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23 August 2014

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Blog Reviews from Whatever Gets You Through The Day

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Food. Photography. Writing. Happiness.


  1. Two Italians walk into a restaurant in London, and order one of Britain’s most iconic dishes while Ryan Adams’s New York, New York plays in the background. A funny coincidence that, alone, would make it a meal to remember; the feast that ensued, however, was simply too fulfilling to forget. The restaurant at issue is Kerbisher & Malt: one of London’s fish and chips institutions, with restaurants in Hammersmith, Ealing, Clapham and Mortlake. The iconic dish is a gigantic platter of battered haddock, served with the most plentiful portion of chunky chips I ever caught sight of. As for the song, I like it too much not to mention it; eating to the sound of good music is one of life’s pleasures, especially when said music is loud enough to be heard, but low enough to not feel intrusive. Had it been Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind, blasted at full volume in a chain fast-food joint, we’d be having a rather different conversation...

  2. When I planned my first visit to Scandinavian Kitchen, all I could think about were cinnamon buns. Or, more specifically: Scandinavian Kitchen’s famous kanelbullar, recommended to me by none other than a native Swedish friend. I’ve been craving to get my hands on them ever since I first tried their recipe at home; although perfectly edible, my lovely little buns were a far cry from anything you’d get in a real Nordic bakery. If, one month ago, you’d told me I was about to visit Scandinavian Kitchen and not have a cinnamon bun, I’d have laughed in disbelief. What? No cinnamon bun? Ridiculous. Impossible. Not gonna happen. Skim through my personal food lover’s code of honor, and you’ll find “eating anything other than a cinnamon bun at a Nordic cafe” under the definition of “gross misconduct” (next to “serving pizza with dips and sauces” and “calling coffee with milk a latte”, in case you’re wondering)...

  3. Accommodating around 40 people (and crowds of takeaway customers), the Bank cafe is one of Taylor Street Baristas’s largest and most popular venues. Fun fact: Taylor Street’s coffee shops recycle their loyalty cards. If you hand in a shiny intact one, and get a crumpled paper in return, don’t doubt your sanity – it’s all perfectly normal. By the way, those loyalty cards really are the best ones ever. If you know another place that offers free coffee after only four purchases, make yourself known, as I could use the information! If you stop by in the early morning, don’t let the queue put you off: most customers visit for a quick coffee on the go, and you’ll find plenty of seating in the back. The room behind the bar is furnished with hand-crafted, custom made individual and communal tables, combining efficiency with comfort and tastefulness...

  4. My very first visit, around three years ago, wasn’t a dazzling love at first sight. The Covent Garden branch, with its spacious basement turned dining area, had me wonder if time had turned back, and I had just stepped in the depths of my former school canteen. Sure, I liked the food – but there was something uncanny to eating it in a windowless room, watching waiters hurry from table to table as the Saturday night hullabaloo unfolded. Since then, I tried the glitzier and more sophisticated Soho branch, and recently visited the Islington restaurant. I loved its relaxed atmosphere and funky decor, and enjoyed perusing Wahaca’s wide ranging menu once again, in search of new dishes and flavours...

  5. I’m not used to being in Central London on weekdays, so on the rare occasions I am, I get the compelling urge to explore its iconic cafes. My most recent trip to the City happened on a sunny Thursday morning, just a couple of weeks ago; it was the perfect opportunity to visit a place I had long set my eyes on, and enjoy a relaxed breakfast with an Easter twist (that’s my seasonal posting done here. See, it’s not hard to do. *nods in approval and breathes sighs of relief*). Many things attracted me to Fleet River Bakery. Its website, which immediately won my favours with the promise of “tempting cakes, biscuits and pastries”. Its location, only a few steps away from Holborn station, but hidden enough to allow customers to escape its noisy crowds. Its coffee, made with single estate Monmouth beans. Find me a cafe that serves Monmouth coffee, and I’ll run there as fast as my criminally unfit legs let me...

  6. After a quick walk around the rain-beaten Exhibition Road, we took shelter at Fernandez & Wells, a cosy bar just outside South Kensington station. The Exhibition Road branch is one of F&W’s five outlets in London. While the Soho flagship is mostly renowned for coffee, the Kensington store is more of a wine bar: the kind you’d visit for a traditional Italian aperitivo, before a dinner or night out with friends. As neither of us was up for a big meal, we all went for small platters, and made a light dinner out of them. Sarah and Jesse had Manchego cheese, while I, more partial to cured meats, chose speck: a specialty from the Alto Adige, also very popular in the region of Italy I come from. Think a sort of smoked prosciutto, great on its own, in a sandwich, or as an ingredient in more filling dishes (pasta with sour cream, diced speck and walnuts is a favourite of mine)...

  7. Whether you want an uplifting breakfast before descending into Westfield’s circle of hell, or need a refueling snack after coming back from the shopping inferno, you can be sure to find the right treat to satisfy your hunger. Even at its most packed, Brook’s retains a relaxed atmosphere, far from the hectic pace of more central high-street cafes. Furnishings are pleasantly neutral, suggesting no particular attempts to attract a specific clique of customers. Forget quirky vintagey wallpapers and minimalist hipster furnishings, and be in for mingling with a lively, diverse crowd...

  8. Being just a few steps away from my old acquaintance Workshop Coffee Co. offered us the clever plan B that saved the day. Among all the things I love about Workshop, the food deserves a special mention. Starting the day with a muffin is never a bad choice, especially when said muffin is huge, and made with oat and cinnamon. If you don’t like the taste of cinnamon (one of life’s greatest little pleasures, as far as I’m concerned), fear not: Workshop’s chocolate chip muffins and assorted morning pastries look just as tempting. If you’re more of a brunch type, you can choose from a selection of heartier mid-morning fares, including the toasted banana bread with date and orange jam and mascarpone cream that Nazia got...

  9. Published : Sunday, 12th January 2014

    The Well | Restaurant Review: The Well, Clerkenwell

    Chosen by my Central London-savvy friends, who had reserved a table as a precaution against queues, The Well was pleasantly uncrowded when we gathered for our Saturday get-together. Ditto for the surroundings: as I made my way from Farringdon to Saint John Road, up the half empty Clerkenwell Road, I sensed a quiet that felt unnatural, out of place – but in a good, comforting way. There’s something glorious to finding peace and silence where traffic and chaos usually reign; to walking alone on a crisp winter afternoon, and hearing nothing but the sound of your heels resounding on the pavement. It’s moment like this that make London’s overcrowded streets and exhausting commutes worth enduring...

  10. Hummingbird Café is tucked away in the quiet Oaklands Grove, close to the junction with Acton Vale. Too far West for your Central Londoner palate? Think again, for Hummingbird is one of the area’s precious, rare gems, attracting large crowds of local brunch enthusiasts and coffee lovers. Sure enough, it gives the glutton seeking a special treat more than one reason to be happy. One glance at the eggs benedict on my breakfast buddy Emma‘s plate was enough to understand her enthusiasm about Hummingbird’s savoury dishes. Although I don’t usually have eggs for breakfast, Emma’s portion looked so hearty and tempting, I’d happily have made an exception to the norm. The reason why I didn’t was a luxuriously soft almond croissant, whose siren’s call I felt compelled to answer...

  11. It was the Wiener way or the highway; no chicken or pork cutlet could beat the satisfaction of tucking into a thin, perfectly crumbed veal schnitzel. Boopshi’s brought back that same state of bliss, with a gigantic wiener schnitzel I can only describe as heaven on a plate: crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, accompanied by a bowl of lavishly salted skinny fries (what other UK restaurant bothers to season fries, you may ask, and the answer may well be “none”). My equivalent to Proust’s madeleines, taking me back to a time when life was beautiful – and even when it wasn’t, a deep-fried wiener schnitzel was all it took to right its wrongs...

  12. Published : Wednesday, 6th November 2013

    Artisan Roast | Edible Edinburgh: Two Cafes You Should Visit

    Sitting at Artisan Roast felt like a revival of my university days. Its laid-back atmosphere elicited memories of long gone winter afternoons, spent nestling in a quiet cafe or in someone’s shared house, doing nothing but sipping coffee and chatting with the couple of friends I’d met with the fleeting intention of studying. Boy, I miss those days. I wish my afternoons could still be like that. The decor did little to break the spell. Walls covered with coffee sacks, lamps made from broken mugs, and a dim-lit backroom with low tables and wooden benches give the cafe the shabby and quirky character of a student’s rented apartment: the kind of place that tricks you into thinking “I’d like a house like this”, until you realise that there’d be no more room for your hard-earned Ikea furniture and framed vintage prints...

  13. Published : Tuesday, 24th September 2013

    C'est Ici Barons Court | Cafe Review: C’est Ici, Barons Court

    Uncertain, unprepared (“I will get lost. I haven’t consulted Great Little Place. I should have googled “West Kensington cute cosy tasty cheap cafe” beforehand. I’ll never make it back on time. Oh my, oh goodness, oh me”), I’d end up roaming around a small cafe near Barons Court station. The sign, reading ”Cafe Patisserie”, couldn’t be more inviting. The word “quiche”, scribbled on a blackboard inside, got me hungry for more. And my romance with C’est Ici started here. The interiors looked cosy and welcoming, with a bunch of bistro tables on the upper floor, and enough space for a large communal table in the basement. Peeking out, I saw a cute little garden: sadly not an option on that first March Saturday, stormed by a heavy snowfall. I made a mental note of it, filed it under “Reasons to Return”. And then, as I set my eyes on the food, realised that list was only bound to grow...

  14. my first visit to Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in Wimbledon felt like the discovery of a new, unexplored land, and made me wonder if I will ever get back to sushi “as I knew it”. The same feeling I had after my first holiday in Sardinia, when I realised I’d never be able to dip my feet in the High Adriatic again, after swimming in such beautiful sea. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi was the destination of choice for a food blogger night. The company of Leyla, owner of one of the wittiest blogs I’ve come across recently, and Selina, whose Mauritian delicacies have a special place in my heart after Food Blogger Connect 5, was a pleasure in itself. The restaurant welcomed us to a massive expanse with spaced-out tables, ideal for both small parties looking for privacy, or groups in need of extra elbow room. If at a first glance its stylish, low lit interiors hinted at a poshness I wasn’t quite prepared for, the enthusiastic verve of our waiters Emily and Jordan, who set us up with three fruity (and better still, alcohol-free) cocktails in no time, immediately dispelled such impression...