Back at Barrafina

It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned Barrafina and it won’t be the last.

Because I looooooove tapas and Barrafina is quite simply the best tapas restaurant in London.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

The only problem?

How good Barrafina is is London’s worst kept secret.

And of course, there’s no reservations, which means you will have to queue.

Yes, even if it’s late and even on Sundays.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

But worry not, for there’s a small selection of nibbles to eat while you wait – including Barrafina’s fantastic croquetas.

That time around, they were squid croquetas, with ink, little pieces of cuttlefish and a potent-but-sublime spicy aioli on top.

100% the way to keep little hangry me happy!

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

Nibbles, drinks and good company are a great combination to make time fly by.

Before you know it, you’ll be led to your recently-vacated seats…

… for yet more croquetas!

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

This time, ham croquetas.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

Just as gorgeous as their squid sisters, with a rich, indulgent, creamy ham & cheese filling and the thinest, crispest of exteriors.

If you love croquetas (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), you have to have Barrafina’s.

Ham or squid, whatever you pick, you’re in for a whole new ball game!

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

Since we visited at what was technically brunch time, the classic tortilla was a must order.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

… and I can happily report that it is indeed a classic at all times of the week and day!

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

Potato slices, sauteed in olive oil, then topped with eggs and cooked to golden perfection…

Simplicity at its very best.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

Chargrilled artichokes with aioli, dressed in a shallot and chives vinaigrette.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

And spectacular Arroz de Marisco.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

A bit of a cross between a risotto and a seafood paella, with incredible depth of flavour from a saffroned bisque and topped with just-grilled seafood.

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

On the sweet side, we couldn’t resist the crema catalana bites.

Basically cheesecake, wrapped in crisp filo pastry, deep-fried and served with a tart berry coulis.

Berry indulgent indeed!

Barrafina Adelaide St / London's best tapas restaurant / Where to find a taste of Spain in London / Cake + Whisky

And –of course– a serving of obligatory cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate sauce. Light, almost brioch-y, they are something special in their own right!

Now, the million dollar question – when to go so you don’t have to queue for hours?

We went on a Sunday for a late lunch (around 1pm) and waited around 20 min for a table. Late dinner is also quite a good bet, making it a great post-theatre option, especially on weekdays. But then again, I went a few years back on Easter Sunday and it’s the only time I’ve ever been seated right away…

So if your bank holiday plans allow it, go, go, GO!!

Barrafina, 10 Adelaide St, London WC2N 4HZ 

(there’s another Covent Garden branch on Drury Ln, and a Soho one on Dean St, all equaly good and hard to get into)

Where to eat if you can’t get a seat at Barrafina

Terroirs Wine Bar

The Barbary

Chick ‘n’ Sours

Shake Shack

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Back at Barrafina

Dinner at Kricket

I hate restaurants that don’t take reservations for less than 4 people.

I hate restaurants where the host, when I pop in and ask if they have a table for 2 at 7:15pm, answers they do… at 10:30pm.

And I HATE restaurants that insist on running separate lunch and dinner services so that I can’t have a meal at strange mid-afternoon hours on the weekend.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

All of the above are the reasons why I hate loving Kricket so much.

It’s going to make my life so very difficult every time I crave Indian food.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

But well, I’ll just have to deal with it all (and take friends down with me so we can book at table!) because the food, the drinks and the atmosphere are all fantastic.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

The cocktail list is short but perfect formed, making the on-duty bartender a very busy man (or woman) indeed.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

Which you could feel bad about or just embrace with a couple of the truly excellent whisky + orange marmalade cocktails…

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

Also excellent were the Jerusalem artichokes and pea samosas.

Light, crispy pastry triangles, filled with the most delicious, subtly spiced vegetable filling.

Needless to say, those didn’t last long.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

My favourite dish – Pumpkin, makhani sauce, fresh paneer, hazelnut crumble, puffed wild rice.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

Served with masala kulcha bread straight from the tandoor.

Charred pumpkin, the best (really, even my Indian boyfriend says so, and he’s had A LOT of butter chicken) butter-tomato sauce, begin to be scooped over some bread…

It was the sort of dish I wish I knew how to make so I could have it every day.

One that hangs around the top of my list of London’s best dishes, too.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

Kricket’s signature Keralan fried chicken, served with curry leaf mayonnaise and pickled mouli.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + WhiskyDinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

Venison keema.

Warming and gently spiced, and the perfect reminder of why I must add keema to my winter meal rota.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

Beautifully cooked duck breast, served with fiery vindaloo sauce and refreshing Brussel sprout and coconut thoran.

Dinner at Kricket ● London Restaurant Review ● Cake + Whisky

Polishing it all off on a sweet note in the form of carrot halwa with chestnut ice cream (delicious but veeeeeeery rich) and gorgeous, posset-like misti doi.

All in all, not a dal plate in sight at Kricket… So, no matter how difficult/irritating getting a table is, it’s worth the patience and hard work.

You know what they they… Keep calm and curry on!

Kricket Soho (the original venue’s in Brixton), 12 Denman St, Soho, London W1D 7HH

More things to eat in Soho

EVERYTHING at Temper

Cake for dinner at Cutter & Squidge

Ramen at Kanada Ya

Chinatown’s best hot pot

Dinner at Kricket

You win sum, you dim sum

…not quite the traditional saying, but far more appropriate when it comes to dim sum at Mayfair Garden.

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

Once you’ve made your selection (I advise to take a few friends so you can order EVERYTHING!) and placed your order, sit back, relax and take in the sleek, minimalist decor.

And before you know it…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

The table will be covered in a variety of dumpling plates.

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

Don’t miss out on the classics: plump prawn & chive dumplings, golden prawn spring rolls, gorgeous har gau…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… prawn shu mai…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… generously-filled deep-fried prawn dumplings…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… superb (and incredible value) king prawn cheung fun…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

…and my favourite – golden-fried turnip cakes!

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

But enough talking – time to dig in!

The menu’s not especially long (perfect for the indecisive kind!), nor is it comprehensive in any way (the lack of chicken feet is apparently a big deal…), but everything on there is pretty special…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + WhiskyYou win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

The baked venison puffs are exceptional – the best I’ve had in London sofar.

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

I don’t usually like char sui buns, but Mayfair Garden’s are fluffy, sweet-and-sour pieces of meaty perfection and play in a league of their own!

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

The Xiaolongbao are as delicate and fiddly as you’d expect…

You win some, you dim sum ● Mayfair Garden, London ● Cake + Whisky

… and the scallop shu mai is the perfect bite to finish things up with a touch of luxury (and a very full stomach).

But no empty stomach – surprisingly enough, dim sum is very well priced, with most 3-dumpling plates around the £5 pricemark.

See I told you – no matter what you order at Mayfair Garden, you win some, you dim sum!

Mayfair Garden, 8-10 N Audley St, London W1K 6ZD

You win sum, you dim sum

Starting 2018 as I mean to go on…

… with good friends, pizza and cocktails at Pizza Union!

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

If I’ve learnt anything from the past year, it’s that the little moments of everyday joy are what it’s all really about.

And pizza definitely makes me very, very happy.

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyPizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyPizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Pizza Union is one of my regular spots when only dough will do.

I love the excellent value for money, the neon-filled decor and the speedy service (hellooooo pizza pager!).

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

I love the no-nonsense menu: thin, crunchy, super light crust, flavourful tomato sauce, an extensive (and super affordable!) list of extra toppings (all £1, an absolute bargain) and simple but efficient Italian-inspired cocktails.

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyPizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

But more than anything else, I LOOOOOOOOOOVE the Funghi pizza with extra N’Duja on top!

Pizza Union’s new Dalston venue scores just as high as its sibblings on all the above points.

With a few extra ones for the super welcoming team that’s always full of brilliant advice on what toppings to add to your pizza to make it even more delicious.

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

What do you say? Wanna a pizza that?

Pizza Union Dalston, 14 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2JP (but they have a few other locations as well…)

Starting 2018 as I mean to go on…

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House

Sunday roast is a big deal.

Especially when it’s this cold outside.

The best ones are made by your mother, obviously.

But if, like me, you don’t have a roast-proficient mum (and can’t bring yourself to do all the roasting yourself), I know just the place.

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskySunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Tucked away at the very end of my absolute favourite street in London, The Quality Chop House is a gloriously old school British restaurant with Grade II-Victorian-decor to match!

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Get a group of 3-6 together and book yourself a booth.

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Order up a bottle of something nice (a lovely Côtes du Rhône in our case)…

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

And tuck into the delightfully light smoked cod roe with pickled onion while you peruse the menu.

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Especially delightful atop the Quality Chop House’s own sourdough, still warm from the oven.

The selection of starters is quite lovely, but on Sunday, it’s all about the roasts…

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Belted Galloway beef (sirloin & brisket).

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Tamworth pork shoulder with crackling and apple sauce.

(There’s also a vegetarian option and a fish dish on the menu).

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

All served with all the trimmings and a selection of seasonal vegetables.

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

And when at the Quality Chop House… add on a side of those confit potatoes.

You simply have to.

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Pile everything up high onto your (already heaving) plate, top with a bit more gravy and tuck into your Sunday feast.

Try to save a little bit of room for pudding…

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Sticky date sponge with Christmas pudding ice cream and pear, paired with the most exquisite Loupiac I’ve ever had.

Truly the most wonderful way to spend a Sunday!

The Quality Chop House, 88-94 Farringdon Rd, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 3EA

Make sure you book ahead – especially on Sundays!

More restaurant suggestions

My absolute favourite London place

A modern British food champion

For those days when you want it all (now you can!)

When only steak will do

Sunday Roast at The Quality Chop House

Anglo, Clerkenwell

Back in March, we fell head first, love at first bite style, with Forest Avenue, where we had the best meal of 2017.

The only problem? It’s in Dublin. So not so convenient if you want to pop in and treat yourself.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

But, I discovered last weekend, that’s not too much of a problem, because Anglo’s right on my doorstep.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Nestled in the heart of Clerkenwell, Anglo is simple looking but universally acclaimed amongst London’s food critics and connoisseurs.

And with good reasons – our impromptu Saturday night meal was without a doubt the best food we’ve had in ages.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

As many have said before, Anglo’s food – a daily-changing 8-course British-made-modern set menu – will not be to everyone’s taste.

Forget the classic ‘meat with two veg’. Here, the food is innovative, even borderline challenging at times but every morcel is absolutely succulent.

The pre-dinner snacks especially so.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Mushroom broth with thin mushroom slices and truffle.

So simple, deeply umami and absolutely brilliant. Starting strong with my favourite dish of the night!

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyAnglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Ika (squid) tartare wrapped in jellied dashi.

Delicate and textural.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Burnt leek tartlet with chive ‘snow’.

A creamy allium-on-allium creation that’s simply too good for words.

Needless to say, I was rather excited to move onto the proper dishes…

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Cauliflower with smoked herring roe.

A beautifully saline dish, balanced by the deep, earthy notes of the cauliflower.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Pork belly with coco beans, cranberry and pickled fennel.

A very interesting combination of ingredients which was only let down by undercooked, slightly chalky coco beans.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Seabass with salsify and quince.

Probably the least enjoyable of the lot and the only dish I wouldn’t re-order again should I get the opportunity.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Wild fallow deer with white onion puree, nasturtium oil and meat jus.

Cooked to perfection and absolutely incredible.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Cheese and onion on malt loaf.

Or, as it should be called – cheese on toast on crack.

Very cheesy, veeeeery satisfying and incredibly comforting.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Pine parfait.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

A refined take on the After Eight – I’d really love getting a box of those in my Christmas stocking!

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Matcha cake with clementine and miso ice cream.

So festive.

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

And last but not least, lemon thyme granita, crème pât and apple.

Lovely and fresh – the perfect way to end the meal!

Anglo, Clerkenwell ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

All topped off with petits fours (salted caramel truffles and chocolate mousse cubes with raspberry powder and lime).

So yes, a meal at Anglo is a bit of a blow to the Christmas budget.

But it’s worth every penny. The food is stunning and the service attentive without being stuffy.

The perfect spot to make the most of a special occasion with your favourite foodie(s).

Anglo, 30 St Cross St, London EC1N 8UH
Anglo, Clerkenwell

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.

Macellaio RC, Bankside