Lima London

When you take a seat in Lima, it doesn’t feel like you’re about to dine in a Michelin starred restaurant – it’s not the arty-farty, stuffy type. You’ll find this Peruvian dining spot on Rathbone Place in Fitzrovia, surrounded by pubs and casual pizza joints – so it’s not surprising that the vibe it extrudes is equally as relaxed. Without Conor grabbing my hand and pulling me in, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second glance.

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The restaurant itself is light and airy, complete with simple wooden tables and vibrant Peruvian artworks. There are a few seats available for al fresco dining, where we lounged in the sun and tried our best to decipher the menu. With 14 small plates and 12 large to choose from, as well as five ‘snacks’, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

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How I’ve never had a pisco sour is beyond me, pisco (a type of brandy) is mixed with egg whites, lime and sugar. Prepare to drink a few – and get the duck confit rocoto crisp to go with it. Rocoto is a type of a pepper which has been ground down into a paste and then dehydrated to turn it into a crisp, with a duck confit mousse on top. Hidden inside the confit are some delicious pomegranate seed surprises. It’s a total texture mash-up for your mouth, and it’s gone within seconds.

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The prawn and avocado ceviche is excellent – it’s like a circus cocktail with a chilli kick. Dig under the generous serving of plantain crisps and you’ll find fish which is tender and flavoursome, but the only problem was that the little bowl it was served in wasn’t nearly enough for Conor and me to share.

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Next up the came the Octopus Olivo, where seared octopus chunks come served on a bed of yellow quinoa, with lilac spots of alfonso olive mayonaise dotted around the plate. These little bubbles were incredibly tasty, but the octopus was a little too tough for my liking.

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Get the asparagus huancaina to cleanse your plate before moving onto their meat dishes. Stems of asparagus and cherry tomatoes are covered in a spicy, creamy sauce. We had the duck escabeche alongside it – which means the duck is basically is marinated in vinegar.  Thick, juicy, tender pieces of duck were served in a sweet syrup sauce with slices of radishes and bits of orange.

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Last up, my favourite dish of the evening, and a Lima signature – the beef tiradito. Thinly sliced raw beef pieces are presented in between swills of amarillo sauce, with flakes of parmesan and coriander cress sprinkled over the top. The beef melts in your mouth, I’d have seconds and thirds if my budget allowed me.

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It’s worth noting that they do a lunch and pre-theatre menu, so if you want to try unfamiliar flavours, with plates full of colours and ceviche, I’d book a table in to take full advantage of their deals.

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Lima London, 31 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1JH

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Salt Yard | The Best Tapas in Fitzrovia

Tapas. Either you love the concept of small, sharing plates, or you hate it.

And if you’re anything like me, you often find yourself flicking through a menu thinking – ‘how badly would my dinner companion judge me for ordering more than one main course’ – then tapas is definitely for you. You can pretty much order anything off the menu with offending anyone with your greed.

Last weekend I found myself sitting in the Salt Yard waiting for Serena to join me for dinner, drooling over the menu whilst sipping on a white peach cocktail. Salt Yard is an award winning tapas bar and staple of Fitzrovia. The restaurant itself is spilt across two floors but both are on the small side, so reservations are essential.

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The menu retains classic tapas dishes including Spanish omelette and patatas fritas, whilst offering some interesting new creations, like their stuffed courgette flower (but more of that later). Their menu is distinctly Spanish, yet there are noticeable Italian influences, such as the crab arancini or the occasional raviolis that appear on their special board.

The menu is spilt up into up categories of meat, fish and veg, so there’s something for even the most fussiest of eaters. I highly recommend you try at least two things under each category, but trust me you’ll need to save room for desert!

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The smoked haddock croquetas with caper ailoi were the first thing to hit the table. They came in a neat row of four with a dollop of ailoi on top. To me, the perfect croquette is one that has a crisp coating and gives way to a creamy filling. And boy, these croquettes from the salt yard definitely lived up to my expectations. Once you’ve cut through the breadcrumb coating you’ll find a delicate smoky, fishy filing.

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We kept with the fish theme as the next plate to arrive was the slow-cooked octopus, which was served with potatoes, capers and saffron aioli. Octopus has to be cooked just right otherwise it can be quite chewy, but the dish was so tender and it melted in the mouth. The capers were duly needed to help cut through the sweet taste of the dish and provided the perfect balance of flavours.

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The highlight of the meal, and the one dish you must order, is the courgette flower stuffed with goats cheese which is served smothered in honey. The courgette flower itself contains a rich, salty, creamy cheese and is then covered in a light, crisp batter. It is served with lashings of honey which acts to contrast the flavours coming from the goats cheese. None of these ingredients however acts to overcome the flavour of the courgette itself, which is a rare delight.

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We were recommended the dulce de leche mousse by our waitress, and my god, we were not disappointed. The plate was piled up with layers of mousse, chocolate wafers, slabs of honeycomb and mounds of salted chocolate sauce. You’ll struggle to get through it all by yourself as it’s incredibly rich and indulgent. It’s a chocolate lovers delight.

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Salt Yard, 54 Goodge St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 4NA

Dining along the Victoria Line

Back in the summer I wrote a post titled A North Londoners Guide to Eating in North London, where I took you on a foodie adventure along the northern end of Piccadilly line; from Kings Cross and beyond, ending up in Southgate. This time I’ll take you up a trip up and down the Victoria Line, letting you in on all my favourite places to eat and drink.

The Victoria line runs from Brixton in South London, all the way up to Walthamstow in the North-East, which is where we’ll start our journey…

Walthamstow

When I was in college I used to work in Walthamstow in a tiny GP surgery, and boy, it has come a long way in those five years. It’s now home to like the likes of God’s Own Junkyard which showcases neon art in a salvage yard, it’s evident that the culture of Shoreditch is pushing out and moving further east.

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I’ve mentioned Sodo Pizza before on here, and I can’t not talk about Walthamstow without mentioning these incredible sourdough pizzas. Their winter goat is a real winner and is made with tomato, mozzarella, goats cheese, walnuts, caramelised onions and olives.

Eat17 brings you innovative dishes as well as producing good old British food. They actually make a lot of their own ingredients on site, including bacon jam, so good.

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Tottenham

If you don’t already, then you need to start following @discovtottenham on Instagram, my sister moved into the area back in June and I was so surprised at how many decent places there are to eat and drink.

Lets start with a favourite, The Beehive, it’s got beers from local Londoner brewers and a burgercentic menu. They have an impressive beer garden and there’s even a nice atmosphere on match day – although I do always sit with my back to the TV.

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One place my sister raves about is Craving Coffee, and the owners are on a mission to bring great coffee and locally sourced food to Tottenham. They serve local roasters Climpsons & Sons, alongside teas from Lalani and Co. Local producers are featured extensively, such as Wildes Cheese and Flourish Craft Bakery. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday they open their doors to the Tottenham Social Street Food Residencies, where you can catch monthly changing pop up restaurateurs (these all tend to be small local businesses you can also find in Tottenham Green Market).

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Finsbury Park

Have brunch at Fink’s Salt and Sweet and get to their Avocado Toast. The portion is more than generous and is topped with goats cheese and comes with a harrisa spread – it’s mad good value for money.

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Grab a cup of joe at Blighty Coffee, where they roast their own coffee beans! They’ve got signature drinks like the Orancino, which is basically Terry’s Chocolate Orange in a cup, and the Spitfire, which is served with cinnamon and chocolate. They also do a cracking eggs royale.

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Highbury and Islington 

Now I could write a whole post about Highbury and Islington, and narrowing down what to include in this section has been incredibility hard (no thanks to Upper Street).

Go for cocktails at The Four Sisters and it’s the perfect place for an afternoon session. It retains much of its historic charm as the interior is made up of dark wooden panelling, with cosy corners filled with wooden stalls and tables.

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If there’s only one thing you take from this post – then head to Rök, a Scandi smokehouse. Their soused mackerel with creme fraiche and pickled onions was the best I’ve ever had, it was so tender and delicious!

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Kings Cross

Long gone are the days where Kings Cross is referred to a no mans land, it has seen incredible regeneration and I can’t get enough of Ganary Square – it’s my new favourite weekend hangout. With the likes of Dishoom and Caravan, what’s not to love?

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Euston

Just west of Euston station you’ll find Drummond Street, which is a slice of Indian culture, with sweet emporiums, grocer’s and restuarants, but with none of Brick Lane’s tourists. My dad would take us to Diwana Bhel Poori House and we’d all order these incredible dosas with a lassi on the side. It’s cheap and cheerful, but they serve great South-Indian food.

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Fitzrovia

Fitzrovia is a gem of a place, it’s got so many amazing restaurants and it’s located in-between Warren Street and Oxford Circus tube stations, just North of SoHo. Scott and I used to have Spanish lessons nearby and we’d always head to BoBo Social, which serves up amazing gourmet burgers; Barrica, which is a small tapas bar with an  extensive wine list; and of course ICCO, a pizzeria where you can bag yourself a thin, crispy pizza for less than a fiver.

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I can’t talk about Fitrovia without mentioning Pied à Terre, a Michelin starred french restaurant, and if you have a bit of cash in your wallet or what to dine out for a special occasion, then I beg you to go here. You won’t be disappointed.

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Green Park

If you get off the tube at Green Park, you’ll find yourself in Mayfair which is home to some of London’s most exclusive restaurants, bars, shops and hotels.

If you walk North, you’ll find Sketch – which has got to be one of the wackiest places to eat and drink in London (just browse their photo gallery and take a look at their toilets for a start!)  They’re notorious for their afternoon-tea which they serve in ‘The Gallery’, a beautiful 1930s themed pink room, making it the perfect location for tea and cake.

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Victoria

It’s rare for me to venture this far South, but if there’s one thing that will entice me, it’s the prospect of having something sweet at Dominique Ansel. Here you’ll find a cronut which is a mix of a croissant and doughnut and is so incredibly light, and a cookie shot, a chocolate chip cookie in the shape of a shot glass with a coating of dark chocolate inside which is then filled with milk.

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If you head to the Artists Residence, a seriously cool hotel just five minutes from Victoria station, you’ll find the Cambridge Street Kitchen. It’s a colourful restaurant filled with neon signs, modern prints and an open kitchen, sending off a ‘east meets west’ vibe.

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Vauxhall

Vauxhall is a hard neighbourhood to define, it’s right on the south bank and in the heart of the city, but there never seems to be a good reason to go there – until Pharmacy 2 opened their doors. It’s a modern restaurant-cum-gallery by Damien Hirst and Mark Hix. While the decor is bright and wacky (as you’d expect of Hirst) but the food is simple and precise.

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Brixton 

Brixton has become a hub for foodies, clubbers, artists and rockers alike, and it joins the likes of Peckham and Nottinghill as areas which have now gone through the gentrification process. Take Pop Brixton for example, it was developed in reaction to high street brands dominating London and showcases a selection of young businesses. It’s home to four bars and 16 street food stalls and restaurants, alongside a changing schedule of events.

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If you want to get to know some of the lesser-known Caribbean treats, then head to Fish, Wings & Tings. It’s got a short menu, and yes there’s also jerk chicken, but try the rotis, codfish fitters, and prawns in red strip tempura. If it’s not hot enough for you, the guy who owns it also make his own hot sauce (but it’s not for the faint-hearted).

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For an appartif or an after dinner cocktail, head to The Shurb & Shutter where you can get your hands on innovite drinks. They’re a bit on the gimmicky side, but they’re all expertly made.

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Let me know if you visit any of these places or if you have any hidden gems you’d like to share

 

A Disappointing Brunch at Dickie Fitz

I’ve been in two minds about writing this post as  I’ve wanted my blog to showcase the best London has to offer, and unfortunately Dickie Fitz just doesn’t fall into that category. I went for Brunch here with my friend Naomi after sweating our butts off at Another Space.

I won’t deny it – the interior is beautiful. It’s light and airy with white walls, tables and chairs, creamy-yellow benches, and a stunning art deco stained-glass staircase.

We were seated on a corner table and were immediately brought table water which was infused with cucumber. I also ordered myself a matcha latte as I’m completely obsessed with its earthy flavour at the moment.

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Now, it’s definitely not your traditional breakfast menu, and on their weekend brunch menu there’s no eggs benedict or full english in sight. I love trying new things but it does take a lot for me to branch out from my standard avocado and toast order. Unfortunately the menu didn’t inspire me – sorry I don’t want a short rib burger or lamb with tabbouleh at 10 o’clock in the morning. So I went ahead and ordered their smashed avocado with charred tomato, kale, feta on a piece of grilled sourdough.

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I was so disappointed by the size of the dish and everything was incredibility salty. I understand that quality and quantity don’t always go hand in hand. However you’ll receive one piece of sourdough and about half an avocado pear. For £11, I expect more then this.

The meal didn’t fill us up at all so we wandered to Ben Cookie’s to treat ourselves after such a disappointing brunch.

Just a stone throw away you have the likes of The Riding House Cafe, The Breakfast Club, and Berners Tavern. Dickie Fitz really needs to up their game if they expect to compete with these guys.

I do feel that it’s a bit unfair to completely write off a restaurant after one visit and one dish – but living in London means I have so much choice when it comes to food, so why would I come back? It’s such a shame as I really thought I was going to love it.

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Dickie Fitz, 48 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1QQ

 

Learning Spanish and Eating at Barrica

As new year’s resolutions go, most of mine were pretty typical, learn a new language, lose weight, eat well – you know the drill.

I’ve been on numerous trips to Spain, but my skills only go as far as ‘Una copa de vino por favor?’ So in January I signed Scott and myself up for a weekly Spanish course near Tottenham Court Road. It’s so close to Fitzrovia and near one of our favourite tapas bar, Barrica, so serves as a perfect excuse to visit.

The place was quite packed at 9pm on a Wednesday, but luckily we snagged a table that opened up at the last minute. It’s a small restaurant and only has enough space for a few dozen covers so I’d highly recommend booking if you don’t want to sit on bar stool (which can be quite uncomfortable).

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The space itself is smart and attractive, with a black and white titled floor and ochre walls. It’s got dim, moody lighting and has the obligatory pig legs hanging from the ceiling. The menu only fills a single side of A4 paper but there’s a lot of familiar choices.

Our meal started with some Padron Peppers which were fried and seasoned to perfection and set the tone for the rest of the meal.

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Next we had their chargrilled chicken which was served with a lemon and garlic dressing. The meat was really tender and soft, it was so simple but so good. We also had their pork shoulder which was arranged on a bed of sweet potato mash. Personally, I left the mash was lacking flavour, but the meat more then made up for it.

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No tapas meal wouldn’t be complete without a plate of potatas bravas. The potatoes were crisp but floury, and weren’t too greasy or too dry. The tomato sauce had a smoky but spicy flavour coming through which was perfectly balanced with the alioli.

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My only gripe with this place is the relatively small portions, but then it is tapas after all. Barrica stands up to the local competition, and I’m thrilled to have stumbled across it.

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Barrica62 Goodge St, W1T 4NE