Thursday, 15 July 2010

eastside inn bar

Went here just for drinks, sadly the bar has quite a corporate hotelly feel. Bjorn van der Horst (chef patron) was doing the rounds and said he thought it would be cosier in the winter when they could light the open fire. I had a summer'ade cocktail(Absolut citron, strawberry and lemonade) which unfortunately tasted quite weak and watery and J had a Goa ( Absolut passionfruit, chilli and ginger). The strong flavours of chilli and ginger dominated this drink to the exclusion of the passionfruit. I don't think the drinks reflect the standard of Bjorn's cooking and I would come back to try the bar menu but I would probably go for a pre dinner drink somewhere else.
Estimated cost for a cocktail £8
Eastside Inn
40 St John Street
London, EC1M 4AY

dalston roof park

Opening party for this and as expected it was rammed full of Dalston hipsters. This could be a good or bad thing depending on whether you think they're a creative lifeforce or a bunch of pretentious twats. But if the weather turns hot again it could be quite a cool place to hang out, obviously based on your tolerance for the aforementioned group of people. There was also a nice lady called Rose there doing jerk chicken but unfortunately I was too full from Viajante to eat any.
You need to sign up for membership here, it's £5
and when you're done the website says "Thanks, yeah". Hackney-keeping it real!
Dalston Roof Park
The Print House
18 Ashwin Street
E8 3DL

viajante bar

So the bar at Viajante has only been open for a couple of months but it has a very cool, laid back vibe. Nuno Mendes (chef patron) tagline at Bacchus (the restaurant he used to own on hoxton street) was "fine dining in trainers" and that's exactly the feel in the bar. In fact the one person who was tarted up in shiny six inch stilletos and skin tight dress looked conspiciously out of place.
The bartender, Alex was happy to talk through the extensive cocktail list and make recommendations, I ended up going for the Matcha Fizz and the Breakfast Martini(£7.00). The martini had just the right balance of sweet and sour and the matcha fizz was beautifully refreshing. J got the Green Traveller(£7.50), artfully finished with precise dots of basil essence which apparently was an emulsion rather than an infusion. I had a sip and even these strong flavours worked fabulously without overpowering the rest of the drink.
We also sampled some of the bar menu, I had the lobster and bacon roll (£9) and well, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I thought I was going to get something like what I had at Pearl in New York, a soft buttery roll filled to bursting with mayo and lobster. What I actually got was a dense, heavy sourdough type bread topped with bacon. I actually don't think this worked, the saltiness of the bacon and the heaviness of the bread overwhelmed the delicate sweetness of the lobster. J got the dry aged burger on a brioche bun with vanilla onions(£8.50) and this was much better. I was worried the vanilla and brioche would make the whole thing too sweet but it just gave the meat extra depth and flavour. I loved this and would definately order it again.

Patriot Square
Bethnal Green
London E2 9NF
+44 (0) 20 7871 0461

Sunday, 11 July 2010

dishoom-it's got that boom boom pow

Dishoom is a new Bombay style cafe in covent garden based on classic cafes such as Leopold's. The interior has little authentic touches, such as a replica of the clock in VT station and 1950's black and white photos of the owner's relatives.
They give you crisps and dips to start, I really liked the tamarind one, just the right balance of sweet and spicy. We decided to skip starters and go straight to mains. We got grilled masala prawns which were big and juicy and bursting with flavour, I would definately get these again. We also got dill salmon tikka, again succulent and moist and spicy lamb chops. All these were hits as were the sides of garlic naan, larded with butter ( I never knowingly pass up extra fat although there is an option without for the more health conscious!). The misses of the evening were probably the lamb biryani which sadly had very little meat in it and the ruby murray of the day, chicken nawabi on the day we went, which I was expecting to have a bit more kick and flavour to it. Wine is served in tumblers, which although authentic does mean that it gets warm quite quickly, especially with the weather we've been having in london lately. Service was lovely, warm and friendly without being crazily over attentive. (Cantina Laredo take notes!)
We got kulfi to finish and it was much better than the chocolate fondant, I would probably stick to the Indian style desserts rather than the western ones.
I really enjoyed Dishoom and would happily go again, although I was sad they didn't serve more snack style food such as bhel poori. But I spoke to the owners Amar and Shamil and they said that they wanted to keep their menu brief so they could focus on getting a few things right and that is a philosphy I can totally get behind.
Dishoom is the noise they make in Bollywood films when someone throws a punch and, based on this showing, Dishoom is knocking their competition out.

Estimated cost of dinner per person about £25 excluding drinks and service

Disclaimer: I didn't pay for this meal as it was a preview evening

12 Upper St Martins Lane, WC2H 9EF