Tag Archives: beetroot

Fika, Brick Lane

‘Magical’, ‘authentic’ and ‘darkly seductive’. Ambitious adjectives used to describe Fika. Adjectives I chose to ignore, putting them down to pure PR drivel.

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Turns out, the PRs are spot on – Fika is a charming, Scandinavian restaurant that’s well worth a visit. The interior perfectly captures the delightfully unique nature of Brick Lane and the food looks good enough to be served at a banquet for fairies, elves and goblins.

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Em and I sat upstairs on the restaurant’s quirky roof terrace. We drank Prosecco and ate like Queens of an enchanted land, starting with Beetroot & Birch (£5) and Tre Sorters Sill (£5.50).

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Served on a round slab of wood, Beetroot & Birch was made up of a warm, miniature loaf of savoury beetroot bread, goats cheese, foraged wood sorrel and a shot of birch tree water. The flavours were earthy, simple and – even though I left the somewhat superfluous shot – really rather wonderful.

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Across from me sat Em’s Tre Sorters Sill – three flavours of pickled herring on crushed purple potatoes with blobs of dill yoghurt. The potatoes were deliberately cold, so not particularly tasty on their own. But, the overall effect was again very good.

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We chose completely different mains – I went for rich, sweet Swedish Elk Meatballs (£10.20) that I now want to replicate at home (pass the Elk please). As for Em, it was Foraged Salad with Goat Cheese (£12), which combined some unrecognisable leaves and flowers, along with quail eggs, samphire and black truffle potato. Calorie wise, it was nice to know you could be very good, or very bad when dining at Fika.

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My Kladdkaka was hands down the best chocolate brownie / cake / whatever you want to call it I’ve ever had (£4.60). Chewy on the outside, melting on the inside, it was beautifully presented as a flower (in case you were wondering…) with an equally pretty floral shaped scoop of Vanilla ice cream on the side.

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Em had Fresh Mint Granita, which was luminous on arrival (£5). I wouldn’t have traded my Kladdkaka, but the mixture of beetroot, fresh fruit and berries seemed to go down well.

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Fika proves you should never judge a book by its cover (or prologue). It oozed charm and made our eyes light up with every dish (example below). So for that, it gets a LLE Rating of 7.5/10.

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Fika, 161 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB

Fika on Urbanspoon

Blanchette, Soho

Blanchette was a dream come true. The waiters were my friends, the food comforting, and the drinks? Well, they just kept on coming. And let’s not forget the company – Crump Eats, The Edible Woman and handsome Steve Jones (sitting on the table next to us).

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I loved it from the start. The pretty dining room was filled with quirky French ornaments, colourful tiling, brushed wood and exposed brickwork. The memory will inspire when I decorate my dream home.

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Everyone had that Thursday feeling, so we started with a round of cocktails, olives and baked St Marcelin with bruchetta and large caper berries. An indulgent start that couldn’t have been more tasty.

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The menu had a ‘French Tapas’ theme as everyone in our city loves to share. We ordered as we ate, starting with succulent Braised Octopus with radish, tomato and a Verjus dressing (£7.50), along with a Roast Quail, Jamon Sec & Herb Croquette (£7.50). The dishes were totally different, but both were matched in impeccable presentation and taste.

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Steamed Mussels were juicy and enormous (£6) and Roasted Beetroot Salad with girolles, Fleur de Marquis and a tarragon dressing (£5.75) was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

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Frites and Béarnaise was a must at £3.75. We all remarked on the flavour of the chips and how well each golden wonder went with the sauce. Could Ketchup and Mayo be a thing of the past?

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At dessert, we were so impressed with Chocolate Marquise, salted caramel puffed rice and pistachio ice cream (£5.95) that we ordered a second pudding – Lemon Pot with Strawberry, Gin & Parsley Sorbet (£5.25). It was a modern take on a traditional French Strawberry Tart, brimming with beautiful creme patisserie and served with thin, crisp shortbread.

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Our last surprise came with the bill. We were stuffed and had drunk more than our fair share, yet only faced a charge of £46 each with tip. There is no doubt in my mind – I will experience this dream again and, for now, leave Blanchette with a LLE Rating of 9/10.

Blanchette, 9 D’Arblay St, London W1F 8DR

Bistro Blanchette on Urbanspoon

Honey & Co., Fitzrovia

Honey & Co didn’t get off to the best start when they forgot our booking. But after a quick reshuffle – and the promise of free wine – we were soon seated in the small, no frills restaurant packed with happy Londoners laughing the night away.

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We decided to go with the set menu, which for £26 each gave us a selection of ‘luxury’ mezze to start and a main course each. As an added extra, we also ordered Chicken Liver Baklava (£7.50) – a wise decision by Crump Eats.

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Then the wait began. We sat for twenty-five minutes before some – but not all – of our mezze arrived. Another faux pas by Honey & Co., but one the food helped us forget.

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I enjoyed every mezze – my favourites being the crisp Jerusalem Falafel and Burnt Courgette Dip, which had the most deliciously smoky flavour. The Chicken Liver Baklava was wonderfully meaty, sweetened by the grape molasses. I should have kept that dish to myself.

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We decided to share each main, starting with Lamb & Aubergine Moussaka (£13.50), which was fragrant and light, but didn’t have enough cheesy béchamel for me.

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The Royal Mansaf (£14.50) was by far the better lamb dish. The slow cooked meat fell apart and paired wonderfully with the saffron rice, almonds and juicy golden raisins.

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We also enjoyed the Mushahan (£13.50), which was slow cooked chicken based in flat bread with pomegranate and currants…

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…but we regretted our decision to try Kibbe Selek (£13.50). Honey & Co. recommends you try it ‘at least once’. I disagree, unless thick semolina dumplings with a tiny beef filling floats your boat. That said, the ‘crazy beetroot soup’ was interesting and had a rich, earthy flavour.

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Dessert was Pistachio Cake. Beautifully nutty, it disappeared in the blink of an eye, satisfying every sweet tooth around the table.

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When the bill arrived we realised Honey & Co.’s third and final mistake. Two mezze dishes hadn’t arrived – Fig & Goat Cheese Salad and Warm Artichoke Hearts. Dessert was taken off the bill, but we all felt disappointed not to try two of the most tempting options.

Most of the food was excellent and I loved the overall vibe, but there were three too many mistakes at Honey & Co., bringing my LLE Rating down to 6.5 /10.

Honey & Co., 25a Warren Street, London W1T 5LZ

Parish Hall, Brooklyn, New York

We spent one of our NY days in Brooklyn, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan (for those of you as geographically unaware as me). Our first stop was Parish Hall, an uber cool, white washed restaurant that serves brunch, lunch, dinner and, from what I’ve heard, fantastic cocktails.

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From the Brunch menu, Red Flannel Hash was a delightful mix of marinated beetroot (or beets as they’re called in the States), roast potatoes, Swiss chard, corned beef and two eggs, which I ordered poached. It was a combination like no other, but one I really enjoyed as it managed to feel clean, light and healthy, despite the fattier ingredients.

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The far heavier Patty Melt was two slices of rye bread stuffed with grass fed beef and lamb bacon, landaff cheese, grilled onions and a portion of yummy curly fries. Dripping with meat and melted cheese, it was robust, bold and the perfect choice for the hungry hipster to my left.

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On the website, Parish Hall confidently displays its mission statement. My favourite point can be summed up as follows:

“Parish Hall aims to give give people a ‘transformative’ experience so they leave feeling satisfied, refreshed, creatively energised and happy.”

Now I know you’re thinking ‘wow that’s hipster’, but after two hours in Parish Hall, I could feel myself coming round to the idea. I really did feel transformed in mind, body and soul. But on reflection, I probably just felt very full, very relaxed and very happy.

Parish Hall, 109a North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249