Monty’s Deli

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Maltby Street food market is another super cool food destination to put on our growing list of super cool food destinations. Just over the river in some random railway arches in Bermondsey (how do these things start?), is a collection of fabulously curated food stalls. Perfect for a Saturday morning mooch we hopped on the bus and did just that. And came away half a stone heavier.

We’d actually come to try a legendary Reuben special sandwich at Monty’s Deli after seeing them on a re-run of a Tom Kerridge feature on Saturday Kitchen. Our mouths were watering just watching the sandwiches on TV, so we absolutely had to try the real thing and we weren’t disappointed.

The reuben is skyscraper sandwich is packed with melt in your mouth salt beef and smoked pastrami, home-made sauerkraut, sauce, sharp mustard, Leerdammer cheese and topped with super light toasted bread. Then it’s crammed into a sandwich toaster for what seems like an age when you’re hungry. The place was as rammed as the contents of the sandwiches too but the staff were coping well though, keeping the queue moving and the fast turnaround of tables meant there were seats on the communal benches.

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When the Reuben specials arrived I was actually a bit scared. It was huge but the toasting had compressed the sandwich so it didn’t look too overbearing. But it was still more than enough and it looked sooo good. Tender pink meat crammed tightly, oozing molten cheese, crisp sharp pickles and a can of time travelling cream soda (well it took me back). To die for. Literally.

There’s no airs and graces here. It’s basic, comforting food of the highest quality. Jewish soul food in fact. Monty’s speaks of passion and late nights, of trying new things, getting it right and wrong, burning the candle at both ends and an unswerving belief in what they are doing. You can even wash your hands in their sink if you want.

Post sandwich we waddled around the market feeling comfortingly full, nursing our salt beef babies. It’s a good job too as the rest of the food on offer looked just as good: tartiflette, fresh bread from St John, smoked Oysters, home cured salmon, delightful French pastries, tapas, local gin…the list goes on.

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Hawksmoor Knightsbridge

Let me set the scene. A beautiful Sunday afternoon in Knightsbridge. Sat outside a neighbourhood pub sipping Rose waiting for our Sunday lunch companion to arrive. The sun just a little too hot for us but we sit in full sun nonetheless.

Perfect pre lunch drinks before we head off to Hawksmoor Knightsbridge.

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I’ve been to the Spitalfields Hawksmoor but the newest in the mini chain is the Knightsbridge restaurant. The basement room is all swanky splendour and low key lighting, the staff are superb and on this late Sunday afternoon, the room is not full. We like the attention that brings from the staff I have to say and our French waiter is all charm.

A free glass of champagne later, we order the Sunday roast special with some oysters for me and Gwil with J opting for the crab salad. The oysters come with cheeky hot sausages which are epic, given their diminutive size.

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The roast is the best I’ve had in London without a  doubt (although we haven’t been to lots of places for Sunday lunch I have to be honest). That said, the beef was an honest slab of rump, impeccably cooked medium rare and perched majestically on a stack of roast potatoes and perfectly cooked veg. The Yorkshire pudding was very good too, crisp and light. At £19.95 for the special Sunday lunch we though this was excellent value for Knightsbridge—not particularly famous for value for obvious reasons.

Unusually for a lunch with Gwil we didn’t go hell for leather on the wine and only had two bottles (only) of a very serviceable Picpoul. The waiter did his best to talk us into a dessert but we let him down badly and his disappointment was palpable—we were really stuffed and couldn’t get near it.

I love Hawksmoor because it loves meat more than I do.

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Weekend in Leeds

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Sitting outside Sandinista on upper Briggate, watching the world go by is a real local’s pleasure in Leeds. Sandinista has been there for ever and it’s often overlooked in favour of more fashionable restaurants.

 

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The tapas is simple, satisfying and plentiful. The chicken wings get a special mention.

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Breakfast was at the Cross Keys. Bloody Marys got the day off to a boost start (I don’t do this every day, honestly).

 

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For some, Prosecco was the breakfast tipple of choice. There’s nothing like some bubbles with your bacon.

 

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Leeds was packed with TDF revellers. Whilst they jammed into every street corner, we tucked into a full English, Cross Keys style.

 

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And it didn’t disappoint! Spectacular.

Around the world in 80 hours

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The name of this site started off as a bit of a joke. We all liked a bit of travel and food so we thought a site documenting both passions would be appropriate. In truth it has evolved into a much different beast but we still kept the name.

This weekend with family visiting offered us an opportunity to travel the culinary world without leaving London. This is of course very easy in London with an amazing array of food — arguably the best and broadest in the world, right here on our doorstep.

Here’s our whirlwind weekend…

Turkey

One of our local restaurants, Tas Firin is a homely charcoal grill restaurant Eastern Turkish style on the City Road, Old Street end. We ate in some style, J and I sharing the grilled meat platter special. Like eating barbecue without the hassle of cooking it yourself. House wine a bargain and the service excellent. We like this place, as you can tell from Julie and Carol in the photograph!!

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Italy

Ducking out of the thunderstorm we happened upon a small Italian restaurant just off Tower Bridge. Named after Marlon Brando’s character The Don in The Godfather, it looked a bit old school but the lunch special for £6.95 wasn’t bad value. It served a purpose as the deluge continued outside. I’ll only say pleasant things about this place in case the mafia link is more than just branding. No food pics I’m afraid, just moody shots of London in the rain and Tate Modern.

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Vietnam

Huong restaurant is in the heart of hipster Shoreditch, offering an energetic and vibrant dining experience, largely due to the hard-working, multi-tasking staff and colourful clientele. Food arrives lightning fast and is packed with flavour. I’m thinking Vietnamese is fast becoming my favourite far eastern food. The quick IG snap of my main course Hanoi fish is all that survives of the evening. Cheap and cheerful, we will return.

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Mexico

Thomasina Myer’s Wahaca chain blazes a trail for Mexican street food throughout the capital, delivering lip smacking flavours so bright sunglasses have to be worn at all times. Wahaca Soho was the location for our quick lunch with the sharing platter for two at £20 superb value. We were full to bursting for a tenner, which for sat down in Soho isn’t bad at all. Bright room, even brighter food. Decent food pics this time…enjoy! Spot on.

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Spain

Our globetroffing culminated with Spanish tapas at Brindisa Tramontana, again in Shoreditch. Sore feet after a day walking dictated a local affair and we weren’t disappointed. Ordering two dishes each with a few extras for good measure we tucked in heartily as each dish arrived. Comforting and leisurely, Tapas is surely the best kind of food when the wine and conversation is flowing. Brisk, friendly service with complimentary cheese from the chef too. Too dark to get a decent images unfortunately except for a moody shot of the bar. Trust me, it was fabulous.

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Soho lunch: Part 2

Sometimes it’s just nice to sit at the counter with some bread, charcuterie and cheese and that’s what we did this afternoon. No fuss, slurp some wine and get stuck in.

The lovely wife had been out all morning watching the trooping of the colour so she was dead on her feet when we walked past Fernandez and Wells late afternoon on Lexington Street in Soho. We’d decided on something light—i.e. no suet pudding or treacle tart—and this fit our brief to a tee. It’s the tiniest place in the world but very cool and every time we’d walked past previously it had been rammed so we caught them at a good time with a few stools at the bar available.

Fernandez and Wells is a mini chain but it doesn’t feel like one I have to say, so I ordered two mixed boards of meat and cheese with some padrons on the side (of course). A reasonably priced bottle of house white Rioja was ordered and were underway. The staff were from Spain and not Peckham (although they probably live there) and the experience felt so authentic I almost called the barman señor. The meats were good—wished I’d tried some of the Iberico) and the cheese very good especially the Mistralou.

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Putting the Ho in Soho

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Looking for inspiration for a Sunday lunch is Soho is like shooting fish in a barrel.

There’s tons of it.

We’d been impressed greatly by celebrity Vietnamese chief Bobby Chinn on Saturday Kitchen so we looked up his new London restaurant The House of Ho on Old Compton Street, and yes it made us chuckle too with its cheeky reference to Soho’s past —and present—whilst nodding to Vietnam at the same time. Unusually we were able to make a reservation (many trendy gaffs in London won’t take bookings which irks me) and a plan was set.

Chinn has cooked in Hanoi for the last ten years so we were excited to see what he might get up to in one of the most vibrant food cultures in the world. The style of cooking is a mix of Vietnamese street food with other influences…French, Chinese, Thai—I guess Vietnam is one of those countries that takes on board lots of influences due to its history and location.

The style is tapas with small plates and perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch catching up with friends. The flavours are bright, rich, comforting, surprising, familiar in fact they run the whole culinary gamut and it’s an exciting experience. Prices are pretty sensible as it’s right in the middle of Soho where competition for custom is fierce. Booze prices are good too but you can go nuts if you want to.

We put ourselves in the very capable hands of our waitress who advised knowledgeably on what we should order and if you go, I’d recommend you to do the same. The menu is quite simple but there are some dishes that you shouldn’t miss and this is one of those restaurants where lack of familiarity led us to a sublime journey of flavours and textures.

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First up coconut with monkfish ceviche. Crisp, fresh and sweet and the coconut cut up afterwards was a revelation, moist and juicy.

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Signature grilled aubergine with crispy shallots was a slippery and crunchy joy followed by ‘shaking beef’ fillet seared quickly so the outside is charred and inside pretty much raw. I could have eaten my own body weight of it, after which I would probably shake too.

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The pork in the dish above had been cooked for 6 days. It tasted seriously good, the most umami thing I’ve ever tasted, melting in the mouth with a deep, deep, deep flavour. Oh yes it had an egg on and some chilli. Bonus.

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A crab salad was ordered to keep Mrs D happy and also some chicken wings to fill up the boys. The salad was subtle and gentle whilst the chicken wings smashed the front door down.

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Salmon tartare was a bit of a let down after all the pyrotechnics to be honest but if we’d had that first we would have probably loved it. The wine kept flowing thanks to Gwil ordering a new bottle every 10 minutes and we rounded off a rather fabulous long lunch by sitting by the window watching the colourful world of Soho go by.

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Finally, here’s our good friend Gwil with Julie, both looking quite content after vast quantities of wine and top-notch Vietnamese tucker, all thanks to House of Ho.

 

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