or just want a taste of Laotian food, get yourself to the Laos Cafe quick – or put it on the list for when it returns!

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.

 

Patty and Bun, Liverpool Street

I don’t want to alarm anyone – I think you had better take a seat… BUT I think I have found the best burger in London… and breathe. I thought about this bold statement long and hard but in the end decided, hang on, my tastebuds don’t mess around. I had the ‘Hot Chic’ Chicken burger. Wait, there’s more; it was marinated buttermilk fried chicken with spicy slaw, pickled cucumbers, lettuce and garlic aioli in a brioche bun. HELLO. Need I say anymore?! Well, I do have a bit more to say on the matter actually. It was fricking delicious. My tastebuds dream of the day  I devoured that burger… (the picture doesn’t do it justice)…
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I had a side portion of chips with rosemary salt, dipped in roast chicken mayo & chicken skin salt. If you’re mouth isn’t watering right now… well… I don’t know what to say about that but I’m not happy about it.
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Not only was the food amazing; I loved the atmosphere too. You order at the counter and take a seat. Whilst you can’t book a very nice waiter helped us find somewhere to sit after asking us if we were eating in or taking it away. There were lots of lone diners… you don’t need conversation in this place, it’s a date with a burger (please do not interrupt). A fellow burger fan asked me “How was the chicken burger?” – I loved this! Talking to strangers (in London – what?!) about burgers might be one of my favourite things to do.
Anyway, get yourself to Patty and Bun QUICK. In the meantime, if you know of any burgers you are willing to back like I am with P&B, please do let me know. I would love the opportunity to speak to more strangers about burgers.

Source, Battersea

After hearing about Source after moving to London it has been high on my list of places to try. So when my Aunt came to visit it seemed like the perfect time to visit! Source offers seasonal, locally sourced food so it has a small yet yummy menu which is constantly changing to reflect the best produce on offer. For starter I had grilled sardines with Isle of White tomato gazpacho, whipped feta, olives & oregano… I’ve never had a dish like this before; it was a light and refreshing and the gazpacho was wonderfully flavoured.
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My Aunt had the Charcuterie Board – Cobble Lane (a british charcuterie maker from Islington) Charcuterie (Fennel Salami, Bresaola, Saucisson) and house cured ham. Served with Balthazar bread, pickled crab apples, smoked tomatoes and pickled beetroot. The meat was flavourful and she really enjoyed the tomatoes and beetroot with them. One happy Aunt.
For main I had monkfish cheeks and cuttlefish thick stew with smoky peppers. It was absolutely delicious; so filling and warming on a cold evening and the fish was lovely and meaty. I need more bread to mop up the stew – I wasn’t leaving anything behind. My Aunt, being a ceoliac was only able to eat two items from the main options so she went for the hake; something she wouldn’t usually have but she was extremely pleased with her decision…
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Source is the place to go if you want real food. Not just real food but carefully thought through wholesome food packed full of seasonal, delicious food. With the ever changing menu I can’t wait to go back to see what is on offer.

The Rusty Bike, Exeter

Last week I went to visit my cousin in Exeter. The Rusty Bike is her favourite place to eat so I was really excited to see what all the hype was about. Conveniently a five minute walk from her house it is tucked away from the normal Exeter visitor. I love The Rusty Bike’s ethos; “our aim is to minimise the distance from producer to plate” by maintaining good relationships with local landowners and game keepers and even foraging for goods such as wild garlic.

 

The atmosphere here is great. A mixture of dedicated locals and students fill the pub with mix-matched furniture and board games to play whilst you’re waiting for your meal (not that you’ll be waiting long).

 

Starters:

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“Pan fried squid” with feta curd, pesto, tomato relish and chilled tomato consommè

This starter was truly delicious. It was the perfect portion size with for a starter and everything was balanced beautifully. It was a fresh and light dish which left me hungry for my main! My cousin had the gnocchi which was just as wonderfully presented. It came with a cloche on it, filled with smoke which looked great but left the meal tasting purely of smoke which was so disappointing considering how lovely it looked. We raised the problem with the waitress and we were delighted with their response; a complimentary meal another time. The Rusty Bike is not only passionate about great quality, local food but their customers and this really came across during the evening. Since our meal the gnocchi has been taken off the menu but I wanted to share the beautiful presentation with you:

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Mains:

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“Rusty bike fish and chips” – line caught pollock fillet, homemade tartare sauce, chunky chips, shoots, mushy spring peas and purée

Never have I seen such a beautifully presented plate of fish and chips. Come to that, never have a tasted such a delicious plate of fish and chips. It almost feels wrong calling it “fish and chips” because it felt like it was so much more than that. Everything on the plate was absolutely delicious, I loved the tartare sauce and capers, a classic combination but taken to a new level of excellence. I’m not usually a fan of mushy peas but I really enjoyed these! The chips aren’t pictured but let me reassure you… great chips!

My cousin had the burger which she was really happy with:

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I can completely understand why The Rusty Bike is a favourite for my cousin. Beautifully presented food that really does take your breath away and tastes equally as good, if not better. I could not recommend this place enough, it is reasonably priced, you will not be left disappointed as it is staffed by a great host of people dedicated to great quality food, beverages and service. Lastly, my cousin went back for the complimentary meal, here are a few pictures to get the tummy rumbles going…

 Starter: “Ham and peas”

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Main: “Ragout of locally shot rabbit” risotto

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Pudding: “Dark chocolate and passion fruit”

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The Lost and Found, Birmingham

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Finally. Finally, I made it to The Lost and Found. Before going I had only heard positive things about this quirky bar/restaurant and it did not disappoint. I went with my boyfriend for Valentines Day and although I expect they do this everyday of the year, the evening was full of cute, quirky little surprises, like the table reservation above. The interior is incredible, apparently an old bank! It’s got a shabby chic feel to it with cute ‘up-recycled’ bits and bobs decorating the incredible, high ceilinged room.

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I have been for both lunch and supper in the past couple of weeks. I think that shows I am already a dedicated fan. I’ll start with the supper as this was the first meal I had there.

Homemade Bread Sharer: with garlicy herb butter, fresh pesto and oil and balsamic vinegar (£6.50)

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I can safely say that this bread combo was the best bread I have ever eaten at a restaurant. You could tell it was freshly baked and it was lovely and warm. There were two types of bread, one which was almost like a croissant, it was incredible. Not only this but the accompaniments were also top notch. I would buy that pesto in Costco style vats if I could.

Grilled Half Lobster Thermidor & Fat Chips (£15)

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This was my first time trying lobster so I am no expert but this was delicious. I ate the lobster in approximately 3 minutes as it was so tasty. I could have done with ‘Grilled Five Lobster Thermidor’ but the bank balance would not allow that. Although it was small, the portion of fat chips, fluffy yet crispy on the outside filled me up nicely.

H.G.W’s Steak Burger With Cheddar & Bacon & Fat Chips (12.25)

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I had a bite of this wonderful burger as it was my boyfriends and that’s all he allowed me. The meat tasted of good quality and again, surrounded by some great bread.

Cocktails

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I had two cocktails. Between 5-8pm on weekdays, the ‘Found’ cocktails are £4 so I jumped on this offer. The first one I had quenched my thirst. It was a Raspberry Lemonade which was sugary and sharp, two things I love in a cocktail. Also, I really loved the glass it was served in! Overall, it was a top quality, elegant cocktail. Secondly, I had a Ms. H.G Watson (usually priced at £7.50!), another cocktail I really enjoyed. A Bombay Sapphire based cocktail with blackberry purée, apple juice, lavender syrup and homemade sugar syrup! The slight lavender flavour was so different, I’ve never had it before but again, another wonderful cocktail. I felt like I got them both for a bargain!

Next up, lunch…

The menu on the website http://www.the-lostandfound.co.uk is a little outdated unless you download it (download button on the bottom of the menu in the ‘Food’ section). Also, the Lunch Menu isn’t on the website, anywhere, and this is where most of the goodies are! So, drop them an email or a call and I’m sure they’ll share it with you. It was a toss up between the Pulled Pork Pita (which came for a mustard & honey mayo, chunky apple & onion marmalade and a spicy coleslaw) and the Watson Hot Dog (topped with cheddar cheese, tomato & onion caramelised marmalade in a hot dog bun) both served with fat chips of course. I went for…

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Yep. The hot dog (£7.95). Once the waiter put it down in front of me, I didn’t look back. There is nothing bad to say about this. Two sausages, in a bun, covered in delicious tasty sauciness, thank you very much. The sauces also come in tiny jam jars which I love. We also shared a side of poppy seed onion rings. I know, I know, all that for lunch? Well, the only answer yes. Yes, I ate it all. Again, absolutely nothing to complain about with these little goodies.

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There are so many things on the menu that I need to try. The Lost and Found is definitely a new favourite, somewhere I will be taking my friends and family when they visit. The waiter and waitress we had whilst there on both occasions were brilliant. Friendly, chatty and attentive. Water was provided within 10 minutes of arriving and they kept coming back to check on us so we felt well looked after.

Until next time The Lost and Found, I hope it’s not too long.