Polpo Soho

Polpo seems to be my place to send the masses as it never falters. Whether it be a lunch date for two or a family catch up for four (as was the case here) the food is always consistent and, thoroughly enjoyable with an atmosphere to match.

We booked for lunch (bookings taken at lunch only) and had a decent stretch of the menu and a carafe of white wine - perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon. I have blogged about the lovely Polpo way back in 2013 although the menu hasn't changed much- if at all!

We gorged feasted on the following:

Crab arancini, fried to give an amazing crisp coating and gooey centre. These little balls were incredibly flavoursome and thoroughly enjoyable as a pre-starter. 

It apparently is a sin to go to Polpo and not have some of their meatballs. Always a crowd pleaser, always delicious and this batch of pork and fennel were no different. For a non-meatball lover these were pretty much a game changer... beautifully moist, perfectly spiced and coated in their rich tomato sauce, de-lish.

Market Greens were smothered in a light coating of olive oil. Simple but, divine.

We had two pizzette (they're another 'must have'). Cured pork shoulder and pickled pepper. And, another of spinach, parmesan and a soft boiled egg. Both as delicious as each other and well worth a try if you're ever visiting...

The Polpo 'Frito Misto' never falters and is seemingly a staple order for most tables when looking round the room. A pile of Squid, prawns and whitebait all perfectly cooked in a dry, crisp and light batter. Who can't love a plate of this stuff?! Just dress it, simply, in lemon and enjoy. 

Salmon tartar was a table winner due to it being a near perfect all-rounder. Wonderful texture was given by tiny cubes of cucumber hidden within and beautifully melt in your mouth fresh salmon. A horseradish side gave a good kick however, it was still super creamy and light. Served with the beautifully named 'carte di musica' AKA music sheet (thin) 'toast' - a perfectly balanced dish and one to definitely order, just don't mistake the horseradish for crab like some of us did!!

Go, eat to your hearts content and enjoy... 

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Chick Pea burgers

The last time I blogged was well over a week ago... personal life occasionally gets in the way and I simply don't have time to write. Recently I've been getting my cook on at home and trying (my best) to eat slightly healthier.

A weekend of indulging meant we were craving health and simplicity. A swift Google later we found a yummy 'Good Food' vegetarian dish that I adapted slightly and both of us approved of. Chick pea burgers it was... SO simple, ridiculously cheap, and yet, really filling we didn't miss having a juicy beef patty....much!

You will need to feed 4 hungry mouths:

  • 3-4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 100g/3½oz low fat hummus
  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g/2oz cashews

  • To serve:
  • 8 pitta breads, warmed
  • Baby Gem lettuce 
  • 8 tbsp plain low fat yoghurt
  • Siracha sauce - or any other chilli sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of your oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic and fry gently for 4-5 minutes, until softened and slightly browning. Stir in the spices and herbs and fry gently until aromatic. Remove from the heat and cool whilst you get on with the rest.

In a food processor, add half of the chickpeas and all of the hummus and flour. Season with salt and pepper. Blend to a rough paste - It will be stickier than you imagine!

Add the remaining chickpeas and the cashews. Pulse for a few seconds until the chickpeas and nuts have broken down but retain some texture. Season to taste.

Divide the chickpea mixture into 8 portions. Roll each into a ball, flatten between your palms into a burger shape approximately 1.5cm thick.

Heat the remaining oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the burgers in batches and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown and crisp on both sides and heated through.

Serve in pitta breads stuffed with salad leaves, onions, I added cucumber for some added crunch with a dollop of yoghurt and chilli sauce alongside - DE-LISH!

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The Manor - Another Clapham goldie

Pudding bar
So, Clapham is suddenly getting it's mark on the London map for seriously awesome places to eat within. Valentine's day was fast approaching and I was finding myself ever so slightly stuck for a place to seat 6 of us to have supper a 'mere' month or so ago.

We managed to get a cancellation for an 8:30pm seating at The Manor. AKA, the people behind The Dairy's newest venture. I was surprised, and yet extremely pleased with bagging such a spot for this rather popular evening for dining out and even more so because, once the evening was over I am desperate to go again as I am sure many other feel the same...
Unexpected evenings always turn out to be my most enjoyable. Tonight was one of those... Firstly, It was Valentine's night and I was spending it in a restaurant, something I have always sworn against doing. Secondly, we were therefore made to have a 'Lover's' (not their words, my own) tasting menu which is the main reason I choose not to go out on the 14th. Often, over-priced and somewhat thrown onto your table in attempt to get you out asap... thankfully, The Manor could not have been more of an exception if it tried.

The venue is off Clapham High Street on a really non de-script road that when arriving I thought I was in the wrong place. However, on walking through the door it's a completely different story. You are transported to an exceptionally vibrant room which only gets better as the evening draws in. The d├ęcor is much like it's sister restaurant, rustic and industrial however, a little more, stylised (and yes, the loo's are a little 'out there'!).
We were seated towards the back on a large farmhouse kitchen dining table already set with mismatched vintage crockery and cutlery. Being as it was Valentine's night we were pre-warned of the set menu and this was already at each place sitting. A flute of champers was brought to the table and we were briefly taken through ingredients for each course whilst nibbling on an amuse bouche of seaweed on top of a tapioka crisp and white miso, I loved this little mouthful of sea saltiness along with others. Mr D was not so fussed. 
Following that, we were then given a small sharing board of spicy beef droewors, pork and fennel salami (both delicious) and a hessian bag (with its own 'heat pack') of freshly baked bread. 
Now, this bread is like no other, each roll is meant for sharing...I managed to devour a whole loaf to myself in record speed without anyone round the table noticing, it is THAT good! 
Served with...wait for it... CHICKEN SKIN WHIPPED BUTTER...daintily placed on a cool rock. Just so, SO gooooood!
Our feast then came in thick and fast. Crispy chicken skins, kimchi and burnt kale. A wonderful mix of textures and flavours.
Cauliflower, grue de cacao, medjool dates and kefir (fermented milk). Was another win on unusual flavour combinations. The chocolate in particular was incredibly caramel-esque I was getting every last drop off the plate with my finger. 
The final of our starters was a rather huge applewood smoked eel, cultured cream, new potatoes and parsnip. I can't actually ever remember whether I had eaten eel before or not. Here, it was only lightly smoked therefore, letting the rest of the plates elements shine through. Again, another mix of textures with added 'crisps' and 'burnt' onions - de-lish. 
For mains it was a choice of two...

Hay smoked pigeon, fermented grains, malt granola and parsnip for three of the family and had an all round thumbs up.
And, suckling pig belly, braised head, carrots and caraway for me - simply put, it was heaven! Perfectly cooked belly with a crisp crackling (a certain GP would approve!), and an incredibly tender braised pork head cube - a seriously delicious plate of food made even better by a wonderful mix of colours. 
We then opted in for the £3 extra midi-cheese course of Tunworth with walnut toast and earl grey prunes. 
Puddings then swiftly followed starting with a refreshing palate cleanser of kombucha, gin, cucumber and sesame (ice cream and sorbet).
Rhubarb and tonka bean custard for the majority of the table...
and then my choice of dark chocolate mousse, blood orange and brown butter ice cream. Yet another, exceptionally put together plate of ingredients, thoroughly enjoyed and a great dish to finish off the evening.
And then finishing off with some delightful little cakes things however by the time these came out I was nicely tipsy from my father plying me with delicious booze (thank you!). 
The Manor surprised me, it was so hyped up I was expecting it to be good but, it exceed my expectations in so many ways from start to finish. A wonderful place for friends and family whom love food and enjoy a great buzzing atmosphere. It's a welcome and fantastic addition to Clapham's forever expanding restaurant scene. I predict this place to be getting a star very soon... 

A: 148 Clapham Manor Street, London
T: 0207 720 4662

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World's End Market

Courtesy of JPR Media
World's End is this weird place in Chelsea where it's always been a little bit of a thoroughfare and certainly not a huge destination place. Then came Medlar and now arrives The World's End Market making it slightly more of a reason to stop by. 

Courtesy of JPR Media
What was once a bit of an institutional pub has, sadly, for years been left to go a little bit grotty and a few people have tried and failed to make this building alive again. The 'Market' group took over the place and totally redesigned it giving it masses of punter appeal and a bit of 'oomph' as a 1930's, brasserie style, cosy dining room and a fully functional bar/dancing space below - 30th birthday party sorted! 

Towards the back of the dining room is an open kitchen where everything is cooked on a charcoal grill "to lock in the natural flavours that come from sourcing the best local ingredients", according to their website. Beside the kitchen is an array of fresh fish (including a rather pissed off live lobster) and a meat counter. It all looks fantastic and literally couldn't be fresher... 

Courtesy of JPR Media
Courtesy of JPR Media
We sat down and ordered a bottle of the house white (on one of my apparent 'none drinking evenings') and got stuck into the menu.

Starters read all too well and we decided to share three. Focusing heavily here on their raw or cured ingredients as many of the starters are carpaccio's and tartar's (heaven if you ask me!) and all sound delicious.

My cousin F started with the tuna tartar, Moroccan eggplant and cumin mayo which was polished off swiftly and got a thumbs up. Not overly heavy on the spice this was a really refreshing dish and the portion size was far from stingy.

Due to my love of scallops and never not being able to order them we shared a plate of the carpaccio with lemon salsa and harissa. These babies slipped down incredibly well and the harissa gave a warm chilli kick to what would have been a simple (but very enjoyable) dish. 

I had the Octopus carpaccio, which, can be a dish that can go terribly wrong or terribly right. In this case they went right and the wafer-thin octopus was wonderfully tender, almost a cured ham-like in texture and sprinkled with a dusting of paprika giving a smokiness to the dish. Crunchy capers added more texture to the dish and a slight saltiness balanced out the flavours. Overall? A really pleasing plate of food to start a meal off with.

Mains are kept simple, there is also a rather enticing burger menu from Sunday-Thursday featuring a truffle burger to highlight a particular one. All meat and fish are charcoal grilled (as said above) to let the produce sing. These are then all served with a dressed side salad and skinny fries - I have heard rumours that their steak is (whisper it) 'better than Hawkesmoor's' but you will have to decide for yourself...

F had the whole rainbow trout which was cooked well with crisp skin and served on the bone with a slightly 'gloopy' parsley butter sauce which complimented the fish well.

Yours truly had the yellowfin tuna as suggested by the charming manager and was served with a caper style salsa and the same sauce as above. Perfectly pink in the middle and charred slightly on the outside I was thoroughly pleased with my choice as it was delicious and the tuna incredibly fresh. My only gripe was that the fries were quite often too crunchy but, this is a personal preference as I'm sure there's a million people out there whom love their fries crisp. 

Next to us a man-date was in full swing and seemingly some regulars of this new joint. They promptly ordered the cheesecake without even looking at the menu and told us it was 'insanely good and a must'. We did just that and ordered both the caramel and fruit versions... These boys weren't wrong although I think we could have happily shared one between us and still felt that our sugar hit was well and truly satisfied, very creamy, very sweet but oh so good! A certain cheesecake lover, Mr C, would be in heaven. 

I can see this place getting popular with the locals very quickly. The atmosphere even for a Tuesday night was buzzing and tables were being filled with walk ins from the moment we arrived. What is apparent is that the staff clearly love working here and they take pride in the produce they serve. Service was always with a smile and they were happy to talk us through the fresh fish at the counter. I really hope this place stays put as I'll be coming back for a burger very soon. 

Address: 459 King's Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0LR

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(n.b. I was invited down to review as a guest)
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