Posts Tagged ‘London’

Resto 32 Here Crouch End, Crouch End

September 17, 2018

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Eight hours of straight cricket is apt to make a man or woman hungry so it was with a ravenous appetite that I sought sustenance in Crouch End on Saturday night. And what’s this? The empty block where the unmissed North African place used to be has been filled by Here Crouch End (who comes up with these names?) which looked classy from the outside; and it turns out from the inside too.* We were welcomed by a charming front of house team who explained what they were up to and how we could get it.

As with Goods Office the offer is tapas so this made for an interesting head to head. Here (really?) is aiming for a higher standard of cooking (so it’s really a bit invidious to make the comparison as they’re trying to find different niches in the market) and this is reflected in the price. Eighteen quid for a sharing plate is not cheap but then when that dish is a superb smoked duck salad it’s hard to begrudge it. I wanted it all for myself.

Not all the dishes are that expensive – the padron peppers were reasonably priced, more numerous and better prepared than those at GOffice. And there’s a much more extensive selection of stuff, from staples like polenta chips or calamari (I liked the batter on the squid, others at our table were less happy) to more unusual fare like the duck. The management philosophy is all about locally sourced, quality products and it really does show in the excellence of the food on offer. And the wine was good too.

This was a second welcome find in the local area within a week and while Here is a little too steep to become a regular outing it is a place I can heartily recommend to ethically conscious north London foodies (I believe there are a few around).

8/10

#Food #London #N8

*We were there for its final night. In order to get coffee my friend Trav went to Tesco and brought some for them to brew up.

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

Resto 31 Goods Office, Stroud Green

September 14, 2018

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A welcome addition to the local restaurant scene is Goods Office which nicely fills in the gap between Stroud Green and Crouch End. It replaces, after many years, a previous eatery called the Triangle and as you might guess occupies a triangle-shaped room. This doesn’t make it the easiest space to wrangle table-wise and to be honest I’m not sure the present set up of rows of tables quite works. But it looks to me that they’re still in the teething stage and no doubt a few furnishings will appear too to dampen the rather rattly accoustic.

But what about the food? It’s tapas so we went for a few options each from veg, fish, meat and sides. The stars of the show were a cured mackerel (top quality fish) and beef croquettes. The calamari were also excellent but could have done with a bit of aïoli or similar alongside. Padrone peppers were decent but too few. The rash splurge on a second bottle of wine for the party took the spend above 20 quid a head which is about standard for this side of the tracks of north London.

The service was excellent, really friendly and I hope this place goes from strength to strength – if only because it’ll save me walking that bit further when I want to go somewhere other than Harringay High Street.

7/10

#food #London

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

 

Resto 30 Rusty Bike Indian Kitchen, Kings Cross

September 2, 2018

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We were in Kings Cross for the Pablo Held Trio gig at Kings Place. If you haven’t seen the PBT and you like jazz you MUST SEE THEM! I’m not usually so passionate about recommending things to people as I’m of the nature of not being very good at receiving gushy enthusals. But they are extraordinarily good. And from Cologne, a place of which I have very fond memories.

Beforehand we were looking for Indian food but not at Dishoom. The food is excellent in Dishoom but you’re very aware of being served at the hands of a very high quality, mass volume outfit. And when people start taking their suitcases to restaurants its time for the full time resident to find an alternative.

Most Indian outfits in KX do not inspire confidence from the outside. But Rusty Bike is different. It looks like whoever’s in charge has an eye on design and wants to minimise the shab. So we went in.

It’s a small room and at first we were the only customers. We’d BOOB from Waitrose and I asked the guy if that was okay. He gave me a suspicious look and didn’t really reply so I took his silence as assent. When he came along with the menus I asked him for a couple of glasses for the wine which he went off and got.

“You just finished your GCSEs?” he asked my son like in a squinty-eyed spaghetti western-style scrute. My son is 21 (I think! I lose track sometimes.)

‘Last year at uni.’

‘Which one?’

‘Warwick’

This didn’t register.

‘That near Manchester?’

‘No, it’s in Conventry.’

‘Oh, Coventry. You like Coventry, it’s nice yeah?’

We wondered if he was familiar with Coventry.

‘Coventry … that’s Birmingham right?’

‘Yeah, near there.’

This seemed to reassure him and he left us to look at the menu. It is extensive and featured a few things that I liked the look of. We had mixed starters to share and then lamb shashlik, a duck thing and bindhi bhaji. Unlike at the India Club he was happy to sell us a chapati so we took one of them with a plain naan.*

The food was excellent. Succulent meat and proper spicing on the carnivorous side of things but if you’re a veggie I can recommend the bindhi, it was superb. By the time we left the room was filling up. Despite his slight hostility at the outset I liked the waiter. He reminded me of King Baba in his willingness to engage customers in disjointed, slightly surreal conversation. At around fifteen quid a head the Rusty Bike deserves to thrive.

8/10

#Food #London #PabloHeld

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

*The last time we went to the India Club we asked for chapatis and the waiter wouldn’t sell them to us as ‘they take too long to cook’. Which is unusual.

Resto 27 Machiya, Leicester Square

August 19, 2018

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Panton Street is the go to place for a quick, reasonably priced lunch in the West End so it’s inevitable that it will be redeveloped at some point soon. So I recommend that you get down to Machiya soon to enjoy the best of a pretty good bunch of Asian eateries slewn together on the south side of the street.

It’s taken a while for me to go to Machiya as there’s usually a queue out the door so were lucky this time to be able to walk straight in. The room is crammed with tables so this isn’t the place to come and discuss a sensitive business deal or dump a lover but it’s ideally suited for a lunchtime gossip, or indeed a solo mission.

The food is the usual Japanese selection of katsu, ramen and sides. They also do small plates if you want to share a variety of stuff. I went for the chicken katsu and it was the best I’ve ever had. The gorgeously juicy meat and fluffy crunchy batter was just perfect. On the side I had a pickled seaweed salad that was also perfectly prepared. A draught Kirin helped it down admirably and for fifteen quid a head Machiya offers better value than the higher profile Shoryu around the corner. Recommended.

8/10

#Food #London

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

Musset update!

August 6, 2018

New Writing Image for Programme

Doing a bit of housekeeping on the homepage I noticed that last year I put a copy of the script for the festival on the Corbyn Island post. So if you want to download this year’s Musset translation click A Door (Should Be Open Or Shut).

If you’re interested in producing the play please contact me at geoffreylevett@me.com

Resto 24 Dear Pizza, Highbury

August 5, 2018

Another meal, another pizza. But this time the Italian vibe started earlier in the day with a visit to the Estorick. If you don’t know the Estorick you should familiarise yourself soonest. A perfect museum to visit if you have a spare hour in north London, it has a small but perfectly formed collection of 20th Century Italian art with temporary exhibitions that are of an exceptionally high standard in terms of curation and novelty.

At the moment they have two exhibs, so even more reason to go than ever. On the ground floor the rooms are given over to original artwork for Campari, ranging from the late nineteenth century to the 1990 World Cup (my favourite piece – a football themed jigsaw which put me in mind of not just Toto Schillaci but also Georges Perec).

Early Campari ads. Thirsty again.

Futurists working at the command of fascist era booze mongers turns out to be a match made in heaven for the visual arts. And having been subjected to around 29 images of Campari it was difficult to resist a cocktail in the gallery’s very peaceful garden. (Service 10/10, we didn’t eat.)

I was less keen on the neo-futurists’ interventions in the permanent galleries. Their anti-capitalist rhetoric was a bit one note for me, though entertaining in parts. Irony ladled on irony can be very wearing, especially when funded by the Arts Council. But I’d still recommend it for its variety of approach (music, video, sculpture).

And so to dinner. A shortish stroll to Dear Pizza who lured us in with their promise of a garden. Strictly speaking I’d say it was a yard. But an awning-covered yard on a hot day is rather pleasant. The cooking was higher quality than I was expecting – octopus arrived with a very good sauce. The pizza was excellent (can you get bad pizza any more? Oh yes, p***a h*t), as was the service.

What a great day, and spent in our own manor with no need to get the tube.

8/10

#Food #London

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

Resto 23 Firebrand Pizza, Lisson Grove

August 4, 2018

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in Lisson Grove for a rather underwhelming production of Medea we wanted quick eats out of the sun. Firebrand Pizza looked a good bet.

It’s a shady room with a big window to watch the folks of the Grove go by. The menu is standard pizza and starters so went for a platter of meat up front followed by pizza and a side salad.

The meats were superior fare, even the mortadella (which can often be a bit spammy) pitching in with some smoky flavour. The pizza was good without being wow. A bottle of Sicilian white on the side helped it down.

The service was excellent from two friendly waitresses and at under £30 a head all in it was pretty good value. Worth going to if you’re in the area.

7/10

#Food #London

To see where else I’ve eaten go to the GoogleMap

Resto 17 Khoai Café, Crouch End

June 9, 2018

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After Matthew’s Kitchen I’m slowly munching my way through Topsfield Parade during the Crouch End Festival prep. In fact not prep because my visit to Khoai was a pitstop on the way to the excellent Storm in a Teacup, which acted as a phenomenally good curtain raiser to the dramatic freebies on offer.

And it was a good pitstop too. For my dining companion it was memorable as once being the venue for a date with a man who turned out to be a (fortunately non-lethal) knife obsessive. For me it was memorable for overturning my harrumph at the could be better Kho of the previous week. What Kho got wrong Khoai gets right.

Starting with the service. I was early so the room was pretty empty (I think a younger member of the Khoai crew was doing her homework in one corner) and it was a pleasant thing to be told to sit pretty much anywhere. The room is good for either getting in the window and gawping or tucking yourself away; I did the latter.

A requested cold beer was delivered promptly and I’d slugged it down as the rest of the party arrived. We went for soft shell crab up front then a spicy Bun Hué for me. There was a good amount of crab and rather than any stickysweet sauce  there was a pleasingly simple garnish of fried onions and chilli. I’d gone for the Bun Hué as I fancied a bit of heat and boy did I get it! A rash stuffing of the bird’s eye into the maw of a hungry man brought on a chilli induced apoplexy followed by the enjoyable sensation of one’s mouth returning to acceptability. There were plenty of prawns in there too and the whole thing did what I wanted it to do, i.e. fresh veg, fresh noodles and flavoursome soup.

At around twenty quid a head invlud my drinks in this was not fine dining but it was good value in an area of London that suffers from a slew of hipper places (I think Khoai is family run) that charge a premium for having such crucial things as curated music and cutting-edge fonts on the menu.

8/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

Resto 14 N4 coffee fruit, Stroud Green

May 29, 2018
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A perfect coffee served in the German Gymnasium.

Hmm, a coffee shop rather than a resto really and strictly speaking not within the rules since I paid up front. But sometimes the quality of service in an establishment is such that one is forced to comment on it even if only to encourage the management to put things right. With this in mind the description will come first and the notes on how to improve things afterwards.

N4 coffee fruit (Yes, lower case. It used to be known as the altogether less irritating Vagabond.) is a pleasant enough room to sip coffee and do the crossword. If you have coffee. Being mid-morning the room wasn’t busy and I was the only person in the queue. I waited for the guy by the till to look at me so I could make my order.

But he was busy. Busy making coffee? No. Busy out back? No. Busy tidying up tables? No. Just busy not serving customers. He was looking down at something. What could it be? I turned it over in my mind. A generous man would say he was looking through a stack of orders and making sure that he’d memorised which one belonged to which customer. Subsequent events would suggest otherwise.

He eventually looked up and I ordered a double espresso and sat down. And waited. I perused the paper and observed a few people come in and order after me. Including a man with a cute fluffy dog, who was obviously a hit. After about ten minutes I was starting to wonder where my coffee was so found it less easy to focus on Janan Ganesh’s skewering of the Brexit crisis and its catastrophic effect on strategic policy thinking among our political leadership. I observed that everyone in the coffee shop had arrived after me and also that they all had coffee.

The till guy was chatting to a friend on a table at the window and occasionally looking at his phone. I fixed him with a basilisk stare. He looked up absently then went back to his phone. The woman on the coffee machine was similarly gripped by social media. It must have been 15 minutes or so since I’d gone in.

So I got up on my hind legs, walked to the counter and asked for my coffee. ‘Coffee?’ ‘Yes, a double espresso.’ ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ Till guy was still absorbed in his phone. The coffee arrived without comment from either party and I drank it and left.

This was the worst service I’d had since a legendary dinner in Margate. But in a spirit of generosity I offer a few pieces of advice from one customer service worker to another.

  1. When a customer comes into your business look at them. It will help you to realise that they are a human being and not just a disembodied voice. You might also consider taking the experience one step further by smiling at them.
  2. While you have customers in the room observe them – do they need anything? Make eye contact to give them the opportunity to speak to you. Not only will this make them feel looked after it might also encourage them to buy more things.
  3. If you do make a mistake apologise.
  4. If you do make a mistake apologise.
  5. If you DO make a mistake apologise.
  6. In person. Don’t let a colleague do it on your behalf.
  7. Do not under any circumstance play jazz lite over your sound system. Combined with the combined nervating effect of high amounts of caffeine and bad service this could result in a Falling Down style situation. You don’t want that. And more to the point nor do your customers.

0/10

#Coffee #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

 

Crouch End Festival 2018

May 14, 2018

New Writing Image for Programme

Now that A Midsummer Night’s Dream has finished it’s time to flag up my own next production with the Crouch End Players as part of the Crouch End Festival. As part of an evening of new writing I’m directing a new translation of the French classic, A Door (Should Be Either Open Or Shut).

The original is a short play by the Romantic writer Alfred de Musset, perhaps most famous in this country for being the lover of Georges Sand which inspired both of them to write classic memoirs of their time together.

The original concerns the romantic tribulations of a pair of aristocrats in mid-ninteenth century Paris but I’ve updated it to post-War London with saltier dialogue and a real period feel.

The venue once more is the Great Northern Railway Tavern, who were such excellent hosts for Corbyn Island in 2017 and there will be three shows at 7pm on the 15th, 16th and 17th June. Tickets are free and available from crouchendplayers@hotmail.com. It would be great to see you there!

#theatre #London #Musset


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