Cinnamon Village – Highbury, London

There are a couple of Cinnamon Village restaurants dotted around North London and they always look quite good for brunch. There is one specifically on Blackstock Road, attached to a creperie, which is painted a pastel turquoise candy colour with picnic benches outside and it just looks so cute and inviting. We decided to check this place out for brunch one Sunday before we headed to the gym for a casual spa session.
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Jack had a Full English breakfast which usually when you order an Full English, the plate feels overwhelmingly full, but this plate felt a bit like something was missing. It could have been the presentation or maybe they could have put the toast on the plate or added an egg, a sausage and a hash brown or something. It was just very average and looked like something that if I was lazy at home and that was all I had left in my fridge, I would have made myself.

On the other hand, I was so excited to find out that it was a Turkish family owned restaurant and that they served Menemen! This was my favourite dish when I went to Istanbul recently. It is a scrambled egg dish but cooked with spices, tomatoes and mixed peppers – sometimes they add some Turkish cheese and spinach as well.

I ordered the Classic Menemen which is cooked with spices, tomatoes and mixed peppers and it was delicious! I was so pleased. It came with a basket of Turkish bread to dip into it but to be honest I was really happy with just the Menemen on it’s own. It was full of flavour but not too strong tasting to be the first thing to eat in the morning.

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It was well priced and they made a great coffee and do fresh juices and smoothies. I wouldn’t go for an English Breakfast, but definitely do go for their amazing Menemen.

Oink – Edinburgh

A group of us went up to Edinburgh for The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a yearly comedy festival during the end of the summer. It was so much fun and we saw some really great shows – We booked a couple of shows (you have to book Spank! if you go) and we walked into a few free ones as well which were just as good. If you haven’t been, then I definitely recommend you go.

I had heard about Oink from a friend who went to Edinburgh and then read up about it and it seemed to be a thing to try when you went there. From the outside it looked mouth-wateringly good with the whole spit roasted pig with the pulled pork at the window. Such a cool idea for a shop. I couldn’t wait to try it!20150831_113716

 

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20150831_113858I had an Oink with the Brown Roll, Haggis and Apple Sauce. Of course I had to try the Haggis! We were in Scotland! So I had to do as the Scotsman do.

With all the hype about the place, I have to admit I was disappointed when I bit into it because the roll was poor and the meat on its own had no seasoning which made it taste quite bland and the texture was similar to tinned tuna. I wished the pork was juicier and more tender. I also wished the bap had more of a chewiness and fresh baked bread texture.

The haggis tasted like a mixture between a less salty black pudding and a much less flavoursome stuffing. I couldn’t really notice it when I bit into the bap. Perhaps I should have gone with the stuffing.

Perhaps I was expecting an explosion of flavours in my mouth as I bit into it, which didn’t happen.

I had to ask for crackling after I searched my bap for it and realised there was none in there. The crackling was difficult to bite into and soggy and sticky instead of being crunchy – although it was seasoned very well so it did have a nice taste to it.20150831_114042I was a bit confused because it is such a talked about spot to eat and the shop even sold “Oink” clothing that you could purchase (I cross my heart this is true) to remember that great pulled pork bap you had when you were in Edinburgh. If they have memorabilia to purchase it must usually be great, right?

Perhaps it was a bad spit roast and maybe I will be luckier next time? Or maybe I didn’t order correctly, because I felt like something was missing. It is still an absolute mystery to me.

Welcome to Oink!

And here is a photo of the group at Edinburgh Fringe Festival11949415_10156090098200637_2473992943122294100_n

https://www.edfringe.com/

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi – Covent Garden, London

After a Psycle class (which if you haven’t tried, you must! It is brilliant! http://psyclelondon.com/), Eleena and I headed out for some dinner and a catch up at Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in Covent Garden.20150902_210339For our sticks we ordered the Bacon Wrapped Asparagus (£3.20 each), Mixed Yasai Vegetables in Teriyaki (£2.50 each), Chicken Wings (£5 for 2 pieces).

I definitely recommend the chicken wings. They were beautifully grilled with a slight sweet teriyaki sauce and so tender that they just fell off the bone.20150902_212051For our sushi we ordered the Mini Maki De Luxe £23 which was made up of 4 Hell’s Kitchen, 4 Ebi Panko, 4 Shake Aïoli, 4 Salmon Ceviche, soya sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. There were a whole mixture of flavours on this platter of rolls.

The Hell’s Kitchen Roll is made up of Tempura shrimp, avocado, spicy sauce, topped with tuna & barbecue sauce. As you bite into it, you first taste the softness of the tuna partnered with the creamy spicy mayo, you then came across the crunchiness of the tempura ebi which is a lovely battered shrimp.

The Ebi Panko Roll is made up of Tempura shrimp, spicy sauce, topped with avocado, sesame & tsume soy. It again has the same textures as the Hell’s Kitchen but instead of tuna, you come across thinly sliced avocado which again is soft and melts in your mouth before you bite into the crunchy shrimp.

The Shake Aioli Roll is made up of Snow peas, avocado, cucumber, miso-aïoli, topped with seared salmon, sesame, tsume soy, chives & trout roe. The vegetarian middle of the sushi mixed with the ever-so-slightly seared salmon along with the rice created a lovely balanced mix and the salted flavours of the trout roe completed it.

The Salmon Ceviche Roll is made up of Red onion, cucumber, avocado, topped with salmon, coriander & lime marinade. It had the beautiful refreshing taste of a Peruvian Ceviche dish. The red onion was not obvious or overbearing, in fact, it wasn’t even noticeable and blended nicely with the rest of the ingredients. All the sushi we had was really good and I would definitely recommend this platter, but I think this roll was my favourite. 20150902_212059

 

20150902_215330We ordered the Dark Sweets dessert set which was made up of Black sesame ice cream with nougatine, Marcel chocolate cake with crystallised white chocolate, bergamot orange crème brûlée, dark fondant with chocolate caramel & peppermint heart topped with hazelnut brittle £10.

They didn’t have the sesame ice cream so they gave us coconut ice cream instead which was really refreshing and light and was my favourite dessert on the platter. The creme brulee was also very light and refreshing with a thin but crunchy top. The chocolate cake was quite dense and rich but because it was only small it was great and he fondant was like a thicker, creamier, after eight. Although it was a creamy dark chocolate – the mint lightened the flavour of the fondant mixture.

All in all, a great meal!

http://www.sticksnsushi.com/

The Freemason’s Arms – Wiswell, Lancashire, UK

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It was Jack’s Grandma’s birthday recently and as they live up in Lancashire (and it was a birthday to celebrate), she chose a lovely gastropub called The Freemason’s Arms in Wiswell for a Birthday Sunday Lunch with the family.

From the moment we stepped out the car and walked up to the pub that was tucked away on a quaint little street, I warmed to it straight away. As the sun was out, we sat outside for a drink before we went in to choose from their interesting Sunday Lunch menu.20150816_142612
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IMG-20150823-WA0043Inside was cozy and decorated in a very old traditional British Pub style – with fox heads and stag heads, oil paintings, fire places and antique-looking dark wood furniture.

They brought us some bread, still fresh and warm from the oven. One was quite fluffy and made with herbs and olive oil and the other was more of a seeded rustic chewy bread loaf. Both was so good that I couldn’t help myself but eat them.
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IMG-20150823-WA0016For starters everyone had the cod except for Jack and his Granddad who had the pea soup.

The pea soup was so green under the cheese fondue. It had bits still which made it taste very rustic and freshly made. The fondue over the top gave the soup a little bit of an extra creaminess to it.

The cod came served on top of some very sweet melon with a slice of Iberica ham placed on the top of it all. The waitresses then came back around with some little see-through glass teapots with the broth of the ham which they poured over the top of it. Who would have thought that all these flavours would have married up so well together? But they did! With the smokiness of the ham and the sweetness of the melon together with the subtle flavoured fish – it was delicious.IMG-20150823-WA0015

 


IMG-20150823-WA0025For the mains everyone ordered the Aged Beef except for Jack’s Granddad who ordered the Organic Duck (what a rebel). I didn’t try the duck but it came very well presented. The duck looked very tender and with the Hong Kong twist of Pak Choi and XO Broth, I’m sure it tasted delicious.

The sirloin beef was cooked perfectly (still pink in the middle) and it came with lots of goodies as the trimmings. There were green beans and carrots (which weren’t soggy and still had a crunch), carrot puree (which added a little sweetness to the dish), mashed potatoes (extremely smooth and creamy like a puree), roast potatoes and a large yorkshire pudding (which were both perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside) – plus it also came with a side of cauliflower and cheese for everyone to share. I was very impressed.

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As you know, I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I chose the cheese for my third course. The board of 7 Lancashire cheeses came with a menu of all the cheeses on the board in order, a palette cleanser of what tasted like apple juice, a variety of crackers and bread, raspberry jam, syrup apricots and grapes. It was a delightful experience to try them all.

Everyone else had the Sticky Toffee pudding which, although I didn’t try any, I was told it tasted amazing. IMG-20150823-WA0042Patron Chef Steven Smith has created a Sunday Lunch menu has a modern twist to it which was absolutely divine and partnered with the quaint traditional British pub atmosphere and fine dining service, you can definitely understand why it has won numerous awards. A must try if you can!IMG-20150823-WA0028

http://www.freemasonsatwiswell.com/

Mission E2 – Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, London

IMG-20150809-WA0004I love the vibe at Paradise Row in Bethnal Green. This little street looks like it used to be all warehouses and now holds some great restaurants and craft drinking spots.

Astrid, Renata and I decided to have brunch at Mission E2 one Sunday before we headed off to Colombia Flower Market.

The first thing you will notice is the interior decor. I love it! It is very 1920s and chic, but the weather was warm and sunny (a rarity in London) so obviously we had to sit outside and take it all in. The next thing you will notice is the service. It is fabulous! The waiters and waitresses seem passionate about their food and they give some great advice about what to order.
20150809_140651I think I could have literally eaten anything on the menu – it all sounded so good.

We ended up deciding on the buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, the scrambled eggs on toast with chorizo and the avocado and poached eggs.

My favourite was definitely the pancakes and I am not usually one for sweet food, let alone pancakes, but they were phenomenal. They were fluffy but still quite dense and filling and you could really taste the buttermilk which was delicious. The bacon, maple syrup and pancakes married up really well together because it was nice to have some savoury in the mixture.20150809_140700The scrambled egg was so soft and creamy and the chorizo gave it a little kick which worked well. 

The avocado was in its skin, which was great for presentation but I think it could have had more flavour and been easier to eat if maybe the avocado was mushed with some chili, salt and pepper, then put back into the skin. It just felt a little bit like it wasn’t finished, or that it was missing something, but was still tasty all the same.20150809_140920 We ordered some toast, seville orange marmalade and rhubard jam to nibble on and some spring greens with chili and garlic on the side.

The bread for the toast was a seeded sourdough (my absolute favourite) and the jams tasted homemade and were gorgeous. The greens were stir fried with garlic and chili but were not overwhelming with garlicky flavours and still had a fresh crunch to them.20150809_140654

20150809_140934Overall the food, the service and the place were all exceptional. Great brunch menu as well. I definitely recommend a try!
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http://www.missione2.com/

La Bodega Negra Cafe – Soho, London

The first thing I will say is – this is real Mexican Street Food, so do not expect the usual Tex Mex that you will expect at a cheesy Mexican restaurant that plays the “Macarena” song and makes you to do tequila shots and wear a sombrero while you eat your “Old El Paso” packet looking meal – although these places are great for the right occasion as well.

Jack and I popped in here for dinner one Thursday evening after a post-work shopping trip. The music is loud and its a very buzzing atmosphere. It was crowded and all the tables seemed to be having a great time – everyone animated in their own conversations.

We (luckily) got a table straight away.
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20150813_210734For our starters we ordered a Ceviche Contramar and a Tuna Tostada.

The Ceviche was a mackerel with lime and tasted almost cooked by the acid from the lime. It came with tortilla chips which we would place the fish onto to eat.

The Tostada had beautiful slices of mouth melting raw tuna with avocado and a gorgeous light but creamy sauce and placed onto a crunchy tostada (basically a large tortilla chip). It was so full of flavour even though it was quite light and probably my favourite thing that we ordered.20150813_212605

20150813_212613We ordered the Pork Al Pastor, Pork Belly and Pulled Lamb tacos to share, which we definitely could not finish and ended up leaving a couple, but its always nice to try a couple extra dishes when you go to a new restaurant.

They all came with way too many diced chopped raw white onions. Literally covered in them. Overflowing with them. If this is your thing then you will be in your prime – if this isn’t, like it isn’t for me, then either ask them not put to onions on yours (which I will definitely do next time) or what I did was just scoop them off my tacos. There ended up being a literal mountain on them on my plate – like a very smelly Everest.

Instead of a taco shell, like Tex Mex would have, Mexican street food uses a small soft tortilla. I would say the Pork Belly was definitely my favourite. The crunchiness of the pork crackling and the tenderness of the pork were just divine together and the flavours were not overbearing.

The Pork Al Pastor and the Pulled Lamb both were very good and had lots of American pulled meat barbecue flavours, but they were just very similar tasting to one another.20150813_212815We also ordered some Chili Fries which were disappointing as they were literally just french fries with some chili mayonnaise on the side. I think I just expected something a little more to it.

Overall it was a very good atmosphere and vibe if you are up for something lively and the food was very interesting. Worth a try if you want to explore some Mexican street food in London.
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http://labodeganegra.com/

Salvation in Noodles – Finsbury Park

When we found out there was a new noodle bar in Finsbury Park, Renata, Emma and I just had to try it out. It was a grey day with the rain spitting down consistently and we thought what better than a large bowl of noodle soup for dinner just a short walk away from home?

I actually had never heard about the Salvation in Noodles in Dalston but the one in Finsbury Park is its new sister branch. Its got a very chilled out vibe with bar stools and benches to sit on.IMG-20150812-WA0022

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IMG-20150812-WA0023We chose a couple of starters to share – a bowl of Vietnamese dumplings and some fresh summer rolls.

The dumplings were serve hot and tasted very much like a Chinese Won Ton served in a mildly spicy sauce. As you bite into the dumpling wrap, all the flavours of the stuffing come bursting out. The Prawn and Pork Summer Rolls were refreshing and tasty. Summer rolls are always my favourite at a Vietnamese restaurant.IMG-20150812-WA0020I had a bun which is rice noodles in a salad with some grilled prawns and I mixed it all together with some chilies and fish sauce for taste. A lovely, healthy, fresh meal!

The girls stayed true to the grey and rainy weather and had bowls of hot pho – a rice noodle in broth. Most of the broths on the menu were made of ox tail – which was full of flavour, but very different froma  normal Vietnamese pho, so as to add a little twist to the dish.IMG-20150812-WA0021

IMG-20150812-WA0019We ended the meal with a Hazelnut Gelato from Hackey to share. It was lovely and not too sweet so that it didn’t ruin the meal.

Overall a very tasty and flavoursome meal. Definitely a must try on a rainy day.IMG-20150812-WA0018

http://www.salvationinnoodles.co.uk/