Friday, 27 May 2016

FIVE FRIDAY: Best Pizza in London

My Mum has always turned up her nose to the idea of eating pizza. To her it's just bread with tomato sauce, something that she would refuse to eat, especially in a restaurant. I get where she's coming from, a basic pizza is essential three simple ingredients; dough, tomatoes and cheese. But that's where the comparison ends because when pizza is done well it is so much more than just some tomato sauce on bread.

So here's a list of my favourite places to grab a slice in London. I haven't included Voodoo Rays but I did want to give it a little mention. Whilst I don't think the pizzas are especially amazing I do love the vibe of this NYC style pizza joint. There's a ton of toppings to choose from and when you're in desperate need of a little bite late at night in Dalston or Shoreditch there really is no better place it hit up. Grab yourself a tequila slush puppy whilst you're at it as well.

1. Homeslice, various


Whilst the Homeslice restaurant is a relative newcomer on the London food scene the company have been around for a while, starting out as a humble food stall. They quickly established themselves as a pizza Mecca and if you have a chance to visit you'll quickly understand why. Their pizza are huge, 20" of fluffy goodness with a varied and unique menu of toppings. My favourite two combinations are; aubergine, cauliflower cheese, spinach and harissa and goat shoulder, savoy cabbage and sumac yoghurt. If 20" seems a bit big and your friend doesn't want the same topping then don't despair, they do half and half plus a few toppings are also served by the slice. 20" is fine for two people if you're really hungry, otherwise 3 people per pizza is just about right. I've only been to the Covent Garden branch which isn't that big so you often have to queue but the front of house will take your number and give you a call when your table is ready.

2. Pizza Pilgrims, various


I've loved Pizza Pilgrims ever since their stall frequented Berwick Street Market many years and now that they have a branch around the corner from my office in Farringdon I couldn't be happier. Whilst the list of toppings is on the simple side they taste wonderfully flavoursome and on top of the fluffy and ever so slightly chewy base these beauties really are delicious. My favourite topping with out a doubt is the N'duja, a spicy Italian sausage on top of a margarita base. The tomato sauce is fresh yet rich and the spicy sausage packs just the right amount of heat. Pizza Pilgrims will continue to be a firm favourite of mine.

3. Franco Manca, various


I remember my first visit to the original Franco Manca in Brixton Market and how I exclaimed that these sour dough pizzas were the best I've ever tried, well five years later and I haven't changed my mind one bit. These pizzas are perfect and ever since a branch opened across the road from my flat in Wimbledon I have been a regular customer. The base is soft and fluffy and even though the toppings are quite traditional they taste absolutely stunning. I quite often go for the tomato, mozzarella and basil because the quality of the simple ingredients really does shine though on this but sometimes I'm tempted by the specials. When it comes to pizza I normally prefer things on the simple side and that what I love about Franco Manca, the ingredients speak for themselves so you don't need a fussy combination to have a truly wonderful meal.

4. Born and Raised, Street Feast (various)


I love the food market scene in London but pizza is something I normally avoid at these places because quite frankly I think there are better sounding options at the other stalls. I changed my mind when I finally tried Born and Raised after exhausting all the other options at Street Feast. These soft and fluffy pizzas have an unusual combination of ingredients and really stand out for being unique and delicious. I love the purple Somerset goats cheese on beetroot-infused dough with caramelised red onions & watercress, the ingredients work so well with each to produce a moreish and rich tasting pizza. I've got my eye on the beef brisket and pork shoulder pizzas for next time so let this be a lesson to never dismiss a pizza joint for being too simple because you really might surprise yourself.

5. The Stable, Whitechapel


I wasn't sure what I was going to include for my fifth pizza joint, until I went to the press party for the brand new, speciality cider and pizza joint The Stable. The Stable is already established outside London with many branches in the west of England. They're know for cider as they serve over 80 different kinds but they also do pizza which is great because you need something to soak up all that booze. I was able to try quite a few varieties of pizza (and cider but don't ask me for the names) at the launch and the few that stood out where the blazing saddle, fresh Hawaiian and porky pancetta. I hate mushrooms so I avoided all the fungi based toppings which is quite a few actually but I'm sure they taste just as nice. These crispy, thin base pizzas taste fresh and delicious plus the large menu will keep everyone satisfied. I was sceptical at first but after the launch party I really was won over by the excellent quality of the food. I'll definitely be revisiting for more pizza (and cider).

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

BURGER REVIEW: Dip & Flip

Bacon and cheese burger

Dip & Flip with roast beef burger

Cheese burger

There's not a great deal of non-highstreet chain restaurant options in Wimbledon so you bet was I delight when Dip & Flip opened last year. They're fast becoming a South West London burger joint favourite and when I visited the Clapham Junction branch I really enjoyed their messy burgers so the thought of having one open across the road from my flat made me start to appreciate Wimbledon a little more.

Dip & Flip is famous for their French dip gravy burgers. Grab your burger, dip it into a hot plate of gravy and enjoy. My favourite is the Dip & Flip, a beef burger topped with cheese and a slice of roast beef. It's messy as hell but oh so delicious. The burgers are meaty, cooked exactly how you want them (medium rare please) and hold together surprisingly well despite the mess. Everything comes with a side of mouthwatering delicious gravy and they even do poutine for those that like gravy on their fries.

All in all Dip & Flip is a great place to enjoy a hearty burger. Great quality, great taste and great value.

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Monday, 23 May 2016

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Pirouette, Paris








Last November I went to Paris for the day with my Mum. This is becoming a little tradition of ours; we hope on the Eurostar early, have a lovely lunch, check out a gallery or two, and then spend the rest of the day wandering around before catching the last train back to London.

I'd heard about Pirouette on a previous trip but never had the chance to visit so I made sure that this time around it was top of the list for lunch. I made a booking a month or so in advance and eagerly awaited our trip.

Pirouette is a lovely, modern bistro in the heart of Paris. It's around the corner from the Pompidou centre in the 3rd arrondissement. It's very light thanks to the large windows and fairly generous in size with a mezzanine level above the main area. The staff were very attentive and I very much appreciated the English menu.

There is an a la carte menu as well as a lunch special and tasting menu. Mum went for the lunch special which consisted of black risotto and prosciutto to start, followed by seabass. The food was heavenly and as we ate we noticed that many other people had ordered the same thing. For €20 this is a fantastic deal, especially when you consider the quality of ingredients and presentation of the restaurant.

I went for the Pirouette special which is basically your choice of three courses for €42. A little more expensive than the lunch deal but absolutely worth it.

I started with the poached egg, pumpkin, chorizo and celery salad which was wonderfully fresh and light. For my main dish I had the duck and kale which was rich, flavoursome and everything you could want from a French meal. I finished with a white chocolate tart which was indulgently delicious. I was in Paris so of course I'm ordering chocolate.

Mum ended up ordering the rice pudding with salad caramel, it was heavenly.

Our meal at Pirouette was wonderful, one of the best I've had in Paris actually. It wasn't cheap, especially as we accidentally ordered a €50 bottle of wine (it did taste amazing) but it was worth every penny. The food is classically French but with a modern twist. The ingredients are seasonal and used to create some stunning dishes. This would definitely be a special occasion spot for dinner but the lunch time deal means it's affordable and the perfect location for a casual yet indulgent lunch.

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