Rex and Mariano - incredibly fresh fish

There's been a little buzz in recent months about the Goodman Group's newest Soho baby, Rex and Mariano. Being a bit of a fish addict, this was one restaurant I was particularly excited about going to. 

Rex, of The Chelsea Fishmonger, knows his cod from his coley and therefore is one of the brains behind the glorious produce. Mariano, is the beauty behind the wonderous wine-on-tap bar towards the back of the restaurant... which, seemingly are rather reasonably priced decent wines - I say, with a slightly banging head this morning! 

The restaurant is cavernous: bar seating, table seating and snuggly banquettes are grouped around large stylish wash basins and sit in front of a buzzy open plan kitchen where bells chime when dishes are ready. 

We were seated by the oyster shuck bar and presented with two menu's, one paper, one I-pad version (where you place your order) and warned that once sent to the kitchen the food is pretty rapid. So, order it in stages - they weren't wrong! Our drinks came at record speed once tapped 'send' so, we decided there and then to order once we'd finished our dish(es) in order to not be in and out in under 30 minutes!

Everything, I mean EVERYTHING at Rex and Mariano is fish and either cheviche, tartar, carpaccio or very simply cooked (on the plancha). Therefore, if your dining companion ain't a fan - don't go. Unless, they're happy with a whole cauliflower, which does look delicious!

Encouraged by a few people to order the bread simply 'to mop up the juices' was first on the iPad shopping list (served with a delicious tuna paste) coupled with a huge plate of frito misto covered in a spicy 'Old Bay' seasoning and served simply with lemon and mayo. It was seriously satisfying for those deep fried food lovers amongst us and a great mix of different fish and shellfish. 

We then used the powers of the Ipad to set about our own dining pace... 

Sea bass ceviche with coriander, tigers milk, yuzu and sharp red onion. Nice big chunks of lightly cured, incredibly fresh fish doused in a plate lick-able punchy dressing - what's not to love?

and a simple, refreshing, tuna carpaccio serviced with tomato, parsley, olive oil and lemon plus a good lashing of salt. 

Clams in the classic, white wine and garlic were flavoursome and an incredibly decent amount for only £7 - how do they do it?!

The infamous raw red Sicilian prawns were so juicy and sweet I could have eaten dozens of the things (luckily these weren't the man's favourite so I, more or less, had the whole lot!). Just make sure you, do as the Italians do and suck the juicy goodness out of the heads...

To keep the man happy I then quickly ordered one final dish of Sicilian striped prawns in lemon, a lot of chilli and olive oil. These are big (n.b.the photo does not do the size justice), juicy beasts and well worth an order! Especially when you've succumbed to a portion of carbs to mop up the rather gorgeous liquid on the plate. 

Rex and Mariano is a really easy hang out. All dishes are ridiculously reasonably priced for exceptionally fresh seafood... A thoroughly enjoyable evening and one place I would like to think I'll be visiting often, just remember to leave your carnivorous friend behind... 

Square Meal

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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 Zumbura 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... Zumbura is 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!

Square Meal

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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...


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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