Macellaio RC, Bankside

Even though most of the recipes I post on this blog happen to be vegetarian/vegan (thank my laziness and love of vegetables for that), I do love a good steak.

Preferably one that’s been seared to rare, smokey perfection by a pro (aka. not me).

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

In my quest of London’s best, I had heard much praise about the Macellaio RC ‘butchery with tables’ mini group.

Many of my Italian friends had named it as their favourite restaurant in London. No small fate.

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

In true Italian spirit, Macellaio RC is all about simple dishes made incredible through a dedication to the excellence of Italian produce.

In the franchise founder’s own words, “Macellaio Roberto Costa […] aspires to be a praise to the animal, but above all to the work of the artisan farmers that devote their lives to this passionate world”.

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

The restaurants themselves, set up as modern, welcoming, warm Italian trattoria, mirrors this objective.

With brick wall, wooden accents, a myriade of trinkets reflecting the diversity of Italian crafts, big windows looking into the ‘meat room’, an open-air Ligurian bakery and a stage dedicated to butchery and carving, the Union Street restaurant looks like a dining theatre dedicated to the cult of good food.

Wanting to make the most of it all, we went for a bit of everything…

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Starting with salami and house-made, cloud-like focaccia, drenched in super fruity olive oil.

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

And a couple of glasses of good Italian wine, of course!

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

We then tried Macellaio RC Union Street’s specialty – the pissa.

A form of pizza originating from 15th century Genova, the pissa dough is made from very strong flour and risen at cold temperature for 60 to 90 hours, resulting in a super crispy thin crust.

Topped with just a smearing of cream, it’s the perfect little nibble before moving onto the main event.

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

The meat!

Being a greedy little French girl, I couldn’t resist the tartare.

Served very simply with Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, it allows the quality of the Fassona breed beef to shine.

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

But the true star of the show – Macellaio signature Fiorentina T-Bone steak.

Aged for 6-8 weeks, butchered and grilled in house and served with fluffy triple-cooked chips, it’s a meat lover’s dream come true.

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Cooked to perfection, with crispy fat on the edges and deep, smokey-umami flavours…

The rumors were true – London’s best steak is at Macellaio’s!

Steak night at Macellaio RC, Bankside ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

After that beast of a meal, you might be tempted to skip pudding.

Don’t. Get the basil panna cotta. It’s light and fresh, wonky in all the right ways and an absolute must-try.

Be-leaf me!

Macellaio RC Union Street, Arch 24, 229 Union Street, London SE1 0LR

What else to do/see/eat in Bankside?

A British cocktail masterclass at Hixter Bankside

Exploring London’s Bankside

Padella Pasta

Autumn cocktails at TwoRuba

I dinned as a guest of the restaurant for this visit.

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Macellaio RC, Bankside

Classic Panzanella Salad (Vegan)

When I was a child, I would basically live on tomatoes alone for the entire summer.

Classic Panzanella Salad (Vegan, dairy free) • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Both my parents and my grand-parents grow a vegetable garden, with tomatoes having place of pride, which means there would be a tomato glut from early July until late September.

I might not be partial but they’re the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted and I would have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Much like an apple, still in my pyjamas and the first shoes I’d find for the former, simply drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a pinch of fleur de sel the rest of the time.

Classic Panzanella Salad (Vegan, dairy free) • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Truth be told, the classic panzanella salad is basically a fancy-name, glorified version of that simple salad.

One that also doubles as a delicious, clever way to use up bread that’s a bit past its best.

a.k.a. the dream for little bread-loving, waste-loathing Frenchie me.

Classic Panzanella Salad (Vegan, dairy free) • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

Panzanella is lovely served on its own with a glass of chilled rosé as a simple summer supper, but also works wonders as part of a picnic or BBQ spread.

You really can’t go wrong with it… Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do…

… from my head to-ma-toes!

Classic Panzanella Salad (Vegan, dairy free) • Recipe • Cake + Whisky

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More Summer recipes:

Satay Chicken Salad (GF, Dairy Free)

Best Ever Guacamole (Vegan, GF)

Pineapple Fizz Mocktail (Vegan)

Melon & Prosciutto Salad (GF)

Classic Panzanella Salad (Vegan)

Brunch at Oldroyd

I don’t believe Oldroyd needs any introduction.

I have already written about it several times, and yet here I am again, writing about it once more.

You might want to call this a bad blogger syndrom, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

But then again, what’s a girl to do when one of her absolute favourite locals starts doing brunch eh?

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With about 30 seats and simple yet tasteful decoration, Oldroyd is a dream no matter when you visit.

But if you asked, I’d say Sunday is probably the best day.

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Because it’s Oldroyd’s brunch day and they serve up their signature fettucine carbonara.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, so first things first.

Brunch at Oldroyd | Cake + Whisky

And by that I mean Bloody Mary, obviously.

As a matter of fact, the very best one I’ve ever had in London (and trust me when I say beating The Smokehouse‘s Chicken Salt delight was no easy task)!

Brunch at Oldroyd | Cake + Whisky

Spicy and very pickle-y, it’s not one for the faint-hearted but still the very best way to get the brunch party started.

Though a tall, icy glass of Earl Grey iced tea does rather nicely as well!

Brunch at Oldroyd | Cake + Whisky

Croquetas have been a feature on Oldroyd’s menu since the restaurant opened and they’re an absolute must-order.

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This time, they were filled with mushroom, served with a generous dollop of truffle mayonnaise and as delightful as ever.

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Zucchini fries are always a good idea too.

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Feather-light, thin & crispy, they’re utterly irresistible.

But if you’re there for brunch, you might as well make the most of it.

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The Bacon & egg fettucine, with confit garlic & berkswell, is out-of-this-world good.

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It has eggs and bacon and carbs, it’s rich and creamy and comforting and basically all of your brunch dreams come true.

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And if you want more, the Braised ox cheek with polenta & gremolata is an excellent choice.

Brunch at Oldroyd | Cake + Whisky

Melt-in-the-mouth meat never goes out of fashion as far as I’m concerned. Warming, comforting and satisfying, it’s winter food at it’s finest.

The only issue is that it might well rule dessert out. Don’t worry chocolate mousse with raspberries & salted pistachio praline, I’ll be back for you!

I can never stay away for very long anyway (and if you want to make sure you don’t have to fight me for the last table, you better book here)!

Oldroyd, 344 Upper Street, London N1 0PD

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Brunch at Oldroyd | Cake + Whisky

Brunch at Oldroyd

Padella Pasta, Borough Market

On a Saturday afternoon, few places in London are as buzzy as the Borough Market.

A must-see for any resident or visiting foodie, the London mecca of all things food is the place to go for top-rated ingredients, delicious bakery goods and any cheese-related quest.

And if you’re in the area, you have to stay for dinner.

With some of London’s finest restaurants just round the corner, it’d be rude not to!

Padella Pasta, London | Cake + Whisky

Padella, a little pasta bar just off the main road, is the latest addition to the market’s bustling restaurant offering.

And a very popular addition it is, with crowds happily queuing up for platefuls of the best hand rolled pasta to be found this side of the Alps.

Padella Pasta, London | Cake + Whisky

Lined with marbled counters & lit by understated designer lamps, the place itself is a bit of an Instagram dream.

Padella Pasta, London | Cake + Whisky

If pans, pots and a nice bit of pasta cooking is more your thing, there’s plenty of that to salivate over as well…

Padella Pasta, London | Cake + Whisky

There’s a short but perfect formed, seasonally changing menu to choose from while breathing in the delicious aromas of browning butter and rich, beefy ragu coming from the open kitchen.

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Burrata comes topped with green, slightly bitter Puglian olive oil and a good crack of black pepper.

Quite simply a cream-y dish!

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The Taglierini with slow cooked tomato sauce is the house’s speciality, and one I thoroughly recommend.

But you really can’t go wrong.

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Pici with marjoram and golden garlic.

Rustic, hand-rolled pasta, swimming in herb-y butter and heaped with fresh parmesan, it’s a proper Italian treat.

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Pappardelle with 8-hour Dexter beef shin ragu.

Rich, yet surprisingly light and incredibly satisfying.

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And a couple of scoops of salted caramel ice cream to finish things off because, well, SALTED CARAMEL!

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Serving simple, perfectly executed Italian pasta dishes, Padella is anything but a pasta im-pasta, so join the queue and make sure you bring your favourite person along…

Not only will you get to try twice as many dishes, but it’ll also make the wait time pasta away quicker!

Padella, 6 Southwark St, Borough Market, SE1 1TQ

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Padella Pasta, London | Cake + Whisky

Padella Pasta, Borough Market

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

The best recipes are almost always circonstancial.

Whether it’s a trip to the farmer’s market, a recent visit to a new favourite restaurant or simply a massive fridge forage and the realisation that half of what’s in it needs using, those lightbulb moments are what inspire me most in the kitchen.

With Autumn being very much on its way, I’ve been craving comfort food more and more in the last few days.

So of course, I turned to Italian classics, because as much as I wish the French would do better at it, nobody does comfort food quite like the Italians…

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

With bolognese on my mind, I went on a little bit of a fridge/freezer forage.

Memories of a beautiful pasta dish we had in Paris, the last few remaining pieces of rabbit my grandma brought in her luggage when she last visited, a can of olives fished from the back of a cupboard, a few bits and bobs from a previous Farmdrop order

… slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and this rich and zingy Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe was born!

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle (serves 2-3)

Ingredients: 250g fresh pappardelle (I get mine from La Tua Pasta via Farmdrop), 1/2 rabbit (about 600g, preferably leg pieces as they have fewer small bones), 1 small shallot (finely chopped), 2 rashers of smoked bacon, cut into small pieces, handful of cherry tomatoes (about 200g, chopped roughly), small handful pitted black olives (about 15, sliced), 1L good quality chicken or vegetable stock, zest of 1/4 lemon (grated), 2 bay leaves, 1 fresh sprig of thyme, pinch of smoked paprika, 5 pepper corns + freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, good quality olive oil, grated parmesan to serve

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil, then add the rabbit pieces. Season with a small pinch of sea salt. Cook over high heat for a few minutes until golden. Add the bay leaves and the peppercorns, then pour in the chicken/vegetable stock. Cover the pot, reduce to a small simmer and cook for about an hour or until the meat starts falling off the bones, topping with a little bit of water if necessary.

2. Take the rabbit pieces off the cooking stock and let if cool off before taking all the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and shred the rabbit to bite-sized pieces.

3. Cook the pappardelle according to packaging instructions.

4. In a large pan or wok, heat up 2 tbs of olive oil. Add the chopped shallot and the bacon bits and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start breaking down (about 5-10 min), adding a bit of the cooking stock if necessary. Throw in the sliced olives, lemon zest and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 min.

5. Drain the pasta, add to the pan and toss to coat. Serve immediately with some freshly grated parmesan.

What inspires you to get cooking?

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Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle recipe | Cake + Whisky

Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle

Polpo at The Ape and Bird

Life is a combination of magic and pasta” – Federico Fellini

And food at Polpo, the cornerstone of Russel Norman’s restaurant empire, is the perfect combination of both.

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Unfortunately, that’s not a very well kept secret, and if you combine this with the fact that Polpo is a strictly-no-booking sort of place, getting a table can be a bit of a nightmare.

Located right on Cambridge Circus (aka THE spot for any pre-/post-theatre dinner), Polpo at The Ape & Bird is no exception, but the restaurant itself being quite big, it is still the least stupidly busy of the lot.

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With shabby walls and worn-just-the-right-way furniture, the place itself is the perfect hybrid of a gastropub and a hipster den, and consequently an absolute Instagram dream.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

But the food, the food is what everybody comes back for.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

The menu focuses on Italian-influenced sharing plates, with a wide selection of both signature and seasonal dishes.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

From the Cicheti section, we couldn’t resist the Arancini (and neither should you!)

Breaded, golden-fried balls of risotto goodness, those are simply too good not to get!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Followed by Polpo’s signature dish: Pork & fennel meatballs in tomato sauce.

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A homely take on the humble meatball, with heaps of fennel seeds and a super silky, slightly spicy tomato sauce.

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Italian comfort food at its very best!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

If you’re as much of a carb lover as I am, the Pizzetta, cooked on site in a wood-fire oven, will definitely catch your eyes.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

There are a few option to choose from, including this Spinach, parmesan & soft egg one.

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Which obviously, I couldn’t pass off.

Just look at that ‘runny egg yolk’ excited face of mine!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

If I’m being honest though, this is nowhere near the best pizza in London (which is to be found either here or there).

The dough wasn’t quite ‘dough-y’ enough for Polpo to have any claim on that trophy, but the topping combination was really tasty, if only a bit un-seasoned.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

The carb-party continued on with a plate of Crab & chilli linguine.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Thin, silky ribbons of pasta, smothered in the most delightfully buttery sauce, and plenty of big chunks of fresh crab meat.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

The sort of dish you’ll never forgetti.

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And yet more carbs (see the recurring theme here?): Fried gnocchi, rainbow chard pesto & young pecorino

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A beautifully vibrant way to highlight those soft & crunchy little pillows of potato joy!

And for dessert, all the classics.

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Pannacotta with strawberry and basil.

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And, of course, Tiramisu.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Words can’t quite espresso how good that tiramisu is! So you’ll just have to go and check it out for yourself!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird142 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HJ

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Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Polpo at The Ape and Bird

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga

You can’t beat a girl’s night out.

Life often gets in the way, everyone’s busy, so it can be difficult to put a date in the diary.

But once in a while, when you do manage to get a group of your favourite people together for a proper catch up… It’s just magic.

It was Bunga Bunga, the infamous Battersea Bridge pizzeria & Italian-themed bar, which finally gave us all an excuse to get together.

It’s been going through a bit of a refurb’ lately (and it was a rather polemic one) so, just as you would with a girlfriend that suddently went platinum blonde, it was our duty to show our support.

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But to be honest, I’m not sure why there’s been so much noise as it now looks better than ever!

Inside, they kept the same fun-filled, quirky bits…

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Including the famous motorcycles on the ceiling.

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And a whole lot of pickpocket-proofed bags!

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And they went full-on Italian outside by painting the facade in red, white and green!

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Plus they still serve the same great sharing platters…

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Boasting all your Italian favourite nibbles, from arancini to bruschetta, polenta chips, parmigiana and much, much more!

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Absolutely impossible to resist!

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But the best part is the fantastico new cocktail menu.

All inspired by Italian regions and their world-famous ingredients.

And there’s nothing quite like cocktails to fuel long-overdue catch ups!

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Even better when made and served by lovely, chatty bartenders in the most adorable stripped Tees.

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Stirred, shaken and served in the blink of an eye!

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Piemonte (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, Fernet Branca liqueur, Mancino Bianco Ambrato vermouth, Peychaud’s bitters & home-made bitter syrup)

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Veneto (Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower syrup, fresh lemon juice, home-made sugar syrup & fresh green grapes)

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Cocktails flying to nearby tables will make you want to get one of each.

Fear of missing out much?

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Good thing the gondola driver/cocktail guys have made skills and are fast as lightning!

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Marche (Dewar’s White Label Scotch whisky, Visciolata del Cardinale dessert wine, Amaro Averna liqueur, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, fresh lime juice & home-made maraschino syrup).

And cherry on top: a white chocolate covered cherry. Divine.

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga | Cake + Whisky

Lombardia (Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, Tia Maria liqueur, Amaretto Disaronno liqueur, home-made cocoa nibs & amaretti biscuit syrup topped up with double cream).

Pudding-worthy!

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Lazio (VII Hills gin, Cynar artichoke liqueur, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, fresh lime juice & home-made rosemary syrup)

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SO fresh and fragrant and probably my favourite of the night.

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Alongside some vino.

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And a few old favourites…

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Whisky, cherry and chilli concoction of dreams.

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And a couple of Bunga Bunga’s iconic David Punch.

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Going to Bunga Bunga can be a bit of a trek if you’re not an SW11 resident, but it’s one that’s very much worth taking!

Book a table, take a group of friends, the more the merrier. There’s great cocktails, delightful finger food and even karaoke, it’s very relaxed and always great fun! You’re going to love it!

Bunga Bunga, 37 Battersea Bridge Rd, London SW11 3BA

Stripes & Cocktails at Bunga Bunga