It’s always nice to get something extra with your food, especially when it involves meeting characters who share insight into their culture. I recently discovered the best naan bread in London when I was least expecting to do so…Continue reading “The best naan bread in London”→
We’ve been walking from Bethnal Green tube station for fifteen minutes, past some of London’s best pie and mash shops and cocktail bars. I drag a little group off the main road, along a deserted side street lined with warehouses, through an unmarked door and up some back stairs, to a back alley sweat shop…
Keep your hat on, what was once a clothing sweat shop has now been transformed into the stylish Bistrotheque. The rails of clothes and factory lines of workers have made way for elegant waiters and delicious brunch classics accompanied by jazz renditions of favourites fluttering out of the baby grand in the corner. The factory windows and interiors still remain to create a breezy loft ambiance that perfectly compliments the stylish but casual clientele. We order chorizo with buttery fried potatoes, fluffy pancakes with creme fraîche and a tart sweet blueberry compote, and avocado on toast with fiery Sriracha.
On our trip back we spot a sign luring us in with the promise of Italian produce through an inconspicuous door. We find an art gallery with a centre piece displaying olive oils, huge blocks of parmesan, bottles of prosecco and various cured meats. We are lucky enough to catch the Italian procurer of 4 Cose, Andrea Sassi, who brings the produce over from his hometown of Reggio nell’Emilia and sells impeccable quality of authentic Italian products at prices that are far from extortionate.
Last weekend I finally got to revisit an instant favourite business that I had the pleasure of coming across at Street Feast a few months back. Their fun and friendly attitude coupled with the simple, no frills Taiwanese food offering make BAO (translated as BUN) a sure winner. Little pillowy pockets of steamed milk bun filled with sweet, slow-cooked pork and topped with peanut shavings; buttermilk fried popcorn chicken in paper bags; and a colourful veggie slaw.
The home to this little shack is a school playground which transforms weekly into the lively Netil Market. Vintage clothing, record and book stalls sit alongside thriving food businesses that surround a small area of wooden benches where purchases can be enjoyed and new acquaintances met. Charlie and I enjoyed our little buns on a bench in the sunshine surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the stalls and food lovers. A couple sat near to us observed our appreciation and we got chatting to the self-confessed burger addict. Having tried pretty much every burger in town, she said that Lucky Chip behind us in the market is the best. We couldn’t quite hack the 40 minute queue, but we’ll take her word for it and make a bee-line on the next visit! Thank you La Fromagerie lady 🙂
Well worth a visit for all of the above reasons and also to the monthly late night art gallery openings on Vyner Street, Bethnal Green is a thriving place full of interesting folk and independent businesses. We’ll be back!
Anyone who is currently living in London and who dabbles in the restaurant scene of the city should understand the title of this piece. If not, it’s no complicated concept, just that burgers are EVERYWHERE. Due to the recent food trend of upmarket fast food, burger joints of all kinds are popping up all over the shop. Some literally, in the form of a ‘pop-up’ temporary location that will be gone quicker than you can say ‘fast-food’, others establishing themselves as a permanent venture even though it may be in a shack out the back of another restaurant (Dirty Burger!).
After a couple of bleak years of recession, Brits are migrating towards good quality comfort food for a feel-good treat. This means that chickens are back on the rotisserie, milkshakes are being whipped up by the minute and burgers are BACK (cue farmyard animals up and down the country to squirm).
I love the no-fuss, unpretentious surroundings that going for a burger involves and you’re always guaranteed to leave feeling perfectly satisfied. Though there is one catch (as there always seems to be.. ).. You can’t book, thus queues are inevitable.
Cladded rather inappropriately in suits due to the ‘after work’ nature of our outings, my friends and I have managed to pack in a few burger joints over the past couple of weeks.
Honest Burger: A few weeks ago for a birthday treat, a few of my now ‘young professional’ friends and I congregated suited and booted after work for a good and honest burger. The initial wait for our table was definitely worth it as we stepped in from the cold into a small room buzzing with burger joy. A fantastic concept, the menu was displayed on the wall with the choice of chicken, cheese or veggie fritter and then the added dilemma of what cheese to have (Our poor friend Zaf, being the only male, struggled with we indecisive girls). Served in a glazed toasted bun and served with hand-cut chips with the skin on and sprinkled with rosemary salt, these burgers were ‘honest’ly rather posh (yet distinctly unpretentious). The exceptional chuck beef comes from the Ginger Pig (http://www.thegingerpig.co.uk/) and is served very pink in the middle, just to my liking!
Our drinks were served in jam-jar inspired tumblers with jazzy straws and the burgers in enamel dishes, adding small touches of edge to the restaurant.
We all left with huge smiles on our faces and tummies very happy! Exceptional quality, a fantastic concept and not too much grease!
Dirty Burger: I was told it was hard to find and that it was just a shack, but I was not quite expecting a corrugated room built onto the back of a Pizza Place, the doorway artistically framed by the stairs of a fire escape. This ‘out back’ characteristic was so charming and just my kind of place, reminding me of all our favourite off the beaten track tapas haunts on our Spanish travels.
I pushed on the metal door which creaked open into a burger room if there ever was one. Ketchup and mustard bottles scattered over a huge wooden table around which people munched on burgers in the trademark ‘Dirty‘ wrapping. In one corner is the tiny kitchen where you place your order. The vast evening menu consists of cheeseburger and… cheeseburger! That’s right, you have no choice. So if you’re a fussy eater or a veggie then, well, tough! Although veggies could order one of the two available sides… Crinkly chips and deep-fried red onion chips. Once you place your order, you proceed to the next corner where a wooden cupboard magically opens into a self-service drinks fridge jam-packed with sodas and shakes. Finally, choose your seating from the central communal wooden table or the wooden shelf hugging the perimeter of the shack and wait for your grub.
My friend Jess and I, again suited up, thoroughly enjoyed our burgers, with the exception of a slightly soggy bun. We didn’t mind as much as the filling was so deliciously packed, but when it comes to comparisons Honest Burger has to sit above. Though Dirty Burger’s onion chips were a real winner and made the meal! A fantastic concept that I hope does not lose it’s charm when the masses inevitably begin to flock..
On Monday I had the day off and took myself on a foodie trail through the stunningly grand architecture that Notting Hill offers. Just off the French haunt of Westbourne Grove is a treasure trove of a chocolate lover’s heaven… Melt Chocolates. And it’s contents are sure enough to make you melt, living up to the boutique’s name. Placed with the most intricate of care and individually wrapped for a clean finish, the chocolates twinkle at you from every angle. In the back there’s a very white chocolate factory (streamlined surfaces ready for individually made chocolates of all kinds) waiting to be smothered and splattered in silky smooth chocolate.
I wandered around in wonder and asked the poor sales assistant many a question before carefully making my selection, featured above. These choices were as follows:
Individually wrapped chocolate caramel: buttery caramel made from organic cream, butter sugar and 100% cocoa chocolate. A Meltaholics favourite, I found that these deliciously sweet caramels go superbly with a cup of tea and sea salt popcorn… Definitely worth a try!
Mango and Passion Fruit chocolate truffle: a filling of dark chocolate ganache which is cut through by a smooth passionfruit and mango layer and coated in luxurious dark chocolate topped off with a dash of gold. Reminded me of Pierre Hermé’s Mogador macaroon, available in Selfridges.
Candied Chocolate orange: candied orange coated in silky dark chocolate, one of the best I have tasted!
Red Peppercorn chocolate discs: thin milk chocolate discs embedded with red peppercorns that added a spicy kick to the sweet chocolate. Something a bit different and extremely moreish.
Dark Madagascar Single Origin Hot Chocolate cube: I am a huge fan so my standards are high when it comes to liquid forms of chocolate. This one is slowly melted into a pan of hot water or milk. I gave this to a friend as a present so I will have to wait until next time for the personal judgement!
Melt Popcorn Chocolate Bar: My mum bought me a bar of this for my birthday to my delight as I had seen the colourful clean cut packaging in Selfridges and it was rather out of my budget at the time! Caramelized kernels of fluffy popcorn are hidden away in a thick slab of silky milk chocolate, creating a crunchy sweet surprise when you come across one.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and for a dinner party thrown for other reasons coincidentally landing on this day of love I will choose to celebrate a love of another kind, a love equally as wonderful and consuming as the ‘regular’ type… the love of great food!
This evening shall involve an attempt of a recreation of some of Ottolenghi’s stunning master pieces…