Buy it on Amazon just a suggestion, not a command.
60 sec review on @Londonlobster
What: The traditional american lobster shack gets a chic British makeover. Simplicity at it’s finest, there are no menus just three options Burger, Lobster or Lobster Roll all served with salad and chips for £20. A lobster for £20 I hear you cry with delight, yar only £20 and it’s bloody incredibly too. A burger for £20 I hear some cry with derision, yar it seems pretty hefty but it offsets the Lobster prices to keep it low and friends have assured me they are tasty (as well as huge!). So what about the Lobster roll? Well I plumped for it first time and whilst the toasted brioche bun was a sweet taste of French genius, I was unpleasantly surprised to find the lobster meat filling was cold. Rather jarring in my opinion. It also seemed to have quite a lot of tasteless lobster meat.
Where: four spots in Mayfair, Soho, Farringdon, City respectably (I went to City – Bread St)
Atmos: Bare bulbs and wooden crates as screens, it’s a little warehousey with a nod to the fishing trade. Service is swift and friendly.
Drink: Extensive drink list in comparison to the non existent food menu.
Do: not order dessert. They weren’t wow worthy despite the names – peanut brittle ice cream and strawberry cheesecake. The cheesecake was a gloopy, gelatinous mass and the ice cream was tasty but too much after such a rich meal.
£: Keep up! It’s £20 for a Burger, Lobster or Lobster Roll.
Little Turkey, does this exist? I mean you have Little Venice, no mini canals unfortunately, and china town, the Vietnamese quarter in East London but do we have a dedicated Turkish spot? If not I suggest FM Mangal be pronounced the heart of it.
From outside it appears to be nothing more than your run of the mill kebab shop to which you will have undoubtedly frequented on cold nights after long days at work which have left you bereft of cooking inspiration (or more likely after you’ve sunk too many vodkas). But inside awaits rug clad exposed brick, twinkling Turkish lamps and humble tables, that is after you climb up the stairs past the swirling, smoking and fortunately glass screened grill.
The menu is pretty extensive and to this Turkish-delicacy-novice was a sea of phrases I was never going to understand. Cop Sis or Tavuk Kanat? We ordered the warm meze to start which featured some uninspiring calamari, ever pleasing halloumi and fair falafels. The stand out was admittedly the grilled onions and garlic served drowned in a redwine/vinegar sauce that we mopped up with the provided flatbread.
We plumped for the house white (and two cokes, you can’t take these kids anywhere). Our pockets felt moth bitten on this occassion and bottles here always resemble the unrecognisable labels seen gathering dust in late night shops. It was chilled, bonus, tasted cheap but we nodded sagely regardless of the unabashed shock of our waitress. Awkward.It took some time to get our mains, the FM Mangal Special, Mixed Kebab and Tavuk Saslik, but as a group who rarely indulge in silence this was no issue for us. Portions are big. I admit, I knew what I was getting myself in for as the menu listed meaningless meat names rounded off with rice and salad, but boy do you get your ££’s worth. It’s phenomenally charcoaled on its edges, smoke permeates everything but the spiced sauces and sweet coverings take it from polycarton to table worthy. The fresh salad sides and pillow soft rice though delicious, served for me as only a palate cleanser and time bider till I could face the next small mound of awaiting meat.
Jay Rayner was not lying when he said this place was one to be celebrated. For all its worn edges and questionable frontage this place is the dogs. After shuffling, sitting up straight and then finally conceding we could fit no more in our stomachs, we asked for the bill. All in all it came to only £20 each with tip. I somehow managed to eat all three pieces of the Turkish delight offered too.
The website is clunky and choc full of stock images but don’t let that put you off. It has the address and menus up there, everything you need: fmmangal.net ” Have no scandal while you dine, Just honest talk and wholesome wine” FM Mangal – The mural did look pretty old to be fair though.
It’s safe to say the bank holiday chewed me up and spat me out then swallowed me whole one last time. After squeezing in two drunken nights East, a flying visit to Cambridge, Sunday lunch with my grandparents, throwing my hand at some DIY at my parents new shop and some questionable driving, I was a mess yesterday and felt rather sorry for myself. But we (Martha) needed to go to Tesco’s to buy alcohol (Hen prep not alcoholism). After an hour of “in 60 secs we’ll move” we made the executive decision to line our stomachs before braving the spirits of the night before.
After an incredible 7 million point parallel park we stumbled in to the bright and instantly cheering Love Walk Cafe. Mason jars of coloured water sit on shelves, neon coloured light cords wrap themselves around beams letting the bare bulbs hang and illustrations are pinned up on the walls. It’s a creative and imaginative space, inspired by the love affair of Camberwell’s Robert Browning. Poetry appears in script on the walls, in the bathroom and on the staircase, quotes and extracts from his work and love letters to his lover Elizabeth. Downstairs is magical, full of bright painted murals, characters and fauna designed by the talented Three Piece Suite.
Service is helpful and friendly and the menu quite vast. We went for an English Breakfast, which was heavily edited and changed to no inconvenience of our waitress, and an American Breakfast of pancakes, bacon and scrambled egg with a good dose of maple syrup. The coffee is great, and I appreciate that they just call it white coffee, but I was too preoccupied to ask where/who they were from. Also on the menu are sandwiches, salads, burgers, even a minute steak and the usual cafe essentials such as cakes and pastries. It is also incredibly cheap, almost unbelievably so.
Really all they need to do now is update the website.
A young admirer remarked ‘There is no romance now except in Italy.’ Browning thought for a moment. ‘Ah, well,’ he said, ‘I should like to include poor old Camberwell.’ Robert Browning.
My pops visited me on Tuesday as his busy schedule led him to Borough one afternoon. Being the caring (freeloading*) father that he is, he decided to spend some quality time with his favourite daughter (use my sofa for the night). After meeting him at the pub next door to my office, “what’s a Gandt?” he asked (he had text me previously to ask what I wanted to drink), I led him past the Tate, over the Millennium Bridge and out to St Paul’s Cathedral.
I explained to him that I had been trying to visit a pop-up restaurant called Disco Bistro for some weeks and had never quite got round to it. “You were waiting for my wallet then?” quipped Dad. No, I wasn’t. But it sure as hell makes the whole thing a lot more fun when you don’t have to look at the damage.
We were both a little bemused to enter the Rising Sun and be greeted by a crowd of whooping and hollering suits. The bar maid mouthed “Horse Races” at me. I mimed an understanding Ahh! having no idea what this meant. We ordered a wine each and were told to head on up stairs when we were ready. Upstairs was a stark contrast, low lit with candles on little wooden tables with mis-matched chairs (old bus seats for the larger tables) whilst soothing reggae played. We sat and took to the menu straight away. We ordered and surveyed the room a little more. An achingly cool couple sat behind us, who pulls off a scoop back and top knot on a Tuesday? “Is that a Squirrel?” I had read about him in Grace Dent’s review. “It looks punk, but they are playing reggae, that’s a little annoying” dad threw out there. As a man of many hair colours, motorbikes and tattoos I take my old man’s opinions on the punk genre very seriously. Above our heads a huge conglomeration of trumpets were gathered to create a huge sphere of golden splendour and on the wall a blackboard chalked out a number of issues. Are you serious here? I’m sat on an old school chair eyeing up a questionable piece of taxidermy and trying to decide between beef or fish, should I begin conversation on eradicating malaria? Probably, actually, yes.
We chose a grilled half scallop with black pudding and apple to start. Cooked to perfection and the unexpected brit twist of black pudding was surprisingly delicious, I’m not usually a fan of it. For main: Mr Knight then went for a flat iron steak bun with peppers and I for deep fried Pollock in a buttermilk roll with fennel slaw. Both served with fries cooked in Aged Beef Fat. The food hit the table, “no” he cried and shook his head in pure disbelief at the young girl. What had she done, I panicked. I looked at my dad with that withering stare only a child can give their parent; please don’t embarrass me in front of the cool girl dad. I spotted his outstretched index finger. He was pointing at the tomato sauce and mustard. Ok, now I’m confused. “no” he repeated and laughed. Oh I get it, he thinks its a joke getting condiments straight from the bottle, where are the poncy little tubs they usually come poured in he’s thinking. I dismiss the bemused hipster and quickly explain to dad that that’s the the thing to do now. Heinz its a cult, its a statement, its widely perceived as the best despite its mass production, its not even equal to the coca cola/Pepsi debate because it has no rival. “it’s like getting your wine served in a tumbler glass, you like a good sauv blanc but you don’t feel the need to pour it into an actual wine glass.” His nose crinkled; not such a fan of that then.
Now, I previously had reserved my “best chips of my life” status to Bread Street Kitchen, a mere spit from our then destination. But I’m sorry Gordon, Carl Clarke’s genius has knocked you off my little respected list. THESE CHIPS ARE INCREDIBLE! Meaty, crispy but still having that pillowy soft potato inside, I wouldn’t shut up about them. Pretty embarrassing as I gushed and threw my head round to see Clarke himself sat with a couple of hotties (media types I suspected) urgh am I food groupie now? How he creates this carby miracle I don’t know but I need more! Anyway’s after all that excitement and drained wine glass, we decided to order another, this time from the restaurant itself and not the pub downstairs. A respectable and tasty house white appeared…in glass tumblers.
All in all the bill came to about £50, I think. Being the true gent, Dad picked up the tab obvs. I am only posting the below image because I took it whilst he was telling me a cheesy joke, I showed it to him and he exclaimed “I’ve got old”. Love ya Old Man Knight.
*naturally I must add that the only free loader present for the 18hr visit was me. Obviously.
This year why not ditch the V-day dinner date at some snooty restaurant? We only struggle trying to pronounce the wine list properly anyways. Instead go to Byron’s Earls Court Road restaurant for something a little more light hearted. The vintage interior is fun and you could share a milkshake like in the movies. Or not.
Nestled in a side street in between bank and moorgate. I arrived early so nipped round to the Corney and Barrow bar for a glass of wine. I was trying to channel some kind of city girl know how by raising my hand at the right time for the drinks menu and nodding sagely etc it was actually going quite well. I had fooled them.
We then shuffled round the corner back to the Hawksmoor at 8 on the dot, I did the obligatory “booking for Knight” and we had our coats taken.
We were shown down into the restaurant where I wielded a token at a bewildered man, “that’s just your cloakroom ticket, you can have that.” At this point I wished the staff weren’t quite so beautiful and rugged as I felt my cheeks instantly redden. So I quickly shuffled past the lovely, more relaxed bar area into the restaurant.
The atmosphere and decor of the main dining room conjure images of mid war fine dining and as I overheard one patron wielding a camera phone describe it “it’s so Boardwalk Empire, I need a cigar.”
The seating is spacious with leather booths or smoking chairs around big oak tables. There is also large booths along the edges, but you wouldn’t worry about knocking elbows with your fellow diners on these.
Shortly after being seated we were handed a lengthy cocktail list of pre and post-prandials. Each drink is accompanied by a short and interesting historical reference which I would have made more of an effort to read if the wine from before hadn’t started to take effect. We were given plenty of time to choose and chat before the bearded beauty returned which may annoy some (those who are socially inept) but I loved it.
I, as with any restaurant, read the reviews from near and far to try and gauge what was best to devour. A reoccurring theme was based around their cheapest steak, the D-Rump, apparently the most flavoursome, value for money etc. I was surprised to say the least and I guess my purse was relieved; however after being seated and spending a good amount of time nursing my Casino Revisited the waiter hit me with the news “sorry we are already out of D-Rump”. I floundered and asked for another few minutes.
Eventually I settled on the 400g Rib-Eye with double cooked chips and creamed spinach. HELLO HEART ATTACK. Obviously I had it cooked rare and oh boy was it good, perfection I might go so far as to say. It was a touch awkward as an American couple kept staring at me, chuckling and were in some way inferring it was good to see a girl really eat. I went from demure diner to bloated beachwhale in about 30mins, it was glorious.
Topped the night with Casino cocktail number two, a trio of macarons and rolled back to the south of the river.
I will be returning asap when my bank account will allow and plan to make my way through at least two desserts next time (salted caramel rolos and peanut butter shortbread for sure).
I got a bit of a mocking the other day when I admitted to someone that I eat out a lot and that on occasion I may take photographs of the food I encounter. I’m by no means the worst offender for it, I’ve been with people who have scrambled almost onto my shoulders to get a “birds eye view”.
In seconds of a dish hitting the table my friends and I all snap it send it to twitter, facebook and instagram, if you asked us why I’m sure we’d shrug our shoulders and sheepishly respond “it’s looks pretty”. But I guess for me it’s quite simple and a bit cavemanesque, I got food, it’s tasty and you fools don’t, suckaaas.
Anyways, I read recently in the NY Times that, as we snap and flash, apparently some chefs and diners are getting so enraged with the fanfare that they are imposing photography bans. Chill out lads, surely in this case photography is the most sincerest form of flattery? Or maybe we should all just return to food-orgasms (ya know when people exclaim “ERRRRRMAGAAAAD this triple cooked.. OHHH.. chip is SOOOOOO mmm GOOOOODDD!”) I believe they are the true assaults on dining experiences.
Have you been to a restaurant that chastised you for your food snaps? If so would you make a return visit?
p.s the image above was taken in Burger & Lobster a few days ago. Yes my elbows were level with my ears, no I didn’t care and neither did my darling waitress.
I’m keeping my eye on a few new restaurant openings for early 2013:
John Salt – 16th Jan: already on my “must go” list. Here they use smoking to flavour the dishes, a newly developed obsession of mine. I’ve also read intriguing things about caramel covered bricks?
Balthazar – 12th Feb: Keith Mcnally, London born, has built an empire of wildly successful restaurants over the Atlantic in New York. Now he’s set to bring his Parisian Brasserie charm back over the waters. See the New York site here for a taste of what’s to come.
Shake Shack London – TBA: What started off as a humble Hot Dog cart in Madison Square Park, New York, soon won permanent residency and the hearts of the US’s burger lovers. Now Danny Meyers is bringing over the chain to the beef hungry Brits and settling in tourist town Covent Garden. Do we reckon we are satiated yet? My friend Rogers would strongly disagree.
2012 was the year for pop ups, at least for me, so for 2013 I have resolved to visit some of the more permanent establishments in the city. I will be keeping in some new starts and annoyingly I am still drawn to no reservation places.