Small Plates Dinner – Elliot’s Cafe, Borough Market

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Invited Boom out for dinner last Wed as I needed a partner in crime to join in trying out this restaurant near Borough Market. I walk pass Elliot’s Cafe near Borough Market everyday and am intrigued by the ever changing menu.

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Looking at some of the more “adventurous” ingredients used, I reckon I needed someone who is always happy to stretch his palate. Boom has always been the best candidate on such culinary missions!

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After examining the menu and the specials on the blackboard in detail, we both decided that the large plates and the specials did not appeal that night. So we decided on a few small plates, a carafe each of the house white and red wine to match the variety of small plates and the baked on site bread.

I won’t pain myself to recall the exact names of all the small plates but from what I can remember, they were

  • Mullet gravalax with apple
  • Mussels with nduja
  • Pork Head kromeski
  • Deviled ox tongue
  • Steak tartare
  • Squid with curry and cauliflower puree

The bill came up to be close to £90 but we both thought that in all, the meal was worth it but obviously not something we will do everyday!

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I will cover a couple of the small plates in more detail. As usual, we started eating once the food arrive and only then I remembered to take pics. There are 4 kromeski in total, with 2 already on each of our plates. When asked, the server explained that the pig’s head is stewed then whatever available flesh is shredded, combined and shaped into a croquette. It was indeed crunchy and we wished we could have a couple more though I thought the meat a tad porky for those who don’t like the taste.

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I was glad I insisted on ordering the deviled ox tongue. The ox tongue was cooked till tender but still maintaining a slight bite. The deviled sauce was tart, slightly sweet and rather tangy and the baked on site brown bread was perfect to perform sauce mop up duty

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The mussels with nduja is one of London’s Top 10 dishes according to Timeout magazine and indeed it packs a punch! The mussels were cooked just right and the chewy flesh contrasted nicely with the spicy, savoury sauce. Boom noted that it is not unlike the chili mussels we have in Asia and I concur.

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The steak tartare was the dud of the night I have to say. We could not discern much seasoning in it apart from the mustard sauce on top. It definitely does not have any capers or much shallots. Instead of chips, it was served with crisps which feels like a bit of a cop out.

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From zero to hero! For me,  the highlight of the evening’s meal was the squid with curry and cauliflower. Was surprised when the dish turned up as the curry referred to curry leaves while the cauliflower is in puree form. When consumed separately, each of the components were just what they were. But when combined, the subtlety of the parts somehow are amplified. The curry leaves tastes more curry like, the cauliflower puree taste sweeter and you appreciate the texture of the well grilled squid more somehow.

I’m going to attempt cooking the mussels with nduja this weekend and will be sure to post the results.

Elliot’s Cafe
12 Stoney Street
Borough Market
London SE1 9AD
0207 403 7436

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Fish and Chip – The Crown at Bray, Bray

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Had some spare time during the weekend and decided to go on a small excursion. Have been exploring the small villages and towns where I live and this week, the plan was to checkout Marlow then eventually ending up in Bray for lunch. The weather being pissy, did not managed to explore much of Marlow after all but did managed to have a constitutional walk along the river at Henley.

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Wanted to make lunch reservations at The Hinds Head but they were fully booked! Noticed there is a new addition to Heston’s empire just down the road from The Hinds Head so decided to book a table there instead. According to Wikipedia and the pub’s site, Heston bought The Crown at Bray in 2010 and I think it makes sense. Imagine if I am the proprietor of The Crown at Bray, how on earth am I suppose to compete with Heston? As for Heston, another joint in the village serves to cater to the spillage from The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head which was precisely my situation.

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The pub itself is small, dark and slightly claustrophobic with the low dark beams. Luckily, we were seated by the window and was bless with some sunlight.

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I was toying between the Roast Chicken Breast with Confit Chicken Leg or the Fish and Chip. But £18 for chicken? I pumped for the fish while Tweet being his usual boring self went with the Longhorn Cattle Burger, with cheese of cos! The Fish and Chip was £14.75 while the burger was £12.50. Pretty steep I think but it’s Heston!

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So was the food worth the price and Heston hype? Let’s start with Tweet’s burger. The burger patty was nice and thick, cooked to a nice medium and juicy with a strong chargrilled, smoky flavour. The brioche bun it was served in was well toasted and not the sweet kind which is a good thing. On the menu, the burger was served with chips and it turned out to be the french fries kind. Nice and crunchy but not as nice as the triple cooked chips that came with the Fish and Chips.

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One to my choice. The fish had a nice light batter, perhaps slightly too oily but was crispy and tasty. The fish itself was moist and flaky, not sure what fish it is though, don’t think it’s cod? The minted crushed peas was refreshing but I could do with a bigger portion. The homemade tartar sauce went very nicely with the fish. The star of the dish was the triple cooked chips! They were so good that the Tweet kept swapping his french fries chips for my version.

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As you can see from the total bill, it was not a cheap lunch. During the meal, the Tweet and I discussed the premium one has to pay to get good food. My opinion is that I don’t mind paying slightly more for well cooked food but somehow, I feel that the quantum of improvement on taste most times does not justify the price premium you have to pay. Don’t remember whether the Tweet concurred, but then again, he eats to live while I live to eat!

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The Crown at Bray
High Street
Bray Maidenhead
Berkshire SL6 2YE
01628 621936

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P/S: Not that I have been, tried to make reservations several times but no luck. At least I managed to take some pictures of it!
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Meatball Rice Box – Leon, Bankside

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Got off my lazy butt and took a walk to continue my forage for lunch. Headed out to the Bankside development again to give Leon a try.

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I have came across Leon quite a few times during my other gigs in Canary Wharf as well as in the Fleet Street area. Never thought to give it a try though they have quite an interesting breakfast menu. Was told by others that the food is good but portions are a bit small for the money.

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The format is basically a few savoury options where you can have with rice, as part of a salad or in a wrap. There is also a fridge area where you can pick up drinks and pre made salad if you are in a rush. The decor and seating looks pretty cosy I have to say.

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Been awhile since I had rice and I have always favoured brown rice. So it’s the Meatball Rice Box for me today. At £6.30, it’s slightly on the steep side.

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In all, I counted 6 meatballs and I really enjoyed them. Slightly on the lean side but they are nice and moist. The rich, tart and tangy tomato sauce goes very well with the brown rice and the yoghurt dressing gives a nice creamy touch. The coleslaw combined very well with the meatball, sauce and brown rice. It’s crunchy, slightly sweet and the ample mint and parsley was very refreshing. Perfect companion to the rich tomato sauce.

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Enjoyed this lunch, the portion was just right but could be slightly cheaper.

Leon
7 Canvey Street
The Blue Fin Building
London SE1 9AN

Filet-o-Fish Meal and Cheeseburger – McDonalds, Ruislip High Street

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You guys must think I’m out of my mind or running out of things to blog that I got desperate! Who on earth would want to read about McDonalds? Well, apart from the one in Sharm El Sheikh with the super size menu. Hear me out though, precisely the fact that it’s so common, I was thinking no one would bother blogging about a run of the mill McDs. Being contrary you see…

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I know McDs has been expanding their menu and adding healthier options but nothing compares to the original items like Big Mac, Quarter Pounder etc. There are so many options now, it’s mind boggling!

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Anyway, it’s WFH today and was craving for a 99p cheeseburger from McDs. Seem  a tad mean just to get 2 cheeseburgers so I threw in a regular Filet-o-Fish Meal deal as well. The regular meal was £4.29 while the cheeseburger was 99p each from the Saver Menu. Total bill was £6.27, not cheap eh?

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Funny how I always order Filet-o-Fish nowadays when I shun it back in Singapore. Guess I wanted something light and non beef to counter the cheeseburger. I especially like the soft steam buns and the tangy tartare sauce.

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As for fries, I highly recommend you have them with the sweet curry sauce if you have not tried it before. I still miss the garlic chilli sauce in the Singapore McDs but curry sauce is the next best thing.

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The one thing I absolutely hate is when they don’t “align” the cheese slice properly in the cheeseburger. You end up with melted cheese on the paper wrapper which feels like such a waste. But when you try to pry the melted cheese away from the wrapper, pieces of it gets torn off with the cheese. I thought McDs have a uni which train the staff exactly how to put their burgers together?

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Would seem like the McDs Monopoly is back again. I have never been a fan but the Boom was when he was a kid. Don’t mind the instant win prices though… Have anyone of you strike it big in the mcDs Monopoly?

McDonalds
144 High Street Ruislip
London HA4 8LJ
01895 632 787

Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza – Domino’s Pizza

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Sometime last year, the Boom came across the limited edition Hot Dog Stuffed Crust pizza from Pizza Hut. With hype from media stating that it is available in the UK but not in the States, the Boom insisted on trying it. So we braved the pizza delivery but alas, it was not to be. The order came without the hot dog stuffing… we were devastated.

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Fast forward to last week when I riffled through the regular weekly junk mail filled with takeaway menus, discount vouchers and found something from Domino’s Pizza. Guess what? Domino’s are having their own version of Hot Dog Stuffed Crust pizza! Determined to have my satisfy my unrequited soiree with the Pizza Hut version, made a date with Boom to give Domino’s version a try on the weekend.

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Apart from deciding which flavour of pizza to have, the next trickiest thing is to decide which deal gives you the most worth. After some tedious mental acrobatics, figured out that the £10 off orders over £25 if ordered online is the best deal.

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We decided on a half and half pizza of The Sizzler and Deluxe which was £17.99 + £2.50 for the hot dog and mustard stuffed crust and 7 Frank’s Hot Wings for £4.75. Total came up to £25.24 before the £10 discount. I never order pizza takeaway or have a sit down pizza without some form of discount on hand. The discounts are so readily available that it is a sin not to use them!

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So was the Hot Dog Stuffed Crust all it was hyped up to be? Well, it is a pizza with a frankfurter stuffed in it’s crust. It was not unpleasant but nothing great as well. The hot dog casing could have more bite and we detected only a slight hint of mustard. Would I have it again now that my curiosity has been satisfied? Nah!

Domino’s Pizza
Delivery available country wide

Hot Dog, Coke Float and Chips – Tate Modern Cafe, Bankside

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At long last, the sun is out! So I went for a short walk to the Tate Modern Museum which is just down the river from me. I know there is a cafe at Tate Modern so was hoping to see whether I can grab some lunch from there.

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If you approach Tate Modern from the riverside, you can see the facade of the main cafe on the right hand side of the imposing building. Entrance is within the museum itself along the turbine hall. I was pretty surprised that it’s quite a big space and was glad the server gave me a seat with the view of the river.

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A Lichtenstein retrospective is running at the Tate Modern so apart from the normal lunch menu, there is also a special Lichtenstein inspired menu on offer. Did not fancy any of the items on the main menu so I went for the Hot Dog, Coke Float and Chips on the special menu. At £10 for 3 items, it’s not such a bad deal considering it is a sit down lunch with proper service.

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First up was the Coke Float. I think I have ever only had Root Beer float but that was yonks ago and thoroughly enjoyed this rendition with Coke. The vanilla flavour soften the acidity of Coke and gave it a vanilla taste not unlike the Root Beer version. Tempted to buy some ice cream and Coke tonight for a rerun.

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The chips was crunchy on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside. The freshly ground sea salt goes great with it. Do use sea salt as compared to normal table salt with freshly fried chips when possible, it really makes a difference.

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Lastly, the hot dog which is served with apple slaw and crispy fried onions  on a small baguette. The term “inspired” is totally adequate for this as it feels like an English version of an American hot dog, at least I was warned. The hot dog is a sausage which in itself is ok, coarsely ground filling seasoned with herbs but it is definitely not a snappy frankfurter. The baguette was a tad irritating as I was expecting a soft and fluffy hot dog bun. I would expect more tang from the apple slaw while the fried onions was what it is.

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Ok, ok! The menu did say “inspired” and perhaps I’m being too harsh. I will just close my eyes and think of it as a sausage baguette! At least the view was worth the price of the meal!

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Tate Modern Cafe
Bankside
London SE1 9TG
0207 401 5014