Mishkin’s – Covent Garden

“A kind-of Jewish deli with cocktails”

A small, New York style deli at Covent Garden, Mishkin’s has a down-to-earth, cosy feel about it from the moment you step inside, with its exposed red brick walls, black and white diamond vinyl flooring and comfy seating by candlelight.

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New York style diner

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Gin-centric cocktail menu

The cocktail menu is original, gin-centric and very good. J and I started with a gin sour (Hayman’s Old Tom, lemon juice, sugar, orange bitters + egg white @ £8.00) and a rosemary gimlet (Boodles, lime cordial, sugar + rosemary @ £8.50) respectively.

Now it was time to find out: what’s “Jewish deli” food all about?

Well, the menu offers a range of American classics from salt beef or pastrami sandwiches to meatloaf, burgers and dogs, and macaroni cheese. And some unusual salads besides – like curried cauliflower, chickpea and preserved lemon or fennel, almond and curly endive.

Mishkins sliders
Spicy chicken and lamb sliders with zucchini, parmesan + basil salad

I ordered a couple of sliders (supposedly ‘small’ burgers but they were quite big) – lamb, feta, pomegranate seeds and white bean hummus and spicy fried chicken with jalapenos @ £5.00 each, while J had a fish dog, sauce gribiche (similar to tartare sauce) and onions @ £9.00.

While the fish dog went down well, and the lamb slider was interesting, the fried chicken slider was fairly uninspired.

We shared a zucchini, parmesan + basil salad @ £5.00 (really good) and a portion of chunky chips @ £3.00 (pretty generous).

Fish dog with sauce gribiche and onions

Specials (both cocktails and food) are displayed on the wall. The hot butter spiced rum cocktail @ £8.00 appealed so we both ordered one (spicy mulled wine style, but with a buttery rum taste – yum).

Mishkins desserts
Hot butter spiced rum cocktail, pumpkin pie, chocolate bounty

For dessert, J had chocolate bounty bites (dense chocolate squares packed with coconut) @ £3.00 and I had pumpkin pie (well it is almost Thanksgiving…) @ £6.00.

Altogether, our meal for two – including service – came to £77.06. We paid promptly as our time limit (one hour and 45 minutes) was up on the table we’d reserved.

Mishkin’s menu – as of November 2014

The verdict: Despite being a small, busy diner with a quick turnover of tables (I wasn’t a fan of the 1 hr 45mins table time-limit) Mishkin’s has a relaxing, cosy and easy feel about it. Service was distinctly average but those gin cocktails will draw me back…

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: American diner, Jewish deli
~ Address: 25 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2B 5JS
~ Tel: 020 7240 2078
~ Nearest station: Covent Garden
~ Website + menus: Mishkins website
~ Photos on flickr: Mishkins images
~ facebook page: Mishkins on fb
~ Location: Mishkins map

More Covent Garden dining:
~ Brasserie Blanc
~ Maxwells
~ Palm Court Brasserie
~ Sophie’s Steakhouse

Mishkin's on Urbanspoon

Beef rendang recipe – LardButty Homemade

Ideal for slow cooking on a winter’s day

Download spicy beef rendang recipe here

IMG_0973b_beef rendang_slow cooker
Beef rendang ingredients go into the slow cooker

INGREDIENTS – for the paste
(makes enough for 3 batches of paste: use 1 now; put 2 in the freezer)
• 16 dried chillies, soaked in hot water (or 3 fresh birds eye + a few dried)
• 6 cm galangal
• 4 cm ginger
• 4 stalks lemongrass
• 8 cm fresh turmeric root (or powder)
• 20 shallots, peeled
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled

INGREDIENTS – for the curry
• 500g rump steaks
• 3 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
• 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
• Dark brown sugar, to taste
• Salt
• Cream coconut (200g or a 400ml can)
• Cardomon to taste
• Vegetables of your choice
• Toasted almond flakes to sprinkle on top
• Tamarind sauce to drizzle on top


1. Curry paste: Blend all the ingredients (chillies, galangal, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, shallots/onions and garlic) into a smooth paste and divide into batches (one to use now + put two batches of paste in the freezer).

2. Curry: Cut the beef into chunks. Put in a bowl and stir in one portion of paste. Leave in fridge overnight to marinade.

3. Slow cooker method: Next morning, lightly fry off the beef and paste in a pan, until the beef chunks turn brown and are sealed. Take off the heat and stir in cream coconut.

4. Place chopped potatoes, carrots, leeks (veg of your choice) chunks in bottom of slow cooker, then pour the beef and mixed paste and cream coconut over the top. Leave to slow cook for up to 10 hours.

5. Optional: transfer the entire cooked dish from slow cooker into a wok and leave simmering, to reduce, for half an hour or so. Serve with rice, add a splash of tamarind sauce + sprinkle with toasted almond flakes.

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Winter warming slow cooked beef rendang

Download spicy beef rendang recipe here

~ Photos on flickr Beef rendang pics

LardButty homemade:
~ Boterkoek and fruit buckle recipes
~ Cheesey jalapeno melts
~ Onion bhajis recipe
~ Peanut butter + honey bars recipe
~ Scones recipe
~ Squid curry recipe
~ Tod mun pla (Thai fishcakes) recipe
~ Turkish delight cheesecake recipe



The Tannin Level – Harrogate

Last night was a busy one for Harrogate due to the annual Guy Fawkes bonfire and fireworks on the Stray. While some restaurants were booked up well in advance, we’d managed to reserve a table for six people at the Tannin Level – a basement wine bar and bistro that’s had a good reputation for donkeys years. Somewhere I’ve been wanting to go for ages.

Talking of donkeys (well, animals) one of our party is a vegetarian/pescatarian. And the Tannin Level’s menu caters for all tastes and dietary requirements. There’s a good variety of dishes, with plenty of seafood and vegetarian options.

IMG_0860_cod fishcake pea puree
Cod, leek + chive fishcake with pea purée

For starters, I chose cod fishcake mashed up with potato, leek and chive, coated in breadcrumbs, and served on a pea purée with rocket @ £6.50 (absolutely gorgeous) while others had
Wensleydale pannacotta with caramelised pear, walnuts and cranberry dressing @ £6.95 (an original take on a cheese starter that tasted wonderfully different)
black pudding hashcake with a poached egg + Hollandaise sauce @ £7.95
tempura king prawns with a chilli dip @ £7.95
warm tomato + mozzarella tart with basil dressing @ £5.95

IMG_0865b_Wensleydale pannacotta
Wensleydale pannacotta with caramelised pear, walnuts + cranberry dressing

More starters:
Selection of starters at the Tannin Level Harrogate
Black pudding hashcake, tempura prawns, tomato + mozzarella tart

To drink, we chose a bottle of red and white wine from the wine list to accompany our range of veggie, seafood and meaty dishes:

- white: Pecorino, Italian (“sweet ripe fruit of peach and mango, rounded but with an intense clean finish; a very refreshing, crisp white”) @ £25.20

IMG_0852b_Pecorino at Tannin Level
Pecorino – Italian

- red: Drink Me Tinto, Portuguese (“intense berry and dark cherry flavours, everything you expect from Niepoort, with all the character of the Douro”) @ £28.50

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Drink Me Tinto – Douro with Hallowe’en themed hand-shadow games

For main course, I had pan fried sea bass with fondant potato, buttered spinach, king prawns and salse verde (included capers, one of my old favourites) @ £15.95, while others had
slow braised lamb shank with chorizo, tomato + chickpea cassoulet @ £15.95
salmon fish fingers + chunky chips with pea purée + homemade tartare sauce (full of whole capers) @ £15.95
baked hake fillet with tarragon potatoes, green beans + Hollandaise @ £12.95
seafood pancake – hake, salmon, smoked haddock + king prawns in a smoked Applewood cheese sauce with sautéed potatoes and mixed leaves @ £15.95

IMG_0866b_Sea bass
Pan fried sea bass with fondant potato, buttered spinach, king prawns + salsa verde

IMG_0868b_lamb shank chickpea cassoulet
Slow braised lamb shank with chorizo, tomato + chickpea cassoulet

IMG_0867b_salmon fishfingers and chunky chips
Salmon fish fingers + chunky chips with pea purée + tartare sauce

More mains:
Selection of main courses at the Tannin Level Harrogate
Baked hake fillet with tarragon potatoes, seafood pancake, pan fried sea bass

After two courses we were – unsurprisingly – all stuffed. Most of us ordered a liquid dessert (the likes of Remy Martin @ £3.75, Courvoisier @ £3.50, malt whisky @ £3.95 or limoncello @ £3.50) or shared a dessert.

IMG_0879_lime and stem ginger cheesecake
Lime + stem ginger cheesecake – gingernut base, stem ginger syrup, champagne sorbet @ £5.50 (as good as it looks, if not better!)

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Chocolate brulée with a homemade chocolate chip cookie @ £5.50

The verdict: Lovely cosy restaurant (while quite large, there are several alcoves and arches which give a feeling of privacy), good service and excellent food and wines. Scoring 4.5 out of 5 in the LardButty index, it’s definitely a hit.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: British, International
~ Address: 5 Raglan Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1LE
~ Website: Tannin Level website
~ Photos: Tannin Level images
~ Location: Tannin Level map

More Harrogate dining:
~ Black Sheep Brewery – tours + visitor centre, Masham
~ Carriages – Knaresborough
~ Drum + Monkey – seafood in Harrogate
~ Major Tom’s
~ Storm at The Dower House – Knaresborough
~ Sukhothai – Harrogate, top Thai in Yorkshire

Tannin Level on Urbanspoon

Kettner’s – Soho

Kettner’s in Soho dates back to 1867, when Auguste Kettner (chef to Napoleon III) created his restaurant from four Georgian town houses.

Entering through the main doors in to the hallway, it feels – even today – like stepping into someone’s rather grand home with a sweeping staircase before you (leading up to first floor function rooms), a door to the left through to the bar room, or another doorway to the right leading into the main dining rooms.

Passing the pianist playing a white grand piano, it’s easy to imagine the high society of a bygone age hanging out here.

Glamorous style

What makes it especially appealing is that, while the style is glamorous, it’s slightly shabby round the edges. In a good way. The beautiful parquet flooring is well worn and the marble table-tops look like they could tell a story or two. It looks and feels lived in, and is instantly comfortable (further helped by the abundance of waiting staff who all acknowledged me as I was taken through to our table).


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Grilled Crottin goats cheese topped with parsley

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Beef carpaccio

For starters, S had grilled goats cheese with a parsley topping and salad @ £7.95, while I had Scotch beef carpaccio with truffle mayonnaise, capers, shallots, rocket, and Parmesan @ £10.50 (I loved the variety of little extra flavours, especially tangy capers).


IMG_0800b_tuna steak
Seared tuna steak salad – generous portion

Chicken with wild rice

Sticking with my preference for raw foods on this particular evening, I homed in on the seared yellow fin tuna (lovely chilli and aniseed flavours in the searing crumb) with green beans, new potato, egg and anchovies @ £13.95 for main course (a generous portion) while S had corn-fed chicken with wild rice, garlic, and a tarragon cream sauce @ £16.50.


Mango + passion fruit pavlova

IMG_0804_creme brulee
Kettner’s classic crème brûlée

We’d enjoyed our first two courses so much, it would’ve been a shame not to check out Kettner’s puddings too. So S had a mango and passion fruit pavlova @ £6.50 and I had a crème brûlée (divine) @ £6.00.

Kettner’s offers a pre and post theatre menu – two courses @ £18.50 or three courses @ £21.50. Or, if ordering from the a la carte menu (as we were) Tastecard is accepted – 50% off food for up to four people but you must book in advance (no weekends). Our total bill for a three course dinner for two including a half litre of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc @ £16.95 with a Tastecard discount, came to £62.00 (which includes a 12.5% service charge). Great value.

The verdict: smart old brasserie but there’s nothing pretentious or twee about it. Nicely informal, impeccable service and great French-inspired food.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: French, international,
~ Address: 29 Romilly Street, Soho, London
~ Postcode: W1D 5HP
~ Tel: 020 7734 6112
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website + menus: Kettner’s website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Kettner’s food
~ Location: Kettner’s map

More Soho dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Asia de Cuba
~ Cây Tre
~ Criterion

Kettner's on Urbanspoon

Vivat Bacchus – London Bridge

Vivat Bacchus at London Bridge was heaving at 6.30pm last night. I’d reserved a table for 6.45pm and was kept waiting in a queue at the door. The man behind me – who was dining outside – was struggling to get a waiter’s attention to order drinks for his table. It wasn’t the best first impression. Would this turn out to be the experience I was hoping for?

Once greeted, we were shown to our table on the quieter cellar floor and were looked after superbly from start to finish. Any initial doubts quickly evaporated.

IMG_0720_Vivat Bacchus biltong
Wafer thin biltong

One of the reasons H and I chose this restaurant was because of the the wine list: it includes some great South African wines such as Graham Beck (we visited a Graham Beck vineyard in Franschhoek together a couple of years ago and sampled some excellent wines there).

And so we ordered a bottle of Graham Beck brut NV from the sparkling wine list, reasonably priced at £29.90, “a dangerously good South African sparkler which was served at Obama’s inauguration” (reputedly causing controversy with Californian winemakers, but hey ho – only the best for the U.S. President…). And munched on some peppered, wafer-thin biltong @ £4.00 (is this the best looking biltong you’ve ever seen – it looks like dried carpaccio, hey?) while reading the a la carte menu.

IMG_0725_Vivat Bacchus flat iron steak
Medium rare flat iron steak + triple fried chips with pepper sauce

Homing in on the main course grills – and taking advice from our helpful waiter – we both opted for a current special (check website or Open Table for latest promotions): 6 oz (170g) flat iron steak (rump/buttock) with triple fried chips and a glass of wine @ £15.00. Seriously good value; a seriously good cut of beef perfectly cooked (medium rare), and faultless chunky, crisp-coated chips.

The au poivre sauce @ £2.75 (smooth blend pepper-corn gravy, not crunchy) was a perfect accompaniment for dunking fat chips.

IMG_0731b_Vivat Bacchus cheese board
Cheeseboard (French/Italian) – top down: Comté, Reblochon, Gorgonzola, Fourme d’Ambert

Do you believe in cheeses?

Vivat Bacchus has its own cheese room (you can select your own cheeseboard with the help of a cheesepert) or you can pick a suggested (but adaptable) cheeseboard – British, French or Italian.

Substituting Coulommiers (soft and Brie-like) with Gorgonzola Dolce (from the Italian board) we – again helped by our waiter – chose a French cheeseboard @ £18.50, comprising
~ Comté (I lived in the Franche-Comté region for a short while a looo-ong time ago and this fast became my favourite cheese)
~ Reblochon de Savoie (brie-like)
~ Gorgonzola Dolce (gorgeously melting, Italian)
~ Fourme d’Ambert (blue cheese)

Comté is available in all the supermarkets these days but this chunk of hard cheese at Vivat Bacchus took me right back to its source. Fair to say it was pretty special.

The *freebie* glass of red wine with the steak was an Indaba Mosaic (South African blend of CabSauv, Merlot + Malbec) – nice enough that we ordered a bottle @ £19.50 with the cheeseboard.

The verdict: Fab service, great food, really good value. Can’t wait to return.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: South African, international
~ Address: 4 Hays Lane, London Bridge, London
~ Postcode: SE1 2HB
~ Tel: 020 7234 0891
~ Nearest station: London Bridge
~ Website + menus: Vivat Bacchus website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Vivat Bacchus
~ Location: Vivat Bacchus map

Vivat Bacchus on Urbanspoon

Giraffe restaurants

Kid friendly restaurant-chain serving breakfast/brunch, burgers and more…

Giraffe restaurants are all about the ‘feel good factor’ from chirpy waiting staff to lively background music and simple, almost childish branding which makes good use of the loveable giraffe (menu artwork is by Debbie Powell).

IMG_9727 - giraffe at Giraffe Giraffes!

There’s an extensive menu, and breakfast/brunch is served until 4pm in most branches – a significant highlight for all who enjoy the likes of eggs on toast or a good fry up at all times of the day.

The Giraffe – burger with smoky bacon + mature cheddar with skin on fries @ £11.35

On a recent visit to the Blackheath restaurant (for a sixth birthday celebration) most of us homed in on burgers with skin on fries. Generously sized, with beef patties made from quality Irish beef, and packed full of pickles, salad and relish, they went down very well indeed.

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Smoked salmon + scrambled eggs on toasted rye bread – brunch @ £7.95 (£8.75 at airport branches)

And on arriving early for a flight from Heathrow even more recently, we took advantage of having a relaxing breakfast in the comfortable surroundings of Giraffe at terminal one. I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on rye bread with fresh tomatoes @ £8.75 while K had the breakfast plate special @ £9.95 – an enjoyable and nourishing way to start any holiday.

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Breakfast plate special 2 sausages, 2 bacon rashers, baked beans, scrambled eggs, tomato, toast (substituted for wedges) @ £9.95 at LHR t1 branch

IMG_1009_Thai duck stir fry
Thai duck stir fry duck, bok choy, Thai basil, mint, snap peas, red pepper + noodles with chilli jam + crispy shallots @ £10.95

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: International, breakfast/brunch, burgers
~ Address: 58-62 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath London ….+ lots of locations!
~ Postcode: SE3 0BN
~ Website + menus: Giraffe Blackheath
~ Photos on flickr: images of Giraffe food
~ Location: Giraffe Blackheath map


More burger restaurant chains:
~ Byron burgers

Giraffe on Urbanspoon

Turquaz – Catford

Authentic Turkish food + live belly dancing in Catford SE6

Next door to the large TFC Turkish supermarket on busy Bromley Road, you’ll find Turquaz Turkish restaurant.

We’d walked passed it many times and not thought much of it (it’s not especially appealing from outside). It was some enthusiastic personal recommendations that led us here last night.

What sets it apart is its super-welcoming, friendly staff (who genuinely seem to enjoy themselves looking after their customers), great Turkish food and lively atmosphere with live belly-dancing entertainment by a stunning dancer.

Turquaz Restaurant on Bromley Road

For starters we shared a mixed hot meze @ £9.90 – borek (cheese-filled pastries – outstanding), hellim (grilled halloumi), sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage) and calamari (tender squid in light, crisp batter).

IMG_0416 - hot meze sharing platter starter at Turquaz
Mixed hot meze starter platter – for two @ £9.90

For main course, I had a tandir @ £13.95 – an Anatolian speciality of very slow oven-baked lamb, served on fresh, paper-thin flat bread with rice and salad. This really was special – the bread was really light and the lamb just melted in my mouth. It’ll be a challenge for me to try something different on Turquaz’s menu next time, having been thoroughly spoilt by this divine lamb dish.

IMG_0421 - lamb tandir at Turquaz
Lamb tandir – slow cooked lamb with fresh flat bread

K had lamb guvec @ £11.95 – a traditional Turkish casserole with onions, peppers, aubergines, mushrooms, tomatoes and a blend of spices with lamb cooked in a clay pot (disappointingly bland; not in the same league as the tandir).

IMG_0419 - lamb guvec at Turquaz
Lamb guvec

Along with a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay dry white wine @ £16.50 (the wine selection was limited) and a bottle of Efes beer @ £4.50, our total bill for two came to £55.80, excluding service – very good value.

The verdict: Generous food portions, fab staff and great food. The belly dancer was a really good dancer and got the odd customer up to dance and even the waiters too. This light-hearted entertainment is what makes Turquaz a bit different, although K felt it was bordering on the atmosphere of a package holiday hotel with in-house entertainment.

My only slight regret was that I didn’t resist the complimentary olives and fresh warm Turkish bread that were brought to the table on our arrival (they *were* gorgeous). I was then too full to eat all of my main course. Possibly a lesson learnt for next time. But probably not…

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Turkish
~ Address: 163 Bromley Road, Catford, London
~ Postcode: SE6 2NZ
~ Tel: 020 8697 4545
~ Nearest station: Catford Bridge, Catford
~ Website + menus: Turquaz website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Turquaz food
~ Location: Turquaz map

More Catford dining:
~ Catford Chippy
~ La Pizzeria Italiana – top Italian restaurant
~ Mekan – Mediterranean cuisine
~ Pide – Turkish pizza
~ Sapporo Ichiban
~ Turkish Kitchen

Turquaz on Urbanspoon


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