Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Chick 'n Sour and June Bug

Szechuan aubergine

Hot wings

Pickled watermelon

House fry

Bun - Korean fried thigh, gochujang mayo, chilli vinegar, crunchy slaw

Chick 'n Sours has been on my must visit list ever since it opened last year. But I'm not in Haggerston that often so I only managed to visit last month when Steve and I were looking for a place to celebrate his end of exams.

I loved the beef burgers at Carl Clarke’s Disco Bistro so I had a fairly good idea that this fried chicken joint was going to serve just as tasty grub. For starters, the chicken is free-range, herb fed, and from local farms which gets a big thumbs up from me for being ethically sourced. I try to avoid battery chickens as much as possible but sometimes this is a little difficult when you go out to dinner, especially if the restaurant isn't super fancy.

I only took a picture of our first 2 cocktails but we ended up ordering 4 because they tasted so damn good. The Chick 'n Club and June Bug were the best of the bunch, they tasted sweet and sour as if you were actually drinking sweets. I love a gin sour normally so the Chick 'n Club really did put a smile on my face. But it was the midori sour that really stole the show with it's liquid sherbet taste.

In recent years I've had a bit of a hate relationship with fried chicken. I always think I love it but end up feeling underwhelmed every time I eat it. I don't think this is the fault of the restaurants I've been frequenting but actually because I'm just not that fussed. Chick 'n Sours completely changed my mind. The food is incredible and what I would 100% call next level fried chicken.

We started with the hot wings. They are spicy without being blow-your-face-off hot. They're sticky with a little sweetness and absolutely messy. The chicken melts away from the bones whilst the skin retains a wonderful crunch. The Szechuan aubergine is cooked in a light, crispy batter and drenched in a spicy, sour sauce. It's a great East meets West blend of flavours. The kitchen kindly sent us a portion of pickled watermelon which was a lovely, cooling accompaniment to the hot food.

Next up with the fried chicken burger i.e. the best chicken burger I have ever had. First of all, the burger is absolutely enormous. Thigh meat it's used so it's super succulent and flavoursome. The gochujang mayo and chilli vinegar give it a wonderful hot, Asian taste and the slaw adds a nice crunchy contrast against the squidgy bun. I adore Korean fried chicken and this burger is one of the best dishes I've had in this style.

We ended up being too full to even touch the house fry (drumstick and thigh) and the majority of the chips so we packed them up to have for dinner the following night. 24 hours later the chicken still tasted amazing. The batter retained it's crunch and didn't feel overly greasy. I was pretty annoyed that we didn't have more chicken for our dinner to be perfectly honest.

Chick 'n Sours make a bunch of dips as well. The St. Agur and Buttermilk blue cheese dip is quite strong in flavour but works wonderfully well against the hot wings. I loved the punchy citrus taste from the yuzu kosho mayo but the stand out dip was the rich bone marrow BBQ sauce that tasted so well with the house fry.

Despite not finishing are chicken we still ordered dessert. A perfect little pot of chocolate mousse and white chocolate crumble.

Without a doubt Chick 'n Sours should be on your must visit list of London restaurants. The place is beyond cool with great, chatty staff and a laid back vibe. The food is incredible, excellent value and the cocktails are some of the tastiest I've ever tried. Chicken and sour flavours really is what this place is all about so if you enjoy a bit of American Asian fusion food then this is a place you simply must visit.

I can not wait to return this weekend for their collaborative menu with Hoppers.

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Sunday, 29 May 2016






Grilled kallaj

Foul moukala

Sautéed prawns

Meza is one of my favourite local food haunts and I'm so glad it's only a bus ride away. Specialising in Lebanese food this little gem of a restaurant is situated in Tooting Bec with a second branch in Tooting Broadway. I've been to the Tooting Bec location a few times, it's tiny (reservations recommended) but absolutely charming with it's open kitchen and pretty tiling. The food is exceptional and even better is the price.

The menu is split into cold meze, hot meze and main coursers but I've only ever the meze because I like sharing lots of different things.

Cold meze:

The grilled aubergine (moutabal) is heavenly, it's basically baba ganoush with the aubergine having that distinctive smoky taste. Bread (no charge) is served throughout your meal so there's always something to scoop up with silky vegetable mush.

I love the cured beef (bastourma). It isn't quite melt in the mouth like Spanish jamon but it does have a distinctive flavour and is exceptionally tasty.

Hot meze:

The kibbeh is best described as sort of fried lamb meatballs. They're super tasty with a nice crunch on the outside and a tasty crushed onion and lamb filling inside.

The spicy lamb sausage (soujouk) is something Steve always goes for. With a similar consistency to 
saucisson, with the addition of a little spice, the sausage has a bite but remains very flavoursome. The tomatoes act as a much welcomed fresh salsa.

The grilled halloumi and pitta parcels grilled kallaj) are delicious but let's be honest, you would expect any form of hot cheese and bread combination to taste great. I love dipping these into the other saucy dishes we usually order.

The broad beans (foul moukala) are favourite of mine. I love these types of peas and cooked with garlic and herbs they're absolutely delicious.

The sautéed prawns is a pretty hefty dish considering it's only meze. A generous portion of perfectly cooked prawns lie in a bed of fragrant tomatoes on top of a generous serving of rich.

I love Meze, the food is always fresh and delicious plus the choice of options means you'll come back for subsequent visits. The price is astonishingly cheap considering the quality of the food and every time I've been a generous meal for two costs around £30. You really cannot find a better deal than that.

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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


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


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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Saturday, 21 May 2016

BRUNCH REVIEW: Granger and Co

courgette fritters, fried halloumi, siyez and shreded kale salad, zhoug
sweet corn fritters, roast tomato, spinach and bacon

scrambled eggs and sourdough toast

Oops, I went for brunch again. Granger and Co in King's Cross was the setting for this week's brunch adventures, a place that's been on my list for ages but somehow never made the final cut. I joined Sarah and Michelle for a much needed catch up and whilst I don't think Granger and Co is going to make it into my favourite brunch locations list I'm definitely glad I gave it a whirl.

The restaurant itself is a lovely space; bright, airy with just a touch a class. I loved the pink marble table tops and the long, industrial bar. The food was great, I thoroughly enjoyed my courgette fritters which reminded me of onion bhajis. The kale and bulgar wheat salad was fresh and enjoyable, and the spicy yoghurt packed a fierce punch. The grilled halloumi was the perfect accompaniment to this middle eastern style, meat free dish.

I had a taste of Michelle's  sweetcorn fitters which were lovely and whilst I didn't try the scrambled eggs I thought they looked great.

We also shared a very nice fruit scone and chocolate chip cookie but alas I do not have a photo.

Whilst I really did love my meal I thought the rest of the menu lacked interest, especially compared to the other brunch spots I've frequented recently. London has an impressive brunch scene with many well established places. If want something traditional I'll hit the Wolsely, The Good Egg is be my choice for middle eastern style dishes and Foxlow is great for American style offerings therefore leaving Granger and Co a little left out. That being said I do recommend trying the courgette fritters and maybe with a menu change in the future I'll be venturing back one.

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

PHOTO DIARY: Glasgow, December 2015

Glasgow is my favourite city (after London) in the UK and last year I was lucky enough to visit twice. Both visits were for music endeavours. The first being to see Belle and Sebastian at the SSE Hydro and the most recent visit was to see The Twilight Sad at the Barrowlands Ballroom, Scotland's most prestigious venue. I'm going to put together a city guide really soon as I feel like I know Glasgow pretty well but I thought I'd share a few snaps from my weekend visit.

Day 1

Steve and I flew up on a Friday evening after work, returning on the Sunday evening because we didn't have any annual leave days left. You can see a fair bit of Glasgow in a weekend but I definitely recommend staying for at least 3 nights to really appreciate the city as there's a lot to do.

Having stayed in the city centre on our first visit we decided that the west end would be the best place for our second trip as there are so many wonderful restaurants and bars in the area. Because it's bloody freezing in Scotland come December I took a gamble and left it quite late to book accommodation, thinking that the city wouldn't be too busy. The gamble paid off and I was able to book us a lovely room at Alamo Guesthouse which is situated next to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the University of Glasgow, in my option a perfect location.

We arrived fairly late on the Friday night but with enough time to have dinner at Mother India, a Glasgow institution. On our previous visit we had visited the Mother India tapas style restaurant for an afternoon snack but this time we went to the proper restaurant for a slightly more formal meal. To be completely honest I preferred the tapas style place as I prefer sharing plates.

Day 2

With a fairly early start we had an excellent breakfast at our bnb and headed towards the south of Glasgow to visit some sights we hadn't had time for last time. We were joined by Lauren which was so much fun. We hadn't seen each other since she'd moved back to Scotland so we got to spend the day catching up whilst strolling around the Glaswegian suburbs. She even came to the gig and for some unbeknownst reason we totally failed to take a picture of our rendezvous, sad times indeed.

First stop on the south Glasgow tour was a visit to House for an Art Lover, a Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed building. We visited loads of Mackintosh building on our previous visit so this was an obvious place to start the day. Mackintosh designed the house for a competition but it wasn't actually built until over 110 years later as a tribute to his memory. It now functions as a multi purpose venue set in Bellahouston Park. The house was nice but I felt a little underwhelmed on leaving. I think I had been expecting more from the place and even though there were a few different rooms to explore I felt like there could have been much more. It didn't help that the guy in the gift shop didn't give us the key for the audio guides so we had no idea which buttons to press in each room.

The south of Glasgow isn't that well connected by public transport and whilst we'd been able to reach House for an Art Lover by train we had a bit of a walk to the Burrell Collection in the middle of Pollok Country Park. We got a little lost in the middle of the woods and ended up scrambling through trees and mud but we eventually made it to the museum. Sir William Burrell, a wealthy Glaswegian shipping magnate and art collector left his art collection to the city in 1944 on the condition that it would be housed in a building 16 miles away from the city centre. A suitable location was never found until Pollock Park was given to the city in 1967 and Burrell's trustees decided that it would make a fitting location despite only being 3 miles from the city centre. The museum was built after Barry Gasson won a design competition and the beautiful, asymmetric, light filled masterpiece now hosts this impressive collection of art and medieval artefacts.

Our last tourist stop of the day was a must do for Steve, visit the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park. The museum is huge and I was honestly surprised by how interesting the displays were. I'm no football fan myself but I do take an interest in Arsenal (Steve's team) so I feel like I have some basic knowledge of the game, despite my best efforts. I asked Steve what his highlights were and he said the recreation of Archie Gemmill's goal against Holland in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. If you've ever seen Trainspotting you might know what I'm talking about. He said the Hall of Fame room was great as well.

We hopped on a train back into the city centre and headed towards the west end for drinks and dinner before our gig that evening. We stopped at Kelvingrove Cafe for delicious cocktails before enjoying a wonderful modern Scottish dinner at The Gannet.

We jumped into a cab and made our way east, across the city centre, to the Barrowlands Ballroom and the reason for our trip. I'd been wanting to see a gig here for such a long time and was holding out for a local bands to play a weekend show. Steve and I both adore the Glaswegian band The Twilight Sad so when they announced a Christmas show at the iconic venue knew we couldn't give it a miss. Unfortunately they didn't play any Christmas songs but the gig was incredible and it's an evening I will fondly remember for a very long time.

The Barrowlands may not be the prettiest of venues, in fact it's pretty grubby but as soon as you walk into the main hall you can feel that the place is steeped in history. From formal dances back in the day to gigs played by pretty much anyone that is worth knowing in the music world. The sound is phenomenal and the audience, who are predominately local Scots, have so much energy that you know instantly you're in for a wild night. The Twilight Sad are a noisy guitar band who play sad songs full of passion. James Graham, the leader singer, is phenomenal to watch live as he goes into a trance like states and becomes completely absorbed in the music.

After the show we said goodbye to Lauren and head back to our bnb after a quick drink at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, another iconic venue. We had such a great day!

Day 3

We kept out last day in Glasgow easy going and sight seeing free. After another great breakfast we headed to the Byres Road, a famous high street area in the west end that we hadn't been able to visit properly last time. There's a tone of great music and vintage shops here so we spent the morning shopping for records.

Even though it was freezing we popped our heads into the Botanic Gardens to check out the beautiful Victorian green house. Despite the frost outside the green house was full of luscious greenery.

We caught the bus into the city centre where we strolled around for a few hours. We went shopping for more vinyl at Love Music and stuck out heads into the Gallery of Modern Art. We found a small little Christmas market and bought a bag of over priced sweets.

It was soon time to head back to the west end for a late lunch / early dinner before catching out flight home. We went to Porter and Rye where we shared a delicious roast beef and burger. We had time for one last gin cocktail next door at The Finnieston and then it was time to grab our bags and head back to the airport for our journey home.

I love Glasgow so much and I can't wait to visit again, hopefully this year if I can find some cheap flights. We've pretty much done all the major sights now but there's a few smaller things I'm saving for one last visit such as the People's Palace and Winter Garden, and the Mackintosh Church.

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