Pizza Pilgrims Neopolitan pizza – BYOB at Shoreditch E1

Casual style dining with ‘bring your own booze’

When Mary Berry says it’s the “best pizza” she’s ever had, that’s quite an accolade (Mary Berry Everyday March 2017). But then, she also got some stick in social media for admitting she’d never ordered a pizza delivery (just how much of a pizza expert is she?). On the other hand, if you can get the Pizza Pilgrims duo to come and cook fresh Naples-style pizza in their 3-wheeled pizza-oven-van in your own garden, that’s a pretty special kind of pizza delivery.

So is it really the best pizza ever? It’s time to stop wondering. And go and check out Pizza Pilgrims for myself. I’m heading to the Shoreditch branch where it’s bring your own booze (BYOB) – a bottle of chilled prosecco, Italian sparkling wine, seems appropriate for an Italian feast.

20170719_Pizza Pilgrims - aubergine and salsiccia
Sharing: Salsiccia + friarielli (left) and Aubergine parmigiana (right) with mozzarella in the middle

It’s £2.50 a head for corkage, which helps keep costs down if you’re after a cheap and cheerful pizza meal.

Here, the pizza is Naples-style – proved slow for 48 hours and cooked fast at 500°c.

For two, we order:
Aubergine parmigiana – margherita with roast aubergines, baby plum tomatoes, topped with parmesan + breadcrumbs @ £9.00
Salsiccia + friarielli – White pizza with fresh fennel sausage, chilli, wild broccoli, parmesan, basil + white truffle oil @ £10.00
Buffalo mozzarella with smoked tomatoes fresh from Italy every week @ £5.50 (so good!)

20170719_Pizza Pilgrims smoked tomatoes
Smoked tomatoes

Service is welcoming and friendly, the restaurant has a very casual feel, and all of the food arrives within minutes. The pizzas are absolutely gorgeous – the bread base looks quite dense, but it isn’t. The crust is airy and the actual base is relatively thin and light. The combinations of toppings are also interesting (it took some serious deliberating to narrow our choices down to two, eventually choosing one ‘white’ and one margherita) and fresh and tasty. Our side order of mozzarella and smoked tomatoes with rocket goes down well – the mozzarella is really soft and stringy when we cut into it, and the smokiness of the tomatoes is something else.

 

20170719_Pizza Pilgrims - Shoreditch interior
Casual dining at Pizza Pilgrims Shoreditch 

 

The verdict: Seriously good pizzas served in a casual environment, and BYOB at the Shoreditch branch keeps costs down.

 

20170719_Pizza Pilgrims aubergine pizza
Aubergine parmigiana – roast aubergines, baby plum tomatoes, topped with parmesan + breadcrumbs

 

Read more about the Pizza Pilgrims duo and their  3-wheeled pizza-oven-van.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Pizza, Italian
– Address: 136 Shoreditch High St, London
– Postcode: E1 6JE
– Nearest station: Old Street tube, Shoreditch High Street train stn
– Website + menus: Pizza Pilgrims Shoreditch website
– Photos on flickr: Pizza Pilgrims Shoreditch photos
– Location: Pizza Pilgrims Shoreditch map

Pizza Pilgrims Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chisou Mayfair – Japanese

Classy Japanese food without any pomp

The grand finale of our day out ‘west’ (taking in the Summer Exhibition 2017 and a few cocktails) was a meal at Chisou. The main reason for choosing this Mayfair restaurant was seeing the grilled unagi (eel) dish on their menu which I’ve only had once as a main course (rather than as a sushi/nigiri topping) in Japan a few months ago. I love eel done in the Japanese smoked style with a sticky sauce – it’s up there as one of my all-time favourite foods.

So I’ve really been looking forward to eating here – would it (could it) live up to my hopes?

IMG_5906.jpg
Small, appealing Japanese-style interior – main restaurant

Entering the main restaurant, it’s a small Japanese-style space with counter-seating and a few tables with Japanese wooden benches (the ones with lids so you can store your bags and coats inside, and keep the floor area tidy). But we were taken through to an even smaller backroom with closely arranged tables and no windows.

Befitting a hot, summer’s day we picked a chilled saké that goes really well with seafood, a Fisherman saké (more info here) @ £51.00 for a 720ml bottle. This went incredibly well with the food we ordered (mostly fish). Sipping from the small saké glasses, it seemed to last forever too.

IMG_5893.jpg
Wagyu steak skewers

IMG_5897.jpg
Crispy, fried gyoza

We ordered a few dishes to share, starting with edamame – young soy beans served with sea salt @ £4.50, wagyu kushi yaki – two wagyu steak skewers with teriyaki sauce @ £13.20 and gyoza – five crispy, fried chicken dumplings @ £7.90.

Next to arrive was the sashimi omakase selection – five kinds of chef’s choice ‘gohin sashimi’ @ £28.90. Totally divine and worth sharing two photos from different angles:

IMG_5890.jpg
Gohin sashimi – tuna, mackerel, yellow tail, prawns, salmon and wasabi

IMG_5889sq
Gohin sashimi –  tuna, mackerel, yellow tail, prawns, salmon

And then the much-anticipated grilled plates: saikyo yaki a ‘creamy’ black cod marinated in white miso paste @ £21.40 and unagi kabayaki – sea eel fillet in a sweet kaba yaki sauce @ £28.30.

IMG_5894.jpg
Grilled creamy black cod marinated in white miso paste

IMG_5891.jpg
Unagi kabayaki – smoked fillet of eel in a sticky sauce

Our waiter was charming – when I’d initially asked about the recommended amount of food for two to share (particularly sashimi portions) his advice was along the lines of ordering too much food is a shame but wanting more, we can easily fix. I liked that.

As an afterthought we ordered a portion of rice @ £3.40, to go with the grilled dishes. It arrived within moments.

IMG_5905.jpg
Nice bathroom

IMG_5911.jpg
Saké glasses and holders

For the sake of a thorough review (ahem) we ordered a bowl of ice-cream to share – the black sesame was particularly nice:

IMG_5915.jpg
Ice-cream – Madagascar vanilla, black sesame and green tea

IMG_5918.jpg
Partition between tables – fortunately, a cute little girl/toddler who “loved beans” (edamame soy beans) sat next to me; one even got flicked into my rice bowl which was amusing. But if you don’t like chatting to strangers over your dinner, this place may not be for you…

The verdict: Really high quality, excellent food and great menu options. The kind of ‘fine dining’ that doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. I’ll be back for the unagi (eel) and black cod again. Hopefully soon. And I’ll request a table in the main restaurant.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: Japanese
– Address: 4 Princes Street, London
– Postcode: W1B 2LE
– Nearest station: Oxford Circus
– Website + menus: Chisou Mayfair website
– Photos on flickr: images of Chisou Mayfair
– Location: Chisou Mayfair map

Chisou Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Just Eat delivers

Pide delivery through Just Eat

We’re back ordering take-aways through Just Eat after a few weeks trying out Deliveroo (unsuccessfully).

IMG_5775
Peynir Pide – Feta cheese, hellim cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, fresh mint & fresh tomatoes

IMG_5778
Three pidesSucuk (beef pepperoni, chicken sausages, mushrooms + fresh tomatoes), Acili Sebze (mushrooms, red onions, peppers + green chillies) + Kusbasi (roasted lamb, spicy minced lamb, green chillies, crushed red chillies, red onions + peppers) and feta salad

Last night we ordered a delivery from old favourite, Pide the grandfather of pizza, through Just Eat. Easy to order, the Turkish pizzas and salad arrived promptly within the hour. The order was correct; pizza was fresh and hot, salad chilled, and all very tasty.

Check out this earlier review of Pide

Just Eat
– easy to use website
– many restaurants to choose from
– reasonably priced
– fairly reliable in that food usually arrives within the hour and is usually hot (any issues are generally taken care of in time for your meal)
– a takeaway aggregator that lists menus for its users, Just Eat passes orders onto the restaurants for them to deliver the food to customers (Just Eat gets commission)

Deliveroo
– website has limited functionality (eg. you can’t ‘favourite’ your preferred restaurants) but does have really appealing food photography
– limited number of restaurants to choose from
– over-priced in that Deliveroo charges restaurant prices for ‘restaurant food’ but without the restaurant experience
– a delivery service that doesn’t take responsibility when there’s an issue with an order – the customer is left trapped somewhere in between the restaurant and Deliveroo’s (lack of) customer service
– food usually delivered by bicycle courier meaning food can be scrambled and cold
– the artful food photography on their website does not reflect what the food looks like in real life
– unreliable in that they use a pool of rider-couriers and can not always guarantee couriers in your area

Don’t do Deliveroo – unable to deliver

Sort it out Deliveroo

Save yourself time and money – don’t do Deliveroo.

Deliveroo tweet for blog

LardButty does not recommend Deliveroo.

 

More
DeliverooFails on twitter
Deliveroo rating on TrustPilot (poor)
Deliveroo asks for disgruntled customer’s forgiveness instead of refunding ‘stone cold’ pizza Independent article, Jan 2017

 

Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House in Soho W1 – sublime

Step out of the bustle of London’s Soho into the low-lit, pristine and calming ground floor restaurant Floor 58 in Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House, for some truly tasty posh-nosh

Come on in…

Seated at a table for two (space was restricted) we started with a refreshing drink from the cocktail menu. A Banana Sazerac for me @ 11.00 (Monkey Shoulder scotch, Martell VS cognac, banana, pineapple, aromatic bitters, absinthe rinse and orange oils) and an Eldflower Sour for J @ £10.00 (Beefeater gin, elderflower, peach, lemon and marjoram).

We’d provisionally booked a set menu of two/three courses and a cocktail @ £29.50/£34.50. Take a look at the set menu side by side with the a la carte menu – the a la carte menu is too full of exciting options to resist, right?

 

IMG_4889
Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico de Bellota, Arlington white egg, Langres, dandelion + Spring truffle

 

IMG_4886
Mackerel and tartare, Skyr, pickled walnuts, apple + chicory

 

And so we ordered from the a la carte menu. For starter, I had salt-baked Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico de Bellota, Arlington white egg, Langres cheese, dandelion, and Spring truffle @ £13.50. I don’t think I’ve eaten dandelion before and it looked stunning. So visually pleasing it was almost a shame to tuck in and spoil the design. Almost. The mixture of flavours was sensational – the word sublime was going through my mind right throughout this meal.

J had scorched south coast mackerel and tartare, Skyr (yoghurt-like dairy product), pickled walnuts, apple and chicory @ £12.00.

 

IMG_4884
Set menu Vs a la carte menu – click to enlarge

 

For main course, J had baked Cornish hake, hispi cabbage gratin, Salcombe crab, Tokyo turnip and saffron @ £28.00, along with a mug of cidre Breton @ £6.00.

 

I had coriander seed roasted turbot, green sauce, white Wye Valley asparagus, fennel salad and crispy Pyefleet oyster @ £32.00, and drank a Vinha dos Santos 2013 red wine from Portugal’s Douro region @ £9.50 a 175ml glass. Here’s a photo of the turbot (as served) – beautiful. The photo below shows the food disassembled so you can see inside the crispy (breaded) oyster, and the detail of the meaty turbot with asparagus and fennel salad.

 

IMG_4890
Hake, hispi cabbage gratin, Salcombe crab, Tokyo turnip, saffron

 

IMG_4894
Roasted turbot, green sauce, white Wye Valley asparagus, fennel salad + crispy Pyefleet oyster

 

IMG_4897
Americano @ £4.00, Financier (almond cake) + petit fours @ £3.50

 

IMG_4882
Social Eating House on Soho’s Poland Street – Floor 58 on ground floor, Blind Pig on first floor

 

The verdict: Food here is on another level. It’s sublime, sensational and blew me away. I can’t wait to eat here again. Service was good too.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: British, ‘contemporary bistro’
– Address: 58 Poland St, Soho, London
– Postcode: W1F 7NS
– Nearest station: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly
– Website + menus: Social Eating House website
– Photos on flickr: of Social Eating House
– Location: Social Eating House map

The Social Eating House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Roka Mayfair – Japanese fine dining W1

Robata at Roka – fine dining for treat times

For a special occasion this evening, K and I headed to Roka for some seriously special Japanese robata (charcoal grilled) food. We chose this branch for its menu (see Roka Mayfair menu) which includes black cod, a favourite of mine.

20170329_RokaMayfair
Tuna tataki, beef gyoza, tenderstem broccoli + chicken skewers

We ordered a bottle of dry white wine by La Croix Belle wine estate @ £34.00 – appropriate for a mild Spring evening, and spicy dishes and fish.

While the premium tasting menu looked quite appealing (10 set dishes @ £88.00 each) it seemed like a lazy option. We preferred the enjoyment of reading all of the menu and ordering exactly what we wanted.

As food was arriving at the neighbouring table, it was quite a challenge not to simply copy what they had – it smelt amazing. We took their recommendation for the fried aubergine salad, and were glad we did.

For starters, we shared these plates:

Age nasu no goma-ae @ £6.60
fried aubergine, sesame miso and katsuobushi

Yakitori-negima yaki @ £5.90
chicken skewers with spring onion

– Broccoli no shinme, shoga to moromi miso @ £5.60
tenderstem broccoli, ginger and moromi miso

Beef gyoza @ £9.30
with pickled cucumber and a soy based sauce

Nigiri unagi @ £6.90
two pieces of freshwater eel sushi

IMG_4290
Fried aubergine salad with sesame miso + katsuobushi (tuna flakes) –  @ £6.60

This fried aubergine with sesame miso was a recommendation worth sharing. Absolutely gorgeous. And the eel nigiri (pictured below) was the best I’ve had in the UK – we ordered two portions.

IMG_4293
Two pieces of nigiri unagi – freshwater eel sushi @ £6.90

IMG_4288
Yellowfin tuna tataki – with apple mustard dressing @ £12.60

For main course, we shared:

Kihada maguro no tataki @ £12.60
yellowfin tuna tataki with apple mustard dressing

Gyuhireniku no pirikara yakiniku @ £24.30
spicy beef fillet with chilli, ginger and spring onion

and, saving the best ’til last…

Gindara no saikyo-jaki @ £37.60
black cod marinated in yuzu miso

IMG_4308
Spicy beef fillet – with chilli, ginger and spring onion @ £24.30

Just divine. This black cod may seem a bit pricey @ £37.60 but it absolutely blew me away. And you can’t put a price on that.

IMG_4300
Black cod marinated in yuzu miso @ £37.60

The kitchen is open plan in the centre of the restaurant, so you can see the food being cooked on the robata grills. It’s a bit like posh BBQ-ing really.

IMG_4326
Men at work: robata grills in the centre of the restaurant

 

IMG_4285
Roka Mayfair interior

Our total bill for two came to £185.21 including service.

 

The verdict: Perfectly prepared and beautifully presented food that’s so incredibly tasty, it blew me away. Full marks to the kitchen. Service was at odds (either too much – we went from different servers descending on us one after the other, to non-existent). If you like Japanese food, you’ll love Roka.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: Japanese, Robata
– Address: 30 North Audley Street, London
– Postcode: W1K 6ZF
– Nearest station: Bond Street, Green Park
– Website + menus: Roka Mayfair website
– Roka Mayfair photos: Roka Mayfair photos on flickr
– Location: Roka Mayfair map

Roka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Okonomiyaki at Abeno Too – Covent Garden WC2

Turn away now if you’re tormented at the idea of having a big fat tasty Japanese pancake cooked right in front of you, ready to eat all steaming hot and covered in tuna flakes, kewpie mayo and Japanese trimmings…

We tried and loved okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) while on holiday in Japan last year. Somehow, I only recently heard about Abeno, okonomiyaki specialists in London, so was keen to visit.

At the original Abeno restaurant in Bloomsbury, you can book a table. Our visit last night was to Abeno Too on Great Newport Street (off Leicester Square) where there are no reservations. It’s a small restaurant and being a Saturday evening, we headed there early after a shopping spree.

Abeno Too in 43 seconds:

img_4191_crop - Okonomiyaki menu.jpg
Okonomiyaki menu at Abeno Too

We started with a couple of refreshing drinks: K had a kirin beer @ £4.75 while I had a summery miyako odori with berries @ £8.50.

IMG_4194.jpg
Kirin Ichiban , Miyako odori and kyo geiko

For starters we shared kyo geiko @ £8.50 (dried prune? not that exciting) and beef kara-age @ £13.80 – really tender (as in Granny’s-slow-cooked-beef-stew tender).

img_4198b.jpg
Beef kara-age – crispy nuggets of organic fillet beef, with a garlic, ginger + soy seasoning

IMG_4201.jpg
Mio sake – light + refreshing at only 5% alcohol but not cheap @ £14.00 for a small bottle

On to the exciting bit. This restaurant specialises in okonomiyakis, so that’s what we ordered.

Okonomi-yakis are Japanese pancakes, and the ingredients vary based on the region of Japan. However they vary, the basic ingredients are cabbage, egg and dough with spring onions, ginger and bits of tempura batter (in Hiroshima for example, they include soba noodles).

K ordered an Osaka mix – pork, kimchi and prawn, and I ordered a Tokyo mix – pork, squid and prawn. And we went for the deluxe (regular) size @ £14.25 rather than the super deluxe (large) @ £16.25.

IMG_4203.jpg
Two okonomiyaki pancakes in the making – Tokyo mix left, Osaka mix right

Watch it cook:

IMG_4206.jpg
Steaming and a-sizzling – time to add bacon

The pancake is flipped over when it’s done on the first side, and sprinkled with Katsuobushi or bonito tuna flakes (so light, they dance in the steam) and aonori (powdered seaweed).

IMG_4209.jpg
Nearly ready…  topped with Kewpie mayonnaise + okonomi sauce before serving

IMG_4193.jpg
Inside Abeno Too

img_4215b - Abeno Too queue.jpg
Queueing outside Abeno Too  – a line had formed by the time we left at 7.30pm

The bill for this fairly quick meal for two, which included a couple of drinks each, came to £94.75 before service.

The verdict: Authentic Japanese experience, it’s not cheap but it’s something a bit different in London. And very tasty too. What’s not to enjoy about having a pancake cooked in front of you, containing a load of ingredients of your choice?

Abeno Too restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Okonomiyaki, Japanese
– Address: Abeno Too, 17-18 Great Newport Street, London
– Postcode: WC2H 7JE
– Nearest station: Leicester Square
– Website + menus: Abeno Too website
– Abeno photos: photos on flickr
– Location: Abeno Too map

Abeno Too Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Check out this ‘sakura-yaki’ special at Abeno in Bloomsbury, London:

Petal-shaped pancakes, a cherry blossom season special at Abeno, May 2017 
(a 20 second timelapse)

The five mini-pancakes are: beef, bacon, squid, prawn + mushroom, around a central egg yolk (pistil), with a kewpie-mayo ‘blossom’ outline, dusted in powdered seaweed and sprinkled in tuna flakes @ £20.80 (shared between two).