Monthly Archives: May 2014

Lyle’s, Shoreditch

When Lyle’s opened a month ago, it offered 50% off the bill to all Tea Building residents. A great idea…until I showed up with ten colleagues one Friday afternoon.

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The staff did well to smile when we arrived twenty minutes late, ruining any chances of seeing the sunshine before evening service. We settled onto a long table in the light, spacious dining room, making it clear we were in for the long haul.

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After a few bottles of fizz and more than our fair share of almost fresh bread (it’s not made on site, but will be soon), we ordered two of every sharing dish, ignoring the random fish and meat main, which seemed out of place on the menu.

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As plates arrived in swathes around me, I quickly identified my favourites. Semi-soft Gull’s Eggs (£6) were sitting pretty on whole shells, sprinkled with seaweed salt that really enhanced the flavour, whereas Asparagus (£8.50) was lightly grilled before being dipped in a nutty walnut mayonnaise.

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We ordered extras of these, as well as beautifully presented Raw Highland Beef covered in shavings of Cured Sea Urchin (£9), and Lamb’s Sweetbreads (£8.50), which I found slimy, but my colleagues raved about.

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The Hispi Cabbage with Mussels & Seaweed (£7) and thick, cheesy Cauliflower, Riseley & Lovage (£5.90) were also tasty, but we didn’t get on with the Mutton Broth & Turnips (£6.30), overly rich Blood Cake with Chicory (£6.50) or the two uninspiring salads.

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The smaller plates were…erm…small, so despite ordering extras, we had plenty of room for pudding. Plates of cheese – Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire & St James (£8.50) – went down a treat, especially when gobbled up with a piece of honeycomb or fruity chutney. Our non-cheese-eater J went for Treacle Tart & Milk Ice Cream (£5.90), which finished the meal on a high point.

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Lyle’s is a lovely looking restaurant that couldn’t be more convenient for us Tea Builders. Its friendly staff easily managed our rowdiness (who wouldn’t be excited on a Friday?!), but a few dishes felt insubstantial, so perhaps the waiters should push the mains a little more.

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That said, it’s not a bad local to have and the discount was particularly generous, so I’m giving Lyle’s a LLE Rating of 6.5/10.

Lyle’s, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ

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Rockfish, Dartmouth

With so much talk of smog, I craved fresh, sea air. So, my friends and I left our poor, polluted capital and drove four and a half hours to Devon – a place where the words ‘this certainly blows the cobwebs away!’ are said far to regularly.

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Saturday was spent driving along the coast, stopping in between showers for walks along the beach, ice cream and lunch in oh so pretty Dartmouth.

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Rockfish looks out onto the harbour, sporting a very turquoise exterior that’s in keeping with its seaside location. Inside, the sea theme continues, with white washed walls, thick ropes and an open kitchen.

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We ordered fish, followed by fish, starting with two pints of Norwegian prawns (£9.50) and a plate of calamari (£7.50). It was nothing I hadn’t had before, but tasted all the more delicious when paired with the Rockfish slogan ‘Tomorrow’s fish are still in the sea’. Watch out Nemo.

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Mains were a mix of Haddock & Chips (£12.95), Plaice with Salad (£11.95) and my lovely South Devon Crab Roll (£9.95). Aside from the stack of chips, I’d managed to choose the healthiest option – two brioche baps cradling fresh, undressed crab meat with salady bits. It was lovely, but I should have picked deep fried, golden haddock, which – from the bite I tried – tasted superb.

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We decided to wander outside for dessert – a 99p Devon Ice Cream with the obligatory flake – so ended our meal at Rockfish with coffees (some Irish).

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I hope to return to Rockfish one day. The setting couldn’t be prettier and the food is exactly what you crave after breathing in so much pure, smogless air. So Rockfish, I’m giving you a healthy LLE Rating of 7.5/10.

Rockfish, 8 South Embankment, Dartmouth TQ6 9BH

Ottolenghi, Islington

When I’ve had the hardest of weeks, I believe in treating myself. Perhaps a new dress, a shiny pair of shoes, a relaxing, money wasting manicure or delicious food at a restaurant I can’t afford.

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Yotam Ottolenghi was put on this earth to create beautiful food for women. Not that men wouldn’t enjoy his gorgeous creations, but I can’t see a blokey bloke appreciating the thought and precision that goes into his dishes.

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For this reason, I chose his lovely Islington restaurant as my Friday treat. The entire shop-cum-dining room is white, brought to life by vibrant food and flashes of red. Most people had booked, but despite being walk ins, we were quickly sat at the counter.

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Everything is made to share and it’s suggested you order three plates per person. Because of the complimentary, oh so delicious bread, we opted for five dishes – two cold and three hot – along with a glass of biodynamic Prosecco.

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Our drinks came first and were quickly returned. We couldn’t get our heads round the sandy coloured, misty, flat Prosecco, so went for a couple of glasses of biodynamic wine. This fared much better and we appreciated the waiter’s lack of annoyance when we made the change.

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Roasted Aubergine (£9) paired well with Walnut Yoghurt, Herbs & Spicy Walnuts – an inspired combination only Yotam could muster. The Grilled Pear (£9) was equally good. Golden and sweet, the fruit made a delightful contrast to the bitter leaves, crunchy pecans, hot chilli and intense Roquefort dressing.

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My favourite hot dish was the Poached Duck Egg with butternut squash, roasted mushrooms, glazed cranberries and buckwheat biscuit (£11). The egg itself was a sight for sore eyes, somehow moulded to resemble a flower in bud. The mixture beneath was curried, sweet and multi-textured, tying everything together.

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We also ordered Pan Fried Pollock (£11), which was tasty, but a tad overcooked. However, The Quail (£11) was delicious, covered in grains of sharp mustard and sitting on a refreshing bed of chopped fruits and fresh pea shoots.

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You’d be mad to turn down pudding. We had a gorgeous passion fruit pie that was almost too good to eat…almost.

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The bill wasn’t cheap, but this dinner was a treat. Yotam is one of my favourite chefs and Ottolenghi didn’t disappoint when it came to the food, staff, atmosphere and general prettiness. So for that ladies, I’m giving it a LLE Rating of 8/10.

Ottolenghi, 237 Upper Street, London N1 2TZ

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