Polpo

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polpo

Feeling slightly left out we decided to try out Polpo because of all the recent hype surrounded this restaurant. Instead of the more popular Covent Garden or Soho branches we took the short walk from work to the Farringdon establishment.

Polpo is a Venetian restaurant which is quite specific and is also well known for its meatballs. Upon arrival there was a queue outside – you cannot book in advance – but the other diners that were waiting were in groups so were seated immediately.

The restaurant is small and quite rustically Italian in design, but we have to say after all of the hype we were a little under whelmed by the decor.

We were seated and our drinks orders were taken by a vacant waitress who seemed keen to move on to the next table and left us worrying if she would actually remember to process our order.

The sharing menu looked good and since we wanted to see what the different dishes they had to offer, we opted for the tapas style dishes.

We ordered a cicheti plate for starter. This consisted of aranchi (a fried rice ball), a smoked salmon, beetroot and horseradish, anchovy and liver crostini. I obviously had to ask what aranchi was as I had no clue – call me ignorant but it would be nice to have seen descriptions on the menu. Anyway, the salmon and beetroot were fabulous, fresh salmon was rolled with the beetroot and horseradish paste in between. The pate was a little strong for my taste buds and the aranchi were nice.  A good start I’d say!

For main course we ordered Prosciutto, mozzarella & basil bruschetta, Mussels, clams & monk’s beard, lamb and mint meat balls, Fennel, almond & endive and octopus with borlotti beans. Phew that does sound a heck of a lot of food.

The mozzarella and brushetta were delicious however the mussels were tasteless, over cooked and had no real substance to make this dish filling (thank god we ordered plenty).

The fennel worked well with the nutty almonds and the sweet chicory. The meat balls were good; huge like cricket balls, juicy but was very forgettable which was a bit of a let down since this was their specialty dish.

We liked Polpo but think it is very over hyped and we would not go out of our way to visit again.

Maybe the Covent Garden and Soho establishments do have that wow factor but this one certainly doesn’t!

                  Food                          Service                       Atmosphere
3 Stars3 Stars2 Stars

 

meatballs

Albion Café

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albion

We went to the Boundary Hotel for lunch at the Albion Café, which is a British café / casual restaurant in the hotel. It is very retro in style with old fashioned bottles, tins and confectionery. As you walk in, there is a little deli with freshly made bread, cakes, jams, pickles as well as organic grocers from small businesses. There is always a queue especially at the weekend (when I came here a few years ago it was like a hidden gem – now it is well know with the trendy foreign visitors as well as the hip Hoxton set.

The wait was supposed to be 40 minutes but we were nicely surprised when the maître d’hotel found as a table after only a 15 – 20 minutes wait.

We ordered a bottle of French white wine along with a crab omelette, vegetable tart and the house omelette, which is served with a salad and a glass of wine. The service is very relaxed and at some times a little too slow but the waiters we had were French and very professional and thorough. The wine was sweet and strong; just how I like it and served in casual water glasses. Cutlery and napkins are served in reused golden syrup tins. We liked this idea a lot.

When the food came out we all agreed the dishes looked delicious. The omelette was plain but incredibly fluffy and tasty with the delicate side salad. The vegetable tart was full of Mediterranean vegetables and a golden top. My crab omelette again was fluffy but the crab meat gave a nice bite to this.

This place was much better before, without the hype and crowds, but it is a fabulously British café that is full of personality. Food is simple yet 100% tasty and full of flavour and thought. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

            Food                             Service                          Atmosphere

4 Stars3 Stars4 Stars

albion 2

Bones

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We were searching for a casual restaurant that was fairly new as we wanted to impress a friend – and we came across Bones in Hoxton. Bones aims to be a restaurant that focuses on good food, simply presented. We walked into the restaurant which is on one floor with small steps near the kitchen which creates another smaller dining area. We were seated in a small booth which was so small,; it was hard to get in and out – our knees were knocking together. The kitchen is at the far end of the restaurant on the higher level so you can see the chefs cooking – they have a great rotisserie area). The restaurant is simply decorated with bare bricks.

We ordered water while we looked at the wine list but this took a long time to come. When it arrived the waitress was about to rush off but we managed to get her to take our starter order of; pigeon salad, buratta salad and beetroot and vodka salmon. This took a while to come out, which was not a bad thing as we were still struggling to get someone to take our wine order. Waiters seemed not to be focused on certain tables and therefore the service was confused and messy (we had been offered other tables dishes twice).

When the food came out we were satisfied, my pigeon was served with hazelnut and vegetable crisps. This was rich, warming and delicious. The hazelnut cut through the richness of the meat and the vegetable crisps were light yet satisfying. The burrata was served simply with bail and chilli which worked as the cheese is so delicate it should speak for itself. The salmon was pickled in vodka and beetroot which gives it a bitter taste that worked well with the oily fish. We really enjoyed. Again it took a while to have our plates cleared but once done, our mains were served immediately.

We ordered the skate wing which was served with olive and hazelnuts, the steak with the garlic butter and the peasant stew which was served with beans and chicken. The skate was well cooked and the olive tappernade gave it some depth. The steak was thin and slightly over cooked but was juicy and well seasoned. The stew was the winner here; hearty, rich and dull of flavour delicious.

We finished on peach, apple and salted caramel sorbets and a raspberry and blackberry cheesecake. They had a great selection of ice cream and sorbets which was refreshing – excuse the pun. We are not sure if these were homemade but we hope so as it did not have the over sweet flavour normally accustomed with shop bought sorbet. The cheese cake was similar to a New York cheese cake which was heavy and creamy – very tasty.

We polished these off and headed home. The restaurant – by the time we left was – buzzing with young trendy types. We do think the food really did live up to its name but the service was really lacking and I have to take off points for the terribly tight booth area. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

                Food                       Service                      Atmosphere

4 Stars2 Stars3 Stars

bones-interior

Mama Pho

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surreyquays

Mama Pho is a small little Vietnamese restaurant based in Surrey Quays/Canada Water, which serves a good range of authentic Vietnamese food. This place is small with plan yellow walls and old fashioned wooden tables with benches. This place serves as both a takeaway and a restaurant but to get the most of the menu I would suggest eating in, as the take out dishes come slightly deconstructed.

 Although this place lacks atmosphere, the service is pleasant and efficient and the food is really satisfying – just what we want at the end of the day! We were seated after a ten minutes wait (this place gets quite busy), and we ordered the Vietnamese rolls and spring rolls for starter. The Vietnamese rolls are freshly made with thick juicy pieces of pork, chicken and prawns and lots of oriental vegetables bursting out. The spring rolls were piping hot, crispy and slightly spicy. Delicious.

 For main course we ordered the chicken curry which comes in a rich spicy tomato sauce served with potatoes and carrots. Its rich and very satisfying. We also ordered the pork bun cha gio nit thuong (vermicelli noodles with grilled lemongrass pork, spring rolls, salad and all) which was great value at £6. The dish was light, spicy and well cooked.

 Despite the simplicity of the décor and casual atmosphere, the value and quality of the food make this a great little place to come if in South East London when after quick, cheap, fresh and authentic food. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

             Food                           Service                      Atmosphere

3 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

MamaPhoinCanadaWater1

Androuet

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Androuet-Shopfront

We came here for drinks and nibbles after work one evening. Androuet is based in Spitalfield’s market and unlike most of the food outlets based here is much busier in an evening; probably because of their speciality – wine and cheese.

Androuet is a cheese shop by day selling a huge variety of French and other continental cheese. By night (and lunch too) they offer cheese and meat platters – and of course wine. We ordered an unusual wine which was made from two grape varieties which the waiter recommended. We then ordered a meat and cheese platter to share. You basically create your own cheese platter by choosing the cheese you like from your paper table mat which literally outlines the different cheeses on offer. We ordered a Welsh, English and two French cheese and ordered a meat platter. The plates came out quickly – as you would expect as no cooking was involved – and the service was highly experience and friendly. We sat outside, which is inside Spitalfield’s market – which as you can image has a great vibe.

The meat was served with thick bread slices. The cheese selection was beautiful and all had an individual flavour. We ordered another bottle of wine as we really did enjoy this atmosphere. As I said due to the nature of the place the food is cold and lacks real preparation but quality is at the heart of this restaurant. They offer raclette which is very popular here and literally infuses the nostrils of all around – which is not a bad thing. This place is perfect for dates, casual drinks & nibbles and those who appreciate quality.

As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls give this place:

                  Food                      Atmosphere                Service

4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

cheese platter

 

Cyclo

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shoreditch-high-street

The sun was shining so I thought about going for walk at lunch time down Shoreditch High Street. My colleague and I found a brand new Vietnamese restaurant, that did a cheap take out lunch as well as a clean, modern sit down restaurant. It was a small place but could hold a good 20-30 people.

We took a look at the varied range of traditional dishes. I went for the chicken salad that was with fried chicken. I asked if I could have  the roast chicken instead and was told that this was a menu typo. This was fine by me but we endured an overly apologetic waiter  explain the mistake and literally go though the hundred of paper menu’s to ensure the error was corrected. I have to say I felt little awkward.

My colleague ordered the duck and rice dish ; however we waited and waited and waited. Finally the waitress released we were getting restless and asked us again what we ordered. They had clearly forgotten but instead of apologising they asked for the receipt which felt accusatory. This was not great service although may be a culture difference.

My chicken salad, was light and spicy however overly oily. The duck noodles again were light but lacked seasoning and overly greasy. I think the lack of customer service left a sour taste in our mouths. It was a little strange as the apologies came thick and fast regarding the minor issue of the menu. We think this place has a few issues that need straightening out before it can be a trendy restaurant in the heart of Shoreditch.

As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

              Food                           Atmosphere                      Service

2 Stars2 Stars Star

cyclo

La Bodega Negra‏

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BodegaNegra

We had been looking forward to our reservation at Le Bodega Negra, the Mexican street food restaurant located under a sex shop in Soho. We had heard that the food was good but the decor and obviously the location were so ‘trendy’. We walked to the front of the cafe but were told that the restaurant was located at the back, literally through the sex shop hall and down the stairs. We walked into the hall which was low key although a few raunchy items lying around. We were shown downstairs to a large room with open brick walls. The area was very hipster and could be imagined to be located in Shoreditch or Hoxton. We were seated at a table for two which was quite cosy when it got busier.

As it was a treat, we ordered the tasting menu along with a bottle of Malbec. There was the option of a tasting menu but no additional details were mentioned so we were left to chance. As we eat almost anything we thought we would risk it. The waiter serving us was very polite and friendly and did run us through the tasting menu very quickly, (so quickly in fact, that we had forgotten everything within seconds.) Our dishes came out incredibly quickly so we assumed they must have been precooked. Dishes included tostidas and guacamole, raw slices of tuna and avocado, soft crab and pork belly. The new waiter placed the dishes next to us and swiftly walked away so we had no idea what dish was which and what they consisted of. This ruined it a bit as this was supposed to be a relaxed celebratory meal and we just felt incredibly rushed. The dishes were to share and once we had finished the first few plates the next warm dishes were shared with us without a break. We did ask for the service to be slowed down but this seems to have gone on deaf ears.

We were served desserts that arrived so fast I cannot recall what they were. The food was good and the pork was a real stand out dish. It was just a shame we felt so rushed, especially as it was not cheap. As we left within an hour of sitting down, we heard other couple saying exactly the same thing. Now I know I am all one for hating slow service but this really was fast, so much so it left a sour taste in our mouth. Oh well at least it’s one off our list and teaches you never to try a place because its ‘trendy’. Lesson learnt.

Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

                 Food                            Service                    Atmosphere

3 Stars1 Star4 Stars

La_Bodega_Negra_2012_-_BN016@gallerymain

Proud Camden

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proud camden

We visited Proud Camden for a friend’s birthday party, specifically selected for the burlesque entertainment and the efficiency service. Proud Camden is in Camden Market near Chalk Farm and the Stables and we were dressed to impress. We arrived into the large space – one side hosts a night club (which diners can enjoy after their meals) and the second room is where we dined and watched the burlesque.

We opted to pre-ordered online so that it helped the chefs and prevented long delays  for food since we part of a large party. Dinner was served throughout the show which was slightly uncomfortable as we wanted to watch the show. The food was served at random and not to fit the intervals. Many of the burlesque girls were recognizable from The Brick House in Brick Lane – which recently closed down. The waitresses were very sexy dressed in corsets and suspenders only.

There was a number burlesque acts including fire, feathers and a woman who stapled photos to leg…yes grim I know – especially while eating my chicken thigh. We were a large group so as I said we preordered our food. I ordered the smoked salmon with caviar and vodka. It was delicious with bright juicy caviar but the salmon was too thin although deliciously smoked.

For main course I ordered the chicken with couscous and pomegranate. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the couscous was flavorsome with just enough bite. Different cuts of the chicken were given to all and I did get my favourite parts – breast and leg. I was pleasantly surprised about the quality of food and the entertainment . However once I left, the management over charged my friends by over £100, literally saying that we had ordered things we had not ordered. There is no complaint system and there are at least 15 reviews that say the same. It’s a shame as I would have said it’s a place to go for a fun night however I do urge anyone not to go as these people are rip off artists!

As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls cannot give them a rating.

Addis

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Addis-Ababa-Restaurant-London1

Our friend suggested going to an Ethiopian restaurant, which I was a little unsure to be honest. Addis is based in Kings Cross and we were pleased that it was not too far a walk from the station. We walked into the homely, unpretentious restaurant and were seated immediately despite not having booked a table (the website was down at the time.) The restaurant is very simple; the walls are yellow and covered with photos of Ethiopian, friends, family or celebrities (we were unsure. It is a relaxed and authentic spot.

We ordered the aubergines, houmous and sardines to start. These of these came out on time and were juicy and very tasty. The aubergines were soft and a little oaked with the sardines being charcoaled – a little too much but were still very tasty. The houmous had a nice thick texture and served with pitta.

For main course we ordered the sharing platter that included chicken, lamb, vegetable and egg curry. This is served traditionally on pancake type affair with dditional pancakes rolled for diner’s preference. The idea is to tear a piece of the pancake and pick up the meat/curry with your hands – no need for cutlery here! The curry was delicious and the great thing about having the tasting platter allows you to try things that you would never try before. The lamb and chicken was juicy, the curry sauce was light and packed a punch – not like Indian curry which is richer and more spicy.

We also ordered wine throughout and this was much cheaper than any London restaurant prices we’re used to. Service was pleasant and familiar. If you are on a budget, fancy an exotic change or just after wholesome food this place is for you. Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives this place:

Food                               Service                   Atmosphere

4 Stars4 Stars2 Stars

addis

Oblix

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the-shard

The Oblix is located on the 32nd floor of the Shard, the views are really spectacular (although not quite as spectacular as Hutong restaurant two levels further up). We visited Oblix for a work ‘do’, after being tempted by the hope of great views and menu similar to its sister restaurants Aqua.

We were seated in the middle of the restaurant which is smaller but has the same Asian/fusion vibe as Aqua.  To get to the dining room there is a long wooden hallway (similar to the one at Duck and Waffle) which squeezes past the bar and kitchen; which is great as you get a glimpse of the busy kitchen.

We ordered a couple of bottles of white wine and looked at the fusion menu. The menu is less Japanese than its sister restaurant but still has Asian influences. For starter we ordered burrata, olives &  tomatoes, the lobster & scallop ceviche which was served with jalapenos, coriander & sweet peppers and I ordered the scallops, ginger, lime & tamarind cream. The vegetarian in our group had the burrata which was a fabulous dish, with the juicy creamy cheese and olives and tomato salad. It melted in the mouth and for split second made me wish I was vegetarian – it really was that good. The ceviche was light, spicy and full of flavour, although I find ceviche lacking in texture and over powered by some of the strong spices. I was generally pleased with the scallops as they were tender and juicy however they were cut in half and though not over cooked lacked the meatiness of a full scallop.

Now for my first and only complaint, as we ordered the main course, one of us wanted to ordered the whole sea bream but the waiter offered us another option, when we declined he pushed for another option that was ‘better’. Obviously the sea bream was running low and the chefs had told the waiters to push the other dishes but this was too much and unprofessional. We were less than impressed. Despite this we stuck to our guns and ordered the sea bream which was served with fennel and olives. We also ordered the black cod with coriander, which was sticky, smoky and flaked at the touch. The vegetarian option was grilled aubergine with yoghurt, mint & pomegranate and again was really impressive unlike most classic establishments that have the most bland and unimaginative dishes for the veggie’s amongst us.

Other than the incident with the waiter, service was generally professional, fast and efficient, more wine was ordered and the dessert menu swiftly followed. We ordered the sorbet, cheese and biscuits and the crème brulee. The sorbet was creamy yet not as zingy as I would have liked, the crème brulee was delicious with a great toffee crunch on top and the cheese was delicious.

We loved the views, the menu options and the overall taste but we really  disapprove being talked out of our dish options.

N.B you have a higher chance of sitting by the windows with the most spectacular views if you are a couple – which is good to know.

As a result, Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives Oblix:

Food                                 Service                       Atmosphere

4 Stars3 Stars5 Stars

black cod

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