Becky B’s Blog

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Tabernacle

tabernacle_carnivalvillage

Tabernacle, Powis Square, London, W11 2AY, 020 7565 7800, http://www.carnivalvillage.org.uk, http://www.tabernaclelive.co.uk

This non-profit community centre in which I spent many an hour as a child has now all grown up.

A beautiful courtyard, with a lovely and sympathetically created bar inside. Lovely cocktails, at reasonable (it is Notting Hill) prices, a tasty bbq and friendly if a bit scatty service.

Simply by virtue of the huge open space this place is a winner, and I noticed they did reasonable private hire rates also, and could see it’s potential for great parties.

They do what sounded like a good breakfast but I’ll save that for my next visit.

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Bumbles

Trio of ices

Bumbles, 16 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0QP, 020 7828 2903, http://www.bumbles1950.com

So I was a critic of this place before I walked through the door. I’m not sure if the location and exterior could have made me any more sceptical, but the set menu (3 courses for £10) really tipped the balance and so I entered with a sigh.

The interior is simple and nothing to write about, the service was a little slow initially though consistently friendly.

This is all I could find negative and I wanted to get it out of the way before I gush for the next three paragraphs about the food.

We almost all opted for the inspiring options on the 3 for £20 menu. How can you have fish and chips when snails & garlic risotto is an option? Also not to mention that the desserts included in that option alone seemed to be worth the menu price.

My starter of poached quails egg with pesto, tomato sorbet, cheese (Wensleydale?) and rocket, was a beautiful taste of summer. I found the tomato sorbet with a bitter overtone of balsamic inspiring and will be attempting this at home shortly.

Our tomato soup amuse bouche was a very cleanly and well executed example of good tomato soup, with a great texture and loads of flavour. By the time my plate of Garlic Risotto with Snails and Ham arrived I was excited, and rightfully so, it was lovely, creamy, deeply seasoned with an amazing green colour. The de-shelled snails we lovely and more the better for the absence of effort required.

For dessert we were torn; cheese or a trio of ices. I agreed with one of our eating companions to share the both, as to avoid any unnecessary hardship. The trio of ices was simply beautiful, a sweet but tart fragrant raspberry sorbet, a creamy blue cheese ice cream, with an amazing blue aftertaste) that kept me going back for more, both served in lovely miniature handmade sugar covered cones. Though the best third was the Gin & Tonic Slush Puppie, clearly made with Sloe Gin (the beautiful pink/purple hue) and served in a shot glass was the perfect marriage of the 5 and 25 year old Becky. To finish we had three/four lovely cheeses, though my mind was still with dessert, so I sadly almost completely neglected the marmite cheddar, blue cheese, and camembert.

About 2 thirds of a bottle of very tasty house red, 4 courses, wonderful presentation of a birthday cake we brought with us and it all came in under £30. I can honestly say it’s been a long time since I had so much of such quality for so little.

9/10 Definitely a new regular and James to thank…

This is all I could find negative and I wanted to get it out of the way before I gush for the next three paragraohs about the food.

The Hummingbird Bakery

133 Portobello Road, London W11 2DY, 020 7229 6446

Simply Wonderful.

The specials are not to miss, my personal favourite is the Cookies & Cream, though nearly all are a good substitute.

Not to mention their “cakes to order” with hand decorations, their large enough to feed twice the estimates they give you. The Carrot Cake is a brilliant unusual birthday cake.

They aren’t cheap but great as a treat, just a shame I live a block away, it makes that once in a while more like once a week :/

8/10 (The price brings it down from a 9)

Hummingbird Bakery on Urbanspoon

Lupa

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170 Thompson Street, between Houston St. and Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012,  (212) 982-5089

I had to have my arm twisted to visit this place. Only for the reason that I already know and love so many Italian’s at home. But it has to be said, Lucy was right this place is a gem.

We ordered three starters between us: Beetroot with Pistachios, Market Fish Scabece, and the Escarole, Walnuts, Red Onion & Pecorino Salad. They were all wonderful, the delicately seasoned cold fish was strangely lovely, and the combination of Beetroot & Pistachio was masterful, I’m sure inspire some of my own recipes in the future. We opted for Pasta as a Main (Entree) as we loved the sound of the dishes and sure we wouldn’t have space for the entrees as well. I opted for the Sausage Gnocchi, and my companion for Veal Ravioli. My Gnocchi was amazing and my only complaint was that I could have eaten more, though this was simply my greediness rather than the small portions. The ravioli was lovely as described, as this is as a non veal eater. We opted for the Nero D’Avola Nausica, which was light and fruity, perfect companion to all our food.

To finish we chose to share the cheeseboard, and some dessert wine. We went for Three Cheeses for $12.00: Ricotta with Honey, Coach Farm Goat Curd , Pecorino Romano. They came with Apple Sauce, Bread, & Nut Brittle, which accompanied the cheeses perfectly. It was beautiful and lovely at the same time. Wonderful service, including saving us from a noisy man on the shared table, competent recommendations, and a knowledge of the wine menu which I hadn’t encountered before.

9/10

Lina Stores

18 Brewer Street, London W1F 0SH, 020 7437 6482

A family run establishment that makes you feel transported to Italy. Prices are comparable to buying the good from the specialist food aisles in the supermarket but far more enjoyable. There so chatty and make you feel like a member of the family.

The fresh Pumpkin Ravioli, Crayfish Ravioli, and Canoli are brilliant. You can buy every type of essential Italian ingredient, my current favorite being the Farro, inspired by dinners at the nearby Bocca Di Lupo. The sandwiches are made fresh to order are brilliant, the tastiest Mozzarella, Tomato, and Pesto Baguette, is better than anything else I’ve ever eaten from a deli. The bread selection is also amazing, all this taken into consideration when the store is so small make it like an Italian treasure trove.

10/10

Exeter Street Bakery

1b Argyll Road, London W8 7DB, 020 7937 8484

Wonderful Kensington lunch venue, grab a couple of slices of pizza (Courgette or Potato with Rosemary). Sit outside in the sun, or keep warm at one of the window benches. The chocolate pizza is amazing and a great treat for friends. All the bread is great quality and super tasty, stocked in certain Waitrose and the John Lewis food Hall, though for the best experience it’s worth making the trip to Kensington.

10/10

Bourne & Hollingsworth

28 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1JF, 020 7636 8228

Twee brilliance.

Their Gin Fizz’s are lovely, it’s small, about the size of my living room but all the better for it. Cocktails are all good value and competently made.

Worth the treck…

Ba Shan

24 Romilly Street, Soho, W1D 5AH, 020 7287 3266

Any place where you can try loads of sharing dishes instantly gets me interested, be it Italian (Boca Di Lupo), Chinese (Ba Shan), or the tried and tested Spanish (Brindisa Soho). I also had high hopes of Ba Shan having been a big fan of Baozi Inn since it opened last year. In fact we only ended up here because Baozi Inn was oversubscribed a couple of Friday nights ago.

It wasn’t terribly busy and seemed a wonder why those being turned away from Baozi hadn’t been sent the couple of blocks north west. You can see from outside that this is the proprietors middle ground restaurant, it had the space so lacking at Baozi Inn with a service level reminiscent of Bar Shu. Our charming waitress, had I noticed been imported along with the hutong charm from Baozi Inn but clearly had been told to lavish the attention on customers which you would expect going from £10 per head to £25/30. We ordered almost one type of everything between three which was served as three courses (as advised by out affable waitress).

Our first course of Spiced Cold Potato salad was just as described and really tasty, as was the dish of spicy nuts (peanut?). I have had a thing for spicy cucumber salads since Beijing and this compared favourably to those I’d had before, the perfect combination of refreshing with undertones of Szechwan pepper. A couple of good dishes later (to many to remember all) we were onto the small eats. We had had three dishes, my favourites being spicy dumplings with pork which though a small portion were really yummy and had a real kick.

All the dishes were well executed, tasty and good value. Would definitely recommend a visit…

8/10

Coté

124-126 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1F 0TY

http://www.cote-restaurants.co.uk

The lunchtime service was busier than I’ve seen before and therefore the staff were clearly overstretched, but when there they were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The food was, as my previous three visits; classic, well cooked, and simply seasoned. My Steak Frites, was slightly tender and pink (as forewarned) with well seasoned crispy chips. They are Cafe Rouge, how it should have been done. At £10 for my main it was exactly what I ordered no less no more. If only they could now replace all the Cafe Rouge’s in London…

Great Staples 7/10

I wouldn’t Snog you if you paid me

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Snog Soho, 9 Brewer Street, London, W1F 0RG

 

A “new” (certainly questionable) Frozen Yogurt “experience” comes to Soho.

 

Having sampled all three flavours they vary from passable (Classic), to not very nice (Chocolate), to horrid (Green Tea). The prices are ridiculous, and that’s comparing to other places in Soho or even famous ice cream places like Marine Ices. £4.25 for a Natural Classic with 2 toppings (Strawberries & Raspberries), was an insult. 4 small raspberries, and 1 1/2 overripe and/or tasteless strawberries, I know milk and fruit prices are suffering from inflation but that’s just silly. And as Linzi mentioned on my visit the lightly sour natural yoghurt taste was overwhelming. As a massive frozen Yogurt fan who works two minutes away I would like to think this was a bad day, but I had made that mistake the day earlier, falling to the fate of a Green Tea Classic with Mochi. This was wrong from the outset, it was more citrus than Green Tea, and as a colleague suggested tasted artificial.

 

If you’re in Soho and craving Frozen Yogurt run away from Snog, Only a couple of blocks away there is decent frozen yogurt at itsu on Wardour Street (103).  The portions are slightly smaller but infinitely better and cheaper. A Fruitful at £2.79 had really tasty strawberries, blueberries and pomegranate on top, to the extent that it make some kind of effort to cover the yogurt rather than acting as a Snog style Garnish.

 

Review: Run for the hills/itsu