Que Me – Stroud Green, Finsbury Park, London

One of my current favourite cuisines is Vietnamese. It is fresh, healthy, full of goodness, but also it is so full and rich in flavour. I will finally let you in on my current favourite Vietnamese restaurant – it is called Que Me on Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park.

It is really well priced, always busy so the food is always fresh, it is absolutely delicious and it is so authentic. The owners are Vietnamese who have been eating pho since they were 3 years old and who use a family recipe – and you know I love a family run, independent restaurant where people are really passionate about their food.

I would recommend: The “Mama” Rolls, the Prawn Summer Rolls, the Vietnamese Pancake, the Lemongrass Prawn Bun, and the Special Beef Pho. I have tried all of these here and they are all amazing!

Definitely one to try!

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Summer Rolls and Mama Rolls
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Fresh Prawn Summer Rolls
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Lemongrass Prawn Bun
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Prawn Bun once I mixed in all the sauce and the salad
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Prawn Mama rolls – reminds me of Chinese Dim Sum
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Vietnamese Pancake
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Vietnamese Pancake
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Special Beef Pho
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The side dish with all the bits to add to the pho soup
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All mixed into the soup

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http://queme.co.uk/

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Fink’s Salt and Sweet – Highbury, London

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I know I have written about Fink’s previously, but I only wrote about brunch there. Plus it is such a gorgeous little independent cafe that does such simple fresh foods and I just love it in the sunny weather as it is on such a pretty little street tucked away from the busy roads. It is also great in the winter if you are looking for a great place for a good slice of cake and a coffee in a cozy, homely vibe.

We recently came on a sunny day and sat outside with our salad and sandwich just taking in the weather and taking our time to enjoy our freshly made food.

If you haven’t been before – then do go.

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Salad and Sandwich for lunch
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Gorgeous mozzarella salad
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Fresh toasted sandwich in the sun

 

http://finks.co.uk/

The Stag – Hampstead, London

One sunny weekend recently we went for a walk, a very long walk, from Finsbury Park to the top of Hampstead Heath and down to Gospel Oak. Towards the end of our walk we ended up in a pub called The Stag for a late lunch/dinner.

As it was a sunny day – the large beer garden in the back was heaving with people and so we sat inside which was also buzzing with people at the bar coming in from the garden to order drinks etc. We chose a little booth and table (the only free space as it was rammed).

We shared the Scotch Egg, the Beef Carpaccio and the Beef Rib with Slaw.

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We weren’t really sure what to expect as none of us had eaten there before and we were pleasantly surprised. The food was all delicious and presented very well.

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Definitely recommend if you are in Hampstead Heath and looking for a place to eat in the area.

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http://www.thestagnw3.com/

Franco Manca – Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street, London

I am back from Italy and all carb-ed out. I will be writing about my adventures and food finds for sure though – don’t you worry!

Another Italian restaurant post to stick to the current Italian theme – Franco Manco’s – one of my favourite pizza places in the world. Number one pizza I have had would have to be Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy and Franco Manco rates second on my list.

They have six pizzas on their menu and they do them very very very well!!! I love a simple menu where everything on there is done perfectly!

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Their chewy sourdough bases are absolutely what makes this pizza a hit! I find the base of a pizza just as important as the fresh toppings that are added to it.

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They started off as a small little pizza bar in Brixton Market and now have a few spots around London. Definitely worth a try if you like a good pizza.

http://www.francomanca.co.uk/

Giuseppe’s Place – London Bridge, London

Today I am flying to Italy for a long weekend in the Italian Lakes – In fact I have probably just landed in Milan while this post is going live – so I thought it would be appropriate to post an Italian Restaurant that I have been to recently.

Established in 1990, Giuseppe’s Ristorante Italiano (as they like to call themselves) pride themselves in being London South Bank’s oldest family run Italian restaurant (as they state in their website). In an alley way in London Bridge, there is a door way with stairs leading down into a lively, little underground, very authentic Italian restaurant. With live music playing in a corner, the restaurant completely full, the very warm welcome from the Italian waiter – we immediately felt that we had found a gem, even before we had tried the food.

The restaurant was full but they kindly let us know that if we went to the pub next door and had a drink, they would come up and let us know once a table was ready for us. So we did just that and they came and got us in no time.

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The Bruschetta and Anitpasti Platter

We were sat in a booth in the cozy, little restaurant and were served straight away. Between the five of us (Jack, Frank, Sandra, Victoria and I) we decided to share 3 starters and then get a main each.

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The Calamari

For the starters we ordered the Bruschetta, a plate of antipasti and some calamari to share. It all came how I would imagine it to come if I were in a family run restaurant in Italy. Simple, tasty Italian food. No frills and nothing fancy.

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Spaghetti Pescatore

For my main I had the Spaghetti Pescatore, which is my absolute favourite pasta dish of all time – seafood with either with linguine or spaghetti. It was honestly cooked to perfection – with loads of seafood (clams, mussels, calamari, prawns and fish) and a gorgeous tomato based sauce that coated it all.

It was a great atmosphere, great service, great food and overall a great little find!

 

http://www.giuseppesplace.com/

The Pig and Butcher – Islington

The first time I ever went to The Pig and Butcher was actually 2 years ago. Jack took me 3 birthdays ago and I loved it. It is good quality, well flavoured, seasonal British food. So, when Anusha was visiting London, I brought her here so she could have a taste of what good British food is.

The menu at The Pig and Butcher changes on a daily basis depending on what is fresh in, which I absolutely love about it.

We walked into the cosy, homely restaurant and were sat at our table. Our server knew the menu very well and was good at giving us advice about the dishes.  She also sounded very passionate about the food, which I love.

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We ordered some homemade sourdough bread with beef dripping and jersey butter.

It absolutely made sense that the beef dripping was literally just beef fat in oil form (why would it not be?) – but we were expecting something with a little more flavour. I think we were expecting something with a little oomph to it – Maybe resembling something a little more like a gravy (like I have tried somewhere else before).

The bread was gorgeous though, as was the butter, and with (a lot of) salt the beef dripping came alive a little more.

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Anusha with our sourdough and wine
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Pan Fried Cod Fillet
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Lamb

We shared two mains because we actually wanted to try everything on the menu but couldn’t physically eat it all! So, we had to settle with two dishes (sigh). We chose the Pan Fried Cornish Cod with Courgette, Watermelon and Watercress and the Lamb on a Bed of Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Garlic.

Luckily I ate it the right way around (which wasn’t even planned) and had the fish first which was incredibly refreshing and worked really well with the young watermelon. I thought it would be a normal, ripe watermelon when I saw it on the menu, but it was young, hard, thinly sliced watermelon, which was similar in texture and taste to a daikon (large white radish) and it added another level to the dish with the fresh crunchiness. The fish fell apart and melted on my tongue and it all married perfectly together.

I had the lamb second which naturally had a stronger flavour. The garlic, which we initially thought was an artichoke, was surprisingly delicious. It gave a smokey flavour to the dish when spread onto the lamb and mashed potato. It was a gorgeous combination.

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Dessert was so hard to choose – we wanted something to share and again we wanted most things on the menu. We ended up choosing a cheese board as we still had some wine left and this would go perfectly to end the meal.

It ended up coming with two chocolate, twisted, biscuit-type pastries so we ended up getting something sweet as well after all. The cheeses were all lovely and we managed to polish it all off.

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http://thepigandbutcher.co.uk/

 

Sen Nin – Upper Street, Islington, London

We decided to treat ourselves to a teppanyaki dinner, which neither of us had tried properly before. Sen Nin were doing a weekday special feast menu which consisted of 4 courses for £30 per person. There was a Miso or Tom Yum soup to start, Japanese tapas next, then the Teppanyaki course and a finished off with a dessert.

We weren’t really sure what to expect – all I knew is that we booked the chef’s table so that we could watch him to the cooking in front of us.

It was a quiet Wednesday evening in the restaurant, which I guess was why they had a deal on during the week. There were a few tables of people in the restaurant, but we had the chef’s table to ourselves.

I ordered the Tom Yum soup and Jack ordered the Miso soup. They were served in little Japanese soup bowls and were nice but nothing to shout about.

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For our Japanese tapas dishes we chose the seafood option. There was a seabass ceviche, a tuna tartare and calamari. These were presented gorgeously on a long dish so I was very impressed when it came out. Taste-wise, again, they were all nice enough. The tuna was a little stringy and didn’t really melt in my mouth the way I thought it should, the ceviche and calamari were nice though.

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Next was the Teppanyaki and out came our Chef who explained it all to us! We had ordered the scallops and the fillet steak to share with some rice and vegetables.

He was great! This is what we had been waiting for! He chatted and joked with us the whole time that he was cooking. And he wasn’t JUST cooking, he was doing tricks with all the food! At one point he let Jack get up and try out a trick as well.

It was great entertainment for the evening. He didn’t go wild and make a massive flame on the stove but he was fun nevertheless.

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The scallops and steak with the fried rice and the vegetable stir fry on the side were the best part of the meal by far. Nice flavours but I think the entertainment of it being cooked in front of us definitely made us enjoy it more.

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For dessert we got a mixture of 3 mini dessert pots and a duo of red bean and matcha ice cream and shared them all. I love matcha ice cream so that was the best bit for me (matcha is a glorious time always!) – the rest was okay but I don’t think I would have missed out if I didn’t have them.

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I wouldn’t necessarily be running back for a weekday set menu – but perhaps would come again to see what the weekend is like for the chef’s table teppanyaki as that was definitely good fun.

 

http://www.sen-nin.com/