Sunday, 29 December 2013

Steam & Rye

Ovations, Salutations & Howdoyoudos

Wading through the suits on Leadenhall, with TM Lewin at every glance, it is welcomingly refreshing when you reach the entrance to Steam and Rye, the product of a surprise collaboration between Nick House of Mahiki and Kelly Brook of .. er .. Kelly Brook.

The towering columns, flags and fur clad hostesses will greet you at the door. Hand your coat into the bow tie and braces in the cloakroom (no fee required) and be led into room of spectacular proportions.

Guarded by topsy turvy statues of liberty (literally upside down), the entrance reveals the hustle and bustle of old town USA where a jazz band is setting up in the corner and cocktails in popcorn boxes and boots are flying round attracting all the oo's and ah's that such novelty should. 

We are seated in leather armchairs in front of an old train carriage. Its windows are screens with vintage countryside scenes rushing past as you await assistance. Immersive is just the tip of the iceberg.

Our menus are the next treat and slide out from their casings revealing moving cartoon eyes and secret windows. Childhood pop up books spring to mind and leave a wonderful nostalgia that completely distracted us from our decision making. Once you work out the menu, choose from a meaty array of steak, ribs, wings, burgers and more. It was the short beef rib and steak that stole the show for us this time and I'll let you in on a little secret, Mondays are half price off everything when you order a main and happen to be under 30 years of age. Ticking both these boxes, we will probably be returning for many Mondays to come! 

Now I must mention Jack. Jack informed us that he had had a fantastic weekend and so was on top form today (not that Jack wouldn't have been so spritley if his weekend hadn't gone to plan but we were glad to reap the benefits of his great mood). Jack was our waiter and guide for the evening. Reassuring us that we had made excellent choices, it didn't take much for us to decide he was our favourite. 

Our meals arrived; tender ribs piled atop creamy mashed sweet potato with just the right amount of sticky sauce and pink juicy steak with crispy chips. Monster portions which would have satisfied your average male normally leave me struggling but not this time, our plates were licked clean. 

After glancing around us to see what other happy campers were smiling about, we concluded it just had to be dessert and that we really shouldn't be missing out on the fun. Along came Jack, having cunningly read our minds to confirm that we had indeed found space for more. We were confronted with a problem of choice so left it up to Jack to decide. Apparently he was completely biased and the apple cobbler would win over his heart in one beat. With his oversized aortic pump (ahh Joey) ringing on our ears, there was no option of us ordering anything else. See for yourself why Jack should be given a raise for that recommendation! 

After we had enjoyed, indulged and destroyed our jar of sweetness and breathed in the atmosphere for one last moment, the bill was ordered and we were delighted to see it arrive incased in a fine gent sporting a solid moustache and monocle. I'll leave it to you to discover what is hiding under his gown!

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Ramen Eggs.

Hands up who hasn't considered crawling back under the covers and feeling sorry for their snuffling nose that has to face the perils of the outside world. On its way up, my hand changed its mind, remembering that places like Shoryu exist to help you man up and stop feeling sorry for a slightly stuffy schnoz.

Having heard raving reviews from a number of highly reliable sources, it was decided that the time had come for us to confirm such professions. Luckily we were waiting for less than a second before being quickly whisked over to a table and handed some entirely incomprehensible menus. We closed our eyes, pointed and all ordered the same traditional ramen soup from somewhere at the top of the menu. At least there wouldn't be any food envy with this decision. 

Snapping open our chopsticks we waited eagerly for our steaming bowls, smiling at the entire garlic plus press in front of us because who doesn't love a nice side of raw garlic?! 

Around us, eager beavers were tucking into their noodles, aware that with every slurp, life would be re-injected into their cranky systems. (Apologies to anyone without a cranky system, I just rather like this new turn of phrase and am giving it a test drive!)

Preparing to be dominated by our meal, we did as we were told and wiped our not so sticky fingers clean.

... And then they were here, piled high with noodles, greens and an egg like no other egg I have ever tasted. Apparently it is left in a soy sauce marinade overnight and transforms the simplest of foods into something of faberge standards.

Everything said about Shoryu is completely justified and we left happy in the knowledge that we could join those in the know. Now it's your turn! 

Shoryu Ramen on Urbanspoon

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Monday, 2 December 2013

The Pig and Butcher

The Perfect Roast. 

Prepare yourselves. Apparently England is about to encounter its longest winter in history. Do not fear .. (well, fear a little bit) .. because one thing that London will offer like no other place can, is an abundance of cosy taverns to shield you from the biting cold. On this crisp Tuesday morning, the first thing you should do is book a table aThe Pig and Butcher in Islington for your next lazy weekend. Go on, roast yourself!

Having walked past The Pig and Butcher many a time on my Islington jaunts and hearing such glowing reports, I was grinning at the prospect of actually entering the door.

Arriving early, I soaked in the wonderful gastopubby atmosphere and had a good old chat with Jack the director about the inspired idea of having their butchering site just above the pub. No danger of running out of meat in this joint! After secretly admiring the brilliantly flowery shirt he was sporting, I saw my companions enter and engaged in all the conventional hugging and cheek pecking before taking my seat.

No fuss here. Great meaty menu, salt, pepper, water, knife, fork, go.

Peering through into the neighbouring room, I noticed a rather extensive selection of beer and cider that I'm sure would have engaged any ale enthusiast. Hunter the Bull stood with his head firmly rammed through the wall, amazingly crafted out of branches and twine. Apparently he is soon to be joined by an accompanying pig.

The shelf behind me was adorned with bottles, jars, boxes and other rustic artefacts. Oh I do love a place with artefacts!

We ordered the lamb roast which arrived with a monster yorkshire pudding balancing atop the steaming, perfectly pink meat and drenched in just the right amount of gravy. Accompanying these beautiful slices of animal (yes, that is now how we refer to roast lamb), were golden, crispy roast potatoes and creamy leeks. I must now apologise because in all the excitement I failed to get any pictures. So here is another one of the menu, just incase you forgot.

Sufficiently stuffed, the only thing to do was order all the dessert.

My winter fruit crumble arrived in the cutest miniature frying pan with a scoop of vanilla pod ice cream. The tangy fruit to sweet, crunchy crumble ratio was perfect and before long the pan was scraped clean.

The sticky toffee and banana pudding was also inhaled with gusto by another member of my party. Banana and me are not friends so there was no food envy here but I have it on very good authority that it was a delight.

Our bill arrived inside a polka dot jam jar and we bid goodbye to this victorious Sunday roastery. Now it's your turn!

 Pig and Butcher on Urbanspoon
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