Monday, 14 April 2014

Imli Street

An Indian Street Feast

After my standard trek around Soho getting lost at least a hundred times before ending up in the place I started, Imli Street lay before me and the table which I had booked only an hour before was ready and waiting. (I'm becoming less inclined to rock up unannounced with the danger of being turned away tail between my legs, so anywhere that takes bookings will be getting my call).

Imli Street specialises in Indian street cuisines, boasting a menu dripping with diversity. It's sister venue, Tamarind of Mayfair was the first Indian restaurant in the UK to achieve a Michelin star so my hopes were high.

Across from us sat a table, glowing in the corner awaiting its hungry mouths. As exposed brickwork goes, this one really cuts the mustard and the carefully positioned menus are a nice touch for when you realise that more food is necessary.

The menu was bursting with flavours from all over India and a helping hand from our rather dishy waiter (oh the pun) was welcomed.

Personalised water bottles arrived at the table along with the shining red beakers. 

This birds eye view of the mouthwateringly delectable food includes crispy chicken wings, saag paneer, railway lamb curry, pilau rice, onion bhaji pieces and some bread in a bucket. For two, this was the perfect amount (unless you're factoring in dessert space, in which case it was more than enough)!

My interior design attention was caught by the hanging bulbs amidst the shining bar. Big fan!

Having completely stuffed ourselves and anticipating having to roll each other out, we gazed in sadness at the delicious dessert menu. There was no way we would be able to even attempt it on this sitting but it did make us smile when we decided a return visit purely for dessert and only dessert was necessary.

Imli Street on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Little House on Charlotte Street

Ollie Dabbous' latest venture has everyone clucking with excitement and reading 5* reviews at every turn sent Barnyard directly to the top of my to-do list. With a no bookings policy, kiss goodbye to the notorious month-long waiting list you're likely to experience down the road at Dabbous although I can guarantee it won't be long before the queues are stretching out of Barnyard's door.

Barnyard is everything you want out of a Sunday lunch destination (or any other lunch, or dinner for that matter but I'm biased about Sunday lunch on this occasion). We arrived in front of the aesthetically lovely white picket-fenced exterior and grinned at the lack of queue - this isn't going to be a secret for long!

Inside we were greeted by checked shirts and a delightful tweed flatcap amongst trees, more fence and neatly lined jugs. So neat. This boded well since I have a (not strange) affection for things that line up neatly; a backlash from the chaos of my childhood bedroom perhaps. Or not. Anyway, there was nothing not to like about this cute interior that we had just wondered into.

The walls were covered in corrugated iron and the lamps hanging from the ceiling cast a warm glow around the room creating that warm fuzzy feeling that can't help but calm you down and make you smile.

Taking our seats, it was time to peruse the menu. 10 minutes later we were still perusing. Everything just looked so damn delicious and it is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady in possession of a good menu must be in want of, well, all of it!

After our decision making had reached ridiculous lengths, we finally ordered and sat on the edge of our seats in anticipation. Diners around us were being brought steaming bowls of all manner of comforting dishes and food envy was rife. The main dishes were simply lovely. Exactly as explained on the menu and accompanied by fantastic sides. First up, tender beef short rib with a light, creamy dill sauce..oh and a gherkin (though I must confess, I chose to gerk-out)!

My partner in crime went for the suckling pig and crackling. Such great crackling!

The cauliflower cheese was a showstopper with an added sprinkle of nostalgia.

Lard on toast was, well, lard on toast but it was as good as lard on toast should be! Lets just say lard on toast again for luck. Lard on toast. Ok, I'm done.

Lastly, the chargrilled broccoli to complete the rainbow or at least infuse it with a little bit of green. 

What we have here is the sort of meal I could happily eat all the time and the value for money was another reason to add that extra skip to my step. This new little house is definitely a reason to leave the confines of your sofa and I urge you all to hurry on down before it becomes the talk of the town. 

And now let us turn ever so slightly to the toilets. As is often stated, one can tell a lot about a place by looking at its 'facilities', so lookee here!

Slip out of your barrel chair ... 

... skip past the fence and down the stairs ...

... reach the wood and iron corridor ...

... and enter to find the exact same care and attention has been given to the bathroom as to the rest of the interior. A traditional basin with lavender in the corner and rustic tiling completes the pretty picture.

Back at the table we sipped on vanilla and popcorn milkshakes .. literally popcorn in a bottle. I'll have that all the time please. Full to the brim and ready to be launched into the awaiting food coma, the dessert menu will have to wait for the Little Brown Book's return.

Barnyard has been catapulted to somewhere circling the top of my favourites list and I am eager to drag everyone and their (metaphorical) dog to have a taste so I really don't know what you could possibly be waiting for!

Square Meal 

 Barnyard on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Dub Jam

A Jammin' Bar

Take a splash of rum, an explosion of colour and a little space between two buildings and here you have Dub Jam. Almost impossibly nestled in Covent Garden lies the latest Jamaican reggae jerk bar. 

Upon entry, feel your cares drift away and the sounds of London become a distant memory. You’re in the Caribbean now so pull up a seat (if you can find one) and bob along to Marley.

With only 17 covers and quickly becoming the talk of the town, I’d hurry on over before everyone and their sister finds out about it.

We timed our arrival well. At somewhere very close to 6.30 (impeccable time keeping is something one should always strive to achieve), we threw open the door and hopped in. Not quite full to the brim, we managed to nab the last two seats while we awaited the rest of our party.

With tins of rum punch in hand, we took in our surroundings with delight. Buoys hanging from the ceiling lit up the multicoloured graffiti scrawled walls and a couple of metres away jerky aromas wafted from the tiny kitchen behind the bar.

We were treated to a bit of card trickery by the masterful magician/ waiter/ owner/ manager/ tie-die shirt-wearing dude (delete as appropriate) before we leapt onto the table opposite as soon as its previous occupants had vacated the area. Hawk eyes have nothing on us!

Two became four and we tucked into sweet potato fries, chicken and halloumi skewers and sipped on the fruity rum punch. More fruit than rum, this batch probably wasn’t going to cause us to sway too much and eliminated the ever-upsetting danger of headache filled work the following day. Definitely not a bad thing on a school night.

Dub Jam is perfectly chilled out and excellent for when an escape from the crazy that is London is required, so jam on over and taste the vibe for yourself. I'll certainly be back!

Square Meal