Simplicity

During Open House 2011 I visited The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe for an amazing trip into the Thames tunnel’s original entrance.

Whilst wandering around the area I spotted a restaurant called Simplicity that looked pretty swish and smart but with decent prices. I vowed to go back and in May on my birthday I stamped my foot and demanded to go. :D.

This is what we had in typical photographic style…

Beautifully grilled king prawns with a lovely Marie Rose sauce, the salad was lightly dressed with a tasty vinaigrette, £9.25

Perfectly cooked duck on a crispy potato cake base. Veg was lovely as was the fruity sauce, £14.95

Huge epic sea bream with potatoes, pesto and cherry tomatoes, £14.75

Wonderfully cold pavlova with yummy yummy meringue, £6.55

Chocolate mousse heaven with ice cream and berries, £6.95

Window view

Specials board and open kitchen

Our total spend excluding a glass of Pinot Grigio, £6.50, and a jug of Pimms, £15, was £61.70. Considering the finesse of the food, the good service and the elegance of the interior, I thought this was a very good deal for a three-course meal for two.

Simplicity gets a big thumbs up from me!

………

Bianco 43

In January I reviewed Bianco 43 Delivery, a new pizza delivery business in East Greenwich. Two months later one of the owners contacted me to offer me a free dinner for two at their restaurant in the centre of Greenwich to say thank you.

Obviously, I accepted. Free food?! What more could a girl want!

So, on a Tuesday night in March, the other half and I ventured into the tourist trap that is Greenwich town centre. Most of the restaurants around here are chains and the character of this area does suffer from bland and uninspiring food outlets. However, we still have the market (for now) and there are a number of independent restaurants that will hopefully stick around and encourage more locals to eat out.


On entering Bianco 43 I was impressed with the clean, fresh brightly painted interior. The scrubbed white wooden floor and pine tables gave the restaurant a wonderful mediterranean feel and the place felt homely instead of generic like Pizza Express.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the service immediately as we had to wait five minutes for our menus while the waiter chatted with various people. Most restaurants would give the menus to the customers as soon as they are seated, but in this case it did not happen which left me distracted and unable to relax. However, once our orders had been taken, our food and drink arrived quickly.

But, the waiter had got part of the order wrong and my boyfriend was given the pasta special instead of the pizza special he had requested. We decided not to say anything as we were having a free meal, but we had been looking forward to a pizza from the wood-fired oven. :s.

Hopefully he was just having a off night…


Sautéed fresh mussels with garlic and toasted focaccia bread, £7.90


Fried squid and courgettes served with tartare sauce, £8.90


Pappardelle with wild mushrooms and duck, £12.50


Pasta special, £13


Tiramisu, £4.90


Panna Cotta, £5.90

As to the food, it was very good and miles better than the takeaway we had eaten in January. The food was also served on beautiful mis-matched plates full of colour which added to the individual feel of the place. Everything arrived hot and perfectly cooked, and the portion sizes were just right. After three courses each we felt satisfied but not overly stuffed.

If Bianco 43 could shave a £1 or so off the starter and main prices I think they could bring in more passing customers as the Pizza Express across the road is undercutting Bianco 43 by a couple of pounds*. BUT, if you want really good Italian food then you should definitely choose Bianco 43 over Pizza Express’s yawn fest of food.

Thank you to Massimo for the excellent meal!

………

*Since eating at Bianco 43 in March, a lunch offer has been introduced. All pizzas are £5.95, Monday to Friday until 4pm.

………

Saturday Night at River Cottage

For my boyfriend’s 23rd birthday I took him on a surprise trip to Devon. We stayed in a B&B and spent Saturday Night at River Cottage.

River Cottage is a cooking programme fronted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and it began in 1998 when he moved to Devon as part of a down-sizing experiment. Due to the success of the Channel 4 show, River Cottage has now become a large business with regular television programmes focusing on the on-going developments in Fearnley-Whittingstall’s life.

Two River Cottage canteens are now run by the River Cottage team, and the latest River Cottage incarnation, Park Farm, has its headquarters near Axminster where cooking and dinner events are held.

Sadly in February, Park Farm burnt down. Courses and events had to be cancelled but a temporary events space has now been built.

………

This blog has been written because I wanted to record and mark the life of the Park Farm events barn. We has such a wonderful time that night, and I was quite upset to read about its destruction back in February.

I am very pleased to have photos from the evening to remember what it was like. I think the fire will change River Cottage, for the better I would imagine, onwards and upwards.

After meeting at the given point we were taken down the steep hill in a large truck pulled by a tractor. Magnificent!

We were then led into a yurt where we were given canapés and the finest Kingston Black Apple liqueur one could ask for. At 18% it was quite a tipple! I loved it! We also bought a bottle there and were delighted to find it the New Forest Cider stall at Borough Market in ‘ole London town a few months later.

After the warmth of the yurt we went back out into the February air and were led into the lovely barn. Long and narrow, it had two long scrubbed wood dining tables with a seating plan that lead us to our spots. All couples and groups were placed opposite each other to encourage us grumpy English types to interact.



We were encouraged to nosy about, look into the kitchen and see what the chefs we doing. We also had to go outside to use the composting toilets, brr!





After sitting down with the eighty other foodies we introduced ourselves and I wangled myself another glass of liqueur, and got given a large one! Weeeeeee!

Our head chef for the evening then came and explained all the dishes we were going to have and where the food came from.

We even got a band!

Artichoke soup with chorizo and soda bread.

Sea bream with potato croquette, watercress garnish and a paste of some sort. The other half thinks the croquette had something strong and cheesy in it but we can’t remember what it was at all, that is what happens when you write a blog two years after the event!

Slow roasted lamb, dauphinoise potato, honey roasted carrots and purple sprouting broccoli. Some of my favourite foods.

Oops. What was left of a lovely rhubarb pannacotta with sugary biscuits. I love love love pannacotta.

A wonderful night, he was very happy with his birthday present. River Cottage is a beautiful place… to get pissed and loose your camera in the taxi back to the B&B and then get it back. 🙂

………

Meat Liquor

Last year I heard about this cool, hip and happening burger joint in town and decided to check. it. out.

Being neither cool, hip or happening I did feel a bit out of place with all the hipsters in the queue – some without socks (!!!), but the other half and I persevered and after a fifty minute wait in the queue outside we got a table.

We ordered fairly quickly but waited over an hour for our food. Tempers were fraying by the time the food came out at 9pm, but the wait was actually worth it. The food was amazing.

We were also given a discount due to the wait so that was very nice. I also found out afterwards that we had gone the day after Meat Liquor had opened which explained the nutty amount of customers and the service.

………

We went back in February on a day off and I remembered to bring the camera this time.


We decided to get there before 5pm and this proved to be a good time to go as the queue was non-existant. We were given a table straight away and grabbed some cokes while we chose our food.




This is a man who wants a burger.


Luckily for him the food arrived quickly and we tucked into our buffalo wings, cheeseburgers, chill cheese fries and onion rings.


So much heavenly burger, I got halfway and had to give up. Doggie bags to the rescue!


We didn’t realise that we had ordered two lots of onion rings by accident. Oops. They are amazing. Huge slices of onion cooked in a wonderful batter. Beautiful.


Om nom nom. Don’t get in my way when I want to eat… or drink a Silver Angel (Finlandia Vodka shaken with peach and passion fruit, served straight up, topped with fizz).




Classy.


Ceiling art.

The queue at 6pm. Oh. My. God.

………

This place is GREAT. The food is great, the low red lighting and slightly murky atmosphere invite you in, and the prices are pretty good for round the back of Oxford Street.

Our cheeseburgers were £6.50 each and a (large) portion of fries is £3.00. The burger and cocktail list is extensive and most importantly, the buffalo wings are AMAZING and tangy and moreish and delicious.

Next time we might go back just for wings and fries. Heaven on a tray.

Go.

………

More information about Meat Liquor’s origins as The Meatwagon can be found in these reviews:

The Meatwagon, Peckham, Will Eat For Money

Meateasy, above the Goldsmiths Tavern, The Independent

………

Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech

Perhaps the most famous place in Marrakech is the Djemaa el-Fna, a large open space in the Medina where tourists and locals congregate all day and night.

We were charmed by snakes, spoken to constantly by the orange juice sellers and I tried to ignore the attentions of the henna artists as we meandered about taking it all in. People and traffic intermingle and the square changes its purpose and intentions from day to night.

One evening I bought a tasty sweet biscuit from the many mothers and children selling them on little trays, and then the next day we were shopping for Christmas presents. This was the best find ever… I won’t say who we bought it for…

As the afternoon turns to evening tables and kitchens are set up, the smell of cooking fills the air – a nice contrast to the constant motorbike fumes, and people settle down to eat.








All the food stalls in the Djemma el-Fna are very cheap, and with an exchange rate of £1 to 13dh you cannot break the bank. We spent about 200dh for the two of us, and dined at Mohamad Ben Ali Safiani aka No. 22 twice.








We ordered a number of dishes including brochettes viande haché (grilled veg), olives, tagine au poulet (chicken), calamares (squid), crevettes (prawns) and some frites (fries stupid), all washed down with a nice bottle of Coke. Mmmmm.

Everything was cooked well and tasted fabulous, and it was just perfect to sit outside in the December air.


We came back the next night after a day trip to the Ouzoud Cascades. We were tired from the sun and the bus journey and it was great to just sit down and be fed immediately.




I had soup this time plus some more seafood. I think I had some lovely lamb kebabs but I don’t have documentary evidence so I could be wrong. 😉

Our two dinners were served with bread and two sauces, one fresh tomato one, and one spicy intense hot one. Yummy.


Oh, and here are some photos of the snakes.




Plus a photo taken from the bottom left of the square, taken on our last evening.


………