Tag Archives: herring

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

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Brasserie Zedel, Piccadilly

Since it opened last summer, I’ve been to Brasserie Zedel four times – twice with friends, once with a client and once with the lovely co-owner Jeremy King.

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Three simple things keep me coming back – the price, the food and the wonderful building. This is a brasserie where you can enjoy delicious French cuisine in a large, shiny 1930’s dining room at prices usually reserved for Côte or Cafe Rouge. C’est magnifique!

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The dining room seats 220, some bookings, some walk ins. Each time it’s crammed with loud, excitable Londoners trying to be heard above the next table. The menu is equally big, split into two set meals (Prix Fixe and Formule), the Plats du Jour, Entrees, Choucroute, Poissons, Viandes, Legumes, Fromages and Patisseries et Desserts.

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My favourite Entrees are the deliciously simple Oeufs Dur Mayonnaise (£3.75) and Filet de Hareng with Pommes à l’Huile (£4.95) – a yummy herring dish popular in French bistros.

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I’ve watched my friends devour Choucroute Zedel (£14.95) and Bœuf Bourguignon (£9.95) with gusto, whilst I tuck into something from the selection of Poissons – most commonly Carrelet Meunière (whole pan fried plaice at £15.25) and aromatic Filet de Dauradeaux Fenouils  (grilled sea bream with fennel, orange & thyme – £14.75).

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I’m also a big fan of the sides – in particular the fresh Salade Verte (£2.75), the rich Epinards à la Crème (£3.25), and the real, golden Pomme Frites (£2.95) – but have only managed one pudding. On that special occasion I chose well, savouring every mouthful of the Mousse au Chocolat (£6.75) and wondering why on earth I should share my decadent dessert (the menu suggests you enjoy it ‘a partager’ – I disagree).

Brasserie Zedel has become my ‘go-to’ restaurant when I’m after a special meal minus the hefty price tag. It’s perfect for most occasions, except when entertaining someone that dislikes French food (if that happens, ask yourself ‘why am I aquatinted with this person?’). Par conséquent, Brasserie Zedel gets a bien mérité LLE Rating of 8 / 10.

Brasserie Zedel, 20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED

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