Tag Archives: mackerel

Typing Room, Bethnal Green

In April, Lee Westcott must have been the most stressed chef in London. He not only opened a restaurant under the watchful eye of Jason Atherton, he boldly filled Nuno Mendes’ shoes after the master chef packed up Viajante for The Chiltern Firehouse – a place so annoyingly popular, you’re unlikely to find it here.

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Fortunately for Lee, stress levels diminished as the reviews came in. Faye Maschler called it a ‘triumph’ and I, for all it’s worth, struggled to find fault with much other than the price (a drunken look of shock swept across our faces when we got the bill).

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We entered Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel and took a right into the Peg & the Patriot. Here we had an obligatory aperitif (we make our own rules), before moving across the hall for dinner. As we walked into the dining room, we were struck by the attentiveness of the many, many waiters, along with the decor, which was fresh, modern and streamlined, dotted with quirky artwork and vases of wild flowers.

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The menu had – thank goodness – ignored the stale ‘sharing’ trend, instead adopting a traditional three course approach, or a six course tasting menu for £55. Over complimentary brioche smothered in chicken skin butter, we decided to start with a £5 ‘snack’ – Cumin Lovoche, Crab, Sweetcorn & Curried Egg.

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Then, ‘To Begin’, we had Mackerel (£10), Langoustine (£15) and Veal Sweetbread (£15). The Mackerel was lovely and light, served raw with a fresh medley of passion fruit, burnt cucumber and radish. The rich, soft Sweetbread was richer, but balanced by a summery bed of crunchy raw pea, white asparagus and buttermilk.

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The Langoustine was my favourite of the three. Fat and juicy, the shellfish paired wonderfully with carrot, coriander and nutty pistachio. That said, even with my cold, I knew each dish needed a touch more seasoning.

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‘To Follow’ we were all about the meat. Pink, succulent lamb (£24) came with aromatic accompaniments of smoked aubergine, wild garlic, creamy yoghurt and sweet onion, reminding me of one of my favourite Ottolenghi creations.

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Pigeon (£26) was smoked in pine (something I probably wouldn’t have realised if it weren’t for the waiter) and the Suckling Pork Belly (£22) didn’t last long on the plate – crisp on top (good) and served with a sweet combination of peach, mustard and lettuce (better).

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‘Treats’ were a must, so we ordered three between three (you do the maths). Counting down, Green Tea with Yoghurt & Sesame (£8) came in third; the flavours were unique, but I always crave chocolate. Strawberry, pistachio & white chocolate (£9) was up next – an intensely fruity dish, it was like summer in a bowl.

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But the winner had to be Chocolate, Amaretto & Almond (£9), which won over our hearts and stomachs with its multiple textures and delightful flavours.

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I really enjoyed Typing Room and would certainly recommend it – just watch the price as it’ll creep up on you like the Candyman. I hope Lee Westcott has received a well deserved pat on the back from Jason, but either way, I’m giving his restaurant a LLE Rating of 8.5/10.

Typing Room, Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF

Newman Street Tavern, Fitzrovia

A good gastropub is a wonderful thing and the Newman Street Tavern is my new favourite. Found on the corner of Newman Street and Goodge Street, it’s ideal for food with friends or a romantic meal for two (ahhhh).

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Stretched across two floors, it’s smart, lively and cosy, run by a team of friendly waiters you’d like to make friends with. The menu makes life difficult as there are too many tempting starters, mains and desserts, not to mention the sides, Neal’s Yard Dairy cheese and all-day Shellfish Menu.

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We chose what our waiter recommended – deciding for ourselves was too hard. Devon Crab Salad (£11) was a sight for sore eyes. A mountain of white crab meat was surrounded by brown meat, a lemony sauce, crushed hard boiled eggs and golden crisp breads. I was in heaven.

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Across the table sat Cured Sea Trout with Salmon Caviar (£8) – an odd date I know. The ample portion was made up of thick, sumptuous slices of rich, salty trout, bright orange caviar, a small handful of capers, onion and nutty rye bread. Another triumph.

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Main courses of Mackerel atop Scottish Girolles (£15) and Spit Roast Middle White Pork (£18) were just as tasty. The mackerel’s tender white meat fell from the bone and went beautifully with the buttery mushrooms. As for the pork, the large, round slab of juicy meat was covered in rich gravy and surrounded by a crisp ring of crackling.

We didn’t need sides, but couldn’t resist Ceps with Garlic & Parsley Fried Potatoes (£8) and a Rocket & Shallot Salad (£3.50). The potatoes were more than just a side, with each glistening mouthful more delicious than the last.

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Finding room in our bellies for dessert, we shared a Plum Cheesecake (£6.50) that was delightfully creamy and intensely flavoured by the poached fruit.

I don’t have a bad word to say about the Newman Street Tavern, so give it a very worthy LLE Rating of 9 / 10. We’re already planning our next visit, perhaps on a cold Sunday when we can enjoy hours of great food, warming glasses of red and an atmosphere that’s hard to leave.

Newman Street Tavern, 48 Newman St, London W1T 1QQ

Newman Street Tavern on Urbanspoon

Kulu Kulu, Soho

If you find yourself in Soho, hungry, take a walk to Brewer Street where you’ll find Kulu Kulu – a no frills sushi bar that will feed you in a matter of minutes.

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Just like Yo Sushi, the food at Kulu Kulu arrives on a conveyer belt. Fortunately, that’s the only similarity. Here, the sushi is more ambitious (I definitely saw soft shell crab on the tracks), the prices are cheaper and the staff friendlier.

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£10 will get you around three or four plates, depending on the ingredients and complexity of the dish. You can also order delicious Miso Soup for £1.95 and, if you’re already sure of your favourites, a platter ranges from £5.80 to £41.40 (we had 16 pieces of Sashimi for £11).

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Drinks wise, there’s a small selection of wines, beers and soft drinks, along with complimentary green tea throughout the meal.

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So what’s not to love? Kulu Kulu is never going to be Nobu, Roka or SushiSamba, but it’ll certainly satisfy niggling hunger pangs with its convenient, affordable and tasty range of sushi. For that, Kulu Kulu gets a LLE Rating of 6.5/10.

Kulu Kulu, 76 Brewer Street, Piccadilly Circus, London, W1F 9TU 

Kulu Kulu Sushi on Urbanspoon

The Pot Kiln, Yattendon

I’m not fanatical about the royals, but what girl doesn’t dream of being a princess. Well, on my birthday, I got to play Kate as we walked my slightly less glamorous one-eyed dog to The Pot Kiln (sorry Archie), just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Middleton’s family residence.

Anyway, you’re not here to read about my dog walking, so on to the food. Ever since I sunk my teeth into one of their delicious venison scotch eggs at the end of last year, I’ve wanted to go back to The Pot Kiln for dinner.

With a menu that might give vegetarians sleepless nights and vegans nightmares, almost everything hinges on meat either shot on the neighbouring estates, or caught off the coast of Cornwall. As a fish lover, I ordered the Oak Smoked Mackerel Croquettes to start and Roast Cornish Bream with Mussels, Watercress and Sea Spinach for main.

Both courses reaffirmed my love of good gastropub grub – the croquettes were crisp, sweet and perfectly teamed with the sauce gribiche (a cold egg sauce with pickles and capers) and my main was bursting with fishy flavour from the bream, mussels and salinity of the sea spinach.

As for the die hard meat eaters, my parents shared a Haunch of Deer from the specials menu, and what a haunch it was – there was enough tender, juicy meat and roasted, garlicky vegetables to feed four hungry men, which pleased my dad as the majority was taken home in a doggy bag ready to be devoured the next day.

Personally, if I’d gone with meat for my main, I would have sided with The Boyfriend, who went for Hereford Beef Cheeks with crispy shallots and celeriac mash. Fortunately for me, the boyfriend was feeling a little under the weather, so I was allowed to demolish half the divine dish that quite literally melted in the mouth.

For pudding, we all shared a chocolate mousse topped with honeycomb and raspberries…

…and rhubarb and ginger fool, with a rich compote at the bottom and oaty, ginger biscuits on the side. They didn’t last long, so must have tasted pretty good – sadly the happy haze of gluttony had overwhelmed me and my memory by that stage.

I will give The Pot Kiln a LLE Rating of 9/10. It’s by far the best and most satisfying pub food I’ve tasted, whether snacking on a Scotch egg at the bar, or feasting on half a deer in the restaurant. Food this good does come at a price though – around £35 a head without wine – but it’s worth it and you’d be hard pushed to find the same quality in London without paying more.

The Pot Kiln, Frilsham, nr Yattendon RG18 0XX

Mackerel, Broccoli & Chilli Pasta

Question: Which fish is rich in flavour, moist in texture, incredibly cheap and packed with healthy Omega-3?

Answer: Mackerel

Question: Why do so many people turn their noses up at the thought of eating it then?

Answer: Who knows, maybe they’re idiots

I’m a big fish fan so, for me, Mackerel ticks all the boxes, especially when I’m surviving the week on a tenner as I claw my way to payday. I usually buy it smoked and eat it on toast, with salad or even mashed into a pate with soft cheese and horseradish. But, the piece de resistance is my pasta dish below, inspired by Prue Leith and James Ramsden who taught me nothing loves Mackerel more than broccoli and chilli.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 150g smoked Mackerel flaked into pieces with the skin removed (if you like a bit more of a kick, buy the ‘hot smoked’ or ‘peppered’ varieties)
  • 125g tenderstem broccoli cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • The juice of one lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g linguine

Method

  • Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until the stems are cooked, but crunchy
  • Drain and blanch broccoli in cold water to stop the cooking process. Place in a bowl and leave to one side
  • Start cooking the pasta in boiling salted water
  • As the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the chilli and garlic over a medium heat until the garlic turns golden
  • Add the flaked mackerel and broccoli and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes
  • When the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the frying pan and stir well
  • Add the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Serve with a cold glass of white wine and, whilst you eat, pat yourself on the back for making the Mackerel feel so loved.