FOOD REVIEW: Boneyard, Shoreditch

Boneyard Food 136

Formerly a petrol station, we didn’t know what to expect from Boneyard, but what we experienced was one of the best burgers in London in all its American road-trip inspired glory.

With a menu created by Exec chef John Pollard (formerly of Soho House group) and an industrial interior by restaurateur, Robert Newmark, Boneyard serves up a deliciously succulent Bonemarrow burger (the star of the show) alongside ribs, buttermilk fried chicken, and a host of sides.

We started with the seasonal special Christmas Burger (£8). Contained within brioche buns, filled with two patties, one of turkey and the other of pork wrapped in bacon! The cranberry sauce and mustard mayonnaise compliment the dish perfectly with the addition of cabbage, Brussel sprouts and two little pigs in blankets skewered on the top. This burger is huge and could have been shared between two along with some sides. Their signature Bone Marrow Burger (£8.50) could also have been shared but we went the full hog and ate as much as we could. The two patties in this burger are so deliciously rich, they melt in the mouth. As a big burger fan, this really is on the top end of the best burgers out there. There is a wide selection of beer and wine to go along with this type of food but though you’re not allowed to drink inside the actual restaurant, you can drink to the side of the restaurant which is a nice little sheltered area which has two fire pits to keep you warm on the wintry days and evenings.

Daniel, the manager tells us they will be continuing to experiment with seasonal and festive inspired burgers on a monthly basis, so keep an eye out…

If you fancy something a little less rich there is a lovely green salad with butter leaf lettuce, avocado and Lebanese cucumbers (£4.50). The menu also features excellent fried chicken that you can get in halves or just wings. The pork ribs, quite literally fell off the bone too. The food is served until 3am which is great if you are out in Shoreditch with a late-night craving for one of the city’s best burgers.

168 – 175 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE | www.pumpshoreditch.com

Boneyard Food 094

Boneyard Interior 009

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FOOD REVIEW: Chotto Matte, Soho

Chotto Matte is the kind of restaurant that’s busy no matter what the day and it’s easy to see why. The restaurant, based on the corner of Frith and Bateman St in the heart of Soho, is a fantastic example of Nikkei cuisine (that is, the blend of Japanese and Peruvian food which was developed over a century ago) done well thanks to the incredible Nikkei Boys duo, executive chef Jordan Sclare and Michael Paul in the kitchen.

It’s a slick place set over two floors – the ground floor plays host to their always thriving cocktail bar and a more casual dining area complete with a manga-style wall mural, whilst upstairs a polished restaurant. We went along one Friday lunch where it was already packed out with diners well into the weekend swing of things. We were treated to a round of cocktails to start our weekend proceedings – a deliciously fruity Flor de Manzana (mango vodka, sake, apple, lime, passion fruit and elderflower) and a satisfyingly good Lychee Pincante (Calle 23 Blanco tequila, lychee, lemon, chilli syrup and egg white).

We began with a bowl of Padron Peppers covered in an addictively more-ish miso sauce and the Seabass Ceviche (sea bass sashimi, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil, citrus sauce) which was nothing short of outstanding. The chef then brought out the deliciously fresh Nikkei Sepia – calamari to you and me – and the Tentáculos de pulpo – an unusual Peruvian dish with succulent octopus on a bed of purple potato. We also had helpings of the Ojo de Costilla (beef rib eye, lentil panca, chives) and Nikkei sashimi (sea bass, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno, coriander, yuzu truffle soy) both of which we’d highly recommend. We’d also urge you to go for the Bacalao negro aji miso – the black cod with yellow chili miso – ours was simply heavenly. Finally out came the Sake Dragon Roll made up of thick cuts of fresh salmon wrapped in rice and topped with perfectly ripened avocado – quite the meal in itself! We passed on desserts on this occasion – purely because we were close to bursting at the seams – and instead finished off our drinks for a sweet end to an epic lunch.

Chotto Matte had it all to offer: great food, a lively atmosphere and some delicious drinks. So the bottom line? If you’re looking for a good time in Soho, Chotto Matte should be your first and only point of call, it won’t let you down.

11 – 13 Frith Street, London, W1D 4RB | www.chotto-matte.com

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FOOD REVIEW: Shackfuyu, Soho

It opened in February last year as a pop-up and had all of London’s foodies raving. After an extensive refurb, it returned in December as a permanent fixture in Soho’s never ceasing to amaze dining scene. Shackfuyu is the latest creation from the team behind Bone Daddies in Soho and Flesh & Bones in Covent Garden – but you probably already know that. What you might not know is that Shackfuyu serves up ‘Yoshoku food’ – a Japanese take on Western cuisine – and it does it rather well. Of course, we already knew it was going to be good, but felt the need to investigate further just to make sure…

For a Sunday evening, the place was buzzing. There were enough bums on seats to keep the atmosphere lively and the Sunday blues at bay. We managed to secure the ideal spot at the back, absolute perfection for people watching (although we were rather taken by the seats at the marble counter bar). We kept things relatively tame on the drinks front (it’d been a long festive week) opting for a deliciously zesty Frozen Yuzu Maragarita (tequila, yuzu & lime juice, agave syrup and orange liqueur) and an Asahi Black before switching to the soft stuff for the rest of the meal. But if you go and decide you want to go all out – Shackfuyu’s got quite the banging drinks list.

Now to the food. Where to begin? It’s best you go hungry and with someone that likes to share (and if they like everything you do –  you’re onto a winner! If they don’t… whip them into shape!). The menu is full of small plates all designed to mix and match. The first of our glorious food parade to arrive was the devilishly good Korean fried wings – sticky, messy, spicy and oh so wonderful – they’re a no brainer in our opinion. Another no brainer if you catch it on the special menu: the individual hand dived roasted scallop. Beautifully done and served swimming in a chilli miso butter. Arriving next was the Wagyu beef tartar served with peppered prawn crackers, topped off with a yolk hat, just waiting to burst and pour itself over the beef. Next up were the satisfyingly more-ish Tako tacos (octopus, shiso avocado, gochujang), satisfyingly more-ish and from the selection of larger plates, the Grilled partridge with chilli ponzu. The final dish to arrive was the sukiyaki style wagyu picanha, served in a Korean hotpot that bubbled away in front of our eyes. Truly delicious and set us off into a truly stuffed slump.

Of course, when the only dessert on the menu was one of the most talked about of 2015, we weren’t going to refuse. The Kinako French toast with matcha ice cream had all of London hooked and it was easy to see (and taste) why. Whilst yes, it was a little bizarre to eat an indulgent breakfast dish for dessert it was surprisingly light and disappeared from the plate all too easily. Get it – even if you’re full. You’ll only regret it if you don’t.

14A Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TJ | www.bonedaddies.com/shackfuyu

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FOOD REVIEW: Kricket, Brixton

POP Brixton is the new “community campus” for start-ups and small businesses which opened in January this year. Businesses of all sorts are housed within empty sea containers – from sushi shops to cocktail bars to vintage pop-ups and yoga classes – meaning there’s plenty of reasons why you need to check it out. Our reason was Kricket.

Kricket is a 20 cover restaurant offering up Indian small plates and doubles up as a cocktail bar. It’s located somewhere upstairs within the ‘campus’ in a very narrow, long container. At the far end is the compact kitchen where chef Will and team get busy cooking, whilst the main area plays host to a long table where diners quite literally get up close and personal with their neighbours. The menu is kept short, changing every now and again, with dishes that advocate a modern approach to Indian cooking. We were recommended 3-5 dishes to share and went for it, ordering half the menu and waiting with intrigue as to what we’d actually ordered (the names don’t really give all that much away).

First of the five dishes (coming out as and when they’re ready) was the Bhel Puri. The most unusual but delicious dish of puffed-up rice covered in yogurt and tamarind with raw mango, served cold. Following on were the delightful samphire pakoras, lightly battered and drizzled with date & tamarind chutney, served with chilli garlic mayonnaise. Next up was the rich Bombay Butter Garlic Crab, scooped up with crisp seaweed papad and followed by the warm and hearty Kichri dish – smoked haddock, yellow moong dal, pickled cauliflower and topped with egg yolk. Saving the best till last, our final dish was the all-round crowd pleaser: Keralan Fried Chicken. Deliciously more-ish plump pieces of chicken served with a curry leaf mayonnaise and decorated with discs of pickled mouli. One of those dishes you can’t leave even when you’re about to explode like we were at this point.

Dessert was a matter of ‘do we/don’t we’ (we’d definitely need rolling down the stairs afterwards) but of course there was no way we could leave out the only sweet on the menu and so the guys sent over a small taster for us to share – the Gulab Jamum with carom seed crumble, pistachio and clotted cream ice cream which practically sent us over the edge. In the best way, of course.

Kricket two big thumbs up from us. It’s unlike any other Indian we’ve ever tasted – so if you’re tired of the usual Indian cooking, then Kricket is the ideal place to refresh those tastebuds and discover something new. Make sure you go hungry as you’ll be wanting to scrape the bowls clean.

www.kricket.co.uk | 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ

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FOOD REVIEW: Free Flowing Thursdays at The Exhibit, Balham

The Exhibit in Balham is something of an all-round creative hub. It has a jam-packed social calendar filled with everything from art events, fitness classes, quiz nights to film which means that you can plan your week around it. In fact, you can spend your entire week there if you so choose, but chances are you’re bound to get a little hungry and thirsty. Rather handily, this is where their all-day restaurant and bar come in just nicely (yep, it’s got those too) and their newly launched Free Flow Suppers.

Exclusively for Thursdays – the most sociable (and thirstiest, apparently) night of the week – from 6pm till midnight, The Exhibit’s first-floor restaurant will serve bottomless bubbles for an hour-and-a-half from when you order your food (a minimum of two tapas dishes per person) for a bargainous £20 a head. Who can possibly say no to that?

And with that, we got tucked in. The menu is a delicious array of tapas alongside a few main dishes and a little something sweet. We could have practically ordered every tapas dish going they all sounded that good, but went for the recommended four tapas each (and then one extra for good luck). Our final choices included the pan fried padron peppers, patatas bravas with aioli, breadcrumbed goat’s cheese with slow stewed cherry tomatoes, fish tacos with an extra helping of smoked salmon, tempura squid, macaroni cheese with truffled mushrooms, jamon croquetas and finally, the deep fried braised pork in a potato ball (because the waiter practically ordered us to have it). It would be impossible – and totally unfair – to pick a favourite when all were so outstandingly more-ish so we’ll just say all come highly recommended and you won’t go wrong with any. We greedily finished with a cracking rhubarb crumble complete with heart-warming ginger custard and a chocolate mousse we wished wouldn’t end.

Oh and yes, one more glass of bubbles for the road. Because if you’re going to free flowing Thursdays at The Exhibit you need to do it right after all.

12 Balham Station Road, SW12 9SG | www.theexhibit.co.uk

Twitter: @theexhibit

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FOOD REVIEW: Chez Antoinette, Covent Garden

The LDN Social Chez Antoinette - Picture 1

Covent Garden is always a favourite destination of ours in London, and with the discovery of French eatery Chez Antoinetteit doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon. Nestled in the lower levels of the market, this quaint little space aims to give customers a truly authentic French experience serving up a range of Lyon-style tartines (a fancy French open-faced sandwich if you will), soups, salads, pastries and cakes, all in the heart of the city.

The interiors are designed to feel like your grandmother’s living room, cosy and inviting, with a view into the open-plan kitchen allowing you to see all the food being prepared from scratch using only the best quality produce sourced from local suppliers. We started with a sharing plate of saucisson, duck pate, bread and pickles which we demolished almost as soon as it was placed on our table. This was followed by the soupe du jour, a rich and creamy mushroom soup topped with hazelnuts, a delicious winter warmer. We then moved on to the main event, the tartines, and we’re ashamed to say we practically ate every variation on the menu – yes, they were that good. Ranging from the traditional croque monsieur (a personal favourite which owner Aurelia explained took 2 months to perfect the recipe) to the goats cheese, acacia honey and blueberries, we were overwhelmed by the quality of food on offer at this petite French tartinerie. At this stage we felt we’d eaten enough food for most of Covent Garden, but felt it would be rude to decline Aurelia’s offer of pudding, so settled for a trio of lemon tart, gluten-free chocolate cake and apple crumble which was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

Whether you want a coffee and croissant, a quick lunch or a romantic date night, Chez Antoinette ticks all the boxes with reasonably priced food and wine. Next time you’re passing through Covent Garden, make sure you pop in.

30 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8RE | www.chezantoinette.co.uk

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FOOD REVIEW: Suvlaki, Soho

If you needed one more reason to visit Soho for dinner then Suvlaki is it. Recently opened at 21 Bateman Street, this Athenian Grill’s aim is to bring the best Greek souvlaki to the streets of London.

The first thing you’ll notice about the restaurant is its size: teeny in comparison to some of its neighbours but perfectly formed and strikingly designed. The team have managed to utilise the small space to its full potential and with that, have created something rather cosy and marvellous. It’s the type of place you’re going to knock knees or make a few friends on the table next to you so don’t be afraid – for one night only, you’re in Greece. Go with it!

The menu is split conveniently into Skewers, Wraps, Signature Dishes, Salads, Snacks and Sides, though that didn’t make our choosing any easier. When we finally came to order (with the help of a carafe of their Alpha Estate Malagouzia 2014 white wine) we were well and truly ravenous. Our starter of Pita Bread with Tzatziki came (thankfully) almost immediately, warm and ready to scoop up the dip. Next to arrive was the Baked Feta, the unanimous winner of the night (trust us – it’s not a maybe, it’s a must) – we loaded the warm, gooey feta onto the pita and rolled our eyes back with utter content. From the skewers list we ordered the Wild Boar Sausage, Pork with lemon glaze and Vegetarian – all delicious, but we have to hand it to the veggie option, it held its own quite nicely. Our final meat dish was the much recommended Lamb Shoulder Suvlaki from the signature dishes: 200g of tender lamb just ready to be pulled off the skewer. Teamed with a side of Greek salad, it topped off a sublime meal.

Whilst it’s likely you’ll be stuffed by the time the question of desserts crops up, don’t think about missing out on the Chocolate Biscuit Cake with homemade Greek coffee ice cream, this would definitely be a crime – seriously, we decided to share and instantly regretted our foolish decision. Pair with the Samos Nectar (2009) dessert wine and we guarantee you’ll leave with nothing but fond memories of Suvlaki.

21 Bateman Street, W1D 3AL | www.suvlaki.co.uk

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FOOD REVIEW: Royal China Fulham

The Royal China group of restaurants are a bit of an institution. They’re where you go if you’re looking for traditional Hong Kong Chinese dishes in London and like us, want to avoid the crowds of Chinatown at all costs.

We went along to The Royal China in Fulham, situated along the Fulham Road just a short walk from Parsons Green tube station. It’s the smallest of the group but as expected, impeccably decorated with striking gold and black features and the group’s signature Chinese mural taking centre stage covering the wall.

We poured ourselves over the never-ending menu – page after page of mouth-watering choices. We opted for the House Dinner Menu for two, a selection of all the best dishes from starter to dessert. We began with the Chef’s Imperial House Hors D’oeuvres – a filling array of the signature starters including sesame prawn toast, spicy smoked shredded chicken, Vietnamese pancake rolls, sweet Mandarin pork chops and crispy seaweed. The only thing missing from the platter was their deep-fried baby squid with spicy salt – so naturally we just had to order these too. Our next course was undoubtedly the one we were most looking forward to: the Crispy Aromatic Duck served with pancakes and all the trimmings was as good as we’d hoped and we made sure not even a shred of cucumber was left. Next to arrive were a duo of sautéed dishes: the classic beef with chilli and black bean sauce and the prawns marinated in a delicious red chilli sauce ‘Szechuan style’. Accompanying the mains were sides of stir-fried mixed vegetables to add a touch of green and steamed rice, which we opted for instead of the fried rice (in our attempt to be… healthy).

We finished with a scoop of green tea ice cream to satisfy our sweet tooth and sipped our respective teas of Oolong and Jasmine, feeling fully satisfied but without the heavy feeling you can often get after a Chinese meal. Throughout the night, the restaurant was buzzy and filled with families, friends and locals – something we never tire of seeing in good neighbourhood restaurants.  With good food and attentive staff there’s not much more you can ask for – so when you’re next looking for that traditional Chinese dinner, think Royal China and you won’t go far wrong.

You can find the other Royal China Group restaurants in Queensway, Baker Street, Canary Riverside and Harrow.

Visit www.royalchinagroup.co.uk

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FOOD REVIEW: Aladino’s, High Street Kensington

You could be forgiven for not knowing much, if anything, about Alexandrian cuisine after all, it’s not exactly common here in London, but after reading this, you won’t be forgiven for not trying it. The food of Egypt’s second largest city draws on its cosmopolitan background with traditional Egyptian dishes heavily influenced by Lebanese, Turkish and Greek tastes and spices. And the place to try such food is at Aladino’s, a fine dining neighbourhood restaurant in High Street Kensington. It’s an elegant affair without the stuffiness. Staff are polite and attentive whilst restaurateur Aladin himself is a warm, friendly chap that will have you sampling the entire bar if you’d let him persuade you.

We began with some pre-starter nibbles: a delicious trio of hummus, smokey baba ganoush and flatbreads we practically filled up on because we couldn’t resist how good they were. For starters we ordered the succulent King prawns in a light, crispy coating and the goat’s cheese and beetroot ravioli which hands down was one of the tastiest dishes we’d had in a long time. Our mains of sea trout with spiced beure blanc, brown shrimp, sea purslane and slow-roasted tender shank of lamb which just melted off the bone were just as much crowd-pleasers as their predecessors. Desserts were probably not necessary if our full stomachs were anything to go by, but certainly couldn’t be missed. The 70% Valrhona chocolate delice with summer berry compote and pistachio crisp was an indulgent delight whilst the mango parfait with tangerine coulis, creme chantilly and meringue was surprisingly light and just the perfect amount of sweet. We finished off the simply wonderful meal with a deliciously drinkable glass of German Riesling, converting us fully to dessert wine drinkers.

Aladino’s is a place not only for the locals, but also for those that want to feel like a local. We were made to feel part of the family at Aladino’s and couldn’t find one thing to fault, it truly was an exquisite meal from start to finish – we can’t recommend you visit Aladino’s enough and get better acquainted with Alexandrian cuisine.

www.aladinos.co.uk | 38C Kensington Church Street, W8 4BX

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FOOD REVIEW: L’eto Caffe, Brompton Road

The LDN Social L'eto caffe

We’ve often walked past L’eto in its various locations and stared longingly at their glazed fancies in the window but the saint on our shoulder always got the better of us. Little did we know then that they also serve up dinner and so, in an attempt to rectify the situation, we found ourselves making our way to the L’eto Brompton on Brompton Road – just a short stroll from both the V&A Museum and Harrods.

We begun with an impressive trio of bruschetta topped with avocado, mushrooms & tomatoes and the insanely delicious grilled sweet potato with sesame and teriyaki sauce. For mains we tucked into a fresh plate of crab spaghetti and the chicken teriyaki with ginger & oyster mushrooms, heavenly with each mouthful. Desserts came from the display – all sitting finely in the window just begging to be picked. We selected the strawberry tart – a tower of cream and fresh strawberries – and a soft hazelnut chocolate fancy that was pure indulgence worth every calorie.

A special mention should also be given to the extensive drinks menu. We began with an absolutely divine Apple & Elderflower Collins from the Cocktails List and a non-alcoholic Jasmine Lychee Ice Tea which we could have sipped all night long. We chose to finish our meals with pots of the Jasmine Tea and the Ginger, hand-prepared using fresh sticks of cinnamon, chunks of ginger, cloves and honey – so delicious we plan on recreating at home.

In keeping with the area, interiors are plush and decadent whilst still managing to be cosy with a homely feel. It’s safe to say we wholeheartedly fell for L’eto Brompton and we think you’ll rather like it too. It’s an ideal spot for either a sit-down meal or a quick piece of cake and tea – both we’d highly recommend.

L’eto have locations in Soho, Belgravia, Fulham, Mayfair, King’s Road and Brompton. For further details, visit www.letocaffe.co.uk.

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FOOD REVIEW: Hally’s, Parsons Green

Parsons Green has itself a real keeper.

Along the New King’s Road lies the undeniably charming Hally’s, a Californian-inspired hangout that will have you all smitten the moment you step inside.

We went along for the weekend brunch and were victorious in securing one of the last available tables (Hally’s is a really big deal on those two magical days at the end of the week). The all-day menu features all the classics that will no doubt bring you to a state of indecisiveness.

Luckily, we checked the menu ahead of our visit (yep, we were that keen) and knew exactly what we wanted, going straight in for two of the brunch staples: smashed avocado on sourdough toast with ricotta and feta with a squeeze of lemon and eggs florentine, complete with a side of smoked salmon. Both dishes didn’t disappoint and we were left all warm and fuzzy with the most satisfied smiles on our faces. Be sure not to leave without trying their matcha green tea latte – we’ve been back since just for a cup of the green good stuff.

Hally’s is a dose of sunshine even on the greyest of days. We’re rather fond of it and we think you will be too.

Find Hally’s at 60 New Kings Road | SW6 4LS

www.hallyslondon.com

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