Goulston Street food court

20140130_Raining at GoulstonStreetFoodCourt
Rain. Rain. Rain.


It may have rained all week but it’s Friday, it’s lunchtime and Goulston Street food court is just around the corner. So all is well. Among the international ‘street food’ stalls here in East London (near Petticoat Lane/Middlesex Street), there’s something for everyone. I’m gradually working my way around all the stalls (on different days, of course!) and haven’t been disappointed yet.


Food stalls: Moroccan spiced fish, Lebanese falafel + Satay Bangkok


01. Lebanese falafel The first stall you come to, if approaching from Whitechapel High Street, is – I find – hard to resist. It’s worth stopping just to watch the happy chappies there assemble wraps at super-sonic speed. And they still find time to give you bits of deep fried falafel to munch, to keep you happy while you wait. It’s £3.00 for a medium size wrap which is stuffed full of falafel (of course), salad, pickles, humous, chilli sauce (if you want it) and even a few chips (a bit odd but again – only if you want it). This is a filling – and fairly well balanced – meal for me. It’s flavoursome, fresh, spicy and totally amazing.

Camera Roll-34
Falafel wrap – so dense it stands up on its own


My Photo Stream-930
Sunny sometimes at Goulston Street Food Court – falafel making


02. Moroccan fish At the 3 habibis stall, a spicy fillet of fish is griddled fresh in front of you. Choose your selection of vegetables and either rice or a wrap to go with it. All for only £4.50. Just divine.


Moroccan fish with rice + veg @ £4.50

03. Satay Bangkok The chicken in the chicken satay is so tender it’s as if it’s been slow cooked for hours (perhaps it has, in their industrial size woks?). Served with a smooth, peanutty sauce and a side salad at only £4.50 this is great value for such a tasty meal.


Satay chicken – really tender, served with rice and side salad


04. Thai Tasty Takeaway
Choose from the suggested dishes pictured around the serving hatch (or you can go off-menu) and watch fresh ingredients being cooked to order right in front of you.

Individually cooked Thai dishes served at Thai Tasty Takeaway

The spicy (eye-wateringly so) tofu Thai red curry is excellent value @ £4.50 and  contains sweet basil, red and green peppers, peas, bamboo shoots and mixed veggies (carrots, mange tout, cauliflower and/or broccoli) cooked in coconut milk. Excellent.

Tofu Thai red curry @ £4.50

IMG_2367_Chicken Thai Green Curry
Chicken green curry

IMG_2370_Yellow massaman curry
Yellow massaman curry


Other stalls include Japanese katsu, Beijing dim yum, Jordanian rice and meat dishes, and more. Very, very good – check it out.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: international
~ Address: Goulston Street, London
~ Postcode: E1
~ Nearest stations: Aldgate East, Aldgate
~ Photos on flickr: images of Goulston Street food court
~ Location: Goulston Street food court


Nearby street food markets:
~ Goulston Street food court
~ KERB at Spitalfields
~ World Food Market at Devonshire Square


The First Fez

An evening out in Hammersmith doesn’t end as planned but a mezza meal at Fez more than makes up for it.

I’d got tickets to be part of the audience for last Wednesday’s recording of The Last Leg at Hammersmith Studios (the episode featuring Russell Brand). To make an evening of it, I wanted a good restaurant that was handy for the studios, that served middle-eastern food and so would have lots of vegetarian options.

Fez on Fulham Palace Road scores well enough on community review sites like TripAdvisor, is convenient for the recording studios, has a varied menu and is reasonably priced. My only concern was that, from photos on the web, it looks like a very basic cafe – and a bit of a dump – from outside. I took a gamble and booked a table a couple of hours before we needed to start queuing (as with all TV recordings, audience tickets are over-allocated to ensure the studio gets filled and you’re not guaranteed entry).

Vegetarian mezza at Fez includes moussaka, moutabbel, falafel, fatayer

It’s fair to say that Fulham Palace Road (the A219) is a traffic-heavy road, right next to the seriously busy Hammersmith Flyover. Any grubby shop fronts can be excused to some extent, as it must be a real challenge keeping buildings pristine here.

And immediately inside Fez, we get a warm welcome from the waiter and are seated at a table for two in the middle-eastern styled room with cushioned seating skirting the walls, ornate light decorations and candles. On ordering a mezza to share, he quickly moves us to a larger table that can accommodate all of the plates.

There’s a good food menu (typical Middle-eastern fayre) and wine list (for example, a good dry white like a Lebanese Cave Kouroum or a French Picpoul de Pinet are less than £20 a bottle) and G and I home in on the vegetarian mezza at £21.95 for two.

The vegetarian mezza comprises:
~ Kallaj – halloumi cheese in pitta
~ Hoummus – dip made from chick-peas, tahini + lemon juice
~ Moutabbal – aubergine dip aka baba ghanoush
~ Tabouleh – salad of bulger, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint, etc
~ Moussaka – baked aubergine cooked with tomato + chick-peas
~ Moujadara – lentil + onion mix
~ Falafel – deep fried chick-pea patties
~ Fatayer – small spinach + cheese pastries aka börek

I’m not sure why we think that eight dishes may not be enough (ok, two are ‘just dips’) but we also order a Fattoush Salad (lettuce strips, tomato + cucumber chunks, peppers, sprinkled with fried pitta bread ‘croutons’ and lemon juice) @ £4.50.

Mixed salad and desserts – chocolate cake and baklawa

This is a very satisfying banquet (each dish is carefully cooked and presented and nothing disappoints). Even so, G can’t resist a chocolate cake for dessert @ £4 (it’s slightly frozen in the middle and I wonder if it’s a Sara Lee frozen cake) and I do the decent thing and keep her company with baklawa @ £4 (it’s slightly dry, there’s no honey in sight).

The total bill for two, including food, drinks and a 10% tip, comes to £64.00.

It’s worth noting that Fez is currently in the Tastecard scheme (offering a 50% discount off food to Tastecard members; some restrictions apply).

With happy hearts and bellies, G and I leave Fez to queue for The Last Leg recording at Hammersmith Studios. Our good luck runs out and we’re turned away.

Ah well. I guess I’ll just have to try more of Fez’s menu when I do get into the studios next time…

Fez – doesn’t look like much from outside

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Lebanese, Moroccan
~ Address: 32 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London
~ Postcode: W6 9PH
~ Tel: 020 8563 7176
~ Nearest station: Hammersmith
~ Menu: Fez take-away menu
~ Fez photos on flickr
~ Location: Fez in Hamersmith map


More Middle-Eastern restaurants in London:
~ Azou – North African restaurant in Hammersmith
~ Meza – Lebanese restaurant in Tooting
~ Yalla Yalla – Lebanese restaurants in central London

Fez on Urbanspoon

Mamounia Lounge Knightsbridge

Our visit last night to the Knightstbridge branch of Mamounia Lounge started off well. It was a surprisingly warm evening and the restaurant front was wide open, on to the street, with many guests sitting outside enjoying a shisha pipe.

Inside, the decor is stylish Arabic – all very appealing and comfortable. The restaurant wasn’t particularly busy but service degenerated from slow to terrible (the second bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimignano Castellani – a white wine @ £24.00 a bottle – was served warm, with barely an apology that they’d run out of chilled bottles of this particular wine, and no suggestion of a chilled alternative).

For starters, our party had a selection of briouat (deep fried filo pastry cases filled with cheese and potato, lamb, chicken + vegetables) @ £6.50, a chicken pastilla (chicken baked in a thin pastry with almond + cinnamon) @ £8.00, a fish pastilla @ £6.50 and a kallaje (cheese with bread) @ £6.50.

Kallaje starter – not particularly exciting

For mains, two of us had a mixed grill and two had a lamb tagine. The tagines were excellent and seem to be the house speciality, while the mixed grill was good but some of the meat was very tough and chewy.

Lamb tagine – beautifully prepared and extremely tasty with varied, deep flavours

Mixed grill

We finished with a mint tea (probably the best mint tea I’ve had) which was served quite ceremoniously in Arabic glassware from a large pot, and a selection of baklawa @ £7.50 which was also very good, perfectly moist and honeyed.

I’m glad I’ve tried this restaurant but I won’t rush back. It has a nice feel and the food’s not bad but service is a let-down.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Lebanese, Moroccan
~ Address: 136 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London
~ Postcode: SW3 1HY
~ Tel: 020 7581 7777
~ Nearest tube stations: Knightsbridge, South Kensington
~ Website: Mamounia Lounge Knightsbridge website
~ Location: Mamounia Lounge Knightsbridge map

Mamounia Lounge Knightsbridge on Urbanspoon

Azou – Hammersmith

Never-ending banquet

Azou – with its Bedouin-style decor – is a cosy, little restaurant on King Street, Hammersmith, serving fabulous North African food.

W6 residents were probably trying to keep this little piece of perfection to themselves. However, it’s particularly popular since Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurants TV series when it topped the ‘best North African restaurant’ category in 2010. It’s also won a shed-load of other awards – with good reason – and you do need to book in advance.

My visit last night was for a friend’s birthday and we had the Azou feast set menu – an amazing banquet that seemed to be never-ending!

It included all five of these ‘starters’:
~ olives marinated in chermoula and a piquant sauce
~ king prawns in a spicy coriander sauce
~ calamari
~ falafel – patties of minced chickpeas, fava beans, spices + sesame with tahini
~ bourek – crisp pastry filled with marinated minced lamb, herbs + spices

king prawn




And a choice of main course, from:
~ mechoui – lamb shank, marinated in chermoula and slowly roasted
~ fish tajine – fish of the day with king prawn, mixed seafood + potatoes in a ‘gently sour’ sauce of preserved lemon, spices + herbs
~ tajine constantine – tender lamb in a hot and spicy chilli sauce with potatoes
~ tajine romanne – chicken breast in a sweet/tangy fresh pomegranate sauce, garnished with almonds, raisins + caramelised onion
~ berber tajine – fresh vegetables, artichoke hearts and chickpeas

I had the slow-roasted lamb shank – it was absolutely divine and so tender and flavorsome being slow cooked in spices, but I was too full to eat it after the previous five courses. Shame – must go back and try harder next time.

my melt-in-your-mouth slow-roasted lamb shank

H’s tajine constantine – tender lamb in chilli sauce with potatoes

K’s tajine romanne – chicken breast in a tangy sauce, garnished with almonds

And finally…


Oh. And I have enjoyed clarifying to people this week that my friend hired out ‘Azou’ not ‘a zoo’ for her celebrations…

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Moroccan
~ Address: 375 King Street, Hammersmith, London
~ Postcode: W6 9NJ
~ Tel: 020 8563 7266
~ Nearest tube station: Stamford Brook, Ravenscourt Park
~ Website: Azou website
~ Menus: Azou menus
~ Location: Azou restaurant map

Azou on Urbanspoon

Maroush – Sidi Maarouf

I was heading over to the Marble Arch area (west Oxford Street) to meet K the other evening, trying to eliminate some of the endless dining opportunities available to us, as I walked. There’s so many appealing restaurants in west central London, it had the potential of being a long drawn-out decision.

Luckily, I found I had a craving for spicy turkish sausages and grilled halloumi. And I was walking in the direction of Edgware Road (Lebanese Central) after all.

After a short circuit around Maroush-land (Edgware Road is a mini-town of Maroush delis, cafes, expresses and restaurants) we settled on a Maroush restaurant which was formally Signor Marco (an Italian style Lebanese restaurant with cheesey music and dancing, much frequented by us when we worked nearby, around 2001). It’s now Sidi Maarouf serving middle eastern meze and Moroccan tajines.

We shared a selection of kemia (mixed Moroccan meze) including the best baba ghanouj (roast aubergine dip) with warm pitta, spicy Turkish sausages, grilled halloumi cheese, side salads and olives, and a portion of spicy minced lamb briouat triangles, along with an initial thirst-quenching Almaza Lebanese beer and a bottle of Australian Viognier with food.

Decor is North African and the ceiling is a sea of beautiful silks, lit from behind with different coloured lamps which give a lovely soft glow of varying shades around the room (though possibly not favoured by the local fire safety department…).

The cheesey music remains albeit different artists from Signor Marco’s day. Reverberating twangs from an electric organ reminded me more of the roller-discos I was taken to as a child in the 70s than the exotic middle east. And the keyboard player was texting on his mobile phone while leaving the organ to play at the same time, but hey – that’s entertainment.

Fruit bowl dessert at Maroush, Lardbutty restaurant of the week

All in all: great food, decor/ environment and amusing entertainment, very reasonably priced.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Lebanese, middle-eastern
~ Address: 56-58 Edgware Road, London
~ Postcode: W2 2EH
~ Nearest tube stations: Marble Arch – Edgware Road branches
~ Website + menus: Manoush restaurants website
~ Sidi Maarouf web-page: Manoush Sidi Maarouf page
~ Location: Maroush map

Sidi Maarouf on Urbanspoon


Maghreb – Lardbutty restaurant of the week

On a street packed with diverse eating and drinking places (Upper Street, Islington), Maghreb can certainly hold its own. Interestingly lit with a series of low-hanging lights along the restaurant, and decorated in warm reds with Moroccan nic-nacs, Maghreb has a comfortable, homely feel.

Service is spot on and there’s an extensive menu of Moroccan specialities and loads of tagines. The goat cheese pastillas covered in cinnamon are excellent.

Goat cheese pastilla

Chicken + vegetable tagine

Well worth a visit.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Moroccan
~ Menus: Maghreb menus
~ Postcode: N1 1RQ
~ Nearest tube stations: Highbury + Islington; Angel
~ Website: Maghreb website
~ Location: Maghreb map