@Beyrouths brings Middle Eastern street food to the mainstream. #food #streatham #new #balham #review

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In Balham and Streatham, South London, you’ll find the start of a food franchise called Beyrouths. Its name is based around the themes of urban Beirut, a city that has been a cultural inspiration for the world for many decades.

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Beyrouths serves up Middle Eastern food in an industrial setting giving the impression of the rebuilding of a great city (there is lots of purposely placed scaffolding) amongst wall to wall sized black and white photos of deserted middle eastern city streets. You sit on mix and match wooden tables, perhaps quite like you would find in its original inspiration setting, and this adds yet more quirkiness to the features as you walk in.

IMG_3283Its concept is to have clean, inspired and recycled style, blending the timeless features of the Middle East with the sophisticated modern world. Beyrouths’ offering also promises to be simple and quick table service with fresh foods. The latter, we agree is the case, the food is fresh and severed in a unique Middle Eastern style, which has stayed mainly within small independent mezze restaurants and never quite yet hit a franchise level.

On the other hand, given the vast size of the restaurant (in Streatham) the teething problems become apparent with the ‘not so’ quick service, and that the phrase service with a smile isn’t always the case.  Even though the restaurant was only half full at the time of us dining, it seemed to be slightly understaffed, so if you’re in a rush, beware, you certainly wont get your bill quickly.

IMG_3277On the upside, the food itself was delicious, starting with the drinks – we were recommended to try the green lemonade, which is apparently causing quite a popular stir on Twitter with its minty kick and fresh zesty lemon flavour. As enjoyable as this was, we think the pink lemonade triumphs even more, you taste the feeling of summer strawberries alongside the lemon to make it a moreish taste bud tickler!

The mezze style comes in the forms of the sides, which are mainly offered as a starter, we went with the moussaka which didn’t quite turn out as expected (same word, different meaning!) but was still very tasty and served with a beautiful flatbread. Additional to that, we also tried an aubergine hummus, which plays home to a big dollop of olive oil in the middle which adds that fresh feel.

IMG_3282The main meal was selected from a menu of chicken and lamb (and of course vegetarian options too) for around £10.50 you get a decent sized portion, but depending what you order, you may find the food is quite dry on its own, so may need to pick a yogurt to accompany it. Overall though the main meals are impressive, perhaps a little over cooked but tasty none the less.

Although this is street food, you wont be paying “market” street food prices, look to spend around £20+ per person when the bill comes. They do a brilliant Bring Your Own incentive with £1 for corkage, which if you’re planning a boozy night makes this place affordable and unique to eat in. As previously mentioned, this is a relatively new franchise, so we can forgive the teething problems that were faced.

Overall it’s a fun and different eating experience, a good introduction to Middle Eastern food, but just slightly missing the mark on smaller Mezze restaurants which have more of a tailored and attentive approach to their customers and provide more of that personal homely feel.

Albert’s Table takes fine dining to another level in a sleepy London suburb. @albertstable #restaurantreview #food

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Fine dining doesn’t have to come at a painful price, you can get elegance, superb service and good quality food only a short train ride away from London.

IMG_3231Albert’s Table provides a relaxing environment where you are most certainly focused on the food rather than who’s walking through the door. There is no stuffy atmosphere, the staff are friendly and know their stuff, and the cuisine is brilliantly created from quality British ingredients such as world class meat, vegetables and dairy all from British farmers, and producers and you really can taste the difference.

The style of food is very much British, but with a slight modern take to include some of the best influences from Europe. The restaurant opened in June 2008, under the leadership of Joby Wells, who has previously worked in a number of Michelin starred restaurants for many years. Since opening, Alberts table has quickly grown a reputation for high end dining and has led the charge for the increasingly popular restaurant quarter in Croydon.

IMG_3239The menu itself has a relatively large array of choice and wont break the bank with prices starting at £28.00 for a two course dinner. It allows you to ponder over mouth watering descriptions including a starter of gurnard and saffron soup with Cornish mackerel and salt cod brandade ravioli, leading on to a main of Ravioli of truffle mashed potato with new season spring vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, soft herb emulsion and rocket leaves. We went for the latter for our main and it was delicious and fair sized in terms of portion, so you wont feel short-changed unlike other fine dining restaurants.

The real winning ingredient for this restaurant is its attention to detail and genuine aim to please. From stunningly summery Louis Barthelemy Champagne with Strawberry to begin your dining experience through to the carefully plated up food that is presented with not a drop of sauce out of place; it really wont be long until Alberts Table proudly places a Michelin star sign in its window, and well deserved too!

To book your place at this fantastic restaurant, then click here

To follow Alberts table on Twitter then click here

 

 

 

New York on a shoe string – Affordable dining at the Mandarin Oriental’s Asiate restaurant @MO_HOTELS #food #newyork #finedining

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You literally can live the high life in New York for under $50 if you know the right spots to visit; and thanks to a very kind recommendation, we managed to find a hidden gem in a well known luxury.

New York oozes style, money and culture, and for some the dream of visiting the big apple can often remain just that. However, we’ve found a few little gems which will get your mouths watering and keep your bank manager still smiling.

The Mandarin Oriental is the height of luxury, it stands on the corner of Central Park opposite Donald Trumps hotel and soars high into the sky. However, you may just chose to stay in more affordable accommodation elsewhere, which is perfectly fine, but make sure you book in lunch here!

Soaring well above the skyline on the 35th floor is the Asiate restaurant. A pan Asian experience which for us superscrimpers luckily has a Prix Fixe menu (3 courses) for just $35! If you’ve never experienced fine dining before, this is certainly a great place to start. It has excellent service, delicious food and views over central park to die for!

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The attire is smart casual, and that means that after a morning of walking around this amazing city, you can still look glam in your slinky sandals and smart flip flops. You’ll be surrounded by lots of corporate business people who have used this as a location to secure a deal or two, but really you, the tourist are getting the deal breaker. You’ll feel straight like a character out of Sex and the City, and really experiencing what it means to be a high-flying Manhattan native!

IMG_3073For us, the first course consisted of a Ceviche pallet cleanser with a little hint of wasabi and some cuts of oranges and sea food – it was delicious and really set the scene for the culinary delights to come. Following that, you get a choice of pea soup or tuna nicoise salad, which was elegant and not too filling.

The main course has a selection of three dishes, Scallops, which are so rich in flavor that it almost becomes difficult to finish, Black Seabass, which was totally moreish but delivered in the perfect amount, and for those who didn’t want to stray too far from British shores, a lamb cutlet with mashed potato.

Finally you had the choice of two deserts, either a dark devils delight chocolate fondant (which of course we chose!) or an Almond and Rhubarb fondant. The chocolate choice exuded decadence and luxury and was a melt in your mouth experience!IMG_3072

So in terms of a bargain, surprisingly the Mandarin Oriental provided something above and beyond our expectations. This was an experience perfect for a treat, a birthday or just something different to do whilst you’re touring the city. Our one word of caution is to watch out for the additional prices on drinks – a glass of wine, a bottle of water and a cup of tea or coffee to finish your meal, will start to rack up the price point, so if you are watching your wallet be careful of that!

Finally, to ensure that you get one of the breathtaking window seats, make sure you plan ahead – these tables can go months in advance, and sometimes can be given as priority seating to those who are staying at the hotel. So our recommendation is that you specifically request this when making your booking.

For more information on this unique dining experience, click here

Happy Dining!!

 

Step into another world with @evansandpeel Detective Agency – #food #dining #restaurant

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A couple of streets away from Earls Court station, you’ll find a door with an old fashioned lamp above it and a queue of twenty-somethings standing outside. No, its not the entrance to a 1 Direction secret gig (although the twenty-somethings would certainly have one up on the tween population if that was the case!) its the entrance to one of London’s very cool themed restaurants.

It’s called Evans and Peel and plays out as a basement speakeasy where discretion is the name of the game on all accounts. Once  you manage to find the place, buzz the bell and finally get through to someone on the other end, you are summoned downstairs in the groups you have come with, to face a man dressed up, as per the era, ready to interrogate you about “your case.” Ours was the search for the KFC Colonels secret recipe (as you do) and we had a long and rather amusing grilling about the hunt for fast food chicken, Big Macs and the odd Burger King establishment. Once satisfied that your case is ‘legit’ you are let in to the secret world of Evans and Peel.

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The great thing about this place is that it really does transport you to another world. The lighting is pretty much non existent, bar the candles at your (very small) tables. There is a no-standing policy, so although a tiny space, you do feel like you’ve got privacy to have your own discussions without some stranger in earshot or without you having to raise your voice too much to compete with an over crowded room – the atmosphere is just right. Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 10.05.32

Food isn’t the main priority at Evans and Peel – they focus much more on their drinks. One word of advice, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for the drinks as they don’t come cheap! Cocktails will set you back around £10-11. But what you do need to remember is that 1) they don’t scrimp on the alcohol, you really do get a kick from it! 2) You’re paying for the experience. As well as a few moonshine beers, we also tried their recommended drink of the day – The Whiskey Barrelled Martinez – which felt almost as if you were drinking syrup it was so heavy and takes a lot of guts for even the heaviest of drinkers to do anything beyond slowly sipping it.

Screen shot 2013-04-12 at 10.05.19The food that is available, is served in a tapas like way – lots of small plates with sadly not a lot on them. We have to say that this is the biggest let down of the evening. The food is extremely expensive and not only does it lack in size, there really isn’t anything stand out either. Just to give you an example, four mini burgers and three sides known as the ‘whole caboodle’ will set you back £32, and realistically wouldn’t be a full meal for just one person, let alone the party of four we were with. Its a real shame, as there is the opportunity to do something really fun with the food here.

All in all, we’d recommend Evans and Peel as a great date night venue, perfect to impress with as its cool, kooky and definitely a lot of fun. This wouldn’t go on the cheap end of the price scale however, so if you do want to experience the evening properly, you’ll have to be prepared to pay around £50 per person for your night there, if not a bit more. But what you do get is something different, something hidden and an experience that definitely does break away from the norm, even if the role playing aspect kind of stops at the secret doorway. All in all, it’s good, but with a little more TLC, could be a lot better.

3 stars.

  • Phone: 020 7373 3573
  • Website: www.evansandpeel.com/
  • Opening hours: Open 5pm-midnight Tue-Thur; 5pm-00.30 Fri-Sat
  • Transport: Tube: Earl’s Court tube

The Great British Roast – At the Balham Bowls Club @balhambowls #foodreview

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Ahhh the humble roast dinner… the staple Sunday meal for the best of British, whether it be pork, beef, lamb or even a nut roast, our expectations are high come 1pm onwards. But why do we love the Sunday lunch so much and where does it all originate from?

Well, there are apparently two origins:

1) During the industrial revolution, Yorkshire families left a cut of meat in the oven before going to church on a Sunday morning, which was then ready to eat by the time they arrived home at lunchtime.

2) The Sunday Roast dates back to medieval times, when the village serfs served the squire for six days a week. Then on the Sunday, after the morning church service, serfs would assemble in a field and practice their battle techniques and were rewarded with a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.

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Whatever its starting point, the Sunday Roast is still a firm favourite in modern day, and with the sun shining so beautifully yesterday, Snoochie Boochies went on the hunt for the best.

The criteria has to be this:

1) It must be in a traditional setting (if its not in your own home)

2) It must have roasted meat, roast potato or mashed potato, with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing,vegetables and gravy.

3) It mustn’t cost the world

4) It must fill the plate!

So what did we find this week?

BALHAM BOWLS CLUB

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No longer a home for bowls, the Balham Bowls Club is now a quirky drinking and eating establishment within easy walking distance from Balham train and tube station. It feels like you’re in a slight time warp to an era pre 1970’s. It has original features, a cosy atmosphere, smiley bar staff and waiters and very British bunting hanging across the ceiling – Cath Kidston would be pleased!

Family friendly, Balham Bowls club is popular to customers of all ages, from regular drinkers, to those who fancy a game of Musical Bingo on a Thursday night; and to families looking for somewhere large enough to house a push-chair for a quick pit stop between shopping.

On a Sunday, it is advised to book in advance for a Sunday Roast. It’s a popular venue, so you wont often find a seat or table if you show up on the day itself. One of the downsides to its thriving business is that often food can take quite a long time to come out, but if you manage to book a sitting just before the rush (as we did) then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you actually can get the food.

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The selection of meat is impressively large with beef, lamb, pork, chicken and a vegetarian option, there’s definitely something for everyone. When the food arrives the plate is piled relatively high with your chosen meat, along with some lovely sides of cheesy cauliflower and red cabbage. One big shame is that the great yorkshire pudding is not included, and you can’t help but think that something definitely is missing. However the rest is more than enough for you to enjoy in one sitting, and a relaxing snooze is definitely on the cards when you get home.

To follow this up, we’d definitely recommend the scrumptious chocolate brownie or sticky toffee pudding, and at £4.50 it wont break the bank to treat yourself to a dessert. The final bill isn’t too alarming either. Look to pay (including tip) between £16-18 for a main and desert and around £22 if you fancy a tipple alongside it.

All in all, if the sun is shining and you really can’t bring yourself to slave away for hours to cook the perfect roast, then Balham Bowls Club is a great alternative, friendly, fun and something different from your average pub, its well worth a punt.

But of course, if you fancy taking the matter into your own hands, here’s a handy video from Gourmet Butcher Donald Russell on how to cook the perfect roast…

Happy Eating!