LOVE FOOD, LIVE FOODIE:
Welcome to a new type of lockdown; where once again, restaurant trips become rare.
What this means is that I will have to rely on others for reviews; so thanks to @heraldsinc for this review of Cottons in Notting Hill.
I hadn't heard of Cottons before, but it is well known and was visited for a birthday trip. Looking at the site and the pictures, I can see why.
This is how they describe themselves:
"Welcome to Cottons Notting Hill where it's Carnival all year long! Following a complete re-design, we are glad to welcome you in to totally tropical vibes and a new bigger bar area for our infamous rum selection and cocktails.Cottons is packed full of contagious Caribbean spirit offering a wide selection of Caribbean cuisine in the heart of Notting Hill including our signature Mixed Jerk Grill Platter and Jerk Half Chicken, Superfood Rasta Salad and divine desserts full of tropical taste.
Calling all Rum lovers, Cottons proudly owns of the Guinness World Record for the most amount of rums commercially available - 372 to be precise. Come and try them all!"
Sounds both yummy and boozy. I should visit.
Guest Post below:
I have been lucky enough now to have tried a few Caribbean restaurants over the years, thanks to my brother in law. He has helped open up my eyes a bit more to what is out there. I always go for a jerk dish, something I know and something I enjoy.
When I gazed at the menu at Cottons, what grabbed my attention was the mixed meat platter, Jerk Pork, Jerk Chicken, chicken wing and a lamb chop - sold, sold, sold.
When it came, it did not disappoint. The dish came with a serving of rice and plantain, very yummy. The sauce on the meat had the necessary and expected kick, yet it didn't leave me crying. It was finger licking good in fact and I was happy and sad after I had consumed it all.
It was only after 20 minutes that I realised how much I had eaten and that I was way beyond full. At the time of eating, I was just savouring every bite.
I should mention that I did get the salt fish fritters to start, which had a lovely mango chutney sauce and were a great portion size to start.
The restaurant itself was very nice and cozy. Tables relatively close together and with attentive staff. We didn't have to wait too long for our food and everything was served efficiently and with a smile. Cottons has a few other venues dotted around London, so if you are in Camden or Shoreditch, do go and visit. Well worth it!
Thanks for the blog and I will definitely go and visit.
When in Whitstable have...
Of course, it makes sense. Well, for the most part it does. Going down to Kent and the coast, one is expected to have Oysters. Whitstable Oysters are world famous and a must (so I have heard).
However, good Oysters implies good seafood and seafood is a key component of good tapas.
Therefore, Harbour Street Tapas in Whitstable is a no brainer.
After a few recommendations for a lunch time visit, we went and checked out the small corner restaurant and got a table and decided to eat.
With a simple menu, broken down into sections (and seasonal), it was clear what we had to do. We looked at the sections and went for a few in column A and more from column B (I hope you get the reference).
- Jamon Croquetas
- Fried Squid with Anchovy Aioli
- Butterflied Sardines with Fennel salad
- Roast Spiced monkfish with arroz negro
A light lunch, with a special focus on seafood. Next time, I will need to try out some of their meat dishes.
A nice sunny, yet windy day with a window seat, we watched the world walk by.
Obviously with COVID we looked at quieter streets and times, however, this worked to our advantage as we were able to get a table.
Once in, the tean were friendly and attentive, without being in our face. To me, this is the right level of service as i like to relax and enjoy my time in a restaurant. A time to unwind, chat and enjoy good food.
The food here was top notch. The seafood was very fresh and cooked well. They were all accompanied with great partners like the fennel salad or silky spanish rice.
Having been to San Sebastian last November, Harbour Street Tapas made me reminisce a lot. Light bites, full of flavour, filling and hearty. A day to the Kent coast felt like a mini holiday.
GOOD TIMES: All good food. When down the coast, have the seafood.
WATCH OUT: book in advance, small restaurant and popular place
OMG: San Sebastian but in South England. SAY WHAT!
Life's little treats are the best and nowadays, even going for a Sunday Roast sounds like a wonderful and magnificent luxury.
Indeed, it is for some, and I make sure I never take it for granted. This is made easier when you have a pleasant experience with good food and good people.
This Sunday Roast was a visit to Queen Adelaide in Wandsworth. A Young's Pub in London, on a socially distanced and sunny day. The welcome addition here was their Burger Shack & Bar.
The outdoor area is a great reason to visit. With lovely views, which at times makes you think you are in the countryside and then contrasted with the overground train and sounds of London.
As you can see below, I went for a typical roast, but as a starter we shared some chicken wings. It wasn't that I was extra hungry, BUT, they looked good and I didn't want FOMO.
The wings were just what was needed and what we wanted. Hot, sticky, sweet and a bit of spice too. The blue cheese dip on the side was refreshing and helped to cool the heat from the habanero sauce.
Well cooked and generous in size, gives me confidence to try out one of their burgers next time I visit.
When that will be, I am not yet sure.
Now, to the Roast.
The options were intriguing, for me, it was a tie up between either a Beef Roast or Pork.
My wife went for the beef and that made my mind up. I would get Pork and sneak a few bites of beef in after.
All roasts are served with herb crusted roast potato, honey glazed carrots, roasted seasonal vegetables, seasonal puree, yorkshire pudding and gravy.
It sounds just right and looks good too.
The roast was just about right in all areas. One area that I wanted a bit more from was the crackling. It was missing a bit of crunch and bite. The rest of the roast was delightful. I, especially enjoyed the seasonal veg which gave depth to the roast and accompanied each mouthful with added texture and flavour.
If I could dream, I would ask that they have crunchy and crispy crackling, but also to add roast lamb to the menu too. Next time, I will try the burger from the burger shack team and maybe a drink or two extra (all before 10pm).
Until next time, see you soon.
As a result of lockdown, the government are encouraging people to 'Eat out to Help Out'. The aim with the scheme is to help the economy and get people spending again. 50% off will help encourage many people to go back to restaurants and lots of people have and are taking advantage.
I took full benefit of the scheme twice in one day. First was a trip to McDonalds and 50% off a meal. £2.50 for a Quarter Pounder meal was delightful.
The second trip, was a visit to SushiMania in Whetstone.
The rush to go out is real. VAT cuts, up to £10 off and the fact that it is the summer holidays, means booking ahead is vital. After a few tries, we managed to get a table for six.
At SushiMania, the options available and the one we went for was 'All you can eat'. Once seated, we were given a menu to showcase all on offer. The staff encouraged us to go on their site and order via our phones.
The idea and execution were simple enough. Enter the table number and then go through the menu on the phone and click, click and click.
You get a limited number per order, this made sense, so that a) they could manage the number of orders b) stop you from ordering everything and then waiting ages for the one dish.
The menu covered sushi (as you would expect), some dim sum, noodles, soup, hot food and more. As it days, ALL YOU CAN EAT.
The food arrives quite quickly and the duty we had was to make sure we had space on our table. There were times, especially near the end, where our eyes were bigger than our bellies (and table too).
The food is tasty and with the £10 off per person, was definitely worth it. The sushi didn't taste like the freshest available, but good service and fast (ish) food at a reasonable price was what we signed up for and got.
GOOD TIMES: Food and lots of it
WATCH OUT: It won't be the best sushi ever, book in advance
OMG: Make space for lots of food. Take advantage of the offer.
Once I heard lockdown restrictions were easing, I pounced on an opportunity to make a booking for a place I have wanted to go to for years.
The Hand & Flowers by Tom Kerridge, has been recommended to me by so many people; that after a few months of no restaurants and saving some money; I booked a lunch date for two.
Why all the hype and fuss about this. Well... as they say, they are...
"A cosy, welcoming pub with outstanding food
The Hand & Flowers is the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars. We’re located in the beautiful Georgian town of Marlow, where we serve delicious, award-winning food in welcoming and comfortable surroundings."
"At The Hand & Flowers, we believe that great ingredients are crucial. Get them right, and you’re 90 per cent there. We take an honest approach to food, allowing the ingredients to be true to themselves, with a drive for flavour and nothing too complex. We have strong relationships with producers to ensure the best possible produce for our guests, and that includes many local suppliers."
I think, 'pub', 'two Michelin Stars' and 'delicious' are the things that appealed to me.
Chef Tom Kerridge also is a big draw and having one of his cookbooks and watching him, countless times of TV, means I had to sample his food myself.
Having got to the pub, on a lovely hot day, we sat outside in the sun and had our drinks. The outdoor area was very relaxed and sat in the sun, I felt like I was on holiday.
We both went for cocktails to drink and had an Old Fashioned each. One was with duck fat and the other was alcohol free. Both were very tasty, the Alcohol with duck fat version was very sweet and I made sure I enjoyed every sip in the sun.
The food we had ordered :
Looks good right?
It reads well, looked great and tasted even better. As a couple eating, the benefits are obvious; quality time and the ability to share. Although, we each ordered what we wanted (I went for the Pie to start and Lamb bun for main), we still sampled each others dishes... and then shared the chips.
To describe the food, we would say it was clever, full of rich and deep flavours AND absolutely YUMMY.
Or you could even describe it as complex and simple at the same time.
The Hand & Flowers is a special occasion type of restaurant. What this means is, book in advance, save up and believe the hype.
It was well worth the visit and I am already saving up to go back again.
GOOD TIMES: The food will leave you full and happy. The best bet would be to book a room so you can just go and lay down after.
WATCH OUT: It is pricey and there will be a wait. So book in advance.
OMG: The lamb bun, is a neat little package, that packs a punch. So tasty and i can see why it is their signature dish.