The Lodge - Jimmy's Pop up in Clapham

It's been a while before I have felt back to normal since visiting The Lodge... I was full for days from my delicious supper here (through over indulging of wonderful food!) I had to sit back and wait to do my write may remember a while ago we had a rather strange dinner at The Secret Garden (another pop up behind the mastermind of Jimmy Garcia). It was a little bit 50/50 and therefore I was ever so slightly dubious in going here although, knowing the food was indeed excellent the last time. 

Jimmy's Winter adventure which, originated in Balham last year was such a hit, he's re opened it in the same space and, my god, it's a transformation. The room is wonderful - cosy, intimate, wood clad and seats are covered in tartan fabric making it a full transportation to a snugly log cabin and all that's missing is a fire, cold toes and some snow...
Taken from the Lodge website (I believe this is the Balham venue)
Four of us went along last week on a balmy Thursday evening and the place was heaving...think similar apres ski atmosphere just without the red noses and frost bitten fingers...people were already hitting the bar area hard for a long evening ahead. 

On receiving our menus we ordered of the viognier and a couple of warm 'butter rums' topped with meringue (a must order) and settled in for the next couple of hours.
Our starters arrived and were thoroughly enjoyed. All expertly cooked and devoured in seconds...

A light dish of Scallop Carpaccio ​Hand Dived Scallops, Pancetta, Melon and Pickled Cucumber. Refreshing with a good sweet and sour hit to it. 
Vicars Game Wood Pigeon, Pear and Celeriac Remoulade and Chicory was my choice of starter and it was delicious, plentiful and much lighter than the picture suggests!
The Gameboard was had across the whole table. An ENORMOUS combination of the English Countrysides favourite meats and birds - 

Mini Venison Chateaubriand - was succulent and nicely charred (served pink) 
Wild Boar Scotch Egg. My favourite on the whole board. Seasoned well and of course the make or break of this snack...a nice runny golden yolk... 
Heather Stuffed Pigeon. Again, served perfectly pink with a crisp skin 
Mini Game Burger cooked rare was juicy and flavoursome; and finally 
Pigeon Bon Bon all served with crisp skinny fries and a dressed side Salad.

Personally to get into the spirit of the place do what we did. Gather some food loving friends (it isn't for the light stomached!!), order the main sharing board and eat till you can eat no more! Two types of fondue are also available (I am told these will always be here even with the menu changing often) as well as a charcuterie board...that's if you can move your eyes away from the four equally tempting main options. Great atmosphere, fab food, even better booze...a Winter Winner and a must book (it packs out quickly).


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Trinity (Upstairs)

Our fabulous local, Trinity has had a rather fabulous re-vamp and now us lucky locals have the opportunity of eating at two restaurants within the same building. What was a store cupboard now houses an excuse to eat here more regularly and also, as it happens rather reasonably! 

We arrived to wondrous hello's from familiar staff faces and were zoomed upstairs past the now gorgeous open kitchened, white table cloths and into a gorgeous stripped back-to-basics dining room upstairs. 

The small kitchen has a couple of chefs whom dish up the whole room. The menu changes daily and dishes come as and when they're ready and are made for sharing. Think of it as English tapas, if you will and suggest getting as many of the delicious dishes into your feast as possible. We were a foursome this evening so, did just that and went for the whole savoury menu... perfect!

A night at Trinity cannot go amiss without sampling some of their decent wine. However, on this occasion we had been rightfully informed that their house is rather drinkable (correct!) and at £19 a bottle it's a bit of a steal! 

We started with what can only be described as deep.fried.heaven...
Veal bolognese fritter covered in parmesan - what's not to love?! Order two of these (if anything similar is on the menu) and enjoy every mouthful... I can promise you, you won't regret it.
We then munched on crudite with a hefty smoked aubergine and riccota dip (delicious) a slight nod to the original Trinity whereby they always served similar with delicious warm bread - It was here that my love for a raddish, salt and butter blossomed.
Char-grilled octopus and hummus - one of my favourites of the evening. Simple, perfectly cooked, tasty.
 Rabbit terrine, prunes, punterella (chicory) and mustard fruits.
Pork belly, romanesco and cobnut with perfectly crisp pieces of crackling and wickedly sweet fat running through.
The overall table winner of the whole evening was the saddle of hare, chestnut, truffle and drizzled in a gorgeous chestnut honey. The hare being only slightly touched on the griddle so's not to mess with the delicate meat and keeping it incredibly tender each mouthful had us all in complete silence through enjoyment. 

Trinity upstairs will fast become one of my 'go to' locals for when cooking seems a chore... all of the above, two lots of booze and a couple more glasses came in at just over £30 a head - Bargain!!! It seats 18 so, be sure to book as this will some become a hot spot. Adam - it's brilliant!

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Trinity Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Atul Kochhar's Sindhu in Marlow

Taken from Sindhu's website
It actually does feel like forever since i've written up a post... we have anew member of our little family and thus meaning I would rather stay in and cook than go out and miss evening snuggles on my sofa with this guy... who could resist this face...
We escaped one Sunday and popped out to Marlow which happens to be one of my favourite places outside of London. It's beautifully quaint and, perched aside the river are houses I dream of living in with a beautiful wooden boat to pootle on the water... one day!

Atul Kochhar's Sindhu is perched right on the river bank with windows spanning the length of the restaurant for us visitors to really gain advantage of their enviable location. The restaurant is light and airy, tables spaced out well and wonderfully attentive staff float around unnoticed.
Taken from Sindhu's website
We saw that a few tables next to us were taking advantage of the set menu so, for ease, we did just that and also had the flight of wines (although I was designated driver). On the driving note they do the most delicious curry or lime leaf Non-Alcoholic Martini. 

Upon arrival poppdums and three types of pickle arrived beetroot, mango chutney and a spicy tomato.
An amuse bouche arrived which was a tiny samosa.  Filled with flavour and nicely crisp. 
Roasted Sweet Potato, King Edward Potato, Sweet Yoghurt and Chutney. Hands down some of the best Indian spiced potatoes I have eaten. 

Pan Seared Hand Dived Scallops with Textures of Cauliflower and a Tandoori Tiger Prawn. Cooked to absolute perfection with wonderfully aromatic flavourings it ended up being one of my favourite dishes throughout the meal. 

Grilled Chicken Supreme with Ground Coriander and Lime Leaf. Simple flavour it wasn't by any means as 'wow-factor' as the pervious dish but, still a nice plate of food.

Nimbu Paani Sorbet to cleanse the pallet (lime flavour)
Tandoor Grilled Rack of Lamb is, in fact, one of their signature dishes and was outstanding. Perfectly pink and served with Chettinad Spices, Urulai Roast (spiced potatoes), Kachumbar (a onion, cucumber and tom salad). The lamb came in two parts and was also served as a curry with the sides (left dish two pics below). 

Kathirikai Gotsu- Smoked Aubergine Mash with Mustard and Tomato (right dish) and a Dal Makhani (middle dish)- Slow cooked Black Lentil with Tomato and Fenugreek. Both could have been dishes on their own and scored highly. As side dishes they were exceptionally decadent and we polished off the lot (such fatties).
Lemon Rice and pillow like fluffy Naan
Chocolate Mousse and Passion Fruit came as the most decadent chocolate 'bomb' I have been served. Absolutely stunning and a wonderful way to finish off a rather spoiling Sunday lunch... (although totally stuffed!).

I would thoroughly recommend making the trip out to Marlow to come here. We went on a Sunday and, although the restaurant was quiet, it was such an enjoyable afternoon. Delicious refined Indian food and incredibly spoiling.

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Sindhu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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I have driven past Boqueria countless times and said 'I love tapas, can we go' to Mr D until I was blue in the face. Finally, an evening of catching up with the wonderful Johnson's and Holdstock brothers meant sharing food was ideal so, I booked the Acre Lane eatery and we went full force into the menu...and booze!

Starting with two mixed platters of their selection of cured meats...
A Spanish classic - Pan con tomate, crisp bread with chopped tomato, garlic and olive oil.
I went rogue and ordered an 'un-discussed dish' much to Mr J's dismay ended up being a winner... Paprika octopus served on sautéed potatoes.  This came along with a dish that photographs a little like dogs dinner. It, thankfully, tasted the complete opposite... spinach with cheese, raisins and pine nuts - delicious! So much so, we ordered a second.
Specials are showcased on a huge blackboard towards the back of the buzzy restaurant. I jumped at one which (luckily) proved to be a hit amongst us all. Aubergine chips with honey if these are available on your visit - order! Insanely hot but once cooled the crisp polenta coating which had been light fried until golden encased buttery, melt-in-your-mouth aubergine... 
'Albondigas' or meatballs to us English folk were served in a rich tomato sauce.A portion of Calamari had to be tried and tested. Boqueria's version did not disappoint... served with a punchy ali-oli and a good ol' slice of lemon - simple and therefore, perfect!

Patatas bravas had pretty mixed views amongst the eight of us. The potatoes were crisp (tick) the sauce spicy (tick) but, it wasn't as tomato heavy as we would have liked or, for that matter, how we thought it should have been traditionally. It was more of a thin mayo consistency, perfectly nice just not what any of us were expecting.
Onto some slightly main style dishes and the last few of our meal...seabass with wheat risotto on parmesan and scallop cream was utterly delicious although I didn't feel like it was in anyway particularly 'Spanish'.
Pork shoulder in garlic and cumin, 'pont-neuf' chips (why would you have French style chips in a Spanish restaurant?!) and goat's cheese sauce was just 'ok'. 
The star of the meal came in last with the suckling pig served with sweet potato chips, apple sauce and a lemon sorbet. Usually despising the mix of freezing cold with warm food this actually worked really quite well. The suckling pig was sweet and cooked till perfectly tender and coupled with crisp crackling - di-vine!

There's actually a couple of locations Brixton market, Battersea and Acre Lane. All serving up the same menu's with the exception of their blackboard specials. If you love tapas or, having a night out with friends there is nothing better than sharing plates of wonderful food, delicious wine and good company. Boqueria ticks all the boxes with a wonderful atmosphere to match. 

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Boqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Blanchette - Soho

It was way back on Bank holiday Monday evening when I finally managed to catch up with two of my lovelies whom were proving hard to pin down. Exhausted of all my ideas I asked F to book and Blanchette in Soho was her (excellent) choice, a place on my hit list to tick off!

We arrived at the cutesy French bistro just after 6:30pm to find it already pretty full and dimly lit by candle light, hence my photos being rather terrible! Immediately ordering some ginger ales after our boozy weekends and settled into choosing our sharing plates and nibbles. 

We practically wanted everything and 2-3 plates per person, as suggested, is just right. 

Order the Cheese beignets the minute you sit down! Served with onion confit these little morsels are like savoury doughnuts. Incredibly light, irresistibly tasty I could have had bowls of them.

Once ordered, food started to arrive sharpish and the waitress staggered our order with the lighter of the plates coming out first... 
A refreshing green bean salad with Comte cheese, shallots and walnut dressing - one I would eat over and over again. It had crunch, sourness and a good amount of sweetness, one to recreate at home. Savour some of this to have with the meatier dishes to come... 
Rare grilled tuna, avocado, orange and endive salad. Not a huge fan of the accompanying 'bits' it was all too many sweet flavours for me. Still, the tuna was cooked to a perfect pink. 
Grilled duck breast with peach and beetroot remoularde was served very rare and sadly I found it just 'ok'. The duck sadly, seemed tough and stringy. 
Grilled pork belly with Palourde clams, Brittany sea blades and vermouth was perfectly cooked with a crisp crackling, decent charring and incredibly juicy meat.
Braised lamb shoulder with anchovy, rosemary and soubise (onion) sauce was my favourite of the evening. Tender succulent lamb sat atop generous amount of plate lickable soubise - what's not to love?
Sea bass with crab bisque, peas and samphire. Was another exceptionally good dish. That crab bisque was packed with shellfish yumminess so much so, we found ourselves mopping it up with everything else on our table. The fish cooked with a brilliantly crisp skin and flaky flesh. 
Courgette and aubergine tart with goats cheese and basil. Not the prettiest to picture - in fact half this meal looks dismal but,this was utterly more-ish and they managed to keep the pastry crunch-crisp even with such an array of vegetables piled on top- bravo!
Puddings were a little of a mixed bag we shared two between the three of us. Passion fruit vacherin was full of that irresistible sourness you can't get enough of. Whilst the hot chocolate fondant, sadly, was a little dry. 
If you want a little bit of French romance without the heavy French food then Blanchette is your ideal place to cosy up and have some grub... a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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Bistro Blanchette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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