Monty’s Deli

DSC_1801

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.

DSC_1795

DSC_1798

DSC_1804

DSC_1805

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.

DSC_1806

DSC_1813

DSC_1810

DSC_1809

DSC_1816

DSC_1807

 

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.

IMG_9462

 

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.

IMG_9465 IMG_9466 IMG_9467

 

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.

IMG_9468

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.

DSC_1345 DSC_1346 DSC_1350 DSC_1353 DSC_1355 DSC_1352 DSC_1357 DSC_1356

Eating breakfast increases epicness #fact

IMG_8565

Back in ancient times, on my first day at art college, I attended an address by the principal welcoming us as students to a brand new term. The focus of his speech was not the most up to date view on a Eric Gill or revisionist opinion on Tomi Ungerer, but his musings on breakfast. Most important meal of the day etc was the mantra on that day and I can still remember our befuddled faces as we left the auditorium, we were now the coolest of all students — art students — and the main message was Weetabix. OK.

Over time, I’ve dwelt on this message and to be brutally honest I waver between a full on slap up feed in the morning and absolutely bugger all. Personally I don’t always need a breakfast to get the day underway, sometimes it gets in the way and yet on occasions I’m so hungry I can eat anything.

When I’m in the mood though, I do love a great breakfast: a naughty McD sausage and egg mcmuffin to smash a hangover, freshly cooked traditional full English completing any quality hotel stopover, dirty bacon banjos with brown sauce in white bread cakes dusty with flour, wobbly poached eggs on toast with chilli  sauce…I could go on.

So breakfast in London is anything and everything you want and my previous quest for the best breakfast in Leeds seems simple in our capital city. I’m not really on a quest, but seeking a breakfast nirvana: pre lunch food that takes me on a journey of comfort and discovery…and here’s where I’ve got to so far…

IMG_8175

Jackson and Rye

On trend American grub right in the heart of Soho.  Great eggs and traditional American classics mean this place is packed out all of the time. Tip: midweek late morning is always a good time to go. These baked eggs were comforting beyond description.

IMG_8660

The Breakfast Club

Don’t you forget about me etc. Irreverent 80s take on a diner experience replicated across London at a restaurant near you. Everywhere has queues, but the best time to go is midweek and early. The menu is fun and made me smile. The poached eggs with chilli and chorizo in the pic was probably the best breakfast I’ve had so far in London.

IMG_8127

Flat 13

The spankingly fresh Yorkshire asparagus from Sand Hutton near York is divine and the free range duck eggs a delight. The cool Hoxton address has a friendly Yorkshire welcome, with hosts Phil and Julie cooking up a delightful mix of London cool and Leeds anxiety.

IMG_8239

 

8 Hoxton Square

DSC_1189

At the first sign of sunshine, the first thing we Brits do is sit outside. Our weather is so uniformly unpredictable that we simply can’t afford to miss the opportunity for an al fresco lunch or a relaxed barbecue. Of course we overdo it and Monday morning scorched foreheads and glowing arms are a sure sign that the weekend was blessed with sun.

Saturday was one of those days that started out with the promise of a beautiful day: but azure skies turned to cloud and it even felt cool with it. But the clouds scudded on and clear skies followed so we headed for 8 Hoxton Square to see if we could bag an outdoor table on their small but perfectly proportioned terrace. Our luck was in so we settled down to enjoy the company of our friends from the North, the sun and of course the food.

8 Hoxton Square is right on the square in Hoxton as they name suggests and on a summer afternoon, there is no nicer place for lunch in North London. Hoxton Square is right in the heartland of cool, packed with buzzing bars and bustling restaurants all full of the right kind of people. 8 Hoxton Square is a beautifully informal place, whitewashed brick interiors, communal table, laid back staff and a menu to set it apart from its neighbours—proper food and by that I mean not just burgers, ribs, chicken wings and pizza (of which there is plenty of in Hoxton), but the real deal.

We’d been a couple of times before and had a plate or two of padron peppers and a bottle of well-priced rose but this was our first time for lunch. The menu offers plenty and especially for our non dairy vegetarian diner who eats fish, it offered lots of choice. The food is interestingly eclectic, a bit English, a bit Italian, some French thrown in and a bit of Spanish for good measure. But it hangs together and you know you’re on to a winner if the choices just seem too difficult.

We wolfed down some of the padrons which were probably the best I’ve had outside Spain and the boys opted for the sea bass, baby leeks, brown shrimp and capers whilst the girls went for the welsh beef and cockles and mussels. We added a couple of bowls of fries to the order too. Service was on the slow side if I was being critical, but we were sat outside, the sun was shining and the wine was flowing so we didn’t mind too much.

DSC_1188 DSC_1185 DSC_1161 DSC_1187

The food was well worth the wait— clean, crisp flavours, wonderful silky, crispy textures and a joy to behold. The fish was spanking fresh and light as air, the chips devastatingly good, mussels delicious sat in a deeply fishy broth. The Welsh beef was a huge rib eye, perfectly cooked. We caved in to desserts on this occasion with surprisingly light rhubarb bread and butter pudding and a zingy lemon curd meringue with strawberries shared among the four of us.

House wines come in at a very agreeable £15 a bottle (you’d be hard pressed to find wine of this quality for this price in Leeds) but we had Le Poussin Rose, brittle and crisp for just £18, followed by the oakily chewy Allende Rioja which we splashed out on at £28. A very sensibly priced wine list.

All in all, a wonderful lunch in great company and as we sauntered back to our flat (a ten minute walk) we knew we’d had one of those meals that would set the bar for subsequent outings.

DSC_1192 DSC_1191

Shoreditch Sunday Lunch

The Princess of Shoreditch

Picture 43

Since we moved to London we haven’t had a proper Sunday lunch. Having moved into an open plan flat, we certainly haven’t tried to cook a roast dinner yet and those of you who live in a similar space will understand our reluctance to make everything smell of Sunday dinner. The weather has been so nice too and when the weather is good, roast dinners go down our food agenda for more lighter fare.

But we had a hankering for a roast dinner recently, so I went on the hunt for somewhere local that would deliver the goods. Just a short walk from where we live is The Princess of Shoreditch is a cool, airy gastro pub ( I hate that term but it I can’t think of any other way to describe it) just off Old Street right in the heart of hipsterville Shoreditch. It’s a busy and unpretentious pub with bare wood floors, white walls, mix and match furniture, vintage prints and a kind of cookie cutter cool vibe (beards, check shirts etc), but in a good way.

I booked a table as last time it was rammed when I passed and we were ushered upstairs to a light and airy room. The Sunday lunch menu was our main focus so ordering was easy: we both went for the three roast dinner. Yes, three roasts on one plate: beef, pork and chicken. Greed knows no bounds I realise, so I ordered a starter too. And a bloody Mary!

IMG_8236

IMG_8237

IMG_8238

The bloody Mary was nicely spiced and packed a punch served pretentiously in a dimple glass (I get it, it’s a pub) . The cod cheek scampi starter was a bit of a let down: it was hard and tasted blandly of deep fried frozen fish but the aioli lifted it.

But as far as restaurant Sunday lunches go, it was up there with all the key elements excellently done. The roast meat was tender and melting, the beef served nicely pink. The Yorkshire was a delight, wafer thin and puffed up — enough to bring a tear to the eye of any Yorkshireman. Sitting atop a pool of unctuous gravy were crisp and not crucially not overcooked vegetables. The duck fat roasts were the only let down: not like the ones I make at home but I challenge any commercial kitchen to top the TLC I afford my roasties.

All in all, just what the doctor ordered. Price point was fairly reasonable, £16.95 for the full mashings roast dinner washed down a half carafe of the sensibly priced house red. We toddled home, satisfied that our Sunday lunch appetite has been sated for at least another week.