January should be a quiet month really, but everything has kicked off for me. Work is crazy, I need to find a new place to live in an exciting new city and I have so much still to see of London and my friends and family before I go. I've been trying to eat myself out of the clutches of the January blues.
Starting with Rita's. Art and I were meant to go here in December and I had to cancel because of work. Before that, I'd intended to go to their former restaurant in Stoke Newington, but never did. Highlights of the meal were the chilli mac & cheese (£4.50), really excellent, and the mega stinky fried cheese (munster, £4.50) served with celeriac and chutney. Special mention to the bacon brittle, so addictive.
Not so good things about it were that we had to wait about 20 mins for a pre booked table drinking frozen 'ritas that weren't properly frozen. Oh and when we were seated, we were downstairs in the corner next to the loos. More good than bad though and best thing of all is that absolutely everything, except the mac & cheese was laden with coriander. Cheap, fun and great for large groups of people, I imagine.
The Ape & Bird
I'm trying to get my fill of Sunday roasts before I leave the UK in March. I booked last minute for Russell Norman's latest venture, The Ape & Bird, and we turned up just after noon and literally had the run of the place. It was a really rainy day (will there ever be any others?) and it was Chinese New Year but literally, it was empty the whole time we were there. This makes me sad because the roast was great. Duck with kale, roast potatoes, amazing roasted onions, gravy and more gravy in a little jug. It was dreamy. So was the cauliflower cheese side. Not cheap, at around £17 but absolutely worth the spend.
Check On Roast @ Dead Doll's House
My friend Molly invited me along to a chicken Sunday, one of the Check On
Roast events. I'd never been to the Hoxton Square venue before but
it's a lovely place, the sun even came out for some roof terrace japes
at one point. Very decent roast chicken too. There are plenty more
events coming up,
beef and pork Sunday's are also running and tickets are still
available, it's really good value at £25 for 4 courses and it was a
Kimchinary @ Catch
Kerb regular Hanna, of Kimchinary fame, was kind enough to invite me along to the launch night of her pop up at Catch Bar in Shoreditch. I've loved Hanna's work since the rice pudding days and am so pleased that the rest of London are now fans of her Korean tacos. She's brilliant, you should go, you won't even have to queue! My shock favourites on the night were the veggie tacos and you absolutely must try to Dukbokki, it comes with nduja now, even better. I'm planning a revisit next week. Tacos are around £6.50 for 2.
I'm genuinely not one for blowing my own trumpet, but I am proud to say that I appear in the February issue of Olive magazine which hit shelves earlier this month, with my recommendations for best value London restaurants in which to spend £10, £20 and £30. Franco Manca, Koya Bar and Brasserie Zedel.
I've had a few of my old favourites this month too, beginning with one of my Olive recommendations, the Ile Flottante shared with Bel at Brasserie Zedel.
MeatMarket's chicken wings, a London classic, reminds me I must have monkey fingers before I go!
Not a favourite but I tried Honest's Comte, bacon ketchup and smoked onion ring special burger (£12), better than it looks here but I struggled to detect the comte, big shame.
January '14 also marked my inaugural poutine experience at Little Social, where it happened to be on the specials menu. Hopefully plenty more where that came from in Montreal. For those who don't know, it's Quebec's answer to the kebab. I'm not yet convinced as this one featured not only the usual chips, gravy and curds but also jalapenos and sausage. I promise to stick with it.
175 mare St
The Ape & Bird
142 Shaftesbiry Avenue
Check On @ Dead Dolls House
35 Hoxton Square
Kimchinary @ Catch
22 Kingsland Road
I dined as a guest of Kimchinary.