Xquisite Caribbean restaurant – Tulse Hill

Completing LardButty’s A to Z of restaurant reviews with the letter X at Xquisite, West Norwood (SE27)

The LardButty Index (A to Z) has been complete for a long time, with the exception of the letter X. A review of a restaurant beginning with X is long overdue but they’re few and far between. And so – with some enthusiastic nudging from H – we arranged an outing to Xquisite, a Caribbean restaurant just off the South Circular next to Tulse Hill train station.

I made the reservation through Open Table whose listing is appealing enough, in contrast with the Xquisite website (2015) where the food gallery is not enticing. But the website says that the restaurant is under new management and that the website will be improved soon. So we decided to visit and find out for ourselves.


IMG_4168b_hurricane cocktails
Hurricane cocktail – light rum, dark rum, passion juice, lime, sugar gum grenadine @ £6.50 (2-for-1 in happy hour)


Arriving at 7pm tonight, a Friday evening, I’m the first customer dining in although there are a few collecting take-aways. The restaurant is nicely lit with interesting art work (immediately appealing) and staff greet me promptly and are friendly and helpful. It’s happy hour until 8pm (2 for 1 on cocktails) so we start with a hurricane (light rum, dark rum, passion juice, lime, sugar gum grenadine). With island tunes playing from the DJ booth, I’m transported to being away on holiday. And that’s a nice way to end the working week.


Inside Xquisite


We share starters:
The hot pepper sauce on the prawns is gorgeous and spicy (even if it does mean licking the prawn shells and faces before peeling!) and the dumplings are like a dense Yorkshire pudding.


IMG_4169b_Saucy pepper prawns
Spicy saucy pepper prawns – starter @ £5.00


IMG_4172b_dumplings stuffed with ackee saltfish_cabbage_callaloo saltfish
Triple mix stuffed dumplings – stuffed with ackee + saltfish, cabbage, callaloo + saltfish @ £5.50


For main course, we share curry goat – slow cooked, really tender if full of the bones that the meat has fallen off, in a Jamaican curry sauce (lovely flavours but overly salty) with rice and kidney beans @ £9.00, jerk pork – tender pork in a sticky sauce @ £13.00 (really good but also overly salty) and sweet potato sticks @ £3.50 (perfect).


IMG_4175b_curry goat
Curry goat – tender chunks of meat in a Jamaican curry sauce @ £9.00


IMG_4173_jerk pork
Jerk pork – seasoned, marinated and jerked pork @ £13.00


IMG_4174b_sweet potato sticks
Sweet potato sticks – side portion @ £3.50


Sample menu – as of Nov 2015


On the wine list there are two prosecco options: a ‘prosecco wine’ @ £20.00 and a ‘prosecco sparkling wine’ @ £30.00. They are both sparkling proseccos, the difference being one is a screw-cap bottle, the other is corked like champagne. We went for the screw-cap. We while away a leisurely 3.5 hours here, during which time the restaurant fills up with other customers including a party who are celebrating with a special buffet.

The verdict: Formal Caribbean restaurants serving high-end quality food don’t seem to be that common in London; this is one of them. Good food, reasonably priced. The experience of feeling transported away on holiday was pretty special too. If Xquisite was in my neighbourhood, I’d go back.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Caribbean
~ Address: 7a Station Rise, London
~ Postcode: SE27 9BW
~ Nearest station: Tulse Hill, West Dulwich, West Norwood
~ Website + menus: Xquisite website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Xquisite food
~ Location: Xquisite map


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

Crocker’s Folly – old gin palace NW8

Picture the scene: My parents are in town for the weekend. We’ve been on a guided tour of Lords Cricket Ground (excellent btw – our guide really brought it to life with his knowledge and humour) and we’d like to finish off this nice, leisurely Sunday afternoon with some food and drinks nearby (in NW8).

A quick google search on our ipad reveals there’s a new gastropub in a “former gin palace” a couple of streets away, serving Sunday roasts and cocktails in a Grade II listed building. And it’s part of the Maroush Group (prevalent around Marble Arch).


Crocker’s Folly on Aberdeen Place, NW8 – gastropub in a Grade II listed building

We’re somewhere in between a very late lunch and early dinner and the restaurant is deserted. It’s as if we’ve reserved exclusive use of this grand room with its own private waiting staff. What a treat (Mum thinks she’s become the Lady of Downton Abbey).


Fancy interior: marble bar in the restaurant – chandeliers, Romanesque columns, etc


Walking around Lord’s was thirsty work so we start with a refreshing cocktail while reading the menu. K has a Manhattan (Sazerac rye whisky, vermouth, and Angostura bitters) @ £9.50 and I have a Corps Revival No. 2 (egg white, Tanqueray gin, lemon juice and pineapple juice) @ £10.50.


IMG_3298b_CorpsRevival and Manhattan
Cocktails: Corps revival (foreground) + Manhattan (rear)


Choosing from the Sunday Lunch menu, it’s £18.00 for one course, £25.00 for two courses or £30.00 for three courses.

For starters, K orders baked camembert while I choose salmon gravlax with a fennel cream (subtle aniseed flavour that cleans through the intense fish taste) served with wafer-thin, lightly toasted seeded bread.


IMG_3294b_baked camembert
Starter: baked camembert


Starter: salmon gravlax with fennel cream and wafer-thin seeded toast


For the main Sunday roast, dad and I order lamb and mum and K order beef. It’s a giant plateful with just-perfect Yorkshire puddings (well-risen, crispy on the outside, soft in the middle) a good selection of veggies and gorgeous lamb and beef gravies.


IMG_3300b_beef Sunday roast
Sunday roast beef


IMG_3303b_Yorkshire puddings
Beautifully served, perfect Yorkshire puddings


IMG_3306b_Lamb Sunday Roast
Sunday roast lamb


We’re so full after the main course that none of us can manage a dessert.

But somehow it seems incomplete if we don’t at least try one.

So we share a creme brulee between us (just a ‘taster’). It’s creamier than usual (but not sickly) with a very light, burnt caramelised topping (no hammer required). A very satisfying end to a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience.


IMG_3320_creme brulee
Under attack: cream brulee


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Gastropub
~ Address: Aberdeen Place, London
~ Postcode: NW8 8JR
~ Nearest stations: Warwick Avenue, Maida Vale, St Johns Wood, Marylebone
~ Website + menus: Crocker’s Folly website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Crocker’s Folly food
~ Location: Crocker’s Folly map



Crocker's Folly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hot Stuff – Indian at Vauxhall

A hidden gem, not far from Vauxhall station, Hot Stuff serves great quality Indian food and – being BYOB – is excellent value.

The small restaurant has a nicely intimate feel, and even on our Tuesday evening visit last night it was buzzing. Serving staff were racing around while looking after customers well.

That you can take your own booze (as they don’t have a license to serve alcohol) keeps costs down. Our meal for three came to about £30.00 excluding service. Yes, £30.00!


IMG_3177b_Hot Stuff Vauxhall
Hot Stuff – a hidden gem on Wilcox Road, SW8

Our order included:

– Vegetable samosas @ £2.25
– Chappati – unleavened flatbread @ £1.50
– Peshwari naan – leavened, oven-baked flatbread @ £2.75
– Chicken Biriyani – mixed with rice @ £7.50
– Chicken Madras – spicy hot curry @ £5.50
– Aloo Gobi – potatoes, cauliflower + Indian spices @£3.75
– Chana Masala (chickpea curry) @ £4.00
– Rice, plain @ £2.25
– Soft drinks @ £1.00


IMG_3180_chicken madras
Chicken madras – spicy, sloppy and very, very tasty


IMG_3179_aloo gobi and chana masala
Aloo gobi (front) and chana masala (rear)


Samosa and clean plates
Veggie samosa, and
After (defeated!)


Hot Stuff menu_sample as of Sep2015
Sample menu as of Sep 2015


Humour too…


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: Wilcox Road, London
~ Postcode: SW8 2XA
~ Nearest station: Vauxhall, Stockwell
~ Website + menus: Hot Stuff website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Hot Stuff food
~ Location: Hot Stuff map


Hot Stuff Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pacata – burgers, curries, Asian fusion street-style

After a cultural Sunday outing in London – visiting the Soundscapes exhibition at the National Gallery followed by a coupla beers in a (fairly scuzzy) traditional pub – H, K and I wanted to eat out somewhere.

After much deliberation (over another beer of course) we decided on a Thai restaurant in Covent Garden that we’ve been going to for over 15 years. Initially disappointed that it was closed, we were – ultimately – delighted to stumble across Pacata while aimlessly wondering what to do.

Situated on New Row (a quaint, narrow side street just off St Martin’s Lane) Pacata’s shop-front is small and unimposing. A printed menu propped up in the window caught our eye – an Asian fusion menu serving dishes as diverse as burgers, Thai curries, steaks as well as ramen and pasta, all with an Asian twist and in the currently trendy ‘street’ style. Something for everyone, deliberations sorted.

The restaurant interior was appealing from the moment we stepped in, with its mish-mash of wood furnishings and eclectic lamp collection.

Pacata interior_downstairs_lights_wood
Restaurant interior – downstairs space, creative lighting, wood wood wood

Ordering a bottle of Chenin Blanc, Stormy Cape 2013 (South Africa) @ 16.00, we chose these starters to share from the bar-snack menu:

~ Tod mun fishcakes – Thai fishcakes with chilli sauce @ £4.50 (slightly anaemic, under-flavoured and disappointing – the only weak link in the meal)
~ Popcorn chicken in larb powder – bite-size chicken snacks in a spicy coating @ £6.90
~ Beef skewers – with roast mushroom, spring onion and soy sauce @ £4.50 (yum!)


starters_fishcakes_popcorn chicken_beef skewers
Starters – Tod mun fishcakes, popcorn chicken in larb powder, beef skewers

For main course, H and I both chose grilled chicken breast served with mushrooms, green beans and Jasmine rice @ £12.95. There’s a choice of curry sauce (green Thai, Massaman or Japanese) – we both chose green Thai.

The presentation of the sauce was such that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience choosing how *you* want to eat this unconventional Thai green curry.

IMG_3133_chicken green Thai curry
Chicken green Thai curry – as served


So do you:

a) pour your green Thai curry sauce over the chicken first
IMG_3135_chicken green Thai curry
Sauce over whole chicken (H’s option)



b) cut up the chicken and remove bones before pouring your sauce (so more of the chicken is coated in curry)
IMG_3137_chicken green Thai curry
Chicken strips coated in curry sauce (L’s option)

Either way, it feels like a good and different experience, that engages you (the eater) to customise your Asian curry food in the way you want to eat it. Simple but effective.

K chose this tom yum chicken ramen with a twist: a complete chicken breast on the bone served in a tomato cream soup with egg and spring onions @ £12.95.

IMG_3131_tom yum ramen
Tom yum ramen – spicy tomato cream soup with egg and chicken


We were having such a relaxing, comfortable experience here we felt like lingering. And so ordered a round of digestifs (our waitress was unfamiliar with Courvoisier and took several attempts to serve it with “no ice” but at room temperature as it’s meant to be). Altogether, our bill for three people came to £127.00 including service.

I’ll be back. Probably for a ‘burger n beer’…

Restaurant info:
Sample menus:
~ Bar-snacks
~ Burger n’ beer @ £8.50 deal

~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Thai, Korean, Asian
~ Address: 4 New Row, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2N 4LH
~ Nearest tube stations: , Leicester Square, Covent Garden
~ Website: Pacata website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Pacata food
~ Location: Pacata map


Click to add a blog post for Pacata on Zomato

Babur – Indian fine dining in SE London

Babur offers creative, stylish and thoroughly mouth-watering Indian food that’s a cut above the rest

While you can dine in the restaurant near Forest Hill, we wanted to stay at home and be pampered. For us, this was a whole new, fine-dining-at-home experience.

There are two delivery menus to choose from – traditional or premium. The premium menu offers dishes from the restaurant menu and – unless you’re on a budget – is excitingly enticing and irresistible. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean.

For starters we shared:
~ Punjabi paneer sandwich: char-grilled cottage cheese sandwiched with mint chutney @ £5.75
~ Goat patties: Shredded, warmly spiced patties dry-fried on a tawa (flat cooking-plate) served with tamarind and raisin chutney @ £6.75
~ Monkfish tikka: char-grilled monkfish flavoured with fennel seed + mustard, with spiced coconut broth @ £7.50


Stylishly different

IMG_2948_goat patty and paneer
Starters: goat patties + Punjabi paneer


IMG_2947_Punjabi paneer sandwich
Punjabi paneer sandwich with mint + mango ‘traffic-light’ sauce @ £5.75


IMG_2951_goat patty
Goat patties with tamarind + raisin chutney @ £6.75


IMG_2952_Baghare baigan
Starters: Monkfish tikka – char-grilled monkfish with fennel seed + mustard, and a spiced coconut broth @ £7.50. Divine.


For main course, I had stone bass fish with interesting fennel flavours, and K had a chicken chettinad (lovely peppery, sloppy sauce – really good).


IMG_2957_Stone bass fish
Mains: pan-seared stone bass with a South Indian fennel chutney, green beans, channa dal and fennel pollen @ £13.95 (absolutely gorgeous even if the photo looks a bit messy!)


IMG_2960_chicken chettinad
Mains: chicken chettinad – peppery Chettiyar masala from South India in a rice dosa fool’s cap @ £10.85


Baghare baigan – aubergine with peanut sauce side dish @ £5.35


IMG_2954_crispy fried potatoes
Crispy fried potatoes – seasoned with dried mango powder, side dish @ £3.95


I’m carrying delicious food from Babur

Our fine-dining-at-home experience totalled £98.25 (a very generous banquet with enough leftovers for a second meal, that included a few beers too).

The verdict: On the plus side, there’s the ‘fine dining at home’ experience. But on the downside, delivery times can be long. We’ve ordered from Babur a few times and our most recent experience was a let-down. We placed the order at 5 to 7 on a Saturday evening. After 90 minutes we called them to check the status of our order and were told that deliveries usually take two hours and to wait a while longer (they didn’t check our name or order details). Shortly after 9pm (just over two hours later) the delivery arrived. It was a cold November evening and the food was cold too. While I enjoyed the cold monkfish tikka in a cold broth, K would have preferred it hot as intended. Be prepared – order early!

On this occasion, our order included a bottle of prosecco. On arrival it was very cloudy and tasted of bitter apples (overly dry and unpleasant). On discovering there was a sediment at the bottom of the bottle, I looked up this particular variety of prosecco and found that it’s a natural, unfiltered prosecco with plenty of sediment (perhaps not ideal for deliveries as it benefits from leaving the sediment to settle, rather than serving cloudy).

The LardButty rating for Babur has been lowered to 3.5/5.


CasaBelfi unfiltered prosecco_cloudy_sediment
Cloudy, bitter prosecco with plenty of sediment


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 119 Brockley Rise, London
~ Postcode: SE23 1JP
~ Nearest stations: Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Catford
~ Website + menus: Babur website + Premium delivery menu
~ Photos on flickr: images of Babur food
~ Location: Babur map


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

Roundhouse pub – Wandsworth Common

Wondering where to go for Sunday dinner this weekend?

The Roundhouse Pub at Wandsworth Common is a five minute walk from Clapham Junction train station yet – being situated on the edge of Spencer Park – has something of a village feel to it.

With outdoor seating (on the busy Northside road, but with the greenery of Wandsworth Common in sight) this is a great pub to while away a Sunday afternoon.


IMG_2830b_octopus starter
Grilled Galician octopus with shallots, pea shoots, pickled cucumber + carrots – starter @ £7.50

IMG_2833b_sea trout
Crispy skinned wild sea trout with fennel, courgette, pomegranate, blood orange + salad herb dressing @ £13.00

Summer garden risotto with courgette, peas, red chard, leeks + pea puree @ £10.00

I first stumbled across this pub a few years ago when K and I went to a Wandsworth Common beer festival at Le Gothique. Or rather, it was full and we didn’t get in.

It was fortuitous that The Roundhouse was nearby serving an interesting range of craft beers. And, as we discovered after bedding ourselves in for that particular Saturday afternoon, great food too.


IMG_2825b_Roundhouse Sunday lunch menu
Sunday lunch menu – sample menu as of 19 July 2015


On my most recent visit with S, we shared a starter of grilled Galician octopus with shallots, pea shoots, pickled cucumber and carrots @ £7.50 (as gorgeous and tender as it looks in the photo above). And for mains my sea trout with fennel, courgette, pomegranate, blood orange and salad herb dressing @ £13.00 was stunning (lots of lovely flavours that went really well together) and S thoroughly enjoyed her summer garden risotto with courgette, peas, red chard, leeks and pea puree @ £10.00.

The verdict: Great pub in a nice scenic location, that’s handy for Clapham Junction. Great choice of drinks, wines and beers (with real ales regularly changing) and seriously good pub grub.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British, pub, Sunday lunch
~ Address: 2 Northside, Wandsworth Common, London
~ Postcode: SW18 2SS
~ Nearest station: Clapham Junction
~ Website + menus: Roundhouse pub website
~ Photos on flickr: Roundhouse pub photos
~ Location: Roundhouse pub map



Click to add a blog post for The Roundhouse on Zomato

Sunday roast deliveries by BNB

I’ve dreamt about Sunday roast deliveries for years, and wondered why no-one provides that service when you can get food delivered to your door for all kinds of cuisines from around the world. But not a traditional British Sunday roast (and who wants to cook on the day of rest, hey?).

Why is this? Is it particularly challenging to cook, package and deliver roast food well?


IMG_2932b_Packaged food on arrival
Individually packaged food items on arrival
L-R, back: lamb with Yorkshire puddings + potatoes; chicken with potatoes + stuffing
L-R, middle: macaroni cheese; mixed vegetables (broccoli + carrots); cauliflower cheese
L-R, front: coleslaw; apple sauce (for chicken); mint sauce (for lamb); gravy


The good news is that BedNBreakfast (BnB) are branching out (from breakfast deliveries) and starting to deliver roast dinners too, to these postcodes in South East London: SE2, SE3, SE6, SE7, SE9, SE10, SE12, SE13, SE18 or SE28.


I’d arranged the order a couple of days in advance (one meal was free in exchange for a review) but there was no indication as to what part of day the food would arrive. So, I wasn’t sure if it was a lunchtime or an evening Sunday roast.

Mid-afternoon, I was informed things were running late and the delivery would be on its way. By the time it arrived just after 5pm, my expectations were lowering.

The food items arrived individually packaged, warm (not hot).


IMG_2935b_Mostly lamb Sunday roast
Lamb roast (mostly) @ £12.75


IMG_2936b_mostly chicken Sunday roast
Chicken roast (mostly) @ £10.95


My husband and I shared:

~ Leg of lamb roast served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal veg (carrots and broccoli), mint sauce, gravy and homemade coleslaw @ £12.75
~ Cauliflower cheese side dish @ £1.99

~ Chicken roast served with roast potatoes, stuffing, seasonal veg (carrots and broccoli), apple sauce, gravy and homemade coleslaw @ £10.95
~ Macaroni cheese side dish @ £1.99


In true LardButty style, telling it how it really is I’m summarising the negatives and the positives:

– Delivery service could have been improved by giving an approximate delivery time
– Food could benefit from being hot on delivery (rather than warm)
– Inconsistent portion sizes: the portion of sliced lamb was small, while the roast chicken was quite large
– Some foods didn’t transport as well as others (the broccoli had gone soft in transit)

– Each food item was surprisingly really tasty and had retained its own flavour (in part, thanks to the individual packaging); we were very impressed at how well the meats were cooked
– the cheesy items were gorgeous and travelled well (both the macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese)
– the homemade coleslaw was a really nice touch (again, travelled well)
– gravies were perfect

Top tip: I’d recommend heating up plates ready for the food’s arrival, to help retain its heat. I’ll certainly do this next time – seems like an easy enough task to do in lieu of cooking, right?


You can order a dessert @ £4.99 – current choices are:
~ Strawberries and cream mini cake with custard or cream
~ Passion fruit cheesecake with cream
~ Lemon drizzle mini cake with custard or cream
~ Raspberry Victoria sponge mini cake with custard or cream


IMG_2938b_passion fruit cheesecake
Passion fruit cheesecake with cream


While the main course filled us, we were more than happy to share such a thoroughly good passion fruit cheesecake with cream made by Cakes to Cakes.


The verdict: Tasty, well cooked food that’s thoughtfully and carefully packaged to retain each item’s flavours. A totally satisfying and filling meal that exceeded expectations. We’ll be back.


Food delivery info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British, breakfast, brunch, delivery
~ Where: South East London
~ Tel: 020 3612 0322 or 07715481054
~ email orders to: orders@bednbreakfasttt.co.uk
~ Website + menus: BNB website
~ Photos on flickr: images of BedNBreakfasttt food



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