Sunday, 12 December 2010

Big Dirty Breakfast

Brekkie at the local greasy spoon. Big, hearty and a more than a little greasy - the best way to start a weekend and fight the big chill.

Big Breakfast
Big brekkie 1 - Bacon, sausage, fried egg, fried mushrooms, black pudding, beans, tinned tomatoes and chips.

Big Breakfast
Big brekkie 2 - same as the above except it the chips were replaced with hash browns.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Rosa's - Soho, London

Steamed Sticky Rice - Rosa's , Soho

The first time I went to Rosa's I left my camera charging at home and couldn't stop kicking myself for being such an idiot. So I promised myself I would return - not just to take photos, mind ... but also because the food was rather tasty and deserved another visit. Persistently on Timeout's list of Top 10 Cheap Eats in east London (mind you this was in the day before the branch in Soho opened) and I've been wanting to try it out but was way to lazy to head all that way east. So all the better for me when they opened up in central London. I know there's been quite a bit of criticism about how the quality had dropped dramatically over the last few years but hey, I'm none the wiser. On this visit it also tickled me to drag my friend Rosa along (childish, I know!).

Gai Pad Cashew Nuts & Gaeh Yang - Rosa's , Soho

Perusing the menu, I realised I had forgotten that Rosa doesn’t take too well to anything spicy and is no fan of coconuts either. The 2 things so entrenched in Thai cuisine. No worries, there had to be something that she could have – sticky rice – safe and definitely had no spice and no coconut. Interestingly it was not until recently that I realised quite a few people don’t like coconut milk/cream. I guess growing up in Malaysia I just took it for granted that people just ate it – nothing to dislike. Ooo … I do remember thinking it was the oddest thing when I found out an old boss of mine not liking bean sprouts! She would laboriously pick out every bit from her plate before she started eating. Imagine! And she lived in Malaysia too where nearly every noodle dish comes with a handful of bean sprouts. Anyway, I diverge from Rosa’s meal. For her main she chose Gai Pad Cashew Nuts (£8.25) – innocently described as stir-fried chicken and cashew nuts with mixed peppers in oyster sauce. So Rosa digs in – first bite “emm … nice”, second bite, third bite …. Then she starts sniffing. A little at first and then a bit more.

“Are you OK, Rosa?”

“Noooo … this is spicy!!!!”

So I peer at the dish. It still looks incredibly innocent. I shove my fork in and taste a bit.

“Don’t be silly, Rosa. It’s fine.”

I shove my fork into the dish again (I’m notoriously greedy and would never say no to an extra titbit). Then it hit me. Uh ohh … there’s some heat coming through. Peering at the dish again I realise that the little dark specks throughout the dish were not innocent bits of blackened veg but bits of lethal dried chilli. Poor Rosa! I dare say she was not a happy bunny (no worries, we went for cake after, which cheered her up immensely).

I would say this to Rosa’s though …. If you’re going to add chilli to a dish, just say it on the menu! Put a little chilli sign next to the dish. You do for all your other spicy dishes.

Gaeh Yang - Rosa's , Soho

I went down the boring route and ordered what my dining companion had on my first visit a few months previously - Gaeh Yang Char (£10.50) - grilled rack of lamb served with spicy dry chilli sauce and cooled steamed vegetables. I really enjoyed this dish on my previous visit and then it hit me … I probably only enjoyed it so much because I only had a few bites. Faced with a whole dish – 3 large pieces of grilled lamb covered in creamy coconut gravy – I realised what a wimp I had become. Oh I finished it alright … along with the steamed veg sitting at the bottom of the meaty heap – steamed cauliflower and carrots (I’m still not sure what they mean by “cooled steamed vegetables” – cool against the spice of the gravy or the veg was hot once upon a time when it came out of the steamer and now it isn’t?). But I was almost whimpering by the time I swallowed my last bite. It was a mountain of food and this wasn’t even counting the steamed rice I had ordered on the side. I offered to share my meat with Rosa – she likes lamb, she told me so – but my offer was kindly declined.

“It’s covered in coconut sauce, Justine.”

Ah, yes. I had almost forgotten. She did accept a piece – a conciliatory gesture. She did point out it wasn’t cooked through. Yeah, I know …. It was an extremely bright shade of uncooked red in the middle.

“I think the English like to eat their lamb a bit rarer than you or I, Rosa”.

She simply nods. From one foreigner to another.

Rosa’s Soho

48 Dean Street, London W1D 5BF

Rosa's Soho on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Oodles of Noodles - Mien Tay, Battersea

I will unashamedly admit that I returned to Mien Tay the very next day after my first visit for another meal. It was supposed to be burger night but after a failed hunt for the reportedly best burger this side of the Atlantic sold by The Meatwagon for 1 day only outside the The Ship down in Wandsworth (oh, we found the truck alright but they had soldout!!! 3000 burgers made for the weekend, they had sold 2950 the day before in Islington leaving only 50 burgers to be fought over down south on Sunday. Oh rubbish, but maybe next time!) we trudged back to Battersea. It was a toss up between McD's (it was burget night, remember ...) and Mien Tay. Naturally I have veto power and Mien Tay it was.

Phở Đặc Biệt - Mien Tay, Battersea

We weren't into having another pig out like the previous evening and opted for a single dish each. I had the the Phở Đặc Biệt (£6), which I believe translates to 'special phở'- it basically had sliced beef, beef brisket and and beef balls (the greedy person's phở). The soup was a tad bland but nothing a little sprinkle of salt and a dash or two of fish sauce didn't sort out. I was so content after eating this, I felt like I had been wrapped up in a big fluffy blanket. Oh, I do like my noodle soups.

Mì Xào Bò - Mien Tay, Battersea

SM had the Mì Xào Bò (£5.50) or not so exotically translated to stir fried soft noodles with beef. Flavours were good, it was packed with sliced beef and veggies but only one problem .... SM hates celery and the dish reeked of celery. I confes I'm not a celery fan but I'll eat it cooked should the occassion call for it. SM dislikes celery even more than I do but I doubt it mattered that night as the dish was wiped clean within minutes after I took my last shot of the dish.

Oranges for Dessert - Mien Tay, Battersea
I forgot to grab a shot of the free fruit presented to every table at the end of the meal on my first visit. Cute way to present fruit.

Mien Tay
180 Lavender Hill, Battersea, London SW11 5TQ

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Comptoir Libanais - Westfield, London

As much as I love shopping and enjoy browsing the shops I find always find myself slightly ill at ease whenever I'm at Westfield. It's something about the layout that's all wrong - for all its space, Westfield still has the make me feel incredibly claustrophobic as I walk into one of their shops. But having to wait for a friend to finish her shift, SM and I found we had a couple of hours to hang around and decided to sniff around for some food. Their "foodcourt" - The Balcony - is laughable piece of space. If you're not up to having a meal at one of their restaurants, grabbing a sandwhich from Marks, munching on a prettily iced cupcake or slurping down an artisan gelato as you browse the shops, The Balcony is probably your best bet for a resonably priced bit of food. But the problem is it's anything but reasonaly priced and for all the space they have allocated to it, there are only few "stalls" to choose from. Just 12 high street chains - Square Pie, Pho, Crepeaffaire, etc. serve the hungry hordes. Because of the horrendously long queues at the other outlets, we choose Comptoir Libanais. Their main store on Wigmore Street in Marylebone is part deli part cafe, which has been described as the Middle Eastern equivalent to Carluccio's.

Kofte Tagine with Rice - Comptoir Libanais, Westfield

The first thing that stuck me was the lack of a menu. If there was one, I didn't see it and wasn't offered a glimpse of it. We just stood there looking around as a server waited for our order. So we ha a look at the somewhat sad looking pastries at the counter and peered into the pots of ready made stews. There was, however, a small sign sitting on the counter proclaiming their meal deal - a choice of stew with rice or couscous for around £7-8 (I can't remember the exact figure now and the receipt has gone astray). So far it's not a bad deal.

Kofte Tagine with Rice - Comptoir Libanais, Westfield

The kofte tagine with rice was SM's choice. Lamb meatballs simmered in tomato based sauce with chickpeas, peppers and courgette. It was good. Simple, honest food.

Aubergine & Chickpea Tagine with Couscous - Comptoir Libanais, Westfield

I had the aubergine and chickpea stew with couscous. Slow cooked aubergine (to an almost mush like state) in a tomato sauce with chickpeas. An incredibly heartwarming dish. My kind of comfort.

Pommegranate Lemonade- Comptoir Libanais, Westfield

To wash it all down I had a pommegranate lemonade.

Comptoir Labanais does probably deserve a another visit but it would have to be to their Wigmore Street branch.

Comptoir Libanais
The Balcony, Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, Shepherds Bush, London, W12 7GE

Friday, 19 November 2010

Bodean's Pig Out - Tower Hill, London

Bodean's, Tower Hill
Bodean's Pig, Tower Bridge and a ball game on telly

Cold and hungry as we headed out to the east end to check something out for a friend a few weeks ago, SM and I passed Bodean's at Tower Hill with a sign advertising their £10 pig out. Exactly what our grumbling tummies needed - a big mountain of food with lots of meat.

Menu - Bodean's, Tower Hill

Table Sauces - Bodean's, Tower Hill
Table sauces - oddly the Hot Chipotle and the Smoked Hickory tasted exactly the same!

We used to go to Bodean's every now and then but that was years back and we haven't been in awhile. They must still be doing reasonably well since it was place was almost full on a Friday night in Tower Hill - not the hippest and most happenin' of areas.

Pig Out for £10 - Bodean's, Tower Hill

The both us opted for the pig out deal with SM going for the half rack of baby back ribs and pulled pork combo. From a choice of sides, SM decided on fries and coleslaw. The ribs, covered in BBQ sauce, were nicely tender and meaty. No complains from either of us. I wouldn't have personally ordered the pulled pork mainly because it was stringy and just that little bit dry. I don't usually mind dry so much - I've recently discovered a liking for Ryvita's (but that is another story) but the pork just didn’t do it for me. Though a good douse from BBQ sauce from the squeeze-y bottle did perk it up.

Pig Out for £10 - Bodean's, Tower Hill

I went for the burnt ends, chips and coleslaw combo. The slow smoked chunks of beef brisket served with BBQ sauce was wondrously tender. Some pieces had some big bits of fat attached but I wasn't fussed. Cut off, move on to the meat. Satisfyingly good. I remember when Bodean's only ever served this on weekends but it seems it has now made it onto the daily menu.

Each meal came with a drink and I choose Tango. Not something I would pick - I'm not much of a fizzy drinks girl but I make an exception for Orengina. I adore Orengina. Anyway, back to Tango .... I thought the Tango orange heads on the tin were pretty cute :)

Tango Head - Bodean's, Tower HillTango Head - Bodean's, Tower Hill
You've been Tango-ed

Good, bad, ugly?
It's quite a deal for £10. It's solid food and it's tasty. Will I return? Heck ya ... those burnt ends were really nice and the ribs were decent.

Bodean's Tower Hill
16 Byward Street, London EC3R 5BA
Bodean's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Mien Tay - Battersea, London

Fine, I admit it ... I'm a terribly superstitious person. Little niggly things that I let influence my life (most of the time anyway) and one of them is Vietnamese restaurants in London. The last time I ventured over to the east end to sample a couple bowls of phở my dining companion and I ended up having a raging argument on the street after (yes ... one of those embarrassing ones and yes, please don't ask why). And the time before that ... well, let's just say my friend whom I dined with discovered a serious health problem that very day (of which she is only slowly recovering from - the health problem not the dining experience with me). I know it's silly to associate Vietnamese restaurants with bad events but like I said niggly little things influence my life .... alot.

Bánh Xèo - Mien Tay, Battersea

But last night I seemed oddly unperturbed by my little superstition and decided to try Mien Tay in Battersea (Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction .... take your pick - it seems like Asda has decided fire up the old Battersea/Lavender Hill/Clapham row. Hmph!). We were sat in a little corner in the low ceiling-ed lower level with what seemed like 2 large tables celebrating birthdays - excited chatter, sudden eruptions of alcohol fueled cackle and indecent displays of male flesh (yes, you read that right .... some of the guys at the next table thought it would be a hoot to drop their trousers). OK, so the restaurant is a little small and the service is a bit of a hit and miss but I didn't really drop by for the environment or the service.

Bánh Xèo - Mien Tay, Battersea

As usual, I ordered. I had to make sure it was boy friendly - anything deep fried and meat is probably best. Bánh xèo (£6.00) is always a good choice (as are spring rolls but that gets boring after awhile). I like my crepes crispy and Mien Tay delivered. The filling of sliced pork, prawns and beansprouts were a little bland but fine once dipped in the nước chấm.

Grilled Quail with Honey, Garlic and Spices - Mien Tay, Battersea

I was interested in tasting the quail with honey, garlic and spices (£4.50) since it was one of those dishes that I've heard so much talk about. Tender, succulent little bird served with squeeze of lime on the side. Nice honey and spice flavours coming through but in no way sickly sweet. Good order.

Stir Fried Minced Pork with Aubergine - Mien Tay, Battersea

The failure of the evening - aubergine with minced pork (£5.40). Perhaps the kitchen ran out of minced pork and substituted half of the mince with sliced pork instead? Or maybe half and half is what they usually do at Mien Tay. So ... the problem wasn't so much that the dish had minced and sliced pork in it but there was just no 'uumph' to the dish. Perhaps I've been spoilt by Chinese restaurants who make this dish a whole lot better with that almost compulsory wok hei flavour.

Deep Fried Sea Bream with Fish Sauce and Mango - Mien Tay, Battersea

My favourite of the evening had to be the deep fried sea bream with shredded green mango and nước chấm (£9.00). So simple and so tasty. I don't very often order fish when I dine out but as this came as a recommendation from the waiter I thought, "why not?". The fish was incredibly fresh (not event the slightest hint of fishiness around the stomach area) and I got the tail and head to suck the flesh off - my favourite bit :) The mango and the nước chấm added freshness and lightness to what would have been boring old fried fish.

I am really glad I shook off my superstition for the evening and wandered into Mien Tay. Truth be told, the other suggestion for dining venues was KFC ... so you can see how easy my decision was. An excellent choice if I can say so myself.

Mien Tay
180 Lavender Hill, Battersea, London SW11 5TQ

Mien Tay on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Rita's - Southall

For one reason or other SM and I found ourselves in the Southall area a Saturday evening a few weeks ago. Having only ventured down that way a couple of times before, our instinct had us stick to the high street and so into Rita's we went. I had been to Rita's once on my last visit to Southall when in the middle our big shop for shawls and bangles my friend (and fellow food lover) RK developed a sudden craving for felooda. I was blown away by how delicious felooda was. Truth be told I had never heard of it until RK ordered it and even if that particular version was terrible I would have been none the wiser. But I did remember Rita's.

Onion Bhaji and Gobi Pakora - Rita's, Southall

We started with a lamb samosa, an onion bhaji (onion fritter) and gobi pakora (deep fried pieces of cauliflower in a batter made with gram flour) served with tamarind sauce. The starters were passable. Nothing less, nothing more.

Butter Chicken - Rita's, Southall

I insisted on ordering the butter chicken. I've been obsessed with finding my idea of the perfect butter chicken and I have so far failed in my mission. I'm usually on a palak/saag paneer (spinach cooked with chunks of cheese curds) mission too but I decided to give it a rest that day. Rita's butter chicken was edible - sizeable boneless chicken breast pieces, thick creamy sauce. Better than some but still lacking something ... a depth to the dish I keep looking for.

Lamb Masala - Rita's, Southall

The lamb masala was, on the other hand, really quite good. The meat (hidden deep in the sauce in the photo) was incredibly tender and full of flavour. It had obviously been cooked in the sauce for a long time. The sauce itself was very nice. Nice flavours and not too much of a chili kick.

Puri - Rita's, Southall

Our carbs for the evening included a very sad and very flat puri. It had obviously been cooked sometime before it was served to us and it just slowly deflated as it lay somewhere waiting to be ordered. An absolute failure of a puri.

Garlic Naan - Rita's, Southall

SM is obsessed with any dish that has "garlic" as part of its name. Garlic naan was definitely a "must have".

Pea Pilau - Rita's, Southall

The pea pilau was just a step better than the puri. Pilau rice with some peas thrown in. It was too oily and though I would personally just have plain boiled rice, SM is fond of flavoured carbs so flavoured rice it was.

Rita's Restaurant
112-114 The Broadway, Southall, Middlesex UB1 1QF

Authentically Malaysian - Sedap, Old Street

I do believe I had the best Malaysian meal in London last night.

Prawn Crackers - Sedap, Old Street

The evening didn't start off all that well ... it had been pouring with rain all afternoon and I wasn't a happy bunny when we walked into Sedap at about half 7 in the evening. The tiny restaurant space was packed with people and the waiter nonchalantly waved us to the oddest positioned table in the room - pushed up against the wall right in the pathway of the bar/service area, door to the inner restaurant and door to the kitchen. It was one of those tables that was set up because they expected a crowd and there was a bit of an empty space for it in the room. I guess it was pretty evident that I wasn't happy with this arrangement because the one of the waitresses quickly offered to separate a table set for 4 for me (which had a reserved sign when we walked in). Well, I wasn't to say no.

Roti Prata with Chicken Curry - Sedap, Old Street

Sedap has a pretty decent menu with the usual favourite curries, noodle and rice dishes. I was pretty keen to try the few dishes I had seen on several food blogs so SM was more or less banned from ordering. I did make exceptions for the roti prata and the prawn cracker requests. I gave in on that those, though I rolled my eyes at the mention of prawn crackers. When the roti prata arrived I screwed up my nose but waited patiently for the waitress to be out of earshot before I let out pretty indignant, "what in the heck is that?". It looked like the a crispy cousin of Rita's failed version of a puri but I really should learn not to judge my food by its appearance. I should know ... some of the food that comes out my kitchen looks like it's been hit by a tornado. Aside from the fact it had been cooked in copious amounts of oil, there was hope upon dissection of the roti. There was good signs of flakiness ... don't think flaky pie pastry but head towards the image of a beautifully crafted croissant. The soft innards as you tear the pastry apart ... The curry was nice too with a just about enough chili heat for me. The sauce was generous enough for that one piece of roti but at £4.80 was pretty steep (you can get roti with lamb curry for £5.50 and an extra piece of roti for £2 - yes, ouch!) but I guess you do get a piece of chicken in the curry which adds to something.

Penang Char Kway Teow - Sedap, Old Street

I had been eyeing the portion of Penang Char Kway Teow that had been delivered to the table next to us and couldn't help thinking over and over again to myself, "how small is that portion?!?". To be fair portions sizes are about the same if you had the dish in a Malaysian coffee shop but hell ... this was costing me £7.25 not RM5! Yes, fine ... I'm in London and these are the prices I'm going to have to pay for a small slice of home. The dish itself was very, very good. Probably the best version of char kway teow I've had in London. By keeping the portions small the flavours were beautifully presented and that all important wok hei was definitely there. There was generosity in the ingredients too - 4 large crunchy prawns, sliced Chinese sausage, fishcake, beansprouts, chives, egg ... Even for a non-loving char kway teow person like myself (I like it but have no deep passion for it), I was very impressed.

Nasi Lemak - Sedap, Old Street

The Nasi Lemak (£7.60) was also another winner. It was the same chicken curry that came with the roti prata but with a larger piece of chicken and whole lot less sauce - a bit more would have been nice since all the other condiments were pretty dry. The rice was rich with coconut flavours and the deep fried mackeral with the sambal sauce was so, so good! I say that all the traditional recipes that call for ikan bilis should be torn up and thrown into the fire and be replaced by this. Crispy yet tender, and substantial compared to those puny weenie lil deep fried anchovies.

Malaysian Blachan Chicken - Sedap, Old Street

If it couldn't get any better, it did! Another win for the night was Malaysian Blachan Chicken (£6.00). Served pipping hot with a side of sweet chili sauce lightened with white vinegar and swirled little cucumber slices to freshen up what can sometimes be an overly sweet sauce. The chicken thigh pieces (yay!) were juicy and the batter was incredibly crunchy.

I still can't believe it took me so long to discover this place. It's been on my radar for some time now but I've found so many Malaysian restaurants in London so disappointing (my first thoughts go to Kopi Tiam on Charing Cross Road that proved so bad I haven't had the heart to write up a review on it) and a few that are passble (Rasa Sayang sits high on this list). But hey, I'm proud of Malaysian food and if a bit of my country is going to represented abroad, it better be bloody darn delicious!

102 Old Street, London, EC1V 9AY
Sedap on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I'm Lovin' It - McDonald's

Everyone needs a McDonald's pit stop every now and then. I think you can tell this stop was overdue ... all this food, including an orange juice and a LARGE Mars milkshake, for two people. Yes, 2!

Q with Bacon - McDonald's
This was a seasonal special. I can't actually remember what it was called but it was probably along the line of 'Q' with bacon.

Q with Bacon - McDonald's
'Q' innards - grilled beef patty, Swiss cheese, bacon (hiding in there somewhere), tomato, lettuce, some sort of creamy dressing on a toasted ciabatta style bread

Filet-O-Fish - McDonald's
Filet-O-Fish - My childhood favourite that I haven't had in years! To be honest I'm not even sure if this was my favourite McDonald's burger as a child. It was just something that was ordered for me that I just ate. It's good though. Sinking my teeth into the pillow-y softness of the bun felt like I was transported back in time :)

Filet-O-Fish - McDonald's
Filet-O-Fish innards - deep fried breaded white fish fillet, tartare sauce and a cheese slice (this rubbery yellow slice of stuff is definitely not cheese but some miracle whipped up in a boiling vat in a factory - you would know all about it if you watched the very informative 3 part programme - E Numbers: An Edible Adventure on BBC2) sandwiched between a pillow soft steamed bun.

Chicken McNuggets - McDonald's
9 pieces of chicken McNuggets

Double Cheeseburger - McDonald's
A side order of a double cheeseburger. I haven't eaten one of these in years (not that I eat McDonald's all that often anyway) but I had forgotten how much I like these burgers. It's something about that double meat pattie and rubbery cheese layer. Emmm mmmm...!

Finished - McDonald's

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Great Thai Cafe - Fitzrovia, London

SM and I stumbled upon this great little Thai cafe in Fitzrovia (which according to Wikipedia is the area situated between Marylebone and Bloomsbury and north of Soho) about a week back and I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I've loved it so much that I've been back twice since. On my 2nd visit I actually planned a meeting I had in the area to finish at lunchtime so I could grab something from my new favourite Thai cafe. It's nothing fancy. If you blink you might even miss it. But the prices are reasonable, service very efficient and the food is pretty darn good. My knowledge of Thai food isn't excellent - my one and only visit to Thailand was when I was about 12 to the painfully touristy Phuket but I do know what I like and I liked the food at The Great Thai Cafe.

Thai Green Curry with Garlic Fried Rice - The Great Thai Cafe

SM went down the usual route and got a chicken Thai green curry (less spicy, please) (£4.95) and garlic fried rice (£2.50). The chef definitely did her (yup, she emerged from the kitchen downstairs halfway through our meal to greet a regular customer) best to tone done the spice level as requested but all the flavours were there - slight tingle of heat, fragrance of the lemongrass, lime leaves, coriander, fish sauce and creamy from the coconut milk.

Thai Boat Noodle Soup with Pork - The Great Thai Cafe, Fitzrovia

I went with the Thai boat noodle soup with sliced pork and pork balls (£6.50). Beef is probably a lot more traditional but I never say no to my favourite pork balls. The soup was heartwarming with the flavours of star anise, cinnamon, soy and fish sauces really coming through. To top it all off a teaspoonful of crispy minced garlic. Happiness in a bowl.

Somtam - The Great Thai Cafe, Fitzrovia

To ensure that I got my 5 a day (or rather out of curiosity) I also ordered a portion of som tam (Thai papaya salad) (£5.50). I must have had this dish a few times over the years but it has never clocked in my brain. So I will consider this my first experience with this dish. Any good? It was bloody hot! My tongue was on fire (I forgot to ask for it to be made with less chili - those damn bird's eyes kept staring right at me!). Yes, despite the tongue numbing heat (I've become more of a chili wuss the longer I stay away from Malaysia) the other flavours were there - sweet, sour, salty. I noticed that the green papaya was bulked up with cabbage but hell, I'm not so much of a purist to mind.

The bill came up to just over £20 with 2 drinks. Pretty good I thought. And the food appeared bubbling hot and delicious about 10 minutes after ordering.

The 2nd visit was for a lunch takeaway (sorry no pics) was from their Express Lunch menu (all main dishes for £5.95 served with steamed rice). I could have ordered from the menu but I stuck with the chicken Thai red curry mainly because ready and warming in a bain marie by the counter. It was so yum ... I definitely had more than one envious colleague that day.

The third time was for dinner with SM again last night. I was feeling low and down after a disastrous yoga session and needed some comfort Asian food. And lo and behold, where was The Great Thai Cafe? One street down. Yay! We shared a portion of special fried rice with pork, beef massman curry and minced pork omelette. No photos I'm afraid. Just a few well fed, satisfied oinkers.

The Great Thai Cafe
57 Great Portland Street, W1W 7LH London

Swedish Meatballs ...

.... where else but Ikea, Sweden's greatest export to the world. I wasn't even there to buy anything. It just one of those random visits ... apparently I have been on a few of those to Ikea because on this visit I could distinctively tell the meatballs weren't quite up to scratch. Or maybe I've had them (meatballs) once too often recently. Ohh here's an interesting bit of information ... did you know the Scan Pork & Beef Swedish Meatballs (found in most major supermarkets) taste exactly the same as those served up in Ikea?

Swedish Meatballs, Fries, Side Salad and Sparkling Apple Juice - Ikea, Croydan

And since we were there anyway, it would have been a bit rude not to stop off for a hot dog and an ice cream cone on our way out. Believe it or not but SM stood in the queue for 20 minutes just for these. Reminder to self - stay away from Ikea on a Saturday!

Hot Dog with Ketchup and Mustard - Ikea, Croydan

Second reminder to self - maybe stay away from the meatballs for awhile and go withthe hotdog. It's surprisingly good.

Small Ice Cream Cone - Ikea, Croydan