On The Bab opened just after I stopped working in Covent Garden, which was unfortunate timing as I love a bit of Korean and always looking for a nice casual lunch spot that’s not too expensive. I wondered past yesterday and thought why not – a quick couple of snacks with my sis to keep us locked up til dinner.
The Artworks is a little complex of offices and bars tucked away in an unsavoury part of Elephant & Castle (as if there is another part..) It’s part of the shipping container trend that’s surfaced of late, following Boxpark but predating Pop Brixton, and is part of the long overdue regeneration of the whole area. Saying that, if The Artworks is a preview of what E&C will be like when it’s finished, I’d be pretty happy to live there (£600,000 1-bed flats aside).
Meat. It’s all about meat. Not life (well, sometimes) but in this unassuming basement on the Piccadilly side of Soho it is most definitely all about meat. I remember when Blacklock launched early this year, to a flurry of social media activity from the most respected food bloggers and Instagram stars. Although the hype has died down (a bit, not completely) they’re still always busy and for good reason. I’ve been a few times and this is a kind of mash-up of the various visits.
As far as cupboard-like restaurants in Brixton go, Mama Lan is up there. There are two little tables inside, and a few outside, with a mini kitchen and practically no storage. So it’s a miracle really that they manage to churn out such consistently delicious food at such a high volume.
The revamped Albany on Great Portland Street is definitely a pub of two halves. The street level bar is all newly decked out in blues and greys with huge chandeliers, and has a relaxing vibe with lots of after-work types enjoying one of the rotating guest beers on offer.
I love a juicy display of gorgeous meat and couldn’t resist the enormous beef shanks on a recent wander through Brixton market. I also grabbed some cheap red wine, potatoes and veg to throw together into a rich, slow-cooked stew perfect for a cold Sunday. The shanks are big slabs of beef surrounding a section of the leg bone with all the lovely marrow still in, and these are from A.M Butchers on Atlantic Road.
Continue reading Slow cooked beef shanks
“I can smell the toilet!”
“It’s just over here madam”
“Yes I know, I said I can SMELL it”
Emily’s first impression was perhaps not the most promising start to drinks and dinner at Lima Covent Garden, as she joined me in the basement bar of the Floral Street outpost. After a couple of drinks in said bar we headed up to the (more fragrant) restaurant – the second Peruvian in London from Virgilio Martinez and follow up to Michelin-starred Lima in Fitzrovia. The menu looked great (phew – nothing like the smell of wee AND a crap menu) and we mostly went with recommendations from our wonderful Ecuadorian waiter Hector.
We went with sea bream ceviche to start, which was big, meaty chunks of firm white fish, sitting in a bowl of tiger’s milk with avocado and fine, crispy red onion hoops on top. Tiger’s milk, or leche de tigre is the Peruvian term for the marinade used to cure the raw fish and create the ceviche dish, and is normally made from lime juice, chillies, sliced onion and some of the juice from the fish. We were reliably informed by Hector that in Peru they drink it to cure hangovers, have it a LOT spicier, and this version had been toned down for the UK palette. Made me want it hotter to be honest, but probably wise not to go there – I’ve learned not to argue with South Americans about tolerance for heat, or ever try and get into a competition over it. Anyway, it was so good I had to force myself not to drink the end bit from the bowl, and instead made do with rapidly scooping it into my mouth with the tiny spoon, like a desperate, hungry borrower.
Our other starter was a plate of tuna Nikkei – raw tuna, another dribble of the leche de tigre, samphire and little shavings of radish – a beautiful dish that was delicate but still packed a punch with the marinade. Small portions, a tenner each but perfect starters.
We balanced out the fishy first course with meat – rare, tender, juicy meat with all manner of delicious accompaniments. Beef sudado (main photo) was pieces of pink beef with a salty, herby quinoa stew, while the organic lamb rump was served rare again, and with a fresh minty yoghurt and fried potato strips. It also came with small cubes of potato in a cheesy sauce and perfectly seasoned, nutty black quinoa – all incredibly good.
The house Spanish Grenache was light and fruity, great with the spicy fish and robust enough to still be tasty with lamb and beef. A huge fan of sour cocktails, I meant to sample their pisco sours but totally forgot – obviously the wine was good enough to erase this intention from my contented little mind.
Lima Covent Garden was the ideal spot for a non-festive festive dinner: food is delicious without being rich and heavy, staff are a delight and it doesn’t break the bank (although at £50 a head it’s probably not an everyday place). I’m not surprised it’s big brother in Rathbone Place has a Michelin star, and while Floral Street is billed as an evolution rather than a copy (read cheaper and more casual) the standard is still impeccable.