Saturday 26 April 2014

The Cabin

Is not the sort of place I would choose to go. First off, it is in Whiteinch, near nothing else and second the idea of live entertainment might float a lot of people's boats, but not mine.
It was a works night out so there were a group of us. The food is very reasonably priced. I had mussels, one or two were a bit gritty but reasonable sized served with a garlic shallot cream, which was slightly too salty. The soda bread it came with was apparently very good. I didn't eat it as avoiding bread at the moment.
The pre theatre is £18 for 3 course, with the mussels having a £2 supplement and my beef Wellington a £5 supplement. The beef Wellington was an individual one and tasty although very salty. The mushroom sauce was good but some of the root veg undercooked particularly the parsnip. My friends starter of venison meatballs with egg noodles was described as tasty if a bit on the small side, and his main of lemon sole, with colcannon unfortunately a bit tasteless.
Most of us had the brioche bread and butter pudding which was described by someone who has it as their favourite pudding, as disappointing and too sweet. I very rarely have it so thought it alright.

The main problem came at the end of the night when we settled up the bill. As a group we had drank a fair bit so that would have been good for their profit. We had all paid a £10 deposit which there being 16 of us, we expected £160 to be deducted from the bill. But no they only would deduct £100 from the bill. When we asked why they said it was for the no shows. The original size if the group was 16, so even though I have never heard of this in any other restuarant ( and even though there were empty tables) we would have accepted a £30 penalty but then they started playing silly beggars and said that the original size of the group was 18 not 16 that's why they took more off us. When we stated that 16 was always the size of the party they said they had no confirmation of that and that 18 was what they were expecting and that they would deduct money for 5 no shows.
At the end of the day we let them have their £50 but withheld our tip and all 13 of us decided we would never go back. 

Sunday 6 April 2014


Not much to say other than good as ever.
Chocolate malted milkshake 
Byron burger, sauce, lettuce, tomato on the side with extra red onion and jalepenos.
French fries, courgette fries
B-Rex burger for Liz Lemon
Happy full tummies
I see they are creeping closer to the Border. Hurry up and come to Glasgow is all I can say!


We seem to be chasing Neil Rankin round Islington. We just missed him at John Salt and were keen to try the meat centric menu on offer here. 

It's a nice laid back vibe with a good buzz. It was unsurprisingly full on a Saturday evening. We had a very good snd effiecient waitress who took time to answer all our questions. We were sat right at the pass which was bordering on the almost too warm so I wonder what they will do in the height of summer. I also wonder how this menu will translate into the summer months as the beef bourgingnon and Barnsley chop although delicious, seem more suited for autumn and winter than the sweltering summers London enjoys.

The brisket roll with gouchang was excellent, the duck in spring rolls was lovely with a tasty Peking sauce that was like a more sophisticated satay. The burnt leeks were delicious and light compared to the other two.
As stated before the short rib and Barnsley chop were meet with nods of approval. The chop was served blue and John almost asked for it to be cooked a bit more but ate it anyway and declared it delicious. 
My mackeral was disappointing. It came head and tail on, which is not a problem but it also came with all the bones, which is, a bit of a faff especially in a place with dim lighting. It was just too much effort in that lighting for me to eat it so Liz Lemon made sure it didn't go to waste. I also have to say compared to the other dishes the way it was present wasn't the prettiest, in fact it was ugly. Ugly fish.
The Asian style coleslaw that came with was very tasty as was the side of pulled pork and grilled romaine. The other disappointment was the side of green salad, which was a small bowl of shredded iceberg, no dressing no nothing. 
Now I know the Smokehouse is a smoker/ meatcentric place but that doesn't mean that it can't do light or vegetable dishes well. I would suggest they need to focus on this aspect of the menu particularly coming I to the summer months when interesting salads a la ottolenghi could be the perfect foil for some smoked/ grilled meats when heavy mash or cauliflower cheese would just be too much.
A surprise standout was the double d. To say it is an incarnation of a double decker is to do it an injustice. It had a great combination of textures and flavours. A really good way to end a fun meal.

Pig and Butcher

We stopped in here for pre dinner drinks and ended up having pre dinner snacks!
Very good venison scotch eggs and good double dipped chips 

10 Greek St

I still love this place.
We meet John for lunch taking advantage of the fact you can book at lunchtime. It was full and had a good buzz. The service was friendly and the good came out when it was ready which suited us fine as we has a lot of catching up to do.
We ordered duck hearts in Marsala. I am not fond of heart but Liz Lemon and John said they were tasty especially with the Marsala.
We had some scallops which were perfectly cooked and sweet.
Pardon peppers are always good.
I was a little disappointed the baby squid were coated but they were still moreish.
The proscutio, wet garlic and burrata was tasty although the weakest of our dishes. 
The prawns were magnificent the sort you get in Spain and delicious with the pomegranate, chili and yoghurt salad.
The standout of the meal however was the treacle tart. So good that I ordered a second slice, with clotted cream. It was not too sweet and had the perfect consistency of crispy top and chewy inside. The treacle tart of my dreams.

Maltby St Market

So. Borough Market is apparently for tourists and although that is what we are, I do remember how uncomfortably busy it was and that it was not much fun, so we decided we should make the most of the decent weather and head to Maltby St Market instead.
It's a 15 min walk from London Bridge and a word of advice there is not much point getting there before 9.30 am as the traders are still setting up. We were the first folk there and felt a bit of a nuisance.

The coffee from Craft is indeed very good. The reports of a slight decline in quality of the St. John doughnut I found to be true. I had a Canele from Comptoir Gourmand and although a tasty morsel I wondered if there were meant to be two textures instead of one? Crusty outside, gooey inside?
The standout of the morning was the salt beef Reuben from Monty's deli. I would definitely come here again for that. The guys at Monty's were supernice. 
We followed this up by being the first people at Little Bird gin and having a 10 am Bloody Mary and Negroni. Nice. What a civilised way to start a Saturday morning!


I am sad to say that Nopi was the most disappointing meal of our trip. As you know I love Ottolenghi and make it a point to eat there every trip. I appreciate the ingredients and the effort that go into making the dishes. I felt that although some dishes were tasty enough at Nopi the sum was not greater than the parts. The portions are too small and the prices too steep. We ordered the sirloin from the mains section which at £30 is the same price bracket as a main at Tom Kitchin or Martin Wishart. It was tasty but nothing special. The mackeral came with an amazing cucumber sauce but was a tidly 4 pieces of fish enough really for a mouthful each. The venison was slightly larger and reported to be tasty. We ordered a few vegetable dishes: burrata, blood orange, coriander seeds and lavender oil was ok the highlight was the blood orange.
The cauliflower green Harissa bulgar and almonds consisted almost entirely of bulgar, I found only one piece of cauliflower in it. This was tasty if paltry.
The crushed beetroot dukkah and date molasses was almost awful. Beetroot can have an inherent sweetness to it which would necessitate cautious addition of date molasses to avoid over sweetness. This failed furthermore it was not crushed but puréed into an unappetizing purple mush.
The roasted sweet potato, burnt aubergine yoghurt, basil was ok. It's hard to go wrong with sweet potato but I have a suspicion it was butternut squash as I did find some hardened skin akin to that of butternut squash. Even that is just lazy, it doesn't take much to peel a butternut squash before you roast it.
The calcots were fair enough. I have always missed them when in a Barcelona so was keen to try them. A cross been tween spring onion and leek.
The twice cooked baby chicken was indeed minuscule and again a mouthful for each. I could have looked past the portion sizes if it had been tasty but it was overwhelmingly sweet as opposed to savoury.
The puddings were worse. The mint chocolate chip was left unfinished and that says something when ice cream goes uneaten. The trifle was described as dry. 
I could have forgiven the fact we were kept waiting 30 mins for our table had the food been worth it. I don't mind paying a lot for food when it's worth it but this was not especially given most of the vegetable dishes are pre prepared aka ottolenghi and sitting out on serving platters in front of you.
 In a city like London where there is do much choice and competition I was surprised and disappointed by what we had, and am sad to say I will not be back. 

Le Bistro Beumartin

I really wanted to like this place. I liked the seating area at the front and the ramshackle furniture. The decor was more modern than bistro. The service was good although I don't know how they would have fared with the same number of staff had they been busier.
My main problem with the food was the inclusion of random ingredients. If marketing oneself as a Classic French bistro then stick to the rule book and excell at it. Don't put your own artistic interpretation into it. Salmon rilletes with sundried tomato and pink peppercorns?
Boeuf bourgingnon with un crushed juniper berries? Some dishes are classics because they are perfect already, they need no embellishment.
I have taken years to perfect my tart Tatin and the one served fell short. The apples were cut too thick, there was not enough caramelisation or caramel and the puff pastry could have been more buttery. I admit I cheat by using an amazing all butter Devon farm frozen pasry but it's better to use good shop bought than use poor home made.


After arriving on the sleeper at 6.30am at Euston Station we rode a couple of stops to Liverpool St Station and walked to the Heron building where Duck & Waffle inhabits the 40th floor. 
I hadn't realised it would be so busy at 7.30 in the morning, else I would have booked a table. As it was, we were able to get a table but only for an hour. Unsurprisingly all the window tables were taken but given the Saharan sand storm was covering London in a blanket of smog the view was limited, so we didn't feel we were missing out. Liz lemon was very happy with his ox cheek Benedict. I was underwhelmed by my duck egg en coccotte. Even with a side of bacon and roast tomatoes it was not as tasty as something with wild mushrooms, gruyere and truffle oil ought to be. My side if bacon was so hard I had trouble cutting it with my knife and I thought that the lack of effort that went into my tomatoes a little surprising for a London restaurant. When I do my roast tomatoes at home I sprinkle them with a little garlic, maldon, olive oil and thyme. These had nothing. A breakfast negroni helped matters somewhat but I would not go back.
The service was efficient and friendly enough but that, even with the views is not enough when there are so many other places to try.

Jackson & rye

This was an unplanned stop in our eating and drinking itinerary and one I am glad we made. We were tired after the sleeper and a morning of shopping and I desperately needed to rehydrate on order to be awake for our lunch reservation at Gauthier. This was round the corner and we sat at the bar. LizLemon was immediately taken with the selection of rye on order (hence the name) and had a Boulevardier followed by a bespoke Sazerac. Our South African bartender was relieved that finally someone at 11am had ordered a proper drink. I had my first pour over coffee (what a small town hick I am) and two arnold palmers (ice tea and lemonade). This place has a fun buzz to it and a menu that we might have ordered off it we didn't already have plans.

Friday 4 April 2014


I don't understand why this place lost its Michelin star. Each course of our meal was delicious and the clean plates we sent back proof of that. Maybe it's French sophistication is too boring for Michelin which seems hit and miss in its favour. That suits me fine as long as places like this don't go under as a result. I hope that Gauthier has enough of a loyal fan base to survive without the hype.
The service was friendly although formal. We were sat downstairs in the cellar which was a little romantic room all of our own. The ingredients were of top quality and the cooking technique spot on. I know I prefer classical cooking to the modernist wave but no one could fault the sauces, the seasoning or the flavours here. I would definitely return. We had three savoury courses each and left stuffed. The bread was fresh, warm, plentiful and varied (sourdough, walnut, brioche etc). We were given amouse bouche, complimentary starter and petit four. I had the truffle tortellini which was delicious and only just pipped in the taste stakes by the truffle risotto which elicited noises of satisfaction from us both.
My seabass was excellent with an intense lemon fish broth which I could have drank cups of. Liz lemons veal sweetbreads looked appetising and although I did not try them were given his seal of approval.
Our final courses were the beef and the piglet. Perfectly cooked and intensely tasty. It's not often that every course of a meal delivers but it did this time. I shall definitely be back!