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

Lunch at Shake Shack, Covent Garden

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It seems the fast food trend is far from over. Just this past month two more burger restaurants have opened in Covent Garden; Five Guys and Shake Shack.

I had never heard of Five Guys before and when they were decorating the space I had no idea it was becoming a burger place. But I had heard of Shake Shack and was a bit sad I didn’t get to try it when I was in New York and therefore quite excited to try it now that it has opened in London.

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I went here for lunch with two colleagues and knowing it is a popular place we got there just after noon, but even then the queue was quite long. It moved quickly however and we even got a sample of ice cream each.

The burger restaurant is placed in the actual market buildings on the Covent Garden piazza and although modern meets old style wise it looks pretty good.

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I chose the Smoke Shack burger with cheese, bacon and cherry peppers. The patty was nice and moist, the bun of perfect brioche type; not crumbly and not spongy either. The trimmings were nice too, the dressing didn’t over power, the cheese nice and gooey and the bacon crisp – as should be.

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Since I just love melted cheese I had to try their cheese fries and I was actually quite impressed. The fries are crimped and therefore extra crunchy and the cheese sauce was delicious. I was worried it would taste very artificial, and OK, it does taste a bit like the Dairy Lea plastic cheese, but that’s the type of cheese I like with a burger (yes, actually).

Shake Shack is definitely worth a visit when you’re in the mood for an American style burger. Just get in the queue.

Shake Shack, Covent Garden, 24 Market Building, The Piazza, London WC2E 8RD

Dinner at Great Queen Street

One great thing with having a blog is all the people you get in contact with. Sometimes you get freebies or invitations (yes, please!), sometimes a really nice comment, a recommendation for a restaurant or a very nice follower.

That’s the reason why I had dinner with one of my readers the other day. She is Swedish too, has lived in London for longer than I have and loves food. We have discussed restaurants in the comments’ section and on email for quite some time so it was about time to actually meet up!

The chosen venue was Great Queen Street, a restaurant both of us have been meaning to try for ages.

To be honest, I wasn’t bawled over when entering the restaurant, as the first thing I saw were the pine chairs and tables. Hello 80’s. But then you look around and notice the homely pictures and light fixtures on the walls, and as the restaurant fills up you decide you like it. Despite the pine.

The food here is simple and rustic, and although it is food I could easily cook at home, it still has that little extra you want in a restaurant experience. The seasoning is spot on, and although simply prepared the ingredients are of great quality and the pairings are great.

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Sandra’s first dish of smoked mackerel with soft rhubarb and strong horseradish is a great example of their cooking. It looks simple, almost plain, but the flavours are there and they stay with you.

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My first dish of snails, bacon and nettles was just right. Enough smokiness from the crispy bacon, soft melt-in-the-mouth snails and earthiness from the nettles. All the flavours came through and the crusty bread made a nice contrast.

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Both of us decided baked eggs with tomatoes and peppers were a good idea in the grey quite cool evening, and it really hit the spot. Although I have made a similar thing myself, you could just tell that the best ingredients were used in this, and a lot of time allowed to further sweeten the vegetables.

It is a busy place though, so we only had our table for an hour and a half, but we could move to the bar and finish our wine and conversation there, so we were very happy. And a plus to the very attentive yet super-friendly staff.

32 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AA Tel: 020 7242 0622

Scandi tip #16: The Moomin Shop

Did you ever read about Moomin by Finnish Tove Jansson when you were little? I certainly did and I still find the Moomin family very cute. We watched the cartoon on telly as kids as well, and I think the characters are just adorable. Especilly Little My who is angry all the time.

A little while ago a new shop opened in the Covent Garden Market, full of adorable Moomin merchandise. I can’t wait to check it out. For more info, see what Time Out has to say.

Da Polpo

I told you briefly that I had been to the faily newly opened Italian Da Polpo in Covent Garden. With me was my colleague Caroline, who just like me appreciates good food.

We ordered the special of the day; a mackerell tartare with horseradish sauce and flatbread. I really enjoyed the tartar but the horseradish was a bit strong. We also had the chilli and garlic prawns and grilled foccacia, which both were good and just what we expected really. The foccacia was less spongy than most but still really nice. The prawns had a nice spice coating as well as the spicy oil. After we’d enjoyed the prawns we realised that the rocket left in the oil was almost as good.

We had to try one of the meatballs and opted for the spicy pork and fennel ones. They were lovely in consistency, just the right amount of heat and you could really taste the fennel seeds. We also tried the asparagus with melted tallegio and ham, which basically was a tomato free pizza. Absolutely lovely.

Both of us enjoyed all the dishes but the favourites were the meatballs and the asparagus and taleggio pizza. We also came up with the brilliant idea to eat our way through the menu. Not in one go though, but we will definitely be back. Soon.

The restaurant has a nice rustic interior and the menu is your placemat. The service was quite good, but maybe a bit slow considering the restaurant wasn’t full up. But the reason why I like this place is the good value for money. The food was very good, and plenty of it, and still the bill only came to £30 for both of us.

Da Polpo
6 Maiden Lane
Covent Garden