HIX

…beaut brit food

66-70 Brewer Street

W1F 9UP

http://www.hixsoho.co.uk

Hix Soho_web

Hix has long been on my hit list for its popular British themed menu so I was looking forward to my meal here immensely. Fortunately, I was not disappointed – both with the quality of the food and the service – and am now hoping to sample the delights of Tramshed et al soon.

It was a family trip to the theatre, so this wasn’t to be a drawn out affair. Added to that, I was in the company of my impatient and incredibly fussy father, so… tough crowd. But Hix came out on top! The ‘best burger ever’ [let's not get into that ] was consumed by the happy parents;

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Sister and I indulged in some lean, mean and super …delicious hanger steak, which arrived with a lovely basil dipping sauce whose fresh tang complimented the rich meat perfectly. It also arrived with baked bone marrow. Now I am a huge fan of ossobuco, so I figured this would go down well. Unfortunately, they had murdered the gelatinous pzazz of bone marrow by not only baking it but also mixing it with a shit tonne of crumbs! Whaaaa?!?! Very bizzarro, not in a good way. But the chips almost beat McDonald’s, which is really saying something in my book. And the asparagus were  perfectly cooked. Brother happily destroyed the rib eye;

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Unfortunately we weren’t able to sample the sweets due to time pressures, but it is safe to assume that they would have been satisfactory. And anyway, everyone knows its the meat that really matters…

VERDICT – Definately worth the visit. Not cheap as chips but reasonable considering the obvious quality of the ingredients, knowledge and charm of the staff and skills of the kitchen. Bo!

[Little NB - I think the hix website is really shit and dated, so if anyone reads this that might have some control over that... might be time to bring things to 2013 and leave the swirly poncey font to the french?]

SURROUNDINGS - Some great light fixtures and lots of colour – it’s got a buzz on for sure.

£££££

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SMOKEHOUSE

…more marvellous meat!

63 – 69 Canonbury Rd

N1 2DG

http://www.smokehouseislington.co.uk

A charming restaurant has just opened within spitting distance of my home, and what is especially fortunate is that the Smokehouse is bloody delicious – if you’re a meat eater. Again, veggies/vegans/pesca-whatsits… look away now I don’t want to confuse your moral compass or anything. My companion for the evening was  bidding farewell to all things bloody – this meal was a very fitting farewell.

We started with the chopped brisket roll, flaky, slow cooked meat packed into a super crunchy bread crumb casing, served over a snazzy coronation mayo which went perfectly [and was a great yellow too for the aesthetes out there].  Blooming larverly. The spicy scallops were delicious but didn’t blow anyone away, and the real stand out dish was the fois gras, apple pie and duck egg. Apple pie with duck liver you ask? YES! Apple pie with duck liver AND an egg! Who would have thought aye?

As a main we indulged in the short rib bourguinon on the recommendation of our waiter, which was very rich but packed full of flava. Better shared as it might have been a bit intense on it’s own. I couldn’t resist a side of the Lamb Stovies, which were described as slow roasted potatoes with bits of lamb threaded through – nom. Instead we were disappointed to receive some mushy potatoes with bits of smokey meat thrown in. The texture was mealy and the flavour really wasn’t that great either – nat good.

Our dessert was Friday Pie, otherwise known as a fucking good chocolate tart with bits of honey comb [yes!] and ice cream. Neither of us are dessert eaters, and we ATE that dessert. Dominated it, in fact.

VERDICT – tasty food, great surroundings and fairly priced. Boy am I happy this is my local!

SURROUNDINGS – Very low lit – hence the lack of pictures, but cosy and completely and utterly inoffensive. There is a lovely garden with plenty of fairy lights going on which is bound to be pleasant once summer rolls around again…

£££££

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BRAWN

…marvellous meat

49 Colombia road

E2 7RG

http://www.brawn.co

Brawn was one of the first meat-centred restaurants that popped up in my consciousness, and boy oh boy does it do nose to tail meat well. Vegetarians/Vegans, look away now for you are sure find this post hard to read.

The plates are happily small which allows you to indulge in several rather than just one. We had the onglet which was fucking delicious. Just, awesome. That is all you need to know;

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We also indulged in pigs trotters, which I was very hesitate about but did not regret the decision. Creamy, flavourful and scrumptions, the happy little dumpling on a delicious tartar-ish creamy base was just great.

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VERDICT - delicious and very well cooked food, served quickly and with a friendly flourish. GO!

SURROUNDINGS – colombia road is notoriously charming, and brawn sits happily on the corner in a high ceiling-ed and simple space. Perfectly inoffensive.

£££££
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JOHN SALT

…industrial tapas

http://john-salt.com

131 upper street

N1 1QP

Recently opened on upper street, John Salt serves tasty tapas-size dishes. There is a strong british influence on the food with lashings of international flavours. The plates are priced between £4-10 on average and they recommend about 3 per person, which makes it a relatively pricey meal, however, this format is perfect for those of us who suffer from chronic food envy in the normal one-plate-each set up, so I was down with it.

The semi industrial style suits the space, and the staff were friendly and helpful. Our food came miraculously fast as well which was awesome. We had burnt leeks with parmesan and an egg yolk – delicious and a very smokey aubergine dip which wasn’t to everyone’s taste but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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The bread was deliciously chargrilled too… yum.

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We also had a beetroot dish with goat cheese and sweet corn – personally, this was too sweet and icky for me but my ma awarded it dish of the day. The padron peppers were divine and the tempura oysters were completely revolting – salty and soggy little goo balls inside tempura batter just.doesn’t.work. Ick -

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ew -

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I was very disappointed that the onglet wasn’t on the menu as I had been informed that this was completely mouth watering. We instead had the alternate meat dish which was tasty but not amazing – the meat was a little sinewy.

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Desserts really did steal the show though. The banana dog – yes, banana dog – was fricking awesome. A caramelised banana in caramelised batter with caramelised buts of yum all over it AND cream. I mean really.We also indulged in the sea salt caramal choc tart which, as I have previously stated, is my favourite desert and impossible to get wrong.

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VERDICT – John Salt is worth a visit – the food is good, quick and fairly priced. You get to try lots of different things and the happy hour of 241 cocktails is a great addition to a pre theatre meal should you be visiting sadlers wells/almeida or any of the other bits and bobs that go on in the area.

SURROUNDINGS – Vaguely familiar dark wood and light bulb decor but it works and is definately not offensive so – approve!

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BREAKFAST CLUB

…breakfast.

12-16 Artillery Passage

London

E1 7LS

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The breakfast club was at an immediate disadvantage considering it’s lack of exterior space. Arriving  in the sun, the general rule I like to go by is if one can eat alfresco, one should eat al fresco. The restaurant also had a nasty coffee/damp smell to it which was also quite unappealing, but this might have been highlighted by my reluctance to enter in the first place.

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Our brunch, however, was delicious. I had the huevos rancheros which, for the ignorant among you [I had no idea what it was either] consists of  fried eggs, tortilla with melted cheddar, refried beans, chorizo, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. It was, unsurprisingly, super tasty apart from the chorizo which I found to be a bit much – very thick and over bearing. I would have preferred little lardons of chorizo, but that might be personal preference.

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The side fruit salad was also a delightful addition to the meal, and had a great combination of snazzy fruit with none of the crappy ones [see ya later apple/pear/banana in my fruit salad - none of that crap with this one].

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I also indulged in a very refreshing and hydrating ice tea. Nom.

I think the breakfast club would be the perfect brunch spot for a cold and rainy day. They havn’t quite got the whole brunch-in-the-sun thing down, but who can blame a restaurant for not prepping for heatwaves when they come once a decade and last two months – no biggie.

VERDICT – Definately worth a visit, not too spenny.

SURROUNDINGS – The furnishings were alright – very ‘shoreditch’.

£££££

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MARKET

…Camden’s saviour

3 Parkway

London

NW1 7PN

Parkway being quite a manic street, and not one I would say is any kind of culinary mecca, it was quite punchy for Market to plonk themselves smack bang in the middle, opposite some grotty camden pub and probably a chinese resto/charity shop [I didn't check but whatever]. But plonk they did, and what luck for camdenites! A refreshing haven of clean lines, no flyers and delicious food – camden is no longer only good for shitty chinese and kebabs – hurrah! The food is simple and no frills  - we chose to have the lunch menu which at £10 for 2 courses is a bloody steal. Traditional english ingredients with a zany lil twist abound – we ate the black pudding scotch egg with apple salad, courgette and basil soup, buttermilk chicken and an avocado, peanut & parmesan salad. Deeelish!

Didn’t know I liked black pudding, but apparently I do when it is coated in fantabulously crispy bread crumbs and stuffed with a delicious soft and creamy egg:

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The soup was good – it needed quite a bit of seasoning but was perfectly tasty, as you can see:

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The mains were not quite as good as the starters. The chicken dish was perfectly sized and the chicken delicious [those fantabulous bread crumbs again] but the slaw wasn’t very good so it felt a bit bla, and while the salad was DELICIOUS – it was a side salad, not a  main. If you are going to serve a salad as a main, ya gotta throw something of colour in there! But still – taste wise, winning:

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We also ordered a side of buttered new potatoes, which were freaking delicious and seasoned to perfection, however we did not eat them because we were stuffed. Completely unnecessary but a joy to nibble on:

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When the dessert came my jaw involuntarily dropped to the floor and we were both lost for words as we ate it. I can’t even be bothered to use any adjectives to tell you how great honeycomb, chocolate mousse and sea salt caramel ice cream is when partying in your mouth all together:

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VERDICT – go.

SURROUNDINGS – completely innoffensive to the point of being enjoyable.

£££££

Market on Urbanspoon

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MISHKINS

… jazzy jewish fare

http://mishkins.co.uk

25 Catherine St

WC2B 5JS

My long awaited visit to Mishkins was very well received. Created by the talented Russell Norman [big fan], Mishkins is the Jewish NY deli to Polpo’s venetian baccaro. Decorated with the perfect balance of bare brick and funky little booths, mishkins is a great spot for little dishes of tasty food which is fairly priced – wahey! A great pre-theatre destination, the atmosphere was good and the service efficient. We ate the fried anchovies, delicious goat cheese and artichoke meat balls, salt beef hash and shakshuka [baked eggs in tomatoes].

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Salt beef hash was DELICIOUS. Salty and tasty – a breakfast dish, officially, but perfect for dinner.

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Deep fried anchovies were good – not completely amazing. I think the batter could have been a bit crunchy and tastier…

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Shakshuka. Yum -

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For dessert we indulged in some lemon drizzle. I was disappointed when it arrived without any glazed ‘drizzle’, but actually this dense and tasty cake was really great so i forgave the lack of drizzle.

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VERDICT – Mishkins was a hit for me. Stylish and well executed food, the menu was straight forward and well designed. Our dishes were all tasty and arrived in good time. It is also pleasant when your meal isn’t ruined by an outrageous bill.

SURROUNDINGS – Great. This is a very bad picture of the funky little booth they wanted to sit us in [it was still sunny outside so we declined, but on a cold and rainy day - i'm in there like a flash].

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£££££

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SHRIMPY’S @ THE FILLING STATION

…peachy pineapples

http://shrimpys.co.uk/

The Kings Cross Filling Station, Goods Way

N1c 4UR

filling station

Shrimpy’s at the filling station has really struck a cord, primarily because it is SUCH a great space for a restaurant. I have been looking forward to going for a while as it is on my cycle home, and although I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, it didn’t blow me away. Hidden behind a wall which looks like gigantic corrugated iron, the restaurant sits in a temporary bunker on the canal, opposite the new and fabulous St Martins building. It is incredibly depressing that the space is due to be demolished to make way for…you guessed it, luxury apartments. Sad. Amazing pineapples abound inside [such a great looking fruit] and the simple cartoon decor on peach walls and penguin carafes is akin to an absurdist interpretation of sea side americana.  It is therefore disappointing that the menu was so disjointed – it was hard to get a sense what exactly they were going for. Was it drive thru america, with burgers, fries, sundaes, po’boys… or is it a more carribean theme, with soft shell crab, ceviche and fresh salads. I didn’t like how wide ranging it was, and how little fish content was available. They were out of the soft shell crab burger which is the signature dish [how does that ever happen?!] so we opted for the deep fried prawn po’boy, which was not really anything  special. To start we had a salad of avocado, cucumber, smoked trout & shaved fennel which was nice but quite small [it cost £7.50]. With our po-boy we had a delicious side of fresh slaw with pomegranate seeds which was really delish. For dessert we indulged in the chocolate sundae, which had sugared pistachios & brownie bits in it – yum.

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VERDICT – It is worth going to shrimpy’s as the restaurant is quite unique and the food is good & tasty, but the primary appeal lies in the style of the place, which is polished and distinctive. It would therefore be nice if the food caught up with the standard of it’s setting, given the price and the size of the portions.

SURROUNDING – Great. It is hard to see but check out this fabulous pineapple that happily set nestled amongst all these adorable cacti;

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£££££
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RISTORANTE ANACAPRI

…authentic & eccentric italian

10 Dorset Street

W1U

This little italian gem is nestled in the no mans land that sits between baker street and selfridges. That bit of marylebone no one ever really wanders through, unless you are a tourist on your way from sherlock’s house/madame tussauds to oxford street. So the liklihood is, most people will not have fallen upon Ristorante Anacapri. And what a shame that is, as this restaurant is filled to the rafters with comiclly cliched italian charm. 4 waiters fall on you the minute you walk through the door, cries of ‘bella’ are heard from all 4 corners of the room as you are ushered to your seat and plied with all sorts of free nibbles. It would be over bearing if you thought for a minute that they were being disingenious, but they aren’t. This is italy, bitches.

The food was very failry priced, especially for the area, and tasty. It arrived without delay and with the appropriate flourish – food tastes better when things are up beat. With the current trend being style-over-substance, the complete and utter lack of pretension was incredible refreshing. I ordered moderately as I didn’t find myself very hungry, so a bowl of minestrone it was. This wasn’t blow-your-socks off sweet-mother-of-mary tastiness, but it was enjoyably edible,  and for £3.90, I would go as far to say it was good.

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My companions had some cheesy gnocchi which was actualy really quite delicious, and then a surprisingly fresh, custom-made salad which was unexpected considering the carb-heavy menu. All in all, they delivered a tasty meal which was made better by the abundance of charm and italian eccentricity that came with it.

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Abruptly after our mains had been cleared, they put the entire dessert tray on our table for us to choose a dessert. Not entirely sure if this is a tradition or just special treatment, but we had the creme caramel which was tasty.

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VERDICT – Entertaining and quite delightful. Go – it is very hard to come by such an authentic little place, even if the food won’t  blow you away, you are sure to pass a pleasant evening.

SURROUNDINGS – Complete with chianti bottles mounted on the walls, it is a little squashed and haphazard but it all adds to the charm.

£££££
Anacapri on Urbanspoon

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THE SUMMERHOUSE

…seaside special
60 Blomfield Road
W9 2PA
Nestled next to the canal on one of Maida Vale’s prettiest roads sits The Summerhouse, a delightful restaurant with a strong nautical theme in both style and menu, which works perfectly harmoniously due to the immediate the presence of the canal, with barges lazily drifting along past the windows. Along with the view and the complimentary spritz, our meal got off to a great start.
We shared the crispy seafood platter which consisted of fish goujons, deep fried squid and deep fried prawns. We also got a chicken, bacon and blue cheese salad and some chunky chips. The meal was plentiful and nicely executed, arriving in good time without any fuss. And it tasted pretty good too.
The only critique would be that the tartar sauce could have been chunkier, and the blue cheese pieces in the salad could have been slightly smaller – if your fork caught one, there wasn’t much chance for anything else to get air time in your mouth!
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VERDICT – The emplacement of this restaurant is really second to none, and the ambiance is relaxed and pleasant. The food is perfectly good – it isn’t going to blow you away but it is more than good enough, so go.
SURROUNDINGS – Probably the best part of the place. Really freshhh…
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£££££

The Summerhouse on Urbanspoon

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