Upping the cool factor at the hot, loud & down right delicious Black Axe Mangal…

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to eat somewhere that’s part restaurant-part rock concert-part tattoo parlour, you’ve obviously never dined at Black Axe Mangal.

Small, loud – yes even at the yuppiest of meals, Sunday morning brunch – and sat on the Highbury & Islington roundabout next to Maison d’Etre, a prime piece of caffeinated yummy mummy real estate, this place is dangerously close to straying into the ‘if you have to ask, you’re not cool enough to know’ territory. Devoid of all obvious signage and possessing just one small menu in the window, don’t be fooled into thinking no-one knows about BAM; opening at 11am and, by midday, full of people after cold beers and hot meats served in flaky flatbreads served fresh from the Gene Simmons face painted grill, this place is as popular now as when it first opened. Read More

Brunch at Exmouth Grind or how I found yet another way to love my neighbourhood…

Finding a lovely new spot for brunch that’s within walking distance of your front door is like finding a fiver in the back pocket of jeans you forgot you had in your wardrobe. It’s unexpected and it’s awesome. Exmouth Market Grind is that fiver for me though truth be told, it’s totally a tenner.

Sat where the lovely little Café Pistou used to be on the corner of the market, it’s got a 5* location and boasts a menu that mixes the traditional – full English or baked eggs anyone? – with the modern – wild boar eggs Benedict and breakfast burritos over here please – which means you’ll be able to please every sort of breakfast hunter in your party.

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Inside it’s open, airy and modern, marrying marble beautifully together with blush pink menus and coral coloured booths. Staff are super lovely finding a table for four with the minimum of fuss on a busy Spring Saturday morning and noting requested menu changes with nary a raised eyebrow but a warm acknowledgement and cheery smile.

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Yoghurt & granola bowls at a neighbouring table looked fresh & virtuous and there are several small plates on offer as well as breakfast dishes. If you order anything as a side – and really why wouldn’t you, it is the weekend after all – you owe it to yourself to make it the chorizo stuffed dates with pancetta & labneh which will now forever be known to me as the Dwayne ‘Rock’ Johnson of the menu in that they are enormous and excellent. Casting shadows over the dish, they dwarfed the sourdough toast that came alongside, were perfect for mopping up the sweet, smoky, golden-oil streaked yoghurt and provoked the table next to us to lean over and ask hungrily what they were. FYI, it’s so satisfying when other people get food envy from your order.

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A breakfast burrito was crispy and squidgy and stuffed with avocado, scrambled eggs & sausage while a splendid serving of eggs Benedict with wild boar & chilli saw incredible sunset coloured yolks spilling generously over creamy hollandaise drenched muffins. Three house ground coffee blends were up for selection and met with approval by the caffeinated people in our group while the option to make it brunch of the bottomless & bubbly sort for £12 make it a great shout for the next long boozy girls breakfast in your diary.

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Exmouth Market isn’t exactly short of places to eat well in which means anyone moving in there had better bring their A game and fair play to Grind, they’ve done that in spades. Book yourself in there now then tell me you’re not jealous that I get to call it my local…I won’t believe you.

The 12 best dishes of 2015…

Hello darling readers and welcome to the last post of 2015, a year that has been immense for so many different reasons. I really want to apologise for being very MIA over the last few weeks…between searching for and then moving into a new home, being out of the country, changing jobs and getting ready for Christmas, my free time has been scarce to say the least; not an excuse I promise, rather a small explanation of what has kept me from you lovely people – I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and readership and here’s hoping 2016 is a touch calmer!

I always find the start of a new year is accompanied with a multitude of feelings, not the least of which is awe that another 12 months has skipped by in the apparent blink of an eye! There are always things to celebrate in the form of accomplishments made & steps taken, however there can sometimes be a tinge of regret or wistfulness if the journeys begun haven’t walked quite the path expected. Be it good or bad, I hope each and every one of you can commend yourselves on surviving the year, whatever it brought for you and however you feel as you bid it farewell.

As we look back on all that we have done and seen and of course eaten in 2015, I wanted to pick out 12 of my own favourite dishes. Some I have enjoyed in London, some I have loved further afield and a few, I’ve been proud to make in my own kitchen with the help of J of course, the man who is the (freshly baked sourdough) bread to my (salted of course) butter. I hope some of them inspire you to get cooking in the new year and to get out and explore your own neighbourhoods…I would love to know what dishes rocked your world this year!

Tomato salad with pomegranate molasses from ‘Persiana’

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Sabrina Ghayour’s seminal cookbook has had pride of place on my shelves since it came out in 2014; I have loved many recipes from it including the lamb & sour cherry meatballs which are so perfect for a dinner party as they can be made the night before and the chicken bastillas which manage to be both light & filling, sweet & savoury, delicious & err, even more delicious at the same time!

This simple and elegant tomato salad drizzled with pomegranate molasses and speckled with crescent moons of pepper & red onion as well as earthy chunks of walnuts is about as perfect a side dish as you could wish for. Visually it’s a glorious Technicolor feast and each mouthful is refreshing & energetic; if you’re after an unassuming but show stopping platter to accompany a dark, rich & meaty main course, this is what you’ve been searching for. Read More