Tag Archives: eggs

The Pig, Brockenhurst

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Sometimes – when you’re really lucky – you can get away with excuses like ‘the dog ate my homework’‘my three alarms didn’t go off’, ‘there was a wild pony in the way’

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I used the latter last weekend when driving to The Pig in Brockenhurst. You see, there really was a wild pony in the way. A stubborn, brown wild pony that didn’t want to move, so just stood and stared, enjoying the power. Were we, or The Pig, surprised? Of course not – this is what happens in the New Forest.

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We were there for lunch, which started with a cocktail in the opulent bar of a magnificent country house. Our jaw dropping menus were stuffed with food that either came from The Pig’s walled garden, or anywhere within a 25 mile radius. Garden to plate is The Pig’s delicacy.

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A large, bright, rustic conservatory housed the dining room, which was packed with guests staying in one of The Pig’s 26 rooms and people like us that had battled wild horses to be there for lunch.

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A handful of honey covered, rosemary almonds kept us going at the bar, but didn’t stop us ordering from every section of the menu. ‘Piggy Bits’ were our appetisers (£3.75 each) – dense, crisp Black Pudding Balls were lightened by a side of piccalilli and long strips of crackling looked too scary for my teeth, but were happily munched around the table.

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When I heard they’d been foraged that morning, I immediately ordered the New Forest Mushrooms & Black Garlic Mayo with a crispy Burford Brown egg as my starter (£6). Dripping in parsley butter, the mushrooms had the most beautiful flavour and texture, made all the more special by the runny, golden egg.

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The Pig’s Extraordinary Bath Chap was the only main for me (£15). Our smiley, attentive waitress tested my squeamishness by mentioning that this Bath Chap came with his teeth. But that didn’t bother me, I was going in.

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When I lifted the vast side of crackling off my massive pig’s head, I found the cheek, which couldn’t have been more succulent, and the teeth, which made me feel sick.

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A simple turn of the plate soon sorted that out and I continued my hearty meal, smothering all meat in homemade apple sauce and enjoying the occasional piece Roasted Crown Prince Squash and our side of purple sprouting broccoli (£3.75).

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We shared a Garden Tarragon Cheesecake for dessert (£7). We weren’t hungry, but the sweetcorn sauce sounded interesting and I’m a sucker for anything with popcorn. This was accompanied by Fresh Mint Tea (to aid digestion) and Piggy Fours (£5.50) – bright pink lumps of deliciousness that almost looked too good to eat.

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I’d go back to The Pig in a heartbeat and am now dying to try The Pig on the Beach in Dorset. I hear they may be planning to expand nearer home – a rumour I very much hope turns out to be true.

The Pig, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7QL

Food 5/5 – Price 5/5 – Staff 5/5 – Atmosphere 5/5

momofuku, New York

momofuku means ‘lucky peach’ in Japanese. As there’s no fruit to be seen in this popular restaurant, I can only assume the name refers to its customers – happy, juicy peaches that are lucky to be eating its noodles.

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We went to the original momofuku noodle bar on 1st Avenue and waited around an hour for a seat, guzzling wine by the window. Long wooden tables surrounded the busy bar and kitchen. The atmosphere was fun and lively.

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Some friendly New Yorkers recommended what dishes to choose from the menu, starting with one of the specials – yummy pork buns that made me want to cry with joy ($12).

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They came with a plate of Shrimp & Grits with Benton’s bacon, a poached egg and scallion ($14). This rich, buttery dish was a first for me and one I’d like to relive soon. I hear the Lockhart in Marylebone does a very good version (*dials reservation line).

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Big bowls of Spicy Miso Ramen came next ($15). Filled with smoked chicken, noodles, scallion and sesame, there was also a poached egg that delightfully broke with one prick of my fork, flooding the bowl with bright yellow yolk.

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We didn’t have room for dessert, but our waiter turned us with tales of the momofuku Milk Bar – a standalone bakery that produces weird and wonderful treats for each of the restaurants.

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This month’s focus was cookies, so we ordered a Milk Bar medley – ‘the ritz’ cookie, pretzel cake truffles and strawberry sweet cracker soft serve. I couldn’t eat the truffle – it was too sickly for my very sweet tooth. But the cookie made a perfect scoop for the creamy, sweet ice cream (she wonders why her jeans are too tight).

I’d go back to momofuku in an instant; it’s the original Ramen bar that made me feel like the luckiest girl in New York.

momofuku noodle bar, 171 1st Avenue, New York, ny 10003

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

The Blue Legume, Crouch End

When I move to a new part of town, I play a game of ‘what’s the nearest’. What’s the nearest pub, supermarket, restaurant and – for slow, sleepy Saturdays – place for a much needed brunch.

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By day, Crouch End is a yummy mummy paradise, so bruncheries aren’t hard to come by. The Blue Legume is my nearest – a chain of three North London ‘cafe’ restaurants known for its breakfasts.

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I went yesterday to revive my body after a late night of dancing. The long list of Soya beverages tempted me to try a Soyachino, which came with a sneaky amaretto biscuit. Frothy, creamy and sweet, it made me question cow’s milk for the first time in my life.

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The menu is crammed with sweet and savoury dishes. I was tempted by the halloumi stuffed Meditteranean Breakfast (£6.95) and French Toast with poached plums & yoghurt (£6.45).

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But I picked Mushrooms on Toast (£4.95) to satisfy my stomach. That, and a poached egg ‘extra’ (£1.15) resting on top. The egg was cooked to perfection and glistening mushrooms covered the brown toast, making it deliciously soggy in places. I’d have liked a greater variety of mushrooms, but couldn’t fault the flavour of what I had.

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Around the table, my friends were guzzling Welsh Rarebit (£5.95), Eggs Royale on gluten free bread (£6.95) and a Vegetarian Sausage Breakfast (£6.95). My fork wasn’t welcome on their plates, but I did manage a slurp of N’s Banana Smoothie (£3.95), which was wickedly sweet.

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I will no doubt return to The Blue Legume – probably next weekend. The variety and quality of the food, combined with the price and friendly staff, gives it a LLE Rating of 7/10 from me.

The Blue Legume, 130 Crouch Hill, Crouch End N8 9DY

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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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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Okan, Brixton Village

Each time Shrove Tuesday comes around, I stuff my face with pancakes wondering why I don’t make them more often. They are so easy and versatile – this year’s combinations ranged from cheese, ham & mushroom to salted caramel & banana…via traditional lemon & sugar and the odd Nutella.

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I guess I’m just lazy, or eat so many I can’t bear the thought of more. So, for an alternative pancake experience, I turn to Okan – a tiny Japanese restaurant in the heart of Brixton village.

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Okan specialises in okonomiyaki – a savoury pancake that’s commonplace on the streets of Osaka, Japan’s second largest city. It means ‘as you like it’ and typically combines fermented cabbage (kimchi) with batter and a range of toppings.

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After our Otumami (starters) of warm, salty edamame (£2.20) and wonderfully aromatic Onasu (fried aubergine with soy, honey, ginger & miso dressing – £3.25), we ordered the Okan Special with prawn, squid and corn (£8.25), as well as a Kimchi & Pork (£7.95). This was topped off with a bottle of white wine (they also have a great range of Japanese beers and sake).

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Cooked in on steaming grills beside us, the okonomiyaki were large, thick and piping hot. The kimchi made them quite salty, but not to the point of unpleasant, and the fillings were in generous supply. The flavour was unique and took some getting used to, but it was refreshing to try something so different.

Okan was one of the first Brixton Village eateries –  no frills, charming and serves original food that transports you miles from the bustling streets of Brixton. For that, I’ll give it a LLE Rating of 8/10. A very happy – albeit belated -Pancake Day to you all.

Okan, Unit 39, Brixton Village, SW9 8PS

*To avoid embarrassment, it’s worth noting that Okan is Cash Only

Okan on Urbanspoon

Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill, The Savoy

Kaspar is not just any cat. He’s is two foot high, shiny black cat that’s been The Savoy’s Fourteenth Guest since 1926.

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He’s reassured superstitious diners at a tables of 13 for almost 100 years. I won’t go into why – a simple ‘Google’ will fill the gaps – but I shall say that his job’s so important, The Savoy named its river restaurant after him following the multi-million pound restoration of 2010.

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The restaurant is Art Deco fabulousness, just like Kaspar. Overlooking the Thames, it’s bustling, vibrant and relaxed – a stark contrast to the prim and proper Thames Foyer next door.

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Covered in mirrors, turquoise chairs, a chequerboard marble floor and brass railings, everything circles the central seafood bar, which has stunning stalagmites of glass hanging precariously above busy waiters serving Champagne, oysters and other oceanic delights.

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I’ve been to Kaspar’s twice – once for breakfast and the other time at lunch. The breakfast menu is enormous, covering off the classics, the continental, Kaspar’s more unusual Breakfast Favourites and a Japanese and Chinese selection if you fancy something exotic.

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I was drawn to Cornish Crab on an English Muffin with a Fried Egg (£17), but settled with a less adventurous, but absolute favourite, Salmon Royal (also £17). Oozing poached eggs fell on thick cut salmon and lightly toasted muffins, covered in a golden, lemony sauce. On the side, an endless supply of orange juice, fresh strawberry & raspberry tea and rye bread smothered in fruity jam filled my stomach. I was in breakfast heaven.

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Lunchtime was all about the fish, starting with a cured platter from the central bar (£22). Beetroot Cured Halibut, Peppered Monkfish and Star Anise Cured Salmon all had enormous flavour, needing nothing more than a vessel of toast and a squeeze of lemon.

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Dover Sole came ‘from the grill’, covered in a brown caper butter sauce (£35). The simple white meat was succulent and rich, accompanied by well executed sides of Sautéed Spinach and Chilli Garlic Fried Sprouting Broccoli (£4 each).

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If I’m as lucky as Kaspar, I’ll get to dine at his restaurant for a third time – perhaps in the evening when the Thames is aglow with our city’s lights. Until then, I’ll give him a pat on the head and a very well deserved LLE Rating of 8/10.

Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill, The Savoy, The Strand, London WC2R 0EU

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