The Tavern on the Hill

In food on June 11, 2021 at 10:49 pm

So, I have a new local that’s an old local. The Warrant Officer on Higham Hill was an okay pub I thought, but I rarely drank there. It shut during the pandemic and during that period was taken over by the Wildcard brewery (who originally started in the pub’s basement, so it’s coming a bit full circle). Also full circle is the new name is actually the original name.

A new lick of paint

When it first opened as part of the lockdown 3 relaxation I went up on a weekday lunchtime. I signed in on paper and sat out in the pretty spacious back yard with a small number of other customers. They had an online ordering system but when my phone could not connect the nice lady just took my order in person. I had the spicy beans on toast with sliced avacado which was nice. I’m not totally sure they weren’t trolling the hipsters. But a lunchtime pint felt a little liberating after the long lockdown.

Hipster beans on toast! Screw you, Shoreditch!

I’ve been in a couple of times since we could drink indoors. Going on a weeknight it is understandably quiet. This suits me as I’ve only had one vaccine shot and want to avoid crowds. They have guest ales on and a few of the core Wildcard offerings on tap. I’m particularly taken with the new Bitter I’d not had before.

Beer + book = happy
Honestly as good as I had in Japan.

Thursday is ‘Curry Night’, but being the modern age it’s a Japanese chicken katsu curry (£11). It’s really nice, in a generous portion. As well as rice it has sweet potatoe, salad, red ginger and a pickled… cucumber, I think? The only thing missing was chopsticks! Honestly, this could be my regular Thursday night; beer, katsu curry and a good book.

The Thursday night menu is quite jolly. There is also saki on the drinks list.

Overall I’m super happy with the revamp of this pub. I now have what I think of as my local just 10 minutes up the hill from home.

Tonkotsu review

In food on June 6, 2021 at 12:32 pm

So after a lovely day out at the Epping-Ongar Railway we returned to Walthamstow ready for food. And now we have a new noodle restaurant as part of the Empire bunker we gave it a try.

As a lover of Japanese food I’d been looking forward to having Tonkotsu open. When we got in we were asked to track and trace under the current pandemic rules. Whe we demonstrated that neither of our devices could read QR codes we were told we could sign in on paper. This never happened, and knowing how useless the UK T&T system is I wasn’t fussed. More of an issue was them having no menus! We were told to scan a QR code to get it on our device, so eventually they brought over an iPad they had for us to look at.

This is not fucking accessibility. My partner commented on how frustrated her elderly parents would be with all this.

Another example of how bad an idea this is was after we’d ordered our two mainsand a beer for me my partner saw another table with side dishes. While I’d found the drinks menu to order my beer we’d totally missed there were side dishes; in Wagamamas we’d usually order some gyoza, which apparently we could have done at Tonkotsu if we’d know they existed.

Our food was very nice. The dishes tend to lean towards pork as the main meat (unless there were beef and chicken dishes hidden in their shitty User Interface). My Tokyo ramen came to £11.50, which was okay; a bit on the high end. I was reminded of a much cheaper restaurant in Crystal Palace where the portion was 50% bigger. The dish was very tasty. The pork was succulent and tender. The chicken broth was very tastey. I generally prefer chunkier noodles but that’s because I suck with chopsticks.

Overall I’d eat there again, but I’d mentally brace myself for having to deal with the awkward ordering system.

Food Express, Higham Hill Road

In food on May 17, 2021 at 8:58 pm

Why yes, this is my local fried chicken shop.

I’d walked past it dozens of time during the pandemic. But one evening a couple of months back I went past (walking to Higham Hill park) and smelled chips.

“Chips”, I thought, shallowly. “Chips, chips, chips.” I thought as I circled the big lawn that is the park. “Fuckin’ chips.”

So on the way back I went in and bought fish and chips. And after a stressful day remote working in a job I’m finding hard they were very welcome.

I’ve been back a few times since. Battered sausages, cheeseburger, kebab. I’ve not tried the fried chicken yet, although that seems very popular. It’s a bit touching that the whole community wants some comfort eating at the same place. Literally the cross section of our community.

The food is nice, totally typical for this class of venue. Reasonable prices. They get a full 5 hygene rating from the council. The red faced, middle aged men behind the counter always give a friendly welcome.

Here’s the thing; I’ll often write about the new hotness in the stow. But today I want to celebrate the simple things that keep us going through hard times. Like chips. Your local fry shop may never appear in Time Out’s food section but it’ll always be there for you. We all complain about the things we can’t do under lockdown, or tier 4, or ‘regular’ pandemic rules. But you can always get a kebab and that’s worth holding on to in dark times.

Food Express, I highly recommend it.