Señor Ceviche and The Deep-fried Brownie (London)

This was a special day because I met my eating buddy (one of them anyway), J, and made a new eating buddy, W – hi guys!!!! – and we ate up a storm.

I love Kingly Court, but when I go there I usually just bypass my splendiferous surroundings and hike up to Camellia’s (see post here) for tea because they do some amazing scones. (Oh just a head’s up – they’re moving locations soon!) Anyway, I’ve never felt compelled to eat anything else in Kingly Court because I’ve tried pretty much everything there. The last time I went there specifically to try something new being when we went to Whyte & Brown (see post here). But today I can say that I’ve finally, finally gotten around to trying 2 other places: Señor Ceviche, and STAX – though I promise the latter was just for desserts hehe.

Remember how I spoke about Peruvian food being 2014’s “next big thing” when I last went to Lima (see post here)? Señor Ceviche is one such restaurant, but probably with a much more relaxed atmosphere. But! Cannot! Relax! Because! Must! Eat!

But first, some libation and lubrication.

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I got some drink called the Mancora Surf Club, which had elderflower and apple in it. I liked it because it wasn’t too sweet, which is something I always fear when I’m ordering cocktails, but I do really think it could’ve been a lot stronger. Having said that, I’m on antibiotics now, so apparently I shouldn’t even be drinking anyway? Hmm. BUT CLAPS FOR COLOURFUL STRAWS!!!!!

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Unfortunately, as I am ill, I didn’t get to try the other drinks as I didn’t want to spread my germies to my friendlings.

The food menu is very much based on a sharing plates concept, which is great because there was so much I wanted to try!

Chifa Chicharonnes (£5) - slow cooked, crispy pork belly with sweet soy sauce

Chifa Chicharonnes (£5) – slow cooked, crispy pork belly with sweet soy sauce

 

I find it difficult not to order pork belly when it’s on the menu, particularly when it is described as “slow cooked”, and “crispy”, with a “sweet soy sauce”. You might as well call it ‘Steph’s pork belly’. (Get it? That pork belly has my name on it??) Anyway, luckily this did not disappoint. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than when a pork belly dish belly flops. After all, when you order pork belly, it signifies that you’re going the whole hog, so when it’s not done well, it just leaves a sow-er taste in your mouth. HAHAHA.

But dad jokes aside, this was good! The meat was juicy and tender from having been slow cooked, the skin itself  was quite crisp, and the sticky glaze made it very moreish. It wasn’t perfect by any means – glaze was on the sweet side, skin could’ve been crisper – but we liked it.

And of course, we had to order some of their ceviche dishes to try!

Señor Ceviche (£8) - sea bream ceviche with ahi amarillo tiger’s milk, avocado & tempura baby squid

Señor Ceviche (£8) – sea bream ceviche with ahi amarillo tiger’s milk, avocado & tempura baby squid

 

Obviously you should always order an eponymous dish. This was very fresh-tasting and zingy, perhaps almost a bit too tart if you had too much of the tiger’s milk (i.e. the creamy liquid that the fish was marinated and cooked in). For a dish with such strong flavours, I think it could’ve benefitted from a little more salt. The tempura baby squid didn’t really taste of anything.

Mr Miyagi (£7.50) - salmon tiradito with Nikkei tiger’s milk, pomegranate, purple shiso & crispy salmon skin

Mr Miyagi (£7.50) – salmon tiradito with Nikkei tiger’s milk, pomegranate, purple shiso & crispy salmon skin

 

I didn’t want another sea bream ceviche so we went with salmon instead, not least because this one in particular had some Japanese flavours going on (which we all love). WAIT. WE WERE SUPPOSED TO GET CRISPY SALMON SKIN?! WE DID NOT GET CRISPY SALMON SKIN. THAT IS GOING TO KEEP ME UP ALL NIGHT.

Of course, much as I love seafood, we had to have some meats too, and I personally think the meats is where this restaurant excels.

Flat Iron Anticucho (£8) - beef skewers with ahi rocotto anticucho sauce & ahi limo chimichurri

Flat Iron Anticucho (£8) – beef skewers with ahi rocotto anticucho sauce & ahi limo chimichurri

I had been told that I had to order this and it really was very tender and flavourful. Would definitely order it again.

Can you have too many pictures of meat?

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No, you cannot.

Pachamanca Pork Rib (£8) - 12 hour cooked belly rib in a sticky aji amarillo BBQ sauce

Pachamanca Pork Rib (£8) – 12 hour cooked belly rib in a sticky aji amarillo BBQ sauce

 

Nor can you can ever have too much pork belly so we had to get this! If you be a little porkling like us, do try this as well! There’s quite a lot of fat but FAT IS FLAVOR, ergo, FAT IS YOUR FRIEND. I was given the honours of eating off the bone (invalid’s perks) – thank you guys :’) – which is always the best part!

Super Chicken (£8.50) - marinated & chargrilled chicken served with ahi rocotto mayonnaise

Super Chicken (£8.50) – marinated & chargrilled chicken served with ahi rocotto mayonnaise

 

My friends had told me that this was good so I had to try it! And it was definitely quite super. It tasted just like Pizza Hut’s Sweet & Spicy Drumlets – which I LOVE LOVE LOVE but unfortch they don’t sell them here in the UK :’( :’( – but probably a little better because this had the great charred flavour you can only get from a good grilling. And is there anything better than mayo? The answer is: Mayo. (Mei-you. 没有。)

Patatas Fritas with Huancaina & Tomato Fondue (£4) - fries covered in spicy Peruvian cheese sauce & tomato fondue

Patatas Fritas with Huancaina & Tomato Fondue (£4) – fries covered in spicy Peruvian cheese sauce & tomato fondue

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An entire mound of cheese fries for £4 YAY YAY YAY. So ok. I had been very eggcited about this one but I really think they could have afforded to have been more assertive with the flavours, and also SPAM THE MELTY CHEESE. Because they’re just your standard fries otherwise.

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Overall, I think I’ll gladly come back again. I’m a bit on the fence about the ceviches but I would happily recommend all the meat dishes. If you’re after something slightly different, this Peruvian place is a good shout, particularly if you are looking for a more casual experience than Lima.

 

SENOR CEVICHE

Kingly Court

London W1B 5PW

 

Unfortunately, we weren’t feeling any of their desserts, so we moved swiftly on to STAX because there was a dessert there that was calling out to me.

“The Dough-Bro” (£5.75) - deep fried brownie, vanilla ice-cream, butterscotch sauce

“The Dough-Bro” (£5.75) – deep fried brownie, vanilla ice-cream, butterscotch sauce

 

Now. I have deep-fried many a thing in my life (pound cake, cheesecake, Magnum – you name it, I’ve probably fried it). But I’ve never deep-fried a brownie. I can’t think why though? I think probably because brownies are something I eat almost solely for the texture, so it’s never really occurred to me to mess with the texture. (It is for this reason that I boycott hot brownies.)

Gorgeous, perfectly formed cakes, pastries and puddings are all well and good, but I’m always in the mood for something trashy, and this, my friends, is trashy as trashy gets.

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So remember what I said about messing with the texture? See, because they deep-fried the brownie, once you hack away at the batter, the insides just became a molten pool of chocolate. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it no longer has the texture of a brownie. But would I still eat it? Without a doubt. I think we all really liked this, though I would say that it would’ve perhaps been better if it the brownie and the ice-cream were served separately. That way the ice-cream wouldn’t have melted as quickly, and the batter wouldn’t have turned so soggy.

I didn’t try anything else on the STAX menu because we’d had grand plans to eat at Bao (I LOVE MY FRIENDS). But the fried chicken and waffles looked good, so I may have to return to try that next time.

 

STAX Diner

Kingly Court

London W1B 5PW

 

You know how when you’ve had good food, you feel like such a winner? So everything seemed to be going our way… BUT THEN THE MOTHER OF ALL DISASTERS STRUCK! BAO WAS CLOSED!!!!!!!!!!!! I felt my world crumbling down around me as I was hit momentarily by yet another case of SBBS (Steph’s Blue Balls Syndrome), which is a thing.

Hunger. Strife. Turmoil.

(First world problems.)

AMSTERDAM

I’ll have you know that I debated long and hard with myself about whether or not I should bother doing this one – I mean, how much can one possibly eat in Amsterdam in approximately 32hours?? But I’ve learnt not to underestimate my own appetite, so here you go – a non-exhaustive list of what H, K and I ate on our weekend getaway a few weeks back.

H had been going on (and on and on) about wanting a bagel for the loooongest time, so we complied. Besides, who can say no to a bagel, with its delightfully dense and chewy texture, toasted and topped with just about anything your heart desires? Bagels & Beans is a very big chain in Amsterdam but you could also check out Village Bagels and Tony’s, both of which I remember I liked as well the last time I was in Amsterdam. On a side note, why are the Dutch so fond of bagels? I just read on Urbandictionary.com that “dutch bagel” is a polite way to call someone a douche bag in public. Interesting.

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H and K were super obsessed with these complimentary chocolate coffee beans which they provide in these little dishes on the table, so much so that K had to buy a container of them home.

You’ll notice as well that the crockery here is super cute.

Matcha soy latte (€2.95)

Matcha soy latte (€2.95)

Orange, carrot and ginger juice with a royal jelly shot (€3.95)

Orange, carrot and ginger juice with a royal jelly shot (€3.95)

 

You get to choose from a selection of hot, cold, savoury and sweet bagels. Additionally, you get to choose the type of bagel and even type of cream cheese you prefer.

Tuna salad with melted cheddar cheese (€6.35)

Tuna salad with melted cheddar cheese (€6.35)

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H, whom, if you remember, was the whole reason we were having bagels in the first place, was very pleased with this. They were very generous with the ingredients and it arrived hot and toasty.

Mushroom burger with truffle mayo (€4.95)

Mushroom burger with truffle mayo (€4.95)

K ordered this, excited as she was by the truffle mayo. It was essentially a vegetarian burger patty, topped with cheese and truffle mayo. Interesting but really just okay. Having said that, I ate the remaining half.

Bagel with butter and strawberry jam (€2.95)

Bagel with butter and strawberry jam (€2.95)

I didn’t try this but I’m assuming it’s quite nondescript.

Parmabella (€6.95)

Parmabella (€6.95)

This is essentially my dream sandwich in a bagel. Pesto, parma ham, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes,  and toasted pine nuts. Can’t possibly go wrong with that.

For a quick bite, Bagels & Beans is always a safe bet. The ingredients are fresh and serving size is quite generous. Most branches are usually pretty crowded but they move quite quickly as well.

BAGELS & BEANS

*they have a lot of branches so click on the above link if you want more information!

After breakfast, we decided to traipse around and poke into some stores. We were intrigued by the Vanilia store, which had by far the most gorgeous display, so while the two of them got busy in the changing rooms, I hung out with the super-friendly staff. Now, I promise there’s a reason I’m bothering to tell you about this, and here it is:

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They have this gorgeous coffee machine in the shop, so customers can have whatever coffee they please, as well as help themselves to cookies. Now, I know it’s probably the “done” thing in super high-end stores, but for a high street store, this was such a nice touch. They apparently also offer wine in the afternoons. Don’t mind if I do! I had 1 espresso, 1 macchiato and about 8 cookies. And I did not buy a thing. Such a cheapskate. Oh well, I like to think that I offered some brilliant conversation by way of a fair exchange hahahaha.

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Anyway.

When you are in Amsterdam, you will have Dutch pancakes at some point. It’s just the natural order of things.

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Poffertjes, these fluffy, sweet little coin-shaped morsels are the best. But would you look at the amount of powdered sugar on these! And as if they aren’t already sweet enough, you must must MUST have them with lashings of Dutch maple syrup.

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And also a massive nutella crepe because nutella crepe. And again, look at that powdered sugar…

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These are some of the maaaany pancake houses you could try out.

PANCAKES!
Open daily 10am-7pm
Berenstraat 38, Jordaan

THE PANCAKE BAKERY
Prinsengracht 191, Amsterdam

PANCAKES & WAFFLES
Oudebrugsteeg 29, Amsterdam

 

Of course, in Amsterdam you will also have some frites at some point. I tend to have a dichotomous view of the world, exemplified most obviously by my view on fries – there are people who LOVE fries, and there are liars.

And my childhood moral education (meaning Enid Blyton books) has taught me that people who tell the truth get rewards!!!!!

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Hot fries topped with mayo, that is. But as I always say, a fry is a fry is a fry is a fry. To be completely honest, even the frites shops that are heralded as the “best” in Amsterdam are nothing special but if you are interested, then the VERY awesomely named Vlaams/Vleminckx Sausmeesters is one of them!

 

VLAAMS/VLEMINCKX SAUSMEESTERS

Voetboogstraat 31, Amsterdam

 

I really wanted to visit the Ice Bakery by Nutella because, I mean, NUTELLA right? There were a lot of things on display but I was very taken by this dark beauty of an Oreo profiterole, so I absolutely had to get it. It was just alright. A good concept, I think – choux pastry, chocolate creme patissiere, crushed Oreo cookies – and executed properly would have been all kinds of amazing. I may try my hand at it sometime myself.

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ICE BAKERY BY NUTELLA

Leidsestraat 102

10AM-10PM

We went to check out some cheese shops, and as if it isn’t amply clear what cheapskates we are by now, we unashamedly had our fill of free cheese samples, including truffled cheese, pesto cheese… But I think my favourite would actually be the lavender cheese, even though some might find it too floral and perfumed and soapy.

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Love is having someone else spread truffle mayo on a breadstick for you.

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And before we knew it, it was dinner time!!!!!!! I had been looking forward to dinner that night for AGES. Bloesem came highly recommended and was apparently the inspiration behind the fictional ‘Oranjee’ restaurant in the Fault in Our Stars.

Now, don’t be expecting it to look anything like the setting in the movie, which, to my knowledge, was purposely constructed and shot in Pittsburgh. Anyway. It was very quiet when we went, which I liked, with only a few tables occupied. Dim lighting, very cosy. They offer a set menu of 3 courses at €32.50, 4 courses at €36.50, and 5 courses at €42.50. We all decided to go for 5 courses because it really seemed to be good value for money, and with a bottle of wine, it came up to about €50++ per person. Unfortunately, they only accepted cash so we ran out, hearts pumping, hoping to find a working ATM so that H could withdraw some money for our communal fund. (We did.)

I was extremely eggcited when we were told that there was no menu because I LOVE SURPRISE MENUS. That way you can be sure that whatever you’re eating is fresh and seasonal, and also it dispenses with the pressure of choice.

 

DSC02241 copy The bread was ordinary but the olive oil that came with it was delicious. Super fruity and flavoursome.

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Then it was time to amuse ourselves with our amuse-bouche, crispy crostini topped with tomato jam and homemade feta. This was thoroughly amusing for the 5secs it lasted, although it was nothing spectacular.

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This was the gambas with cauliflower couscous, sweet-sour beetroot, curry mayo and gremolata. The prawns were perfectly cooked, glassy and crunchy. The cauliflower couscous really did have the texture of couscous but without the grainy aroma. The curry mayo in particular was some tasty stuff.

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Next was the cod with potato and black garlic veloute, topped with smoked celeriac and pumpkin oil. This was delicious. A generous slab of cod, firm but flakey, with a great caramelised outside. The veloute itself was as velvety-smooth as it was meant to be, creamy and very tasty.

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So there was this one line in the movie said by Augustus Waters, “I want this dragon carrot risotto to become a person so I can take it to Las Vegas and marry it.”

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This wasn’t a dragon carrot risotto but it sure was delicious. A barley risotto with carrot, balsamico and tarragon foam. I tend to prefer barley risotto to normal risotto because of the texture, and the carrot made this nice and sweet as well.

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The next dish was probably my least favourite.

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Lean beef cooked sous vide for 5.5hours with chicory, polenta and anchovy sauce. The beef wasn’t tough at all, but I guess, because it was so lean, it really wasn’t all that juicy. It’s a shame. Can you imagine how fricking delicious it would’ve been if they had used a fatty cut of meat and cooked it for 5.5hours in a vacuum?!?!

Finally, it was dessert time!!!!

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This was SO GOOD. Probably our favourite course. Financier, pear, coffee mousse, red wine, mascarpone and hazelnut. The financier was freshly baked, still warm, with a slightly sticky, damp top, and a coarse, sandy texture. I generally love anything with ground nuts in it. The coffee mousse was nice and airy with a great coffee flavour but I think it was the creamy, slightly tangy mascarpone that made this dessert as good as it was.

Overall,  I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who wants a more special dining experience in Amsterdam. It’s nothing incredibly posh or fancy, with literally 2 people running the show (chef and maitre d’), but the food was tasty, beautifully presented, and for what it was, not expensive at all.

 

RESTAURANT BLOESEM

Binnen Dommersstraat 13-15

1013 HK Amsterdam

 

The next morning, we went in search of breakfast. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been to Amsterdam that hasn’t eaten at Greenwoods. It’s an English place that does all-day breakfasts. Always really crowded. If the weather is nice you can sit outside by the canal. Otherwise, there are quite a few tables inside though it’s a pretty small place.

H got the Eggs Greenwoods which is 2 poached eggs, cottage cheese, avocado, organic chicken on homemade soda bread and garnished with fresh herbs.

Eggs Greenwoods (€8.25)

Eggs Greenwoods (€8.25)

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This was a nice switch-up from a regular Eggs Ben. A lot fresher and clean-tasting, but still substantial because it came in quite a big portion.

 

Veggie Breakfast (€7.95)

Veggie Breakfast (€7.95)

K got the Veggie Breakfast, which is 2 scrambled eggs with grilled season vegetables, sundried tomatoes and spinach, served with toast. You get to choose the type of toast you want – homemade white corn bread, brown bread or soda bread, so K got corn bread.

I didn’t try this but um, it’s a LOT of veggies and no meat.

I got the Full English, which is 2 scrambled eggs with bacon, Cumberland sausage, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, baked beans, served with toast. Again, I chose corn bread because you don’t say no to cornbread! I think overall it was decent.

Full English (€9.25)

Full English (€9.25)

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I’ve never tried anything here other than their breakfast menu, so I may have to do that in the future! As we were seated upstairs right by the kitchen, we were able to see all the food leaving, and it all looked good, plus I think they are quite generous in serving size overall.

GREENWOODS

Singel 103

1012 VG Amsterdam

 

We went for a walk after breakfast and happened to stumble upon this place called the Chocolate Bakery. I was intrigued by their chocolate kebab (no joke – you need that in your life) so we went in. They also serve bubble tea, fresh crepes, AND AND AND they have this fun rotating macaron display hehehe.

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I’ve always said that, as a rule, macarons aren’t my thing (although I’m severely craving the Pierre Hermes olive oil ones now MMMMMM) but like chocolate fondants, I kind of still eat them anyway. Because I am a rule-breaker! (Even if I do institute the rules myself.)

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This was the lychee macaron and and and… the kueh lapis (thousand layer cake) macaron! Now, I don’t remember how it was spelt the Dutch way so I’m just spelling it the local way. And since the Dutch have co-opted the cuisine of their ex-colony as part of their own… I guess it can be considered a local flavour?  Anyways. The macarons were ok! The lychee one was nice, as lychee macarons usually are, but as for the kueh lapis macaron, I can’t say I could really taste any kueh lapis flavour when I was eating it. Having said that, I’ve never had such a flavour before so I’m not sure what I should have been expecting. (But NOW I’m craving proper, buttery, sweet, soft, spongy kueh lapis…)

But here is a shot of my lychee macaron, featuring a few strands of H‘s hair hahaha!

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CHOCOLATE BAKERY

Kalverstraat 210 1012 XH Amsterdam

 

We went in search of some coffee after that, and stumbled upon this gorgeous place called Cafe de Jaren. It’s really big, with a canal-side terrace and balcony, 2 floors, a big bar area, and very high ceilings.

They have food as well but we just stopped for a quick coffee break because our fat little legs could not bear our weight anymore. It is a really nice place in which to chill, though, so definitely check it out if you can.

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CAFE DE JAREN

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20 – 22
1012 CP Amsterdam

 

Later on we walked past Puccini and I remembered their chocolates to be quite excellent, so we stopped to buy some presents!

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Well, H got a present anyway, I just got a present for myself.

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But these chocolate-coated almonds were the bomb diggity, so I have no regrets.

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PUCCINI BOMBONI

Staalstraat 17

1011 JK Amsterdam

Singel 184

1016 AA Amsterdam

 

I really wanted to eat something proper by then so we went to Momo! My friends have all told me about Momo but I’d never been myself. Anyway, it’s this (sort of) swanky Japanese place on the ground floor of Park Hotel. It’s quite casual in the day time though, so don’t be ascared! Plus the hostess was really nice and friendly.

I wanted a cocktail even though it was only lunch-time, so I tried the Tokyo Rose (€13.95) cocktail, which had gin, elderflower, rose syrup, apple juice and fresh raspberries, thinking it would be like my FAVORITE cocktail at Eight over Eight (see post here). But sadly it wasn’t. It was rather tart and tasted more like raspberries than rose.

(Unfortch I’ve accidentally deleted the photo of it, which is sad because it was a very pretty long drink.)

Their regular menu features all sorts of pan-Asian food, with small plates, ceviche, salads, tacos, sushi and sashimi, and bigger seafood and meat plates.

They offer bento set lunches as well so I got the Spicy Bento, which came with a Thai beef salad, crispy duck roll, spicy squid salad and jasmine rice.

Spicy Bento

Spicy Bento (€19.95)

 

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K got the Sushi Bento, which was 3 types of fresh fish nigiri, spicy tuna roll, salmon avocado chirashi, and wakame seaweed salad.

Sushi Bento (

Sushi Bento (€21.95)

 

H got the Soba Hiyasi Chuka, which was a cold soba noodle salad with crunchy vegetables, chicken and quail egg, served with a nutty dressing.

Shi

Soba Hiyashi Chuka (€17.95)

 

I think everything was decent. Nothing extraordinary but we did order bento boxes after all. I think I’ll quite like to try the food on their regular menu though!

Whatever it is, make sure you save room for dessert!

Chocolate Hot Pot

Manjari – Matcha – Sesame – chocolate hot pot with matcha ice-cream and sesame crunch

See, I told you I was a rule-breaker, hence the chocolate hot pot even though I “don’t” eat/like molten chocolate cakes. My excuse is that I really like the combination of chocolate cake with matcha ice-cream!!! This was nice, although the chocolate hot pot was almost a bit too sweet. It would’ve been better if it had a deeper, darker chocolate flavour to match the bitterness of the matcha ice-cream. The sesame crunch was really nice though!

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This next dessert was kind of perfect.

Jivara- Salted Caramel - Peanut Butter - milk chocolate and salted caramel mousse, with peanut butter sorbet and cocoa tuile

Jivara- Salted Caramel – Peanut Butter – milk chocolate and salted caramel mousse, with peanut butter sorbet and cocoa tuile (13)

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H and I loved this! The milk chocolate and salted caramel mousse had a really nice texture, and the peanut butter sorbet was very tasty and peanutty, especially when eaten with the crunchy crumble of peanut brittle (I assume) it was served on.

Overall, I can see what my friends mean when they say it’s a nice place to bring a date, but it depends as well on the sort of person you are trying to impress. If he/she likes dressing up and going to stylish, trendier places, this place is great. But for a more relaxed, cosy setting, where you can impress him/her without having ANY food knowledge whatsoever (given their surprise menu concept), Bloesem is a better choice.

And me? I just eat. Hahaha. Wherever you take me, I think I’ll be impressed most if you have a massive appetite.

 

MOMO

Stadhouderskade 25
1071 ZD Amsterdam
The Netherlands

 

Then it was a race to pick-up a final bagel to go before our 32hours in Amsterdam came to a close and we had to say goodbye to Amsterdam! This was my avocado, smoked chicken and pesto bagel. Unphotogenic, but good stuff.

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This was such a good trip, even though, I did not have the time to make it down to Lanksroon for their stroopwafels or to Winkel for the apple pie, nor did I get to try the chocolate cookie stuffed with gooey white chocolate (?!?!) at Van Stapele Koekmakerji. But I’m sure I’ll go back again soon!

Thanks again guys for reading and I hope that this dispells the doom and gloom of your post-Easter-weekend blues just a little bit!

The Providores and Tapa Room (London)

I can think of a good number of things I should be writing rather than this but it would appear that I get antsier about this backlog accumulating than about my actual work piling up. Oh well. Live to die another day!

(Casually acting like this post is not actually something like half a year overdue hehe.)

The Providores is a great little restaurant in the Marylebone area offering modern European fusion fare. The main restaurant is upstairs but they also have a tapas room on the ground floor. Their sister restaurant, Kopapa, is excellent as well, and apparently one of the original partners actually started the Modern Pantry! The brunch menu here is supposedly pretty good too so I plan to return to try it one day.

On this particular visit we were pretty early so it was still very empty when we arrived and we got a lovely seat by the window. It really started to fill up by about 7PM,  even though, if my memory serves me correctly, it was only a Monday night.

The restaurant does a set menu – 2 courses for £33, 3 courses for £47, 4 courses for £57 and 5 courses for £63. We both went for 3 courses this time, which I think is ample for the average person, but I could personally do 5 courses because I’m a Fatty McFatty like that. (Now, if only my wallet was as fat.)

The waiter came proffering bread and I know girls are supposed to act coy around carbs so it really would not do to take more than one roll at once. But I could not make up my mind, and so I had one of everything, much to the waiter’s amusement. Fresh bread and salted butter is hard to beat (especially if the bread is free)!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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PLUS you need some carbs to absorb the drink, right?

Lychee and Sake Martini - Lighthouse gin, Sho Chiku Bai sake & Lychee-Li stirred over ice (£9.50)

Lychee and Sake Martini – Lighthouse gin, Sho Chiku Bai sake & Lychee-Li stirred over ice (£9.50)

The cocktails all looked good but you can’t not order something that has gin, sake and lychee in it, can you?! I would say the sake taste came through the strongest in this though, so if you’re not a fan, steer clear. (I am a fan because Asian.)

Cucumber & basil sour - Element 29 cucumber-infused vodka muddled with cucumber & basil, shaken with lemon juice & egg white  (£9.50)

Cucumber & basil sour – Element 29 cucumber-infused vodka muddled with cucumber & basil, shaken with lemon juice & egg white (£9.50)

In which case the Cucumber & Basil Sour may be a better idea. It’s just as refreshing but doesn’t feel like it’s clearing your bowels.

In terms of food, everything on the menu sounded really good, so if you’re having a hard time deciding, as we were, the waiters are extremely helpful.

Our waiter was really pushing this dish in particular, so we had to get it.

Crab and coconut laksa, a bream and pink peppercorn dumpling, soba noodles, soft boiled quail’s egg, crispy shallots, coriander

Crab and coconut laksa, a bream and pink peppercorn dumpling, soba noodles, soft boiled quail’s egg, crispy shallots, coriander

The verdict? It was good if you have no idea what an authentic laksa tastes like. The flavour of the crab was very strong, and it felt odd having soba noodles instead of the usual yellow noodles I like with laksa. When I eat soba, I eat it for the flavour of the noodle itself, so I personally wouldn’t drown it in a heavily seasoned and spiced broth. The bream and pink peppercorn dumpling was interesting but a tad over-salted. Ok I know I’m making it seem like I didn’t enjoy this at all, which I promise is not true! I did but it certainly is not laksa.

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But ooh runny yolk. (Featuring my next-level photo-taking while using chopsticks to  hold my half-eaten, spherical, slippery food, delicately pinching it so that just the right amount of yolk oozes out.)

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Seared yellowfin tuna, papaya, carrot, cucumber, coriander, lime chilli dressing, toasted nori sauce, peanuts, sesame

Seared yellowfin tuna, papaya, carrot, cucumber, coriander, lime chilli dressing, toasted nori sauce, peanuts, sesame

Seared tuna is something that always gets me. And I get it. Boy, do I get it. This was good but not as good as the seared tuna at Eight over Eight (see post here), though, having said that, the latter does specialise more in Japanese fusion, so that’s a wholly unfair comparison.

And then meat.

Beef Pesto – The Sugar Club classic:  marinated beef fillet, warm chard, courgette and beetroot salad, garlic dressing, pesto, kalamata olives

Beef Pesto – The Sugar Club classic:
marinated beef fillet, warm chard, courgette and beetroot salad, garlic dressing, pesto, kalamata olives

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I could personally have had my beef much more underdone but it was still good, particularly with the accompaniments. I love anything with pesto, but the olives gave it a great Mediterranean flavour and I liked the tangle of crunchy, sweet-and-sour beetroot salad.

I have nothing but love for the next dish though.

Crispy Dingley Dell pork belly, dashi braised Brussels sprouts, Puy lentils, apple, lemongrass peanut butter

Crispy Dingley Dell pork belly, dashi braised Brussels sprouts, Puy lentils, apple, lemongrass peanut butter

This was very good. Very, very good. Would order it again in a heartbeat and I highly recommend you do too. The skin was crisp but not hard, and they had left the perfect amount of fat on it such that it was melt-in-your-mouth tender, while the meat itself was juicy and flavourful. I don’t remember much about the accompaniments though I’m sure they were good, just that the pork belly really stole the show. And rightfully so, if you ask me.

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In fact, I think this was the week I had pork belly thrice in a row. (And I say this on a belly full of pig’s trotters from dinner today hehe.)

Finally, I think you absolutely must order dessert here.

Frozen hazelnut nougat, cafe latte ice cream, cherry ponzu sauce, hazelnut snow

Frozen hazelnut nougat, cafe latte ice cream, cherry ponzu sauce, hazelnut snow

 

This was a real treat. The frozen hazelnut nougat was like a parfait, but set a little harder, and in terms of flavour, melded really well with the creamy cafe latte ice cream. I wish I could tell you more about the cherry sauce but it would appear that I tend to block out all encounters with fruit from my memory.

Unless, of course, fruit is a necessary part of the exercise. As it is in a crumble. Which is an exercise I could actually stand to do.

 

Quince and apple oat-crumble tart, Golden Crunch ice cream, heather honey custard

Quince and apple oat-crumble tart, Golden Crunch ice cream, heather honey custard

 

I remember us enjoying this very much as well. The fruit portion wasn’t too tart, which is something I always fear when I have crumble, and it was cooked down to a perfect consistency so that it was soused but not gummy. Also, a restaurant that doesn’t make you choose between ice-cream and custard – and then feel greedy, judged and wholly misunderstood when you ask, “Is it possible to have both?” – is always good in my books! People really must learn to understand that ice-cream and custard are one and the same, since they are just a combination of milk, eggs and sugar in different stages of development, and so it should never be a question of either/or. Come to think of it, with this “crumble tart”, the restaurant doesn’t even make you choose between a crumble and a tart either. You can has both! Flaky, buttery pastry and crisp crumble topping… Mm. These people speak my language. (Which, my sister will be keen to point out, is the language of Fat People, the language I use to justify my Fat Kid Mentality.)

And so we conclude another successful fatventure! I’m happy to say that J really enjoyed the food too, which is always a bonus for me, particularly since my friends all have excellent taste. Do I think it’s worth the trek to Marylebone if you don’t live around the area? Yes I do. Good food in a cosy, relaxed set-up, and great service to boot. I personally would come back again for the pork belly, hazelnut nougat and apple crumble tart, and there are a couple of other dishes that seem worth trying as well.

On a final note, thank you guys for continuing to check this space daily – and obsessively, some of you – and for constantly pestering me to do an update! Sorry that it’s taken this long!

 

THE PROVIDORES AND TAPA ROOM

109 Marylebone High Street,
London, W1U 4RX, UK

Monday – Friday
Lunch:       12:00pm – 3:00pm
Dinner:       6:00pm – 10:30pm 
 
Saturday
Brunch:       10:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner:       6:00pm – 10:30pm 

Sunday
Brunch:     10:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner:        6:00pm – 10:00pm 

 

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