I’ve been on a mission of sorts this past week– to eat every lunch at the much-vaunted Hawksmoor restaurant here in London. This is definitely the best place in town to eat meat and I usually have one lunch a week at the Seven Dials restaurant, however what started with a simple Hawksmoor burger for one on Monday subsequently erupted into an orgy of meaty over-indulgence throughout the rest of the week. Here I chronicle the experience.

Monday – Hawksmoor Burger, English Lettuce & Herb Salad

What more is there to say about the Hawksmoor burger that hasn’t been said? I think it’s the best burger in town, even showing up the quality burgers at MeatLiquor, Lucky Chip and Burger & Lobster. I take my Hawksmoor burger pink and smothered in stilton. As usual, it was incredibly moist, juicy and utterly delicious. The radiant sheen of the semi-glazed bun makes its a wonder to marvel at. The English lettuce & herb salad provided the perfect light accompaniment, and a good way to balance the heaviness of the burger. I washed all this down with the ever-tasty apple & mint swizzle.

Tuesday – Lobster Roll, Devilled Broccoli, Macaroni Cheese

My friend Steph joined me on Tuesday and we sat in the main restaurant, where we guzzled some of Hawksmoor’s quality cocktails before well and truly gorging ourselves. I was drinking a Shipwreck Sour, frothing with egg white. As soon as it arrived, I inhaled the lobster roll, which was truly outstanding. It consists of an entire lobster served in a brioche bun with hazelnut butter. YUM. The chilli in the broccoli provides a welcome bite, and the macaroni cheese, served in the metal container it was cooked in, was just the right kind of comfort food, if a little heavy for lunch.

Wednesday – Meatballs and Grits, Spring Greens and Goats curd

I thought I’d try a couple starters on Wednesday. The meatballs were tender and morish, really impressive. The grits were a bit too fine for my liking and had the consistency of mashed potato. Slightly disappointing. I must admit that the spring greens didn’t do much for me either, and the salad was pretty heavy considering it included carrots and potatoes. But I suppose Hawksmoor was never known for salads!

I took a few people from work who ordered both the triple cooked chips and beef dripping chips, providing a welcome opportunity to compare them side by side. The beef dripping chips are shorter and fatter than the triple cooked variety and the beef flavour is pronounced, but the lovely texture of the triple cooked chips mean that they win it for me.

All this I washed down with another apple and mint swizzle.

Thursday – Chili Cheese Dog, Sweet Potato, Devilled Broccoli

By now word had got out that I was on some sort mad, meaty escapade, and so Barry got in touch to see if I was available for lunch that day. Back to Hawksmoor? It would have been rude not to! And so on Thursday I returned to an old favourite, the chili cheese dog. It’s one seriously delicious, own-made wiener smothered in quality chili and Ogleshield cheese. What a sight to behold. We also tried the Sweet potato for the first time, which was velvety smooth and extremely toothsome. I knocked back this awesome lunch with a Meantime lager.

Friday – Doddington Caesar Salad, Rib-eye Steak, Triple Cooked Chips

I wasn’t able to get into the Spitalfields restaurant for lunch, and so I starved myself and returned at 5PM as soon as they opened for dinner. I thought it only fitting to go out with a bang, and so a proper steak it was. I started with the Doddington Caesar, which was simple and delicious. The Doddington cheese made a refreshing change from the more common parmesan, and the occasional salty bite of anchovy made a good contrast against the other flavours of the salad. Afterwards it was on to the steak! This is what Hawksmoor truly excels at, cooking their meat in a fashion and at temperatures simply not achievable in my lowly kitchen at home. It came servered medium-rare, and every mouthful was truly a pleasure. It seemed almost rude to add the occassional dab of mustard to my fork! This quality of meat needs no further seasoning.. lovely!

And so thus concluded my meaty marathon of over-indulgence. It was a very tasty week, but I think I’ll be laying off the heavy food for a while.

Written on May 19th, 2012 , All, Food

Proper cooking is fantastic, but sometimes all you want is a hassle free nibble to tide you over to your next feed. There are, of course, many fresh and delicious light bites that you can whip up yourself from scratch, but every once in a while you just want something you can grab and devour without a second thought. This post is all about just this kind of grazing food- my favourite easy-access snacks.

fooddoctor1. Food Doctor Dry Roasted Bean Mix

Discovering this bean mix was a complete revelation for me. This product is a melange of soya, black and broad beans with some dried peas thrown in for good measure and it is absolutely delicious! It’s also one seriously nutritious snack, chock full of protein and only lightly salted. It contains 35 grams of protein per 100 gram portion– that’s almost as much as beef by weight. I scarf through at least one jar of this stuff a week.

tyrells2. Tyrells Habas Fritas

This treat is lightly spiced and very morish. These do have some added sugar and salt, but they manage to straddle that fine line between sweet and savoury with finesse. Basically, this snack is broad beans lightly fried and coated in seasoned breadcrumbs. Good for an occasional graze.

peppadew3. Peppadew Peppers with Cream Cheese

Spicy food really works for me. I love strong, bold flavours and this product has it in spades. Peppedew peppers are great on their own– that sweet, fiery flavour is seriously toothsome– but paired with cooling cream cheese they make for a really great snack. I enjoy these as a lunch-time side dish, though at around £4 – £5 a jar I don’t have them quite as frequently as I’d like.

plantain4. Waitrose Plantain Crisps with Chili and Lime

I love plantains, but they can be a little bland if served with out a zing of this or that. Some added spice really does go a long way to jazz up what can otherwise can be a rather bland snack, and this is certainly true of this Waitrose creation. The combination of chilli and lime thrown on these plantains is superb, and they really pack a punch. Treat your tastebuds to a great time with these hot little bad boys.

crespo5. Crespo Pitted Dry Black Olives

I’m a big olive lover, and these are my absolute favourite. It must be said that these are just standard supermarket fodder, and not at all like the high-end, brightly packaged fresh olives that can be found in the chiller section such as those from Unearthed. No, these are simple, back-to-basics olives that are great to munch on any time of day. And they’re cheap– only about £1.40, depending on where you shop. I’ve sampled pretty much all the olive brands available at Sainsburys and Waitrose, and I always return to these.

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.

Written on November 28th, 2010 , All, Food


Here it is– my 6 favourite restaurants in East London, saving the best for last. Why 6? Only for the simple reason that I couldn’t seem to narrow it down to just 5.

6. Boho Mexica

I love Mexican food and over the past few years many Mexican joints have opened in London, whereas there were very few when I first arrived 7 years ago. I’ve tried pretty much all the Mexican places in the east-end and this is definitely the best, a cut above Red & Green or Loco Mojito. The emphasis is on street food and sharing plates, with most of the plates being small and coming in at the £3 or £4 mark. It is certainly possible to have a very cheap meal and a lot of fun here! The decor is lively and colourful, definitely not the Mexican kitsch common at many other places.

5. Albion

Albion is all about simple, honest British cooking. The menu is not exotic and some might say a little bland, but the quality of ingredients is great and the food is very well prepared. The restaurant itself is also quite handsome. Stools at the counter are topped by red metal tractor seats. Tea comes served in teapots adorned by wool tea cosies. Coffee comes in tall, handsome metal pots. Service can be patchy and seems to be constantly changing, but I love this place all the same. It’s a regular work-day hangout for me.

4. Bistrotheque

This resto offers a great pan-European menu and operates out of a very cool converted warehouse space. The menu offers a selection of dishes from across Europe, some simple, some a little more racy, and all very delicious. Bistrotheque also has a separate bar and a small cabaret space, and the shows tend to be highly entertaining. Bookings are sometimes necessary for the shows and remember that groups, hen parties and anything of that ilk and strictly barred.

3. Tayyabs

The best South Asian food in London. This Pakistani-run joint has been on the scene for decades and has an extremely loyal following. The food is a world away from the tripe available on Brick Lane, but Tayyabs is only a 5 minute walk down the street! Tayyabs is best known for it’s grilled meats but I also love the curries. My favourite dishes are their delicious saag paneer, fish tikka, daal gosht and chicken karahi. Samosas are one sour note– not recommended. I get a take-away meal from here at least once a week.

2. Hawksmoor

If you believe TimeOut, this is the best steakhouse in London and I certainly agree.. it’s a far cry better than Gaucho despite many in London raving about the Argentinian steakhouse stalwart. Hawksmoor serves only beef from British Longhorn cattle and the cuts are massive, ranging from around 800 grams up into kilos. Don’t worry, there’s also a 300 gram fillet on at £30 if that’s more to your taste. Cocktails are also delicious here– my favourite is the cinnamon old fashioned. Booking are essential and call at least a month in advance for a weekend reservation.


1. Les Trois Garcons

My favourite East End restaurant has got to be Les Trois Garcons. When you’re in the mood for a spot of fine dining, this is definitely the place to hit in the East End. Run by the same 3 boys who own LoungeLover, this place features some seriously eclectic decor and a very creative French menu. Dozens of handbags hang from the ceiling while bust of deer and other game sport earrings and necklaces on the walls. Service is attentive, if a bit formal. All of this comes at a price so Les Trois is best saved for when feeling flush, though if you eat Monday – Wednesday they do a good Prix Fixe menu at a reasonable price.

Honourable mention: Sundays @ Truman Brewery

One of the most fun experiences to be had in the east end is hanging out in the parking lot behind the Truman Brewery on sunny summer Sundays. During the warmer months, picnic benches are set out for use by, well, anyone. If the benches are full, the crowds improvise by sitting on the astroturf thrown down everywhere. People tend to congregate, drink and eat all day long from these benches and it is always a riot, with music playing and a constant stream of interesting characters parading through. As for the food! Well there are about a million stalls to choose from, ranging from Japanese to Brazilian to Moroccan. It’s not exactly fine dining, but the atmosphere and great selection of food certainly make it worth a trip.

I should also point out that I haven’t yet been to Nuno Mendes new joint, Viajante, but I suspect this place could knock Les Trois off the top spot!

Written on October 5th, 2010 , All, Food


Working from home occasionally makes you get a little stir crazy, so it’s good to get out every now and then to interact with the real world. Bouncing around the coffee shops of London’s east end serves this purpose well for me, and so I end up drinking many a flat white ’round these parts. Here’s a list of my favourites for working away from home, in no particular order:

  • The Eatery – Perched right on Whitechapel Road at the bottom of Brick Lane, this place is quite unassuming and has some of the best croissants I’ve had in London. The prices are also cheap– my usual Americano and a croissant costs a mere £2.20. Independent readers take note: journalist Johann Hari can be spotted here thumbing through an enormous stack of newspapers on occassional weekday mornings.
  • Cafe 1001 – The cheesecake here is excellent. The largest of this bunch, Cafe 1001 still manages to maintain a cosy atmosphere. As this venue is also used as a nightclub, the cleanliness leaves something to be desired but it’s a pretty fair trade for the great vibe. Comfortable sofas and dim lights define the atmosphere. This place is often packed with students and media folk tapping away at their MacBooks.
  • Coffee @ – If drinking your coffee surrounded by fashion students with a backing soundtrack of electroclash is your thing, then Coffee @ is for you. I find it a little difficult to concentrate here with the high music and conversation volume levels, but it does have a certain charm. A wide range of coffees and fairly decent sandwiches keep you satiated. This place is small, but has enough seating to ensure there’s always a free spot.
  • Nude Espresso – I end up at Nude more than any other place, though it can be a bit hit and miss. The serving sizes of coffees are very small, though of good quality. The real stand-out product for me are the sandwiches– truly scrumptious! Pastries and muffins are also toothsome, though it needs to be said that this is the most expensive place on this list. Don’t expect any change back from a fiver for a coffee and a pastry. Note that they turn off their wifi inbetween 12 and 2PM for the lunch rush.
  • Albion – Also one of my favourite places for weekend brunch, Albion is great for coffee and a snack. Coffee is served in an attractive red metal pot and tea in a wool cosy. Breakfasts are very tasty and this place is popular during the week with the digital nomad crowd. You can spot groups from many of the nearby tech companies camping out for midweek meetings. There is usually a bit of a queue at weekends but if your group isn’t large then you’re usually seated within 15 minutes. Weekdays are considerably quieter and require no queueing. This place is more than just a coffee shop and serves a traditional British menu throughout the day. I love it!
  • Honourable mention: Present – Present is a fairly new clothing store and coffee shop that’s recently popped up at the top of Shoreditch High Street. The coffee is fantastic and was just last week voted best coffee in London by TimeOut magazine. So why is it only getting an honourable mention here? Because there is no space to work or even have a seat. But if you want to have a fantastic flat white while browsing the latest menswear trends, you could do no better.
  • Written on February 26th, 2010 , All, Food

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