Bocca di Lupo, Soho – revisited

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A few weeks ago we had a leaving dinner for Phuong – another American friend of mine to return to the US of A. While I don’t blame her for choosing sunny California over dreary England, she’ll still be missed!

The venue Phuong chose for her leaving dinner is one of my favourite restaurants in town; understated and cosy Italian Bocca di Lupo in Soho.

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We started with some bubbly and the Bocca Prosecco was very good! We also got some bread, grassy olive oil to dip the bread in and some olives while we had a look at the menu.

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We then shared quite a lot of starters. First calamari with baby squid which was really good!

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Our waiter recommended the crescentine; deep-fried flatbreads, with cream cheese and salmon roe. He wasn’t wrong, they were delicious!

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The fried sweetbreads with crispy artichoke I’ve had before and it was just as nice this time. The sweetbreads were nice and soft but with a crispy exterior.

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We also had a plate of crudo consiting of tuna tartar with pine nuts, wonderfully sweet marinated prawns and delicious scallops. Especially the prawns were absolutely wonderful!

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We then continued with primi and pasta. Again we shared a few dishes. First up was gnocchi with wild garlic pesto and mozzarella. Really nice and the gnocchi were amazing!

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The tortelloni with prosciutto and cheesy sauce was also really nice.

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But the orecchiette with n’duja, red onions and tomato was the winner – amazing! A nice combination of spicy, creamy and a little acidity.

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Finally we shared some roasted pumpkin with parmesan…

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… and this absolutely wonderful saltimbocca (the picture does not do it justice) and creamy polenta. We were too full to even consider pudding – but what a feast! Writing about it I’m already longing to go back.

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Literally the last night with the gang… :(

Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB

Dinner at Yauatcha, Soho

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Sometimes when I meet my friends in groups of four, especially in a bustling restaurant or bar it feels like I’m part of Sex and the City. Partly probably because we talk a lot about men, but also because the surroundings fit. One Michelin-starred Yauatcha could have been in New York, it’s that type of vibe. And sitting there with four Americans, it’s easy to pretend. It was high pace, lots of chatter, cocktails and dim sum.

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We ordered quite a few dim sum dishes to share, here some steamed dumplings with pork and prawn and Chinese chives and prawn. I absolutely adore steamed dumplings and these were amazing!

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The crispy spring rolls with mushrooms and black truffle was another favourite. The cheung fun to the right was also really good, I think they were filled with pork (char siu).

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These pan-fried dumplings with chicken were also really nice. Although my favourites are the steamed dumplings but I like to change it up texture wise too.

y8y10The crispy duck rolls were basically Peking duck as dim sum; stuffed with crispy aromatic duck and spring onions and dipped in hoisin sauce. Delicious!
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My absolute favourite of the evening was the steamed dumplings with lobster, tobiko caviar, ginger and shallots. So good!

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I always order turnip cake when in a Chinese restaurant and this was definitely the best one I’ve ever had. It was soft and almost fluffy and sprinkled with chives.

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The others were almost fighting over the squid with chilli, oats and curry leaves but I wasn’t a huge fan. I love squid and it was well-cooked (crispy topping, soft fish) but I think it was the addition of the oats that didn’t appeal to me.

We only had (although quite a lot of it) dim sum, but there are plenty of main courses and puddings to chose from too. The restaurant feels very cosmopolitan and lively and the kitchen definitely deserves its star. The lower ground floor is a bit quieter if one’s not in the mood for the hustle and bustle.

Yauatcha, 15-17 Broadwick St, London W1F 0DL

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