Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Lanes of London

I was invited along to an event at the Marriott hotel in Marble Arch for the opening of a new “concept” restaurant, Lanes of London.

It’s a beautiful setting and the staff were friendly, reasonably knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The food was surprisingly good considering the concept and the range of cuisines that they covered as a result.

It’s the concept of Lanes of London that I have a bit of a problem with. It’s not even a problem with the concept per se, more with the concept in this particular setting.

They cover four “Lanes” of London which represent different cuisines that our fair city has become famous for. So Brick Lane represents Indian food, Kingsland Road represents Vietnamese, or seemingly more generic “South East Asian” food, Edgware Road is Lebanese and Portobello Road is classic British.

So first of all, I realise three out of the four “Lanes” are actually “Roads” but I’m willing to let that slide, linking Portobello with British food is also pushing it a bit I guess but again, let’s leave pettiness out of things.

The real problem is that having all these cuisines and serving in small tapas-esque sharing plates means that depending on your group you can end up with a very strange selection of mis-matching dishes. This I think would be fine in a relaxed (I’m thinking Hackney) hipster place where the novelty would make things amusing, here it just feels a bit odd in posh surroundings and with the style that Lanes of London is going for.

 
Anyway, in no particular order, let me take you through some of the Lanes of London items we sampled this evening using press photos provided and starting with a cocktail.

The Arack Panch was a rice wine based cocktail from Sri Lanka with pomegranate seeds and lime. It was a little sweet but not at all bad.
Arack Panch

The Beef Brisket sliders served with bone marrow as a topping were probably the highlight, with tender patties we could have carried on eating these all night.
Beef Brisket Sliders
I found the butter chicken a little bland and the roti that came with it a bit greasy but it was popular with others at the table so maybe I just like it hot.
Butter Chicken
The Hung Que sour was an alternative take on the whiskey sour with added lemongrass. It wasn’t that dissimilar to an average whiskey sour was our verdict.
Hung Que Sour
These are the Jammy Dodgers – served to us in a Lanes of London metal box to take away and a cake rather than the biscuit you may be used to. Incredibly sweet but quite a treat.
Jammy Dodgers
The Kafta Meshwi were Lebanese meats with a babaganoush dip, pretty good if a bit fatty.
Kafta Meshwi
The Lamb Cutlets with greens were tasty although not really enough to share and very much on the bone.
Lamb Cutlets
The interior of the Lanes of London restaurant is done out stylishly although having to walk through the reception of the hotel and down two flights of stairs to the toilets was a bit of a mood killer.
Lanes of London - restaurant
The pumpkin salad didn’t last long but was kind of inoffensive and forgettable to be honest.
Pumpkin Salad
Another favourite of mine, perhaps because it took me back to Indian street food was the smashed up samosa Chaat, the pastry snack mixed with a tangy tamarindy sauce and chickpeas, straight off the stalls of Mumbai.
Samosa Chat
I’m a massive fan of a gourmet Scotched Egg, I attended a workshop on making these way back in the day, and this was an OK rendition but I thought the yolk could have been more runny and the breadcrumbs slightly less crisp. They were perhaps a little overcooked.
Scotch Eggs

So, Lanes of London, friendly staff, weird concept, decent food, wrong setting would be my summary.

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Hunters and Gatherers at the Rooftop Cafe in Le Cool

This Hunters and Gatherers event is being held at the Rooftop Cafe at the Exchange building, just in the shadow of the Shard. It’s a new place, only opened in January and there is still a bit of work to be done but it offers some good lunch options for those around London Bridge and a cool little space to get away from the hustle as well.

Hunters and Gatherers

Hunters and Gatherers event in Le Cool

This event focuses on local produce. They are offering ales brewed with hops from the East End and an English sparkling rose. Hunters and gatherers is the theme and this is represented by the foraged wild Kentish mushrooms and presumably locally tracked meat.

They are planning on opening a roof terrace with a cover which will be great once the weather starts to improve a bit. You will be able to sit with the Shard looming in front of you and with views over the other rooftops around the area.

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Weekend Notes… Recipe Yum…

I’ve been writing for  Weekend Notes and Recipe Yum recently and thought I’d compile a few links to some of the best articles and recipes here.

Billingsgate, Weekend Notes

Billingsgate Fish Haul

These sites both offer good incentives for writing reviews of where you visit and can give some great ideas for what to do in your spare time. If you want to write for them you can become my “Cadet” by signing up here for Weekend Notes.

My trip to Billingsgate Fish Market was a Christmas present from @notinkansas and I had a great morning exploring the produce and learning how to prepare the catch. I ended up with a Sea Bass, a grouper, some monkfish for @LoveLeluu and a couple of John Dory as well as a Lemon Sole Fillet.

You can read it here Billingsgate and see what I did with some of the haul I brought back here.

For a great break before Sophie and I returned to the UK we spent some time on Ko Samet, an island near Bangkok in Thailand. My thoughts on the resort we stayed at, Tubtim, can be found here. It was a beautiful island getaway and although not as interesting as Ko Phangan we had a great time there.

When we returned to the UK a mini tour of the North took in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Halifax and Hebden Bridge. We also paid a visit to Bronte country – Haworth.
It was such a change of scene! I do like going to extremes and the Thai beach to a quaint English canalside is certainly up there. We actually found ourselves visiting many canals, from the Regents canal in London to Foxton Locks in Leicester and then up to Burscow and Leeds for the Leeds-Liverpool before ending up in Hebden Bridge. Beautiful places and good for a weekend away.

Haworth Steam Train station, Weekend Notes

Haworth Steam Train station

You can check out my profile at Weekend Notes here.

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Bloggers Barbecue at the Ship Wandsworth

Being chastised immediately on arrival at the Ship by the lovely Gail for not Blogging enough, it seems prudent for me to counter that vicious, if entirely accurate, claim with a post about the wonderful evening that we all just spent there..

I’ve liked the Ship for a while, having been to a couple of masterclasses at the place and, while it’s kind of tucked away, the location is great, down by the river and no distance from Wandsworth Town which is pretty easy for me to get to unlike most of London from where I’m staying at the moment.

It was great to know that there was going to be a bunch of people there who I hadn’t seen for months as well, even if my London head isn’t really on again yet, and may not come back at this rate.  My Blogger head certainly wasn’t really on, my camera remaining firmly in pocket the entire night..

So anyway, I won’t reel off a list of bloggers present, I didn’t meet half the assembled anyway, but it was a thoroughly pleasant bunch with literally no maniacs present at all.  I can skip over that part and allow myself more time to wallow in the food; the food that left me so full that I wasn’t able to carry on drinking the lovely Sambrooks Wandle ale or even find room for the cocktails on offer.

~ To Start ~
Smoked Fish Platter with Chili Squid, Chorizo, Pea and Fennel Salad and Oysters

The smoked fish was a wonderfully presented platter with huge rock oysters, salmon and haddock as well as tuna fishcake things  on little cracker whatnots.  Initial yum factor kicking in nicely, we didn’t have long to wait before the next course of more traditional barbecue fare came rushing out behind.

~ Miniature Mains ~
Sliders with Bacon and Cheese in a Homemade Bun
Cocktail Sausages, Mustard Mayonnaise Dip
Butterflied Lamb leg, Rosemary and Chilli Jam
Trimmed Dingley Dale Pork Ribs, Smoky Coca-Cola Sauce
Falafels, Homemade Sweet Chili Dip
Platters of Mixed Salad, Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese, Fries, Coleslaw and Nicoise Salad

Where to start with this lot.. I’ve been informed that the “sliders” were more mini-burgers than bone fide “sliders”, but since it was the first time I’d come across the term (they don’t eat beef in India ALRIGHT?) I wouldn’t have even known what it meant.  They were very tasty and smothered in gooey cheese.
This is just another example of the battle I have between my self-destructive side and the part of me that wants to become some sort of enlightened yogi.  I can’t have everything though, so on Tuesday I chose burgers.  The falafel was good as well though, and that would probably fit into a sattvic diet, but really, who am I kidding.
In fact the best part of the mains was undoubtedly the most meat-oriented and probably unhealthy, given the coca-cola sauce which was of course all shades of wrong on the one hand, and all shades of right on the other.  There is no middle way here, apart from maybe the lamb, that was nice, with a dipping jam, I mean it’s not quinoa but it wasn’t fatty..

~ Desserts ~
Summer Fruit Eton Mess
Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream
Jaegerbomb Jelly

Yes, you read that last one correctly; and amazingly they were pretty nice.  I didn’t sleep especially well that night though so perhaps the red bull still did its evil work..
I really should have waited for the Eton Mess though rather than dive in with the jellies because the mouthful I had was in-credible, summer fruits and just mouth-watering. It was ultimately maddeningly frustrating that none of us could manage to fit more than a mouthful at this stage because it was one of my favourite parts and the plate we had was enormous.
So a very successful evening but like I say, I didn’t take any photos so you’ll just have to imagine; suffice to say, The Ship is somewhere I’ll be going back to.

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Gelupo in Soho

LondonEating & DrinkingCafes & Coffee ShopsIce Cream Parlours

From the Bocca De Lupo team accross the road this is an awesome Ice Cream parlour/coffee bar/deli offering some fantastic flavours.

Pear, Cinnamon and Ricotta, Pistachio and Ricotta, Coffee and Honey in the ice cream were fabulous and unusual.

The sorbets were where it came into its own though I think, we were dubious but while tasting were told – they don’t taste like sorbet – and they really don’t.

Chocolate was rich and dark while the coffee was just unbelievably good, like a creamy iced coffee in a tub. Matched with the coconut to take the edge off, what a treat.

The deli is fab as well, with a range of frozen sauces that you could probably pass off as your own, some fantastic meats, olive wood implements and even a whole octopus in the freezer.

Check out my review of Gelupo – I am Marshy1903 – on Qype

Gelupo on Urbanspoon

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Polpetto

LondonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsTapas

This delightful little new addition to the Polpo family just above the French House is a small, reasonably priced and atmospheric place with some excellent food on offer.

The duck and porcini meatball was delicious and moreish, with a sumptuous sauce that begged to be licked off the plate. It isn’t that sort of place though. The Melanzane parmigiana was, as my companion stated, the single-most umami thing in the world. Just bursting with flavour like you would not believe.

For the mains we got Crispy soft shell crab, parmesan batter and fennel salad which, apart from being dripped all over my companion was pretty good. It was the least exciting of all the dishes to be fair, the batter a bit too overpowering and the salad, while pleasant, didn’t really taste of fennel. This went with Zucchini fries, cut thin and a little salty but y’know, yum.

Then, after reminding the staff we had ordered two mains, the Grilled sliced flank steak with white truffle cream was just great. Truffle sauce was delicious and the steak was so rare and tender, this went great with the Polenta bianca, a creamy comforting delight.

Overall, lovely experience, the staff were a bit ditzy at times but the food made up for it. Just a note, they don’t take bookings in the evening so timing is everything…

Check out my review of polpetto – I am Marshy1903 – on Qype

Polpetto on Urbanspoon

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The Light House

The lovely Mathilde, from MathildeCuisine recommended this place in Wimbledon when I needed somewhere nice to take my Mum a couple of weeks ago, and a very good choice it was too.

We picked up on the offer on their website for 3 courses and a glass of wine for £20 which is very reasonable as long as you can get down there relatively early on a weeknight.

The dining room was airy and uncluttered with a nice atmosphere and although the staff seemed rushed off their feet as the evening wore on, did a pretty good job of keeping us fed.  I particularly liked the bar top covered in fresh produce, which hopefully they use, rather than just for show, although it looked great.


beef & pork meatballs with new potato, sour cream & dill pickle

Starters of Beetroot, goats cheese, vine plum tomato & frisee salad and beef & pork meatballs with new potato, sour cream & dill pickle.  The meatballs were rich and tasty, nicely cut through by the pickle and cream while my Mum was very happy with the goats cheese.

Main courses were slow roast pork belly with pea mash & green beans and baked salmon with herb couscous, spiced aubergine & yoghurt, although the salmon had finished by the time we ordered so was replaced by cod.

The fish was great, particularly the spiced aubergine which frankly, I could have eaten as a dish in its own right.

For dessert a vanilla pannacotta with blueberry sauce and a white chocolate & almond parfait with strawberry ice cream.

Again, both delicious, the parfait was heavy going after the first two courses but I got through it.

Overall, an excellent evening and some lovely food at a very reasonable price, particularly considering the location in Wimbledon Village.

Light House on Urbanspoon

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Galvin Bistrot De Luxe

Galvin Bistrot De Luxe on Baker Street is celebrating it’s 5th birthday and it was as part of these festivities that I was invited along with some eminent food bloggers to a dinner showcasing some of their signature dishes over the years.

We were greeted in the cosy basement bar area by Sarah Galvin who explained the use of the space for Jazz nights and how the area as a whole had been extended from what used to be a car park.  It’s a lovely and unpretentious place, buzzing upstairs with friendly staff looking after the patrons in the elegantly decorated interior.

We were greeted with the house version of the French 75, a cocktail with the punch of a 75mm howitzer which was originally created by WW1 pilot Raoul Lufbery.  Champagne, lemon, sugar and calvados (which is the Galvin twist) make one mighty kick of a drink.  The house aperitif throughout the month of September, this will certainly get the tastebuds firing.

All the classic dishes we were served are back on the menu throughout September in celebration of the birthday and we had a meaty treat.

The Entree, a Terrine of ham hock & fois gras and onion confit was hearty and delicious and paired with a fruity Riesling.  An excellent, filling start to our meal that set the standard of high quality, rich ingredients.

The main course was a Pithivier of wood pigeon & quail, Chantenay carrots and a red wine jus.  The French take on a pie was immensely rich and full of flavour, the buttery carrot puree was fantastic and the jus a mouthwatering gravy.

Rich, meaty and fulfilling, just the thing for a night when the heavens had decided to open and shower a humid Baker Street with a tropical downpour.

The Roast Figs with Lavender Ice cream where a little disappointing, the figs losing their flavour it seemed; however, the chocolates flavoured with fresh mint were delightful.

Sarah Galvin was a delightful host and the evening was a great introduction to what the Bistrot has to offer.  Well worth getting down in September to help them celebrate..!

Thanks to Sauce Comms for the invite.

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe on Urbanspoon

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Hot Stuff

Hot Stuff is one of those places that I just keep hearing about.  I think it was SimonDoggett who originally pointed me in the direction of this unassuming little place in a side street near Vauxhall and when I suggested it to my friend who lives barely round the corner she leapt at the chance.

It really doesn’t look much from the outside, like any other local Indian restaurant really but inside you realise that the kitchen is probably twice the size of the dining area and that is surely a sign that says – food! above all else.. 

It’s BYO so we popped into the offie next door to check out their threadbare shelves and the supremly classy pair that we are came out with a few cans of Red Stripe.

“Have you been before?” well no “and why not?” a good question. As it was our first visit we were treated to bottomless naan and a selection of off menu specials which, frankly, is how I’d always like to be served.  Tell me what’s good and then I’ll know it isn’t my poor selection that is letting me down.  Plus I have a natural prediliciton to try EVERYTHING.

So we were recommended starters of Lamb Kofta and Chilli Paneer both of which were tasty and generously portioned.

Our mains were a goan chicken curry (we had been recommended fish actually but chicken was good), a spicy lamb dish, tasty Saag, Magic Mushroom rice and chilli and garlic naan.  The Magic Mushroom rice didn’t quite live up to it’s name but to be fair I think the giant Chilli on the ceiling would have given me the fear if it had done.

All the food was great, leaving us totally stuffed to the brim, even without resorting to extra naan, and it only came to about 15 quid each.

Raj nearly didn’t offer us desert because we hadn’t finished our mains but relented and we were treated to a childhood memory – Ice Pops!  Naturally I chose the Cola flavour and after several minutes of brainfreeze, numb tongue and then sugar syrup rush we decided that this was clearly the way to finish any meal – forget espresso.

I’d recommend booking because it isn’t a huge place and it does get rammed and I reckon with a group of more people you would get an even more varied feast.

Hot Stuff on Urbanspoon

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Feng Sushi

We took our seats opposite the large bust of Nelson Mandela at the top of the stairs alongside the Royal Festival Hall after a search around the surrounding area suggesting that Google Maps on an iPhone isn’t quite as infallible as they might suggest. 

Once in to this small, cafe style place we were slightly daunted by the comprehensive menu and over-eager waitress who wanted our order within seconds.  We were able to placate her into giving us a little longer and then suffered the pain of attempting to catch her eye for about twenty minutes before getting served.  Still, once the Bento box and Salmon rolls arrived they were pretty fresh and tasty.  Going for sushi with someone who won’t eat raw fish is always an odd one but luckily the fishcakes were plenty tasty to keep her full (and I wondered why I couldn’t remember much about them.)

It’s a fine place for a quick, light and reasonably priced meal before going to see something at the Southbank centre.

Feng Sushi on Urbanspoon

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