Welcome to The London Foodie

Reviews of London's Restaurants, Supper Clubs and Hotels, Wine Tastings, Travel Writing, and Home to the Japanese and French Supper Clubs in Islington

For the latest food events, restaurant openings, product launches and other food and drink related news, visit the sister site The London Foodie News

Friday 30 September 2011


As part of the 2011 London Restaurant Festival, The London Foodie has teamed up with the magnificent One Aldwych to offer you the chance to win a fantastic three course dinner devised by head-chef Tony Fleming, with cocktails and wine for two, at their participating restaurants at One Aldwych between the 4th and 15th October 2011.

Tony Fleming has put together a delightful menu, Modern Market Menu, crammed full of delicious autumn flavours from three top British suppliers. While experiencing this gastronomic evening, you will dine around the hotel, with each course served in a different location within the One Aldwych.

One Aldwych is an independent, award-winning luxury 5-star hotel in the heart of London's Covent Garden. It is home to two prestigious restaurants, Axis serving a modern British menu and the more informal Indigo dishing up a European menu.

Starting at the Lobby Bar, the evening kicks off with a glass of Ridgeview's Bloomsbury Cuvée Merret and a tasting of oysters four ways - natural with shallot vinegar and tabasco, jellied with watercress, deep fried with tartar sauce and chips, and angels on horseback. All oysters are from Colchester Oyster Fisheries, Essex.

You will then move on to the elegant Axis Restaurant for your next course - roast haunch of venison, caramelised root vegetable purée with chestnut jus. You will also have a complementary bottle of wine expertly chosen by the restaurant's sommelier for your meal. The venison is sourced from the Denham Estate, Suffolk.

Your final stop will be at Indigo Restaurant for your dessert of Blackberry, elderberry and sloe gin jelly, clotted cream ice cream and blackberry mousse. The blackberries are from Pixley Farm, Herefordshire.


To enter this competition, simply leave a comment in this post stating your NAME and E-MAIL address as MrBloggs(at)gmail(dot)com by midnight on 3rd October 2011.

The lucky winner will be randomly selected using random.org and his/her name will be announced via Twitter (follow @thelondonfoodie) at midday on the 4th October 2011.

If you do not use Twitter, I will also be publishing the winner's name here at midday on the 5th October 2011.

Please note: The Modern Market Menu is available from Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th October and Tuesday 11th to Saturday 15th October only.

The competition winner, randomly selected by random.org, was MARIYA OSADCHY. Well done Mariya, thanks for entering this competition. One Aldwych will be in touch to instruct you on how to redeem your prize.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

London Restaurant Reviews - Kentish Canteen

Few restaurants have impressed me as much recently as Kentish Canteen. We visited on a Thursday evening and were so happy with our experience that Dr G returned for dinner the following day with a friend. Now, that is a recommendation if ever there was one!

I lived in nearby Chalk Farm during the 90s and used to drive down Kentish Town Road often. I also used to volunteer cooking for The Food Chain, a fantastic charity that provides 3-course meals for house-bound HIV and AIDS sufferers on Sundays. I spent many happy Sundays cooking at one of its kitchens a few metres away from this restaurant. I have some fond memories of Kentish Town, but truth be told, I used to dread the high street. It was dirty, ugly and full of betting shops and fried chicken joints. I was happy to return to this familiar place though, and pleased to see that a lot seems to have changed since those days.

Kentish Canteen is one of these recent improvements. It is a bright, spacious and modern restaurant, with plenty of natural light and some funky artwork very close to Kentish Town tube station. The photographic mural that dominates one of its walls pays homage to the many facets of this eclectic neighbourhood with images of its local residents, landmarks, architecture, and its early Victorian tube station. It also gives the restaurant a strong local identity and made me feel somehow connected to this neighbourhood again.

Chef John Cook (formerly at Vinoteca) devised a simple but well thought out menu at excellent value – starters are priced from £5.25 to £7.50, main courses from £8.95 to £15.95, and desserts between £4.25 and £6.75.

He also offers special sale menus (Mon-Fri noon-7pm and Sat & Sun 5-7pm) including one main (£10) or two courses (£13.50), accompanied by a glass of wine, Kronenbourg or soft drink. The beef burger with cheese, bacon, home made fries and coleslaw sounded tempting as did the pan fried haddock, pea puree, and skinny fries, both available at this discounted menu.

On our visit, Dr G and I had one of their “Larder Sharing Trays for 2”, a large board containing Serrano Ham and pan con tomate, served with 3 delicious salads and a bread tin at a mere £17.50! Such great food and value is hard to find.

All the salads were presented on big platters, Ottolenghi style, tasted fresh and were well seasoned. As we couldn’t make our minds up between the choice of Serrano ham, smoked salmon or roast chicken for the board, we also ordered a small platter of their own house-smoked salmon which was again excellent.

For main course, Dr G went for slow roasted shoulder of lamb @ £14.95 served with its own roasting jus, olive oil and lemon crushed potatoes and mange tout. The meat was meltingly tender and tasted delicious. We also felt that at this price, it was a rather generous portion.

My Sirloin steak, also priced at £14.95, was accompanied by a simple green salad and fat chips and tasted very good with the melted garlic butter it was fried in.

We ordered an 09 bottle of Malbec, Trivento Reserve from Mendoza, Argentina @ £24.95 which was a good accompaniment to our meaty mains. The wine list is predominantly Old World but also has a few New World choices. There are many excellent options below the £20 mark, but only 3 choices of white or red wines by the glass. Commendably, cocktails are priced at a mere £6.50 and contain 75ml of alcohol, equivalent to a triple shot. Camden Brewery draught beer (brewed half a mile away) is also available.

For dessert, I ordered Crème Brulee @ £4.25, a favourite of mine, while Dr G had the “Homemade Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream” served with raspberry coulis @ £4.25. As with the other courses, both desserts were well made and ended this great meal on a very good note.

Cost: around £25 for a three course meal (excluding drinks). This is excellent value for food of this quality.

Likes: good quality cooking, excellent VFM, great addition to Kentish Town Road, friendly and very knowledgeable service, well thought out wine list, filtered water promptly brought to our table without us having to request it, 75ml of alcohol in all cocktails (triple shot) priced at £6.50.

Dislikes: None – although more wine choices by the glass would be nice.

Verdict: Kentish Canteen offers a simple menu, very well executed. Excellent VFM and friendly service make this a lunch/brunch or supper spot not to be missed. We loved it. Very highly recommended.

Kentish Canteen on Urbanspoon

Sunday 25 September 2011

London Restaurant Reviews - Mason & Taylor (Craft Beers and British Small-Eats in Shoreditch)


A craft beer and real ale bar, Mason & Taylor is the Shoreditch destination for those who, like me:

1. enjoy good quality craft beers without having to pay the earth for them
2. dislike watery lagers that taste of nothing
3. just cannot drink wine all the time (maybe I can but it is nice to have options…)
4. enjoy grazing on some good nosh while drinking

Mason & Taylor is becoming one of my favourite local bars since opening in December 2010. All its beers are supplied by independent brewers directly from their country of origin, with a particular focus on London microbreweries. 

There are 12 draught beers and ales on tap at all times, and a list of about 40 bottled beers including craft North American, British and Belgian beers that changes regularly. There is also a "Brewery of the Weekend" and 5 weekly guest ales. They also serve all their draught beers in taster flights of 3 or 6 x 1/3 pint glasses.

We always get to try at least one beer we have never heard of when we go there. On our latest visit, our new beer was a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne @ £4.50. This is a traditional Flemish red ale, oak aged for up to 18 months and 6.2% alcohol. We enjoyed the lovely cherry and chocolate flavours in this beer and the unusual tanginess akin to citrus fruit.

We also had one beer flight each - the first was a combination of Chimay White, Westmalle Dubbel and Odell Cutthroat Porter and the second included Brooklyn Lager, Rodenbach, and Sierra Nevada Porter. Most draught beers were priced at £3.80 per pint although the Belgian and American black beers were around double that. The cost of the flight depends on the combination of beers chosen, but is essentially the price of a pint divided by three.

To accompany our selection of fine beers, we ordered a medley of small plates. Food at Mason & Taylor is served tapas style rather than as traditional starters and main dishes, the exceptions to this being the weekend brunch, and the Sunday all day menu which includes several roast dinner options. On a weekday, the recommendation is to order around 3 small plates each, but we were so tempted by the menu that we ended up with 10 dishes!

The food is classic British cooking with a modern interpretation. Dishes are reasonably priced at £4.50 - £5 each. Produce is seasonal, and the meats, fish and seafood that we ate tasted ultra-fresh and delicious. Of the 10 dishes we tried, we each had our favourites, but we both agreed that they were all good and perfect with the beers we chose. These are the dishes we had:

Potted crab with capers and toast @ £5 – scrumptious and a steal at the price!

House-smoked duck breast with ruby chard and pea salad @ £5 – the duck had a subtle smokiness that tasted well with the earthy chard.

Wild Mushrooms on Toast @ £4.50 - totally delectable but I wish there were more mushrooms!

Jersey Royal and crayfish salad with heritage tomatoes @ £5 – this was a lovely and substantial salad with great flavours and stunning presentation.

Devilled chicken livers on toast @ £5 – we really enjoyed this, the liver was meaty and perfectly cooked (very tender), and worked well with its spicy dressing.

Woodpigeon breast with carrot and beetroot salad and raisin jus @ £5 – this was delicious. I loved the combination of gamey umami with the sweetness from the beetroot and raisins.

Nettle and goat's cheese tart with red onion chutney @ £5.

Chilled Bloody Mary Soup @ £4 – the weakest link in our opinion but still good.

Eton Mess @ £4.

Chocolate Pudding @ £4.50.

Cost: Based on 3-4 dishes per person, a meal at Mason & Taylor will cost about £15 to £20 per person (excluding drinks). Many draught pints are priced from £3.80.

Likes: excellent range of craft American, Belgian and British beers. Great food. Possibility of ordering many small dishes to graze on. Friendly service. Reasonable prices. Free Wi-Fi. Good and affordable wine list with every option also sold by the glass.

Dislikes: I am not quite sure about the industrial décor, it feels more like student canteen than New York loft apartment.

Verdict: great Shoreditch destination for craft beer and British food fans, I enjoyed all the small plates on offer and the selection of reasonably priced beers. A local favourite. Very highly recommended.

Mason & Taylor on Urbanspoon

Thursday 22 September 2011

London Restaurant Reviews – Moo Grill

Those who like me have worked in the City for a few years know how exciting it is to find a decent lunch spot, especially where every other food shop seems to be part of a sandwich or pizza restaurant chain. I am lucky to work close to some great independent places like the Vietnamese City Càphê (my number 1 favourite) or Bar Battu, but just around the corner I have now found another gem – Moo Grill.

I first came across Moo Grill via my friend Rachel McCormack of Catalan Cooking. More recently, having been asked to write my top 7 South American restaurant recommendations for the Vamos Guide (JungleDrumsOnline), I decided to pay Moo Grill another well deserved visit.

Moo Grill specialises in Lomitos – the king of steak sandwiches in its native Argentina, - is certainly not intended for the faint-hearted. Even the basic ones will have a slab of lomo steak, tomato, lettuce, onion, chimichurri sauce, mayonnaise and a fried egg (!). Oh, and some ham too, and melted cheese, loads of melted cheese.

The main challenge of eating a lomito is to hold all these delicious ingredients together between two pieces of bread without having them drip down your elbow within 30 seconds

At Moo Grill, in addition to beef, lomitos also come with chicken, chorizo or aubergine.  They are served “simple” (with tomato and lettuce around £5), “completo” (plus ham, cheese and egg at about £6.50) and “al plato” (all of these ingredients served breadless on a plate with chips for about £6).

On my visit I tried the “Milanesa Completo”, a deliciously tender piece of steak, breadcrumbed and fried, served with ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, egg and chimichurri sauce @ £6.60. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had some chips on the side. Truth be told, I did not manage to finish it!

I also got to try what I can only describe as one of the best beef empanadas I have ever had – now that is a big statement to make but it is no exaggeration – it was totally scrumptious. The owner’s mum, the lucky Jose Luiz de Alzaa, makes them from a well guarded family recipe. Empanadas are also filled with humita (creamy sweetcorn) or ham and cheese and are all priced at £1.80.

There are other items on the short food menu including Prime Argentine Ribeye steak with chips and egg for £14.50, and omelettes (plain, ham & cheese or mushroom & tomatoes) at £3.

The wine list is predominantly Argentinian with a few Spanish, Chilean and Australian options. It is not an extensive menu, and there are only one or two options below £20. The two times I visited, I had the Argentinian Torrontes by Tapiz, priced at £19.70 per bottle. Commendably, all wines are served by the glass, and small or large glasses can be ordered.

Cost: Lomito Completo £6.60, Chips £1.50, Beef Empanada £1.80, Glass of Torrontes £3.60 = total £13.50. Excellent VFM.

Likes: Lomito and beef empanada are a must on any visit. Small, intimate restaurant with friendly service. City location.

Dislikes: the paucity of affordable wine choices.

Verdict: one of the most interesting lunch spots in the City, Moo Grill serves excellent Argentinian Lomito and empanadas at reasonable prices. Friendly service. Highly recommended.

Moo! Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday 19 September 2011

Grazing Asia - Forthcoming Events and Dates

, a collaboration of four food bloggers from different Asian backgrounds, launched in June 2011 at the test kitchens of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant. May (Malaysian by May), Mimi  (Meemalee's Kitchen), Uyen (Love Leluu) and I (The London Foodie) have joined forces to start Grazing Asia, a new Asian Dining concept in London.

We bring our culinary heritage - Malaysian, Burmese, Vietnamese and Japanese to the tables of Grazing Asia, doing what we love doing best - feeding our friends. We will be hosting a series of supper club nights, cooking clubs lunches, cookery demos and classes in the coming months.

Events will be organised either jointly (among the four members) or independently by any one of the members for Grazing Asia. To kick off this series of events I will be hosting a Diwali Special Supper Club at my home with Maunika Gowardhan of Cook in a Curry on 12th October 2011.

Forthcoming Grazing Asia events:

12th October 2011 - Diwali Special Supper Club
Hosted by Maunika Gowardhan of Cook in a Curry and The London Foodie for Tilda Rice
Location: My Home, Islington, from 19:30 hours.
Cost: Free Event
Book: By Invitation Only

27th October 2011 - Partnering Fine French Wine with Japanese Food
Hosted by Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth and Luiz Hara of The London Foodie
Location: My Home, Islington, from 19:30 hours
Cost: £50 (French wines included)
Book: e-mail denisemedrano@gmail.com and/or luizhara@hotmail.com

28th and 29th October 2011 - Malaysian by May
Hosted by May of Malaysian by May
Location: my home, Islington, from 19:30 hours
Cost: £35 donation, BYO
Book: e-mail bookings@grazingasia.com and/or luizhara@hotmail.com

Leluu & The Supper Club
7th, 14th and 21st October 2011
3rd, 4th, 10th, 18th, 19th Nov 2011
Hosted by Uyen Luu of Leluu
Location: Uyen’s home, Hackney, from 19:30 hours
Cost: £35 donation, BYO
Book: e-mail uyen(dot)luu(at)gmail(dot)com

Vietnamese Cookery Class
9th and 16th October 2011
6th November 2011
Hosted by Uyen Luu of Leluu
Location: Uyen’s home, Hackney, from 13:00 hours
Cost: £75 donation, BYO (Includes all ingredients, lunch/dinner, take away and recipes)
Book: e-mail uyen(dot)luu(at)gmail(dot)com

21st January 2012 - Japanese Home Cooking Supper
Hosted by Luiz Hara of The London Foodie
Location: my home, Islington, from 19:30 hours
Cost: £35 donation, BYO
Book: e-mail luizhara@hotmail.com

12th February 2012 - Burmese Cooking Club
Hosted by Mimi of Meemalee's Kitchen
Location: my home, Islington, from 13:00 hours
Cost: Free Event: each participant will cook one dish & bring a bottle of wine
Book: e-mail luizhara@hotmail.com

What others are saying of Grazing Asia:


Friday 16 September 2011

London Supper Club Review – Leluu Supper Club

One of the pioneers of the supper club movement in the UK, British-Vietnamese Uyen Luu is the brains behind Leluu Supper Club, an offshoot of the late Fernandez & Leluu (F&L) of Hackney, London.

I visited F&L countless times over the last two years and reviewed Uyen’s food and hospitality here, here and here. Evenings at F&L were always fun, with plenty of excellent food, laughter and great company. I met some of my dearest friends at F&L and spent many a night sharing meals and chatting with other diners.

Some might argue that with new supper clubs and pop-ups being launched every other day, the novelty factor is dwindling. I disagree, and if anything, nearly 3 years after the first supper clubs appeared in London, I still keep meeting people who have never experienced a supper club and would like to try one but do not know how to go about finding them.

Recently however, there were a few worrying comments that were made by friends who visited some of these new supper clubs. These varied from having to wait for hours to be served tiny amounts of food to experiencing uncaring or unprofessional service, at sometimes inappropriate venues. I would hope that if a supper club host decides to open his/her home to the public and charge for the experience, they will have worked these issues through before launching, and be confident that they can feed and provide a fun atmosphere and venue to their diners. It is true that a supper club is not a restaurant, but if I am being charged £35 for food (equivalent to what several one-Michelin starred restaurants are charging for a three course meal in London), I would expect my host to demonstrate pretty good standards of cooking and hosting skills. With so many supper clubs in London these days, some of which have been around for nearly 3 years, there is really no excuse for shoddy food or service.

So I was looking forward to returning to Uyen’s home and experiencing her new supper club incarnation Leluu Supper Club because:

1. I knew I was going to be really well fed
2. Her home and supper club are beautiful
3. It is the most professional set up of any supper club I have been
4. I really enjoy meeting the diners who frequent her supper club
5. It is a very good night out

Accompanying me on the day was Dr G, and my friends Julie Vu and her partner Ryan, owners of the Vietnamese City Caphe, my favourite lunch spot in the City. We arrived at Uyen’s to be greeted with a glass of wine, making our way to her garden to mingle and chat with the other diners until dinner was served at 8pm.

I was pleased that Uyen decided to give a more Vietnamese focus to her supper club since the demise of F&L, as I feel she provides Vietnamese dishes that are not normally found in London restaurants. Uyen will serve up to 8 courses at her supper club and if like me, you love having many different flavours and textures in your meals (as opposed to just quantity), you will be sure to find them there. Some of the delicious dishes we were served included:

Homemade Grey Feather Back Fish Cakes with Dill, Ong Choi and Chilli dip

Summer Rolls with Poached Pork Belly, Prawns, Perilla, Cockscombe, Garden Mint, Coriander and Vermicelli

Bun Bo Hue - Spicy Lemongrass & Pig's Trotter Soup with Beef, Perilla, Banana Blossom & Sweet Basil

Chicken Salad with Carrot, Banana Blossom and Hot Mint

Bo La Lot - Sirloin Steak with Lemongrass & Sesame, wrapped in Betel Leaf

Yam Noodles with Tofu, Carrots, Ong Choi, Shiitake Mushrooms and Peanuts

Banh Xeo - Coconut & Beer Crepes with Pork, Prawns & Beansprouts

Tapioca Pearls and Banana in Coconut Milk

We had a great table at Leluu Supper Club, a mix of American tourists (mother, daughter and friend) who had arrived in London on that day, a delightful Parisian couple who were sitting next to me with their Mexican friend (and if you are reading this, please get in touch for that Peruvian meal!), and my friends Julie and Ryan, and Dr G.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Leluu Supper Club, and if you are a supper club supporter as I am, there is no better place to experience this than at Uyen’s.

Cost: minimum donation of £35 per person, BYO.

Likes: best Vietnamese food in London, stylish venue, great night out. Vietnamese cooking classes.

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: One of the best supper clubs in London, Leluu Supper Club exemplifies why this movement is here to stay. Excellent food, gorgeous venue, great host. If you haven’t experienced it, just go. Highly recommended.
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