Where to Eat

Homeslice, Old Street

hs

I am not someone who goes out for pizza. Pizza, for me, is what I order wrapped up in the depths of my duvet on a Sunday evening so hungover I’m past caring what the carb to dairy ratio is in what I’m about to consume. I thought going out to eat pizza was refined to Pizza Hut when you were ten years old, but I seem to have overlooked an entire alternative cuisine. Recently, a few restaurants have been at the centre of a couple of pizza debates between my colleagues. So I’m sucking up my love for the deep dish pizzas I’ve grown accustomed to and stepped out into the centre of Old Street to try a new favourite, Homeslice.

Homeslice started out as a mobile wood-fired oven hand built by Ry Jessup, and was launched at an event in association with London Fields brewery. They sold out in minutes and since then have opened branches in Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Shoreditch.

CVd1pZWWcAAxUlH

It was a ridiculously cold evening in London and there was nothing that could have been more welcoming than the wave of heat from the wood-fired pizza oven that greeted us upon entering the restaurant. With its cosy and pub like interior, this place is super inviting and suprisingly not crazy busy – it didn’t really feel like we were in London anymore. My friend and I were guided through to our table, notably smaller than the pizzas that were being served. Our waitress was superb, she found the perfect balance between being friendly but not overbearing.

So, the pizza menu was up on a chalk board behind us which I believe changes regularly, all the pizzas are 20″ priced at £20 and can be served as half and half. You can also buy by the slice on selected pizzas for £4 each. I’d like to highlight that they have Prosecco on tap at Homeslice, a step in the right direction for each and every dining joint. I don’t care if it’s a summer drink, it’s the festive season and I’ll do as I please. The cocktail menu was written on a mirror at the back, which I have to admit was a really cute idea but we couldn’t see half the menu as they’d written it in white pen and the reflection of the ceiling was white so…

Homeslice-Old-Street-2015-table-WEB

Now be warned that you can’t expect the usual here, this menu is experimental and there is no room for the likes of a Margherita or Pepperoni classic. This restaurant offers the likes of the following: Aubergine, Cauliflower Cheese, Spinach and Harissa – Chorizo, Corn and Coriander – Goat Shoulder, Savoy Cabbage and Sumac Yoghurt. You see what I mean. So my friend and I went for the half and half option (obviously) choosing Salami, Rocket and Parmesan on one half and Mushroom, Ricotta, Pumpkin Seed and Chilli on the other.

image1 (1)

The pizza pictured above is a sham as the food runner brought us the wrong pizza at first. I did think it was all too fast to be true. But I wasn’t annoyed or in any way disheartened by this mistake simply because I was having a bloody good time – Prosecco aside. 5 minutes after bringing the wrong pizza we had our 20 inch meal placed in front of us, hanging off of our tiny table. Paper plates popped down in the empty spaces where they would fit and the absence of cutlery barely noticed.

Looking back I was so impressed. My pizza was delicious, considering I’m more of a deep dish gal I took the thin base in my stride and freaking loved it. The salami was some of the best I’ve ever had – I could not get enough. A little more mozzarella wouldn’t have gone a miss, the parmesan had been cut into monumental slices that was a little overpowering after a couple of slices. My friend’s mushroom pizza was described as “unreal” and the best she’d ever had.

I am so keen to get back here and be a little more adventurous with my menu choice, think I went a little too safe. The vibe is great, perfect for a date or catch up with a friend. It’s just around the corner from some great bars, try The Hoxton Pony for a buzzing urban atmosphere or Joyeux Bordell for something a little more intimate and excellent cocktails.

And I’m highlighting again – Prosecco on tap. 

 

 

Advertisements

Honest Burgers, Liv St.

Honest Burgers is a name that is familiar to most across the city. My first run in with it came when I was based in Clapham South, exploring the area I caught a glimpse of a queue stretching around the corner of the high street. A queue of over 50 people stretching around a corner just before opening time – well that speaks for itself right?

Photography by Kang L

Photography by Kang L

I’ve had a lot of criticism for dubbing Bleecker St the best burger in London – people have been throwing ‘Honest Burgers are King’ at me from all sides. So, I tried it.

This famous little burger joint began it’s journey in 2010 when it’s owners, Tom and Phil, met whilst working in a restaurant in Brighton. Since meeting they have progressed from serving food from marquees at festivals to opening their first restaurant in the oasis that is Brixton Village. Being the first of its kind in Brixton, where they couldn’t even have high quality meat delivered to their door and consequently cycled to Marlyebone every morning for their ingredients, these boys established themselves not only in the borough but in the city.

First glimpse at the menu and there is just enough range to appeal to the masses. If you want a classic burger with no frills, you can have that for £8.50, stripped to basics with bun, patty, signature red onion relish and lettuce. Feening for a Cheeseburger? Choose between Mature Cheddar, Red Leicester or Blue Stilton for £9. I thought it’d only be rude to go for anything but the ‘Honest Burger’, consisting of ‘beef patty, red onion relish, bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce’ for £10. There’s also a Chicken Burger and Veggie option up for grabs. And all are served with their Rosemary Salted Chips.

HB_Home_04-873x420

Thanks to a late night in the office and dinner on the client, I jumped at the opportunity to order from the wonder on wheels that is Deliveroo and finally try an Honest Burger. The order came within 40 minutes and compactly packaged with an array of sauces which I’m still not sure whether I ordered or not. At first glance, this burger is pretty perfect looking but I have to admit – I didn’t think it was enough. I like to eat, and I like it to last. I could tell right away this thing was going to be delicious and it was going to be over way too soon.

Usually, I’m a no frills kind of gal when it comes to burgers, but each of the toppings complimented the others and individually tasted effing divine. The red onion relish? You can see why they drop this onto every beef patty on the menu. The brioche bun, soft and sweet. The patty, I think was outshined by the delicious toppings and the bacon was slightly more chewy than I would have liked. But I’d also like to give some leeway due to the fact I had it delivered and didn’t eat in the actual restaurant. The rosemary chips were to die for, perfectly seasoned and sitting on the delightful cusp of being too crispy. Just a warning that they are pretty salty, you will be apologising to your body incessantly whilst eating them.

I can see why this burger holds the top spot for so many people. It’s significant focus on combining both sweet and salty nominate it to be the McDonalds of the gourmet burger. Not in a bad way, I mean back when McDonalds was freaking fantastic and people just couldn’t get enough. I’d definitely recommend everyone to try it, this was a great meal and I like the entrepreneurial spirit that oozes from this company.

Personally, I prefer a burger that makes me feel guilty about eating it. I mean so guilty that it is no longer a cheat meal and it becomes a full on gluttonous rampage that then unfolds into a state of ecstasy that is the food coma. So Bleecker St still reigns King in my book I’m afraid.

 

Ben’s Canteen, Battersea

benscanteen_avatar_hex

Along with the big burger restaurants we have all heard of in London, I love a local beauty just as much. I found out about this little gem on twitter, where I spend most of my days following restaurants promoting some monstrous burger or gluttonous menu. Ben’s Canteen have a great interactive feed and post some fantastic pictures of their eats and are based in Battersea and Earlsfield, with both a popular brunch, dinner and cocktail menu.

Just a ten minute walk from Clapham Junction station, giving you easy access to all parts of London – the journey back to Stoke Newington was a stretch, but hey I made it! The restaurant itself is really cute, white washed with outdoor seating and the fantastic patio doors which are opened up in the summer. This is something that gets me so excited every time I see it, it’s so childish but doesn’t it just feel like you’re on holiday somewhere beautiful in Europe? My friend and I arrived to find the restaurant in the cool state of busy that you’d expect on a Wednesday evening. The crowd was generally early to mid twenties with a very relaxed vibe. So relaxed in fact we couldn’t actually see any staff about when we first stepped in the door (pet peeve) but after a good wait I clocked the vacant table by the window with my reservation name on a chalk board. We took a seat and started to scan the cocktail menu.

CHEfBjFW8AI152b

The cocktail menu is so, so great – it’s not your average joe menu featuring the ‘classic’s such as the Mojito and Pina Colada but really eclectic mixes of sparkling wine and gin. My friend and I ordered the Coconut Cove, a blend of Koko Kanu Coconut Rum, coconut water. sparkling wine, Fiorente elderflower liqueur, lemon balm and pineapple and lime juice. The description left me imagining it to be quite a heavy and sweet drink, but it was so light and refreshing – like a more exotic and classy glass of Pimms. One of the best cocktails I’ve had in London since I moved here last year.

At a first glance the menu felt a little all over the place, there was no real theme and the potential of a chef’s need to be a Jack-of-all trades screaming at me. With starter options ranging from ‘Ben’s Epic Scotch Egg’ to ‘DIY Guacamole and Tortilla Chips’ and mains varying from ’38 Day Aged Shorthorn Steak with Cafe de Paris Butter’ to a ‘Spring Shoot Super Food Salad’. Although the whole thing was a little much to take in at first – it worked. We ended up choosing the ‘Spiced Duck Nuggets’ to start and ‘The BC Burger’ with sweet potato fries for mains.

IMG_3993

I have to admit I didn’t quite know what to expect from the meal, as usually with smaller, localised places to eat it can be quite hit and miss. But I actually felt like I’d hit the jackpot with this one. The Duck Nuggets were lightly breaded and served with thick soy sauce dusted with sesame seeds – six to one serving, so perfect for sharing. Cured for 6 days, the duck was full of flavour and so tender, none of that chewy business you get at the Chinese takeaway next to your local corner shop. One thing to note, they come piping hot – so watch out! The burger arrived shortly after we’d finished our appetiser and my God was it a huge portion. The burger itself was stacked high and the sweet potato fries well, there must have been the equivalent of two potatoes on my plate. I don’t even think ‘fries’ is the right terminology for these babies, they are full on, thick cut chips. Not that I was complaining. They were hands down, the best sweet potato chips I have ever had. Chunky, soft, lightly salted and crispy on the outside – they could not have been more perfect. The burger was also fantastic, the beef patty perfectly cooked and topped with Salt Beef, Homemade Burger Sauce & Smoked Cheese, plus the necessity of the beef tomato and salad garnish. Although, I have to say I really struggled to keep all the ingredients in the bun when I was eating – it was pretty embarrassing. I’m 23, I should know my way around a burger by now.

All in all, a great meal. I didn’t want to stop eating the sweet potato fries or the duck nuggets, they are an absolute must if you visit. The burger was enjoyable but not a main dish I’d be addicted to and keep going back for, such as Red Dog Saloon’s cheeseburgers, in all their greasy goodness. But if you’re in the area, I’d 100% recommend you head down, the food is creative and fun – they even have a DIY donut dessert where you inject the filling of your choice with a plastic syringe. They also have daily specials and happy hour cocktail offers which they promote on twitter, so follow them for updates on their menu. The cocktails are great and the staff are friendly so it makes for a perfect summer evening out.

CGByCoyWMAAEC1k.jpg-large

Street Feast, Dalston Yard 

image

If you hadn’t noticed, there is an epidemic of street food sweeping through London. We all know about Camden’s food stalls which are open late into the night with staff competing to get the attention and sale of every passer-by. But I’m talking about food festivals and the gourmet food trucks which are popping up regularly now.

The evolution of food trucks and street food has progressed massively. No longer do we expect the average frankfurter wedged in a Warburton’s bun topped with over fried onions. We expect delicious, gourmet food for under a tenner, maybe even a fiver and we’ll take nothing less. Whilst street food had been delivering quick lunches since the early 1900s, the boom we are seeing started around 10 years ago. If we’re specific, Los Angeles based Korean style street food, Kogi, sparked it all. The reason behind this surge is due to weakness in the economy and unemployment being on the rise. Many people who own food trucks are those who lost their jobs and started up on their own. Amongst them are people in their mid-twenties wanting to get into the food industry and doing so with a flair of creativity. And who thought the recession could spark something so wonderful.

CFbSV-FWMAAZ6DQ

We’ve seen successful food trucks progress to international restaurants as well. Shake Shack started as a food truck on Madison Square Park in New York and earlier this year raised £105m from their IPO. Street food and food trucks in London are now so popular there are places where you can try the best of the best every weekend throughout summer. Street Feast is definitely one you need to try out.

Last Saturday, a bunch of friends and I visited Street Feast’s Dalston Yard location for a birthday. I was beyond excited all week for the food on offer, just check out their website and your mouth will be watering. The stalls available are interchangeable as they shuffle them around all locations ‘Model Market’ (Lewisham), ‘Dalston Yard’ and  ‘Dinerama’  (Shoreditch Yard – opening 12th June). But you can expect the likes of Bleecker St, B.O.B.s Lobster, Yum Bun, Le Bun, Slider Bar, Grill My Cheese, Rola Wola and more. They also have a craft beer stall, gin bar and Caribbean style cocktails at Rum Shack. It’s everything you could dream of in one place.

Now, my brother’s girlfriend had shown me a picture of one of the meals she had last time she went – 3 sliders including deep fried chicken sandwiched between two waffles. Instantly that was top of my list of things to try. Definitely two ingredients I wouldn’t put on one plate – let alone in the same bite. Next up, an asian style soft, steamed bun in the place of standard bread any day. So Le Bun and Yum Bun it was.

2015-05-30 19.05.50 2015-05-30 19.10.21

Naturally I went for the Le Bun’s 3 sliders for £10, being the greedy bitch I am. To my pleasure, the chicken and waffle dish was still available and better than I imagined; so I ordered two, and how can you blame me when it’s titled ‘Truffle & Waffles’ and compiled of confit southern fried chicken, house waffles, truffle butter and Rosemary maple syrup. My third option was the ‘Le Duck Frites Bun’ which packed in pulled confit duck, straw frites, béarnaise spread, duck sauce and champagne slaw into a brioche bun. The flavours in the former were fantastic and totally complementary of the other. Although at times the chicken did feel quite dry, maybe due to the ratio of meat compared to the waffle bun, which obviously gets thinner and thinner as you’re taking each bite and squashing the slider. But I’d still go back for more. I have much less to say about the Duck Confit Slider, I felt there was too much béarnaise sauce one such a small burger which I felt also got cold far too quickly. Both were incredibly messy – make sure you grab a napkin.

057 2015-05-30 19.31.38

Yum Bun was a total winner. Since a friend of mine had shown me a picture of this burger in a steamed bun he ate in Berlin, I’ve been dying to try one! Yum Bun had three savoury menu choices and two desserts – one bun for £4 and two for £7. The three savoury choices included the ‘Pork Bun’ (slow-roasted pork belly, cucumbers, spring onions and hoisin sauce), ‘Mushroom Bun’ (Portobello mushroom, toasted walnuts and a miso glaze) and a ‘Shrimp Bun’ (crispy chilli prawns, pickles, coriander and gochujang mayo). The dessert options were either coffee ice cream, toasted coconut ice cream inside a crispy golden bun.  I chose the Pork Bun and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream desert – don’t judge me. I can eat. Both were DIVINE. The steamed bun is something I could eat on its own, all day every day and teamed with the pork and hoi sin sauce it was twice as satisfying as the hoi sin duck pancakes I get along with my Chinese take out – which is twice as expensive. The dessert bun was insane, the toasted coconut ice cream was drizzled with a caramel sauce and sprinkled with peanuts – combining all the textures of sticky, crunchy and smooth in one go. If there is anything you try this year, please try Yum Bun. For £7 there is no excuses.

The drinks from Rum Shack are worth a go if you’re not into craft beer – or equally if you are. They’re strong and extremely tasty. Although, I would look out for the rip off that is the £15 Pina Colada Pitcher which comes in an appealing hollowed out pineapple– you are paying for the pineapple people!

dsc_6242

Altogether, I think I spent around £30 between 7pm and 9pm, so if you’re looking to spend a longer evening there, it is going to cost you. When you’ve eaten all you can and move on to drinks that’s when it adds up. Regardless of how much you want to spend, I suggest you make your way down to Street Feast, if not for the food then for the beer and if not for the beer, for the atmosphere. It has a fantastic, lively vibe– incredibly cool decor, sporting that run down chic that east London is loving right now which also included numerous bonfires spread about the venue to keep you toasty in this British weather. You can probably expect to be eating and drinking on your feet though – despite there being seating there is not enough for everyone so don’t be disappointed. It’s free to get in before 7pm, afterwards it’s £3 and it’s open from 5pm to midnight every Friday and Saturday until 26th September.

And for all of those attending Field Day Festival this weekend, Street Feast is providing the food – you can find me at the Blecker Street truck and expect to see a review sometime next week!

Meat Mission, Hoxton

3-meat-mission-865x576

The firm I work for has this incessant habit of disclosing a fun fact about each of their new employees to the whole company around a week before they start. Mine was the fact I have this food blog – which is a great conversation starter but I also feel a new bout of pressure for each post I write knowing it may be falling under managements eyes. On my first day I was discussing this obsession I have for unhealthy food when a team member mentioned a restaurant near by, where I ‘absolutely must try’ the Dead Hippie Burger at a place called ‘Meat Mission’. Others overheard and one lady backed him up and said she knew the owners before they got big and the restaurant was nothing more than a roaming food truck.

International food chain Meat Liquor is a American style restaurant serving burgers, chicken wings and cocktails. London locations including the West End and also smaller spin off, Meat Mission, in Hoxton. This little food joint has skyrocketed to popularity due to its informal vibe and meat centric menu. It seems that in this day and age the larger and greasier the burger and the more run down the restaurant looks, the more popular it is.

I arrived at prime time and avoided the dreaded queues mentioned in Time Out’s review. My friend and I stood by the door whilst several floor staff rushed past without even a glance in our direction. I know just how busy and stressful it can get as a waitress having worked at Las Iguanas for 6 months in 2013, but one rule our manager drummed into us was ‘watch the door!’ – you have no idea how mad people can get in those seconds that tick by when they’re waiting at the door. Eventually a waitress stops and simply just stares at us…after what feels like a lifetime of discomfort I blurt out ‘table for two?!’. We follow her to a distressed wooden table with chairs along one side and a low bench along the other. The restaurant was fairly busy with a variation in the crowd, from family parties to couples.

Meat-Mission-1

Throughout dining, the service significantly improved and we were not left too long or too briefly to make our decisions. We ordered our drinks and received in good time although, I don’t think I will ever get used to drinking wine from a tumbler glass in public. My university days of drinking alcohol from anything but the appropriate glass are well and truly behind me.

The menu, to me, felt quite sparse. I expected much more choice from such a big chain and remember feeling quite reserved on all varieties of burger. The description of each of the 9 burgers on offer – only 5 of them with a beef patty, sounded exactly the same. Ranging from a classic Cheeseburger to the famous Dead Hippie Burger, each one held the ingredients –  cheese, pickles, lettuce, mustard and onions. Which yes, does compile a delicious sounding burger but leaves little to the imagination for someone feeling adventurous. I went with my team mate’s recommendation – the 2x mustard fried beef patties, dead hippie sauce, pickles, minced white onions, lettuce and cheese – which makes up the Dead Hippie Burger. And threw in a batch of fries, for good sport.

IMG_57941

Moments later, my friend and I’s order arrived. Now, I’m all for a funky replacement for a plate, but I enjoy having my own of whatever that replacement might be. In true American fashion, our order arrived on a red plastic tray, covered only in a white sheet of grease proof paper and some serviettes  – my issue, is that our orders arrived on the same tray. I looked up expectantly at our vanishing waitress at a sign more plates would be coming. But no. One tray for the both of us. Like animals.

The meal itself was good but nothing memorable. It always hurts when the fries are more tasty than the burger. The Dead Hippie did not impress, it looked more like a slider than a full size meal – and I felt my heart drop a little at the absence of a brioche bun. FYI the only way to do burgers in 2015. Honestly, I have no more to say on the meal other than it left me hungry and a little disheartened after all the hype. Although, my friend did say that they were a bad batch – so I feel inclined to try it once more. But in no way will I be rushing back.

Avenue, Piccadilly

JOS2014008D00058

 

Avenue introduced me to something special, something I’d never even dreamed acceptable in society. But as someone who is new to London and urban life, it appears I’m one step behind, once again. Brunch, with unlimited Bellini’s, Bloody Mary’s or Prosecco, is apparently a common thing in places like New York and a growing trend in the UK capital of London. People getting sauced between the hours of 11am and 3pm, classing it as acceptable just because it’s Prosecco and it’s being drank with a meal. There are plenty of places which have made the Evening Standard’s top list for these so called ‘boozy brunches’, such as Bourne & Hollingsworth, Cookbook Cafe and Flesh & Buns. Although, my friend presented a trusty buzzfeed article which had a little more choice, including that of Avenue, a New York inspired bar and restaurant based in-between Piccadilly and Green Park.

This brunch actually took place on Easter’s bank holiday weekend, so I was suffering from the worst hangover of the year so far, bar January 1st. What is it about bank holiday weekends that just make you feel like Christmas has come early? I well and truly acted like I was ballin’ for those four days and have been struggling for the rest of the month. But despite the night before’s little portion of crazy, I managed to make it to the restaurant looking fairly presentable and on time.

Avenue

The place is beautiful, 100% one of the fanciest places I’ve been to since I moved here. All the staff were in suits and super polite and there was an incredible buzz coming from the back in the dining area. The decor was insane. The bar was insanely classy and chic, featuring some high bar chairs and some vintage looking seating opposite; I would have never say it out loud but my pay cheque is not made for places like this. Although, once I reach Carrie Bradshaw sassy, I will make it my spot.

My friend and I had reserved a table for 3pm and upon my arrival I was told the kitchen would be open for another 15 minutes. Straight away I knew this was a problem, my friend is never on time – and not like fashionably late. Usually between 40mins to an hour onwards. So I set myself up on one of the stools at the bar, ordered myself some ice water trying to hide my hangover and waited. And the longer I waited the more pitiful looks I was getting from the staff surrounding me, the bar man actually slid over a bowl of mixed nuts for me, to quote on quote ‘cheer me up’, like they do in those movies when someone has been stood up.

waffles

45 minutes of staring into space, wishing the ground would swallow me up – my friend arrived and because I’d had such a long time to bond with the manager, they’d kept the kitchen open for us. The menu boasted a range of breakfast(y) dishes from Granola, Yoghurt and Berries to BBQ pork ribs and Southern Fried Baby Chicken, with the option of dessert too. We quickly ordered a round of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup and waffles with bacon and mixed berries. And of course 2 glasses of unlimited prosecco. Now I had some doubts about just how unlimited this would actually be, but I really needn’t have worried. They just kept that shit coming. Every time our cup reached the half empty mark they ran over with that bottle like there was no tomorrow.

My friend and I were the last ones left in the restaurant, the staff had started preparing the restaurant for dinner and we hadn’t even noticed the lights dim we were so sauced. So the brunch did the trick. For the amount I paid for the waffle, I have to say it was pretty worth it. Made fresh to order and the berries worked wonders for my hangover. All together my meal came to £35. A little shock – £20 for a waffle is a little much, but for a treat with an old friend what’s money right? I’m so good at making excuses for spending inappropriate amounts of money on food. The staff had been so great and patient with us, that I wouldn’t even have minded paying service – which they discounted for some reason. Probably another little something to ‘cheer me up’.

For the rich folk out there who could afford to do this every weekend, please do it. For me.

The Paperworks, Elephant & Castle

uk-paperworks

Last week was one of my closest girlfriends birthday, as one of my more cool and edgy friends there was a lot of pressure put on her to choose a fitting venue for the occasion. She’s fun to pressurise. I find that the older I get the more amusing I find it to wind people up, perhaps this is just a psychological response to growing older and wishing I wasn’t. I’ve known Sophie for a good five years now, she was literally the first person I saw around my halls of residence in Oxford 2010 and I remember thinking, she’s dressed so well – I hope we become friends. Later that evening we bumped into each other in the student bar, Morals, and she hasn’t been able to get rid of me since.

So she chose Elephant & Castle – which, by day, I have to say is one of my least favourite places in London but by night, it actually pulled it out the bag. Following my overdue welcome drinks at work, I made my way to the pop up venue ‘The Paperworks‘ on my own – only a 5/10 minute walk from the station.

4e2e98d6-45b2-4d4f-9fb7-1f2f0e411208

Inside was I guess what you’d expect from a fancy beer garden, it reminded me a lot of The Big Society, Oxford, but with more lawn chairs, fairy lights and general charm. It wasn’t too hectic either, whenever I visit somewhere in London I just anticipate the large crowds and pushing and shoving but there was none of that here. Everyone was in their little groups huddled around the makeshift fires scattered around and generally being cheerful human beings. Pretty much the way everyone acts when it’s summer. It was like previewing a snippet of summer.

There were food, cocktail and beer stalls at decent prices. From what I remember, there was only one food stall, serving hot dogs – but advertised them with authentic German titles. I ordered a cheese dog, starving, to find them handed me back a numbered ticket and telling me it’ll be around 15 minutes. In my inebriated state I couldn’t quite comprehend how a hot dog would take 15 minutes to cook, I mean how long does it take to boil a frankfurter?! But what I got was much better than expected. When I picked up my order, I was ready to scream when I saw no cheese in that thing – only to get told it was inside the sausage. This was a revelation for me, I had never heard of this before. Alcohol tastebuds aside, this thing was great. Pop up beer gardens, are the one.

Bad Egg, Moorgate

B-h6aMKIEAA-VIQ.jpg-large

With a new firm comes new territory, I’d gotten to know the backstreets of Fitzrovia and all it has to offer within the year I’d worked in the area. I’m no longer on West End grounds and find myself close to the quirky streets of East London and smack bang in the city’s centre. At first glance I was worried there wouldn’t be many inspiring eateries amongst the modern concrete and glass clad offices but thankfully a few of my new colleagues have paved the foodie way for me. Luckily, I stumbled across this little gem within my first week.

Bad Egg is the new venture from Neil Rankin – who has previously worked his wonders in both Smokehouse, Islington and Pitt Cue Co, where he has based a menu around the protein packed breakfast favourite, eggs – playing on different flavours from around the globe. The menu boasts dishes ranging from goat’s cheese tacos to Korean sweet and spicy ribs – with feature craft beers on offer and a buzzy diner atmosphere, these lunch sized portions are perfect for your midday escape from the office.

Now there are some things you just don’t order when you’re out with new company such as spaghetti bolognese, noodles or ribs. I like to defy these unwritten rules and enjoy putting my etiquette into good old fashioned practice. Starving and craving something meaty avoiding all salad based dishes on the menu, I went for the Peking Ribs (Umami Rich Soy, Hoisin and Ginger Sauce) and some fries on the side – totalled at £11.50. Pretty good price for Central London.

Bad Egg City of London 5_13219

Our food came within 10 minutes and to my surprise my dish wasn’t at all messy as I’d pictured, it was one hefty, pork belly rib with a crispy outer layer and smothered in sauce, it looked delicious! The fries were plain and nothing really to shout about but necessary to pair with something as rich flavoured as the ribs I ordered. Another plus to the meal – the rib was so large I could use my knife and fork, usually I wouldn’t really care but it was my 3rd day at work – no way can I walk into the office after lunch with an ambiguous stain on my white shirt now can I? The Peking Ribs were so, so great for the first few mouthfuls, cured and slow cooked to perfection, the meat just fell off the bone. But as I got further through my meal I found it got more difficult to enjoy, maybe I needed more sides to mask the generous helping of hoisin sauce which became more sickly with each bite. Along with the amount of fat that was oozing onto my fork, it just wasn’t for me.

I wouldn’t say it made me write off the restaurant all together, the food looks impressive and the recipes are creative but with the result of my meal and the lack of competent service – generally when hiring a floor staff you choose someone who can remember which customer said what and be able to handle it when there are more than 3 tables with hungry customers. It’s not somewhere I would make dinner reservations on a Saturday night to be the centre point of a planned evening but a good option on the lunchtime list all the same.

BRGR.CO, Soho

brgrco I had high hopes for BRGR.co as it features on Time Out London’s Top Burgers and it did not disappoint. With dim lighting, buzzing atmosphere and alternative music playing, this makes a good date location, whether you’re on your 1st or 50th. The staff were so welcoming, even the chef and this didn’t waver throughout our meal. At first look I felt the menu was a little sparse, the burgers really just varied in size and meat used and not really in toppings which I am used to expecting after visiting places like Red Dog Saloon and BOBO Social. But what I did notice was great prices, a 6oz burger was £7.25, known as the ‘Tender Blend’ and toppings and sauces at the additional price of .99p. After spying on another tables order and saw those fries, all doubt left my mind. Ranging from cheese to chilli fries and our choice – parmesan truffle fries. They were something else.BRGR.CO Soho - Butchers Cut Burger (8 Oz) comes with salad on the side. So in the end I went for the ‘Tender Blend’ Burger with vintage cheddar and BRGR sauce. And I tell you they got this burger thing down to a science.  Putting the salad and sauces on the side leaving you to build your burger one step at a time everything just enhances the dining experience and it honestly just makes you appreciate each flavour more. The brioche bun was the best that I have had so far, perfect bun to patty ratio – there was no bite shy of beef. And the burger sauce was incredible. I would eat here everyday if I could and if my metabolism hadn’t slowed down to a ridiculous pace – long gone are the days when I can eat whatever I want with no consequence. The Parmesan Truffle Fries were thin and crispy and the flavours really complemented each other although maybe just a tad too much cheese for me to finish the portion. All in all, excellent dining experience. All burgers served on a tin tray with red and white checkered paper really gives you the feel of informality to your meal which I am such a fan of at the moment. Our waitress was so great and friendly but at the same time not too invasive. The food was to die for and definitely sits rightly as one of Time Out’s top burger restaurants in London.

BOBO Social, Fitzrovia

10529637_10154886340325596_872833985_n  img_7965

Once a week at my work place we have a ‘treat yourself’ day. A few of us have strict diets, with allergies to gluten and lactose included but some foods are just worth the pain they bring afterwards, right?

So in search of burgers and more sweet potato fries we headed down to BOBO Social. The place is gorgeous, the interior is all warm beiges and nudes with fairy lights scattered around, chandeliers and a beautiful engraved silver bar. And really just looks like the insides of someones house, someone who lives in Kensington. As there were 9 of us we’d booked a table in advance and they led us downstairs and to this little cove, so we were totally enclosed surrounded by said fairy lights and to be honest kind of squished as the table could only really seat 6. It would have been great for them to have set up the table before we arrived so we didn’t have to pass chairs down to the end of the table with them.

10505366_760614823996876_41867807060498409_n

Anyway, forget the service. The menu. Most of my colleagues went for the BOBO burger option as it simply came with salad and sauce and you had the option to add toppings, such as bacon, guacamole, shitake mushrooms and so on. Another went for the lobster and crab burger, which I was so tempted to get but the peanut butter burger was just calling me. I’m a sucker for mixing both savoury and sweet (I love the restaurant Duck and Waffle, whose menu is dedicated to that) and this burger consisted of a patty, bacon and crunchy peanut butter. I swear to God it was one of the best things I’ve eaten in my life. I didn’t want it to end. The peanut butter and bacon complemented each other so well and added moisture to the patty which I can sometimes feel is too dry. So I highly recommend.

Although, the burgers took 45 minutes to come out, probably spending a hefty number of minutes burning that ‘B’ into the bun, and the service had already told us we have the table for an hour and 15 minutes. So we felt fairly rushed, particularly when they ended up kicking us out early. Giving us those 15 minutes you promised would probably have saved you your 12.5% service charge.

All in all, the food was great, everyone was happy and the table had that satisfied silence you hear when people are enjoying their meal. Sweet potato fries could have been a little crispier, they were not so impressive in comparison to Bubbledogs’. The peanut butter burger was everything I’d dreamed of and more, thank you for not using sunpat and giving a healthy dollop of the stuff – it exceeded expectations. But the atmosphere of the restaurant was really quite stuck up and I don’t appreciate getting kicked off a table I had pre booked and they were aware of. I think I’d only return if I could get take out.

Bubbledogs, Fitzrovia

Bubble-dogs-00007-DSCF1557

 

I foresee this place being my next obsession. Does anyone else have that incessant habit where you find something you like, do that thing over and over and over again until you hate it? I do it with songs, food, clothes. EVERYTHING.

But I doubt I will ever hate Bubbledogs. I’d heard a couple of people mentioning it around my office and the name stood out right away, I’m a sucker for a quirky name. To my delight Bubbledogs happen to fall under the category of the unique dining experience of gourmet fast food, this time incorporating hot dogs and champagne. It’s like they just fabricated themselves from my dreams.

967902_10154857547305596_2115365017_n
Hot Dogs. Champagne.

Now if I’m honest when I go out to eat and order a Hot Dog its usually in a knock-off American Diner where everything is supersize and to be frank, when the dish arrives I’m a little overwhelmed without even taking a bite. This is not what Bubbledogs is like. Whether you like your Hot Dog plain in the bun with or without ketchup or mustard or you like it covered in macaroni cheese, bacon bits and crispy onions – there will be something for you. You can take a look at the menu here. My choice was the Sloppy Joe (topped with pork chilli and mature cheese) and a side of sweet potato fries. I was prepared to be intimidated by the portion, checking for napkin stations and perched strategically on the high rise seats to avoid any future incidents of missing my piehole.

But this was the perfect portion. The Sloppy Joe was just big enough, with just the right amount of chilli that it could satisfy the good old tastebuds as well as actually staying in the bun – which I would genuinely call a science. Filled with delicate flavours and cooked to perfection I couldn’t fault them. And don’t even get me started on the sweet potato fries.

If you’re looking for somewhere fresh and funky to go for dinner but aren’t quite ready to throw away that classy vibe, this is the restaurant for you. Although, our waiter seemed to be unable to comprehend we didn’t want any champagne with our meal and had actually visited the restaurant for their food the whole experience was great. I plan to return on Thursday next week to dabble in their champagne list, I’m no connoisseur, but no better time to learn seeing as I’m going to be spending all my time there now, right?

 

RED IRON BURGER, UXBRIDGE

RED IRON BURGER, Uxbridge

10719366_10154652568880596_1425935977_n

As I mentioned in my post about Burger & Lobster, to get a good burger, go to a specialist burger restaurant. Whilst I was out to meet a few close friends from Uni, in a town far, far away (Uxbridge – Zone 6), I did not expect to find this little treasure.

I love restaurants which present an alternative dining experience and Red Iron Burger really delivers with it’s hybrid, fast food set up. Stepping in the front door was like stepping into your regular chippy down the road – but this isn’t a menu to take away. The dining area is towards the back, not a huge space but big enough to fulfil a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Table ready with mustard, tomato ketchup (Heinz of course) and a box of napkins. The menu is clear and presents a range of options – covering beef, chicken, veggie and lamb burgers…& salads. But I’d question your diet if you’re turning up to this kind of restaurant for a salad – don’t kid yourself.

They also do those awesome milkshakes which cost about a fiver but taste like paradise – I recommend the Oreo flavour. If you turn to the back of the menu, they also do the Man VS Food challenges, which I tried to force my friends into unsuccessfully. Choices are – The End of the World Burger (30oz Beef Patty, 4 cheeses, bacon, chips & onion rings), The 40oz Steak (Served with Chips) or The Super Spicy Hot Wings with choice of flavours. One of the main reasons my friends wouldn’t try the challenge as the benefits were not good enough – simply getting your picture on the wall of fame and ‘Bragging Rights’ does not suffice. Maybe making it a free meal might give it more appeal guys.

The burger in my picture was my partner’s. He’s such a pig. Having the Red Iron Burger Classic was not enough, he asked for a lamb patty on top of that. To his dismay the Lamb was a disappointment, too tough and salty. Whilst the beef patty was cooked to perfection – real melt in your mouth experience  – how burgers should be!

Here there is no cutlery, no plates, no alcohol. Just your hands, a red tray and an overpriced soft drink of your choice. But I’ve gotta say, the portions are massive, none of us could finish our meal, but we left satisfied. I’d have no hesitation in going back here, but only when I’m feeling really, really hungry – and maybe when I feel I’ve had a good healthy week and can balance my self out with a meal which is probably leading me down a dark route to cardiac arrest.