Dinner at Polpo, Soho

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A few weeks ago my Uni friend Lena was in town and suggested meeting up on a Monday night. We hadn’t seen each other since we were actually at Uni in Lund in Sweden, several years ago, so it was lovely to see her again!

We met after work looked in some shops on Regent Street and Carnaby Street and as we walked past Polpo on Beak Street, we thought why not go there for dinner! It was a 45 minute wait for a table which we spend in the basement bar having a drink and catching up.

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We were starving when we sat down and followed the waiter’s suggestion of three dishes each. It was actually too much food for us, but we enjoyed sampling it all.

The first dish (top picture) was a wonderful bruschetta with mozzarella, nectarine and pea shoots. Also the pizza bianco with prosciutto, rocket and parmesan (above) was very good! 
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We wanted something green to balance all the heavy food and without a simple green leaf salad on the menu we settled for the fennel salad with almonds which was really fresh!

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The cuttlefish risotto with ink was absolutely fantastic. The terrible picture (it was dark and I used my iPhone) doesn’t do it justice at all. That and the bruschetta were the highlights of the evening!

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The meatballs made from pork and beef in tomato sauce were soft and full of flavour and a reoccurring dish on the menu.

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The lamb stew with tomato was also nice, but not as nice as the other dishes.

Polpo describes itself as a Venetian bàcaro; a simple restaurant serving rustic, well-cooked food. And that’s exactly what they do! And they do it very well. It’s cosy, a bit noisy and a nice atmosphere and there are plenty branches to choose from all around London.

Polpo Soho, 41 Beak Street, London W1F 9SB

Lunch at Burger & Lobster, Soho

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I have finally been to Burger & Lobster; one of the very many popular first come first serve restaurants in Soho with a limited menu.

The menu is very concise; you can choose between a burger, whole lobster or a lobster roll for £20 and they’re all served with fried and a salad.

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I couldn’t resist the lobster and it was great. Perfectly cooked, finished under the grill and the claws were pre-cracked to make it easier to eat. The lemon and garlic butter was delicious too, the fries pretty standard and the salad really fresh.

The staff were friendly and supplied bibs, wet wipes and proper seafood tools. I really enjoyed this place and will definitely be back for the lobster. £20 is quite steep for a regular burger but it looked really good so I definitely want to try that too!

There are more restaurants than the one in Soho and the first Burger & Lobster is about to open in NYC so more than I seem to like this concept.

Burger & Lobster, 36 Dean Street, London W1D 4PS

Lunch at Jackson + Rye, Soho

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When my bestie Emma came to visit a few weekends ago we walked around Covent Garden and Carnaby street on the Saturday and when we were hungry I thought it would be a good idea to check out Jackson + Rye that I had heard so much about.

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We liked the place immediately! The vibe is very New York; casual but nice. The all day menu offers American food but is very varied containing sandwiches and salads as well as egg dishes and proper main courses.

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Emma has a bagel with cream cheese, rocket and smoked salmon which was fresh and nice.

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I had the shrimp roll in brioche bun with mushy avocado and spicy sauce. Really nice and substantial but still lighter than a regular burger. We had some rosé to drink and managed to avoid the rain (it had stopped when we stepped out again) so we were very happy here!

Jackson + Rye, 56 Wardour Street, London W1D 4JG

Dinner at The House of Ho, Soho

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About a month ago my friend Malin and I had a farewell dinner at The House of Ho, a fairly newly opened Vietnamese restaurant in London, as Malin was moving away. Not far, but I still miss her.

The restaurant is lively and along the back wall there is a long bar and small tables are scattered around the cosy area. My first thought was that it’s a great place to go on a date, as it was buzzing and fun but still a bit intimate.

The menu consisting of both small dishes and proper main courses was interesting and we decided to share a few dishes to get to try as many things as possible.

The salmon tartar, above, with onions, seaweed and flavoured salt was nice, but I prefer already mixed tartars to these where you mix yourself on the plate.

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The smoky aubergine with spring onion vinaigrette and fried onions that Malin’s colleague recommended to us was absolutely lovely and probably my favourite for the evening.

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The pomolo and crab salad with noodles, mint and prawn crackers was nice but not amazing. The monk fish with lemongrass and caramel sauce (no picture) was lovely though.

I found the food to be a bit hit or miss, although everything was well cooked some dishes lacked a bit of oomph. It’s stiff competition having a restaurant in London and The House of Ho definitely has potential but needs to figure out what they’re good at and stick to that.

House of Ho, 57-59 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 6HP

Dinner at Quo Vadis, Soho

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Quo Vadis has been on my (extremely long) to-eat-list for quite a while and last weekend I finally got the opportunity to go there. My friend from home, Linus, was visiting and as he happened to have two colleagues in town we thought we’d meet up for dinner somewhere central and my friend Laura was up for coming along too.

We met at Soho diner for a few drinks before our dinner and it was so warm we could sit outside.

As we had quite a late dinner we decided to go for both starters and mains and I just had to have the baked salsify I’ve seen Simon Hopkinson rave about on TV. They were gorgeous; crispy on the outside, not too soft on the inside and tasted absolutely lovely with the grated parmesan.

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Our waiter thought one portion of the salsify was not enough as a starter so I had another snack, the duck rillette which was nice too.

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Louise had exactly the same starter as I and Linus and Jacob both had the spinach and Alexanders (a new acquaintance for us all) soup. Laura had the squid above and was pretty much in food heaven she said.

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Jacob and Laura both had the salt cod with soft boiled egg, anchovies and salad which they really enjoyed.

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Louise and Linus had the onglet with horseradish and pickled walnut (it’s hiding behind the horseradish) and some roast potatoes and steamed vegetables to share. photo 42

I had probably the healthiest maincourse I’ve ever had. Brill in a vegetable broth with mussels, broadbeans and leek. I really enjoyed it but when I read it on the menu I actually expected more of a creamy broth.

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Somehow we all managed pudding as well. Laura and Jacob had the same again; poached pear and winter fruits with Jersey cream which was quite heavy but nice.

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Louise, Linus and I all had the crème brulee and it was a very good version. The custard was not too sweet and quite runny and velvety.

Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, London W1D 3LL

Dinner at Mele e Pere, Soho (revisited)

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Mele e Pere in the midst of vibrant Soho (we saw two people getting arrested just after dinner) is a real gem. It’s very relaxed, usually crowded and they have prosecco on tap!

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I had dinner with my ex-flatmate Nick here a few weeks ago and since we were both starving after a hard day at he office we started with a few things to share and then moved on to a pasta dish each. To share we had a bread basket (with lovely focaccia), sweet green olives, calamari with smoky mayo and a parmigiana with pesto and rocket. All very tasty!

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Nick had a large portion of their beef ragù to finish and it was very proper. I’m sure it had been cooked for several hours.

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I chose probably the richest pasta dish in the universe but it was utterly amazing. Fluffy pillows of gnocchi with a very buttery sauce and shavings of black truffle. So lush!

Mele e Pere, 46 Brewer St, London W1F 9TF

Lunch at Flat Iron, Soho

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I love the rustle and bustle in Soho and that there is such an eclectic mix of restaurants. A new-ish restaurant I tried a couple of weeks ago has a very limited menu but offers, as the name suggests, flatiron steak. One of my favourite cuts; quite grainy fibers but very tender meat.

Like a lot of Soho’s restaurant, this is a first come, first serve type place with no table reservations. Arriving in the middle of the lunch rush we were lucky to nab the last two seats at one of the communal tables.

As soon as we sat down water and a bowl of popcorn appeared at the table. Awesome!

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The menu is sparse with only the flatiron steak and sides or today’s special; a slowcooked beef stew. My colleague and I both went for the steak, cooked medium-rare as suggested by the waitress with chips, bearnaise sauce and a side of creamed spinach to share.

The steak was really nice and the chips crispy. The bearnaise sauce (which I am extremely picky with) got my approval, although it had a tad too much vinegar in it.

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I really like this place. It’s unpretentious and what you see is what you get. And the food is well-prepared, very tasty and not expensive at all. It makes perfect sense to start this type of restaurant in recession. Good steak restaurants in London are, let’s face it, quite expensive and so many places offers very disappointing steak although for a better price.

To instead specialize in just one cut (but a great and affordable one) to keep the costs down is in my opinion, brilliant.

Flat Iron, 17 Beak St, Soho, London W1F 9RW