Fun from the foodie festival,

My tickets to Blackheath foodie festival were courtesy of ABK-Beer Events sellers of beer and pretzels.

So this is an odd blog to write… because I always think of you guys reading this to decided where to visit next in Greenwich… but I’m guessing you’re going to have difficulty getting back to the foodie festival to check out these recommendations until next year. Or find out where the foodie festival moves next…

Savories were my favourite in the whole visit. Absolutely perfect was the Caribbean stall’s jerk chicken which was delicious and according to my husband who brought it home from me to tempt me into the festival when I wasn’t well (just call him the pied piper healer of Greenwich) was prepared very healthily, and my husband don’t lie, he don’t!

Caribbean food at the Blackheath foodie festival

 

 There’s only one way to tackle a foodie fair… full of no end of exciting options. And that’s to have a three course meal with drinks, followed by shopping. That seems to be the only way to feel that you’ve made the most of your ticket without feeling rather ill. So for starters we had oysters and (despite this being brunch) champagne. These stalls were rather cleverly set out next to each other, leaving me sitting in my arm chair, one glass in each hand, trying not to warm it, whilst waiting for the oyster queue to go down. The oyster stall sold both farmed and natural oysters, proving that the latter are far superior… and I feel a bit sad that I can never ever eat farmed oysters with the same enjoyment again (or at least until next month…)

And the Indian street food was fantastically delicious. 

Sweet things were focussed on special diets.. a lot of gluten free. Having many celiac friends, I am happy that there are an increasing amount of options available to them… but I’m not sure that there were many options at all for non-special-dieters. There was the occasional pretty traditional cake stand, that (as is so often the case) failed to live up to its chintzy promises in taste and I ended up going for the bubble waffle ice cream store… a great idea of turning an actual bobbly waffle into a cone and filling it with ice cream. Sadly the flavour combinations promised much, but the delivery was not far off from school canteen fare.

 The other disappointment of the day included the rather arch shop sellers in the Greek olive stall though. They were determined to pack large orders into bags, despite being asked to do smaller, racking up a bill of £30 on lemons and olives that were mouldy by the end of three days. I should have walked away.

But we had lots of exciting flavours from this cheese store. Aged mozzarella, and hard goats cheese that we took home and finished off far too quickly, along with this Spanish crisp bread that may well be intended to be eaten dry, but was particularly delicious with proper butter.

Cheese and Crackers

Multidimensional viewing

A Review of Gail’s Bakery in Blackheath SE3

Sometimes I am lazy. Sometimes the likes of Jamies’s Italian and Cau hit the streets of SE3 and SE10 but take me a whole six months to get around to visiting (not that either of them were worth it). But I was a little spurred into action by the heaving contents of the ginormous Gail’s Bakery. It looked like I was about the only resident of Blackheath who had not visited the Bakery within three days of its opening. This just was not on!

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So despite being on something of a health drive at the moment, I forced myself through those doors and to the delightful view within.

The three layers of Bakery layout is a very clever design. Now I know that this is very similiar to the design that was Prime Videos (but different from India Jane, I think?), but for a Bakery it creates wonders – Multidimensional viewing: look up, see happy baked-food-eaters, framed by the hanging wares of the bakery. Look down, see the evidence of onsite bakery with gratuitous piles of appetising breads to one side. Look in the middle, and you get sandwiches, patisserie cakes, breads, baked things. There is a significant message here: there is bakery going on all around. Don’t be left out. Get in quick.

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So in summary, our plate held a buttery light fruit cake with cinnamon and almonds. I ate the marzipan separately (never grew up, see). Marks out of five: 4. And a ginger nut that verged on a little cake. It was ginger nutty, invitingly brown and crystallised with sugar. Marks out of five: 5. We ate it with a capuccino that was nice and flavoursome.

We came home with a tiny buttery (i know I already said it) Mexican wedding cake that seemed like it should be olive oily, but had that nice understated not too cakey element to it; what should have been a quinoa sourdough, which although delicious seemed to contain large seeds that did not resemble quinoa – any enlightment to offer me Blackheath? and a sausage roll that in the words of my husband, did compete with the sausage rolls from Hand Made Food. You heard it here first. (Really you did, I scanned the Bugle’s blog to make sure there was no reference to sausage roll).

3 Blackheath Village
London, SE3 9LA
Opening hours
Monday-Friday 7am – 8pm
Saturdays & bank holidays 8am – 8pm
Sunday 8am – 7pm

I have never asked for lobster before

A review of Locale, Blackheath SE3

It seems that sushi is stalking me, trying to taunt me with it’s coldness, or convince me that it is actually the best dish ever. I maybe should have been less publicly mean about it on the blog, but seeing as I’m here: it’s not working Sushi! back off!

The reason for this outburst is that I recently sauntered into what I believed to be an Italian restaurant and was handed a sushi menu. Fortunately I was also handed the more expected grill and pasta menu, so I kind of hid the sushi menu underneath this. In fact, to distract myself even further, I asked about the £15 menu advertised on the road outside, sending the waitress off for some time on a reconnaissance mission,

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It’s probably worth mentioning that the waitress’ absence meant that we were the only people in the restaurant. Yes I really do mean that, 4 of us sat around a table in the middle of the large and spacious Locale. We noted that Locale seems to have had a face lift, as it is now draped inside and out with blocks of green and black. This may explain the sushi, but I don’t quite follow the logic here.

The £15 menu returned to us, offering a half lobster or steak with prosecco which seemed like a pretty good deal. I went for the half lobster.

I have never asked for lobster before, but I was emboldened by the lack of just plain anyone else in the restaurant to see or overhear. “If I order the half lobster,” I said to the waitress, “I might just have to call you up to tell me how to eat it.”
The waitress looked perturbed. “I have served lobster before. But I have never eaten it.” She confided. Then she looked happier. “I will ask my colleague to break it for you.”
Ah… There is a colleague hiding in the kitchen, that made at least 2 other people in the restaurant other than us.

Despite the promise of broken half lobster, the following arrived at the table.

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I looked at the waitress. She looked back. “My colleague. She will break it for you.” She tried to reassure me.

The lobster arrived duly broken and I have to say it really was delicious with a deep grilled almost steak like taste… And lots of green stuff. Sorry, is lobster innard green, or was that pesto? I did however need to use the skinnier of the two implements to pull flesh out of the claw, but this makes me feel like I have learned something new.

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We’d added onion rings onto the order. We didn’t need to, despite the offer menu, there was little in way of scrimping in the portions and I’d indulged in cake at elevenses, (well half past tenses). In fact all offers came with chips as sides. And do you know what? they were really good chips. Do you remember me complaining about how bad restaurant chips can be?
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Well these were fantastic. Unfortunately the elevenses and the onion rings meant that we couldn’t finish the chips. It turns out that there is a chip limit. My husband says he missed this memo.

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I didn’t let the chip limit keep me from dessert. On fact I tried a fair few items to breach the chip limit (to no avail). I went for a simple Affogato which as any pizza express will tell you is ice cream with espresso. I don’t think that we have discussed Affogato here before, but I do like it’s simplicity very much. This one came with a a shot of frangelico as well as coffee, but also came with too much ice cream, not allowing true drowning in coffee, leaving ice (cream) bergs. There ought not be bergs in Affogato in my opinion. And while the addition of frangelico sounded good on the menu, in addition sweet ice cream to offset the bitter espresso, I’m not 100% sure this didn’t crush the sweet bitter balance.

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I left Locale totally unperturbed by sushi (did you get that message sushi?! UN-PER-TURBED) but I have one question that has stayed with me since… Given I was the only half lobster eater in the restaurant, who ate the other half?

1 Lawn Terrace, Blackheath Village, London, SE3 9LJ
Tel: 020 8852 0700
Opening Times:
Monday to Friday: 5:00pm – 23:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12:00noon – 23:00pm

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The last coffee shop in Blackheath

Morden’s, Tranquil Vale Blackheath SE3.
(Not strictly a coffee shop, but this was the angle I was reviewing from)

Morden’s has had day time patisserie and coffee advertised outside of it for ages. The last time I attempted to go in, I was tweeted not to do it, that Morden’s was the most trashy place in the village, but I committed to unbias and ploughed ahead anyway, after all, it was only for coffee.

It should be borne in mind for the duration of this review, that it mostly sells cocktails and wine.

Metal outdoor table and chairs

Morden’s definitely looks pretty enough and its garden outside is a very secret garden, ignoring the advert for it on the road outside. It advertises coffee and patisserie during the day. Soooo my thing. And the garden is really pretty, just they could do with clearing the bird poo off the seats a bit more often.

On ordering a cappuccino, the waiter asked for a reminder as to what exactly constituted a cappuccino. Three cappuccinos arrived… None of them quite the same as the others. To the credit of the gentlemen I was with they made sure that I had the one where the foam on the sides was tinted with the caramel colours of coffee. The others were with the wiped out grey of dirty dish water. All came accompanied by plastic teaspoons.

And l the patisserie? Well, they had muffins. Not only were they muffins, the ultimate insult to cake, but they were prewrapped muffins.

Picture of capuccino

You and I have talked about this before.

Only one of the party was prepared I stay put, so we forced ourselves to finish the frothy dishwater and encamped next door to Tziagno’s which ins bursting in options for unusual cakes.

Greenery on an arch

Pretty outside

Look Morden’s, I am imploring you here. I know you are a wine bar, not a coffee shop, but there is lack of custom in Blackheath to warm your funky seats and fill your secret garden. IF you offer good cake and coffee… Source it locally? Buzz me if you ever change and I will update the blog.

The fact is, I believe that Morden’s is the last coffee shop that I have not reviewed in the whole village.
Where do I go from here? Will I never buy a coffee again?

7-9 Montpelier Vale, London
020 8852 0492

The ginger lamb was just wow. Wow!

A review of eating out at Sun Ya, Blackheath Standard

Pre-planning and much debate is necessary when deciding what to order on an all you can eat menu. Which is tough when you are starving. We considered that ordering 3 mains between the two of us could be justified by sharing hot and sour meat soup. I am glad we shared this. The soup was a soup but it was not all that hot or sour. Also it had prawns in it.

 

I’m going to skip through the starters else we’ll be here all night: they were ok. And the crispy duck was delicious, but crispy duck sits in that rare and fatty selection of foods that is hard to prepare in a non-delicious way.download full film iBoy

 

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What followed was excellent, a flurry of savoury flavours supported by smokey chicken chow mein and special fried rice. The chilli beef, nice as it was, was the low light, a little two dimensional, those dimensions being deep-friededness and chilli. Obviously the Hong Kong style sweet and sour had at least one more dimension (the first 2 being sweet and sour) and along with the crunch of the deep fry and the addition of actual whole vegetables meant that it reached a harmonic for me. (Excuse the mixed metaphors.) And the ginger lamb was just wow. Wow!

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The only catch to all this excitement was that the three main dishes to share arrived about ten minutes before my husband had leave for a meeting. Most of the eating had to be accomplished by me. It was six o’clock on a week day. I quickly calculated that I had 4 hours of eating until bedtime.

So I sat along amongst the fabric flowers and gold wall paper pondering how I was going to achieve completion of the task and whether the waiters thought we’d had a food war (the table was a bit messy) and split up. I have a confession to make. Other than a smattering of rice on the table cloth (a large smattering) mission was completed.

Yes, it showed on the scales

Has anyone heard of Cypriot zivani? A review of Aqua, Blackheath

I’m always unhappy to read a menu where the choice is too obvious, but there was no such unfortunate experience at Aqua Mediterranean Bar and Grill. Even the main courses were exciting in all their lines. Usually I find I have to look at the starters or desserts to stay amused.

Greek Meze starter sounded great to me as a way of combining all the best starters. If you have simpler requirements for your starters, see if you as talk them into serving just the vine leaves with tzazaki which was definitely the best bit of the Meze.

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The open flame and fish menus in particular looked delicious: souvlaki, medallions, kleftiko… Mixed Grill! This is the relatively modest looking mixed grill, that proved totally filling.

Just like this fabulous chargrilled whole sea bream, that I couldn’t stop eating with its contrasting salty tomatoes and artichokes. Oh stop me from day dreaming!

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In fact, it has been a while since I have done such an utterly food focused review, so to pull away from the plates for a section, a comment on the music: we were surrounded by 70’s crooner does 80’s cheese in an inoffensive wouldn’t-your-mother-like-it sort of way.

And on the interior: nice actually, elegant. And lovely to have the skylight to prevent the room from feeling cramped and dark.

The service: Nervous rather than suave.

Anyway, bored of this, back to food: The desert menu did get off to a bad start by offering sticky toffee pudding. Has anyone actually eaten a genuinely interesting sticky toffee pudding? My curiosity was piqued by the selection of ice cream so having the guts to be the exact list that might appear in Neapolitan ice cream.

Baklava is so rare to see on a desert menu. In my book, this is the opposite of Victoria sponge. Pastry rather than sponge, honey instead of jam, nuts instead of cream- but most of all golden depth of flavour rather than creamy inaneness.

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We asked what was Cypriot zivani. We believe that this is a type of grappa but we overheard the waiter asking several others for flavour in order to work this out.

The accompanying coffee was smooth and interestingly sharp at the same time, and what’s more there seemed to be no question that it would come after dessert- none of this daft arriving before dessert, because the barista and chef are not in sync. This is rare. And very good.

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He reads OTHER reviews. A review of Cau in Blackheath SE3

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For all of Cau’s stainless steel interior, (I never liked this sort of interior even in the 80s when it became so popular. I’ve given up trying to give it the benefit of the doubt; hindsight has been given the full length of the rope) it is actually remarkably cosy when you’ve found yourself a nice corner. You’d never know you were in a tin can.

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The menu is a little bit patronising: with insightful suggestions like ‘have a small salad on the side, or a larger one as a starter.’ Don’t bother looking at anything other than the steak here. (so to be honest, don’t bother even turning up unless you are feeling rather flush at circa £39 per dish). I recommend the brazen, very unEnglish approach of ordering one steak to share with your table… or take most of it home for tomorrow. After all, a 500kilo steak is rather generous portion for me, even on greedy days.

We went for two rather interesting sounding sharing items and one steak with the intention of sharing all ‘as mains’ and skipping the starter. This was a strategy to pacify the 3/4’s Englishness that makes up me and my husband.

Empanadas (Classic Argentinian street food. Served with a fresh tomato sauce.) of Spanish chorizo and cream cheese Spinach, ricotta and date were lovely. But the deep fried pork belly, that sounded like a wonderfully unhealthy sort of a step up from a deep fried mars bar, fat with extra fat, was kind of slimy.

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We ordered our steak medium. And the staff recommended a nice matching Argentinian wine.
Here is a picture of the inside of our medium steak

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The charming staff admitted the mistake. (Please note, mistake admitting goes A. Very. Long. Way. in reparation and they went so far as to remove the entire meal, to return it to the table. I was impressed by this entirely proper way of fixing a mistake which (along with mistake-admission) you don’t often see. The staff registered we didn’t want a replacement of the deep fried pork belly, but replaced the finished empanadas. I think they must have known about the pork belly.

The steak returned remarkably quickly. We should have been suspicious at this point. But we are optimists. To give the chef his due (and there is not a lot of ‘due’ left now to be given) the newly cooked steak looked positively charcoaled on the outside, but the cooked effect only went about half a centimetre into the 10cm thick steak. The rest was jelly.

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My husband remarked that he had read of this experience on other reviews before coming. I don’t know what to be most disappointed by, the fact that he hid this information from me, or the fact that he reads OTHER reviews.

We didn’t want to go through the return-rigmarole all over again. The steak was edible, although a long way from medium, or even medium rare for that matter and again reparations were offered.

But may I note two things. This was their signature dish. Had we paid the full menu, we would have paid £70, for effectively a three course meal and drinks for one.
Let’s move on.

To churros! ! You’ll know I love churros: fried carbs in sugar. What could be more delicious other than churros with dulce de leche? Which, guess what? Was on the menu. We ordered some to share.

They arrived crisp and oily and … What’s the polite word…? I think the right word might be rare. Now I do know that the ‘how rare is rare’ when it comes to steak can be up for debate, hence us playing it safe and ordering our steak medium. But who has ever heard of rare churros? Dough is either cooked, or not cooked. In this case, it was the latter. Within its crispy interior was liquidy goo. Oh, we turned really English now. When the staff asked how our dessert was, we said…. “Thank you”.

CAU BLACKHEATH
10-12 Royal Parade, Blackheath, London
SE3 0TL

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Brunch at Chapter’s All Day Dining, Blackheath

I’ve reviewed here before if you want my more general opinion on CADD

But we were seeking a brunch menu with some desperation to fill the gaping holes in our stomachs after the morning swim, and we thought Chapters had promise.

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the menu had been updated and featured some quirky additions beyond eggs Benedict (it’s too rich, people. So is the spinach version, so stop trying to pass this off on me).

Adventurous additions included breakfast risotto. Now where I am on this is (1) really well done Chapters, for thinking outside the box, and (2) Why would I want a risotto (ie heavy meal) interpretation of an already heavy meal of the day. But my interest in ‘the new’ won out and I found myself facing an unbelievably rich risotto dish for breakfast. If you are already a risotto fan, (some say that they are out there) then you might well find this dish perfect. For me, it was a little samey, probably no need to be cooked with sausage in it and with sausage on the side.

Breakfast risotto

Breakfast risotto

Then there was the ‘posh baked beans’ interpretation (not that Chapter’s lowered it self to use that definition) mixed beans in tomato chorizo sauce on sourdough with poached egg. You do see the word that attracted me there, don’t you? This was good, and this is from a lady who orders her fry-ups sans baked beans. I personally thought that there was a limit to the depth of the flavours, but I am always happy to enjoy a meal that has remembered to include of vegetables. (No, that sprinkling of chive and lonely rocket on the last dish does not count.)

Posh baked beans

Posh baked beans

We finished on pastries. We think (based on the croissants ugly appearance but rewarding bite and crumbs) that they were supplied by Boulangerie Jade. Need I say more?

Boulangerie Jade pastries

Boulangerie Jade pastries

Not Missing Anything is an Achievement

A review of Tzigano’s, SE3

Tzigano’s in Blackheath Village ave opened a deli – we know that won’t be bad, don’t we? Indeed it is crowded full of Italian speakers (some of whom actually proved to be English, but living up to the welcoming “Buon journo!” at the door) clutching goods to themselves and looking furtively about to ensure not missing anything.

Not missing anything is an achievement, there is a larder selection at the back, a counter of cheeses, one of savouries, a bread corner with a round bread of about the size of my car wheels and the entire top of all the counters is full of cakes… Mmm… Cakes. It is a pity that sitting at the bar puts your back to the cakes, otherwise you could buy a coffee and cake watch all day.

caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”224″]20140226-134946.jpg The view[/caption]

We felt it appropriate to start with savouries. There is an advantage in preserving a semblance of sanity, after all. And the savouries, once checked out, proved pretty attractive: there was arancini (one observed Italian speaker turned to us and told us in a native south london accent that they were wonderful), there were breads stuffed with all sorts of delights.

Arancini being generally great aside, I wish we had gone for bolognese sauce, not ham and cheese. Yes, gooey comfort eating rice yellowed with what we suspect was saffron – oozing cheese and ham sauce and we also had cheese and ham in the other savoury dish – chorizo and emmental cooked in slightly sweet sesame sprinkled white bread. This crunched into the mouth with delightful unhealthy promise – fulfilled by that flavour that only chorizo can deliver (why is this? why cannot we make heathy versions of chorizo with the same marinade?)

it.

[/caption] id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”300″]20140226-134957.jpg Chorizo Emmental[/caption]

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Ham and cheese arancini

Next, serious cake decision making skills had to be engaged. Some choice of that vast untapped supply of sugary delights had to be made. In the end we went traditional (for us) Spanish almond tart. We have a history of good Spanish almond tart. This should be as common as chocolate brownies, (but with better consistency in standard quality than achieved by the contentious brownie). We had fig roll which had a serious crunch and an exceptionally gooey garish green macaroon, referred to by the owner as pasticcino- although when i looked this up, it translated as petit fours, so this does not feel very enlightening.

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Three fabulous delights

We returned home with olive oil bread. Well… If they don’t take cards, and you have to justify a quick dash over to the barclay’s cashpoint, you may as well make the most of it.

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Italian delights

17 Montpelier Vale, London
020 8852 9226

I’ve more than once made the mistake of thinking that I am visiting the Everest Inn for a curry

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A Review of the Everest Inn, SE3

The Everest Inn is on Montpellier. Did anyone else think that it used to live near the Fresh spa? Hmmm, restaurants ought not to be up and moving in the middle of the night when there is no one watching.

The Everest Inn, whilst sounding like a destination to be reached with frost bitten toes in order to drink nutritious hand held stews and whiskey through sealskins, is a Tibetan restaurant. It figures.

I’ve more than once made the mistake of thinking that I am visiting the Everest Inn for a curry. The menu certainly reads that way: The same convention of offering most dishes by the type of meat, and a good chunk of tandoori selections with naan and rice. Plus cobra is on the menu. In reality, if you come away feeling you’ve had your average takeaway, you’ve missed out because the subtlety of the dishes is beyond sticky plastic boxes . It is good food, with an unusual depth of flavour. Brick Lane it ain’t.

Cobra

Cobra

Naan

Naan

Hot towels

Hot towels

Here are the spectacularly presented starters- albeit slight messed up by a mix and match effort undertaken by my husband. That’ll be a chilli prawn found its way from his plate and masquerading as paneer on the side there. All in the interests of maximising information for this review, you understand.

Artistic starters

Artistic starters

So for the main course, I am remembering just how great aromatic fish can be and order the excitingly described Machha Modi Kohla- marinated fish, aromatic spices, mustard, ginger, herbs and yoghurt. In red it stated “most popular villagers recipe from Modi River, western part of Pokhara, Nepal.” I am such a sucker for extra words on the menu even if I am struggling to work out the grammar. I have probably become immune to some of the modern European over-adjectified menus, but Modi river, villages. Ooohhhh.

The dish was undoubtedly aromatic, arriving with chunks of fresh spring onion and a gentle after taste of ginger. So was it the beer, was it the Naan? I did just yearn for something a little hotter- just a crumble of chilli. I did the meal down because I wanted ‘takeaway’.

The next upgrade from your average curry house is the hot towels. These were presented in elegant ceramic containers with water to poor over the dried towels. Glad these came without chilli though.

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