Tag Archives: duck

KERB, King’s Cross

IMG_1860

King’s Cross is enjoying a foodie revolution…or so I’ve been told. A train full of restaurants are due to open over the next year, which will join the likes of Shrimpy’s, Grain Store and Caravan. And then there’s KERB – a weekly concrete food market made up of stalls, bars and an old man playing summer dance tracks.

IMG_1873

Yesterday was one of the hottest days of the year, so an afternoon of eating, drinking and sunbathing was in order. KERB King’s Cross ticked all the boxes, so we headed there to stuff ourselves with yummy street food and lie by the canal.

IMG_1815

There are around twenty stalls at KERB, which boarder Granary Square. In the middle there are over 1,000 individually lit, choreographed fountains – a fancy concept that’s particularly popular with children looking to cool off.

IMG_1817

We did the rounds, before deciding on lunch. Heartbreaker Burger caught my eye, but I chose Vermicelli Vietnamese Noodles with Tofu (£6) from Hanoi Kitchen and a side of Sweet Potato Chips from Yu Kyu (£3.50).

IMG_1813

The chips were incredible – crisp and sweet, there wasn’t a trace of grease in sight. I’d gobbled each and every golden wonder before starting on the noodles, which combined fragrance, texture and heat, along with a little too much salt (possibly an overzealous helping of soya sauce).

IMG_1836

Miss Crump Eats had the same, but R decided on a pork and duck bap from Bill or Beak, which lived up to its long, long queue. She also chose a brightly coloured Whoopie Pie from Kooky Bakes (£3) – a pie so tasty, it put a smile on her face from the first bite.

IMG_1872

We sat on fake grass steps by the river and spent at least five minutes talking about how fantastic our city is. Cheesy yes, but true none the less.

IMG_1867

There are a few KERB Markets in London, but we chose KERB King’s Cross, Granary Square, London N1C 4AA. 

The House of Ho, Soho

When I booked The House of Ho for my birthday, I got some worrying looks. ‘I know you’re newly single S, but is this really the route to happiness?’. Turns out it was, so despite their concerns, my friends dutifully followed me to dark, debaucherous Soho.

IMG_1601

If this was the 70s, my post would be very different, more exciting and – let’s face it – confined to a diary as the wondrous internet was still a figment of TimBL’s imagination . But as it’s 2014, I will focus on what The House of Ho really is – a relatively new Vietnamese restaurant full of lively Londoners of all ages, gender and sexual orientation.

IMG_1599

We kicked off dinner with a bottle of Prosecco and a few dishes from the ‘Light & Raw’ section of the menu. Crab Pomelo Salad (£7) was, fittingly, ‘light’, refreshing and full of texture, and Duck Pho Cuon Rice Noodle Rolls (£5.50) were a lot like cold Dim Sum…in a good way.

IMG_1600

The biggest ‘Light & Raw’ treat was Spicy Salmon Tartare (£7), which was topped with a raw quail’s egg yolk and encircled by chopped pistachio, Shiso (an Asian herb) and Jicama (a type of yam). Our waiter stopped us eating until we’d mixed all ingredients together into one, mushy lump. Turns out that lump was pretty damn good, especially when scooped with a cracker or two.

IMG_1598

Of the ‘Hot & Grilled’, the BBQ Baby Back Ribs (£6) felt too heavy next to the other, more delicate dishes, whereas bland Smokey Aubergine (£6) could have used some spicing up.

IMG_1595

‘Ho’s Dishes’ were much better – The ‘Shaking Beef’ was wonderfully succulent (£14) and Lemongrass Monkfish balanced sweet, sour and meaty fishiness, despite being a little chewy.

IMG_1597

I think we picked the best side (thank you Mr Waiter) as Morning Glory (Water Spinach at £4) was just as satisfying as its meatier counterparts, making us vow to replicate the dish at home.

IMG_1596

My friends’ mischievous faces gave pudding away – Molten Maru Chocolate (£6.50) with ice cream, a candle, Happy Birthday written in sauce and a rousing chorus of singers. It was eaten with relish, just as Birthday cake should be.

IMG_1593

The House of Ho combined interesting, delicate food with good prices and a fun, buzzing atmosphere, making it a perfect birthday treat and a worthy recipient of a LLE Rating of 7 / 10. 

House of Ho, 55-59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 6HW 

The House of Ho on Urbanspoon

Duck & Waffle, Shoreditch

I’ve wanted to eat duck, on a waffle, topped with a fried egg, drizzled with syrup for some time. I got my wish two weeks ago and, as we shot up the glass elevator, knew I was in for a treat.

IMG_1490

Duck & Waffle is perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, opposite Liverpool Street Station. If you’re sat by the window (asking to move works!), you’ll be able to see London in all its shimmering glory.

IMG_1445

My biggest tip is don’t over order (or look down). Ignore the waiters; unless you’re the Hungry Caterpillar, you don’t need three small plates before you move onto mains.

IMG_1489

What you do need are aromatic Coal Charred Aubergines scooped up with warm pittas (£9), juicy Roasted Octopus with Chorizo (£13) and imaginative Spicy Ox Cheek Doughnut dunked in apricot jam (£10).

IMG_1488

All that, and a portion of freshly baked bread. Wild Mushrooms with Garlic, Thyme & Ketchup (£9) is like a puffed up, spongy pizza…which isn’t said to put you off.

IMG_1485

As for the other ‘small but actually large plates’, we should have ordered the highly recommended Bacon Wrapped Dates (£9) rather than over truffled Fillet of Beef Carpaccio (£15) and mushy Wild Pollock Cornish Meatballs (£11).

IMG_1491

Then the moment came for Duck & Waffle (£17) . I was a couple of Cosmopolitans down, so probably appreciated it even more. It was wickedly rich, sinfully sweet and my new favourite dish. Next time, it’s all I’ll have.

IMG_1486

As my ears popped on the way to commuter land, I took 30 seconds to think about my meal. The view made the experience special, but I didn’t feel the same about all the dishes. Some were fun and inventive, others bog standard and a little blah, so for that, Duck & Waffle gets a LLE Rating of 7/10.

Duck & Waffle, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopgate, London EC2N 4AY

Duck & Waffle on Urbanspoon

Pieds Nus, Marylebone

Quick! Pieds Nus is open for business, serving some of the most innovative food you’ll find in London. The problem? It’s a pop-up, so won’t be there for long.

Pieds Nus 4

For the time being, you’ll find it next door to Big Sister restaurant, L’Autre Pied. Inside, it’s small and simple, with rustic white walls and exposed bulbs hovering above each wooden table.

Michelin restaurateur David Moore outside Pieds Nus

Pieds Nus is the brainchild of Michelin restauranteur David Moore, run by Head Chef Ed Dutton from Tom Aikens in Chelsea. The concept is ‘little or no cooking’ – ‘barefoot’ dishes that deliver fresh and simple combinations with intense flavours. An ambitious idea…good thing it worked.

IMG_1256

We started with a basket filled with gorgeously warm bread – Bacon & Onion Brioche, Black Onion Seed Flat Bread and a soft Milk Loaf, served with a tiny bowl of hummus (£4.50). That, and a wooden block draped with melt in the mouth Paleta Iberica (£10.95) and a couple of Pieds Nus Cosmopolitans (£7.50).

Pieds Nus 2

The dishes that followed were made to be shared. But rather than arriving all at once, were enjoyed one by one so each got the attention it deserved.

IMG_1253

Salt Baked Jerusalem Artichoke with Wild Mushrooms and Sea Purslane was a delight, combing sweetness with a touch of sour (£7.50), but the Slow Cooked Duck Egg with Potato and Belper Knolle was the star of the vegetable dishes (£6.50). An egg was hidden in a heap of finely grated potato and cheese. Once mixed, we were left with a  creamy, subtly flavoured paste that focussed wholeheartedly on the egg.

IMG_1252

Next up was Scallop Ceviche (£12.50). Our noses were filled with a fresh aroma from the fish, cucumber and fennel, which only enhanced our experience eating the light, pretty dish. 42˚ Confit Salmon was heavier, but no less sublime with its intense crunchy cauliflower and sharp pink grapefruit (£8.50).

IMG_1249

From the meat section, we chose the aromatic 60˚ Gressingham Duck Breast (£11.50), the clean Rose Veal Tartare with generous truffle shavings (£12.95) and the 98˚ 12 Hour Slow Cooked Pig Belly (£11.45). Each dish showcased the chefs’ attention to detail and skill. I loved the Pig Belly and its perfect crackling. Couldn’t have been better.

IMG_1246

We finished with Banana Financier with Maple Syrup & Banana Ice Cream (£6.50) and the Chocolate, Chestnut Frangipane & Caramel Ice Cream (£8,95). It was the perfect end to pretty damn perfect meal.

IMG_1259

The food, the service and wonderful wine list makes me sad to say goodbye to Pieds Nus. Perhaps it’ll pop up elsewhere, but for now, I feel lucky to have been and give it a LLE Rating of 9/10.

Pied Nus, 19 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 3DH

Pied Nus on Urbanspoon

Casse-Croûte, Bermondsey

I can’t get too excited – it’s only early days – but I think I’ve found my favourite London restaurant. You can go with friends, on a date, in a suit, or jeans. It’s the perfect combination of cool and comfortable, fun and romantic.

IMG_1219

You’ll find Casse-Croûte on Bermondsey Street *she says begrudgingly*. The petite, reasonably priced restaurant transports you to Paris, with its gingham table cloths covering wooden, candle lit tables. The waiters and menu are French; the latter written on a blackboard by the bar.

IMG_1214

There were three choices for each course – there were three of us, so we ordered everything. Starters were Terrine de Foie Gras (£8), Cassoulet de Ris D’Agneau (£7) and Rilette de Salmon (£6.5). I couldn’t fault any of it – the Foie Gras was like butter and the wonderfully cheesy lamb cassoulet was a meaty fondue dripping from torn pieces of bread. Even the salmon got an oh la la.

IMG_1213

For main, we enjoyed Barbue (fish), Lapin (rabbit) and Canard (Duck) for £14.50 each. A fantastic, emerald green risotto helped Barbue win the course competition, but the confit Canard put up a brave fight with its creamy, perfectly formed potato gratin. YUM.

IMG_1215

The desserts were all £4.50. Baba au Rhum had been drenched in the good stuff, yet still managed a bouncy sponge. Soufflé au Chocolate was a tad bitter for my taste, but I still ate it, in between mouthfuls of caramel infused dessert number three.

IMG_1217

I’m giving Casse-Croûte a LLE Rating if 10/10 – sacrebleu! I hear you say. Disagree, and you’ll save room for me. Agree, and I’ll see you there next Friday.

Casse-Croûte, 109 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XB

Garnier, Earl’s Court

In February, Balthazar opened with a bang audible from the Eiffel Tower. The younger sister of New York’s glitterati hangout had Londoners battling for reservations like teenage wannabes.

IMG_0456

Now the hype’s died down, we can move our attention to London’s more discrete French offerings. One such restaurant is Garnier – a French brasserie that tiptoed into Earl’s Court last summer.

IMG_0455

Located a stone’s throw away from the station, it’s owned by well-known restaurateurs Didier and Eric Garnier. The brothers have had their fingers in many pies over the years, including the St Quentin’s Group in Knightsbridge, Le Colombier in Chelsea Square and Racine on the Brompton Road. Read more…

IMG_0454

Garnier,  314 Earl’s Court Rd, London SW5 9BQ

HK Diner, China Town

Ever wandered aimlessly around China Town unsure of where to eat? I certainly have, so on my last visit, I did my research and ended up in HK Diner on Wardour Street.

photo 4

I couldn’t book, but that didn’t worry me – HK Diner proudly stays open ’til 4am, so I knew we’d get a table eventually… As luck would have it, we were seated almost instantly in the buzzing restaurant and quickly ordered a drink.

photo 1

As with many Chinese restaurants, the lights were on full beam, so there was no problem reading the HUGE menu. Prawn crackers were a must, so we told the waiter to keep ’em coming. As for starters, it was crispy seaweed, soft shelled crab and sesame prawn toasts. Everything was delicious, well presented and – to back up what I’d heard – some of the best Chinese food I’d had in a long time.

photo 2

We also ordered half a crispy duck, which was quickly shredded in front of us and devoured in the same amount of time. The meat was tender, juicy and in no way greasy. We all – including my ‘vegetarian except for duck’ friend – approved.

photo 5

For mains it was popcorn prawns, super sweet crispy beef, squid and special fried rise. They didn’t blow me away like the starters, but were still pretty good.

photo 1-1

We were full to the brim when the bill arrived – around £25 per person, which included a couple of bottles of house white. I was impressed, my friends were impressed, so for that, HK Diner gets a LLE Rating of 7.5 / 10.

HK Diner, 22 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QQ