Franco Manca - Balham

Every so often I get this craving were all I want in life right that moment is Pizzaaaaaa. It's never when I'm hungover which I wish it was (my hangover craving is expensive - sushi or Chinese, never anything else). This particular evening the newly engaged (YAY!) Miss K and I met up mid way from our homes and headed to Balham. 

Franco Manca has been part of our London food scene for quite some time however, never actually making it over since living North of the river until recently. I will tell you this...I will NEVER order a delivery Pizza again these are the shizzle.

The menu is short with only 6 pizza options (numbered 1-6) two side salads and 2 ever-changing specials. Drinks are also kept to the minimum showcasing a couple of reds, whites and beers - perfect!

My lovely date for the evening had the number '5' (shown above and below)- tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovies and mozzarella. Pretty much a bargain at £6.70. To this, she added some extra mushrooms (you can basically add more or less anything you want for 50p or £1) and it arrived looking fantastic...I was slightly jealous in fact.

Yours truly ordered the number '6' tomato, cured organic chorizo (Dry and semi-dry ) and mozzarella another bargain £6.95 and I added plenty of fresh (you guessed it) chilli and (I'm sorry Mr D) anchovies, I love anchovies on a pizza, but only the brown salty kind...mmmmmm...

The sour dough base on these pizzas was incredibly light, fluffy and a crispy crust like no other I had tasted. The toppings were plentiful and simply spot on. My chorizo (Brindisa, I may add) was rich and fiery, absolutely delicious.

I gobbled the whole thing up and loved every mouthful. Every ingredient of this pizza has been researched and sourced to get the best possible outcome and their hard work shows. For less than £20pp with booze or £10 without it's incredibly good value. 

Don't make my mistake and leave it YEARS to head here, you won't regret it. 

Website: here
Address: All over
Bookings: No bookings taken. But the queue moves quickly!

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A quick catch up at Claude's Kitchen

I made it back over the river last night to have another wonderful supper at Claude's Kitchen. As many of you will know, I am a huge fan of his cooking, most of which showcases every aspect of each dish to the absolute maximum. Last night was no exception. With the delightful Mr Herries as our 'child' for the evening we nestled down to some of the most charming service and the freshest and tastiest food I have had in a long while... 

Martini - Raspberry - Dill - Carrots. A really vibrant, refreshing dish the bream was so fresh I wouldn't have been surprised if Claude was battling with a flapping fish mere minutes before. 

Red Grape - Chickpeas - Paprika - Red Onion. One of my favourite fishy dishes I've eaten at Claude's Kitchen to date. Another dish which had perfectly paired ingredients and that pollock was cooked to precision.

BEEF SHORT-RIB, Chimicurry - Burnt Chicories - Celeriac was devoured by Mr Herries and came with no complaints whatsoever.

Mr D had the BBQ'd rabbit which again, could not be faulted.  

Pud was shared amongst the three of us... MACERATED STRAWBERRIES
Pimms - Cucumber Ice - Burnt Cream - Lemonade Jelly - Mint. Simple, sharp and boozy and one of those dishes we came away talking about for moments afterwards. A bowl full of summer, Claude crammed in every yummy taste imaginable, a dish I will attempt to recreate. Once I have a kitchen...

The seasonal and sustainable weekly changing menu at Claude's Kitchen never fails to disappoint. We love every minute we spend there and I just hope one day he'll venture South of the river...just for me, please? 

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Chiltern hot!

I made it onto the hottest booking sheet this year... So, after confirming a table almost 3 months ago for a Friday evening, my time finally came. 

There's not been a day go by where Chiltern Firehouse hasn't popped up on the Daily Mail gossip column and I don't think they've had an evening off paps being sat's THE restaurant to go to at this point in time. And I can't see it being knocked off the top spot for a while...

It was a belated celebration for our yummy mummy's birthday. Rarely having the four of us together we treated it as a family do and met around 7pm for pre drinks before our meal at 8pm. Your greeted by front of house the moment you step out of your taxi, which is a lovely touch and one which makes you think immediately that this place is rather special. 

The bar was pleasantly full however we were still about to perch on the bench seating and have a table. Swiftly being greeted by the bar manager with a 'I hear we have a birthday' and handed our drinks menus. The staff already showing high standard and finesse from the moment we stepped inside. 

Interior pic from Standard Online
After a couple of champers we were lead to our banquette table which, for four of you was a lovely arrangement. The room is an impressive vast space still with the history of what it once was. They have cleverly kept the large fire doors, the roof is made of woven old fire hoses and, making up the main element of the room, is a wonderful open and buzzing kitchen. It has a rustic feel to it but oozes NYC glamour at the same time.

Our waitress showed us some of the snacks which are 'ideal to start with' and we happily accepted her recommendation of the infamous 'crab doughnuts' and 'crispy fried chicken'. The doughnuts were a mini brioche bun, filled with a generous portion of wonderfully fresh crab and sprinkled with a coral 'dust'. Light, sweet, and yet incredibly more-ish. 

The crispy chicken was super crunchy, tender and grease free. Dunked in the decadent bacon dip this was seriously spot on.

The menu reads almost too well for its own good. I for one couldn't decided for at least 20mins which could have been our downfall later when they wanted to turn the tables...

For starters, I finally settled on grilled octopus with aubergine, daikon and mushroom. It was amazingly tender having been braised first there wasn't a single rubbery bit to it. It was a plate full of different textures which all come together perfectly. A hint of a Far Eastern taste to it made this dish a really enjoyable first course and showed off perfectly how well Chef, Nuno Mendes know's his flavours and boy, can he cook. 

The family had the following and all loved every single one:

Birthday girl: Roasted Chicken Wings, slow cooked egg, rice broth and morels

Dad: Sea Trout Crudo yellow mole and coriander

Brother: Red prawns, almond milk and smoked grapes

Mains had as much flare and fabulousness as the starters. Mine being the Roasted Turbot seaweed fregola, cucumber and crème fraîche. This was delicious, a triumph and one I will remember for a long time. The fish, perfectly cooked matched well with the sharp pickled cucumber and sour crème fraîche. A pretty sprinkling of nasturtiums, tiny, tiny courgettes and a very green but delicious seaweed sauce completed the dish.

The rest of the bunch had:

2 x Chargrilled Iberico pork roasted garlic and collard greens - served rare.

Spring lamb minted greens, radishes and goat's curd.

All were plated beautifully and again, tummies were satisfied greatly.

We actually had puddings however, by this point my battery had died and therefore, sadly, I cannot put pics up. But I had some of the hazelnut ice cream which was scrummy...Mum was presented with a candle atop her dessert which, I cannot recall what pudding it was but that extra touch was really thoughtful. 

Our two hour time slot (my pet hate in restaurants) was up and we moved to the bar area and carried on the evening finishing off our bottle of wine and having a few night caps... I think we could have gone on and on, sensible thinking got the better of us and we headed home around midnight - it's another one of those restaurants where time seems to just drift away...

Chiltern Firehouse has the most spectacular buzz, everyone is incredibly energized which rubs off onto everyone within the restaurant. The staff are attentive and really knowledgeable, all seem genuinely happy to be working there. It really is a special place and I cannot wait to go back...if I manage to get another booking.

Address: 1 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA


p.s.I recommend you book for later in the evening to get its full atmospheric potential. 

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Kerbisher and Malt... fantastic fish and chips

Another exciting foodie place popped up on Abbeville Road early this summer and I was kindly invited (thank you) down for a Sunday evening supper, being a local foodie. 

Having what can only be described as a rather hefty week of late evenings and boozing Mr D and I couldn't have been happier to have this to look forward to. I LOVE fish and chips and I try to keep it as a treat supper otherwise I would eat it every other day!

Kerbisher and Malt popped up on Shepherds Bush Road a while ago and every time we have driven past I have been dying to pop in. It is known to be a certain high trouser wearing male celeb's favourite take away spot so, another place which comes with high praises...

Arriving at 6pm we were greeted with friendly wait staff and shown to our banquette table at the front of the restaurant. The décor is industrial twinned with retro and is as far away from any other 'chippy' I have been used to (being a girl from the Midlands...). 

The menu reads simply and easily. 'Fish', 'Favourites', 'Butties''s not overly fancy and nor does it need to be. We decided to try a decent range of the menu without totally over ordering. 

A cider for him, a rosé pour moi.


I wanted what they are famed for, the battered fish and chose to have the pollock(your fish can come grilled or in matzo meal which is a type of bread crumb). At £6.80 a portion for sustainably sourced fish, you can't really complain. My batter was light, crisp, not overly greasy and the meaty fish stayed perfectly juicy and flaked away with my fork. I am told they only cook from fresh - never frozen...

Mr D had the fillet of fish burger which was fab. For £4.50 this was something of a bargain and we both said we would have this happily any night of the week. The lemon mayo was a nice added zing to each mouthful, served with some lettuce, tomato and onion. Yum!

Double cooked chips were as one remembers fish and chip shop chips to be... crisp on the outside and wonderfully fluffy on the inside. However these were slightly more refined, less greasy and yet with lots of those wonderfully over-crisp bits at the bottom of the bowl which had soaked up the vinegar and salt, de-licious! I was transported back to those mid week school holiday evening treats. 

The calamari, I had heard, was a must. These came breaded atop a lovely little salad. There was a light chilli kick running through the matzo meal crumb and the calamari was kept tender and well seasoned.

Sauces and sides, well... we had plenty. Enormous pickled onion rings were again, very crisp and certainly plentiful (we couldn't eat them all so had them to take-away for the rents...). I loved the addition of having the onion pickled which made them a little bit more special than your average pub version.  


My favourite, mushy peas, which were as I remember them. None of this souped-up peas with mint, herbs etc. They could have done with being a little more runny, however, this certainly didn't put me off. I was scraping the side of the bowl for every last drop... i LOVE the stuff!

Curry sauce... not the kind one finds up North but this was actually red curry sauce. It was possibly the only part of the meal I wasn't so sure of. It just didn't seem right... may be due to the fact that I still adore the algae coloured stuff you find in your local. It was slightly over-sweet for my tastes. 

Sweet chilli sauce - another goodie and an excellent match again with the calamari. 

And... A gherkin, not much to report on it was...gherkiny.

We were too full to sample desserts however, I didn't mind. We had a thoroughly enjoyable meal and one I know we will find ourselves returning to over and over again (they do take away which was hugely popular whilst we were there!). 

Thank goodness for the local gym.

Address: 50 Abbeville Rd, London SW4 9NF
Closed Mondays

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Hutong... exceptional Chinese food 33 floors up

The Shard... people love it, or hate it. Personally, I love it as I can see it from my beloved Abbeville Road sticking out amongst London rooftops. A pinnacle, reminding me just how fast London is moving. Not only have we now won the top spot for Europe's highest building, it's one of my favourite spots to view our beautiful city whilst sipping on rather fabulous cocktails and nattering until the sun sets...

This particular balmy summers evening was no exception. Having been to Aqua and had an evening of mixed thoughts, I was desperate to try Hutong (which has a 1 starred sister restaurant in Hong Kong and comes highly praised). Who couldn't love a supper with a view like this...

We had booked in the hope of exchanging or even completing on our (now third time lucky!) flat, however with this no longer looking any time soon we decided to keep the table and eat away our angry thoughts... anyone having a nightmare with house buying I feel for you, I really, REALLY do!!

Anyway... we had an early sitting at 6pm, seated right by the edge of the restaurant. Thus meaning, we were able to watch the sun slowly start to set and also spy of commuters hurrying home. From up here it makes the whole of London look like a Hornby railway set... and it's rather gorgeous. 

Reading up on several reviews there were a few dishes I knew we had to try, and other dishes we just wanted to order as they sounded delicious.

One thing I MUST point out, it is eye-wateringly expensive! Dishes are, on average, around the £22-28 mark...but, it's fully booked almost every evening, months in advance. So, they must be doing something right.

We settled down to a glass of wine and perused the menu. Starters were a pretty easy deal for us as we both wanted the try the 'Roasted Peking duck' which was served in two stages (£30 for 2 ppl). This came with its own carver and was pretty amazing to watch as he carved paper thin slices of pink meat and (the best ever) crisp skin onto a serving platter...

This we then piled into wafer thin steamed pancakes, plum sauce, spring onion and cucumber. Altogether making this one of the most decadent crispy duck pancakes Mr D and I have ever had...the second serving of the duck comes with our mains.

Our other starter was Shandong steamed chicken breast with home made buns. The chicken was perfectly cooked and covered in a light sweet sauce...the buns were incredibly light and fluffy. A real delight to eat. 

Onto our mains...

Reasonably priced vegetable noodles arrived first and had a fantastic springy consistency to them (possibly hand pulled). Loads of yummy bean sprouts (massive thumbs up here!) and sweet onions ran through the dish and this was polished off even when full to bursting at the end.

Mr D chose the Chinkiang pork ribs which were braised in a sweet and vinegar sauce.  This actually was one of the cheaper options on the menu, but one that we both wanted to try. Mainly for Mr D's love of ribs. The pork was succulent and so tender it fell off the bone. The sauce incredibly sticky and more-ish I was pouring it over the meat by the gallon. 

Spiced minced pork with string beans followed and my god these are good. So good that I went on and on eating these and asked the waiter how they were cooked (deep fried for seconds and then dry fried)... the beans were so crunchy, fresh and delicious. This dish actually was one of the highlights of the meal which is rare for a 'side dish'. Served with garlic (lots of), dried shrimp, chilli and minced pork. If you go, you MUST have this.

Our second helping of the duck from the starter arrived tossed with onions, chillies and garlic(I think!) served along side lettuce leaves and was another winner on the table. It was really refreshing and a welcome crunchy texture against the softer/richer parts of our supper we were having.

Our final dish for mains, although stuffed, was also scoffed, it was the Wunan-style cod fillet tossed with chilli and crisp soya beans. I absolutely loved it. The fish was amazing. Perfectly steamed to create such tender flesh I didn't need a knife to serve it. The whole dish had a pleasant kick to it. The soya beans were plentiful and gave a great texture against the softer fish main element.

Feeling rather stuffed and our mouths in need of an injection of freshness we had some guava fruit sorbet. Really refreshing and a greatly satisfying end to a very decadent feasting.

So, after a couple of glasses of wine (no bottle) our bill came to £172! Which is pretty expensive... we had also chosen some of the cheaper dishes on the menu without thinking about it so, it could have been even more. Was it worth it? Some elements of the menu are totally worth it. The staff are impeccable, it's another one also to make a trip to the loo for you gents... However I think it's best to go with a work credit card or colleague to be sure that you won't be footing the bill!

Address: Level 33 The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
Phone:020 3011 1257 

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