A deliciously quirky Mediterranean lunch at new Covent Garden darling, Sesame…

Mediterranean street food dreamt & brought to life by one of Ottolenghi’s founding fathers and served fast and fresh in a centrally located site.

With credentials like these being flung excitedly over the food-lovin’ airwaves of London, new hot spot Sesame has been billed as the latest essential place for a quick, simple & healthy meal on the go and so, on the drabbest of steel grey Sunday afternoons with rain-swollen clouds unburdening their cargo on the unsuspecting good folk below, flavourful & delicious Mediterranean fare was exactly what was needed.

image10 image9

First impressions were promising; a beautiful, sea blue, trimmed exterior effortlessly married together clean modernity & a sense of wandering in the back streets of a sun baked country while street food hawkers shout, cajole & barter and the smell of juicy meat spitting & smoky vegetables roasting storm your senses.

Located on Garrick Street, Sesame is perfectly placed for tourists & office workers of Leicester Square & Covent Garden as well as those who blossom under the promise of a delicious meal like daisies in the late spring sunshine and will seek it out wherever possible. J and I are two such daisies though the late spring sunshine is conspicuously absent right now…

image7

Rustic, cheery and boldly tiled, we walked straight in to a friendly welcome from amiable staff who waited patiently while we scannned the menu, noseyed around the hot & cold food counters, gently dusted off the droplets of rain that had glittered our coats and inhaled the scent of something – many things – delicious.

image2 IMG_8514

Sesame’s food has been dubbed ‘London’s poshest kebabs’ but if you’re anything like me and would rather chew your own toes – maybe even those of the chap sat next to you on the tube right now – than eat what hangs in the windows of most kebab shops, fear not. The menu may propose you get your groove on with lamb, chicken & pitta but what you end up with is as far from that shady image of the kebab as you can thankfully get.

Skewers & pittas come loaded with lamb or chicken as well as an aubergine option for vegetarian diners. Salads bid for your selection with their array of sweet, sour, spicy vegetables & wholegrains gorgeously vivid in windowed boxes – recognisable ingredients like butternut & beetroot mingle with traditional Mediterranean spices such as za’atar, and the perennial favourite brothers of our own dining table, bulgar and barley, nestle in on the action as well.

Employing our usual tactic of picking and sharing, J & I went for the spiced lamb kebab with chopped salad, tahini, mint yoghurt and zhoug (a green chilli sauce) and paprika & cardamom chicken with chopped salad, sauerkraut, hummus & zhoug, both served in pittas.

image3

Ok, I need to just take a moment here to heap sincerely deserved praise on the lightest, fluffiest, softest & altogether loveliest pittas I have ever eaten. The perfect size for holding with both hands and demolishing one giant bite at a time, I could eat these babies with nothing but a humungous pot of chickpea strewn hummus to scoop them into.

The lamb was rich in flavour, well spiced & generously portioned with crunchy chopped salad balancing out the succulent meatiness.

Good as the lamb was, the chicken surpassed it for me – perfectly cooked, this was one tasty bird taking flight to its final resting place. Pops of tangy creaminess came from excellent hummus and the flavours of everything were subtle but defined.

image5

Harissa & cinnamon infused cous cous was warm & comforting when spooned out of a tub also packed with chickpeas, sweet potato, courgette, Iranian lime & that most under-rated store cupboard staples, dried apricots.

image4

This is the point when I’d love to show you a picture of the rose & walnut chocolate brownie that was dessert but as it was devoured in the darkness as an accompaniment to Mr. Clooney’s latest flick, alas, I cannot.

What I can do, because I’m just that kind of gal, is tell you that it was freaking delicious. To further illustrate my selflessness, I can also confirm that yes, it was dark, squidgy, crumby round the edges, studded with walnut nuggets and delicately perfumed with the fragrance of rose, enough to satisfy my floral adoration but thankfully not enough to take me back to a time when crispy petalled potpourri was considered the height of cutting edge decoration.

Ok I hear you asking, you enjoyed the food, liked the decor and found the staff friendly…so where’s the oddness mentioned in in the opening paragraph? Well for every thing I sincerely appreciated, there was something that jarred a little bit like the bins, tray holders & cutlery/napkin dispensers that looked directly borrowed from the more obvious fast food joints. They, coupled with slightly-too-loud & a-bit-too-modern music, were at odds with the more traditional-to-its-heritage decor and while the addition of a quirky enamel sink in the downstairs eating area signposted as a point to wash was cute, I’m not sure I fancy someone washing their hands mere inches from my food.

image8 image6

Hey maybe I’m being obsessively picky because frankly, I could just not look at the things I didn’t care for and focus instead on the things I did like those dreamy pillows of pitta but I only mention them because they brought me out of feeling completely at home and made me think I’d better eat quickly rather than get settled in for a good lunch.

Tasty, reasonably priced & a welcome addition to the self proclaimed ‘fast food’ family are all points in Sesame’s favour that are hard to argue with; as a healthy lunch on the run goes, it hit the spot and I’d return for pittas & potted hummus to squirrel away into my bag but I wasn’t left with the crazed, wild-eyed, ‘must-come-back-and-I’ve-not-even-finished-this-meal-yet’ feeling yet that I’ve had in other places recently. That said, I love the fact that it’s another option for hungry folk and in a time when other chains are opening new locations with monotonous regularity, it’s worth supporting a place that tries to do something a little different.

An afternoon spent with Jon Favreau and soft, sweet, delicious buns…

Dear Hollywood,

Please feel free to take the remainder of 2014 off because in ‘Chef’, you have delivered the movie of the year. Funny, sweet, touching, charming, inspiring and totally feel good with a brilliant script, awesome acting, a soundtrack to shake your Cubano-loving ass to and flawless food shots that made me want to run up to the 25ft screen at the front of the cinema and lick the glass – FAO all the doubters out there, wait till you see the grilled cheese and then tell me I’m wrong.

Thanks for such a great film and enjoy your extended vacation,
Love Edible Angel. xox

Ok kids, we’ve had a fantastic afternoon. We? That’d be me, the food junkie who dwells within and the every-bit-as-gorgeous-and-lovely-as-the-film J. A quiet lunchtime screening of ‘Chef’ followed by a late lunch/early dinner at ‘Flesh and Buns’ in Earlham Street.

A film labelled as ‘ultimate food porn’ followed by sampling one of the fastest growing trends in London right now? Oh hi perfect lazy Saturday afternoon, love your work.

I’ve been looking forward to ‘Chef’ since the first hunger-provoking trailer hit cinemas earlier this year. This is a simple story of a chef looking for a new direction in life, a way to re-connect with those closest to him and a reminder of why he fell in love with food in the first place. With a fantastic turn from director Jon Favreau as Carl, the chef driven to throwing handfuls of lava cake at a disagreeable Oliver Platt, the supporting cast delivers excellence across the board, the soundtrack blends Miami and LA together in an intoxicating medley that makes you want to channel your inner salsa queen and the food?

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…from that afore-mentioned grilled cheese to a butter-slicked-and-toasted-till-golden Cubano sandwich to BBQ that comes out of its charcoal pit looking so good you can practically feel your nose twitching and your saliva glands go into overdrive, this is a film for those who like to a) eat food, b) cook food, c) look at food, d) talk about food, e) dream about food or f) enjoy a brief on-the-verge-of creepy-crazy Robert Downey Jr cameo. In short, it’s as close to a perfect little film as it’s possible to get and beautifully demonstrates why a good story told with heart & intelligence will always have a place in cinema and deservedly so.

Right, now that I’ve spent so much time lavishing praise onto this film that you might be wondering if Jon slipped me a tenner ahead of time, let me get o the actual food part of the afternoon. Flesh and Buns. Not ‘Fleshing Buns’ as a colleague somewhat bemusedly asked me on Friday afternoon. Flesh i.e. the meat and buns i.e. the gorgeous little hirata buns to fill with said meat.

image  Read More

A feasting through France kind of catch-up in Cafe des Amis, Covent Garden…

Cafe des Amis 1

Cafe des Amis is one of the first places I picked for an early date with J and since then I have to admit, I’ve taken more than one girlfriend there on a ladies date night as well. Well the good news is, both J and the girlfriends are still around so it’s clearly the kind of place that works well regardless of the company or the situation. Read More