Sunday, 19 February 2012

London Visit - February 2012

Freezing fountain in Trafalgar Square - brrrr! It was pretty cold but what better reason to indulge in some tasty food?

And to start with we finally went to The Diner in Soho, just off Carnaby Street. They have 5 different sites across London but this was ideally located near the shops of Regent Street (mostly Uniqlo!). Since I'm somewhat obsessed with diners I've wanted to come here for ages. It wasn't a disappointment. Above is a Spicy Shrimp Po Boy which was absolutely delicious. The bread was really light and the spicy remoulade wasn't too overpowering.

I plumped for the Monte Cristo Sandwich, how could I not?! Doesn't look like much on the plate but it was yummy. Cinnamon French Toast filled with ham, cheese and grilled chicken breast, strangely served with a blueberry compote but hey, I was game and it was great! We also had fries which were glorious and finished off with a Cherry Coke so I could pretend I was a 50s teenager in America! Check out the brilliant menu for yourself here: I've got my eye on the Lumberjack Breakfast for next time!

As always most evening meals consisted of amazing assortments of sushi before heading off to the theatre, managed 4 shows this time and a little BAFTA ceremony glance! This sushi was from Wasabi, such great value.

Another place on my list was the Scandinavian Kitchen. Not a huge amount of seating so it's lucky we arrived quite easily for lunch as it seemed really popular, plus they have a range of Scandinavian products to buy. Cue a large amount of salted liquorice heading home with us for La Mama. For lunch we had their Open Sandwich Smorgasboard, 5 sandwiches for £8.95 and a good range to choose from, including salads too. We had cheese; meatballs and beetroot; gravadlax, rare roast beef with crispy onions and smoked salmon. All really lovely.

Our visit to The Diner came later than planned as our day shopping on Oxford Street went on longer than we thought and I'd forgotten my street map and my phone app wasn't working! No! I wanted diner food! But instead we found this gem in Selfridges. The Brass Rail specialises in salt beef and that's about it, but what a revelation it is. Incredibly tender, it just melts in the mouth, served by weight on rye with nose-clearing mustard! Plus a great big pickle for an extra 75p which was sweet and obviously quite freshly pickled. Delicious. Not the cheapest of options but I was so glad we stopped here.

A flying visit to the Southbank Real Food Festival resulted in some gorgeous churros and chocolate sauce, a huge portion, from Churros Garcia. They're a 2-person job as someone needs to hold the churros while you get dipping and eating! So worth it! No food trucks this time though and nothing spectacularly exciting to try which was a shame, I guess it's better in the summer.

And then on to the cakes! But before that I also ate at Byron Burger when a friend was also visiting London for work. There are quite a few dotted about now, we went to the St Giles restuarant. Staff were really lovely and there was a rather nice selection of Bourbon whiskey. The burger itself (I had the Byron burger with bacon) was gorgeous, cooked medium and really moist. Had courgette fries too which were a little limp really but a nice alternative. Also ate at Wahaca in Covent Garden on our last day but the tables were so squished together I felt a bit conspicuous taking photos! The guacamole with pork scratchings was scrummy and we had a nice selection of tacos, tostadas and a Mexican fondue with cactus. All yummy but it is quite nice to have a bit more breathing space when eating, quite a queue waiting to get a table too.

Back to the cakes! My favourite road, Wardour Street in Soho, has a new bakery - Gail's Artisan Bakery. Again it's a chain with a little cafe but the staff were lovely and the bread selection was incredible. I was after some cake action after a play and the carrot cake caught my eye. It was little dry on one side which makes me question how old the cake was, but the flavour was good and I liked the layers of cream cheese frosting.

Our Selfridges visit also provided this wondrous Salted Caramel Religieuse which was completely delicious. Everything is called salted caramel these days and this didn't taste particularly salty but caramel is good enough for me!

Another Wardour Street beauty, brioche from Princi with loads of orange flower water. Made a great breakfast.

Plus a very fattening doughnut with tons of rich custard inside. Mmmmmm! The grease! Didn't have it for breakfast I might add!

And then cupcake time! I have to say I wasn't actually in the mood for cupcakes this time and the Hummingbird Bakery specials were all based on chocolate for Valentine's Day and I'm not overly fond of choccy cake. This was Sunday's special, a chocolate and caramel cake. It was actually gorgeous, the caramel tasted like condensed milk and there was plenty of it in the centre. Again the texture of the cake was better than most bakeries.

And the other cupcake I chose was Monday's chocolate and rose cupcake. I was afraid it would be way too chocolately but it was really light and had a rose fondant centre. I love rose turkish delight so this was a good option for me.

Also, in other cake news, I discovered that Cox, Cookies and Cakes, the Soho shop launched by Eric Lanlard and Patrick Cox which I reviewed last year, has closed down. Didn't look like it was their choice either as there was a sign on the window saying that no-one was allowed on the premises. Oooo, drama. All the fittings were still in there and the notice was from the end of January. Eric Lanlard has a new series starting on Channel 4 next month and he still has his Cake Boy shop so I'm hoping he's ok and didn't lose a huge amount of money in the process.

Our last hurrah to take home were cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden. A rose one and a lime and coconut lime cake. Their flavours are more exciting than Hummingbird and seem to be made with more love but they're not a patch on the light texture of Hummingbird. I'm guessing it's because they're made with butter, in the more British-style, but the cake is definitely a lot denser. Flavour was good in both though.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm that choc cupcake looks divine! Have always wanted to try Byron, must put that on my list, love a good burger :)