Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Restaurant Review: Polpo Smithfield

Russell Norman's fabulous Polpo chain coming to Farringdon is very exciting. The Soho institutions are incredibly popular and notoriously difficult to reserve a table. The Farringdon operation, likely as catering for the city/working lunch and dinner crowd does take bookings. Hurrah
Although it looks under-construction Polpo is now open for business
Polpo Menu
Cosy interior, fills up for lunch around 12.45
The Smithfield Polpo branch opened yesterday to a fully booked lunch session. Today was my turn! We arrived early to make the most of the lunch shift, so it was pleasantly quiet on arrival. We were seated on a nice central table and presented with the wine 'board' I love the rustic touches and this was no exception. The menu's are the place cards and we simply couldn't decide on just the one thing to order so we opted for pretty much everything.

The meals arrive as and when they are ready and the menu items are designed for sharing, like grown up tapas. First to arrive was the Fritto Misto, which are lightly fried mixed fish including king prawns, calimari and white bait. The batter on these was incredibly light and flaky, delicious. 

Next up cured pork shoulder pizza, this was on the thinnest crispiest base ever and the topping was absolutely delicious. It would later turn out to be one of my favourite dishes of the day. Highly recommend. We also ordered the Bresaola pizetta which is aged salt beef. This again was thin and crispy but was lacking a certain something that the pork shoulder had in droves.
Pork Pizetta
Salt beef pizetta
We also ordered bread, but this wasn't your standard bread basket. The Pane carasau, prosciutto bianco, walnuts and cracked black pepper was divine. Again incredibly thin almost like a crisp consistency. The bacon and the walnuts went perfectly. I was trying not to fill up before the main events arrived. I'd also convinced myself this thin consistency meant it wasn't all that unhealthy and I definitely wasn't carb loading.
Bacon and walnut on bread, who knew this would be so amazing?
There are a selection of meatballs on offer. We opted for spicy pork and fennel. For me they were too aniseed-y and not enough spicy pork-y. If you were a big fan of fennel however you would have enjoyed them. The balls were enormous and in a nice fresh sauce. There are plenty of flavours on offer so next time, another flavour...
Aniseed rather than spice
Almost getting to the pièce de résistance the next thing up was linguine vongole. When I had a sneak peek at the menu the day before this was the sure thing to be ordered. It was smaller than I expected which was probably a good thing as we had clearly ordered enough to feed the 5,000. There were plenty of clams involved and the spaghetti was al dente. 
Linguine Volgole
Finally the best thing I have eaten in a little while. Steak is a tricky little devil and can be too chewy, too fatty or flavourless. This was a roll your head back and groan sliced flank steak with white truffle oil, and my god it was good. We also ordered heritage tomatoes on the side, which were functional...all in all made me feel this meal wasn't entirely unhealthy. One may say I tricked myself...
Sliced flank stead with white truffle oil
Oh. So. Good
Heritage tomatoes, making this a well rounded healthy meal
Not quite open yet but incredibly exciting opening underneath the Smithfield restaurant is the Negronni bar. All you have to pacify you for now is the Neon Sign. Want.

I will definitely be back to Polpo Smithfield and am still dying to try the Soho variants. A meal for two with wine if you stick to a sensible number of dishes (unlike us) you are looking around £60-£75. The quality and atmosphere are great, well worth it in my book.

Atmosphere: 4/5 Lovely decor, cosy with a nice crowd
Food: 4/5 great selection, mouth watering steak
Drink: 4/5 I'm a sucker for carafes, and reasonably priced cocktails (starting at £7)
Overall: 4/5

Bring on Mishkins...
Pin It Now!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Best Burger: Lucky Chip at The Sebright Arms

The quest for London's best burger continues with the much talked about Lucky Chip. Along with Meat Liquor a conversation around this topic does not go on for long before someone brings up the no frills flavoursome delights this burger van come partial resident of this East London boozer - Lucky Chip of Sebright Arms.

On Saturday's people come from far and wide to Netil Market for the burger van experience. Now anyone can have it with the added extras of a seat, a roof and a traffic light to tell you if you are in for a hefty weight or not. This is a proper boozer in East London, not a gastropub but it has a homely feel. Very Sunday afternoon and would be perfect hangover fodder (should you have one, I don't if you don't mind...)
The unassuming Sebright Arms housing these bad boy burgers
The interior
The Lucky Chip Menu
Extensive beer menu
Something for the ladies and One Tree Hill fans everywhere
Hackney Hopster, I love a play on words
Luckily on this Sunday afternoon we were not in for a long wait. It was a really hard decision Burger wise, I wanted to go for the el chappo as I'm a sucker for spicy, but I went down that road in Meat Liquor. This time I was going classic, Kevin Bacon - straight up. The other burger you see is the Royale Wit Cheese, no we are not in France and we are not in McDonalds, or a Pulp Fiction movie. I really like it when the names of menu items give you a good laugh. Tempted to go for a nate dog just for the chuckles.
Meet Kevin Bacon. He is delicious
Royale Wit Cheese
Lucky Dog
Table of pure filth
Cheeky little dog poking through the middle
If there are any vegetarians still reading, I salute you
The sides were very appetising, wasabi mayo chips of course, so I'd forgone the spiciness on the burger I wasn't letting it go completely. What else on the side? How about a hot dawg! (Yep I'm cool). Everything tasted delicious the first bite of the burger is messy, drippy and you literally can't get a big enough bite in your mouth (attractive). The plates of destruction at the end tell the story better than anything I can say.
Chowing down
Perfectly pink
Done, thank you very much
Now I'm not sure which page of the Rosemary Connolly diet Kevin Bacon appears on, but for a treat once in a while I'm saying let's go. Plus, that was hours ago and I am really not hungry at all. I'd like to try it for real on the van one sunny Saturday if we get any more of those this year...

Atmosphere: 3/5 good music and a friendly local feel with lovely staff
Food: 4/5 a ruddy good burger I say. Very different to Meat Liquor, much more acceptable portion wise for lunch time
Drink: 3/5 vast selection of beer and wine for a local pub
Overall: 3.5/5 rounded up, as thoroughly enjoyed. No frills and good food

Pin It Now!

Restaurant Review: Sushi Samba

I am very lucky to have been invited to the preview weekend of SushiSamba in Heron Tower. Ever since watching Richard Wright and Samantha Jones in Sex and The City (Dirty Martini, Dirty Bastard) in Sushi Samba who doesn't want to go there? My first experience was in Vegas and I've been in love ever since.

The City of London architecture excites me greatly. I love that I can see the Gherkin from the top of my road. It feels like home when I see the Liverpool Street skyline so to be at the top of it - Sushi Samba, I salute you...
Atop the terrace of Sushi Samba on the 38th Floor
Without my head blocking the gorgeous Tower Bridge and Gherkin
On arrival we had signature cocktails on the terrace; She's So Fine being the standout here. It was delicious. The main attraction of course is the view though. We were lucky to be arriving in the gorgeous sunshine, dining right through sunset and leaving in the dark with views of the Gherkin, Olympic Stadium, Tower Bridge and many other London landmarks twinkling up at us.
Zooming in on the Bridge complete with Olympic Rings
The almost finished Shard Building to the South
Canary Wharf to the East
We had cocktails with the view...She's So Fine was the best
The food is a fusion of Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian with different sections of the menu catering for each. The idea is to order lots of little plates for each section and share them. This works for me - one of my favourite styles of dining and completely eliminates entree envy...
The view from our table, and some smiley waiters
Sushi Samba Table Setting complete with Sake glass
The SushiSamba menu
The Sushi Samba menu is vast and the choice is amazing from the three different countries. We opted for sushi rolls of wagyu te amo, rock shrimp tempura, egg plant robata with mustard mayo and feijoada pastels which were dim sum shaped parcels of amazing-ness.
Wagyu Te Amo with sweet potato
I'm in Sushi Heaven
Egg plant Robata from the chargrill
Feijoada Pastels with beef shank, pork belly, chorizo and black bean puree
Rock Shrimp Tempura, a great big dish which was deceptively filling
The food arrives when it's ready and comes staggered. This was absolutely fine with us, I prefer to have one thing followed by another rather than too much choice going on. The meals actually arrived really quickly, so I have no doubt in my confidence that on opening the service will be amazing. There was a lot of staff around the place, which is reassuring of this.

After the cocktails on arrival we opted for a bottle of wine. The cocktail menu doesn't appear to be finished yet as the only physical thing available was the sake list which had two bottles of wine per section (champagne, red, white) to choose from. I think on full opening this will be much more extensive. Still a bottle of Laurent Perrier is only running at £59 which is incredibly reasonable, with a glass at £12.50.
Gherkin and Tower Bridge by night
Overlooking the restaurant from the bar above
Amazing lighting features
After dinner we went outside to take in the night time view. My camera doesn't cope as well with dark shots (or I can't cope with all the options, one or the other). After this we wanted to pop up to the other floor to see the lounge/bar area. The staff although at first a bit nervous are keen to carry your drinks for you when you make the transition. Not to blame them really...the perspex stairs were hard enough to navigate anyway (in a short dress...) so not having to carry my glass gave the added feel of va va voom. There was predictably no one in here - I mean the bar isn't actually open yet. But it was nice to see the different spaces.
The empty lounge on the 39th Floor
On finishing our drinks we were taken on a little tour including the upstairs restaurant Duck and Waffle (part of the same company). Up here the first thing that hits you is the smell. It smells amazing, serving seasonable British fayre. The view from up here is as amazing from upstairs as you can go right to the window which is a bit dizzying. 
No 'bar' between you and the drinks here, a consultative approach to drinking
Fresh seasonable food of Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle Restaurant
Who needs a table when you have this to look out onto?
The bar at Duck & Waffle
One thing I wouldn't normally mention? The Toilet facilities. In this case I can't NOT. Like a loo with a view? You've come to the right place...instead of a mirror behind the sinks there is just another window overlooking the Gherkin and Tower 42, which currently happens to be lit up all Olympic Style. It was just fantastic. Unfortunately the cubicles do not have a view...
Pretty nice so far...
St Paul's and NatWest Tower, loo view
People may wonder what you are doing for so long in the bathroom
We had an absolutely fantastic evening and I cannot wait to go back. On opening they have 4,000 bookings already so preparee to book in advance. The main terrace is in the sun until around 4pm so would be worth booking for lunch should we be experiencing any more sun this year. There is a second smaller terrace that gets the evening sun but when it isn't so strong. It can of course get a bit windy up there.

Atmosphere: 3/5 the music could be louder but that could have been because it was only soft opening
Food: 4/5 amazing cuisine, perfect sushi rolls. Too much choice!
Drink: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

See you in the elevator...
Pin It Now!