Easter is truely just around the corner now as we head into April, but the days are getting longer and the temp is getting warmer so there's plenty more reason to get out and enjoy the day testing new food and drink venues. Here's the latest thefoodpeople loves... for March, highlighting some of the best places we've been this past month. In no particular order:
Absurd Bird in Soho
Who doesn't love fried chicken?! I went and tried out the vegan version of fried chicken and waffles at Absurd Bird, and was not disappointed! With so much spicy coating, delicious maple syrup and a very convincing texture, you honestly wouldn't know the difference. The only thing that could have made it better was to double the portion…
I finally got to check out Berenjak and wasn't disappointed. The home-style Persian approach isn't restricted to the cooking, the welcoming atmosphere, open kitchen and friendly staff create a sense of being hosted in a friend's home. While you could call the food informal, there is nothing laid back about the flavours. Each dish is perfect to share (or have to yourself!) and brings a whole new set of unexpected tastes and textures. The cucumber, fermented mint and coriander salad was a wonderful balance of crunch and juice with a deep hit of herb fragrance. The mast o esfenaj was the surprise delight, simply described as Greek yoghurt, spinach and garlic we tried it with the freshly charred bread, salads and kebabs and then wiped the plate clean!
For an afternoon tea enthusiast, Cliveden House is a must visit! While following traditional etiquette, the savoury selection of treats bring a unique twist to the experience and the pork and apple sausage roll was delicious! The setting in amongst the stunning National Trust gardens also deserved trip in its own right
Sarah W says:
Run by a Vietnamese couple who moved to the UK 13 years ago, it is a small, cosy restaurant serving delicious freshly prepared food. The braised tofu coconut curry was delicious as was the sharing platter that we all had to start including summer rolls lightly wrapped in rice paper. Home-made and relatively inexpensive, the meal was delicious, and I can't wait to go back.
Hoja Santa, Barcelona
We visited the Adria brothers' Mexican venue on the eve of the two concepts merging to become one - the more casual Niño Viejo and upscale Hoja Santa are now combined under the latter. The menu successfully achieved the balance of being true to the hand-held formats and sharing intrinsic to Mexican food culture, while also offering that original touch and added finish that you'd expect from an Adria restaurant. Pumpkin seeds were smoked, tacos artfully presented, Guacamole 'Ferran Adria style' was served inside its pestle and mortar and beef was sliced at our table.
Burnt Ends, Singapore
Australian chef Dave Pynt's Burnt Ends was a real highlight of our recent trip to Singapore. At the heart of this fire cooking concept is 'the beast' a four-tonne, two oven brick kiln that Pynt designed himself. The open kitchen counter dining only concept brings about a marriage of low and slow, fast and fierce cooking with the larder of Asia and Oceania. The result are dishes that are presented beautifully but simply, served informally but that deliver sensationally with many layers of flavour and texture in every dish. The highlight – Grissini and Taramasalata and the French Pigeon!
Holyrood Distillery "The Gin Shop", Edinburgh
Edinburgh used to have a swathe of whisky distilleries, but the city has not produced single malt whisky since Glen Sciennes closed in 1925. There still is one grain distillery left in the city, however, it is not really suitable (or romantic enough) for tourists. The Holyrood Distillery Project has set out to change all this. They have started to build the very first single malt distillery in the capital for almost 100 years, which is set to open to visitors in the summer. Until then they have to bridge the gap from when the whisky is distilled to when it can be sold (at least 3 years). Like many other new distilleries riding on the whisky boom, they have decided to make gin and sell in a little shop next to the distillery site. They have 4 on sale at the moment with flavours ranging from the classic juniper, angelica and coriander seed to hibiscus, cherry, rose and cinnamon. Our favourite was called "Auld Tam" which was made with fresh peach, Madagascan vanilla, chamomile, jasmine and orange flower and milk thistle seeds. If their whiskeys are anything like their gin, Edinburghers are in for a treat!
Pujol, Mexico City
My highlight of the month was eating the iconic 'Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo' at Pujol in Mexico City; a masterclass in complex (but understated) cooking... beyond delicious!
Compare Lapin, New Orleans:
James Beard Award winning chef Nina Compton is at the helm of Compere Lapin restaurant in New Orleans. Delicious Creole food with a hint of Caribbean, which comes from Nina's roots growing up in St Lucia. I can heartily recommend the Jerk chicken with collard greens and Tamarind jus followed by the roasted banana Zeppole with hazelnuts and Rum caramel, which didn't last long on the plate! All this and cute bunnies to look at.
Rosa's Thai Café, Spitalfields, London
Probably one of the best Thai restaurants I've been to. This small 'café' sat between Spitalfields Market and the Truman Brewery was on my to-do list for a while, and it did not disappoint. The Drunken Noodles were a hit, as were the curries … and the starters too, especially the Deep-Fried Lamb Patties and the tamarind dipping sauce alongside.