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Cheap spring eats for the family

Spring time is a great time of year for hanging out with friends and family without breaking the bank. If you’ve been invited to a picnic or BBQ — or are hosting one yourself — you may be looking for inexpensive ways to feed your family for less. Read on for budget-friendly ways to enjoy the summertime, while staying within your budget.

Saving Money On Meat:

If we are hosting a BBQ, we generally revert back to good old ‘Dogs and Burgers. Or maybe Bratwurst now and then for variety. I have been known to put on a July 4th shindig for up to 75 people, and when I do so, I like to offer a variety of meat options. Fried Chicken is a favorite stand by for me. I discovered a pulled pork recipe that saved me heaps of money and kept me away from sites like this, and ever since then this dish has become a family favorite, producing spicy-smokey tender pork for sandwiches. But as we all know: hot dogs and hamburgers are one of the least expensive ways to feed a crowd.

Saving Money on Salads:

From potato salad to Jell-o ring, salads rule the buffet table. If you’re tired of the same old potato salad, try a fresh recipe like Red Potato Salad with Dill, or German Potato Salad. Pasta salad is one of the most wallet-friendly ways to go if you need a salad to take to an event. Pasta (as a side dish or “filler”) can be done so many ways. Italian pasta salad can be as simple as cooked pasta, a bottle of Italian salad dressing, tomatoes, green peppers, onions and black olives. I have a favorite pasta salad that my family asks for time and time again.

Here is a go-to recipe for a tasty summertime salad that bring compliments every time.

Creamy Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound cooked pasta. I like to mix Penne and shell pasta for texture.
  • 1 Cup Real Mayonnaise
  • 3/4 Cup Sour cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup Half & Half, Milk or  Water
  • 2 Teaspoons White Vinegar
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Ground Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas, defrosted
    (A simple way to do this is to toss them in with the boiling Pasta during the last few minutes of cooking)
  • 1/2 Cup Colby, Cheddar – cubed
  • 1/4 Cup white or yellow onion, minced

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, sour cream, sugar, vinegar and seasonings. Add pasta, onions, and cubed cheese. Mix well and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving – 3 hours is optimal. The mixture may seem like it has too much milk/mayo, but the reason for this is because the pasta tends to soak it up after sitting in the refrigerator.

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Why You Should Eat More of It

Sauerkraut: Why You Should Eat More of It

What do the armies of Genghis Kahn, Colonial Era navies, and those who labored on the Great Wall of China have in common? The consumption of sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut is made by pickling cabbage in a process called lacto-fermentation. The process is a fairly simple one. To start the fermentation process, one only has to add salt to shredded cabbage.

The finished product, sauerkraut, can last for months unrefrigerated, which is probably one reason the armies of Genghis Kahn, Colonial Era navies, and those who labored on the Great Wall of China ate it regularly.

Scurvy, caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C, was a huge problem for colonial-era navies and explorers. It was a problem largely solved by carrying plenty of sauerkraut on long voyages. Not only could sauerkraut keep for months at varying temperatures, but it also contained significant amounts of vitamin C, which helped colonial era navies and explorers stay out at sea for longer periods of time.

However, a long shelf life and significant levels of vitamin C were only the most obvious benefits.

Sauerkraut is loaded with healthy bacteria called probiotics, a result of lacto-fermentation. It’s also loaded with enzymes that aid digestion and promote nutrient assimilation.

When you are eating a poor diet like the ones sailors, laborers, and soldiers ate in times past, a fermented food like sauerkraut could literally be a lifesaver.

While we don’t have to worry about scurvy today, many people suffer from poor digestive health. Whether it’s a poor diet, a lack of contact with beneficial bacteria, or both, many people today lack healthy gut flora and suffer from a whole host of digestive issues.

This is where sauerkraut comes in to play. Not only is sauerkraut loaded with vitamins like vitamin C, and Vitamin K, but it can also help many of our digestive problems and leave us with healthier guts.

 

Here are three reasons you should eat sauerkraut on the regular basis.

1) Sauerkraut will help you reestablish and maintain healthy gut flora.

The majority of our immunity takes place in our guts, and it all starts with friendly bacteria. Sauerkraut is teeming with lactobacillus bacteria, far more than exists in yogurt. Sauerkraut is also far cheaper than taking probiotics, making it a great natural supplement.

Just be sure and buy unpasteurized sauerkraut, as the pasteurization of sauerkraut kills off the healthy bacteria.

2) Sauerkraut is loaded with enzymes that aid digestion and help assimilate nutrients.

Enzymes help the body break down and properly digest food. Eating sauerkraut with a meal will boost your body’s ability to properly digest its contents and will help ensure proper absorption of nutrients.

3) Sauerkraut can help eliminate heartburn.

Contrary to what many people think, heartburn is not caused by having too much stomach acid, but not enough stomach acid. Having too little stomach acid is an imbalance that can lead to some pretty uncomfortable moments post meal. However, it’s an imbalance that can be corrected, and sauerkraut can help.

Along with digestive enzymes, sauerkraut is acidic enough to help aid the stomach in acid production, thus reducing or even eliminating episodes of heartburn.

Sauerkraut may also help fight cancer. During the fermenting process, cabbage produces isothiocyanates, which have been shown to remove carcinogens from the body, suppress tumors, and induce programmed cell death in cancer cells. They also show strong anti-inflammatory properties, which may help lower disease risk.

Sauerkraut is an excellent natural supplement, it provides probiotics, enzymes, and helps with heartburn. And unlike many of the over-the-counter drugs used to treat heartburn, there is no acid rebound with sauerkraut.

To receive all of these health benefits, remember to purchase unpasteurized sauerkraut, otherwise, your sauerkraut will be devoid of any enzymes or healthy bacteria.

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The Paleo Diet and Professional Athletes

Many professional athletes have adopted the paleo diet (or something closely resembling one if you want to get technical). Not only do the athletes that have adopted the paleo diet not perform poorly, many of them begin to perform at a higher level. Some of the best athletes in their respective sports eat a paleo diet, and they’ve shown the world that it’s possible to not only perform at a high level on the paleo diet but to outperform the competition as well.

Who said endurance athletes have to eat a high-carb diet?

Mountain biker Greg Parham wins 24hr races on the paleo diet and believes grains increase inflammation and make him more prone to injury. He also credits the paleo diet with helping him keep his weight steady, and he touts its ability to help speed recovery as well. Greg’s one of the best in his sport, and he even has his own blog where he refers to himself as Greg “Caveman” Parhan. Greg doesn’t just eat a paleo diet, he’s an advocate!

Professional cyclist Dave Zabriskie, a rider for team Garmin-Sharp, gets 60% of his calories from high-quality fats. Cyclists are often performing at high levels for days on end, and Dave certainly goes against the “grain” in his sport. This guy certainly isn’t sponsored by “conventional wisdom.”

Ultramarathon runner Timothy Olson won the 2012 Western States 100, a 100-mile race through mountainous terrain in record time…and he eats a traditional diet. He often describes his diet as low-carb and is an advocate for the paleo diet and the like on his blog.

Triathlete Simon Whitfield laughs at his old nutritional approach, which wasn’t the paleo diet, of course. But, that was before he linked up with Mark Sisson, a guy who also laughs at his own old nutritional approach. Today Simon Whitfield is a primal dieter and eats a lot of coconut oil, bacon, and butter. He credits his 10 consecutive Canadian Triathlon Championship Titles and his gold and silver Olympic medals with his switch to a traditional diet.

Popular athletes in more mainstream sports have also adopted a diet similar to the paleo diet.

Kobe Bryant and some of his teammates are some of the newest athletes to adopt a paleo diet. When L.A. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti was looking for a new nutritional program for the team, he contacted Dr. Cate Shanahan, whose book, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, is the basis for Bryant’s eating regimen. Vitti says, “we’ve turned the whole [food] pyramid upside down.” And indeed they have. Bryant is eating a diet that is 50-60% fat, and replete with grass-fed beef and butter. No margarine or vegetable oils for the Lakers!

UFC fighter Frank Mir went vegan for a whole year! Then he adopted the paleo diet. And why not? I’d imagine that going vegan would draw a lot of people to a more traditional diet when it didn’t work out so well. Frank Mir says that the paleo diet helped him keep his weight down and that when he ate vegan he got “softer”, and got injured a lot more as well. He credits the paleo diet with increasing his strength and endurance, and for giving him back his “umph”, which he said he lost while vegan.

Recently retired NFL player, John Welbourn adopted the paleo diet a long time ago. In fact, the 37-year-old former offensive lineman even has his own company that markets paleo foods.

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence eats a paleo diet. The guy eats kale dripping with olive oil in the clubhouse and says the paleo diet has made him leaner than ever.

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York and Albany – Camden

back dining roomOne of the pricier restaurants in Camden Town, the York and Albany is not only a restaurant but also a boutique hotel boasting 10 rooms and a view over Regents Park. Situated at the top of Parkway, the building was designed by Regency architect John Nash.

My dining partner and I ventured to north London on a bright and breezy Tuesday lunchtime. Filled with trepidation, with what has been slammed as ‘Another Gordon Ramsay failure,’ we accessed the dining room through the bar area and were greeted by our server for the day Sylvia.

The food and wine

A quick glance at the menu tells you that the restaurant serves a twist on modern British cuisine with Italian roots, probably thanks to the executive chef and Gordon Ramsay’s protégé Angela Hartnett.

Starters were priced between £9 and £12.50 with main courses ranging between £16 and £25, sides of vegetables et cetera £3.50 and desserts £6. Where this restaurant obviously makes their money, as with most high-end restaurants, is their wine list. My learned friend informed me that the 4-page wine list was marked up at about two thirds.

Interior of York & Albany

Interior of York & Albany

The wine list

The Kim Crawford Pinot Gris for example priced at £31, you can get at Oddbins for 10. Another wine the Domaine Pernot Puligny Montrachet 2007 priced at £90 and available at your local Tesco for around £21.

Overpriced wine aside we quickly decided on starters, a summer salad for me and a ravioli of quail with truffle and shallots for my partner.

The salad had a range of vegetables including, peas, carrots, tomatoes, beans and courgettes. All tied together with various leaves and a nice fusion dressing, or as it was named on the menu as a ‘pumpernickel emulsion.’ The ravioli was reported to be tasty, not too soggy and just how ravioli should be cooked, apparently.

steak

For the main course I went for a steak, served with chunky chips and a side of peas/courgette compote while my fellow diner took on the sea-bass.

Both were cooked perfectly, as you would expect from such a refined and qualified chef as Angela Hartnett and there were no complaints from either of us on the quality of the ingredients. The sea-bass was served with a garnish of mushrooms and crayfish, with a side dish of peas.

Dessert

Dessert was served up as a peach soup which featured a whole peach in the centre, while my partners chocolate cake was accompanied by a rich coffee ice cream.

The peach soup surprisingly did not taste too much of peaches, and it was reported that the chocolate cake was overwhelming success with hints of coffee, Macadamia nuts and mint.

Overall we were pleasantly surprised by the service and the quality of food we experienced at the York and Albany. However, the wine list left us a little out of pocket, though we thoroughly enjoyed the house red that was recommended by Sylvia (our server).

york and albany ext.Pricey?

The bill came in at around £160 with wine and tip. Although this isn’t a cause to start speed-dialling your bank manager, you can be forgiven for agreeing with me that this restaurant is at the higher end of the usual restaurant fare you’ll find in Camden.

If you’re looking for a special treat, or birthday dinner where you can flash your cash and really push the boat out you could do a lot worse than to choose the York and Albany in Camden. However, for a first date or mid week dinner where you would normally be sensitive to spending a lot of money, I would perhaps venture down Parkway and into the many other ‘cheaper’ options to be found in Camden Town.

York and Albany
https://www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com/york-and-albany
Phone: +44207 592 1227

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Hawksmoor Seven Dials review

I have always been the type of individual to take a contrary view – almost for the sake of it, taking misguided pride in the fact that I seldom succumb to peer pressure or blindly follow the masses to become part of an illustrious group. However, there are those rare occasions in my life when the lure of becoming part of an “illustrious” group is too great: like when I bought one of those appalling tamagotchis at school or a pair of bland Reebok classics, or most recently wanting to be part of a select few who had experienced the meaty delights of the amazing Hawksmoor.

I was told by numerous carnivores that eating at the Hawksmoor would change the way I viewed steak forever. To them, there is steak, then good steak, then even great steak, but beyond that there is steak you get from the Hawksmoor. Naturally, before I had experienced a Hawksmoor steak I thought such words were the pompous rhetoric of folk happy to blindly pay over the odds for what was simply a slab of red meat. Little did I know…

There was no way I was going to pay £30+ for a steak to enjoy at a run-of-the-mill lunch or dinner with a mere acquaintance! I needed a special occasion. After deliberating with my significant other on destinations for our first year anniversary – a relationship which began most romantically/ironically down the road at one of Covent Garden’s famous nightclubs – the Hawksmoor ended up being an easy choice. Surely the celebration of an anniversary was as good a time as any to enter this brave new steak world.

For the last 3 weeks I had been telling any mug who would listen that I was going to the Hawksmoor, building it up so much in my own head I could have sworn I made myself ill! After dosing myself up with vitamin c and lemsip and getting an indulgently invaluable lesson from a meat-loving friend who had also been to the Hawksmoor I was ready. Monday is BYOB night with a £5 corkage fee, so like bosses, me and the lady brought in some champagne sitting in my fridge for nearly 2 years and a nice bottle of red to add to the occasion and (importantly) save that dough!

On entering the inconspicuous Hawksmoor at Seven Dials (which I am told by many is their best restaurant) you are immediately struck by the classic steakhouse decor, but also how relaxed and unstuffy everything is. This was refreshing, but for what we were paying I have to say I naively expected our waiters to be wearing ties at least! No matter – after all I was here for the food.

On the recommendation of various carnivore friends telling me “they were the best I’ve ever had” there was only one choice for my starter: the Tamworth Belly Ribs. At £10 a pop for two, they better have been! On taking my first bite, I at once understood what these carnivores were on about. Wow is an understatement! Succulent, juicy, sweet, spicy are all slightly sexual but truly accurate adjectives. The lady had the Smoked Salmon on Soda Bread to start which she loved and I picked at approvingly.

The main event here is clearly the steak. As we were fairly amateur in the ways of the steak, our excellent server patiently explained the complicated blackboards around the restaurant setting out various cuts and weights of meat and even brought out a beautiful Rib-eye so that I could see what I planned to devour. I opted for a 400g Rib-eye and the lady a 300g Fillet both cooked medium rare. As we were in the mood to “go hard”, we also got the half Native Lobster, Stilton Mac and Cheese, Creamed Spinach (the lady’s confusing albeit delicious choice given we were in a meat restaurant!), Beef dripping chips, Stilton Hollandaise and Bone Marrow Gravy.

The glee on our faces when the expensive feast arrived at the table was apparent for all to see – it would have been cute if we were children, but as grown adults it was all rather laughable. Because of the sheer volume of food in front of us it took an age to decide what to pick at first. Inevitably, we settled with just cutting into our respective Rib-eye and Fillet which were delightfully melt-in-the-mouth perfect. I can honestly say it was the best steak I had ever had. The Bone Marrow gravy and beef dripping chips were sensational accompaniments. The Mac and Cheese an unnecessary but delectable treat. I could have easily polished off 10 platefuls of the Native Lobster which was so sweet and plump it deserved to be enjoyed on its own. With every mouthful I was saying: “so this is what perfection tastes like..?” The lady was in her own world no doubt enjoying her experience. Everything was so good, almost too good that I was subconsciously looking for fault, which never came. I politely finished off the lady’s fillet after her excellent effort, which meant there was one bite sized piece of Rib-eye I simply couldn’t finish. With regret and appreciation at our efforts our waiter removed our leftovers.photo(4)

Somehow, we found room for dessert! I opted for a Sticky Toffee Pudding, which you just know was the best Sticky Toffee Pudding I had ever had. The face I made when I had my first mouthful was so explicit it was verging on inappropriate. The lady had a Chocolate Orange Bar which so made her night I was a little intimidated.

The final bill was not cheap by any stretch, but for the outstanding food, superb service and overall experience, I do not hesitate to say that the Hawksmoor is actually good value for money – maybe somewhere to reserve for that special occasion? If you’re an unapologetic carnivore, you need to get your behind to this place so that you can say with pride: “I have been to the Hawksmoor”. You might incidentally become part of an “illustrious” group, but this is something to embrace – just this once. Yes, I’m gassed, but those who have been to this great place will understand. If you are vegetarian don’t even bother coming here.

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Côte Brasserie

cote-brasserie-camdenCôte is an all-day brasserie with an extensive menu, including a large variety of gluten free dishes – serving regional specialities, as well as internationally renowned French classics, these include Onion soup, Escargots de Bourgogne and Gougère.

The restaurant

It is easy to find, even if you are not familiar with the area, located only a short walk away from the Camden Town tube station. The décor and theme is a’la Paris and, if you long for the feel of French street-cafes, outdoor seating lets you live that dream.

The restaurant is an ideal spot for a romantic meal out, or a quiet coffee with a friend. It is open all day, so breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The interior feels bright, spacious and not overly intimate, which lends it as the perfect spot for entertaining business clients. Its proximity to the London Zoo, Regent’s Park and the Odeon cinema also make it a good place to stop-by for lunch when on a family day out. The restaurant also has a separate menu for children, however the youngest of family members probably wouldn’t appreciate the ambience, so families with toddlers might prefer somewhere a bit more relaxed.

cote1The food

The most valuable asset of this brasserie is undoubtedly the selection and the quality of the food, which has received almost unanimously good reviews on consumer rating sites, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. The bistro has been applauded for the use of fresh ingredients and for creating authentic tastes. The best part of all this is that it is also reasonably priced. A meal for two (2 mains and 2 starters) costs approximately £50, with the typical main somewhere around £14, and a pint roughly £4. Anyone familiar with London prices knows this is good value for money, especially for restaurant quality food.

cote2The most popular mains are the roast duck breast, char-grilled salmon, or if you prefer something a bit lighter try the Butternut Squash risotto (which is a steal at £10.50).

On the negative side, be aware when making a group booking. There has been a fair amount of bad feedback regarding the level or service, and the time it takes to get the food out during the busier times of day. It seems that compared to other restaurants in this chain, the Camden branch lags behind where staffing is concerned. The service is often described as hectic, and the servers seem to struggle with large groups.

cote3However, it is possible that this is just down to a few isolated cases of bad manners and inadequate training, as overall impressions seem to be mostly positive. The Côte has received a fairly large media covering over the past couple of years, so it is definitely worth a visit, even if you just want to see what all the fuss is about. The restaurant has had good reviews in The Sunday Times, Good Food Guide and even The Financial Times and has been described to have the elegance of an authentic Parisian bistro. The only thing to keep in mind is to avoid the rush hour, as it seems to affect the level and effectiveness of the service.

Modern, all-day French brasserie chain, serving regional specialities and traditional classics.
Côte Brasserie
32 Parkway, London NW1 7AH
Open today · 8am–11pm

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The Blues Kitchen Camden

The Blues Kitchen in Camden is a blues bar that has a hell of a soul food menu. Nestled on the high street corner behind the Old Queen’s Head pub and the Westbury pub, The Blues Kitchen is becoming the best hang out if you want good music, good food, and excellent service.

There are live performances 7 days a week

Weekends are extremely busy with a mix of people filling up the venue to do more than enjoy good music and indulge in great drinks

First impressions

As you enter the place you are welcomed by a unique but welcoming setting that is different to what you would find in most London pub’s. Sitting at a table you are surrounded by vintage concert posters and uniquely designed light fixtures that showcase what the venue is really meant for – great music and an experience of Southern hospitality.

You can even settle yourself into the sumptuous leather seats in wrap around booths. It is surprising how comfortable they are. A lot of establishments get bogged down with style and décor and forget the comfort aspect. The Blues Kitchen is not a simple stop and go venue and they have made sure that you get to immerse yourself in the venue.

Warning when visiting here you are likely to get caught up in the New Orleans mentality of relaxing, enjoying your drink and savouring every bite of the food that’s on your plate – it’s easy to see how time fly by.

seasick steve Blues Kitchen camdenThe Blues Kitchen is a busy spot on weekends and you would expect the service to be slow and the waiters to be hurried. Well, it can be but surprisingly enough the staff is one of the best you’ll find in any pub-cum-restaurant-cum-live music spot. They take time to explain the menu which can be a little strange and overwhelming to people who don’t understand how American portions or need explaining of what a Jambalaya is. Overall, the staff and the service they provide are excellent.

Blues Kitchen camden chickenFood

The important thing is the menu and if you think that this would be a British restaurant trying to copy American-style cooking then you would be wrong. The menu and the flavours in each dish are authentic and there is nothing contrived about anything on the menu.

It is as authentic as any food you will find in any soul food restaurant in the States. If you are looking for the real-American style Buffalo hot wings that are big, meaty and covered with just the right amount of spicy hot sauce this is the spot.

Blues Kitchen camden ribsYou can also try American classics like New Orleans Gumbo and barbeque ribs – slow cooked and smoked for 16 hours, the meat melts off the bone and they are so good you might just find yourself nibbling on the bone to get the last bit of flavour. They also have an incredible dish of beef brisket glazed with beer and hickory smoked for 20 hours.

With each bite of the food, whether it is chicken wings, brisket, shrimp or the popular pulled pork you will get the sense that this is food cooked with experience and knowledge. Other items on the menu include dishes like the Blues Kitchen Chilli, generous sized burgers made from real beef patty served still dripping with its own juices.

Brunch menu

The restaurant also has a brunch menu with generous helpings to help you get over that weekend hangover or to enjoy with your friends or family. The brunch menu has an American style breakfast with pancakes, toast, fries, bacon and eggs. They also hav an English breakfast with sausage, bacon, and eggs with mushrooms, tomato, and barbecue pit beans on toast.

theblueskitchenThe menu seems like it was created for serious meat lovers but vegans do have a choice, albeit limited that includes a super-food salad and the creole bean burger.

If you still have room for dessert, try the Alabama Mess which a chocolate, salted caramel ice cream, chocolate coated coffee beans, meringue, and blueberries. Be warned, portions are big and one Alabama Mess can actually be eaten by three people. Actually, most of the dishes are big enough for sharing which makes it a great value for money establishment in London.

theblueskitchen1Great venue for live music and authentic American-diner food

Yes the food is American and yes the portions are big. If you love American diner food and you have a craving for some late night music, this is the venue for you.

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Haché Burgers Camden

The first thing you will notice about the namesake dish at Haché Burgers Camden: They’re big! But don’t be fooled into thinking this restaurant is all about quantity and not quality. These burgers are not only large in size, but in taste, as well.

What’s on the menu?

Haché Burgers CamdenBurgers of course

The gourmet burger menu at this French-inspired eatery boasts a wide variety of Scotch beef steak burgers, ranging from the Steak au Naturel — a traditionally dressed, satisfying 6-ounce burger — to the fully-loaded Steak le Fume, topped with Guinness Cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, caramelised onions and coleslaw. In between is a world tour of burgers. The steak Canadien features Cheddar cheese and sweet cured bacon, while the Steak Bavarian includes caramelised onions and (surprise) smoked Bavarian cheese.

The Steak au Fromage Bleu adds Stilton cheese. Perhaps the most decadent burger on this side of the menu is the Steak le Triomphe des Truffles, with truffled Gruyere cheese, pickled onions and a sweet balsamic truffle glaze.

Haché Burgers Camden 2The Steak Mexican includes a patty covered in Cajun spices, topped with jalapeño and guacamole. Those with more adventurous tastes might lean toward the Steak Louisiana, adorned with Cheddar cheese and crunchy peanut butter.

For those seeking something other than beef, Haché has you covered with a Mediterranean Lamb Burger (ground lamb shoulder with a fresh salsa of red onions, oranges, olives and lemon juice, with harissa and yogurt sauce) and a variety of chicken and vegetarian burgers. On the poultry side, the restaurant offers Chicken au Naturel (a traditionally dressed chicken cutlet, similar to its beefy namesake) plus two options that add additional flavours. The Chicken Aphrodite is topped with a Mediterranean salsa made of a mixture of feta cheese, olives, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes and a lemon and tarragon mayonnaise. The Haché Chicken Club is adorned with sweet cured bacon, Cheddar cheese and avocado.

Haché Burgers Camden 3On the vegetarian side, Falafel Burgers include the Lebanese, with harissa mayonnaise and tzatziki, and the Goat’s Cheese Burger with grilled aubergine, portobello mushroom, chive oil, avocado, red pesto sauce and garlic mayonnaise. All burger prices range from £7.95 to £12.95.

Don’t stop there

Want to customise? Most toppings can be added for £1.50 to £2. Burgers are served on the diner’s choice of a fresh brioche or ciabatta bun (both of which can be substituted with a green salad for those watching carbs.), with sliced sweet onion, beef tomato and roquette. Sides, available for an additional charge, include regular, truffle cheese or sweet potato frites; fried onion straws; a mixed-leaf salad; smokey coleslaw; ratatouille and gherkins.

Anything other than burgers?

Not in the mood for a burger at all? Try a salad. Varieties include chicken Caesar (romaine tossed in a Caesar dressing with grilled chicken strips, bacon, croutons and Parmesan cheese), cous-cous (with roasted butternut squash, sun-dried tomato pesto and baby courgettes, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, chimichurri sauce and Mozzarella) and chicken avocat (mixed leaves with avocado, grilled chicken strips, cucumbers, French beans, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pine nuts and Haché dressing).

Entrées and dessert

For those coming extra hungry, Haché offers a variety of entrées, including nachos (with jalapenos and Cheddar cheese, served with salsa, guacamole and sour cream on the side), sweet corn fritters with smoky sweet chilli dip, spicy chicken wings (with blue cheese dressing and red onion); and baked Camembert with toasted Ciabatta.

Don’t forget to save room for dessert! The sweets menu includes a variety of ice cream, sorbet and milkshakes (extra thick, but can be ordered a little thinner by request), as well as chocolate brownies with cream or ice cream, salted caramel cheesecake and home-made Banoffee pie. Those seeking something a little more “adult” can opt for a Naughty Shake, adding whiskey or liqueur to any of Hache’s standard milkshakes for £6.95 more.

The restaurant also offers plenty of before, during and after-dinner drink choices, including a variety of craft and bottled beers; white, rose, red and sparkling wines; teas; espresso coffees; soft drinks; and fruit smoothies. Arrive early or stay late to take in the chic décor and enjoy the warm atmosphere of this family-owned-and-operated restaurant.

Great burger restaurant in the heart of Camden

Despite all the other great offerings, however, the real reason to come to Haché is the burgers. Juicy, made to order and overflowing with toppings, there is nothing else quite like them in the London area. Stop by for a bite (or two) — you’ll be glad you did!

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Mango Room Camden

Proudly claiming themselves to be the standard for Caribbean cuisines, Mango Room is literally just a stone’s throw away from the Camden Town tube station in London. Being a fan of Caribbean food myself, I just had to give this restaurant a try. So following is my restaurant review of the Mango Room.

mango room artI was there for a weekend lunch on a Saturday, it was quite apparent when I entered the establishment that they were understaffed. It took a good 5-minutes or so to even get me seated despite the restaurant just being half full at the time.

Right off the bat I wasn’t impressed, at this point I knew the service wasn’t going to be very good. However, I will let that slide as I know getting staff for a restaurant isn’t as easy as posting an ad on the window. Ultimately, I was there for the food.

The food

Service quality aside, I finally got to ordering. I ordered the Scallops with Melon Salsa and the Tiger Prawns with Pineapple Salsa as starters both priced at £7.00 and £6.50 respectively. Funny enough I would think a place called Mango Room would have at least ONE dish with a mango salsa incorporated into it, but there was none. I love myself a good Mango Salsa.

The scallops were fresh and cooked to perfection with the addition of the tangy melon salsa it was a gastronomical wonderland in my mouth. The same can’t be said about the Tiger Prawns though, a tad too overcooked for my liking.

mango room duckFor the main dish, I ordered the Roast Honey & Ginger Duck Breast at £14.50, it’s served with Sweet Potato Crisp & Juniper Berries Jus, I know, it intrigued me too. Now to be fair, I am a duck breast enthusiast, a well cooked duck to me rivals a well cooked steak.

This dish however was far down of my list of best duck ever. It just did not work for me, the meat was tough and Juniper Berries Jus doesn’t bode well with the natural flavour of the duck. What was I thinking ordering duck from the Caribbean though, they’re more known for their seafood so keep that in mind if and when you plan to visit them.

I couldn’t stomach a dessert after that meal, so I called for the bill and that was it.

My verdict:

If you’re looking for a decent seafood restaurant in Camden, Mango Room is one to consider. This restaurant review is solely based on my opinions and obviously my poor selection of the food item on the menu (Duck from the Caribbean, hah!). Service quality is poor but that can be easily rectified by hiring a few extra waiting staff.

Mango Room
mangoroom.co.uk
Phone: +4420 7482 5065

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Where to drink in Emsworth, Hampshire

The Blue Bell Inn
Opening times 11am to 11pm
Food service times during the food festival: Lunches 12.00-2.30pm, Evenings 6.00-9.30pm
Food promotion being offered during the food festival: Emsworth Cockles, Emsworth Oysters, locally caught fish and a delicious range of home made pies.
29 South Street, Emsworth
The Ship Inn
Opening times Mon – Sat 11.00-11.00pm, Sun 12.00-10.30pm
The Ship pub is situated in the very centre of Emsworth village. Enjoy daily specials and Food Festival specials made with local produce.
24, High Street, Emsworth, Hants PO10 7AW
Tel 01243 377151
The Crown Hotel
Open all day
All day à la carte menu available for the Emsworth Food Festival
Opening at 7.30 am for breakfast and morning coffees
Lunch and snacks from 12.00 noon, dinners from 18.00 pm onwards
Local and exotic daily fish specials on offer
Double & en-suite rooms available, plenty of parking at the rear
8 High Street, Emsworth, Hants
Tel 01243 372806
Fax 01243 370082
The Sussex Brewery
Open all day
Food service times during the Food Festival: Lunches 12.00-2.30pm, Evenings 7.00-10.00pm, In addition to dining in the main bar of the Sussex (complete with sawdust covered floors and real open fires), we have two separate dining areas which are both non-smoking. Although the Sussex is famous for its extensive sausage menu (around 45 different recipes and assorted sausage platters available), we also offer a more extensive range of food which includes fresh local fish, steaks, racks of lamb, daily specials and delectable desserts.
36 Main Road, Emsworth, Hants PO10 8AU
The Kings Arms
Opening times during the Food Festival: Friday & Saturday 11.00-2.30 pm, 6.00-11.00 pm Sunday 12.00-2.30 pm, 7-10.30 pm
Food service times during the Food Festival: Food is served every lunchtime until 2.00pm and every evening until 9.00pm (except Sunday evening)
Food promotion being offered during the Food Festival:
For Emsworth Food Festival the Kings Arms will be serving a special menu featuring Hampshire recipes using local produce and some recipes from centuries ago! In addition, we will have our usual home-made vegetarian meals, fresh fish dishes, traditional puddings and organic meals.
The Kings Arms is a traditional pub serving Gales Ales and a wide range of wine by the glass and bottle. Children are welcome in the large garden behind the car park; we regret they are not allowed in the pub.19 Havant Road, Emsworth, Hants PO10 7JD
Tel 01243 374941
The Coal Exchange
Opening times during the food festival: 10.30-3.00pm and 5.30-11.00pm Thurs & Fri, all day on Saturday and Sunday
Food service times during the food festival: Bar Menu 12.00-2.00pm Fri, Sat & Sun., evening meals 6.00-9.00pm
Food promotion being offered during the food festival: Thursday night is International Night-all you can eat for £5.95
Friday night is Curry Night-all you can eat for £5.95
Saturday night is B-B-Q Buffet Night-all you can eat for £5.95
21 South Street, Emsworth, Hants PO10 7EG
Tel 01243 375866
The Railway Inn
Festival opening times: 10.00 am – 11.00 pm, Sunday 12.00 noon – 11.00 pm, breakfast served 8.00 am – 10.00 am
Morning coffee and afternoon teas available
Evening ‘Theme Food’ and promotion nights from 7.00 pm
Children under 16 welcome until 9.00 pm when accompanied by an adult
Accommodation – B&B en suite & non en suite available
95 North St, Emsworth, Hants PO10 7DQ (opposite the railway station)
Tel 01243 431076
Fax 01243 43230
The Lord Raglan
Opening times during the Food Festival:
Friday: 11.00am – 3.00pm & 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Saturday & Sunday: all day
Food served: 12noon – 2.00pm & 7.00pm – 9.00pm
The Lord Raglan is Emsworth’s only waterside pub, with a garden overlooking the River Ems and the Slipper Millpond. We serve a selection of daily ‘specials’, local fish and popular homemade soups as well as a choice from our extensive bar menu. This features our now ‘famous’ steak, stout and mushroom pie as well as a wide choice of vegetarian dishes and a host of other options. Meals can be served either in the bar area or our separate restaurant or, weather permitting, in the garden.In addition to our excellent food, beer and extensive wine list, we have regular live music (free entrance) every Sunday evening, and most Wednesday evenings.Last year’s Food Festival saw the launch of our Gales HSB & pork sausages (made for us by local butcher, Treagust), and the second of our popular black tie gourmet dinners. Check our website for details of special events for this year, including the times of the HSB sausage BBQ.Families welcome in the bar area and garden.

35 Queen Street, Emsworth, Hants (tel. 01243 372587)

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