Afternoon tea at the Sanderson

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I must admit, I don’t usually go for afternoon tea- but when I do, I want it to be special and out of the ordinary. That’s why I decided to book the mad hatters tea party at the Sanderson for my family and I. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s set outdoors in the courtyard of the- you guessed it, Sanderson, providing each guest cosy blankets and presented with  pretty teapots embellished with kings and queens and sandwich plates decorated with zebras, birdcages and ticking clocks.  The food is all themed around Alice and Wonderland and is priced at £48.  The sugar is presented in a cute little music box and the menu wedged in between the pages of a vintage book. You can also choose to have a glass of champagne with it too for £58. As there were 6 of us – (well 5 and one child), we decided to go for a bottle as an extra treat!

Once you are seated, the waiter brings you samples of all the teas. I’ve only recently become more into tea and I will say the Alice inspired fusions smelled delicious. I liked the way they were all in little jars with labels and we got to do more than just simply read the descriptions before choosing which one we’d like to try first. I went for White rabbit, infused with white grapefruit, vanilla and almond white chrysanthemums. It was light and floral! Then, we eagerly awaited our food (we went around lunch time and I was starving).  In terms of first impressions, I loved the food presentation of the tea stand, especially the meringues and the marshmallow mushrooms.

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Going by each tier, the bottom had:

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  • Smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese (Yum – however, a bit too fishy  and not enough egg to fish ratio if you ask me)
  • Stack of King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieur (Probably my favourite of the savoury options! Simple but always a treat)
  • Cornish crab bridge roll with dill, lemon, crème fraîche and avocado (This was OK, I did feel that there was not enough crab to properly enjoy it but from the little crab we had, it was tasty)
  • White Rabbit cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on pesto bread (A bit boring in my opinion)
  • Alice’s cinnamon, apple and peach “ Drink Me” potion (interesting! I liked how as you drank it you picked up different flavours of the dessert- it’s also quirky to include a drinkable dessert) 

These were the only savoury (minus the potion) options for the day. I know I would have liked to have more choices as all the little desserts became a bit sickly after a while- however, this may be due to my own personal preference and what you look for in an afternoon tea!

The next tier had:

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  • Queen of Hearts rose and strawberry Jammy Dodger (Yum! the biscuit was both crumbly and buttery)
  • Mocha chessboard gateau (Left this to last and was not my favourite- I’m not a huge fan of really chocolaty cakes though so that speaks for itself)
  • Tweedle Dee lemon curd financier (Again, delicious but way too rich to finish)
  • Mad March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon (Probably my favourite! I love a good vanilla macaroon)

And finally, the top tier:

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  • Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms (Nice in terms of decor, but too sweet otherwise)
  • Mad Hatters lost carrot and fennel meringue (Tasty- it was airy and light. These were placed in the grass served at the top of the tier)

In addition, the waiter then brought out warm scones served with Cornish clotted cream and fruit preserve. This is when I decided (for once and surprisingly) that I was done with desserts and desperately craved another ham and cheese sandwich. While I would go back for the experience, I’m not sure if I would go back for the food. There were, as mentioned, dishes I really enjoyed, but there were (in my opinion!) too many sweet treats in comparison to savoury. As many of them are so rich in flavour, it did feel a bit overwhelming.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a lovely place to have afternoon tea which is a little different to the norm, this could be the place for you!

Brunch at Roka, Canary Wharf

Let’s face it, Japanese food is delicious and when you can combine it with unlimited flowing wine- what’s not to love? That’s why I decided to book Roka’s brunch whilst my dad’s in town.

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A bit of background story: My family is sort of obsessed with contemporary Asian restaurants. We’ve had our fair shares of Yellowtail with jalapeños and salmon tartares- it really is our go to treat, which is why I knew we all had to give it a whirl. Firstly, in terms of their package- I will say the price is actually pretty decent! Essentially it is either £49, £59, or £69 depending on what you pick as your main. Each menu has its own options. The price you go for will also establish what sort of wine you can have, but you can still pick between red or white. Most importantly, these are all free flowing for your two-hour slot. All menu choices include a Bellini (or champagne for the £69 menu), Green tea or a bloody Mary on arrival, as well as a selection of the starters in a buffet style by the kitchen.  To my surprise, there was actually quite an extensive array of options. In fact, by the time I had tried all the starters I wanted (which, let’s be real were most of them) I was already feeling a bit full… (oops we probably shouldn’t have ordered 5 MAINS THEN). All menu’s come with a tasty dessert platter for the table at the end as well. Those who opt for the £69 menu will also get a premium sashimi platter included, the option to have rosé, as well as choose exactly which desserts you want to try for the dessert platter. All in all, though, there is not much difference between the three.  I would suggest that if you are on a budget, you can still enjoy the brunch for the cheapest option as each person can separately opt for whatever menu price they desire.

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The Sashimi Platter: Salmon, Seabass, Tuna, Prawn and salmon tartare. The tartare was probably my favourite. 

My friends and I have done a lot of boozy brunches and I find that in London you usually have to compromise on alcohol or food quality. Luckily, at Roka, neither of these are sacrificed (praise the lord)! The service was prompt and polite, the alcohol kept being topped up so I kept believing my “one glass” remained the same – (obviously not but a great excuse in my eyes) and the food of high standard! In terms of starters, my favourites were the mushroom broth, the crispy chicken wings and the beef ginger and sesame dumplings pictured below!

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Certainly, there was a range of other tasty options, including udon, chicken karaage, sushi and sashimi amongst others. I was surprised to see a few tofu options and even more delighted that these were just as yummy. 

After feeling pleasantly satisfied, we each waited for our mains to be delivered.  As there were 5 of us in total (plus one child), we all got to share – (hello, my favourite! no food jealousy will happen under my watch!). We tried the:

  • Rice hot pot with crispy soy chicken and shiitake mushroom served with seasonal truffle (£69 menu)
  • Essentially a risotto style dish. Loved the taste but the truffle did come through a bit too strong and overpowered the other flavours. There were five of us and we couldn’t finish it.
  • 290-day grain fed black Angus rib eye served with wasabi ponzu (£69 menu)
  • YES, yes and yes. This was succulent and tender.
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  • grilled lobster with yuzukosho mayonnaise and fried shallots (£69 menu)
  • What’s not to love about lobster? I do wish that there was a sauce element with the dish rather than mayonnaise but that’s just my personal preference! DSC03823
  • Lamb cutlets with Korean spices (£59)
  • Juicy and flavourful! We were thankful for the smaller portion sizes as well. The waiter did advise us on portion sizes of each main so we purposely aimed to get some smaller than others.
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  • Black cod marinated in yuzu miso (£59)
  • Again, I can’t fault the black cod. The yuzu miso provided a tangy balance to the salty fish. Probably one of my favourite of the dishes!

Feeling stuffed and tipsy, I eagerly anticipated the infamous dessert platter (because scientifically we all have a second stomach for desserts, right?) As previously mentioned, because we had ordered a few dishes of the £69, we got to pick our desserts. We went for the almond crème brûlée with cherry blossom ice cream and a sesame biscuit, the chocolate to matcha pudding, as well as the banana ice cream with a salted cocoa crumble. Out of the three, my favourite was the latter! (although I must admit I also loved the chocolate pudding). It had little bits of sweet crunchy popcorn and the banana ice cream was fresh and creamy. The brûlée tasted a bit too much like marzipan for my liking but if marzipan is your thing, then hunni you’re gonna love it! The staff also kindly put in a cute birthday message for Mark….This was kinda awkward as he ended up leaving before it came out as he had an event to go to. Yes, Mark, we’re bringing up the guilt tripping yet again!

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Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Roka. It may be a bit more expensive than other brunches available in the capital, but if you’re looking for exceptionally delicious food and good free flowing wine- Roka is the place for you!

Tonkatsu Pop-up at Proud East, Haggerston

Mark and I decided to venture somewhere close last Sunday when the sun was shining- Ok seriously though it was hot AF. We sat on my roof for 30 minutes and decided, Nah, this ain’t for me. I kept envisioning a nice cold pool to jump into and then opened my eyes and realised I was still in London. I really need a holiday, can you tell?- MIAMI HERE I COME.

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Anyways- for lunch time we decided to head down to the Canal in Haggerston and realised that a Tonkatsu pop up was going on in Proud East for twelve weeks only.  Now if you haven’t been to Tonkatsu, you’ll know that their speciality is ramen. Now, don’t get me wrong- I love a bit of ramen. However, the thought of eating it in 30c is not my idea of a good time. However, we noticed that they were doing Ramen salads, as well as other side dishes, so we decided to give it a go.

We went for:

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Pork Gyoza with ginger and chilli

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‘Eat the bits chilli oil’ chicken wings

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King Prawn Katsu

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Chicken Hiyashi Ramen salad with poached and marinated chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, pea shoots and a seasoned egg. Drizzled with a ponzu dressing.

 

The verdict? The food is pretty damn delicious. I’d never had a Hiyashi Ramen salad before. This was essentially a dish made with classic homemade noodles which are cooked then chilled in cold water to retain the perfect bite and bounce, all topped with a tangy dressing. It made a light and refreshing alternative to a hearty ramen broth, whilst still being filling due to the noodles. Furthermore, the Pork Gyoza’s were flavourful and the Prawn Katsu perfectly crispy.

However, the winning dish for us was the chicken wings. Oh. My. God. Mark and I agreed that these were up there for our favourite wings ever- and TRUST ME, we’ve eaten a lot of chicken wings in our time. First, they were deep fried to achieve the perfect crunch and then, they were drenched in their homemade chilli oil sauce. They were just the right amount of spice and perfectly moreish. I’ve always said chicken wings are underrated and wings like this prove me right everytime.

Basically, you have to try these if you’re visiting.

It’s a perfect East London spot to catch a quick bite to eat and the bonus is the lovely terrace that faces the canal, where you can sit in the sun with a cold drink and people watch all day. Don’t tell me I’m the only person who does that….

 

 

 

Hunting for food: Camden Markets

Hi, my name is Sofia and I’m addicted to eating good food… but you already knew that. Also that introduction sort of sounded like the beginning of an Alcoholics Anonymous discussion. 

Anyways- Last Sunday, Mark and I decided to make use of the sunny weather that is currently blessing London. We started off on a cultural adventure to the British Museum, which went really well until an hour in when we started realising just how hungry we were and how desperate our love for food conquered finding out all about ancient Egypt- (which by the way is definitely my favourite part). So we quickly left and eagerly made our way to Camden.

I know what you’re thinking… wait, girl, you’ve never been to CAMDEN’S FOOD MARKETS? Sofia, aka EASTLONDONFOODGIRL I was rooting for you. WELL, you’ll be happy to know I have. However, on a serious note, I’d never really had the chance to take my camera out and write about it after – “Mark we have to eat one more thing so I can add it in” – the classic one liner I can now use at leisure. Plus, as I am true to my name, I do usually hang around the food markets like Brick Lane and Broadway market. Needless to say, we were super excited to be back trying out all the food. We started off in Camden lock and went straight for the halloumi fries stall. OK – that’s a lie, we did a whole lap pushing and shoving our way around as it was hot and busy and because we needed to scope out ALL our options. Nevertheless, we headed to the fries first.

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These. Are. So. Good. The salty halloumi goes SO WELL with all the toppings and really compliments the middle eastern flavours of Sumac and Za’atar. The pomegranate also helps to provide the freshness as the dish is naturally very rich in flavour profiles. YUM. I highly recommend you try these if you haven’t already.  The perfect starter – especially for a cheese lover like myself!

Next, we hunted out our next dish. Don’t you love how I’m using ‘hunting’ as my chosen adjective. We take our food searching seriously. We decided to avoid the tasty burgers and pasta- Mark even made me say no to the mac & cheese because we’d had it on our last trip (BORING- jokes he had a point). We finally settled for the Kati Rolls, as we’d never tried them before.

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This was essentially a chicken curry, topped with sauces, vegetables and fresh herbs put into a paratha wrap. The paratha was so buttery and flakey and the curry was aromatic and flavourful. My favourite part of eating a curry is having some naan bread with it and a paratha wrap to me felt like a clever hybrid of the two!

While we were walking around, I also needed to quench my thirst and the square root soda bar caught my eye! We went for the mango and lime flavour. I don’t usually like fizzy drinks but this was refreshing and tangy- certainly great for a hot long day of walking around hunting for….more food to eat.  p.s please excuse the nails in the photo. and if you didn’t notice them until I pointed it out let’s all pretend we never read this…..

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RIGHT, one more place before we headed for dessert. Hummuslina, located in the stables area of Camden market. They had kindly invited me to go and try some of their hummus out. Mark and I decided to go for the ‘Hummus Lina’, which was topped with aubergine and eggs- (I must admit, I’ve never had hummus and eggs as a combo but you can’t beat it until ya try it!). They freshly prepare each order of hummus and make their own pita as well. My ultimate verdict? While fresh and certainly tasty, it’s not the best hummus I have had- I’ve got to be honest. This may be because both Mark and I both grew up in the Middle East and probably got used to the authentic (and cheap) hummus from Bahrain and Dubai.  (I’ve also mentioned that about 10 times now but you know- a girl know’s her HUMMUS) I will say, we LOVED their fresh pita bread, it was a lot fluffier and lighter than typical pitta which made the optimum conditions for double (or triple) dunking.

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With our stomachs almost full we ended our trip at the famous Chin Chin Labs- the ice cream frozen to order with liquid nitrogen, which is part gimmicky part ‘okay that’s pretty cool’. We caught the optimum time of the day where the line was short and even managed to snag a table to sit- wahoo. We decided to try the hot chocolate with homemade marshmallow fluff (my favourite out of the two) and the Brownwich with tonka bean ice cream – ( and in case you didn’t know you can choose what flavour you’d like to have in this).  The tonka bean ice cream was a bit underwhelming, but the brownwich cookies made up for it. If you’re like me and you like a soft gooey cookie then you’ll love this. Yet, the winner for me (and I’m sure for other sweet tooths alike) was the hot chocolate. The marshmallow fluff- DESPITE being super sweet, was perfect. Who doesn’t love to stuff their hot chocolate mugs in the winter with as many marshmallows as they can fit so it all melts on the top? This is exactly like that- but on steroids. I couldn’t finish the whole thing personally but I did find myself saying, “Just one more spoon and then I’m done!”

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All I can say is YUM. I felt like the fattest person ever after this trip to Camden but it was all totally worth it. Does anyone else have their favourite Camden eats to recommend? Let me know!

XOXO,

EASTLONDONFOODGIRL

(I like signing off as gossip girl- I’m going to do that more often)

London Pizza Festival 2017

Last year, Laura and I discovered the best festival ever to exist in London- London pizza festival! For my birthday last year, Laura had got me a ticket where we got to make our own pizza with our East London (hangover) favourite, Rosso Pomodoro. However, our ticket did not include (as we were to later find out) the main show- namely, voting for London’s best pizza joint.

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That’s why we had to go back and try out this year (and probably every other year to come as well). Six different pizza places are present at London Pizza Festival and for £28, you make your way around trying a slice of them all as you turn yourself into a pizza connoisseur.  Typical phrases I found myself saying were things like: “Shame, the dough is a little bit burnt”, “Too doughy, tastes like bread”,  “WAY too much cheese” – (and who thought I’d ever say that). Essentially, trying each slice side by side really helps you realise that no pizza is ever the same. You’re able to cleverly distinguish every little detail (or at least that’s what Laura and I certainly felt like). Then, once you have tried them all, each person uses one voting sticker to crown the winner.

Out of all the places that were there, I had tried both Radio Alice and Da Michele before. Da Michele definitely does live up to its reputation and its pizza is delicious. The tomato sauce is perfectly balanced and flavoursome. Radio Alice is a little different from conventional pizza places. Its dough is a lot denser like bread, so it is less airy and fluffy than your typical pizza. However, I will say that it is tasty nonetheless and their topping choices are always unique. Therefore, I was excited that there was a range of contenders this year, including many I had never tried before.

This year, the contenders were as follows:

Addommè

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Delicious tomato sauce with just the right amount of cheese topped with a tasty aubergine parmigiana. The dough was light and airy. My only complaint was it was little burnt on the bottom. This pizza ended up winning and I can completely see why.

Da Michele (apparently the best pizza in the world)

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In the restaurant, when I had tried the margarita, I’d ordered it with single mozzarella and I had really enjoyed it. However, the pizza they offered here was double the cheese and in my opinion, it was way too much. I love cheese but it meant the pizza had no other flavour.

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Made of Dough

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This was our overall favourite and both me and Laura did end up voting for it. It also won in 2015. We found that made of dough had the perfect balance of flavours. The saltiness of the chorizo went well the sweetness of the piquillo peppers. The dough was close to being my favourite as well. I loved that they gave us a basil aioli to dip the crusts in. I am not a huge fan of crusts and their aioli was EXACTLY what I needed. We even ended up saving it for some of the other pizzas as well.

Napoli on the Road

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Probably my least favourite of the whole festival. I don’t really like pizza in Bianco (White Pizza) unless it’s a topping that I enjoy.  This pizza was topped with tuna carpaccio, mullet bottarga and yellow tomatoes. Personally, I really didn’t like the concept of tuna on a pizza, or any seafood at all for that matter, but it still did well in the overall voting so I think this was down to personal choice.

Radio Alice

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Radio Alice’s dough as mentioned before is crispy on the outside and softer inside. It sort of reminds me of having sourdough bread rather than a traditional pizza. Yet, I will say, while their pizza was denser, the toppings were delicious. The fennel and pork sausage tasted super moreish with the tomato sauce. I also chose to have mine with some chilli oil which gave it just the right amount of heat.

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Sud Italia

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I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. Sud Italia’s Pizza sounded like the most interesting to me and a pizza combo I would never usually pick myself in a restaurant. The pizza had pumpkin, nduja, mozzarella, bleu de laqueuille as well as pecorino and parmesan. Again, for me, the cheese flavours in this pizza were too overpowering. I’m not a fan of blue cheese but I will say its saltiness did help cut through the creamy mozzarella. Overall, for me, this pizza was way too rich and if I had ordered a whole one, I would have not been able to eat it. I will say that in terms of positives, the dough was nice and fluffy.

 

With all the pizza done and dusted, we left the festival feeling STUFFED. I even googled an ice cream place nearby for a dessert but sadly, I could not even bring myself to order anything (WHICH IS so unlike me). Each pizza place gave you a massive slice and if you add it all together, we probably ate the equivalent of 1 and a half pizzas. Combined with some prosecco and we were well and truly knackered. I spent the rest of my day on the sofa, nursing what felt like a pizza baby….but it was worth every second.

Without a shadow of a doubt, We’ll be back next year to eat more pizza, drink more prosecco and become the ultimate tasting experts.

Italian Tapas at Gastrovino, Chelsea

Situated over 2 floors, Gastrovino is a cute Italian restaurant nestled in the heart of kings road. Surrounded by Italians, (and being asked if I am ACTUALLY Italian – half mate, half) I knew that the food had to be yummy.

IMG_5246Andrea, Katrina and I attended last Wednesday for their aperitivo night! For just £10 pounds per person, every guest is given a welcome drink, as well as an unlimited access to a selection of different small dishes, which are continuously brought out by the chefs as the night unfolds. In terms of price, their Wednesday night deals are such a bargain, as each dish usually ranges between £5-8. I will say we arrived pretty late and so it was rather difficult finding a table and setting up- if you don’t want the hassle of standing around praying someone gets up, definitely go earlier than 8:30 pm! It is also more dimly lit downstairs than up, but this is because the lower deck is a great place for a cocktail, serving as the bar area rather than the main restaurant itself. However, once we did find a seat it was a cosy evening! There was some live music going on in the background and an array of tasty drinks on offer, which really added to the atmosphere. In terms of food, (my favourite part of any situation) we were in control of what dishes we wanted (and in our case, re wanted teehee)- helping ourselves to the various tasty dishes that were on order. As previously mentioned, because the chefs constantly bought out variations of traditional and authentic Italian dishes throughout the night, there was always something new to try. I must admit I kept helping myself to more… it was for the whole table Ok. My favourite dish had to be the aubergine parmigiana. If I have to explain what that is then you know nothing. Jokes.  It is deep fried aubergine in tomato sauce covered with mozzarella cheese mmmmm. We also had the classic bruschetta, pizzette, seafood risotto, pasta with a creamy tomato sauce and meatballs! A pretty good selection if you ask me… and that wasn’t even the half of it!

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All the food was what I’d expect (and want!) from a typical Italian restaurant: tasty carbs, cheese and lots of deep fried goodies.

Looking for Mexican food in London?

Hello, all!

Another post that is LONG OVERDUE. I have recently started working full time and as I know from interning, it becomes much harder to fit everything into your evenings when you get back home. I usually want to mong out and watch TV all evening. (Challenge accepted)

After my recent take on a vegan taco, (which by the way were delicious, super easy to make and can be found the picture is on my Instagram with the ingredients!), I was thinking about what my favourite Mexican place is in London.

As you may or may not know, I went to Mexico in September with a few friends. Once you’ve been there and tasted their fresh guac (among other yummy delights), you realise that a lot- and I’m not saying all! -chains here in London just don’t offer the same authenticity.  

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Take Lupita on Commercial street in Aldgate for example. I don’t’ usually call out restaurants in a bid to shame them and I don’t want anyone to get the impression that that is what I am doing (Ok maybe a little, though). All I will say is, the last time I went the food was pretty substandard. I just didn’t enjoy it and for a split second, I think I began to think that that was what Mexican food was SUPPOSED to taste like (which obviously it isn’t). SO, naturally, when I heard a few good things about Mestizo I knew I had to check it out. They even serve vegan/ lactose and gluten-free menu options for anyone that’s interested and looking for a restaurant to cater to your dietary needs! My sister and I were craving tacos and my mum was in town so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and give it a go!. It’s based near Kings Cross but I will say it is nestled on a busy road next to nothing particularly prominent. However, once you step inside, you are transported to an atmosphere that is quintessentially Mexican.

With its focus on Mexican cuisine, the restaurant serves traditional food as well as drink: TEQUILLA! There are tequila sours, various flavoured margaritas, tequila sunrise and tejito all on offer. Mexican beers are also available. Unfortunately, since I went to Mexico I must say I struggle with drinking tequila in any and all forms so I avoided these at all costs. However, if tequila is your thing, you’re particularly in luck here!

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In terms of food, we went for a few options. Guacamole for one is always a necessity when you get Mexican. Who doesn’t like guac? (If you’re reading this and you don’t then you probably need to reevaluate your life choices, -just joking).  I think when it’s made a simple way, with the classic flavours, it is actually probably the tastiest.  Then, because I LOVE CHEESE. -Yes, cheesy capitals for emphasis ( see what I did there…), I knew we had to try the Queso fundido (melted chihchuaha and oaxaca cheese) with chorizo all served with tortilla’s to dunk in and scoop up that goodness. This was also served with pico de gallo which does help to cut through all the richness of the dairy. Who knew a simple salsa would be so crucial!

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As for our main’s, we were (if you haven’t gathered) pretty decided on tacos. They have this cool option for “when you really want tacos” where you can have a tray with four different fillings – a quick way to try out a range of diverse flavours! My sister and I decided to go for these four:

  • Pollo con Mole (Shredded Chicken cooked in traditional Mexican sauce- one of the ingredients being chocolate) topped with queso fresco
  • Pastor (Traditional Mexican marinated pork served with pineapple chunks)
  • Arrachera (Beef marinated in beer, garlic, onion and spices)
  • Cuitlacoche (black corn mushrooms with onion, sweetcorn, chilli and garlic)

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The tacos were TASTY! I think my favourite was definitely the beef, however, that may be a personal preference because whenever I am making Mexican at home I always tend to go for beef as well. Ordering this was a great idea if you’re like me and you get especially bored of eating the same thing. By having it on the table, where diners help themselves also meant that you could customise and experiment until you reached taco perfection.

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Now, if you know me (and this is beginning to sound like Deja vu) I love desserts. Naturally, we all decided to order some to finish off our lovely meal. We decided to opt for the pastel 3 leches, as well as the buñuelos. These were essentially crispy dough fritters served with cane syrup and ice cream.

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The 3 leches cake was made with ‘3 milks’ – condensed and evaporated milk all topped with double cream!

DSC02872While the crispy dough fritters came off a bit boring, the 3 milk cake was delicious! Anything that has that condensed milk in it is going to taste yummy! The richness of the cake contrasted really well with the fresh double cream. I’d definitely recommend it if you have a sweet tooth. We were fighting over this dessert rather than the other that’s for sure!

So, it’s safe to say- If you’re looking for a Mexican restaurant in London, head to Mestizo!

Lunch at Palatino

Last week my sister and I went to check out Palatino, a new restaurant following Stevie Parle’s The Dock Kitchen, Rotorino, Craft London & Sardine. Palatino is an Italian restaurant with a focus on food from Rome. We have been to Rotorino before as it is an East London favourite (and five seconds from my house) and we love trying their different regional dinners from various parts of Italy, which they host at the end of every month. Knowing we have enjoyed it in the past, we decided to try our luck with Palatino.

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The decor is modern, with a mix of concrete fittings and warm yellow furniture and as we were seated we decided that in order to fully try out the restaurant’s new menu, we had to order a vast selection. We essentially picked our favourite dishes from each section and had a mini feast, (“it’s for the blog though”) opting to share each dish. I am currently unemployed (anyone looking for a brilliant worker hint hint?) and Rebecca has university so it is nice to be able to meet up in the day now that I am still searching.

For antipasti, we ordered Supli with wild mushroom & mascarpone £3 (essentially small arancini). These were delicious- mushroom and mascarpone are the perfect combinations, especially when fried into a small ball of greatness. Great choice for a sharing starter option.

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For pasta, we decided to go with Ravioli with spinach & squash £14 (main course portion). The pasta tasted fresh, the filling was flavourful and the sauce made a nice accompaniment. I always feel like, with ravioli, the mistake is having it with tomato sauce as sometimes that takes away from the flavour inside. My only complaint about this course would be that I wish there was more sauce as Rebecca and I were scraping the plate for more. Overall, though, coming from an Italian background and having tried a lot of pasta, this was pretty decent!

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Next, nothing seems more traditionally Roman than Saltimbocca, which is veal, surrounded by prosciutto, spinach, sage & Marsala wine £14.

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We also liked the sound of the fried potato gnocchi £4.

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Again, the veal was tasty! The meat was tender, the sauce was just right and the spinach on the side provided a bit of relief from the saltiness of the prosciutto. The fried Gnocchi were also extremely moreish and made a good alternative to having potatoes on the side.  However, I found that because they were bite size I kept going back for more. They were also covered in cheese and sage and who doesn’t love anything covered in cheese? (I LOVE cheese).

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As some of you will know if you read these posts often (and I’m not sure how many people that actually is.. Hey mum & Rebecca) I always love dessert and a meal is never finished without something sweet. We couldn’t decide between the Almond lemon & ricotta cake, rhubarb & creme fraiche or the chocolate cake, pistachio & honeycomb (both priced at £7) so we let the waiter surprise us. In the end, he picked the almond ricotta cake. This was light, tangy and the creme fraiche and rhubarb gave it some tartness. It was nice but not my favourite dessert I’ve ever had. Nonetheless, it was still worth it to round off an overall lovely meal.

If you’re looking for a cute Italian restaurant to bring you fond memories of a past trip to Rome, the food at Palatino will do just that.

 

 

 

 

 

Burns Night at Boisdale of Mayfair

On Thursday, I had the chance to attend the Burns Night at the brand new Boisdale of Mayfair, which has launched just in time for the Scottish celebration. The event offered an exclusive preview of the traditional Burns Night Dinner, a five-course set menu served at all four Boisdale sites throughout January. Asking if I could bring a plus one, I decided to bring Mark along with me. 

boisdale-231116_mayfair_520Upon arrival, we all mingled by the bar as we sipped on old-fashioned cocktails.  They were tasty! Strong, but with the right amount of sweetness that made me keep going back for more. Once we were given enough time to relax and warm up from the cold outside, we were all seated. The dinner started off with a welcoming speech from the owner of Boisdale, who explained the delicacies of Scottish cuisine and what inspired him to put the menu together. Together, we all clinked our glasses and begun our feast.

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To start, we had an assortment of fresh seafood to share, including fresh langoustines, rock oysters, Shetland mussels and Atlantic prawns, as well as luscious smoked salmon. Making sure I didn’t get to full on a first course, I tried to pace myself. Mark and I tried everything except the oysters, as we are still sceptical about them- (I know what you’re thinking, everybody loves oysters… I’m still undecided). Each of our courses was also served with a specially selected wine pairing and with the seafood, we inevitably sipped on crisp white.

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Feeling slightly tipsy at this point, having had little for lunch, I anticipated our second course. It was a mini roasted Blackface Haggis, served with creamy mashed potatoes and swede all served with a noggin of whisky. The owner suggested that we pour our whisky over to really accentuate the flavours and because it is traditionally what happens when one eats it. Now, having heard of what Haggis was made of, I was worried that I would perhaps not like its taste or texture. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It was flavourful, tender and really yum!. I am a haggis virgin no more, and I’ll definitely be eating one again. This was paired with a full bodied red and the more  I ate, the more I also drank- tipsy Sofia and Mark coming out to play! 

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However, Mine and Mark’s favourite dish of the evening was definitely the Aberdeenshire dry-aged fillet steak, served with green peppercorn & whisky sauce, greens and bone marrow potatoes. The sauce was rich, and the steak melted in our mouths, being the perfect medium. It was succulent and tender. I also loved the crispy, yet creamy potatoes. I’d even say it was the best steak I’ve had in a while. This dish was also paired with more red. (Mark… pss I think I’m drunk) While we dined, a talented man played melodious tunes with his bagpipes. What could be more Scottish than that?

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By this point, I was incredibly stuffed and knew we had two courses still to go. Of course being greedy and tipsy made me prevail and carry on eating. After all, I am the type of person who gets jealous or sincerely regrets not trying everything and anything offered to me. Oops. 

To finish, we had a tipsy scotch tart served with clotted cream and cheese served with chutney. Although I am not a fan of raisins, which were in the tart, it was still moreish nonetheless! It was filled with spiced nuts, encrusted in pastry and the clotted cream really helped to cut through all the richness. 

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Overall, we had a lovely evening in good company eating good food and drinking great wine. If the Burns set menu at Boisdale is meant to evoke and preserve the precise feelings that people get when they sit down and share a meal together then it does just that! The food was delicious, the choices on the menu varied and the atmosphere cheerful and comforting.

If you’re looking for a traditional Scottish evening to share with friends and family, I’d recommend it.

 

 

Festive Feasting at Nordic Yulefest

On Friday, nursing a horrid hangover, I had been invited to a festive feasting event sponsored by Ketel one vodka at Nordic Yulefest. For £85 guests could have a 5-course dinner feast, complete with half a bottle of wine each and because I was listed as press, this was actually bottomless. Sounds epic but since I felt so shi* I didn’t take full advantage of this as much as I would have loved.

Nordic Yulefest was in Old Street, inspired by Nordic culture, the venue was decorated with a new trend that has swept the nation, ‘hygge‘-a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Arriving just after 6 pm, Serena and I (a childhood friend of mine) were introduced to the Ketel one representative and given a yummy cocktail inspired by the festive season and sprinkled with spices like cinnamon and star anise. Led to our table, with the menu placed in front of us and the room decorated with Christmas pines and tree branches, the banquet room certainly felt festive and snug.

Our meal started off with Birch cured venison, pine smoked Norwegian beef tartare and BBQ’ed Lamb Skewers with blackberries.

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From this board, I thought the food was OK. For one, it was definitely not the best beef tartare I had ever had, but the venison and lamb were quite tasty. I do want to point out that the portion sizes were quite small as we were 4 on a table in total and had no trouble scoffing most of it down. One thing I read online is someone complaining that the feast was too small and why I had no trouble with that, I can see how others might have felt they didn’t get enough per portion.

Next on our list was torched mackerel, ice cellar salmon, pickled herring tempura with dill mayo and a Nordic potato salad.

dsc02049In my opinion, this course was a lot better and tasted pretty good. The salmon was fresh, the mackerel in tasty bites and the tempura pretty crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I also surprisingly loved the potato salad– not because I don’t like potato salad but because I perceived potato salad to be rather mundane in comparison to the other items, but it was delicious! I had to keep nibbling on it even after everyone on the table was pretty much done with that board.

The meal was then followed by a wild mushroom and truffle broth. I must say this was rather disappointing. For one, I was looking forward to a nice warming broth, but this was definitely more of a soup. That would be absolutely fine, but it tasted more like a pasta sauce. I LOVE truffle, but here it was so overpowering and meant I could only have a few mouthfuls. Sad.

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Thankfully, the next course redeemed itself yet again. It was Icelandic cod with clam butter sauce. The Cod was moreish and soft, and the clams were the perfect accompaniment. This was one of my favourite parts of the whole meal.

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One more course to go before dessert. I must say that I was getting quite full by this point and also felt more hungover as the evening went on. I sound like a massive baby, but hair of the dog and food weren’t helping. Nonetheless, I stuck it out for my love of food. The last savoury course was smoked and roasted duck with apple and prunes. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the apple and prune side that was meant to go with it, but the duck was tender and yummy. Also, we had sides of caramelised potatoes and sweet and sour red cabbage. 

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Finally, to round it all off we had a board of different desserts (always a highlight for me). This was initially confusing as it didn’t really say so on the menu. Nonetheless, I love desserts, so I was happy to comply! The macaroons were probably my favourite, I managed to try the vanilla and raspberry ones, and they were gooey in the middle just the way I like them. The meringues, despite being listed as raspberry were not- and the sauce didn’t taste like raspberry either but overall, they were alright.

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My final thoughts?

I liked the cocktails that were crafted with Ketel one vodka, they were tasty. I loved the decor. There was meant to be alcoholic snow, but staff told us different things about whether that was happening or not. In the end, we ended up leaving because I had reached my limit (my bad) so I can’t say whether that happened, but it sounded like such a cool concept. Regarding the food, it could be improved slightly as some dishes were better than others, but overall that is down to personal preference, and it was still a lovely evening that felt super cosy. As there was a range of different tickets-  including the option to pay solely for entrance to a 5-course feast, guests don’t have to pay £85 pounds to have a good night.