Friday, 31 August 2012

Ceviche - Frith St W1

I was (as I often am these days) late to the party with Ceviche but had been aware of the buzz and was really keen to check it out.  Another common failing of mine (wow I'm really beating myself up this post) is going somewhere I plan to blog about and then leaving it so long that I have forgotten what I ate and what I wanted to say about it.  That is the case with Ceviche but luckily I took some good photos and also I

 liked it so much that the glow is still with me.  It was a fun lunch, with my friends Lucas and Kylie, so even though it was mid week
 we got stuck in to the Pisco Sours, which were mighty fine.  We ordered a selection of food to share - lots of ceviche of course (sea bass, salmon and scallops) plus a funky beetroot salad and even some beef heart (which was super tasty).  It was all really good - the ceviche was amazing and everything looked so beautiful.  I haven't been to Peru so can't comment on the authenticity but whatever they're doing at Ceviche they are
 doing it really well.  Service was great and the place is really fun - it definitely felt like somewhere to have a raucous night, but was equally fun for a mildly boozy, Aussie crew lunch time get together.  I will definitely be back - not least because I am a sucker for raw fish and good cocktails (particularly the latter). Ceviche on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Elms Lesters Painting Rooms - WC2

Given my propensity for wandering down alleyways and my love for the Phoenix Garden (which I think would make it into my list of all time favourite central London spots), plus the fact it is pretty much opposite where I work, I have walked past the Elms Lesters Painting Rooms many time and have always admired its late Victorian style.  Plus I loved the Space Invader stuck on the side.  I was never quite sure what it was however - I had heard about someone going to a party there so assumed it must be some funky venue.  It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that my friend  Don clued me in on the history, which is fascinating.  Purpose built in 1904, ELPR is one of the last of its breed and for decades was used to paint backdrops for west end theatres (hence the tall narrow green door you can see in the picture).  The digital age has obviously meant there is less need for spaces such as this but luckily ELPR has reinvented itself as a gallery and the building itself is listed.  I love the fact that this characterful building represents a piece of theatreland history - I would have loved to have seen gaudily painted back-drops being carried out and carted off to nearby theatres.  So next time you are in the area, grab yourself a coffee from the lovely folk at Damson or the nearby Flat Cap coffee cart and take a closer look at this historic building.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Honest Burgers - Meard St W1

 It's always cool when two previous blog posts come together.  I have written before about the absolute kick-ass burger deliciousness of Honest Burgers in Brixton Village Market and I have also waxed lyrical about Meard St, the jewel in the crown of Georgian Soho.  Well blow me down if Honest Burgers hasn't gone and opened a snazzy new joint on Meard St.  Praise be.  I went with some colleagues today and sat outside in the sun, eating one of the best burgers I have ever eaten (see pic below) - a special, with a beef and black pudding patty, apple tempura (how brilliant an idea is that??) and tarragon & caper mayonnaise.  It was awesome...just friggin' awesome.  Accompanied by the usual Honest Burger rosemary salted chips, this was the lunch of champions.  These guys know what they are doing and this new outpost is really lovely.  Top it all off with great service and what is there not to love?  What are you waiting for burger lovers?  Get down to Honest Burger, soak up the Georgian vibe of Meard St and take a moment to appreciate that sometimes two great things come together and make the world a little better.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Tooting Bec Lido - SW16

Even though I have lived in sarf London for 9 years I had never made it to Tooting Bec Lido until a few weeks ago.  Then the next thing I hear is that Ian "Thorpedo" Thorpe, my fellow countrymen, is giving people free swimming lessons there - I imagine the regulars at the lido were more excited by the second Aussie visit than the first.  The other half and I thought we would celebrate the arrival of summer (which has taken its bloody time this year) by visiting one of London's oldest open air pools.  Opening to the public in 1906, the lido is enormous - almost 100m long and 30m wide, this pool is as wide as most are long and as such there is plenty of room for the great and the good of SW London to get their swim on.  I felt like I had stepped back in time to the 60s - the brightly painted changing sheds and the old-school cafeteria were right out of my childhood (which just to be clear, was the 70s not the 60s).  Firmly un-pretentious this is not a place to see and be seen but more a place to suck on a popsicle and then splash around in the clear blue water surrounded by rowdy teenagers and swimming senior-citizens.  I loved it and will definitely be back.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Leather Lane Market - EC1

I have written before about two fine coffee establishments on Leather Lane in EC1 - Department of Coffee & Social Affairs and the mighty Prufrock - both well worth a visit and both making Leather Lane one of London's coffee destinations.  OK let's pause for one second - (i) wow - amazing to think we now have multiple coffee destinations in this town and (ii) do I sound like a complete wanker by using the term "coffee destinations"?  Anyway, moving on.  Visiting Leather Lane recently I realised it deserves a blog post all of it's own.  Not only because of the aforementioned caffeine possibilities, but also because it has some kick-arse food vans and street food and it manages to have all this whilst

 retaining it's character as a slightly down at heel, traditional London street market.  You still have the stall selling batteries and cheap cleaning products, you still get racks of sketchy looking clothes and the shops along the Lane are (thank God) only mildly "trendified" - and that is exactly as it should be.  How much better it is to find your gem of a cafe or street-food vendor in the middle of a normal street rather than be spoon-fed your culinary experience as part of some horrible artificial "artisan's enclave" (shudder).  So - on to the food options, in the past I had already tried the Lamb & Halloumi wrap stall at the top of Leather Lane which is amazing, so on my recent visit I reluctantly walked past it to try some of the others stalls.  I had been aware of Daddy Donkey for some time (how could you not with that name) and their Leather Lane van has been there for some years but I had yet to try them.  Their tagline is "kick-arse Mexican grill" and my burrito lived up to that description.  I went for the "Daddy D Burrito" with Picadillo (slow cooked beef in garlic, onion, spices, tomato and chipotle salsa - oh yeah) and it was a big helping of tasty, spicy deliciousness.  As I was with the other half we were able to get two lunchtime dishes and share them and we went from Central

 America to SE Asia and had a steamed pork bun from Kin.  Kin's stall sits in front of their restaurant - which I haven't been to but looks good and has that typical "pan Asian" menu that most westerners demand and which I always think is unfortunate as  it means the chefs can't concentrate on being really good at one particular Asian country's dishes. However I'm sure that Kin does all their dishes well and there were several things on there that I definitely want to go back and try.  The stall was manned (womaned?) by two friendly lassies who served us a pillowy steamed bun chock full of pork, herbs and chilli sauce.  This is one of my favourite dishes and whilst nowhere can match the brilliance of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York, this pork bun was pretty damn tasty and we wolfed down alternate bits of burrito and pork bun with great pleasure (don't judge and don't knock it 'til you've tried it).  Leather Lane market has been around for about 400 years and does not actually derive it's name from some past life as as the centre of London's leather trade (ooh-ah) but according to this fascinating site the name derives from one of the original traders, La Vrunelane.  This site also claims the market's origins came from the settling of a gambling debt of King Charles II in the 17th century, which whether or not it is true is a great story.  So whilst you are wandering the Lane munching on your burrito, lamp wrap or pork bun or whilst you are looking cool sipping your flat white or piccolo in Department of Coffee & Social Affairs or Prufrock, know that you are one of a long line of Londoners who have spent time on this slightly shabby but rather charming street in Holborn.