Wednesday, 26 June 2013

June Round Up

Here are some other things I've eaten over the last few weeks which I don't feel warrant posts to themselves really, and I'm liking the recent round up from April/May, feels a bit like having a clear out so here you have it for this month...

Mama Wangs
Straight from the off here I'm going to rave about these noodles.  In my opinion, the pork cheek biang biang noodles coming out of this little street food stall in various locations across the city, is one of the finest dishes London currently has to offer.

I bloody knew I'd love it, and I do.  I've been to Harringay Market twice in 3 weekends to get my fix and I'll be back, whenever they are there.  The assembling of the dish is theatrical, the noodles hand pulled while you wait, flash boiled then combined with the carrot, cucumber and coriander mix, chilli oil, dried chilli, sesame, cumin seeds and topped with the pork cheeks and crispy crackling.  Once I've eaten it, I literally cannot stop thinking about it for hours.  It's that good.  Fiery and fragrant, you need these in your lives. 

I've also tried the cumin lamb but they weren't quite as satisfying as the pork version.  Still amazing though.  Mama Wangs also host supperclubs and various events, check their website for details of the next dinner.  They're really sweet people and are serving up something quite unique.  See, raving about it and to think, I once claimed to not like Chinese food, I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself.

Cookhouse Joe
One lunchtime I darted up Berwick St from my office to meet Art at the reasonably new Cookhouse Joe, another chicken restaurant.  I must confess I've not really gotten involved in the recent chicken revolution, I do really want to try Wishbone, but Brixton is a bit out of my way.  I must rectify it and get down there.  The thing Cookhouse Joe has going for it is value for money, and proximity to my work I suppose.  Also, it's rotisserie chicken, not fried.

For just £6 you get half a chicken with fries and a side at lunchtime, making this only 5p more than a takeaway salad from Vital Ingredient.  An absolute steal and quite delicious actually.  I opted for the salad but corn or slaw sides are also available.  Staff were cheery and there's an upstairs seating area so plenty of room, anyway it's not too busy,  yet.  You also get a choice of sauce, garlic, yoghurt or chilli. 

Savage Salads
Another food stall find, Savage Salads are at Berwick Street Market 3 days a week through the 'summer' months.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday they can be found outside The Endurance.  Salads come in box or pitta, an ever changing, seasonal menu and you get a bit of everything for £4 in a pitta, or £5 in a box.  I was 5p short when I stopped by and they sorted me out anyway, because they're nice. 

On the day the selection included a brilliant panzanella,  a red cabbage and parsley number, a red quinoa salad flecked with pomegranate seeds and a bulghar wheat and mushroom thing.  All come served on a bed of leaves and topped with grilled chicken, halloumi and garlic sauce, if you wish.  I wolfed it all down back at my desk.  A great new addition to the market.


John, Sue and I went to the Meatlover soft launch @ Filthy McNasty's in Angel a couple of weekends ago, bouyed by the idea of 50% off of a meat feast.  It was good value but not mindblowing, we went for the large meatlover to share between the 3 of us, the ribs were excellent, tender and sticky, really nice work. 

I had high hopes for the fried chicken, based on pictures I'd seen, but was disappointed by what we were served, it lacked flavour and tasted like old oil.  The pulled pork and the brisket were good, but the ribs really were the highlight.  The side of mac & cheese was textbook and the fries were great.  Cabbage and bacon was a token green order.  We shared the cheesecake and the strawberry shortcake for afters and it all came to about £30, until we added our bar bill, drinks were not 50% off.

To be honest, I won't go back, but they're open until the pub gets a revamp and becomes The Fountain, a respectable gastropub, this is McNasty's bowing out.  Open through the 'summer'.

Mama Wangs
Various Locations
Often Harringay Market
South Harringay School

Cookhouse Joe
55 Berwick St

Cookhouse Joe on Urbanspoon

Savage Salads
Various locations inc
Berwick Street Market

Filthy McNasty's
68 Amwell St

Filthy Macnasty's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Clove Club

Having read very positive things about Isaac McHale's latest venture (one of the 3 Young turks), The Clove Club has been top of my list of places to try since it's opening early this year.

I finally made it a couple of weekends ago for Saturday lunch.  The venue is pretty grand, 2 rooms in the Shoreditch Town Hall on Old St, some have criticized the hipster crowd but I found it inoffensive.  1 room houses the restaurant, and the bar resides in the main room which is where we ate on this occasion.  I was keen to try to the tasting menu but it's evenings and restaurant only.  Instead, we ordered pretty much 1 of everything and created our own.

Their famed dish the buttermilk fried chicken with pine arrived first and didn't disappoint.  Loved it, there's a faint hint of pine in the salty exterior.  Would be nice to have found a couple more pieces lurking in the pine leaves for £6.50. 

Next came another dish with which I was familiar from tales of the tasting menu, the radishes with black sesame and gochuchang (£4.50).  Look how pretty it is!  The colours and the flavours are incredible.  The peppery radish with the creamy gochuchang (a Korean condiment here made into a milder dipping sauce) and sprinkled with salty sesame, the leaves are edible too, we were told, we didn't know.  Our waitress helped us out.  Another brilliant dish.

Then came the wood pigeon sausage.  Expensive at £9, and probably the dish I was least keen on, a gamey rich taste and quite chunky texture, the ten bells ketchup was lively but we weren't wowed by this, Thomas pointed out there's no real need to jazz up tomato sauce, I'm inclined to agree, and I got a bit of shot.

Anyway, onwards and upwards to the charcuterie plate and the olives.  The Home cured meat selection was the priciest dish of the day at £14 for a bit of fennel salami and Old Spot coppa, it arrived with the picholine olives, £3.50, a wholly unnecessary order to be honest. 

The most memorable dish for me was the next arrival, the smoked cod's roe with fennel and rye crackers (£7.50).  It's basically perfection on a plate, the smokey and soft fish paste with the crunch and aniseed fragrance from the fennel and tops, scooped up with the slightly sweet, delicate crackers.  It's genius and the crackers are an absolute revelation.  They make them on site of course. 

Also brilliant was the chicory with hazelnut and mustard (£4.50).  The nuts clinging to the tips of the bitter leaves via yoghurt and sprinkled with chopped chives.  Simple but excellent and another favourite.

Also worth mentioning are the bread selection (£3), white and brown, served with butter and the salad of kohlrabi and bitter leaves with elderflowers which was very fresh and excellently dressed (£6.50).

We finished off by sharing a sweet, strawberries and cream (£6), again a very elegant looking dish, vibrant colours and flavours with crunchy sugar crisps and strawberry various ways.  

Then we finished off with a cheese plate, mimolette and a blue, which I forget the name of but both were a fine end to the meal.

We drank a couple of cocktails and a Kentish sparkling rose called Herbert Hall.  I can't rave about the meal enough really, on the surface fairly simple yet all but one of the dishes were outstanding and I cannot wait to return.  We booked but there were plenty of tables available.  If you eat in the bar I would wholly recommend ordering as we did and avoiding the larger plates, 3 were available on the day I visited, but ordering multiple smaller plates means you can try more things.  A great way to dine.  Service was incredibly friendly and relaxed, I love what they're doing here and I hope they continue to go from strength to strength.  I just spotted this recent praise from The Huffington Post, so word is out, get down there.

The Clove Club
Shoreditch Town Hall
Old St

The Clove Club on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Social Eating House

Having read great things about Social Eating House, Art and I tried to get a Friday night reservation.  Our attempts proved futile, even 10 days or so in advance, despite, when showing up on the night early as advised, there was plenty of space left free for walk ins, which is surprising perhaps, given the good reviews.  Anyway, it was a good thing for us, we sat at the bar style seating on the ground floor.

I'd read that the service felt a little rushed to some, and at first, it certainly seemed like the interruptions were relentless, but they were so sweet, it's hard to view it as a negative thing.  We were asked about water, tap promptly arrived, then a minute later asked about drinks (we hadn't looked at the menu yet), then came the bread, things really get off to a quick start, but, having arrived at around 7:15, we were there for a good 3 hours and never felt like we were outstaying our welcome.

Once we'd gotten our acts together and managed shut up and look at the menu, we ordered 2 dill or no dill cocktails, their take on a cucumber martini.  I was torn between the mushroom and the duck starter so asked the waitress to suggest which to pick, she emphatically said duck (£10.50) and I was really happy when it arrived.  A boiled egg, with a breadcrumbed crust and runny yolk, with chips to use as soldiers and smoked duck ham.  It was incredible.

Art's wild boar bolognaise ravioli with kidney and hearts was also good by all accounts, it looked the part (£8.50).

My main of roasted cod with  kombu, mousse, cockles, baby gems and cream (£19.50) was also excellent.  The Cornish fish fillet was perfectly cooked, the rich sauce was well rounded and some nice veggies added texture.

The pork (£18) was perhaps the standout dish though, served with polenta, beets and spring onion, it was so succulent and full of flavour, I was kindly allowed to try and it was wow.  Definitely a dish to come back for.

For dessert, we'd spotted it at a neigbouring table and couldn't resist the lure of the chocolate eclair with salted caramel ice cream and praline mousse (£7.50).  It was a brilliant end to the meal, I'm a sucker for anything salted caramel flavoured and this was another well conceived dish, nice to have two completely different elements to it.

We also had a bottle of white priced at £35, I think the 2nd or 3rd cheapest available.  It's not a cheap dinner by any means but they are certainly banging out some solid cooking, which is notable given it's still early days for them.  I loved Pollen Street Social, this new venue from the same head chef, Paul Hood, is a more accessible and affordable offering.  I'll most definitely be back and I think they are a welcome addition to the Soho dining effort.  There's a prix fixe menu of 2 courses for £18 or 3 for £21 which, if my experience is anything to go by, is amazing value. 

Social Eating House
68 Poland St

The Social Eating House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of Korean cuisine, whenever I’ve had it it’s been lots of uninteresting little things in bowls but perhaps I’ve not been to the right places.  Granted, I thought Koba was alright and I love a bibimbap, so I’m not writing it off.

Sue and I were well on our way to getting drunk on Sunday afternoon and thought we should eat.  Honestly, the sole reason Bibigo took our fancy is because Psy is plastered all over the exterior of the place with a pose much akin to the Kitchener ‘your country needs you’ posters.  We’re easy targets, were drunk and found it hilarious.

Anyhow, they offer an incredibly reasonable lunch club menu of 2 courses for £9.  We both opted for the calamari to start which was billed as spicy and wasn’t, nice coating though and good quality squid, we were happy enough.

For main I chose the bo ssäm which is sliced belly pork served with a nice soybean dip, kimchi and cucumber.  The dip made it and I was really plesantly suprised.  It’s not really enough to fill you up so you kind of need to order sides too which ups the cost, but it’s still excellent value.  We got a side salad and a bowl of rice. Sue was pleased with her scallop dish which comes with roe and truffle yuzu dressing.

I’ll definitely be back to try more and I now have a lotta love for Korean food, the small plate thing is still annoying though, much like Psy.

58 Great Marlborough Street

Bibigo on Urbanspoon