Tag Archives: review

Tonkichi – Tonkatsu Seafood

  
Our first eat in Hong Kong and what a feast it was. We met our friend and her fiancé for dinner on our first night and they had already decided that this was the place for us to try. Located in the World Trade Centre building it over looks the harbour. If you love fried food and love your katsu then you will love this place as they have ‘katsu-fied’ everything from pork to scallops. For a halal eater like myself I had to be uber carefully and asked them to separate the pork katsu from the rest of the meal. 

  
Tonkatsu Seafood is a lovely intermit dining experience. Diners can sit in the main hall or opt for a cosy booth. The soft lighting adds to the uber relaxed atmosphere which make you forget the hustle and bustle and soaring temperatures outside. 

  
The meals came with sticky Japanese rice and a range of condiments. What was fascinating about this meal was that once you have ordered you are given a bowl of roasted sesame seeds and a number of oils. You are required to crush the sesame seeds with a pestle and mortar and then add the oil which you like the taste of the most to create a paste which you will use as a dip for the rest of the meal for the rice and the katsu. 

   
You are then served a platter of fried goodies which you can dip in the paste you have made or the other condiments on offer. 

  
A meal for four came up to 650 Hong Kong dollars costing you £52 which is incredibly cheap given the location and the fact we were eating fresh oysters and scallops. Great experience for our first meal. 

  

Tonkichi Tonkatsu Seafood 

Shop 412, Podium 4, World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay

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Hotbox Brunch

Elena and I came here a few months back and fell in love with the menu, staff and decor of this place.

Today we have returned to sample their brunch menu which is only offered at the weekend and is said to be rather heavenly so we thought we would put our forks to the test.

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Upon entering the place for brunch the place has a more homely feel to it. The benches are set with tea cups and China sugar bowls which makes it feel like a totally different place to the evenings.

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Being a Sunday morning I had to have a coffee of some sort to begin with before I could even look at the menu. I was intrigued to find out that Hotbox use Robusta beans and upon tasting it you can feel that these beans have a smoother, longer and richer flavour and I’m glad I found a place that does this blend rather than arabica which my taste buds have gotten so used to. The taste is not as full bodied as arabica but is sweeter on my taste buds. Not sure what my partner in crime would think of this as she is a strong tasting coffee kinda gal! The beans are purchased from a company called Black Sheep Coffee if coffee lovers are interested in getting their hands on some.

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After speaking to the incredible waiter (curly haired, young with a mustache) I was encouraged to try the Chicken thighs and Waffles as apparently only that morning had the head chef perfected the waffle recipe to complement the chicken to perfection and well I had to be part of this famous moment. I must admit that I was scared of trying this dish as in my head the combination just doesn’t work. However, when the dish was served I was so glad that I had picked this beauty. Crispy fried chicken with the most buttery and fluffy waffle. You didn’t really get much sweetness from the waffle so it was almost like a bun for the juicy and spicy chicken thighs, in my mouth it felt like I was eating a chicken burger. I was not at all tempted to smothering my chicken with maple syrup as my brain couldn’t handle the idea but I tried it with just the waffle and it was heavenly. Dipping out of sweet and savoury just felt like a dream and a sin.

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To accompany my dish I ordered that heavenly mac and cheese that we had gushed about last time. Last time we really emphasised the smokey flavour but during the brunch menu the recipe is changed so rather than smokey it had a spicy after taste. I think I prefer the one from the dinner menu even though this one is pretty good too.

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One of our friends decided they would try the liquid lunch deal which is an all you can drink for £25. You have a choice of Bloody Mary’s and Prosecco. Sounds like an amazing offer but our wonderful waiter helped us work out that it was only really worth it if you were to drink four drinks or more. Unfortunately, I was feeling rather delicate this Sunday brunch so decided I would steer clear but I will be back to try this ‘challenge’ soon.

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Huevous Ranchoros and Eggs Benedict were the other dishes our friends decided to try on this occasion. The Eggs Benedict is served with pork belly so there is a tad twist to it like most of the Hotbox dishes. I couldn’t help but try the black means from Huevous Ranchoros and OMG, so much flavour for a veggie dish. The guacamole was fresh and chunky and so tasty that they even sell it as a side.

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Interesting Info: when I had first looked at the menu I had thought about getting the burger or the beef tacos but once I had spoken to the waiter it was like someone had shot me in the foot and told me Santa wasn’t real. He advised me that if I chose the meat dishes at the weekend I wouldn’t be getting the best of the flavours from them as the meat would be the end of the stock of meat that Hotbox had!!!! Basically according to the waiter the deliveries for meat come at the beginning of the week so all meat dishes are at its best during the week and especially at the beginning. Now, when we came here for the first time it was a Saturday as you remember and we were blown away at how amazing the meat was and that’s at its ‘not so fresh’ moment, so all I could think about was how much more amazing can it get at the beginning of the week. Well there is only one way to find out so I will have to tell you once I have done a Mon/Tue test soon. How I love my life. I better check Elena’s schedule 🙂

So there you have it folk. Hotbox is the place to go for the brunch at the weekends. Try the other dishes on the menu and let us know which menu you prefer, lunch or dinner?

Hotbox
46-48 Commersial Street, London E1 6LT
hotboxlondon.com

Pub Grub: The Crown

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Ignore what it looks like outside – The Crown is not an old man’s pub. It might have the traditional decor, but if you look closer it is actually a pretty great place to have dinner and drinks. Back room is decorated with art by up and coming illustrators, i think it’s a great way for them to gain exposure and perhaps sell some prints. I also saw a few shaggy friends in there which is a big plus in my book.

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The crown happens to be a local to one of my best friends, so I’ve met him here on a Tuesday night after work. What makes The Crown stand out from the rest of pubs in Islington is it’s extensive wine list, so when me and my friend came here for dinner we started that way around: wine first and food pairing after.

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We kicked dinner off with a bottle of Rioja and melt-in-your mouth calamari. Both worried that calamari might have been ‘rubbery’, we were pleasantly surprised as it was just perfect. For mains we got grilled sole with baby potatoes. I have never been one to shy away from fish because of the bones, but sole was extremely bony. I was not able to enjoy my meal as much as i was constantly stopping to pluck them out.

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Again the wine was the star of the course – glass of Merlot and a glass of Bordeaux, both full bodied and rich. And don’t let me forget the grand finale with Tawny port and an English cheese board.

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Dinner over, we stepped outside the pub and were reminded just how dead quiet Barnsbury can get! Great evening overall, we will be back to The Crown soon.

P.S. Did you notice that we have recently introduced a new feature called ‘Pub Grub’?
You can use our ‘cuisine’ search menu to locate all pub reviews with just one click!

The Crown
116 Cloudesley Road, Islington, London N1 0EB
http://crownislington.co.uk/

The Greedy Elephant

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I love evenings in Surrey, driving around the country lanes and looking at the amazing home I can’t quiet afford. There is another positive for Surrey, it’s full of little gems to dine in such as The Greedy Elephant. Rumored to have the best Thai food in Surrey, well I had to put my fork to the test to see just how true this was. So off I went to Weybridge to find The Greedy Elephant.

Entering The Greedy Elephant you know immediately that you are in a Thai restaurant with all the gold statues and carvings. I fell in love with the crystal chandeliers they had all over the place, ideas for my own home decor started to spark. However, my excitement and wonder ended when I came face to face with the most sarcastic and rude hostess you could possibly find. Reminding myself to breath I continued to sit down and told myself how worse could she possibly get (the answer was very, however I will not focus on the incidents that took place and focus on the food)

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The menu is huge!!!! So it does take a while to go through it all. The complimentary prawn crackers helped to sooth the process.  We were so confused about which of the 50 starters to pick that we decided to go for the selection platter with: fishcakes, spring rolls, prawn toast, chicken satay and prawn parcel thing which wasn’t on the menu but tasted amazing. For the price of £16.95 I had to question whether it was really value for money at all, it was definitely a nice dish but not worth the hefty price tag which is ridiculous when you compare the price to the rest of the dishes on the menu. On the plus side chicken satay has to be the best I have ever tasted, tender and it actually tastes of something, spicy with a tender texture. The fish cakes where juicy and chewy and packed full of flavour, you could see and taste the fresh herbs in each cake. With regards to presentation I always think that the Thai have the most incredible presentation with knife craft and use of fresh flowers in the aesthetics of the piece but here the presence of that Thai attention to detail was lacking. Again this make you question the price tag of this dish.

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The mains are more reasonably priced and the quantities are far more generous than your average Thai restaurant. Each curry could be shared by two. This definitely made up for the excessive spend on the starters. We ordered the jungle curry with chicken and the roast duck curry. OMG, usually the duck curry is never something that I would have considered but boy was this a good choice. It was creamy with all that coconut milk and the duck pieces had crispy skin and tender meat which just melted in the mouth. The vegetables were soft and I am a fan of the baby Thai aubergines. The menu stated it had pineapple in the dish wish I wasn’t keen on that idea but I think it was blended into the sauce as there were no chunks.

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The jungle curry was nice but nothing to rave about. A very watery consistency and the chicken itself was rather pale and unloved with flavours, so if you had a mouthful of chicken without the gravy it was rather bland. The beans and baby corn were lovely and crisp and added wonderful colours to the dish.

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To go with our mains we ordered some good old egg fried rice which was fluffy and tasty and went really well with the mains.

I’m not sure how I feel about The Greedy Elephant as the food is fabulous however the rudeness of the hostess was disgusting. I must mention the incident that took place as we paid and left. We asked the hostess if my friend and I could split the bill to which she smiled and said ‘If you want to split it, you work it out’, nicely we did and got up to leave and she just stared us out the door without a farewell sentiment. If you don’t mind feeling like you should be grateful for dining in the presence of the hostess for some good food then this is a great place. However, if you prefer service with a genuine smile (not the kind from the lady in Fatal Attraction) and a friendly atmosphere then this is not the place for you.

Such a shame, The Greedy Elephant could be amazing if they just sort the service out.

The Greedy Elephant
57 Queen’s Rd, Weybridge, Surrey
thegreedyelephant.co.uk

Wagamama

Found on every high street and for good reasons too. I must admit on my first visit to Wagamama I hated it, I was with another person and I just couldn’t get comfortable on their school bench style seating and having to get up close and personal to strangers. It really wasn’t an intimate setting at all so I boycotted it through my teenage years but then fell in love with it after giving it a second chance.

One thing I like about Wagamama is the ever changing menu and the different offerings at different locations. Some places you find sushi other places you find pho. Pan Asian would be the best way to describe this cuisine.

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Some must have starters are their steamed soya beans also known as edamame beans with chilli or garlic salt. Great to nibble on and so fresh. Two more must have starter are the chilli squid, crispy and chewy and packed full of flavour and they serve it with a tangy coriander and garlic dip which enhances the flavours. The last is the gyoza and I mean any of these steamed or fried. On this visit we tried the duck gyoza fried served with a hoi sin sauce. The duck is so juicy and tender which is a skill to achieve with duck as most cooks and foodies will know.

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Number 71 has always been my favourite dish. The Chicken Katsu Curry, as always I asked for extra curry sauce as I like my food to be hot and wet. I have the oddest way to describe this dish yet if you like the two food I am about to say then you will get what I mean. If you are a fan of fried chicken and curry then the Katsu Curry is basically the happy medium between the two. Chicken breast coated in breadcrumbs, topped with rice and smothered in curry sauce, served with a side salads and pickles. I love this dish and just can’t get enough of it. If you are a veggie lover there is a veggie option which is just as good and instead of chicken you get sweet potatoes and aubergines which are under yummy.

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Dishes are served quick so unless you ask for your starters and main course to be served at different times they will arrive as and when each dish is ready if you don’t. So do make this clear when you are placing your order how you will like your dishes served.

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Service is generally pretty slow so don’t be surprised if you have to flag a waiter down to take an order or to get your bill. However, Wagamama are fully aware of this flaw and have recently created an app so that customers can pay for their meal and leave when they are ready.

It’s a cheap yet satisfying dine with huge portion sizes so there is no way you will ever walk away from here hungry. Just be prepared to be a tad annoyed about service should you not have the app.


forkandtalkSomething I have had to ponder was how healthy Wagamama actually is. I’m currently on a mission to lose some weight so am always interested in how many calories are in each dish so I can pop it into my fitness app to keep track of how many calories I am consuming and burning. So for a restaurant that prides themselves on healthy and positive eating hub I didn’t even think this could be an issue for me. After a few clicks on their website in which they proudly display nutritional information I was horrified to find that the Chicken Katsu Curry was a horrific 1147kcal and Elena had beef noodles which came in at 993kcal!!! This made me exceed my daily target of 1400kcal! The chilli squid is 492kcal!!! The duck gyoza is 292kcal!!!

Now we understand that in theory each ingredient is healthy and nutritious however, can Wagamama really justify stating they are a positive eatery when one meal is more than half the daily calorie allowance for a female of 2000kcal? Is McDonalds healthier than Wagamama with fewer calories?

It would be interesting to know your thoughts on this.

Wagamama
46-48 Wimbledon Hill Road, London SW19 7PA
www.wagamama.com

Al Arez

When we go to Edgware Rd in the late evenings it’s like we have entered a place where time doesn’t exist. The streets are always busy, families are out with their children, the restaurants are packed and open at all hours and there is a friendly hug and ‘salam’ between passers by on rotation. It is such a happy street of Arab cultures and best of all Middle Eastern food.

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We have been going to Al Arez since we were teenagers. The charm of shisha being smoked outside and well cheap food is always an attraction to an adolescent. However, the food is what keeps us coming back as our lungs can’t handle the shisha pipes anymore.

The menu is Lebanese and the service is Middle Eastern in style, very friendly and charming. Depending on the day and what they have to offer you are served complimentary dishes upon arrival. One staple complimentary item are the Middle Eastern pickled peppers and olives which are a treat.

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This is the restaurant in which we fell in love with the fattoush salad and since no one has been able to match up to it. So naturally it is the first thing we order. The crunch, the hit of sour and tangy flavours, the juiciness of the salad vegetables, so mouth watering. I always as for extra croutons for that extra crunch.

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When we go to any lebanese or Middle Eastern restaurant we always opt for a tapas style of dining so lots of little dishes and maybe one meaty main to share. It’s the best way to make the most of all the dishes that they have to offer. Don’t know be scared to get stuck in with your hands and make a mess, it’s the thing to do at Al Arez.

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Staples to recommend are the hummus shawarma which is freshly ground hummus with grilling lamb on top, great to scoop up with the fresh Lebanese bread they have on tap. We would also recommend the Arayes Al Arez which is grilled lebanese bread stuffed with spicy minced meat, the bread is uber fresh and my meat just melts in the mouth. I suggest you smother it in the delicious garlic sauce they make in house. The kibbeh is also a lovely dish which has a cracked wheat shell and a juicy meaty centre. Perfect combination of protein and carbs.

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Al Arez are also known for their fresh juices. Zero additives, just pure fruit juice and some ice of course. I love the fresh strawberry juicy but the Lebanese are known for their lime and mint juice which is really refreshing and zesty but far too strong for my delicate tongue.

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Like all Middle Eastern hospitality all bills are handed over with a plate of complimentary baklava. Fresh and crisp. Perfect way to end your fabulous meal at Al Arez.

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Al Arez are so popular they have about five different locations on the same street but we always prefer the original which is closer towards the Marble Arch end.

So when you are lost and hungry in the middle of the night, day, morning, head on down to friendly Edgware Rd and give trust worthy Al Arez a go.

Al Arez
101 Edgware Road, London W2 2HX
alarez.co.uk

Pub Grub: The Thatch

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There was a little white house, with crocked beams and a crocked thatched roof. In that little white house was a quaint pub and an amazing restaurant called The Thatch. Story time over now let’s talk about this fantastic Oxfordshire find.

According to the polls, The Thatch is on the top ten list of gastro pubs to visit in Oxfordshire. So, when Elena and I had our weekend excursion to Blenheim Palace we had to make a dinner stop since we where in the area to check if the poll were correct and if it was worthy of all these awards.

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When you look at the exterior there is one word which springs to mind and that is ‘cute’. When you open the door and walk in and realise that you can touch the ceiling (Elena and I are between 5ft 2-4 inches) another familiar word springs to mind ‘awwwww’. The pub/restaurant has lots of little cosy areas to drink and dine. It even has its own pretty beer garden. The bar itself is small but well stocked. We were very surprised to see a wide selection of non alcoholic cocktails which is unusual for a country pub but being a designated driver it is most welcomed.

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The menu is what you would expect from a good country pub with roasts, fish of the days and a wide selection of veggie options. The waiters are lovely and have the most odd yet helpful manner of presenting the specials. They bring a large blackboard with all the specials written on it and prop it up on a chair next to your table. Once they have been through it with you they leave it for you to go over. A simple yet nice touch. We observed others to make sure it wasn’t just us and well everyone got the same treatment. The waiter also told us that if we were to select the roast specials there would be an endless supply of veggies and gravy as they really want the customers to feel like it’s home style cooking and you can eat as much as you like. It did make us question why all gastro pubs didn’t have this philosophy as that’s what going to the pub should be like, a cosy, homely feel.

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To start with we ordered Tender Beef Croquettes in Spinach to share. Each croquette was backed with herb infused potatoes and the most tender pieces of beef which we used to mop up the beef jus at the bottom of the dish.

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For mains we ordered from the main menu free range chicken breast with spring cabbage, chorizo and sweet potato croquettes. From the specials we ordered the pan fried salmon with mashed potato and broccoli.

The chicken breast was tender and just flaked apart, good sign of quality meat and expert cooking. The croquette were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the sweetness of the potatoes really came through which is always a worry when you fry sweet potatoes.

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The pan fried salmon was the favoured dish. The meat had a blackened seal around the pink centre which gave a crackling noise when you broke into it. You cook taste the fish was fresh as the meat just melted in your mouth. The mash was nice and smooth and I couldn’t help but wipe the butter sauce at the bottom of the plate clean with the mash. The broccoli had a nice bite to them and were a vibrant green which lifted the whole look of the dish. Delicious.

The Thatch use seasonal vegetables meaning that they will always be packed with flavour and there is minimal carbon foot print. Go green food! Whoop whoop!

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The quantity of food was perfect meaning that we could also have some dessert. We ordered the creme brûlée and the chocolate tart. I always get annoyed how little creme brûlée you get when you order it or buy it but this time there was no complaint as The Thatch gives you a nice healthy portion to which I couldn’t finish. It had a thick glaze on top which gave me great joy in cracking. The chocolate tart was again a nice healthy portion and to our delight deeply filling, intense, dense yet decedent.

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The Thatch really encapsulates why we love old English pubs so much. The friendly atmosphere, the history within the decor, the amazing attention to detail when it comes to food and the satisfied smiles we leave with having a good meal and all round time at the pub.

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Definitely worth a visit it you are in Oxfordshire.

The Thatch
29-30 High Street, Thame OX9 2AA
http://www.thethatchthame.co.uk/

 

Fish Cafe

Isn’t Hampstead beautiful in the sunshine? We found ourselves wondering in the heath for hours, trying to soak in this lovely spring sun. Our walk certainly made us very hungry, wasting no time we popped into the first cafe we came across that was open for an early lunch.

Fish Cafe does what it says on the door. Their menu was a plethora of aquatic animals, all options available grilled or steamed. We kicked meal off with classic prawns in garlic butter. Couldn’t fault them, they were big and juicy. I loved fresh zingy salad that came with it.

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For me fish is something that is very hard to get wrong. The beauty of a well grilled piece is that it stays succulent and the accompanying dishes let the natural flavors of the fish shine. I like sea bream for it’s meatiness and the fact that there are not too many small bones, most coming apart from the meat when you pull the spine. My sea bream was juicy with nice crispy skin, steamed veg was presented in a fun manner, whole dish was simple but kind of perfect.

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Fish pie was another story. It’s a risky item to order unless you are by the seaside where pies come straight out of the oven. But our hungry tums always fall weak at the sight of a pie on the menu. This was a huge portion. Pastry was thick and the fish stuffing was a little bland, had to be fixed with a little salt and pepper.

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We were the only customers at the restaurant, at the end of our meal the manager of the restaurant came over for a chat. And what a chat it was! In less than twenty minutes we have felt we knew absolutely everything there is to know about Christian. Such a good laugh. He made us feel extremely welcome and for that reason we are very likely to come back.

Fish Cafe is a no fuss restaurant with uber fast service, I would definitely recommend popping in for some great grilled fish.

Fish Café
71 Hampstead High Street. Hampstead. London NW3 1QP.
http://www.villabiancagroup.co.uk/our-restaurants/fish-cafe/

Aqua Shard

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Now Aqua is definitely a place that comes with a guaranteed WOW factor. Located on the 31st level of The Shard (Europe’s tallest building) it gives you breathtaking views of London, 360 degrees. Whether you come here for a business lunch or a date, it’s the sort of contemporary restaurant that would work perfectly well for both scenarios. Personally I look forward to coming back here for drinks on the Friday night as Aqua’s bar with three storey ceiling gave great promise.
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To our delight we were seated at a cosy table right next to the window with views out on St Paul’s cathedral. Apparently Aqua do not take window seat requests so we felt really special indeed. Having come here for a work lunch we only had one hour to absorb the magnificent views and sample restaurants menu. We went with Market Lunch that offers two courses for £31.
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For starter we enjoyed veal carpaccio that came with tuna mousse, clementine and caper dressing. First impressions – it was an absolute delight to look at! I really enjoy contemporary cuisine with what it seems an abstract presentation but arranged with precision of a surgeon. Veal was very delicate and clementine added a lovely boost of sweetness. However we could not figure out what these tiny little black jelly cubes were, they stained our lips faster than fabulous glass of Bordeaux!
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Of course no table setting is complete without gorgeous bread and butter. And not just any bread – a sourdough – filled with massive air holes, it was crunchy on the outside and sticky on the inside.
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For main I had grilled Loch Duart salmon with Brussel sprouts and sea purslane salad. I was warned that Aqua’s salmon is served slightly pink on the inside, which was totally fine with me. Stunning piece of fish, it fell apart at the slightest touch. My only slight disappointment were Brussel sprouts. As it was the ingredient that attracted me to that dish in the first place, it was sad to see only single sprout cut in quarters on the plate.
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Second main was confit Tindenham duck leg, true to all confit it was cooked through and though, and was falling off the bone. We also added kale side to our order as we realised that mains didn’t come with as much veg as we hoped.
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Meal was served and finished in exactly one hour. Little did we know that getting and paying for our bill would be another half hour. Gave me perfect opportunity to pop over to those famous loos. That busy lunch time, manager was flying from one table to another with the card machine. All can be forgiven for this great dining experience!
Aqua Shard
Level 31 The Shard
31 St. Thomas Street
London, UK SE1 9RY

 

Coffee Break: Saint Espresso 

‘The interior is so Copenhagen’ said Elena as we settled down for an after lunch coffee session. Still not sure what that actually means and I have googled interiors of Copenhagen since and I guess it is a bit industrial?!(?!!)??!!’

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We love coffee and have love affair with coffee time which ever city we are in. Whether it’s a coffee and a nata in Lisbon, a espresso and conolli in Rome or a Turkish coffee with a piece of baklava in Istanbul, it is a ritual we fulfill every day.

On our trip to Rome we learned a lot about coffee etiquette which changed our lives. For an Italian an espresso is a ‘stand up and go’ kind of thing, people will walk into espresso bars like Tazza D’oro knock back a shot and head straight to work. So no chit chat and no ‘something sweet’ on the side. We also learned that a cappuccino and a latte had a time and a place and it was only to be consumed in the mornings. Italians cringe at the idea of drinking hot milk after a meal so never order a cappuccino after a meal in order to avoid the ‘stupid tourist’ look.

Coffee break at Manteigaria União in Lisbon
Coffee break at Manteigaria União in Lisbon

Lisbon taught us that a coffee is nothing without a freshly baked nata (Pastel de nata – Portuguese egg tart pastry). With the same notion that you walk into a coffee bar and out within 5 mins having consumed a delicious coffee and a nata. It’s just part of the process of your day to day life.

So when we go to a coffee house in London we truly appreciate the event that takes place, the care and attention the barista gives you from the selection of coffee to finding out about your day to the range of people you are seated next to, each person there with their own story: writing a book, planning a wedding, catching with friends, etc. Saint Espresso is all of these things and more, with a slogan of ‘Coffee to worship’ you know you are in for a treat.

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I urge you to really watch the Saint Espresso barista making the coffee, so much love, care and attention goes into each individual drink. The focus on the baristas face as he weighs the coffee granules, puts them in the machine and eagerly waits for the espresso to trickle out, heats and froths the milk and combines the two liquids together to create our cup of cappuccino (yeh, so we basically ignored everything we had learned in Rome and got a cappuccino after lunch).

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We ordered something sweet and we’re happy to see the selection of gluten free options as Elena is trying this gluten free diet yet she have had consumed gluten heavy food for the past three days but hay-ho I’m just that supportive cheerleader.

We nestled down in a spot and just talked about coffee and reflected on all of the above as we sipped on our rich and strong Saint Espresso cappuccino. I was excited to know that Saint Espresso change their beans frequently and only buy them in small batches to ensure they have the best quality and taste always which shows how much they care about coffee and our experience of it. After further investigation it seems the same applies to the teas so it does feel pretty special knowing that each coffee and tea experience is pretty unique and that actually we could be one of 1000 sampling a particular batch in the world. I love feeling special.

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The baristas walk around and engage in conversation with customers where it is welcomed. The barista that spoke to us seemed genuinely concerned about how little we had eaten of our cakes and wanted to know why, we had to confess we were fat bastards and had just eaten a huge lunch yet we couldn’t pass up the opportunity of sampling their delights this Sunday afternoon.

Saint Espresso is small in size but it’s bursting with a love of coffee which we as Londoners will always appreciate.

Saint Espresso
4, Angel House, 20-32 Pentonville Road, London N1 9HJ
http://www.saintespresso.com

Las Iguanas

Cocktail anyone? I love Las Iguanas for a number of reasons, the main reason is for their amazing 2 for 1 deal on cocktails. They have an incredible selection of delicious cocktails to suit everyone’s palette. On this particular visit I had a Long Island Ice Tea, Cosmo and a Raspberry Collins. Ha and it was only a Wednesday.

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They have an extensive Mexican inspired menu to suit everyone and well with my picky work colleagues it was a perfect way to keep everyone happy. Lots of dishes have been had but I will only talk about a few.

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Some of the starters that I have on every visit are the: nachos, deep fried calamari and the fish taco. I’ll be honest the nachos are your bog standard nachos but you can not have Mexican food without a bit of nachos and salsa. The calamari is crunchy and spicy on the outside and super soft on the inside. The calamari is served with a garlic aioli which even after I had finished the squid I kept dipping my fork into it and having a lick.

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The fish tacos are lovely. They are served with soft shell tacos and it is topped with the most incredible pickled onions. The cod is battered and sits in a bed of salad. I love how easy it is to pick up and roll the tacos. Out of all the starters the fish taco is by far my favourite with its range of tastes and textures.

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For the mains I can recommend the spicy chicken fajitas and the spicy chicken enchiladas. The portions at Las Iguanas are huge so you will never leave hungry. The fajitas are a whole lot of fun with the different dips and hands on eating as you have to wrap your own fajitas. A lot of finger licking.

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The spicy chicken enchiladas are my favourite. The wrap sits in a pool of re-fried beans. Now Las Iguanas have the best re-fried beans that I have had outside of Mexico so I truly appreciate the amount you get. The wrap is filled with garlic rice and chicken and it’s packed with flavour. Now, top tip from me, ask for some sour cream to dip your wrap in, it’s amazing and the creaminess really works with the spicy flavours.

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Las Iguanas is great place to dine especially with large crowds. The cocktails are delicious and the customer service is impeccable. The friendly staff make you stay that much longer with their friendly banter. We will definitely be returning for some fish tacos soon.

Las Iguanas
Peninsula Square, Millenium Way
London
SE10 0DS
http://www.iguanas.co.uk

Sheesh Mangal

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We love Turkish food and had always thought that it was rather difficult to find quality Turkish food outside of Green Lane until we found Sheesh Mangal in Worcester Park. Sheesh Mangal is an authentic Turkish eatery with all the trimmings of a coal fire, Turkish crockery displayed on the walls and beautiful ornaments in every corner.

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Upon arrival we were greeted with complimentary olives which were juicy and had a love spicy coating. Something to nibble on as we shifted through the extensive menu. The mains are wonderfully arranged to make it easier to select dishes, all the dishes with yogurt in place, all the special curries in another, then the grilled dishes and so forth. This made it very easy for me to narrow down what I love and that’s dishes with yogurt if you didn’t know already. I selected the lamb beyti and my friend who loves meat selected the mixed kebab, to start with we ordered the hummus sautee. The menu has all the classic Turkish dishes from iskanders to pides so you will not be disappointed.

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The hummus sautee is a warm mezze served with bread. The hummus is topped with a grilled cubes of meat which brings a new excitement to hummus very similar to the one served in Mandaloun but the hummus at Sheesh Mangal is freshly made.  The dish is served with fresh lava bread and its one of those hands on eating situations where you rip the bread and scoop so don’t be shy. It’s odd to think how much difference the juicy meat to the hummus makes. The portion size is enough for two and sharing is caring. However, if you are hungry I would reckon in a few different mezzes.

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My beyti lamb is served similar to a yogurt Adana in other Turkish restaurants. Each piece of meat is wrapped in a tortilla wrap and topped with yogurt. The dish is also served with the gorgeous Turkish vermicelli rice and that amazing rocket and pickled red cabbage salad with the sumac and lemon dressing. The dish is delicious. The meat is spicy and has a tad coating of tomato which seeps through the wrap just the way I like it. There is a generous helping of yogurt which just works so well with the meat.

My friend’s dish may have only cost £15 but boy was it value for money. I half wondered how he would eat it all but he found a way and well I did help out a bit. On his platter he got a lamb and chicken shish, lamb doner, Kofta and beyti, all serve with salad and rice. The meat was cooked to perfection.

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The meat at Sheesh Mangal is top quality and the dishes are very low in cost for what you are getting. Portion sizes are generous and welcomed 🙂
The staff are friendly and walk around engaging in conversation. Customers seem to be regulars and everyone knows each other which is a good sign as they seem to love and trust the place. All of it gives it such a good vibe so you can’t help but sit and enjoy your time here. The staff are very tentative so you will never sit with an empty glass or plate for long.

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Parking is amazing when you come to Sheesh Mangal and free. Outside there are a number of parking bays for customers and all the side streets are free to park on too. A Londoners dream! I can not believe this place has always been 10 mins away from my home and yet I have not tried it. I will definitely be back here soon to eat my way through the rest of the menu.

Sheesh Mangal
82 Central Road, Worcester Park KT4 8HX
sheeshmangal.com

Comptoir Libanais

Lebanese food galore. Elena and I are shopaholics as you know and Comptoir Libanais has become our stop shop for a quick bite to fuel up before we head back to the shops.

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We have a love affair with fattoush salad as you know but Comptoir Libanais have taken our simple fattoush salad and added falafels to it and well we couldn’t be happier. The warm falafels make the salad even more filling so it can be had as a main easily. The reason we love this is for four simple reasons:

1. The pickles which are apparently from the Dead Sea. Super crunchy and salty
2. The bits of fried bread which add a lovely crunch while you eat
3. The sumac dressing – makes me salivate with its mixture of sour and spice
4. Huge falafels that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside

It is a must try salad and especially refreshing during the summer.

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If you are feeling uber hungry like we were on this occasion try their mezze platters and the kibbeh if you fancy some meat. The mezze platter comes with a range of cold dips like hummus and babaganosh. Each with a different combination of flavours and textures. The portion size could easily serve 3-4 even though the recommendation states 2. However, we would never complain.

The kibbeh has a cracked wheat exterior and is filled with spicy minced meat. You must have it with the garlic sauce which you need to ask for. This dish is served warm and is very tasty. It looks rather odd so you will have to take our word for it.

Comptoir Libanais have a range of tagines and wraps which we have eaten our way through over the years and can highly recommend everything they offer. The desserts are amazing. Whether you like baklava or almond cake, they have a wide selection of sweets to curb that sweet tooth at the end of the meal.

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We had only really encountered this restaurant at food courts but I was happily surprised to see an actual restaurant with a grocery store attached to it in Kingston by the river. Can’t wait to sit by the river and munch on our beloved fattosh salad during the summer. Oh yeh, and stock up on pickles from your shop!!!!
We love you Comptoir Libanais.

Comptoir Libanais
Westfield Stratford City, London, E20 1EJ
http://www.comptoirlibanais.com

Pub Grub: The White Bear

It was a late a Monday night and I had a crazy craving for pub grub. My boyfriend asked me to jump into his car and we started driving away from Bromley. 20 minutes later out of the pitch black darkness of the night, emerged a very magical 16th century pub. Nearby trees were decorated with strings on lights, and on this nippy night the windows glistened with a cosy warm light. 

The White bear pub has lots of different size rooms where you can have dinner or a drink. Some had fireplaces and long dinner tables fit for a party of 15, some were quirky small rooms where you could have a private chat. It was a Monday night, pub was quiet so we got lucky with a cosy candle lit booth.
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As I have been thinking of pub food all day I didn’t waste any time and ordered a home made shepherds pie. It arrived piping hot with slightly browned top. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t have heaps and heaps of potato mash on top, but good amount of meat and veg filling. Pub grub at it’s best! I was taking my time with the dish, savoring every bite.
My boyfriend went with classic fish and chips accompanied with a well deserved beer for bringing me to The White Bear. His portion was massive, which is all it takes to make the boy happy.
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I fell in love with The White Bear. I don’t know if it was the fact that food was so comforting on such frosty night or the fact that we had fantastic service and we found the atmosphere extremely relaxing. The White Bear is truly the infamous English pub with traditional decor and beautiful location. I need to come back here in the summer to enjoy the romantic outside seating area.
Until then I will be dreaming of that shepherds pie!
The White Bear
Fairchildes Road, Warlingham, Surrey CR6 9PH

Nobu

Everyone who’s into Japanese cuisine heard of Nobu. It has been leading a long list of London’s prestigious eateries for many years. A week ago when my father was in town, we finally decided to book a table and see what’s the fuss is all about.

We booked a late Sunday lunch time slot at Nobu at Metropolitan hotel. We wondered how we got so lucky as the restaurant was packed! Service was friendly and to the point. Instead of choosing a selection of dishes, which would have taken a while considering menu was quite long, we were recommended ‘chefs choice’ lunch feast. For £70 per head Omakase is a multi-dish course which lets you experience Chef Matsuhisa’s cooking in full glory. So we have put our trust in his hands and tucked in.

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Both of us LOVE sushi and we can definitely appreciate a bit of yellow tail, so the starter was a hit. Raw fish was supreme quality – delicious! Plus who can resist a bit of caviar!

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Both me and dad ordered a taster tray of sake to go with our lunch. A great way to sample all different types of sake without the commitment. My favourite one was naturally with gold leaf on the bottom. Real smooth!

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Our second course was black cod with miso. Wrapped in a banana leaf it was steamed to perfection. Lemon slice was on the side in case you found miso marinade too sweet, which I did, but lemon juice added a little edge. It was a great portion size as dishes kept coming!

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Next up was stunning Wagyu beef with Japanese mushrooms on the side. This is my first time trying Wagyu and it was very good, but portion was small so I didn’t quite taste all of that stunning marbling of fat that Wagyu is famous for. I did however love the Japanese mushrooms for their slightly pickled taste and crunch.

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Lunch was rounded off by chocolate fondant and green tea ice cream. As much of a chocolate lover as I am, I felt as though dessert have let the meal down. The fondant is a weird dessert to have after spectacular sushi, there was nothing special about it. Green tea ice cream however was perfectly refreshing.

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Now you don’t go to Nobu for the location or the decor, both of these didn’t exactly swipe me off my feet. The food however deserves all the praise! I now get what all the Nobu fuss is about.

Nobu
Metropolitan Hotel London, 19 Old Park Lane, London W1K 1LB
http://www.noburestaurants.com