Posts Tagged ‘London

29
Jun
10

Is that all you got, TFL?

Transport for London has a vendetta against me. Wait, wait, hear me out. This email arrived in my inbox this morning, like an evil little snicker from the folks at the TFL office.

Dear Miss Mc Glennon,

I am writing to let you know that from Saturday 3 July until 4 December 2010 westbound Circle and Hammersmith & City line trains will not stop at Latimer Road. This is due to the platform being extended as part of the line upgrade work.

Ha ha ha. Nice work. Less than a month after I move in, they close my tube station. But you know what, TFL, you got nothing! When I moved to Borough, the tube station was closed for a year. At Caledonian Road, they shut the overground (my main route to work) for three months. If you want a war, you got one.

06
Apr
09

Food must be in towers, towers!

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Veggie Camembert Burger

Huddle round veggies and hear the tale of a giant burger! Normally when you chance a veggie burger, you get some form of unidentifiable veggie mush patty but not at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Call me a food snob, but this is one of the only chain restaurants I would recommend to a friend. After visiting Sunday Upmarket, which is lege by the way, we ordered up a gut full of food at the GBK in Spitalfields. As it was our first visit there, when I was ordering the Veggie Camembert burger the description had a lot of ingredients in it, (sweet potato, Portobello mushrooms, roasted red pepper etc) so I assumed it would be mashed to a pulp and deep fried. But no, it arrived with a fanfare of rocket in a giant tower. The people at the next table sniggered, I look shocked, it tasted goooood!

I did have to deconstruct the tower to eat it and then it was like a burger/salad bonanza. I’ve included a pic above in case you don’t believe this fairytale of burger heaven (in the background you can see the normal sized Avocado Bacon Burger the bf ordered). A couple of downsides to GBK you have to order at the till and pay beforehand, service then is quite slow and erratic as clearly they don’t expect to be tipped with this payment method. Also if you want to order an extra portion of sauce it costs a whopping £1.55. Jeesh!

20
Mar
09

Have you been Snogged?

snog-outer

A sinful Snog down Soho way? Go on then! The frozen yoghurt phenomenon has finally hit central London with the recent opening of a branch of Snog Pure Frozen Yoghurt on Brewer Street.  Stylish and sassy, Snog is a boutique style shop, white with hot pink accents and cute illustrations on the wall.  They even sell Snog jewellery and merchandise, so you can let everyone know you’re a Snog slut.

Snog is one of those new breeds of cutesy businesses, a bit like Innocent, and it was evidenced by the little pink van with Beep if You Like Snogging on the side outside the shop. It’s always a bit intimidating to enter a place where you don’t know the menu system, but I marched to the counter and started to peruse the selection. Snog do three basic flavours Chocolate, Green Tea and Natural and the toppings; fresh fruit, cookies, nuts, granola, brownies… brownies? I went for a Little size of Chocolate with brownie topping… oh come on it’s fat free!

snog-van

The Snog-Mobile

The frozen yoghurt is sweetened with Agave nectar (?) and boasts itself to have no fat, no artificial sweetners, low in calories and probiotic. Forget about that, you want to know what it tastes like, right? Like your first kiss at the local disco, Snog ticks all the right boxes, but might leave you feeling a little unsatisfied. On a blind taste test I would probably identify it as chocolate, but there is a strong kick of that lightly sour natural yoghurt taste. No way would you confuse this stuff with real ice cream. The mini brownies were fab though, moist and nutty.

chocolate
Snog’s prices might give you second thoughts in these recessionary times. Sizes go from Little to Massive with cheapest being £3.55 for a Little with 1 topping and priciest: Massive with 4 toppings £9.90. Doubt even I could manage almost ten pounds worth of ice cream but I’ll definitely be back to try the other two flavours.

Snog Soho
9 Brewer Street
London W1F ORG

21
Jan
09

Dining alone, service and the Med Kitchen

I think where I sometimes fail as a true foodie is that if I fall in love with a restaurant, I want to go back again and again, ordering the same food and loving it just as I did the first time. It’s comforting knowing a place and its staff fits you just right, but isn’t exactly going to get me in the foodie blogging hall of fame anytime soon. Even though I am such a loyal customer, I haven’t been able to find anywhere in London to lend my constant patronage to. There were a few places in Camden that we loved, Hi Sushi Salsa, Haché, but nowhere in London Bridge has stolen my heart yet.

It did get me thinking about the places that we used to frequent a lot and why we kept going back there, despite some challenges to our loyalty. A favourite in Dublin was Acapulco, a typical Tex Mex place that everyone seemed to love. But seriously, we put up with a lot of snarky attitude from the serving staff there. Quite frankly, if you didn’t have a reservation you might as well be dead to them, but we went back again and again for the fun atmosphere and the better than average food.

So if you love the food and you love the restaurant, how important is the service?

The Med Kitchen
We’d been to the Med Kitchen off Shaftesbury Avenue before and trust me, their chips are amazing. Crispy and thin, just like mounds of fries I used to consume in France, perched precariously next to a heap of moules mariniere. This time we had done our usual lap of the West End looking for somewhere that struck my fancy and we’d walked past dozens of places, but I have such a hard time deciding, that we just hit the Med Kitchen again. Sigh! Am going to have to start dragging my copy of London By London or Time Out with me wherever I go now. As a stand alone restaurant it’s great, but I can’t forget it’s a chain and I have such a strong abhorrence of chains, just because they are everywhere in London. The food is great at the Med, we ordered the meze platter to start with warm toasted pitta, C had a chargrilled Donald Russell steak sandwich and for a change, I ordered a very simple spaghetti with tomato and basil. Am very much trying to get back to the basics of food, without more than 5 ingredients.

But this review isn’t about the food, it’s about the service. Our waitress was so pleasant, coming over all the time to ask how we were doing, did we want more pitta bread and pouring the wine for us. We felt very taken care of. Midway through our meze platter, a girl came in alone and sat at the table beside us. Very gutsy, I thought, as this was a relatively cosy restaurant and even with a book, I can’t imagine ever going in alone. She ordered and then sat, and waited and waited. She waited so long, that we were feeling excruciatingly mortified on her behalf. After about a 20 minute wait, she asked her waitress, the same girl as ours, about the ETA of her food. The waitress smiled apologetically and said ‘well it does take a while, I’m sorry’. So the girl sat and waited some more, just staring out the window. Eventually her starter came, I assumed it must have been something time consuming that had to be baked or prepared fresh.

But no it was brushetta, so toasted bread topped with tomatoes and basil took nearly a half hour to prepare. She had it eaten in minutes and sat waiting for her next course. Is the kind of service you get when you come to a place alone, ordering no wine and therefore, maybe not leaving a huge tip? Perhaps the waitress had forgotten to send the order through to the kitchen, busily taking care of her other tables. I know that when I worked as a server, that sometimes I forget to tell the kitchen to send the main courses through but I would always have been extra nice to single patrons. Despite the fact that we received the friendliest service from the Med, the experience was a little tainted by watching this girl wait and wait…  for toast!

My verdict: I would definitely recommend the Med Kitchen, particularly if you are just looking for a snack or a light bite, but don’t go in alone unless you have a good book! Price: About 60 quid for a shared starter, two mains and a bottle of wine.

05
Jan
09

Feng Sushi and Nokia N79

Trying out my new Nokia N79 phone that Ciaran gave me for Christmas at Feng Sushi in Borough Market. Got this phone specifically for its 5 megapixel camera, ideal for food blogging pics and shooting on the go.

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Feng Sushi is another of London’s endless chain of restaurants, it has an open design with no doors on the front, lots of high tables and a fish tank. The menu is a little more expensive than we would usually go in for, but for a light bite it’s affordable enough. We ordered inside-out prawn tempura maki and avocado maki at £9 and £4.50 respectively. The prices are a bit steeper than most mid-range sushi places, but you do definitely get better quality and bigger pieces. The avocado maki has a great hit of sesame seeds which brightens up the blandness of the avocado – some of the best I’ve had.

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Practising my close up shots of sushi on the N79 here. I don’t know about other food bloggers, but I find it so mortifying to be seen taking pictures of what I am about to eat. I think it’s because food photography has gotten so completely ridiculous and poseurish, some restaurants are even banning it now. Earlier we were huddled around a table in freezing cold Borough Market and a guy was snapping his, clearly embarassed, friends eating lunch with a huge SLR. You can’t move around London anymore without someone with a giant camera setting up a shot for about a half hour. I’m more of a wham, bam photographer – taking shots without flash, so they generally either work out or they don’t.

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What are your thoughts on happy snappers.. are they interrupting your meal or totally entitled to document the food they paid for? Do you take furtive shots under guise of sending a text message or set up in full professional mode, adjusting the light, setting, food on the plate?

I’d definitely recommend the N79 for amateur food blogging, it has great features including a close-up mode and takes good shots without the flash. However, it crashes a lot too and every time you switch it off, when you restart it has reset all your setting, themes, clock, date etc.

03
Jan
09

Wishing lunch was on sale!

Where in the hell is my discounted lunch? These dark days as retailers are dropping prices ridiculously in a mad bid not to be the next front page news and everyone is living under the threat of being fired, consumers are starting to expect a little bit more in the discount department.

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The only thing it seems the recession hasn’t hit yet is the lunch places around the West End. Dining destinations I’d frequented without a hint of worry mid 2008 now seem extravagant in the credit crunch and must be considered a rare ‘treat’. It’s not all bad though, tightening the belt definitely makes you consider the value of these places. My frequent sushi lunch spot, off Hanover Square does good take out sushi at about £3-5 for a box of six pieces, but throw in a drink and it’s nearly a tenner. Is it worth it? Not really and the staff have been quite surly of late, they no longer allow you to eat the ‘go’ boxes at the counter seats. Tsk, tsk! My favourite salad place, California, has delicious, fresh ingredients and you can get a salad base with 4 toppings for about £5. But a bit steep for lettuce, tomato, cheese etc.

It seems the big fat cats are kicking ass when it comes to the credit crunch lunch. The food court upstairs at the Plaza on Oxford Street has all these yuppified foodie places beat hands down. Mc Donald’s and Pizza Hut have great value deals for about £4, the only downside is the fattening, artery clogging side effects. On shows like Jamie’s Ministry of Food, the poor, berated subjects often argue that ‘healthy’ food is more expensive than takeouts. While it’s not true about raw veggies from the supermarket, it is definitely the case if you are eating out. I paid £4.75 for a baked potato ‘meal’ at Spud U Like in the Plaza, eh hello… £4 for a potato?! I could get a sack of ’em for about a quid in Tescos. The worst thing was I only wanted the potato, with cheese and beans, relatively harmless, but it was cheaper to get the meal (incl: fizzy drink and 2 pieces of garlic bread). Basically to make it cheaper, I had to make it unhealthier! Argue with that one Jamie!

garden-veg-burrito

Today I hit up Mexicali on Berwick Street, a Tex-Mex joint that always has a queue outside. With major burrito cravings, I ordered the Garden Veg Burrito and added sour cream. A wallet-emptying £5.20 with 30p extra for sour cream and £1 for a bottle of water. £6.50, that’s only 34p less than the jumper I had just got on sale at the Gap!
Admittedly it was pretty tasty, the burrito base is a rolled flour tortilla with shredded lettuce, cheese, tomato salsa and refried pinto beans, with sweet potato, carrot and courgette and a handful of tortilla chips on the side. The Garden Veg was a little spicy making me glad I’d shelled out for the water, next time I’m going to try the, hopefully less spicy, rice and beans filling.

2009 will definitely be the year of the belt tightening, but hopefully eating out less will mean the belt notches might be a couple of sizes smaller too! So unless they lower their inflated prices, probably no more fancy foodie lunches for me, it’ll be bring your own and discovering places like Cha Cha Moon off Carnaby Street, fantastic Asian food at £3.50 a plate.

Mexicali also offers chicken and beef options on their tacos, burritos, enchilades, taco soup and other kinds of wraps.

Review of Cha Cha Moon to come, once I can convince poverty stricken co-workers to accompany me!

14
Oct
08

It’s Chocolate Week – no seriously!

 

Hello my name is Eater’s Regret and I’m a chocoholic! A lot of people frivolously claim to be chocoholics, but unless you’ve truly felt that sinful need for the dark stuff, at least twice day, then you’re no addict. Easter used to be my favourite holiday, a whole day dedicated, with some religious stuff as well of course, to eating chocolate! But move over Easter, sorry Jesus, cos it’s Chocolate Week. Oh yeah!

 

It don’t matter if it’s black, white, or milk – this whole week, we are celebrating the wondrous invention that is chocolate! I’ll be making some form of chocolaty baking perfection and hopefully attending one of these events in London. I’ll also be hotting up my chocolate fondue pot and holding a blind chocolate taste testing night, concept courtesy of Lidl Treats. Stay tuned for pics!

 

This week, chocoholics need no excuse! Get celebrating!