Category Archives: London

Jose Tapas Bar – Bermondsey Street

Located on the trendy Bermondsey Street is José Pizarro’s Spanish Bar, Jose. This place had been on my list for a long time and now that my office moved to the London Bridge area it made it the perfect sense to go and check it out one night after work for drinks and dinner. Jose Tapas Bar is a genuine, slightly rustic Spanish bar serving up a range of traditional tapas dishes and daily menu specials.

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Jose doesn’t take reservations because the bar is quite small and it does get very busy. However the staff are super friendly and efficient at getting you in as soon as they can. Just be aware that this doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get a seat because most of the customers are standing up, putting their plates and drinks on strategically placed barrels. We arrived on a Thursday night around 6.30pm and waited for about 20 min before we got a spot in the bar. While we waited at the entrance way though we consumed some Prosecco to kick off the night.

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Now onto the food. We got a little over-excited about all the delicious food so ordered quite a bit! The dishes at Jose are traditional Spanish tapas (meaning no major modern twists) but they are all of exceptional quality.

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Manzanilla olives £3 // Salted Marcona almonds £3 // Jamón Ibérico 100% Corn Fed £12. The Ibérico ham and other meats at Jose are all from Maldonado, one of Spain’s most esteemed artisan producers. I think this was one of the best ham I’ve ever had in London (or maybe even Spain for that matter..)

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Croquetas £6, which were perfectly crisp-outside and creamy-within // Deep flavoured Tortilla £4 // Charred salty Padrón peppers  £5  // and Patatas Bravas with a creamy aoili and a spicy tomato sauce £4.

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 Chorizo cooked in wine £6 – I looooove chorizo! // The Pork Cheeks in a red wine and tomato sauce £9 – this pork was melt in your mouth incredible. One of my favourite dishes of the night!

Now after all that food we weren’t really planning on having dessert but we’d been standing near the kitchen and been having a great chat with the lovely wait staff, so they surprised us with two desserts on the house. Now how could we say no to that!

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The desserts that night were Rice Pudding and Turrón Mouse (£4.50 each). Turrón is a Spanish nougat made with almonds, honey, sugar and egg white, traditionally served at Christmas. The Turrón mouse was so smooth, nutty and rich so even though we were incredibly full from dinner, we pretty much licked that little glass clean!

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I would seriously recommend a visit to Jose Tapas Bar in Bermondsey to everyone. Amazingly good food and the service was fantastic in this small, cosy and buzzing bar! I tweeted this photo of me with the staff during dinner  and when we were paying the bill Mr José Pizarro himself came out to say hello and to ask us if we’d had a good evening. I couldn’t believe it! What a night :) I will definitely be back and also can’t wait to try his full sized restaurant (also in Bermondsey) called Pizarro.

Jose Tapas Bar, Bermondsey
104 Bermondsey Street
SE1 3UB, London
Twitter @Jose_Bermondsey
www.josetapasbar.com

  
2 Comments | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurant Review

Brunch at Chiltern Firehouse

Knowing I am a bit of a brunch-addict, two of my good mates were so very kind to treat me to an (early) birthday breakfast two weeks ago. They asked, where would you like to go and it wasn’t hard for me to decide on Chiltern Firehouse! I however assumed it would be impossible for him to get a booking there (seeing it’s the place in London at the moment and always packed with celebs) but hooray he managed to score us a booking. I need to find out his tricks actually because this could come in handy in the future ;)

So two weeks ago on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning we met up for some drinks at his place in Marylebone first to start the day off by toasting to my 30th birthday (a week early but who am I to complain) with a glass of Champagne! Two glasses of Moet by 10am is rather punchy but it did make for a brilliant start to the day.

When we got to Chiltern Firehouse we had the option of sitting inside the restaurant or outside on the terrace. Because it was so warm and summery we decided on the terrace and kicked off with, umm, more champagne. Slightly diluted this time in the form of Bellini’s which went down a treat.

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For the food I was actually quite suprised abou the menu. Friends of mine had raved about the brunch at Chiltern Firehouse but for an 11am booking on a Saturday I found the menu a lot more lunchy-than-brunchy. When I think brunch I think mainly yummy egg dishes, something healthy and delicious items like pancakes or french toast, with a few lunch dishes thrown in for good measure.

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I wonder if the Sunday Brunch menu is different or if we just had a different menu because we were seated in the courtyard. Anyway the menu still looked delicious but we all wanted craved something eggy and because none of us liked hollandaise sauce (call us weird) it ruled out the staple Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine.

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We got the spiced crab omelette with turmeric, potatoes and chervil and two of the smoked salmon on a herbed potato cake, topped with a poached egg. The waiter added the chips  on the house. Why? No idea but we weren’t complaining hehe. Some close up food porn shots of brunch yumminess.

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It all tasted delicious, very fresh and light. After brunch we decided maybe we had skipped a good starter so for dessert we decided on a savoury starter and of course some cake – after all we were celebrating my birthday. Any excuse right?

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Crab stuffed donuts with coral dusting. Lovely little bites of sweet and savoury!

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And the chocolate tart with toasted hazelnut ice cream (dissapeared in seconds). Overall I loved the food and the service at Chiltern Firehouse. I can’t wait to come back for dinner one night or to try their actual breakfast menu.

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After all the yummy food and drinks we all left full and happy for a day to enjoy the London sunshine. Thanks boys for a fab start to my 30th birthday week! Have you been to Chiltern Firehouse yet?

Chiltern Firehouse
1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone
W1U 7PA, London
www.chilternfirehouse.com
Call 020 7073 7676
or email reservations@chilternfirehouse.com for a reservation…..Good luck!!

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Brunch, Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants

Sticks N Sushi in Covent Garden

I’m a big fan of japanese food and especially sushi and yakitori. So when I found out about Sticks N Sushi in Covent Garden, I knew that this restaurant would be right up my street. Sticks N Sushi originates from Denmark where it was founded 18 years ago by  two brothers, Jens and Kim Rahbek, and Thor Anderson. Taking inspiration from their half-Japanese and half-Danish background, they decided to fuse the two cuisines together. What they serve? Pretty much what it says on the box – Sticks (yakitori) and Sushi. The concept has been a roaring success because today there are ten Sticks’n’Sushi restaurants in Copenhagen and two in London, Covent Garden and Wimbledon.

I’d been meaning to visit Sticks N Sushi in Covent Garden ever since it opened late last year but just never got round to it. But late is better then never, so finally a few weeks ago I met a friend for a catch up dinner at Sticks N Sushi in Covent Garden.

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The design and feel of the place is very trendy, classy and fun – I love the exposed brick and it oozes Nordic cool. Their menu offers lots of delicious cocktails if you’re up for a fun night out. Me and my friend however were having a bit more of a low key evening, so we decided on a refreshing green tea after a long day in the office. You can also never go wrong with edamame beans (very generous serving) covered in a spicy miso dip) to nibble on while you work out the menu.

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The menu at Sticks N Sushi is enormous. They have set menu / plates or the a la carte option so you can select whatever you fancy. The menu has photos of all the dishes, which is helpful so you know what you are ordering – but also slightly tempting because it all looks so good, making it very tricky to decide. We decided to go A La Carte and picked a selection of sticks to share and some rolls.

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Gyu Filet – beef with herbed butter // Goats cheese with dried ham // Chicken and leeks in teriyaki // Miso marinated black cod // Salmon wrapped in pancetta with herbed butter // Scallop wrapped in pancetta with herbed butter. It’s hard to say which one I loved the most because I loved them all but true stand outs for me were the scallops, cod and goats cheese.

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Rolls wise we got Soft-shell crab in rice paper (YUM!) and a Rainbow roll (8 pieces) which contained Surimi, snow peas, salmon, tuna, halibut, shrimp, mayo, tobiko and avocado. I know this all might not look like a look of food but it was actually very filling!

We decided to pass on dessert (we were being so good!) but their four taster dessert which includes a chocolate fondant with caramel and hazelnut brittle sounded so decilious that I might have to go back to Sticks N Sushi soon to try it!

I really enjoyed Sticks N Sushi in Covent Garden. The food was very good, the vibe fun and the service relaxed and friendly. They market Sticks N Sushi as ‘a sushi restaurants – even for those who don’t like fish’ and I think that’s very true - I just love the mix of sushi and skewers, it means there’s something on the menu for everyone. I think Sticks N Sushi would be make a great date restaurant and the perfect place to kick-start a fun night out with the girls. I for sure will be back and recommend you add it to your list of restaurants to visit.

Sticks N Sushi in Covent Garden
11 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8PY
www.sticksnsushi.com

  
3 Comments | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants

Tapas Brindisa London Bridge

Brindisa is a bit on an institution when it comes to Tapas in London. After 16 years of wholesaling the best ingredients and products at Borough Market they opened their first restaurant Brindisa Tapas London Bridge in 2004.

 “The start up of the tapas business began when I invited Mark Hix, a Brindisa customer since 1989 and good friend, to view the Borough market site I was being offered by the Borough Market Trust. Between us in seconds we could visualise a tapas bar.”

And since opening Brindisa Tapas London Bridge, they have spread their wings around London opening Casa Brindisa South Kensington, Tapas Brindisa Soho and Tramontana Brindisa in Shoreditch. I am a big fan of spanish food and tapas but had never made it to any of the Brindisa restaurants before. Then our office moved to Southwark, which meant London Borough market and Tapas Brindisa London Bridge was now only a short walk from my office. So recently when I had a friday lunch date with a good friend/colleague we decided on the, always busy, Tapas Brindisa by Borough Markets.

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They don’t take reservations and usually the place is pretty busy but we decided to be patient and just grab a drink at the bar while we waited, and wooohoo within about 15 minutes we managed to score a table inside.

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Now onto the food, the important part! We ordered a mix of little tapas plates to share. Are you ready?

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First up the Cecina Salad which is Smoked Cured Beef with chunks of (manchego) Goats Cheese (£7.00). This was probably one of my favourite dishes, the beef was so tasty and the flavours combined each other perfectly. Think we pretty much licked that plate clean.

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Grilled Smoked Chorizo on toast with rocket and piquillo pepper (£6.60). Delicious but wasn’t quite what I was expecting or craving. I love chorizo and we couldn’t decide between the several chorizo dishes and ended up picking this one from the menu. I liked it, but didn’t loooooove it and think I would have preferred simple grilled or cooked in red wine chorizo. Next time!

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Deep fried Monte Enebro, handmade goats cheese with orange blossom honey (£7.60). I love a goats cheese and honey combination (it makes a delicious open sandwich!) and this tapas was quite rich but totally hit the spot. Oh and the red bits are not bacon (now that would have been extra naughty, but tasty) but crisp beetroot.

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Galician style octopus with baby potatoes, olive oil and paprika (£9.75) and of course a plate of Padron Peppers (£5.70) had to be part of our tapas selection. I love these smokey and salty grilled peppers, they are the best!

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And last but not least, some Croquetas de Jamon, cured ham croquettes (£6.90). They were perfectly crisp and crunchy and yummy and soft on the inside. After all these little plates – actually think they are quite well sized for the price – we were pretty stuffed but could have easily not returned to work and enjoyed some wine in the sun and get that holiday feeling after all this delicious spanish food. But nope we did have to go back to work but having this as a local restaurant is definitely not a bad thing.  Have you been to any of the Brindisa restaurants in London before?

Tapas Brindisa London Bridge
18-20 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TJ
www.brindisatapaskitchens.com

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants

Ottolenghi Islington

I love Yotam Ottolenghi. There, I’ve said it. Ok not in the I want to marry him and have his babies kind of love, but his food is most definitely my idea of heaven on a plate. I have most of his recipe books, which I often cook from (see some examples here and here), his deli cafe in Notting Hill is my favourite place to drop by for cake (or two) and his restaurant NOPI in Soho is without a doubt one of my all time favourite restaurants in London.

However as a long-time fan, I am pretty embarrassed to admit that I had never been for dinner at his flagship store/restaurant in Islington. I’d visited a few times while in that side of town during the day but getting a booking always seemed impossible. To be fair though, it always was a bit of an after-thought and I just hadn’t planned a visit there well enough in advance.

So a little while back when I knew my parents were coming to visit me in London I thought, this is it, I am determined to get a table at Ottolenghi. And because it was for a Monday night I managed to score myself a 6.30pm booking – I was over the mood and knowing my dad is also a huge Ottolenghi fan I was super excited to finally get to experience dinner at Ottolenghi Islington.

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As close as it gets to a flag-ship, Islington is the biggest Ottolenghi and a proper restaurant. As well as take-away food, they seat about 50 in the cool, sophisticated-yet-laid-back environment, mostly around communal tables (with a few small tables for two). We were seated at the end of the big table which suited us, but probably not ideal if you were hoping for a more intimate dinner.

The philosophy behind the menu is fresh, no nonsense food, which comes straight from the source to your table, homemade.  Since opening nine years ago Ottolenghi has gained the reputation of being the man responsible for sexing up vegetables so it’s not a surprise that the menu has lots of vegetarian options. We immediately got served with some (delicious) fresh bread while we explored the menu. 

The menu is split into two sections, ‘From the Counter’ and ‘From the Kitchen’ and it is made up of small sharing plates – not that you’ll want to though when you start eating them. The counter food is cold and readily prepared and served as a starter while the kitchen food is hot and comes later. 

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Dad and I explored the deli counter and after lots of ummm-ing and ahhhhh-ing (because we just wanted to try everything) we finally chose the following cold starters.

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Roasted aubergine with walnut yoghurt, herbs and spicy walnuts (£9.00) // Grilled courgette, broccolini, Parmesan, pistachio, tarragon, chervil and truffle oil (£9.00) // Grilled pear, mixed bitter leaves, spicy pecan nuts and Urfa chilli with Roquefort and yoghurt dressing (£9.00) // Yellow fin, line-caught seared tuna with mixed sesame seeds and soy, honey, spring onion and ginger sauce (£10.80)

Ottolenghi does aubergine so well! This dish was definitely a huge winner in my books but really all of them were equally as delicious. From the ‘kitchen’ menu we got:

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Braised octopus with Kalamata olive puree, mustard seeds, harissa and cavolo nero (£12.00) //  Seared duck breast with red cabbage puree, pickled celeriac, date and walnuts (£12.00) // Spicy paneer, tomato chutney, chilli, grilled Romano pepper with lime and ginger yoghurt (£11.00) // Roast pork belly with prawn and chilli sambal, pickled kohlrabi, nashi pear and char-grilled baby leek (£12.00)

My favourites were the duck (perfectly cooked) and the pork belly. Crispy crackling pork belly combined with a spicy chilli sambal and the sweet pear ‘fries’ was so good.  We ordered 8 dishes between the 3 of us and the flavours were to die for. The textures, colours and spices were all perfect in each dish. Ottolenghi is famous for his cakes and desserts so luckily we still had room after our sharing plates dinner.

For the dessert menu we were given a little menu or told to come to the window of the deli to choose from a wide selection of scrumptious mouth watering cakes. Warning: your eyes might be bigger then your belly at this point - you will want to eat them all. We decided to continue with the sharing theme and got 3 desserts to share. 

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Carrot and walnut cake with cream cheese icing // Chocolate fondant cake (my recipe here). If you love rich, dense chocolate cakes then you’ll adore this – it’s incredible and one of my favourite chocolate cake recipes // Lemon and marscapone tart. All looks pretty tasty doesn’t it?

Ottolenghi is not your average restaurant/café or deli and at £10 a dish, it is a bit more expensive but you most definitely get what you pay for. Aside from the utterly delicious food, the place has a great atmosphere, has friendly and well informed staff and a good wine list. All in all, this made for a wonderful evening and I can’t wait to go back!

Ottolenghi Islington
287 Upper Street London
N1 2TZ, London
Phone: 0207 288 1454
www.ottolenghi.co.uk

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants