Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Dose - the new digs, Long Lane EC1

I have written about Dose before, in fact it was one of my early blog posts and I have not managed to get back there nearly as much as I would have liked.  The fact they have upgraded to larger premises next door to their old site was a good excuse to visit again, so I Boris-biked there with my friend Andy to check out the new look Dose.  One of the things I really love about them is that they serve a "Gibraltar" which is like a pint sized latte - even though the picture to the right looks like a full size glass, this is actually a cute mini-version and was about 6cm high.  Not sure I get the difference between a Gibraltar, a Piccolo, a Cortado and a Stumpy, but I like them all and given the amount of coffee I drink it's nice to cut down on the milk.  We also partook of Dose's delicious food selection - a toasted haloumi, avocado and bacon ciabatta-thing was super tasty.  We also shared a "fully loaded Blondie" which was nice enough but to be honest it tasted a bit too healthy for my liking - I prefer the chewy, dense, definitely not-healthy Lantana blondie (SO good).  Anyway - nice to see that Dose is thriving and expanding - it is a really great cafe serving top notch coffee (using Square Mile beans) and decent nosh.  I love the Smithfields area (and will be blogging more about some of my favourite bits over the coming weeks) and having Dose there makes me love it even more.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cay Tre - Dean St W1

I finally got to Cay Tre last week for lunch and came out of there a very happy man.  I also stank of garlic for the next 3 days, but it was worth it I tell you (the other half may not agree...)  Although I have not been to the original restaurant in Kingsland Road, I had read glowing reports from Greedy Diva so I knew I was in a for a treat.  I can't remember what was on this site before but the fit out is lovely and my colleagues and I were greeted with lots of smiles when we came in.  We shared starters and they were an indication of the deliciousness to come.  Fresh, herby, wonderful summer rolls were stuffed with juicy prawns and were a delight.  The Cha La Lot was probably my favourite dish of the day - spicy ground pork wrapped in wild betel leaves with roasted peanuts and nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce).  These little parcels of joy were so moreish, I could have finished off the whole plate myself (and definitely took more than my share).  Choosing a main was tricky but I think I hit on a winner - I went the Bun Sa vermicelli bowl - wonderful noodles with herbs and Vietnamese salad, flavoured with nuoc cham and chock full of juicy wild red sea prawns.  This was a bowl of pure happiness and I slurped, munched and generally chowed my way through it in record time.  I can't wait to go back to Cay Tre and work my way through the menu - I just wish they did a bahn-mi take away service, then my happiness would know no bounds!

Cay Tre Soho on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Fourth Plinth - Trafalgar Square WC2

The Fourth Plinth is one of my favourite London landmarks.  Taking advantage of a 19th century funding crisis that left the plinth vacant, it became home to temporary artworks in the late 90s before a formal commisoning procedure was put in place around 2005.  For those of you who lived or visited London back then, you are bound to remember the confronting Marc Quinn statue of Alison Lapper - people couldn't decide if they were shocked because she suffered from thalidomide, because she was naked or because she was pregnant, or perhaps all three.  Personally I really liked it and my love for the fourth plinth project began back  then.  The current resident is a really cool giant ship in a bottle by Yinka Shonibare and the 2012 and 2013 winners have just been announced.  The Anthony Gormley project for the fourth plinth involved inviting members of the public to basically do whatever they liked on top of it, which was also kinda cool.  I love Trafalgar Square - I love Nelson's Column, I love the lions, I love the grandeur of the National Gallery and St Martin's in the Fields and I love the view down Whitehall to Big Ben - and for me the fourth plinth is a wonderful and quirky reason to love it even more.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Nude Espresso - Soho Square W1

Hurrah - Nude Espresso has opened a new branch in Soho Square.  These guys roast their own (excellent) beans and turn out top notch caffeinated beverages.  My flat white this morning was so good it actually brought tears to my eyes (OK I am being a tad over-dramatic, as is my wont, but it was bloody good).  I only made it over to their Spitalfields cafe once and loved it and also loved their pop-up collaboration with Rapha in Clerkenwell last year so I am super excited about having a Nude branch right on my doorstep.  Although it does present me with a dilemma - I already feel guilty that I have pretty much forsaken my beloved Milk Bar for Tapped & Packed over the last 6 months (given I work on the north side of Oxford St it's just easier to go to Rathbone Place than Bateman St...) but now I will have Nude to hijack me when I am heading through Soho Square.  As I write this though, I realise how wrong this is so let me use this blog to make a pledge, that I will endeavour to make at least one visit to Milk Bar per fortnight.  Anyway not sure how this entry about Nude became a way for me to assuage my guilt at abandoning Milk Bar... Back to Nude Espresso - situated in the "forgotten corner" of Soho Square the cafe has the familiar stripped back, banquette, wooden seated decor that instantly makes me want to mainline coffee and hoover up cakes.  Speaking of cakes I was persuaded to have a rather gorgeous orange friand-y thing this morning.  Everything on offer looked good - it says something about my psyche that whilst I mentally rejected an amazing looking brownie as being unhealthy, I rationalised having the cake because it contained orange and had a raspberry perched on top.  Anyway this is a lovely little cafe on one of my favourite London squares, serving amazing coffee and delicious cakes.  Plus they're open all weekend - life is good people, get excited!