Tag Archives: Pork Belly

Fette Sau, Brooklyn, NYC

My stomach deserved nothing but the best on its last day in New York. A final treat before all meaty, carby goodness was replaced by a vegan health kick back home.

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Fette Sau came highly recommended by bloggers, NY ‘must eat’ lists and friends. We were told to get there early to avoid the crowds, which suited our timings well as a 9pm flight sat on the horizon.

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One way to describe the interior is an ‘all-American meat canteen’. You queue, you order, you pay, you sit, you eat. Seat wise, you can either enjoy the dark, man-friendly, no-frills interior, or the sunshine filled wooden tables outside.

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For just $20, the meat man gave us enough slow cooked slabs for three people, minus the chicken and sausages (they were irrelevant to us). We also had spongy, buttery brioche buns, BBQ beans and our ‘desperate to be healthy’ cold, not particularly tasty, broccoli (these men know their meat, not their veggies).

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Our ribs were covered in sweet, glazed meat. The brisket fell apart on the fork and the pork belly? Well that just melted in the mouth. Oh yes, it pays to slow cook meat between 12 and 18 hours.

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We didn’t drink (although there were some interesting wines and local brews on offer) and we didn’t order dessert. We just filled ourselves with enough BBQ’d meat to help us refuse revolting plane food at 33,000ft.

Fette Sau 354 Metropolitan Avenue (Havemeyer Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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

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

The Hand & Flowers, Marlow

When Tom Kerridge opened The Hand & Flowers, he put pretty Marlow on the map. It’s a gastropub with two Michelin stars. A gastropub that’s been on my restaurant bucket list for well over a year.

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We booked at Christmas and went three weeks ago – something the hungry punters at the bar should have done. Our square, wooden table was at the back of the charming restaurant, complete with exposed beams, white-washed walls and wild flowers.

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We chose from the Michelin priced menu, whilst munching on complimentary white bait and bread. The homemade sourdough and soda was delightful and the lightly battered fish was dunked and devoured in an instance. We were off to a great start.

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Pumpkin soup from the very reasonable set menu (two courses for £15, three for £19.50) was velvety, nutty and made all the more special with aromatic truffle.

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Crab Ravioli (£11.50) had a wonderful flavour, but the best part sat on top – sweet, chargrilled calcot onion smothered in smokey butter. Delicious.

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Mains were Cornish Monkfish smeared in a peanut crumble and served with roasted cauliflower (£29.50) and a Half Beer Roast Chicken with Glazed Celariac and more of that tasty truffle (£28).

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The chicken was succulent and, much to my surprise, blew the monkfish out of the water. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the fish – who knew it went so well with peanut?

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Across the table sat pork belly from the set menu. The verdict was clear from the mmms, ahhhs and ‘this is the best crackling I’ve ever had!’ statements. Another hit.

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We couldn’t refuse a couple of sides (all £4.50 each), so chose Curly Kale with Crispy Ham Hock (a meal in itself) and the Hand & Flowers Chips – a staple for any good gastro.

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Dessert was a must. Sweet Malt Gateaux with Malted Milk Ice Cream (£9.50) wasn’t my usual choice, but Lent made chocolate off limits. It was presented beautifully, but for me, didn’t have as memorable a flavour as the other courses.

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Tom Kerridge – aka Mr Gastropub – deserves a handshake and a bunch of flowers. This bloomin’ marvellous pub gets a LLE Rating of 9/10 and a strong recommendation to anyone visiting or lucky enough to live in Marlow.

The Hand & Flowers, 126 West Street, Marlow SL7 2PB

Karpo, King’s Cross

Karpo should be renamed convenient. Leave King’s Cross from exit two and you’ll be standing in front of the entrance. There’s no time wasting; you arrive, you drink, you eat.

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It’s also hard to miss. The exterior depicts London’s largest mural; a 450 square metre piece of street art that’s as gaudy as it is spectacular. The restaurant itself is sandwiched between a hotel and basement bar Megaro. The owners are the same, but a good job has been done to make each feel unique.

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We were sitting at a chunky wooden table towards the back of the restaurant by the open kitchen. Our chairs were white, plastic and fairly low, meaning our coats dragged on the floor. A cloakroom would have avoided this.

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The meal kicked off with a Gogi Berry Kir Royale (£8) and a bowl of my favourite green Sicilian olives (£2).

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The Cumberland Scotch Egg (£5) was the obvious choice of starter and came sitting on a yummy bed of celeriac remoulade and mustard seeds. I was delighted to see a runny yolk inside the thick meat case and, from the first mouthful, could understand why it’s the restaurant’s ‘signature’ dish.

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We had to ask twice, but our bottle of Malbec arrived with the main courses (£39). Unusually for me, I went for the vegetarian option of Wet Polenta with Mushrooms (£12) as the fish dish didn’t appeal and the rest seemed too heavy after my giant egg. I wasn’t blown away by the flavour, but on behalf of all veggies, appreciated Karpo’s inventiveness.

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Across the table, the Pork Belly looked a little anemic and lacked the crisp crackling my friend had looked forward to (£14). It also came with iceberg lettuce – an odd, and equally insipid, accompaniment. Luckily, a side of crisp, roast new potatoes saved the day (£3.50).

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L’s Chargrilled Venison won the main course competition (£17). The meat was tender, juicy and completely in love with its partners – sweet red cabbage, cauliflower and peppercorn sauce.

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Desserts were shared – a beautiful Vacherin Cheesecake (£6) and a Hot Chocolate Pot (also £6). The soufflé gave me the chocolate fix I needed, but all I really wanted was the cheesecake. Rich, creamy and incredibly smooth, it was worth fighting my friends for.

Karpo gets a LLE Rating of 7/10. A few tweaks would push the points up and I’d happily go back if I was in the area. Probably for a scotch egg, slice of cheesecake and a cocktail. Three of my favourite things in life.

Karpo, 23-27 Euston Road, London, NW1 2SD

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Breddos vs The Player, Soho

You’ve gotta love a ‘soft opening’. There are no queues, the staff are full of enthusiasm and – best of all – there’s almost always a discount on food.

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Breddos vs The Player is a great example of this. Normally found at Netil Market, Breddos Taco Shack quietly opened its pop up in The player last week – a dark, underground bar that I avoid in the sunshine, but enjoy when winter closes in.

Twitter spilt the beans, so we pitched up at 7.30pm last Wednesday, were immediately sat at a large table and, after around ten minutes, found ourselves tucking into yummy Tacos with 50% off the price tag.

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Feeling hungry – and seduced by the price – we each ordered a Taco Tray (normally £14). On the tray were all five tacos; Spiced Chestnut Mushroom, Jerk Pulled Pork, Crunchy Nut Fried Chicken, Twice Fried Cod Cheeks and 10 Hour Chipotle Beef Short Rib.

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The attentive staff topped up our water and wine at least five times and served our tacos with a smile.We all had our favourites. For me, it was the juicy pork and beef tacos, both packed with flavour and punchy heat. By contrast, the cod cheeks were a little dry and the veggie taco was…well…veggie.

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On the side, Chipotle & Jalapeño Slaw (£2) was crunchy, fresh and hot, hot, hot, whereas Pork Belly Croquettes (£5) were indulgent cubes of fatty goodness that our waistbands insisted on sharing.

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Breddos vs The Player didn’t blow me away, but Tacombi in New York was a hard act to follow. That said, I enjoyed the fun atmosphere, tasty tacos and attractive price, so will give it a LLE Rating of 6/10.

 Breddos vs. The Player, 8 Broadwick St  London W1F 8HN 

*It was too dark to take pictures, so the ones you’ll find above are courtesy of The Gaztronome 

Gogi Korean Bar & Grill, Little Venice

When I looked at Gogi’s 77 dish menu, two questions entered my head – ‘how can one chef perfect so many dishes?’ and ‘how the hell am I going to choose?!’.  Our waiter eliminated the second dilemma by picking for us. As for the first, the answer had to be ‘they can’t’. But that’s not to say some weren’t very, very good.

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Gogi is a relatively new Korean restaurant in Little Venice, already popular with the locals (there were at least three families enjoying dinner when we arrived at 7pm). Despite its large windows, the interior is dark, made up of black wooden furniture, exposed brick walls and individual BBQ’s that would later cook the best food of the night.

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We sipped two insanely sweet cocktails whilst peering over the menu of soups & sides, starters, grilled BBQ, BBQ sides, Dolsot Bibimbap, pot dishes and noodles, before moving onto a far nicer bottle of white.

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We then had ‘side dishes’ of Modum Kimchi (£5.90) and Modum Namul (£5.90). Kimchi is like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. I rest in the latter camp, so much preferred Modum Namul’s less fermented pickled spinach, radish, courgette and mushroom.

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Moving onto the actual starters, grilled asparagus with sesame seeds (£5.50) was crisp and fresh, whereas a heavier portion of Pa Jeon (£8.90) was a pancake stuffed with prawns, spring onions and what looked like seafood sticks. Yummy, but let down by less than luxurious ingredients.

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Up next was Roseu Pyeonchae (£16.90) and Yang Yeum Chicken (£8.50). The lightly battered chicken was covered in a sweet, sticky sauce that was pleasant, but rid the batter of its crispiness.

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By contrast, the beautifully presented Roseu Pyeonchae was thin slices of roast beef sirloin, playfully used to scoop shredded onion, pepper and lettuce into a parcel topped with mustard sauce. Hands down, this was my starter of choice.

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The best was definitely saved ’til last. In the centre of our table, a waitress heated our individual BBQ before cooking strips of Bulgogi (£8.90), Pork Belly (£8.90) and Ganjang Chicken (also £8.90). Each piece of sizzling meat was tender, juicy and enhanced by its own delicious marinade. Having the meat cooked at the table was certainly novel and something children are sure to enjoy.

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Gogi was a mixed bag of perfectly adequate food and memorable gems. Now I’m no expert, but having experienced this friendly restaurant, I wonder if the menu should be stripped back to concentrate on dishes that leave a lasting impression, such as the BBQ’d meat and Roseu Pyeonchae. But as I said, I’ll leave that to those ‘in the know’ and give Gogi a LLE Rating of 6.5 / 10. 

Gogi, 451 Edgware Road, Little Venice, London W2 1TH

The Begging Bowl, Peckham

Peckham is undergoing the same transformation Brixton experienced five years ago. It can no longer be called run down, ‘dodgy’ and out of the way. Instead, it’s packed with interesting restaurants, quirky pubs, rooftop bars and – consequently – houses I’ll never afford.

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Top of my Peckham to do list was dinner at The Begging Bowl – a Thai Street Food restaurant loved by critics and locals. You can’t book (surprise surprise), but considering there were ten of us, we only had to wait an hour in the pub across the road.

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The menu is colour coded by price, with dishes ranging from £5.75 to £14.50. Our waiter recommended five dishes between two, along with as much free rice as we wanted.

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From the £5.75 options, Stir-Fry of Morning Glory was a crisp mix of greens, sweetened with soya sauce. It was our only vegetarian choice – meat and fish ruled this meal.

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Skipping a price band, Marinated Raw Salmon, Tiger Prawn with Minced Pork & Coconut Cream, a portion of Deep Fried Blythborough Farm Pork Belly and Green Curry of Braised Beef Cheek were all £9.75 per plate. Each dish excited the taste buds with interesting flavours and varying textures.

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I particularly enjoyed the salmon, which came with an exotic mix of samphire, lemongrass, green mango and chilli lime dressing. It provided much needed refreshment in between mouthfuls of sweet pork belly and rich prawn curry, scooped up with large fennel leaves.

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The best dish was also the most expensive – Chargrilled Skate Wing on a Banana Leaf for £14.50. Not only did it look amazing (everyone had food envy), it was a substantial piece of white, succulent fish with a beautiful Red Coconut, Southern Muslin Curry Sauce.

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We were too full for pudding so, despite the allure of Condensed Milk Ice-Cream,  paid the bill and left. The Begging Bowl comfortably gets a LLE Rating of 8/10 – Brixton better watch out, Stylist may have called it London’s coolest neighbourhood this week, but next year, Peckham might just steal the crown.

Begging Bowl, 168 Bellenden Road, Peckham SE15 4BW

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