Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bravas, St Katherine's Dock

There is nothing I like more than finding a new hidden gem.

What's even better than a hidden gem?

A hidden gem on your doorstep.

St Katherine's Dock is littered with restaurants from chains like Zizzi's and Ping Pong to independent ones and now they have a serious new contender.


I had read that there was going to be a new tapas place opening up and then it turned out that my information was slightly old as it had just opened in March.

We have been dying to try it and finally we got down to it.

We wandered along, the 2 mins it takes from our house to be told that they were pretty busy. We opted to have drinks outside looking out at the boats and wait for a table, which we were more than happy to do.

I mean you would have to actually tell someone you were in London with a view like that.

We didn't have to wait long and we came up total trumps with a glorious table in an alcove. Complete with giant mirror.

Something that really seals the deal for me in a place is the decor and the attention to detail and these guys have done that exactly. 

Lovely big wine glasses, the kind you want to cradle over a long dinner. They practically invite you for a 3 hour dinner or lunch.

Not too many tables, which would make it feel cramped... 

and lovely tables they are too! Big scrubbed wooden ones with plenty of space for all your dishes!

The kitchen is open with the fresh seafood being displayed and you can watch the chefs whip up your dishes

After ooing and ahhing over the short but very tasty looking menu we ordered and kicked off with the  Brava Potatoes, which came all hidden in clever pots. 

These were the most divine little things ever. The tomato sauce was heavenly and on top of that sat a whipped garlic alioli which was just incredible. Normally I'm not a fan of foams, but this was unreal. After demolishing 2 pots, we ordered another, and some more bread to mop up the remainder of the sauce.

After demolishing 2 pots, we ordered another, and some bread to mop up the remainder of the sauce.

Next to arrive were the sliders, these were tasty, filled with an apple slaw and cheese, but not something I'd go back for. 

There was a seafood special on the board, which sadly I forget their name, but some sort of delicious prawn dish with another incredible sauce that was hoovered up mighty fast.

We got some old classics in, padron peppers, torched and sprinkled with salt. Super moreish.

We were almost eating faster than they could bring the food, and then she set down the quail.

Such sweet presentation, this was a quail leg stuffed with foie gras and wrapped in pancetta, with a sweet dipping sauce. 

Like little meaty lollipops these were one of my favs. 

Quails grow a bit bigger, your too tiny to be so delicious!! 

One dish that we all totally agreed was stand out was the lamb chops, as you can see I barely captured this one before they were all sentenced to life in our guts. I would love to know where they got their lamb from, this was so tender a toothless baby could have had these. Almost no chewing required, they melted in your mouth. 

The best part of the meal was when we got to the end and got presented with an extremely reasonable bill for all that we had eaten and drunk. When playing the 'guess the bill' game everyone guessed well over!  

I am so pleased that this place has arrived so close to home, I intend on taking everyone I know there and I must confess since going here for the first time, I've already been back again!! I intend to become a regular! Having glanced back at the menu I can see that they have already made some changes to it, which means it will never be the same old thing over again which means I'm certainly going to have to keep going back! 

Square Meal

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Cowshed, Bristol

A few weekends ago we all went on a little trip down to Bristol to visit one of our most nearest and dearest, the lovely Miss Jessica.

Jess has been hard at work in Bristol finishing up her PCGE and has raved about the place since she arrived last September.

So off we went, Maddie and Lucy went on the Saturday followed by Arione and myself on Sunday. It was the perfect bank holiday weather, so lovely and warm that I bravely went without a coat. (*this was an error, never trust British weather)

We had a long lunch catching up with each other before sadly it was time for Lucy to head off back to London.

After deciding we didn't really fancy a night out, we tried to find a restaurant that could take us on a bank holiday Sunday. Jess had plenty of places up her sleeve but sadly there was no room at the inn. Finally The Cowshed came up trumps and offered us a late table. We accepted it gratefully and decided the best way to kill the time was.....


Then we headed off to The Cowshed for a long, late dinner. How grown up!

It was such a beautifully decorated place with so much thought put into everything. We felt like we were having dinner in someones house it had such a cosy atmosphere. 

I loved the paintings and all the furnishings. 

Opening the menu I immediately wanted to order everything and there were some tough decisions ahead, but I bravely made it through the other side.

We kicked off with starters, it was go big or go home at this point we had decided.

I opted for the roasted quail on creamed celeriac, spinach with a cherry jus. Really quite amazing, actually all of it was. 

Maddie had mussels in a bacon and cider sauce with bread for dunking. 

Jess really hit it out of the park with her starter of poached duck egg on soda bread with cured ham and broad bean and pea fricassee. It may not look like much but...

Look at that yolk

I mean seriously. She gave me a mouthful and it was just heavenly rich goodness.

Arione went with her favourite of scallops with shaved spring vegetables and a sherry caramel.

Silence descended as we tucked in.

I was already excited for mains and they certainly didn't disappoint.

I have a rule that I never order chicken in a restaurant because, to be honest, chicken is pretty boring. I ate my words when Maddie and Arione's meals arrived. This was no boring chicken. 

Ive tried to capture it from every angle so you can see its full glory. 

May I present, the tasting of chicken which includes: a mini kiev, a pan roasted breast, a ballotine made out of the leg and stuffed with spinach and a chicken "lollipop". All brought together with a wild mushroom sauce, tender stem broccoli and a potato fondant. 

No boring plate. The best bits were the kiev and the ballotine and the lollipop certainly had a kick! 

We all oohed and ahhed and then Jess and I asked to try bits. 

Jess had the confit pork belly with scallops, carrot puree and an apple fennel and potato salad. 

I opted for the lamb which was both griddles rump and confit neck sitting on top of shallot puree and wild garlic. Wild garlic is one of my favourite things so it was a pretty tasty plate. 

Then I was cheeky and swapped my new potatoes to dauphinoise because how can anyone had new potatoes when there are dauphinoise to be had? 

We munched and talked our way through mains and by the time our plates were empty we were stuffed and had to reject the pudding menus. 

We then continued to sit and finish off our wine as the restaurant emptied around us and the waiters were making it clear that they would really like us to go home now so they could to. 

The Cowshed was honestly one of the best meals I've had in ages, both for company and food.

My only tiny niggle was that service was a touch slow but it hardly mattered as we were in for the long haul and we also appreciate that they were filled to the brim!  

I'd love to go back to sample more of there amazing menu. Have a snoop on the website if you fancy it. It's so easy to get down to Bristol from London if you ever fancy a weekend away!

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Joy of Alfresco

There is something I have been meaning to bring to your attention for a while. Thats if you haven't already seen them.

Its an organisation called Kerb and they are here to bring you the best in street food.

They set up in different locations and the street food vans that they have on their books rotate through the venues. 

It makes such a difference to lunch rather than munching down on that boring old sandwich you've had ever day from Pret. No offence to Pret, I love their sandwiches, but really its not a patch on the amazing and varied grub you can get from these guys. 

For example...

Thai green chicken meatballs from The Bowler...

Or belly pork buns from Yum Bun...

Even the classic and awesome burger from Bleecker St. Burger!

They have several different venues and each venue has a rotation of the vans. 

So for example you can find a selection of 5 vans under the Gherkin every Thursday from 12-2pm.

It really makes such a nice change from the boring lunches.  If I'm free I have a long standing date with the lovely Siena as she works next to this little patch of food heaven in the corporate world and we sit outside in the sun and gossip on her lunch hour. I often see that one person who's been sent out from the office to pick up supplies for everyone!

They are also at Southbank and Granary Square, Kings Cross and UCLU 

Head to the website to see the full list of sites and traders 

They quite often do food festivals which we popped down one weekend to at the Southbank Centre. 

 It was also just another reason to try lots of little bits like these incredible pork buns from Bao 

and Annie Mae's Mac and Cheese 

There were so many other things on offer that its just not humanly possible to try everything, even though we gave it a good go.

So have a look on the website. If you have twitter follow them @KERB_ for finding out what vans are going to be where and what events they are holding. 

I urge you to go out, hit the sunshine when it arrives and have a little al fresco meal at least once a week. Fresh air is good for the brain, no?

On the 19th of July they have the British Street Food awards in Granary Square and I highly intend to be there to eat everything. 

Who's with me?

The Breakfast Club

If there is one thing I take very seriously, and I may have already mentioned perviously in my blog, it's brunch.

After a night of revelry Tilly Arione and I decided to head out to one place that could really cure us of all affliction and never fails to me a let down.

The Breakfast Club.

We pulled ourselves together and wandered through a sunny but ghostly quiet city to their Spitalfield branch, hidden on Artillery lane just opposite Liverpool Street station, and jumped in the queue with other brunch enthusiasts.

You can't book at any of their places but I can 100% assure you that the wait is worth it. 

The following photos are here to convince you. 

Our wait was up and we gladly threw ourselves into our pew and had a good snoop around the buzzy little place. It also harbours a few secrets.

At night there is a secret bar, hidden away through that Smeg fridge you can see. It leads to visiting the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town and underground secret speakeasy bar, but thats a story for another time. 

Back to brunch and anything you could ever want for is here. Its almost a tough choice. 

So naturally I went for 2 options. 

First things first and that was ordered up some of their life enriching Bloody Mary's 

A virgin mojito for Tilly who couldn't quite handle more booze just yet. 

After a debate Tilly opted for the Huevos Al Benny

A mexican eggs Benedict with avocado, chorizo topped with the poached egg and a paprika hollandaise. 

Arione kept it classic and went for Eggs Benedict 

After ummming and ahhhhing over everything I went for the french toast with cinnamon stewed apples but only...

If Tilly shared a small side of the monster stack of pancakes and bacon with me. Which luckily she happily did. 

Look at that beauty.

With lashing of extra maple syrup too of course.

Look at those 2 little hungry hands tucking in.

I'd say these 2 faces are ones of happy customers, fully rebooted by the brunch, glorious brunch.

Honestly the Breakfast Club never fails to come out on top. Yes the queue is slightly annoying especially with a hangover but its just so worth it once you get inside.  

My one complaint was that when we came to leave, it took us about 20 mins to be able to pay, which is just plain frustrating. 

Square Meal