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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Brioche Burger

In food, Uncategorized on April 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm

After seeing the delightful ‘Love, Simon’ at the Empire last Saturday my partner and I decided to double up our spending in the local evening economy and give Brioche Burger on Hoe Street a try. We both love a good burger and had been meaning to go since it opened.

Nice logo. Says what needs to be said.

We got there at a good time (about 6:30) as it soon started to fill up. I didn’t know they were Halal until we sat; I’d usually avoid places that are due to animal treatment concerns, but I’m told that is less of a problem nowadays. It also explained the lack of booze on the menu. Sadly their milk shake machine was broken but we tried  a couple of mocktails alongside the beef burger for me and the lamb burger for my partner. I did ask for ‘rare’ but like most burger joints post-CJD scare they went for ‘medium’. They also do Wagyu beef burgers for twice as much – sorry, but a £15 burger needs the option of enjoying that quality of beef bleeding.

While we waited we admired the decor, a mix of American diner wannabe and original fittings.

Original tiles left on one wall.

I spent the short time waiting unsuccessfully trying to connect to the wifi. No matter, the food arrived promptly.

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I think this burger was called ‘Hand of The King’

The burgers were very good. Also the sweet potato chips I ordered and my partner’s rustic chips were nice.

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Don’t get me started on drinks served in mock jars.

My mango and mint Mocktail was really lovely. While I’d still like to try their milkshakes I’d very happily put away one of these again.

It’s clear they cater to the local Muslim community who made up the majority of the clientele. It’s nice to see a restaurant for what is probably an underserved section of the community and with Grillstock folding other burger loving consumers will go their way. I rather like Brioche Burger and think I will be back after another cinema trip in the near future.

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Forest Bar + Kitchen

In food, Uncategorized on March 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Having been a long time fan of Forest Wines I was really excited that they were opening a bar on my commute. Ali and Jana had created a great off licence that supports local producers, has a curated stock and takes part in local events.

Forest Bar + Kitchen had a soft take off and currently (March 2018) are open just Friday and Saturday 6PM to 11PM. Since I only have a couple of nights a week to myself and neither are Friday or Saturday I’d had to make do with dropping in on a Friday just to offer a quick congratulations. But this week my partner, who isn’t much of a bar person, was curious enough for us to make a pre-dinner short walk to give them a try.

Knowing they opened at 6 we arrived at ten past, knowing how packed I’d seen it on Friday. And even then there were half a dozen customers already in!

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Obviously they have a wide selection of wines. (Apologies for only taking one photo all evening. A bit remiss of me.)

We settled in at bar stools in the window leaving the mahoosive steel frame, thick wooded top table in the centre to those eating. The food menu is of the short-but-interesting variety where I could not tell you what most of the dishes actually were, my french being non-existant (“Non!”). There is a long wine list and a short beer list, mirroring Forest Wine’s selection of a wine merchant with some beer. Off the beer list my partner went for a Wu Gang Chops the Tree from Tottenham’s Pressure Drop brewery. I started with a Table Beer IPA from South London’s Kernal Brewery followed by a Gamma Ray from local super star brewery Beavertown. Breaking up the list of London beers was Schihallion from Scots producer Harvistoun. There will be spirits in the future but they are rotating their inventories at the moment to see what the customer base prefers. It has a very ‘Lean Startup’ feel to their agile adaptability.

The bar is nicely fitted out. the window shelves and main table were sourced from an upcycling team called City Wood. Apparently Jana hand finished them all. The smooth tops and rough hewn edges are very tactile. All seating is bar stools which makes best  use of the limited floorspace (I’d say capacity is about 25) but to be borne in mind if visiting with people who have mobility issues requiring regular chairs.

My partner enjoyed sitting, chatting and playing with our phones. We usually like a window seat but Forest Road hardly offers the human zoo found in the West End. I particularly like the soundtrack, a lot of synth music sounding rather Radio 6. Apparently all chosen by the chef! Well, if they have to listen to it for 5 hours I guess you should let the staff choose it.

As the evening went on it rapidly filled with Ali and his team trying to engineer space for everyone. I’m really glad that 3 weeks in it is proving popular. They will add Thursday evenings soon which will suit me better for a drink on the way home from work. With the lack of evening venues in the area, especially high quality ones, I think Ali and Jana have yet again sniped a gap in the market and done a great job in making it theirs.

Spring Cafe, Forest Road

In food, Uncategorized on July 15, 2017 at 11:56 am

Today was a rare Saturday where I get a lie in at my flat and not my partner’s. So I decided to treat myself to breakfast at Grill on the Hill and form an opinion for a review.

They were shut. On a Saturday morning.

Being the ‘adapt and overcome’ type I moved on to Spring cafe, half way down to Blackhorse Road station. I must have walked past a thousand times, usually late in the evening when they are shut. So today became the day to give them a try!

The décor is very ‘caff’. Lots of London pictures like they want tourists to feel at home.

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The ‘London’ tablecloths

I ordered a set breakfast. Eventually. The staff member who took my order assumed I was trying to order off the other breakfast menu. When I said the set 3 breakfast I had to then describe the contents as the staff member wasn’t tall enough to see the menu board over the fridge. Ho hum.

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There are also impressive indoor plants!

While waiting I noticed they have a 4/5 council rating, which is respectable.

My fryup was typical of other local eateries. The bubble n’ squeak was particularly chunky, with plenty of veg in it. At one point they propped the front door open; like cafe 56 I don’t think exposing your customers to extra bus fumes is particularly helpful.

I think I have a softer spot for Rodi and Jessies but Spring is a reasonable fall back option.

Froth & Rind and the 60’s Photo Exhibition Review

In Events, food on June 25, 2017 at 1:33 pm

After a visit to the excellent Goddards Vet Clinic to pic up a new cat carrier after our cat bust his last one my partner and I wanted to grab some lunch. Not gripped by any of the wares on the little Orford Road Saturday market we decided to give Froth&Rind a try.

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So this little cafe is simply kitted out and the menu seems to be predominantly craft beer (I imagine canned/bottled), coffee and toasted cheese sandwiches (I imagine Froth&Rind&Hops is a bit unmanageable). They do have a few other things on offer.

May partner and I decided to go for a classic chedder cheese and onion pickle toastie. No diet coke in this classy place, but Fentiman’s Lemonade for me and coffee for my SO was fine. Sadly I was so hungry by this time I’d eaten the food before I thought of a photo! While the bread wasn’t as great as the toasties in Central cafe (being your own bakery) the filling was so ample it spilled out (yay for napkins). But hey, Central is a bit more pricey too.

It was warm indoors so we sat out front being all continental. Fortunately there no smokers about, although the yummy mummy coming out with a crying child in one hand and a tiny coffee in the other had us laughing with “I’ll buy you some brie later, sweetie!” Ah, you know when you’re in the village…

Not much of a review I guess, but when we’re next in the village I’d go back for more. A little later in the day and a toastie with a beer sounds a great way to spend an hour.

Since we were in the area we dropped into Vestery House Museum to see their 1960’s photo exhibition. There are lots of great pictures of the area, many of the usual local landmarks. I liked one of the Priory Court Estate as you can see the old Walthamstow FC ground where my home is now. There were also lots of newspaper clippings and other ephemera. As public transport users we particularly enjoyed the bits about the opening of the Victoria Line, and the quotes of locals wondering who would want to use it! The exhibition is free and well worth 15 minutes if you’re in the area.

 

Yard Sale Pizza

In food on June 1, 2017 at 10:47 am

So for my partner’s birthday her mum decided we should all go to lunch to Sodo Pizza (her mum’s favourite). However since the big day was the bank holiday Monday Sodo was shut which gave us a perfect opportunity to try Yard Sale Pizza.

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The building is one I’d wondered about over the years, a medium size commercial looking property on the North stretch of Hoe Street, pretty much Bell Corner. I’m told it used to be a stained glass workshop. It’s age is still apparent and I think it suits a hipster pizza joint.

It had customers on the day but we only had to wait a minute to be shown our table. It has a system of going up to the counter to order and pay but instead of numbers on spoons they just take your name.

It looks like they follow Sodo’s path of doing a small number of pizzas well.

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Take your pick of 8 toppings. Note the menu seems to have been printed on an inkjet, hence the print smears.

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Dips, sides, desserts and drinks. The guest ale was Wildcard’s Queen of Hearts.

We got our order in and the food did not take long to arrive.

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We ordered 2 garlic breads between 4 of us. Crisp shell and soft inside, but could have been heavier on the garlic.

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Two of us went for the Holy Pepperoni. It was very nice, just the right side of spicy with a great base.

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My partner went for the ham and courgette one which looks great.

I didn’t get a photo of my partner’s mum’s aubergine pizza but as and we we ever get back I think I’ll give that one a try.

While we were all on soft drinks the can and bottle beer selection for East London breweries was good.

The décor looks like an America pizzeria trying to look like an Italian one, an image boosted by the 80’s US pop-rock soundtrack. There are benches outside for those who want the al fresco street café experience of breathing in diesel fumes from passing buses.

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Very Americana, although the orange plastic schoolchairs add a tint of British naffness.

Overall we liked Yard Sale but unanimously agreed we preferred Sodo. For me it feels a bit more grown up, adventuress and has a better drinks menu. But I like Yard Sale and will happily eat here again.

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And of course they do deliver.

Yum Yum

In food on November 20, 2016 at 5:45 pm

So before last night’s Oxjam gig Ms Weird and I decided to eat out. And took the opportunity to finally get around to trying Yum Yum.

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Soft lighting and lots of wood.

This was the ‘chain’ restaurant (the second one, anyway) that many locals supported in their bid to be included in the Empire Bunker alongside the bigger chains.

So we arrived around 6:30 PM so it was quiet with some shoppers and one family, but it soon picked up business. We got to ordering drinks. I had a Tiger beer but noted the Wildcard IPA on the menu. It came with a chilled glass – an appreciated detail. Ms Weird had a ‘Super Hero’ mocktail; while grapefruit isn’t to my palate she really enjoyed it. There was a big range of wines (just 4 beers, pah!). But the long list of mocktails is a good thing for those who don’t want to booze but fancy something more interesting than a coke. We also got a jug of tap water with glasses.

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Sweetcorn and pumpkin cakes. The top right one is an imposter; my partner swapped one of her bits of chicken #relationshipgoals

I went for the sweetcorn and pumpkin cake starter. They were lovely, as was my partner’s chicken pieces.

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Thinly battered chicken and sticky rice.

For mains Ms Weird enjoyed her Pad Thai and I had a dish of thinly battered chicken and vegetables with sticky rice. VERY sticky rice. The stickiest rice I’ve certainly ever had.

By the way there seems to be a lot of vegetarian options in the menu too. I didn’t ask for the password but there also seems to be wifi. There was gentle guitar music playing; this is a much better option for dinner chat than Grillstock in that regard.

Overall I like Yum Yum. It’s mostly what I pictured and is a solid choice. I’m really glad that Thai food is now adding to the culinary diversity of the local food scene.

yakamoz review

In food on November 7, 2015 at 11:31 pm

So yakamoz (their lowercase on that first letter) has opened where the Windmill used to be. My partner really wanted to give it a try and curious myself we went along on a Saturday night.

Shiny new sign

Shiny new sign

Upon entering we were asked to sit where we wated and chose a table in front of the ice filled counter full of very attractive fish cuts. Along with the menu the waiter gave us a list of soft drinks; my partner had noted the corkage cost sign on the front so we figured they hadn’t got their licence sorted yet just a couple of weeks after opening. We both opted for mango juice.

Starters

Starters

We were also bought some appetisers of bread, onion salad, cucumber and yogurt and, erm, the stuff on the right of the photo. Which is nice as we waited for about 15 minutes for one of the two waiters who were dealing with the 6 occupied tables to take our order. The chap who did seemed to find taking our order a little tricky. But off he went and before long my lentil soup arrived.

Lentil soup, with pickled peppers and olives.

Lentil soup, with pickled peppers and olives.

The soup was very nice. Not as think as some places but very nicely seasoned and tasty. However, there was a wait for my partner’s calamari to arrive. Quite a wait…

While you picture the 10 minutes after I finished my soup we were waiting let me paint the picture a bit more. The front table we chose was in front of the counter and so next to people coming in for take out. Not a problem tonight but not so fun later on a Friday or Saturday night. Yasar and Urfa both have some level of segregation from their seating area.

They had some soft jazz playing which was pleasant. The decor is quite a mix. On one side is a pink wall with tassled lamps on it like a 1950’s B&B. The rear is large sections of light wood with candles in sconces akin to a swedish sex dungeon. And finally one wall is bare brick. By bare I mean visible wires, rawl plugs and insulation foam plus one gap next to our table with a wedge of wood in it. I suspect the decor may be a work in progress. There are some pleasant uplighting boxes around the room. As my partner pointed out Urfa had two christmas silver deer ornaments up for a couple of years so critisising the decor was a bit churlish. At least they dodged the shabby chic trend and have smart seats and tables.

Eventually another member of staff came over to tell us that there had been some confusion in the kitchen and her calamari was on the way. He told us with the recent opening they had found themself short staffed. Shortly my main course showed up along with my partners! The calamari arrived soon after.

Sea bass, chips and salad

Sea bass, chips and salad. Also photo rotation failure.

My partner was surprised that her meal arrived with potatos and not rice as described in the menu but when she asked rice soon arrived seperately. My sea bass was nice. I’m not often a fish eater and as usual spent a lot of time fishing little bones out of my mouth in an ungracious manner. The chips were nice and the salad perfectly fresh.

My partner said the calamari was fresh and the batter nicely crispy. She wasn’t so sure about the garlic lamb. Some recent medical treatment has affected her sense of taste. But she said it was cooked very well and complimented the roast vegetables with it.

While we ate some customers came in and asked whether there was beer and wine. It turns out there was and they had a temporary licence! Although we overheard the only beer was Efes, which is okay but once you’ve had Efes Dark beer not quite the same.

At the end we got the bill and instead of lamb it said sirloin steak. Now when my partner questioned what had happened the waiter who sorted out the calamari immediatly, without blinking or skipping a heartbeat, apologised and redid the bill with that main course removed. No fuss at all. I was very impressed. The prices by the way are very reasonable and comparable with other places locally.

Frankly the above all may sound a bit negative but I am sure that they were having a bad night with a staffing issue. The food was good. My actual concern is that another Turkish place around the corner from Urfa and 10 minutes from Yasars does not add to diversity of choice at the West end of town. Maybe yakamoz will take up some custom (like I said there were other customers in) but I hope they can differentiate themselves from the competition.

Grillstock Festival

In food on September 5, 2015 at 9:29 pm

So like many local residents we got free tickets to Grillstock. However as my partner is still dealing with her serious health issues and I’d been a bit poorly so we decided to get in early on the Saturday. The early morning rain had passed and we hoped the overcast clouds were as bad as it would get.

The day opening with one determined singer on stage.

The day opening with one determined singer on stage.

We got straight in at about 11:45 and immediately had a walk around the food stalls and look at the bays inhabited by the competitive BBQ teams. This was fascinating as I always love to see a passionate sub-culture in action. It was great to see how the teams have their own logos and identity, and sometimes custom hardware!

Some of the competition teams in their 'pens'

Some of the competition teams in their ‘pens’

 

Teams have their own logos

Teams have their own logos

 

And if you were inspired you could buy everything you needed to cook American BBQ.

And if you were inspired you could buy everything you needed to cook American BBQ.

As we passed a bar tent we heard some bluegrass so dropped in to end up listening to the set of Big Joe Bone. He was a one-man act in a similar vein to Seasick Steve and had a great time interacting and joking with the audience. I bought his CD he was selling out of a suitcase; always a real pleasure to support independent musicians.

Big Joe Bone rocked the bar stage

Big Joe Bone rocked the bar stage

At that point we decided we really must eat. We started with a portion each of triple fried chips from the Hippie Chippie. I suspect from the name they usually do Glasto and other basket weaver attracting venues. However their chips were brilliant; I had mine with garlic and rosemary and they may well have been the best chips I’ve ever had.

Now, while BBQ was the theme I was in the mood for a burger. Apparently The Beefy Boys were winners at last year’s Grillstock. I went for the ‘Blue Boy’ with blue cheese, gerkin, cheese, onion, and probably other stuff on a brioche bun. It was heavenly, and just the sort of thing I wanted to eat at a BBQ festival.

Sadly as I was still a bit poorly I wasn’t drinking. Most of the bars seemed focused on Brooklyn lager. There was one from a ‘cloudy cider’ brewer and a bar for Jack Daniels. Not a huge selection, but I like Brooklyn Lager and would have enjoyed trying the IPA they had on sale.

Then we stopped to watch some of the judges in the BBQ contest eat and grade the offerings. This seemed to be facilitated by bottles of Jack Daniels being passed around and cans of beer. Some of the food looked really nice and was well presented, including one plate of ribs that came with whisky shots!

BBQ Judging; best job in the world?

BBQ Judging; best job in the world?

By that point it was getting very busy and we were feeling a bit tired with ailments so headed off. The queues to get it had gotten quite big (although nowhere near the size of the Garden Party’s).

I only wish I could have seen Hayseed Dixie on the Sunday. But overall we had a great time and hope it will be an annual event. Next year I’d love to get 4 tickets and take some friends to show then what great events we have.

Food so good even Elvis came back!

Food so good even Elvis came back!

Walthamstow Garden Party

In Events, food, music on July 18, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Well the council and the Barbican had such a roaring success last year they went and did it again. My partner and I got to Lloyd park at 12:30 as we did last year and yet again avoided the queues. Which was great as when we left at 18:00 the line of people coming in had snaked down Forest Road, Winns Terrace and could be seen snaking off down Winns Avenue!

The weather was perfect, warm with a nice breeze. We had a look in the William Morris shop and the craft stalls out front first. Had a nose into the local food stall tent and said hi to the guys from Forest Wine. Then wandered down to the food stalls where we fueled up for the day on fish dogs and chips while watchig an African dance troupe in the main marquee.

East African Dancers

East African Dancers

We had a nose in the community tents, avoided getting roped into volunteering (hey, I help the McGuffins!) and then settled on the little hill to watch music, with a nice cold lager in my hand. There were a children’s choir and a steel band and then the Walthamstow Massive group who made me very happy with an excellent rendition of ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’.

Frederick Bremer Choir

Frederick Bremer Choir

Actually there were *loads* of kids and we saw lots of things put on for them. Looked like a really good day out for families.

At the North entrance was a well organised bike park.

At the North entrance was a well organised bike park.

Anyway we had a look into the artists studios which was cool. Bought some Xmas cards from Sprankenstein. It looked to us that there were a lot less studios than there used to be, sadly.

Anyway we wandered back into the local produce tent and got fruit and veg juice from Moju. We settled under a tree in the gallery gardens and had a bit of a snooze before a final, slow wander. I love the facilities in the park and the large play space for kids.

Eventually we felt tired so ambled off home, but we’re looking forward to next year’s big party in the heart of Awesomestow.

A yoga workshop

A yoga workshop

The big tent behind the food stalls

The big tent behind the food stalls

Lots of things to try!

Lots of things to try!

Good news from the Happy Meter!

Good news from the Happy Meter!

 

Grillstock review

In food on May 9, 2015 at 9:19 pm

So after a day where my partner fought fascism and I did the laundry we decided to give Grillstock in the new Empire Bunker a try. After having a lot of actual American BBQ food 10 years ago during a stint working in Kansas City, Missouri, I was quite curious at a British interpretation.

The 'stripped back' interior.

The ‘stripped back’ interior.

So as we came in I was hit by the sound; on a busy Saturday night the atmoshere was being fuelled by a lound soundtrack. Even though it was busy we were seated in 5 minutes, although it helps being a couple as we fit into a small window seat.

Nope, did not choose the death by meat option.

Nope, did not choose the death by meat option.

The system relies on customers making their choice from the menu and ordering at the bar. Unfortunatly the bar is an actual bar with a number of bar stools around it. If you want to order food you need to squeeze between the boozers and shout. I have a particular aversion to barflys; they are between me and beer and seem to begrudge the fact I have to shove past them to get served. It would be nice if Grillstock cleared this space a bit. There’s a good selection of beers, leaning towards the American style bottle craft ale. Sadly despite all the Americana there are no milkshakes.

I decided to start light...

I decided to start light…

Still the staff were prompt and soon I was returning with a Pistonhead lager and diet coke. While we waited for our food I had a good look around. Like its neighbour Turtle Bay it has a very fake ‘stripped back’ look.  As much as I moan about how ubiquitous  hipster shabby chic is I quite like it. But Grillstock just looks like a chain restaurant playing at being down and dirty. While we waited I looked for wifi; I found a connection on my phone but it was locked and the waitress said it wasn’t yet available. This kinda shows that the restaurant is still bedding in. No plates? Typical! I went for the Smokestack Burger (my partner the half rack of ribs). They came with fresh coleslaw, interesing lime tinged pickles and fries. The fries looked nice with seasoning on them but were rather dry and needed support of the BBQ sauce and ketchup. The burger had pulled pork on it. I’ve been off this for a couple of years after a food poisoning experience followed by a lousy pulled pork bap. However this was very nice, full of flavour and tender. The burger was nice; plain but well made. Typical ‘American’ plastic cheese and a simple white bun; no brioche bread here. Overall the food was nice but not the flavourfest I found in the states. I think next time I’ll try the chilli burger.

Dessert? Only in liquid form.

Dessert? Only in liquid form.

The highlight of the meal for me was Grillstock’s own Pale Ale, apparently brewed in Bristol. Three hop varieties means it has a good sharp edge to challenge food flavours but is not like being punched with a bag of hops (like the Brewdog IPA, also on the menu). I’ll have that again. Overall I liked Grillstock but it’s not a place I think you *have* to try. It’s like our own TGI Friday substitute with more interesing food and better drinks. I’d like to try on a quieter night or maybe a lunch time. I think it will do well and fills a gap in the choice we have.