Archive | travel RSS feed for this section

London food guide

28 Jun

I was recently in London- twice in a week effectively- long story. Apart from visiting friends/other social engagements, I did what I like doing best and wandered around trying to find new, interesting places to eat/drink/get caffeinated in. I wanted to experience as much as I could of the London food scene. This is an amalgamation of the two trips.

I flew into London City for the first time. An absolute treat. From aircraft to central London in 30 minutes, (I flew into Stansted the next week. Not quite comparable. I felt I deserved pilgrim status by the end of that journey.)

Regency Cafe

Regency Cafe

 

The trip started with a regular feature on my London culinary map, the Regency Cafe. On Regency Street. Fancy that. Does great breakfasts. It’s a plastic chairs screwed into the floor place, builders queuing for their breakfast, like something off East Enders (so I’m told.) Don’t let any of the above put you off. Tasty food and it’s an experience. Check out this article and video on it.

Fortnum & Mason is always worth a gander. I bought tea. It was nice. Aren’t you more fulfilled for knowing this? I wrote about it before in a previous London food guide. So I shan’t bore you again.

I ate in Wahaca, which I’ve written about here: Wahaca, Covent Garden

Does what it says on the tin.

Does what it says on the tin.

 

Breakfast. I wat this again.

Breakfast. I wat this again.

I had never been to the Borough market. There I’ve said it. People were typically quite taken aback when I told them this. Unfortunately I went quite early in the day, midweek. So it wasn’t exactly in full swing. So I went and got a great breakfast in the nearby Tapas Brindisa. A wonderful plate of eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and manchego. A proudly Spanish place. I asked for a cappuccino and was firmly informed they didn’t do that, but I could have a café con leche instead. The waitress’ facial expression was akin to the facial expression I make when people say Ireland and England the same country.

Scales in Monmouth Coffee

Scales in Monmouth Coffee

From there it was only a short hop over to Monmouth Coffee. Where I had a wonderful flat white. This place had come recommended from a few of my more caffeinated mates. Cool spot, filter coffee to order etc.

Another coffee shop that I found myself in later that day was Prufrock Coffee. A funky coffee shop, friendly staff and a great place to sit for an hour or two.

My favourite discovery of these trips had to be the Covent Garden Cocktail Club. My friend Eda brought me along. Members only, but very easy to join. I was unsure where she was leading me, as we disappeared down into what looked like a dingy basement. Inside is a very cool bar area, with friendly bar-tenders making what are arguably some of the nicest cocktails I’ve had. There is an appropriate level of theatrics involved in their making without the constant fear of some over exuberant bar-tender accidentally flinging a bottle of Smirnoff at your head. The Brixton Riots are one such cocktail that typically get the bar’s attention. Happy hour is worth making- two for one. You get to sample more of the menu that way. For research like.

After a few cocktails we met another friend and headed to Meat market, a spin-off I’m told from Meat liquor. I feel this actually warrants its own post, so you are just going to have to wait to hear about that experience.

A more mainstream cocktail place we also ventured into was Be at One. Cocktails were good, the people watching was even better.  They also have a very handy app that lets you start your own happy hour when you arrive at certain locations.

La Gelatiera  was a funky little spot I went with Eda and her mates. We got chatting to the Greek staff in the place. We bonded over ice-cream and our economic woes.

On my final morning I met a friend from school and we went to Milk in Balham for breakfast. Twas very tasty indeed.

 

London is a city I have warmed to hugely over the last few years. There is great eating and drinking to be had. As always I’m really interested to hear about your favourite spots- please leave any suggestions in the comment section below.

Wahaca, Covent Garden

13 May

Guacamole and chips.

Guacamole and chips.

I found myself in London recently. One recommendation that came through on twitter and from friends over and over was Wahaca. So I made sure I tried it for dinner one of the night’s on my trip. I met with a friend from college, who had never eaten with a food blogger before. She did very well, and waited for photos of the food to be taken before going near anything.

We arrived not long after 6, and there was already a wait for tables. We used this time to grab a refreshing beverage- and soon our buzzer was going telling us that the table was ready. We ordered some guacamole and chips while we perused the menu. The guacamole was very pleasant. It had some coriander and wasn’t too heavy-handed on the red onion. Very tasty.

Pork pibil

Pork pibil

I left most of the ordering in my friend’s hands, having been before but my influence did extend to the pork pibil, which was first to arrive. Tender marinated pork, served on soft tortillas, garnished with some pickled onions. It was very tasty but perhaps it lacked a little punch. This may have been due to the heat coming from my beer– which owing to a slight mix up in ordering, was served with chilli and all sorts of other stuff. Interesting and quite spicy.

There was a herring tostada which was sour and a little bit smokey. Delicious. We went for both the taquitos on the menu, the winner here was the sweet potato and feta one. A triumphant combination of sweet and salty. There was also a very flavoursome mushroom quesadilla, which had an earthy taste.

All of this was rounded off with a split order of churros, doused in cinnamon and sugar. Tip (from my mate): order a side of dulce de leche with the chocolate it comes with. Pretty tasty combo. Service throughout was helpful (for us first timers), not rushed and very friendly. In short, the food’s very good, it’s great value and it is a fun place for some casual dining and a few drinks. I just hope they don’t over-extend as they are expanding at quite a rate.

Wahaca, Covent Garden.

66 Chandos Place.

Phone: +44 (0) 207 240 1883 (but they don’t take bookings.)

Yum Yum at K108, Doha

18 Apr

Over the next few weeks there are going to be one or two posts about restaurants in Doha. There won’t be too many I promise. I know the taxi fare from Dublin to there makes a meal out prohibitively expensive.

We had heard whisperings that there was some good food to be had at Yum Yum by Hugo Coudurier at the K108 Hotel. So a group of 5 of us headed for dinner on a night recently.

The Hotel is  deceptive from the outside, its interior is very different to what you would expect. Upon entering the restaurant, albeit at an earlyish time, it was empty. I live my life by one main rule: Beware an empty restaurant. Soon though, other tables began to fill up and by the time we got to the menus and bread (very tasty, in particular a focaccia style creation) my fears were quickly being allayed. The restaurant itself is a large space, whitewashed walls and is quite cosy given its size.

I started with some grilled vegetables served with discs of Haloumi. It was a very pleasant way to start the meal, well cooked veg, tangy sauce and a well dressed salad. Another had the pea soup with shrimp. This was unfair on the crustacean in question, it was somewhere between a prawn and a lobster when served. Leaving said diner very content. Another notable starter for its presentation alone was the ravioli, slightly under perhaps, but that was the only niggle for what was a very pretty and tasty dish.

For my main I went for sea-bass, in a (I forget the name of the sauce) sauce served with risotto and crispy onions. The fish was cooked nicely, and there was a richness to the sauce and risotto. The crispy onions added a wonderful crunch. I would have liked something a little zingy perhaps for contrast, but it was still a delicious dish. Another main of note was the burger, which was off the menu, but apparently is a favourite at this place. It was munched very happily by said diner.

Few opted for dessert, I was one of the brave souls who did. A well presented lemon tart was happily eaten. You are  going to have to take my word for this- as the lighting was perfect for dining, awful for food photography. Thankfully. My darling sibling went for a chocolate fondant, which I didn’t get to taste, which would lead me to believe she enjoyed it. Throughout service was brilliant. Not overly formal as often can be the case in Doha and our waiter was happy to suggest dishes along the way. He was very attentive and yet you barely noticed him.

I was a guest at dinner (Thanks again), but the menu is very reasonably priced for the food and service you receive. Definitely one of the best places in Doha.

Brussels- where to eat….

6 Feb

Shane in a Joyce pod at the Parlamentarium (Visitor center showcasing all the great and good of the EU = A euro-sceptics idea of hell.)

Shane in a Joyce pod at the Parlamentarium (Visitor center showcasing all the great and good of the EU = A euro-sceptics idea of hell.)

In November, I found myself traveling back to Brussels to visit my friend Shane, more commonly known as my accomplice in dining. The trip was arranged only a few days in advance- so Shane unfortunately had to work for most of it. The cheek. This left me to explore Brussels by myself. That’s a nice way of saying I got lost a bit. On the plus I found some nice spots that I think are worth mentioning. You can read my previous Brussels food guide here. And for those of you hoping to visit Bruges, there you go.

Frites. Let’s get this one out there from the off. Here’s a little known fact. Brussels is powered significantly by the leftover oil from the frites making process. That’s a lie, it’s not. Nearly every corner you turn, there are frites stands. Shane, the brave soul that he is, is endeavouring to try out as many as he can. I mentioned a good few in my last post but as the weather was a little cooler, one was less inclined to eat outside. I did try one that was really good. Fritland. Judging by the reviews on that website, other people would agree.

Noordzee on a fresh Sunday afternoon

Noordzee on a fresh Sunday afternoon

We ventured back to Noordzee, which despite the cooler temperature was as busy as we had seen it mid summer. Be mindful of the opening hours, it certainly wasn’t open every time I walked by. Again the food was very tasty and it was still lovely to stand out in the adjoining square with some seafood. Tapas style portions- worth a visit. We also returned to Barbeton– this time for a coffee- lovely cosy spot. These two establishments are quite close to each other.

The first evening, after the frites and the food at Noordzee, we decided ( in our infinite wisdom) to stop and have some tapas before dinner. Infinitely wise.

photo 4-2

We ventured into Como Como. Now one of two things happened to this restaurant. Either it was formerly a sushi joint and they decided to keep the conveyor. Or some bright spark thought it was a novel way to serve tapas. Either way I won’t argue as Shane, his better half and I all enjoyed ourselves. Initially there was quite a limp selection whizzing by, but soon there was a great variety of meat, fish and vegetable tapas all whirling by. They were cranked out at quite a rate- no match for us though! The staff were very friendly too, and made for a very pleasant pre dinner amuse bouche.

Dinner was had in the excellent Les Brassins. I had the Carbonnades flamandes. A stew, slow cooked, with a wonderful sweetness owing to the Belgian beer it was cooked in. What wasn’t excellent? The staff. But thankfully they ignored us once we ignored them. It’s a relaxed enough place so staff/diner interaction isn’t massive.

A wonderful burger was had by all in Les Super Filles du Tram. Cool restaurant, staff were energetic and the burgers were very tasty.

Now all this wandering and eating requires little pick-me-ups from time to time. Exki are your friend in this regard. A nice chain of cafes. They do good food, nice cakes and good coffee. Throw in free wifi and you are onto a winner. Pleasant spots located all over  the city to while away a few minutes or hours.

Another spot for the coffee lovers amongst you is Corica. In brief, long counter, lots of coffees. Apparently 27 different Arabica blends according to their website. They also have Kopi Luwak. I didn’t try it. (Actually if anyone has- please comment below and tell me what it was like?)

 

I have a feeling I will be going back to Brussels again (Take note Shane).

 

Have you any tips or favourite places you like to eat? Where must I try? Any suggestions welcome below.

Happy birthday down under

5 Dec

20121205-121805.jpg

One of the best views in the world? Sydney Harbour bridge and the Opera House in glorious sunshine!

The Silver Chicken is down under! Although if you follow me on Facebook or twitter, you probably have noticed this fact. I may have mentioned it once or twice….This trip was to celebrate my uncle’s 50th birthday. Which was yesterday.

The best thing? We kept the whole thing a secret. So on Friday, after the family he knew was turning up had arrived. Three of us (myself and two uncles) turned up at Andy’s door, and nearly killed him with shock. Thankfully we didn’t.

So happy birthday Andy! Since we’ve arrived we have been treated to incredible hospitality by him and his family, including delicious food by my aunt Sarah. I have asked for some recipes which may or may not appear on a certain blog. There have been barbecues, gigs, fantastic meals and great company. Absolutely brilliant. And for those of you here in spirit, we’re thinking of you! And while I’m at it- Happy Birthday to both my grandmothers who celebrate their birthdays today!

Thanks to everyone who has sent me Sydney recommendations and if anyone else has them, keep em coming.