The Ladbroke Arms - A proper country pub in Notting Hill

Taken from the Ladbroke Arms website

Proper country style pubs are hard to come by in our big city. By 'country' I mean cosy, drinking and eating pubs. Not a gastro modern style pub which seem to have totally taken over almost every area of London by the dozen although one is not complaining! I want a fire, I want proper meals, a great wine list and a lovely homely, comfortable atmosphere, throw in a few wandering dogs and I'm back home in Derbyshire - bliss!

The Ladbroke Arms is one of these treasures. Don't get me wrong, it certainly has London prices however it also oozes charm. There's a lot of elbow touching around small rickety tables, a couple of meandering pooches and a wonderful hearty atmosphere that only happy locals bring.

Taken from the Ladbroke Arms website

We went one Friday, when heading home, and popped in for a feeding before the 3hr journey North. You must book as the dining room isn't enormous and the drinks/casual dining area gets full pretty swiftly from 12pm onwards.

This is about our 4th visit and so far it's never disappointed. Mr D still raves on about the meatball pasta dish he had there on a previous visit. But the menu does change regularly - possibly daily? and therefore don't always expect your 'faves' to be there on your return!

As we were in a slight hurry to get on our way, wanting to miss the traffic, we ordered pretty much as soon as we sat down.

A starter caught both our attention and so that was a definite choice... Onion bahji with raita and a spiced relish. A very clever litter starter idea and one I will definitely be trying out at home. It was delicious and totally outshone the rest of the meal (although all courses were fab, this is totally pipped the post!)

I had the lamb sweetbread and tongue salad, served with soft boiled egg, croutons and a mixed garden salad. Another fabulous starter fresh, light and packed full of wonderful high quality ingredients. It was also full of vibrant colours which looked gorgeous!

Seabass, with saffron risotto, samphire and leeks was my choice for a main. The fish had nicely charred crisp skin and well cooked flesh which sat on top an enormous mound of golden, oozy, rich risotto rice - a wonderfully warming dish and such a great colour!!

Mr D stuck to his love of pasta dishes and ordered the duck ragu. The meat was by no means scrimped on and a good amount of diced veg and herbs ran through. Our only slight disappointment was that it was rather dry whereas we were expecting it to be a little more 'saucy'. However on the plus side, the seasoning was spot on and the duck, incredibly tender.

Wanting to hop on the road North we finished there and got on our merry way. The Ladbroke is a fabulous place whether you pop in for one or two courses, have a swift drink or make an evening of it. It's wonderfully homely, effortlessly charming and up there with some of my favourite 'pubby' pubs!

Address: 54 Ladbroke Rd, London W11 3NW
Phone:020 7727 6648

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Fittata... a healthy lunch alternative for all you Londoners!

I must let you into a little secret... I love my lunches out as much as anyone else however, I also crave healthy foods to gobble at my desk which are also convenient and delicious... hmmm...tricky!
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Mama Lan's Clapham

Hello new post code of SW4, hello new hotspots of foodie delicacies to try, hello new in-between home, home!!

Still SW, this time South of the river and so far I'm not finding it quite so hard/different as I thought I may do to SW6...In fact, I would go as far to say I am loving it!

Mama Lan's has been on my Brixton Village hit list however they've made my life much easier in that there's now a Mama Lan's within a ten minute walk away from my new palace in Clapham Common.

Mama Lan's is famed for their hand made dumplings and so these were definitely on my hit list to try. I went with two of my Uni lovelies and nestled in for a feast of food and gossip. The service is swift and friendly and we were seated in the 'no bookings' venue straight away around 6:45pm (the early bird(s) catches the free tables!!) - N.B. it's cash only at present however I am told this is soon to change.

The menu is small however there's something on there for everyone, a beef noodle soup, a cold chicken noodle salad, and tofu/veggie alternatives. There's around 4/5 different dumplings and another section of street foods which again has around 5 items on it. A great wine, beer and cocktail menu is available to wash away any work woes on a week night and these are very reasonably priced.

Two of us chose the spicy chicken ban mein (cold chicken noodle salad). The bowl was brim full of goodness. Beansprouts, cucumber, spring onion, chillies and plenty of succulent chicken atop a mound of cold well cooked noodles that had the perfect spring and bite to them as one would expect. A small amount of sesame spiced sauce coated the dish and it was really refreshing and tasty, full of flavour and had a wonderful mix of texture(S).

Beef noodle soup was also a table choice. The broth was meaty, rich and a real hearty hug in a bowl. Plenty of tender meat bobbed about and the noodles, again, made of perfect consistency.

We had to try some dumplings, and so the boiled king prawn and Chinese water chestnuts arrived. Five plump dumplings sat aside a lovely pickled vegetables. They were divine, filled generously with well seasoned prawns had a lovely crunch from the chestnuts and the dough cooked perfectly with the correct thickness.

Spicy chicken wings were crisp, succulent and well seasoned. Not too knock your head of spicy they could definitely take more heat. But thoroughly enjoyable and more than enough to share per portion.

Pulled pork buns were full to the brim with juicy sweet meat and the hirata buns steamed to utter perfection then, seemingly, lightly fried giving a slight crisp edge to them.

Since opening the larger venue in Clapham I was told that everything is now cooked in this kitchen to keep with consistency and then delivered several times over the day to Brixton. Thus meaning slight imperfections have been well and truly ironed out and they can now create exceptional consistent food at fantastic prices. Our meal for 3 with alcoholic drinks came in just over £16pp! which in my eyes is a bargain! I'm looking forward to a second visit very soon!

N.B.Reading some mixed reviews on Mama Lan's I'm not entirely sure people get that this is traditional Beijing home cooking. Therefore expect rustic, homely hearty food which haven't been manufactured to look pretty. The  dumplings in particular are as traditional as you can get, forget the gyoza's you find in several London chains these are the real deal filled with delicious local produce.

A: 8 The Pavement, London SW4 0HZ

Hours: 12:00–3:30pm, 6:00–10:00pm

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Soif - Battersea deliciously fine french food and wine

10 of us decided it had been too long and a while back settled on a local SW London restaurant to celebrate a return, back on home soil, from the gorgeous Pariee! French inspired 'Soif' was the perfect choice.

Now, not wanting to be an overly boring blogger I kept my camera at bay as much as possible unless people insisted which (thank you) many did! A lot of Soif's delicious plates slipped through due to the menu being heavy on 'sharing is caring' and trying to keep five hungry boys' paws off a plate of food, just so you can take a snap, isn't exactly an easy task!!

Soif's décor is typically French. Random, old French posters and pictures adorn the walls. Gorgeous tiled tables and miss-matched furniture make this a vibrant and relaxed atmosphere, perfect in our case for larger groups!

We went 'all out' on both wine and food. Soif's wine list is impressive (and expensive) however their house white is perfectly qwaffable and the reds are a must try!

Whilst choosing we decided on all five of the charcuterie selection to put down the middle of the table pre ordering and dived in. Of these I managed one photograph of the terrine with cornichons which was a huge slice of coarse, rich pork meat, seasoned with herbs and dotted with pistachio's to give an occasional crunch, yummmm-my!

We also shared the duck rillets (which went down excellently) and three types of cold meats - capocollo, soppressa trentina and salame toscano. All thinly sliced and were eaten faster than you could ever imagine. I love the idea of ordering something right away and nibbling whilst reading the menu. It just seems to begin a meal in the right way... It's also a good social way of sitting down to a meal especially in a larger group such as ours.

Duck rillettes photo taken from Foodies on the Prowl

All the above and the rest of the meal was served with never ending bread (two types) and room temperature butter!

For starters the dishes are again set to encourage sharing and we were told for our sized group around 5/6 plates was suffice (we went for 7!). We had the following:

Goats curd, broad beans, radishes and bread crumbs. Refreshing, zingy and flavoursome!

Cod's roe, endive and soft boiled egg (a VERY posh and punchy taramasalata which pleased Mr Bruce greatly - thank you also for the hand modelling!)

Hand Sliced raw beef, Morels, Artichokes and pea shoots - this I didn't try however it was Mr D's favourite of the whole evening.

Smoked duck breast, radicchio, walnuts and blue cheese - quite a punchy dish and slightly bitter but thoroughly enjoyable and the duck was sliced like Parma ham which I hadn't had before and yet, had always wanted to try.

Lamb sweetbreads, rosemary aioli - delicately simple but ticked every box!

Buffalo Mozzarella, hass avocado, spring onion and chilli. This was originally out of stock however the waiter kindly found some due to seeing Miss HH's saddened face. The avocado had a great chilli kick and a great texture due to a mix between chopped and mashed avocado and a good glug of olive oil.

Finally we had a crisp and clean flavoured fennel, champignon de Paris, parmesan and olive oil salad. A nice addition to the slightly heavier and gutsy dishes above!

Mains are more personal and here I chose the Hake with chickpeas, chorizo and aioli. A really meaty fish, cooked perfectly. The dish as a whole was packed full of flavour, texture and colour. It stopped me from moaning about my hangover, from Friday's 30th, for a whole 30mins as I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Others round the table had the steak haché and frites which looked insane. Mr D the pork chop which again was cooked to perfection and generous in size.

Puds were another sharing affair, Mr D ordered the rhubarb with crème Anglaise which had lots of mmmmm's and ahhhh's. Miss FF and I ordered two of the treacle tarts, of which went down an absolute storm! Many, exclaiming to have been 'the best treacle tart, EVER'! and I couldn't agree more! Even if you're full to bursting I demand you try this, it's life changing stuff, I promise!


Chocolate mousse was also sampled as was the cheese board. Again, all fantastic!

Terroirs (Soif's sister restaurant) is where Mr D and I enjoy so much we send as many people there as possible. Soif is up there, and may be even knocking it's sister off the top spot due to being right on our doorstep! These people know their stuff and especially how to get the most out of every ingredient on each and every plate - we sampled almost the whole menu between us and not a single one of is were disappointed.

A: 27 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1HG
P: 020 7223 1112

Time: 12pm-10:30pm

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One of my best boys is literally down the road from my place of work and luckily is into food (and restaurants) as much as I am (possibly even more so!). It was a Friday and wanting to treat ourselves (and ourselves lucky if we were to get in) we popped down to the newly reopened 'Polpetto' for a spot of lunch.

Luck happened to be on our side and we arrived just before the Polpetto rush at 12:30pm and were seated straight away at the bar. Another place to be inspired by décor the ceiling is stunning (one can only dream!) and like her sister restaurants it's stripped back, bare and basic goodness!

Seeing plates flying past our noses and having an hours break we got straight into ordering from the simple but perfectly formed menu.

Some delicious olive oil was poured and we were brought a basket of warm rosemary and salted focaccia bread.

Burrata was creamy and rich, served with chopped chilli and agretti (a type of sea-plant AKA Salsola). It was the best burrata I have eaten in a long time. Such decadence and an absolute delight to eat the chilli kick and salty greens made for a fantastic trio!

Calvolo nero, anchovy and burnt butter bread was the best 'alternative' Caesar salad we both have ever eaten! On exclaiming this it seemed most of the punters that were to ever comment on this particular dish thought so too!

Mussels were my choice of a 'none-sharing' plate and these were simply served with cannellini beans and 'cime di rapa' - a type of broccoli. A little chilli was added and thin slices of garlic and what appeared to be a white wine sauce. Another winner and just what I fancied as it wasn't over filling but really flavoursome.

Mr E went for the game faggots with leeks which I didn't picture as by now we were nearing our hour and therefore these had to be gobbled up quickly. A side of extremely delicious and creamy polenta was also added onto our already rather OTT 'simple, quick lunch' and this was, again, scrummy!

Another winning little hot spot for Russell Norman and Richard Beatty and if you're lucky you may catch a glimpse of the gorgeous Florence Knight whom heads up the kitchen. A great lunch place and almost certain to please a date in the warm summer evenings.

Our meal for two came in at an extraordinarily reasonable £20 pp - however, it was a week day and we were back to work so no boozing was done!

A: Polpetto 11 Berwick St, London, W1F 0DR
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