The Secret Larder Review

What kind of crazy bastard would open up his home to 22 members of the public, cook for them, wait on them hand and foot and trust them to pay a donation at the end of several hours of fanny-busting gluttony? James Ramsden (or Rambo) is his name and his supper club, The Secret Larder, is a highly successful evening that he runs along with his lovely girlfriend every 2 weeks at his equally lovely place in North London. I took my large, curious nose and my grey disheveled hair along to see how the whole thing works and to serve the guests some food cooked by michelin-starred chef Shane Osborn. And to wash the dishes of course 🙂

How does it work?

James and his followers decide on a theme which is posted up to his site and those who are interested email him for a place at the Supper Club. It’s as simple as that really! Themes from the past have included pigs, magic and herbs with a Roald Dahl theme planned for later in the year which sounds fun!

On the evening you turn up and get ushered into the ‘restaurant’ and get served the menu course by course. The atmosphere is buzzing and the venue has a quaint, intimate feel to it, with only 3 tables which seat 22 in total. You pay an undisclosed donation at the end of the evening and I heard from James’ lady that some people actually didn’t pay at previous events. Leading swiftly onto the question of the customers themselves…

What’s the food like?

The evening I went along I was lucky enough to be fed by Shane Osborn and James. Shane has michelin stars and James has just released his first cook book, suffice to say the food was great. Watercress soup with quail’s egg, tequila & pomegranate sorbet, roast lamb with rosemary, beans and beetroot puree were just some of the dishes served up and they were all tasty, well cooked and executed. Not the most wonderfully brilliant food I’ve ever tasted but this was a supper club in someone’s house cooking on one cooker for 22 people. With that considered, the food was exceptional.

What are the customers like?

Some of the people at the event seemed like lovely, smiley, middle-aged happy people with nice lives looking for an alternative to the average dining experience. And some were cunts. But I guess that’s no surprise since this is, after all, a supper club.

This comment from a visitor on James’ site amused me:

I have heard so much about your evenings and have a number of friends interested in the experience. I am however a little concerned by your twitter remarks about your guests. Not the best business model if you are looking at this as a profitable venture. Have the experience, pay for dinner and await a slating across the Internet as a source of amusement for the general public. Me thinks not!

I have no idea what the tweet said but based on some of the customers I met last week it was probably something to do with them being self-righteous, upper middle-class minge-monkeys.

Don’t let the clientele put you off though; James and his crew are lovely people and lots of the guests seemed genuinely nice too.

The Verdict

If you want an intimate, entertaining evening with good food at a great price then I can’t recommend this place enough. Places get booked up quickly though so be sure to book well in advance. I for one am looking forward to the Roald Dahl evening where I can hopefully be a guest who is served the food rather than haphazardly trotting around dishing up plates of food to people I’d happily punch in the face.

.http://www.jamesramsden.com/the-secret-larder/

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Sweaty Middle Eastern-inspired Tapas

Last Friday on what was one of the more uncomfortably sweaty days for all those born with a scrotum I paid a visit to The Riding House Cafe; a new middle eastern inspired tapas-style haunt that’s recently opened in the heart of London, just off Oxford street.

The food, the decor, the service, location and the menu design were all pretty wonderful and I would definitely recommend you pay a visit; it’s great! The only let down were the prawns which looked like dodgy fake prawns you’d get served in a paella at a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding in Benidorm. Speaking of fat people, check out this lump of a victim: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2012156/Josie-Barnes-sheds-nearly-8st-armed-robber-branded-fat-cow.html. Poor Josie.

The menu is split up into dishes priced at £3, £4 and £5 if you want the small plates as we did and here’s what we had:

Moorish lamb, smoked aubergine

Veal & pork sausage, lentils, mustard, sage

Slow roasted pork belly with cumin salt

Chermoula spiced poussin, jalapeno, lemon

Chocolate praline semi freddo (fuck knows what that means).

The Riding House Cafe on Urbanspoon

Eating the Alphabet – Tiroler Hut

This weekend sees the start of a new adventure in cooking, eating and laughing with the beginning of ‘eating the alphabet’ – a culinary alphabetical journey throughout some of London’s best and most bizarre restaurants. Over the next 26 months (or at least up until the point where things get boring) myself and 4 friends will be visiting a restaurant linked to the letter of the alphabet.

Please note this video contains strong language (including the C word). If easily offended scroll on for some nicer things with no swearing 🙂

Here’s a little bit more about the people taking part. I like to think of us as an uglier version of the Spice Girls.

Tara
Positive to the point where it becomes disturbing. Think Mary Poppins mixed with Kerry Katona. Terrifying.

Antoinette
A loveable chav through and through. Convinced that she’s never going to get married and will be dead before 40.

Sarah
Sounds like Gillian Mckeith. Looks like Gillian McKeith. Here’s to hoping the bitch faints at the dinner table.

Jason
A flakey faggot with anger issues and freckles. Blindly galloping through life telling everyone how amazing he is at everything.

Me The nicest large nosed selfish, arrogant piece of shit you’ll ever meet.

And so we launch with the letter A (obvs). After much deliberation we decided on Austrian cuisine for our first evening of fun and paid a visit to the weird and wonderful Tiroler Hut in Notting Hill, west London so check out the video to see what happened!

Tiroler Hut on Urbanspoon

Tsunami Restaurant

http://www.tsunamirestaurant.co.uk
Nearest Tube: Goodge Street
93 Charlotte Street, London
Price: ££££
Verdict: Quite simply, awesome food.

There’s not really that much to say about this place except that the food is awesome and that you should pay a visit whenever you get the chance.. The pictures will do more justice than my ramblings so here they are (picture above is of the snow crab shumai):

Sashimi Selection. I was never the greatest fan of sashimi mostly because I’d never tasted it. This was melt in the mouth deliciousness.

Chicken Gyoza pan fried and filled with chicken, cabbage & spring onion.

Grilled scallops with masago & creamy spicy sauce flambée with whisky. Looked and tasted incredible.

King Prawn Tempura served with a creamy chilli mayo that was sickeningly moreish.

Organic lamb cutlets with Korean kimchi chilli. I was happy to have the meat stuck between my teeth for hours afterwards.

Courgette flowers tempura served with a sweet miso dipping sauce. My least favourite of the dishes, mostly because I’m not the biggest fan of courgettes and the sweet miso dipping sauce tasted like toffee flavoured Angel Delight. Weird and borderline wrong.

Grilled pork belly with teriyaki glaze served with grilled spring onions.

So there it is. Quite simply, awesome food. Go and try it for yourself some time. Give the courgettes and Angel Delight a miss and you will not be disappointed.

Tsunami on Urbanspoon

The Blue Legume

After several successful years of busy business in Stoke Newington, The Blue Legume has finally begun it’s expansion, starting with a new venue on upper street. I popped along last Sunday for a bit of brunch and to mingle with the upper middle classes, the yummy mummies and a tramp with a harmonica.

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Sunday Tapas

This Sunday I arranged a catch up with some mates at a place called KitchinN1, an all-you-can eat buffet located in the heart of King’s Cross that serves most cuisines known to man, from Italian to Indian, Chinese and Thai. Sounds disgusting, ya? Well that’s what I thought, but apparently it’s all freshly cooked in front of you and is really good. I’ll never know though since I arrived at 2.30 for lunch and it was closed.

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Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Review

Following my mixed experiences at the Dishoom restaurant a few weeks back I promised myself I would go back to try it a second time but then I stumbled upon Dishoom’s new pop-up Chowpatty Beach on London’s South Bank. It’s based on the Chowpatty Beach of Mumbai and the the food experience is supposed to reflect that of the original beach. Having not been to Mumbai I couldn’t comment on its authenticity but here are my thoughts!

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Restaurant Review: Dishoom

Dishoom is a relatively new (opened in 2010) Bombay-style cafe that serves ‘authentic’ Indian street food for sharing and here’s our thoughts.

I have been wanting to go to this place ever since I randomly stumbled upon it a few months ago and was unable to get a table. Surprisingly, with the Royal Wedding coming up tomorrow and London flooded with annoying people from other countries (tourists etc) I was able to get a table for dinner this evening; hurrah, pip pip and God Save the Queen etc.

The Venue

The place is nicely decorated with some vintage art pieces on the wall and low-hanging ceiling lamps over each of the tables. The waiters were very attentive and generally it’s a trendy, open yet cosy place to catch up with a few friends without any overbearing Bollywood soundtracks or stereotypical Indian tunage.

The Food

The waiters recommend that you order between 2 or 3 dishes per person each, to be cooked to order and shared. We opted for 4 dishes in total between the 2 of us:

Desi Fish Fingers

These were probably my favourite savoury dish and were the first bits of food to land on the table. Lightly coated in a spicy batter and fried, these Bombay-style fish fingers served with a tamarind dipping sauce were cooked perfectly and literally fell apart in the mouth. A great start.

Next came our other dishes:

Lamb Tikka Romali, Dishoom Chicken Tikka, Massala Prawns

Aesthetically, the dishes weren’t anything special and I was a little disappointed that they didn’t look a bit more appetising to be honest. Anyways, that wasn’t to stop me eating as much as possible. The lamb roll was OK but it didn’t really pack any kind of punch that I was hoping for. It was cooked well and the homemade roti tasted good too but it didn’t blow me away. It came served with a mint and coriander yogurt that was delish though. Similarly, the prawns were cooked perfectly and tasted fine, especially with a good squeeze of lime, but still disappointed on spiciness. We again, resorted to dipping them into the accompanying pots of tamarind, yogurt and coriander pots on the table which gave the food the extra depth of flavour it was badly craving.

The chicken tikka was a lot better and delivered an excellent kick in the mouth in spice terms however it was a little dry and so was probably the least-well cooked out of the three, despite being the most delicious. Frustrating!

We had also ordered a rice as a side dish but the food is brought out as and when its ready we weren’t sure if it would be coming or not which was annoying. Sadly, it didn’t so we had this deducted from the bill in the end.

Would dessert be any better?

Pomegranate & Chilli Gola Ice, Pistachio Kulfi on a Stick

As a savoury-fiend I find it difficult to say this but the desserts were probably the highlight of the entire meal. The Kulfi on a stick was essentially a dolled up Milk Ice Lolly but tasted fantastic with real depth and a rich gooeyness that made me smile. The chilli and pomegranate ice was also a joy to eat, if only because of the little glass and spoon it came served with. The sweetness of the pomegranate and the chilli punch worked a treat.

And that’s it.

The Verdict: ***

Different, delicious and disappointing.

For all its good points, Dishoom is let down by its inconsistencies across its dishes. However, considering its very reasonably priced (£50 for two including 4 drinks, 4 dishes and 2 desserts) I will definitely be returning to try out some of the other dishes.

Dishoom on Urbanspoon