Meza

We have been meaning to visit Meza in Tooting for ages and, finding ourselves at a loose end last Saturday, we decided to book a table and go for it.

Meza has 2 restaurants and we were booked in, for a table of 3, at the branch on Mitcham Road (a couple of minutes up from Tooting Broadway station). It is small and compact with seating for about 30 people. When we arrived, at 7pm, it was busy and there were only a couple of free tables available. Luckily, we had booked in advance and this seemed to be the case with most of the customers who arrived after us. Advice: book a table in advance!

We browsed the menu and decided on a selection of meze to share for starters and then a main each. The menu included brief descriptions of the dishes but left a bit to the imagination.

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From the meze selection we chose the sautéed prawns cooked in tomato sauce with vegetable rice, the batata harra (potatoes, garlic and coriander) the moussaka bantenjen (aubergine, chickpeas and tomato) and the jawaneh (chicken wings served in a garlic sauce). These arrived in the style of tapas and smelt really good. The potatoes were well cooked and had a sort of sauce on them. They went really well with the other dishes which were a lot saucier. The prawns, although small, were nice and juicy and the sauce they came in was flavoursome. Sadly, it tasted very similar to the sauce for the aubergine which arrived at the same time as our main dishes. The flatbread was nice although only just warm.

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The aubergine was a little disappointing as there wasn’t a great deal of it that was distinguishable from anything else in the dish.

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For mains we had each selected one of the meat dishes: kafta meshweih (skewers of minced lamb with parsley and onion); lahem meshweih (skewers of lamb cubes) and shish taouk (grilled skewers of marinated chicken). All of the main dishes were well cooked and came with a side salad.  The chicken was succulent and the flavour of the grill gave it a nice smokey taste. The cubed lamb was nice but not the nicest we’ve had, lacking a little in flavour.

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The minced lamb again was nice, but the flavour wasn’t as good as I was expecting, and a little more parsley may have helped.

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We also chose a portion of vegetable rice to accompany the mains. This served its purpose to add some depth to the main but it was just a basic vegetable rice.

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By the end of the meal we were all full. This was our first experience of Lebanese cuisine, although the flavours and style of food can broadly be described as regional Middle Eastern cuisine as it shares a lot of similarities with Syrian food and the surrounding geographical area, and we enjoyed what we ate and the fact that the dishes felt reasonably familiar to us. The service was functional and lacked some of the personal charm of other restaurants in Tooting, but that is a minor point.

If you’ve not been, we’d suggest you book a table and decide for yourself.

 

 

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Koi Ramen Bar (Tooting)

 

We love Gyoza after discovering them at Tootopia last December and sampling the little pillows of heaven cooked up by the Gyoza Guys. These tasty morsels are reason in themselves to visit the Koi Ramen Bar in Tooting Market, although the rest of the food on the menu is also pretty tasty.

Koi Ramen bar has been open for a while now, and it’s proving to be a popular food stop in the market, and it’s easy to see the reasons for this; the food is very tasty, reasonably priced and super quick. The menu is simple. They offer 4 types of ramen: Toukostu, miso tofu, miso pork and shoyu. Alongside this are the aforementioned gyoza and ice-cream for dessert. What could be simpler?

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Having sunk a few glasses of wine earlier in the evening we were looking for something to soak up the alcohol and quiet our grumbling tummies, and were lucky enough to find seats at the counter allowing us to watch our food being prepared.

Rather than ramen, we ended up choosing the summer special of abura soba (a combination of noodles, shredded pork/tofu, crispy fried shallot, bean sprouts and spring onion)  along with a mixed portion of chicken and pork gyoza (vegetable option also available).

The gyoza arrived first and were perfect; soft delicate dumplings topped with soy sauce and spring onions. Yum!

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Our main dishes arrived pretty quickly after that. One of us had chosen the pork and the other the tofu option. Both smelt amazing and, after following the instructions to mix everything together, we tucked in. It was the perfect meal to soak up some of the alcohol, and it certainly filled us up.

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The dishes tasted as good as they looked and smelt. A perfect combination of soft meat/ tofu and noodles with crunchy veg and seasoning.

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As we said earlier, it’s a quick and tasty meal and really worth a visit. The service was really friendly and it’s also available through Deliveroo if you don’t fancy a trip to Tooting.

@koiramenbar

Sunday Suppers @ Tooting Market

Sundays can often be dreary evenings spent feeling blue about work the following morning, and channel hopping through the mediocre television on offer. So, when we heard about the Sunday Supper collaborations happening in Tooting Market it seemed like just the thing to beat the Sunday blues.

Over the summer months, a range of businesses based in Tooting Market are offering a 3 course meal with drinks. The first event took place on the last Sunday of  June and the final one will be in August. July’s theme was Street food and saw Unwined, Graveney Gin, The Joint, Boom Bap Burger and Nuvolo bakery collaborating.

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Seating is at the communal tables in the middle of the market which creates a sociable and laid-back atmosphere. Having said that, we were sharing a table with another couple and had plenty of space without feeling like we were encroaching on each other’s conversations.

On arrival we were treated to a Cocktail from Graveney Gin. If you’ve read our previous reviews you will know that we love Graveney Gin and it was lovely to see Victoria, who always serves her gin with passion. The cocktail was called a Graveney Street and was a blend of gin, fresh grapefruit, sugar syrup and soda, served in a tall glass. It was lovely and refreshing and the perfect way to start the evening.

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Next up came the chicken wings from The Joint. These were described as spicy and they certainly ticked that box. They were delicious with a lovely heat and flavour and the meat was tender and just fell off the bone. There were 3 each, and I couldn’t resist eating one before taking the pic below.

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This was matched with a Holzer ‘Wagram’ Rose: Zweigelt 2016 from Austria. As always from Unwined, we were given the background to the wine which is always interesting. I’ve had several lovely red Zweigelt wines but this was a rose, and it was a really good refreshing match for the chicken wings, not easy given the flavours.

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We haven’t tried Boom Bap Burger before so were looking forward to what came next which was a Ricky Martin Burger, described as a 28 day aged beef patty, brindisa chorizo, manchego cheese and smokey mayo in a potato brioche. When it arrived it looked great and was accompanied by a portion of fries. The burger was great; well cooked with a tasty, toasted bun and the combination of the patty, the chorizo, the cheese and the mayo was enjoyable. The fries were also really good, they were perfectly seasoned.

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To wash the burger down we were treated to a Patrick Sullivan ‘Samurai’ shiraz from Australia. It was a good match, with berry fruitiness complimenting the flavours in the burger well.

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Finally, dessert came from the Nuvola Little bakery and was a limoncello tiramisu. This was very clever and came served in a plastic glass with a shot of limoncello in a straw. Sometimes lemon desserts can be either too tart or too sweet but this was perfectly lemony and creamy.  Licking out the glass wasn’t really an option but if we could have, we would have.

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This was served with a favourite tipple of ours, the Suck it and See frizzante by The Rude Mechanicals. A perfect wine to accompany the limocello as it didn’t battle with the flavours and instead was just delicious, refreshing and incredibly drinkable.

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The relaxed atmosphere, friendly service and great food and wine combination made this a great way to spend our Sunday evening. There is only one more left in the series, so if you fancy an evening of good food and wine in a relaxing environment, hurry and book your tickets!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sunday-suppers-tooting-market-sundaysuppers-tickets-35698554337?aff=erelexpmlt

MeatUP Grill

We never really venture to Wandsworth in the evenings and Wandsworth Town is somewhere we’ve only ever really driven through. Every time we do though, we comment on what a nice little high street it is. We came across MeatUp on Twitter and being fans of good meat, it has been on our list to try for a little while. So, finding our fridge empty, we headed to Wandsworth Town to give it a go.

The restaurant is deceptively large, going back quite a way from the front. It is nicely decorated and has a rustic feel to it. There is a bar area near the front and the kitchen is open, with some stools so you could sit and watch the food being prepared if you liked. We were seated towards the back where it was cooler, which was fine with us.

We ordered an Old Town gin based cocktail and a pale ale and looked through the dishes on offer on the menu.

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In the spirit of writing a review, we decided to order starters. We chose the BBQ pork rib, and a haloumi salad. There wasn’t too much of a wait for the food and when it arrived, we realised we may have made a mistake. For starters, the portions were really big!

The haloumi salad included 3 large slices of haloumi, grilled to give it a really lovely flavour and texture. These were layered with grilled heritage beetroot and sprinkled with pistachios and pomegranate seeds. The combination of the smoky haloumi and sweet pomegranate jewels went really well together, but it was so filling!

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The pork belly rib was lovely. The outside of the meat was sweet and smoky from the BBQ glaze, and the inside of it was soft and juicy, and it fell away from the bone with ease. For a starter, there was a lot of meat to eat but I wasn’t complaining.

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Having seen some dishes be delivered to a table next to us, we had decided to order the beef short rib for 1 (this is also available as a portion for 2) and a burger for our mains. Both came with a choice of skin on chips, skinny fries or salad. We had chosen a portion of each type of potato and also ordered some macaroni cheese (bear in mind this was before we had seen the size of the portions).

We were on our way to being full just from the starter so when the mains arrived we knew we would have to dig deep to get through it all. The beef short rib was a big portion of meat. It had been marinated for 24 hours and cooked slowly over a low heat so that the meat just fell apart. Like the pork rib, it was juicy and full of meaty flavour. You can see from the photo, it was a big lump of meat, more than enough after a big starter.

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The burger was tasty. It was a homemade chuck, brisket, short-rib and bone marrow patty. It wasn’t the thickest or juiciest burger we’ve ever had but it had good flavour and was served with gooey melted cheese on top and a side portion of pickles/ slaw. The fries were nice but the skin on chips were superb. Excellent crispy skin with fluffy potato in the middle.

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Ordering the macaroni cheese was a bit of a mistake as we were simply too full but whilst it had a good flavour, it was a little dry and could have done with a bit more sauce.

By the end of the meal, we were both stuffed. When the bill came, it totalled around £70 (including service charge), and we both agreed it had been pretty good value given the amount and quality of the food we had eaten. It certainly hadn’t been a case of quantity over quality.  If you like grilled meat this is somewhere you really need to try.

 

 

UnWined – A new pop-up

With the arrival of a new pop up kitchen, we decided to spend our Saturday evening at Unwined in Tooting Market. For the next few weeks Rustica Kitchen are in residence serving up Sicillian dishes which have been paired with wines that have a rock star theme.

It was a warm evening and the market, as always, had a buzzing atmosphere. We were seated at a table for 2 and quickly started salivating over the menu.

We decided on some mozzarella arancini balls to start. These were served with a tomato and pesto sauce. Served piping hot, they had a soft, gooey filling and a crispy outer shell. The sauce and pesto also added a nice depth of flavour.

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The wine to accompany them was an unusual sparkling red wine from the Loire region of France. Made from gamay grapes, it was light and full of red berry fruitiness.

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The starters on offer were 3 different types of bruschetta, something we are both big fans of. We opted for the nduja and mascarpone bruschetta and a portion of the Parma ham and fig bruschetta. These were served on boards and were delicious.  The Parma ham and fig was drizzled with sweet honey which bought out the flavours of the other ingredients.

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The nduja provided a lovely bit of heat, with the creamy mascarpone helping to take the edge off it.

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The wines to accompany these were a Patrick Sullivan wine called ‘Bonkers’ from Australia and a BK Wines ‘Ovum’, a pinot gris, also from Australia.  The Ovum was full of pear and honey, and well balanced. The Bonkers, made with a blend of red and white wine grapes from 3 vintages, was quite unusual. Light and fresh like you’d expect from a white wine, with citrus fruit to start but then red fruits taking over. Strange, but quite drinkable.

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For our main dishes we chose the pesto risotto stuffed peppers and the crispy pork belly strips. The stuffed peppers were delicious. The risotto was perfectly cooked and had a nice depth of flavour.

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The crispy pork belly strips were also a hit. The pork was perfectly cooked, with lovely soft meat and juicy fat. The lentils had an earthy touch to the dish.

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The accompanying wines were both reds. For the stuffed peppers, we had a glass of Papegaai cinsault from the fantastic Adi Badenhorst of South Africa. Lovely cherry and red fruit, smooth and a nice finish. To go with the pork, we had a Bodegas Arraez Mala Vida from Spain. A blend primarily of tempranillo and shiraz, it had bramble fruits with a hint of oak and vanilla from the 8 months aged in French and American oak barrels, and a subtle touch of spice to the finish. Lovely.

Finally, to finish things off, we shared a 3 cheese, cheese board. The cheese here is always good and tonight was no exception. A nice hard cheese, a perfectly salty blue and a soft. These were washed down with a glass of Suck It and See frizzante from The Rude Mechanicals, Australia. This is such an easy drinking wine; light and fruity with a great hint of elderberry, it’s a perfect summer drink. We have had it here before and when we saw it on the menu, just had to have a glass before going home. Others on tables around us appeared to agree, with some buying a bottle to take with them.

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Again, we had a really lovely time here. The food was great and served piping hot. The wines were unique and surprising, in a good way.

Rustica Kitchen are at Unwined for the next 4 weeks so if you are looking for somewhere to eat over the next month or to enjoy a glass or two of interesting wines, we recommend you give it a try.

Roxie Steak Earlsfield

Roxie Steak has long been one of our favourite local restaurants for good quality, reasonably priced steak. They have branches in Putney, Fulham and Clapham Junction, but we’ve only been to the Earlsfield branch as it’s just down the road from us. We’ve been quite a few times in the past few years but not that recently. In fact, we’ve been more often to Borderlaise in Tooting Market in the last few months, so we thought it would be good to visit Roxie again as a bit of a change. We’ve had some really good meals here in the past. The steak is always good quality with a lovely flavour so we were looking forward to our meal which we had booked for 2 on a Saturday evening.

When we arrived the restaurant was only half full. Our booking was reasonably early though and we know from experience, they are usually very busy and often have to turn walk-ins away. The menu has evolved since they first opened and now includes not just steak but some low and slow BBQ as well. They’ve also expanded the cuts of steak on offer from fillet, rib-eye and sirloin to flat iron, rump and picanha.

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We decided to begin our meal with starters and selected a Thai beef salad, and the king prawns with chorizo. To accompany the meal we chose a glass of red wine and a gin and tonic.

The food didn’t take too long to arrive and I think it’s fair to say, that neither dish was quite what we were expecting. The Thai beef salad comprised slithers of steak on top of spinach leaves with tomato and cucumber slices. The dressing was soy and ginger and there was a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top. It tasted lovely but I think I had envisaged something a bit more, well, Thai in terms of vegetables.

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The prawns and chorizo came in a little pot with a rich creamy tomato based sauce. Accompanying it were slices of toasted ciabatta to help mop up the sauce. A decent amount of prawns and chorizo helped make a very tasty starter although perhaps there was a little too much sauce.

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For our main meals, we chose a 200g fillet (cooked medium) with sides of fine green beans and mushrooms…

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… and a flat iron (medium rare) with some double cooked chips to share.

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The steaks arrived on their slate plates in wooden trays and looked very appetising. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the flat iron which should have been medium rare (centre in below pic) was over cooked, and the fillet which should have been medium was undercooked (on the right).

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A bit of a nuisance, but rather than have them taken back and then wait for replacement steaks and sides, we simply swapped them. Not ideal but not really too much of a problem. It was a bit of a shame and hasn’t happened to us before here. Aside from that, both steaks were very tasty and were thoroughly enjoyed. The sides were all great, with the mushrooms in-particular having a really nice flavour to them, and the chips were  great – crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The bearnaise sauce was rich and creamy, perfect for pouring onto steak and dipping chips into.

Two courses were enough for us today so we skipped dessert, although we have enjoyed them here previously.

Service was friendly and polite, as we expected and had experienced in the past, and by the time we left, the restaurant was almost full.

If you are anywhere around Clapham Junction, Putney, Fulham or Earlsfield and are looking for a good steak for a good price, you will be sure to find one at Roxie. We always leave feeling full and having enjoyed what we have eaten, and today was no different. Of course, we’ll be back again!

Bean & Hop – Refurbished

Bean and Hop has recently been taken over and undergone a refurbishment. We were looking forward to trying them out and taking a nose at the new interior, so we headed there for brunch on Saturday. Since it opened, Bean and Hop has been a busy and popular coffee and brunch spot for the people of Earlsfield. At weekends it can be difficult to get a table and the previous layout made it tricky to manoeuvre your way through. The new layout has created more space and decluttered the interior. There is now space for at least 10 more people inside and the place has a modern and clean feel to it. We easily found a table on Saturday morning.

We were pleased to see that the menu hadn’t really changed and still included a wide range of options.

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Bean and Hop has always served good coffee but as it was very warm we both decided to go for cold options: a cold brew tea and a cold brew coffee. For our food, we decided on a full brunch plate and a sweet potato, halloumi and aubergine stack.

Having placed our order we sat back to take in the surroundings and wait for everything to arrive. And we waited…and we waited some more. 25 minutes after placing our order our waitress walked by and realised we were still waiting, and went to chase up our drinks. We were really hungry by this point and our brunch was fast becoming more of a lunch.

The drinks did finally arrive about 5 minutes later, and the cold brew tea was nice and refreshing. Sadly, the cold brew coffee was a little disappointing; quite weak and a bitter after taste to it.

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Eventually, after another 10 minutes of waiting, we asked another waitress how much longer our food was going to be. We were told it was being prepared and would be 5 minutes. So, approximately 45 minutes after placing our order, we finally received our food.

I have to say, the sweet potato, halloumi and aubergine stack itself was pleasant but it was served with a whole bag of rocket which was just overkill. No human needs that amount of rocket.

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There was clearly an attempt at some fancy presentation with the brunch plate which was served with a smear of chilli ketchup and the food piled up on the other side of the plate. This was a little unnecessary and just meant everything had to be un-piled before it could be eaten. No complaints about the taste of it all though, especially the chilli ketchup which was really good with a bit of bacon and egg.

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After all that, we did leave feeling a bit miffed. The whole brunch had cost us £29 and hadn’t really felt like good value, and taken just about an hour. The service in Bean and Hop had always been a little slower than average before the refurb but they had 6 members of staff working on Saturday, many of whom had worked there previously, and it was a little chaotic. We weren’t the only ones complaining about the slowness of the food and drinks arriving. The staff didn’t seem to know which table was which and orders were taken to the wrong table on several occasions.

We really hope this was just teething trouble and that things improve as it would be a real shame to see such a popular place go downhill.