Kooky Bakes, Shoreditch (Photoblog)

Thursday, 24 June 2010 | |

Some photos from the Kooky Bakes stand at Sunday Upmarket. Look at the website for contact/opening info.

I ate one of these. Very good indeed. The strawberry flavoured buttercream was nice and not overly sugary. The jam hidden deep inside was a nice touch. The actual cakey bit was well made.

I also had a 'Krazy Kid Slice'. Scott who runs the stall explained that they were a childhood favourite. Rice krispies, fruit loops, fruity pebbles, sugar, fairy dust...probably. Delicious. Well priced, too!

Well priced and well made sweet treats. Great looking stall too - it really stood out among the rather cupcake-saturated Upmarket. Top tip: eat one of their Krazy Kid Slices whilst playing Robot Unicorn Attack. It'll have you bouncing off the walls.

The Spot, Kilburn

Sunday, 20 June 2010 | |

London is an unbelievable city to live in for a 'foodie'. It may not be as economically competitive as, say, New York City and it may not always have the Wabi-sabi conceptualised sheen of Tokyo, but there's still numerous options all over the city. A large number of these are 'ethnic' restaurants, showcasing the food of migrants living in London, usually in suburban areas. Despite this, there are some holes that need to be filled: 'American' food. In particular, food from the South. Sure, there's Bodean's, but where's the cornbread? The chicken and waffles? Well, they're at The Spot in Kilburn, apparently.

Southern fried chicken with waffles and collard greens (£6). Seriously good fried chicken. Crispy, tender and full of flavour - paprika and cayenne mainly. The fresh-made waffles are also very good. At the right level of sweetness, made even better when topped with a knob of butter and some maple syrup, provided. Goes surprisingly well with the chicken. The collard greens are perhaps my favourite item though. From the same family as the cabbage, these are traditionally cooked down with 'hog jowl', but considering The Spot is fully Halal, the pork is overlooked. Instead, they use coconut oil, which gives it a distinct flavour. It's absolutely delicious though: creamy, salty and moreish.

Crispy catfish, biscuits and coleslaw. The coleslaw tasted homemade...in a good way, of course. The biscuits were also very good: salty and buttery, but perhaps a touch too dry. The catfish was fantastic. Well seasoned, crispy and moist fleshed fish. Generous portion, too.

Seafood gumbo, fries and waffles. Probably the strangest combination of the three, but still very good. The seafood gumbo hid a pleasant spiciness in the liquid, whilst the bits of various seafood (prawns, squid, not sure what else) were well cooked and good tasting. The fries were great for frozen, perhaps because they were seasoned with chilli as well as salt.

There are a couple of problems with The Spot: the place only has about ten seats, while the food takes ages to come out (which suggests it's freshly cooked, but twenty minute wait for some fried chicken is a bit much when you're hungry). I'm a fan of the place though. They're passionate about the food they're cooking after various staff trips to Amy Ruth's and Sylvia's in NYC. It's also great fun trying to create the strangest 'combo' thinkable. I just wish I lived a little closer to Kilburn so I could take the food away when all the seats are taken...

See also: Matthew's post on The Spot, on the excellent It Ends With Dovi blog.

B&K Salt Beef Bar, Edgware

Tuesday, 8 June 2010 | |

The only bad thing I can say about the B&K is ITS TO FAR FROM ME!!!! Im in Indiana 

the portions are as big as mikes chest ,plenty to grab hold of and the price is still to this day very very reasonable.

B&K is every bit as good as Schwartz's in Montreal & Carngie Deli in NYC.

Above is three excerpts from reviews on London Eating. We'll put the questionable spelling and grammar down to their excitement about this Jewish restaurant/deli in Edgware, north London. An area with a significant Jewish population, it houses a few Kosher and Kosher style eateries - most are closed on Saturdays, of course, but a few like B&K ignore Shabbat and remain open. Along with the salt beef pictured here, they sell chopped herring, ox tongue, fish balls, matzoh ball soup and various salads, available to take away by weight or eat in as part of a meal. You can also take away the meats away as part of a sandwich. The big seller is the salt beef in rye bread, with a smear of mustard.

Salt beef on rye bread (£4). Brilliantly cheap, but I suppose we're in Zone 5 now, not Selfridges! For my money, the vast difference in price between this sandwich and the salt beef available at the Brass Rail can only be explained by location; the quality of both sandwiches is only notable in that the salt beef in Edgware is more enjoyable due to being about six pounds cheaper! That is to say, the salt beef from B&K is brilliant: it has the perfect half-way texture, between chewy and a softness the perfect distance away from mushy. The good quality meat also comes piled high in your sandwich, but not so much that you can't fit it into your mouth. Well judged.

The rye bread is good. I can't help but think of the rye used at Katz's deli for their pastrami sandwich - an imitation, more similar to cardboard than bread, its purpose similar to a fork, used to carry meat to your mouth. This bread is a million miles away and is delicious enough to eat on its own. Studded with caraway seeds, it's the appropriate level of soft and doesn't detract or distract from the meat.

I've been going to B&K Salt Beef Bar for a few years now so perhaps I'm biased, but I think it's one of the best salt beef sandwiches, if not the best, in London. The other options are good too, if you have space after eating one of their mega sandwiches.

11 Lanson House
Whitchurch Lane

B&K Salt Beef Bar on Urbanspoon

Hereford Road, Notting Hill

Monday, 7 June 2010 | |

Note: I was dining with @samanthanewbery and @harrywilkinson. Follow them on Twitter cos they're ten out of ten nice.

Hereford Road is by no means a new restaurant, as you may know. Opened nearly three years ago by Tom Pemberton (ex head chef of St John) it aims to deliver more of the same, on the street of the same name. Locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, with offal playing a part in the starters and the main courses - calf's brains with tartare sauce, and lamb sweetbreads, for example.

I was here to try out the set lunch menu. Seemingly a bargain - three courses for £15.50. All of the options also appear on the a la carte menu and there's no skimping on portion sizes. As well as the prix-fixe, there's a one-dish "express lunch": one main, a glass of wine and a coffee for £9.50.

Home made bread and (not home made) butter. Pretty good stuff: well made bread and high quality butter, at the appropriate temperature.

Photo by me.
Grilled sardines, parsley and lemon.

Photo by Samantha.
Grilled sardines, parsley and lemon. 
Why do I even bother? Look at my photo, then look at Sam's. I might as well have drawn mine in Microsoft Paint. Anyway... The description I've given in bold is off the menu verbatim - the 'ingredients list' style is one of the simplistic features that Pemberton and Hereford Road employ, paralleling their menu with the style of cooking and perhaps even the greater mindset at the restaurant. On the fish, freshness is always the first issue that creeps into my mind. Flaking the flesh away from the spindly bones gave an early insight: the fish came away with the right level of ease, pulling apart but still retaining a firm, not mushy structure. The initial tasting note was of scorched flesh from the grilling, with the parsley and lemon zest complementing the fresh, oily fish. A squeeze of lemon completed a simple but good starter, despite the last sardine being overcooked and rather cottony in places.

Another reason I like eating sardines: they make me feel like a cartoon cat when I've finished with them.

Harry's beetroot, sorrel and cow's curd. He seemed to like it.

Sam's crispy pork, chicory and mustard. We all liked this one. Probably the best starter of the lot. Really well composed of complementary flavours. Plus it had bits of pork belly dotted about, which always makes everything better.

Photo by me.
Onglet, chips and aioli.

Photo by Samantha.
Onglet, chips and aioli.
(Much better composition, more sharp, better colours...) Sam and I both had the onglet as a main course. Otherwise known as a 'hanger' steak (due to its 'hanging' from the diaphragm of the cow) or 'skirt', it's an economical (cheap) and unforgiving cut - you can only cook it rare or take it to just medium-rare, otherwise it'll be tough, chewy and a waste of flesh. Apparently butchers used to keep this for themselves as no one else would take it or want it, but Hereford Road seems to be all about the unloved cuts of meat. The steak came out already pre-sliced against the grain, which some may not like but I do, and looked perfectly cooked; the exterior had caramelised and developed a crust, whilst the meat inside was rare, pushing medium-rare in places and as juicy as you'd expect. There were no problems with the tenderness of the meat, nor the flavour for that matter. Onglet is one of the stronger tasting cuts, similar to the neighbouring kidneys, and the meat shone with the right amount of seasoning added. It was equally good with some of the pungent aioli, the strong garlic matching the flavourful beef.

The chips are triple cooked and nearly creep into roast potato territory, through size and structure- and taste-wise. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, they were a touch too oily (perhaps the oil was too cold for the first fry?) but were still delicious.

Harry's mackerel, tomatoes and rocket. No messing about, give the lad a whole grilled fish. He seemed to enjoy it, once again.

Photo by me.
Lemon and almond tart.

Photo by Samantha.
Lemon and almond tart.
A pretty nice tart, which I can't remember too well to be perfectly honest. The crème fraiche worked nicely with the slightly bitter candied lemon zest.

Caramel ice cream.
Two generous scoops and two delightfully buttery shortbread-like biscuits. Smooth and almost stringy ice cream with minimal ice crystals, and a great burnt-caramel taste. Marvellous ice cream.

The bill.
Very good for a three course meal - about £22 including a beer and tip.

We spent a couple of hours at Hereford Road, with the service being quite relaxed - perhaps it was because the restaurant was empty, save for two other tables dining inside (and two outside) on a Friday lunchtime. I'm not sure how busy it still gets in the evening, but nearer to opening I remember having to book a while in advance. Maybe people have forgotten about Hereford Road? The set lunch, whilst hardly pushing the boundaries of cooking or using top end ingredients, proves a good, budget-friendly option for the area.

Hereford Road on Urbanspoon