I tried to be good, but the card machine had it in for me, a review of Mocca SE3

No really. It was time to start losing the past 2 years weight. Atlanta – I blame you. And also Pret A Manger chocolate and almond butter cookies, oh well, yes and their sundried tomato and egg breakfast baguette. And I suppose I should stop baking spicy cakes with cream frosting, so yeah, mostly just Atlanta.

 I need a lot of sympathy. I limped to Mocca, totally like limped. This was limping from the surgery to the chemist, to find that the chemist didn’t open on time, and I had no interest in limping back home before limping back out again. People look at you when you limp  – in a kind of, ‘time you left London, dear’ sort of a way. 

And I ordered a coconut cappuccino which is already a direction that makes me nervous… but it was that or soya… just as I saw the quaint sign that said ‘minimum spend £5.’ (Me and Mocca, neither of us deserve to be in London) And I had already ordered, and there was no where else warm to wait, and there was an orange chocolate bread pudding square just sat all lonely in the glass counter…. Looking At Me.

So I thought, I have a limp, I deserve cake. But do you know what my brain said, it said ‘that’s not an excuse, carry on like this and nothing in your wardrobe will fit.’ I really thought that. My brain should get a certificate. I thought, ‘there will be another solution to this £5 conundrum, there really will be.’

But I looked. And there wasn’t. Just all those icing sugared italian pastry delights. And the cake was still looking at me. And the waitress was looking at me. And if their had been a queue, it would have been looking at me too. You know that look. And after all, the GP had just confirmed that I hadn’t got gout, so my unhealthy lifestyle was clearly doing me no real harm at all. AND I NEEDED TO SPEND FIVE POUNDS.

It was a terribly patient waitress who waited out me having this internal dialogue…. partially outloud. 

As I sat down, (everyone was still looking at me, but because of the limp now) I thought. This was a mistake. That lonely bread pudding was clearly a last night left over and it will be horrible. But it wasn’t. It was gooey and sweet and everything that a chocolate orange bread pudding really should be. I finished every last crumb. I sipped my cappuccino which was surprisingly good for all that coconut and I perused my surroundings and I thought. Nice place this.

A quick note on that coffee. It was good coffee. And I am coffee fussy. Remember Fosters that Mocca replaced? That was bad coffee. The world has become an incrementally better place. In an extraordinarily localised fashion. 

Do I regret this trip, which, as it turned out, due to some trouble in the Blackwall tunnel, still meant I had to limp home before limping back for painkillers? And was actually delicious and well served (Um, yeah. Kinda.)

(Don’t forget, you can preorder, my debut novel “Helen & the a Grandbees” here: 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Alex+Morrall&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Virtually Deptford, A Review of Kitcho in Greenwich

Kitcho is somewhat off the beaten track from Greenwich, beyond even Davy’s wine bar, (in fact virtually Deptford). We were ordering for a friend on a delayed bus, ‘shabu shabu’ she called (via text) but we couldn’t find it on the menu, and when she arrived (and explained that was Japanese hot pot) she said she’d decided that there were probably more specialist places opening up that she would prefer to visit to try shabu shabu anyway.

The staff were incredibly eager to please. Unfortunately this didn’t help avoid a long gap between courses, a very long gap. And we were talking noodles here, not slow cooked nothing. 

But the meal started off well with spicy edamame, that we all agreed to order a second round of… and forgot. 

Spicy Edamame

But the sashimi seemed flavourless to me, or just sea-tasing, or to be specific a little bit sea tasting but less tasty than the sea. Normally I enjoy sashimi. In the noodle stakes the udon was average, but my beef chilli ramen was delicious. 

Udon Noodles at Kitcho

The stella part of the menu was the simple but elegant cocktails, starting with dragons blood, which looked like this:

Dragons Blood cocktail

And a sweet cocktail that we should have had instead of dessert, but we justified in that we only had teenie tiny mochi (and that hardly counts right?), made up of hennessy cognac, baileys double cream and some other sweet thing. Slightly on the sweet side but if you have a drink for dessert, that justifies all calories… right?


Cabrera Review, SE12

We’d heard good things about the steak in Cabrera in Lee and following the demise of CAU (although we always preferred Buenos Aires) there was room for steak in our lives. Not only that… there is an especially well-priced weekday menu… safe in the knowledge, I think, that when you get into the restaurant and see this:

The ‘other’ menu at Cabrera

They won’t be losing any money.

Well… we were reasonably well behaved, sticking with the set menu and adding some especially nice wines to the side… Always nice when the waitress knows what advice to give here. 

My only disappointment was the lack of vegetables, so I chose gazpacho as a starter… not a very normal MrsBlackheathCoffeeShop thing to do, and watched as my husband had a starter that fully qualified as a main, before beginning on his steak. 

Our steaks were delicious and perfectly done, and were accompanied by proper old fries, none of this ‘triple-cooked-chip’ business because ‘we needed more syllables to justify the menu listing’ and we were given a wonderful bread that I would guess by the charcoaling and the slightly gooey interior was cooked by grilling.

The dessert menu was a curious thing… Sometimes good restaurants compromise on dessert and just offload their freezer on you, dusting off the occasional frozen pea. And cornflake sundae did not bode well… so does cheesecake sound promising (kind of like the one at Champagne&Fromage) or a bit more of a disaster out tripple choc caramel how much sugar can I saturate in my cheese affair? In the end I settle for a very pleasant shortcake and chocolate dip, which well complemented my dessert wine. 

Brunch – actually lunch

A review of The Ivy, Blackheath

Sometimes you don’t want the carbohydrate bomb and crowds that Gail’s has to offer when you fancy a last minute lunch in Blackheath. That’s what led me into the new Ivy, Blackheath – for what the menu called brunch. It had to be done sometime.

The Ivy in Blackheath is kind of different from Chapters that it replaced, full of quirky 1930’s glamour and jazz. But the glistening atmosphere, initially at odds with laid back Blackheath vibe (that I never before noticed was laid back…) was actually quite enjoyable for its efforts. The walls were crowded with exciting engravings of old maps and scenes from South East London. The Hand Made Food interior is going to have to up it’s game if this is what dining in Blackheath has become.

The glistening interior at The Ivy in Blackheath

Art at The Ivy, Blackheath

The menu seemed a little full on with heavy dishes for the lunchtime/brunchtime slot, but there were some gems. Despite my intention to flee carbs, I ended up with pancakes.

Pancakes at The Ivy SE3

(That’s because I started with truffle arancini which I say is enough of a savoury meal to start with.) and an English Spritz cocktail with Earl Grey gin  which despite having a tea-ish name, can’t be bought at Gails, so I feel quids in.

Earl Grey Cocktail

The non-alcoholic tea selection was good, and I had nearly ordered an Oolong tea, but the sight of that Earl Grey gin on the drinks derailed me. I found the cocktail a little pasty, but my other half was thrilled with his virgin mary.

My pancakes, loaded with cream and berries, were fine enough and not too sweet, but the point of pancakes in my opinion is to taste the batter, and here they were quite overwhelmed with condiments.  I  really shouldn’t have ordered coffee and cream as well as flourless cappuccino cake, because there are only so many courses and drinks that can come with cream in one sitting, but hey, I had Earl Grey gin to soak up. That’s why I had to apologise to the waiter for not being able to finish his chef’s very fine food.

Steak and eggs at the Ivy, Blackheath

Flourless chocolate cake

My other half’s dessert

The downstairs of Chapters, having been a dining area is now replaced by mysterious underground rooms. “The ladies is the seventh door you will walk past,” said the waiter. No really he did, as if to invite me to ask, what could the other rooms be…? And I’m still left with that question. Is this a novel way of convincing customers to return, as if a little bit of the mystery might be unveiled?

Yorkshire Pud justification

https://www.thewhiteswancharlton.co.uk

Sunday lunch at the White Swan was a bit of an unexpected trip for me. Otherwise  I would have ordered the beef with Yorkshire pudding – obviously. As it was, I had eaten more than my fair share of beef brisket the previous night and really didn’t fancy anymore, yorkshire pud justification, or no Yorkshire pud justification. Even I have my limits.

I went for chicken, with a sigh and revelled in the cosiness of the White Swan. We ate around a genuine open coal fire on old sofas, one of which was malting feathers (we didn’t ask… although  I will say that we were at one point told that the chicken had run out and then a chicken was found, and it was after that that we saw the feathers. Just saying.)

Through the window, the beer garden looked impressive with a decorated hut-like-construction at the very end so it seems well worth a revisit in the summer. I also heard good things about the live music offerings.

My chicken meal, was nice enough. It wasn’t a beef roast though. I hungrily hovered over my husband’s beef roast until winning half a Yorkshire Pud, and a description of an exceptionally well cooked beef.

Staff operated on a ‘the customer is always irritating’ philosophy, curtly advising us half way through our main course that the starters were on their way. Clearly asking for starters at the start was just plain passe… Still, I may well go back to this not quite local local.

Venice isn’t Local , but…

 

So, this is not a local food review, but having recently returned from an anniversary trip to Venice, here are some food photos to enjoy…

Exotically dressed pasta, in Italian, rather than English sized portions:

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Pasta at the Guggenheim

Every guide book told us to go to the fish market early in the day as the boats came in to get the real fish market experience. Whatever. We reached there at 10am. It was stunning, although we were laughed at for taking pictures.

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Delights at the Fish Market

…And Cafe Florian on St Mark’s Square is apparently the oldest coffee house in Venice, and is full of beautiful (if kinda gaudy) interiors. The catch is, there are too many people in there to see anything but the ceiling. And you have to eat quickly to avoid being herded out by a door man.

The tea, affogato and (not very Italian) sacher torte were however delicious.

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Sacher Torte and other Treats at Cafe Florian

“Shopping ain’t my bag” A Review of L’orchidea

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“Shopping ain’t my bag” A Review of L’orchidea by blackheathcoffeeshops A Review of L’Orchidee in Westfield Shopping ain’t my bag, so you will not be shocked to learn that I have only just visited Westfield in Stratford despite its proximity … Continue reading

Is there anything as rustically beautiful as an Oyster?

A review of the Oyster and Steak Bar in Waitrose Canary Wharf.

I know you don’t come here for reviews of supermarkets, but even if you find them very boring you will be in them very often. It’s not reasonable to expect me not to have an opinion no them when I eat from them so frequently.

I think we were shopping in John Lewis, which was why we ended up in Waitrose Steak and Oyster Bar. We were entangled in a rather expensive affair about the wrong type of wine glasses in the right boxes at a till on the upper levels that made us want to sit down and relax relatively soon.

To be honest, the view when coming to sit down was a little grubby. This was a late lunch, but it seemed that no one had cleaned up before the visitors preceding us. The menus were also a little wrinkled. The other disappointing thing about the menus, was the lack of a steak and oyster combination. I mean, maybe steak and oyster isn’t ‘a thing’, but it becomes ‘a thing’ in your head when you go to a bar that is called a steak and oyster bar. There was a degree of surf and turf, but it featured lobster rather than oysters.

So we ordered 6 oysters to share. Followed by steak. This seemed the only appropriate response to the crisis.

Is there anything as rustically beautiful as an Oyster? If I tried to paint one with photographic perfection, it would still look like I had messed up the paints.  And these oysters were pure seaside. I always put the proffered lemon or chilli on them, and then decide that really they are best eaten just alone.

There was a veerrry long wait for the steak. Perhaps the chef had read my review of Cau and thought that he should charcoal my steak to be sure not to receive the same verdict. We could see the chef breaking open packets of Waitrose steaks to cook. I had thought that there was a good range of sauces, and went for chilli and garlic butter, with just a little regret that I did not choose tarragon butter as my husband did. However these arrived as discs of butter (yes, they had said butter) and I think that sauces would have been vastly superior. But both steaks were excellent.      Who can account for the amount of daytime champagne drinking that occurs at a steak and oyster bar? Is it the oysters have a knee-jerk relationship with champagne. (Oysters don’t have knees, so this doesn’t make a lot of sense). I really wanted champagne myself, but I have learned that day time drinking is not for me and on this occasion my sensible side won out.  

  Just so you know, the wine glass debacle has resulted in me having white glasses and red glasses. This feels a little too snobby for me, really and I am still trying to come to terms with it.