cosmopolondon

native night/day work/play

Category: Dinner

Village East

Time for another Bermondsey Street special – there are so many good restaurants to be found on this little street near London Bridge. No doubt the area will change once the redevelopment of London Bridge station has finished, so get down there while you can before more people discover it!

img_6821

Village East is at the far end of Bermondsey Street – it’s a deceptively large restaurant with a busy bar area, with a buzzing vibe. I’ve eaten here several times over the past couple of years, and whilst it’s a bit pricey I haven’t been disappointed. They used to have an incredible soft shell crab burger on the menu but that’s been gone for a while – please bring it back! It was great!

img_6819

Fried chicken and waffle stack with red cabbage slaw

The menu seems to be largely American-inspired, with some quirky dishes thrown in. The steaks and meat burgers are a reliable choice, but nothing special. I’m not usually one to recommend a salad, but here the salads are hearty, fresh and filling. The superfood and herb salad, with added grilled chicken, always hits the spot.

img_6820

Superfood and herb salad – bulgur wheat, alfafa sprouts, bull’s blood lettuce, broccoli, butternut squash, red cabbage, pumpkin seeds with added chermoula chicken

If you’re looking for somewhere with good food, good atmosphere and an extensive alcohol offering, you can’t really go wrong with Village East.

Mamma Dough

“Proper” pizza is all over London. From Pizza Pilgrims to Franco Manca, there are numerous claims to the best pizza this side of Italy. I think when it comes to pizza, it all hinges on your personal preference. What is your favoured ratio of cheese to tomato? How innovative should the toppings be? And, importantly, how thick and fluffy is the dough?

img_8808

My preferences are for as thin and crisp a base as possible, with more tomato than cheese. I honed in on this when in Naples, and now I’m convinced this is the authentic Italian way and won’t be told otherwise. Thus, my pick for the best pizza in London is Mamma Dough. It also happens to be extremely close to my flat – the best pizza in London in walking distance? It’s just meant to be.

img_8806

Mamma Dough Honor Oak

Not a pineapple in sight, the Honor Oak branch of Mamma Dough is a stone’s throw from the station in what looks like an old bank – big windows, cavernous ceilings, columns. The menu is small and, importantly, cheap. Pizza shouldn’t be expensive – it’s simple to make and source.

img_8809

Mamma Dough’s buffalo magherita

My go to is the buffalo margherita – I like to keep it uncomplicated – but I’ve sampled a slice of the devil, the john o’goat and the beatrice, and they were all extremely tasty too.

img_8810

The devil

The sourdough base is so light and crisp – absolutely perfect for me – and you won’t feel at all bloated or heavy afterwards. Which is exactly how pizza should be. No food comas here. Keep an eye out for the specials board, including the guest wines. I’m no doubt about to become a regular.

Eat Tokyo

London is awash with culinary variety – name any cuisine, and you can have it. Name any mash up of flavours and originations, and you’ll find it. Sometimes, that makes it hard to find something pure, traditional and simple. Something that sticks to the tried and tested basics, and is all the better for it.

There are so many sushi restaurants in London, not to mention the takeaway outlets that have made sushi so accessible. But, I’d heard the best sushi in the city can be found at Eat Tokyo. They have several restaurants across London, including in Soho, Covent Garden and Notting Hill. You’ll be lucky to get a table at these (although according to the website you can make reservations).

img_8346

Tuna and salmon sashimi, with a side of tofu miso soup

We opted for the quieter Holborn restaurant – it has a tiny shop front, and a winding staircase at the rear leading to an upper level with several tables packed in. We were sat in a little raised, semi-private alcove, and presented with an overwhelming menu. I was half tempted to let my instincts run wild and could have easily ordered seven or eight dishes. This would have been mistake – the portions are very generous, and you don’t want to spoil this experience by eating too much.

img_8345

Mixed tuna maki

So instead, I went for some old favourites – mixed sashimi, and tuna maki rolls. Both came exquisitely presented; the sashimi was a kaleidoscope on a bed of perfect sushi rice. The fish itself was delicate and delicious. I wholeheartedly agree with those who have recommended Eat Tokyo to me: if you want simple, uncomplicated sushi, this is the place to come.

Morada Brindisa 

img_7292

I’ve long admired and enjoyed Brindisa tapas – the endlessly busy tapas bar in Borough Market is most definitely worth the wait. So I was delighted to find out they were opening a more formal restaurant in Soho. This place seems somewhat undiscovered – I went on a Friday evening but it wasn’t too busy, but I can’t imagine it will stay that way for long.

img_7296

Tortilla de patatas, crispy fried squid

The menu here is a bit different to the tapas bar, with a few larger plates as well as the to-die-for tapas. We went for a whole mix of tapas, including the tortilla, the seasonal asparagus, crispy fried squid, lamb chimichurri skewers, and the grilled chorizo on toast.

Grilled chorizo on toast; seasonal asparagus with duck egg, mushrooms and manchego

The standout choice for me was the lamb skewers – I’ll definitely be going for the skewers trio next time. It’s a very chilled atmosphere, and somewhat on the pricey side for tapas, but you’re undoubtedly paying for the quality and the flavours. Still hands down the best tapas I’ve had in London.

Hawksmoor

img_7204

I’ve said before that (in culinary terms) there’s little that pleases me more than a good steak. And recently in London, the words “good steak” have been synonymous with Hawksmoor. It began in Spitalfields, and now has several branches across London. My family went to the Air Street (Piccadilly) restaurant, which has an art deco air. I was tremendously excited!

img_7207

Potted smoked mackerel

To start, I had the potted smoked mackerel, which came with a side of melba toast and dressed cucumber. I think my brother won though, having the potted beef and bacon which is served with two enormous yorkshire puddings. Don’t know how you could have room for a steak after that! Our party also sampled the beetroot and hazelnut salad (which didn’t have enough nuts, so Mum asked for more!) and the Brixham crab on toast.

img_7277

Excellent fillet steak, with creamed spinach and salad

You can’t come to Hawksmoor and not have steak. Well, actually, you can. There’s also a bountiful seafood selection. But we all had the steak. Obviously. You can share a large cut (see the blackboard or ask your helpful hipster waiter for details of what cuts in what weights the restaurant has available that day). I went for the 300g fillet, and it was heaven. Teamed with creamed spinach – the best I’ve had – and lettuce & herb salad. We also had some of the beef dripping fries (thin!) and triple cooked chips (thick!) for the table.

img_7279

Ricotta cheesecake with Haygrove cherries

You’d think after all that food you might not have room for dessert. But you do… my goodness you must! The winner is the ricotta cheesecake for the berry explosion that accompanies it.

It’s only been a few weeks and I’m dying to go back. Not cheap, mind, so probably best kept for special occasions!

img_7206

The Modern Pantry

img_7183

Nestled on a quiet square in Clerkenwell, a short walk from Farringdon station, is the Modern Pantry. In the summer tables spill out of this old townhouse, and inside there are 3 levels to the restaurant (and the toilets are right at the top!). The ground floor has a bright, relaxed cafe vibe with a long sharing table in the centre; the first floor plays host to a similarly daubed restaurant along with some private dining rooms, and the second floor has more elaborate private dining rooms offer.

img_7190

I’ve been to the Modern Pantry twice for brunch, and it’s truly excellent. The baked eggs are exceptional, but I’m a sucker for the eggs-as-you-like and halloumi. I also have it on good authority they do a wonderful bottomless brunch at the weekends… so consider this review a “to be continued” because that definitely warrants a fourth visit!

img_7186

White crab, macadamia nut som tam, sourdough toast, pickled sea plantain and parsnip crisps

My third visit (and when I actually remembered to take pictures) was for dinner. The dinner menu is just as interesting as the brunch menu, and the portions equally generous. The chefs clearly favour eclectic ingredients – there were plenty of things on the menu that captured my curiosity. To start, I went for the white crab on toast with sea plantain. I think this dish is an acquired taste, and I’m not sure I would order it again, but I did enjoy it. If you’re not feeling adventurous, the smoked burrata salad looked a much safer bet.

img_7189

Tamarind & miso marinated onglet steak, shallot puree, sea beats, lemongrass braised cherry tomatoes; Persian spice, yougurt & garlic marinated lamb chops, jerusalem artichoke puree, radish, broad bean and parchment bread salad, spiced pommes Anna, goats cheese cream; on the side, cassava chips with creme fraiche and tomato salsa

For mains, I went for onglet steak which was melt in your mouth delicious, and perfectly paired with seat beats and lemongrass braised cherry tomatoes. My dining companion had a marinated lamb dish, and this was just as tasty. And I can’t stress how generous the portions are – you won’t need dessert. Which is actually a shame because the desserts look equally delectable.

Without a doubt one of my favourite restaurants in London, not to be missed.

Casse Croute

Time for another Bermondsey Street special – there really are so many fantastic finds on this little road, it’s worth the venture from London Bridge/Borough. Once the new London Bridge Station is finished I imagine it will be even easier to access. If you work in the area, definitely pop along at lunch time for a change of scene.

img_7168

Casse Croute is a teeny tiny French restaurant with between 10 and 15 tables. Step inside and you are transported to a Parisian backstreet. The menu changes daily (check out their Twitter feed for the day’s offering) but frequently offers some French classics. There are three starters, three mains and three desserts to choose from. Don’t bother if you’re vegetarian though…

img_7172

Oeuf cocotte, girolles

I started with mushrooms and eggs in a kind of veloute. I’m not really sure how else to describe it – those with more culinary wisdom than me will no doubt glance at the picture and instantly recognise what must be a French delicacy! The mushrooms were really tasty but I’m not sure I’d order this again; I reckon it’s a one-off special. My dining companions had the other two dishes on offer that day – snails, and clams – all of which received rave reviews.

img_7171

Feuillete d’escargots a l’Aneth

For main course I went for the French twist on a beef wellington (with yet more mushrooms) and classic French beans. There wasn’t too much pastry, but that’s a good thing because it meant the main focus of the dish was on the delectable beef. The table also had the salted cod fish pie, which was enormous but looked and smelled delicious.

img_7173

Boeuf en Croute, haricots verts

img_7174

Brandade

We didn’t have room for dessert, but we did try some of the lovely wine and champagne. So, the basic message is: don’t come here if you want loads of choice, do come here if you want amazing French food. A voila!

Yauatcha

Yauatcha is an international outfit with restaurants in London, India and the USA. Comprised of a cocktail bar, patisserie and dim sum restaurant, if you’re not looking for the Soho branch you could be forgiven for missing it – unless you happen to notice to delectable macarons and chocolates in the display case, that is!

img_7163

Inside, there’s a multitude of hosts waiting to greet you and take you to your table. The tables and chairs are surprisingly low. The interior is crisp and clean, and there’s a giant fishtank along one wall filled with tropical fish. There’s also more tables in the basement which is a darker, more glamourous affair than the ground floor.

I met a friend at Yauatcha Soho for an early dinner before heading onto the cinema. We started off with cocktails: mine was the non-alcoholic Tokyo Cooler which was super light and refreshing, and my companion went for the bellini which was bright pink and topped with raspberries.

Venison puffs; wild mushroom dumplings

If you’re going for dim sum, I’d recommend getting 5 plates between you and see how you go. There’s 3 or 4 pieces of dim sum on each dish. We went for the wild mushroom dumplings, chicken cheung fung, chicken shanghai dumplings, the venison puffs and roasted duck and pumpkin puffs.

img_7162

Roasted duck pumpkin puff with pinenut

My favourites were definitely the venison puffs (an absolutely MUST HAVE) and the roasted duck and pinenut puffs (they look like cute little pumpkins!). Next time, I will definitely be sure to try some of the seafood dumplings as well. We finished off with a couple of macarons (lavender and praline) and chocolates. Yauatcha also have a branch in the City – I could certainly go for some late night dim sum after a hard day’s work!

The Sail Loft

Bank holidays are made for brunch and booze. For the late May Bank Holiday, I swapped brunch for tennis but couldn’t miss out on the booze, setting up shop in the Sail Loft.

img_6861

The Sail Loft is a pub that has recently been renovated on the Greenwich riverfront. From Cutty Sark station, walk towards the river and once on the promenade, turn left and you’ll find this glassy, modern pub perched only 5 minutes walk away.

The Sail Loft has a nautical theme (pretty much a requirement in Greenwich!) and a beautiful decking area which on a sunny day will be a stunning place to savour a nice cold glass of wine.

img_6856

The pub has two floors – the upper deck is mainly geared up for eating, but the lower level is more relaxed with high tables and big booth tables (but you can order food here too).

img_6857

Smoked duck, roquefort, poached pear, walnuts and watercress salad, with a side of polenta

The menu is more sophisticated than your average pub, but still offers some club classics like fish and chips and burgers. I wasn’t feeling too hungry, so went for the smoked duck salad with a side of polenta. All of my friends went for the burgers, and which were highly praised.

img_6858

Crispy buttermilk chicken burger, asian slaw, chips and cumin ketchup

We were treated to an absolutely incredible sunset that night which cast pink, purple and orange hues over the City in the distant West. I’ll definitely be returning here in the summer!

img_6859

Bring me that horizon…

Flat Iron

When you/your friends are on a no carb no sugar diet, there’s really only one thing for it. A big juicy steak. Sorry to all the vegetarians out there, but during lent I sure missed good steak – perfectly pink in the middle with not too much fat.

img_6826

Steak… voila

Flat Iron is all about the steak, and for the standard price of ¬£10 you get a very generous cut of meat cooked to your preference. I can’t think of anywhere else in London that does such good steak at such a reasonable price.

The sides change with the season – we went for asparagus and aubergine baked in tomato, both of which were extremely good. All the sides, and all the wines for that matter, are chosen to go with steak so you really can’t go wrong here. I didn’t bother taking pictures of those though, because it’s all about the steak.

img_6823

We went to the Denmark Street restaurant, and arrived just after 18.30 in the hope we wouldn’t have to wait too long. Despite it being a Tuesday night, we were very wrong and told there was an hour and a half wait for a table. We shrugged this off and washed down the wait with some wine at a bar around the corner. It’s worth the wait (although note that you can’t put your name down unless your whole party is present).

img_6825