foodie for thought

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire

Ember Yard - Soho

Ember Yard, the newest member of the Salt Yard Group family. I was already a firm favourite of both Opera Tavern and Salt Yard, so safe to say my expectations were pretty high. This new offering in terms of decor is in stark contrast to its siblings, which gives it its own personality. A two storey building complete with basement in the heart of Soho, boasting dark grey walls with bold, textural oil paintings and antique lamps. It’s a winner in my eyes already. 

Here there is a sharing ethos. Don’t bother coming here if you want your own food as that will not happen. Plus you’ll get major food envy. This way you get to sample practically half the menu if you’re in a big enough group (which is exactly the stance we took)

So here’s the extensive list which we quite frankly demolished when we visited a couple weeks ago:

Marinated and Charcoal Grilled Hereford Beef Skirt Steak with Horseradish Crème Fraiche - that crème fraiche is mindblowing 

Chargrilled Salt Marsh Lamb, Roasted Aubergine and Salsa Verde - the salsa verde couldn’t complement the lamb more. After trying one we went ahead and ordered two others, that’s how amazing it was

Chargrilled Cuttlefish with Roast Pumpkin, N’duja and Wild Oregano - first time I’ve tried cuttlefish and it was divine, tastes very similar to squid so you’ll love this if you like squid

Parsnip-Buttermilk Chips with Manchego - these sound simple and I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to order them but they were one of the group’s favourites

Courgette Flower Stuffed with Goats’ Cheese and Drizzled with Honey - a classic which features across the Group’s menus and a must have 

Smoked Chorizo Skewers with Saffron Alioli - this alioli is possibly the best you’ll ever try

Oak Smoked Basque Beef Burgers with Idiazabal and Chorizo Ketchup - a Salt Yard Group classic

Padrón Peppers - because they’re simply a must 

And for dessert we went for both the Italian and Spanish selections of cheeses - needless to say I was stuffed by the end of this meal. 

What’s great about this visit was that we ordered away from our usuals, and plates like cuttlefish I wouldn’t usually have at the front of mind will definitely come close to replacing my usual old spot pork belly. 

Sadly the service was a little lacklustre, with food coming out quite slowly and delaying the entire process. At one point there was just one singular lamb chop on the table which looked slightly ridiculous between 7 of us. But fair to Ember Yard, they softened the blow and offered us a dessert on the house to make up for it: Grilled Pineapple, Pineapple Sorbet, Yoghurt Mousse and Pistachio. I instantly forgave them. 

Ember Yard, you’ve got my seal of approval, and now the firm favourite of the Group. 

basquefoodieforthought 

Prawn Bhuna, Saag Aloo, Bombay Potato, Tarka Daal and Okra at Winton Tandoori.

Prawn Bhuna, Saag Aloo, Bombay Potato, Tarka Daal and Okra at Winton Tandoori.

Chop Shop - Piccadilly
Valentine’s Day is never a day to look forward to when you’re single. You basically want to hide away and not admit to the world that you have no other half. So it practically made my month when my best friend suggested we dine together so we could both be alone together. Jammy.
As the foodie I got to pick the place, and I thought one thing - all boys love steak. So that made the choice slightly easier. On a great recommendation from a friend, I looked up Chop Shop. In the heart of the buzzing Haymarket in Piccadilly, usually you’d avoid this tourist hub, but I had it on good authority the trip was worth it. Described as ‘Hawksmoor standard food without the hefty price tag’, I was sold. And ’nothing too couply either’ - you don’t want to be surrounded by couple on V day - people could get the wrong idea.
First thing’s first, I love the décor of this place. Reminiscent of a very upmarket Jamie’s (that’s meant as a compliment), this place is both simple and trendy, boasting distressed dark wood panelling, exposed white wash brick walls and large reclaimed tiles, right up my street.
We didn’t mess around with the ordering and went straight into the mains. Both of us ordered the rump steak (a steal at £19), then I picked the vodka bacon peppercorn sauce (it had to be done - and great combination), he went for two jars of the béarnaise, then we both opted for creamed spinach and a choice of both mash with crème fraiche and chives and chips with rosemary sea salt.  Safe to say we did not leave hungry. The food here is top notch. I wouldn’t place it amongst Hawksmoor, but I’d definitely prefer to come here with friends and to save my bank balance. For a bottle of wine and steak with trimmings it was just over £35 pounds each - you can’t really complain about that.On top of that, the service was excellent, maybe even a little too good at times - you don’t need to be checked on every 15 minutes.
Definitely come here with friends when you feel like treating yourself a little instead of going for the more obvious steak houses. It’s good to branch out slightly.
The added bonus? We were back home in time for Graham Norton. A wild Valentine’s. Someone stop us.
I’ll be visiting again soon, see for yourself in the meantime.
http://www.chopshopuk.com/
savedfrombeinglonelyfoodieforthought

Chop Shop - Piccadilly

Valentine’s Day is never a day to look forward to when you’re single. You basically want to hide away and not admit to the world that you have no other half. So it practically made my month when my best friend suggested we dine together so we could both be alone together. Jammy.

As the foodie I got to pick the place, and I thought one thing - all boys love steak. So that made the choice slightly easier. On a great recommendation from a friend, I looked up Chop Shop. In the heart of the buzzing Haymarket in Piccadilly, usually you’d avoid this tourist hub, but I had it on good authority the trip was worth it. Described as ‘Hawksmoor standard food without the hefty price tag’, I was sold. And ’nothing too couply either’ - you don’t want to be surrounded by couple on V day - people could get the wrong idea.

First thing’s first, I love the décor of this place. Reminiscent of a very upmarket Jamie’s (that’s meant as a compliment), this place is both simple and trendy, boasting distressed dark wood panelling, exposed white wash brick walls and large reclaimed tiles, right up my street.

We didn’t mess around with the ordering and went straight into the mains. Both of us ordered the rump steak (a steal at £19), then I picked the vodka bacon peppercorn sauce (it had to be done - and great combination), he went for two jars of the béarnaise, then we both opted for creamed spinach and a choice of both mash with crème fraiche and chives and chips with rosemary sea salt.  Safe to say we did not leave hungry. The food here is top notch. I wouldn’t place it amongst Hawksmoor, but I’d definitely prefer to come here with friends and to save my bank balance. For a bottle of wine and steak with trimmings it was just over £35 pounds each - you can’t really complain about that.On top of that, the service was excellent, maybe even a little too good at times - you don’t need to be checked on every 15 minutes.

Definitely come here with friends when you feel like treating yourself a little instead of going for the more obvious steak houses. It’s good to branch out slightly.

The added bonus? We were back home in time for Graham Norton. A wild Valentine’s. Someone stop us.

I’ll be visiting again soon, see for yourself in the meantime.

http://www.chopshopuk.com/

savedfrombeinglonelyfoodieforthought

Kickstart

It’s March. We’re 4 days in. I’ve already consumed half my body weight in chocolate I swear. But not all is lost, I’ve decided I’m giving up chocolate for Lent. It will be hard, but I’m determined to do it.

And on top of that I need to start eating relatively healthily again.

For my dinners I’ve had a cod fishcake with a creamy parsley sauce centre, complete with wilted spinach and peas. And the packed lunch this week was couscous, wilted spinach, peas and breaded chicken all finished off with a healthy squeeze of lemon.

Tomorrow however I’m out for Homeslice pizza at lunch. HELP.

tobecontinuedfoodieforthought

I always like to showcase my friends’ culinary adventures.

So here’s Lily’s feast when she went to Riding House Café (next on my list for brunch)

Chorizo Hash Brown with Mushrooms and Poached Eggs and the Buttermilk Pancakes to share.

Thanks for sharing Lil!

Looks incredible.

Five Guys - Leicester Square

This is the craze that hit central London like a storm. In its opening weeks people were queuing right the way up to Covent Garden station to get their piece of the Five Guys. And a couple weeks ago I finally got mine.

You walk in, greeted by massive potato sacks and monkey nuts like i’s the norm - I had no idea what to do here. As instructed I proceeded to fill an entire vessel with peanuts that I didn’t really need and that also proved very difficult to crack open with one hand - note to self. They’re not trying to lure you in with their décor by any means. Five Guys is quite simply an all American fast food chain as you’d expect it. ‘Rustic’ some may say.

To be perfectly honest I found it all a bit overwhelming. What was the difference between a little and a normal burger? The amount of patties apparently. Little = 1, Regular = 2. And getting my head around the unlimited toppings that come at no extra cost (a total of 15 - what do you do with all that choice). And you can order a Corona here. Mental.

I played it slightly safe with the little bacon cheeseburger with pickles, mayo, lettuce and tomato. A classic combo some may say. And then my dining buddy and I had the Cajun fries to share - we did not need one each by any means. Caution - you will struggle to finish them. What I was almost more excited about than the burger was the infamous soda machine with over 100 varieties of your favourite carbonated soft drinks. My heaven. Coca Cola Lime charmed its way back into my life that day. 

What’s so great about this burger? The lack of grease. It doesn’t feel unhealthy as you bite into it, there’s no burger juice dripping down your arm - winner. I think I put it quite perfectly if I don’t say so myself when I say the burger is that of Macdonalds combined with Byron and there you have it. It’s just awesome and you need to try it if you haven’t already.

Next time I’m going for the normal burger with unlimited toppings - it’s surely got to be done right?

Until then.

gimmethemeatfoodieforthought

Flesh and Buns - Earlham Street

Now I had heard mixed reviews of Flesh and Buns, but I needed to try it and see for myself. Ever since it opened, there was a hype around this Taiwanese style restaurant and their steamed hirata buns. And I was expecting big things from the owner of Bone Daddies with his new offering.

Cartoon, japenese pop art adorns the walls, which might make your head hurt a bit, but it’s a fun vibe here. People dining here don’t care about fancy presentation or an over complicated menu. They want a bunch of side sushi followed by the famous hirata buns, all washed down with an Asahi beer - simple.

Don’t even dream of getting your own dishes - you’ll just get food envy, and frankly, the ethos here is a sharing one.

For three of us, we ordered the mixed sashimi, salmon avocado rolls and broccoli smothered in yuzu kosho mayo (this is the only way I will eat my broccoli now). However, these were simply the supporting act to the main event: the crispy piglet belly with mustard miso and pickled apple, completed with one of those soft, pillowy, rice flour buns. Heaven. In. My. Mouth. That mustard miso is genius, we couldn’t get enough of it. Get stuck in with your hands here and cram in the accompanying pickles like there’s no tomorrow.

We were surprisingly reserved and skipped the make you own s’mores (my one regret of the night). You are quite literally served a stone fire and toast your marshmallows to then sandwich in between biscuits and chocolate. One for next time for sure.

All in all, a great dinner out, and for only £18 each for all that food, I’d say it was a bargain. In the heart of Covent Garden, this basement restaurant is a gem of a find. Even busy on a Monday night, it’s sure to be a winner. Come here with friends for a catch up and a gossip, and some pretty good food to top it all off.

http://www.fleshandbuns.com/

bunmeupfoodieforthought

Hawksmoor - Seven Dials
Ever since starting at my job, Hawksmoor has proved a firm favourite for steak lovers when taken out for lunch. And with a tag line of ‘the best steak restaurant in London’, you’re bound to be intrigued. So you can imagine my excitement when after 10 months in my company, my time had come to be treated to Hawksmoor. And boy did it live up to my expectations.
Blink and you’ll miss the front door to this meat lover’s haven, tucked away in one of the cobbled alleys of Seven Dials. A sweeping staircase leads down into the bar area, reminiscent of a Prohibition-era speakeasy.  You then walk through the archways to the converted brewery, complete with brick walls and reclaimed fittings resembling a gentleman’s club. It’s basically every city boy’s dream.
Now onto the real highlight. The food. I simply had to go for the 300g fillet steak (medium rare of course) with a peppercorn sauce. To add to this we ordered an array of sides: creamed spinach, sweet potato, mushrooms, beef dripping potatoes and triple cooked chips (carb overload here).
As if that wasn’t enough food, it seemed a solid idea to go for dessert as well - highly unnecessary but damn good. I went for the Kerry’s Orange and Chocolate Bar. Incredibly rich, but chocolately, velvety goodness. Enough said.
This is a great location for a working lunch, but I’m not sure if it would be top of the list to come with friends in terms of atmosphere (suits aplenty). But if you love your steak, it would be a crime to not try this out. And with fillet steak coming in just over £30, it’s actually not going to break the bank either.
A charming first visit, and I would relish the opportunity to come again.
http://thehawksmoor.com/
nodinnerneededfoodieforthought

Hawksmoor - Seven Dials

Ever since starting at my job, Hawksmoor has proved a firm favourite for steak lovers when taken out for lunch. And with a tag line of ‘the best steak restaurant in London’, you’re bound to be intrigued. So you can imagine my excitement when after 10 months in my company, my time had come to be treated to Hawksmoor. And boy did it live up to my expectations.

Blink and you’ll miss the front door to this meat lover’s haven, tucked away in one of the cobbled alleys of Seven Dials. A sweeping staircase leads down into the bar area, reminiscent of a Prohibition-era speakeasy.  You then walk through the archways to the converted brewery, complete with brick walls and reclaimed fittings resembling a gentleman’s club. It’s basically every city boy’s dream.

Now onto the real highlight. The food. I simply had to go for the 300g fillet steak (medium rare of course) with a peppercorn sauce. To add to this we ordered an array of sides: creamed spinach, sweet potato, mushrooms, beef dripping potatoes and triple cooked chips (carb overload here).

As if that wasn’t enough food, it seemed a solid idea to go for dessert as well - highly unnecessary but damn good. I went for the Kerry’s Orange and Chocolate Bar. Incredibly rich, but chocolately, velvety goodness. Enough said.

This is a great location for a working lunch, but I’m not sure if it would be top of the list to come with friends in terms of atmosphere (suits aplenty). But if you love your steak, it would be a crime to not try this out. And with fillet steak coming in just over £30, it’s actually not going to break the bank either.

A charming first visit, and I would relish the opportunity to come again.

http://thehawksmoor.com/

nodinnerneededfoodieforthought

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi - Wimbledon

I think the pictures really do speak for themselves here, but I’ll give it a go myself.

The opening of Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in Covent Garden has been the talk of the town for the past couple of weeks. It’s everyone’s go-to lunch haunt, and for very good reasons. So when I realised there was one down the road in Wimbledon, I couldn’t really say no - and cleverly organised to go on pay day - woops.

You wouldn’t think the humble Wimbledon high street would host a place such as this. You walk in through the door into what looks like a converted barn turned nightclub. We’re talking high ceilings, trendy seating, with the kitchen acting as the central hub slap bang in the middle of the room. Quite frankly, the interior is incredibly slick, you can easily spot the Scandinavian design influences, and the music moves from funky house to smooth R’n’B classics. Needless to say I was pretty much in my element.

The menu is slightly overwhelming, I’ve never had so much choice of sushi in one place before. And the pictures on the menu make you want to choose absolutely everything, which is thoroughly unhelpful for a foodie like myself. You could suffer from a massive case of FOMO here. So we had a slight cop out, and opted for the ‘Upgrade’ sharing platter. This consisted of Nigiri, Urimaki, Kaburimaki, Salmon Carpaccio, Duck filled rice paper rolls, and a combination of ‘sticks’ - goat’s cheese with dried ham, tuna steak and chicken wings. Now for £60 you get a hell of a lot for your money, so it’s actually quite good value if you’re sharing. Plus you get to have a little bit of everything, which is essential for your first time here. But if that wasn’t enough, we decided on two extra sides, beef tataki and ebi bites.

Hand on heart, this is the best sushi I’ve ever eaten, for me, it’s up there with the likes of Zuma, and caters for a younger, more trendy clientele. With every bite of something new, my dinner partner and myself were in awe of how good the food was, and it rendered me quite speechless and giddy. And as for those sides, well, I’m never the biggest fan of beef carpaccio, but now I always want it served like the tataki. The heat from the dressing was calculated just right and the meat was seared to perfection. It practically melted in my mouth. The ebi bites were little nuggets of heaven. Crispy shrimp with a good helping of chilli and lime, belissimo.

And to drink? Well we chose the two most popular cocktails on the menu, Hotaru (rum based with passion fruit and apple) and Hanoko (jasmine tea infused sochu and organic elderflower with a touch of honey and sharpened with fresh lime).

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, you’ve nailed it. A really fun place to spend your evening and cracking food (which comes at a price)

Until next pay day…

http://sticksnsushi.com/

breakthebankfoodieforthought

This falafel pitta looks too good to be true!

This falafel pitta looks too good to be true!