Monday, 31 March 2014

March Round Up

Rounding up this month, my final weeks in London were pretty out of control, I had breakfast, lunch and dinner out one Monday and my waistline has expanded as a result.  Fortunately, despite the -25º lows, I've been walking everywhere in Montréal.  Here are a few of the places I've eaten this month in both cities.

Harwood Arms
I had a brilliant Sunday lunch at The Harwood Arms with Nibs and Charlie, returning to our previous hood for one of the best roast dinners ever.  This is the special roast beef for 2 and it was awesome.  I tried the roast pork, also great but this was the one, 2 kinds of beef, yorkshires filled with beef, cauliflower cheese, horseradish moussey stuff, hispi cabbage.  Every element was excellent.  They also do Pol Roger by the glass, loved the place.  We paid around £50 each but we stayed and drank all evening.

27 Walham Grove

Harwood Arms on Urbanspoon

Chicken Shop
I finally made it to Chicken Shop in Kentish Town with Bel in the weeks running up to my departure.  We may or may not have been drinking champagne all day in Hampstead so this is exactly what we needed.

We opted for the half chicken with plenty of sides, we sat at the bar seeing the chefs doing what they do, chopping up chickens with cleavers, we drank more wine.  The sides were excellent, fries, green salad with avocado and the slaw.  The hot and smokey sauces are also great, both really have a kick. 

I knew I'd love it.  They've recently opened in Vauxhall too.  Service was nice, we paid around £20 each, cheap and tasty.

Chicken Shop
79 Highgate Road
Kentish Town

Chicken Shop on Urbanspoon

Silk Road
Also on my list for a long time was Silk Road, one of Nibs and Charlie's faves.  We went as a group of 5 and I was informed it was all about the middle plate, a big bowl of meat, broth, veggies and later, noodles for groups to share.  It was amazing.  I always find it funny when places are renowned for bad service, this place is popular and they do their best, but don't expect them to roll out the red carpet.  It was really hot and sweaty in there, it's communal dining, and it's really fun, the sauna like environs added a headiness to the whole experience.  We also had dumplings, home style cabbage and loads of beers, we paid about £13 each and left stuffed.  Quite brilliant and eye wateringly chilli hot!

Silk Road
49 Camberwell Church St

Silk Road on Urbanspoon

The last meal I squeezed in was lunch at Barnyard, Ollie Dabbous' new opening on Charlotte St.  There Art and I were, sat beside Matthew Fort on their 2nd day of opening.  It's a tiny dining room up some stairs at the rear of the building, an even smaller bar area doubles as the entrance with a couple of tables outside.  The most memorable dish for me was the barbecued grain fed short rib, with mustard and black treacle (£12), so so good.  Everything was good actually, as you'd expect, here's the sausage roll with piccalilli (£5). 

And these chicken wings were lovely, smoked paprika and lemon flavoured (£4).  Worst was perhaps the cornbread (£3), it was a little dry, served in their signature paper bag with date stamp, but we'd forgotten about it and go to it late.  Cauliflower cheese (£3) was amazing as was the black pudding bubble and squeak topped with fried egg (£8).

Desserts were a highlight actually and I rarely favour the sweet dishes.  Lemon posset (£4) and popcorn ice cream with smoked fudge sauce (£4) were so so pretty and both absolutely delicious.

Loved the food.  Drinks I wasn't overwhelmed by, they have a selection of alcoholic shakes and shandies.  Sort of beer cocktails.  I tried the country house shandy with elderflower, lemon, ginger ale, bourbon and goose island IPA.  It came in a mini tankard though, lotta love for a mini tankard.  I imagine it'll soon be a queue situation here, they were full for lunch on day 2 and it's a no bookings situation in stark contrast to Dabbous. 

18 Charlotte St

Barnyard on Urbanspoon

Gotta say I was very disappointed about dinner José.  I just don't think Barrafina and Fino can be beaten for Spanish in London, but I went with high hopes because everyone else seems to love José and Pizarro.  These croquetas (£6.50) had some kind of pimento filling.  The menu doesn't tell you what's inside, and I saw other people with cheesey ones, which upset me.  The beet, walnut and blue cheese salad (£6) was the best thing we tried.  We also had Ibérico pork meatballs which were good, in a tomato sauce (£7), pan fried squid with confit onions (£8.50), which had a really unpleasant texture and pan con tomate (£3), nice but the bread wasn't toasted enough.

Lentils and chorizo (£6.50) was more meatballs, they were fine and the cheese plate was very good (£10).  Maybe I'm just a Barrafina fangirl, but they'll always have my heart, go there instead.

104 Bermondsey St

José on Urbanspoon

Paul A Young
Best leaving present ever from Bel!  These little truffle selection boxes are best enjoyed, as we recently discovered, with a bottle of Pol Roger.  That's a battenberg one (bottom middle)....I assure you, you need this in your life. Best_thing_ever.

Paul A Young

Paul A Young Fine Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Zetter Townhouse
Best cocktail bar in London.  They can be a bit dismissive sometimes, if you show up late as a large group, they'll most likely tell you to do one.  But show up early, pre dinner drinks are your best bet.  Most recent visit was for a pre Quality Chop House martini and scotch egg.  Both incredible.  The gin martinis are dangerously drinkable.  LOVE and will miss this place a lot.

The Zetter Townhouse
St John's Sq

The Zetter Townhouse on Urbanspoon

Here's what I managed to try in Montreal in my first week:

Boucherie Lawrence
One of the places I most want to eat at is Lawrence.  I want their pancakes at brunch, but they've not been on the menu both weekends I've been here so far.  I was happy to learn that they have a butchers shop a few doors down the Main (as Boulevard St-Laurent is known to locals) and that they serve incredible sandwiches from 11:30-7pm.  Better yet, it's just round the corner from me!

First I tried the porchetta ($8) and it was a revelation.  They're into their sandwiches in a big way here but this one is next level.  Every element is perfect, the home baked rolls, the meat - just the right ratio of fat to pork, the cornichons, the mayo, lettuce, really everything is spot on.  I was in awe.

Also tried the ham, look similar don't they?  This was nice but the porchetta is the one.  They have various fillings depending on the day, but you want that one if you go, I promise.

Boucherie Lawrence
5237 St Laurent Boulevard
H2T 1S1

Boucherie Lawrence on Urbanspoon

Close to my new office there are literally tonnes of restaurants I'm dying to try, the Old Port area has almost as much to offer as the Plateau.  The weather really does make it tough to get about though, I've tried to walk as much as I can as it's the best way to explore but I've fallen over twice already and I don't want any more bruises.  Luckily, Holder is literally 5 minutes away so an ideal post work drinks spot.  I've been twice since arriving.

On my first visit, night 2 in the city I had the boeuf bourguignon, apols for the shoddy snap, it's taken from my Instagram.  It was beef cheeks with mash and green beans.  Plenty of big chunks of bacon and little onions, really good.  The wine didn't agree with me at all though.  I've also had the confit duck with roast potatoes, very good too.  Service is great, nice bread and the fact they give individual bills still astonishes me, makes it so much easier when time comes to settle up.  Good one Montréal.

Rue McGill
Old Montréal
H2Y 2G3

Holder on Urbanspoon

In the search for something a fraction as good as Bone Daddies, I head to the newly opened saka Ba, in the Plateau.  Bar style seating with ramen and all the usual sides from gyoza to kimchi cabbage.  Very nice it was too.  Think Tonkotsu in London, reminded me of their ramen, really good noodles, clean broth and good pork.

I got the small bowl for $10 which was just right after the kara age ($6) with spicy mayo.  This was really good, thigh meat, perhaps could have been a better crumb on it, but it was nicely seasoned and the mayo with a wedge of lemon gave it an extra zing.

In other news, it seems that restaurants not having a website but relying on a facebook page is a thing here.  Which I deplore.  I so rarely use facebook, feels plain lazy to me to not have a website these days.  

1278 Mont-Royal Ave East
H2J 1Y4

Saka-Ba! on Urbanspoon

No comments: