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.

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

“So you want drinks or not?” A Review of Sensuru, Greenwich

So… I asked twitter followers where was worth a dinner visit on the Woolwich Road, and one name came up and one name only Sensuru

To be very specific a high number of names came up but they were all variations of the same place which apparently has changed names a few times.

Seriously I am very interested in knowing what is great in the less celebrated EAST Greenwich before the gloss of the Lifestyle Quarter (with its posters of slim couples who’s hair always floats in a permanent breeze) sweeps it all away.

On a corner with a vivid neon sign, it is hard to miss Sensuru. We slipped in and found it very cosy. I’d actually read that it was ‘first date friendly’. Yes, I can guarantee I was sat discretely, but a rather long way from my husband. so I guess it all depends what sort of ‘first dates’ you guys get up to.

Interior of Sensuru

Interior of Sensuru

Service was hilarious. And it’s not often you can say that. Listen, it’s hard to review service. You winge, and you ruin your own night. I winge in blog form, and it gets you and me into a bad mood. And what sort of service is it that we really want went we winge about the existing service? Glossy upbeat antipodean sunshine? Because let’s face it, that goes hand in hand with chain-like, made on the assembly line food and interiors. Just what is it we want? Do we winge about our mates if they make us dinner and it’s a bit late? Admittedly we don’t pay them for the service, but the night isn’t ruined if they mess up the food.

Why don’t I start with what I got? Three offers of drinks in the space of 3 minutes from 3 different waitresses…. Followed very shortly by an older waitress- possibly the manager or owner saying “so you want drinks or not?” whilst removing the drinks menu and having us usher her back because the previous 3 requests had bullied us into making a snap decision: Japanese tea, sake and water. After this rush of attention, the option to order anything evaporated into the ether. In the end we gave up and we approached a waiter at the bar and asked to order.

So we sound like troublesome customers? I didn’t feel too bad as we were clearly better behaved than the table behind us, that was getting increasingly irate that the staff could not provide him with an iPhone charger as a side to the teriyaki chicken.

Drinks matter to me. Hard or soft stuff. And Japanese restaurants get this right for me. This particular presentation of sake works. That white sphere in the middle is a separate item full of ice. Boring glass though, right?

Sake flask

Sake flask

The Japanese tea came in petite ceramic cups. That’s the main reason for ordering Japanese tea, shortly followed by the fact it just makes you feel warm and healthy.

We’re still yet to be converted to the concept that we should willingly part cash in exchange for sushi (which is cold and only slightly redeemed by wasabi and pickled ginger). I like to go out for a hot meal, so we rushed to the grills section, and the food boxes, with fried bits as starters. Once you were at the grilled section, there were too many nice sounding sauces and bases to be weighed up against each other.

Great tempura bits and nice sauce… Yet again can’t be 100% sure what was within the batter. On occasion prawn, and maybe pumpkin. I am never sure of the motivation behind this combination is cost or err…. health. This recipe can fail with the vegetable making the batter soggy. Here it didn’t.

Tempura

Tempura

More sake. We were offered a top up of tea too, but the waitress didn’t wait for the answer so I never got it.

The grilled beef on garlic and spices was so so and the teriyaki chicken box was better. We put them in the middle of the table and ahead to assist In a more equitable distribution of flavour. As you can see, there is a 3rd dish that has totally escaped my memory. You’ll have to judge its merits on its looks. (Not something I would normally advocate – think of kiwi fruit, for instance).

Rice box and chicken teriyaki

Rice box and chicken teriyaki

20131108-194306.jpg

To entertain us throughout the meal, we had the widescreen TV presenting pictures of the meals like a catwalk show. No music though. I am disappointed. I suppose it’s hard to decide what music should accompany the dance of the sashimi.

Sensuru
139 Woolwich Road
Greenwich
SE10 0RG

20131108-194236.jpg

20131108-194254.jpg

20131108-194306.jpg

20131108-194318.jpg

If simplicity yields perfection I’m all good with that

20130927-165916.jpg

A Review of The Old Brewery, Greenwich

I didn’t expect to get seated at the meantime brewery. After all it was sunny bank holiday evening, not far from the Thames, and getting seating has definitely been a problem in the past, but I wonder of the novelty’s worn off…. there was the odd available table.

There were other changes. I have to report that the overpriced pub grub menu has been upgraded. Unfortunately we’d already eaten at the market, so this is a non-sampled menu review. (I know- shouldn’t be allowed, but somehow I feel I can still provide enlightenment). Significant improvements seemed to include proper bar snacks along with recommended matching beers: real pub food with matching beers. There was a very small dessert menu, but if simplicity yields perfection I’m all good with that (plus, it makes decisions easier). This is all more pleasant than the days that we would pop in for a drink, struggle for a seat and order rounds of over-priced bread to accompany our meantime lagers until they ran out (of the bread not the lager).

20130927-165506.jpg

The strength of meantime is it’s authenticity. It is an own brewery packed into a Greenwich house in the gardens of the old naval hospital, Greenwich university, very near the Thames, with climbing roses (that always make me sneeze) in the redbrick circling walls. Why would you spend a summer evening anywhere else?

That said, it is a genuine pub. You have to battle elbows and assert yourself at the bar. I’m sure I’m too old for this cold stare; I was here first; he’s been waiting for fifteen minutes palava.

The real genius of the upgraded menu was the tasting lager placket. So popular as to be seen on every table. This was effectively 3 one-third pints of meantime beers. Our choice was Pacific pale ale, Yakima red and stout. I am not normally a stout drinker, but this stout was one of the best drinks in the placket- very mellow and chocolatey. It may have been too much for me as a pint, but delicious as a third of a pint. The pacific pale ale started off well somewhat sea like in taste, but seemed the weaker of the set by the end. A beautiful end to summer (yeah, sorry about that- but there’s only so much pretending to be done.)

20130927-165520.jpg

Walking and Eating is Bad on Many Many Counts

Thameside food stalls in Greenwich

I would have loved to do my duty by you and checked the food at ALL of the Cutty Sark food stalls (which I believe will reman until the tall ships and their fireworks arrive) but even having cycled to London Bridge on Monday, there was not enough space in my stomach for burgers, Peruvian delights and crepes.

So I settled on the key highlights – selected by smell: fudge (baileys- a decision made easier by the fact that they were packing up and all other good choices were disappearing in front of my eyes), an unnamed tent frying up noodles and garlic prawns, and the lemonade tent.

In genuine street food style, there was no attempt at serving what might constitute a meal (protein carb and veg) so one of us bought garlic prawns and the other the soy noodles. We drank fresh lemonade from the separate lemonade stall for our vegetable whilst sitting on the steps in front of the Cutty Sark. (The attractions of street food aside, walking and eating is bad on many many counts: mess, indigestion, missing our on the actual taste due to doing other stuff, dropping food.) This included ten enormous garlicky prawns that could not be stopped eating and the tastiest savoury noodles ever.

I recommend all three stalls. Get there quick before they close at the end of the week.

The lemonade came stuffed with ice, ginger or mint. Very refreshing- you get flavour in the melted ice. Why did anyone in this country ever use dried mint when the fresh version is so plentiful?

20130828-141744.jpg

20130828-141754.jpg

20130828-141802.jpg

Promises Seafood and Quaintness, and Cycle Paths, A Review of the Cutty Sark Pub

20130824-080019.jpg

A Review of the Cutty Sark Pub, Greenwich

Quite some distance from the actual Cutty Sark tea clipper is the Cutty Sark pub, overlooking the bleaker Thames views (including the O2 but amongst the nautical cottages like a village corner tucked away from the sugar factory and mobile phone factory (and Paul Rhode’s bakery where they do the real actual cooking stuff that appears in their coffee shop). This feels more Dickensian and Whistler-en than the Trafalgar that famously hosted one of Dicken’s character’s weddings. (But did not host my wedding due to the terrible state of it when we came to view the ballroom).

It also promises seafood and quaintness, and cycle paths, and a huge anchor sculpture. Having returned from a holiday in a French fishing village, this was going to be my ‘pretend I am still on holiday’ meal. It was clam linguine advertised on the board outside that closed the deal, sounding like a light lunch that I may or may not precede with lighty battered monk fish cheeks.

The interior is well suited to the exterior. Tastefully reminiscent of all things Georgian and full of bar snacks that looked like canon balls (scotch eggs and pies.) No insult in the words cannon balls in this context.

The menu looked good too. I was pleased to see Billingsgate fish pie. It would have been a terrible oversight to serve fish quite so close to such a famous fish market and not even try. And it sources its bread from Paul Rhode’s bakery, which must save it a fortune in delivery costs. Dressed crab, rock oysters and other fishy specials sat happily next to burgers.

It was just a pity that the food did not remotely live up to the context.

The ‘lightly battered monkfish’ was in layers of batter thicker than the monkfish itself, and as a starter, this grease level detracted from us even desiring a main course. The main courses themselves were not too bad. Posh chicken Kiev with celeriac mash and truffle oil was actually pretty decent which we hoped would make up for the disappointment.

 

Lightly? battered monkfish

Lightly? battered monkfish

But when we got to the desserts, it was the same again. The rhubarb fool arrived unmixed, actually being rhubarb compote with thin layer of cream on top, although the cinnamon crisp went down well. And the enjoyable Bakewell tart arrived with clotted cream instead of the listed clotted cream ice cream. Is that a big deal? Well you tell me. I think it is a big deal in a restaurant that asserts it is passionate about food, because this would have meant that the combinations, textures and hot/cold sensations should have been designed with the ultimate in mind. And while the Cutty Sark Tavern did not make these claims so much as some other culprits, the menu and environment did imply it.

Clotted Cream

Clotted Cream

I have to tell you, this really hurts. Everything about the pub was perfect, except the delivery. Wistful river gazing, half a pint of beer, fireplace (summertime- no idea if it was real) appetising sounding-menu, Georgian authenticity, charming staff.
But food cooked without passion.

20130824-075910.jpg

20130824-075917.jpg

20130824-075928.jpg

20130824-075947.jpg

20130824-075954.jpg

20130824-080001.jpg

20130824-080010.jpg

The Turkish Coffee Arrived and it was not Nescafe, A Review if Helva in Greenwich

Helva Interior

Helva Interior

There’s nothing like Meze. It solves all of your menu woes… You don’t have to pick, just have a bit of everything. The Meze however at Helva was only of starters, cruelly evading the exciting grills also on the menu, so we did what every self respecting food fan does, and ordered the mixed grill too. The waitress looked confused and after a pause asked us if we wanted both at the same time. Then she pulled over an extra table, so that she would have room for all the Meze.

2 tables of Mexe

2 tables of Mexe

Personally, I think that without the deep fried stuff… Calamari, whitebait, this would not have been such a difficult job to eat in its entirety. Deep fried halloumi could stay though. This was one of the best specimens I have tried, lightly herbed and with lemon juice. Also exceptional was the flavour of the garlic mushrooms and the bread so light it was inline savoury brioche- as if it had been steamed in the cooking. The lahmacun, mince sauce on flat bread was also finished pretty quick. The humous was not as good as the one that I made (on the advice of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem). My husband said this before I did, btw.

Light Turkish bread

Light Turkish bread

The iskender, the mixed grill, was exactly what grills should be, and in this instance came with yogurt, butter and bread sauce. Why would that taste so good? Have i ever served cornflakes and milk and Rice Krispie sauce with my grills? No. But after tasting this combination, maybe i should. The cankaya- (turkish wine) however was nothing much… But given the brave decision of the menu not to have a single Sauvignon blanc, I gave it a shot.

Iskender

Iskender

We did a respectable job of finishing dinner. I say respectable, although there was an almost indecent speed of completion in our part. Just a bit of whitebait and 2 slices of bread remained. It was like the loaves and fishes in reverse.
We didn’t even have the manners to decline the dessert menu. (Actually these were just thrust upon us, depriving us of the chance to make jokes a out how greedy we were being and thus divert from the fact that we were being greedy).

My oh so noble attempts to remain authentic led me to a turkish dessert and a turkish coffee. The Helva arrived looking unexpectedly like polenta and with very little taste of sesame. I was quite taken aback by how different it was from every other helva experience have ever had – even in Turkey, and even now i am wondering if it was an elaborate ruse to assess whether i knew anything about turkish cuisine and hence pass off the nescafe as turkish coffee.

My husband ordered only ice cream and was disappointed by the neopoliatan options available. We think he offended them with his lack of turkish attempts, because while mine was sparkling with hundreds and thousands, this was what arrived for him

20130602-210533.jpg.

He went on to make a Home made (table-based) affogato

The Turkish coffee arrived and it was not nescafe. It had the sand like texture and deep flavour that turkish coffee always has, but sadly far too much sugar than was drinkable after such a huge meal.

27-31 Greenwich Church St, London
020 8858 8658

Rivington Bar&Grill, Greenwich

A Review of Rivington Bar & Grill

The problem with really fresh orange juice is that after decades of concentrate from the fridge, I am conditioned to enjoy it only cold. This is unfortunate, because the type of orange juice where a couple of oranges are tossed into a machine in front of your eyes is usually lukewarm and disappointing when it really shouldn’t have to be. I suppose it is a good thing that we weren’t conditioned to this flavour too. Although life in the 2000’s might have been cheaper.

Very pretty atmosphere - ordering at the Rivington Bar and Grill

Very pretty atmosphere – ordering at the Rivington Bar and Grill

I asked simply for an orange juice as I sat down at the Rivington Bar and Grill and it’s been a long time since such a casual request yielded the real thing. But they met the mark did the Rivington B$G they did, in all their toilet seat lukewarmedness.

The atmosphere was pleasant, all the ingredients for an elegant supper were there… And a few besides: A TV? Rowdy party of diners above? And children? (Ok I suppose children have to eat too) Except for the presence of the TV we could call this tolerance. I should buy some.

 

20130216-090607.jpg

And the ‘real thing’ just kept on coming to the table, as the bread course was proper sour dough, something I am a real fan of. Isn’t sour dough great?

As always the starter menu looked more appetising than the mains. We ordered egg Colcannon, despite my post-tzigano’s egg cynicism. I am a fan of modern twists on traditional food. This dish was a wise choice as the generous portion lived up in every way to how a modern interpretation of an old classic should do:. The recipe was going for mix of textures- the crunch of sparky high notes added by spring onions and chives, saturated in fresh yolk.

I was a bit disappointed with the definition of blackface haggis. Now I expected this to be black-face sheep (and later research has confirmed this to be true), however on questioning the waitress enliven this to mean it was ‘Scottish black pudding’. We gave her a cynical look. she didn’t budge. We looked at each other, and decided that despite our suspicions, the thought of a main course of pigs blood was too horrible to consider, even if it came with neeps and scallops. We opted instead for the whole sea bass.

We should have ordered one sea bass between two. Because a whole sea bass is no small fry. Instead we ordered one of each, and a side order of bubble and squeak and greens.

Sea  Bass at Rivington Bar and Grill

Sea Bass at Rivington Bar and Grill

Silence ensued as we forked out way through endless soft flakes of white fish flesh. Simple capers added a rewarding zing. Yes it was good and so were the sides- more of the traditional stars.

To my distress, we had to pull away from the dessert menu, as dessert had been arranged at a secret London Bridge location that let us down by being closed for refurbishment, but that’s another story…

Rivington Bar & Grill, 178 Greenwich High Road

“Sadly for me La Salumeria does not consider it’s remit to bake cakes” a review of La Salumeria, Greenwich

A Review of La Salumeria, Greenwich Italian Deli SE10.

20121224-171841.jpg

It’s winter and we’ve decided that La Salumeria the Italian deli on the Woolwich Road needs heated floors and a foot rest. Anyone want to run with that idea in a coffee shop anywhere? It’d be a close competition behind an open fire. Are there any open fire establishments in Blackheath/Greenwich? Please advise in the comments box.

Anyway, that aside (and we can’t really hold it against them when no one else offers this service)…

20121224-171855.jpg

Sadly for me La Salumeria does not consider it’s remit to bake cakes. Not too unreasonable: No bakery. And after all, just look at this selection. Do you blame them?

Deli selection at La Salumeria

Deli selection at La Salumeria

Nonetheless, my visit was too early for savoury food and there are frequently a number of modest looking tray bakes there. There is always spogliatelle (which I always thought were called lobster tails, can anyone enlighten me?) I went instead for ‘the tray bake with coconut on’. Result! I was advised it contained white chocolate, which sold it to me. But the impressive feature was crispness of the extremely delicate pastry leaves, with not a hint of sogginess in sight/taste.

20121224-173729.jpg

Can I confess I went for a hot chocolate rather than a coffee? It was a cold day and that boosts the sugar cravings. If they’d wanted me to rate the coffee (which from recollection, is good) they needed to supply heated floorboards to reduce hot chocolate desire. It was an exceedingly fine hot chocolate- no pretensions (unless you count the glass cup).


I am being kind of mean to La Salumeria. This deli started as a shop that also sold cappuccinos…. The seats were added later, so they are simple, nestled amongst the black and white posters of tourist Italy. But I love them. In reality La Salumeria is a treasure trove of store cupboard delicacies. Waitrose pasta selection be shamed… Nothing in Jamie Oliver can beat me now...

20121224-172022.jpg

Treasure Trove of everything

Treasure Trove of everything

Address: 184 Trafalgar Road, London SE10 9TZ
Phone:020 8305 2433