I’m a bit behind. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m utterly behind with this blog. The excuse? Work that actually pays me. Someone should pay me to review a restaurant, then I might eventually catch up.
Where to start?
Em, I’ve been eating some really good meals. Some deserve their own entry – like Michelin-starred Benares in Mayfair and Darcy’s in St Albans. Others, partly because I lack pictures, are being lumped together in this entry.
First off – work lunches at The Zetter and the Corney and Barrow in Holborn. Had the fish of the day at The Zetter, which is about two minutes away from Farringdon Tube (and also about 30 seconds away from where I work). The fish was served with a celeriac puree and some grilled fennel, which was lovely. I also managed to break a glass, thanks to the full-skirt of my coat. Service was somewhat stunted, but food was good.
Next was the Corney and Barrow, for an interesting lunch with a man who once ran Clarks. Had some red snapper and couscous, if I remember correctly. This really was very good, but I overheated sitting beside the window in the midday sun.
Also had lunch at Smiths of Smithfield, owned by the guy off Masterchef, with my brother and his girlfriend recently. Went for the fishfinger sandwich (tasty), brother had a steak sandwich (not so good, he said) and his girlfriend has meatballs (good, I think).
This week, my mission is to catch up.
Up north, in Leeds and Bradford, I was spoilt for choice when it came to finding a good curry. There is this really decent and inexpensive curry house, 7 Spices, near enough to Hyde Park that makes amazing lamb bhunas. For fancier sit-down meals, there’s also plenty of choice – like Akbars and Mumtaz . Indian (or sometimes more accurately Bangladeshi or Pakistani) food is all about curries up north, but not necessarily so down south it seems.
For Christmas, the work team and I went to Woodlands Restaurant in Marylebone. One of my colleagues is from south India and Woodlands hails from around there too. Five of us were out for the meal – three had never had south Indian food before. So we put our faith in the Indian among us and told her to order whatever she wanted.
We ended up sharing:
Cold starters – also called Chaats:
Aloo papri chaat
Dosas (lentil pancakes for want of a better description)
Paper masala dosa – it’s BIG and stuffed with potatoes
Masala dosa – same thing, but smaller and easier to eat
Chilli dosa – the really spicy one – chilli says it all I guess
Thalis – (large meal platters which come with a little bit of everything)
Delhi Royal Thali and the Woodlands thali
Because I’ve never had south Indian food before, I’ve nothing to compare it to. But I really enjoyed the food, particularly the chaats, so much so I’ve been trying to convince himself we should pay it a visit. Plus the south Indian was impressed – surely that’s a good sign?
Woodlands, 77 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2PS
My boss had been promising to take the team out to lunch at St John, in Smithfield, since right around the time I started working there. The only problem was our resident vegetarian – the St John doesn’t really cater for those who aren’t fans of eating dead creatures. In desperation to go, I even looked up the menu, but couldn’t find a veggie main course.
Then she went off to India for a couple of weeks, so we took advantage of her absence and had a really great lunch at the St John back in November.
For starters, we got some oysters, mussels and bone marrow – one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. I love bone marrow – it reminds me of my granny and of being young and of WB Yeats, all nice things really. I hadn’t had bone marrow since I was a teenager but it didn’t disappoint – the wet salt and capers and the marrow were amazing together.
Beef marrow at St John
For mains, I had the rabbit, which was good, but not as excellent as the starter.
Rabbit at St John
One of my colleagues had lamb, another some fish and another beef. All round a carnivore’s dream.
Lamb shanks at St John
No pictures again, but I had quite a good lunch at 1 Lombard Street a few weeks back. I ate the curried fish cakes, followed by a chocolate dessert. Worth a visit, despite all the suits.
I’ve been neglecting this.
I’ve got a million excuses – new job, new house, new town, new city – but I’ve still been eating out. Not as much now mind, can’t afford it what with the £12 daily train ticket to get to Farringdon. But still, I’ve been out pretty regularly, so really my only excuse is that I’ve got a terrible smartphone and if himself isn’t around, then I can’t take pictures of the food. And what’s the point of a food blog if you can’t even see the dishes?
Himself and I’ve been out together a couple of times, so I’ll aim to get some photos and reviews of that food up over the next few days (once he emails me the pics). Until then, here’s a summary of some of the interesting places I’ve been exploring without the iPhone on hand:
- Little Bay Farringdon – went for lunch, while feeling slightly worse for wear. Had duck, very tasty, and it’s so cheap.
- Attilios (1 Cowcross Street) – had lunch with a couple of Italians here. They were happy – that’s surely good?
I’m a big fan of cookbooks and recipe magazines – I read them for fun, geek that I am. One of my favourite cookbooks, although I’ve made little from it, is from Leon. Himself gave it to me a couple of Christmases ago and it’s full of wonderful pictures, pull-out pages and lovely recipes. It’s a pile of fun in a book really. While I love it, I’d never been to a Leon until this week.
Now that I’m working around Farringdon, the former travel buddy and I get to see each other more often. We went to the Leon at Ludgate Circus around 6pm on Monday, ordering off its set menu. For £9.99, I got a bowl of olives, sweet potato falafel, brown rice and broccoli with chillies, while herself ordered hummus, Moroccan meatballs, brown rice and slaw. And there was a carafe of red, although I’m meant to be off alcohol. The wine was good, the food felt healthy, the venue is really nice and the staff were friendly, if not a bit slow. Sadly, I’ve got no pictures. Maybe next time.
No pictures this time, but I did have a lovely Vietnamese meal in London tonight. Met an old friend and the two of us shared a bottle of red and some Pho Tai at Pho in Clerkenwell. It was tasty and the waitresses were good – friendly without being in your face and always around when you needed something.
The best bit was seeing my old travel buddy though!