I’m going through a serious rib phase… I never used to like them as thought they were always chewy and stringy, with hardly any meat, just bone and fat. Since being educated by the Foxlow shortrib a while back, I seem to be ordering them more and more, and was very happy to be invited to Boneyard to feast on some of theirs.
You’re probably aware, along with the rest of the world, that celebrated chef Mark Hix has turned a disused tram shed (from 1905 don’t you know) into a chicken and steak restaurant in Shoreditch. You may or may not also be aware that there is a Damien Hirst formaldehyde-encased cow standing on a huge pillar in the centre of the room, with a large cock perched on its back. It’s definitely a novel way to stand out.
Dhaba Lane is a cosy, subterranean café between Shoreditch and Old Street, run by Arti and Upma, who left their existing jobs to run their own food business, focusing on the fresh, healthy Indian food they grew up eating and cooking. I joined the lovely Jason and Chiara from Goan to London on a freezing Saturday afternoon for their traditional Indian high chai, or afternoon tea.
High tea in India is an intrinsic part of the culture, and the time when marriages are decided on, disputes settled and deals made. It’s all about several rounds of sweet and savoury morsels, and of course the tea itself. Now I’ll confess, I don’t really like tea, but this one was deliciously sweet and full of the lovely flavours of cardamom and ginger, which completely made up for the actual tea aspect.
The first course was several rounds of little sandwiches, including cucumber, mint and apple, spicy mixed veg and garam masala chicken. They were nice and spicy, and an interesting twist on the English varieties.
Hot bites followed, with onion and sweetcorn fritters, aloo samosas, mini uttapams (semolina pancakes) and little raw banana and pea fritters. I was dubious about the banana but it was subtle, adding texture and sweetness rather than a full-on banana taste. All these dishes were delicious, spicy and warming, and there were plenty – they just kept coming.
Sweet dishes followed, with coconut and carrot halwa (sweetened balls), saffron and cardamom shrikhand (yoghurt) and sweet, syrupy bread with cream. The balls were slightly too sweet for me ( I don’t have a sweet tooth), but the yoghurt and bread dishes were lovely.
The food just kept flowing, and I was stuffed by the end, making it really good value. The atmosphere is cosy and friendly, and they use gorgeous crockery that I loved. Definitely worth a visit for something a bit different, and I’d love to go back to try their curries.
Get your high chai tickets here and more info on Dhaba Lane here. They also do takeaway and delivery of all sorts of Indian dishes, not just high tea – try their delicious curries for a lovely winter lunch – I’ll certainly be back.
*The Indian high chai experience is £25 per person, but we were guests of Dhaba Lane.
I hate pickles. Horrible, sour, slimy, alien-looking monstrosities, on a constant mission to ruin burgers, fish and chips, the Pret salmon salad and a wealth of other perfectly good meals. The General Manager of Bird suggested I try one of the deep fried variety, and not only did I see off most of the bowl, it was actually a highlight of the meal – no mean feat seeing as Bird produced some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.
Nestled by a railway bridge on the Shoreditch end of Kingsland Road, Bird is a relatively new venture, working under the premise that the restaurant industry has elevated the burger to dizzy heights of quality and creativity, so why not do the same for chicken? And the result is delightful.
Their motto is ‘free range and fried’, and they source quality British ingredients that are delivered daily, so no stresses about what you’re actually putting in your mouth (unlike dubious battered anomalies at other chicken establishments I may have visited). I kept it simple with two fried chicken pieces, a mixture of light and dark meat (they give you the choice) and a couple of sides. Now the chicken is perfect, juicy and tender with very crunchy, flavoursome batter – but the sides are where Bird shines. Creamy, crisp coleslaw, aforementioned lovely pickles and jalapeno corn pudding, a creamy, yellow concoction of sweetcorn, chillies and cheese topped with breadcrumbs. Heaven.
We also had a huge chicken burger and a portion of seasoned fries – salty and slightly spicy, they were delicious.
Mix and match glazes and sauces are designed to complement each other so get advice on which ones to pick, staff are happy to make recommendations. The buffalo glaze and buttermilk ranch sauce were the perfect tangy, creamy combination. We rounded things off with an iced doughnut ice cream sandwich – totally unnecessary, but when in Rome and all that..
Having been firmly south of the river in recent years, I hadn’t ventured to Shoreditch in a while before Bird. With its top notch food, reasonable prices, nice relaxed atmosphere and great service, it’s a solid reason to cross the river. Roll on next time.
First published on Foodepedia