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Wahaca, Covent Garden

13 May
Guacamole and chips.

Guacamole and chips.

I found myself in London recently. One recommendation that came through on twitter and from friends over and over was Wahaca. So I made sure I tried it for dinner one of the night’s on my trip. I met with a friend from college, who had never eaten with a food blogger before. She did very well, and waited for photos of the food to be taken before going near anything.

We arrived not long after 6, and there was already a wait for tables. We used this time to grab a refreshing beverage- and soon our buzzer was going telling us that the table was ready. We ordered some guacamole and chips while we perused the menu. The guacamole was very pleasant. It had some coriander and wasn’t too heavy-handed on the red onion. Very tasty.

Pork pibil

Pork pibil

I left most of the ordering in my friend’s hands, having been before but my influence did extend to the pork pibil, which was first to arrive. Tender marinated pork, served on soft tortillas, garnished with some pickled onions. It was very tasty but perhaps it lacked a little punch. This may have been due to the heat coming from my beer– which owing to a slight mix up in ordering, was served with chilli and all sorts of other stuff. Interesting and quite spicy.

There was a herring tostada which was sour and a little bit smokey. Delicious. We went for both the taquitos on the menu, the winner here was the sweet potato and feta one. A triumphant combination of sweet and salty. There was also a very flavoursome mushroom quesadilla, which had an earthy taste.

All of this was rounded off with a split order of churros, doused in cinnamon and sugar. Tip (from my mate): order a side of dulce de leche with the chocolate it comes with. Pretty tasty combo. Service throughout was helpful (for us first timers), not rushed and very friendly. In short, the food’s very good, it’s great value and it is a fun place for some casual dining and a few drinks. I just hope they don’t over-extend as they are expanding at quite a rate.

Wahaca, Covent Garden.

66 Chandos Place.

Phone: +44 (0) 207 240 1883 (but they don’t take bookings.)

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Yum Yum at K108, Doha

18 Apr

Over the next few weeks there are going to be one or two posts about restaurants in Doha. There won’t be too many I promise. I know the taxi fare from Dublin to there makes a meal out prohibitively expensive.

We had heard whisperings that there was some good food to be had at Yum Yum by Hugo Coudurier at the K108 Hotel. So a group of 5 of us headed for dinner on a night recently.

The Hotel is  deceptive from the outside, its interior is very different to what you would expect. Upon entering the restaurant, albeit at an earlyish time, it was empty. I live my life by one main rule: Beware an empty restaurant. Soon though, other tables began to fill up and by the time we got to the menus and bread (very tasty, in particular a focaccia style creation) my fears were quickly being allayed. The restaurant itself is a large space, whitewashed walls and is quite cosy given its size.

I started with some grilled vegetables served with discs of Haloumi. It was a very pleasant way to start the meal, well cooked veg, tangy sauce and a well dressed salad. Another had the pea soup with shrimp. This was unfair on the crustacean in question, it was somewhere between a prawn and a lobster when served. Leaving said diner very content. Another notable starter for its presentation alone was the ravioli, slightly under perhaps, but that was the only niggle for what was a very pretty and tasty dish.

For my main I went for sea-bass, in a (I forget the name of the sauce) sauce served with risotto and crispy onions. The fish was cooked nicely, and there was a richness to the sauce and risotto. The crispy onions added a wonderful crunch. I would have liked something a little zingy perhaps for contrast, but it was still a delicious dish. Another main of note was the burger, which was off the menu, but apparently is a favourite at this place. It was munched very happily by said diner.

Few opted for dessert, I was one of the brave souls who did. A well presented lemon tart was happily eaten. You are  going to have to take my word for this- as the lighting was perfect for dining, awful for food photography. Thankfully. My darling sibling went for a chocolate fondant, which I didn’t get to taste, which would lead me to believe she enjoyed it. Throughout service was brilliant. Not overly formal as often can be the case in Doha and our waiter was happy to suggest dishes along the way. He was very attentive and yet you barely noticed him.

I was a guest at dinner (Thanks again), but the menu is very reasonably priced for the food and service you receive. Definitely one of the best places in Doha.

Brussels- where to eat….

6 Feb
Shane in a Joyce pod at the Parlamentarium (Visitor center showcasing all the great and good of the EU = A euro-sceptics idea of hell.)

Shane in a Joyce pod at the Parlamentarium (Visitor center showcasing all the great and good of the EU = A euro-sceptics idea of hell.)

In November, I found myself traveling back to Brussels to visit my friend Shane, more commonly known as my accomplice in dining. The trip was arranged only a few days in advance- so Shane unfortunately had to work for most of it. The cheek. This left me to explore Brussels by myself. That’s a nice way of saying I got lost a bit. On the plus I found some nice spots that I think are worth mentioning. You can read my previous Brussels food guide here. And for those of you hoping to visit Bruges, there you go.

Frites. Let’s get this one out there from the off. Here’s a little known fact. Brussels is powered significantly by the leftover oil from the frites making process. That’s a lie, it’s not. Nearly every corner you turn, there are frites stands. Shane, the brave soul that he is, is endeavouring to try out as many as he can. I mentioned a good few in my last post but as the weather was a little cooler, one was less inclined to eat outside. I did try one that was really good. Fritland. Judging by the reviews on that website, other people would agree.

Noordzee on a fresh Sunday afternoon

Noordzee on a fresh Sunday afternoon

We ventured back to Noordzee, which despite the cooler temperature was as busy as we had seen it mid summer. Be mindful of the opening hours, it certainly wasn’t open every time I walked by. Again the food was very tasty and it was still lovely to stand out in the adjoining square with some seafood. Tapas style portions- worth a visit. We also returned to Barbeton– this time for a coffee- lovely cosy spot. These two establishments are quite close to each other.

The first evening, after the frites and the food at Noordzee, we decided ( in our infinite wisdom) to stop and have some tapas before dinner. Infinitely wise.

photo 4-2

We ventured into Como Como. Now one of two things happened to this restaurant. Either it was formerly a sushi joint and they decided to keep the conveyor. Or some bright spark thought it was a novel way to serve tapas. Either way I won’t argue as Shane, his better half and I all enjoyed ourselves. Initially there was quite a limp selection whizzing by, but soon there was a great variety of meat, fish and vegetable tapas all whirling by. They were cranked out at quite a rate- no match for us though! The staff were very friendly too, and made for a very pleasant pre dinner amuse bouche.

Dinner was had in the excellent Les Brassins. I had the Carbonnades flamandes. A stew, slow cooked, with a wonderful sweetness owing to the Belgian beer it was cooked in. What wasn’t excellent? The staff. But thankfully they ignored us once we ignored them. It’s a relaxed enough place so staff/diner interaction isn’t massive.

A wonderful burger was had by all in Les Super Filles du Tram. Cool restaurant, staff were energetic and the burgers were very tasty.

Now all this wandering and eating requires little pick-me-ups from time to time. Exki are your friend in this regard. A nice chain of cafes. They do good food, nice cakes and good coffee. Throw in free wifi and you are onto a winner. Pleasant spots located all over  the city to while away a few minutes or hours.

Another spot for the coffee lovers amongst you is Corica. In brief, long counter, lots of coffees. Apparently 27 different Arabica blends according to their website. They also have Kopi Luwak. I didn’t try it. (Actually if anyone has- please comment below and tell me what it was like?)

 

I have a feeling I will be going back to Brussels again (Take note Shane).

 

Have you any tips or favourite places you like to eat? Where must I try? Any suggestions welcome below.

Happy birthday down under

5 Dec
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One of the best views in the world? Sydney Harbour bridge and the Opera House in glorious sunshine!

The Silver Chicken is down under! Although if you follow me on Facebook or twitter, you probably have noticed this fact. I may have mentioned it once or twice….This trip was to celebrate my uncle’s 50th birthday. Which was yesterday.

The best thing? We kept the whole thing a secret. So on Friday, after the family he knew was turning up had arrived. Three of us (myself and two uncles) turned up at Andy’s door, and nearly killed him with shock. Thankfully we didn’t.

So happy birthday Andy! Since we’ve arrived we have been treated to incredible hospitality by him and his family, including delicious food by my aunt Sarah. I have asked for some recipes which may or may not appear on a certain blog. There have been barbecues, gigs, fantastic meals and great company. Absolutely brilliant. And for those of you here in spirit, we’re thinking of you! And while I’m at it- Happy Birthday to both my grandmothers who celebrate their birthdays today!

Thanks to everyone who has sent me Sydney recommendations and if anyone else has them, keep em coming.

A day of wandering in Bruges

25 Nov

Bruges. Canals.

I recently travelled to see my accomplice in dining in Brussels, and while he was in work one day I decided that I would take the train to Bruges.

As I whizzed through the (not so) scenic Belgian countryside on the train, quotes from “In Bruges” whirling around my not so PC brain, I looked forward to visiting a spot that has been on my radar since I saw the film. Bruges looked like the kind of place I would like. Getting from the train station to the center of the city is painless. €1.20 for a single journey and there are a number of routes that will get you to the town center. Easy. The bus I was on, dropped me right in the main square.

I then went wandering, I wanted to avoid the touristy restaurants on the main square that seem to charge the same exorbitant prices for what I would imagine is pretty ordinary fare. I happened to wander down a side street and I stumbled upon an absolutely wonderful coffee shop Li O Lait. Free wifi, delicious cappuccino and a little plate of (free) biscuits to accompany it- All in the surrounds of a very cosy coffee shop.

I then toddled around some more, saw the canals, climbed the tower that forms the basis for this little diplomatic incident in the film. He was right. It is narrow. Very narrow.

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Traditional Flemish toilet

Unfortunately I seemed to be a week or two early for the Christmas market in Bruges (and in Brussels), they were only setting it up. I am assured the town gets even prettier closer to Christmas, when it gets the snow globe treatment.

I stopped into Patisserie Prestige for a mid afternoon jolt of caffeine. It was like eating in your granny’s front room (with your granny’s friends). I think in all honesty they were all a little bemused why this bearded youngfella wanted to eat a raspberry tart amongst them all.

All of it please.

Bruges is filled with an assortment of very nice cooking shops, good food shops, many chocolatiers and beer shops- so it is very possible for someone so inclined to while away a few hours perusing the shops and indeed to lighten your wallet.

I would love to go back again, it would have been ideal to spend a night there, but my timetable did not permit such. Before I knew it, after a very relaxing day, I was back on the train whizzing towards Brussels.

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