Posts for the 'Below £20' Category


Skip Garden by Global Generation

Skip Garden

Skip Garden

The Skip Garden was established in 2009 by Global Generation, a charity launched in 2004 whose core purpose is to inspire and empower young people to develop a living relationship with the natural world and to take a lead in generating positive environmental and social change in their communities.

The Skip Garden is the base for the Global Generation’s youth work programme and is located within the King’s Cross development site. It is a portable urban garden where a variety of organic vegetables, herbs and fruits are grown out of both skips and polytunnels made out of reused materials from the surrounding construction site. It is at the garden that the young people are trained in leadership and accredited vocational business and horticultural programmes, whether it be working on the garden or building furniture.

One of the skips in the Skip Garden

One of the skips in the Skip Garden

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Wahaca Westfield White City

Wahaca, the Mexican street eat restaurant chain started by the 2005 Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, is one of my favourite cheap eats in London. Wahaca do some key things really well. Their vibe is relaxed and chilled, the ingredients they use are always fresh, and the dishes are refreshingly appetising. You can also expect a general level of consistency in the food no matter which branch you visit as most of the prep is done in the centralised Wahaca kitchen on Charlotte Street before being distributed to the various Wahaca branches. And best of all the food is really reasonably priced. And did I mention the yummy cocktails?

We visited the Wahaca at the very smart Westfield White City, perfectly located for a bite to eat after a spot of shopping. We kicked of with some drinks, heading straight for the interesting Tequila Experience (£10.65) which consisted of three separate tequila shots. First up was the cold sharpness of the Calle 23 Blanco which served as an aperitif washed down with sangrita. Next was the Reposado, a tequila with a light and woody flourish that we slowly savoured during the meal. To finish, we had the Añejo Calle 23, an aged tequila which was smooth and mellow with a nice finish. We also really adored the refreshing and not too sweet passionfruit margarita (£6.25).

Wahaca tequila experience and guacamole

Wahaca tequila experience and guacamole

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L’Eto Caffe

L’Eto Caffe operates a string of six venues in London, all of which serve a pre-prepared display of savoury items, sumptuous looking cakes, baked goods and a variety of hot and cold drinks, all of which are available for either take out or eat in. The savouries are sold by weight (about £2.80 per 100gm) and include the likes of Georgian aubergines with pomegranate, walnuts and coriander, and baby spinach salad with goat’s cheese, dried cranberries and nuts. The Kings Road and Belgravia branches also have an à la carte selection of starters and mains for those seeking something prepared to order.

We were in the Kings Road branch after a spot of shopping and we found it to be an inviting location with bright colours and mouthwatering salads on display. The salads looked great but we decided to try the à la carte menu instead with our first starter being a crab and avocado salad with soy and lime dressing (£16). The crab in the salad was lovely and the avocado was ripe and tasty. The dressing was decent and not too overpowering, although slightly less soy and more lime might have achieved a better balance of flavours between the two.

L'Eto Caffe - Crab salad

Crab salad

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Tapas Revolution

Tapas Revolution is the brainchild of Spanish Chef Omar Allibhoy who noteable includes Ferran Adria’s El Bulli on his CV. With a desire to spread the word on tapas in the UK, Tapas Revolution was borne – both a cookbook and a restaurant chain which sees two branches to its name, one in Westfield’s Shepherd’s Bush, and the other in Bluewater. You can find Tapas Revolution in the centre of the mall surrounded by shops rather than the Southern Terrace ‘restaurant strip’ at Westfield’s. And rather than being a sit-in restaurant, the outlet has been designed as an uncovered eatery where diners perch on bar stools around a rectangular bar area.

Tapas Revolution

Tapas Revolution

The highlight of our meal was the hams. Jamón ibérico de bellota Guijuelo (£8.95), an Acorn-fed Iberian ham voted the 2013 IFFA best ham in the world, was excellent. Full of flavour, it was also a generous portion for the price. Also tasty was the 18 month cured jamón serrano del consorcio (£5.25), which was again very reasonably priced for both the quality and quantity.

Jamón ibérico & toasted tomato bread

Jamón ibérico & toasted tomato bread

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Clockjack Oven

It’s such a simple concept, a restaurant that serves one key ingredient – chicken. I mean other than vegetarians, who doesn’t like chicken? The concept is grander than fast food – its chicken done with style – rotisserie style rather than deep-fried. All the chicken served at Clockjack Oven is free-range and comes in the choice of pieces, sandwiches or in salads. There is also a selection of starters and sides to liven up the menu.

It’s a pleasant, friendly looking restaurant although space is a bit of a squeeze. There is a mixture of tables including bar stools by the bar, long tables for big groups and tables outside. The most interesting part of the décor is the rotisserie that sits behind the bar. It’s in plain view of all the diners and you get to watch the chickens cooking as you eat.

For starters we tried some chicken bites (£5.95) which had been marinated in buttermilk, coated in seasoned gram flour and lightly fried. These were really moist and crispy and were scrumptious with the dipping sauces. We tried the ranch, BBQ and chilli sauces, all of which were delicious, particularly the ranch with its creamy, herby and garlicky tones.

Chicken bites

Chicken bites

The BBQ chicken wings (£4.95) were also delicious, being moist and lavished with the tastiest of BBQ sauces. The herb bites (£3.95), crispy sage and onion balls, didn’t appeal however as they didn’t deliver a great sage or onion flavour.

BBQ chicken wings

BBQ chicken wings

We moved onto the rotisserie chicken which comes in either three (£6.95), four (£8.95) or ten (£18.95) pieces. However I was also told it was possible to order one or more pieces should you wish to supplement your order.

There’s the option of brown or white meat, or both, and I went for all brown. The chicken was nice. There was a good flavour and it wasn’t dry. But then again it wasn’t superbly moist either, probably due to the fact that it had been kept warm in a holding dish for a little while after coming down from the rotisserie.

Chicken pieces

Chicken pieces

But we loved all the sides that came with it. The double cooked chips (£3.25) were absolutely fabulous and super crunchy, surprising for chips that had only been cooked twice (rather than three times). The tomato and red onion salad was also good with lots of juicy red cherry tomatoes (£3.95) and little bits of fresh, aromatic basil which helped to lift the salad. And the house coleslaw (£3.35) was really nicely done. The cabbage was crunchy and the dressing was neither too rich nor overpowering.

Salad and fries

Salad and fries

Colesaw

Colesaw

A lemon tart with crème fraîche (£4.95) proved to be a generously sized portion. The tart was zingy, but it was also too sweet and the pastry was rather soft. However the Purbeck Dorset ice cream (2 scoops £2.95) was really yummy. We tried the vanilla and clotted cream chocolate flavours and both were very good.

Lemon tart

Lemon tart

Ice cream

Ice cream

For such a small outfit I was really impressed by the care and quality behind the preparation of the food. And there were lots to like, not just in the chicken but also in most of the starters and the sides. The restaurant was super noisy when it got busy and it was a little short on front of house staff. But that aside, the food was really reasonably priced. All in all Clockjack Oven was a great low key place to scratch your chicken itch and it also seemed like a fun place for large groups.

Summary Information

Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3/5

Price range: About £20 for three courses, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.clockjackoven.com/

Clockjack Oven on Urbanspoon

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Shoryu Ramen Soho

Ramen noodles are all the rage at the moment. In the last year or so London has seen the opening of such ramen houses (or ‘ramenya’ as the Japanese like to call them) as Bone Daddies and Tonkotsu. I can’t work out whether these openings have either fuelled the ramen craze or were in response to the craze, but competition can only mean standards remain high and that translates to good news for the diner. Another addition is Shoryu Ramen which is owned by the same people as those who own the Japan Centre on Regent Street. Now these people know a thing about Japanese food, and the success of the first branch of Shoryu Ramen on Regent Street has led to the recent opening of their second branch, Shoryu Ramen Soho.

It’s a no reservation restaurant but there were no queues when we popped along on a Monday night. It’s a lovely little space, modern and comfortable with nice thoughtful touches such as the wicker baskets placed under each of the tables for ladies handbags. And in addition to the condiments on top of the tables, there’s also a basket brimming with fresh garlic and some garlic crushers should you choose to enhance the flavour of your tonkotsu broth.

Garlic to flavour your broth

Garlic to flavour your broth

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John Salt

Note: Chef Neil Rankin has now left John Salt.

Ben Spalding cooked some amazing food when he was at Roganic. But a year or so into his tenancy he parted ways and headed to the kitchen of John Salt. I would have loved to try the creations Spalding came up with during his time at John Salt since his cooking was sublime. But this was not to be, as he didn’t stay on for very long. Hard to say what happened, but he seemingly did not part on good terms. Anyway it matters not because new Chef Neil Rankin has come into the kitchen with all guns blazing to create an electrifying menu with a Korean twist. Chef Rankin use to be the head chef at Pitt & Cue, receiving rave reviews in the process. I never got to try his cooking at Pitt & Cue on account of being deterred by the queues, so I was really looking forward to this experience.

John Salt has a punchy vibe to it. The restaurant use to be a bar, and the long bar area on the ground floor remains with some tables dotted around. Upstairs on the mezzanine level there is a quieter dining area. The restaurant has an industrial feel to it and the space suits the boldness of the menu.

We started with a cod with foie gras sauce and blood orange (£7) that was beautifully cooked. The sauce was wonderfully rich and smooth, even if it was a little salty. The blood orange added an interesting citric twist to the dish and worked really well in binding all the elements of the dish into something harmonious.

Cod, foie gras sauce, blood orange

Cod, foie gras sauce, blood orange

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Caravan King’s Cross

The shabby area behind King’s Cross use to house the late night clubbing set. But in recent times this has been regenerated into something unrecognisable. Gone is the dinginess, and in its place is a rejuvenated Granary Square laden with fountains and a reinvigorated Granary Building. A Grade II listed structure; the Granary Building plays home to the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design as well as Caravan King’s Cross, the second branch of the Caravan restaurants (the original being on Exmouth Market).

The interior of Caravan King’s Cross is as gorgeous as the luminous façade of the Granary Building. It smacks of industrial warehouse glam and is modern and striking. The airy ceiling space gives it a heightened sense of chic, and the restaurant does well to create the promise of an edgy New York dining experience. It’s the kind of place that immediately draws you in as you walk through the door. But where the restaurant comes up trumps in terms of design, it conversely falls short on the food. The menu possessed hints of creativity but unfortunately the cooking was left somewhat wanting.

A starter of mackerel fillets (£6.50) was nicely cooked and moist, albeit a little salty. It came with a creative combination of seaweed, cucumber, sesame and a moromi miso dressing, but it too, was over seasoned. Shame really as this could have been a rather nice dish.

Mackerel fillet

Mackerel fillet

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