Tuesday

Zumbura, Clapham


I haven't blogged in so, SO long. Our (wonderful) trip to the other side of the world semi bankrupted me and therefore meals out have been somewhat scarce. But, I'm now back in the land of the living, spending my pay cheque on day one and back into eating out again...I have missed it, hugely! 

A couple of weeks ago we stumbled into Zumbura in Clapham Old Town. A sort-of Indian tapas joint set in informal surroundings and, in this case, choca-block on a Tuesday evening. We luckily bagged a pew at the carved out bar counter and perused the menu with watering mouths. 



About ten minutes later we had decided on our 6 sharing dishes as recommended by the charming staff and nestled in. 


  • Mixed bread basket (shown above) of Chappati, poori and some paratha arrived first. The fried poori was the outright winner however, all three breads were fluffy,. These were served piping hot along with cooling sauces, chutney and pickles to accompany our meal. 



  • Spinach, onion and chickpea pakora was first out the kitchen and had an impressively light, crisp and fragrant batter. 


Sikkiwe chops - AKA grilled lamb chops, twice marinated in herbs, was Mr D's favourite dish of the evening. Seriously tasty (they know how to mix their spices here) and succulent with a decent smattering of crisp, blackened fat for that wonderful BBQ flavouring. 













Tallee machli :tilapia fillets in dry spices were the only real let down of the evening as they were a little dry. However, a really fantastic mix of spices and a good hit of heat was apparent. It just wasn't mind blowingly good...




Our final dishes of the evening were from their more curry type section of the menu...

  • Murghi ka salan :a Pakistani home-style chicken curry cooked on the bone for a rich sauce was so delicious I've been back for more already. The chicken wasn't in the slightest bit dry and delicately flavoured in a tomato, ginger and onion spiced sauce. 

Muttar pulao :braised rice with peas and spices was again spot on in flavour but, we found this a little too wet as sadly it was swimming in water at the bottom of the dish.



Daal :lentils with curry leaves and garlic dressing was another winner of the evening for me in terms of flavour. Perfectly balanced and incredibly more-ish. Great for mopping up with that bread basket you couldn't bring yourself to eat on first sitting!






A welcome addition to what was a sleepy area of Clapham Old Town... It's a fantastic date place - anywhere with sharing plates and a dine-at-bar is, in my view... good atmosphere and fabulous staff. It's beyond reasonable (plates fall around £3 - 8) and the cocktails are also worth the buzz they get...enjoy!

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Wednesday

Sydney, part 1...


I am in a slight state of depression since my trip across to the other side of the world. I ate totally delicious, fresh food constantly for almost 3 weeks, the bikini diet was out the window - finally, I was there, on a beach in April - heaven. Sydney has one of the most infectious, vivacious lifestyles I have ever come across. Hong Kong had some of the most unusual sights, smells and tastes (Hong Kong post to follow). So, returning home and writing up about this trip has been rather melancholic. To combat this I am eating A LOT of smashed avo on toast...



Sydney...

possibly now one of my favourite places on earth. I went here with high expectations and came back fancying my chances at living a life of beaching, brunching and basking in sun all whilst watching some rather gorgeous surfers battling the waves... heaven, right?



We started with a rather windy brunch with friends at the infamous Icebergs Cafe which serves simple breakfasts and, obviously, the Aussie classic 'Smashed avo' and eggs on doorstop toast. To which, I added a double helping of feta and guzzled seriously good coffee with the picture perfect view (above)...



Within the same day we then hiked over to Coogee beach (a gorgeous coastal walk for an hr or so) and, set back, on the promenade is Coogee Pavilion. We settled in for the afternoon with much needed Rosé and ordered copious amounts of wonderful tapas and bathed in the heat.


       

                            

Coogee pavilion is also open in the evenings and we managed to pop back with some friends whom were over from NYC to try the downstairs menu. This consists of ceviche, pizza and 'grill' dishes served in a vast, warehouse style space. It has a Soho House vibe to it (the Merivale group's owner is Sydney's answer to Nick Jones...) So, warning - it gets very, very busy! 


 

Bathers Pavilion 



This place came up on many people's 'where to go' when asking of fantastic beach restaurant and brunch places... we were not disappointed. Bathers is situated on what became my favourite beach (due to the lack of people on it and tiny baby bunnies?!) and as a bonus had two gorgeous restaurants (see below). Here, we had a wonderfully healthy frittata bowl for me and a 'full aussie' for him. Washed down with fantastic cappuccino's within a light airy minimalist restaurant and a(nother) golden sandy view... 


       


Pilu at Freshwater
   
After a small (but pretty) hike up over the hill from Manly beach you arrive at this wonderful Sardinian haven whereby I had one of my most enjoyable starters from our trip in the form of Kingfish Crudo and corn (pictured). Simple, elegant and full of flavour the whole menu was screaming 'eat me'. Every dish was executed perfectly and plated beautifully. Staff were attentive, knowledgeable and friendly throughout our lunch and we left wishing we had booked for supper to stretch out the time (read 'eat') more (I was itching to get back to the beaches a it was one of the hottest days!). The pasta dishes were some of the best we've eaten perfectly made dough and so light, you could eat bowls of the stuff... if you make a visit this is a must.



The Boat House



A rather pretty beach'shack' type venue with a simple, seasonal, modern menu focussing largely on healthy dishes and juices (although a few fried dishes and a burger sneak in there!). Feeling rather glutinous I had a rather healthy 'Boathouse salad' bowl (below) which came served with five plump and juicy prawns. The place is great for families as kids can freely run around the terrace. However, be prepared to wait as they don't take bookings and it's very popular. Everything here is locally sourced and sustainable and you can really taste how fresh it all is. 




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Tuesday

The Pig near Bath


The weekend before last was the wedding of one of my lovely Leeds couples A and S in the beautiful City of Bath. Not visiting Bath for years, Mr D and I decided to make a weekend of it and put ourselves up at The Pig. WARNING It's a long one...


We pulled up outside the most gorgeous stately home guarded by two bronzed piggies and immediately relaxed...  being a little early for our room we were shown into the lounge/bar area which showcases a rather tempting amount of flavoured vodkas and gins. Thinking this was a little punchy for an 11am tipple I ordered a glass of their pink prosecco and watched the morning go by in front of a roaring fire – heaven, right?



We were staying in one of their Comfy Luxe rooms and upon entering I immediately hurled myself on the ginormous bed and snuggled in... for all of ten minutes... the rooms are tastefully decorated in a French shabby chic way (think Soho/Babington House-esque), wonderful Four poster beds and (in our case) a huge bathroom with roll top bath and monsoon shower.


After a rather glorious night’s sleep/passing out after said wedding! We woke to true British Summertime weather... rain. And, lots of it. Zooming across the courtyard to breakfast we grabbed papers and sat in the quaint conservatory and nestled into delicious ‘home smoked’ eggs royal (hollandaise on the side for me)...


Luckily the rain stopped for just enough time to wander round their incredible kitchen garden which I was far too envious of and immediately demanded we pack up and leave London for a country pad like this... in.my.dreams! It is rather reminiscent of Peter Rabbits garden although on a MUCH bigger scale, and is simply, stunning. Rows upon rows of unusual vegetables, cabbages and fruits which is all used in the restaurant and bar food and manicured to the highest of standards...




After a day in Bath City we returned for dinner which is held in the conservatory however this time the room is lit by candle light and low wattage French lamps. But, before food make sure you make full use of the bar... I so wish to have a gin selection half as good as this...


Whilst choosing our 'Piggy treats' we had a plate of the most incredible crackling sticks served with an apple sauce. The menu comprises of foraged and home grown goods as well as every other aspect coming from within a 25 mile radius hence, ‘The 25 mile menu’.


Decisions made, two kinds of bread were served. A warm sour dough and a flavoursome onion bread served with some ‘garden herb’ olive oil and a wonderful ‘home smoked’ salt.
Starters then followed...


Black pepper and Juniper berry venison carpaccio with Old Winchester cheese for him. I managed to sneak a mouthful and it was as good as it looks...


12 month air dried ‘Karma (Parma) Ham’ salad with garden artichokes for yours truly. Paper thin slices of deliciously salty, cured pork sat well with a crisp, humble and simply dressed salad.




Mains certainly caught our attention on and off the menu. With every plate passing looking totally delicious. Mr D was particularly bowled over by his ‘Kentucky fried’ rabbit. Which was in a word, superb. The flavour was as one would expect but, with more finesse and the meat was kept succulent. It was served with a carrot 'slaw which complimented the spiced coating of the rabbit well.  


Unusually for me I went for the veal chop, served as the chef recommends - pink. It was gigantic. Charred in all the right places, crisp fat and succulent underneath. Thoroughly enjoyable paired with the buttered al dente sprouting broccoli and black pudding cubes. And even more naughty when paired with some thrice cooked chips... (so bad, but, so so good!).





We skipped puddings in favour of retiring back to the drawing room to nestle into some of those G and T's and chatted the night away to the delightful bar staff...


The Pig completely and utterly stole my heart. It's definitely a case of eat, drink, sleep, repeat for 48 hours solid which made for such a great weekend. I urge you all to take your lovers and thoroughly enjoy every aspect this place has to offer...it's heaven! 
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London House


Ramsey’s newest venture is nestled within what is now locally known to those estate agents as ‘Battersea Village’ (yes, another ‘cutsie’ London estate agent phrase!). It’s that pretty little square you and I zoom through to get to Wandsworth Bridge, when Battersea Bridge is choc-a-block, en route to get North of the river and is full of coffee shops and little local restaurants, none of which I have ever frequented, until last week...


The building somewhat sticks out as being rather grand amidst the slightly older establishments and once inside it’s apparent that this is a fine dining establishment with added atmosphere and a cavernous one at that. On Wednesday we arrived to a busy, buzzing bar area and a pretty much full restaurant. It was apparently a ‘locals night’ event that gave a vibrant ambience, which I hope continues.


Once seated, we were offered an aperitif of which I chose a delicious peach Bellini. He, a beer and we were left to our own devices for just enough time to discuss, at length, which of the ‘British sourced, market style’ 6 starters and 6 mains we were going to have. Along with some home made sourdough bread and the oh-so-trendy and very much 'of the moment' churned butter.



We were then brought some delicious arancini to nibble on as a pre starter which, we think, were butternut squash – correct me if I’m wrong LH! Crisp on the outside and oozing buttery risotto yumminess on the inside. 


Our first courses then kicked off our meal with a flying start...
Ribbon thin, lamb carpaccio, for him, served with a celeriac and parmesan puree and kale potato.


Crab tortellini, black radish in a shellfish broth, for me, which turned out to be three delicate little dumplings filled with plenty of fresh white crab meat bobbing around in a wonderful flavour-rich clear broth - de-lish!



We were then sent a mid-course of their succulent pig head croquette served with a pickled carrot salad, quail egg and caper mayo. A really great contrast of sharp and sweet with each mouthful. 


Recently, I seem to be really enjoying pork and London House’s belly with crackling hit the nail on the head... perfectly cooked (unfatty - BIG thumbs up!) belly had the most incredibly thin and crispy crackling I have had in a long time, extreme brownie points here...This was served with an apple puree and sadly, a rather small amount of lentils as an accompaniment –although they did compliment the dish well I just wish there was a little more so you had enough to have a little with each mouthful of the pork.


He had the Seam Bream, broccoli purée and cockles which was very, very good. The purée had a good strong broccoli flavour and complimented the fish well. 



For pudding we shared the nougatine parfait with rhubarb which was the perfect amount of sweetness to finish off the evening. Gloriously chewy, wickedly sweet, it was delicious. And, for once in my life, I actually enjoyed rhubarb... that lovely vibrant dollop of sauce was, to die for! 


Petit fours then followed and near to bursting we had to call it a night. London House completely exceeded our expectations I have no idea why it's taken us this long to make it here. I admit, the location isn't the easiest for people to get to. Nor would many be familiar with it. But, if you're after a fine dining evening with a bit of atmosphere then L.H is your ticket (perfect in-law treating kinda place...without totally breaking the bank!). The staff were exceptional, venue buzzing and the food was utterly delicious. Be sure to head over early doors for a pre-dinner cocktail, by the fire, and let your evening unfold...


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