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BELGOPENING.

Seafood, Belgian, beer

As a newly conformed mussel fan, I was really excited to receive an invitation to the Belgo Holborn reopening party this week. Aptly named #Belgopening, they pulled out all the stops to show off Belgo’s new and improved venue. It was my favourite kind of blogger bash, one where you’re seated at a table and the food comes to you. No hovering by the kitchen waiting for the canapés to come out and no excessive waste that I always feel the need to try and finish. There was also a LOT of booze.  

Pink Mojitos, Prosecco and ALLLLL the beer kept us more than happy throughout the evening – I was pretty wasted by the time I got home, hence why it’s taken me a little longer than usual to do this post. We tried a vast selection of Belgian beers that were all extremely girl friendly and appealing. Packaging and flavour are both very important to me when choosing a beer and the ones we tried at Belgo ticked all the boxes. The cute elephant beer was my fave and my matching tattoo made me ever so happy. 

A trio of starters got us going quite nicely; Cheesy Croquettes (possibly the best I’ve ever had), King Prawns in Garlic Butter & Smooth Brussels Pate with Delirium Jelly. Presented perfectly on a long white rectangular plate and all exteremely yummy. Our starters were swiftly followed by the star of the show, the mussels (or Moules if you’re Belgian). We got 2 types; Traditionelle (Cream, Garlic, White Wine & Celery – the clear winner) and Thai Green, which was nice but nowhere near as sensational as the Traditionelle. Moules Frites wouldn’t be Moules Frites without  Tripple Cooked Chips – dipped in the Traditionelle sauce, they blew my mind and confirmed that I’ve been an idiot my whole life avoiding this dish. Next we received Belgo’s take on Surf & Turf – little shot glasses of beef with asparagus and lobster cocktail – a dream. Dessert was Homemade Waffles, my least favourite thing but still enjoyable and shortly after they brought round wooden sticks the size of the room filled with Scnapps shots to get us all pissed. It worked and it was great. Well done again Belgo and huge shout outs to my girls at PR & Everything Inbetween for ALWAYS making it a good night. Looking forward to the next one… 

                                        

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DRY JAN @ STRADA. 

Alcohol Free, Italian, London

I’ve never done Dry Jan, I’ve never really wanted to or felt the need to and if I’m honest I don’t think I ever will. December was stressful and busy at work and I didn’t get to go out half as much as I’d have liked so my manager and I went for more of a ‘Wet Jan’ approach this month. All that being said, last night I went to an event to celebrate the end of Dry Jan with Alcohol Concern at Strada and I learnt that there’s a hell of a lot more to Dry Jan than I thought. It was really interesting to hear them talk about how people find it hard to say no to drinking because of the pressure of their friends and even when they’re making a conscious decision to cut back throughout the year, January is the only time they actually have an excuse and don’t feel they have to drink. I know a lot of people use it as an excuse to save money or lose weight but it’s not really about that and I do think the message can get lost. It’s all fun and games until drinking becomes a problem and it’s great that people have noticed this and are doing something about it.

Strada have introduced a range of alcohol free drinks, that to my surprise actually taste pretty good. I know to a lot of people it seems weird and that there’s not much point to it but the ‘red wine’ and the ‘bubbly’ were both actually really nice and far more enjoyable than I ever expected. I’m not saying you’ve got to go T-total and cut out drinking but if you were cutting back this would be a pretty awesome way to do so. These options will be on the menu permanatly and are very reasonable so give them a try next time you’re eating at Strada.

Informative rant over, now let’s talk about the food. The venue was Strada, Riverside – More London. They call it that because believe it or not it’s by the river. It’s also my favourite Strada ever and the views are absolutely insane. When I go there it makes me proud to be a Londoner and I find it difficult not to take photos of the water features even though I’ve seen them plenty of times before. I’ve reviewed Strada before and stand by my words when I say it’s well worth a trip and the food is on point.

They served up an abundance of Bruschetta with toppings like Cottage Cheese and Salmon, Mozzarella & Chilli, Avocado Mash and the classic Tomato and Basil – which were all of course delightful. Garlic Mushroom with Parmesan was the winner though – we ate far too many of these. Crispy Fried Squid with Garlic dip, PERFECT olives, Tiramisu and Pana Cotta all went round on plates and did a brilliant job of ruining any kind of January health kick I’d planned on doing. It was so worth it though.

   
  
  
  
    
    
  

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T2 CHAI CHAMPIONSHIP.

Indian, Tea

 The people at T2 know how to put on a party. Last night I visited the Regent Street store to witness Chai baristas from all over the UK battle it out for a place in the International T2 Chai Championships in Australia where the winner will win a once in a life time trip to the Chai motherland, India! 

With a Mumbai Meets London themed evening of chai-infused treats, Indian delicacies and some of the best macaroons I’ve ever experienced, T2 is certainly more than just tea. 

The Venison Keema Samosa with Tamarind Chutney and Chai Spices was a dream and I’m pretty sure we ate far more than our fair share of these little morsels of heaven. I was very impressed with the Dhokla (steamed lentil cake), the Mumbai Maple Chai tea and of course, the Green Tea Macaroons that were by far the most intensely creamy and delicious macaroons I’ve ever experienced. 

Well done to Krisi Smith from Bluebird Tea Co for winning last night, I’m rooting for you! 

                              

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MA’ PLUCKER. 

Chicken, Soho

Ma’Plucker is a chicken restaurant that totally caters for all the fussy eaters amongst us. You can customise your meal in four different ways; you choose your base (Brioche Bun | Salad | Maple Waffle), your sauce (MP chicken skin gravy | Chipotle chilli sauce Kansas BBQ | Herb dressing | Maple chilli glaze), and finally your chicken (Hickory Spiced Pulled, Crispy Coated Buttermilk Dipped | Rotisserie Chipotle) and there’s Crispy Coated Halloumi Cheese for those of you that are that way inclined. If you don’t like meals bespoke to you and you fancy ordering off the menu then you can do that too. We went for Chicken Fried Steak (not actually chicken at all) and The Fried Chicken & Halloumi Bun. You’ve got all the usual suspect side dishes; Crack & Cheeze (Mac ‘n’ Cheese Balls) Pickles, Fries, Slaw, Buttered Corn, Mash, Greens, Baked Beans and Salad to accompany your chicken and a short but sweet dessert menu to satisfy your after dinner cravings.

The Cornflake and Caramel sundae totally won me over. It weirdly ended up being my favourite dish and completely blew me away with how delicious it was. The ice cream is actually cornflake flavour, the whole thing tastes like Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut on crack and its worth visiting on the basis of the sundae alone. The chickens pretty damn great too.

Oh and the toilets are AMAZING.

  
  
        

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SHACKFUYU.

Japanese, London Restaurants, Soho

I’m going to seriously have to reassess my ‘Best Of’ post after visiting Shackfuyu for the first time. I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to tick it off the list and I’m counting down the minutes until I can go back. It’s pretty much the holy grail of Japanese food (but with a western twist) and absolutely blew me away. As I knew it would.

Rosie Londoner and Grace Dent gave it rave reviews ages ago and I’ve been desperate for that Kinako French Toast ever since. I tried to go a while back but it was closed for reconstruction but I got to go back yesterday for the soft launch of the new and improved restaurant. 

The small plates really did it for me (Like really, really did it for me) – Edamame with the most INCREDIBLE Sweet Chilli Soy Sauce that I almost drank straight from the bowl, Korean Fried Chicken Wings which made me want to shout ‘HOLY FUCK’ as loud as possible, Miso Aubergine that actually melted in my mouth, Fried Potatoes with Japanese Curry Sauce – AKA the BEST chips with curry sauce you’ll EVER eat, Roast Sweetcorn with Lime Butter and 7 Spice Pepper which was REALLY great but not the best corn dish I’ve ever had (all hail Chooks Corn with Lime, Chilli & Parmesan) and Prawn Toast Masquarading As Okonomiyaki which is easily the best prawn toast I’ve ever had but was still my least favourite small dish (partly due to the fact that I’ll never be comfortable with those moving fish flakes (if you know you know)).

The mains we had were good but in my opinion didn’t quite live up to the starters. We went for the Wild Cornish Seabass with Orange Miso, the Hot Stone Rice with Sesame, Chilli & Beef (it broke my heart a little bit that our waitress mixed it all together before I got the chance to take a good photo because it was so pretty) and the Sukiyaki Style Wagyu Picanha. The rice dish was actually my favourite but if I went back I’d try something different, potentially the beef short rib or the Iberico Pork. All that being said I’d still give the Seabass and Wagyu Picanha a really high 7/10 – they just weren’t a solid 10/10 like the starters. 

Dessert needs no introduction. If you know anything at all about the London food scene you’ll have heard about this beauty time and time again. It’s the only pudding on the menu and it’s the only pudding they need. It’s beyond anything I could have wished for, exceeded all expectations and had my eyes rolling into the back of my head with happiness because it was so bloody good. Kinako French Toast with Soft Serve Matcha Ice Cream, you are God. 

Get down to Shackfuyu before you do anything else. And take me with you.  

    
    
    
    
   

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WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND.

Festive, Street Food

I got to Winter Wonderland for 3 reasons:

1. I love Christmas

2. I love rides

3. THE FOOD.

All of the food. I’ll be visiting again very soon to consume everything again (and all the things I couldn’t manage yesterday) but here are some suggestions for when you take a trip to London’s most festive fun fair.

Hot dogs – you can’t escape them. Don’t try. They’re crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside plus they come smothered in onions and taste so bloody good.

  
Donuts – hot, sugary and dunked in melted chocolate. I made a lot of noises whilst eating these. A lot of (good) noises.


Chips & dips – or curly fries if you prefer. Topped with curry sauce, gravy AND grated cheese. Don’t judge me, just trust me.


Potatoes – with garlic & bacon. Lacking a creamy cheesy sauce but still tasted sensational. Could have been less greasy.

Pork Crackling & Pulled pork Fries – no to the cracking but yes to the pulled pork. Bad Jew.

  
I also tried Currywurst for the first time but definitely was not sold.

Winter Wonderland ticks every single box and I just cannot stress enough that they’ve upped their food game and it’s just so much fucking fun. When are we going back please?

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FLAT IRON. 

Steak

Flat Iron has had a fair bit of air time on my blog and social channels but that isn’t going to stop me from telling you all about their newest venture, the biggest of all 3 restaurants, Flat Iron Covent Garden. Officially opening on Thursday but soft launching today through to Wednesday, this is going to be a popular one for meat lovers in London. Pop down from 6pm for free steak today, tomorrow or Wednesday and I assure you it will be well worth the wait.  

I highly recommend you order one of each side. Creamed Spinach and Roasted Aubergine are the absolute winners but you can’t ignore the Dripping Cooked Chips and you absolutely have to dip them in the Bernaise sauce because there’s just nothing better for your taste buds. The steak is so good it will conform your friends that claim they don’t eat much meat and even if you’ve got vegetarians in the group I don’t see why they wouldn’t be happy with a dinner made of side dishes.

Don’t leave without claiming your free ice cream cone, which is a nod to the first ever ice cream being sold round the corner apparently. You’ll have to give up the tiny silver meat cleaver that they give you as a token to claim your dessert and you’ll have to eat it on the street (most probably in the rain) but again, it’s well worth it. 

    
    
    
    
    
   

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BUSABA EATHAI: BANGKOK CHRISTMAS. 

Festive, Thai

A Christmas menu doesn’t have to involve brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce to be festive, sometimes a few seasonal ingredients and some unusual combinations will do the trick. If you’re not into bacon and stuffing on everything from mid November basically up until the end of December (like me) then Busaba Eathai’s Bangkok Christmas menu may just be your thing. 

You get Thai Prawn Crackers with Sweet Chilli Dip to start, which for me is always a winner. (They’re the most moorish pre dinner nibble you could ever put in front of me and I’m always in serious danger of ruining my meal by stuffing myself to oblivion before the starters arrive.) Then you get to pick a starter and a main. There isn’t load to choose from but the choices are good. 

We shared Matchstick Chicken Wings and Northern Thai Chicken Laksa to start. The wings were dry – rather than in a sticky sauce – but still moist and tasty and the soup warmed us up good and proper. For mains we did half and half again. Grilled Mussaman Chicken and Black Pepper Venison Stir-Fry. The peanut sauce for the chicken was spiced with cinnamon, star anise and clementine – a nice nod to the festive season – and the chicken was covered in a really tasty dry rub. Our sweet potato fries were ever so slightly undercooked which was a shame but smothered in sauce it didn’t really matter. It didn’t matter about anything actually because the Venison Stir Fry was so bloody good. The oyster and garlic sauce was so insanely rich and scrumptious we had to ask for extra and the meat was tender to the point of perfection. 

Busaba is one of the only chain restaurants I fully endorse. I can’t say every single one I’ve eaten in always smashes it but generally they’re pretty damn good. Only thing that was missing from the festive menu was the calamari. It felt like such a waste being there and not having a portion; if you know then you know.  

Oh and you MUST have the Belini. 

    
    
    
    
 

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TASTE OF LONDON: THE FESTIVE EDITION. 

Food Festival, London, London Restaurants, Pop Up

Today I spent my Sunday roaming around the Tobacco Docks sampling some of londons hottest dishes at Taste Of London’s festive edition. I pride myself in my eating abilities on days like today and certainly made the most of it.

We worked our way through delights like beef Shortrib, lamb Dhaansaak, salted caramel soft serve ice cream and many, many tiny shots of flavoured vodka. It was like a whirlwind of taste sensations and I’ve fallen in love with meat again after gorging on some of the most delicious beef I’ve ever come across.

    

Café Spice Namaste: Dhaansaak – Spiced Lamb in Lentils served with Cumin Rice. Tender, rich, delicious.

Tom’s Kitchen: Truffled Macaroni Cheese. Apple Glazed Pork Belly, Grain Mustard and Sage Mashed Potato. Pork crackling of absolute dreams.

                  

Molé Taco Bar: Crispy Patatas Bravas with Chipotle Cream. Guacamole with Tortilla Chips. Beef Shortrib Taco, Pickled Red Onion and Black Bean Cream. So good it  deserves 2 pictures and so good I need it in my mouth again.

  

Pont St: Stilton Cheese Balls with Quince Jelly. Mezcal and Lime Cured Salmon with Whipped Avocado, Coriander and Chilli. Belgraves Bespoke Truffle Burger. Pretty sure the burger could make it into my top 3 but 2 bites weren’t enough to justify it. Beyond sensational.

  

Resealable canned water. With really good looking boys serving it. Pretty great.

  

Hix: Whipped De Beauvoir Smoked Salmon with Pickled Cucumber. Peruvian Gold Chocolate Mousse with Honeycomb. Insanely rich. Ever so slightly sent me over the edge but worth it nonetheless.

  

The Truscott Cellar: Colcannon with Ragstone Basil and the days winning dish Beef Cheek, Smoked Mash, Crispy Shallots. I can’t even. The beef was just beyond anything I’ve ever tasted. We cut through it with a spoon. Need I say more?

    

Nespresso Amaretto Latte. Sorted me right out.

    

Tredwells: Salted Caramel Soft Serve, Ginger Cake Crumble. Yes, yes, YES. Just yes. Gutted I was too full for anything else but yes.

      

 

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TONKOTSU.

Japanese, Ramen

In case you hadn’t noticed, It’s getting very cold and comfort food is everywhere. At times like this nothing beats a big bowl of steaming hot soup. Ramen to be precise.  On Saturday night we did girls night, but not like we know it with pre drinks and parties. We did it winter style, with ramen and starters. All of the starters. Tonkotsu in Hackney was the perfect place to settle down in for the evening and warm our freezing cold bones with delicious Japanese grub. 

We did Edamame, Crab Korroke, Salt & Sansho Pepper Squid, the king prawn & pork Okonomiyaki (which we weren’t too sure about) to start and Chilli Chicken Ramen for mains. We also smothered everything with their INCREDIBLE Eat The Bits Chilli Oil. Try it. Trust me.