Having lived in Battersea for a few months I know the area isn’t yet the culinary centre of London. On hearing that the Gladwin brothers (the team behind the renowned Rabbit and The Shed) had just opened a place in my old stomping grounds I had to go check it out.
The first thing you notice is the relaxed atmosphere; it’s cosy, intimate and was a very welcome escape from the cold, dark November weather. Somewhere between a fine dining restaurant and your local pub, you could happily bring a date, your kids or even your dog (all were present when I arrived, the latter two were very well behaved and adorable).
We ordered two glasses of wine, the Bacchus, from their very own vineyard in West Sussex with a distinctive taste of elderflower. Pretty great for an English wine; we are certainly catching up with the French!
The menu is pretty extensive and the vast majority of the produce comes from the Nutbourne estate which only adds to the intimate charm of the restaurant. First up came grouse on a hot salt rock, plum jam, cheddar crumb and nasturtium. The grouse itself was delicious, perfectly cooked and very tasty, though I can’t help but feel that it would have been nice to have an extra little something served with it.
My friend ordered bone marrow tortellini with a sherry butter sauce. Beautifully presented and very delicious with the bone marrow melting in your mouth. The portion size is slightly small with only three little pieces and the pasta was slightly too al dente but both issues are forgivable for the great flavours – it’s certainly worth saving your bread to soak up that delicious sauce.
Now for the mains. The monkfish cheeks, fig and rosemary with coriander seed chutney didn’t quite hit the spot. The fig and rosemary jam was too much of a dominant force and overly sweetened the dish. Once that was pushed to the side the rest of the dish worked well and the presentation was very pretty.
However, the lamb leg with red onion salsa and mulled wine gel was a real winner. The most amazing quality lamb with crunchy salsa left me with a big smile on my face. It was pretty light so I was glad to have ordered truffle fries and a salad and would recommend ordering some sides if you decide to visit.
Now for pudding. The chocolate mousse with salsify sherbet and chocolate soil was a little pot of heaven. Rich and dark with interesting textures, it’s a must for chocolate lovers. The royal cheesecake trifle with plum, cream cheese, almond and chocolate brownie was also spot on and really got me excited for some festive eating. Packed full of loads of different fruity flavours, a hint of chocolate and steeped in alcohol, it was polished off with haste.
Nutbourne is an interesting and welcome addition to the Battersea food scene. The relaxed environment combined with experimental dishes is a delight to see. I’d recommend a visit to try their meat because you can really taste the quality – just make sure you order some sides! For the price of £8-12 for a starter and £12.5-22 for a main it is really reasonable for such high quality cooking and produce. Definitely worth a try.
The newest and hottest food market on the scene has to be Mercato Metropolitano. Situated between Elephant & Castle and Borough, it’s perfect for those looking for the excellence of the Borough food market but without the hoards of tourists cramping your style as you try and scoff.
I headed down on a chilly October night ready to sample the Italian delights that lie within. First stop; Manuelina Focacceria. They provide beautiful flat focaccias, different in style to their fluffy cousins, much more in line with a cracking pizza base. There are loads of different variations – from salami and olive to cheese stuffed (the best). All are very, very, good.
Italy is known for one cheese above all others; Mozzarella. The Fiordilatte & Friends stall worship this beautiful cheese, even putting on live demos of buratta creation every Friday. I tried the fried mozzarella which was obviously great, but the real star was the Stracciatella. This is the glorious cheese that is mixed with cream – this is then stuffed into mozzarella to form burrata. Eye-rollingly good. The producers use British milk because of its exceptional high-quality to create this wonder cheese. This, then, is food fusion at its best.
When you think of Italian food you immediately think pasta, so it’s fitting that Tortellino & Co. serves up some of the tastiest I’ve ever had. Mini tortellini imported from Italy and stuffed with a whole host of delicious fillings from meat (pork, Parma ham, mortadella and parmesan) to pumpkin and all with gorgeous, rich, sauces. A large steaming plate of incredible pasta is certainly what you need in these cold winter months.
Now for dessert. Badiani is one of Florence’s oldest gelaterias and it has just emerged victorious at the London Gelato Festival with its La Dolcevita Icecream taking first prize. I headed straight for the prize winner and was blown away. Impossibly smooth, permeated with lashings of hazelnut and chocolate flavours. It certainly deserves its prize as the best ice cream in the UK.
There are loads of other stalls to try that feature the best of Italian cooking and even some others from around the world for that fussy friend who wants something different.
After feasting, I decided it was safe to go into the supermarket section and boy was I glad that I had already eaten. It is packed with the most gorgeous meats, cheeses, fresh ingredients and Italian deli you can find. If I had been hungry I really do fear that I would have spent all my money on such glories. If you are planning on cooking an Italian feast, which relies on simplicity and quality of ingredients, then this is the place for you.
An Italian meal wouldn’t be right if it wasn’t accompanied by good wine or beer. There’s a specialist Italian beer producer called The Italian Job serving up refreshing craft beers from the cutest little wine bar tucked away; just perfect for a romantic evening.
Overall, this is a fantastic market serving up some amazing authentic Italian food and produce in a very cool warehouse setting. It’s perfect for an evening with your mates or when out on a foodie date.
When looking for a restaurant or takeaway that serves Asian food I have a couple of requirements. Firstly, it needs to be authentic and not just serve bits of mystery meat covered in red goop. Secondly the menu needs to be focused, pick a particular region of Asia, stick to it and do it well. Now I was a little concerned when I saw the menu at Chi Kitchen. There was clearly going to be no gloop but since the menu has a vast array of dishes from sushi to dim sum and sambal prawns to Korean steak, I admit that alarm bells rang.
However, I was prepared to go in with an open mind and an empty stomach ready to prove myself wrong. Sitting down at a table big enough for four (to make sure there was plenty of room for food) I browsed the menu and decided to test my theory and chose a dish from pretty much every region on offer (yes, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it). Could it work?
Whilst waiting for the food I had a chance to notice the ambience of the place, and although it’s part of Debenhams it has a different entrance so feels separate enough. I wouldn’t describe it as particularly romantic but perhaps that was because of the building works happening outside.
Now to the food. First up came a tower of Seaweed Salad, Popcorn Shrimp and some Prawn and Chive Dumplings. The Seaweed Salad was refreshing and beautifully presented and worked very well as a palate cleanser. The Popcorn Shrimp contained 5 plump prawns, deep-fried and covered in a wasabi mayonnaise and served in the style of a prawn cocktail. That was obviously delicious! The Prawn and Chive dumplings were as nice as those found in China Town. So far, so good…
Next came the Spider Crab Sushi rolls and Smoked Chicken with chilli and salt with a spiced mayo and truffle oil. The sushi was seriously good, really well presented with succulent yet crisp bits of crab, I gleefully gobbled every mouthful. The Smoked Chicken came in three little bamboo pots which again looked beautiful on the table. Sadly, because of the presentation it went cold a little too quickly but the first few bites did not disappoint, especially when dipped in the chilli and truffle mayo.
The mains soon found their way to the table. Starting with Malaysian Sambal Prawns, a really great marriage of fresh crunchy vegetables, soft buttery prawns and a deliciously spicy sambal chilli sauce. The balance of heat was just right for me, not trying to please those who go for a Korma but not quite Vindaloo level either (different countries but good spice indication, right?). Next came two dishes which didn’t quite hit the mark but could have very easily done so with just the slightest of tweaks. The Korean Steak with Bulgogi sauce (similar to teriyaki) and chive mash and a side of Miso Aubergine. Both were delicious at first bite but quickly became too much because of the high level of sweetness. Changing that small little detail would transform them entirely and they’d be super dishes
Finally were the Thai Green Curry and Ping Coombes signature Nyonya Fried Rice. The Thai Green Curry was a marvelous thing; the balance was spot on. Normally I would never order one because of its predictability but this was exceptional, so much so I took it home for the next day! Ping Coombes is a MasterChef winner and executive chef for Chi Kitchen and develops signature specials every month for the restaurant. The fried rice did not disappoint, packed with prawns, chilli and spring onion and oodles of flavour. It’s a clever little dish that I will be trying when I cook too much rice (which always happens).
So, it turns out I was wrong to be hesitant about the vast array of choice at Chi Kitchen. Pretty much every dish was beautifully presented, packed full of flavour and on the whole executed very well. One or two minor tweaks are needed but overall it was a delicious experience. The prices range from £5-£9 for starters and small plates to £16-£21 for mains, which, considering it’s situated in Oxford Circus and the quality food is so high, is a steal. I’d particularly recommend it for a quick, quality lunch if you need an escape from work and the warm comforting embrace that good food gives!
Thailand has some of the most beautiful food in the world. Celebrated for its incredible fresh flavours and the most amazing ingredients to play with, it’s a cook’s dream. I was lucky enough to visit in 2008 and had the best time eating and getting very sun-burnt! I had been reliably informed that J. K. Rowling really rated a Thai restaurant in Belgravia called Mango Tree. So, of course, my hopes were high. Surely she couldn’t be wrong?!
Aggressively hungry, I headed in prepared to pig . The restaurant is open and contemporary and hosted a mix of dates, families and larger groups. Greeted with a wealth of dish choices and on the edge of “hanger”, the waitress kindly recommended a few items and I was ready to roll!
First-up came a little amuse bouche of apple and strawberry salad with a zingy fresh dressing, punchy with salt to work against the sweetness of the fruit. A lovely little opener. Then the first of the starters arrived; the Dim Sum Platter. It included a prawn dumpling with white truffle oil, lobster and coriander dumpling and a Chilean sea bass gold leaf dumpling. Not only did these look stunning in their steaming bamboo basket but they were beautifully tasty; simplicity at its finest. Alongside this came tempura soft-shell crab with a mango salad and citrus soy sauce. Again, by relying on the quality of its ingredients and cooked simply, it was another sure winner. Crisp-coated buttery crab with fresh mango salad to cut through, my taste buds were tantalisingly set up for the dishes yet to come.
The first to arrive was the Weeping Tiger, which has to be the coolest name for a dish. Grilled Wagyu steak marinated in Thai dressing and served with a beautiful som tum salad (papaya, green bean, tomato with a tamarind, chilli and fish sauce dressing). The first forkful of steak induced an eye rolling moment as it really did almost melt in the mouth. The high quality Wagyu steak and its delicious fat content meant there was an incredible buttery texture. With this came Moo Nam Pueng; crispy deep-fried pork belly tossed with spring onion, garlic and chilli. My lord, this was good! Crisp, rich and absolutely packed with all the flavours you could possibly want, with a sauce that is just made for mopping up with coconut rice.
I left feeling very content, so much so that I started to fall asleep on the tube journey home. Mango Tree relies on the quality of its ingredients, simplicity of cooking and the clever balance of sweet/savoury flavours typical of Thai cooking. Prices range quite heftily from £8-£17 for starters and roughly £16-£58 for mains. One thing’s for sure though, no matter how much you spend, you are in for a tasty treat. So, J. K. Rowling, it turns out you’ve got it right yet again…
I’m really not ashamed to say that I love retro food. Chicken Kiev, quiche, prawn cocktail, what’s not to like! Coin Laundry offers all of this nostalgia, plus plenty more, I’m more pragmatic so I recommend to find more at Aqualogic.com.au the commercial clothes dryers, I wandered down to this relaxed restaurant, situated in gorgeous Exmouth Market, with hopes that I’d be magically transported back to my childhood with the first bite from this retro menu.
There was so much that appealed that in the end I went slightly rogue and decided to let the waitress choose for me. A little while later, whilst sipping on a dangerously easy-to-drink cocktail, the first course came; grilled sardines & tomatoes on toast. Refreshingly simple and just what I needed on a hot day; it ticked all the boxes. Beautifully balanced with rich, fresh sardines and plump tomatoes covered in a zingy dressing on crunchy sourdough. Bravo.
Next up was a dish of lamb chops, braised leeks and cottage cheese. Probably not one I’d have picked because I was a little concerned about that pesky cottage cheese. On a Ryvita with Marmite..fine…in this… not so sure. However, I was proven wrong as it performed almost like a raita and worked really well, providing a freshness, alongside the perfectly-cooked chops and buttery braised leeks.
The Coin Laundry seems to be doing a good job at rescuing these forgotten and wrongfully slandered and neglected retro dishes. It’s also a super-relaxed environment, great for dates and families alike. With an average of £7 for a starter and £13 for a main it gives pretty great value for money, especially considering the location. They also have plenty of board games which is obviously a plus if you fancy a game of Guess Who over a coffee, learn more about gaming here if you are interested (and who wouldn’t)!