Showing posts with label Pubs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pubs. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Pick N' Mix - Part 7

So, for the final Pick N' Mix of the year. On an uncharacteristically mild December evening, we stuck out the whole evening sitting outside under lamps at The Miller, a pub just a mere stones throw from London Bridge. The menu was devised by Street Kitchen; dominated by hot dogs, there are also salad boxes listed which were promptly disregarded. 

The 'Boston Hound' immediately grabbed my attention, and I'm fairly sure that's down to the mention of both pork belly and crackling. It was a big long smoked sausage (snigger), properly snappy skin and topped with pickled red cabbage, barbecue sauce and pickled cucumber. Slices of pork belly lined the bun. Too cumbersome to eat with hands, I was reduced to a knife and fork. 

Special mention should be made to the chicken wings, which were pretty freaking awesome. Some might recognise them as being quite similar to those at Patty & Bun, and I believe Street Kitchen helped them develop their menu. These were better though - they had more bite, more texture, more pull on the meat. For £3.50 a pot they were also great value. Skin-on chips were hot and crisp, though apple and celeriac slaw was just mush. I wasn't sure what I was expecting for £1 a pot, though. For £12.50 per head, it was a cracking dinner to soak up some booze. 

96 Snowsfields Road
London Bridge
London SE1 3SS

Boopshi's in Fitzrovia has just opened. Specialising in schnitzel and spritzes, the dining room is almost Scandinavian in austere style. A basement bar, closed at lunch though open in the evenings, sounds less so. I went along for lunch with their PR contact (disclaimer it was free etc.) and tried a selection of the dishes. The schnitzel is offered as pork, rose veal or chicken variants and the rose veal was crisp and well fried. A variety of toppings, like an egg or capers are offered and we plumped for the anchovies. At £1 extra, they weren't the best quality specimens I've sampled, being a little dry and overly salty. The bill can soon rack up - a veal holstein (so, garnished with egg, capers and anchovies) would set you back £17.25. But well-sourced meat costs. 

Ox tongue, lentils and carrots was a delicious dish, boasting both tender meat and al dente lentils. The bratwurst was served with a pot of sweet mustard for dipping, and all the more interesting for it. I particularly enjoyed the spatzle n' cheese; it could have taken more salt, but was ultimately comforting and stodgy. Sauerkraut could have been sauerer, but pickles had a welcome tang. I'd go back for the schnitzel in bap form with a few (hundred) spritzes, which they're planning on introducing to the downstairs bar. 

31 Windmill Street
London W1T 2JN

Lastly, I neglected to mention a dinner at Peckham Refreshment Rooms way back in October, I suppose due to all my photos coming out terribly. But! I had a wonderful mutton pie there, as well as some very decently sourced mozzarella that they put on a plate and drizzled heartily with a punchy salsa verde. Dish of the night was Sicilian aubergine with borlotti beans - the beans were creamy and soft, the aubergine sweet yet sour. I could have eaten buckets of this. All the stories are true - the stools are monstrously uncomfortable. 

12-16 Blenheim Grove 
London SE15 4QL 

(No reservations)
Peckham Refreshment Rooms on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Lucky Fried Chicken

NOW CLOSED - Lucky Fried Chicken at The Grafton is now serving Lucky Chip burgers.

So the good people of Lucky Chip have done it again. My last visit to The Sebright Arms ended in meat hysteria - meat-steria? - after stuffing my greedy little face with not only burgers but chilli cheese fries, hot dogs and cheese croquettes; I just couldn't stop myself, and I wasn't sorry (until I tried to get to sleep that night). This time, on my visit to the Lucky Fried Chicken residency at The Grafton Arms in Kentish Town, I was a little more restrained. I sorely regret it now.  

The upstairs of The Grafton is set out like a takeaway shop with a lit up menu above the counter and booths to sit in. Well, apparently it is; the night we visited it was closed for a private function. I'm not sure I've gasped as dramatically as when I read that little sign. But, no matter as they serve chicken downstairs in the main pub area too. The menu is simple, with boxes and buckets of chicken offered, reminiscent of our favourite Colonel; coleslaw, creamed potatoes, baked beans, bean and potato salads make up the 'Salad' section, and sandwiches and sides complete the menu. That's the kind of salad I could get on board with.

When the chicken arrived, it did so on a tray; our 5 enormous pieces (jumbo box, £12.50) steaming hot, accompanied with a small pot of mash and gravy, and a tub of coleslaw, clearly home-made. No gloopy mayonnaise-laden filth, thank god. Two small dinner rolls completed the plate. I wished we'd ordered the french fries. 

BUT THE CHICKEN. It was glorious. Crisp spicy crust, giving way to unbelievably juicy meat, all the way down to the bone. It must have been brined. I had to get a knife and fork as the chicken was too hot to put my face but I was too impatient to wait. 

The glory didn't end there, as the creamed potatoes with gravy was similarly delicious. Perfectly smooth mash, savoury chickeny gravy. The dinner roll was repeatedly dunked into that mash until I'd realised I had eaten it all myself. My date didn't seem to notice. Coleslaw was light and crunchy, very celery-heavy which I don't have an issue with. For £12.50 we were satisfied well - ok, I probably could have eaten another piece of chicken and a bit more mash but that is just my own gluttony - and made for pretty great value. 

I'm already planning my next trip. It is open for "just a few weeks" (from 13th Feb) before they turn into a burger bar so hurry up and go.

Lunch: Tue-Sat 12-3pm, Sun 12-6pm

Dinner: Tue-Thur 5.30-10pm, Fri-Sat 5.30-11pm

The Grafton Arms
20 Prince of Wales Road
London NW5 3LG

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Draft House, East Dulwich

It has been 3 months since I moved to East Dulwich and I still don't particularly feel like I've settled in. Lordship Lane, its backbone, is lined with expensive furniture shops, wine bars and nice cafes, a far cry from the 24 hour Londis that I used to live opposite. Now I miss its impressive array of instant noodles and instead, I can grab myself a loaf of sourdough for Saturday brunch, previously unheard of. I don't know why I reject it so; I imagine it's because I feel more of an affinity to the skint art students of New Cross than I do with the moneyed young parents wheeling their prams along the Lane.

In any case, at least I have several nice pubs to pretend I'm still a skint student in. The most recently opened is The Draft House, fourth of its kind, which I was recently invited to for a burger and a beer.

Bedecked in its signature green furniture, I was amused to hear they'd used parcel paper for the wallpaper. 'Foot-long' pork scratchings are so before they're cooked; once puffed up and ready for munching, they're served poking out of a glass. Salty and with the right amount of squidge underneath the skin, these were a great little nibble.

The Draft House have their own take on the current on-trend soft-yolked scotch egg. Served with a curried mayonnaise, the meat around the egg is gently spiced with a little sweetness. A big beast, I managed 3/4 before I got scared I wouldn't be able to finish my burger. If I liked beer more - sorry, it's true - this would make a great Sunday afternoon snack with a pint. As it happens, it goes well with cider too.

The menu is split into 3 burgers, with a few other salad / pasta mains. I went for The Poke; a burger with chillis, cheese and battered onion rings within. Requested medium, the burger was a bit overdone but the chillis had a proper kick. I squished the thinly battered onions into the cheese and patty for easy eating, and the salad came on the side so that you could construct your own. Besides the over-cooking issues, it was a decent burger in a sweet, sesame bun. Chips were thin and crisp - my favourite - and skin-on.

With its wide selection of craft beers, The Draft House looks welcome to the scene; on a Wednesday night it was pleasantly busy, and not just with crusty-bearded beer nerds (I know, I know, beer is cool now). Now all I have to do is start loving beer and then The Draft House and I would be inseparable. 

The Draft House

21 Lordship Lane,
London SE22 8EW

Monday, 19 March 2012

Lucky Chip at The Sebright Arms

With London's burger scene ever growing, Lucky Chip met with rave reviews and comparisons with Meat Liquor's burgers. Both styled from the same American-diner style stable, Lucky Chip's burger menu includes more leftfield options like the Jeff Bridges' True Grit burger (bacon, bourbon glazed apple, bbq sauce, grits etc), as well as the Tom Selleck and the Kelly LeBrock. I heard rumours of Bill Murray's Life Aquatic surf and turf burger, combining beef with soft shell crab within one bun. Wowzer.

One Friday evening, I weaved my way around the back streets of Bethnal Green to The Sebright Arms to meet four friends. Lucy Chip is usually at Netil Market during the day and at evening this pub serves their burgers. A regular old boozer, we arrived at 7pm and the place already had a buzz about it. By the time we left at around 10pm it was packed to the rafters and I had to shimmy my way around people to make my way out. No queue though.

I went for the Kevin Bacon (a bacon cheeseburger), while my friends opted for the Kelly LeBrock; a beef patty sat on spinach leaves and topped with cream cheese, caramelised onions and bacon. A little mix up with the waitress whereby she almost gave me my burger but then changed her mind and then I had to wrestle it off her, dislodging the bun lid and having her slapping it back on bare-handed almost detracted from the experience, but then one bite of the burger and it was all forgotten. The meat was juicy and well seasoned - crucial for a burger, I feel - and the bacon crisp and fatty. The bun was a shiny one, holding its' shape well and not distracting from the contents.

Star of the show were the chilli cheese fries (above, shit photo). The fries were properly potatoey and topped with chilli that had a real kick and had us reaching for tissues to stem the sniffling. Their menu lists fries served with free truffle oil which we had a portion of, but I much preferred them when dunked in a the pot of properly spicy wasabi mayo.

I saw a couple of their hot dogs go past which looked excellent so I'll be sure to be trying them next time. We came away having spent about a tenner each (on food, the booze was a different story), satisfied and happy.

31 - 35 Coate Street
London E2 9AG

Lucky Chip on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Heron - Fire in the Depths of London

One of my most distinct memories as a child was sitting in a beach hut on the island of Bohol, in the Philippines, slurping on a sour, broth-like soup. I came across what I thought was a green bean and carried on merrily munching away. There it was. That initial tingle that tells you its a chilli, the panic rising in your throat, and then the full force, lighting your very saliva into flames, rendering you speechless and spluttering. Or, like me, running around the restaurant screaming, much to the amusement of the restaurant staff. My dad, quite the chilli nut himself, scoffed and had a taste of the spat-out offender. He went a deep shade of crimson.

It was tonight in the brightly lit, garishly furnished basement of The Heron, an old man's pub near Paddington, that a dish consisting of minced duck (laab ped, opening photo) that almost did took me back to being 6 again. I managed to hold it together though and instead became light-headed and giddy, gently panicking within and sucking the air through gritted teeth like a woman in labour.

The Heron is like no other Thai restaurant I've experienced in London. It's situated opposite a ropey-looking estate, and upstairs serves an English menu of Thai food, while the basement has an entirely different menu only in Thai. Large plasma screens adorn the walls for their customers to do some karaoke pre, mid or after their meal. While eating if I'd shut my eyes it would've taken me right back to Bangkok street stalls; none of this dumbed-down guff that other London restaurants peddle.

Luckily for us, The Skinny Bib has been kind enough to translate the menu in full, though when we were there our lovely waitress was more than happy to take us through the menu. I went for things you don't often see in other Thai restaurants so with that caveat this is what we had.

Cashew nut salad, while we waited for our tardy friend. Tossed together and eaten with a spoon, I made sure to avoid the red birds eye chillis. They are mothers. It was still spicy, and tiny little pieces of lime were chopped with it to flavour every mouthful.

This was a special of the day, from the board in the restaurant. Pork hock tom yum soup; served bubbling in a pot, this was intensely flavoured with lemongrass and was pleasingly tangy. Wibbly wobbly bits of pork lent great depth to it.

Yum pla duk fuu - dry catfish salad. The catfish was almost dehydrated to a floss and once doused with the sweet-spicy-sour sauce it made a great mouthful to have a long chew on with celery leaves adding freshness.

Kaeng som goong cha om tod kai - orange curry with prawns and cha om omelette. This came out with squares of omelette made with cha om, a medicinal, slightly astringent-tasting herb inside. I've never had orange curry and it was thin and soup like, no coconut milk and was surprisingly mild and sweet.

Kai yiew mar kra pow krob - minced pork and century egg. This was one of my favourites; the black, gooey egg quarters were fried so that they had a crispy coating. Minced pork on top with stir-fried basil leaves were doused in a sweet sauce. One of only three mild dishes of the evening, this went really well with rice.

Som tam Thai + poo (stop sniggering at the back) - Papaya salad with peanuts and salted crab. The shredded green papaya is pounded with lime juice, chillis and peanuts. Salted crab is pounded with it for seasoning and a mild fishy flavour. This was fiery, as I'm accustomed to.

Tam taeng poo + pla rah - cucumber salad with fermented fish essence. I ordered a dish at Nahm in Bangkok which contained fermented fish and it was so funky I could barely even look at it. I'm pleased to report this was not in the same league and was actually cooling to our fiery tongues.

Yum nhaam - Northern sour sausage salad. The sausage was slightly lost in amongst the big flavours of the lime, chilli and red onion. I was beginning to wonder if perhaps we had ordered one too many salads.

Another special of the day, clams stir-fried in a soy-like sauce. These sweet little grit-free clams were a welcome respite to our heat-blasted faces and were extremely moreish, the sweet caramel flavours melding and not masking the seafood well. Finally, stir-fried broccoli with salted fish (kar nar pla kem). Cooked till tender but crunchy, another soothing, cooling dish.

The 5 of us have pretty strong constitutions and one by one, we were all hit slowly but surely with the chilli blindness. We went down like dominoes at the table; firstly, a hush would descend over that person, beads of sweat popping out. Breathing more laboured, hands would then flap to motion more beers toward them. But strangely you don't stop eating. Like an addiction, you just keep shovelling it in, perhaps more wary of rogue chillis hidden in your pile. It recedes eventually. But its not just about the spiciness; the flavours of each dish were pronounced and well balanced. Herbs used shone though the fire, complementing the meat or fish perfectly.

More than one of us wondered how many other of our friends would have been able to cope (the answer is none, I suspect) but they do ask you how hot you would like your meal and we enthusiastically replied "pretend we're proper Thais!" so you have some control over it.

4 boys and 1 girl stuffed themselves silly on the above with steamed rice, sticky rice and fire-extinguishing beers for £36 a head, with tip. We all wished each other luck and headed off home.

The Heron

Norfolk Crescent
London W2 2DN
020 7724 8463 (We didn't bother booking but by 8pm on a Wednesday it was packed, mainly full of young Thais.)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The New Cross House


Inside - very Capital Pubs-esque

Buttermilk fried chicken


Enormous pizza oven


Beer garden

Inside at the outside beer garden...

Upstairs of the beer garden

Capital Pubs have done it again; in what seems like yesterday since the Meateasy closed, they've transformed the desperately grimy Goldsmith's Tavern into a sleek new outfit. In our sneak preview, we saw that wallpaper to mimic original tiling decorate the walls. Booth seating, seen in many Capital Pubs, line one side of the pub and an enormous pizza oven sizzles thin-based pizzas that I know I'll be stuffing myself with in the future.

But perhaps the best bit (especially for a dirty smoker like me) is outside; plenty of seating on the patio decking and a wood burner to keep people warm. Upstairs in the mezzanine is like being on holiday; ivy frames the window frames and sun spills onto the wooden frames.

Time will tell what the atmosphere will be like; predominantly student-heavy, from nearby Goldsmiths? Yummy mummy Brockleyites? Local young professionals, like me and my friends? An amalgamation, I imagine.

Opens MONDAY 9th MAY 2011.

New Cross House

316 New Cross Road,
New Cross,
SE14 6A

Deptford Dame reports here.

Brockley Central reports here.