Eating out

I love food and I love eating out. As does Mr S.

Due to stereotypes, our expectations of mid and cheap priced eating out in London weren’t too high but we were looking forward to a curry and a Jamie Oliver roast. 

As well as the curry from a curry house about which I’ve already posted, we ate at Masala Zone, a chain that serve thalis. These are stainless steel platters with little bowls with dahl, raiti, chutney, rice, vegetable curry, salad and the meat curry of your choice, papadum and chapatti. For about £15 each. Wasn’t enough for Mr S but I thought it was good. 

And the rest?

Mmm… Well. Yeah. 

We didn’t go to The Ledbury, a Michelin one hat, which was close to our accommodation. Degustation menu cooked by an Australian! I can do that at home. 

Mr S liked the Jamie Oliver Sunday roast. The manner of service was impressive. The roast for two is served like a mini buffet to your table and you help yourself. Carrots cooked in a bread shell. Meat on slate platter. For me, the view of St Paul’s was the best bit. And the carrots. But it’s a lot to pay for carrots. 

View from table at Jamie Oliver Barbecoa to St Paul’s.

So what didn’t impress me? Well, the price for what it was. And the meat had heaps of sinew and was very rare. I like meat rare but not a roast. Slow cooked and fall apart. Mr S liked the smokey flavour and the crispness on the outside and tender inside. I also don’t fancy creamed spinach. Nor cauliflower in a white sauce. I didn’t think there was enough potatoes for the amount of meat. Definitely needed more gravy. The little jug didn’t cover the meat, let alone the potatoes. 

And, although we booked, they couldn’t find our booking so we couldn’t have the roast lamb. (You have to book the roast 24 hours ahead.) They did have roast beef for us so could “fit us in”. But I really wanted to try British lamb. 

We ate a quick lunch at Cafe Concerto before The Book of Mormon. I ate the caramelised onion tartine: onion and goats cheese on toasted bread with rocket (and potato wedges which really didn’t go and I didn’t eat.) It was simple and delish. Could have had this again; and will copy it’s simple deliciousness at home. (Making my own caramelised onion chutney as we speak.) Mr S had he antipasto plate and found it more than satisfactory. 

My dish, half way through.

Wish I’d skipped the cafe at the Imperial War Museum. (Had cake and a cup of tea. Both pretty ordinary.)

Also wish I’d skipped dinner at The Cow. OK, glad I tried it because if we hadn’t gone I would have regretted it. But the pint of prawns! My god I got value for money. I kept having them repeat all night. They were pretty awful. If I hadn’t had a couple of glasses of prosecco, I wouldn’t have been able to finish them. Mr S thought they tasted like they looked – awful. The rest was pretty ordinary. Mr S also thinks the pub was well named as the waiter was beyond brisk, more like abrupt and rude. 

The pub dinner of sausages and mash at the pub opposite Hampton Court hit the mark on the cold day. But it’s not something I can’t do at home. 

We had a late lunch at the Grand Cafe at the Royal Exchange. Mr S had the seafood chowder. It was really good. (We seem to have struck a theme: get the soup. Remember we loved his soup at Westminter Abbey’s eatery.) And he thought the sausage and mash was great too. On the other hand my fish cake was disappointing. Quite dry and nothing to eat it with except aoli with horseradish and I’ve already told you I don’t like horseradish. And it came with a glob of spinach. Cooked spinach on its own is sort of swamp-like, don’t you think? What is it with spinach? Jamie’s roast had it. 

We had fancy pies with veg at a pub in the City. I thought it was a good pub meal. Washed down with a couple of pints. 

We had fish and chips at yet another pub in Portobello Rd which was good. The batter was crisp, the chips a bit too crisp. But it was a nice lunch. 

Given our success with soup we had the soup at a pub along the Grand Canal near Paddington. Carrot and chickpea. We lucked out. I couldn’t finish it. Maybe vegetarian soup isn’t the way to go? Without the broth, perhaps it lacks the depth of flavour? Very disappointing. 

Mr S wanted to go back to the Royal Exchange and have the chowder again. And I could have had another bowl of the fennel and celeriac soup from the Abbey. I know I won’t cook either of these as well. But there was nothing else we ate that I’d want to recreate or would crave back home. Come winter we will have gourmet sausages and mash – but that’s a staple winter dish. 

Mr S says I can’t say the food was pretty disappointing and not that good. He says it is too abrupt and inflammatory. He says I should say the food lived up to our expectations. Though we bristled at the cost.

Either way, you get the message. But it’s OK. We didn’t go there for the food. 

Now did I tell you about the raspberries and the apples? They were divine. If you’re from Australia, eat them in England. They beat ours hands down. 

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12 thoughts on “Eating out

  1. It’s great to actually remember what you tried. When I look back to our trip, we didn’t photograph our meals and I just can’t recall most of them (we cooked in a lot, too, though.)

    I do remember being surprised in Londin though that most of the places we tried left us very nonplussed. Melbourne really does ‘do’ food though. If we could just upgrade our crappy fried-food take-aways we’d have it right.

    One thing I really noticed was the quality of meat and fish in many places we visited. Travelling really opened my eyes to the very high quality and relatively good price of our produce here.

    • The best thing about eating in London was I didn’t cook once. Which meant no shopping, no prep, no washing up. (OK, we did all of that for the breakfasts and snacky foods we bought, but no major dinner cooking.) Didn’t miss cooking once.

      Yes, our produce is great. My English cousin, who lived half his life in Australia, warned us not to order steak. He said we’d be disappointed. Too late. Mr S had already ordered one. And, yes, he was disappointed. I had the fish which was lovely. (At the Abbey. Still wished I’d had the soup.)

    • And nonplussed. That’s the right word to describe our overall eating out. Though my mother says we shouldn’t be given Aussie food was the same before the influence of the non-British migrants.

  2. Well, as a non-vegan vegetarian, I always find the quality of the milk, cream and cheese to be excellent in the UK, and I love all the pies and rocket salads, and curries, and mushy peas! I also like that you can get local fruit and berries in desserts (puddings!) like rhubarb, currants and gooseberries, which are completely non-commercial here. The first time I went to the UK, my biggest surprise was that it’s hard to get cheap, greasy pub food; it was all upscale, local/fresh food in gastropubs.

    • Oh, yes. Milk and cream is divine. Much richer than ours. I was hoping for more puddings with local berries and fruit. (My English neighbour made a lamb roast with rhubarb, apple and plum crumble. Rhubarb was from her garden. It was lovely.)

      I think it was the price for what is was compared to what we’re used to. Went through a phase here where rocket as served with everything. (Monday night I made a Thai beef salad with a ton of rocket, served with Hokkien noodles. Delish. Well, for a non-vegetarian family. And one large steak fed my whole family.)

  3. Going out to eat is one of our favorites too. No dishes and we talk more than we do eating at home. It’s too bad some of the meals weren’t too great but the produce surprises me. Maybe because it’s still so early for fresh produce around here. I’m in the mood for an apple now 🙂

    • I don’t know much (anything) about British farming so can’t say if the apples and raspberries were grown under plastic.

      My toung at just asked how long till mandarins are back in season. But I am hopeless at remembering fruit seasons/months. Soon, I answered. And I just got an email from my fruit and veg shop – rockmelons (cantaloupes to you, I believe?) are in. Love a fresh rockmelon.

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