Lunch at Mishkin’s, Covent Garden

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One of my trusted London restaurants is Opera Tavern on Catherine Street. I’ve been there lots of times and every time I have thought to myself that I need to visit the place next door soon, because it just looks so nice.

Soon seems to be a relative term for me; it took me a few years to actually go but a while back I finally went to Mishkin’s! I had lunch here with my friend Marie-Louise who also works in the area and it was just as nice as I had hoped it would be (company included).

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Although part of the Italian restaurant empire Polpo, this is a kind of Jewish deli (at least that’s what it says on their website), so expect things like Reuben sandwiches and salt beef. The whole menu looked great but most irresistible was the mac ‘n cheese with salt beef and mustard, so we ordered one small each and some other nibbles to share. The mac ‘n cheese was really nice with a cheesy layer on top and soft macaroni underneath.

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The sliders with lamb, white bean hummus and feta were also great, and perfect in size.

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We also shared the cod cheek popcorn which were nice, although a little bland without the tartar sauce.

Now that I’ve finally been here, I will definitely take turns between Mishkin’s and Opera Tavern. Might see you around!

Mishkin’s, 25 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JS

Brunch at The Ivy Market Grill, Covent Garden

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Around the same time as The Ivy was refurbished two siblings popped up; the Ivy Chelsea Garden on Kings Road (where it’s near impossible to get a table) and The Ivy Market Grill just by Covent Garden Market.

When Linus and Mirja were visiting at the end of May (where does the time go?!) we went here for Sunday brunch on their last day in town and it was such a nice send off.

The brunch menu is long and has plenty of egg dishes to choose from and everything we had was top notch. We ordered the sourdough for the table not realising it was a whole loaf, still warm. That’s several plus points just there!

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Mirja had the vegetarian Full English breakfast consisting of halliumi, eggs, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, avocado and baked beans served in a mini copper pot. Really fresh and a nice breakfast dish! 2015-05-31 12.53.47

Linus had the thick pancakes with bacon and maple syrup – that’s just up his street. And they were good. It’s so important that the simple dishes are cooked perfectly, and here they were.

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I loved my scrambled eggs with truffle and toasted brioche. Although I make my own scrambled eggs a lot softer, these were still well-made and well seasoned, and the truffle on top was just a delicious pairing!

I will definitely go back here for brunch or breakfast; I like both the ambiance and the menu. Think of The Ivy Market Grill as a low-key alternative to The Wolseley.

The Ivy Market Grill, 1 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8PS

Kopapa, Covent Garden – revisited

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Almost every time I go to Kopapa I have one of their burgers. Either the regular beef one or the soft shell crab version. They’re both great so choosing between the two is hard enough, so I barely check the rest of the menu as that makes the decision process even more difficult.

But there is a first time for everything so when I had dinner here a few weeks ago I dared to go out of my menu comfort zone.

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While my friend had the scallops with homemade sweet chilli sauce and creme fraiche (delicious!) I had the cream of Jerusalem artichoke and potato soup with wild garlic and truffle oil. It was nice but not sadly not amazing.

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But luckily the main course made up for that. The Wagyu rump beef with smoked mash, mushrooms, jus and beetroot relish was so so SO yummy!

It did pay off to try more on their menu but I won’t be surprised if it will take me a while to be done with the beef – I definitely want to eat that again. And again.

Kopapa Café and Restaurant, 32-34 Monmouth Street, London WC2H 9HA 

Dinner at Tredwell’s, Covent Garden

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The Masterchef: The Professionals judge and famous chef Marcus Wareing, known for fine dining, opened the doors to a more casual restaurant in Covent Garden in September that I have been very curious to try since.

Two floors, the interior a flirt with art deco and trendy well-cooked food is certainly a good combination. Especially when located bang in the middle of Central London.

We had a lovely chorizo jam with charred bread as a snack while looking over the menu.

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My friend Tom started with slowcooked salmon with spirulina and cauliflower which was really nice and interesting.

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I went for a classic dish with a twist; incredibly fluffy chicken liver mousse served in a jam jar over bacon jam (yep, it’s all about meat jam at the moment), with toasted bread. The flavour of the mousse was amazing but it was incredibly rich.

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The main courses followed the same rustic no-fuss theme and the confit duck leg with charred cabbage was a show of simplicity. Incredibly tender meat!

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I had a gratin with smoked haddock, crab and courgette. It was fresh and although the smoked fish flavour was strong the other flavours came through well too. We both had mash as sides which was nice but nothing special.

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The portions were generous and we were pretty full after all that. But then we saw the pudding menu offering soft serve salted caramel ice cream and couldn’t resist. It was quite a milky ice cream (I prefer a creamier texture) but the flavour was nice and the honeycomb a nice touch.

Tredwell’s certainly feels like a restaurant from a team who knows what they’re doing. The decoration is nice and feels luxe although it is a casual restaurant, the food is very on trend (chorizo jam!) and what people want to eat right now as well as perfectly cooked. The waiting staff are all young people in casual uniforms and although the service was good when paid attention to, there was a lot of joking around with the colleagues instead of keeping track of the tables.

With the waiting staff being a bit more on the ball this restaurant is my new favourite casual restaurant in the area. With the close proximity to the West End theatres this is an area overpopulated with boring chain restaurants and Tredwell’s is a most welcome addition.

Tredwell’s, 4a Upper St Martin’s Ln, London WC2H 9NY

Lunch at Barrafina, Covent Garden

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Barrafina, one of London’s best tapas restaurants, have opened a second restaurant conveniently located two minutes away from my office and with more seating than in the original restaurant on Soho’s Frith Street.

The new restaurant also consists of a tapas bar with full view into the kitchen behind it so you interact with the chefs during your meal. I love that set up and the fact that this new restaurant is more spacious so if you’re waiting for a table you’re still comfortable.

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I went here with two colleagues and we all had some input on what to order so it is a real mix. The first dish to arrive were the crab croquetas which were very nice!

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The pan con tomato was also really nice and not too wet.

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But the star of the show was definitely one of the day’s specials; langoustines with tarragon butter. They were absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection!

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We also had the classix tortilla, which might not look very special but it is the best one I’ve ever had (including those in Spain). It was filled with plenty of caramelised onions and wonderfully creamy.

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Grilled asparagus with Romesco sauce and pecorino was another delight.

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As well as the incredibly simple yet perfectly executed salad of various tomatoes, fennel and avocado.

The food is simply prepared here but the produce is so good it would be wrong to serve it any other way!

Barrafina, 10 Adelaide Street, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4HZ

Dinner at The Big Easy, Covent Garden

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The Big Easy on Kings Road has been around for 20 odd years and only recently opened a more central sister restaurant in Covent Garden. My friend Gaby introduced me to the original restaurant and she was also the one suggesting we try out the new edition on one of our girl’s nights.

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The menu is quite very similar to the Kings Road restaurant but the restaurant itself is a lot bigger, more spacious and feels more modern. On the lower ground floor you can see the chefs hard at work in the kitchen and there is a bar area on each floor.

We started with some voodoo prawns (top picture) and delicious chicken wings to share since we know that the portions here are big here, huge in fact. Which of course fits well with the American BBQ food they serve.

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Gaby and Rowena had the ribs and although they had had them before they were surprised of the portion size. Six big, juicy (and very delicious) ribs each, as well as coleslaw, beans and a potato salad makes for quite a substantial meal…

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Laura and I chose the lobster roll which was really good but really filling as well. The filling had large chunks of lobster and was quite creamy (in a good way) and brioche roll was large and shaped like a loaf. With a side salad and chips we were stuffed!

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Instead of pudding (as they all seemed too heavy in our food coma state) we had some cocktails and milkshakes. Even the milkshake was too much for me but really yummy.

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I really like this place! As a restaurant it feels more up to date than the Kings Road branch mainly because it is a lot bigger and has a more modern look. It’s more fun on the weekend as it is buzzing with people and has a large capacity and the food is just as good as on the Kings Road.

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I definitely think it is a winning concept; not changing the menu trying to be too edgy but instead sticking to what you know.

Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack, 12 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NA

Lunch at Flesh & Buns, Covent Garden

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When Caroline and I went to Flesh and Buns in the beginning of December the restaurant was fairly newly opened. Two months later it is not the talk of the town anymore but still worth mentioning to you, dear readers. 

It is the team behind lovely Bone Daddies Ramen Bar in Soho who is behind Flesh & Buns too, and I understand the need for opening up a larger restaurant. The seating area in Flesh & Buns must be at least triple the noodle bar space. It feels more relaxed and spacious but does lack a little bit of the cosy atmosphere of its noddle bar sister.

The menu at this new-ish restaurant is quite varied with a sushi section, small plates and the meat with buns section from where it has taken its name. Caroline and I both like to try new things so we decided to share a whole array of dishes:fb3

First up was a watercress salad with avocado and shiso. It was simple and fresh and the dressing fantastic. fb4

Next we tried a sushi roll as the person next to us had some and it looked really good. The shrimp tempura roll was nice and well made but sadly didn’t measure up to Yashin or Tsunami’s sushi. fb5

The pig bones, i.e. ribs, were sweet and sticky with their miso marinade and fell off the bone. One of my favourite dishes. fb6

Beef scewers with kimchi and yoghurt were succulent and tasty but not amazing. fb7

Lastly we tried some buns with duck leg, crispy skin, thinly sliced pickled beetroot and hoisin sauce. The fluffy pale buns are similar to pork buns in texture but these you fill yourself. It was nice and I like the idea of filling your own bun, but I wasn’t blown away. fb2

Compared to Bone Daddies I feel that Flesh & Bun are lacking in a few areas. The atmosphere and interior feels warmer and cosier at the former and the menu feels more put together there too.

It’s still early days for Flesh & Buns and I hope they can improve because there is definitely room for this type of restaurant in Covent Garden.

 Flesh & Buns, 41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX