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?

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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

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Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen – City

Fine dining at One New Change shopping centre by St Paul’s Cathedral

One New Change is worth visiting for its fabulous roof terrace view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London skyline. It’s free admission to enjoy this viewing platform and there’s a variety of drinking and/or dining experiences to choose from including Madison’s (with outdoor seating on the roof terrace) and – if it’s fine dining you’re after – Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen inside the mall.

 

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View of St. Paul’s Cathedral from One New Change roof terrace

 

Stepping into Bread Street Kitchen on a Monday evening earlier this month, I was immediately greeted and seated by very professional, efficient waiting staff. The restaurant was mostly empty (although it filled out later) as I was led through the vast warehouse-style interior with its tiled walls and long leather cushioned benches and huge mirrors.

We ordered a bottle of dry white wine, a Ribeiro Santo Branco from Portugal’s Dão region @ £25.00 (light floral aromas, and easy to drink) and enjoyed some fresh, slightly salty bread with a cheesy crust (cover charge @ £2.00 per head) while reading the menu.

 

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Spacious warehouse style interior with tiled walls and an industrial feel

 

I ordered a side salad as a starter of marinated beetroot, feta and toasted hazelnuts @ £4.00 while H had potted salt beef brisket with grain mustard, picalilli and buckwheat crackers @ £9.50. We were excited by both, and thoroughly enjoyed our first course.

 

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Marinated beetroot, feta + toasted hazelnut salad – side portion

 

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Potted salt beef brisket with mustard, piccalilli + crackers

For main course I was tempted by the pork belly but I’m not eating meat at the mo, so ordered a fillet of sea bream, broccoli and romesco sauce (a gorgeous nut and pepper sauce although – overall – this plate was slightly dry) @ £18.00 along with a side of macaroni cheese with garlic roasted crumbs @ £5.50 (the cheesy sauce was quite creamy and so good!).

H had slow-roasted Cumbrian saddleback pork belly and spiced apple sauce @ £17.00 with a side of mashed potato @ £4.00. Check out the crispy crackling in the photo below (I *will* go back and try the pork next time).

 

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Fillet of sea bream, brocolli + romesco (nut and red pepper) sauce

 

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Macaroni cheese with garlic roasted crumbs

 

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Slow-roasted pork belly + spiced apple sauce

 

Too full for dessert, we relaxed over a digestif: an amaretto for H @ £7.00 and a Remy Martin coeur de cognac for me @ £15.00.

The verdict: Excellent service; high quality food that excites (and won’t break the bank), in a relaxing, very comfortable, open space. I plan to eat here again. Soon.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British, international
~ Address: 10 Bread Street at One New Change, London
~ Postcode: EC4M 9AJ
~ Nearest station: St. Paul’s, Mansion House, Bank
~ Website + menus: Bread Street Kitchen website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Bread Street Kitchen
~ Location: Bread Street Kitchen map

 

Bread Street Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Benares – Indian in Mayfair, W1

Michelin starred Indian restaurant on Berkeley Square

Celebrity chef, Atul Kochhar may well be a familiar face, if you’re a fan of cookery programmes like Saturday Kitchen. And he’s the chef behind Michelin star restaurant Benares in London’s Mayfair, with a reputation for blending upscale Indian cuisine with British style.

Benares has been on my ‘to visit’ list for years. And GH’s arrival in London today (from the Caribbean) provided the perfect excuse to go and treat ourselves to a Christmas dinner with a difference. Starting with cocktails in the relaxing bar lounge this Friday afternoon, I had a gorgeous Saffron Daisy gin cocktail @ £14.00 (Sipsmith premium London dry gin with handpicked saffron, cardamom, sugar and lemon juice).

 

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Benares bar lounge

 

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Cocktails at Benares – saffron daisy gin (foreground), reverse vesper vodka martini (back), pineapple and ginger mojito (right)

 

We had a 2.30pm table reservation for our party of three. Not realising that the kitchen closes mid-afternoon between lunch and dinner sittings, we were politely hurried to our table (in the rather plain and dark restaurant) and encouraged to order quickly, as the kitchen was – very kindly! – being kept open for us. A bottle of picpoul de pinet (dry white wine) @ £29 and the two-course Christmas dinner menu @ £37.00 seemed appropriate for our festivities.

 

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Benares interior – dark and uninspiring

 

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Poppodoms and fruity chutneys + saffron daisy gin cocktail

 

For starters, GH and I both ordered vegetable and edamame bean seekh kebab with walnut chutney (a tantilising blend of flavours – just stunning), while GN had potato and pea samosa chaat with rose yoghurt and date and tamarind chutney.

 

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Vegetable + edamame bean seekh kebab with walnut chutney

 

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Potato and pea samosa chaat

 

For main course, GH and GN had grilled paneer with punjabi chickpeas, while I had kokum flavoured Mangalorean haddock curry with spicy tapioca mash, accompanied by a variety of rices and Indian flat breads (all of which was a treat for the senses and faultless).

 

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Grilled paneer with punjabi chickpeas

 

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Mangalorean haddock curry

 

While the portions might look quite small, we found them deceivingly filling (including complimentary bar nuts and poppodoms, along with sides of bread and rice, etc). Despite being full, it didn’t seem right to forfeit Christmas pudding so we shared one between us – a fab idea (Spiced. Perfect. Beautifully presented).

 

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Garam masala spiced Christmas pudding with vanilla bean + brandy sauce with raspberries and holly-shaped fruity sauce

 

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Novelty factor – expanding steaming flannels

 

Our waitress served what looked like a tray of mints, then poured hot water over them. The white balls started to expand, initially looking like something to eat, before fully growing into a tower – a steaming hot flannel – sterile for cleansing, and beautifully presented.
 

The verdict:
The food at Benares is Indian with a twist and is simply stunning. And there’s an excellent cocktail menu and wine list. While it’s a pricey, fine-dining restaurant, there are some affordable good wines on the list (eg. picpoul de pinet @ £29.00 a bottle). Eating here is definitely an experience that you pay a bit more for. And it’s worth it (our bill for three came to £270.00 including service).

Serving staff were on the ball, although – on our visit – there was an abundance of servers and, if anything, could have asked us if everything was ok less frequently.

While Benares is in a premium location on Berkeley Square in the heart of Mayfair, you wouldn’t know it once you’re seated in the first floor restaurant: there are no windows, it’s dark albeit with soft mood lighting. If the intention is ‘plain and simple’, I found the interior rather dull and uninspiring.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London
~ Postcode: W1J 6BS
~ Nearest station: Green Park, Piccadilly, Oxford Circus
~ Website + menus: Benares website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Benares
~ Location: Benares map

 

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

 

Nancy Lam’s Enak Enak – best restaurant on Lavender Hill

November 2011
– This post (below) supersedes Lardbutty’s previous blog on Enak Enak + upgrades the rating from 4.5/ 5 to *top rank 5/ 5*.


Exceptional Asian-fusion dishes at family-run local restaurant

Every time I’ve been to Enak Enak the food has been exceptional. On our latest visit – an early birthday celebration for BK – we were shown to our table with the usual warm reception.

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Celebration mee – a cause for celebration indeed…

 

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Starters: mixed satay platter, tom yum soup + beancurd with peanut sauce

A sign of the times, the restaurant was only half full (this side of Lavender Hill is slightly off the beaten track after all) but serving staff were their usual hospitable, attentive selves.

And Nancy Lam doesn’t just put her name over the door. She was – as ever – milling around the restaurant, chatting with customers, ensuring everything was to satisfaction and generally giving it her personal touch.

For starters the three of us shared mixed satay (BBQ prawn, really tender spare-rib, chicken with peanut sauce and achar achar pickles) @ 12.95, chicken tom yum soup @ £5.75 and tahu goreng (crispy fried bean curd with beansprouts-disguised-as-cabbage-strips and peanut sauce) @ £7.95. Beautiful.

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Beef rendang – rump steak stewed in exotic spices, finished with a touch of coconut

For mains, K had his usual: beef rendang @ £9.75 (he loves it so much that even though he wants to try other dishes on the menu, he just can’t quite bring himself to forfeit the rendang). BK had the same, and I managed to venture away from my favourite squid dishes on this occasion and had lamb curry @ £10.50, which I requested to be slightly hot. It had a lovely warm, spicy kick to it and was beautifully tender.

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Lamb curry – so tender, with a gentle spicy kick

A main course averages at around £13 (including rice @ £2.75) which is inexpensive for such premium food and comfortable surroundings. And bottles of wine start from around £20.

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Pak choi – side vegetable dish @ £6.50

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Cashew nut fried mee – egg noodles with fresh veg + cashew nuts @ £8.50

More of the menu:

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Mixed satay starter: BBQ prawns, chicken satay, spare ribs, achar achar

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Beef satay starter

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Udang Lemak – prawns in sambal sauce + coconut cream

All Photos-232
Virgin squid in lemongrass + coconut with cashew nut fried mee etc

The verdict: LardButty rarely gives full marks to restaurants, as there’s usually some room for improvement. I’ve had several faultless experiences at Nancy Lam’s now, where we couldn’t be made to feel more welcome and comfortable if we were in someone’s own home. The whole experience at Enak Enak is really satisfying and special.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
– Photos on flickr More photos of Enak Enak food>>>
– Type: Indonesian/ SE Asian fusion
– Address: 56 Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5RQ
– Nearest stations: Clapham Common (tube) or Queenstown Rd, Clapham Junction (mainline)
Enak Enak website
– Sample menu (as of Nov 2011): Enak Enak dinner menu
– Location: Enak Enak map

Even more
Marco Pierre White says it’s worth a visit>>>

– Nancy Lam on This Morning TV making Beef Rendang 

BK’s b’day – being looked after:
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Sample menu:
IMG_0651b_EnakEnakMenu_Nov2011

Nancy Lam's Enak Enak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cinnamon Club – Old Westminster Library

Being an information professional, it’s not surprising that what appeals most on my first visit to Cinnamon Club (Whitehall branch) is its location: the Old Westminster Library.

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Cinnamon Club restaurant in the Old Westminster Library

We are encouraged to relax and have a drink in one of the bars before being seated at our reserved table (which isn’t quite ready for our party of five, yet), and are led down to a neon-lit cocktail bar in the basement. There’s another library bar adjacent to the main restaurant.


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Library bar


The menu is haute cuisine Indian (posh nosh), with starters averaging at £10.00 and main courses at £25.00.


Starters
For starters, I have a vegetable kebab with mint and yoghurt @ £8.50 (a bhaji on a kebab skewer, which reminds me of falafel as much as it does a bhaji, as it’s bursting with fennel aniseed flavours and is absolutely delicious). A has a crisp zucchini flower with spiced vegetables, slow cooked marrow @ £8.50; M has a black leg chicken breast with dried mango and peanut, and chicken tikka rillette @ £9.50 and D has char-grilled Welsh lamb fillet with nutmeg, and sweetbread bhaji @ £9.50.


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Vegetable ‘kebab’ starter (bhaji on a skewer)


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Courgette (zucchini) flower with spiced vegetables starter


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Black leg chicken breast starter


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Char-grilled Welsh lamb fillet starter


Main course
For main course, I have Tandoori Portobello mushroom with root vegetable curry and saffron bread @ £16.00. Mushrooms are one of my favourite foods and this does not disappoint (even if portions are small). Three of those Portabello mushrooms and I’d have been in heaven.

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Tandoori Portabello mushroom main course


Wine list
While you can get a 750ml bottle of wine for £22 here (eg. red: a Sicilian Nero d’Avola/Nerello Mascalese, or white: a French Grenache Blanc – Bergerie de la Bastide, Terre du Sud, Vin de Pays D’Oc) the cheapest are mostly priced from the mid £30s. It’s an extensive list with the price of a bottle of white wine reaching up to £260 for a Chambertin Grand Cru, Clos de Beze, Pierre Damcy (2007 vintage) although there are many at around the £100 mark. Vintage reds reach up to £3,000.00+ a bottle.

Beers
I stuck to beer: it’s £4.00 for a 330ml bottle of Cobra or Kingfisher, £6.00 for a 350ml bottle of Sierra Nevada pale ale or £15.00 for a 750ml bottle of King Cobra (double fermented strong lager).

All in all, it’s a great restaurant if you’ve got something to celebrate. And you can keep costs down by going at off-peak hours and ordering from a set menu (currently £22.00 for two courses) so do keep an eye out for special offers/ discounts.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, London
~ Postcode: SW1P 3BU
~ Tel: 020 7222 2555
~ Nearest tube station: St James’ Park, Westminster
~ Website: Cinnamon Club website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Cinnamon Club food
~ Location: Cinnamon Club map


Cinnamon Club on Urbanspoon



		

	

Cafe Spice Namaste – a classy Indian restaurant in E1

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Cafe Spice Namaste – in an old City Courthouse near Brick Lane

Cyrus Todiwala may not be a name you recognise but his face probably is. Well, if you watch BBC’s Saturday Kitchen that is.

There’s no shortage of great Indian restaurants throughout the UK, and in London’s ‘Bangla Town’ they’re two a penny. So it’s always good to find something a little bit special. Todiwala’s Cafe Spice Namaste is certainly that: it’s set in an old City courthouse, and is close enough to the appealing markets and attractions of Brick Lane but nicely differentiates itself from surrounding curry houses with its classy food and branded range of Mr Todiwala’s pickles and chutneys.

There are regular events and gourmet dinner nights with Chef Patron Cyrus. And according to Cafe Spice Namaste’s literature, their “extensive menus offer a contemporary… twist on traditional dishes from Goa, North India, Hyderabad and Kashmir. Using only the best of local British produce wherever possible, and always the freshest seasonal ingredients” they promise to cook and serve with pride and integrity.

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Cafe Spice Namaste interior

We arrived early last night (about 6.30pm) just as the restaurant was opening, and – briefly – saw it empty. It looks like it’d be a great venue for a party or event with its differently decorated rooms and ceiling spot lights.

For starters, I had squid dynamite, which was just that – delicious, tender baby squid in a fiery hot chilli sauce (not for the faint hearted but neither was it too hot to be pleasurable to eat) and K had a Frankie dosa. It was the first dosa either of us had tried containing lamb and was amazing – slowly cooked, tender lamb in a spicy masala with real depth of flavour.

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Squid dynamite starter @ £7.75
Even the purple cress decoration was tasty!

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Frankie Lamb Dosa starter @ £7.95

The main courses we chose were equally unusual: ostrich bhuna and dhaansaak. Both were as good as their menu descriptions (note: allow plenty of time to read the menu, it’s more like a book with lots of background and sometimes historical detail about each dish. It’s really informative and a joy to read).

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Ostrich bhuna @ £15.95 with peshwari nan @ £3.25 + paneer saagwalla @ £6.95 – menu info below

OSTRICH BHUNA
I know that the ostrich is not a native to either India or Britain, but it is indeed a fabulous meat, extremely lean and lower in saturated fats, cholesterol & calories than chicken and turkey, though expensive. Strips of ostrich fan fillet are tossed with the ever so classic of sub-continental Indian preparations, the ‘Bhuna’. Ours is a classical sauce and is not necessarily hot, served with pulao & chunks of fried potato to complete the dish.”

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Dhaansaak @ £14.95 – menu info below

DHAANSAAK
The efforts that go into making a traditional Parsee Sunday roast, or “Dhaansaak” are enough to deter many chefs! We are delighted therefore to offer you this all-time classic lamb dish, prepared in an authentic style. Dhaansaak is composed of two words “Dhaan” meaning rice and “Saak” meaning the puréed vegetable and lentil combination with lamb. For optimum flavour, we blend sliced shin on-the-bone. Please do not confuse or compare this dish with its namesake sold elsewhere as many do, we are Parsees and we know exactly how to prepare this dish the correct way, served with brown onion rice, kachumber (an onion salad, but served optionally if you so desire) and a meat kebab placed in the brown rice. Traditionally, the Parsee will only use the word Dhaansaak which would to us refer to lamb or mutton only. If some people do not like red meat or cannot eat for health reasons, is chicken ever substituted and never anything else, vegetable Dhaansaak is sacrilege! And we do only lamb here. This is best eaten the way we serve it, with the traditional accompaniments &we recommend you eat it with the onion salad”

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 16 Prescot Street, London
~ Postcode: E1 8AZ
~ Tel: 020 7488 9242
~ Nearest stations: Tower Hill, Tower Gateway
~ Website: Cafe Spice Namaste
~ Menus: a la carte menu
~ Other food products: Mr Todiwala’s chutneys + pickles
~ Location: Cafe Spice Namaste map

Cafe Spice Namaste on Urbanspoon

All the fun of the foodie fayre – Battersea

Can anyone explain why snails (rubbery gastropod mollusks) and oysters (grey, slimey, mucus-textured bivalve mollusks) are considered a delicacy to eat?

Surely something that‘s so chewy, tasteless and inedible that it must be buried in garlic butter or another overpowering flavour before you can force it down your throat, is best avoided?

Deriving any pleasure from eating (gargling on) either of these mollusks is beyond me. I’ll never be converted to snails but I do wonder if I’m missing out on something where oysters are concerned. They’re expensive and popular – there must be something special about them surely?

I’m keeping an open mind and would genuinely like to be converted. So where better to try than in the beautiful – and surprisingly scorching hot – outdoors of Battersea Park? I’m at the Foodies Festival, a festival which celebrates the “finest in local, seasonal produce, speciality food and drink, culinary and restaurant talent”.

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Bennett stall serving mini fish + chip portions, oysters and more

There are stalls of local restaurants offering taster portions of signature dishes (including Bennett Oyster Bar), a Harvey Nichols food market, a hugely popular Hendrick’s gin stand and other stalls serving Thai, Caribbean, Spanish and Indian food as well as all types of British. There’s also a Great Taste Market (for stallholders who’ve been awarded a Great Taste Award by the The Guild of Fine Food, for their produce in the last three years).

My friend H – who, it turns out, loves oysters and rises to the challenge of converting me – puts in an order for some. The stallholder asks which type we’d like: there’s one type from the Thames Estuary that she describes as “wild” and “exciting”, the other from the Jersey sea which is “classic” and “milky”. I know which I like the sound of most and it doesn’t involve anything out of the Thames.

H orders a portion of each while I refresh our prosecco glasses from Gastro Nicks.

The oysters are served in their shells (sliced and ready to slide), in a little salty water, covered in pickle and with a wedge of lemon (to take away the bad taste afterwards?).

I slip down a Thames oyster first. It’s not an enjoyable experience. It just tastes of swallowing a mouthful of salty sea-water with something latex caught up in it…

BEFORE
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Thames oysters (front) + Jersey Rock oysters (back)

Swiftly moving on to the Jersey Rock oyster, this is abundantly more pleasurable. The taste is less harsh, less rough (or am I just getting used to the flavours – is it an acquired taste?), and, as the lady said, more milky.

AFTER
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Maybe I was the last to know but I’ve learnt that there are different types of oysters and that they vary in taste, texture and quality/ grade. I’m not claiming to be converted yet but I will keep an open mind.

I would have Jersey Rock again and anything a grade or two above (probably Scottish).

Venturing from liquids to solids, there are a couple of enticing pie and meat stands. And Orchard Pigs has the edge, with their tractor wheel pork pies.

I’m not a huge pork pie fan but I fell in love with the Druids pie (pork, Druids Ale, mustard seed, sage, pepper and nutmeg) the moment I saw it. Not only is the pastry less thick and dry (no lardy jelly either) than regular round pork pies but there’s a wonderful mix of ingredients complementing the premium pork.

Best pork pie in the kingdom
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Druids pork pie with lots of mustard seeds – unbeatable.

I swear I can smell this pie just by looking at the picture. It was absolutely delicious and quite probably the best pork pie in the kingdom. (I also bought black pudding and apple pork pies for another day – these tractor wheel pastry edges and different flavours may have revitalised the traditional old pork pie but nothing beats the Druid).

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A good few hours very well spent. As are the contents of my purse.

Watch out for Foodies Festivals and other food shows and exhibitions from The Guild of Fine Food around the UK.

Foodie info:
~ What: Foodies Festival website
~ Where: Battersea Park, London
~ When: July 19th, 30th + 31st 2011
Types: British, Spanish, Caribbean, Thai, Indian, seafood – many varieties!
~ Nearest rail stations: Battersea Park, Queenstown Road

Great Taste Market – select stalls:
~ Bennett Oyster Bar + Brasserie – Thames oysters (nay!) + Jersey Rock (yay!)
~ d Vine Wine
~ Gastro Nicks – prosecco, wines, olive oil + balsamic vinegars
~ Orchard Pigs – pork pies with a difference
~ The Guild of Fine Food + Great Taste Awards

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Bennett oyster bar
Bennett Oyster Bar and Brasserie on Urbanspoon