Burger and Lobster

There is scarcely a harder choice in life: Burger or Lobster? In any case, that is what you are confronted with as you enter the restaurant with no menu or bookings but a huge lobster tank, open kitchen and beautiful bar.

B&L had many critics when it first opened a few years ago, with many saying “a restaurant that only sells Burgers or Lobsters will never work!” And yet, my eating partner and I arrived at 6.30pm on a Wednesday night and were faced with an hour and a half wait! (Not to mention a global empire of restaurants).

To move onto the food, I went for the grilled lobster and my eating partner went for the lobster roll. The lobster roll, pictured, is a melange of cool lobster and spiced mayonnaise, stuffed into a warm brioche roll. I find it amusing how this Maine fast food is elevated to fine dining, but it really works. It was a delightful dish, and you will genuinely be surprised as to just how much lobster you can stuff into a brioche roll!

I went for the grilled lobster which, as lobsters go, was faultless. Perfectly cooked, so the flesh was firm but not hard, and it came out of the shell very easily. It is one of life’s hardest choices: do you tackle the harder claws first before moving onto the denser flesh of the main cavity or do you leave the claws to the end? I went for the claws first, and with a B&L bib attached to my frontage, garlic butter streaming down my chin and my hands covered in lobster, I was quite a sight… All dishes are served with decent fries and a better than decent salad. As for the pricing, a £20 lobster is surely London’s best bargain?

We were lucky enough to meet the chef and be shown down to the lobster tanks in the basement after our meal, which was a great experience: they get through tonnes and tonnes of lobster every week. I was even allowed to hold one of the fine creatures. I wonder if they have thought about making it a petting zoo in the morning?

Go to B&L if you want to have a fun, filling and delicious meal. I am sorry that there wasn’t a third member to tackle the burger, however they did look very fine. But lobster for £20… that is too good to miss!

I will be returning as soon as possible!

Burger & Lobster
Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Lobster tankage: 9/10
Overall: 8.6/10

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Restaurant Review: The Wild Game Co, Charlotte Street

It’s truly amazing how the smell and taste of food can transport us back to particular memories. I most recently noticed this when smelling mint sauce and I was transported back to Sunday Lunches with my grandmother. Yesterday, as I stepped inside the Wild Game Co I was transported back to holidays in Shropshire. Why? The smell of beef dripping! Yesterday was fairly cold and stepping inside the Wild Game Co was like coming home; a coat hanger for my coat and a very homely warmth. The interior is simply a comfortable place to sit. And all the while the smell and sounds of the kitchen waft through. (Can a sound waft? I hope it can).

To the food. The menu is really great, and truly to my taste. Just 6 main courses and 3 sides. Simples. There are three burgers which all look really great; I was very curious to try beef bacon, but that will have to wait for another time. Then there were a good selection of venison steaks, served either with chips, as a chateaubriand for two people or a salad. The salad was “very good” according to my friend, and the presentation-beautiful. Then the side dishes. Those who have eaten with me in a restaurant before know that, when it comes to side dishes, I am obsessed. Really obsessed. Dangerously so. So I decided to order all of them-why not?

First there were the beef dripping fries. Meaty, salty and crispy- they were brilliant. And I was suddenly in Shropshire 8 years ago, which was a bit weird. A small salad followed; pearl barley, beetroot, feta and curly kale. Confession time-I find feta hugely overrated, but here it worked really well. It wasn’t those unchewable cubes that are normally find but tiny little crumbles which added a depth of saltiness that was needed for the beetroot. Then on the top were shards of crispy kale-as crispy as seaweed. The star dish was the hearty portion of ‘stovies’. These transported me back to Scotland-lumps of braised venison, soft new potatoes and onions so soft, translucent and sweet. It was a food hug.

What I really like about this restaurant is the fact that they have a real respect for the meat they are serving. The venison is cooked really well. Secondly, it would have been so easy to charge outrageous amounts for venison, because it is less common, but (for example) the venison burger is cheaper than the beef burger. Hurray! Lastly, walking in feels like coming home to memories of food (well, it does for me, anyway). If more restaurants could do that, well…

The Wild Game
Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Homecoming: 9/10
Pricing: Burgers from £6, Steak from £8
Overral: 8.7/10

La Maison Bleue, Edinburgh, Restaurant Review

I start this review with a welcome back to you and to myself. It is a sad time when www.wordreference.com (a dictionary website used extensively in my revision) appears before www.wordpress.com. I don’t intend that to be the situation for long anymore! Anyway, welcome back one and all. I have just spent the last month at the Edinburgh Fringe playing in a show, and the chances to eat out were hampered hugely both by time constraints and budget. I did have one treat though: a meal La Maison Bleue (just off the Royal Mile).

The idea behind this restaurant, from what I could gather is that you can either order some smaller plates of food (called bouchées) and share them between the table, or you can order them in a more conventional manner as starters and mains. I chose the latter, mainly because the thought of having to share some of the things on the menu seemed like a huge shame when they sounded so delicious!

I started with “our secret recipe calamari” mainly out of curiosity. It was very good; salty and with a kick of spice on the batter. The squid itself was meaty and not at all tough. It probably wasn’t the best calamari I have ever had; that requires being near a Meditteranean beach on a hut summer day, but this came close. “Saigon beef” was a cute little dish; a stir fry served in a pastry basket, and was similarly good. Fish soup was, well, fish soup. But very good fish soup!

Onto the mains. My confit duck leg served with bean cassoulet was an absolute triumph of french cookery. The confit duck leg was simultaneously moist and flaky on the inside with crispy and shard-like skin that was so full of flavour. The cassoulet was as a cassoulet should be; rich with a salty kick from the bacon and an earthiness from the beans. It put me in a stupidly good mood, especially as it complimented the wet and cold weather! Beef cheeks were similarly rich and indulgent, whilst the rib-eye steak was perfectly cooked and clearly very high quality meat. The creolian fish gumbo was a really interesting dish and went down very well.

The sticky toffee pudding (my main vice) was the best I have ever had; the toffee sauce was just short of being sickly whilst maintaining its richness. The strawberries on top cut through the sweetness very well and added some needed acidity. A great dish and presented on a plate that resembled a UFO. (You’ll get what I mean).

So, thank you La Maison Bleue for a truly memorable meal. It is fair to say that it didn’t come up in the cheapest meals I’ve eaten, however it also didn’t reach the heights of the most expensive meals either. I intend to come back for the lunch menu, which looks truly brilliant as well.

La Maison Bleue, Edinburgh

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

France: 9/10

Overall: 8.3/10

The Baked Potato Shop, Edinburgh, review

I was in edinburgh for the fringe, and stumbled upon this little shop whilst extraordinarily hungry at lunch time. It is in cockburn street, just next to high street, and I was drawn to it by the queue outside the door (always a good sign), and the smell. What smells nicer than a fresh baked potato? Well, I can think of a few things, but it is a very comforting food smell.
I went twice actually, such was the place’s greatness. And had the same thing both times.. anyway, “what did I eat?” I hear you ask. Well, I had the most amazing potato with an avocado salad (mushed avs, toms and cheese), which was such a revelation I have started making it myself (more anon.) And cottage cheese. The buttery potato, the delicious avocado and the garlicky butter. Lovely. Absolutely stunning in fact. And all for less than a fiver, and I didn’t need supper after that!

The Baked Potato Shop
Food: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Biggest small portion ever: 8/10
Overall: 7.6/10
Price: small from £4.40

Wahaca, Waterloo Review

Today saw me going to a great lunch at a great restaurant in a great part of London. The company was pretty great as well. Cringe. Anyway, let’s talk Wahaca.
Wahaca Waterloo is effectively 4 shipping storage containers bolted together, and is great fun. Vibrant colours, open kitchen, lots of light. A really fun setting. And nice views of the river. It’s basically a really nice place to be. When you arrive, there is normally quite a long wait (30 mins) but luckily they allow you to use the bar upstairs, and eat guacamole. Living the high life. They also have groovy little remotes that tell you when your table is ready. A useful and well thought out idea!
As for the food, you can choose between burritos or “street food”, as well as other sides and assorted items. The street food involves Taquitos, Quesadillas, Tacos and salads. All about £5 which is well priced, considering two is easily enough for lunch, per person. So I got three steak tacos, which were delicious, as the steak was tender and tasty with a healthy portion of salsa. The chicken Taquito was fresh and equally delicious. Most interesting was the cactus tacos with courgette. Interesting texture, similar to….um…. You know what, it was similar to cactus.
Sweet potatoes were very delicious, well and properly cooked, with a good charred skin.
Churros were very well done with good chocolate sauce.
So, if you want a fun, reasonably inexpensive and delicious meal, look no further than Wahaca
Wahaca
Food:8/10
Service:7/10
Storage containers: 8/10
Total:7.67/10
Price:I ate comfortably under £20

Giraffe, Victoria review

Ok, so last week was amazing for me, mainly because I was witness, for the THIRD time to the spectacle that is WICKED. Yes, I am pretty alpha male, and I’ll cook meat in vast quantities whenever and wherever, but when it comes to Musical Theatre…. Lets just say the inner Elphaba comes out. That sounds very much like I’ve just come out, which I haven’t, but the point is I love it. Enough said. Onto food! Sorry about that outburst.
Giraffe is a pretty successful chain and it seems to be everywhere. It’s a pretty crazy idea for a restaurant; in that someone must have said “Hey guys, why don’t we just, like, totally, serve every type of food, like ever, won’t that be like, great?!?!?”. But you know what, they just about pull it off.

We start with the room. It’s cheeky, quirky, fun. All the chairs are different. The staff are nice, apart from one that hit a menu in my face (BUT That was mainly fault). I quite liked it. Especially as my friend and I were next to the Window, looking out a busy and lively road. (Was better than it sounds)

Starters. We ordered a sort of sharing plate, which was great. Nice chargrilled bread, grilled halloumi, tzaziki (No idea how that’s spelt..), tomato purée, lentil salad… It was nice actually. Everything could have been good as an independent dish, which was nice to see.

Mains. I went for ribs. Alpha male enough for you? They were good; you know, ribs are ribs, so they were well cooked, well glazed. All you could want from ribs, apart from a bit of smokiness which was lacking. My friend had a stirfried duck noodle thingy, which was nice actually. Some of the noodles were VERY crispy, which was odd compared to the usual stuff, but good nonetheless. It was also an offensively large bowl, so I had to finish it off. So alpha male.

So, if you want a quick, fun, decent meal, Giraffe is your new chain to do that in. But it is a chain, so don’t get sucked in too quickly; always look for an independent restaurant before… Please?!?

Giraffe, Victoria
Food:7/10
Service:6/10
Furniture:7/10
Price:£35 for two courses, two people.

Burger Barn, Mansion House/City

This week saw me stumble rather fortunately onto a dream of a place to eat. We were looking round banks in the City of London (oh my god it was so much fun, I want to work there so much, dream job etc. (I hope my sarcasm is coming through)). Anyway, this led, as inevitably would to the need for a lunch break, so suited up, some friends and I walked down to a spot I’ve wanted to eat in for ages. Burger barn can be found close to Mansion House tube station (cross the road towards the church, you’ll get there eventually). It is a rather subtle gazebo jobby; nothing particularly exciting to look at. What IS exciting is the fact that they sell one of the best burgers I have ever eaten; and some chorizo ciabattas, AND all for extremely reasonable prices.
We rocked up, feeling pretty great in the sun, and saw our burgers cooked from scratch in front of us. Cheese and bubbling bacon were piled on, as well as as many toppings you could fit inside the bun from their “self-help section”; yes, that does sound like a therapy centre, woooops.
The point is, if you want a fantastic bacon; meaty, juicy, well cooked and lovingly cooked, then look no further than Burger barn.
In other news I’ve spent a wonderful day at my old school, feeling damned sentimental. Further afield, I am a out to review giraffe; so I’m bloody excited.
Peace and love

Monmouth Coffee Company Review

I am doing something incredibly naughty at the moment: I am doing an in house review. Devilish behaviour. Anyway, the table was so beckoning, so I decided/am deciding to do my review of Monmouth coffee, borough market, in situ.   
 
I have heard much about Monmouth in the past few months; and being in the area, I decided to go and have a coffee or two. The queue round the corner on arrival was certainly a good sign of things to come, and I ordered a flat white to begin with. This was a chance for me to sample Monmouth’s espresso, and wow is it good. Rich, with a brilliant crema, and ever so slightly bitter without being un drinkable; really good. And I have such admiration for those who can turn out rosettas time and time again without any problems. Beautiful to look at, beautiful to drink; and only £2.35! At last, properly good coffee for a reasonable price. 
 
Moving on, I had a filter coffee. From all the newspaper articles, I knew I should be expecting this to be fantastic. And you know what, I think I might just be won over from espresso. The simplicity of filter coffee seems to me to be rather infatuating, and it is done here with such drama; they grind your beans in front of you, and you see you filter coffee being produced in real time. The flavour matched the drama as well: it was rich and complex, but not so much that a whole cup seemed too much. 
 
And don’t be tricked into thinking that Monmouth is just a place for drinking coffee; they sell a huge variety of beans, and the food they make is wonderful. The atmosphere too is great: sure, I have a headache from the merciless banging of the espresso machines, and the whirs of the coffee grinder, but it all adds to the atmosphere of perfect coffee being the aim. Everyone in the café seems to be happy to be in the café, something I don’t see in the chains, for sure.  
 
The team at Monmouth are inspirational too; they work together so well, they are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, and they can make coffee as if it is in their very nature. The only criticism of mine is that they need more seating! I can’t wait to return here, and I sense that everyone in front of me in the queue when I arrive next time will be feeling the same. Best coffeehouse in London? Certainly possible. 
 
Monmouth:
Food/coffee: 9/10
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Total: 9/10
Price: £2.35 for filter coffees and espresso based coffees. £1.55 for espressos. £3ish for food items.

Crème in Windsor Restaurant Review

I was invited to a “blunch” (it was more lunch than breakfast) at crème, Windsor, which on most websites regarding the best Windsorian restaurants, is at the top. I was very excited, as at the moment, Windsor is not exactly a stellar place for a foodie. It was therefore a chance for me to see whether Mango Lounge, (my current no.1) would be pipped at the post.

There was a group of 6 who went, and first impressions were promising. It looks fresh, clean, modern from the outside. It might be helped by a setting slightly closer to the centre of town, although that sort of comment is very lame, I know. The interior of the restaurant is quite in with the modern restaurant scene in London: slightly quirky furniture, visible pass. I quite like it, and I think in the evening it would be even better, when the bar comes into play.

The menu is good; serving a good breakfast and a proper menu as well can often leave one half to be neglected; but as I would see, this wasn’t the case. The breakfast menu was standard, nothing that exciting, but the couple next to us seemed to be enjoying their full English breakfast. Then there were warm baguettes (more anon), starters (more anon), mains, burgers (I’m stopping with the more anons, just read on!) and puddings (actually, no more anon for this one, sorry).

Onto the food. Crispy duck and broad bean salad with raspberry dressing was a great idea, and the duck itself was good, and crispy enough to match the name. The dressing was about as harsh as a schoolteacher; it stuck and cloyed at the back of my mouth; not a nice sensation. Also, I’m sorry, but since when has serving warm, and I mean warm, cucumber, lettuce and tomato bean (haha, sorry: been. Food based puns eh?) acceptable. This was truly horrible: if I want cooked lettuce, I’ll ask for it, thank you very much.

Pancakes and bacon with maple syrup (on the breakfast menu) was properly good. I mean, really good. The pancakes were ever so slightly caramelised with a good crust, and the bacon was cooked well, with a great smokiness. A triumph, if I ever saw one. Cold chicken liver parfait was similarly good, and it managed to avoid the sticky richness that quite often annoys me when eating chicken liver parfait.

Moving on… The main came shortly afterwards. My steak baguette with a caramelised onion chutney thingy was decent enough; although restaurants seem incapable of using properly good steak in a steak baguette; why? I mean, why why why why?! On the plus side the onions were really good, and the “crème chips” were absolutely brilliant. Certainly the best chips I have ever had in a restaurant; the paprika sprinkling is genius, and they were well salted. Well done crème! The side of steamed greens I ordered were also perfectly cooked.

At this point, I wish I could talk about puddings but I had to dash off for a train. However, to sum up, Crème is a fast, modern, well menu-ed restaurant. The downsides that I have mentioned are me being really picky. The service was great, the chefs behind the pass looked happy and focused, and everyone else in the restaurant was enjoying themselves. I will need to go back to see whether this really is no.1 in Windsor, but it certainly isn’t far off.

Crème in Windsor
Food: 7/10
Service: 8.5/10
Stylishness: 8/10
Total: 7.83
Prices: starters around £7, mains around £12, breakfasts around £5-9

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Borough Market, again

It’s a hard life for the food blogger. We just HAVE to go to eat and discover food; our lives revolve around eating, buying and cooking food. Poor us eh? This leads me onto today’s post. For me, if as a tourist, you really want to discover London, then Borough Market is the place to go. Nowhere else is there such variety, such friendliness and such good food. For those who say that Borough Market is a tourist attraction too big for its own good, I say that as long as the market continues to thrive, then who cares if it is packed?
Today was a great day spent under the train lines, for I tried a revelation of street food. A pure joy of a meal. What could it be? Yes, Salt Beef. Northfield’s Butchery Gourmet kitchen serves up Salt beef Sandwiches like no one else. Perfectly cooked Tangy salt beef, sour gherkins, and the firey heat of mustard.
And as for portion sizes…. They are HUGE. I mean, huge huge. The server dollops mustard onto large slices of wholemeal bread, then dollops on a handful of shredded Salt beef, then another, (at this point your feeling pretty happy about paying £6 for a sandwich), and then another, and then one more, for good luck. Then sliced gherkins, which take this dish to a whole new level of complexity, and add the sour kick that is needed to balance the salt and the Mustard. They were extraordinary, as this photo probably shows. Did we need anything more for lunch? Don’t be daft! Completely full, and I still am. In short, go to Borough Market, and support it.

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