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