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Category Archive: restaurants

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

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.

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!

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

Made in Brasil

Made in Brasil, is funnily enough a Brazilian themed restaurant in Camden Town. It claims to serve ‘authentic Brazilian food’ in a ‘relaxed and friendly atmosphere.’ The lack of Brazilian restaurants in Camden would indicate to me this to be a smart market move.

made-in-brasil extFirst impressions

You can see what they are trying to do here, as the outside patio at the front and rear, give you a sense of alfresco dining. This open plan, fen-shui-esque approach frees up the energy in what is a very small restaurant and dining area.

On entering the restaurant my dining partner and I can’t help but notice that most people are in fact not eating but instead sampling the drinks on offer. Brahma’s are popular as of course are the Caipirinha’s. We opted for one of each as we attempted to get into the swing of things, in what looked like a lively Thursday evening within the restaurant.

Our server, as well as every other member of staff we interact with is Brazilian. This adds to the authenticity of the restaurant and creates a feeling that you could perhaps really be sat at a beach-side restaurant in Rio de Janeiro.

Okay, that could be a push, especially given our view over the road outside, but we can all dream can’t we?

Word of warning – The restaurant itself is very loud and colourful, this radiates a sense of non-stop bustle that for some could be a turn-off.

made-in-brazil foodFood

For starters I opted for the fritters, these were deep-fried balls of salt cod, they had a overall nice texture, however, lacked depth and seasoning. My dining partner opted for the coixinha de galinha al which roughly translates as chicken pastries, although these were more akin to croquettes. They were stodgy, very atkins diet unfriendly and bland.

Our server suggested we try the vatapa paraiba which is a typical Brazilian dish of fish, prawns, nuts and coconut milk. The best way I would describe it would be a stodgy fish pie filling. I am not sure if this is how the dish is meant to be, but it didn’t float my boat.

Moving on swiftly from this horrendous dish we then tried the platter of barbecued meats. This included lamb steak, pork sausage and garlic beef, which was a half success.

The sausage was well seasoned, perfectly made and full of flavour. While the other elements of beef and lamb were also nice, however, what let it down was the accompaniments of undercooked potato and carrots and overcooked vegetables.

Just give us the drinks

We opted for another round of drinks instead of dessert,  as nothing appealed to us. By this time the bar/restaurant had filled up considerably and there was actually other people eating!

The bill for a meal for two with drinks came in at just under £50. Which we thought was reasonable, however, the food was standard fare and nothing exceptional.

If you are in Camden, do not have any reservations and need a cheap meal then by all means stop by Made in Brasil. Set your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed.

Made in Brasil

Madeinbrasil.co.uk
Phone: +44 20 7482 0777

Cottons Rhum bar and restaurant Camden

cottons1We hit cottons on a busy Saturday night, on entering the establishment we were hit by a wave of reggae/bashment/Calypso music. The party was definitely in full swing and everyone was enjoying the cocktail menu.

This is an in-your-face venue, as due to the size, customers are literally on top of each other. I’m a fan of cosy and intimate restaurants so this didn’t bother me. But for those that want their own space and to not be overheard at the next table, this is perhaps not the restaurant for you. However, even with this in mind and if you are of this persuasion the food will quickly persuade you otherwise.

Cocktail?

Cottons Rum bar, has been in Camden Town for the last 30 years, established in 1985 it features over 300 different types of rum and a cocktail menu to die for. To come to cottons and not try one of the cocktails will truly be a sin.

I opted for a Mai Tai and my partner opted for the mojito, both were gorgeous, aged rum, lovely favours and got us into the party mood.

On being seated downstairs near the kitchen you are struck by the stripped down nature of the restaurants and the simple decor. Although quaint is perfectly acceptable. There are no frills or airs and graces yet it feels nice and authentic.

Food

Cottons is a Caribbean restaurant, so expect jerk and barbecue galore. I opted for the tempura Tilapia and king Prawns with a Tamarind-Guava sauce. Although the presentation wasn’t fantastic, the batter light, the fish full of flavour and the prawns cooked perfectly. The sauce complemented the overall dish perfectly.

My partner opted for a starter of barbecued chicken pieces, and this came smothered in barbecue sauce and a pineapple Mango salsa. Again cooked perfectly, smothered in barbecue sauce and extremely authentic.

So far so good. The cocktails now were really kicking in, and the food mixed with the alcohol was producing a nice buzz. 

cottons2Warning, if you are health-conscious this is perhaps not the place to go, at the time visiting I was on a no-sugar diet and that swiftly went out the window.

Main courses

For the main course I opted for a marinated grilled pork, in jerk barbecue sauce, this was served with root vegetables and rice and peas. The pork was pleasantly blackened, this gave it a depth of smokiness and flavour that you would associate with the cuisine, however, it did come off slightly drier than I would have liked.

My partner opted for the trio of Jerk Fish, which consisted of Parrot Fish, Tilapia and Cod (I think). This came with a green curry sauce and rice. It was reported that the fish was cooked perfectly, the words used were melt in your mouth, with the sauce complimenting the fish.

Onto cocktail number two and I went for a Tom Collins while my partner switched to a Mojito. Both very alcoholic, both very flavoursome.

Dessert

The dessert menu isn’t the most complex I have ever experienced, but is filled with simple dishes and traditional Caribbean fair. I opted for a trifle laced with a 30-year age rum, which ended up being shared between me and my dining partner. Although it didn’t appear as though it would be a complicated dish it turned out to be several layers of sticky, alcoholic loveliness.

If visiting cottons in Camden Town is on your agenda I would suggest the weekend and booking in advance as he gets very busy. There is usually either a live band or DJ and the party will almost definitely be in full swing. Prepare to leave your sensible self at the door and kick back with Calypso tunes and great food. With of course a few cocktails to help you on the way.

Cottons
Cottons Rhum Bar
Phone +44207 4858388

Shaka Zulu Camden

shaka zuluThe reviews I had read on Shaka Zulu described it as at worst bad and at best not so bad.  My dining partner and I were keen not to pre-judge this restaurant on the bad reviews that we had read and so sought some solace from our server, a young student who assured us that those that reviewed the restaurant simply came on the wrong nights.

First thoughts

First thoughts on the menu was that this restaurant isn’t cheap. Surprisingly also the wine list is somewhat lacking for a South African themed restaurant – considering this region is world renowned for its wines.

We tried the Peri-Peri Prawns with Chips for starters and Biltong, which is a sort of dried meat with a dip on the side. Both looked very presentable, however, the Prawns lacked any real taste and the Beef was extremely tough. Perhaps this is how the dish of Biltong is meant to be served, my partner and I however did not appreciate the chewiness of the Beef or the blandness of the Prawns.

Eating roadrunner

Moving onto the main I chose an ostrich rump at £20 and my partner opted for the Bobitie, a curry dish.

Again I was disappointed, my steak had next to no flavour and the texture was similar to that of an old shoe. In hindsight the chips weren’t too bad, but not the best by any stretch of the imagination. The curry I was informed was well seasoned, but lacking in any real depth of flavour or character.

As we entered the final stretch the only thing that was propping me up for the evening was the nice house red our server had recommended. Which although expensive for a house, was suitably full-bodied.

Desserts were much the same as what had come before and a limp and lifeless crème brûlée which resembled a soggy tart was served up alongside fried doughnuts that to me tasted of nothing but sugar.

Did I mention that this place is expensive!

As mentioned previously this restaurant isn’t cheap. When we went on a Wednesday evening the restaurant was only half full, of those that were there, most did look like they were happy to pay the prices.

The restaurant had a good ambience, the staff seemed happy, and although the food was absolutely terrible I enjoyed my wine and the ambience of the restaurant.Review Android Smartphone

shaka_zulu_2Verdict

If you’re looking for an experience on the eyes but not the taste buds Shaka Zulu could be for you.

If however like me, you enjoy good food, I would say stay away. The restaurant isn’t cheap – a meal for two with wine came in at just over £100 and we left slightly hungry.

How the restaurant plans on recouping its £5 million outlay I do not know and remains to be seen. However, if it attracts the type of clientèle that were patron-ising the bar area when we visited, it would seem that the food is secondary to the drinks and company.

Shaka Zulu
www.shaka-zulu.com
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Where to eat in Emsworth, Hampshire

36 On the Quay (Restaurant with Rooms)

Since buying the business in 1996, Karen and Ramon Farthing have built a reputation for providing outstanding cuisine and service, in a relaxing and comfortable environment. This restaurant, in a building dating from the 17th century, is situated on the quayside with views overlooking Emsworth harbour. Chef, Ramon has achieved one Michelin star status in three separate establishments during his time in the industry. Restaurant 36 On the Quay has achieved this accolade since 1996. In addition, they have received many other awards, including three AA rosettes (also since 1996), as well as being rated in the top ten percent of restaurants in the country.

The food served is modern British with a French influence. The lunch and dinner a la carte menus offer a wide-ranging choice, with fresh fish just one of the many speciality dishes. In addition, a separate garden menu is available for lunch during the summer months when the weather allows for alfresco dining on the patio courtyard area. And, for that special dinner, the ‘Little Big Option’ menu provides the opportunity to indulge in a gourmet ten-course tasting menu.

Ramon and Karen use local produce whenever possible.

Opening times:
Lunch Tuesday – Friday 12noon – 1.45pm
Dinner Monday – Saturday 7.00pm – 9.45pm

47 South Street, Emsworth, Hants PO10 7EG
(tel. 01243 375592/372257 fax. 01243 375593)

 

   Spencer’s Restaurant & Brasserie
Since opening in North Street in 1988, Spencer’s has built up and maintained a high reputation with its many local, and not so local, customers.

Owned and run by Chef Denis and his wife Lesley, the Restaurant and Brasserie offer an extensive a la carte menu.  All dishes are cooked to order using fresh produce and there is an emphasis on fresh fish.  A two course fixed price menu is also available at lunchtimes and early evening for those who prefer something lighter but just as tasty.  The restaurant and brasserie have a relaxed atmosphere and the service is friendly yet attentive.

Spencer’s Restaurant and Brasserie can be found in the AA Restaurant Guide and the Good Food Guide.

36-38 North Street, Emsworth, Hants PO10 7PA
Tel: 01243 372744 or 01243 379017
Also at:
14 Dragon Street, Petersfield, Hants, GU31 4JJ

 

Fat Olives
Emsworth’s’ newest restaurant opened by Lawrence and Julia Murphy in 2000 was awarded in that year, runner-up in “The Portsmouth’s’ News” Restaurant of the year.  Since then Fat Olives has developed a strong local following and has entries in the three main food guides.  Fat Olives, was again picked out in “The Portsmouth News” Restaurant of the year for awards for 2003.

At Fat Olives you will find a quaint 17 century fisherman’s cottage located in Emsworth’s conservation area, near the quay.  A clean simple designed interior of wooden tables & floor, with original open fireplace gives a warm & cosy environment.

The food is freshly cooked with modern English & Mediterranean influences, offering an individual priced menu for dinner and a two or three course menu at lunch times.  The menu changes on a seasonal basis, so you can enjoy the freshest and most local produce.

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday – and on warmer days enjoy alfresco dinning in the courtyard.

For reservations and more information contact Julia & Lawrence on: 01243 377914

Fat Olives
30 South Street, Emsworth, Hampshire PO10 7EH
Tel 01243 377914

 

The Hermitage Restaurant
Voted the “Best Value” Restaurant – The News, Portsmouth
“Other buzzy, well-run restaurants that combine fab food and good wine…………
The Hermitage restaurant at the Brookfield Hotel  offers peace and quiet in the formal restaurant, Warm informed service.


Opening times:

Lunch 12.30 – 2.00 pm (Monday to Sunday), Dinner 7.00 – 9.30 pm (Monday to Saturday), 7.00 – 9.00 pm (Sundays)

The Hermitage Restaurant
Brookfield Hotel, 93 Havant Road, Emsworth, Hants, PO10 7LF
Tel 01243 373363 Fax 01243 376342

 

Nicolino’s
Chef and Proprietor Nicolino first arrived in England in 1984 working as a chef in the well renowned restaurant and pub, the White Horse in Chilgrove. He opened Nicolino’s in 1993 and over the last ten years has built up an enviable reputation for good quality Italian food at down to earth prices. L’appetito buono

Nicolino’s
Italian Restaurant, 34 North Street, Emsworth PO10 7DG
01243 379809