DSTRKT, LONDON

I first ate at DSTRKT in April (http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/21780299968/dstrkt-london) and had a fabulous night with my friends Paul and Heath. We were impeccably looked after by the maître d’ Guillermo and decided there and then that we would return for my birthday.

So a couple of weeks ago, we returned. Unfortunately Guillermo was no longer there (although he did text me to wish me a happy birthday which I thought was incredibly thoughtful) and I must say, we all missed him. The waiter and waitress we had serving us were both lovely and pleasant but the level of service was a tad lacking since Guillermo’s departure. Saying that, the hostess for the evening couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful.

When we sat down, Paul and I immediately asked if we could substitute our first course of Maldon rock oyster for something else. Paul said he couldn’t bear to watch me try to swallow another oyster! (see my last review). They were fine with this and gave us venison tartare instead. Albeit it the size of a thumbnail.


It was very nice, but literally gone in one mouthful. Next came the yellow fin tuna cubes with soy air and avocado mousse.


I loved this when I had it the first time but I felt slightly disappointed in it this time. Something wasn’t quite right. There was a very strong tasting droplet of olive oil on the plate and it overpowered the flavour of the tuna. Paul and I took our bites at the same time and immediately looked at each other with puzzled expressions. It was definitely not as good as last time.

Then came the seared Scottish scallops with English pea puree, olive oil powder and preserved lemon.


Beautiful and sweet scallops, perfectly cooked with the incredibly fresh taste of peas and zesty lemon. Lovely.

Next it was Saudi prawns with charred scallions oil. Sweet and meaty, this was delicious.


Then came a dish we had (and loved) last time…grilled flatbread salad with macadamia nut pesto.


This was as good as we remembered. Peppery rocket, soft goats cheese, punchy olives, soft sweet peppers and tomatoes all contrasting beautifully with the crunchy flatbread. I loved this.

And then the main event…the Scottish rib eye steak, sliced and cooked to perfection, served with a Talisker whisky sauce.


To accompany this, a pot of wild mushroom, fresh herbs and madacadmia nuts, with an egg nestled on top. When the waitress removed the lid of the pot, she broke the yolk and mixed it into the mushrooms.


Wow! This was beautiful. Tender, juicy, melt in the mouth beef and earthy, nutty wild mushrooms. Stunning. The addition of the egg yolk really added to the richness of the mushrooms. This was an incredible dish.


Meanwhile, Heath, who is vegetarian, and joined us mid-meal, ordered the truffle potato gnocchi with cheddar espuma. I wasn’t really paying much attention to it until I heard what can only be described as orgasmic noises coming from Paul. He had tried a bite of Heath’s gnocchi and his eyes were about to pop out of his head. So of course, my fork immediately found its way to Heath’s plate. Cue the same noises and eye-popping. This was A M A Z I N G !!

So even though Paul and I were eating off the tasting menu, we ordered an additional serving of truffle gnocchi to share and add to our already expanding waistline!


Totally worth it though. The gnocchi were slightly crispy on the outside so I think they must have fried it after having cooked it. This was a lovely touch. Sometimes I find gnocchi a bit bland in both texture and taste but these were stunning. The truffle and cheddar sauce was divine. Light and foamy in texture but rich and deep in flavour. I think this was the dish of the night.


Then it was time for pudding. The first plate was Chocolate S’mores…cider sabayon, chocolate custard and Gram Cracker crumble, with some toasted marshmallow cubes.


And ice cream…I think it was blackcurrant and vanilla. I’m not entirely sure. (I’d had a LOT of wine by this stage!)


I was a bit underwhelmed by the pudding to be completely honest. It just felt like lot of different ingredients placed on a plate without it really coming together.

Overall, we had a lovely night but we missed Guillermo. Also, the food was still coming out of the kitchen rather quickly and I would have appreciated more time to enjoy my wine. As it was, I felt like I was playing catch up all night. And when the wines are supposed to match each dish, that isn’t ideal.

Certain dishes stood out…the truffle gnocchi in particular, while others failed to deliver…the tuna cubes and the dessert. But we still had a great meal, although it didn’t shine like our last meal.

In terms of the service, we had to keep a constant look out for the waiter in order to get his attention. However, when he was with us, he was very friendly. Just not quite as attentive as Guillermo had been on our last visit.

DSTRKT is a restaurant and a club and the night we were there was the same night Hackney Weekend kicked off, and a few of the stars of that were expected to be partying at DSTRKT later that night including Jay Z, Rihanna and Rita Ora. So by the end of our meal, the place was really filling up. We decided to move into the club after our meal but we were told we would have to walk back up to the front door, pay £20 each and get a stamp. Hmmmm…we’d already paid about £100 each for our food so paying another £20 each to literally pass through a curtain and drink just a few feet from our table was a tad galling.

We did pay to get into the club but only stayed for one drink and decided to move on to another club to dance the night away.

I really like DSTRKT’s food and they have some excellent wine but I’m not sure if I would go back. Perhaps for the a la carte menu as opposed to the tasting menu. And actually, I think I’d climb over my dead Grandmother to get to that truffle gnocchi again! For that, I would return.

MARIT’S HUISKAMERRESTAURANT, AMSTERDAM

When I decided I wanted to go to Amsterdam to celebrate my birthday this year, I knew I wanted to go somewhere special to eat the night of my birthday.

Luckily for me, my wonderful friend Cassie told me to look in the current issue of Grazia Magazine (at the time). In it, was a feature on a new supperclub in Amsterdam. No, not the Supperclub, this was a restaurant run by Marit Beemster, who had turned her back on her career as a designer for Tommy Hilfiger and had decided to set up a restaurant in her own livingroom….Marit’s Huiskamerrestaurant.

Marit is vegetarian and was getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of good vegetarian restaurants in Amsterdam. She realised that she could cook better meals for herself at home than she could find in any restaurant so she figured that other people might like her cooking too!

Now, I’m not vegetarian but over the last couple of years I have found myself eating less and less meat. I often find myself ordering the vegetarian option on restaurant menus. Even when I go to Lucky Chip, the best burger joint in London (http://bit.ly/KYKw6I), I order their vegetarian burger (which is amazing by the way, you must try it). This is not to say I have abandoned meat altogether. I still love chorizo and salami and parma ham…actually, I love pork. But I don’t really eat lamb or beef anymore. When I make a curry I tend to make it with potatoes, onions and peppers. In fact, sometimes when I think back, I realise that I’ve not had any meat for days without trying. Anyway, I’m going off track a bit. I didn’t book it because it was a vegetarian restaurant, I booked it because I liked the look of it. However, when I mentioned it to my meat-loving friends, they said they may have to sneak a salami into their bags to help tide them over!

So on Saturday night we headed East, to Oosterparkbuurt, and pulled up in a lovely leafy street. The front of Marit’s home actually looks like a shop front.


As we walked in, we were warmly greeted by the waitress and showed to our table. The restaurant was full. With us, there were 20 people dining there. As we sat down, Marit’s beautiful dog Tilly came to say hello! This really reinforced the fact that we were indeed in someone’s home.


The space is beautiful, warm and homely. The furniture is mis-matched and antiquey, there are bowls of limes and stunning arrangements of flowers dotted around the room.


Looking to the back, you can see her living area with a sofa, arm chairs and a TV. French doors lead off the living area into a garden out the back. Above us is her bedroom, her kitchen is off the living area.


Marits has an impressive wine list. We ordered a bottle of Prosecco to start and then Marit came over to say hello to us and explain the ethos of the restaurant. She explained that we would be having a 3-course vegetarian menu made with ingredients which were sourced locally. We had a choice from a selection of starters, the main meal was fixed, and we had a choice of desserts.


We ordered our starters and a few minutes later we were given a amuse bouche of roasted fig stuffed with goats cheese. A delicious way to start the meal.


The starter I opted for was a salad of mixed leaves, rocket, orange slices, tomato berries, grapes and topped with two slices of sheeps cheese. This was drizzled in a honey and mustard dressing.


This was one of the most delicious salads I’ve tasted in a long time. The smooth creaminess of the cheese tasted incredible with the juicy, citrusy orange. And with the sweet tomato berries literally bursting in my mouth, this was like a dish full of Summer. The flavours were so fresh and zesty, and mixed with the honey and mustard dressing, it was divine. Am I describing this enough? I loved it. I wish you could all try it.

Faiza opted for the pea and ricotta ravioli.


I didn’t go for this as I’d had ravioli the night before. However, tasting Faiza’s dish, this was far, far better ravioli than I’d eaten at Lab 111 (http://bit.ly/MFTeF4). Deliciously light pasta and the filling was so fresh, you could really taste the peas. Lovely.

Our main course was an endive and spinach tart with melted cheese on the top. Also on the plate was roasted aubergine with tomato berries, and a fennel and lemon salad.


Accompanying this were bowls of roasted potatoes with rosemary…


And plates of mixed tomatoes – beef, plum and cherry tomatoes, topped with buffalo ricotta.


How beautiful does this plate of food look?


The tart was delicious. Breaking through the crisp, buttery pastry, you’re met with the soft, tangy endive. The roasted aubergines were perfectly charred and the fennel salad….well, that was a surprise. I actually hate the taste of anise so I steer clear of fennel at all times. But this was lovely. There was enough lemon through it that it just tasted crisp and zesty and citrusy, and not at all like fennel. Result! The sweet tomatoes with the smooth, creamy were a delight.

I adored this meal. It was fresh and light, yet hearty and filling. I think a lot of people believe vegetarian food isn’t filling and they’re going to be left wanting if they don’t have any meat. But Faiza, who is a pretty heavily dedicated meat lover said she was pleasantly surprised by how filling and satisfying the meal was and she hadn’t missed the meat at all. (Faiza actually had a plate of beef carpaccio at lunchtime to ‘up’ her meat factor since she knew she’d be having a vegetarian dinner!)

Next, it was time for pudding. There was only one slice of chocolate cake left and luckily, I managed to nab it! And Marit very kindly added a birthday candle to it.


Rich, dark, luscious chocolate cake topped with raspberries. My favourite combination. Perfect!

The rest of the girls opted for white chocolate mousse, served with rhubarb and strained yoghurt with lavender stirred through it.


This was a triumph. The girls were pretty full by this point and couldn’t finish all of their desserts. Luckily, my stomach has had more practice than theirs, and my spoon quickly found its way into all of their glasses and finished off the remains of their mousses. I really loved this dessert. The white chocolate mousse was perfectly sweet and light as air. The rhubarb added a touch of sharpness to it and then the lavender hit you. Not too hard, just the right amount. Lavender isn’t used very often in cooking so it’s a nice surprise. If used too heavily it can taste soapy but Marit had managed to use just the right amount.

This is really my kind of place. I loved Marit’s home, I loved her furniture, her crockery, her food…everything. I was initially slightly worried that sitting in someone else’s living room might be a bit awkward but it was nothing like that at all. It was homely and comfortable and I loved having her dog wandering around throughout the night. Although she kept trying to win the affections of my friend Faiza who is not really a dog lover! She disguised it well though.


Talking to Marit at the end of the night, she explained how she had started this restaurant just a few months ago and how much happier she is now. It certainly made me question whether I should be doing the job I do as opposed to the job I really want to do. The inspiration to follow your heart was so tangible, it really made it feel possible.

Marit runs her restaurant from her home 3 days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, please go check it out. The five of us loved it and didn’t miss meat at all. Go on…give it a go.

Marit’s Huiskamerrestaurant
Andreas Bonnstraat 34H
1091BA, Amsterdam

tel: +31 207763864
www.maritshuiskamerrestaurant.nl
info@maritshuiskamerrestaurant.nl

LAB 111, AMSTERDAM

Last year I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday AT ALL so I decided that the only way to cheer myself up would be to take myself to New York. It worked! I had the most fantastic birthday ever. Whilst there, I made the decision that every birthday from now on would be celebrated internationally. So this year, I decided that my friends and I would go to Amsterdam for a long weekend.


I adore Amsterdam. I would move there in a heartbeat if I was able to do my job there. It is the coolest, most stylish, classy, beautiful cities I have ever been to. And luckily for me, its only a 50 minute flight from London.

I knew I wanted to have quite a relaxed, chilled weekend. I’ve been to Amsterdam before so I’d done all the usual touristy things such as visiting Anne Frank’s house, the museums, boat trips etc. This time I just wanted to hang out in Jordaan with my friends, meandering down the canals, popping into any cheese/chocolate shop we happen to pass, and stopping off for a bite to eat, a coffee or glass/bottle of wine and watch the world go by.

As you know, I am somewhat obsessed with food so that was clearly going to be my focal point for this trip. I had decided where I wanted to eat on my actual birthday but still didn’t know where I was going to go on the Friday night. Luckily, a week before I was due to go, I saw an article in the Guardian Weekend Magazine recommending the best city hangouts in Amsterdam. One of them was a restaurant called Lab 111. I asked around a few of my friends who know Amsterdam well and it had some mixed reviews. I decided to test it out for myself.


So on Friday night, my friends and I walked down Kinkerstraat into the Oud-West district of Amsterdam. We turned into Nicolaas Beetsstraat and then onto Arie Biemondstraat. Lab 111 is (very well) hidden within an artist complex called Smart Project Space, a cultural centre offering a continuously changing programme of exhibitions and events. This is very easy to miss! It is a very residential area and there is no way I would have stumbled across it had I not read about it in the Guardian.


We gingerly walked in. It didn’t look at all like a restaurant…more like a school. But as soon as you walk through the doors, you see a large room with a bar to the left and a a big green communal table underneath what looked like medical operating theatre lights.


Housed in a former anatomical pathology laboratory, the room of the restaurant used to be a classroom where medical students cut open corpses back in the old days.

What I especially loved were the walls. They were covered in photographic images of drink bottles on stacked supermarket shelves.


As soon as we sat down we were greeted by our incredibly friendly waiter. As it was our first night in Amsterdam, we ordered a bottle of Prosecco as we looked over the menu. The waiter then poured some outstandingly good olive oil into a saucer in front of us which we dipped our bread into. I asked the waiter where it was from and he gave me a booklet with all the details so I could order it online. It was stunning. Really grassy and full of flavour. I was impressed already.


Looking at the menu, one dish jumped out at everyone… smoked kangaroo with sweet potato, sauerkraut salad and sage-mustard dressing.

I wanted to try it but wasn’t sure I wanted the whole dish so once I was happy that 3 of the girls were going for the kangaroo and I knew I’d get at least one bite of it, I ordered the ravioli with ricotta, artichoke, parmesan and pommodori-tarragon-sauce.


This was very nice but a little heavy on the tarragon for me. I ordered it because I love artichoke but the flavour of the tarragon overpowered everything else unfortunately. It certainly wasn’t unpleasant…the pasta was as light as air, the tomato sauce was delicious, and if I loved tarragon, it would have been a winner.

However, it turned out that the kangaroo dish was the dish of the night….in fact, the whole weekend! We were talking about it days later.


This was a wonderful dish. The meat itself was very smoky, rich and so, so tender. It melted in your mouth. The sweet potato complimented it beautifully, as did the mustard in the dressing. Everything balanced perfectly. I was gutted I hadn’t ordered this myself. Luckily, I have very generous friends who kept offering me bites of theirs.

Kate opted for the cod fritters with wakame salad and paprika ketchup.


I really liked this too. Full of flavour, you could really taste the cod and the paprika ketchup sauce on the side really spiced it up.

For the main course, Claire went for the full-sized version of my ravioli starter. She too thought it was a bit heavy on the tarragon. Carmen and Faiza ordered steak with potato, romanesco and garlic-thyme-gravy…


I didn’t try this but was assured that it was delicious. Tender juicy cuts of sirloin and a beautiful rich sauce. Kate and I went for breast of duck with purslane stew, rhubarb compote and lavender gravy…


I loved this. The duck was beautifully cooked, and the sweetness of the rhubarb compote was a perfect pairing. One I would never have thought of before. The lavender gravy took it up to another level entirely. I thought this was a wonderful dish.

Once we’d finished our mains we asked for a bit of time before having pudding. The DJ was playing some really good tunes, we had some great wine on the go and we were enjoying the atmosphere.


Once we were ready, I ordered the cheesecake and the girls went for the cheese plates which came with a quince jelly.


The cheesecake was delicious. Dense yet not heavy, rich but not sickly. The biscuit base was perfectly crumbly, the cheese had the perfect amount of vanilla. It was lovely. I left the girls to finish off the cheese plate.

Overall, we all had a fantastic night. The waiters were incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, attentive and efficient. The food was wonderful and the place has a great atmosphere, with great music playing through the night. I’m so glad I read about it because if I hadn’t, I would never have found it. Its a bit off the normal tourist track but if you are planning on going to Amsterdam, please add it to your list of places to go.


Lab 111, Arie Biemondstraat 111, 1054 PD Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 616 9994
www.lab111.nl

Twitter: @mediacafelab111
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LAB111

DUCKSOUP, SOHO

A couple of weeks ago, my good friend Claire and I met up for a catch-up. She asked me where I wanted to eat and I suggested Ducksoup on Dean Street, Soho.

I’ve been once, but just briefly while I was waiting for another friend to go on elsewhere. I really wanted to try it out properly.

Ducksoup, which opened late last year, is the brainwave of chef Julian Biggs, helped by Clare Lattin and Rory McCoy, all hailing from Mark Hix’s Oyster & Chop House.

This is a cool little restaurant. Most of the seating is around the bar with a few tables along the wall. Everyone pretty much sits on top of one another so don’t expect too much privacy! Personally I quite like this. It adds to the atmosphere of the place and more often that not, I usually end up meeting really interesting people this way.


I arrived at 6.30pm and just managed to nab the very last table for two. They don’t take bookings (I can’t remember the last time I was able to book a table in a restaurant!) so you need to get there early. It was a roasting hot day so they had the windows open into the street.


Ducksoup was buzzing with noise, energy and atmosphere as I walked in. That could be because us Brits are always incredibly excited when the sun comes out. The restaurant was packed with people perched at the bar and the tables inside and out were full.


The decor inside is simple and unpretentious. The wine list (all natural wines) is scrawled across the white tiled walls.


As you walk through the door you pass a turn-table and a stack of records. The restaurant has a BYO policy - bring your own vinyl! Fantastic idea.


The menu is updated every day which I like. I love that you know you’re getting seasonal, fresh ingredients each time. It also keeps you on your toes and it makes you keep coming back. The hand-written menu is divided into sections…small ‘bar’ plates and more substantial ‘kitchen’ plates.


As I was waiting for Claire to turn up, I ordered a cold, crisp glass of white wine and the salami toscano (£6)…


The salami was delicious. It melted in your mouth. But for £1 per slice, it seemed a tad overpriced!

When Claire arrived we decided to order a few plates to share. The chopped pancetta on rosemary toast (£6) jumped out at us.


I loved this. Crunchy sourdough toast topped with fried onions and pancetta and lots of rosemary. Strong, punchy flavours. Delicious.

Next to arrive, the grilled sardines and pine nut tarator (£7)….


Claire loved these. I don’t mind sardines, I just don’t like fiddling with my food, checking it for bones etc. I’m too impatient. They were very nice, I just wouldn’t normally order them. The pine nut tarator was wonderful though.

Next up, beautiful fresh, in season asparagus, topped with Guanciale and a poached egg (£7)…


Finally, quail on fried bread, onions and a brandy sauce.


I loved this, although the quail looked rather too much like a women laid back with her legs crossed! She tasted delicious though! The quail was juicy and tender, the sweetness and the softness of the onions was beautiful against the crunchy toast while the brandy sauce brought it all together. Gorgeous.

I ummed and ahhed at having a pudding. They had Torta di Nonna on the menu which is one of my favourite desserts, but we decided to order some more wine instead. Next time…

I liked Ducksoup a lot. Its busy, crowded, full of atmosphere, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and they offer up great food. The turn table delivered us some classic Joe Cocker and Stevie Wonder the night we were there but that will obviously change day to day. And with their ever-changing menu, I know i’ll definitely be back.


Ducksoup, 41 Dean Street, London, W1D 4PY
Tel: 020 72874599

http://www.ducksoupsoho.co.uk
@ducksoupsoho

The menu is printed on Tumblr every day - http://ducksoupsoho.tumblr.com/

MISHKIN’S & OPERA TAVERN, COVENT GARDEN


Last Wednesday, my best friend Carmen and I met up for dinner. We’ve both been so busy lately we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of weeks which is unusual for us since we live round the corner from one another.

We wanted to have a nice bite to eat after work accompanied by lots of lovely wine. My friend Sally had told me about Opera Tavern in Covent Garden. When I looked it up I realised it was right next door to Mishkin’s, one of my favourite restaurants. (http://bit.ly/KFb91i) Carmen has been wanting to go to Mishkin’s for ages. So I booked us a table at Opera Tavern for 7.30pm, just to be safe, and figured that we’d go along, see what it was like, and if we didn’t like it we’d go to Mishkin’s.

So we met up outside Covent Garden tube station and got to Catherine Street for 7pm. We were too early for Opera Tavern so we popped into Mishkin’s and sat at the bar, hoping for some nice gin cocktails. We were told we had to eat if we were going to drink alcohol so we ordered the baby spinach, roast red pepper, labneh & spiced pecan salad.


It was divine! The soft spinach with the sweet roasted pepper and onions worked so well with the smooth creaminess of the labneh. And the pecans gave it a lovely bit of texture. Finished off with a fantastic dressing, I would have been happy eating this all night. It really was one of the tastiest salads I’ve had in a restaurant.

We also ordered a portion of deliciously crisp and sweet onion rings…perfect.


These were accompanied by beautifully refreshing Diamond Fizz cocktails…Beefeater gin, Prosecco and lemon.


Mishkin’s cocktails are a little too good. I’ve had many great nights I can’t fully remember, all because of their gin cocktails.

At 7.30pm. we paid up at Mishkin’s and headed next door to Opera Tavern.


Initially they seated us upstairs but we asked if there might be a possibility of table outside since it was such a lovely hot evening. We were in luck! A table had become available and we were moved right away.

The very friendly waitress talked us through the menu. My eyes immediately went to the Courgette Flowers Stuffed with Goats’ Cheese and Drizzled with Honey…


Absolutely delicious. The crisp petals of the flower provided a delightful contrast to the smooth, creaminess of the tangy goats cheese. The honey added a beautiful rich sweetness to it.

Next came the Chargrilled Beef Underblade Fillet with Watercress Purée, Gorgonzola and Portobello Mushrooms…


This was Carmen’s dish. I like a bite of steak but I can’t eat a lot of it. Served on a piece of slate, the beef was thinly sliced and cooked medium rare, and it was so tender it melted on your tongue. The addition of the gorgonzola gave it richness and depth and the mushrooms, an earthiness. It was a lovely dish but for me, too heavy for such a hot evening.

Next up was my Mini Ibérico Pork and Foie Gras Burger. I was to-ing and fro-ing between ordering this and ordering the Chorizo with Piquillo and Marjoram but the waitress recommended the burger very highly so I took her advice. And boy, was I happy that I did!


It was the perfect size for me. I don’t like huge burgers. I find them a little overwhelming. This was perfect. But let me assure you, it might me mini in size but its big on taste.


With soft sweet peppers on the bottom, the burger was cooked medium rare over a grill with the foie gras mixed through the pork. The foie gras adds a rich velvety texture to the burger. Topped with aged manchego cheese and crispy onions, it was so juicy, so tender, I loved it.


I was pretty full by now but Carmen’s meat feast continued with her Moorish Marinated Ibérico Pork skewer which I think has harissa on top.


I only had a tiny bite of this since it was so small to begin with. It had a really strong chargrilled taste to it which I loved and the pork itself was incredibly moist.

And last but not least, the Chargrilled Spring Lamb Cutlet with Smoked Garlic Purée, Tomato, Courgette and Cumin.


Again, this was Carmen’s. I’m not a huge lover of lamb so I had the tiniest piece of it. I must say, these guys really know how to cook their meat. Once again, it was soft, tender and juicy and I loved the smoked garlic purée that came with it, although Carmen wasn’t a fan.

We were too full for pudding so we just ordered some more wine and enjoyed the amazing music that was pumping out from Mishkin’s next door, who seemed to be enjoying a bit of a 70s disco vibe. As I danced in my seat to Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Le Freak by Chic, Carmen and I caught up on all the gossip and enjoyed being able to sit outside in the warm night air. It really was a wonderful night. Made even more wonderful when John Torode, chef and presenter of Masterchef, walked out the restaurant and stood right next to us with his friends. Carmen, who was feeling super confident due to the amount of wine she’d consumed by this point, was about to walk over and introduce herself and tell him that I loved him. Not her, me! Luckily I managed to stop her just as he walked back into the restaurant and our bill came.

We jumped in a taxi as Carmen was complaining of stomach ache. Nothing to do with the quality of the food, but more to do with the fact that she’d eaten pork, lamb and beef in one sitting! I’m sure eating three different types of meat in one meal can’t be good for you.

Both restaurants were great. Mishkin’s really is fantastic and its fast becoming one of my regular haunts, for the gin cocktails if nothing else! Opera Tavern’s friendly and knowledgeable staff served terrific food and great wine. What can be better than that?

If you’re in Covent Garden, take a trip to Catherine Street. Whichever restaurant you go in to, you’re sure of a fantastic meal.


Mishkin’s: 25 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JS
Tel: 020 7240 2078
http://mishkins.co.uk
Twitter: @MishkinsWC2

Opera Tavern: 23 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JS
Tel: 020 7836 3680
http://www.operatavern.co.uk/

JOSE, LONDON


Last Tuesday, I had the most wonderful night with my ultimate eating partner and treasured friend, Paul. It was a last minute night out which made it even more lovely. We both fancied a catch up over a few glasses of wine and a bite to eat.

Just as I was tapping ‘How about we go to José on Bermondsey Street?’ into my Blackberry, an email popped up from Paul saying, “Wanna try the new tapas place on Bermondsey St? Think it’s called José.” This is not an unusual occurrence. Sometimes I think Paul camps out in my brain, sending me subliminal messages about food and restaurants! ;-)

And so it was decided….we’d go to José. It was on my radar as I’d read a lot on José Pizarro recently. His new book 'José Pizarro’s Spanish Flavours' has just been released and I keep seeing his name popping up in food magazines and food websites. I’d also just made one of this recipes from the book a week before!

José Pizarro, who was the chef at the hugely popular Brindisa for nearly 5 years (I’ve given up ever eating there again as its always so busy I can never get in!), now has his own sherry and tapas bar, José on Bermondsey Street and a full-size restaurant, Pizarro a few of blocks down the street from there.

Paul and I met at London Bridge tube station and walked through the wet streets of South East London to Bermondey Street. We soon found ourselves at the bustling José tapas bar. Even though it was 7pm on a wet and windy Tuesday night, it was already pretty busy. So busy in fact that we couldn’t sit down! Saying that, there aren’t many opportunities to sit.


The space itself is very small and therefore only offers up a few stools, but at least it feels authentically Spanish. In Spain, the tapas bars are usually standing room only so I guess it makes sense that a tapas bar in London should be the same.

The no-bookings policy means you have to take your chances on whether you can find a space. If it was this busy on a Tuesday, I don’t think I’d even attempt to come here on a Friday or Saturday!

As we walked through the door, we were immediately greeted very warmly and ushered to the bar where we said we were happy to stand until two seats became available. So there we stood…under the dangling hams!


We ordered a beautiful bottle of wine which went down tremendously well…


And some almonds and olives to snack on, while we decided what else we wanted to order. DAMN! Those were good olives.


The menu is written up on chalkboards above the bar.


Now, I am a bit of a chorizo freak. I eat it ALL the time. Every day. I adore it. They had two chorizo dishes on their menu - cooked and sliced - so I asked the waitress to recommend the best one. She immediately recommended the sliced organic one.


I’m so glad I asked her. I would probably have opted for the cooked one if I hadn’t asked. But this was incredible. It was velvety soft and deliciously smoky. As soon as it touched your tongue, it melted onto it. Paul and I stared at each other, wide-eyed in amazement by how good it tasted. I have eaten a LOT of chorizo in my time and this is the best sliced chorizo I’ve tasted.

The waitress serving us was really lovely. So friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food. We were happy to order whatever she recommended to us. She suggested the prawns in garlic and chilli…


I’m so glad we did. These prawns were beautiful. The best thing is, they tasted of prawns. I know that sounds a bit obvious but often with garlic chilli prawns, all you taste is the garlic. But with this, the main flavour was the sweetness of the prawns themselves. They were truly lovely.

We also ordered tomatoes on toast. This very simple dish was very good, but the mushed tomatoes were cold on the hot crunchy toast. Paul and I both said that we would have preferred the tomatoes to have been warm on the toast. I think it would have brought the flavour out a bit more. If they had been warm, this would have been perfect. Apart from that though, it was still lovely and fresh and light and nicely seasoned.


The ham croquettes were deliciously crispy on the outside and smooth, creamy and rich inside.


We were pretty much done at this point but then the waitress mentioned the Pluma Iberica…


The waitress had clearly left the best til last. This was melt-in-the-mouth, stunning! The pork was so soft and tender, and it was simply drizzled in olive oil and scattered generously with flakes of salt. I loved this. It was divine. Paul wasn’t as taken with it as I was, but he doesn’t love salt in quite the same way as I do!

Paul and I had a great night at José. Sometimes the best nights are ones you don’t plan. The wine was great, dishes of fresh, tasty food came and went swiftly, the staff were friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere was buzzing all night long. I’ll definitely be back, I need more of that chorizo!

José, 104 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UB
Tel: 020 7403 4902 
http://www.josepizarro.com/
@Jose_Pizarro

CREPERIE DU MONDE, HACKNEY


As you may have seen from my previous post, (http://bit.ly/KigmZe) I spent a lovely day in East London on Saturday with my friend Cassie who took me to her favourite creperie on Chatsworth Road, Lower Clapton, just a 5 minute walk from Homerton overground station.

Creperie du Monde is a lovely little place. The interior is full of reclaimed wood and distressed furniture with empty vintage picture frames on the wall.


Its really tastefully designed and has a really nice chilled feel to it. If you’re lucky enough to get there when the old comfy leather at the front window is empty, you could easily spend an afternoon there, whiling away the hours, eating crepes and drinking coffee.


The kitchen area is open so you can see the crepes being made.


As I was queuing to put our order in, I stood, mesmerized, as they served up beautiful looking plates of food. So much so that I didn’t realise that one of the waiters had actually been trying to speak to me for about a minute whilst I stood there with my mouth hanging open, staring at the food!


The mouthwatering combinations on the menu make the decision making process incredibly difficult.


Cassie and I spent ages changing our minds. She’d had the Amazon Rose before and loved it, but then thought that she should try something different. The worked out well for me…it meant I could order the Amazon Rose! And so I did…

The Amazon Rose consists of Gruyere, Mushroom, Aubergine, Roasted tomato and Rosemary. All my favourite ingredients! The crepe was, as you’d expect, light as a feather. As they’re cooking it, they sprinkle the dried herbs on the hot plate and toast them for a few seconds before pouring the batter over the top. That way the herbs are incorporated into the crepe mix itself. The whole place fills with the smell of the herbs as they’re toasting and its a wonderful scent.


I absolutely loved my crepe. I was so glad I’d opted for that one as I was very close to ordering the Of The World one. That consists of Chistorra (family of chorizo), Red peppers, Aubergine, Courgette, Rocket, melted Camembert and mixed herbs. Mmmmm….it still sounds good. I think I’ll go for that next time.

Cassie ordered The Italian Influence


Cherry Tomatoes, Mozzarella, fresh Rocket and du monde Tomato sauce.


Again, this was delicious. The aroma of the room when they were making this was incredible. The air was thick with the smell of oregano. It tasted like the lightest pizza you could imagine.

I had ordered a strawberry milkshake to have alongside my crepe. I’m a bit like a child when it comes to milkshakes…every time I see them on a menu I have to order one. I don’t know what it is with me and milkshakes but if I think I’m going to get a good one, I simply have to get it. Even though I know they’re filling and they will usually ruin my appetite for whatever food I’ll be having with it. But I never learn.

About five minutes after I’d ordered it, a rather shy waiter notified me that there was no ice cream left. I looked at him blankly. I wasn’t sure if he was telling me there was no ice cream left ANYWHERE and therefore I wouldn’t be able to get my milkshake, or there was none left right at that moment and I would have to wait for a while. He stood looking at me rather nervously then Cassie and I both pointed out that there were two shops directly across the road where one might be able to purchase some ice cream. Again, he looked a bit nervous, then looked at someone who I assumed was his boss. Five minutes later I saw him running across the road for some ice cream. Phew! Five more minutes and I would have bought the ice cream myself!


But my God, it was worth the wait! I was presented with a pint, yes a PINT of gorgeous sweet, rich strawberry milkshake….in a pint bottle. Amazing. I think this might have been the highlight of my day!


We had decided to share a sweet crepe after our savoury ones. Again, the choices were amazing.

Choices included your standard sugar and lemon, or Nutella, all the way to The American - peanut butter, banana and jam; London Loves - banana, caramel and a scoop of ice cream (the crepe itself is shaped into a heart with the ice cream in the centre); Danes Delight - cream, custard, strawberries, chocolate syrup and crushed biscuit; Samba Banana - cinnamon with hot sliced banana and dulce de leche. You can see why it was so hard to choose!

We eventually decided to pick 3 we really wanted. The first one we both said was the Tropical Pecan - Pecan & fresh Bananas with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon, crushed biscuits and cream.


Wow! It was like heaven on a plate. Conversation was virtually non-existent as we both tucked in. All that could be heard was the odd muffled “Wow…this is amazing”, but otherwise speech was forgotten as we savoured every bite.

If I lived down the road from this place, as Cassie does, it would be dangerous. I could easily see myself sitting here at the weekends, stuffing my face with crepes and drinking copious amounts of milkshake and getting fatter and fatter!

Saying that, I will happily be making more trips East to work my way through their menu.


Creperie du monde
51 Chatsworth Road, London, E5 0LH
020 8525 5735

creperiedumonde.co.uk
Twitter: @CreperieDuMonde
facebook.com/creperiedumonde

40 MALTBY STREET, LONDON

Last Thursday, I met up with my lovely friends Lisa and Bronwyn for a bite to eat after work. I wanted to try out 40 Maltby Street as I’d been hearing a lot of talk about it lately.

Maltby Street in Bermondsey hosts a fabulous food market every Saturday out of the railway arches near Tower Bridge, bringing together artisan food and drink producers selling top quality produce. Its a different world from Borough Market which is just a 10 minute walk away. It’s a lot smaller and more laid-back…a lovely departure from the hectic hustle and bustle of Borough Market which I sometimes find a bit stressful. Its also a lot more personable, with the stall holders more than happy to stop and talk about their produce.

Nestled in the arches, is 40 Maltby Street, the wine bar attached to Gergovie Wines, an independent supplier dealing with organic producers in Italy, France and Slovenia. Two evenings a week and all day Saturday, they open up their very small kitchen and serve up some fantastic food from their menu on the blackboard by the bar.


Knowing how busy this place gets, and the fact you can’t book, we decided to try it on a Thursday night to avoid the queues. I got there just before 7pm and it was already pretty busy. Luckily Lisa and Bron were already there and had got us a pitch right next to the wines!


We’d all had pretty long, stressful days so it was a blessed relief to be out of the office, and near wine! Bron asked the waitress for a recommendation and she came back with this really lovely smooth white wine…


After a couple of glasses of wine we felt a lot more relaxed and decided to order some plates of food. Looking at the menu by the bar, I could have eaten everything!


But between us we decided to go for the Tuscan salami….


The cheese plate featured Lincolnshire Poacher, an unpasteurised cows milk cheese (sweet, nutty and with a nice sharp tang), Stawley, an unpasteurised goat cheese (firm, smooth and nutty) …


And St John’s, an unpasteurised sheep’s milk cheese (smooth, creamy and a little salty)…


Soft, thinly sliced bresaola with sliced crunchy artichokes….


Then came the most wonderful tasting semolina gnocchi with braised beef cheek…


This dish was a triumph! The beef melted in your mouth, the sauce was rich and deep, the gnocchi was creamy and smooth. I kept closing my eyes when I was eating it so I could concentrate on the flavours. It really was delicious and I really hope I can try it there again.


To accompany the beef dish, we ordered these stunning tasting Roman courgettes….


These were absolutely incredible and complimented the beef dish perfectly. There was a tiny amount of chilli through them and even though I generally steer clear of chilli since I can’t take the heat of it, it actually provided taste rather than heat. They were really beautiful…light, fresh and full of flavour.

We also had another lovely bottle of wine…


I’m afraid I don’t remember what this tasted like but I remember I liked it a lot!


I will definitely come back here. I loved the atmosphere, the wine and the food. The staff are friendly, passionate and knowledgeable about what they’re selling.

Don’t come here hoping for a large meal, this is a place to come to if you want to enjoy some really good wine and have a bite to eat with it. I love this style of eating…lots of little things so I can pick and have lots of different flavours. They change their menu regularly so I would like to come back to see what else they have to offer. Although I really hope they have the beef cheeks with gnocchi next time I go back as I’d like to be able to devour it by myself without having to share it!

40 Maltby Street SE1.
www.40maltbystreet.com

Thursday and Friday, 5.30pm – 10pm; Saturday, 10am – 5pm.
No reservations.

PING PONG, LONDON

My beautiful friend Michele, who lives in Spain, is back in London this week so we met up on Monday night for a catch up along with our gorgeous friend Kate. We decided to go to Ping Pong on Great Marlborough Street as its one of Michele’s favourite places to eat and she misses it when she’s in Spain.

Michele and Kate kept it healthy by going for steamed dishes but I must be honest, I don’t like steamed dim sum. I like it fried. You can take the girl out of Glasgow….!

We started with some quite a few bowls of sesame seed prawn crackers and some edamame. Then I ordered sesame prawn toast, honey-glazed spare ribs, the honeyed chicken rice pot and some crispy duck spring rolls with hoi sin sauce.

It was delicious, although not quite as healthy and calorie conscious as Michele and Kate’s meal was!

We had a lovely night…a good girlie catch up, lots of good food, lots of wine and lots of laughs. I love my girls. :-)

DSTRKT, LONDON

Last week, I went for dinner with my fabulous friend Paul and his gorgeous boyfriend Heath at DSTRKT.


For a nice change, I had heard nothing about DSTRKT before we booked it. Paul and I had planned to go elsewhere for dinner but then he saw that DSTRKT was doing a deal on their tasting menu so we decided to book that instead. And wow, what a fantastic decision!

Before I go to any restaurant, I usually pour over the menu days in advance and know exactly what I’m going to order. I love doing this as I get excited before I go and I really look forward to it. But in this instance, I genuinely had no idea what was in store for me. I didn’t read any reviews online. I literally went in with a blank slate.

DSTRKT looks very unassuming from the outside. Situated on Rupert Street, just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus, I arrived 5 minutes before Paul and Heath. As I entered the rather dramatic doorway and gave my name to the very glamorous receptionist, she showed me downstairs where I was met by another glamorous assistant who took my coat and showed me into the lounge bar.


I was amazed at the size of the place when I walked in, its huge! It was pretty empty but it was only 7pm. The room is beautifully lit so it doesn’t look like a huge open space.


Paul and Heath soon arrived and we were shown to our table. Luckily for us, our table was situated on the mezzanine right above the kitchen so we were able to see the hive of activity below us. As someone who loves seeing how restaurant kitchens work, this was the perfect spot for me.


As soon as we were seated, our maître d’ for the night, Guillermo, introduced himself and told us he would be looking after us all evening. We told him that we would be having matching wines to accompany our tasting menu and then he then presented us with delicious champagne cocktails.


Soon enough, our first course arrived. Maldon Rock Oyster with Champagne Vinegar Air…


This was beautifully presented on a little mound of sand. Paul and Heath knocked theirs back straight away and with what looked like incredible ease. I, having never been a huge fan of oysters, was a tad nervous. It looked huge! And I was right. Once it was in my mouth I really struggled to swallow it. I could see Paul eyeing me nervously from across the table, praying that I wasn’t going to gag on it. He and I were both in luck. I did kind of gag on it, but I think I hid it well!

In truth, I don’t really ‘get’ oysters. I don’t see the point of swallowing something so big (it was like swallowing a very large boiled egg in one!), only to taste salt water in my mouth. I get no satisfaction from it. But I know lots of people who claim to love oysters so clearly this is just a personal thing. But then again, I do think it might be a case of the Emperors New Clothes!

Next up came Yellow Fin Tuna Cubes served with Soy Air and Avocado Mousse…


These were stunning! Seared every so slightly around the sides, gorgeous and pink inside.


This was so full of flavour and yet light as air. I could have had so much more. The only problem with tasting menus is when you find something you love, you really only have a couple of bites of it. This was a problem again with the next dish.

Grilled Flat Bread Salad with Macadamia Nut Pesto, Baby Rocket, Local fresh Goats Cheese, Olives, Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes…


Paul was making all sorts of noises whilst eating this. It was delicious. It was like a party in your mouth. You could taste each ingredient and they complimented each other beautifully. It was so fresh tasting and yet it really packed a punch in terms of the flavours.

The dishes were coming out pretty fast from the kitchen and as soon as we finished, we were presented with Sautéed Padron Peppers with a Sherry Vinegar Reduction and Orange Segments…


And Seared Scottish Scallops with Green Pea Puree and Olive Oil Powder…


Both of these were delicious. The orange segments complimented the peppers so well. Its not something I would have thought to have with padron peppers but I certainly will in the future. You should definitely try it.

The scallops were perfectly cooked. Paul said they were the best scallops he’d ever had.

Again, rather quickly, we were presented with Grilled British Lamb Cutlets with Smoky Eggplant Puree and Piquillo…


And to accompany that, Grilled Broccollini with Burrata, Pomegranate, Micro Basil and Garlic…


My God, this was amazing. The lamb melted in my mouth and we couldn’t figure out how it could have such a strong chargrilled flavour when it wasn’t burnt to a crisp! Then I tasted the eggplant puree on its own and realised that it was the eggplant that had probably been burnt to a crisp. It had such a strong smoky flavour, that eating it with the lamb made everything taste smoky. It was heaven! And with the added sweetness of the piquillo, it truly was the dish of the night. Again, I wish I could have had more of it.

And the grilled broccolini with the burrata was insanely good. You really couldn’t have put a better dish in front of me and I was grinning from ear to ear.

When we were finished and our plates were being cleared from the table, Paul asked if we could have a 15 minute break before our pudding came. In all honesty, each course had come out so quickly that we needed a few minutes to take in what we’d just eaten and allow ourselves a rest before we went onto the sweet stuff.

We noticed the restaurant was a lot busier now and there was a hive of activity in the kitchen.


Not only was it nice to have a break from the food, but it was a good opportunity for me to catch up on my wine! The courses had come out faster than I could drink each glass of wine and I was lagging behind. I must say though, the wine was superb.

After our rest, we were looking forward to our pudding. But first, Guillermo brought a sweet appetiser…


I’m still not completely sure what it was! Whatever the filling, it tasted like it was dipped in molasses and then dipped in popping candy. Definitely not something we were expecting! But lovely nonetheless.

Then came our pudding. Crispy White Chocolate Hazelnut, White Chocolate Ice-Cream and Pink Pepper Corns…


This was a little piece of heaven. I didn’t think I’d like the pink peppercorns but they really went well with the chocolate.

We also had ice-cream and sorbet on crushed biscuit crumbs.


Next, Guillermo gingerly approached our table with a bowl of liquid nitrogen and some dried raspberries. He swirled them in the liquid nitrogen for a few seconds and then gave them to us to try.


Next we were given espresso martinis which were heavenly…also Paul’s favourite! This was the perfect way to finish off the meal. We were all nicely full but not stuffed or bloated.

This wasn’t just a great meal, it was a gastronomic experience. I like when food is an event. The food was stunning throughout, and the wine pairings were perfect.

My only complaint, and its a small one, is that the courses came out a little too quickly. I would have liked a bit more time in between them to fully take in each course and to appreciate the wine with it. As it was, I found myself almost downing glasses of wine to catch up with the next courses pairing!

The staff couldn’t have been nicer. Often in places like these you have to contend with snooty staff who clearly don’t want to serve you, but everyone we came into contact with was delightful. Especially Guillermo. He was friendly, funny, knowledgeable and he even brought the chef up to our table so we could thank him for such a wonderful meal.

Staff like this really make a huge difference when you’re eating out. We decided there and then that we would come back in June for my birthday. When we mentioned this to Guillermo, he gave us his number and he said he would make sure I have the perfect birthday. He then showed us around the club with is situated right next to the restaurant, separated by a thick curtain.

We all left in high spirits, having had a truly fantastic evening and we all can’t wait to go back!


DSTRKT, 9 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DG
0207 317 9120
e: reservations@dstrkt.co.uk
www.dstrkt-london.com
Twitter: @dstrktlondon

MELE E PERE, SOHO


A couple of weeks ago I found myself in Soho in between meetings so I decided to stop off and have a bite to eat before I headed to my next meeting. I was walking down Brewer Street and noticed a new Italian restaurant, Mele e Pere on the corner of Brewer and Great Pulteney Street.

It’s hard to miss! Its a lovely bright addition to Brewer Street. Mele e Pere translates as ‘apples and pears’ which is illustrated quite literally by the huge assortment of colourful glass apples and pears in the window.


You would be forgiven for thinking this was an antique shop, but venture through the slightly formal reception and down the stairs and you’ll find yourself in a very large whitewashed basement.


I must say, I’m generally not a fan of restaurants where I can’t see inside from outside. I like to see if a place is busy before I walk in. Having to walk up or down stairs to see the restaurant itself usually puts me off. I don’t like staff to see me walk in and then walk back out again if I don’t like the look of it or if its quiet. I hate to see their expectant faces as they hear the sound of footsteps on the stairs, followed by their huge welcoming smile as they rush over to me, only for me to turn around and head out. I feel like I’ve just kicked a puppy! So if I can avoid those places, I will.

However, in this case, I was hungry and I didn’t have much time. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I was amazed at how big it was, I was expecting it to be a lot smaller. Unfortunately for a room this size, you really need a lot of customers to make it feel warm and welcoming. The first thing you notice is the large copper corner bar to the right, and high wooden tables and stools to the left with vintage looking Anglepoise lamps attached to the wall above them.


If you look a bit further back, you will see a rather huge, brightly-lit room full of wooden tables and chairs and lamps all around the wall. There were only a few people eating there so I sat next to the bar. Mele e Pere only recently opened so I don’t think too many people know about it, going by how empty it was at the height of lunchtime in a prime location in Soho.


The Maître’d Hugo Roldan couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming. I just wanted a few things to pick at so I ordered a few small plates.

I had the fried zucchini with mint…


Grilled peppers, aubergine and courgette and spicy Ascolana olives…


Sardinian ham…


Buffalo mozzarella with yellow and green courgettes and baby basil…


Finocchiona, broad bean and pea bruschetta…


The food was really fresh and light and full of flavour. Everything Italian antipasti should be. Hugo looked after me throughout and was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu and the ingredients.

Mele e Pere has only been open a couple of months ago so I’m sure once word spreads, it will fill out a bit more and come into its own. Personally, I’d quite like to see the ground level entrance being converted into a bar so it doesn’t feel quite so intimidating to walk into. It might also make it look more like an eatery and less like an antique shop!

But overall, I’d like to go back and try a bit more of the menu. The service was great and I really like the bar area. I reckon when its a bit busier and there’s a bit more of an atmosphere, it will be a great little place to sit having a few glasses of wine and enjoying a good meal.


Mele e Pere, 46 Brewer Street, London W1
www.meleepere.co.uk
Twitter: @meleEpere

COPITA

Ok, this is going to have to be a quick one because I’m in danger of sounding like Copita’s stalker! I’m beginning to get worried that whenever I walk through their door they’re thinking "Jesus…her again??"

I was in there on at lunchtime on Tuesday trying out their burger (scroll down a couple of posts) but I was back again on Thursday night, introducing my friend Damian to it. Damian has worked with restaurants for years so he knows his food.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, the chef James asked me if I would like a kebab. I immediately said yes. This is what I got…


My God this was good. Its made with succulent pork belly, apple, spiced carrots, kohlrabi and chervil and it tasted sublime.


I could have had another one but Damian turned up and we quickly ordered ‘don agustin’ jamon de bellota. Its £13.50 but so worth it. Its deliciously sweet and it quite literally melts in your mouth.


We also ordered one of my favourite dishes, the ajo blanco. This is a white gazpacho, made with almonds and garlic and served with beetroot and slices of red grape. Absolutely divine. I could eat this all day long.

We also got another favourite of mine…the pea, fresh cheese and truffle oil croquettes. These are incredible. As you cut through the crunchy crust, you’re hit with the beautiful smell of the truffle oil. The pea is fresh and light, the cheese adds a touch of richness and creaminess. I love these croquettes.


Then we ordered the Palamos red prawn and wild garlic tortilla. Again, this was delicious but I was beginning to feel pretty full by this point. The flavours were fantastic but if I had any criticism, I’d say it was a tad too oily for my liking. Just a little less oil in the pan would have made it perfect.


All in all, it was yet another wonderful meal at Copita. The next day, Damian sent me this email…"I’m still a little in awe of how good the food was at Copita. I am not sure I want to tell anyone else about it though so i can keep it a little secret gem! But I know there is no way I will be able to keep it to myself."

I think that speaks for itself!

Copita, 27 d’arblay street, London W1f 8EP
020 7287 7797

copita.co.uk
Twitter: @copitatapas

COPITA, SOHO…yet again!


If you read my blog regularly, you will know that Copita in Soho is one of my favourite restaurants. I have blogged about it many times. (see below)

I was walking down d’Arblay Street on Tuesday when I saw the chef, James, sitting outside. While we were chatting I asked him if he there was anything he could make quickly so I could have a quick bite to eat before going to a work meeting.

He told me they have recently added a burger to their menu so I popped in. There seems to be a burger revolution in London at the moment and Copita’s burger can certainly stand up to the best of them. This burger was amazing and well worth the modest price of £4.50.

The burger is served in a sourdough bun with a beef patty topped with delicious Payoyo, a Spanish goats cheese, sweet red pepper and shallots. Wow! So many flavours yet they don’t fight one another. Its a truly delicious burger.


If you find yourself in Soho, please pay a visit to Copita. It never disappoints.


My other posts on Copita:
http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/18845327503/copita-soho-again
http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/13077059942/copita-again
http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/14517405824/copita-darblay-street-london-w1f-8ep-ajo
http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/12176361745/copita-soho

Copita, 27 d’arblay street, London W1f 8EP
020 7287 7797

copita.co.uk
Twitter: @copitatapas

il Giardino, Pollença, Mallorca

One of my favourite places in the world is Mallorca, a small island off the East coast of Spain. I have been to Mallorca every year for the last 17 years. Eeeshk! That makes me sound rather old! I especially love the North of the island, in particular Puerto Pollença and the old town of Pollença. My family have had a place there for the last 12 years and when I go there, its like going home. I absolutely love it.

As much as I love it in the summer when its nice and hot, I actually prefer it when it’s a bit quieter and there aren’t as many tourists. Easter is one of my favourite times to go there. The Spanish are really into their religious traditions and its lovely to see the community gathering together to watch the Easter processions.

The old town of Pollença is beautiful. It was founded by the Catalans in the 13th century and most of the houses were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Extremely narrow streets populate this town and most lead to the central square, Plaça Major, which has numerous outdoor cafés and restaurants and a wonderful food market every Sunday.


The square is dominated by a large 13th century church Esglèsia de Nostra Senyora dels Àngels (Our Lady of the Angels) which was built by the Knights Templar.

One of my favourite restaurants, il Giuardino, is situated in this square and I go to it every time I’m there.


There is nothing better than sitting outside with the warmth of the sun on your face, eating their wonderful food and drinking their fabulous wine whilst listening to the general chatter of the locals and the sound of children laughing and playing. Then watching as the amber sun sets over the church and darkness falls as the fairy lights scatter the square.


I must admit, I order the same meal every time I eat here…their Ravioli ai porcini con salsa porcini…Wild mushroom ravioli in a cream and wild mushroom sauce.


This is the most wonderful dish. The pasta is light, the mushrooms are strong and woody, the sauce is rich and creamy. The last few times I’ve eaten here, I’ve promised myself that I’ll branch out and order something else but each time the waiter asks me what I’d like, "Wild mushroom ravioli please" inevitably trips off my tongue. I can’t help it! Funnily enough, my brother Christopher said the same thing just this morning. He clearly can’t help it either! And so, this Easter weekend, I fell into the same pattern, but I never regret it. It really is my favourite dish.

Luckily, I was with my parents who ordered something different so I was able to taste other dishes from the menu. I was so glad as their dishes were just as delicious. My particular favourite was the risotto my mum ordered. It was Risotto ai carciofi e gamberoni…Artichoke and prawn risotto.


This was incredible. I’m not normally a risotto fan, I usually find it too heavy and a bit boring if I’m honest but this was delicious. It was light as air and so tasty. There were large tiger king prawns and artichokes throughout. I hate when you order a risotto and you’re presented with a bowl of creamy stodgy rice and only a few of the ingredients it promises. This was different. My fork inevitably kept travelling over to my mum’s plate as she kept trying to clatter it away! I managed to get a few mouthfuls though.

My dad ordered the Filleto di Maiale alle mele….Pork fillet with caramelised apple and apple sauce.


This was also delicious. The pork was incredibly succulent and juicy while the sweetness of the caramelised apples and the apple sauce complimented it beautifully.

This was all washed down by their house wine which was excellent. We could have stayed there all night except it was Good Friday and Good Friday is the setting for the most dramatic parade of the year. First, on the road winding up the back of the hill, there is an enactment of the Stations of the Cross. This is followed by a mock crucifixion on top of the hill after which the figure of Christ is ceremonially removed from the Cross. There is a sombre, torchlit parading of the body of Christ through the town it is led by hundreds people in cloaks, masks and pointed hats and done in total silence save for the slow beating of a drum.


If you are ever planning a trip to Mallorca, I highly recommend going for Easter as its quite a spectacle. And if you’re ever in Pollença, please head to il Giardino for a meal. You won’t regret it.

CAFEZIQUE, GLASGOW

I have been spending more and more time in Glasgow recently because my brother Adam and his beautiful wife Sami have recently had a beautiful baby boy. He is my very first nephew and I may be biased, but I think he is the most beautiful baby in the world. Hence my frequent trips to Glasgow.

Delizique and its sister restaurant Cafezique, are a two minute walk from my brother’s flat so I have spent a lot of time in them over the last couple of weeks. I love them both. The food is great and the staff are very friendly and helpful. What more could you want?

Cafezique has a lovely feel to it. With stone walls and reclaimed wood, a mezzanine looks down onto the bar which is usually populated with locals relaxing with their friends and the weekend papers. On any given weekend you’ll probably see at least one of my brothers there!


I love that after uncovering the original Hargan’s Dairy sign, the owners decided to keep it and put their Cafezique sign round the side.


Both Cafezique and Delizique boast using quality produce sourced from local suppliers and this, along with the atmosphere, is what brings the crowds in. Everytime I go, its busy but the staff are always really friendly and always seem to be in a good mood. Especially the girls working in Delizique.

My mum and I popped into Cafezique for brunch last weekend and it was absolutely delicious. My mum opted for the h.l.t – grilled haloumi with seasonal leaves, tomato and mayo on organic bread which was made in Delizique’s bakery next door.


This tasted amazing. It was simple but it tasted so fresh and light. I kind of wish I’d ordered it as my mum would only allow me one bite of hers!

I ordered eggs benedict. My staple favourite breakfast at the weekends. I adore eggs benedict and I especially love hollandaise sauce so I asked for extra.


This was beautifully rich and delicious. Everything eggs benedict should be.

I always enjoy eating here. If you’re ever in Glasgow, please go along. Both Delizique and Cafezique are just lovely.

66 Hyndland Street, Glasgow, G11 5PT
0141 339 7180
www.delizique.com


You can see my review of their next door sister deli and café Delizique here - http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/15774914107/delizique-glasgow