Tuesday, June 14, 2016

eatbrunch, 8th May

Apparently there are people out there who do not spend their Saturday nights out on the town until about 6 am and, therefore, are able to get up and go a-brunching at a reasonable hour on a Sunday. But what if you are not a part of this odd demographic? What if you really, really want brunch (complete with Bloody Mary hair of the dog) but you also really, really do not want to get out of bed?

Well, in that case, let me present to you EatFirst. They are a meal delivery service and as of May, they have added brunch to their offering. Bingo. I was invited along to a recreation of what a home-delivery brunch could be like when they hosted a pop-up at The Little Yellow Door in collaboration with Brünch who are doing a guest Berlin-inspired brunch with them. 
The food was amazing. All very fresh and healthy, with vibrant colours. Brünch seems to have handpicked some of my favourite foods and combined them to make them even better. The rosemary infused butternut squash and feta was probably my favourite but a surprise hit was the smoked mackerel pate with grated apple, horseradish and lemon juice. I normally find mackerel too fishy for my tastes but the additions cut right through that. I had several helpings! You can choose your dishes and they will arrive in prettily presented packaging for you to decant onto plates (this would also be perfect for brunching with guests if you can’t be bothered to cook) and you can even choose to have the ingredients for a bloody mary delivered! I was very impressed and have been telling all my fellow reprobate friends who can’t make it out of the house before 3pm to go to a restaurant.

A more traditional brunch comprising things like Asparagus Frittata, Eggs with Italian etc is also available and they will have other guest chefs creating menus for them along the way. Genius!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Chick 'n' Sours, Feeling Gloomy, 7th May

Chick n Sours. Oh yes. Oh yes yes yessssssssss.

I’m a fan.

It took me a while to get here, took me a while to try any of Carl Clarke’s food in fact but it was worth the wait. This place is chicken heaven and we loved everything. Except the fries. The fries were way too ordinary. But everything else was fabulous. Stephen and I shared a chicken burger between us (which is a monster of a burger) and a plate of the guest fry chicken – black bean and ginger, spring onion and pickled bamboo shoots, plus the aforementioned boring fries, and the charred hispi, kimchi salad cream and bacon salad. Plus a bit of bone marrow BBQ which was delicious but in some ways superfluous because the chicken was delicious enough on its own.

The ‘salad’ was a well needed bit of crunch and freshness to act as a counterpoint to all the fry going on elsewhere. It also packed a welcome poke!

The chicken was definitely the star of the show and we couldn’t help remarking to each other as we ate how much we were enjoying it. That burger! Firstly, it was a behemoth. One of the biggest burger specimens I’ve seen. And secondly, it was just delicious. Crunchy, spicy, well balanced in terms of meat to topping to bun. A joy.
The plate of fried chicken we equally well received, with the Asian, slightly sweet flavours really complementing the juicy, crunchy chicken. I’m salivating just thinking about it now. I need to get more in my person as soon as possible. 

Chick 'n Sours Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

I then went out to Feeling Gloomy to dance to 'miserable' disco. I seemed to pick a bad night because the place was rather empty but the night itself was fun. Of course, the songs aren't all downbeat and miserable at all - the lyrics might be but the music is still danceable. They played The Smiths and The Cure, a bit of Kate Bush, and that was all good fun. Just a shame it wasn't busier. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mister Lasagna, 3rd May

Mister Lasagna is one of those one-trick pony restaurants – specializing in… well, I think you can guess.

But the variety it has on offer for its trick is quite astounding. (Italians and purists, you may want to look away now…) There was pumpkin and blue cheese, chicken and chorizo, ‘breakfast’, spinach, artichoke, arrabbiata.. and that really is to name just a few.

You can have a half a slice, a Regular or a Tris – three halves, allowing you to try as many different types as possible for just under £8. I did this and let me tell you, three halves of Lasagne do not make a light meal. I actually had to leave some! I had the pesto, chicken and chorizo and carbonara/breakfast. Taste-wise, all three hit the spot, with the pesto version probably being my favourite. It is just a shame that they didn’t warm them up for quite long enough – they were nowhere near piping through which made them a bit stodgier I think than they would have been otherwise, and by the time I got near to finishing they were basically cold.

The place is definitely casual, meant for a quick dinner rather than a long and lingering meal. You pick your lasagna at the counter and it is served to you on a Styrofoam plate, which you take down to the restaurant bit. If you’ve ordered wine (they had a very pleasing red for £22), they’ll bring that to you. There is a range of table sizes – some twos, one large communal one a few in between which makes the place feel a bit like a rustic kitchen. We really enjoyed the real moss growing behind us.

I did say this isn’t the type of place to linger, but actually, we did just that and no one seemed to mind. Most others didn’t though, which meant table turnaround was quite swift, and we were the only ones left by 9:30 (we’d arrived at 7!).

I was far too stuffed to try any of the desserts on offer but I would happily give them a go. This is definitely somewhere I’ll bear in mind when I want something reasonably priced and satisfying. 

Mister Lasagna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Little Bat, 6th May

Little Bat is Callooh Callay’s little sister and you would think that people would be all over it. But, sitting as it does, off the main strip of ‘Supper Street’ in Angel, it seems to have avoided the attention of the masses. Primetime on a Friday night (9:30 pm), the place had patrons, but you could easily walk in and be seated at a comfy booth rather than sitting up at the bar. I do like sitting up at the bar but sometimes a cosier seating arrangement is more appropriate. Say, if you were on a date, for example.

While I waited for mine to arrive I perused the menu. Compared to some menus these days, there was a huge amount of choice on offer making a decision rather difficult. My friend helped me out by picking for me (and luckily he has good taste) so I had the G & T martini – gin, rose-infused vermouth and crème de violet being the main ingredients. My companion had an old fashioned because he is a man and that is what men drink. There were so many drinks that sounded interesting, I wanted to try them all but picked the hedgerow smash for my second – rye, bourbon hedgerow cordial and black walnut bitters! I was really pleased with both of my drinks – strong but tasty – not too floral or fruity for my tastes. The old fashioned was met with approval buy my friend’s second drink – An Apple a Day – he felt was bordering on bitter and medicinal tasting, rather than the apple pie in a drink you might expect.

It may not feel quite as quirky as Callooh Callay, lacking the ‘secret entrance’ that the other has, but if you want somewhere that has the same inventinveness that Callooh Callay brings, without having to worry about whether you’ll get in, then this is the bar for you.  

Little Bat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

Friday, May 27, 2016

Thom Foole's House Party, 5th May

What even is Thom Foole’s House Party, we kept asking ourselves as we waited for the upstairs to open. None of us were sure what we were letting ourselves in for. But we took the gamble and it paid off.

It’s a comedy night of s special sort. With our inimitable host Wilmot Brown, several acts took to the stage and had many of the audience literally crying with laughter.

These comedians are all ‘character’ stand-up with their own stage personas. And none of them were afraid to push the envelope. It was all very surreal and I can see that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like things a little off-kilter and making very little sense, then dive on into this night. We had a blast.

Wilmot himself is an older ‘gentleman’ (played by Marny Godden), certainly not suffering from a lack of confidence even if his career has seen better days. He’s a frisky sort too – at one point a member of the audience had been captured and was sequestered to the bed (why is there a mattress on stage??) for potential romantic liaisons later. 
The Establishment were the first act of the night (and perhaps my favourite) – two uberposh men, who crept through the audience uttering nothing but ‘mmmms’ and lasvicious ‘yeses’ as they peered at the audience members they passed. They were quintessential country Englishmen and dithered about onstage giving us a little window into their lives of silliness and casual arms dealing. 
We then had Lee Kern whose persona was someone incredibly awkward whose comedy act was to give us a presentation on the history of Rock and Roll. It was boring, it was dry and factual, he danced awkwardly, it was hilarious.

In between acts we had games! Yes, games. Musical statues, the equivalent of grandmother’s footsteps, charades, one lucky guy even got to play Kiss Chase with Wilmot. And there was a maypole dance. Oh – and Limbo! Yes, this night has it all.

Oh Standfast did what he called poetry/standup/art depending on whether you laughed or not (don’t laugh and it’s poetry, laugh and it’s standup – don’t get it? It’s art). And Sophie Pelham came on board with her two plastic babies strapped to her chest. I really liked the premise of her act and thought there was potential although it didn’t get quite the same belly laughs as some of the others.

The headline act was Mr Frank Sanazi himself. This old rogue is a crooner with the Axis of Evil rat pack, belting out the hits of Old Blue Eyes with a decidedly fascist twist. Expect lots of clever wordplay, taking some of the lyrics you’ve got to know and love and making them altogether more sinister. I think Frank was a pretty class act - he managed to get down the mannerisms of Frank Sinatra yet segue seamlessly into an impersonation of Mr Hitler. Who would have thought that combination would work so well?
If you’re of a sensitive nature then this night may not be for you, but if you’re up for a laugh, then you will get many at this event. Thom Foole knows how to throw a party.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Egg Break, 1st May

My insta feed is always full of eggy goodness pictures from newly opened Eggbreak in Notting Hill. So it was the logical choice for a brunch date a few weeks ago.

Of course, I had to choose an egg dish. I had the corn cakes with poached eggs and sriracha hollandaise. I have to say, the cooking was uneven. One of my eggs had the most watery yolk when I pierced it. It gushed everywhere in a way that was almost offputting enough for me to send it back. The other egg, however, was overcooked and didn’t ooze anywhere at all. Flavourwise, the dish was fantastic so I forgave them the consistency. The hollandaise had a pleasant piquancy to it and the corn cakes had a lovely texture and flavour.
My friend had the crunchy French toast which was stuffed with banana and blueberries. If I liked berries then I would have had complete food envy, the bite I had of the plain French toast was divine. Crunchy is the way forward.

I ordered a bloody mary as well (it’s brunch – dem’s the rulz) but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

The place had a bit of a country pantry feel to it, bright but homely. And our waitress was super – she bonded with my friend over shared travel experiences.

The friend I went with came from way out West to meet me so Notting Hill was kind of in the middle for us. I did like the place and if I lived locally I’m sure I would give it another shot or two. I especially like that they do eggs all day – I wouldn’t have to worry about sleeping all day and missing brunch o’clock as I often do. 

Egg Break Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blondies, 30th April

I thought Clapton was meant to be cool but on a Saturday night you're apparently hard pressed to find anywhere with a proper party vibe. Blondies was the best place we found and it's a damn shame it shuts at midnight as it seems to be crying out to be the late night (good) party bar Clapton needs.

We got in there at about 10:30 and stayed for a drink, soaking up the loudish music that was pumping out some of my favourite RnB jams. They even played Twista Slow Jams. You hardly ever hear that one out.
I actually got there earlier than Carolyn (no change there then) and was persuaded by the lovely girl behind the bar to have a shot of their house shooter Blue Moon while I waited. At only £3 I couldn't say no. It was fruity and pleasant to sip on before we started on the real drinks. Carolyn of course had a Cindy - a grapefruit margarita (she loves fruity things) and I went for good old Brenda, otherwise known as an espresso martini.

Blondies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We probably should have stayed there the rest of the night but we had other, misguided plans – we went over to the Clapton Hart which stays open until 1, thinking we'd find a young and lively crowd. It was kinda empty. So we went down to the Windsor Castle. I'd been before and it's a lovely pub. But quiet. The Bonneville was also a place I'd happily visit for a lowkey night. Not Saturday night material (though the toilets are worth a trip themselves - like a recreation of Victorian cobbled streets, they are quite eerie!)

So we ended up at Biddle Bros which I would describe as sketchy at best but at least had people dancing until the early(ish) hours. 

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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.