Abokado – healthy and great tasting

Last Tuesday, 1st April, was an unusually warm day – I mean t-shirt weather and sunburnt arms!

It coincided with my first visit to Abokado to get lunch, so I ‘dined out’ in Whitechapel’s Altab Ali Park (previously known as St. Mary’s Park, and the site of the old 14th Century white chapel that gives the area its name).

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Tuna + salmon nigiri with edamame ginger, wasabi + soy sauce @ £3.99

Soaking up the sunshine, I munched on a Super Sushi box of tuna and salmon nigiri @ £3.99 (249 calories) described as “a beautiful selection of long line caught tuna and avocado rolls and superior grade salmon and avocado rolls on a bed of edamame with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger”. Excellent; top quality fish.

Shwraps are also worth a try, particularly the avocado and ginger wrap @ £1.49 (ripe avocado and pickled ginger with carrot in a seasoned sushi rice roll – 96 calories) – light enough to have two for lunch.

Great quality, healthy, super tasty and great value. What more could you ask for?

Food info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Asian, Japanese, sushi, Thai
~ Address: 1 Alie Street, London and several branches
~ Postcode: E1 8DE
~ Nearest station: Aldgate, Aldgate East
~ Website + menus: Abokado website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Abokado food
~ Location: Abokado Aldgate map

More East London dining:
~ Asta at Sozai – Japanese
~ Drift Bar – international
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Japanese Canteen – around the City
~ Momo’wich – outstanding Thai + Malaysian
~ Needoo Grill – BYOB Indian grilled meats
~ Pizza Union – stonebaked pizza, Spitalfields
~ Poppies – fab fish + chips, East End



New Winner – Chinese delivery

It’s take-away time. The other night we decided to order a take-away and settled on Chinese for a change. Well, I say Chinese but New Winner’s menu is more Chinese-come-Thai-come-Asian-fusion.

Our Chinese banquet and carpet picnic began with:
~ Vegetarian spring rolls @ £1.90
~ Sesame prawn toast @ £4.10
~ Chicken satay on skewers with onion, cucumber + special satay sauce @ 4.20
~ Tod mun Thai fishcakes @ £4.30
~ Aromatic crispy duck (a quarter) with 6 pancakes, cucumber, spring onion, and hoi sin sauce @ £7.00


Tod mun Thai fishcakes, seseame prawn toast, chicken satay

Chinese cuisine is possibly my least favourite but I do love crispy duck pancakes when done properly. And these didn’t disappoint (the duck was roasted and crispy with little trace of fat, pancakes were paper thin and light, and the hoi sin sauce was great). The tod mun fishcakes weren’t the best I’ve ever tasted but they weren’t bad by any means.

Crispy duck pancakes – crispy, shredded duck with a great hoi sin sauce

For main course, K chose beef in black bean sauce with green peppers (tender beef stir fried in a special black bean paste with onion, pepper and carrot) @ £4.40 and mushroom egg fried rice @ £3.40, while I had vegetarian Thai green curry (stuffed full of crispy tofu, water chestnut, Chinese mushrooms, carrot and bamboo shoots) @ £3.80 with steamed white rice @ £2.20.

Beef in black bean sauce + Thai green tofu curry

Haute cuisine this aint. But for a good value, convenient and *not overly unhealthy* Chinese delivery option, New Winner was a hit. We’ll order again, not frequently. But we’ll be back.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Chinese, Asian
~ Address: 278 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London
~ Postcode: SE13 6JZ
~ Tel: 020 8690 7614
~ Website + menus: New Winner website
~ Photos on flickr: images of New Winner food
~ Location: New Winner map
~ Delivery through: Just Eat

More Lewisham take-aways:
~ Catford Chippy
~ El Poco Mexico – eat in or take-away
~ FS2 – Turkish deliveries
~ Pide – Turkish pizza
~ Sapporo Ichiban – Japanese/sushi collections
~ Turkish Kitchen

New Winner Chinese & Thai on Urbanspoon

Enoteca da Luca – Devonshire Square

Enoteca da Luca came recommended – “they do great wines” I was told. Sold.

It’s a small Italian restaurant on Devonshire Square (near Liverpool Street station) with a ‘local’, rustic, family-run feel about it.

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Enoteca da Luca – al fresco dining on Devonshire Square

A small terrace for al fresco dining is popular with City workers on milder days, while inside, the high walls are decorated with wooden shelves, laden with wine bottles and a ladder to reach them. Now that’s my kind of furnishing…


Kitchen/bar area

On our visit last Friday lunchtime, we were seated by the serving station (close to a collection of bread baskets containing a variety of fresh, tempting breads) and were warmly welcomed by Italian staff who continued to give attentive service without being too in-your-face throughout.

Starting with a bottle of pino grigio dry white wine @ £25.00 and a bottle of chianti red wine @ £25.00, our group shared three sharing platters: Italian regional cheeses @ £11.00, antipasto (cured meats) @ £13.50 and beef (cured beef with rocket, and Grana Padamo with truffle and thyme oil) @ £11.00, with homemade artisan bread @ £2.80 a basket.

The pappardelle al finocchio rich fennel sausage ragu main course pasta @ £12.50 was a hit (sausage and pasta in a fresh tomato sauce with a sprinkling of parmesan) while other dishes that were well received included crab salad @ £10.50, risotto @ £14.00, and roast pork belly @ £9.50.


Pappardelle al finocchio – rich fennel sausage ragu

My gnocchi was served last, some time after everyone else’s (our server kept me informed of the delay and apologised, and worked to keep our party happy).

When it did arrive, the gnocchi with beetroot pesto and Cavolo nero @ £14.00 was extremely salty (aesthetically, a lovely presentation with the deep red of beetroot contrasting with the white potato pasta balls and dark green, almost black, cabbage leaves, and pleasingly contrasting textures when eating too). But salt was the overpowering flavour of this dish. And it ruined it.

Gnocchi in beetroot pesto with dark cabbage, over-salted

Of the eight main dishes ordered, the gnocchi seemed to be the only sub-standard one. Allowing for this exception to what was otherwise a great meal (great service, restaurant comfort and feel, starters, wine, and most main courses) and an altogether pleasing experience, Enoteca da Luca scores 3.5 out of 5 in the LardButty index.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Italian
~ Address: Devonshire Square, London
~ Postcode: EC2M 4RQ
~ Tel: 020 7283 2455
~ e: info@enotecadsq.co.uk
~ Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate
~ Website + menus: Enoteca da Luca website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Enoteca da Luca food
~ Location: Enoteca de Luca map

More City/East End dining:
~ Asta at Sozai – Japanese
~ Drift Bar – Japanese
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Japanese Canteen – around the City
~ Momo’wich – outstanding Thai + Malaysian
~ Needoo Grill – BYOB Indian grilled meats
~ Poppies – fab fish + chips, East End

Enoteca da Luca on Urbanspoon

Silk – in Soho’s ex Courthouse

Could anyone not be intrigued to visit a restaurant in the former courthouse where Oscar Wilde took the Marquess of Queensbury to court on a criminal libel charge, and where Charles Dickens once worked as a court reporter?

Silk restaurant in Courthouse Hotel
Courthouse Hotel, Soho: l-r, exterior, original cell gates leading to bar, former prisoners’ cells (now toilets)

Silk – serving Asian fusion food – looked a bit hit and miss, from the mixed reviews it gets online. What really appealed to me was the history: that in this court room, trials were held involving Oscar Wilde, Mick Jagger and Johnny Rotten.

On arrival at the Courthouse Hotel, a bloke – half naked in Roman skirts costume – ran passed us. That wasn’t really the historical scene I’d been expecting! But as the cheerful receptionist explained – there was a Hercules event on in the hotel that evening. We briefly pretended to be attending said Roman fancy dress event but after thoroughly confusing the receptionist, we proceeded (chuckling) to Silk, as booked.

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Oak-panelled former courtroom

The wooden door to the former court room was closed. On opening, another cheerful waiter told us that this was the second oldest court room in England, pointing out the small restaurant’s special features including the glass ceiling window and an old silk route painting on the wall.

We ordered a bottle of South African Chenin Blanc white wine @ £23.50 (crisp and dry) and sat back for a leisurely read of the menu.

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Lal Maans starter – seared beef

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Pho Pia Je starter – Thai style veggie spring rolls

For starters I had lal maans – beef slices seared with red chilli and Thai spices @ £8.95 (the beef was really tender, and the spices made it dance) while L had Poh Pia Je – Thai style vegetable spring rolls @ £6.95 (really thin, almost pancake-like pastry, packed with crisp veggies).

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Pla Yang Krachai – swordfish steak

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Hakka Noodles – with crispy chilli tofu

For main course I had Pla Yang Krachai – swordfish steak marinated with Thai spices and krachai ginger @ £16.50 (a juicy, flaky fillet with blackened spiced top) with pulao rice @ £3.50 (packed full of flavours: cumin, cloves, and prawn – probably the best pulao I’ve had) and L had Hakka Noodles – Singapore noodles topped with crispy chilli garlic tofu @ £13.95, and a shared side of Phad Boong Fai Deng – stir fried pak choi with black bean sauce @ £3.50.

The only slight mix up happened when we were asked if we’d like to order desserts. We were full so no, we didn’t want desserts but – as we were enjoying ourselves – we ordered two after-dinner liquers: amaretto. Well after such a lovely meal, why not rest a little longer and digest our food? So we were quite surprised when two small ice-creams were placed in front of us (two complimentary taster portions of ice-cream it seemed?) – very rich and creamy; not very icey and certainly not something I could have eaten much of.

A short while after after that, the bill arrived but no amaretto liquer. It turned out we’d eaten our amaretto in ice-cream form, by mistake. It was too late to return them by this point so we could only laugh. Our total bill for two came to £71.18 (with a 2-for-1 Tastecard discount and including service) – very reasonable even without the Tastecard discount, for this standard of food and service.

The food at Silk was simply stunning; service was cheerful, attentive and informative (both in terms of the menu and the room’s history) and overall, a great experience.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Asian, fusion
~ Address: 19-21 Great Marlborough Street, London
~ Postcode: W1F 7HL
~ Tel: 020 7297 5555
~ Nearest station: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus
~ Website: Silk website
~ Sample menu: Silk sample menu
~ Photos on flickr: images of Silk restaurant at the Courthouse Hotel
~ Location: Silk map


More Soho dining:

~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Bistro1 – Mediterranean/Turkish food on Frith Street
~ Cây Tre – Vietnamese restaurant on Dean Street
~ Shoryu Ramen – Japanese noodles
~ Wagamama Soho

Silk on Urbanspoon

The Drift in Heron Tower

We were a group of twenty at The Drift this Friday lunchtime. On entering this ground and first floor restaurant in the Heron Tower the first thing you notice is the sheer spaciousness: high ceilings, open kitchen, and glass front allowing in lots of light. It’s a pleasing space to walk into.

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Open plan kitchen

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Glass fronted Heron Tower – view towards Liverpool Street Station

Given it’s a Friday lunchtime in the City, The Drift isn’t especially busy yet service is slow.

And as it’s #FishFryday I order beer-battered haddock with chips and tartare sauce @ £9.95 (the fish is slightly soggy while the chips are dry – satisfactory but nothing special).

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Haddock + chips – served with tartare sauce

Others in our party order:
~ chicken club sandwich – chargrilled chicken, mayo, tomato,
bacon + salad leaves with chilli jam @ £7.50 (there’s disappointment that the chilli jam can’t be tasted in the sandwich, and a wonder if it actually made an appearance)
~ crab and crayfish linguine with a hint of chilli @ £9.95 (this was described as being nice enough but nothing outstanding)
~ double cheeseburger with guacamole, pineapple, beetroot,
mustard mayo + pickled gherkin @ £13.95 (a double burger portion – very meaty, but no cheese in sight)

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Double cheeseburger – double burger + pineapple ring, no cheese in sight

We asked for the bill several times and were kept waiting (for an extra half an hour – not ideal for a lunch break outing) even though many tables had been vacated by now and the restaurant was thinning out.

All in all, a pleasing light and open restaurant space, handy for Liverpool Street Station, with fairly average food.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 2.5 / 5
~ Type: British, international
~ Address: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London
~ Postcode: EC2N 4AY
~ Nearest station: Liverpool Street Station
~ Website: The Drift website
~ Menus: The Drift menus
~ Photos on flickr: images of The Drift food + restaurant
~ Location: The Drift in Heron Tower map


More City/East End dining:
~ Asta at Sozai – Japanese ramen, katsu, don etc
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Japanese Canteen – around the City / East End
~ Momo’wich – outstanding Thai + Malaysian
~ Needoo Grill – BYOB Indian grilled meats
~ Poppies – fab fish + chips, East End

Drift on Urbanspoon

Poppies of Spitalfields – fab fish + chips

Poppies of Spitalfields is the national winner of the Independent Fish & Chip Restaurant of the Year Award, 2014 (not fish and chip shop – that award goes to Quayside in Whitby).

It’s no surprise then that there’s a queue out the door and along Hanbury Street this Friday lunch time, as people want to get their #FishFryday fix at this 1940s East End style restaurant (seems more like American diner theme now) complete with juke box.

There’s a shorter queue for the take-away counter so that’s where we head, given the sun’s come out and it’s finally nice enough to eat outside.

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Take-away counter

I order a regular cod (£6.50) and regular chips (£2.00), generously sprinkled with salt and vinegar (at my request), served up in ‘fake newspaper’ patterned paper and bag covered in East End stories dated 8 May 1968 (including a ‘Jack The Ripper Body Found’ story about Annie Chapman, as well as the local blitz in WWII). Nice touch.

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East End newspaper patterned bag

We sit outside, by Spitalfields Market, to eat in the sunshine. The cod is succulent and the batter crispy (even if one side of fish skin has been left on) and the chips are perfect.

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Regular cod and chips from Poppies of Spitalfields

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Succulent cod

It’s a generous serving for a ‘regular’ – none of us manage to eat a full portion.

A top recommendation by D, Poppies is likely to become a regular #FishFryday haunt…


Restaurant + take-away info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Fish + chips, British, seafood
~ Address: 6-8 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, London
~ Postcode: E1 6QR
~ Tel: 020 7247 0892
~ e: info@poppiesfishandchips.co.uk
~ Nearest stations (overland + tube): Shoreditch High Street, Aldgate East, Whitechapel
~ Website: Poppies website
~ Spitalfields take-away menu: here
~ Photos on flickr: images of Poppies fish + chips
~ facebook page: Poppies on fb
~ National fish + chip awards: organised by Seafish UK
~ Location: Poppies restaurant map


More East London dining:
~ Asta at Sozai – Japanese ramen, katsu, don etc
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Japanese Canteen – around the City / East End
~ Momo’wich – outstanding Thai + Malaysian
~ Needoo Grill – BYOB Indian grilled meats

Poppies Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

Canteen – traditional British grub

Canteen serves hearty British food (from carefully sourced ingredients) and after a couple of drinks at the BFI cafe bar on Friday (another evening of incessant rain), that was just what me and L fancied.

We hadn’t booked but were fortunate enough to get a table that had just become available. It was 8pm, the start of the weekend and this branch of Canteen at the Royal Festival Hall was busy, as you’d expect.

Scotch egg

So we were greeted and seated immediately, and ordered a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc @ £19.00 from the ‘Good white wine’ list (as opposed to the ‘the great’, ‘our favourite’, and ‘brilliant white’ sections – all clearly laid out, in a says what it is on the tin kind of way) and a Scotch egg to nibble on as a shared starter.

The Scotch egg was simply divine – with a runny yolk centre and a crispy, crunchy crumb shell, served with piccalilli @ £3.75.

Haddock + chips – with mushy peas

For main course I had haddock and hand-cut chips with tartare sauce @ £13.75 (well it was #FishFryday after all and I’d been hankering after some good fish and chips all day – they were really crispy but not dry, and no oil in sight) with mushy peas @ £2.75, while L had slow cooked beef stew with stout, onions and glazed carrots @ £12.50 and chips @ £3.50.

Slow cooked beef

This was traditional, nourishing British food at its best – great quality food and reasonably priced too. Our total bill for two came to £62.16 including a 12.5% service charge (although – rather cheekily – the new server who brought us the bill asked us to please leave a cash tip as well, saying that waiting staff wouldn’t get the service charge already added to the bill).

Canteen bill for two

A good reminder that the old British favourites, when served well, can be great.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British
~ Address: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London (+ several locations)
~ Postcode: SE1 8XX
~ Tel: 0845 686 1122
~ e: rfh@canteen.co.uk
~ Nearest station: Waterloo, Embankment
~ Website + menus: Canteen website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Canteen food
~ Location: Canteen South Bank map

More South Bank dining:
~ Oxo Tower restaurant – somewhat bland
~ Zen China – great riverside views

Canteen on Urbanspoon


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