A steamed bun is hard to come by

La-Mian & Dim Sum of Greenwich market, you have a fight on your hands, nestled there to close to Jamaican jerk chicken, Mexican food, and churros (oh, those churros). But I have to say a steamed bun is hard to come by, and in my experience, rather hard to re-create at home (Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals offer a valiant attempt!) so I can see that you are holding your own…

I don’t know why steamed buns are not more famous at LMDSGM (I am going for an acronym here, as I can see that Dim Sum is a food, but not speaking Chinese I can’t see how to shorten the name any other way). It is such a great combination, the slight sweetish white dough around chicken things mushroom and spices. On the day I tried it, it would have been a slightly less dry combination had I remembered to pick up some plum sauce.

It is rewarding experience to see the food cooked in front of you in the space of a square yard, although I think I made this man a little shy when I took the photo.

We ate the steamed buns on the steps in front of the Cutty Sark and followed it up with roast duck on a bed of sticky rice. This was great duck and great rice, but over all a bit dry. It had been coated with sauce that failed to slip under the duck to the rice, and there was a delicious chutney in one corner which wasn’t nearly enough for the whole dish. Some more veg than two halves of a pak choi would also helped a bit.watch movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 2016 now

Service was hard to comment on. We ordered, they cooked straight away, they said “here we are”. The only thing that slowed us down was our impatience to tuck in.

Short for Political Correctness?

Why is Papa Charlie called Papa Charlie anyway? Is it short for Political Correctness (doesn’t sound very military) and does that explain why the food served here is not Spanish, or Turkish, or Italian or Morrocan but Mediterranean? Surely a North or a South in the restaurant’s description would help a little bit? I certainly can’t work out which country was represented by the supposedly gourmet Burgers (that quintessential mediterranean food). Sorry, I wasn’t convinced enough to check.

There were some plus points. My plastic menu offered me the chance to resolve some mysteries of previous blogs… I know that you have been on the edge of your seat to know: The kleftico from Rare, that sounded like it was made out of the previous owners and oxo cubes had a descrption next to it (slow cooked lamb on the bone). Okay, so I did already know this. I googled it.

And the second solved mystery was how imambayildi would taste following the marvellous description offered by Efe’s Meze.
I have been kicking myself for not ordering it and here it was on the menu. I ordered right away and it turned out that the waitress could not pronounce it either. The imambayildi was delicious, subtle but a real grower although I think I would have struggled with it’s pure vegetableness as a main course. The whitebait that we also ordered was pretty chunky, overweight whitebait which for me took the attraction off. (Some things are supposed to be an excuse for batter, not provide food in their own right.)

IMG_2986.JPG

I thought that a virgin bellini was just about the best thing that I have ever heard of. Because bellinis are great, sophisticated and delicious and very much something that require moderation. I should have remembered that the plus point of bellinis is the champagne, and that the absence of this left you with cherryade and mint, at a bitingly massive mark up. Gourmet challenge for you: alcohol free champagne. (Oo, I can see my readership figures collapsing as I type.)

Besides the bellini hiccup, the starters were in fact very promising and made me try to see beyond the plastic menus with pre-published ‘specials’ (so not so special for today, huh?) and the fact that the decoration is identical to when I reviewed this location as Helva.

But the main courses really took the meal to renewed depths. The chicken guvec (a chicken stew) was definitely made of turkey. (I should note that the date of our visit was the 1st January. See where I am going here?)

IMG_2989-0.JPG
Although the kebabs were genuinely chicken and okayish, they weren’t the cheapest, and the accompanying bulger wheat lacked pizzaz.

IMG_2988.JPG

We decided we would not enjoy stopping around for dessert and got the DLR to Hazev for this experience…I’ll update you about that on another blog.

IMG_0944.JPG

Their Cakes are JUST PERFECT

A(nother) review of Peyton and Byrne.

So back to Peyton and Byrne, and I wonder if they need an updated blog review on Blackheath.London because their cakes are JUST PERFECT in every way. ( here was the first review http://wp.me/p5fONJ-hc)

I mean like, Peyton & Byrne’s walnut and coffee cake is the first walnut and coffee cake that I’ve ever eaten and not thought ‘ho hum, should have picked something else’. This is what coffee and walnut cake was always promising to be. It is not too sweet, it has dry sponge, it tastes of coffee not sugar, the cream has a perfect robust consistency, I can’t stop.

I should add, that just as with my last visit, we did eat savoury food too, this time a chicken pie.

Anyway, back to the important stuff. There was the millionaire shortbread. I have a standard with millionaire shortbread, introduced by my mother in law who makes the first edible millionaire shortbread I have ever encountered. That means that it brings the marvellous combination of chocolate, shortbread and caramel without all being far too stodgy. But P&B have taken this to a new level.
Firstly the delicacy in question is round. Frankly, it nearly lost me there. Round says, thinking to much about form over substance.

But then it turns out that the chocolate on top is gooooood chocolate, seemingly high cocoa content and very smooth. But no time to ponder, because that thick caramel is really good too waste time thinking about that chocolate for. Or is it that sweet crumbling base that I should enjoy…? Life’s problems aye?

Oolong tea was lovely too. I may give their lapsang another chance after all.

Their Cakes are JUST PERFECT

A(nother) review of Peyton and Byrne.

So back to Peyton and Byrne, and I wonder if they need an updated blog review on Blackheath.London because their cakes are JUST PERFECT in every way. ( here was the first review http://wp.me/p5fONJ-hc)

I mean like, Peyton & Byrne’s walnut and coffee cake is the first walnut and coffee cake that I’ve ever eaten and not thought ‘ho hum, should have picked something else’. This is what coffee and walnut cake was always promising to be. It is not too sweet, it has dry sponge, it tastes of coffee not sugar, the cream has a perfect robust consistency, I can’t stop.

I should add, that just as with my last visit, we did eat savoury food too, this time a chicken pie.

Anyway, back to the important stuff. There was the millionaire shortbread. I have a standard with millionaire shortbread, introduced by my mother in law who makes the first edible millionaire shortbread I have ever encountered. That means that it brings the marvellous combination of chocolate, shortbread and caramel without all being far too stodgy. But P&B have taken this to a new level.
Firstly the delicacy in question is round. Frankly, it nearly lost me there. Round says, thinking to much about form over substance.

But then it turns out that the chocolate on top is gooooood chocolate, seemingly high cocoa content and very smooth. But no time to ponder, because that thick caramel is really good too waste time thinking about that chocolate for. Or is it that sweet crumbling base that I should enjoy…? Life’s problems aye?

Oolong tea was lovely too. I may give their lapsang another chance after all.

No Consideration for Dieting Food Bloggers

A review of Royal Teas, Greenwich.

Royal teas has always sounded like an intriguing name for a vegetarian cafe. The ‘royal’ bit, yep well it is located on Royal Hill, the teas bit, yep full of teas (more about that later) but the combination of royal and teas sounds like a cream tea destination, and yes it does do cream tea… which is vegetarian…. But it isn’t Vegetarian (that’s a capital ‘V’ there just in case it’s too early in the morning to tell) in the way that is indicative of the aubergine hanging over the words Royal Teas on the logo. Get what I’m saying?

IMG_0835-1.JPG

You know what else? Being located very close to my beloved Buenous Ares cafe, It has taken me 11 years of Greenwich, Blackheath living to get thought the front door. This is not just because the Argentinian location is definitely not vegetarian, but that it has cake and a sofa that I know about.

There were some fabulous looking all day breakfast options, including an Americana tortilla of beans and cheese and eggs. My only reason for passing this by, was that I had already had 2 eggs for breakfast.

We ordered smoked salmon baguette,

IMG_0836-1.JPG

houmous and crudities and deep fried halloumi.

IMG_0837-1.JPG
Where are we on deep fried halloumi? My personal opinion is that cheese is mostly fat, so putting extra fat on the outside can’t really change that too much. Have a smaller piece if it bothers you? We had a long wait for both of these items, but they were delivered with the most gorgeous fresh and colourful salad, which given the affordability of the meal was impressive.

The lapsang souchong we ordered along side was very watery to the extent I could taste water more that I could taste lapsang. Tea should never taste of water right? One might consider its ability to make water taste of something other than water to bite the raison d’être of tea. The charming proprietor balked not at actually opening a new packet for us, from which new cups were filled.

IMG_0831.JPG

And here is the best part: A Cake Filing System.

IMG_0834-0.JPG

What a great way to showcase cake! Especially in a quaint cottage interior like this one. I want one of these built into my quaint cottage rectory fields. I might have to throw out the washing machine to make room for it, but it needs no plumbing.

We went for ginger cake. This was full of dried fruit and was unexpectedly offered hot with ice cream. The heat made the ginger creep into your nose (this was a good thing). Despite sharing we were given 2 scoops of ice cream (no consideration for dieting food bloggers), which seemed to me to be dairy vanilla, but to my husband clotted cream. Enlightenment welcome.

Royal Teas
76 Royal Hill, SE10

IMG_0838-1.JPG

The mixed Colours of the Meze Glowed At Us

A review of Efe’s Meze, Trafalgar Road

Heard of imambayildi? Me neither. It sounded really interesting the way that Efe’s Meze’s extremely eager to please new management described it. It seemed to feature wrapping and baking and re-wrapping and oil and stuff like that. I wish I had taken notes, because when I went back to pre-book my order (we were a large group) I was bowled over by the meat and fish options. I figured I’d nick some off my friends plates.

Mirror reflecting restaurant lights

Efe’s in Greenwich mirror interior

As we arrived to eat the 6 cold Meze starters were already laid. The mixed colours of kisir, feta/beetroot, acilia ezme) glowed at us, but there was no bread. And there would be no bread until all of my friends turned up. My friends were very late. The dishes carried on glowing at us. I think that this is cruelty to customers, but when I try to find where to report it, I can’t find anyone who will listen.

Efe's Meze table

Glowing Meze

In the end, hunger won over and we just asked for bread, which arrived warm and spongy. The dishes were delicious and unfortunately filling . Round 2 (hot Meze) was petite but enjoyable -falafel, halloumi and cheese borek.

During this time, I have been asked to observe that the wine was served in professional manner, with pre-taste, and then decanted into a carafe. Profuse apologies were also offered for the lack of non-alcoholic beer. This is unusual to me. Normally I find myself apologising for ordering it.

As I think you can probably tell from the state of my blog photos (you’re supposed to love me for my quirky dippiness. You do get that right?), I don’t really go into these restaurants with a sign on my forehead saying ‘I am a local food blogger’, but you would not nave guessed this from the nervous-dash-eager-to-please reception we received. As at that weekend (mid October) Sayit, the manger was very new management.

The best bits, however were undoubtedly the greasy spicy kofte with a kicking after taste and the crispy, spiced seabass, both accompanied by huge bowls of feta salad. At this point the food reached the rarely achieved level of, so-good -I -forgot-to-take -photos. Which I do appreciate is very unfair on you guys. Sorry. See if you can find yourselves a cruelty to blog readers complain line. (Actually also, post me the number, I want to complain to http://helengraves.co.uk for infrequent posting.) The only moussaka was ordered down at the other end of the table so I never saw it, but I was reliably told it had to be prepared from 7am in the morning.

IMG_0818.JPG

The only disappointing thing was the dessert selection. Despite details of their preparation sounding mouthwatering, I did not fancy apple pie or tiramisu after that meal. Maybe deserts aren’t that turkish, but what about Helva and baklava? We asked specifically about baklava and were sent on our way with 2 pieces that we weren’t charged for. Honest, I am sure they didn’t know I was planing to blog about them.

And no one, in a party of twenty had the decency to order imambayildi so that I could taste/oggle it. No gratitude. New friends are on order.

170 Trafalgar Rd, London SE10 9TZ
As at the time of this blog, the online menu is ‘in progress’ following the mangement change.

IMG_0822.JPG

Thirty versions of tea implies GOOD things

A review of Peyton and Byrne, Greenwich SE10

Peyton and Bryne is one of those places you have to come back to. It’s just got too much to choose from. You feel like a kid in a sweetie shop (do kids say they feel like grown ups in a coffee shop?) too much choice of pastry, so much light and air (set off by large retro wallpaper and wood). This is the fusion version of the coffee shop: English French, pastry, cupcake, scone, bar.

IMG_0355.JPG

Hence opening a large space in Greenwich centre is progress for us grow ups, as most of the other Peyton’s and Byrnes appear to be in galleries and museums. Oh, you thought I was interested in Monet, no darling, I’m not really cultured, I just haven’t sampled all the p&b tarts yet. We start can going for country walks again when I’ve reached the stawberry and balsamic, but not if they extend the range, mind.

IMG_0357.JPG
Weaker points were the plastic cutlery, requiring plastic wrestling on the delicacy in question.

Here’s what we eventually settled on:

IMG_0340.JPG
That thing on the right is apple crumble. This stacking of mostly creamy type constituent and err.. crumble seems to be a French interpretation of English Classic.

I had my reservations about the caramel dark chocolate bomb on the left. The dark chocolate was good, a kind of devil’s food cake sponge and it melted in the mouth. The supposedly oozing caramel hardly oozed though. I think it was too cold, or maybe that was compared to the 30 degree day. Regular readers will know that this constitutes a good review of a chocolate cake by my standards. My only advise would be, don’t eat it on a full stomach

Having advised you of the important food here (cake) I can no go back and tell you that the sausage roll was nice, but lacked a couple of things available elsewhere in Blackheath (Greenwich borough): The pastry is better at Boulangerie Jade, and the sausage is better at Hand Made Food.

IMG_0344.JPG

Tea was a bit wrong here.

IMG_0343.JPG
Yes I am a coffee shop blogger, but i frequently order tea at them. 30 versions of tea implies GOOD things. However it arrives in a small mug, (the more expensive – but pretty- teapots are hardly bigger) and when you’ve ordered Lapsang Souchong it should taste of something. Well actually it should taste warm and smokey, but ‘something’ would have been progress.

I’m not sure if this isn’t about quality control though, since the ever so tempting sounding marmalade dark chocolate (this is a combination I experiment with a lot, more recently in ice cream form) tasted of dark chocolate only, but the elderflower dark chocolate was full of flavour.

You can see I ordered a lot in this trip. It came to a not too bad £18 and included an unreviewed loaf of bread. But really I was just being thorough for the sake of the blog.

IMG_0352-0.JPG

Hoping that I remained anonymous, A review of Jamie’s Italian Deli

I admit, I slaughtered Jamie’s Italian in my last review. Even Italian friends told me they thought about going there and changed their minds after my review. So it was with some trepidation that I ventured in last week, hoping that I remained anonymous and was not about to be chased out, Why did I return, you ask? Well, OBVIOUSLY because there were some really good looking cakes in the window and my last review was not about cake. Let’s separate things. Let’s say that this review is about the deli at Jamie’s Italian. My last review was of the restaurant that constitutes Jamie’s Italian. And believe me, I stand by it.

Here are are the good looking cakes:

20140730-133020-48620339.jpg

By going in the ‘other’ (non restaurant entrance) this is what you are faced by: Actually quite tempting, fell for the whole, 3 cakes between 2 people isn’t that bad thing, even when following focaccia. Focaccia was really great, oily and be speckled with olives.

20140730-133020-48620788.jpg
But the cakes are kicked by the local competition. The lemon tart was so-so (that’s in the ‘cosi cosi’ way, not the ‘Soooo’ way) lemony- no real sting? And the plum tart was really an almond tart, that wouldn’t want to be disrupted by the sourness of a plum, but without the amazing things that a dedicated almond tart could be.

This, however is a nice environment. You just have to let yourself forget you know it is inauthentic chain decor. And don’t pity the poor homemade pasta for how it is about to be cooked. This isn’t too hard, it is pleasant on the eye.

20140730-133021-48621242.jpg

Yeah let’s go to Jamie’s Italian for a real treat

A Review of Jamie’s Italian, Greenwich

20140326-134951.jpg

Yeah let’s go to Jamie’s Italian for a real treat, because annoying as it is that ol’ Jamie sponsors just about every clunky kitchen gadget going, I do enjoy cooking from his recipe books, so the food can’t go wrong. Right?

The interior of Jamie’s Italian is enormous. And it is about as cliched as Mr Oliver himself, which for me is slightly annoying but mostly ok. You’d have to draw your own conclusions. For instance, the tea towel napkins: I like. They are strangely comforting. But I don’t like the school canteen glasses. They are a cuteness too far. Also at school they always used to come with unidentifiable solidified grime on them. When I was a kid, any unknown grime was the worst grime: SNOT (or possibly poo, but a little less likely given the circumstance.) Let’s move on from this topic, it’s dinner time.

20140326-135012.jpg

Well the menu didn’t look so great. The really flummoxing part was that the centre piece focused on burgers, which surely couldn’t be the the best dish of an Italian restaurant. Where was the gem on the menu? I forced myself to look at the pasta.

The meal started with overly-battered squid.

20140326-135023.jpg

This was really disappointing. More and more restaurants seem to over-batter their squid. You can only taste batter. A pretty, but not so funky tasting butternut bruschetta came with it and this was ok. I’m sure the mains will make the hype worth it.

20140326-135031.jpg

I have to say that the service was perfect. Our waiter was so attentive. He could sense that we were unhappy with the starters and wanted to correct it, slipping extra bread in our takeaway box, and patient and helpful throughout the experience.

20140326-135050.jpg

Spaghetti Alla Norma with aubergine, chilli and basil sounded great. Aubergine is quite a flavour after all. In reality, I’ve had more flavoursome dishes from cheaper Italians. It was a bore to consume. Only force of habit made me continue. I genuinely weighed up that I would not be missing out on the food, by leaving it and taking joy from the potential lost weight.

20140326-135041.jpg

The sea bream was pleasant enough, but it is kind of hard to mess up such a magnificent ingredient. They did their best to mess it up. The samphire was woody. Something I would not have believe possible of seaweed/parsley type thing, so to give JI its due, this was an educative experience.

We had fabulous desserts at. Jamie’s Barbecoa in New Change, so we stopped around in case the meal could be redeemed. A cold winter night, we chose warm amaretti and granola crumble. Note, not ‘crumbled amaretti…’ But amaretti crumble, in other words, implying to most people baked cakey stuff that crumbles. In fact this was fruit with granola sprinkled on it. This did have nice flavours, but was not the promised comforting crumble implied by the menu. It felt kind of healthy.

What gets me, what really gets me is that even I can knock out a delicious Jamie 15minute meals in a little under half an hour. His stuff should be chef-proof. So we can’t even blame the chef at JI.

And by the way, the Jamie branded garlic press broke into shards the other day. My Ikea version is still going strong (sorry Deptford Dame!)

I have never written so rude a review. However I feel sorry for the flawlessly charming staff who deserve jobs if JI does not survive, hopefully by boosting the business of the following establishments, they will get recruited there.
If you want to eat out in the Greenwich/Blackheath areas eat out here: if you want Italian in Greenwich eat here: Bianco43
If you want a quality burger (because naturally this is the first thing you think of when visiting an Italian) eat here: Chapters
If you want bog standard Italian chain food, maybe featuring kids (at the table, not in the dishes) believe me, Pizza express and Strada do a better job and frequent good money off deals.

20140326-135002.jpg

20140326-135059.jpg

Huge Wagon Wheels of Goats Cheese

A Review of Buenos Ares, Se10.
The cafe NOT the restaurant. (They call themselves a deli, but I don’t mind)

I’m allowed to be selfish, aren’t I? And not tell you about my absolute favourite hangouts so that there will still be room on the sofa when I get there.

I just can’t do it. I feel soooo mean. Buenos Ares cafe (not the restaurant) is the gem I have been keeping from you. Oft times have I sat there next to a table of travelling Europeans bearing a look of, “I wonder just how bad British sandwiches really are…” only to see their eyes light up as one of the open sandwiches strewn with fabulous meat, rocket, and drizzled balsamic and olive oil is delivered to their table.

And the interior is so comfortable. Comfortable and chic and unintimidating, and full of mysterious treasures all at the same time.

20140129-140203.jpg

I prefer this view- that has scenes of Argentina.

20140129-140146.jpg

To the one of autographed celebs

But both contribute to the cozy atmosphere along eight the stacks of cakes and teas and Argentinian and Prestat delights.

This was the mega brunch we tried most recently. I appreciate this may not the the first thing that comes to mind with the word brunch, but there you go. It makes us happy.

20140129-135732.jpg

What can I say? Each and every cheese was a delight in its own right. I didn’t even realise it was possible to find Brie so perfectly ripe in this country (no, neither farmers market or M&S hack it). Manchego, Pecorino and huge wagon wheels of goats cheese – the size that wagon wheels used to be, you know? They weren’t exactly the ones listed on the blackboard, but who’s counting, er, reading. The dish was missing the promised fig pickle, but that would have would have spoilt it.
As always served with far too little bread.

In fact the tip in Buenos Ares is not to be tempted into a platter which has far too much food for most people (we lived of a take away box of the remnants for 3 weeks) but to order the open sandwiches that really are just as rewarding – and come with more bread. Order two and do swapsies if you want the diversity of a platter. Or order two even if you’re alone.

Cakes are equally rewarding, although the offerings never change. At least this means that you can work through the options, without an existential crisis as to the experience that you will never have. Lime and polenta cake and chocolate mandarin cake were our choices this time. They were great, but due to newly demarked cutting lines, were a little on the small side.

20140129-135744.jpg

Top Tip: If ordering an enormous cheese platter, followed by cakes, it is recommended that you do not also order sweet drinks. Even thought there are many. There really are many. (And the milk with chocolate bar on the side is great.)

86 Royal Hill
Greenwich
SE10 8RT

20140129-135722.jpg

20140129-140133.jpg