Sunday, 20 November 2011

Brew Cafe - Clapham

Chocolate Brownie Affogato - Brew, Clapham Junction/Battersea

SM and I wondered down to Clapham with dessert cravings aplenty recently. At 10PM choices aren't in the biggest supply if we weren't looking to quench our sugar rush in alcoholic form but if the craving is big and one looks hard enough, there's always something to be found - Brew Cafe on Northcote Road. It's small and snugly - brilliant in summer when the doors are pulled back to incorporate the tables on the patio with those in the restaurant into one space. But for now only the brave are left outside with a few heaters and rugs to help fend off the cold.

Chocolate Brownie Affogato - Brew, Clapham Junction/Battersea

We're both craving chocolate and I call dessert shotgun for the Chocolate Brownie Affogato. Intense, fudgy little squares of chocolate goodness piled into a small glass and topped with an equally intense shot of espresso and a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. It was ... intense. Good intense. If I were to make a suggestion or two of my own - (1) a bigger glass, please. All that digging and ensuring all the good stuff didn't topple out was a bit of a feat. (2) whoa ... that coffee was strong. Digging to get to it was too drawn out and I had to eat the brownie and ice-cream (happily) before I could get to the coffee. Sadly most of the coffee had to be left behind. 

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Clotted Cream - Brew, Clapham Junction/Battersea
SM was stuck with the Chocolate Fudge Cake with Clotted Cream. It was good cake and with the strong coffee situation, I think SM was secretly glad to have ended up with the fudge cake. And doesn't clotted cream make up for most shortcomings? Not that there were any with that cake. SM polished off the cake (down to the last cake crumb and sliver of cream left glistening on the plate) and gobbled up a few of my brownie nuggets too. Well done!

Brew Cafe
45 Northcote Road  London SW11 1NJ
Brew Cafe on Urbanspoon

Osteria Dell'Arte - Clapham High Street

After having our hopes dashed for a table at Mongolian Grill in Clapham (Saturday night + no booking = utter stupidity), SM and I wandered down Clapham High Street when we passed Osteria Dell'Arte. It hadn't been there the last time we passed (a little light Google-ing has informed me that it used to be San Marco) and it looked as good as any of the other overflowing restaurants. Seated initially by the entrance we were lured to the back with promises of a spacious larger table by the waitress. We passed the kitchen, we passed the loos ... before we were arrived in what I later grumbled to SM was the store room. It wasn't really but after the bustle of the front room, the back dining area felt a little too remote for my liking. In SM's own little way I was told to just chill out since it would look really stupid if we tried to get our old table back. Fine, whatever. The waiting staff were friendly and sure enough our little area soon filled up making it less store room-ish.

Deep Fried Sardines - Osteria Dell'Arte, Clapham

SM started with the deep fried sardines with shaved fennel which was fresh and light. Not only was it after every morsel was gone and the plate wiped clean did SM reveal it was too small, too clean, too light a starter. Well, bully for SM because if that revelation had come a little earlier I would have happily swapped.

Bruschetta Porcini - Osteria Dell'Arte, Clapham
I had a very nice bruschetta topped with porcini sautéed in olive oil and butter and topped with a little cheese (no idea what kind) and mixed foliage. Warm, earthy flavours. Perfect for an autumn's evening.

As usual it was a pepperoni pizza for SM. It was a perfectly good pizza - thin crust with just the right amount of toppings but the crust was over the top salty. Definitely something that the chef should work on.

Linguine del Mar - Osteria Dell'Arte, Clapham

After my usual indecisiveness, I ordered the pappardalle with spicy sausage only to have an apologetic waitress come back just before the arrival of the starters that it was sold out. No matter, I pointed to my backup on the menu she was holding out. But what was set out in front of me later on didn't look anything like the seafood linguini I thought I had ordered. The mass of black pasta topped with crab and cherry  tomatoes looked appetising enough ... if you liked and could eat squid ink pasta. I was horribly allergic to squid ink (random I know) as a child - swelling of the face, itching ... yup, you name it ... and have steered clear of it ever since. It's not something you come across regularly. The waitress was good natured about it - she misheard me and thought I had pointed to the dish below the linguini I was ordering. She whisked it away and replaced it with what I wanted 10 minutes later. It was absolutely delicious. Fresh seafood, punchy tomato sauce, al dante pasta ... I only wished I ordered 2 portions.

The prices were reasonable - the meal with 2 drinks came to about £35 or thereabouts for 2. The service was friendly and the food good. This all adds up to a definite return.

Osteria Dell'Arte
126 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UH London
Osteria dell'arte on Urbanspoon

Pinkberry - Selfridges, London

Natural and Pommegranate Swirl with Strawberries, Granola and Plain Chocolate Chips - Pinkberry, Selfridges 

After calm over the summer I have been on the hunt for frozen yogurt again. After my initial dissapointment I decided to give Pinkberry another go- this stop, Selfridges (possibly one of my favourite places in London - I never said I wasn't just a little bit shallow). As with my previous visit in Dubai, it was a Natural and Pommegranate swirl and this time I was a little wiser and only went for 3 toppings - granola, strawberries (heavily mascarated but yum indeed) and plain chocolate chips. It costs about £4.50 for a medium cup with toppings.

It's still not my favourite - my heart still belongs to Yog and Yuforia but it was few pleasant minutes spent slurping froyo and slowly wandering around the food hall.

Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB London

Pinkberry on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Lunch @ Work

Lunch @ Work

Chef (or one of his kitchen minions) at the staff canteen was feeling particularly generous this lunchtime. I couldn't quite believe my luck when I got this pile - grilled gammon steak on jambalaya with spicy Italian sausage and a poached egg. I added portion of boiled to hell and back veg (because I secretly quite like veg that is overly floppy every now and then).
Negatives - the sausage was non-existent, the gammon was horrendously salty, the poached egg was overdone and there was a suspiciously large number of mushrooms in the rice (overflow from this morning's brekkie buffet I think.
On a slightly more positive note, the rice was delightfully spicy and despite the saltiness the gammon was thick and meaty.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Village East - Bermondsey


Sometimes there is nothing better than an incredibly lazy Sunday lie in followed by a hearty meal, all really chilled out because I cannot handle another drop of alcohol before the weekend is out. A quick Google search zooms me on to Village East, with its better than good reviews and the possibility of gorging myself silly on delicious brunch goodies – big fry ups, smoked salmon and wobbly eggs, golden French toast …. buttermilk pancakes!!!!

Orange and Ginger Presse
Short of a skip and a hop (or jumping into the car for the drive to Bermondsey), we arrive in good time but spend another 20  minutes driving around in circles because there’s no bloody parking. I get terribly savage when I’m not fed on time and doesn’t SM know it! SM suggests I’m dropped off to get a table to which I bark it’s bloody pointless since we’re having a fun day out or are supposed to be having one anyway.  Bless SM’s little heart for putting up with me all these years :) We do finally get parking, make it to Village East, are seated at a front facing corner table and then informed by the bemused waitress that the kitchen stopped serving brunch about an hour ago as it was past 3PM. No amount of pleading would get Chef to change his mind, she added. Damnit, it’s bloody Sunday! It should be mandatory that brunch be served all day on a Sunday!

Grilled Chicken Sandwich - Village East, Bermondsey

Grudgingly, I settled for Grilled Chicken Sandwich with smoked bacon, flat mushroom and Gruyère cheese (£7.40) and double grudgingly I admitted I was pretty damn happy with it. It was hearty, tasty and just what I needed to take the edge of my Sunday growl.

My side chips (£3.60) were hot, crisp and most importantly skinny. I’m willing to turn a blind eye to the extra calories.

I never thought I’d have such good memories about a salad but there was something so yummy about this one. Thin slices of baby radish, little carrot matchsticks, fine cliced salad onions, small chuncks of tomato, sliced skinless and seedless cucumber on the diagonal tossed with the usual suspects of the green leaf salad bag - baby spinach, chard and rocket. Lightly dressed in a vinegrette. So simple but yet utterly refreshing not just fed green leaves straight out a ready washed bag of leaves.


SM was in the mood for a roast and went for the beef Lyonnaise potatoes, veg and gravy.It was rather good despite it looking slightly too pink (for SM) with too thick a border of fatty wobble (for me).

For a sweet treat I manage to convince SM to share a Hot Fudge Sundae with me - really just a ploy to take the edge off my guilt for eating ice cream. And to eat those pesky little marshmellows - chewy little disrruptions to an otherwise perfectly good ice cream dish.

I've never been to New York (ok ... so shoot me) but I'm told that places like Village East are in abundance over there (East Village - geddit?). It's cool, it's chilled out. I'm a bit of a fan.

71-173 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UW
Village East on Urbanspoon