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Tag Archives: restaurants

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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Morrison Grill, Ormond Quay.

25 Apr

The Morrison Hotel on Ormond Quay reopened earlier this year after a fairly extensive refurbishment.  I was only ever in its previous incarnation once before owing largely to my tender age at the time. It’s very different now. With the hotel’s refurbishment has come the Morrison Grill.  I was invited along to sample some of their dishes with some other bloggers. And their cocktail menu was given a slight workout too.

Pre-dinner cocktail in Quay 14.

Pre-dinner cocktail in Quay 14.

It was a bleak, sleety evening and after a chilling Dublin bike ride down the quays, the evening kicked off enjoying the surrounds of Quay 14. After a restorative cocktail, or two, we got to sample some of the morsels pictured below. The deep fried olives were something I had never tried before. They were all sorts of fried, salty goodness.

Olives trying to hide...

Olives trying to hide…

We got to sample a range of starters from the kitchen, headed up by John O’Leary. I loved the mussels and cured salmon.  The centerpiece of the menu (literally) is their Josper charcoal grill. This is an interesting piece of kit that is fired by charcoal and air and can burn at temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius. Toasty like.  A grill like this needs to be road-tested with a decent hunk of meat, so I went for the beef rump steak. It was cooked perfectly (medium-rare, if you’re asking). The fries it was served with were a triumph. I normally despise chunky chips. However these ‘sumo’ fries were delicious. I’d say there is methodology behind their cooking.

John O'Leary in action at the Josper grill

John O’Leary in action at the Josper grill

For dessert the kitchen again sent out a selection of what was on offer. While the smoked applewood honeycomb was very different and a new one for this seasoned gob, the star of the show was the lemon tart with rose-water sorbet. It was just deadly. End of.

If you haven’t been in since it reopened, pop your head in. The bar and dining space are very pleasant arenas to pass a few hours and the care and attention for the food and cocktails is evident.

M & L Szechuan Chinese Restaurant, Cathedral Street

28 Feb

I went to school in Dublin 1. Back then, on the verge of Celtic Tiger Dublin, it was colourful. Colourful in the ‘mind your wallet’ kind of way. This coming from a proud northsider. Back then one passed boarded up shop-fronts on the way to school. Dry cleaners and corner shops with grandiose names called after American cities. On a recent trip to my alma mater, with my food-blogger hat on, I was amazed and tantalised by the number of eateries on my old walk to school. One of which is M &L Chinese.

This came onto my radar on twitter a few months back- via Stefano over at WholeMeal. I was due to meet a school friend of mine for dinner- he is accustomed to good food- so I sought out recommendations of the ethnic and Dublin 1 variety. Many recommended this place, so I decided it was time to try it.

My dining companion, Dr. Food as he shall be known, was a little late arriving- no doubt a life needed to be saved (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.) While I waited, I was seated and some very friendly staff provided water and menus and encouraged me to ask them for assistance in choosing my meal. A good start.

When the good doctor arrived, fashionably late, we ordered a variety of dishes with some guidance from the friendly wait staff. I started with pork dumplings. I think these were the highlight of the meal- delicious little things- packed with pork mince that left your mouth salivating after the bang of umami. The good doctor started with some prawns in egg yolk- these were eaten cheerfully- a little unremarkable and dry for my taste but they were far from unpleasant.

After this himself had chicken with dried chillies and peanuts. This was happily munched on.  I had crispy duck with mushrooms and chillies and it’s not on the English menu. If I can digress for one moment- I find the best way to eat in these places is to ask the staff what to order. Often they take you off the beaten track with glorious results or indeed they suggest mythical dishes, not on the menu. This was one such dish. It was crispy, spicy and savoury all at the same time. It was also gigantic- to the extent that after the dumplings I was far too full- it made for a wonderful lunch the next day.

We didn’t bother for any dessert- we just lingered and gave a nod to the staff when we wanted to leave as they enjoyed a post work meal in the corner. They didn’t make even the slightest attempt to rush us out and let us chat away.

With 3 beers each and a side of fried vegetables the total came to €58. M&L is worth a visit- it came with good recommendations and didn’t disappoint. The staff are great and are eager to ensure you enjoy your meal. Can’t ask for much more.

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.

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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After

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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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