Wednesday, 27 October 2010

J Sheekey - St Martin's Court, WC2N

No Camera's or Mobiles if you please...
There are few places that really live up to their reputation and after last night I can see why people really do rave about J Sheekey. It was late, I was tired and the cold night was beginning to make me somewhat irritable. We arrived slightly early for our post theatre table and were greeted on the door by a smiling man with the most fabulous bushy moustache I’ve ever seen...

After the cold night outside the warm and welcoming interior was literally like a hug from a long lost friend that I didn’t know I had. The decor screams old school as you walk to your table; from the wood panel walls to traditional table dressing it all fits and feels very considered. There is nothing out of place and nothing that isn’t necessary.

Just sitting at the table feels like a bit of a treat; so coming here to celebrate a birthday fits perfectly. J Sheekey is essentially a fish and seafood joint, if you are not a fan of either you’ll probably be better served going elsewhere in all honesty. For me fish is not the first thing I’d order so choosing from the expansive menu took some time.

To start I went for the Razor Clams with Broad Beans and Chorizo. The Lady and I both had a bit of nightmare trying to prepare them a while back so it felt right to have them done properly. Sheekey’s serve them simply but quite elegantly on the shell, which visually was a bit of a delight. The Clams were well cooked and delicious alongside the earthy heat of the Chorizo and fresh green Broad Beans.

For mains I’d been torn on which direction to go as all the food going to the other tables had looked amazing. In the end I opted for what my belly told me. Smoked Haddock with Poached Egg, Leek Hash and a Coarse-grain Mustard Sauce. It was almost perfect, had there been some crunch on the plate as well texturally it would have been amazing. The components worked really well with each other and made for a really filling dish.

The Lady and her parents have an amazing and very admirable desire the eat everything in the sea so our other meals really did add to the body count on the table. The whitebait were expertly cooked and a very good portion size. The Fines de Claire Oysters were apparently very good but the mains were the most impressive. They’d gone for two of the whole Lemon Sole, expertly grilled on the bone and a huge Monkfish Tail perfectly steamed all served with delicious and buttery Hollandaise.

We’d sat to eat after 10 so by midnight the Champagne earlier in the evening alongside the two glasses of exquisite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc had put me into an extremely good mood. Sated and ready for bed we stumbled into the night to find our chariot home. J Sheekey is a definite treat, we’d come down to celebrate the Lady’s mums birthday and all the meals were spot on. The cooks at Sheekey’s definitely know how to grill, fry, steam and boil their fish so it comes highly recommended.

J Sheekey on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Rest is Noise - 442 Brixton Road, SW9

Going out for a pub lunch on a Sunday is one of those holy things that for me replaced going to Church a long time ago. You don’t do it every week but sometimes you just have to drag yourself out of bed and get out there.

The rules in my head are simple; you should always be hung-over, it should always be a roast and you should always have a paper. With this in mind we headed over to Brixton to meet the Producer who is now newly returned from Scotland.

The Rest is Noise is two minutes from Brixton Underground and walking in you are immediately hit by how trendy the place wants to be... Ornaments glued to the ceiling, graffiti art on the walls and kooky mismatched shit scattered about the place.

Going to the bar you are met by a wall of bric-a-brac and broken cameras, quite distracting in my slightly tender state but at least the barman was bright and friendly.

Bring on the roasted beasts... The three options on a Sunday are Half Roast Chicken, Roast Beef and Roast Loin of Pork. Fairly standard pricing from £7.50 onwards or two for £15.00.

I ask if there is any crackling with the Roast Pork... There is none. In honesty I’m not a happy man but I go ahead and order the pork thinking of the lovely fat I’ll be getting anyway. The Lady and the Producer go for the beef.

Sitting down we read the papers and chat, I take in the clientele. It’s an odd mix of trendies, 30 something’s and old men sitting on their own. Slightly confusing but we carry on drinking. I’m not really sure how long we had to wait for our food but I would hazard it could be considered too long.

The Beefs come out, the meat looks overcooked and the mammoth selection of vegetables could be considered excessive. Roast and Mashed Potatoes; Chanteray Carrots which hadn’t been scrubbed properly; Knackered Broccoli; Courgettes and bizarrely Baby Sweet corn. Now you might as well shit on my plate as I can’t stand baby fucking sweet corn...

The waiter explains my Pork will be a minute. 30 of them later when the Lady and the Producer have nearly finished the pork makes an appearance. By the look on the bar man’s face he knows this is not what you could call a good thing and apologises profusely before giving me my money back.

I’m really pleased that the guy knew there was a problem and took the appropriate steps to sort it out straight away and he should be commended for that.

The kitchen on the other hand doesn’t really deserve any commendation. The pork was watery, it had none of the joys of proper roast meat. The fat and skin were absent so there were no sticky, juicy or crunchy bits which make a proper roast.

The same sad selection of vegetables adorned the plate as well but at least the Yorkshire was a good representation of the Pudding. It was well risen and crispy, perfectly placed to mop up the gravy. The mash and roasties were pretty good as well.

The food overall in short was shit. The service though is good despite the fact the guys looked under pressure. I don’t know whether the kitchen was having a wobbler that day which may have put things out of kilter.

I always like to look at the positives and I would definitely come back for a drink here. The decor looks like it was put together by a set designer from the Hollyoaks school of crap but it’s fun, comfortable and it’s a good place to chill out and have a pint in...
 The Rest is Noise on Urbanspoon

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Meatwagon at the Towpath Festival

I don’t think I’ve ever been so eager to try a burger before as I’d been reading about The Meatwagon long before we made the move down to London. Yianni and his Meatwagon is normally only found in the Peckham area and is fast becoming a legend amongst the twittering classes.

It’s definitely already a favourite amongst those who have made the effort to track down this seemingly innocuous street vendor. So when I found out he was making a rare appearance North of the Thames I had to take the chance to get over and see what all the fuss was about!

The Towpath Festival was literally just that; A small festival perched on the towpath of the Regents Park canal, not far from Haggerston station and opposite the Towpath cafe.

In aid of Warchild the festival was an excellent way to spend an afternoon chilling out by the canal, listening to some music and filling our faces. We got there early and the orders were already flowing in.

You can probably guess that the first thing I did was join the queue? It’s clear every aspect of the burger has been thought about in great detail. The meat was cooked to perfection, beautifully rare, juicy and packed full of good ground beef.

The bread mopped up the sweet juices perfectly but held its own where other buns might have fallen apart. The cheese spot on; suitably plastic and the garnish was the perfect side to the majestically cooked meat.

All in all it was like no other burger I’d eaten before, I’d liken it more to a really good Steak Hache. It owes a lot to the quality of meat and the sheer thought that has gone into its production. If you haven’t tried the Meatwagon you really should...

The Meatwagon very successfully and simply takes something quite humble and turns it into the sublime just with a little attention to detail.

Monday, 4 October 2010

St John Bread and Wine - Commercial St, E1

I’m actually struggling to write this review without sounding like a school girl with a crush...  Every part of our meal at St John Bread and Wine was spot on, from start to finish.  We visited on a cold and rainy Friday evening; we’d been bickering between ourselves on the way.

I was being irrational and worried we were going to be late and didn’t want to miss the booking.  We got there with plenty of time to spare though and after being sat and getting some wine I settled down.  The Lady is an absolute saint to put up with me sometimes...

The menu at St John Bread and Wine is actually pretty confusing to the uninitiated. Split up into sections named 6pm and 7pm for some inexplicable reason.

Effectively though it’s a tapas style menu choosing what you fancy and the food comes as its ready. Not really knowing what to expect I think we under ordered to be on the safe side but what we got was amazing.

The Lady started off with 6 Oysters, they were for her and her alone. I can’t stand them or understand why people eat them, they looked cold and dead but for some reasons the Lady loved them. I monopolised the Middlewhite Faggot with Turnip Puree, I could have eaten a dozen of these.

The Faggot was beautiful, perfectly cooked and with the slightest hint of Livery Iron it was exquisite. The Puree was an absolute eye opener though, so smooth and so rich it went perfectly alongside the meaty Faggot goodness.

We also ordered the Pigs Head and the Cobb Chicken with Girolles. I think the lady was put off by the Pigs Head; little chunks of meat interspersed with gems of fat and chopped vegetables.

It was perfectly seasoned and packed full of flavour, for me delicious but the fat could be off putting for some. Imagine a loose Brawn, the sweet salty sauce begging to be mopped up with bread.

The Cobb Chicken with Girolles really was spot on as well. The leg and thigh almost confited and the breast perfectly cooked served with a jus made from the roasting juices and the mushrooms, we absolutely wolfed it down.

The meat vanished pretty quickly, it was hard to fault but at £23 for half a chicken it was on the expensive side but I imagine this was more down the amount of mushrooms used in the dish.

St John Bread and Wine has nailed it on the head for me, simple food served really well. Relaxed service, friendly and really approachable staff there is very little to fault and comes extremely highly recommended. I will definitely be back for more as I really don’t think it gets much better than this. Gush over...

St John Bread & Wine on Urbanspoon