Fayrooz – Lebanese in Catford SE6

Walking along Catford Broadway in the evening, it’s not unusual to be tormented by the enticing BBQ smells wafting from Fayrooz – a small café serving Lebanese meze and charcoal grilled dishes

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Falafel with tahini (sesame seed) sauce @ £4.45

Cold meze dishes range from humous and baba ganoush (aubergine dip) to stuffed vine leaves, salads and oven-baked aubergine moussaka. In the hot meze menu you’ll find grilled haloumi, spinach parcels, minced lamb meat balls, and falafel (pictured above – gorgeous).

The Fayrooz platter is a house special. A fave of K’s, this sharing platter for two contains kofte, taouk, lamb kebab cubes, mixed lamb + chicken shawarma. And, @ £22.00, it comes with salad, sauces and flat bread.

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Meze – Fayrooz platter pictured with rice, salad + flat bread

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Kofte, taouk, lamb kebab cubes, mixed lamb + chicken shawarma with sauces

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Baba ganoush (moutabal) – aubergine dip with fresh-baked flatbread @ £4.25
And grilled halloumi @ £4.45

There’s been a kebab shop in this unit for years but it’s been smartened up considerably since Fayrooz took it over earlier in 2017.

Most business seems to be take-away (you can arrange delivery through the likes of UberEats) and there are about eight tables for eat-in diners. Service is leisurely Lebanese/ Mediterranean in that it’s friendly, welcoming and not in any hurry (to the extent of being painfully slow on a couple of occasions, in our experience).

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Inside Fayrooz – cafe style

Takeaway:

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Chargrilled spiced sea bass with salad – takeaway @ £11.95

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Fayrooz takeaway menu

Delivery through UberEats:

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Meze delivery through UberEats:
Kibbeh mezze: Fried meat balls – bulgur shell with a filling of spiced finely-minced lamb @ £5.45 (gorgeous cinnamon flavours)
Grilled haloumi mezze @ £4.45
Aubergine moussaka mezze: oven-baked aubergine with tomatoes, onion + chickpeas (cold) @ £4.25
Tabbouleh salad: tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur, onion, + olive oil, lemon juice, + salt @ £4.25
Grilled corn-on-the-cob: two cobs @ £2.75
Baba ganoush mezze: Moutabal – smoked aubergine puree, sesame sauce + pomegranate seeds @ £4.25

 

The verdict: A good cafe option in Catford serving freshly prepared dishes (good quality chargrilled meats and fish) if you’re not in a hurry.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Lebanese
– Address: 4 Catford Broadway, London SE6 4SP
– Nearest station: Catford Bridge, Catford
– More info: Fayrooz website or on fb
– Photos on flickr: images of Fayrooz food
– Location: Fayrooz map

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Luciano’s wood-fired pizza deliveries in SE London

Anyone who likes a good stone-baked, Italian-style pizza will know how difficult it is, to get it delivered in the Lewisham area of South East London (sure, deliveries from the likes of Papa John’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc are plentiful – say no more).

But then I saw this instagram post by @SouthLondonClub about Luciano’s:
SouthLondonClub insta about Lucianos - for LardButty blog
Check out this short video-clip on Instagram

Being late home from work this evening, I decided to give them a try. I phoned and ordered two 12″ pizzas. I was unable to order salads and side veggies as apparently their kitchen where ‘other food’ is prepared was out of order. I was told that only the pizza kitchen was working. So I ordered a third pizza, totalling £30.00:

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Selection of pizzas from Luciano – vesuvio; fiorentina; create-your-own

  • Vesuvio – mozzarella, tomato, onion, salami + meatballs @ £10.50
  • Fiorentina – mozzarella, tomato, spinach, Grana Padano cheese, egg, black olives @ £8.50
  • Parma ham, mushroom + black olives @ £11.00

 

Delivery time was expected to be about 45 minutes but was closer to an hour and a half. By the time it arrived, it wasn’t hot. But it was nice enough.

Luciano’s delivers to a 2.5 mile radius around SE12, SE3, SE13. That’s these areas:

  • BR1 Bromley
  • SE10 Greenwich
  • SE12 Lee
  • SE13 Lewisham
  • SE14 New Cross
  • SE3 Kidbrooke
  • SE4 Brockley
  • SE6 Bellingham
  • SE9 Eltham

If you have a South London Club card, there’s currently a 10% discount off Luciano’s deliveries. And now, you can use Just Eat to order online.

The verdict: Finally, good wood-fired Italian-style pizza deliveries in South East London. It’s reasonably priced and long overdue. Hopefully, the teething troubles preventing ‘other food’ apart from pizza being available, and slow delivery will be overcome.

Alternative option: They don’t deliver, but the fabulous La Pizzeria Italiana will do take-away orders if you collect.

 

Luciano’s info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian, stone-baked pizza (deliveries)
– Address: 129-131 Burnt Ash Road, Lee, London
– Postcode: SE12 8RA
– Tel: 020 8297 0800 – or order online
– Website + menus: Luciano’s website
– Photos on flickr: Luciano photos on flickr

Luciano's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Caravan – Kings Cross N1C

Our group of eight ate from a ‘set menu’ this eve. This is great when there’s a few of you as it means you can have a few starter plates to share (they’re exceptionally tasty) and still get to choose a main course and dessert.

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Sample set menu for groups

If eating from the a la carte menu, this Burmese chicken salad, turmeric, chilli, lime and peanuts starter sharing plate is £7.50. It’s a gorgeous blend of flavours.

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Burmese chicken salad – starter sharing plate

This red quinoa and buckwheat grain bowl, stem broccoli, sweet potato, peanuts with miso-tahini dressing is £8.00 on the a la carte menu. Again, really tasty and healthy too.

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Quinoa and buckwheat grain bowl – starter sharing plate

There’s a good choice of wines ranging from £18.00 a bottle up to about £60.00 (we had a good Rioja @ £18.00).

After such a good start with the amazing sharing plates, my expectations were raised. And dropped again. Most of our main courses arrived together, but some didn’t arrive until after a further 20 minutes (so a couple ended up eating after everyone else had finished).

Pizzas are stone-baked and nice enough but the base is very thick, made from a heavy dough – it was like munching through a loaf of bread and a bit of a chore. Toppings were nice and fresh but my pizza base was burnt. Still, there was enough of it that even after cutting off the burnt part of the base, I was still left with plenty.

This mozzarella, tomato + basil pizza is normally £9.00 on the a la carte menu:

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Mozzarella, tomato + basil pizza

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Portobello mushroom, porcini ricotta, mozzarella + rocket pizza

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Caravan Kings Cross – a grade II listed Victorian grain store

The verdict: Appealing venue, basic but cosy. Food was either exceptionally good (starters) or poor (burnt, thick-based pizza) and service wasn’t great (that our group’s main courses arrived at different times, meaning we ate – in effect – in two sittings, was disappointing).

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: International
– Address: Granary Square, 1 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London
– Postcode: N1C 4AA
– Tel: 020 7101 7661
– Nearest station: Kings Cross, St Pancras
– Website + menus: Caravan Kings Cross website
– Photos on flickr: Caravan Kings Cross photos on flickr
– Location: Caravan Kings Cross map

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

Begging Bowl – Thai tapas in Peckham SE15

Thai tapas concept menu

We were a party of ten on a Friday evening and this restaurant in Peckham was heaving. Tables were packed in close together and we were crammed in. It was noisy and lively befitting a Friday evening – the start of the weekend – but the acoustics were poor making it difficult to hear conversation.

Dishes are designed for sharing. The menu offers 12 dishes, roughly half are starter portions and the other half mains. Plus limitless Jasmine rice and sticky rice @ £2.50 a head, and a choice of three desserts.

Drinks took ages to arrive and weren’t altogether correct when they did. That continued throughout the meal. By the time they did arrive, we were happy to accept whatever had been brought. Servers were busy and under pressure; service was hit and miss.

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Thai tapas at the Begging Bowl
Top – starters: (left) Miang of pomelo, ginger, peanuts, dried galangal, palm sugar, seaweed, caviar wrapped in betel leaf @£5.60, (right) mixed salad starter about £5.80
Bottom – pudding: (left) Coconut saffron rice, pomelo, satsuma, cognac caramel, cobnuts, puffed black + flat rice, jasmine smoked coconut cream @£6.00, (right) Banana fritters, coconut sesame batter, tamarind, peanut brittle, turmeric custard @ £6.70

We ordered most plates from the Thai tapas menu to share (the food was amazing – top marks to the kitchen) starting with a peanut and ginger miang (a bite sized snack, wrapped in a leaf) with pomelo (citrus fruit), dried galangal, palm sugar, seaweed, and caviar wrapped in betel leaf @ £5.60 – absolutely gorgeous blend of flavours; a salad of salsify, betel leaf, lemongrass, coriander, peanuts, Thai shallots (there’s an option to have this salad with chargrilled duck) about £10.00; and a morning glory stir fry with garlic and fermented yellow bean @ £6.50.

This menu is really pleasing for nut lovers like me.

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Charcoal grilled salt-crusted whole gilthead bream stuffed with pandanas, lemongrass, grilled green chilli dip @ £13.50
Behind: a near-finished plate of morning glory (Thai green stems) stir-fry @ £6.50

This charcoal grilled salt-crusted gilthead bream was a hit (we ordered more). You can see what it looked like whole (above) and the soft white fish-meat inside is pictured below.

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Sticky chicken, gilthead bream, sticky rice, morning glory stir fry

Other dishes we shared included chargrilled sticky chicken @ about £12.50, a mushroom parlow – king oyster mushrooms, shiitake, hens egg, and pickled morning glory (Thai green stems) @ £9.50 and of course – an unlimited supply of Jasmine rice and sticky rice.

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A selection of dishes: Parlow of king oyster mushrooms, shiitake, in foreground; sticky chicken left

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Parlow of king oyster mushrooms, shiitake, hens egg, pickled morning glory @ £9.50

For dessert we shared a dish of coconut saffron rice, pomelo, satsuma, cognac caramel, cobnuts, puffed black + flat rice, jasmine smoked coconut cream @ £6.00 and banana fritters made with a coconut sesame batter, tamarind, peanut brittle, and turmeric custard @ £6.70 (exceptionally good).

The verdict: Prepare for noise, being squashed in, hit-and-miss service and excellent food. This ‘Thai tapas’ concept menu puts an interesting twist on traditional Thai food. It’s worth a visit.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Thai, Thai tapas
– Address: 168 Bellenden Road, Peckham, London
– Postcode: SE15 4BW
– Tel: +44 20 7635 2627
– Nearest station: Peckham Rye station
– Website + menus: The Begging Bowl website
– Begging Bowl photos: The Begging Bowl photos on flickr
– Location: The Begging Bowl map

The Begging Bowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Red Lion – West Boldon, Tyne & Wear

Simple, no-fuss menu with gastro-pub style food

This Saturday lunch time booking at the Red Lion in West Boldon was a family get-together for a party of nine. We’d originally wanted to go to the Poetic License Bar (to enjoy the craft gins from the onsite gin distillery) but on booking we were warned to allow for delays (they warned of poor service, even though I was booking several weeks in advance). Having experienced terrible service already at Poetic License Bar, we decided not to risk it again and booked the Red Lion instead, as it’s more convenient for all the family anyway. Great decision.

You can eat bar meals in the main pub but on this visit, we were shown to a nicely laid out huge solid wood table with very high-backed (and heavy) wooden chairs in the main restaurant. It felt a little like walking onto a set for Game of Thrones, befitting a medieval banquet.

The menu is very plain and simple in its writing and design style. The intention may be to avoid being overly descriptive (and pompous) but it doesn’t capture just how exciting the food that is served here, really is. I was expecting traditional pub food to match the plain menu. Not so.

We’d started with a leisurely round of drinks in the pub while waiting for everyone to arrive, then ordered wine once seated at the dining table – a Navardia Rioja Bagordi @ £18.50 and a Pinot Grigio @ £13.95.

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Selection of dishes served at Red Lion
Starters (top right): prawn cocktail, Thai fishcake + chilli sauce, and (bottom left) goats cheese crostini all @£6.95 each
Mains: Ribeye Steak with grill garnish and  thick-cut chips @ £14.95 (main pic) and Thai red chicken curry with chips instead of rice @£10.95 (bottom right)

Starters range from £4.50 for soup of the day to £7.95 for king prawn skewers. I had goats cheese crostini with dressed mixed leaves @ £6.95, beautifully served with a balsamic glaze, while others had prawn cocktail (described as ‘classic prawn cocktail’ on the menu but beautifully served like this with leaves and balsamic glaze) @ £6.95, Thai fish cakes with chilli sauce also @ £6.95 and black pudding and chorizo salad @ £5.95.

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Starter: Black pudding and chorizo salad @ £5.95

Already very impressed (it’s a while since K and I ate here) we were suitably excited about the main courses. My fish and chips were gorgeous – really good, tasty fish with chunky chips; the mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce enhanced it perfectly.

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Red Lion burger – homemade burger with bacon + cheese  @£11.95

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Traditional fish and chips – mushy peas + homemade tartar sauce with capers @£11.95

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Oven roast salmon with a tomato Provencale sauce – and new boiled potatoes @£9.95

Check out the huge, wooden thrones we’re sitting on:

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Solid wood high-backed chairs

Some had desserts. While, ahem, others had more drinks. And a great pub lunch was had by all.

The verdict: Gastro-pub style food in a homely, friendly pub. Very good value – checkout the website for latest offers (as of Feb 2017 there’s a credit crunch lunch @£9.95 for two courses and a tea or coffee, served Monday to Saturday, 12-7pm).

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: British, pub
– Address: Redcar Terrace, West Boldon, South Tyneside
– Postcode: NE36 0PZ
– Tel: +44 191 536 4197
– Nearest station: East Boldon metro
– Website + menus: Red Lion website
– Photos of Red Lion: Red Lion pics on flickr
– Location: Red Lion map

Posh nosh at Bronte – Trafalgar Square, WC2N

Posh nosh at large brasserie near Trafalgar Square

What’s this restaurant like? Well, the first clue is in the address – The Grand Building, The Strand. I’m guessing you’re with me so far.

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Bronte restaurant on The Strand

Our party of eight visited on Tuesday evening, a cold autumnal evening. Entering the brightly lit, brasserie-style rooms at ground level, we were taken down to the equally large and elegant basement restaurant and bar area where our booked table was waiting.

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Get a load of this edamame + kale pancake: aerial, sideview, cut open 

We each selected a main course and dessert from a set menu – three courses at £35 per head while starters and sides were served for the table to share. From the wine list, we chose a Le Paradou Viognier (dry white wine with subtle fruit and floral flavours) @ £27.00 a bottle.

Our shared starters included:

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Roast beetroot + root vegetables

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Octopus + charred pineapple with kalamansi (hybrid citrus fruit), chilli, Thai shallots and mint (Ceviche style with slightly pickled flavours)

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Chilli + honey chicken skewers with baby leek, pickled cucumber, spring onion + sesame – so, so good

For main course, some in our party chose the fillet steak at a supplement of £10 (10 oz grass-fed rare-breed Black Angus with miso slaw and roast garlic) which looked great and was met with approval. But the exciting option had to be the edamame and kale pancake, it’s not something I’ve seen on a menu before. The smoked avocado and aubergine ratatouille had the lovely smoky flavours of baba ghanoush, and the pancake – despite sounding like a relatively healthy option – was spongy and dense, and really filling (which seemed appropriate on a cold, autumnal night).

Edamame + kale pancake with smoked avocado + aubergine ratatouille, sheep’s milk yogurt + harissa:

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Spongy pancake texture – dense and filling, befitting a cold autumnal evening

Our shared sides included:

  • Skinny fries with nori + rosemary salt
  • Tenderstem broccoli
  • Black sesame tahini + truffle
  • Miso slaw
  • Shiso, spring onion, red onion + sweetheart cabbage

Dessert choices included:

  • Limoncello cheesecake with pomelo grapefruit salad + yuzu sorbet
  • Summer berry pavlova – strawberry coulis
  • Sorbet / ice cream – three scoops of your choice

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Limoncello cheesecake + yuzu sorbet

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Three scoops of ice cream including green tea

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Summer berry pavlova – strawberry coulis – slightly sickly but it didn’t go to waste…

The verdict: If you’re not counting the pennies and want something that’s not mainstream, this is reasonably priced given the interesting, unusual menu items and quality food. Nice and spacious, it’s an easy space in which to feel comfortable and relax.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: International
– Address: Grand Buildings, 1-3 The Strand, London
– Postcode: WC2N 5EJ
– Nearest station: Charing Cross
– Website + menus: Bronte website
– Photos on flickr: Bronte photos
– Location: Bronte map

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

Chez Léon – Brussels

Excellent meaty moules and cosy American diner style at Chez Léon friture Bruxelloise

I recently read this article in The Telegraph Why I remain a fan of Brussels by Stanley Johnson. He spent over two decades living and working in the Belgian capital so his top five list of ‘favourite things in Brussels’ seemed like a trustworthy source. I was inspired to try out his favourite restaurant – Chez Léon (not realising that a branch had opened in London, called Léon de Bruxelles – and being unsuccessful – promptly closed).

And so I wandered over to the strip of tourist restaurants that is Rue des Bouchers, passing Le Bourgeois (where I enjoyed Flemish stew last month) to Chez Léon.

 

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Inside Chez Léon: casual American diner feel with cute murels 

 

Greeted and seated promptly, service was lively and friendly. It’s a large restaurant with several interior spaces that are sectioned off (to feel cosier), spread over several floors. And while it was busy, staff seemed to be on the ball, whizzing around and exchanging light-hearted comments. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Brightly lit with some neon signage and cute murels of ‘moules frites’ caricatures depicting key scenes of Belgian and Vanlancker family history, Chez Léon has a casual American diner feel – homely and comfortable, which I particularly enjoyed as I was dining alone.

The 12-page menu itself takes some digesting so I ordered a Delirium tremens (gorgeous Belgian beer but very strong) while reading.

 

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Mini Léon salad – fried moules, tomatoes, egg, potato, crème au poivre

I ordered a mini salad as a starter containing deep-fried moules or mussels in breadcrumbs. This was the first time I’d eaten moules this way – it’s really just another form of scampi and these were excellent.

 

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Delirium tremens – a few of these and you’ll be seeing more than pink elephants and parading crocodiles…
For main course, I had Léon spaghetti @ €16.25 – mussels (moules), shrimps, mushrooms and a cream sauce.

 

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Léon spaghetti – mussels (moules), shrimps, mushrooms and a cream sauce, as served

 

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Léon spaghetti absolutely gorgeous moules with shrimps and mushrooms in a cream sauce
I was reminded just how good moules can be when they’re done well. These were excellent – a really meaty texture and naturally tasty without being camouflaged by the flavour of other ingredients or sauce. The cream sauce on the spaghetti wasn’t ‘sickly creamy’ either but perfectly complemented all the flavours in this dish.

 

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Moules frites caricatures – showing milestones in Belgian history and Friture Léon‘s history

 

The verdict: I can see why Stanley Johnson used to eat here time and again. I would do too. You have to try moules in Belgium, right? This is a great place to do just that.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Belgian (in Belgium)
– Address: Rue des Bouchers 18, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
– Website + menus: Chez Leon website
– Photos on flickr: Chez Leon photos
– Location: Chez Leon map