Home About Portfolio ♐ Shop ♐

Category: review

Brooklyn & NYC Eats & drinks

Brooklyn

This was always going to be an indulgent foody holiday. I’d saved about 200 places to my Foursquare list and Google map and was determined to plough through as many as possible, waistline be damned. I think we did pretty well! I don’t know if it was the exchange rate or being in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan, but prices everywhere seemed really reasonable, and it was a delight to have so many places on our doorstep in Williamsburg.

Read the rest of this entry »

Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Street Feast, Dalston Yard

I’m pretty late to the blogging party with this one, because Street Fast is now nicely settled into its newest temporary home in Dalston Yard – just up the road from the last incarnation in Merchants Yard. In all honesty I’ve visited three times already in as many weeks, but like a bad blogger I never took my camera until this time. Here’s a peek at why you should definitely visit before it pops down again.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Street food markets are still a bit hit and miss in London: at one end you have the woefully disorganised ones with massive queues, vendors running out of food early and no toilets; then you have the fancier ones like We Feast which attract high end restaurants and are superbly organised in lovely venues – but charge a hefty fee just to get in before you’ve even bought your food and obligatory cocktail.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Brilliantly, Street Feast seems to have nailed an ideal middle ground: it’s free, capacity is limited to 500 at a time, the venue is an old car park but well equipped with rustic decor touches, large bars and loads of seating… good vibes all round. The vendors vary from week to week: in past weeks I’ve had Japanese egg curry from Nanban (Tim from Masterchef’s new venture), fried Mauritian fritters, and delicious gelato from Sorbitum.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

This week I was delighted to find Horn OK Please which offers veggie Indian street snacks – I went for a samosa chat, topped with chickpea curry and some fabulous chutneys.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Josh had tacos from Street Feast stalwarts Breddos (you can find them at Netil Market in London Fields too) followed by salted caramel and pecan bites from the excellently-named You Doughnut.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

There’s really someone for everyone, from jerk chicken to handmade gnocchi, to an old fashioned burger and chips (albeit poshed up with rosemary salt). There could be more choice for veggies but I can generally find something new to try each time.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

The crowd’s a variety of all ages, with little kids having as much fun at the adults.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

For the gin fans, there’s even a separate little bar dedicated to the good stuff including a very passable Negroni.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Vibes are high, in other words. Make sure to check it out before it moves on again.

Grain Store, Kings Cross

Grain Store

It’s great to see all the redevelopment in the Kings Cross area recently: it’s quickly becoming a really cool hub for food (see also Caravan, The Gilbert Scott and Kerb), arts (the new St Martins college campus is there) and fun (pop-up skate rink!). The beautiful new station concourse and renovation of the canalside area is making it a destination in its own right as opposed to just a thoroughfare. We tried to get into Grain Store – the latest addition from chef Bruno Loubert and the people behind the Zetter Townhouse – a couple of weeks ago but it was full, so we made do with Caravan but vowed to come back.

Grain Store

The menu is pretty unique, and seemed utterly delightful to me at a glance because vegetables really take front and centre. There are meat and fish dishes too but they are written as if the meat is the incidental part which is refreshing. There are even dedicated vegan options – pretty rare for a mainstream restaurant, never mind from a French chef. For the indecisive or adventurous diner, they offer a completely surprise menu devised by the chefs on the day for £35 a head, which is what we went for. In retrospect unfortunately I think this decision slightly marred our meal. Firstly, there was a loooong wait between each of the five dishes, explained by the waitress as the place being particularly busy that night. Secondly, I felt a little like the collection of dishes we were given all clashed and fought with each other rather than flowing and creating a cohesive whole, leaving us with quite an unpleasant sensation of our palates being assaulted and ultimately overwhelmed by the end.

Grain Store

Grain Store

There were definitely high points however: warm onion bread started the meal promisingly and I loved the first dish of rich and gooey little fried mushroom balls, served on a cute bed of pine needles.

Grain Store

Beetroot with goats curd and pickled onion is a modern classic combination and didn’t disappoint.

Grain Store

As the tasting menu wore on however, we started to get that unpleasant clashing of extreme flavours, and I started to crave something bland like chips to offset it all! Some dishes just didn’t work for me at all: radishes were served with raw red onion, a cream with no trace of the promised horseradish and, bizarrely, padron peppers with a gazpacho sauce on the same plate.

Grain Store

The main dishes were probably the most disappointing, and by this point two hours in we were starting to lose interest anyway. Lentil dal was fine but ruined by overly bitter green peppers on top. A dish of corn husk stuffed with corn and quinoa was oddly sweet and decorated with more unnecessary padrons. Most bizarre of all, we got a third plate of literally just cooked onions, slivers of courgette and samphire – the lamb was missing because we’d asked for a vegetarian tasting menu, but I assumed we’d get proper veggie options rather just missing the key component off another dish. A horribly chalky tapioca pudding for afters didn’t serve to remove any of the lingering aftertastes and was left barely touched by both of us.

Grain Store
Grain Store

To end on a positive note though: the cocktails, curated by Zetter and 69 Colebroke Row’s Tony Conigliaro, were most definitely the high point of the evening. We started on a cedarwood sherry concoction for Josh and a Campari champagne cocktail for me, and then moved onto the excitingly unusual Greco Roman wines: I had a honey one and Josh had smoked paprika. They were well priced at £6.50-£7.50 each and really saved the day.

Grain Store

This review is written in partnership with match.com‘s London dating guide, and they requested I write about the restaurant’s suitability for a date night. In theory, I think Grain Store would be a great date spot because the unusual flavours and sharing plate concept mean you have plenty to talk about and interact with. Josh and I usually love to go to places like this because we can try twice as much food by ordering different dishes and sharing. The super cocktails will mean you feel relaxed and can begin and end the meal with a leisurely drink – there’s a nice dedicated bar space bar space to unwind in. The whole space is elegant yet informal with an outdoorsy vibe, ideal for a warm evening.

Despite my misgivings about some of the menu – especially as a vegetarian hoping for a revelation – I still think Grain Store is a unique and interesting restaurant with something new to offer. The veg-first menu concept is a great one and I suspect we would have enjoyed the meal much more if we’d picked our own dishes and had something more to our personal tastes. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and try the delicious sounding brunch menu either.

Grain Store

Grain Store, Granary Square, Kings Cross.
My meal was paid for by match.com in exchange for this unbiased review. Thanks, Match!

Grain Store on Urbanspoon

Five Guys

Five Guys London

It’s been a while since I succumbed to some good old new-foody-place hype, especially within the London burger invasion realm: I was over that trend before it even started. But last Thursday – the 4th of July – the stars and stripes aligned and I found myself in a sunny queue for Five Guys in Covent Garden with the lovely Bee. It seemed doubly appropriate as the last time I saw Bee was in a San Francisco diner, so where better to catch up than a Stateside burger place on our home soil?

Read the rest of this entry »

Dishoom, Shoreditch

Dishoom Shoreditch

After the joy of Brindisa, it’s marvellous to see another of my favourite London restaurants open up a little closer to home too. Dishoom‘s original site (blogged here) is a sweetly kitsch recreation of a Bombay cafe in Covent Garden. It’s nice to see that for the new site on Boundary Street, Shoreditch, they’ve sized up and gone for a more area-appropriate grunge-luxe decor. The huge two-floor warehouse space is filled with mahogany room dividers, textured vintage glass and industrial metal lighting details.

Dishoom Shoreditch

We popped in on a gloomy Friday night just after their soft launch period ended. Without a booking we had a 40-minute wait for a table, but this was no hardship thanks to a cosy bar area and delicious cocktails – my chaijito was a great spicy twist on a classic mojito. Josh enjoyed a bottle of the house IPA, brewed especially for the restaurant by local Beavertown Brewery.

Dishoom Shoreditch
Dishoom Shoreditch

The menu is mostly grill-heavy with several marinated meat choices, plus lots of nibbly starters and some sauce-based ‘ruby murrays’ too. We’d been perusing as we drank, so ordered as soon as we were seated. The food arrived impressively quickly, complete with super tasty little chilli, coriander and chutney dips.

Dishoom Shoreditch
Dishoom Shoreditch

I’m a little ashamed to say that I ordered exactly the same as when I last went to the other Dishoom – I hardly ever do that but had to make an exception for paneer tikka, black dal and roti – why would you stray? It tasted just as I remembered from before: fresh, rich and deeply layered with flavour.

Dishoom Shoreditch

Josh got lamb chops and fabulous gunpowder potatoes which were soft and smoky. Service was a little chaotic (our credit card was temporarily lost after opening a bar tab) but given that it was the first real night after the soft launch, I forgive that – it was still efficient and friendly. I feel I’ll be back very soon.

The new Dishoom Shoreditch is at 7 Boundary St, just off Shoreditch High Street.