Friday, December 27, 2013

The Foragers - Hove

My friend introduced to me a fantastic pub in Hove called The Foragers. This award winning gastro pub is tucked away behind the main street and is definitely one of Hove's best kept secrets.

We decided on the 2 for £12 deal where I chose the pork rillet served with apple and pear chutney and home made bread for starters then the beer battered haddock with chips for my main. The food was tasty, wholesome and very filling as pub food should be. I'm always a big fan of restaurants who source their ingredients locally and use organic and free range meats. You can tell a lot of love goes into their food!

Overall I had a really lovely experience at The Foragers, great food with very accommodating staff who were attentive.

The Foragers on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fire and Stone - Westfield, Shepherd's Bush

I really like this restaurant, but I'm pretty sure that if I took an Italian friend of mine here they would probably slap me and say that this was not real pizza. And of course they are right, I mean who puts roast potatoes or crispy duck onto a pizza? Well Fire & Stone do.

The pizzas are freshly made and cooked in a massive wood fired oven. What makes Fire & Stone so different from other pizzerias is that they offer a twist on your normal pizza. When I first looked at the menu, it was like they chose the most popular dishes from different countries and used the ingredients to create inventive pizza toppings. 

For starters I chose the calamari, which were crispy and tasted delicious when dipped into the garlic sauce. My main was the New York pizza, where the toppings were streaky bacon, garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, caramelised onions, smoked paprika, sour cream and chives. It was divine, although with each bite I was feeling more guilty as I could feel myself piling on the pounds. I dare not know how many calories was in that pizza, but it tasted good. 

I thought the pizza was great value for money as my friend and I did the two pizzas for £12. I would probably come back here again as I have my eye on another pizza to try, possibly in the new year when I've failed to go to the gym.

Fire & Stone - Westfield on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Turkey Christmas dinner - Fountain's Abbey

I love this time of year when the pubs are furnished with Christmas decorations and the seasonal Christmas menu kicks in. The Fountains Abbey is probably my local pub as I'm usually down here to watch the football over a bottle of cider and when I noticed the "Turkey special" etched on the blackboard, I couldn't resist.

The turkey was cooked ok, actually everything was ok apart from the pig in blankets. This tasted like it had been cooked hours ago and left in the oven for five hours longer than it should have been. It was rock solid. I tried my best to cut through it with my fork and knife, but because it was so hard as I sliced the sausage one half flew off my plate and onto the floor, which added a sour taste to my mouth. This turkey meal was well off the mark and the lack of gravy did not help. I was really disappointed as I usually quite like the food here and expected better quality food.

My boyfriend opted for the Hunter's chicken and that again was pretty poor. The chicken had been overcooked so the meat was dry so we attempted to balance the texture with the barbecue sauce but this had been cooked to the point where it stuck to the bottom of the plate. Not impressed Taylor Walker!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Eat Italia!

I had a week off before starting my new job so booked a holiday to Rome. My main aim was to try as many Italian dishes and avoid restaurants close to the tourist spots. The best dish I tried was sea bass gnocchi in Pisa, it was just divine.

I also noticed in Italy that unlike in the UK, they don't put chicken on pizzas or any meat apart from salami, pepperoni and other cured meats.

Here are just a few snapshots of Italian dishes I took.

Seafood pizza

Aubergine pizza
Sea bass gnocchi
Sea bass ravioli
Pesto pasta

Friday, November 8, 2013

Toad in the Hole - The Counting House

The last few times I visited I've always been impressed but today I was disappointed. I chose the Toad in the Hole from The Counting House's weekly special menu and what a bad decision it was. The sausages were cooked ok but the Yorkshire pudding was really doughy and had no taste or seasoning to it. It tasted like rubber. The gravy also had a thick skin on it, which didn't help to moisten the dry pastry.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vapiano - Oxford Circus

Vapiano is a German restaurant chain which delivers tasty Italian food made to order. Its not like any ordinary restaurant, you get given a plastic card where you place orders onto it and pay before you leave. The whole concept at Vapiano reminds me of a school canteen in a sense that you queue up, tell the chef what you want, who then either makes the food right on the spot or gives you a buzzer to let you know when your meal is ready. 

From the menu I picked the DIAVOLO; spicy Italian sausage, peppers, red onions, tomatoes and mozzarella. The pizza was thin base and delicious. The ingredients tasted fresh and I love the herb plants dotted around on the tables. 

Example part of the menu:

The restaurant by Oxford Circus does get incredibly crowded and noisy, but when you're with a group of friends I find it a great place to eat and because of the card system there are no discrepancies in splitting the bill. This was my second time at Vapiano and I have to say I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. The only thing I don't like is clutching onto my dinner tray and edging past the crowds to sit down and eat. I have the fear that someone will knock into me and my food will go everywhere.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sen Nin - Isnlington

Now days when I feel like I'm on a budget there are so many websites which offer 50% off meals or special deals where food is heavily discounted. My boyfriend bought us a voucher for Teppanyaki-Style Japanese dining for two at Sen Nin with two strawberry margaritas. 

The voucher was sold to us as “Enjoy dinner and a show as a feast of Japanese food is prepared before your eyes at the newly re-launched Teppanyaki restaurant Sen Nin. Their theatrical and skilled chefs will astound you with their skills as they whirl, juggle, flip and flame raw ingredients into stunning dishes at the Islington restaurant”

Upon arriving at the restaurant we were seated on a table very close to the entrance of the restaurant. We asked the waitress whether it was our permanent table for the night or whether we would be moved to a different location for the "Teppanyaki" experience. The waitress replied saying ‘our restaurant was refurbished around 2 months ago, unfortunately since then we do not offer a Teppanyaki experience’. Both our jaws just dropped, we had bought the voucher with the intention to see the chefs throw food in the air and wow us with a Teppanyaki show. We were left disappointed and the voucher had been mis-sold to us, if we had known we would have gone elsewhere.

This aside, the food was actually quite good. To start we had the miso soup and spicy seafood soup. 

Our second choice was the Dragon roll which was delicious and presented beautifully. It was a tempura prawn rolled up in rice served with unagi and decorated with spring onion and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce.

I chose the Wagyu beef cooked medium rare served with mushrooms and chive. The beef was juicy and succulent but I didn't really think this dish was Japanese. 

It was the same for the lobster, it was presented and cooked perfectly but this dish could have been easily served to me in a French restaurant and I wouldn't have known.

We had a disappointing start to the meal after not meeting our first expectation and then the food being classed as Japanese but not. Nonetheless despite my opinion of it not being Japanese the food was a good standard but I wouldn't come to Sen Nin again as our experience has been tainted by the lack of Teppanyaki effort and has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Sen Nin Japanese Teppanyaki on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 25, 2013

Konditor and Cook

So its Friday and my manager has yet again spoiled us with a delectable cake from Konditor and Cook. I guess this is a perk from working in the Gkerkin, you have an amazing bakery below, which produces incredible homemade cakes. To name a few I've tried the Curly Wurly cake, Victoria Sponge, a peach tart, toffee and apple crumble and more. 

As soon as the cake is put in front of me, its usually devoured before I'm able to take a photo. However, today I managed to suppress my eager to immediately gorge on the cake with my bare hands and take a few photos. Not sure if my amateur snaps do it justice, but I had to show you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Penang! - Westfield Shepherds Bush

One of my favourite things about Westfield (Shepherds Bush) is the ample of selection of restaurants dotted around the shopping centre. My usual go to spot is the "hawker centre" area inside Westfield, but today my friend and I decided on dining out on the Southern Terrace. The restaurant which stuck out most was Penang! with its bright, bold, blue exterior. 

The menu is inspired by Malaysian street food where the name say it all. Penang! The king of street food across the states of Malaysia.

I recently went to Penang back in April and and can say that the food here is not 100% authentic, but nonetheless I thought it tasted good. The menu has a selection of little dishes where you can choose several things to share, similarly like tapas and also larger meals for one. 

My friend and I ordered prawn crackers, steamed bun sandwich, which was filled with duck, hoisin sauce and a lot of spring onion. The duck was full of flavour but I couldn't taste any hoisin sauce, which I love. We also tried the Sayur curry puff served with mango chutney. From first glance I thought the pastry would be dry, thick and make my mouth taste of cotton wool, but I was wrong. The pastry crumbled in my mouth and had more filling than I had anticipated. I was definitely pleased with this choice.

For my main I chose the Kari Kambang, which was described as a classic Malaysian curry, rich and beautifully aromatic. It was certainly flavoursome with large chunky pieces of lamb and had a kick of spice, which left my tongue salivating. However my only displeasure (quite a big one for me) was that it was really oily to a point where I could see my reflection. From the photo below you can see how much oil there was in the curry, no matter how much I stirred it within a few seconds the oil would rise to the top and form a layer. This was quite off putting.

I also ordered roti parata to eat with the curry and for £1.50 I thought it was expensive. They should have at least provided you with two pieces. The roti itself was not the usual type you would have in an Indian restaurant, this one was crispy and flaky but I did enjoy it.

Overall I had a good dining experience at Penang!. The food tasted good and the service was great. Some dishes were debatable to be just Malaysian, to me I would have called it fusion. I understand that are Malaysian dishes on the menu but it just didn't give me the same buzz as real street food in Penang did or reminded me of it.

Penang! on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 18, 2013

Poncho 8 burritos

There are far to many places to eat lunch around the Gherkin. From cafes, take-outs and fast food chains that are squished into every corner of the city. I recently passed by Poncho 8 a small shop that makes fresh burritos and decided to try it for the first time. It reminded me of Subway with its "production line" of burrito making. 

The menu is simple, self explanatory and is broken down into four sections, which you read from right to left and pick what ingredient you want from each. I chose tomato rice, refried beans, chicken, cheese, sour cream and lettuce all wrapped up into a warm tortilla goodness. As I paid for my meal the shop assistance asked if I wanted a free bag of nachos and chilli sauce, as it was coming towards the end of the day and they couldn't keep it over the weekend. I was pretty happy with my freebies.

The burrito was very filling but tasted a bit too salty for my liking. For £4.99 it was a decent price for lunch, especially with my complimentary nachos. So if you want to try something different from the common Pret a Manger, Itsu and EAT then I would recommend Poncho 8.

Chicken burrito, nacho and medium chilli sauce

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

La Sophia - Notting Hill

Its not usual to find a Mediterranean Halal restaurant, but I came across La Sophia when researching restaurants and took my best friend here for her birthday. Our dinner choice came from the seasonal a la carte menu and did not displease. 

The food was presented beautifully and at first glance the portions looked small, but this was deceiving as I was stuffed halfway through eating my main course.

Aubergine mille-feuille , grilled hallomui, chilli, tomato concasse and pecan 

I chose rabbit for my main as this was an uncommon meat choice on restaurant menus and I had never tried it before. It was really good and the pomegranate tabouli and saffron couscous complimented it perfectly. 

Pan-fried marinated rabbit, ras el hanout, caramelised onions, garlic, herbs pomegranate tabouli & saffron couscous 
My best friend chose the chicken dish and it just burst with flavour, the truffle sauce was amazing.
Pan fried free range chicken breast, garlic, artichoke, potato gratin & truffle sauce
Delcious dessert to top off a great meal. The fondant was warm and gooey and I really should have stopped eating after main. But after such an impressive starter and main course I could not resist ordering something sweet.

Warm chocolate fondant & vanilla ice cream
La Sophia on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Raouls full English breakfast

My friend recently moved to Hammersmith and introduced me to Raouls. Its a trendy restaurant situated within a residential area between Hammersmith and Goldhawk Road tube stations. I think its the type of place, which gets popular through word of mouth or from its sister restaurants because its not in the typical location. 

I chose the full English breakfast, which really hit the spot. Its not the place you would eat when hungover but rather to enjoy a good fry up and appreciate the food. There is a selection of breads to choose from and how you want your eggs cooked.

Staff were friendly and the service was good. I would probably come here again if I wanted if I wanted to treat myself. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Afternoon tea The Cumberland Hotel

I bought a voucher from Travelzoo for afternoon tea at the Cumberland Hotel, which is the perfect location for shopping down Oxford Street afterwards. The hotel has an impressive sized lobby, which follows through into The Brasserie. Its low lit, modern but to me it lacked character. 

The highlight of the afternoon tea were the scones, which were served warm. There was an assortment of plain and fruit filled scones accompanied with Tiptree strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. I also liked the creativity of using different varieties of bread for the sandwiches, in particular the lemon bread with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Unfortunately the positives stopped there. The sandwiches tasted like they had been pre-prepared and left in the fridge for too long. The bread had a cold crust on top and gave my mouth a dry texture. I also really disliked the roast beef and horseradish on tomato bread, the horseradish was so strong and overwhelming that I had to drink all my tea to drown out the bad taste.

I'm grateful that I paid half the price for the afternoon tea, it was certainly not worth the face value and I would have been very disappointed if I had paid full price.

Assortment of cakes
The over refrigerated sandwiches
Green tea with strainer

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Howard Arms - Cotswolds

This year I spent my August bank holiday exploring the beautiful Cotswolds for a few days. I can't tell you how amazing it was to get out of London and walk around the English countryside in the open fresh air. One thing I wanted to do was eat at a country pub and the Howard Arms in Ilmington hit the spot.

The Howard Arms is located in a small idyllic village where there are only two pubs in the area. You could tell from the people in the pub that many were visitors, the Red Lion down the road was more for the locals. Nonetheless, the restaurant had a great feel to it with its old wooden furniture decorating the pub and stone walls. What I liked most about this pub was that the ingredients were sourced from local suppliers.

I visited on a Sunday so chose to have a roast dinner, which was priced at a modest £13. My meat selection was beef served with a homemade Yorkshire pudding, vegetables, crispy potatoes and gravy. Oh, it was so good and gave me that nostalgic feeling of how Sunday roasts should be at home. The portions were a good size and the potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy inside.

The service was good and the staff were very friendly who kindly gave us more gravy when I asked. I would highly recommend this lovely establishment for any of those travelling through Ilmington. 

The Howard Arms
Mix vegetables and gravy
Beef and a Yorkshire pudding

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Turkdin - Bayswater

I wanted to really like Turkdin after reading great reviews, but didn't. Well, its not that I didn't enjoy the food, I think after reading all the reviews it didn't meet the hype or expectations I had. For my main I chose the Kupang masak serai, which was mussels cooked in a light coconut sauce flavoured with lemon grass. The coconut was more watery than light, I expected it to have a kick of coconut but it was flavourless and lacked substance. For dessert we shared fried banana fritters served with vanilla ice cream. This was good, but didn't make up for the shortfall in the main meal. 

I recently visited Malaysia and have to say, the food at Turkdin tasted nothing like the Malaysian food. There was no burst of flavour or spice to heat the tongue. It was such as shame as I really looked forward to eating here.

Mussels in coconut sauce
Chicken curry
Banana fritter