Thursday, 20 April 2017

Farang





 First things first there's only one teeny weeny problem with Farang and that is its knee deep in Arsenal territory but I'm obviously not going to go on about some small under-achieving football team (haters gonna hate), I'm here to tell you folks why Farang is on top of its game producing what is arguably the best Thai Food in and around North London.
 
 For a period of time the team behind the place has opened it's doors to a wider audience setting up shop at an Italian restaurant - San Daniele. You may be forgiven to think you've rocked up to the wrong restaurant with it's traditional Italian décor and retro table cloths but the hustle and bustle and the pungent aromas of the Far East certainly tells a different story.
 
There are a few elements to the menu that is similar to Som Saa (see FoodPunk Visits) but that is by no means a bad comparison to make and I am definitely not saying that Farang are copy cats, far from it. It should be deservedly mentioned in the same breath as the East London joint bringing a little healthy competition to the table.







 
Starting with the small plates we ordered a selection of vegetarian and meat options. Tender, juicy bits of onglet accompanied with a roasted chilli sauce was fiery, pungent and equally delicious as was the vegetarian alternative to the Prawn Miang bites. We got our hands messy (well I did), rolled them up and shoved it in one hit. It's the best way, trust me.
 
Being a greedy bugger I just had to go one extra by not ordering just one large plate but two, noticing that the crispy sea bass was a special. Seriously you would be mad not to order a whole bloody fish especially as it turned a few heads when it arrived at my table. That dish as well as the soft, melt in your mouth coconut beef cheek curry is on par with Som Saa's. Full of intense flavours and spices, it was a joy to eat and yes nothing was wasted. I even tucked into my girlfriend's vegetarian green curry - just as aromatic, loud and tasty as my plates.




Grilled Onglet, Roast Chilli Jaew

Miang Bites

Yellow Bean & Asian Vegetable Crispy Won Tons, Burnt Chilli Sauce


Braised Beef Cheeks


Crispy Sea Bass

Vegetable Green Curry

 

Farang has all the right characteristics for being a long term success. It might not be in the most "hip" of all areas i.e. East London, but the menu will surely entice any budding foodie. This won't be the last time you hear or read about Farang as big things beckons for the gang.
 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Cheese Bar

 
 
 
 
Cheese, oh glorious cheese. FoodPunkers who doesn't like getting their filthy chops around the stuff? I know I do. The more stronger and gooey it is the better and the cheese bar is on hand to make all your cheesy dreams come true.
 
First things first, the price. Now it could put some of you off because you're going to think do I want to pay up to seven pounds for a grilled cheese sandwich?. Well in my opinion you'd be a fool not to. This isn't the Cereal Killer Café where you're going to paying over the odds for a bowl of cereal which is exactly what I stupidly did (someone slap me please). No, this place is far more serious as cheese is a whole lot better than shitty American brands of wheat in a bowl. It's a no brainer.
 



Queso Chihuahua, Chorizo, Jalapeno Salsa
 
 
 
Rosary Goats Cheese, Honey, Walnut, Rosemary Butter
 
 
 
 
Whilst on the subject of the grilled cheese sandwich, let me tell you it is worth every penny and bite. We tucked into a few including the chorizo which was embedded in a queso Chihuahua (soft white cheese), accompanied with a spicy jalapeno salsa. The other bad boy we ordered was the creamy goats cheese topped with sweet honey, walnuts and a lush rosemary butter. The Veggie crew will be all over that one.
 
Of course the bar offers other alternatives other than their famous grilled cheeses. Their small dishes will bring smiles to many and it's best to order a good amount because there are some tasty plates on offer.
 
The short rib poutine with its home-made skin on fries, drowned in a rich dark bacon gravy, topped with flakes of short-rib, crispy onions and stringy cheese is a must.
Perhaps for us, our favourite was the Marmite Malakoff. If you're one of the hate it members of Marmite, unlucky, because this sexy ball of cheese is smothered in the stuff. Cutting that golden brown crunchy sphere and seeing that lava of cheese ooze out is a sight to be seen. Absolute heaven and not only that it's bloody delicious.
 
So put that ordinary cheese on toast you made down and head over to the cheese bar to get some C.W.A. (cheese with attitude). This joint means serious business and it's here to stay.
 
 
Short Rib Poutine, Bacon Gravy

Four Cheese Rotelle

Marmite Makaloff, Romesco
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Kricket






Pop Brixton introduced London to Kricket, a twenty-seater container delivering some of the finest Indian food. Now, it has a bigger, better and far more swankier joint bringing old favourites and new to Soho.

This impressive restaurant has raised the bar allowing the chefs on the main floor to strut their stuff and tantalise the customers taste buds with their cooking, whilst downstairs offers a bit more of a relaxed environment, perfect for any large group attending.

It may be hard to believe but what if I told you that we ordered all of the breads and rice's, fish, veg and meat dishes. Well, that's exactly what happened and in true FoodPunk fashion the food got demolished in no time. A couple would on average order around two to three dishes but as there was seven of us you can see why we ordered the whole shebang.

It's a winning menu from top to bottom (see below) and like most restaurant these days it's all about the small plates. The Keralan fried chicken is a favourite amongst Kricket fans and it's subtle curry leaf mayonnaise is the perfect partner in crime for those crispy and crunchy finger lickin' bad boys.
An order of the spiced, creamy, garlic crab is a must especially when you get a good dunk with the seaweed poppadum and its worth mopping up every little bit of this devilish plate with an extra side of bread. Even though the scallops tasted good, they were admittedly too small especially considering the price for each one (£4.20).
Veg wise, the bel puri- a sexy, fresh and fruity dish layered with tamarind, rice and juicy mango and the crispy samphire with a punchy chilli and garlic mayo will certainly not disappoint.







Keralan Fried Chicken, Curry Leaf Mayonnaise, Pickled Mouli

Kid Goat Raan

Duck Leg Kathi Roll, Peanut Chutney, Pickled Cucumber

Lamb Chops, Wild Garlic Chutney

Butter Garlic Crab, Seaweed Papad

Lasooni Scallop

Haddock, Green Pea & Mustard Oil

Karnatakan Mussels

Bhel Puri

Samphire Pakoras

Baby Aubergines, Coconut & Curry Leaf

Pumpkin, Fresh Paneer, Puffed Wild Rice




10cc once sang the famous line "I don't like Cricket, I love it". Well that certainly rings true with this awesome place. I like Hoppers and Dishoom (see FoodPunk visits for both reviews) but this place is on a better level and has more going for it and just like the many followers it's attracting, you'll see me there again very soon getting my chops around some of their tasty shizz. If you can, take down the whole menu in one epic hit. It's totally worth it.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Legs

 
 
 
 
Legs is a cool, casual and blinding place to eat. Located in Morning Lane, Hackney, chef Magnus Reid and his team offer Londoners simple, fuss-free and impressive plates of food, accompanied with an extensive wine list and music that ranges from a mixture of funk, jazz and disco. There's a certain charm about the place where everyone is well looked after and the food, well, it speaks for itself.
 
 
Standout dishes include papardelle cooked with soft pig cheeks, fiery chillies, topped with lashings of finely grated parmesan and talking of grated parmesan, it also makes an appearance on the awesome celeriac gratin - order both!.
There's no way I could go without ordering the raw onglet because it was given the Asian persuasion with the  steak diced and delicately placed on a thin layer of miso with nori dusted on top - sex on a plate.  
The veggie options are far from boring - the burrata literally bursting upon impact spreading its creamy goodness all over the beetroot turning this particular dish into one of those messy paintings people call art nowadays.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 




 
Legs has everything going for it, charm, togetherness and people with a huge amount of passion in what they do. It may be a small joint but it's fashionable, got massive potential and is undoubtedly a welcome addition to Hackney.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Croydon BoxPark






Croydon was never the most glamorous of places to visit and it's not going to win the happiest place to live in the U.K. award but a change is slowly coming.
 Has Croydon ever been good for food? To be honest I don't think it has but it has been given a lifeline- BoxPark.
I'm the first to admit, I was never a fan of the one in Shoreditch but for Croydon which is going through a big re-generation it needs something like this. Not only will it bring more Londoners to its doorstep but it's also a sign that things might just be on the up for area.
BoxPark is lively, fun and has character, something which has been missing in Croydon for a long, long time. A massive court is surrounded by an array of tasty, mouth watering restaurants and not to mention a bar below the staircase where the alcohol flows all day and all night.
To choose a place to eat proves difficult. Obviously there's MeatLiqour which takes centre stage (and rightly so) but I've had burgers from there a number of times and therefore it was an opportunity to check out some of the more smaller pop ups.






Bang Bang Hawker delivers the freshest and the tastiest Vietnamese dishes money can buy with it's instantly big bold flavours. Really simple stuff on a plate just like the Imperial spring rolls. Mega crispy on the outside and packed full of meat and vegetables on the inside. An order of those bad boys went down a treat.
We followed that up with two different type of mains. We had the lemongrass chargrilled pork on a bed of cold rice noodles (you can have hot rice as an alternative) which instantly hit the spot with crunchy Asian vegetables, crispy pork skin as well as sliced pork and finely sliced chillies. The other dish we tackled was the fragrant, punchy pho swimming with soft, fluffy tofu, rice noodles and packed with loads of cabbage. At this time of the year, there's nothing better.














Indi-go is probably a bit more of a hands on kind of place with it's no messing around Indian inspired street food. This place is an absolute dream with its portion sizes and variety of food on offer. The usual favourites, crispy onion bhajis and vegetable samosas (which look like they could explode any given moment) didn't disappoint and if that wasn't enough we also sank our teeth into a succulent grilled chicken tikka wraps and a huge dosa accompanied with a flavoursome daal.
















There's now a good valid reason to travel to Croydon. Exciting times are on the horizon for the place and rumour has it there's going to be a Westfields but for now lets all enjoy having BoxPark, eat our weight worth in food and get drunk until the we can't stand no more.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Smokestak

 
 
 
 
 
 
All aboard the Smokestak train! This juggernaut of a joint is fast becoming the King of Shoreditch by hitting the East End with its instantly recognisable industrial style open kitchen and restaurant but more importantly with its knockout food.
 
We sat inches away from the slicing, smoking and grilling of the behemoth cuts of meat and with all that right in front of our eyes we literally ordered the whole menu. And who could blame us as its one heck of an impressive place.
 
We started things off with nibbles including wafer thin, melt in your mouth cured pigs jowl, bite size pieces of crispy ox cheeks and my particular favourite sticky and crispy pig tails - seriously no need for pleasantries just get your chops round them.
 
 


 
 
 
 
These guys don't mess around with the food because in no time at all a whole load of small dishes came over straight from the chefs themselves with a soft buttery white roll packed with juicy beef brisket and a few punchy pickled red chillies, a stunning bit of pastrami accompanied with sour cabbage and pickles and finally a plate that knocks the daily calorie allowance straight out of the window- a thick slice of toast soaked in beef dripping, topped with a mountain of plump wild mushrooms.
 
 
 


 
 
 
 That boys and girls was just the start. We weren't going to let anyone down, how could we because the food was just getting better and sexier by the minute.
 
So who headlined the main event?
The thick-cut pork rib was to die for with perfectly aligned grill marks and a shiny sticky glaze on top (brushed on every minute whilst cooking) and it was that tender it just fell apart from the slightest nudge. We also had shavings of beef brisket with the classic barbecue sauce and even more pickled red chillies (we like it hot!). 
It's not all meat, meat, meat at Smokestak, so before the moaning starts there's plenty of alternative choices to satisfy others. We went for the charred aubergines with crumbled goats cheese, burnt honey and toasted cashews as well as three chunky, meaty pieces of monkfish tail on a bed of romesco puree.
 
If MTV created pimp my vegetables then Smokestak would lead the way. Take the humble potato for example. Here they scoop out the flesh, give it some love and affection and cram it back in it's hard shell and top it with an excessive amount of  gooey cheese. More drool came out of my mouth than Homer Simpson. And it wasn't just the jacket that got pimped, so too did the baby gem with a walnut gremolata, shaved parmesan and a handful of crispy bacon bits.
 
 







 
 
 
If it weren't for the fact that we were sitting in front of the chef there was absolutely no chance we were having desserts but seeing her make a few and the fact I was having dinner with a pastry chef  we just had to be that little bit more greedy. The sticky toffee pudding with burnt butter ice cream was the ultimate champion out of all them but that's not to say the plum crumble was a weak dish because let's face it sticky toffee pudding is a far superior option. We also tried a little toasted oak ice cream and unfortunatley that was the weakest link to what was otherwise a successful evening.
 
Smokestak has come a long way since I tried their shizz a few years back at Street Feast. It certainly has come out all guns blazing and to think they smoking is bad for your health.