Month: February 2017

Honest Burgers Brunch

There are some great places for brunch in Tooting but being adverse to queueing outside Brickwood or MUD Tooting, especially on a grey Saturday morning, we were thankful that Honest Burger had a few tables free. We are fans of their burgers and their brunch menu is also appealing, partly because of its simplicity.

img_0313

We were seated quickly at our request at the bar along the window and ordered drinks: a breakfast tea and a freshly squeezed orange juice.  These were served quickly. The tea was served in a tea pot with a small bottle of milk and the orange juice was freshly squeezed and pleasingly cold. We placed our order for an Honest brunch, along with avocado, chorizo and fried egg on toast and a cappuccino.

img_0315

The service was really friendly and whilst we waited for our food to arrive, we relaxed and watched Tooting pass by the window.

Food here is served on canteen style tin plates which add to the charm.  It didn’t take long for brunch to arrive. The avocado, chorizo and egg on toast was lovely. 2 lightly toasted slices of bread, a really healthy portion of creamy avocado, a spicy and flavoursome chorizo sausage topped with a runny yolked fried egg. What is not to love? Perhaps another slice of toast would have been perfect, but that is my only comment. The flavours were lovely and everything was well cooked.

img_0317

The brunch plate came loaded with egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, black pudding, bubble & squeek rosti, sourdough, and the fantastic Honest beans. It took a little strategic manouvering of items around the plate in order to load the food onto the fork, but it was  worth it. For me, it would usually be about the meat on the plate, but the Honest beans are great and possibly the standout item there.

img_0316

That was a good solid brunch and a great start to the day, and it kept us going through until the evening and our visit to Picanha Steak Tooting (review coming soon!).

Radha Krishna Bevan

As our search for a new favourite Indian restaurant continues, we decided to give another one a try. There is a huge number in the Tooting area, we really are spoilt for choice, but following a recommendation from a friend, Radha Krishna Bevan was our next destination. We had visitors with us so we booked a table for 4 at 7pm on Saturday.

The restaurant is located not far from Tooting Broadway station and, to be honest, doesn’t look anything particularly special from the outside. It does however look clean and modern and the tables are pretty well spaced inside meaning it didn’t feel cramped once it got busy, which is did later on.

The menu includes a range of the usuual specials and dishes that you would expect to find in an Indian restaurant such as a chicken/lamb masala, khurma or rhogan. Whilst we were perusing the menu we were bought some poppadoms (a mix of plain and spicy) and the pickle tray.

img_0296

The pickle tray included an onion chutney, a coconut flavoured dip, a rhaita and mango chutney.

We decided to order 2 portions of onion bhaji to start with, and then a chicken masala, a butter chicken, a chicken Malabar and a chicken dupiaza for our mains. We also opted for a pilau rice, mushroom rice, coconut and garlic parathas and a portion of cauliflower Manchurian.

The onion bhaji were served quickly and each portion had 4 balls, slightly bigger than golf ball size. They were tasty with a bit of heat and came with a bowl of rhaita. A good start.

img_0297

We waited a short while for our main meals to be served. The dishes were served in individual china bowls but the portion sizes were perfect for one. The butter chicken was creamy and really tasty although probably highly calorific. It came in a rich, orangey sauce with several chunks of chicken.

img_0302

The masala was drier than a tikka masala but was rich and tasty. My sister, who is a tikka masala fan, was impressed with it and enjoyed it immensely.

img_0301

The chicken Malabar was a surprise. I haven’t tried this before and would describe it as a spicier version of a korma. It wasn’t really hot and spicy but was really tasty and had the coconut flavor to the sauce.

img_0303

Finally, the dupiaza with its generous chucks of chicken along with cooked onion and crispy onion on top, with a gentle spicy heat to it, was very good.

img_0300

The knockout dish here though was the cauliflower Manchurian (seen above, to the right of the dupiaza). This was hot, spicy and full of flavor and it was declared “the best thing I’ve ever had in an Indian”. In fact, it was mentioned over and over for the rest of the evening. In case you’re not familiar with it, it is a cross-over between Chinese and Indian cooking, with a sweet but very spicy sauce over batter coated cauliflower pieces. Highly recommended. No naan bread again, but the paratha were nice, and do almost as good a job mopping up the sauce.

Service was friendly and polite. They were quite quick to clear up when we finished, with a fair number of people waiting for a table, they were doing their best to accommodate them. The meal for 4, including 3 Cobra beers, a G&T and a vodka and Diet Coke, came to £75.

By the time we had finished, the place was packed, which is always a good sign, and having tried the food we could see why. Compared with Vijaya Krishna, which we visited a couple of weeks ago, there were a lot of similarities but a fair number of differences too. Vijaya Krishna is a nicer restaurant in that the interior and layout is perhaps more pleasant, relaxing and a little quieter. The service there was also a bit more relaxed. The food was very good in both restaurants and it would be hard to seperate them in that regards, although the cauliflower manchurian definately stood out as a fantastic dish here. If I had to chose out of the two, then it would probably be Vijaya Krishna, but there isn’t much in it, and we’d definately go back to Radha Krishna Bhavan without hesitation.

Loved Up – Tooting Market Valentine’s Event

 

We usually avoid going out for Valentine’s as most restaurants tend to offer a limited Valentine’s menu and up their prices so that we always feel like we‘ve been “had”. But, when we saw on Twitter that some of our favourite Tooting haunts were collaborating for the evening, we thought we would give it a go.

Hosted in Tooting Market, the Loved Up event saw Graveney Gin, Unwined, The Joint, Franco Manca, Nuvola Bakery and Harrys Chocolate Emporium team up for a romantic night of food and drink. Tables were set up in the middle area of the market, covered in brown paper table cloths and candles. It was much nicer than it sounds – plus they gave you pens so you could write (romantic!) messages on them. We booked an early table at 18.30 and had been asked a few days before to select our food from a menu which consisted of 2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts. On arrival we were shown to our table, given our own personalised menu (a nice touch!) and quickly provided with a choice of cocktails (a Knot my Cherry or a Sparkling Kiss) from Graveney Gin. We both chose a sparkling kiss which was Sloe gin and Prosecco, with a heart shaped strawberry. A good way to start the evening.

img_0272

A short while later our first course arrived. Strategically, we had each chosen different starters so that we could share them, and these were smoked beef cheek croquettes and deep fried mac & cheese bites.

img_0277

We were each presented with 3 perfectly sized parcels which may have looked the same on the outside but were very different on the inside. The mac & cheese bites were really creamy and cheesy whilst the beef cheek croquettes were smoky, flavoursome and rich. The beef cheeks were accompanied by a portion of sriracha mayo, and this was fresh and cut through the richness of the meat nicely.  The wine to accompany this course was a glass of Amano Rosato, a lovely Italian Rose which, unlike some of the sickly sweet rose’s we’ve had in the past, was dry and robust enough to match both the mac & cheese and the beef.

The main course for the evening was provided by Franco Manca.

img_0279

We have enjoyed their pizzas in the past and had both chosen a meat special which has mozzarella, organic tomato, Gloucester Old Spot Sausage, Colston Bassett Stilton and radicchio trevisano. They were playfully shaped as hearts and as always, tasted really good with that soft chewy fermented sourdough base, and a good combination of toppings. They were also very generously sized and quite filling. The wine for this course was a Gran Passione Rosso, again from Italy, and it had a rich berry flavour, soft tannins and good acidity, which matched the meat and cheese of the pizza.

Finally, dessert was provided by Nuvola Little Bakery.

img_0281

We hadn’t tried the delights from this bakery before and had chosen one of each of the available desserts: a red velvet cake and a Persian love cake. Both were lovely. Sometimes the cream cheese frosting on cakes can overpower the actual cake but in this case it was well balanced and not too sweet. The passion cake was moist and well flavoured and it was hard to believe it was gluten free. The wine with this course was a real surprise, a Contero, again from Italy. It was sweet and fizzy, a bit like Cherryade to be honest. I loved it. The perfect way to end the meal and to partner the cakes.

 

To finish the evening off, each guest was given a bag of chocolate goodies to take away from Harry’s Emporium. We were given a choice of either milk, dark, white or dark without nuts, and we selected a bag of white chocolate and a bag of milk chocolate.

img_0284

Inside were some chocolate buttons, 2 truffles and a chocolate heart. The chocolate was delicious. creamy and tasted really good quality. I am a bit of a chocolate button connoisseur and these were among some of the best I have had. The truffles had a soft gooey centre.

 

With 6 different businesses working together it could have been a bit of a muddle, but with everyone pitching in to help, it all appeared to go quite smoothly. We had a lovely evening and really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of the market. All of the tables were full for the first sitting, and there was a second sitting arriving as we finished so it appears to have been a popular event. We will be keeping an eye out for future collaborations like this in the market, and suggest that you do too!

Bean & Hop – Earlsfield

I had only intended to treat myself to one of their lovely take-away coffees when I popped into Bean and Hop but as it was quiet and I hadn’t had breakfast, I found myself tempted by the breakfast special: mushrooms on toast.

Bean and Hop is a small but very popular café along Garratt Lane, about 60 seconds from Earlsfield station. Not only do they serve jolly good coffee, they also offer brunch, lunch and pizza at the weekends in the evening. There is also a large selection of craft beers to chose from if that takes your fancy. Usually it can get a bit crowded during school holidays, and it is pretty cosy, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it so quiet in there today. I ordered a cappuccino and the mushrooms on toast. The coffee, as always, was lovely (beans from Nude Espresso) and served in a good weighty china cup.

bh01

About 7 minutes later the mushrooms arrived. They comprised of a nice thick slice of toasted sourdough bread, a pile of grilled mushroom slithers and 2 perfectly poached eggs which some parmesan shavings over the top.

bh03

As the picture shows, the eggs were perfectly poached and the yolks were rich and creamy, and the generous portion of mushrooms sitting on top of the toast were full of flavour. This was an unexpected treat and, for me, a tasty start to the half term week.

http://www.beanandhop.co.uk

@beanandhop

Brick & Liquor

After sinking a few cocktails at The Hill Station Tooting, we decided we needed something to eat to soak up the alcohol so we took a walk along to Brick & Liquor. As soon as we set foot inside we were transported to a classy New York style bar with exposed brickwork, dark grey wood, high stools at tables and plenty of copper accessories. The tables were all full so we made ourselves at home at the bar.

The cocktail list was accompanied by a very helpful guide detailing the type of flavour and strength of each drink. We started with a Capulet’s Garden (apple & elderflower puree with Prosecco) and a rich and creamy Cream of the Crop (vodka, disaronno, creme de menthe, mint, double cream, honey & sea salt syrup). Both were delicious and were the perfect precursor to the food.

cocktails

The menu here has a tapas style to it, with dishes that can be ordered as either small or large plates. We chose to order 4 small plates along with some padron peppers and some matchstick fries as sides.

food-menu

The first to arrive were the pork belly bites which were served in a sweet chill and sesame glaze. Sticky, sweet and tender sum these up. Delicious. We were also served some lovely mozzarella and chorizo arancini. These were full of flavour, creamy and perfectly cooked. The padron peppers were generously salted, a bit salty for my taste but not for both of us.

food-01

Our final two dishes arrived shortly afterwards and consisted of some rum and coke ribs and a board of chicken lollipops in a special Havana 7 marinade. The meat of both of these dishes was succulent and juicy, falling off the bones, and the glazes were sweet and spicy (a little too spicy for one of us who broke out in a sweat). The bowl of crispy matchstick fries were just the right accompaniment.

food-02

Finally, we decided to order another cocktail each and this time went for a Clover Club (Vanilla infused gin, lemon juice, egg white & homemade raspberry syrup) and a Dill or no Dill (gin, cucumber, dill, sea salt, lemon juice and elder flower cordial).

img_0261

The clover club, with the Brock & Liquor logo on top, was smooth and flavoursome, and was beautifully crafted. The Dill or no Dill  was declared the cocktail of the evening. It was light and refreshing, and had a hint of sharpness to it that made it such a great drink.

The vibe in Brick and Liquor was cool and modern, and service was friendly and efficient. The music that was playing added to the atmosphere. We could have sat at that bar all night.

@brickandliquor

http://www.brickandliquor.co.uk

Hill Station – Broadway Market

Climbing Everest has always been on my bucket list. It’s one of those things that I know is never going to happen but the idea of it appeals and, having conquered the London Marathon last year, climbing the mountain somehow seems like natural progression. Well, that was until we watched the film Everest and I realised that not only were there days of trekking uphill just to get to base-camp, but there would also be some precarious ladders used to cross over dangerous ravines. That was enough to put me off so we had to settle for paying a visit to Hill Station Tooting as a compromise. We use the word compromise loosely here because, not only is Tooting nowhere near any mountains or the Himalayas, getting there simply required us to  hop on to the 270 bus. The only treacherous thing about our journey was crossing Tooting High Street to get to Broadway Market.

hs

Hill Station is a small, but perfectly formed, bar near the entrance to Broadway Market. It is opposite Craft Beer which was busy on the night we visited thanks to a meet the brewer event. Hill Station has space for about 8 inside, maybe 12 at a push and this is one of the things that makes it so good. To start with, it isn’t an open sided unit as a number of places in the markets are, so with the door shut, it was lovely and warm inside whilst it was almost freezing outside. You could almost forget you were in a market in the middle of Tooting. Inside, the walls are wooden planks and the ceiling is corrugated sheets, giving it very much a mountain shack feel although having never been on a mountain, I’m only assuming so. The bar itself is styled like the front of an old mountain bus, and there is mountaineering equipment hanging from the walls and ceiling. The seats are adorned with comfy, mirror tiled cushions and the tables are small trays, attached to scaffold pipes which extend from the seating. A very clever use of space. The air had a pleasant scent of joss sticks, which all adds to the atmosphere.

bar

Between 6-7pm they host happy hour, and we were very happy to use this as an opportunity to try out a several of their cocktails. We got seats inside the bar where it was cosy and warm, and were 2 of 6 people in there. The menu consists of individual Himalayan themed cocktails served as either individual glasses or in  flasks to share. Other beverages like beer and wine, and a simple food offering were also available. The cocktails are normally £8 each which is an expected price, but during happy hour they are a bargain at 2-4-1, so it felt rude not to try as many as we could.

We started off with a Blunt Khukuri and a Gurkha’s Ruin, both gin based cocktails.

01

The Gurkha’s ruin was more subtle and fruity with hibiscus, lime and cranberry, but the Gin was still distinguishable. The Blunt Khukuri was served in a coupe glass. It was a strong drink, with the gin being the central flavour. The bitters, vermouth and triple sec mixed really well. This was quite different to the usual fruity cocktails I normally go for.

We then moved onto a Tibetan-Tai and a Darjeeling Iced tea.

img_0249

The Tibetan Tai, served in an enamel mug, was spiced rum based, and with a healthy dash of pineapple juice and orange juice, it was just too easy to drink. The Darjeeling Iced Tea was a cocktail with a chilli twist. It was a revelation. Served in a tall glass and vodka based, the chilli gave the prefect amount of heat, warming the palette in a surprising but pleasant way.

Finally we finished with a Hilary’s Hibiscus and a Yeti Sweat.

02

The Hilary’s Hibiscus was a gin and Prosecco combo and came served in a Champagne tulip glass. With a splash of hibiscus and lemon juice, it was a good way to end our visit. Don’t let the name put you off the Yeti Sweat, it was lovely. Again served in a coupe glass, it was light and refreshing, being spiced rum with some citrusy velvet falernum and fresh lime juice; a Caribbean twist to the Himalayan cocktail theme.

 

The cocktails were all we made to perfection, and provided the perfect blend of flavours whilst being unique from anything we have tasted before. This is another great addition to Tooting, giving us even more choice for an evening out, and we hope others will be able to visit and enjoy it as we did.

@hillstationtoot

Plot

It was a very cold evening when we ventured down to Broadway Market to try out the newly opened eatery, Plot. We haven’t really spent a lot of time in Broadway Market as it hasn’t quite got the same array of places to eat and drink as Tooting Market…yet. This is changing, and Plot plan to be a part of that change. Having seen some pictures and menus on Twitter we were looking forward to trying out their food for ourselves.

The set-up is classy. There is a long marble worktop with high stools for seating and some much needed patio heaters spaced in between. Behind the counter there is an open kitchen and the bar.  We had seats near the food prep area and it was nice to be able to see the dishes being prepared. On arrival we noted that the menu was succinct. There were 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 sides and 2 desserts. We decided to opt for one of everything and chose a glass of the Xenna Chenin Blanc (South Africa) and the Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir (California) to accompany our food.

Firstly, we were treated to some bread and yummy Marmite butter. We have had this before at another restaurant and being a Marmite fan, this went down very well.  Our smoked haddock croquettes were served next, and they were served with buttered leeks and tasted amazing. The croquettes were light and crispy with just the right amount of fish. The leeks complimented them perfectly. For me, these were one of the stand-out dishes of the evening.

We had ordered the charred cauliflower cheese, but unfortunately this never arrived. We mentioned this towards the end and they were very apologetic. Of course we could have mentioned this earlier, but the dishes weren’t all served at the same time, so we didn’t know whether it would be served later or not. However, the portions of it that we could see leaving the kitchen did look good. One of our side dishes arrived then, the saffron pommes anna. They were very nice but we had expected them to be served as an accompaniment to the main dishes. On their own, they were a bit odd.

The main dishes were roast cod, served with curried tartare sauce and samphire, and Confit pork belly, serve with shallot puree and pickled mushroom.   We also had some roast hispi cabbage on the side. It was a good sized piece of Cod, and the accompanying subtly curried tartare sauce went well with it, along with the samphire which added a good salty crunch to the dish. The confit pork was great, served in a number of small pieces it was tender and very tasty. The shallot puree was fantastic as were the pickled mushrooms. Both dishes were beautifully presented but perhaps the cod was slightly undercooked for us (remember that we’re no experts but the middle of it wasn’t white and flaky, but still slightly translucent). This was a shame but certainly didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the rest of the dish.

Desserts were also fantastic. I had the blood orange marmalade Bakewell and I didn’t want it to end. The orange was sweet and slightly tart and the texture worked really well.  The creamy and smooth burnt cream with poached rhubarb was also delicious, bringing an end to a lovely course of dishes.

All in all, we enjoyed our meal and will definitely go back. When we went, they had only been open for a week so perhaps the service wasn’t quite as slick as it could have been. Having said that, once they have been up and running for a bit longer, I doubt this will be a problem.

For us, Plot is a great addition to the Tooting food scene, so get down there and try it!