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/

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Sambal Shiok (POP UP) – Green Lanes, Harringay, London

Dear Reader, This blog post is a little late as I came here about 3 weeks ago but don’t worry, Sambal Shiok has a couple more weeks in Harringay! Their last day is on the 29th April so go go go! And try their gorgeously authentic Malaysian food!

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After about a week of finding out about Mandy Yin’s Malaysian Street Food Pop Up Sambal Shiok on Instagram and just staring at their amazing dishes that kept coming up, I just HAD to go and try it. Growing up in South East Asia – I am always looking for a good authentic restaurant that will remind me of “home”.

Emma and I went after work one cold Thursday evening and as soon as we saw the menu we knew we needed to try EVERYTHING. So we decided we definitely two starters and a main each.

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We chose the fried chicken pieces and the dumplings to start.

The fried chicken was well seasoned on it’s own but also came with a peanut sauce, which was a little more watery than I was used to, but still had all the gorgeous flavours of home.

The handmade dumplings came with a fresh gingery sambal (chilli sauce) which gave a nice refreshing taste in contrast to the pan fried dumplings.

We didn’t want any of it to end and couldn’t wait for the main to come.

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It was so hard to choose between the Rendang and the Laksa, but my thought process to make my decision was: 1) I have some Indonesian Rendang in my freezer at home and 2) I never get to have Laksa and 3) it is the signature dish at Sambal Shiok – so, I went for the Laksa.

I got the Prawn Laksa, which came with tofu, vegetables, noodles and the warm, spicy, creamy laksa soup. As soon as that soup hit my mouth, I felt like I was back in Asia. It was absolutely what I needed, especially as it was cold outside and this definitely warmed me right up.

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Definitely go before it closes if you can, but if you have missed out – don’t worry, Mandy has let me know that she is planning on opening a permanent restaurant later on this year, so stay tuned!!

 

https://www.sambalshiok.co.uk/

Wolkite Kitfo – Highbury, London, UK

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For Rick’s birthday recently we went to Wolkite Kitfo – a family run Ethiopian restaurant in Highbury, London.

You wouldn’t think that there would be a restaurant on the street as there isn’t much around the area and it you might feel a little unsure when you see it on the outside but when you walk you feel like you are no longer in London and suddenly you are transported to a local restaurant in Ethiopia. It is a simple, chilled-out atmosphere with murals on the walls and a little television in the corner.

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Beverage wise, they serve the usual soft drinks, beers, spirits, but they also serve a homemade honey wine that they make themselves. It is served in a vase-like bottle and we were told that you are supposed to drink it out of the bottle, not pour it into a glass to drink. It is sweet like a cider and it does grow on you (although I’m not sure whether I was just amused by the fact that it is homemade and I felt very suave drinking it through the little bottle).

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We didn’t know what or how to order as none of us had ever tried Ethiopian before but our waiter helped us to pick a good selection of curries.

Large crepe-like platters were placed on our tables and then out came the curries in little pots. The waiter scooped out spoonfuls of curry and placed them in need circles around the platter. We also had some extra rolled up crepes on the side which we were told to use to eat the curry. It was a no-cutlery, sharing-platters-in-the-middle affair and it was really quite fun. A very social way of eating with your friends.

The crepe was slightly sour and fluffy and took me a couple bites to get used to, but the curries were absolutely delicious (although I couldn’t tell you what we ordered)! Even when we were full, we kept nibbling at it all.

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Next came the traditional coffees which was very ceremonial (in fact I actually read up about this afterwards and realised that it is a full on ceremony in Ethiopian culture). They roast the coffee beans and set the on the table for us to small the smokey aroma while the beans cool down. Next they grind the coffee, add boiling water and serve alongside burning incense sticks and a small snack of popcorn to accompany it.

The coffee was rich and intensely flavoured and you could really taste the smokiness of the roasted beans.

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It was a really fun eating experience and I would definitely go with a group of people again.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d3932437-Reviews-Wolkite_Kitfo-London_England.html

S&K Salt Beef Bar – Edgware, London

For a good old traditional Jewish deli meal, I would definitely recommend S&K Salt Beef Bar in Edgware, London. Pop in a take away some succulent, moist salt beef, a few crisp latkas, a tub of fresh coleslaw,serve with English mustard and boom there you go for the perfectly traditional Jewish deli lunch. Add some pickled gerkins for an extra touch.

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http://www.bksaltbeefbar.com/

The Hill – Haverstock Hill, London

Jack and I had a Saturday day out at the London Zoo recently which was so lovely. We fed a Giraffe, had Monkeys and Lemurs jumping around us and over our heads, and we were faced up close with a Pygmy Hippo and a big Silverback Gorilla. It was really interactive compared to how I remembered the zoo to be.

After the zoo we took a stroll to the top of Primrose Hill and took in the gorgeous view, before we headed off for dinner at The Hill in Haverstock Hill.

It is a gorgeously traditional British pub with old vintage furniture and fireplaces, but as it was a nice day, we sat at a table outside for drinks and dinner.
IMG-20150718-WA0025We both got the Hanger Steak with came with fries (£17 each) and shared a side of Caesar Salad (£3.5). The steak was beautifully cooked and very tender and the fries were still hot and crunchy and the salad crisp. The food was really good and I really liked the location, the service, and the vintage interior.

A must try if you are in the area.

http://www.thehilllondon.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/

Cafe La Divina – Upper Street, London

IMG-20150811-WA0004After a long day at work followed by a late gym session, Jack and I decided on a meal out near our gym in Angel. La Divina on Upper Street does a 2 for 1 on the Taste Card for main meals, so we popped in there for our dinner.

It’s a quirky little restaurant with lots of photos of people eating pasta all over the walls and other random bits on the walls like a car and posters of old Italian films and random trinkets hanging on the ceiling. It has an intimate and comfortable feel to it.IMG-20150811-WA0006IMG-20150811-WA0009

I ordered a tomato based seafood risotto which was so fragrant, the seafood tasted so fresh and the rice was perfectly al dente. I definitely recommend this dish here.IMG-20150811-WA0012Jack had the creamy salmon and asparagus risotto which was more delicate in flavour than the seafood risotto but still lovely.

I had a fresh mint tea and Jack had a soft drink, as you need to order a drink each to be able to use the Taste Card discount.IMG-20150811-WA0010

£15 for 2 mains and 2 drinks using the Taste Card.

http://ladivina.co.uk/