Tag Archives: avocado

Tanya’s Cafe, Kensington

As the rudest, most obnoxious man pushed and shoved his way onto the train last week, I wondered if a world without men would be a better place. Especially those that fall into the angry face, big arm category.

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Perhaps that’s a step too far, but time out from men certainly isn’t. So, I’m pleased to share Tanya’s Cafe in Kensington – the perfect place for man down time as no male would voluntarily visit due to its ultra girly raw menu.

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Set up by holistic coach and editor of Better Raw Tanya Mayer, Tanya’s Cafe was born out of a popular supper club and focusses on all things raw. I went a couple of weeks ago and was pleased to find the place heaving…with women.

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The cafe itself is an oasis of calm. A light conservatory filled with clean, white tables and chairs, wooden panels and flashes of colour from fresh fruit adorning the counter and bright green plants hanging from the walls.

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We ordered two My Alkaliser juices (£6.50 each), Lasagne (£15) and Tacos (£15.30). My Alkaliser combined kale, spinach, apple, lemon and cucumber to create a juice my body thanked me for. As for the Lasagne, well that was a pleasant surprise…

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Pasta and meat was replaced with courgette and mushrooms, creating a light, tasty dish that would have been perfect on a warm, summer day, but didn’t go down quite so well in our current climate.

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The Tacos were along the same lines – walnut oyster mushroom meat sat on soft shell tacos with guacamole, soured cream and salsa. Again, this dish was delightfully presented and made a lovely light lunch.

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We finished off with a slice of blueberry cheesecake. This was by far my favourite dish as I love anything that feels like a treat, yet is actually rather good for me.

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I enjoyed my visit to Tanya’s and felt inspired by her creativity. My only real criticism was the cost. I know we were in Chelsea, but £15 for a raw veg lasagne seemed a little excessive. But, perhaps that’s the price you pay for lunch in a man-free environment.

Tanya’s Cafe, myhotel Chelsea, 35 Ixworth Place, London SW3 3QX

Food 4/5 – Price 2/5 – Staff 4/5 – Atmosphere – 5/5

Raw Press, Mayfair

I never thought I’d say this, but I can now imagine life without meat and fish. Life where fruit and veg rule my diet, along with pretentious pulses and edible seeds.

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I can thank my lovely almost Vegan housemate for this, along with Deliciously Ella‘s recipe app, Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible salads and cold-pressed juice bars like Raw Press, which just opened in Mayfair.

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Walk into Raw Press and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a hipster cafe in Brooklyn, or how I imagine every LA restaurant to be. It’s shiny, clean and white, with splashes of colour from glass juice bottles and big bowls of salad. It magically makes you feel healthy the moment you arrive.

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I was lucky enough to taste all their cold-pressed juices, which made picking my favourites easy. No. 2 Green is my ultimate thirst quencher, packed with superfood goodness from its combination of apple, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and lemon (£5.50/£7.50).

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Then, for something a little naughtier, it has to be No. 7 Coffee & Mylk (£5.50/£7.50). Made with almonds, coconut water, dates, Himalayan salt, vanilla bean and cold brew coffee, it blows any regular flavoured milk out the water.

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Now some of you will be wondering what a cold-pressed juice is. Well, the answer is simple – instead of using a heat inducing centrifugal juicer that lowers the nutritional value of the juice, these bottles of deliciousness are made with a hydraulic pressed juice extraction that’s slow and, best of all, cold.

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But Raw Press isn’t just about the juice. There’s also an amazing range of vegan salads and snacks by the immensely talented Ella Woodward. For less than a tenner, you can order a giant plate of scrumptious Zucchini Noodles with homemade Brazil Nut pesto, Marinated Kale & Sweet Potato Salad, Broccoli & Avocado Salad and Chickpea & Squash Salad. All fantastically tasty and wonderfully good for you.

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And, there’s even a range of sweet treats (I particularly loved Ella’s Energy Bites and Banoffee Pie Pots). But the biggest surprise are her brownies – who knew they could be made with sweet potato and still burst with flavour? Yes the consistency is different, but the feeling of satisfaction when chomping your way through? Exactly the same.

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So there you have it. You can enjoy a varied, delicious diet free from fish and meat, which juice bars like Raw Press inspire. I’m not saying goodbye to sausage & mash, spag bol or fish pie, but vegetables are now playing a larger part in my life – hell, I even threw a vegan dinner party last night.

Raw Press, 32 Dover Street, London W1S 4NE

The Fish & Chip Shop, Islington

Ordering at The Fish & Chip Shop wasn’t easy. How did they expect me to choose between Shrimp Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Fish Pie with Cheesy Crust, Lobster & Avocado and Beer Battered Cod? Not to mention Breaded Scampi, Fish Fingers and Whole Lemon Sole! I was somewhere between heaven and hell; stuck in a fishy limbo.

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As I looked round the restaurant’s nautical interior, I knew I had to make a choice. So, I confidently ordered Isle of Man Crab on Toast (£10.75), followed by Griddled Tiger Prawns (£15). Why the confidence? Well, I’d already struck a deal to eat half my companion’s Fillet of Cod (£16).

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Isle of Man Crab on Toast lived up to its price, both in size and flavour. Brown crab meat was spread on a large slice of toasted brown bread, topped with a generous layer of white meat, slices of avocado and a lemon juice and chilli dressing. It was delightful and – despite my earlier hesitation – the perfect start to our meal.

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When the Griddled Tiger Prawns arrived something wonderful happened. Out of nowhere, our waiter questioned the number of prawns on my plate. Apparently, eight wasn’t enough, so he promptly brought four more. The sweet, juicy prawns tasted fantastic, so you can imagine my delight.

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As for my compadre’s Fillet of Cod, it had spent a little too long in the oven, so was drier than hoped. However, the bed of spinach and thick, parsley sauce gave the sustainable fish the flavour and moisture it needed.

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Our greed also bought us Fresh Cut Chips (£3) and Crushed Peas (£3). The bright green peas tasted like they were fresh from the garden, enhanced by mint.

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Other reviewers had been unkind  to the chips, but we couldn’t see a problem – they were well salted, crisp on the outside and deliciously soft inside. A perfectly adequate chip in my humble opinion.

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We left it there, partly because we were asked to move tables to make way for another booking. Not a huge issue, but slightly irritating as we’d booked in advance and had only been sat for an hour and a half.

Although The Fish & Chip Shop lost points at the end and was a tad over priced, I’m still giving it a LLE Rating of 7.5 / 10. I can’t wait to go back and try more from the mouthwatering menu – London Particular Fritters, Shrimp Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Burnt Chocolate Cream are next on my list.

The Fish & Chip Shop, 189 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1RQ

The Fish and Chip Shop on Urbanspoon

Caracas Arepa Bar, New York

An arepa is a dense, corn dough muffin that’s opened and stuffed with cheese, fish, meat – anything that takes your fancy. I first tried one aged 18, living in Venezuela. My second experience came ten years later, this time in NYC.

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Caracas was the restaurant feeding us yummy arepas. We had to wait an hour, but eventually got a seat in the bustling Manhattan branch, despite feeling tempted by the ‘food to go’ window.

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Inside we found a cosy, warmly lit space, decorated with statues of Mary Magdalene and ornate crosses. On wooden tables sat menus listing the 12 arepas available, along with nine ‘Sidekicks’, salads, full sized ‘plates’ and desserts.

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Now if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about America, it’s to order less than what’s recommended to you. The waiter told us we needed four arepas between two, so we went for three plus Guasacaca & Chips ($6.25) – delicious guacamole that was scooped up with crisp plantain.

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The suitably bland patties were the perfect vessel for the meaty fillings – De Pabellon ($7.5) with shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese and sweet plantains, De Pollo ($6.5), a combination of grilled chicken breast, caramelised onions and cheddar cheese and last, but by no means least, Vista al Mar ($8) – pan seared tilapia with garlic infused oil, pickled onions, radish and a parsley, cilantro and oregano spread.

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Is your mouth watering yet? It should be as each one was packed with wonderful flavours, especially Vista al Mar, which reminded me of snacks on the shore in Choroni, Venezuela.

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There’s no way I can wait another ten years before biting into an arepa. If London doesn’t come up with the goods, I’ll just have to make my own…or take another trip to the Big Apple.

Caracas, 93 1/2 E 7th St., NY 10009

Sushi by Mr Kazuomi Ota, Divertimenti, Marylebone

I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi and now I dream of sushi. I don’t dream of making sushi – although I’d like to try – I dream of eating sushi. Ideally the best in the world.

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Because of this, I found myself eating sushi at an event at Divertimenti last week, hosted by Japanese chef Mr Kazuomi Ota and KAI – a premium range of high-performance knives inspired by the art of Samurai sword forging (fancy eh?).

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Sipping on Moet, I watched Mr Kazuomi expertly make us heavenly sushi. I didn’t want to disturb a master at work, but managed to sneak in a few questions between rice steaming and salmon cutting.

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Mr Kazuomi is the Head Chef of the Hi Hotel in Nice. He’s been making sushi for 15 years, three of which were spent perfecting sushi rice – something every novice has to go through. He also had to earn the right to use a knife, knocking off yet another year. Becoming a sushi chef ain’t easy, as you can tell.

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Mr Kazuomi’s sushi melted in the mouth. This wasn’t just down to his skills, but also the freshness of the fish, how the fish was cut and the quality of the knife used (KAI Shun knives are made with 32 layered stainless damask steel, giving them unrivaled sharpness).

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To make the California Roll, you need to think in layers. Mr Kazuomi’s version started with a sheet of Nori (paper like, toasted seaweed) placed on a bamboo mat wrapped in cling film. He squished half a centimetre of sushi rice on top, before sprinkling toasted sesame seeds all over. You can also use risotto rice as the consistency is similar.

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A thin sliver of salmon was placed down the middle of the rice, along with slices of avocado and cucumber. The bamboo mat then rolled everything together, before it was cut into mouth size portions and eaten by me.

My next treat will be Sushi Tetsu this summer (if I can reserve one of the seven seats). Until then, I’ll be practicing my California Roll with my new KAI knife, so watch this space…

Lazy Bones, Farringdon

Some people are born lazy – FACT. My source? A study by Missouri University published this week. Although not a person, Lazy Bones in Farringdon is in no way lazy, idle or sloth-like. Instead, it’s upbeat, energetic and loud, but perhaps I’m missing the point…

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Perhaps Lazy Bones is a restaurant for those with less active tendancies? When I saw the menu on Tuesday night, it confirmed my suspicions – this was a menu for people wanting to feel lazy. This was a menu stuffed full of pulled, torn and fried meat, along with cheese covered fries. Not exactly the formula for an ‘active’ lifestyle.

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I arrived first and was quickly seated in the three-quarter full, American-style diner. Almost instantly, a waiter bounded over to me with a box of plain popcorn, telling me to visit ‘the lady with the shining eyes’ to pick my topping.

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I was a little scared to meet this ‘lady’, so felt relieved to see a woman with bulbs for eyes painted on the wall. Nevertheless, I sprinkled my toppings quickly – Ranch and Cheddar – and ran back to my table, away from Medusa’s sister.

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Drinks and food were ordered from the bar and made in the SLOW MEAT / FALAFEL ‘van’/open kitchen. Ignoring the wings, dogs and veggie options, I went for Chilli Brisket with Crushed Guacamole (£7.50), along with Smothered Fries (£3.50 REG).

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Two things suprised me about my meal – the speed at which it arrived (no complaints there, I knew it was 6-hour cooked) and the size. For me, it was perfect, but for a lazybones / male, extra sides would need to be ordered.

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Taste-wise, the meat was juicy, tender and delicious, with a warming kick of chilli and a lovely dollop of guacamole. Unusually, it came with two pieces of thick toast, which made a welcome change from a run of the mill bap. The chips were cheeeeesy, crisp and satisfying, just as they should be.

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We stuck around for a while afterwards, which was testament to the restaurant’s atmosphere. The music was loud without being annoying, playing everything from the classics, to those that needed shazamming.

Overall, I’ll give Lazy Bones a LLE Rating of 7 / 10. Although the portions were a little small, everything I ate, drank and listened to, left me wanting more.

Lazy Bones, Unit 5, Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6DQ

Lazybones on Urbanspoon

Chicken Shop, Kentish Town

Today I rushed at work because I had to. Today I rushed at dinner because I was told to. Yes, after just 45 minutes eating tasty chicken, fresh avocado salad, buttery corn on the cob and a wonderful slice of apple pie, our waiter at Chicken Shop asked us to finish our drinks and leave.

You might think we’d done something wrong. Got embarrassingly drunk and danced on the table perhaps. Think again. Instead, the speediest restaurant on record thought it was ok to ask us to give up our seats after less than an hour when all we wanted to do was sit, chat and reflect on our busy lives.

So, I’ll keep this post brief as I think it’s what Chicken Shop would have wanted. The food was great, the prices were even better, the waiters were friendly (even giving us an extra large piece of pie), but the rush at the end was inexcusable.

I left work at 7pm. Travelled to the other side of London and back. I’m home at 10pm. Enough said.

LLE Rating 5 / 10.

Chicken Shop, 76 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL