Archive of ‘London’ category

The Princess of Shoreditch (London)

I may or may not have mentioned this before but I’m not all that crazy about Sunday roasts. I know, I know. Practically treason in this country, no? But see, although I like them as much as the next person, I think I’ll always prefer Dim Sum Sundays simply because that was our tradition at home. Still, what better way to celebrate the birth of the new Royal Princess than by telling you all about the Sunday lunch at this little place called The Princess?

It’s part of the Noble Inns group, the sister restaurant of the Pig & Butcher, which I’ve waxed lyrical about time and again (see posts here and here), as well as Smokehouse and Bad Egg (both of which I WILL get round to posting about at some point), and it’s gotten quite a few awards to boot. Located in Shoreditch, just a few minutes’ walk from Old Street roundabout – once you’ve gotten your bearings right, that is. (Don’t laugh – I know I’m not the only one who gets confuzzled by roundabouts!)

Inside, it looks exactly like what I imagine a Princess of Shoreditch to look like – muted elegance combined with the rough-and-tumble style that is so very Shoreditch. H had booked in advance – always a good idea on Sundays, as it was packed by 1PM – so we got to climb the iron-wrought spiral staircase to the upstairs dining area, which I really liked because of the large windows and natural lighting. N, astute as ever, also pointed out that the upper storey is a little uneven, which you will notice as well if you pay closer attention.

The waiters were all very lovely and the service was relatively quick. Our food arrived pretty soon after we had placed our orders.

Pâté is such a classic starter when it comes to pub grub, and I always love me some liver.

Chicken liver parfait, picked grapes (£7)

Chicken liver parfait, picked grapes (£7)

I really enjoyed this! Texture-wise, it was smooth, creamy and rich but was still nicely whipped and airy. And I liked that this was paired with grapes instead of some sort of chutney because, although I normally object to uncooked fruit, the fattiness of the liver really needed this to cut through it and brighten it up a bit. The toast was a little soggy, which was disappointing, and we ran out of bread after we were only halfway through the mound of pate. But of course, me being me, I shamelessly asked for more bread teehee. Thankfully, our second serving of toast arrived freshly-toasted, which actually made the parfait even more enjoyable. I mean, just imagine the cool, creamy liver melting into the hot, crispy toast. YUM. Pâté party in my mouth!

For another great chicken liver parfait, try the one at Tramshed (see post here).

Moving on.

They serve all their roast dinners with duck-fat roasted potatoes, seasonal greens, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. H went for pork while N and I both got lamb.

 

Roasted Kilravock Farm pork rib-eye (£16.95)

Roasted Kilravock Farm pork rib-eye (£16.95)

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Roasted shoulder of Kentish lamb (£17.95)

Roasted shoulder of Kentish lamb (£17.95)

 

First things first, big thumbs-up for portion-size. A Sunday roast MUST smack of abundance as soon as it is set down in front of you. And now the taste.

Before I talk about the meat, I’ll just say that I found the trimmings quite disappointing. The roast potatoes were more hard than crunchy, their innards more mealy than fluffy, and overall, they weren’t too flavourful despite having been cooked in duck fat. The Yorkshire pudding was a little burnt and dry, so much so that I didn’t even finish it. And the greens were exceedingly normal.

But on to bigger, better things, like the meat! The pork was nice, not too fatty but still juicy. I found the lamb very good. Full of flavour. I love all the different textures you can get from different ways of cooking lamb. Roast lamb isn’t fall-off-the-bone tender like braised lamb is, but it isn’t at all dry, and it has a meatiness and sturdiness that I really appreciate about it.

I would say that overall, the lamb here is nicer than the Pig & Butcher and the Abingdon, but the accompaniments weren’t especially great, which is such a shame! In terms of the other roasts (chicken, beef and pork) though, I would still choose the P&B.

Anyways. You know the best thing about gastropubs?? Something like 80% of them do sticky toffee pudding. (Casually making up statistics as I write, as you do. Who needs Qualtrics when you can just IMAGINE?!?!) Which we ALL know, is the Queen Mother of all puddings for me. Say it with me, kids, ‘you can’t spell Steph without S-T-P!!!!!!’ 

So you might remember me saying previously that I’ve gotten much better at sharing food. Well. It is true, I certainly have. But I still can’t share sticky toffee pudding. And so we ordered 2, one for me to devour all by myself.

 

Sticky toffee pudding, bourbon toffee sauce, milk ice-cream (£6.25)

Sticky toffee pudding, bourbon toffee sauce, milk ice-cream (£6.25)

 

Now, this was by no means the best sticky toffee pudding. This pudding itself wasn’t as moist or dense as I normally like. You could definitely taste the bourbon in the toffee sauce, which I thought was quite nice, as it gave the STP a touch of booziness without being overkill, although I generally dislike alcohol in desserts, as my usual energy levels + sugar + alcohol = not a great combination (for my dining companions especially). Overall, not great, but an STP is an STP, and perhaps I am being a teensy bit biased here, but even a mediocre STP still trumps most other desserts in my books.

And therefore, another picture.

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I really wanted to try the other dessert on the menu, and so I ordered that as well. Hehe. Once a fatty always a fatty!

Chocolate financier, popcorn, salted caramel ice-cream (£6.50)

Chocolate financier, popcorn, salted caramel ice-cream (£6.50)

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I love financiers but apart from a chocolate-raspberry financier that I love to make, I don’t think I’ve had many chocolate financiers. Anyways, these were missing the delicious browned butter aroma that I like about the ones I make and they were a lot lighter and had a looser crumb than I was expecting. The salted caramel ice-cream didn’t taste very much of salted caramel. I wouldn’t order it again personally.

In general, I don’t know if I will necessarily come back for the Sunday roasts or desserts but I would return for the chicken liver parfait and also to try the rest of the pub menu. If you want to read more about Sunday roasts, see these posts here and here! And if you’re looking for some other great places to eat around Shoreditch, see these posts!

 

 

THE PRINCESS OF SHOREDITCH

76 Paul Street
London
EC2A 4NE

Monday to Saturday: 12–11pm
Sunday: 12–10.30pm

Pacata (London)

Pacata is a fusion restaurant in central London, located just a few minutes’ walk from Leicester Square station. I have been meaning to try it for FOREVER because I was extremely intrigued by some of the items on their menu and the deed is finally, finally done!

Inside it’s quite small but it’s really warm and cosy, and the staff are extremely friendly and attentive. I didn’t get a picture but they serve their tap water in Kilner/mason jars, which I’m pointing out only because I know that’s something that gets some of you guys really eggcited. Hahaha. To each his own, I suppose.

Their menu was apparently designed by Michelin-starred chef Yasuji Morazumi. It’s interesting, though, that there’s nothing really complex about it – provided the Asian terms don’t confuzzle you, of course – despite the amount of fusion that goes into each dish.

Off the bar snacks menu, I got the popcorn chicken and calamari because it was a FRY-DAY hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!! (Not that I ever need a reason to eat fried food, or that I don’t actually eat fried food everyday…)

Popcorn chicken with tom yum powder - £6.90 (ginger-garlic marinade)

Popcorn chicken with tom yum powder – £6.90

I wanted to get this because it reminds me of the tomyum chicken that KFC in Singapore does from time to time. It’s not spicy but it has the requisite tang and flavour of tom yum. I would have loved for the flavours to be a lot more assertive but it was still good, not least because the chicken meat itself was marinated with ginger and garlic.

 

Calamari Thai-style with larb powder - £4.95

Calamari Thai-style with larb powder – £4.95

Larb is a sort of Thai salad that I really like because I find it very tasty – way tastier than any Western salad. The larb powder isn’t immediately perceptible here but it gives a little something to make the otherwise ordinary calamari quite yummy.

Then it was time for our mains!

Pacata Pasta - king prawns, squid ink tagliatelle, egg, beancurd, spring onion (£14.95)

Pacata Pasta – king prawns, squid ink tagliatelle, egg, beancurd, spring onion (£14.95)

Common fusion pastas that I’ve had are green curry pasta, kimchi pasta, teriyaki pasta, mentaiko pasta…

But here we have pad thai pasta! I don’t think it gets more fusion than this!

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I wasn’t actually expecting to like this as much as I did, seeing as 1) I’m not the biggest fan of pad thai – I know, I know, but there’s a lot of better Thai dishes out there, and 2) I had just had a lot of pasta the day before this visit. It’s interesting because it actually had that ‘wok hei’ aroma (if you’re Asian and eat a lot of street food, you’ll know what this means) of fried noodles, especially the prawns (and yes, I love eating prawn shells). Flavor-wise, it had all the flavours of pad thai, and thankfully wasn’t too sweet, which is something I dislike about some versions of pad thai. And like good pasta, it also wasn’t soggy or wet.

And what else do you order on a Fry-day besides pasta?? A burger, of course!

Pacata Burger - soft shell crab, sweet chilli mayo, sweet potato fries (£12.95)

Pacata Burger – soft shell crab, sweet chilli mayo, sweet potato fries (£12.95)

So there’s nothing incredibly inventive about soft shell crab rolls, but I ordered this anyway because I do really love soft shell crab, and I have had some good soft shell crab rolls in my lifetime. To be honest though, this was quite a letdown. Perhaps the burger bun was too much and overwhelmed the crab a bit, because i found myself wishing for more crab. Hmm. Maybe soft shell crabs are just best in temaki/hand roll form.

 

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The sweet potato fries were good though! Perhaps a little under-salted, though that was easily remedied by the dips provided. I would ask to have them tossed in either the tom yum or larb powder in future though! For the best sweet potato fries in London – which I know is a bold statement to make, but do give it a try yourself – check out Hache (see post here and here).

This next dish I ordered based on previous recommendations from friends. It was a very strange combination of Japanese beef yakiniku and Indian naan bread.

Beef Yakinaku with Naan (

Beef Yakinaku with Naan (£10.50)

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The beef yakiniku was good, tasty and tender, if a bit salty. I particularly liked the sweet, melty onions mmmmm. The naan wasn’t as oily, fluffy or aromatic as I would’ve liked. I may ask to switch out the naan for rice in future if I get it again. I’m terrible at this fusion thing, aren’t I?? But naan really isn’t the right vehicle for something as saucy as beef yakiniku.

Our final dish was a last minute addition to our order because we were still hungry! It’s apparently a popular choice here.

Soya Chicken - deep-fried chicken, onion, rice and fried egg (£10.95)

Soya Chicken – deep-fried chicken, onion, rice and fried egg (£10.95)

In case you were wondering, this is the basic formula for classic Asian comfort food – fluffy white rice, some sort of meat, and the perfect sunny side-up with crispy edges and runny yolk. It was very tasty but I wouldn’t say it’s something I couldn’t make myself. If you’re not a proficient Asian cook, though, I think you would like this.

 

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Then it was dessert time!!!!!!!!! I was extremely disappointed because I’d heard such a lot about the green tea brownie with green tea ice-cream but they no longer serve it. TRAGEDY OF TITANIC PROPORTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the only thing on the menu was ice-cream, so we got the ‘Ice Cream Assortment’, which was 4 scoops of ice-cream for £8. We got 2 scoops of green tea and 1 each of the Thai milk tea and peanut. Given how disappointed I was that there was no green tea brownie, it had to be some pretty damn good ice-cream in order to cheer me up…

Thankfully it was.

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All homemade, my least favourite was the peanut because, strangely enough, peanut ice-creams always have this doughy taste to me? I don’t know why. Having said that, it was still good and I would eat it again, so no serious complaint here. The vermillion-colored scoop was the Thai milk tea ice-cream, which I really liked as well! It definitely tasted like Thai milk tea, which, if you have never tried before, tastes kind of like… sweetened Chinese tea with condensed milk added?? Yes, that is EXACTLY how I would describe the taste. Despite the little shard of ice you can see in the photo, the ice-creams were all desirably creamy and not at all icy, I promise!

My favourite though? The green tea ice-cream. I love a good green tea ice-cream but it’s not something I would ever rave about, not least in London. Even some of my favourite gelato places here serve only passably good matcha gelato. This, however, was very good. The green tea flavour was a lot stronger than it is in most other green tea ice-creams…

So this is what it’s come to. Recommending ice-cream. But I insist the green tea ice-cream here really is some good stuff!

Truth be told, there’s been some really mixed reviews about the place – people either really liked it or really hated it – but I always believe you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it for yourself, and HATERZGONHATE!!!!! Anyway I’m really glad I gave it a shot, because I definitely belong to the former group of people. Either way, I think it depends on how receptive you are to the sort of food they serve here. Don’t take my word for it though! I urge you to try it for yourself.

 

PACATA

4 New Row Street,
Covent Garden,
London,
WC2N 4LH

Opening times:

Monday to Sunday: 11AM to 11PM

Bravas Tapas (London)

Everyone who eats with me knows that I have some trouble sharing food – though I have gotten much better over the years – and that if I’m willing to share, I must like you quite enough (or not like the food a whole lot hahaha). Tapas and dim sum are exceptions to the rule though, since the whole premise there is sharing.

I’d read about this place a really long time ago and have been meaning to come since it very first opened because of one dish in particular: the foie gras creme catalana, which we’ll get to in a mo. But it’s taken me something like… a year? Sorry folks! Still, I’ve heard a lot of great stuff about it, and I’m glad I came here to try it for myself!

It’s a short walk from Tower Hill/Gateway stations, located along Saint Katharine Docks, which must be one of the prettiest places in London.

Obviously this picture doesn’t do it justice because little cold me was hustling along to the restaurant in the dusk!

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I also want to apologise in advance for how much of an Essex-tinge the photos have but I blame the low lighting! It’s a shame though, as the food was all really quite beautiful.

So. As per usual with virtually all my friends, I was playing the waiting game, which, thankfully, was made quite bearable with my new friend Estrella.

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Anyway. As always with tapas, you should get about 3 dishes per person.

Fresh Salmon ‘Rulada’ - Shoestring Sweet Potato, Spicy Citrus (£7)

Fresh Salmon ‘Rulada’ – Shoestring Sweet Potato, Spicy Citrus (£7)

I hadn’t thought of ordering this at first but I simply couldn’t say no after our server had enthused so much over it! It certainly was very popular with all the other tables as well. It’s essentially a smoked salmon roulade wrapped around crispy wisps of fried sweet potato. We ended up liking this quite a lot, especially the creamy sauce that came with it, and ordered another serving later on. I’ll definitely get it again in future.

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For me, patatas bravas are always a must.

Brava Potatoes - Salsa Brava, whipped-to-order aioli (£4)

Brava Potatoes – Salsa Brava, whipped-to-order aioli (£4)

We were really impressed by these mini tong-like contraptions that we were given to eat with because it meant we could pick and dunk without having to dirty our fingers. I liked that the potatoes and the condiments were served separately, so that, firstly, the spuds don’t become soggy, and secondly, you get to have every single tiny chunk of potato with the condiments, which are mighty tasty. I liked the aioli as well, which was nice and garlicky.

Gambas are another staple for me when it comes to tapas.

Gambas al Ajillo - £9

Gambas al Ajillo – £9

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These were on the specials board. Unfortunately, they were really only just okay, and for me, were the only disappointment of the night. To their credit, they were fresh and crunchy, very garlicky, but lacking in punch and flavour compared to everything else. Definitely not worth the £9, with which I could’ve gotten another serving of the next dish, which I loved.

Grilled Octopus - toasted garlic, olive oil (£8)

Grilled Octopus – toasted garlic, olive oil (£8)

I mean. We all know I am completely OBSESSED with grilled octopus/squid and have to order it whenever it’s on the menu. This was great. Even though it was a little bit salty, I could definitely eat a whole plate myself. (Or four.)

Now, the next dish was the dish I absolutely had to had to haaaad to get! And the main reason I had wanted to come here in the first place.

Foie Gras ‘Crema Catalana’ - Cherries, Bellota Ham, Home Made Brioche (£11)

Foie Gras ‘Crema Catalana’ – Cherries, Bellota Ham, Home Made Brioche (£11)

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If you remember how much I love the foie gras creme brûlée at Duck & Waffle (see post here), then you’ll know just how much I was looking froward to trying this! Flavor-wise, the cherries and flaked almonds were good accompaniments, and again, I liked the sweetness of the bruleed sugar crust. However, overall, I think I would still prefer the foie gras creme brûlée at D&W. Not because of the lobster, mind, but because of the flavour and texture of the actual mousse, which is just that little bit tastier and fattier. I stress that I wasn’t disappointed at all though, and would happily eat this again.

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But of course, we also had to have some meats!

Roasted Iberian Pork Belly - Piquillo Pepper Glaze (£7)

Roasted Iberian Pork Belly – Piquillo Pepper Glaze (£7)

This was good. N ate it as well, even though she doesn’t normally like pork belly as she finds it too fatty. This was just right though, but be warned that the skin isn’t meant to be crispy. The meat itself was still unctuous and juicy though.

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And if there’s one thing I like more than pork belly, it’s LAMB.

Moorish Spiced Lamb Chops - Rosemary Aioli (£9)

Moorish Spiced Lamb Chops – Rosemary Aioli (£9)

This was DELICIOUS. I know they don’t look like much, but it’s only because, for some strange reason, they only seared these on one side? I only discovered this belatedly when I flipped them over after taking this photo. Nevertheless, this was very tasty and desirably fatty, and paired really well with the rosemary aioli. I’ll definitely order it again.

Then it was dessert time! To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for the desserts, but er, let’s be realistic here… that’s never really stopped me before now, has it?!

Torta de Santiago - PX, Morello Cherry (£5)

Torta de Santiago – PX, Morello Cherry (£5)

I can stomach all (or most) fruits in dessert form, but I tend to avoid cherry. I am never one to abide by the rules though – especially my own – so I ordered this anyway, hoping that I would at least enjoy the torte. Unfortunately, the main disappointment for me here turned out to be the cake. I ordered this hoping for a dense, intensely almondy cake, but it truly wasn’t that great. It was quite damp, the crumb wasn’t quite coarse enough for my liking, and in terms of flavour, I didn’t find it aromatic enough. I couldn’t really detect any PX (pedro ximenez, in case you were wondering, which is a type of sherry), so to me it didn’t taste particularly alcoholic. I wouldn’t order it again myself, and it wouldn’t be because of the cherry.

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Thankfully though, the next dessert was able to make up for it. The ‘torrijas’ came highly recommended by the waiter, who hadn’t been wrong with the salmon roulade before, and certainly wasn’t wrong this time either, as this was very good indeed.

Torrijas - Caramelized brioche pudding, passion fruit sorbet (£5)

Torrijas – Caramelized brioche pudding, passion fruit sorbet (£5)

 

It’s essentially a cross between French toast and bread and butter pudding, much like the pain perdu at La Petite Maison (see post here). Obviously it doesn’t hold a candle to the LPM pain perdu, which is the dessert to rule them all, but it was still gorgeous, and I’ll definitely order it again in future. The pudding itself was eggy, creamy and custardy all at once, but was almost too soft, bordering a little on soggy, lacking the texture and structure of the LPM pain perdu. The accompaniments were great though – the passion fruit sorbet was bright and tart against the vanilla sweetness of the pudding, and the almond flakes provided great crunch. Yum.

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Overall, I think we all really enjoyed our meal. I’ve tried quite a number of tapas places here in London and, along with Jose’s (which I promise I’ll post about sometime), this may potentially be my favourite so far. Their menu is not extremely extensive but there’s still sufficient variety to suit all palates. They have your typical tapas dishes – patatas bravas, octopus, gambas, pork belly, lamb – but all interpreted in a pretty unique way. I’m definitely returning sometime with a proper camera so that I can hopefully provide you with better pictures!

 

BRAVAS TAPAS

SAINT KATHARINE DOCKS

EAST SMITHFIELD

LONDON

E1W 1AT

Opening times:

Mon to Sat: 12 to 1030PM

Sun: 12 to 10PM

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