Cheap, cheerful & cheekily delicious Indian wraps at Kati Roll Co…

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Cheap food that tastes great in a central location. It’s not actually asking for the world though it sometimes feels like it. Thankfully, tucked away down Poland St is a bright little oasis where you can happily hide from the Big-Ben-snowglobe-toting tourists of Oxford St and feed your face in peace.

When Time Out published their annual list of 100 Cheap Eats in London earlier this year, it became one of my most read & scribbled on articles – hey, I love cyberspace as much as the next gal but at heart, I’m old school. I like to rip pages out of magazines and I like to circle things and I have folders that I can’t actually close because there are too many torn out recipes and articles and reviews in it…anyone else simultaneously share my joy and feel my pain?! Anyway, my point is there are some brilliant hidden treasures on that list and here, with the Kati Roll Company, I’m sharing one of the best.

Kati comes to London via New York, where they’re lucky enough to have three branches of the restaurant, and India where the history of street food is vivid & delicious. Selling soft, flaky, buttery paratha wraps (so good you’ll want to buy a dozen and stuff them with everything you eat for days after) or simple, whole-wheat flour rotis filled with spiced meat, vegetables and cheese, these babies are light, filling and super tasty plus you’ll get change from a tenner and you’ll find yourself plotting opportunities to come back again and again. How do I know? Come on, who actually goes to Oxford St voluntarily? No-one that’s who, unless there’s something rather awesome to snack on as a reward.

Even though the restaurant itself is small, the décor is cheery, authentic and friendly as is the service and there are 13 different rolls on the menu catering for all tastes. Chickpeas, egg, cheese & potatoes will keep vegetarians happy whilst chicken, prawn, lamb & beef mean the carnivores are all set too.

Spices, pickles and chutneys keep things flavourful and fresh while cold beers go down a treat and mango lassis are made freshly every day. I once had an intervention staged on me at an Asian wedding because I couldn’t stop downing the jugs of mango lassi on the table so now, I’m not ashamed to say I get my fix wherever and whenever I can.

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Rolls range from just under £3 to just over £5 and with all available on a ‘two for…’ deal, none of which come in at over £10, this is such a nifty little spot for a quick dinner with a friend.

Unsurprisingly perhaps given the national love for it, Chicken Tikka is the most popular and it is absolutely delicious – warm spices & tender meat make it a winning combination – but for me, it was all about the spicey-pickley marinated paneer which was firm, creamy and tangy. I’m a fervent believer that there’s nothing that can’t be made better with the addition of cheese and Indian incarnations of it are always particularly awesome. Hands up if you agree? Yeah, there you are, I see you.

There’s something about the fragrance of Indian food that triggers a primal reaction – I only have to walk past somewhere serving it and an hour later I’ll realise I’m nowhere near where I was going, I’m not doing anything remotely like whatever I had planned and poppadom crumbs are sprinkled down my shirt but I’m full and I’m happy and sometimes, that’s all that matters…guaranteed, Kati will make you feel that way too.

 

Biting off a slice of something delicious at Loaf…

There’s only one thing I’m as much of a geek about as food and that my friends, is film.

Movies. Cinema. Silver screen. The talkies.

Okay, admittedly we’ve come on a bit since they were last called that but you get my drift. As such unashamed film geeks, J and I run a bet each year to see who can predict the most winners at the Golden Globes, the Baftas and the Oscars which means that we do some serious awards season movie viewing during the run up to these shows. Yes it may be all E! Red Carpet and ‘ooh, who are you wearing?’ and sure, there’s a certain amount of wondering how many celebrities Ricky or Stephen or Tina & Amy can delightfully and ironically insult but let’s be honest, there’s a paid-for-by-the-loser dinner at stake here so you better be damn sure I take it as amicably and nonchalantly as Monica Geller plays Pictionary.

Double bills are a luxurious way for movie nerds to pack in the films but they generally leave you with a pretty short window of time in which to recharge your batteries and ensure that your lunch that day doesn’t consist of day old cinema chain hot dogs and nachos. Next time you happen to be ticking off your Best Picture nominees in central London, swing by Loaf and exile forever images of dry, playdoughy wieners and stale, dusty tortilla chips.

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Cuter than the proverbial button with milk bottle lights, vintage wood benches, glossy subway-esque tiles and a welcome considerably warmer than the temperatures outside – those outside London should know that a blue sky in December is always deceptive – Loaf modestly boasts a small but perfectly formed menu and a welcome spot off the beaten track in which to enjoy quirky tin plates of beautifully homemade fare.

Avoiding every formulaic convention of the chains that close in on you wherever in the world you are nowadays, Loaf takes its inspiration from across the pond, specifically from some of New York’s favourite grilled cheese, comfort food trucks and shops. Fusing the stateside love for dishes like mac’n’cheese and pulled pork with the uncomplicated charm of a British cafe, Loaf offers simple sandwiches on fresh bloomer bread that run the gamut from greasy spoon sausage to upper end truffle egg & mushroom, packed protein boxes and platefuls of full English alongside 7 grilled cheese options and globally influenced salads and wraps.

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Given that it was about as warm & inviting outside as a dinner between Kim Kardashian and the majority readership of Vogue, hot dishes were the only appealing option to us for refueling between dates with Michael Keaton & Angelina Jolie on this wintry day which is how we ended up with these two gorgeous plates.

BBQ pulled pork & beans with brown rice – FYI mashed potatoes and macaroni cheese are also offered as bases for this – and red cabbage slaw was warming and delicious with a thick and sweetly smoky sauce smothering juicy shreds of pork and crisp, amethyst vegetable.

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Jerk chicken with generous chunks of sweet potato in a reggae reggae sauce was the second choice, again served with ample helpings of nutty rice and crunchy cabbage. Herbs & spices blended beautifully in the glossy sauce which was hot enough to blow through any vestiges of a winter cold without scorching your tongue and killing any hopes you had for enjoying any other flavour that day. Both plates were great value at £4.95 for the small sizes as seen above and shared as these were, they made for a well-sized and filling lunch.

The adorably-picky-about-coffee J was won over with an above average latte while the hot chocolate was rich, smooth and a surprisingly enjoyable accompaniment to the hearty platefuls of hot food. Service was genuine and friendly from the warm welcome and sincere goodbye to the quick delivery of food, and seats in the window offered the perfect vantage point from which to watch passing tourists juggle with bags of sale bargains bigger than them and steaming cups of takeaway tea & java.

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You’ll find this delightful, trans-Atlantically styled joint on Tottenham Court Road, smack bang between Warren and Goodge St stations, and you’ll discover that it’s the perfect place to enjoy a Manhattan-style-meets-British-foibles bite to eat. Central London can be a hotbed of cheap, tasteless clones when it comes to lunch on both a monetary & time budget but Loaf proves it doesn’t have to be this way; it’s the ideal spot to enjoy something that tastes good and allows you to support an independant business rather than an international behemoth of coffee beans and conventionality.

http://loaf.uk.com/about

Loving the summer and good friends at Greenwich Food Market…

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I don’t think there is anything better than good food with good friends. I mean, those are literally the ingredients for the happiest time you can spend in the company of others.

I’d like to nominate Greenwich for one of the prettiest, loveliest, most picture perfect parts of London and although some may moan at the fact it’s a little off the beaten track, that just adds to its charm IMHO. You generally have to make a little effort to get there but that just makes it even more worthwhile…then you feel like you’ve actually earnt the pleasure that a few hours there will deliver.  Read More