Random Stuff from 2012

I do endeavour to write a shortish post at the very least on those things I’ve enjoyed and would recommend, but I’m not very good at editing myself down to a short post, and so sometimes simply don’t get around to it. Often it’s a case of having more pressing priorities, but it can also be that a repeat visit of somewhere I’ve really enjoyed or a single dish or product doesn’t necessarily warrant a whole post, in other cases the place has already been written about to death and I wonder what on earth I could possibly add. So here’s a few things I want to share before the years over that I loved but didn’t get around to blogging for whatever reason.

I guess I should start with the biggest anomaly, Pitt Cue, how is it that I’ve failed to write about this hero of the street, and now restaurant world? Their hearty, meaty, Bar-B-Cue style food is some of the absolute best on offer in London. The mess style plates of meat and sides at their quaint Soho restaurant are almost unbeatable, yet the short(ish) kitchen times and limited seating means I’ve failed to visit more than a handful of times, the trailer for me remains the far better option, they also play with their food better; a good case in point is the insane Trailer Trash. At either location, the intensely smoky pulled pork is not to missed, either in a bun or on a plate, along with deep fried shiitake and a whisky sour or two.

10 Greek Street was welcomed into Soho with open arms and had many positive write ups, I visited just once in Summer and had a mixed experience. The venue is small and noisy, feeling like a busy and buzzy market place. I love my seat right at the front opposite the kitchen, though it’s a good job I’m on my own as there’s space on the table for no more than one, admittedly large, plate at a time, despite two stools. Duck hearts on toast is a perfecty balanced dish and beautiful in it’s simplicity but my other falls short, hence my failure to write, although I keep intending to return to give them the benifit of the doubt. I did however adore my dessert, a duo of tonic sorbets floating in a pool of gin, the absolute perfect and genius finale to a hot Summers day lunch. 

I still love Spuntino and frequently return, the trick to bagging a space at one of the limited seats is to time your visit well, remaining super busy most evenings your best bet is to rock up late afternoon or early evening. It’s one of the best spots for solo dining and along with all your old favourites, truffled egg toast, sliders and eggplant fries, they now have a fab brunch menu that includes the completely glorious bourbon vanilla french toast with figs and ice cream, add the campest New York sour I’ve ever seen for all you’d need to get you through a weekend West End Shopping spree.

The best event this year? Clearly, my little brothers wedding and gaining a brand new sister. I won’t go into too much detail, but it was a stunning London wedding that finished in a private members club in Soho. My gift to the beautiful couple was the cake; over 10kg of, from the bottom up, Lincolnshire Poacher, Stilton, Ardrahan, Wigmore and a pair of Tunworths provided by the excellent Pong Cheese. I ended up going for the scattergun approach to decoration after much deliberation, chucking handfuls of pretty fruit and sprigs of flowers from the bouquets. I look pleased with myself. That’s because I am.

I wrote about St Ali when they opened their first roastery and cafe over here, they’ve since opened a branch on Wigmore Street and rebranded as Workshop. Their roasting is going from strength to strength as their most recent batches prove, just sample the Rwandan Buf that is deliciously sweet and clean. Already famous for their brunches, I should also mention their incredible burger, made from rare breed cattle, it’s served perfectly rare, with a jacket of Comte and served with the sweetest, most crispy and tasty ratte potatoes and chipotle mayo; utterly divine.

Is there a better tapas bar in London than Joses? I don’t think so. Manage to find yourself a stool in the intimate bar and you’ll discover each dish from the succinct menu is perfection; ham is carved into intensley sweet, neat, melt in the mouth squares, Pluma Iberica pork is served rare and simply needs to be tasted to be believed, potatas bravas are the best I’ve had, served with both aioilo and tomato sauce, and those croquettas are crispy, wobbly, ham studded perfection. I don’t honestly know why I don’t come here more often.

 We were all looking forward to the opening of Wishbone; a free range fried chicken place in Brixton. We drank copious sours at the launch in the funky chicken coop of a restaurant with a caged upstairs that looks out over the village. We ate a brilliant chicken sandwich, juicy chicken in crunchy seasoned coating, mayo and lettuce in a great little sub roll, we ate Thai thigh nuggets with thai basil and red onion and a hot mess that was a dish of crispy fries liberally doused with hot sauce and daubed with salty curd like cheese, ribbons of gherkins and jalapenos. A return visit found that hot mess had been fiddled with and I mourned the lack of cheese, however a massive portion of Korean wings made up for this, deliciously hot and spicy with a crisp coating. Sours are available from any of a plethora of spirits behind the bar, served either with or without egg, up or down, I particularly recommend the grapefruit or cherry vodkas.

Paul Wayne Gregory is a highly talented London chocalatier that has over the years perfected a range of ganaches that have the glossiest tempered finish possible. This year he’s added a wonderful christmas chocolate to his collection, a brilliantly spiced soft and rich ganache with a crisp thin chocolate coated dome, once again perfection. You’ll find him in Brixton Village just a few doors along from Wishbone where he currently has a pop up shop.

It seems London is suddenly in the grip of Ramen love and predictably I couldn’t help getting caught up in the wave of excitement. I managed to squeeze in my first visit while they had their soft opening and enjoyed a T22, a rich chicken stock resplendant with cock scratchings, and then again on my Birthday, a bitter November afternoon where it was the obvious choice for a warming lunch. This time I had Tonkotsu with 20 hour unctuous pork broth, slurpy noodles, perfect soft eggs and artfully arranged toppings that made a brilliantly satisfying meal made even better with a fun rock and roll soundtrack. Another Soho gem!

 

 

As with Spuntino I mentioned earlier, Mishkins is still another of my favourite spots, I love to perch at the bar for a few Negroni’s and some snacking; I’ve sunk many of their slideresque mini burgers and fantastic reuben’s and they always have the friendliest staff in one of the most relaxed surrounding. Recently head chef Tom has been playing with their full sized burger and I couldn’t resist popping in to try the salt beef version a few weeks ago. It’s a veritable BEAST, a hefty burger sits atop a mountain of thick, pink salt beef and is smothered in a cloak of swiss cheese before being crowned with deep fried pickles, all squeezed between a chewy bagle, mustard dip on the side. It was enough to finish me off, let alone the half and half it comes with and meant my companion’s gigantic portion of excellent cheesecake remained relatively safe.

This brings me onto the abundence of seasonal cocktails that appear to around at the moment. Whilst at Mishkins I enjoyed a mulled gin, a combination of gin, absinthe, gooseberry jam and freshly squeezed orange that managed to knock the cold out of me. I chased this with a spiced Negroni, prettily garnished with christingled orange slice.

I’d tasted The Riding House Cafe’s Christmas Negroni at a cocktail tasting recently which recieved a thumbs up all round and a strongly positive response when I posted pictures on Twitter, in fact fellow Negroni lover Jassy demanded a visit and we stormed the restaurant with a party of five ready to fill our festive Negroni boots. It turns out they have four variations on their extensive cocktail menu. We, of course, start with the Christmas Negroni which is actually unfestively named Negroni PX on the menu, and combines the regular ingredients with Antica Formula, a dash of orange bitters & PX sherry; it packs a sweet and certainly festive punch. With such a captive audience of Negroni devotees we’re gifted two of the others to try; a White Negroni is refreshing, lighter, sweeter and possibly more geared to Summer drinking made as it is with Lillet Blanc and reduced tonic, I’m afraid the Begroni is not for me, I’m not sure how I feel about beer cocktails anyway and this mix of Campari, Dubonnet, maple syrup and Innis and Gunn aged beer is a step too far and tastes weirdly like shandy. The clear winner is the Aged Negroni; Beefeater gin, Campari and Antica Formula are barrell aged together in a whisky cask for six weeks, this produces a lovely depth and richness whilst rounding the flavours off nicely.

The cocktails I really want to try again are those at my favourite little bar Ruby’s in Dalston, their regularly changing seasonal menu has some crackers on it at the moment including some warming mulled concotions and a fig and earl grey tea one that I really need to sample. Definitely one worth falling off the wagon for in the new year!

I’m shirking this years festivities in favour of five nights in New York, so see y’all on the other side, I’m sure I’ll return with plenty more tales to tell!

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