Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury Street
N1 1ER

After hearing wonderful things about The Drapers Arms from various blogs and Twitter, I finally managed to go there for dinner with J, who had been before but was happy to revisit. The menu was full of things I love, which made it difficult to choose what to have, but I ended up with a grilled quail on lentils. I am drawn to quail whenever I see it, and it was an excellent choice here - tender, juicy and savory. By the time the waitress came by to clear our table, all that was left was a small pile of bones, which pretty much says everything you need to know about this dish. The chips that J ordered to share were also demolished quickly. Seeing as how it's kind of in my neighborhood, I expect to be back sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home Sweet Home

49 - 51 Edge St
M4 1HW

The twee name, Home Sweet Home, is actually quite an accurate description of the atmosphere of this little cafe/restaurant. The day before, H, F and I had been walking past to go to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre and noticed a menu full of fabulous sounding toasties. It was immediately decided that we would go there for brunch, so on a rainy Sunday morning, we all piled in for some rejuvenating vittles. Sadly, in my attempt to order something lighter, I passed up a cheeseburger toastie in favor of a crab and avocado sandwich. It was pretty good, but tiny and rather unsatisfying after seeing other peoples deliciously messy toasties. However, H cleverly ordered two portions of their fresh baked chocolate chip cookies - so freshly baked that you have to wait 10 minutes for them! These came with glasses of milk and were scarfed down (F, who claimed she didn't want any, had half of a cookie and then snaffled another cookie straight after, which says something about the addictive properties). If you go, get a toastie, and then follow that up with those magic cookies.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


1A Watson Street
M3 4EE

Self service beer! That is reason enough to go to Taps. Sure, it's a bit hit-or-miss since each table has different taps, so hopefully you sit somewhere with beers to your liking, but we certainly managed to try everything at our table (and drain the Blue Moon tap dry). To go with the beer, we had some dinner - moules frites for me and A (you choose what liquid to have them cooked in and one topping, so we chose beer and bacon). It was all perfectly decent - nothing extraordinary, but it went well with the varieties of beer available and we all had a very good time there. In summary, go for the drinks, but don't be afraid to eat there as well. I'd say it's not that expensive, but when you're pouring yourself beers, I think your tab may shoot upwards rather quickly, so just beware if you're on a tight budget.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cabbage Peanut Salad

This is an incredibly refreshing and interesting salad - I am really starting to enjoy raw cabbage, but it needs a good dressing to bring it all together. I dislike mayonnaise-based dressings, so anything that resembles coleslaw is a no go for me, but this peanut dressing is perfect - the right balance of a nutty creaminess with the sharpness of rice vinegar and the kick of chilli flakes.

Cabbage Peanut Salad
Adapted from I Made That!

Peanut Dressing:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 TBSP soy sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 inch knob of peeled ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Blend all ingredients with an immersion blender until smooth.


1/2 head small green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 head small red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled with vegetable peeler into ribbons
1/2 cup packed cilantro, roughly chopped
handful of rocket (arugula)
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 cups roasted peanuts (I didn't have any, but they would probably add a nice crunch)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Toss all of the salad ingredients except for the sesame seeds together with the dressing. It looks like there is a lot of dressing, but the salad can handle it all. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top to garnish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


77 Shudehill
M4 4

After meeting up with A and his friends in Manchester, we decided the first order of business would be to find a place for lunch. Korean food appealed to everyone, so we hiked over to Baekdu. This unassuming joint had a pretty broad menu - some of the group went with sushi options while I focused on the Korean options. Seafood pajeon (or pancake) is usually the first thing I order, so I tried it out here. Chock full of seafoody bits and a little greasier than I would prefer, it still won raves from the rest of the table. For my actual lunch, I went with a kimchi tofu stew that was brilliantly spicy and warm - the perfect antidote to the cold grey weather outside. It comes in a burning hot bowl and therefore stays warm through the entire meal - which means you can't just shovel it down as you would burn your tongue off. So I was probably the slowest eater at the table, but thankfully everyone was happy to eat and catch up while I patiently worked my way through the stew, spoonful by spoonful. Glad to see that Mancunians have access to good Korean food.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Caffe Caldesi

118 Marylebone Lane

A and I met up with friends who kindly offered to take us out as a belated birthday celebration for me. Our original destination was Le Relais de Venise, but after taking one look at the ridiculous queue, we popped across the street to Caffe Caldesi. The bottle of Italian white wine was decent but the food was clearly the centre of attention - I chose La Milanese, a "classic breadcrumbed veal chop with roast potatoes and salad leaves". It was fantastic - crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and the roast potatoes were just as good as chips without giving me that greasy feeling. A had a pasta with pork and beef ragu, which was also very good, but my dish was definitely more coveted. It was a great way to start a fantastic evening that finished with cocktails at Purl - if you are ever in Marylebone I would recommend both!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Spring Rice Salad

Inspired by a salad from Ottolenghi, I created this. It's not a very close match, but it is delightful nonetheless, and perfect for the warmer spring (or summer) weather. All the greenery in it reminds me of spring, so that's what I named it after.

Spring Rice Salad


3 cups cooked rice, refrigerated overnight
1 cup peas (frozen is ok)
100g green beans
handful of dill, chopped
10 basil leaves, chiffonaded
10 mint leaves, chiffonaded
1 lemon
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper


1. Steam green beans lightly until tender-crisp. Defrost peas if necessary. Mix rice, peas, green beans, dill, basil and mint in a large bowl.

2. Juice the lemon and mix with the olive oil. Generously season with salt and pepper and shake or whisk to combine. Pour this dressing over the salad and combine well. Taste salad to make sure there is enough salt and lemon flavor. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


287 Upper St
N1 2TZ

Embarassingly, A and I had been given a gift certificate to use at Ottolenghi as part of a wedding gift. Fast forward over two years later, and we finally used it with A's mom. Despite not going until 3.30pm in an attempt to avoid the queues, there was still a queue. This place is ridiculously popular! While you're standing in the queue, you can look at all the bright and vibrant salads that are piled up high on plates and start thinking about what you want. Alas, our late timing meant that by the time we ordered, the restaurant had run out of one of the salads that we really wanted. Still, we managed to try almost every type of salad left, and some very good seared tuna as well. Ottolenghi is not cheap, but the variety of ingredients, some of which are difficult to source, that are in every dish, make it a deal when you think about how much you would have to spend at the grocery store just to recreate one of the salads. I tried to remake a rice salad at home (recipe to come soon) which was nice, but nowhere near as complex as what we had. Plus, the white room full of chattering, happy people is a nice place to have a meal, so on the whole, I would recommend it. Not sure how you beat the queues though - only you can decide if the wait is worth it.

Monday, July 04, 2011


71 High Holborn

P somehow knew about Kimchee even though it had barely opened, so we planned a dinner there since we both like Korean food. Obviously we ordered kimchee. We also had some sukju namul (beansprouts). You can refer to my many other posts about Korean food and my irritation with being charged for banchan, since I should probably stop sounding like a broken record. Anyway, despite the fact we had to order and pay for those side dishes, they were good. I wasn't massively hungry so I ordered a side dish called "Tofu Kimchee" as my main, described as "Sliced fried tofu served with stir-fried kimchee and pork". This was fantastic - cubes of deep fried tofu, topped with a spicy, salty mix of kimchee and bacon. It was surprisingly satisfying considering how small it was - perfect for me that evening. P went with bibimbap, which he enjoyed, I think. Good to know of a Korean restaurant around Holborn for those times that a craving hits - it's a much more polished environment than the little Korean restaurants around Tottenham Court Road, and feels like it is ready to be rolled out as a chain - but the food I had was good enough that I would go back and even eat at other locations, should they appear.