Duck and Waffle, Will You Marry Me?

duck-and-waffle-experian-wedding-guest-finance-1Duck & Waffle | British and European | The City | Website
– reservations available –

Last week Experian invited me up to Duck and Waffle for a leisurely lunch, and a chat about weddings. No I’m not getting married just yet. Even if my family do enjoy continuously asking “when’s the big day?” Instead we were talking about the cost of weddings for those who attend. I’ve managed to avoid having to attend any friends weddings, purely because none of them are getting married yet. However I’m sure a lot of you will probably know this pain all too well. Apparently 11% of people have spent over £800 on attending weddings. Just think of how many visits to Duck and Waffle that is! This made me realise that my idea of a destination wedding probably isn’t the most practical for some people. Definitely food for thought!

Food based puns aside, I know you’re all dying to find out what I thought of Duck and Waffle. Well I must say, it lives up to the hype. So much so that I went back two days later with a bunch of friends. The food was expertly prepared, and presented in a jovial, rustic fashion. Duck and Waffle is pretty special. They’ve managed to create dishes that sound, and look, as good as they taste. Our Chef’s Sharing Menu was full of eclectic British and European dishes. It’s fair to say I loved everything that was put in front of me. However my top dish by far was the BBQ-Spiced Crispy Pigs Ears. Don’t be deterred by their name, these are no doggy treats. Arriving in a wax sealed paper bag (oh yes they did), the smell is the first thing to hit you – a hefty American BBQ aroma. The smell is pretty damn good, but of course it’s all about the taste. These thin strips of pork crackling are full of immense flavour. Somehow they manage to be sweet, spicy and a delicate umami flavour all in one. Don’t ask me how they do it; this is sheer magic. If Duck and Waffle did takeaway, I’d have the meat sweats everyday of the week.

If you can’t get enough of finances (you crazy party animal), check out Experian’s Money & Relationship Guide for some interesting graphics on mixing love and money.

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Yauatcha Soho | Mooncakes and Macarons

yauatcha-london-soho-afternoon-tea-patisserie-mooncakes-2Yauatcha Soho | Dim Sum & Patisserie | Soho | Website
– reservations available –

It’s not everyday I’m invited to a Michelin star restaurant. I know, shocking right? I should have told you to take a seat before I made such a life-changing statement. Joking aside, even though I have visited several Michelin star restaurants, I do still get a little starry eyed when I walk in to one. I mean, any foodie would, right? So when Yauatcha invited myself and V.A to visit for afternoon tea, I was more than happy to accept. The Dim Sum and Patisserie has been on my list for several years now, but I’ve always been too absent minded to book.

We headed to the restaurant around 3 on a Saturday afternoon. I would like to add at this point that it was possibly the hottest Saturday ever…in existence. The sun was roasting us slowly, so the prospect of tea and cake in an air conditioned restaurant was exhilarating. Inside we were greeted by the maître d’ who showed us to our table. We were then given a small tour of the patisserie, where we were shown the new mooncakes that Yauatcha are serving up for the Mid-Autumn Festival. We chose to try both of the mooncake options available. Of course we took several minutes to stare in awe at the other worthy cakes on offer. It was difficult not to choose the most beautiful (which is pretty much all of them), however we managed to whittle our choices down to only three: Raspberry delice, Passion fruit mango dome, and Red fruits fromage frais.

The cakes were delightful. Each encompassed it’s own subtle flavours, however they all shared a light and airy texture. Perfect for afternoon tea, no? We paired our cakes with a pot of Classic Beauty Blue Tea (I love Taiwanese tea), and two cocktails; Lalu and Nashi Momo (Japanese pear AND peach? Yes please!). The tea was thirst quenching, and went down smoothly. A pot easily nourished us both, however I would gladly order a pot for one next time, as it was so refreshing. As for the cocktails…well, they were gigantic! And don’t assume that these cocktails were all style and no substance. In fact there was an abundance of flavour. The Nashi Momo was my personal favourite, as it shared the subtly sweet taste, and the slightly grainy texture of it’s namesake. I would order it again in a flash!

As for the mooncakes, they were smaller than the usual “family size” version, which made them perfect for a single serving. I wasn’t particularly won over by the mooncakes by themselves as they’re a little stodgy, however when paired with ice cream (an a la carte option, or a diy for at home) they were extremely moreish.

Price wise, Yauatcha isn’t as expensive as you would think; our bill came to a total of around £60. In my opinion £30 each is not much at all for what we received. I would gladly pay it. After all, I can see Yauatcha being a lovely place for friends to get together, chat and celebrate over tea and mooncakes. It certainly was when me and V.A went at least. It was wonderful to have our own mini Mid-Autumn celebration, even if it did feel like the Sahara outside.

Mooncakes are available at Yauatcha until the 27th September.
You can check out V.A’s post here and watch our first foodie video at the bottom of this post.

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Yauatcha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Where to Eat in London: Bourne and Hollingsworth

where-to-eat-in-london-bourne-and-hollinsgworth-1Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings | European | Clerkenwell | Website
– reservations are highly recommeded –

I don’t always base my brunch choices on the interior of a restaurant, but when I do, it’s Bourne and Hollingsworth. Joking aside, I will openly admit that I chose to visit Bourne and Hollingsworth for their interior design. A bright, spacious restaurant filled with greenery and marble…it’s a bloggers dream! However it would seem that bloggers are not their only fans, as their table booking system made evident. This is one London establishment where you won’t get a seat without a reservation. However a few weeks after I originally gave up trying to get a table, something amazing happened. The site refreshed itself, and there it was, a table for 2 at 11:45 on a Saturday. I grabbed it!

When we arrived the restaurant was busy, but chilled. This is the usual at B&H. We were shown to our table at the back of the building, exactly where I had hoped to sit – lucky me! I knew precisely what I wanted to order – the Drop Scones with Clotted Cream & Summer Berries. All thanks to Katy. Our dishes arrived pretty quickly and I immediately tucked in. The drop scones were devilishly light, and buttery rich. The clotted cream had actually been whipped, so again it was rich and creamy. It was beyond delicious, especially when paired with the raspberries. Unfortunately about 3/4 of the way through, I began to give up. The clotted cream was too rich, and it had all begun to taste like…yes you guessed it, butter. Something I personally love, but only in small doses. My suggestion to B&H? Ease up on the red currants and blueberries, add a few more raspberries. Oh and maybe hold back a little on the rich ingredients. A great dish like this shouldn’t be it’s own downfall.

I wouldn’t order the Drop Scones again, but I might be tempted to come back for dinner instead…if I could get a table. The reservation system here works so well that they don’t even need to take walk-ins. Of course this is a shame for those who stop by and fancy checking out the restaurant on a whim. However it does add a refreshing change to London’s usual “walk-in only” policy. Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is a beautiful restaurant, with a classic, well-thought out menu. The interior matches the time and care that has gone in to the dishes, and I would highly recommend visiting. Just make sure you plan in advance!

If you liked this, why not check out the rest of my Where to Eat in London series.

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Click to add a blog post for Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings on Zomato
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Where to Eat in London: BIRD

where-to-eat-in-london-bird-restaurantBIRD | Fried Chicken | Hackney | Website
– reservations available –

Fried chicken is my guilty pleasure. In fact it’s one of the few things I think I could eat everyday…without growing sick of it. Even though it’s relatively common in the UK, it can be difficult to find good fried chicken. BIRD isn’t exactly the new kid on the block. But in the short time it has been open, it has made a pretty good name for itself. I’ve been a few times myself, what with the restaurant being only a 10min walk from my office. So when BIRD invited me back to try their new lunch menu of course I said yes.

I had been drooling over some of the new additions to the menu, such as the Korean Burger (fried chicken, gochujang glaze and kimchi slaw) and the Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich (freshly baked buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken, honey butter & hot sauce). Naturally we ordered both when we arrived, alongside some fries and pickled cucumber. I had been excited for the biscuit as it’s something I have only had in America (and loved). It was crunchy outside and soft inside, with a slightly oily aftertaste. Although I felt it definitely could have been bigger, it was pretty authentic. The chicken was moist in both the sandwich and the burger, with a slightly crispy outer. The Kimchi Burger boasted a delicious slaw and oozed hot sauce. This is one messy burger. Over all it’s wasn’t the best fried chicken I’ve had, but it made for a good lunch. I saved my doughnut for later, and boy was it worth the wait. I honestly think BIRD make the best doughnut dough in London. This one was bigger than my hand, and I finished every last bit of it.

Our lunches came to £10 each (without drink), which included a main, side and a doughnut – or £8 with a side or doughnut. The difference between BIRD and other fried chicken restaurants is definitely in the ingredients. The chicken is brought in fresh everyday, and cooked twice to make sure that it is perfectly done. The doughnuts are made daily in-store, and the flavours change to match. The fresh, quality ingredients are definitely reflected in the taste, right down to the special seasoning on the fries. In fact I loved the little details so much that I ended up taking away the recipe for the seasoning, and jotting down the name of the hot sauce. BIRD may look like a hipster joint, but it the food feels more like home cooking. This may mean a few mishaps here and there, but more often than not they get it right.

If you liked this, why not check out the rest of my Where to Eat in London series.

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Where to Eat in London: Toconoco Japanese Cafe

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Toconoco | Japanese Cafe | Hackney | Website
– reservations not available –

It’s difficult to explain the serenity I felt in the cafe’s of Tokyo. It really feels as though you are being whisked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A cafe is no longer just somewhere to eat and drink. It’s a sanctuary from modern life. It is this feeling I have been craving ever since I returned from Japan. I didn’t think I’d find it again, until I happened upon Toconoco.

Toconoco is a child-friendly Japanese cafe on Kingsland Basin, Regents Canal. Surrounded by canal boats and wildlife, this little sun trap feels miles away from the streets of Shoreditch. I headed there on a weekday afternoon around 12:30. They had tweeted their daily lunch set photo, and it looked too perfect to miss out on (only 15 lunch sets are made each day). Lunch sets are very popular in Japan, and I miss the concept here. It varies depending on the restaurant, but they usually come with a main, a side salad, rice and a miso soup. Toconoco’s lunch set on that particular day was ham croquettes, and it was every bit the same as those I’d had in Japan. The ingredients were fresh and delicious, complimenting each other perfectly. The delicate use of sauces and dressings is something I have yet to master in my Japanese cooking. However Toconoco are clearly skilled in this art. We also ordered a side of Egg Miso-Mayo Toast with spring onion, sesame oil and chilli flake. How could I pass on something that sounds so intriguing? The toast had a distinct Japanese flavour to it and was lighter (and less rich) than regular egg mayo.

The main thing I took away from my visit to Toconoco, was how authentic it is. The food is prepared fresh everyday, and is fitting to the weather and season. This is real Japanese food. Not the hyped up, overpriced kind you find in restaurants in Soho. This is home-cooking style, made with love and care.  It reminded me that we should all take some time to relax, and that eating should be seen as one of life’s simple pleasures. Because eating at Toconoco is certainly no chore.

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Where to Eat in London: Sake no Hana

sake-no-hana-restaurant-review-sakura-where-to-eat-in-london-1 Sake no Hana | Japanese | Mayfair | Website
– reservations available –

One year ago, V.A and I made a promise that we would visit Sake no Hana during cherry blossom season. This year, we kept our promise. For two months of the year, the Mayfair restaurant is transformed into a floral wonderland – Sakura at Sake no Hana. To help celebrate this special occasion several new dishes and cocktails are added to the menu. V.A and I had made a reservation for a Monday lunchtime (bank holiday) and found that it was pleasantly quiet. We both ordered the Sakura menu, which comes with: white miso soup, sesame spinach with cassava chips, sashimi bento box, and a violet risshun cocktail.

The cocktail was served first, and we were instructed to drink it in two parts – the first, a carafe of Jinzu Gin, green chartreuse, grapefruit and lemon juice, shiso syrup and Burlesque bitters. The second is a jug with Belsazar rose vermouth, maraschino cherry, cranberry and lemon juice. The bitter starter was refreshing, however it was the syrupy sweet vermouth based cocktail that I personally preferred.

The miso soup arrived shortly after our cocktail, and it was as good as any other miso soup I have had before. The sesame spinach however was a delightfully unique dish – slightly nutty in flavour, with a myriad of textures. I can’t eat raw fish, so a special bento was made just for me. It is this kind of service that I wouldn’t expect any less of from Sake no Hana. My box contained a variety of sushi, however the ones that stood out to me for their flavours were the: mango and avocado (fresh), avocado and wasabi (invigorating), crab (light), and eel (grilled perfectly).

We decided to order off the special menu for dessert, as the Yuzu Matcha Crème was just too tempting. However we did also order the sakura macarons, accompanied by a pot of sakura tea. It would seem that we have a second stomach for dessert (or as the Japanese call it 別腹 “betsubara”). It’s fair to say that this is the best dessert I have had in a London restaurant. The Yuzu Matcha Crème was a work of art – the presentation however was dwarfed by the sheer artistry of the dish itself. Matcha anglaise hid inside delectable yuzu domes, surrounded by matcha genoise and sour yuzu curd. The macarons unfortunately didn’t impress me much (the ganache overpowered the cherry blossom tea), however I would feel bad for any dish that had to follow that pudding. Finally, the sakura tea – a special blend made specifically for Sake no Hana. Oh how I wish I could have taken even a spoonful away with me. The tea smelt of cake, and tasted even better. It was a light and subtly sweet end to our visit.

Sake no Hana is not just a destination for food, it is a food experience. We paid £55 each with cocktails – in my opinion, it was worth every penny. It is restaurants like this that make my “Where to Eat in London” series so enjoyable. Would I go back? What do you think!

 

Sake no Hana’s Sakura pop-up is open until the 20th June – you can make a reservation here.

Click to add a blog post for Sake No Hana on Zomato Square Meal

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Where to Eat in London: On The Bab, Covent Garden

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On The Bab | Korean Street Food | Covent Garden | Website

– reservations not available –

You may be blinking right now, wondering if you’re seeing double. Well yes, I have featured On The Bab before in my “Where to Eat in London” series. However that was their Shoreditch location, and last week saw the official opening of their new Covent Garden restaurant. But how is it different to the original? Well there’s a whole new menu that you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s perfect for Spring.

On The Bab is a special place for me. I first visited it (with my now best foodie buddy V.A) last April, and I instantly fell in love with the menu. So with V.A alongside, we naturally wanted to sample everything from the new menu this time. We started perusing the menu with a sweet Cherry Blossom Cocktail. This culminated in us ordering: Korimari with Bulgogi Beef, Spring Onion Fried Chicken, Pumpkin & Potato Salad, Fried Chicken On The Roll, Seaweed Salad with citrus dressing, and Rice Poppers.

The Fried Chicken On The Roll was definitely my favourite dish of the evening – something similar to gimbap, it has been amusingly named Korean Burrito. The mixture of textures and flavours work incredibly well together, and left me wanting the whole two rolls to myself. The Spring Onion Fried Chicken was a drier version of one of my favourite dishes at OTB. Whereas the flavours were strong, it was the crispier texture that I enjoyed. The Korimari came with a tender well-marinated side of bulgogi beef and vegetables. I loved the sesame oil aftertaste, and the simplistic way of eating – this is definitely one for Summer! The light, refreshing salads were thoughtful sides to the mains, and whereas the Pumpkin & Potato Salad was a little bland, I liked the sweetness of it. The Seaweed Salad was the better of the two though, with a tangy citrus dressing that paired well with the stringy vegetable. The rice poppers weren’t to my liking, but I think they’d be pretty good if you were drinking more than you were eating…you know what I mean.

Of course when you love a restaurant so much there is always the chance that you may not enjoy a new menu. However I had faith in OTB, and thanks to the chefs wonderfully modern take on authentic Korean cuisine, I need not worry. The new Covent Garden location has a serene ambience, and the usual superb service. This is one restaurant I would make the commute from East to West for.

Thank you so much to On The Bab who invited me and V.A to dinner to celebrate their opening. On The Bab is one of my favourite restaurants in London, so it meant a lot to be invited before the restaurant had even opened. As always with these kind of post, my views and words are my own – I truly love this food.

You can read more of my restaurant reviews on Zomato

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