Farang (Pop Up) – Highbury, London

Seb Holmes’s Pop Up, Farang, is now in Highbury!

I hadn’t heard anything about it at all and then one day on the bus home, I realised that San Daniele (a restaurant which was always fairly empty) was absolutely buzzing and full of people. I also realised that there was a new sign outside and quickly jotted down the name in my handy dandy notes on my phone under my “Where I want to eat” page.

We booked it for Sandra’s birthday for the first weekend of December.

It was full of people again and we went into the candle lit restaurant that still had hints of San Daniele’s existence, but as a pop up, Seb really has transformed the place.

We wanted everything on the menu, so it was great that they had a tasting menu so that we didn’t need to make any decisions and we could just try it all.

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Tiger Prawn mix on Betel Leaf
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Crispy Prawn Won Ton
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Crispy Prawn Won Ton
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Tempura Chicken with Scotch Bonnet Sauce
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Chicken and Mushroom Coconut Soup
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Whole Seabass
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Whole Seabass
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Whole Seabass with Pickled Vegetables and Rice
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Green Curry with Cornish Hake, Prawns and Salmon Dumplings
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Persimmon Sorbet and Pandan Ice Cream
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Black Sticky Rice Dessert

Everything was so full of amazing traditional flavours of the South East and it definitely made me feel like I wasn’t in London and back in Asia while we were eating there. Seb definitely has the Asian touch.

Our top dishes (in no specific order) were:

  • The Prawn in the Betel Leaf – it was a really nice start to the meal because of all the zingy refreshing flavours.
  • The Tempura Chicken in Scotch Bonnet Sauce – So spicy! But so so so so good.
  • The Whole Seabass – I literally kept eating this until the plate was clean (don’t think they needed to wash the plate after I was done with it). Not only was the fish cooked to perfection but everything on the dish was amazing!

http://www.faranglondon.co.uk/

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Xi’an Impression – Arsenal, London, UK

You would never have thought to go into this little restaurant across the street from the Arsenal Football Stadium. It is a little shabby and could definitely be mistaken from an average Westernised Chinese take out, but do not be mistaken, the food is amazing! It is real authentic Chinese street from from the Shan Xi region in China.

It is kind of BYOB except there is a corkage charge of £5 so it is not really, but at least there is that option.

If you are a fan of the traditional Chinese chewy noodles then you are in for an absolute treat! Definitely order the dumplings and the handmade noodles (I prefer the ones without the beef). I would also recommend the cucumbers that are ice cold in a watery peanut sauce which is a really refreshing addition to the meal.

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Pork Dumplings
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Pork Dumplings
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Cucumber in Peanut Sauce
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Cucumber is Peanut Sauce
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Sweet Potato Noodles in Spicy Sour Soup
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Sweet Potato Noodles in Spicy Sour Soup
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The Famous Handmade Noodles with Beef
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Handmade Noodles with Beef

http://xianimpression.co.uk

The Hops & Glory – Canonbury, London

If you are looking for a Sunday Roast in Islington – The Hops and Glory serves a great one! You would never really notice this pub or know it exists as it is quite hidden away from the busy streets. It has a cosy, rustic vibe and they have their own craft beer brewery as well as their Gastropub.

We went on a late Sunday afternoon last December for a tummy warming Roast Dinner.

We shared a couple plates of sourdough bread soaked in beef dripping and gravy while we decided on what we wanted for our mains. It was actually full of flavour and a great start to the meal.

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Toasted sourdough, dripping & gravy (£3.50)
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Hampshire pork belly w/apple sauce (£16.50)

For my main I went for the pork (I will usually go for the lamb or pork when I am out for a roast) which came with some gorgeous roasted veg and some apple sauce. I did add some more gravy as well! I have had some bland roasts before and this was NOT one of them – It was all full of great natural flavours.

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Spiced Cider (A December Special – yes this is a bit of a late post)
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Rice pudding with pistachios and dates (a winter special – £5)
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Cheese Board with Berkswell, Tunworth & Brighton blue. Oatcakes & malt chutney (£7.50)

For dessert we all shared the rice pudding and a cheese board as we were very full but wanted a little something to end the meal.

Great English food, lovely pub, and fab service. I am coming back this winter for more roast dinners!

http://www.hopsandglory.co.uk/

Que Me – Stroud Green, Finsbury Park, London

One of my current favourite cuisines is Vietnamese. It is fresh, healthy, full of goodness, but also it is so full and rich in flavour. I will finally let you in on my current favourite Vietnamese restaurant – it is called Que Me on Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park.

It is really well priced, always busy so the food is always fresh, it is absolutely delicious and it is so authentic. The owners are Vietnamese who have been eating pho since they were 3 years old and who use a family recipe – and you know I love a family run, independent restaurant where people are really passionate about their food.

I would recommend: The “Mama” Rolls, the Prawn Summer Rolls, the Vietnamese Pancake, the Lemongrass Prawn Bun, and the Special Beef Pho. I have tried all of these here and they are all amazing!

Definitely one to try!

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Summer Rolls and Mama Rolls
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Fresh Prawn Summer Rolls
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Lemongrass Prawn Bun
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Prawn Bun once I mixed in all the sauce and the salad
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Prawn Mama rolls – reminds me of Chinese Dim Sum
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Vietnamese Pancake
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Vietnamese Pancake
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Special Beef Pho
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The side dish with all the bits to add to the pho soup
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All mixed into the soup

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http://queme.co.uk/

Fink’s Salt and Sweet – Highbury, London

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I know I have written about Fink’s previously, but I only wrote about brunch there. Plus it is such a gorgeous little independent cafe that does such simple fresh foods and I just love it in the sunny weather as it is on such a pretty little street tucked away from the busy roads. It is also great in the winter if you are looking for a great place for a good slice of cake and a coffee in a cozy, homely vibe.

We recently came on a sunny day and sat outside with our salad and sandwich just taking in the weather and taking our time to enjoy our freshly made food.

If you haven’t been before – then do go.

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Salad and Sandwich for lunch
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Gorgeous mozzarella salad
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Fresh toasted sandwich in the sun

 

http://finks.co.uk/

The Stag – Hampstead, London

One sunny weekend recently we went for a walk, a very long walk, from Finsbury Park to the top of Hampstead Heath and down to Gospel Oak. Towards the end of our walk we ended up in a pub called The Stag for a late lunch/dinner.

As it was a sunny day – the large beer garden in the back was heaving with people and so we sat inside which was also buzzing with people at the bar coming in from the garden to order drinks etc. We chose a little booth and table (the only free space as it was rammed).

We shared the Scotch Egg, the Beef Carpaccio and the Beef Rib with Slaw.

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We weren’t really sure what to expect as none of us had eaten there before and we were pleasantly surprised. The food was all delicious and presented very well.

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Definitely recommend if you are in Hampstead Heath and looking for a place to eat in the area.

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http://www.thestagnw3.com/

The Pig and Butcher – Islington

The first time I ever went to The Pig and Butcher was actually 2 years ago. Jack took me 3 birthdays ago and I loved it. It is good quality, well flavoured, seasonal British food. So, when Anusha was visiting London, I brought her here so she could have a taste of what good British food is.

The menu at The Pig and Butcher changes on a daily basis depending on what is fresh in, which I absolutely love about it.

We walked into the cosy, homely restaurant and were sat at our table. Our server knew the menu very well and was good at giving us advice about the dishes.  She also sounded very passionate about the food, which I love.

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We ordered some homemade sourdough bread with beef dripping and jersey butter.

It absolutely made sense that the beef dripping was literally just beef fat in oil form (why would it not be?) – but we were expecting something with a little more flavour. I think we were expecting something with a little oomph to it – Maybe resembling something a little more like a gravy (like I have tried somewhere else before).

The bread was gorgeous though, as was the butter, and with (a lot of) salt the beef dripping came alive a little more.

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Anusha with our sourdough and wine
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Pan Fried Cod Fillet
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Lamb

We shared two mains because we actually wanted to try everything on the menu but couldn’t physically eat it all! So, we had to settle with two dishes (sigh). We chose the Pan Fried Cornish Cod with Courgette, Watermelon and Watercress and the Lamb on a Bed of Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Garlic.

Luckily I ate it the right way around (which wasn’t even planned) and had the fish first which was incredibly refreshing and worked really well with the young watermelon. I thought it would be a normal, ripe watermelon when I saw it on the menu, but it was young, hard, thinly sliced watermelon, which was similar in texture and taste to a daikon (large white radish) and it added another level to the dish with the fresh crunchiness. The fish fell apart and melted on my tongue and it all married perfectly together.

I had the lamb second which naturally had a stronger flavour. The garlic, which we initially thought was an artichoke, was surprisingly delicious. It gave a smokey flavour to the dish when spread onto the lamb and mashed potato. It was a gorgeous combination.

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Dessert was so hard to choose – we wanted something to share and again we wanted most things on the menu. We ended up choosing a cheese board as we still had some wine left and this would go perfectly to end the meal.

It ended up coming with two chocolate, twisted, biscuit-type pastries so we ended up getting something sweet as well after all. The cheeses were all lovely and we managed to polish it all off.

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http://thepigandbutcher.co.uk/