LOVE FOOD, LIVE FOODIE:
Not Ricks place but a German place. No Sausage jokes coming up or German sausage puns either.
I found Stein's in Richmond by the power of Searching online. Top rated on Google, I was stubborn and went for it. I had no idea what was being served or the venue or even arrangement, but all were fine and on a nice early Spring day, it worked perfectly.
Located on the river Thames near Richmond, Stein's welcomes passer-by's to long benches and a covered outdoor area.
The procedure is quite straight forward. Find a table yourself, grab a menu and then when you want, go up to the counter and order food and drinks.
As a German place called Stein's, one thing I was happy to see was the beer everyone was having. Stein's in fact. I was slightly jealous as I declined the alcohol. but I was driving so avoided the drinks.
It was just three of us this time (Laura, her dad and I) and between the three we just ordered one main dish each. These are below.
Currywurst mit Bratkartoffeln £ 10.90
Large smoked spicy pork sausage, served with homemade curry sauce and pan-fried potatoes
Nürnberger Würstchen vom Grill mit Sauerkraut und Kartoffelbrei £12.40
Original small pork sausages (portion of 5) from the famous Bavarian town of Nürnberg, filled with spices and herbs, full of flavour, served grilled with Bavarian-style sauerkraut and potato mash
Münchner Bratwurst mit Bratkartoffeln und Salatgarnitur £ 11.90
Pork sausage from Bavarian capital Munich, filled with spices and herbs, with a mild flavour, served grilled with pan-fried potatoes and salad garnish
Keeping it simple is something that Italians do well. Here the Germans have kept it simple with a few basic items but then packing in flavour into each. The sausages are full of different herbs and spices and grilled tonne served with a plate full of potatoes.
The price point is fair enough too and the portion size keeps your stomach happy and wallet not so light.
GOOD TIMES: Sausages and More Sausages. I also like the added flavour and heat of the curry wurst.
WATCH OUT: I am not a fan of sauerkraut sorry- so I kept away.
OMG: Steins are GREAT and coupled with a spring day and the lively and lovely vibe of the outdoor beer fuelled venue.
London has the quality and diversity of food like no other. Well, maybe New York too. Next up on the list of niche restaurants is steamed buns from Bao.
BAO = Bun. This is how they describe themselves
"We make all our Baos in house, using milk, wheat flour and a roux.
We steam our Baos so they are soft, pillowy and cloud-like."
That's it. what more do you want to know?
Bao is very related to one of my other loves; Burgers. If you think about it, they are very similar. Buns are a vessel to serve food.
When the buns are 'soft, pillowy and cloud like' it is no surprise that Bao has become a hit in London. From huge queues at their original site in Soho, they opened up a second restaurant in Fitzrovia and delighted those queue haters with a booking system.
I eventually went to Bao in early February, just before Valentines Day and the table was booked and we walked in to a busy restaurant. Sat and welcomed, we went about checking out the Fitzrovia menu. This menu, we were told was slightly different to the original and had also been updated with new editions.
The menu is quite simple and you are asked to put down the quantity of what you want. ie - next to the buns, put down 3 if you want three. Get it! A good example is on the Zomato website for this. Between the three of us we ordered two buns each, fried chicken, fried seaweed and great dessert of peanut butter ice cream.
The buns we had were the classic bun of pork, beef short rib and also confit pork too. The fillings in each were amazing and all the meat was cooked perfectly. Tender, pull apart and with a good three or four bites, then bun was gone.
It's not just buns at Bao, the dishes of fried chicken and seaweed were great too. The crunch and bite were deafening at times. Most importantly it was fried to the point of non greasiness. Quality and good enough quantity, where importantly I wasn't stuffed but full and content. Good work BAO.
GOOD TIMES = all buns and the dessert for sure. Teas for those healthy people but also good cocktails to start a night.
WATCH OUT = I would recommended booking a table to avoid long queues
OMG = why has it taken me so long to go?!
Almost a month to the day, Laura and I for Valentines Day went to Pure Indian Cooking restaurant. This restaurant is owned by Husband and Wife team of Faheem Vanoo and Chef Shilpa Dandekar.
Following from my meal and a break, I contacted Chef Shilpa for an interview to understand what it is like to work with your partner, see what her inspirations are and her top spots in London.
ABOUT: With a love of cooking from an early age, Chef-Patron Shilpa Dandekar honed her skills as a Commis Chef with Indian’s famed Taj hotel group. Along with her husband Faheem Vanoo, who also trained with Taj, she arrived in the UK and immediately took to cooking Modern British food in various pubs before embarking as a Sous Chef at London’s renowned Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Quilon. Following on from Quilon, Shilpa moved on to working with the legendary Raymond Blanc OBE, with whom she was part of the opening team for the very first Brasserie Blanc, before being promoted by him to become the Head Chef. Subsequently, in 2014, Shilpa and Faheem opened a successful takeaway and home delivery unit in south west London before launching Pure Indian Cooking in Fulham.
Who was the main inspiration/instigator behind you opening up your own restaurant?
Pure originally started as a takeaway business in a location near to where it’s at now as a restaurant. Our aim was to serve good Indian food in the south west of London, as there were no good takeaways here. We soon realised that our cooking was starting to get recognition for its quality and flavour. We were also getting a lot of requests for home deliveries. The popularity of the takeaway gave us an immense boost because it was always our dream to start up a restaurant. So when we got an opportunity to open one in Fulham we pulled out all the stops as it were and really went for it.
What would you define as “pure” Indian cooking?
I think everyone has their own definition of purity. For me it’s cooking which is couched in tradition but after that I want to have the freedom to put my own spin on it and that can vary as to how much and which particular component of the dish. I personally also like to make the cooking as refined and flavoursome as possible yet at the same time also healthy.
Where do you see the restaurant in five years time?
We would like to build a name for Pure for its original cooking and by far the best Indian food in the Fulham and surrounding south west areas of London.
When was the last time Faheem cooked for you?
Faheem and I laugh about this but I actually keep him away from any kind cooking – even at home - because he’s yet to really learn about such things. He always says you should do what you are good at and he’s good at the managerial level at the restaurant’s front of house and I’m more comfortable in the kitchen. But he is always there for constructive feedback and we have created dishes which he is sceptical about whereas I will say it’s well balanced.
Why Putney Bridge/Fulham?
From the time we arrived in the UK, we had always stayed around London’s south west, areas like Clapham, Wimbledon, Southfields and so on, so we wanted to do something of our own from where we started our life together.
Which restaurants are in your top 5 for London?
It’s difficult to say as there are so many good restaurants in London in terms of both food and service. However, I would select the following as my top five:
Thank you so much Shilpa and Faheem. Firstly for good food and secondly for this lovely interview. I am sure the success will continue and if you focus on that purity then the customers and I will be back for more. A big thank you also to Consultant Humayun Hussain who helped with setting this interview up.
When given the opportunity to go to a restaurant of my choice, I decided to go all out. The requirement was somewhere fancy, one that I probably couldn't afford myself and somewhere to feed me and look after me. This was a tough ask, but one I narrowed down quickly and efficiently.
Some may disagree with my choice, but I went for Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. A Three Starred Michelin restaurant in London. A good reputation, out of my budget and a chance to eat good food and take some foodie pictures.
What does Three stars mean? Is it purely based on food? Does three stars have to be so expensive? Many questions and many answers were achieved from this visit.
We went for lunch and were greeted by a friendly team. We were welcomed, jackets taken care of and seated on a nice round table. Big enough to seat us all but close enough not to have to shout to hear one another.
It all started off very well and very grand. The next step to continue this was the drinks menu. This was almost the size and thickness of a bible. Incredible, this book was oh so daunting and having to decide for five others was some responsibility. Although daunting it was very impressive, with information on each drink, what was it in and what to look out for. Eventually I had to make a decision and with the help of the team, I went for a cheaper priced bottle of fizzy. This was needed as my focus was on the food.
SERVICE! This was outstanding, almost too good. Our every movement was catered for and looked after. We were handed the menu and this was split into three. All were set menus with your choice of starters, mains and desserts. Priced on the very, very high end, we went for the middle option.
The head waiter gave us very detailed information on each dish. This actually made choosing what to eat more difficult. I had already decided what to have, but had to rethink and almost changed my mind after the waiter let me know about every other dish. This was very useful, but did go on for a while.
After a lovely drink of bubbley and a great amuse-bouche, we started our patient wait for our starters. P.S, the amuse-bouche was a cream of potato and cheese in an egg topped with truffles, bacon and chives. Good way to begin a three star adventure.
What was to come for me was a Lobster Ravioli for my starter, Lamb cooked in many ways for main courses and a medley of sweet things for dessert. Sounds Good doesn't it.
The food from start to finish was really good. Three good sized courses, not too fancy like some other posh places and not overloaded. What is key is quality and this always takes precedence over quantity. Another key element is eating not to get stuffed but to be full and happy.
Three good size portions of food (loads for dessert actually), two amuse-bouches and some drinks, all led to a happy and merry Shayan. Life of Shayan well done.
The Lobster Ravioli came to the table and looked lovely. The lobster and veg was packed inside the pasta and then the waiter poured over and around a lovely wood sorrel sauce. I hope my picture gives it some justice.
The dishes I had were very good and looking around the table I saw some lovely plates. Scallops for starters, Fish for mains, Pork Belly also for mains. As good as they all looked, I didn't get food envy, because I was more than happy with my lamb.
Each element of the lamb was cooked really well and the difference in textures were really good. Crunch and bite, soft and tender and all seasoned well.
After all this goodness and after one of the team left, the waiter suggested that we get a selection of their desserts to share and this was a delight. All were amazing and our sweet tooth were well and truly satisfied. Oh My! The three star indulgence was in full evidence here and not one person was complaining about this.
The experience at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay was special. Well fed, looked after beyond expectations and treated to top quality throughout. The team make you feel both comfortable and a bit like a celebrity at the same time. Being my first time at a three star Michelin restaurant, I strangely enough wasn't expecting the best meal of my life. It wasn't but it was definitely up there as an experience. The food for sure is great and I am so glad I went, but the price = OUCH.
If you ever get the chance to go, then do it. It is not often you get to visit a three star place. Thank you Gordon. Hopefully see you again soon.
It is always important to support your local curry house. A place where they know your name, know your fave dishes and are happy to see you.
Poppdaom in Enfield is not my local but we went because it is a friends local. Curry Club takes us all over the place. We are willing travelers and at other times convenient travelers.
To be honest, my expectations were not high for Poppadom. This was purely based on word of mouth and not so much in a negative way. But not in a "ohhhhh, yes! let's go now" type of way either.
We went about our usual traditions and ordered a mixed grill and paneer to start. Alongside this, Kapil was craving some samosas, so we got lamb ones to satisfy his urges.
The mixed grill had with it chicken and lamb tikka, seekh kebab and chicken tandoori. These were all cooked well but tasted very samey and similar. This is an issue when the spices and herbs made an okay mix, nothing too special.
Another issue, was that the paneer too was very similar and therefore the starters became a bit boring. The samosas, albeit a different starter were okay and I will not complain about them.
The Main Courses came out a while after. We managed to relax in the restaurant and have our drinks. Most of us were driving so we didn't have too many beers and our focus was on the food. Next obviously, was a few curries, some naan and a bit of rice.
On this evening, the restaurant was a bit busy with what seemed some mates catching up, a birthday party and a usual night out. Curry club is basically for all occasions.
The main courses were decent enough, but didn't really stand out. The menu is a bit much initially with a lot of options. I always feel that options are important, however, too many can be confusing for both the customer and I feel the chef too. This seemed to come across in the food, as the flavours needed a bit more depth and although the dishes were made to order it seemed to be lacking a bit extra.
Poppadom as a local may hit the right spots, but it won't be won to wow your friends with. Decent enough food in Enfield and friendly service does make Poppadom an option for locals. I feel with a slightly smaller menu, Poppadom can focus on refining their dishes and making their regulars even happier.