London: The Palomar, Soho

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The Palomar in Soho is a snug little restaurant serving up dishes from the Jerusalem of today and has been around for a while. It’s still as popular as when it opened and I had a fab dinner with my friend Felicity here quite a while ago that I’d like to tell you all about.

Arriving on a weekday after work the small restaurant was of course full (always expect a popular Soho restaurant to be full unless you go very early or very late) so we put our names on the list and when in search of a drink.

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About an hour later our seats at the bar were ready and our enthusiastic water welcomed us and started to recommend dishes from the menu. The kabaneh, a Yemeni pot baked bread with tahini and a tomato sauce was a must and we loved dipping the fluffy bread in the different sauces.

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Next we had a special for the day; crispy Jerusalem artichoke with tuna rillette and duck fat which was amazingly good. Loved loved loved this one!

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The burnt courgette tzatziki was another favourite. It also pairs very well with the bread!

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Another special, the bonito carpaccio, savoury cookie crumble was also really nice! And full of freshness.

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The Jerusalem style polenta with asparagus, mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil was pure indulgence (I wish I could cook polenta like that!!) and a real treat.

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But the deconstructed kebab with minced beef & lamb, yoghurt, tahini, cured lemon and harissa disappointed us a little. It was still nice – but lacked a bit om oomph compared to the other dishes.

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So did The beets go prawn with smoky beetroot, labneh, prawn jus, basil and chilli but it was still a nice plate of food. Just lacking a bit of wow factor.

All together we had a fantastic evening here, chatting with our waiter, the people next to us and of course each other, enjoying some excellent food and lovely wine! This is what Soho is all about for me; the informal yet amazing dining experiences.

The Palomar, 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN

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London: Loved every bite at Kricket Soho

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It feels like almost every day a new fun restaurant opens its doors in Soho. Maybe not quite, but I love how this part of London evolves quicker than the rest.

One of the latest additions to Soho’s Denman Street is the opening of Kricket Soho. Kricket started out in a shipping container in Brixton and created such a following with their trendy Indian dishes that they opened a proper restaurant in Soho.  My friend Felicity, and also my dinner companion this evening, has frequently visited the Brixton restaurant and so was my menu guide here.

Some dishes were completely new additions to the menu, which our waiter kindly highlighted for us. And when I queried if the Grüner Veltliner would work well with the food he poured us a taster so we could decide. And yes, the slightly fruity (but not sweet) Grüner Veltliner complimented the array of dishes perfectly.

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Our first dish of the evening, and a must for Felicity, was the bhel puri – one of their classics consisting of puffed rice, raw mango, tamarind, sev and yoghurt. Sublime!

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The Hyderabad baby aubergines with coconut and curry leaves we had next were nice, but lacked a little oomph compared to the other dishes, we thought.

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The Lasooni scallop with goan sausage, poha and seaweed (we had one each) were really nice! Perfectly cooked, the roe still attached and full of flavour.

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Next we had another seafood dish; butter garlic crab with seaweed papad (papadums) which was also delicious. It was served warm but we still had some left towards the end of the meal and it was just as nice cold.

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The kathi roll with duck leg was utterly moreish and perfectly paired with the peanut chutney and pickled cucumber.

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Although it may not look that special, this kulcha bread with bone marrow and cep was amazing!

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The last dish we had were these grilled lamb chops that we could see on the pass when we arrived and I knew straight away from the smell that they would be delicious. They certainly were and the two sauces; yoghurt with black stone flower and wild garlic chutney were lovely too!

Although using lots of Indian flavours and ingredients there is definitely an element of cross-over here, by using wild garlic and creating dishes full of flavour but not too spicy. I’m sold! And will be back shortly. Probably with Felicity as we both loved it!

Kricket, 12 Denman Street, London W1D 7HH

London: Shackfuyu

As proof that time is passing at what feels like the speed of light, here’s a post I meant to publish at the end of the summer last year when I’d just enjoyed my birthday meal at Bone Daddies’ Shackfuyu. I love this type of food that I would describe as Japanese junk food and the restaurant calls Western Japanese food.

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My friend Ro and I met up for a drink at then newly opened Café Monico before heading over to Shackfuyu. We were both really hungry and ordered away. First up was padron peppers. Not much to say about them really; they’re always lovely!

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Next we had the Korean fried wings which were nice and hot, just very messy to eat!

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The imo fries, crispy sweet potato fries, with yuzu mayo were also lovely.

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And by the time we had the sashimi it was a lovely palate cleanser with its fresh flavours.

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At the beginning of the meal the food arrived at a fast and steady pace but when it was time for the last two dishes – the heavier ones – we waited for approximately 40 mins. Not great and it wasn’t communicated very well to us either. It was just a shame as we then started to feel full before the rich meaty dishes finally arrived. We still managed to enjoy them though, but it was a bit of an effort trying to finish them!

The sukiyaki style wagyu picanha was amazing but so so rich. It was piping hot when it arrived, cooking the beef in the stone bowl at the table. When it was cooked we mixed it all together and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet sticky sauce enriched with an egg yolk and the enoki mushrooms. A must-order dish!

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The sticky fatty lamb ribs with pickled plum miso glaze were also full of umami and finger-lickin’ good.

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We were beyond full at this point but still had to order the Kinako French Toast with matcha soft serve ice cream. It’s probably the most instagrammed dessert in London and very very good, even when you’re so full you’re about to explode!

Shackfuyu, 14a Old Compton St, London W1D 4TJ

 

London: nachos, tacos and meat at Temper

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When I moved to London almost nine years ago (yikes!) I was a more modest foodie than I am know, partly because the restaurant scene in Malmö at the time was quite limited, especially compared to London but also compared to Malmö today.

Back then, nine years ago, I liked most places I tried in London (apart from the obvious bad ones like Garfunkels). Nowadays I’m more choosy but love to try new restaurants and eat things I can only dream of cooking myself.

Neil Rankin’s food at Temper falls into that category, but without being pretentious at all. When my friend Daisy and I came here for dinner on a Saturday night about a month ago the place was full with people chatting, good music and relaxed waiters explaining the menu. And in the middle of the room an open kitchen with chefs cooking the delicious meats.

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There is definitely a focus on meat here, chef Rankin is a barbecue expert, but without the excess you get in steak restaurants. Instead you pick as many 100 g you want of each meat and it’s served on top a flatbread to be enjoyed with all the great side dishes.

But back to the beginning. We came in, liked the atmosphere and sat down. Scanned the menu, chose a cocktail each and said yes to the waiter when he asked if we wanted some nachos (easiest question ever). The nachos arrived and we were really impressed as these are the most perfect nachos I’ve come across. It’s a small portion but since it’s loaded with meat, cheese and spice it’s the perfect amount to get you to start salivating over the rest of the menu.

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After the nachos is was time for tacos and we ordered two different ones to share. They were not as mind blowing as the nachos but still nice. My favourite was the top one with pork and pineapple but next time I want to try the ‘aged cheeseburger’ (!) ones.

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Next up was the famous meats and we decided on just 100 g each of beef and lamb to share but with all the starters and the sides it was plenty for two.

The lamb was tender and lovely – some of the best I had, but the beef was even more amazing. So tender and full of flavour it simply melted in the mouth. And together with the beef fat potatoes with cheese (amazing) I was in food heaven. We also had the corn salad (very good) and the grilled baby gem which was insanely good! The green sauce and chipotle sourcream were both nice sauces that went with everything.

We loved every bite of this and I can’t wait to go back for the meat, potatoes and that baby gem. Top marks to the chefs!

Temper, 25 Broadwick St., London W1F 0DF

London: brilliant Bao

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I’m a bit behind on updating this blog, and have been since probably the beginning of the year. My life seems to just speedily whirl by, and I’m left with lots of things to write about but haven’t got enough time to actually write. But sometimes I have a little window, and I try to really grab it with both hands and put these posts together. Wish me luck!

Anyway, I went to Bao  sometime in the spring, i.e. a very long time ago, but I still want to tell you about this great little place.

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Gaby and I queued for a little more than an hour, which is a very long time if you’re hungry, but passes quite quickly if you’re chatting away with a friend. Either way, it’s totally worth the wait.

We started off with trotter nuggets (brilliant idea!) with a tonkatsu type sauce that really cut through the pork flavour. Delicious!

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We then moved on the the baos (filled steamed Korean buns). Their ‘classic’ with braised pork and peanuts was utterly divine and my favourite. I actually ordered one more; it was that good!

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The confit pork bao sounded promising (I love any confit) but it wasn’t as good as the classic. Still nice, but I would skip this next time and go straight for the classic.

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We then had the fried chicken bao with mayonnaise, which actually came in a different type of bun, but it was also really nice!

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We didn’t have just buns though; we also sampled some of the small dishes on the menu, like the mushrooms and century egg. It was a real umami bomb and quite different. I liked it.

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But the scallop with yellow bean and garlic was even better. The powder was just delicious and the bean paste just worked so well together with the sweetness of the scallop.

Since we were here, Bao has opened up another restaurant, but the queues seem to remain at the Soho branch. But go with a friend, chat away in the queue and before you know it you can bite into these delicious baos. Yep. Worth it.

Bao Soho, 53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS

Meat feast at Zelman Meats, Soho

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The team behind the amazing meat restaurants Goodman (and Beast and Burger & Lobster) opened a new meat restaurant in the space where the fish restaurant Rex & Mariano (also owned by the same company) used to reside. In fact, they still use the Rex & Mariano crockery.

Zelman Meats (after the founder Mikhail Zelman) is a mid-market steak restaurant offering “All we do is beef, and we stick to what we know best” according to the website.

The menu is simple, with just a few starters, four different cuts of beef, sides and a few puddings. I like this simple no-fuss approach, which also makes the ambiance relaxed. It’s not white table cloths like Goodman, just good steak and sides in a relaxed restaurant.

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This is where to go to pig out on great steak, because the bill won’t be that bad and the meat is just as nice here as at Hawksmoor or Goodman. Take your date or a group of friends and just let your hair down. The staff is really friendly and relaxed but with a sincere passion for steak so they can guide you through the cuts and let you know what’s best served rare or medium.

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I came here with two colleagues for lunch, and as only one of us has a big appetite we ordered modestly to begin with, some delicious picanha and amazingly smoky and tender short rib. Once that was demolished we ordered more of the same and enjoyed it with crispy chips, salad and the two sauces on the menu. It was great and even the least meat eater out of the three of us (obviously not me) loved every bite!

Zelman Meats, 2 St Anne’s Court, London W1F 0AZ 

 

Burgers at Dirty Bones, Soho

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One night after work I met up with my friend Gaby in Soho. We were both in  the mood for comfort food and Gaby suggested Dirty Bones, which I hadn’t heard of before. Situated on the top floor in Kingly Court it was really popular, but we got there just in time to get one of the last tables. And the happy hour was still on – amazing!

We started with a cocktail each, called Top Dog, made with vodka, lemon, chambord and prosecco. It was really nice an fresh – not too sweet- and we both really enjoyed it.

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Having sorted the drinks out we decided on food; buffalo chicken wings to start and then a burger each. The chicken wings were very good and seriously spicy. I missed the classic blue cheese dip that is usually served alongside the wings, as it would have been nice with a cooling element.

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With mouths slightly on fire we moved on to the burgers. Gaby ordered the most insane burger ever created, The Mac Daddy with tender beef short rib and mac ‘n cheese. I tried both toppings and they were delicious, but I’m a bit conservative when it comes to burgers so not sure that one’s for me.

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Instead I had the safe option, a burger called The burger. It was what you expect a burger to be, and it was very nicely done! Only strange thing was the piped cheese, but it tasted great!

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It’s an understatement to say we were full after those burgers but we still decided to share a pudding. I mean who can resist cookies and cream; milk ice cream in the glass and a lovely chocolate cookie on the side. Nicely done and very yummy!

Dirty Bones, Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London W1B 5PW