Ottolenghi Spitalfields

Walking along Artillery Lane, Spitalfields the other lunchtime, C and I spotted a newly opened branch of Ottolenghi (serving Mediterranean food and with an appealing cake display). We decided spontaneously to eat there.

Here’s the lunch menu from that particular day.


Mixed salad #1
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3 salads: roasted aubergine + almonds (at back); chargrilled broccoli (left); roasted sweet potato (front)

We both ordered a lunchtime small salad (selection of three salads) @ £11.50.

I chose these three salads and they were gorgeous (original and exciting; not your bog standard salads by any means):
~ roasted aubergine with sorrel yoghurt, turmeric pickled radish, spring onion + almonds (at back)
~ chargrilled (crunchy) broccoli with chilli + garlic
~ roasted sweet potato with burnt aubergine yoghurt, basil, caramel seeds + nuts


Mixed salad #2
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3 salads: chargrilled broccoli; roasted sweet potato; mixed beans

And C had
~ chargrilled broccoli with chilli + garlic
~ roasted sweet potato with burnt aubergine yoghurt, basil, caramel seeds + nuts
~ mixed green beans with broad beans, peas, toasted coconut, mint + lemon


To drink, I had a small Spanish Sameiras Blanco (an excellent dry white wine that went well with the salad flavours) and C had a Cheverny rosé wine (@ £6.50 each). The wine selection was unusual and we were both pleased with our choices.


Appealing cake display
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Lemon + mascarpone tarts – really disgusting (inedible, vile pastry tasted of lard)


I bought two lemon and mascarpone tarts @ £3.50 each to take home (intended to be a treat for K). Unfortunately, when we bit into them that evening, K’s face immediately creased up and he spat his mouthful out. The pastry was just vile (it had an unpleasant lard flavour to it, as if it had soaked up the flavour of something it shouldn’t have). One seriously disappointed K! While this may have been unlucky and a one-off accident, I won’t be buying any cakes from Ottolenghi for a long while, if ever again.

The verdict: Great salads and wines, shame about the cake.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
~ Address: 50 Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, London
~ Postcode: E1 7LJ
~ Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East
~ Website + menus: Ottolenghi website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Ottolenghi
~ Location: Ottolenghi map


Ottolenghi on Urbanspoon

Fora Turkish restaurant – City branch

So I’m going to be spending a lot of time in and around EC3 – a part of London that’s relatively unknown to me, and is shouting out to be properly explored.

And going out for a Turkish/ Mediterranean lunch with my new buddy is a sure way to my heart. Or to getting my *sincere* approval at least.

On Tuesday lunchtime, we went to Fora on Houndsditch. And by the end of the hour (13:30) the restaurant was stuffed full. As were we.

The ‘City menu’ (two courses @ £10.95) was too good a deal to miss, with starter choices such as:
~ borek (filo pastry parcels filled with spinach and feta cheese)
~ taboulleh (parsley salad with mint, cracked wheat and tomatoes)
~ cacik (yoghurt with chopped cucumbers)
~ imam bayildi (aubergine with tomatoes and peppers, chickpeas + fresh tomato sauce)

And main course choices:
~ chicken shish
~ adana kofte (marinated lamb minced and mixed with herbs and grilled on skewer slightly spicy, served with rice and vegetables)
~ lamb casserole
~ sebze guvec (mixed vegetables, potatoes, aubergines, peppers, green beans, tomatoes with rice)
~ mousakka (either meat or veg)
~ chicken kofte (skewers)
~ chicken guvec (chicken with mixed veg etc, with rice)
~ salmon pasta

Borek starter – three pastries, a large starter portion

Homing in my old favourite, borek (normally £4.95 off the a la carte menu) this was served as a substantial starter portion of three pastries, made of light flaky pastry, packed with feta and spinach (spot on).

For mains, the adana kofte (normally £10.45 off the a la carte menu) – marinated, spicy minced lamb mixed with herbs and grilled on skewers, served with rice, mixed vegetables, and a spicy sauce – was incredibly good (perfectly spiced) and, being such a large portion, very filling.

Lamb kofte – two large skewers

C had vegetable moussaka (normally £9.95 off the a la carte menu) packed full of veggie layers and tomato juices, with a grilled, lightly burnt top (just as it should be).

Veggie moussaka

Somehow we forced down a kazandibi, upside down milk pudding with a caramelised top coated in cinnamon with hazelnuts @ £4.25, shared between us:

Milk pudding – set solid like an egg custard

Fora makes for an impressive lunch outing; one for special occasions that won’t break the bank.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Turkish, Mediterranean
~ Address: 34-36 Houndsditch, City, London
~ Postcode: EC3A 7DB
~ Tel: 020 7626 2222
~ Nearest stations: Aldgate, Liverpool Street (mainline)
~ Website + menus: Fora website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Fora food
~ Location: Fora map

More Spitalfields dining:
~ Fora – Mediterranean restaurant, City branch
~ Kastner & Ovens – great salad selection
~ Mama Thai – Indian + Thai take-away curries + noodles
~ Pizza Union – stonebaked pizza, Spitalfields

Fora Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ahhhh Bistro

Mayfair-style dining in Soho on a budget

You’re made to feel really comfortable at Bistro1, making it an easy restaurant to return to: I’ve lost count how many times I’ve eaten here – lunchtimes with work colleagues, evening meals out with friends, even a new year’s eve group celebration back in 2008.

The three branches of Turkish-influenced Bistro1 mediterranean restaurants (on Frith Street and Beak Street in Soho, and Southampton Street in Covent Garden) offer a wide choice of quality dishes at budget prices – two course lunch for £8.50 or three courses for £9.90. These prices might be akin to a fast-food chain but the food is more akin to Mayfair.

Frith Street restaurant

R and I met at the Frith Street restaurant for lunch today. As usual, small bowls of olives and Turkish bread were put on the table for us to nibble on while we read the menu, and service was polite and speedy.

Click to see sample menu
Bistro1 sample prix fixe menu

I’ve tried most of the menu (having been a regular at the old Brewer Street branch before it closed a couple of years ago) and now find it a challenge to choose anything but the mixed meze for starters. It consists of a few small portions of crunchy falafel, houmus, tzatsiki, kisir (spicy tabouleh – like couscous), dolma (stuffed vine leaves) and a cheese borek (small pastry). R had deep-fried spicy chicken skewers served with salad and a spicy garlic yoghurt dip.

Chicken skewers and mixed meze

For main course, R had beef mousakka served with rice and salad while I had a fillet of sea bream (slightly dry) topped with smoked salmon and saffron cream (lovely sauce), served on a bed of mashed potato (perfectly fluffy).

Bistro1_main courses - beef moussaka and seabream
Beef moussaka + sea bream

A bottle of house wine, red or white, is currently only £11.50. We decided to risk the house white which was a dry Italian (it had the weaker flavours of a pinot grigio, complemented the food just fine, and was easy to drink). For £14.95 you could get a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or a South African Chenin Blanc, or a prosecco for £19.95.

So, two prix fixe menus at £8.50 each and a bottle of wine at £11.50, and the total bill came to £28.50. For £16 each (having added a 12% tip) we’d eaten and drunk well and were well and truly stuffed, even though the plates are smaller than they used to be. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as Bistro1 have managed to keep their prices down for years now, and the portions were plentiful enough to fill us.

More of the menu @ Bistro1:

Starters: Smoked salmon + avocado and calamari salad

Starter: grilled sardines

L–R: Feta salad starter, calamari + fries, Cumberland sausages + mash

L–R: Main course chicken penne, beef bourguignon + mash and fishcakes + chips


~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Mediterranean, Turkish
~ Address: 27 Frith Street, London
~ Postcode: W1D 5LE
~ Tel: 020 7734 6204
~ Twitter: @Bistro1_London
~ Nearest train station: Leicester Square
~ Sample menu: Prix fixe
~ Bistro1: photos on flickr
~ Website: Bistro1 website
~ Location: Bistro1 Frith Street map


More Soho dining:
~ Cây Tre
~ Wagamama Soho
~ Andrew Edmunds

Bistro 1 on Urbanspoon