Friday, 30 September 2011
Friday, 23 September 2011
Sunday, 18 September 2011
One of the most enjoyable things I love about London is walking down the towpaths beside the canal on a Sunday.
It takes me back to my childhood in Hampshire, when we used to follow parts of the old Basingstoke canal through the countryside.
How I miss those days of eternal youth, the feeling that life had no end, and we were to be young forever, free to do whatever and young enough not to care.
Sadly those days are long gone and I have to face the fact that I am getting on in years, and my eternal optimism is slowly but surely disappearing.
I love the canals, I love looking at the barges and wondering if I could ever be able to live in one. It’s doubtful, as I am a real messy person, especially in the kitchen, but I do love the peacefulness of the canals.
What I hate are people who are not willing to share the canal with others. This basically includes manic joggers who scream up behind you shouting for you to move, and stupid cyclists who think they can ride side by side and everyone must move for them. Can’t they read the f’ing signs saying, “Pedestrians have the right of way.” So they can ride a bike, but they cannot bloody read.
Anyhows this given Sunday we made our way down from Victoria Fields to the Limehouse. This is the last stretch in the east we had never done before.
It’s a lovely slow walk that took us about an hour or so. I think we were going about as quick as the barges. I even managed to help a few out as they entered and exited the locks. Well it was a Sunday and that’s my good Samaritan day.
We eventually came back down to the Thames at the Limehouse. A place I would not like to live, so soulless and devoid of anyone apart form people who had just come there down the canal.
We stopped off for a couple of beers at the Narrow, a lovely listed building owned by Mr R. This is one of his last pubs, as he has either sold or closed down the others for whatever reasons. This one seems to be doing good business for him.
As it was a nice day we sat outside supping away watching the world and boats go by. A good spot for it as well.
The walk although not long or fairly taxing did make us a tad peckish. Thankfully they have a good bar menu, so we ordered a couple of nibbles off it. We had a plate of honey mustard coated sausages and a scotch egg. I am a sucka for a scotch egg.
I think they actually boiled the egg, encased it in sausage meat and then cooked it, as it took about 30 minutes to arrive.
The chipolatas were nice and good beer food. The egg was good, nice and crispy, nice sausage meat, although the white of the egg was still a little undercooked. But the beer was good, so that made up for it all.
The restaurant inside was packed, so they must be churning out good food for the local punters, although I don’t think there is too much choice in the near vicinity. Git it all sown up has our Mr R. At least one of his places is doing well.
You can continue along the river towards Wapping and further west. It’s a nice walk on a good day that is, which we haven’t had too many recently.
My next trip n the canals heading west from Little Venice I will come with some protection to push those joggers and cyclists into the canal.
Friday, 16 September 2011
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Friday, 9 September 2011
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
I never really fancied eating at Dishoom for some reason, maybe because I thought it was going to be a supped up modern version of a local Tandoori, but then I tried their Ruby Murray at the pop-up on the South Bank and was hooked. It really was only going to be a matter of time before we ventured into their Covent Garden branch.
It styles itself on an old time Bombay café, which I have eaten at a few way back when in my traveller days, before age and comfort became more of a priority than simply travelling. How I miss those days.
The ones I remember in Mumbai served a type of Anglo Indian cuisine, that wasn’t too different from school dinners, but with a good touch of spice.
Hours you could sit there sipping on a chai or a beer reading a book, chatting to friends or general strangers looking to pass the time, with those rickety old ceiling fans buzzing away in a vain attempt to keep you cool in the Mumbai humidity.
The old style Bombay café is a piece of history, of a bygone era that will never return, except in a few dark corners where some people can reminisce on past glories that shall never be seen again.
Dishoom attempt to bring this to London, doesn’t really work for me. Their décor is too clean, too clinical, too manufactured, and too modern to be a Bombay cafe. It’s false and I wasn’t impressed.
The menu has also been Londonfied to give it something different, which it does, but deep down it is still the same old food, just served a tad differently.
The House Black Daal or Daal Makhani was creamy and had a deep unxious flavour to them. They were good, not the best I’ve had but still very good. It’s kinda sad, but I always judge an Indian restaurant by its daal.
The lamb biriyani came in its own little pot with a small amount of dough around the lid and edge of the pot. The rice was well cooked and seasoned well. The lamb however was a tad dry, and made me wonder if they had been cooked together or just mixed in at the last minute.
Thing was at our monthly meeting at work the following Friday, we had 3 different biriyani’s for lunch. Lamb, chicken and a veg and all 3 tasted much better than Dishoom’s own, and that was from a small hole in the wall in Southall.
The Paneer Tikka was nice and fluffy and served with a small bunch of wilting herbs and a lemon. We asked when we ordered if it was dry or came with a sauce. It was dry we were told. Our waiter was asked if we could have a small bowl of sauce to go with. It’s how the wife likes it. Our waiter just said “no”, and said we should order a curry to go with. I could see from her eyes, that this guy was not going to get a tip now, no matter how nice he was from here on now, and he didn’t. I think he could tell as well, as he never really tried from then on. Smart guy.
Dishoom has a nice vibe about it, and apart from the business like attitude of the place it is ok. Better than I thought it would be, but still just a jazzed up modern take on an Indian restaurant.
I’m not sure whether I would return or not. It’s a shame the pop up is going to close soon, as that is worth returning to.
Sunday, 4 September 2011
As our little Susanitta was off sunning herself on a boat somewhere off a Greek island, the rest of us decided to be with her in spirit and head to a Greek style taverna and have a meal in her honor.
So we decided to go and try Tsiakkos & Charcoal in Maida Vale, which was our number one choice, before we decided to go all German a week or so ago. I’m still recovering from that boozy weekend. How much wine can you drink before it buggers up your liver.
Tsiakkos & Charcoal is deep within Maida Vale, a quaint leafy suburb that harks back to when London was more gentile and easy going.
We had tried to telephone the restaurant but no one ever picked up the phone, so we ambled past it very early. I mean 7pm early. I know, but some of us were really famished. It was then that we found out that they open at 7.30, so we wandered over to the Neeld Arms, the local on the corner. A nice old Irish boozer, but oddly the only beers they had on draught were either extra cold or super cold. I mean who the bloody hell started that off. Anyhows it’s a nice place, friendly locals, nice vibe, never be a gastro I hope, as we need to keep some of these places just as they are, and I’m sure the locals would fight it to the death as well.
After a couple of extra cold pints we returned to Tsiakkos & Charcoal. I’d read a review about this place, that said “The whole place looks like someone's front room during a power cut”. Nuff said. It sums it up so well, so does Cheese and Biscuits blog post as well.
I rather like places that do not adhere to the norm. Those oh so clinically designed chain restaurants that squeak as you walk in, which are becoming the norm, so hats off to Tsiakkos & Charcoal for its charming but rather odd décor attitudes.
The menu is short and sweet. Although on this Saturday night, some of the starters and mains were not available. Plus it is a cash only gaff, so a run to a cash point was needed.
We settled on a few starters to wet the palette before heading on to the mains. The tzatziki and the taramasalata were chunky, rustic but tasted so good. The grilled halloumi was just that, but it was bathing in good olive oil and was perfect mopping up liquid for the warm pita bread.
For the mains we had the pork kebab, kleftiko and the pastitsio, because the moussaka was not being served that day. All the mains were well cooked, all slightly under seasoned and therefore not as good as they could have been, but nice none the less.
I was expecting some potatoes with my kleftiko, or a salad with the pastitsio, but all we got were portions of rice, although very tasty rice I might add, but rice none the less. I mean who has ever had a pasta dish served with rice as an accompaniment. Crazy. We all wished we had ordered a portion of the feta salad, which looked amazing with a large portion of feta sitting atop a nice looking salad. Would have been better than the rice. It’s funny but rarely are the starters better than the mains. But they were.
We were also a tad disappointed that the beer on offer was just Budweiser, and the red was from Rioja. Where’s the Greek? To top it off there was no ouzo. Saddened we were, saddened.
Our dessert junkie had to ask, and thankfully for everyone that night they had some baklava. Lovely it was too, nice and sticky with honey. Yum.
Only at small places do you get told to pay at the counter as you leave, and having to tell the owner what we had as they had no idea. Quality.
It is very much loved by locals as it was brimming with them on this night, and a real jovial bunch they were too. Tsiakkos & Charcoal is what it is really, a good local, although slightly mad in appearance, doing nice food for a small price. Whether this is the best Greek in London I do not know. More investigating will have to be had.