Friday, 15 February 2013

The Longroom Pub; Smithfield

Last night was a trip to the recently opened Longroom Pub in Smithfields. I’ve written about this area loads as so many cool new concept places are appearing. The Longroom is no exception. Specialising in craft beers, salt beef and grilled cheese this is simple comfort food at it’s best.
Welcome to the Longroom, Home of Grilled Cheese and Salt Beef
Although the menu is simple this does not mean there is no choice. The choice of beer is vast. From around the world, kegged, cask (I learnt about the difference!) and bottled there is something for everyone. Being a girl I naturally opted for the raspberry Bacchus fruit beer to start with. No surprises there. It was fairly strong (5%) and in a paper bag. Sucker for the small touches. It was really nice. The names of the beers are pretty hilarious and they also sport the Brew Dog brand – famous for creating the worlds strongest beer served in a dead squirrel. Seriously.

Bacchus Fruit Beer in Raspberry or Cherry
Next up I wanted a Flying Dog Raging Bitch - obviously. Unfortunately this is a rotated beer so not always on the menu. Probably a good thing considering it is 8.3% and I was feeling fairly squiffy after the fruit beer. Brew Dog red ale for me then at a much more modest 5%. As quite a traditional ale it was a bit to perfumed for me. Expert advice had to be called in for beer number 3.
The Longroom Drink Menu is vast...
Getting some expert advice, learning and drinking. It was all working
The bar manager Frank was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful when it came to choosing my next tipple. He bought over a selection of different beers to try so we could work out my tastes. Unsurprisingly they are pretty girly. I liked the colder beers rather than the cask and nothing to hoppy. I opted for a Rochefort 6 and it was delicious. Comparable to the fruit beer but a bit more credible. The range of Rochefort beers also comes in an 8 and 10 – the 10 being 11.3%, the strongest on the menu.
Would be my first choice next time - a Rochefort 6
A bit of head action
Strongest beer int the Longroom - you can tell it's getting a bit squiffy
In between all the excitement of drinking we perused the food menu. Clearly opting for a bit of everything we went for salt beef plate with pickles, Craft Beer Rarebit for him and a grilled cheese, Serrano ham, beef tomato and avocado sandwich for me. The sandwiches were totally delicious. The cheese thick and just the right quantity of stable and melty.
The Longroom Menu
Some pickles pickling away
The salt beef was warm and falling apart – in the right way. The mustard that came with it was so hot. Like my eyes were watering hot. This is a good thing in case you were wondering. The sandwich also came with a healthy dollop of blazing hot mustard (since I've been so slack in writing this and there is a time delay, I have since dispatched some people at lunchtime for salt beef...commenting on the mustard I received a typical guy response 'it wasn't that hot'.) Try it. You'll like it.
Salt Beef and Pickles

A blurry pickle, but I kind of like it!
The sandwich was amazing and I have it on good authority the soup was too...two varieties at a time, a meat and vegetarian.
Grilled cheese sandwich with avocado, ham, beef tomato
We luckily left around 11 but could have easily stayed trying more beers. In the morning I was glad we had left. So not used to drinking beer - that is almost the same % as wine in vast quantities. The Longroom will become a frequent hangout for sure.

Just on the addition of lunch, go early grab the best table then enjoy everyone else coming in. Keep up the good work guys...

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Friday, 8 February 2013

Burger Breakout: Burger Pop-Up Reviewed

Burger Breakout - Hello
When Burger Breakout first started I was pretty excited - but two months in have only just managed to get down to The Old Crown and try it out. First though, we went to the most amazing bar - M had been here the night previously and recommended we should go again. What a good decision. Bold statement, but probably my new favourite bar in London.

Me looking totally normal, I always look like this...
Fun tables at Foundation
Amazing London Cocktail Bar
Foundation in Covent Garden - I know, I'm late to the party, but it is awesome. All drinks are half price until 7pm - including champagne. This makes a bottle of Moët even more appealing than normal. £26? Cheaper than the supermarket! And you get to sit in the most amazing chairs.

Considering it was so amazing it wasn't too packed for a Thursday night - which was great. As we were leaving however there were some burly bouncers outside and some ropes obviously planned for the queue.

So after Foundation Bar it was time for Burger Breakout. Stretchy pants at the ready. Once we found it (we both suffer from a directional disability) we crowded inside. It was busy. Through the night we would notice the crowd come and go in waves. Our table was along the back wall facing the rest of the room. Marvellous. Time to devour the menu.
Burger Breakout at The Old Crown
Right on New Oxford Street (note the bus)
The Old Crown Bar
A new burger - whose name had been crowd sourced on Twitter (my suggestion was quickly vetoed) was making it's debut - the 'we're gonna need a bigger bap' burger is a fish and chip burger WITH THE CHIPS INSIDE!! amazing. But we were on a meat mission.
'We're going to need a bigger bap' Twitter sourced burger name
Pulled pork is a personal weakness. Clearly the swine burger was a tick. We opted to share two different ones. The other clear winner was The Whiskey Beast. Here is a run down: The Whiskey Beast - aged Orkney beef patty, treacle cured bacon, Strathdon blue cheese and whiskey mustard. The Swine Time: Pork patty, 24 hour cooked pulled pork, a Dairylea slice and jalapeno mayo. Are you drooling yet?
Burger Breakout Menu
Our choices, Whiskey Beast and Swine Time
All burgers are served with a side of horseradish salted fries. We contemplated ordering more sides. We were glad we didn't...

Now let's not beat around the bush here - these burgers are freaking huge. I didn't even know how to get it in my mouth. We sliced them in half and both started with the pork (you honestly have no idea how much I love Pulled Pork, a love that started at Pitt Cue). How did it taste? Delicious. It was messy, all over my face, all over the table, dripping into my hands and I didn't care. There was more food to be eaten. We were like two people possessed 

Good god, look at that cheese
Burger sans flash
A Swine Time 'Cross Section' if you will...
Seriously big pulled pork burger
The horseradish fries? Completely amazing. Some of the best fries I've eaten (Honest Burgers are a comparison to deliciousness). Too bad I couldn't finish them, as there was half a Whiskey Beast waiting for my attention. If 'treacle cured bacon' didn't sound good enough before the taste was completely out of this world. The Best Bacon I've Ever Eaten™.
A Whiskey Beast
The Burger Challenge

The Best Bacon In The World™
Bacon: Good, whiskey mustard? GOOD! It packs a bit of a punch and there are some really strong mouth fulls. It is hot and good and filthy and you will love it. However...we both preferred the pork. Now a regular sized burger and fries meal, I can polish off without any problems. This was a mountain. The fabulous fries - or the totality of the burger could not be surmounted.
We caved - burger defeat
What to do with completely full tummies of burger-y goodness? Order something sweet of course. Hard shakes are pretty awesome. Hard shakes with chocolate buttons in? Forget about it. (Do your best Joey from Friends accent). We went for a 'your snickers are showing'. Did we manage to order this without a snigger? No of course not.
Hard shake menu
Inside said 'your snickers are showing' (snigger) there is white rum, peanut butter, chocolate buttons, Dolche de Lechce, Vanilla ice cream. Both calorific and delicious. It looks quite innocent when it arrives, with two straws (we're very romantic).
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Buttons got married and their baby tastes amazing
Drink Me
Was it good? Yes. Could we have done one each? Probably. Did we feel quite drunk by now? Yes. Great night.

Atmosphere: 3/5 - it was a bit cold!
Food: 4/5
Drink: 4/5 - have a milkshake
Overall: 4/5
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Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Best Burrito in London

Yesterday's shopping pit stop was a trip to Tortilla Mexican Grill for a burrito. Burrito's are literally one of my favourite foods. There is however a massive quality range between a really good one that blows your mind and makes you groan with pleasure and a really soggy limp one.

Before giving a run down of the best of the best here are a couple of key things on burrito etiquette.

1) It comes in foil for a reason. Leave it in the foil, tear strips off as you eat. Keeps it nice and tidy (ish) and let's face it, it's fun.

2) Do not even think about getting a knife and fork out. This is dirty food and should be treated that way.

3) If there is a choice between small/medium/large, don't even think about kidding yourself that you're going to have anything other than large. Burrito's should be a two hand job.

Since it was the most recent - Tortilla Mexican Grill. There is a choice of three styles, straight up burrito with rice and beans, a fajita burrito with peppers and onions or a naked burrito. My first choice is always rice and beans. It's just the way it should be.

Filling wise there is chicken, pork, steak or veggie. I'm generally a chicken kind of girl. I am always tempted by pork thinking it will be tender and pulled pork heaven, inevitably it doesn't live up to expectations. The chicken is blackened and chargrilled so really delicious. (The image above is of the Tortilla offering).
My hand is supposed to be helping with scale...does it?!
Topping wise you have the choice between cheese and sour cream. The answer is BOTH! Always both. Guacamole is extra - usually I steer clear as much as I love avocado and guacamole it can make it a bit soggy. Jalapenos can also be added as well as lettuce. Personally I chose the former and avoided the lettuce - it can make it quite messy to eat if it comes out in strips.

Overall it was damn good. The chicken made it. The tortilla held together well and the coriander rice was nicer than just regular.

Get your Tortilla Mexican Grill on in these locations

Next up; Poncho Number 8. I first came across this when working in the Liverpool Street area. The opening was pretty hyped up and generally when you walk by at lunch time there is a queue outside. The same applies for the St Paul's Branch.

Slightly more expensive than TMG, you're looking around £6.50 for a meat variety. Here you can also have a wholemeal tortilla wrap which is a bit healthier. They also do a box sans any wrap. I'm pretty sure you can guess how I feel about that.

For the filling again you can have beans or peppers. The beans here pack a spicy punch. Meat wise there is your standard chicken, steak or pork  as well as their special Barbacoa mix - not to be confused with the Adam Perry Lang restaurant around the corner, this Barcacoa burrito is 21-35 day-aged British beef, marinated in dry roasted guajillo chillis for 48 hours, then slow-cooked before being gently shredded. Sounds pretty good hey?

You can have mild, medium or hot salsa. Generally I go for half and half on the mild / medium. This is because I love my spicy food, but the mild salsa is fresh chopped tomato, rather than just a sauce. I like to think I'm contributing to my 5 a day. Poncho Number 8 is comparable in quality to Tortilla Mexican Grill. Definitely messy though. If you're eating in I quite like the fact they have hand sanitiser on the tables as well as chili sauce. This is a messy job.

The Evening Standard voted Poncho No8 London's best burrito. Clearly they haven't been to Daddy Donkey.

Daddy Donkey is the mother of all burrito's. Parked on Leather Lane market this cult burrito van is 'Kick-Ass'. Literally.

Daddy Donkey is a Friday treat. You will queue for a while before you get your DD fix, but trust me it will be worth it. Your choice is a Daddy D Burrito, Fajita or Naked. There is a small option (ignore this) you're going to paying around £6 for a regular size.

In this you can have chicken, steak, carnitas (pulled pork shoulder), shredded beef, or picadillo (ground beef with onions and garlic). On top you can choose from 4 salsa's, mild (again fresh 1 of your 5 a day type), medium which is pretty hot, HOT - which is 'my mouth is on fire' or extra hot, which is quite frankly ridiculous.

The size of it is obscene, it's heavy and messy and the best burrito in London. There is a new Daddy Donkey Truck coming to some lucky people somewhere! The location of the new truck is not yet known, but when it comes I have no doubt it will be incredible.

A close contender for Daddy Donkey is Benito's Hat. They have a very special post all of their own here. This is the one so far on the list that has BEER and Margaritas. Serious in size, flavour and sass the Benito's Hat guy's are awesome. You can get your fix here

A mention for a really bad burrito now and it has to go to Burrito Bros. Soul-less outlet's serving out mediocre soggy wraps. Expensive and poor meat. If you're in the Clerkenwell area - make the extra walk and go to Daddy Donkey. It'll be worth it.

One final thing that really made me laugh - I'm clearly a part of the Urban Dictionary meaning of Burrito...

Do you agree? Let me know if you have had a better Burrito and I will try it!
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Saturday, 2 February 2013

Bodo's Schloss Restaurant Review

Bodo's Schloss - pretty hard to pronounce, but well worth getting your tongue around. An Austrian apres ski themed restaurant in Kensington is exactly what London needs to blast away the remains of the January blues.
Welcome to Bodo's Schloss!
Faux view video loop, I wish we were looking at this! 
From the exterior you are welcomed by the Alpine entrance and immediately start to spot the gorgeous staff members dressed in lederhosen and dirndl's dotted around and ready to greet you. We went to the bar initially as we arrived early for our booking. There is 1 table reserved for the bar in the main restaurant- the rest of the area is standing. The cocktail menu is slicker than your average and there is a healthy range of schnapps...when in Austria!
Bodo's Schloss Restaurant

Bodo Schloss Menu

Cocktails - Corbet's Couloir, as easy to pronounce as Schloss
 We both opted for a Corbet’s Couloir (Belvedere Vodka, lemon juice, mango and peach puree & cane syrup, topped with Moët et Chandon) and took in the surroundings. Red and white gingham table clothes don the wooden tables. Some chairs carved into animals while some are decked out with cow hide. On the wall their are all manor of friends from the forest.

At the allotted time the stunning waitress came to take us to our table. There was also a very large party of around 30 right in the middle of the restaurant, making the atmosphere immediately buzzy.

On perusing the menu we literally wanted everything. Traditional Austrian fare is the order of the day, schnitzel sliders, Schloss Wiener Schnitzel, dumplings, sauerkraut and all other delicious comfort foods.
Sides of everything please - the menu
Main menu, does anyone else pronounce it Bodo Schloss?
Basically we did what any normal person would do and ordered everything. There wasn't exactly oodles of room on the table for it!

Where to begin...from the Schloss Wiener Schnitzel's we opted for chicken. The size of the thing when it arrived? Absolutely enormous! It came with a side of potato and cucumber salad. This was cold and in a vinegary dressing.
Schloss Chicken Schnitzel - amazing
Potato and cucumber salad
The spinach and alpine cheese dumplings were also enormous and as delicious as they were huge.
Spinach dumplings - bigger and slicker than your average

Now, when you think of a slider, you think a bite size burger, a couple of bites at most. So we ordered one each - on top of the masses of other food. Sliders in Austria? You guessed it - massive! They were really just the size of a regular burger. Inside is a schnitzel. I opted for pork which to be honest tasted just like the chicken! Delicious.
I use the term 'sliders' lightly...these schnitzel burgers pack a punch
The sides we ordered - sauerkraut, spaetzle(which is a traditional German pasta) and those very Austrian staples...french fries! The spaetzle was by far the best of the sides. It was heaven. Almost the consistency of gnocchi but really light and incredibly flavoursome.
Spaetzle - such amazing pasta. Could eat more than one of these alone

Sauerkraut - standard!
The favourite dishes by far were the dumplings, sliders, schnitzel and spaetzle - so pretty much everything. To accompany the rest of the food we had more cocktails. The party atmosphere was growing and the place was packed.
Pretty much a selection of the whole Bodo's Schloss Menu
...filling the whole table and then some
Does this give a scale of the size of things?
As if we hadn't ordered enough food we just couldn't resist the three peaks of vanilla souffle. For some reason I thought it was going to be quite small. Why, I have no idea since everything else has been fun size. It takes 20 minutes to prepare but the delivery alone is pretty worth it. In a huge dish it could have easily served 8 people...who hadn't eaten a massive meal beforehand. These Austrians really do like to eat.

For a bit of context the spoon on the right is a normal size table spoon. The left is a jumbo comedy serving spoon.
'Serves up to 4' Vanilla Souffle
With a 'side of coulis' / whole jug
Such a satisfying texture
Past the main restaurant is the bar / dancefloor. The DJ booth in here is a ski lift and the tunes? An amazing mix of of old school cheese and current pop hits. Right up my street! The crowd is also a very nice mix of hotties, socialites and general fun lovers after work - and those who don't work.
A.C.T the fool and Snow Angel Cocktails
Our lovely waiter
It all got a bit fuzzy later...

Very fuzzy...
A schnapps shot ski - what else!
This is my new favourite hang out, can't recommend it enough. I intend to be back frequently and often!

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 5/5
Drink: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5 - no where is perfect, but this comes pretty darn close!
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