Monday, 27 April 2015

Joe's Southern Kitchen & Bar

A cluck and a half 

Kentish Town just gets better and better. In a matter of months, KT has thrown its proverbial hat into the proverbial ring and tempted Londoners up from far and wide. With Nowhere Special and Ladies & Gents literally a stones throw away, enter Joe's Southern Kitchen & Bar to fulfil all your southern fried needs. Don't go here on a full stomach, or even a half full stomach. In fact, you might want to not eat for a couple of days before hand .. in true American style, these guys know how to eat!

On offer is a menu bursting with 'southern fried bird' (I'm going to take a wild guess and say chicken), mac 'n' cheese, ribs, burgers, a ton of twisty fun sides and a cocktail overflowing bar.

Buns for the table (ehem, scones) were first to arrive, with clotted cream and red Leicester cheese. An interesting twist on the bread offering presented pre-feast. Tasty but very filling and perhaps better suited half the size and accompanying an earl grey martini?!

We settled down to a particularly insane table of food. Insane, mostly because of the gargantuan proportions. Time to loosen the belt and unbutton the jeans, walking out of the place was looking less and less likely as more and more plates wedged themselves in.

'Devilled Eggs' with chicken skin mayonnaise were a new experience for me and the playful yolk reworking was a great way of transforming an egg.

'Deep Fried Short Rib Meat Loaf' arrived piled with red onion jam, a poached egg and 'dijonnaise'.

Four cheese mac 'n' cheese with curly whirly pasta - with a bit more biscuity crust, this one would be a winner.

The 'Southern Fried Bird' was a lovely combination of tender and crispiness with a lemony tang and arrived with waffles and maple syrup to drench. Hotbox convinced me of the pairing but as yet, still remains unbeaten in my waffle league. Joe's is hot on it's heels but need a little more pillowy action to the waffle.

The interior stays true to the American South theme (and their sister restaurant over in Covent garden). Red leather, booths, neon Cola signage, lively atmosphere but with the addition of chickens. Lots and lots of chickens. Oh and this guy!

My dessert winner of the night was the nostalgic crunchie bar honeycomb and chocolate triangles (although I had totally misjudged the size of my stomach (usually pretty reliable) and only managed a taste as opposed to an inhalation of the dish).

Joe's is a great spot to head with a gang of friends before rolling yourselves over to one of the superb bars nearby. It has 90 covers but will be buzzing and busy so book yourself a long table and get feasting!

Square Meal
Joe's Southern Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Street Feast

Street Feast - Model Market

Aaand they're back with a bang! Street Feast, true to tradition, brings you the busiest, liveliest street food market in town (until 3 Oct) with all the food, music, drinks, buzz you could wish for. Following Hawker House, they've somehow ended up down in Lewisham - great for all you Southern folks, not so tip top for the North of the River-ers (or really anybody else), but it is totally worth the hop, skip and jump it takes to get there.

Arrive before 7 and you'll avoid the £3 entry fee. Hands marked, we made our way into the hustle, bustle and delicious wafts from bbq's, grills, hot plates and ovens. Clutching our coins, it was time to choose.

This year's line up is a strong one, with street food vendors arriving from far and wide to bring all manner of treats to the hungry crowd:

Each vendor has been given a space to transform and make their own. There was no holding back, and each stall and window was more enticing than the last.

Topping the taste list without a doubt was Rola Wala, twisted Indian street food from Mark Wright & co.

They serve up naan sliders/ flatbreads piled high with:

Kashmiri chicken (with coriander, red onion pickle, fresh lemon and sweet mango chutney),

Keralan Daal (with beetroot, paneer and coconut channa daal, coriander, lemon raita, and mint & lime chutney) and 

12 Hour Goan Pork (with fresh curry leaves, telecherry pepper and pear & tamarind chutney) 

For £9 you can nab all three of these superbly flavoursome and punchy sliders.

The sprinkling of savoury hundreds and thousands (yes, that's what I'm calling them), atop the sweet, saucy curries added the perfect extra crunch that completes the portion. Already running a successful branch up in Leeds, Rola Wala is trying out London for size and if this is anything to go by, I have no doubt they'll be a roaring success. Watch this space, I predict a new opening ..

Also on offer to set your tastebuds-a-tingling .. 

Smokestak - If not for the smoky meat (probably should be for the smoky meat), Smokestak is headed by this bulging beast of a man - he has that swoony physique which will stop you in your tracks. I'd line up for ribs just to watch him at work (objectification? Perhaps, but he knows precisely how to draw in the crowds - those muscles don't make themselves)!

Yum Bun - soft, pillowy, dreamy steamed buns stuffed with a choice of meats, fish aaaand yes, ice cream! You really can't go wrong here so whatever you do, save a little corner of your stomach!

On offer when I visited are the options below, but each week their menu will change to include anything from chicken to Pollack to duck .. endless opportunity!

Slowly roasted pork belly, cucumbers, spring onions and hoi sin sauce

Crispy prawns, green chilli sambal, kewpi mayo, lettuce

Portobello mushroom, miso glaze, toasted walnuts

Coconut Ice Cream with Miso Butterscotch and Praline Ice Cream, or Coffee Ice Cream drizzled with Condensed Milk (see the excellent creation below).

Mama's Jerk - The chicken wings are hot. Very hot. 2 pints of water later and my eyes were still streaming, but if you're better with spice than I am, this is your place!

Bill or Beak - Bloomin' brilliant oriental style duck and chicken caesar burgers care of the lovely Josh & Lucy. 

SE Cakery - Just delightful. Brownies, strawberry skewers, bags of treats for all the sweet tooth's around, including an interestingly flavoured Mojito brownie.. you'll have to try that one for yourself!

The buzz is unavoidable. Everyone is stuffing their faces without shame, grinning as sauce dribbles everywhere and hands become a sticky, coated mess. Drinks are flowing, with pina coladas and punch alongside short and spritzy cocktails. Grab a gang and make the trip. Send someone to plonk themselves at a table and set up your space for the evening and then ready, set, go!

Music plays into the night from a seriously excellent sound system and fire pits will warm any exposed fingers because yes England, April does still count as winter right now! Before you leave, take a hop up to the Lewisham High Line grassy gallery where you can perch and watch the fun below. So. Much. Fun! 

Train it from Waterloo or London Bridge or take the DLR (Lewisham isn't as annoying to get to as Citymapper may have you believe)!

Bon chance!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

5cc - Singer Tavern


Hidden beneath a scattering of London pubs sit the 5cc drinking dens. If they're not already on your radar, they absolutely should be. You could be in the pub all evening and not realise the delights that await you just down the stairs so keep your eyes peeled for the tell tale neon sign!

5cc's can be found in:

- Harrild & Sons (Farringdon)
- Well & Bucket (Bethnal Green)
- The Exmouth Arms (Exmouth Market)
- Electricity Showrooms (Hoxton) 

aaaaannnd ..drumroll please..

Their latest venue, serving an equally impressive range of imaginative cocktails has popped up (or down) beneath grade II listed Singer Tavern on City Road between Moorgate and Old Street Station.
Three Martini Lunch.
If you visit to try this then you'll receive a set three-course, Martini-paired lunch which will be changing each week. While the best idea is to follow their pairing suggestions, you're also allowed to ignore them completely and choose your own Martinis from a selection that includes the Chartreuse-infused 'Alaska'; the Campari-based 'Vol De Nuit'; and the peppercorn, lime and celery-containing 'Salt & Pepper'.
- See more at:
Three Martini Lunch.
If you visit to try this then you'll receive a set three-course, Martini-paired lunch which will be changing each week. While the best idea is to follow their pairing suggestions, you're also allowed to ignore them completely and choose your own Martinis from a selection that includes the Chartreuse-infused 'Alaska'; the Campari-based 'Vol De Nuit'; and the peppercorn, lime and celery-containing 'Salt & Pepper'.
- See more at:
Three Martini Lunch.
If you visit to try this then you'll receive a set three-course, Martini-paired lunch which will be changing each week. While the best idea is to follow their pairing suggestions, you're also allowed to ignore them completely and choose your own Martinis from a selection that includes the Chartreuse-infused 'Alaska'; the Campari-based 'Vol De Nuit'; and the peppercorn, lime and celery-containing 'Salt & Pepper'.
- See more at:

Trundling over for their launch was a total no brainer .. even if it was a Wednesday night (anyone up for Wednesday being the new Thursday? No takers? Yes, you're all sensible people)! After four successful locations, each feeling as though they are one of a kind, these guys know what they're doing. We were caught hook line and sinker in this slick and suave machine!

Hardly a second where we didn't have a drink in hand, the cocktail crafters were a blur of bottles, glasses, ice and charm as they served boozy but fresh martinis, smoky old fashioneds and, well pretty much anything you requested. Even 9 Negronis were whipped up without a flinch from the extensive bar, stocked with all manner of tricks, potions, magic and almost 200 different types of gin ... phwoar!

In a unique turn of events, they are also offering the Three Martini Lunch. Settle in for a three course Martini - paired meal where the food and cocktail will be carefully matched to your martini preference be it Campari, Gin or some cheeky Chartreuse.

On the larger side of speakeasy, 5cc at The Singer Tavern is probably not where you want to be taking your significant other to gaze into his/ her eyes, however, this is definitely where you want to be with your pals to escape the corporate grind after a tough day at the office. 
Large but cosy booths surround the room and the vibe is decidedly cheery with that extra air of sexy mystery. If you're not taking a date here, my money's on you leaving with one!

As one of those fun few who loves surprises, even better if they come served in a tiny little glass 'drink me' bottle, it was a grin-worthy moment when I was handed a going home present of my very own. Now the challenge will be attempting to actually drink it instead of adding it to my family of little bottles that are just too cute to drink!
Thank you 5cc, I shall be back!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Reform Social & Grill

The Great British Brunch

Because I seem to be on a bit of a roll here where brunch is concerned, I have another one for you. I'd probably shoehorn it fully into Sunday Lunch territory but who's complaining, I'm good with either!

Reform Social & Grill in London's ever delightful Mandeville Hotel in Marylebone is offering a quintessentially British brunch experience for you to get your teeth into.

We opted for the slightly unconventional brunch time of 6.30 on a Thursday evening to have our taster of what Reform Social has in store for many Sunday afternoons to come. So to whet our appetite, we gave a warm welcome to the Old Fashioned. There are many elements to judge a bar on and this is one of mine; if the Old Fashioned is made with the care and attention it deserves, you'll see a smile on my face.

We even had the pleasure of watching our barman share his tricks of the trade with a few culprits who were willing to put themselves in the spotlight!

Who could resist a drink off this smiling fellow! As the final cocktails were shaken, stirred, poured and sipped, ur thirst was well on the way to being quenched and it was time to check out the main name of the game.

Roll up, roll up, it's brunch time. With plenty of warm red booths to choose from, you'll find somewhere to snuggle into on a Sunday afternoon while the weather is being characteristically crap outside and all you want to do is eat cheese, drink wine, maybe with a roast or two amongst all that!

We took our seats as our brunch experience commenced. The name's Roast Beef, Ella Roast Beef!

And enter the ploughman's cheese board. A superbly creamy Tunsworth Cheese accompanied by all the dipping and dunking elements you see below. There are some secrets hiding behind the cheese but I don't want to give the whole game away!

After we had wallowed in melted cheese, the roast arrived with a Yorkshire pudding the size of my face drenched in beefy gravy with crisp roast potatoes, parsnips, cabbage, cauliflower and (yes) .. BEEF! It was a huge portion so don't go watching your waistline (that's not what Sunday's are for anyway)!

If all that wasn't enough (yes, totally stuffed by this point), the dessert platter made its entrance. Baked apple and ice cream, sticky toffee pudding and Bakewell tart piled high in front of us completed our meal.

The best part, (well, a significantly great value part), all of this is £30 pp. You might even get a cheeky grin from the barman. I hear he hates valentines day so who knows, perhaps you could change his mind for next year!

And because a Little Brown Book post wouldn't be complete without a snap of my favourite interior feature, meet Scotch and Dram, the guardians of the whisky. Not half bad names either .. anybody fancy opening up a bar with me and these guys?
Reform Social and Grill on Urbanspoon
Square Meal