Monday, 11 July 2016

Petit Pois Bistro

A French Affair

Wow. A hiatus. A big large gaping hiatus. My sincere apologies for neglecting my position as chief restaurant rambler, but with a shiny new job taking precedence over my dining habits, the realignment of my waistline and liver refurbishment had to happen. 


I'm back! 

And first up, I have a real treat for you all. Introducing Petit Pois Bistro

Petit Pois is conveniently located above what is thought by many in the know, to be one of the best bars on the globe. Under the same ownership, Alastair Burgess figured it would be a huge waste to not take advantage of the space above his bar and so transformed it into the compact little French Bistro you see before you. 

Always a gamble heading into the culinary world but with two heavily successful bars under his belt (also Original Sin over in Stoke Newington), it seemed like a natural step.

Keeping with the atmospheric theme the bars are known for, candles in brick alcoves and shining brass ornamental touches here and there, it fits perfectly into the effortlessly easy dining zone while simultaneously placing itself in strong competition with French restaurants in the city and beyond. It has somehow also managed to retain the exposed brickwork synonymous with Shoreditch without approaching its nether regions. 

So let’s start at the very beginning. A simultaneously tricky and wonderful menu as one of those ‘oh go on let’s have it all’ sorts where the choice wasn’t huge (4 options for start/ main and 3 for dessert) but I’d have been happy with anything and everything from it. Similarly with the wine list, but on high recommendation from downstairs Dan, we chose the Riesling which I’m now going to need to bulk buy it was so delicious!

I arrived with time to run around and be annoying with my camera before my knight in shining jumper appeared to nod, smile, make all the right noises and poke the egg for the money shot. Boy did guud!

If you’re in the ‘black pudding is the devil’ team, (I’m borderline), this one will change your mind in an instant with the oozy egg, pancetta and red wine sauce marrying it all together in deliciousness, rich (but not too rich) mouthfuls. Looks like I’ve been converted!

Having just returned from Paris without a moulle passing my lips, we chose the next best city to make up for my neglect and tucked into these creamy creatures. Mopped up with hunks of bread, this would be an excellent sharing stater if you’re not looking for the three course whammy. 

With very little hesitation it was straight onto the main game, an undeniably easy choice of steak frites and duck confit. The steak, sizeable and cooked medium rare was the only way steak should be and a beautiful cut of meat to match.

The confit duck was just the right amount of crispy and arrived with a smooth sweet onion puree and (wait for it) the best potato dauphinoise that I have ever had the pleasure to consume. Perfect cream to potato ratio with the light brown entry level. Too much deliciousness for little me to handle really! A bowl of glazed onion and lardons topped off our already well filled bellies. 

We were a satisfied pair. I have really tried to fault our meal as but have failed miserably on that front as we both had a truly delightful time. It doesn’t end there either. 

We had one more course to go and a secret source had me well informed that the chocolate mousse was an essential requirement and was set to ‘blow my mind’. While it didn’t quite send my brains flying out my ears, it came pretty damn close. With a hint of orange, it was a sharp smooth dark treat, arriving in a huge mixing bowl to be spooned onto our plates in front of our wide eyes. And then it was gone!

Taken care of to the upmost, we smacked our lips and headed downstairs to Happiness Forgets for a nightcap. With hindsight, given my penchant for the place (and the delightful fact I can walk home), this was always going to be more of a nightsombrero (or other much larger sized head wear). 

Four excellently balanced off the menu whisky based creations and a two shots of something later, we bid our goodbyes and headed out into the night. There is well over a hundred percent chance that i'll be returning. I hear the creme brûlée is quite something!

Opening Hours

9am till 11pm Monday to Saturday (kitchen closes 10.30pm)9am till 5pm Sunday (kitchen closes 4pm)

0207 613 3689

Petit Pois Bistro. 9 Hoxton Square. N1 6NU

Twitter here / Instagram here

I was invited as a guest of Petit Pois but this by no means influenced my musings. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Orangery

A Royal Breakfast

A cheeky little morning jaunt somehow ended up in my arrival at The Orangery in Kensington Palace Gardens. Accompanied by Prince William (I decided I’d rather have the fresh air than travel by helicopter), we arrived at the gorgeous entranceway just in time for breakfast. (William had some business to attend to, so decided to give food a miss). 

With a little gang of other keen beans, we skipped down the hallway of the stunningly bright and white Orangery, dreaming we were part of Queen Anne's 18th Century royal court. Meanwhile, the sunshine streamed in through the enormous windows to give us that much needed morning boost and suggestion of Vitamin D (oh Spring I'm ever so glad you've finally sprung)!

The serene glamour oozed around each pristine white column, statue and crisp table cloth but without a hint of ponse. While I would avoid arriving here in a state of dishevelment, ball gowns are not required (unless you want to return with me and have a bit of a waltz down the room).

We were seated at an awfully lovely table adorned with equally lovely crockery and began to peruse the menu. Coffee first! (And apple juice).

After I was cappuccino-ed up, it was time to plan my point of attack. The menu had something for everyone, breakfast really does provide for most tastes and at a very reasonable price too given that we were on royal soil!

Having recently discussed the delights of egg poaching (seriously, I need one of these in my life), it was only ever going to be Eggs Benedict for me. Of course the customary umm-ing and ahh-ing about the waffle option ensued but we came to an appropriate ‘get everything’ arrangement (..and then went a bit mental on Instagram..).

The table was filled with all the breakfasts. Royale's, Benedict's delicious cinnamon cream and apple waffles, full English's, fruit salads and cups upon cups of tea.

Understanding that their restaurant had just been invaded by a group of camera's leading their pet humans behind them, the staff were a delight and no request was too much (aside from giving us Prince Harry's number. Something to do with client confidentiality blah blah blah)!

We were left with that comfortable, cosy contentedness and no desire to leave and start the day. Breakfast begins at 10am, so while it is a rather luxurious week day excursion, I'm sure the bright ones amongst you could come up with a reason to hold a very important offsite breakfast meeting!

A huge thank you to The Orangery for hosting us and to this lovely lady for inviting me along, (you can see her stunning photos here).

That's all from me for now .. go poach an egg, I dare ya!

The Orangery
Kensington Palace
Kensington Gardens
London W8 4PX

020 3166 6113

Check out these other lovely ladies who joined me for breakfast   Claire, CharlotteSupalRachelKristabel and Laurie.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


A Lunch Hop

If you find yourself in Soho at lunchtime and are on the hunt for a speedy but filling bite, take a gander at Bunnychow. Bringing the flavour of South Africa's Durban to the eclectic home of Soho, these bunny's pack a punch.

The man of the match is the Bunny Chow, basically a hollowed out loaf, filled with pretty much whatever you fancy, be it chicken, spicy curry, an English breakfast or (drool) dark chocolate. There are also handy consumption instructions on the wall for those who struggle with the concept of what is essentially an edible bowl. I may or may not have struggled..

A healthy(ish) menu bursts with fruit juices avec alcohol if it's been that sort of a day or sans booze if you just want a juicy hit! I went for a citrusy mint and cucumber number, dubiously radioactive in colour but no hint of an artificial taste thank goodness! 

Onto the bunny's and it's all flavour, spice and freshness. Pulled chicken marinated with ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon arrived in a matcha bun bowl and was a little more spicy than I was expecting but they packed a whole lot of good food inside the bready container (£6).

Pulled pork marinated with coriander, sage, spring onion and pomegranate molasses was topped with a cabbagey coleslaw was served in a squishy charcoal bun, also enormous for a speedy lunch but equally packed with flavoursome spicy meat and veg (£6).

Because I love a bit of knowledge, this was a handy addition to a 'lekker bru' lunch!

To accompany our bunny's we had some chicken wings and ribs (both £3) which had a rather powerful nutmeggy, clove spice to them and I'd probably just stick with the bunny's next time, quite enough to go around!

And since every meal must end with something sweet (yes, it must), we couldn't help but order the chocolate and pistachio bunny. Slightly smaller but totally indulgent, a chocolate lovers total heaven! 

We left with our stomach's filled and that sortof post-meal lethargy that inspires horizontal syndrome. Bunnychow is a chilled place to get away from your desk or a cool spot for a grab and go lunch - the aromas will make your office envious! It's also open pretty late so after a cocktail or two it might be just what you fancy.

Opening Hours
Mon – Thurs: 9am – 10pm
Fri – Sat: 9am – 11pm
Sun: 10am – 7pm

74 Wardour St, London W1F 0TE

I was invited as a guest of Bunnychow but as always, scribbles are from the heart (and stomach).

Monday, 29 February 2016

Naughty Piglets

This Little Piggy 

This little piggy went to market and found something rather special. By 'market', this little piggy means she took the tube to Brixton and trotted down the road to Tulse Hill in search of Naughty Piglets and another cheeky little piggy who'd also been dying to check it out.

Opening without much fuss or faff but plenty of acclaim to those in the know, Naughty Piglets is simply one of those places that just does it right. Almost instantly you know it's going to bring joy to your day and add an extra spring to your step. My fellow piggy couldn't have agreed with me more!

Perched unassumingly on Brixton Water Lane, wine bar and charcoal grill, Naughty Piglets was set up by French super couple, Margaux Aubry (Terroirs) and Joe Sharratt (The Trinity). With that sort of experience, we were always going to be in for something special. The weekly changing menu and seasonal dishes cleverly persuade you to keep coming back for more. Cheeky!

An open kitchen to peer into and a beautifully smooth wooden bar to watch from, sets the scene in this duck egg washed interior. It has one of those immediately relaxing atmospheres and you won't be disappointed by the stunning creations that the kitchen produces.

If you are sharing (unless otherwise requested), each dish arrives separately so you can properly savour the creations one by one.

We started with the croquettes (£4), crispy mouthfulls of creamy potato and salty pieces of ham. More of these little guys were ordered 'to go' at the end of the meal. Yes, that good! Laden up a conveyor belt of these beauties and you've got two very happy piglets!

Onto grilled pear with artichoke crisps, hazelnut and blue cheese (£7), which has reminded me just how bloody great pears can be. Onwards and upwards you fruity friends! Not being attuned to blue cheese yet, this dish was devoured by piggy no2 who proclaimed it to be one of her favourite dishes ever. High praise from a trustworthy source!

I decided to be a little adventurous in my selection and went for the Boudin Noir, Cuttle Fish and Capers (£9). While I'm not a raving fan of black pudding (making my choice seem somewhat reckless), here is a dish I'd eat time and time again. The citrus chewiness of the cuttlefish complemented the meaty texture beneath and had me well and truly converted.

The Roast Cod, Peanut and perfectly seasoned Dashi broth (£12) was our next creative culinary adventure. The fish was flakey and melt in the mouth with the peanut buttery whip adding that extra bite and crunch to the dish. 

BBQ Pork Belly, Sesame and Korean Spices (£10) was the final winner on this menu of champions. Tumbling apart with a sauce that we definitely didn't want to dip our fingers into, this dish was a superb ending to a fabulous feast.

This time, stomach space and time restraints didn't allow for dessert or to taste the impressive natural wine selection, which just means a return trip is completely necessary (no complaining there)!

So you naughty little piglets, you just keep doin' what you're doin', we absolutely love it!

Opening hours 
Tuesday 6-10pm
Wed-Thurs 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 12pm-3pm 6-10 
Sunday 12pm to 4pm

28 Brixton Water Lane, London SW2 1PE
020 7274 7796 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Shack Is Back 

Bone Daddies has long held a place in my heart, be it for their 'rid-one-of-all-ills' Ramen or the entertainment of an evening at Flesh & Buns. The latest addition to the clan is Shackfuyu which after spending a little while as one of those permanent pop-ups, is now just permanent. Huzzah! The cuisine is Japanese, but has chosen to exclude sushi from it's menu and focus on meatier offerings using sticky sweet sauces and sprinklings of sesame.

Vibe wise, if you're looking for something buzzing from the sounds of hungry happy people, you've come to the right place. It's available for bookings and right on the edge of Soho for when you're ready to embark on the rest of your night (Bar Termini cocktails just across the street would be a great place to start).

The food here is really just finger licking great. I'd advise dragging a couple of accomplices along and share everything so you can get a real taste of the menu. 
From sticky chicken wings with just the right amount of spice, to steak-filled soft, fluffy Bao's (lunchtime only), everything was a hit on my visit. 

Special mention must go towards the prawn toast which was light, puffy and bursting with flavour, a serious hit and nothing like the oil drenched oil that springs to mind when seeing prawn toast on the takeaway menu!

We also opted for some sweet potato fries and flat iron steak as a really unnecessary main dish (by this time, we were already stuffed) but when it arrived accompanied by pickled cabbage and ginger, there was no stopping our hasty forks.

Rumours of the excellent soft serve ice cream and kinako french toast for dessert will draw me back in no time I'm sure but we'd gone over board and somehow couldn't locate our pudding stomachs on this occasion! 

The Shack is most certainly back! Grab a bunch of mates and call to book a table on 0207 734 7492.



Opening Times

Mon 12-3pm/5.30-10pm
Tues to Fri 12-3pm/5.30-11pm
Sat 12pm-11pm
Sun & Bank Holidays