Friday, 24 June 2016

FIVE FRIDAY: Best Mac n Cheese in London

Macaroni cheese is one of my favourite comfort foods. It sounds simple, cheese and pasta, but despite the few ingredients it can easily go wrong. I should know, I've tried so many sub standard plates of the stuff that I'm surprised chefs are still serving these rubbish incarnations when London boasts some incredible mac options.

So here's a list of where to find some of my favourite dishes.

1. Rita's Bar and Dining, Hackney

Might as well start with the best and there's not doubt about it. I've been raving about Rita's green chilli mac n cheese for years. It's creamy, cheesy and those little green chillies add a nice bit of heat without it being overpoweringly hot. I love the stuff and order it every time I visit. Last time I noticed the recipe had changed a bit and you know what, it was even better than previous versions.

Read my previous reviews of Rita's here, here, and here.

2. Spuntino, Soho

For a creamy, indulgent mac n cheese in central London there is no better place to go than Spuntino. From brainchild of British restaurateur Russell Norman (Polpo), this small bar-come-restaurant is situated just off Shaftesbury Avenue but the drab shop front means it's easy to walk straight past. The mac here is not for the faint of heart, it's thick, gooey and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. I love that the recipe incorporates leeks as well as a generous serving of mustard because you all know how much I love that condiment. This is everything you could possibly want from mac n cheese, if not more.

3. Anna Mae's Mac n Cheese, various locations

Anna Mae's is one of my all time favourite street food vendors. They've got a few different varieties but my favourite is the don macaroni which is their classic mac with added crispy bacon bits, basil oil and fresh basil. Whenever I see these guys at a food market it's the first thing I have to eat. The mac is quite creamy but not super heavy which means there's room to try more street food elsewhere. I bought their cookbook but have yet to cook anything yet but I am so looking forward to recreating some of my favourite recipes very soon.

4. Byron Burger, various locations

Every time I visit Byron I have to order a portion of their classic macaroni cheese. It's a simple recipe but in this situation less really is more as this side dish is perfect. The consistency isn't too saucy but it's anything but dry; the taste is creamy but sharp at the same time; and the portion size is just perfect i.e. you can finish it without the worry of falling into a mac n cheese coma. I am so glad they've included the recipe in their new cookbook as I'm looking forward to recreating this at home.

5. Pret, various locations

This entry may seem like a joke entry but I honestly think that the two mac n cheese options (bacon or kale) from Pret make an excellent alternative from a chicken sandwich at lunch time. There's a Pret on practically every street corner in London which means you're never too far from the quality serving of pasta and cheese. The mac n cheese is made from pasta and cauliflower which I guess is to make it slightly more nutritional. The portion is pretty substantial and is always served hot. It's saucy, tasty and by far the best takeaway mac n cheese I have tried.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

BRUNCH REVIEW: Tried and True

Tried and True is a lovely all-day brunch spot in Putney. I've only been twice but it's a firm favourite of mine in South West London. The menu is pretty large with all your standard eggs on toast options as well as some healthier salad type dishes like chicken and avocado. I love the pancakes, they're fluffy but not too thick. I have them smothered in maple syrup with bacon and a poached egg. I know this isn't a combination everyone enjoys but I do love the sweet and savoury combination.

Tried and True has a relaxed vibe and is the perfect neighbourhood, casual dinning spot. There's a large dinning space and the room always feels light and airy. Putney doesn't have many exciting food options so I'm glad T&T exists so close to my parents house.

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Monday, 20 June 2016

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Tombo, Pokē & Matcha Bar

Tombo: Pokē & Matcha Bar opened in Soho a couple of weeks ago and I managed to visit during the soft launch to snag myself 50% off. Tombo specialises in pokē, raw fish salad from Hawaii and matcha based drinks and desserts. I love pokē, I've had it a couple of times from the street food vendor Eat Poke London plus I absolutely adore sushi and most forms of raw fish.

I don't actually like matcha despite my best efforts to try an assortment of green tea inspired food items so I can't really report back on the drinks served at Tombo. However, Steve did get a matcha, apple and ginger smoothie which had a lovely punchy taste. I had a nice, floral tea called sukura which I recommend if you're a green tea avoider as well.

The pokē comes in small and large sizes. We ordered four different pokē versions all in the small size which I found to be quite generous. You have the choice of rice or courgette spaghetti as the base, I love sushi rice so the choice was an easy one for me.

Salmon Avo Lux - salmon, wasabi soy, avocado, edamame, salmon cavair, nori

The raw salmon tasted really fresh and I enjoyed the popping sensation of the salmon cavair. The wasabi soy comes in a little pot on the side, it's really delicious and give the dish a subtle amount of heat.

Classic Tuna Avo - tuna, classic sauce, avocado, white onion, tempura crumbs, nori

The avocado and super fresh, raw tuna is an excellent combination. I loved the crunch from the tempura crumbs and the soy based sauce adds a nice flavour to the dish.

Classic salmon pokē - salmon, classic sauce, edamame, white onion, sesame seeds, nori

 The classic pokē was probably my second most favourite dish. I love raw salmon and combined with the edamame this dish had a great variety of textures and flavours.

Spicy Mayo Prawn - prawns sirracha mayo, edamame, crispy shallots, shichimi chilli

I knew the spicy mayo prawn was probably going to be my favourite. Anything that's covered in a sirracha based sauce is going to taste good. The prawns are quite chunky, making this dish super filling. Next time I go back to Tombo I'll definitely be ordering the large version of this.

There's a selection of Japanese themed matcha sweets such as mochi, dorayaki pancakes and biscuits. I think there are a few non matcha based sweets but the majority of options are green.

Tombo is a tiny little restaurant that resembles a cute tea shop above anything else. The selection of pokē is small but don't let the simple ingredients fool you. The end result is delicious, filling, raw fish based salads that are sold at excellent value. If you work in Soho then I can see this place becoming a firm lunch time favourite. If you need a quick, satisfying dinner on the go then this is a great option for that as well. Tombo will soon be doing a mix n match pokē option so you can choose to make your own.

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