Restaurant Review: A Seasonal British Dinner @ Home SW15, Putney

A few new places have popped up in Putney over the last six months or so, and this is the one I was most excited about. Home SW15 boasts a welcoming atmosphere, modern interiors and yummy seasonal food – sounded like a winner in my books!

And seasonal it certainly is! We actually visited a while back in January, so as a result the menu has completely updated leaving me to guess what we actually had. Whoops…

We started with cocktails, and this is where Home SW15 is really exciting. The front of their restaurant is more of a drinking lounge, with a decent cocktail menu – added to which they also do some interesting seasonal cocktails. As I type the ones on the menu feature rhubarb, but when we visited? Parsnip cocktails. That’s not a typo. I went for a sweet one involving white chocolate and aniseed flavours, W’s was fruitier and sharper – both delicious.

On to starters – around the table we had mackerel served with beetroot (which went down well), then W had a bruschetta with goat’s cheese and red onion which was much more than the sum of it’s parts. I went down the heavier route, choosing a game sausage roll with quince ketchup. It was meaty, it was flavourful, the ketchups sharpness offsetting the richness of the game and the buttery pastry. Definitely a winner.

The mains were a bit of a mixed bag. The Confit Potato with Mushrooms was found to be a bit over-heavy, and W thought his Guinea Fowl was lacking a sauce (though it was very well cooked, and the lentils nicely flavoured – a sauce would have made it perfect). I had some of the sharing dish – a whole Treacle Glazed Ham Hock, served with mash and cabbage.

This was delightful. The meat was fall-apart tender, with fattier bits and crispier bits, and a lovely sweetness coming from the glaze. The mashed potato was impossibly buttery – so smooth and creamy that I could have bathed in it. The cabbage was well cooked, nicely seasoned, and burnt a little to add an extra dimension. If it hadn’t have been such a rich dish I could (and would!) have carried on eating it for hours.

Puddings were all good. The Brioche Doughnut with Banana Cream went down very well, and my Chocolate & Hazelnut Mousse with Salted Caramel was delightful. Full of chocolate flavour, with a hint of Nutella-ness about it, crunch from whole nuts and a really salty caramel to offset the sweetness, it was the perfect end to a lovely meal.

As an additional note, the night before we visited they’d actually suffered a break-in, yet the staff were in remarkable spirits. Cheerful and welcoming despite what must have been a horrific day. By far the friendliest staff I’ve experienced in a while!

With Home SW15 only being up the road from me, I really have no excuse as to why I don’t visit very often. I need to try their brunch menu asap!

Where’s the best seasonal menu you’ve eaten?

Review: Mandira, Covent Garden (London’s 1st Fresh Yoghurt Bar)

Billed as ‘London’s first fresh yoghurt bar’ Mandira is a small, fairly-Instagrammable place just off Covent Garden. Admittedly the concept of ‘yoghurt bar’ confused me and, quite frankly, scared W when I told him where we were headed for lunch. As Time Out say, it’s a slightly bizarre concept!

The USP of Mandira is their pots of natural yogurt with various sweet and savoury toppings, but there’s also soups, Turkish Simit bread (similar to a bagel, but slightly flatter, lighter and topped with plenty of sesame seeds), vegetable latkes, smoothies (the cacao and orange one sounds divine) and authentic Turkish hot drinks. Everything is prepped daily and then assembled to order, keeping it as fresh as possible, but also (perhaps more importantly) keeping the yoghurt toppings crunchy.  Recently, Mandira has added something new to their menu – it’s what I was asked to review, and as it’s my current obsession I couldn’t say no!

Turkish Eggs are my go-to breakfast, brunch and/or lunch option right now. Full of protein, light, ready in ten minutes and super easy, there’s not a single reason to go for anything else. Perfectly poached eggs, on a bed of thick and creamy yoghurt, drizzled with melted chilli butter and served with plenty of bread. Now, I have to say that whilst I *love* the dish, Mandira’s version wasn’t quite to my taste.

The eggs were poached to perfect, the yoghurt was gorgeously thick and creamy. However the yoghurt was cold, and the chilli butter was in fact olive oil, then a shake of dried chillis and paprika. It all led to the dish being served up luke-warm and getting cold quite quickly – and cold poached eggs are not exactly appetising. It’s definitely got promise though, heat the yoghurt and they’d have a winning dish. Especially with some toasted Simit dippers – I’ll definitely be trying to make these by adapting my bagel recipe!

W went for one of their Simits – with Turkish Style Cured Beef, Butter and Kaseri Cheese. This was delicious. Filled with mild and creamy cheese, and plenty of the tasty and lightly spiced beef (similar to pastrami) I did have a bit of food envy! Mainly as it was so cold and this was properly hot and warming…

We were also given a selection of their yoghurt pots (in miniature, so we didn’t have to roll ourselves out!) to try. We picked three savoury and three sweet flavours and got stuck in!

Out of our savoury picks, the Hummus + Za’atar (Hummus + Chickpeas + Toasted Pine Nuts + Parsley + Za’atar + Sumac + E.V. Olive Oil) was our least favourite, as it felt a little underseasoned. The other two were gorgeous though.  Smoked Salmon and Dill (Forman’s Smoked Salmon + Dill + Lemon Juice + E.V. Olive Oil) was generous on the salmon, perfectly seasoned with black pepper and dill, and the whole combination went perfectly with the yoghurt. I can imagine a pot of this and some Simit dippers would make a perfect lunch! The Cauliflower and Green Tahnini with Barley Rusk was also very good. The green sauce was intensely flavoured, the cauli tender and the rusk added a good crunch. A tad garlicky if you were popping out of the office for a quick lunch, but as we shared it wasn’t too much of an issue!

The sweet ones were also good. Sweet enough to round off the meal, without being cloying or leaving us in a food coma. My favourite was the Banana and Hazelnut, which came drizzled with Maple Syrup. There was just enough banana and crunchiness to remind me of a banoffee pie, definitely not a bad thing! W really enjoyed the Quince Compote with Granola. The first time we had eaten a fresh quince (rather than in a jam or chutney with cheese) it was really quite delicious. The Dark Chocolate & Orange was slightly disappointing, though absolutely delicious if you got a good spoonful of everything as the mint leaves made all the difference.

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Whilst our meal wasn’t faultless, I know I’ll definitely be back. Whether it’s to sip a Turkish tea, grab a toasted Simit or a pot of yoghurt and salmon (I imagine it would be wonderful on a hot summer’s day – though that feels a long way away after the weather this week!), I’m glad Mandira is now on my radar!

*We were invited to review Mandira for lunch, but all opinions are mine (and my fiances!). 

Would you go for a sweet or savoury yoghurt pot?

Review: Posh Pizza at Hai Cenato, Victoria

These monthly pizza reviews could become a bit of a ‘thing’ here – I certainly enjoy writing them at any rate. Any excuse to eat cheesy carbs…

Today’s review is perhaps a little overdue, given that it was another place I visited on my birthday (basically, the day it’s completely acceptable to eat alllll the food). Especially since the pizza was so damn good and, actually, I’d been thinking about it ever since.

Hai Cenato, Jason Atherton’s New York-Italian restaurant and cocktail bar in Victoria, has been on my radar for a while. We met the main man at Pollen Street Social back in April last year, and *really* enjoyed the food there, so I was intrigued to try his take on pizza. With a decent selection of white pizzas I’m only surprised it took me so long to visit!

My beautiful friend ordered the Margherita – with San Marzano tomato, London mozzarella, basil & parmesan. Obviously I didn’t try any, but it both looked and smelt delicious, and it all got eaten so it must’ve been tasty!

And if my pizza was anything to go by, it was certainly tasty. I ordered a pizza with the description “mozzarella, guanciale, egg yolk, black pepper, confit potato.” I mean, egg yolk on a pizza?! How could I resist?! Guanciale turned out to be Italian cured pig cheek, so vegetarians perhaps should be a little wary when ordering, but I have to say it was delicious. A world away from the last potato pizza I tried at Mother LDN, both lighter and more indulgent at the same time. There was just enough potato to be substantial without making me need a nap, the egg yolk was rich and added creaminess and the base was cooked to perfection. I’d put this in my top five pizzas of all time – though the order of which I’m not sure I could commit to paper/a screen.

As for the atmosphere, this seems to have been plagued with criticism in online reviews. I have to say I really enjoyed it. Service was friendly (plus they bought me a complimentary ice-cream with a candle in as I’d mentioned it was my birthday!), the music buzzy without being overly loud. The toilets were also insanely pretty, to the point I regretted not taking my phone so I could Instagram them…

Would I head into Victoria ‘just’ for a pizza again? Yes I would. It’s not going to replace our go-to treat on payday (cheers Dynamo), it’s the perfect date-night spot, and the perfect place to get a ‘special’ pizza. I know I’ll definitely be dragging W there asap!

Have you ever visited Hai Cenato? Where’s your favourite pizza spot?

Review: Brunch at Antipodea, Putney

Having stuck loyally to a certain brunch place in Putney since Summer ’16, my birthday gave me the excuse to branch out a little. Now. there’s absolutely nothing wrong with The Dynamo and it’s probably still my favourite spot (given the fact that it’s significantly closer and also does pizza!) but I kinda fancied something new.

There’s a couple of other places I’ve love to try, but with things to do and places to be we needed somewhere we could book a table and served a decent menu pre-10am. A surprisingly difficult criteria, but Antipodea on the Lower Richmond Road managed to meet it and I’d seen it look cutely decorated with fairy-lights the other month. And so come 9am on the 24th birthday, we were legging it down the road, late for our booking and cursing that it’s a good 25 minutes brisk walk away.

We needn’t have worried about being late – the staff were welcoming and friendly, once they’d stop laughing at the performance I’d made trying to get the folding door open. Shown to a little table tucked in a corner, complete with comfy armchairs, I’d already made up my mind. I liked this place.

Drinks were ordered and arrived swiftly. My Mörk hot chocolate was dark and hearty, without being overly rich. It’s not a hot chocolate for everyone (it’s certainly not thick, sweet or creamy) but I loved it. There was no complaints about the decaf mocha either.

One of the things I love about The Dynamo is their short and sweet brunch menu (though it has now grown and I need to get down there and try some of the new dishes!). Antipodea is the opposite – the brunch menu is HUGE and I deliberated for a good ten minutes between a couple of options. There’s the usual standard breakfast grub, sweet treats and some more unusual items. Turkish Eggs appears to be the new ‘thing’ in London right now and their Instagram suggests these are pretty damn good ones…

In the end, though, I couldn’t resist pancakes. And it was my birthday. Blueberry Pancakes, served with Caramelised Banana, Creme Fraiche and Maple Syrup was exactly the sugar fix I was in the mood for. Perhaps slightly too heavy on the syrup (though better than not having enough!), these pancakes were DELICIOUS. Thick and fluffy, but still decently caramelised on the outside. Not stodgy in the slightest. I could have eaten two platefuls!

W’s breakfast made me wish I wasn’t allergic to tomatoes, though he said he wished it had a bit more of a kick – some more bacon perhaps. Especially as the bacon there was delicious, smoked-in-house and apparently rather yummy. He ordered the Smokey Bacon Boston Beans, which came looking perfectly Instagrammable and with the most delicious sourdough. I’m actually *really* hoping their bread isn’t made in-house as I’d love to be able to buy a loaf for lazy weekend breakfast in beds…

Whilst the food wasn’t anything overly special, it was certainly yummy. But for me it was the atmosphere and service which really made this place. It was relaxed, all the staff had a smile on their face and it just felt comfortable. I wonder if they’ll mind me heading down there for a few hours to study…?!

Where’s your current favourite brunch spot?

Restaurant Review: Mother LDN, Battersea

If you know me, you’ll know I LOVE a good pizza. I mean, what’s not to love?! Yummy filling carbs, hot melted cheese, endless topping combos. Anyone who doesn’t enjoy pizza is highly suspicious if you ask me…

Rather a long time ago now we headed over to try a new pizza joint over in Battersea. The first UK restaurant from the rather trendy Danish chain, it’s set under the train-tracks in what is supposedly an up and coming area. I’m not a fan of the area, finding it bland and soulless, and indeed I’m clearly not the only one – the restaurant was pretty empty for a Friday night.

It could be the rather strange and wacky pizza topping combos putting people off. Sure, there’s the usual Margherita, but there’s also Nick Says It’s Good (mozzarella, cauliflower, green olives, anchovies, capers, chili, pecorino cheese) and David Says It’s Even Better (tomato, mozzarella, spicy spring broccoli and soft salame). Perhaps not a family friendly restaurant, and with a massive bar and drinks offering I get the impression they were hoping to be drawing bigger and more exuberant crowds anyway.

But onto the pizzas.

Out of a choice of 3 (!) tomato-free pizzas, I couldn’t resist the lure of cheesy carbs on carbs and so promptly placed an order for Burning Love. Made up of mozzarella, potatoes, fried onions, and røget spæk this pizza was insanely rich and decadent. In fact, I’m pretty sure this one wins the title of the first pizza I’ve admitted complete defeat over with a quarter still to go. The potatoes are well cooked, just soft enough to add creaminess, but with enough bite to prevent the whole pizza from being soggy. The onions added much needed sweetness. The cheese was plentiful, stringy and tasty. If anything, I’d say the spæk (ham) was almost unnecessary.

The pizza dough is made with saltwater, supposedly resulting in a tastier and healthier base than usual. Whilst I have no idea whether the healthier claim is true, I can say the base was certainly more flavourful that others I’ve tried. However it also had quite an odd texture – noticeably drier (though not crisp) than other sourdough pizzas. A few weeks on and I still can’t decide whether or not I liked it…

W’s pizza (something involving lots of tomatoes and the same spæk) seemed to go down well – it disappeared rather quickly, although like me he was unsure about the base. And it’s all about that base…

There was nothing *wrong* with Mother LDN, nothing at all. But equally it wasn’t as special as I was hoping for. The pizzas weren’t particularly memorable, the atmosphere a little flat, the service slow. Sure, it was tasty (but show me bread, cheese and potatoes thrown together that aren’t tasty!) but I wouldn’t rush back. That said, I have several VERY good pizza places virtually on my doorstep…

Have you visited Mother LDN? Where’s your favourite pizza restaurant?

Restaurant Review: HipChips, Soho

Old Compton Street in Soho seems to host a good handful of restaurants that I *really* want to visit, and HipChips was no exception. I’d heard about it a while back (okayyyy, I’d heard that you could dip potato crisps into peanut butter…) and it had really piqued my interest. Of course this meant when I was offered the chance to review I just could say no!

They use the “best heritage varieties of potatoes, serving them up delicately fried alongside mind-blowing dips.” You can choose sweet or savoury (or a mix – though as they would be served together I’m not overly convinced this is the way to go) with the sweet being sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Then choose your dips and, well, get dipping.

We went for a Large Sweet box, which comes with 6 dips. The crisps themselves certainly looked good, with various different colours. The cinnamon sugar combo was also extremely moreish – despite some of the crisps being more than a little soft.

The dips were also a mixed bag – out of Peanut Butter & Jam, S’mores, Passionfruit, Chocolate & Salted Caramel, Cheesecake and Blackberry & Liquorice there was two clear favourites, and only another two we really ate. I’d skip the Chocolate & Salted Caramel, as the warm caramel split the cold chocolate dip and just made a not particularly pleasant texture. The Cheesecake was also disappointing, bland and too ‘cheesy.’ Not great. Better was the S’mores, though the menu description of ‘gooey marshmallow’ is overselling it when it’s simply chocolate with mini-marshmallows on top. Blowtorch ’em please!

Blackberry & Liquorice was good when eaten with a spoon, not so much on a chip. However the Passionfruit and Peanut Butter with Jam were both winners. Passionfruit was sharp and fruity. Peanut Butter had the perfect salty-sweet kick and the punchy jam just made it better. I’d have been happy with several pots of both!

The savoury dips sounded good, but I felt a bit limited with the tomato-free options and, having devoured a satay chicken at Leon, was in the mood for something sweet. Even so, as I ate I found myself wishing I wasn’t in the (very modern and just a little quirky) restaurant, but rather at home, in my PJs, watching a film. And that’s what sums up my review of HipChips. The food was okay, some bits we ate were great, but as an eat-in concept I’m not 100% sure it works. If only I was in their delivery range!

*I was gifted a voucher for HipChips in exchange for an honest review – and as always all opinions are my own (or my fiances!) 

Would you go sweet or savoury with your chips’n’dips?

Review: Honest Burgers, Covent Garden

I subtly alluded a few weekends ago that I quite like a burger.

 photo Honest Burger_zpsgd83mpms.jpgScratch that, I pretty much shouted from the rooftops about my love for burgers. This year I’ve made it my mission to find my ultimate burger. I’ve got a meat grinder attachment for the KitchenAid to try and make my own. I have an ever-growing list of places to try (and please, please feel free to add your favourite burger to it!). I even, much as I am ashamed to admit it, day-dream about burgers. Please tell me I’m not the only one?!

When we moved to London Honest Burgers was top on my list of places to visit, but despite my office being literally on top of one, it took me until November to visit. Then I went again in December. And again since. It’s taken me until now to pen up a review, and I’m not entirely sure why. Because, quite simply, I could have summed it up with a simple Instagram post and a “Yum” #thumbsup.

 photo Honest Burger Review 1_zpsgeseavtn.jpg(Fun Fact: my flatlay of Honest burgers was my first Instagram photo to smash through 100 likes).

We visited after a few drinks, and before more drinks, with a small-ish group of friends one Saturday night. Despite going to the small Covent Garden branch, we maybe waited 20 minutes for a table (heading off for more drinks whilst we waiting for the all important phone call!) – definitely not the wait we were expecting!

Between us we probably ordered most of the menu. A couple of cheeseburgers, a couple of “plain Jane’s”, a couple of Tributes, a chicken, the special at the time (some with black sesame seeds and kimchi) and my “Honest” burger. Everything comes with chips (a nice surprise!), and we also grabbed a couple of buckets of onion rings to share.

 photo Honest Burger Review 5_zpsn4fklxkd.jpg photo Honest Burger Review 10_zps7nbor936.jpgI always think that if a restaurant names a burger after themselves, it’s got to be a bloody good burger. Byron made that mistake (it was a bit disapointing), but Honest really nailed it. For one, it didn’t contain tomatoes. At all. It’s rare I can enjoy a relish, or even not have to trust them to not put a sneaky tomato slice in, but this was pure tomato-free goodness. A thick meaty patty cooked just right (plenty of oozy pink, but nothing too slime-ily raw about it), seasoned well and actually tasting of beef. Lots of oozy cheese. A good spoonful of onion relish, but not too much it took over. Crisp but not tooth-shatteringly so bacon. A token bit of salad. Some gorgeous lightly picked cucumber – slightly sharp, still crunchy and adding a gorgeous refreshing element. All held together in one of the best brioche burger buns I’ve tried. Despite the juiciness of the patty it held together pretty damn well. I didn’t get it all down my front at least…

 photo Honest Burger Review 3_zps3wha0un7.jpgOther burgers got similar reviews. W had the kimchi special, which I didn’t try (I’m not a fan of kimchi or sauerkraut flavours at all) but it did look and smell good – and disappeared in super-quick time. The chicken burger also looked damn good, even if I never order them. And whilst the cheeseburger did look good, when you can add bacon and relish I’m just not too sure whether I’ll ever order one…

The chips were also a revelation. I’ve become used to disappointing chips, and nothing is worse than a limp fry – but these were stunning. Chunky, almost chip-shop style, but with lots of crispy bits. Drenched in a rosemary salt, they were incredibly moreish and I hoovered up the massive portion size. On my second visit I went after work in my tightest pencil skirt. Bad decision. I forced the chips down and then couldn’t sit down on the tube to get home.

 photo Honest Burger Review 7_zpscwpzqxr3.jpgIn fact, the only dud were the onion rings. And I was super disappointed. One, because I bloody love onion rings (number one place so far has been Burgers & Cocktails, followed rather closely by Ed’s Diner). Two, because I’m heard so many people raving about Honest’s onion rings. Sure, they were reasonably crispy, but the onions inside were watery, and the batter thick and almost doughy. A raw spice taste to them too – despite only two portions between 7 of us, they were the only thing we failed to polish off…

 photo Honest Burger Review 9_zpshsqynyy2.jpgOnion rings aside, Honest Burgers jumped straight to the top of my ‘favourite burger’ list. Excellent meat, good buns, supremely moreish chips. They’ve recently had a ‘Sunday Roast’ burger special with bacon gravy (!) and roast potatoes that I’m desperate to try, and I’m only gutted I didn’t manage to grab one of their Christmas specials. This year, this year.

Have you ever been to Honest Burgers? What did you think? Where’s your top burger in London?

 

Food: The Year of the Burger

Forget Chinese New Year, and the year of the rooster – for me it’s all about the year of the burger.

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 1_zpscaakdr4r.jpgIt’s clear from both my Instagram and previous blog posts that I’m a massive lover of burgers (as well as runny eggs and pretty houses!). I’ve tried burgers than are pretty much steak in a brioche bun. I’ve tried “London’s Best Burger.” I’ve had McDonald’s and other fast food burgers. I’ve had fun toppings, plain Janes and pretty much everything in between. I’ve suffered allergic reactions (thanks Byron for just removing the tomato slice then handing the burger back!), felt too stuffed to move. I’ve eaten more than my fair shame of bad burgers, but equally I’ve eaten some bloody damn good ones!

 photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 5_zpsbhtsdznk.jpg photo Burgers and Cocktails Review Brighton 4_zpsjpvojda6.jpgProbably the most inventive place I’ve been for burger toppings is Burger & Cocktails in Brighton. The burgers themselves were thin patties cooked well-done, but quite flavourful and juicy – and they really let the toppings shine. I went for a mac’n’cheese and bacon combo (carbs on carbs, and adding bacon is never bad), whilst W enjoyed a spicy, oozy, cheesy number. Sides were also excellent, with the onion rings being the best I’ve ever had. And I don’t need to say more than this: alcoholic chocolate orange milkshake.

I’ve also enjoyed GBK, though I was gutted that the Camembert burger seems to have disappeared. Beef patty, Camembert, onions, bacon and shoestring fries allllll inside a bun was pretty much a party in my mouth. I’m not a huge fan of a lot of the other burgers on the menu, though with my new found love of beetroot their signature is now high on my list to try!

 photo Honest Burger Review 1_zpsxg6a81ra.jpg photo Honest Burger Review 9_zpsno3bkbbe.jpgIn terms of the best burger patty, the winner so far has to be Honest burgers. My review is due to go live in a few weeks, but here’s a sneak peek: excellent meaty flavours, well cooked, an soft but robust brioche bun and the BEST chips. I also love that I can pretty much eat everything on the menu as there’s no tomato slices and no cheeky relish lurking. I’m also a big fan of the pickled cucumber…

Five Guys is also close to my heart, though I’m still unsure as to whether it’s worth the rather high price-tag. I do love it for a quick lunch, but at £12+ for a chip-burger-drink combo (I can’t resist the still peach fanta – and it’s double-cheese-and-bacon or go home!) it’s pricey. Unlimited free toppings helps though – my go-to is grilled onions, mustard, mushrooms and lettuce. Yum yum.

 photo Mac amp Wild Restaurant Review 6_zpswsobxllt.jpgOf course, I can’t not mention Mac & Wild. It’s Veni-Moo was voted London’s best burger of 2016, so obviously I HAD to try it. I loved it, but I’m unsure if it’s worthy of it’s title. It was bloody good, with juicy patties, runny cheese, cream Bernaise, pickles, mustard, a decent bun, candied bacon. But it was just too big. It was impossible to eat as a burger, definitely a knife-and-fork job, and even then it had to be eaten element by element. Just not quite there for me, I’m gutted to say. Though I’ve since been back and gorged on venison Chateaubriand. Pricier, but worth it.

But this is the year I try new places, branch out. I have SO many burger places I want to try. Shake Shack has been on my list for what feels like years, and now new branches are popping up I can avoid the huge queues in Covent Garden. As a black pudding lover, Bleecker St is somewhere I NEED to visit asap. With Spitalfields being one of my favourite weekend haunts, I’m not too sure why I’ve not visited yet. Then there’s Patty & Bun, which again seems like somewhere I need to visit. There’s Smashburgers which has opened up in MK and Brighton, a new concept which I’d love to try. And of course, I’m also open to finding the best fried chicken burger too…

So now it’s over to you. Where is the best burger you’ve ever had? Where do you recommend? Don’t just limit it to London, I’m willing to travel for the perfect burger…