Monday, 27 June 2011

Da Polpo

T'was my birthday the weekend just gone and the girls and I head to Da Polpo for Saturday lunch.

Much of the decor is similar to that at Polpo/Spuntino/Polpetto, other venues under the same ownership. It's relaxed and cool and most importantly the food is just as good.

I started with a spicy bloody mary and some arancini. The risotto balls were great, oozing mozzarella in the centre, creamy rice and a satisfyingly crunchy shell.

More mozzarella to follow with broad beans and citrus dressed leaves. I wasn't best pleased with the quality of the mozzarella if I'm honest, I found it rubbery in texture and lacking in flavour. This was the low point of the meal for me.

Happily other dishes arrived and were great. The pizzettas, asparagus, taleggio and speck and the zuccini and chilli went down very well. A bowl of chilli and garlic prawns with lemon were also liked, some peeled, some with shells, though my friend had to ask for a finger bowl.

Dish of the day though, must go to the piadina meatball smash. Mine with amazing spicy pork and fennel meatballs, this dish is incredibly gratifying, melting cheese, smashed chunks of meat inside a toasted flatbread served with a side salad, this really is a virtually faultless dish. Loved it.

Fit to burst I couldn't handle a dessert proper so went in for a sgroppino, a peach/prosecco/sorbet concoction which was refreshing, light and the perfect end to another fantastic meal at one of Russell Norman's joints. My gal pals sampled a selection of ices, all brilliant, vanilla ice cream, cherry fro yo and lemon sorbet.

You can book for weekend lunch but, on this occasion, it wasn't necessary. A downstairs dining area and the non-Soho location testament to diners here on Maiden Lane not being affected by increasingly familiar restaurant queues. Or perhaps it's still early days and word still has to get out. At remarkably decent prices, we paid about £30pp, it won't be long until the crowds are flocking.

Da Polpo
6 Maiden Lane
Covent Garden


da Polpo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Cay Tre, Soho

London's 'phô mile' has sprawled west and now diners in Soho can sample what is considered to be the finest Vietnamese food London has to offer. A branch of Cay Tre has opened on Dean Street.

I went one lunchtime a week or so after the launch and found the restaurant fairly quiet and the food excellent.

Their prawn summer rolls, Goûi cuoán, are the best I've sampled, served with toasted peanuts and chicken liver sauce. A generous serving for £4.50, alternative fillings are pork, beef or mackerel.

The honey and five spice roast chicken, Gaø roâ ti, was succulent, as meat cooked on the bone tends to be. The meat was a little scarce but the marinade delicious and the skin perfectly crisp from the roasting. Again, reasonably priced at £9.

The Goûi boø ñu ñuû thòt boø khoâ, sesame cured beef and papaya salad was hot and fresh as only Vietnamese dishes can be. A salad that leaves you feeling like you've eaten a decent meal whilst still being light and healthy and only £7.

One regrettable negative in that I found the service somewhat lacklustre. Our order of rice was forgotten and food, drinks and bill were all very slow to materialize. It was still early days though and I'll certainly return regularly from here on regardless. The menu is full of gems and consists of exciting dishes with many varied ingredients, you could dine out here for weeks and not get bored. Also, I need my regular fill of phô and now won't have to travel more than 5 minutes from the office to find the best in town!

Cay Tre
44 Dean Street

Cay Tre Soho on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 11 June 2011


Sushi sushi sushi! My blog has had a substantial bias towards Japanese cuisine over the last month. Continuing the theme I recently dined at Kikichi, repeatedly praised by bloggers, I was keen to try for myself. I walk by the place literally everyday but prices are not cheap. The restaurant was full of business men mid week, we chose to sit at the bar overlooking the sushi master at work.

We started with salmon and fatty tuna sashimi. This was without doubt the finest sushi I had ever eaten, the tuna (not even the highest grade tuna on offer here, I must go back to try the very fatty variety) was unbelievably amazing. So soft and delicate that the merest of nudges with a chopstick forced it to break up. We had to have seconds. Seriously incredible stuff.

But it don't come cheap. House rules are minimum order £25 per person, not including drinks so my hopes of returning just to scoff down a serving of that tuna are dashed. Though it is certainly worth it. We also had some salted edamame, marinated tofu and miso. All very nice.

Other main dishes sampled were the pork belly with baby leeks and onions, I confess I was slightly disappointed by this dish, though I fear anything following the sashimi would have suffered the same fate. Kikuchi is really all about the sushi.

Similarly, chicken teriyaki was good, sizzling and smoky with bean sprouts, sesame and skin (yay!) but I was still daydreaming about the tuna.

The service is adorable and the atmosphere fun. I'll be back on occasion for sure as at these prices it could become a dangerous habit, I may well have to change my route home. We had a beer and a wine and the total spend was £94 for a modest amount of food but oh my, that fatty tuna.....

14 Hanway St

Kikuchi on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Satuma, Kentish Town

I've found another local gem and I'm sharing. Satuma is a mere 5 minutes from my house and they deliver, hurrah!

I've been meaning to visit for a while, last weekend I arrived half an hour before they opened for dinner - they close between lunch and dinner - and actually got egged whilst waiting outside (long story), so I sloped off and decided to return mid week.

Main event for me was the seafood bibimbap, diced raw salmon and prawns (cooked) sitting on top of rice and salad in the sizzling hot clay pot. Fantastic fresh ingredients and crunchy rice with chilli sauce on the side to mix in. Best version I've tried.

Starter of prawn tempura was a fine example, the batter lovely and light as it should be with not a hint of an oily taste as is so often the case.

Then salmon and tuna sashimi, not the finest I've ever had but certainly the best in this area, supplied by the reliable Japan Centre, according to Time Out. The usual accompaniments didn't disappoint and as ever with sashimi I was left wanting at least twice the amount we'd ordered!

The other main on the night was beef bulgogi, marinated beef with stir fried vegetables and a side of rice. Very good quality beef but there was a lack of sauce.

This cute little restaurant, seating 10 people max, is efficiently run with a regular turnover of loyal patrons. We snagged a loyalty card and I'm really looking forward to returning and trying all the other dishes on offer, especially more sushi, soft shell crab and the noodle dishes.

2 beers, green tea plus all the above came to £47, an unequivocal bargain. I'm very excited about this place.

8 Fortess Road
Kentish Town


Satuma on Urbanspoon