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London Restaurant Review: Gatti’s @ CityPoint, Moorgate #ZomatoMeetUp

About a month ago the lovely people over at Zomato invited me to a #ZomatoMeetUp at Gatti’s, an Italian restaurant in the City. These events are basically lots of foodies coming together to try good food and wine at interesting and sometimes new (like this one was to me!) locations across town. Obviously I wasn’t going to say no, because that just sounds like heaven!

This was my first meet up and I can honestly say I had a fab time. If you can’t be bothered to read the whole post, take this away: Gatti’s is great. The food is awesome and the staff are lovely and obviously passionate about serving honest, traditional Italian food. If you want more, read on (and get ready to salivate at all the amazing food…!)

Gatti's - Table

Gatti’s have two locations, one in Broadgate and one at CityPoint, near Moorgate. We went to the CityPoint branch, which is in an area I’m not particularly familiar with, and certainly didn’t help in finding it… the restaurant is a bit hidden away in one corner of the plaza, so I can imagine it doesn’t get much passing trade.

When I arrived I was served a lovely glass of Veuve Clicquot and started to get to know my fellow bloggers and the staff at Zomato over some canapés: smoked salmon, mascarpone and chives or lobster and avocado mousse blinis. I’m not a fan of seafood generally so didn’t try the lobster, but the smoked salmon was delicious!

The main restaurant is downstairs and it really was a surprise to see just how big it is considering the upstairs is so small – it’s essentially a bar area with space for just a few tables. Downstairs is the opposite with lots of well-spaced tables, mixed with booths for a more intimate feel. Red leather and white tablecloths mean it looks crisp but still welcoming and homely.

Gatti's - Restaurant

Apparently the plural of bruschetta is bruschette, and that’s what made up our first course: various toppings including cured ham and artichoke; porcini mushrooms in a herb and garlic butter; and roasted cherry tomatoes with basil.

Gatti's - Bruschette

My favourite was by far the ham & artichoke, though the mushrooms – which I’m not normally a big fan of – came a close second as they were cooked perfectly and had just enough garlic.

Gatti's - Bruschetta - Mushrooms

The next course was ‘rigatoni al pomodoro di Campagna’, otherwise known as rigatoni pasta in a tomato sauce with basil. My first thought was, if it’s that simple, it has got to be good. My other thought was, YES! because I love rigatoni. This really was delicious. Literally so simple but possibly one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had, even better than some in Rome. The pasta was al dente and the ingredients fresh – just perfect.

Gatti's - Rigatoni Close Up

Next came the fish course, a whole sea bass which had been baked in a sea salt crust.

Gatti's - Salt Baked Bass

This was a real sight to behold as they cut it out, filleted and served it to us along with parsley sauce and a crisp pickled salad with orange.

Gatti's - Salt Baked Bass - Filleting

The fish had taken on some of the flavour of the salt, which was fine for me but might be a little much for some, though I think the parsley sauce helped to cut through it.

Gatti's - Salt Baked Bass - Plated

Gatti's - Salt Baked Bass - Salad

Next came a lemon and prosecco sorbet which was a lovely palette cleanser. Not very easy to photograph though..

Gatti's - Sorbet

The main course can only be described as immense, both in size and quality. Just look at that hunk of beef!

Gatti's - Beef Close Up

The beef was carved up and served with seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes and strangely, Yorkshire puddings. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but it was a bit of a surprise! They were fluffy yet still crispy on the outside.

Gatti's - Beef Carving

Gatti's - Veg

The beef was a star. I’m not a massive fan of beef if I’m honest, but this was delicious. It was more pink than I would have chosen but it was fine – no blood actually coming out!! – and the flavour was rich. Roast potatoes are quite one of the best bits about a roast in my opinion (a long time love stemming from not liking many meats when I was younger) and these were DELICIOUS. Fluffy potatoes, crispy round the edges, and flavoured with rosemary – one of my favourite ways to have roasties!

Gatti's - Beef

Gatti's - Beef

I was honestly stuffed by this point and then we remembered there were desserts coming…! And not just any desserts, a selection each – ‘Dolce dello Chef’. These included home-made tiramisu, panna cotta with winter berries, profiteroles and cheesecake.

Gatti's - Dessert Platter

I’ve started to realise I am more of a savoury person these days, so will happily choose a starter over a dessert, but these all looked so delicious, and the small bites of each that I managed to fit in didn’t disappoint. Personally my favourite was the panna cotta which was light and creamy, and second was probably the tiramisu. I found the cheesecake a little heavy, and to be honest the profiterole was just a profiterole. All in all though it was great to try different things and perhaps I might actually order a panna cotta next time I go for a dessert!

Gatti's - Dessert Platter 2

I should also mention that the first few courses were paired with an Italian wine – white for the starter and fish course and red for the main. Both choices complimented the food perfectly; these guys certainly know their wines!

They also gave us a sweet little bag of homemade truffles to take away, which I gave to my husband.. wish I’d eaten them myself though as going by everything else I’m sure they were tasty.

Truffles

I had a fantastic night with Zomato and the other bloggers at Gatti’s. The staff are so friendly and happy to talk about the history of the restaurants and the philosophy behind them. They are very passionate about the food they serve and it comes through so well.

 

If I’m ever in the area of either restaurant, I’d happily visit for some more traditional, home-made Italian food. The prices are fairly average in my opinion for the City and considering the food is so good, really it’s a small price to pay. Highly recommended.

 

Gatti's City Point Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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London Restaurant (Pub) Review: The Railway Tavern, Bromley

OK OK, so this is technically a pub. But it is my favourite local pub, and I’m biased, so I decided it deserves a mention because the food is great.

The Railway Tavern is on the corner of East Street opposite Bromley North Station – on the very edge of what has recently been coined ‘Bromley North Village’. It’s an area of bars, restaurants, boutique shops and the obligatory hairdresser or two, and Bromley Council have invested a lot over the last couple of years into making it pretty eclectic (for Bromley!) – the road is actually flat to the pavement to encourage people to wander here and there; there’s new lighting and paving; and all the bars/restaurants on the street are able to put tables outside in the summer to encourage a lovely café culture.

So, back to the pub. The Railway Tavern was taken over by a collective called Antic London in Summer 2014. They did it up in their trademark shabby chic kind of style, while retaining the Victorian air of the place. It used to be a hotel, which is very evident when you go up to use the toilets – doors are everywhere and it’s not always particularly well lit… not creepy at all…! Downstairs there’s a few different rooms plus an outdoor terrace for you to choose from, and very rarely do you feel overwhelmed by crowds or on top of one another, unlike the nearby similarly decorated but overly popular Barrel & Horn (on the north part of the high street). Plus for the musical among you there’s a piano free for you to play on and for the competitive, a few board games on offer too.

Loving this wall arrangement

A post shared by Katy Reeves (@jessicamayadam) on

^ Taken by my friend!

Briefly on drinks: there’s a good selection of ales on tap if that’s your thing, a couple of good ciders and the better end of the lager scale (Morretti for example). House white is around £14 but a good Sauvignon is only a couple of quid more from memory, so worth spending the extra. No, it’s not exactly cheap – but there’s an O’Neill’s about 6 doors down the road if that’s what you’re after.

The menu is fairly unusual for a centre-of-town pub in that it’s all homemade and uses fresh, local ingredients. At first glance The Railway Tavern food menu might seem a little over the top with the choice of small plates of things like arancini; but the old favourite main courses are available too, with burgers, fish & chips, and sausages & mash making an appearance.

I went for a chicken burger (£10), mostly because it came with mozzarella cheese AND bacon AND chips AND coleslaw (all the good things). My friend decided on sausages & mash (£7), plus a side of onion rings (£2).

The Railway Tavern - Chicken Burger and chips

The chicken burger was happily an actual chicken breast. Not the easiest thing to eat in a bun due to its shape admittedly but tasty all the same. It had obviously been marinated in herbs as you could definitely taste it, which shows an attention to detail not many pubs would bother with. The bacon was crunchy, the mozzarella suitably melted.. My only gripe was that the grease from the chicken/cheese/bacon hadn’t been drained as well as it could have been and so the brioche bun was a little soggy. It held together well, but definitely could have been a bit crispier.

The Railway Tavern - Chicken Burger Close

The fries were pretty great to be honest. Skinny fries tend to taste all the same to me but these were different: still thick enough to actually have potato inside, and flavoured with rosemary, I could have eaten a bowl of those alone. The coleslaw was obviously homemade, still crunchy and not at all overpowered by onion as many are.

The Railway Tavern - Sausages and Mash

My friend’s sausages and mash received equal plaudits: the mash was creamy, the sausages good quality but not gritty like some can be, plus they came with a side of unexpected cabbage (a good thing if you like cabbage!) and a good portion of gravy. The onion rings were cooked in a very light batter, which was lovely but did mean they were a little bit greasy. Kind of what you want from onion rings in my opinion, but some may be put off.

The Railway Tavern - Onion rings

Final comment: the portion sizes. are. BIG. I couldn’t even finish mine and that tells you something!

The Railway Tavern does a few good deals in the week, such as £10 burger, fries and a drink on a Monday, and a free drink with a meal on a Wednesday if you’re there for the quiz. Personally I’m looking forward to trying some more dishes; this could quite easily end up being one of my favourite places to eat in Bromley – even if it is a pub!
Railway Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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#tbt: Afternoon Tea at Harrods

Back in December I took my Mum to Harrods for afternoon tea with a voucher from Buyagift. Yes, it was her Mother’s Day present. Yes, I know we ended up going nearly 11 months late. And yes I know it’s now May (oops). Let’s just gloss past that, shall we? As Mum had never been to Harrods it seemed almost criminal not to have a wander round as well, so we arrived early, meeting under the massive Harrods sign on the corner.
 Afternoon Tea - Harrods Sign
As it was just before Christmas, Harrods was bedecked in beautiful Christmas lights and the whole store had that Christmas buzz. It was fairly chilly so we quickly ducked inside and slowly meandered the different rooms, looking at lots of things we couldn’t afford and all the beautiful food! A girl can dream…
Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Food Hall
Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Chocolate
Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Tea Canisters
Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Christmas swags
Somehow we managed to find the sale section, woohoo! Finally, things I can actually BUY. I bought all sorts of Harrods merchandise.. an oilcloth bag, in their Circus print; an apron for my sister in Rooster print; oven gloves in the Crowning Cats print for a friend; a bib for my cousin’s baby again in Circus; a cosmetics case in the Pet Shop print… to be honest I could have bought half of the sale section (especially the handbags – leather bags for less than £25!) but somehow I eventually managed to put my purse away.
When it came to be afternoon tea time, the voucher said the “Terrace Restaurant”, which we quickly established isn’t that easy to find, being actually called something completely different on most of the signs! We ended up at the Georgian Restaurant, where a helpful lady told us we needed to go around it, as the Terrace restaurant was round the back of the Georgian. We didn’t realise just how close it actually was – the two are only separated by a grille of sorts – but the walk around is a bit of a schlep through Fashion. Not ideal if you’re in a hurry!
The Terrace may not be as fancy as its recently refurbished Georgian neighbour but the decor was cleaner and simpler. The white leather chairs added an elegant feel and thanks to the lovely Christmas tree in the middle, we felt suitably festive. The staff were all politeness and nothing was too much trouble.
 Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Terrace Restaurant
 You’re able to choose your tea from a short menu; I plumped for Assam while my mum went for Darjeeling. I’m not a big tea drinker (read: coffee addict) but I do know what teas I like; usually Earl Grey, Assam, Chai. The Assam was delicious, as you might expect. Malty without being too heavy.
Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Menu
Tea
So, onto the good stuff. Look at all the good stuff.
Cakes and sandwiches
There was a selection of finger sandwiches, and I really enjoyed the Cucumber and Cream Cheese and the Smoked Salmon. Any part of the Tea can be topped up so Mum and I went for seconds!
Mum
Next came the scones. They were lovely and warm, a mixture of plain or fruit, served with clotted cream and Harrods strawberry jam. Utterly delicious and probably my favourite part!
Finally, the patisserie. By far the most visually attractive cakes I’ve ever eaten! Sadly, not all were my bag, but that’s not to say someone with more of a sweet tooth wouldn’t love them. The very helpful waiter told us which order to eat them in – lightest first, which was definitely a good idea… a couple were seriously rich and if I’d eaten them first I’d never have made it through!
Cake
Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Cake 2
After some more tea we had another wander, finding a completely empty back staircase, covered in gorgeous floral wallpaper – it felt like being in someone’s house!
We got a bit lost but eventually ended up outside, and joined the crowds looking at the now-lit Christmas window displays on Brompton Road. The theme this year was The Land of Make Believe and the displays were hauntingly beautiful.
Christmas window at Harrods - Ballerina
Christmas window at Harrods - Teddy
Christmas window at Harrods - Girl
Lights
Before heading home, we even managed to find Paddington Bear.
Afternoon Tea at Harrods - Paddington Bear
Harrods Terrace - Harrods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Kitchen Upgrade – The Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri*

You may or may not know that hubby & I bought a flat in 2011. It’s a lovely little place – one bedroom, right by our local high street, a miniscule amount of outside space. We decorated when we moved in, and over time have slowly been upgrading our furniture and fittings as we’ve gone along. One area we’ve not shown a massive amount of love until fairly recently was our kitchen – relatively ironic, considering my husband is a chef! For some reason it always ended up further down the list, until we decided last year to try to get our act together.

We started by deciding to paint our severely 80’s “pine” laminate cabinets to bring them a bit more up to date, and got a new light fixture for the seating area to match the new door handles. I’ll do another post in more detail on these updates soon once we’ve finished Phase 2 in a few months – also known as “getting rid of that awful plastic sink”!

Here’s the list of things still left to do:

  • Paint the cabinets
  • Replace the cabinet handles
  • Update lampshade
  • Replace the sink & taps
  • Either replace or trim the worktop to enable us to…
  • …Replace the cooker (which was left by the previous owners and is an awful, old, slimline cooker)
  • New tiles? (still deciding on this one)
  • Replace the blind
  • Replace the net curtains
  • Upgrade all of our cooking equipment

On the last point, we’ve picked up bits and bobs over the years but are still using the stainless steel pan set we bought when we first moved in to a rented flat in 2010. Don’t get me wrong; they’ve lasted well and no doubt would for years to come, but we dream of good quality pans! Non-stick coatings! Ah, how life changes as you get old, eh?

So, when Moderna Housewares offered to send me the Ozeri Stone Earth Pan* to try, it was almost like fate! We’ve been using it for a month or so now, so can give our honest opinion.

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 1

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 2

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 5

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 8

This pan is FAB. It’s that simple! The pan we have is 26cm (10in) which is a more than adequate size for our 2 person household, though considering the depth of the pan (about 5 cm!) it can accommodate a lot more besides – making it great for big curries, bolognese and so on as it can hold a great amount of food and sauce! It’s made using Stonehenge®, an “ultra-safe, 100% PFOA-free non-stick stone coating from Germany”. You may not realise but most household cooking equipment with non-stick coatings contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid); while the effects of low doses on humans is still disputed, studies have shown links to high cholesterol, and high doses have lead to cancer among other things in animal testing. I never had a clue this was the case, so I’m glad this trial opened my eyes and definitely something I will think about going forward.

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 4

The non-stick coating really is impressive. Compared to our stainless steel pans, where it is a constant battle, this is like a dream. The inner is made from heavy-gauge die-cast aluminium and the base is magnetised (so those who use induction hobs are safe), allowing the heat to be distributed evenly and quickly. As promised in the description, I’ve not noticed any “hot spots” which is often the case with our stainless steel pans on our electric hob. We’ve definitely noticed that food cooks more quickly and as it’s so balanced across the pan it’s much less stressful to use (particularly for a novice cook like me!)

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 3

The heat-resistant silicon handle is an added bonus, as my husband often moves food straight from the hob into the oven. Maybe the only downside to the pan is that it can’t go in the dishwasher. First world problems or what?! As it happens, cleaning it by hand is really easy – I guess another nod to the non-stick coating.

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 6

There was an extra in the box that I wasn’t expecting and haven’t seen before – a thick felt pan protector. Even though the durable coating means it is less likely to scratch than other pans anyway, this is still a genius addition and another hint at the quality of the pan that the manufacturers have thought about this sort of thing!

Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri 7

We would highly recommend the Stone Earth Pan* by Ozeri and look forward to expanding our set to some of the other products in their range at some point in the future! Check them out here on Amazon.

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London Restaurant Review: When Mac Met Cheese (Pop Up)

I am a big pasta lover – I think I could happily eat pasta every day for the rest of my life. So when I heard London pop up When Mac Met Cheese were taking up a long residency in Bayswater (near Paddington), I just had to check it out!

Menu

The WMMC pop up restaurant is around a 10-15 min easy stroll from Paddington or 5-10 from Royal Oak tube in an unassuming row of shops. We were warmly welcomed on arrival and shown to the bar as there was a short wait for a table. It gave me a chance to appraise the decor: cosy but simple with a rustic charm – retro style filament light bulbs, comfy leather swivel bar stools and varnished wood tables and chairs.

Lights

It also gave me an opportunity to sample something from the cocktail menu – I saw a couple of cucumber and mint martinis being made up which looked absolutely scrumptious but I was being brave and plumped for an Elderflower and Apple Martini – and I can tell you it was delicious.

Cocktail

Drinks Menu

We were also able to order a starter while waiting, so I took advantage and ordered Macancini. They are WMMC’s version of the Italian classic arancini, except the risotto rice is replaced by macaroni (of course!) I tried the cheddar and jalapeño version, but there was also truffle and mushroom. The deep-fried coating was light and crispy but not overdone, while the inside was creamy and soft… extremely cheesy, just how I like it!  The jalapeños added a slight heat which wasn’t overpowering, and cut through the cheese subtly. I could have eaten a million but settled for two. I’m not yet at the point as a blogger where I can remember to stop eating to take photos of the inside of of my food, so you’ll have to imagine the gooey cheesey-ness.

Food Menu

Macancini

Having moved to our table (with impeccable service – my drink carried for me!) we perused the menu and I settled for Mum’s Classic (mature cheddar, Red Leicester, parmesan cheeses & nutmeg) with added bacon lardons; my friend went for the special of the day, which was Carlos the Cactus with Ragu (mature cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, rocket, sun-blushed plum tomatoes – minus the usual jalapeños!) They arrived in cartons a little while later looking admittedly rather similar on first glance – but the taste was very different. The layer of ragu in my friend’s Carlos made it become like some kind of desconstructed lasagne, while mine was so cheesy with the addition of the stronger Red Leicester I felt like I was in cheese heaven… Yet again I was too busy eating and catching up with my friend to take pictures but our cartons were empty by the end (I might have licked it, but I was in public so refrained.)

Macaroni

I’d already seen before I came that the dessert option was Deep Fried Oreos. Chococlate biscuits. Deep fried in batter. Obviously for the sake of my readers I felt it was my duty to give them a try. The batter was extremely light and I was surprised to find that inside, the Oreo had gone very soft and almost creamy. If you like Oreos, chocolate cake or light doughnuts you will absolutely love them, that’s all I’m going to say.

Oreos

All in all the meal hit the spot for me. The service was excellent and the food and drinks were lovely and well made. The location was a bit out of the way for me – I work centrally but live in South East London; however the trip to Paddington was worth it. I’d definitely show up again soon (once I’ve managed to work off all those calories in the gym!)

 

UPDATE

When Mac Met Cheese are now in Bayswater until 5th July 2014! Check out their Twitter page here for more info: @MacMetCheese

When Mac Met Cheese, 43-45 Porchester Rd, W2 5DP

When Mac Met Cheese on Urbanspoon

 

 

If you want to read some of my other London restaurant reviews, see below:

Brixton Diner (pop-up by The Pickled Fork)

Holborn Dining Room

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London Restaurant Review: Brixton Diner (Pop Up)

About 2 weeks ago on Twitter I came across Brixton Diner, a pop up restaurant being set up by The Pickled Fork. An American-diner themed pop up in nearby Brixton, with 3 courses for £20 each?! We were on it like a hypothetical car bonnet – amazingly there were still tickets left so we snapped two up.

When we arrived on Saturday, having been told to look for the blue door between a fried chicken shop and a cafe, we were welcomed with great enthusiasm and quickly shown to a table. Having perused the drinks menu, we opted for  a bucket of 5 beers for £7.50 (a mixture of ‘whatever is on offer at the off licence’, which turned out to be Becks and Miller’s) and a Long Island Iced Tea at £7, which came served in a cute coffee pot.

Brixton Diner Beers
Brixton Diner Long Island Iced Tea
The pop up is set up in an old solicitor’s office but you wouldn’t know it save for the sign above the front door; inside has been transformed into a comfortable space with red gingham tablecloths and communal bench-style tables. A note on the tables – if you’re not keen on social dining, it’s probably not for you. You’re sharing sauces, salad and water as well as your bench and table, and the people either side of us were quite chatty! The staff also added to the friendliness in the atmosphere, milling about constantly, all with a smile.
Brixton Diner Restaurant
Onto the food and at 7.30pm Chris introduced himself and the night, explained the menu and what was in front of us (including the four homemade British sauces!) This was just a typical example of the great communication throughout – such as during my booking over email, to the directions and great tips on local pubs before the event.
Brixton Diner Menu
First course was the chicken wings, served with some fresh celery and iceburg salad. They were crunchy on the outside and succulent on the inside; I could have happily eaten them plain, but the blue cheese sauce was a highlight for this course – cooling and creamy, it perfectly offset the slight spice of the wings’ coating. Some people nearby were commenting on the saltiness of the wings, that it was slightly too much, however my husband and I both agreed they were fine for us. Different tastebuds I guess!
Brixton Diner Wings
Onto the main course, which consisted of a brisket bap, wild garlic slaw, cheese crisp, cheddar-salted fries, battered pickles and a corn on the cob. The brisket was seasoned well and was complemented by the slaw in the soft bun. My only gripe here was probably that there could have been more brisket! Not being a corn fan, I can’t comment on that, but the fries were very tasty and the southwest sauce was my favourite with them. The homemade HP sauce added some nice fruitiness that went well with the battered zucchini and my husband liberally sprinkled the chilli sauce all over his fries!
Brixton Diner Brisket Bap
The dessert was the banana & clotted cream pie, perhaps the least imaginatively served course (on a paper plate). It was a layer of Hobnobs and peanut butter, a layer of banana, a layer of cream and meringue. On the side was honey cream which was smooth and went well with the rest of the dessert. It wasn’t heavy like some of these desserts can tend to be, but rounded off the meal with a welcome sweetness.
Brixton Diner Dessert

All in all we were very happy with our experience at Brixton Diner. We weren’t really expecting a culinary epiphany and we didn’t get one, but we got exactly what we came for: this is good, honest, well-made, American cuisine at a very reasonable price. At just £20 for 3 courses, cheap drinks and friendly service to boot, this was extremely good value in London and I would definitely seek out another of The Pickled Forks’ pop ups.

 

UPDATE

If you’d like to check it out yourself, unfortunately Brixton Diner has now closed! However the guys behind it always have something on the go. Check out more details on the Pickled Fork website or their Twitter page.

 

Brixton Diner Sign 2

Read more about The Brixton Diner on Edible Experiences

 

If you would like to read some of my other London restaurant reviews, see below:

When Mac Met Cheese (pop-up), Bayswater

Holborn Dining Room

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