Author Archives: dlvdotcom
Friday 6th July started badly for The Flighty Noush. She came into the office with no socks….she left a living legend….
“Seriously though, I wonder what the world record for someone staying in a Motorway Service station is…I mean there must be one. Is it 70 days, is it 80…?”
Somewhere on the M3, Noush hungover filling her face with a whole Bargain Bucket. We were allowed none.
The blurb There’s something rather inviting about the exterior of The Angelic and the sense is maintained as you walk through its doors: a book-case, open fire, large sofas. It all looks very welcoming, comfortable. A place you can feel at home. Sadly it is in the aesthetics that the comfort factor ends. The bar has 4 cask ales on tap, none particularly unusual, all kept very badly. I have lost count of the number of drinks I have sent back – quite a feet when you consider I’ve only visited 3 times (the latter two not out of choice). The pub’s website declares that “nothing is too much trouble” although clearly that philosophy doesn’t extend to getting a refund on a disgraceful pint….Food fares little better. The pub has an extensive Tapas menu, very little of which is Spanish and even less that is edible. It’s location, a stone’s throw from Angel Tube (and I pray it is merely down to location. I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the majority of people visit because they think that this is a good pub) means that it becomes inhumanly busy almost every night of the week. The large windows and high ceiling turn the place into a cacophony of scraping chairs, clattering plates and crashing glasses and unless you arrive before 4pm there is never a free seat on which to sit. There are 7 kegs, all doling out the usual suspects and a pint will set you back £3.50 at best. All in all it’s not a good pub. Service is rushed, inattentive and dismissive, no doubt a result of the levels of business, something which is certainly not justified by the experience. Angelic in name only this is one to give a wide berth; If only to mark yourself out as an individual .
The Scores: Beer: 1.5, Food: 1.5, Ambience: 2, Accessibility: 3.5, Value: 1
Total: 9.5/25 Pints
Address: 32 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE
Contact: 020 7278 7007
Opening times: 6 Days: Mon – Sat: 12pm – 11pm, closed Sun
Tubes: Angel, Farringdon, Old Street
A year or so ago I did a week-long Stage at Moro. An unusual place to do one you might think and you’d be right. See stages are one of those intensely serious, “Cheffy” things that only the dedicated and tediously ambitious professional does: go and work, for free, in a high pressure environment to prove you can be shouted out by the best of them all in the name of EXPERIENCE. Stages take place in restaurants with Michelin Stars and the faint smear of dairy on the wall following a Postal rant involving a Head Chef, a cheese trolley and a cowering Maitr’d; They don’t take place in convivial local Spanish-slash-North-African eateries but I liked the cut of Moro’s Jib – I liked the multi-coloured tiles that surround their wood burning oven, I liked the heavy set curtain that hangs just inside the door to keep the cold out and I loved the food. And so off I toddled. And what a happy little toddle it was too. See unlike those Cheese stained, Star driven, I’m-too-scared-to-breathe-so-will-just-quietly-pass-out -in-the-corner kitchens Moro saunters to the beat of its own drum. It was much like working in a foodie Commune, a place where there is no enforced hierachy, where everybody pitches in and helps one another and where the end product is so-much the better for it. Chefs would volunteer to do Front-of-house evening shifts following a capacity lunch service. The bar staff would help with staff lunch and occasionally the owner’s 10 year old daughter would pop in just to check that standards weren’t slipping. The store cupboards were laden with amazing Spanish produce from the likes of Brindisa and the shelves would sigh blissfully under the weight of Za’atar, Sumac and Paprika. In short it was a happy kitchen – a happy restaurant – creating some of the best food of its type in the country. And when I was there was on the verge of opening its sister restaurant, the Tapas focussed Morito, right next door. Up until this point Moro had served Tapas at the main restaurant bar but perhaps not to the extent that you would expect from a Spanish operation. Morito stood to correct this: to showcase exactly what small plates can deliver. It was eagerly anticipated by all-and-sundry and, I am thrilled but not at all surprised to say, has lived up to the calling.
As it is so with everything at Moro the attention to detail and the thought that goes into the flavours shine through at Morito. The beer glasses are kept in the freezer to enhance the refreshing, crisp hit you get from the Cruz Campo they have on Draught. Gilda, arguably the nicest thing I’ve ever eaten on a stick, is meticulously thought through: the sweetness of the silver-skin onion playing off the salt from the Anchovy, tempered by the heat from the Guindilla pepper.
The Salt Cod Croquetas couldn’t be executed any better: hot, crisp, perfectly gooey inside. The Chicharrones de Cadiz we ordered, a slow roast nugget of yielding Pork Belly encrusted with Cumin seed, was cut with just the right amount of lemon resulting in a full-on piggy meltdown on my part.
There followed “a new dish” of slow cooked beef with quince which had been spiked with wonderful orange and winter spice notes, the perfect plate for this time of year. Puntillitas – fried baby Squid with Sumac – was just as it should be and the Buttifarra was bang-on the money. Braised Spinach with Anchovies and Pine nuts was far more than the sum of its parts, in no small way down to the inclusion of wonderful, fat, juicy raisins that ran through the dish. In short this was superb Tapas: as interesting, well executed and down-right delicious as any I’ve had anywhere. Everything we eat tasted as though it had been made by people that love what they do. And that is rare. The meal was rounded off with an excellent Espresso, which isn’t Spanish but I don’t care. The whole thing – the food, the drink, the service and the bright orange bar at which we sat, made me very, very happy. And there is no greater accolade in cooking than that.
Conclusion: It simply doesn’t get any better than this.
Cost: 4 gilda, 1 salt cod croquetas, 1 butifarra, 1 chicharrones, 1 spinach, 1 beef & quince, 1 squid, 2 half beers, 1 glass of red & an espresso came to £48.83. You can’t put a price on an experience this good. Morito has and it’s a stone-cold bargain!
Restaurant: Red Dog Saloon
Address: 37 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NN
Contact: 020 3551 8014 * Red Dog Saloon
Opening times: 7 Days: 12pm – 12am (nice & easy)
Tubes: Old Street
The Red Dog Saloon had a pretty torrid time of it when it first opened back in June. Jay Rayner gave it a proper ribbing, TimeOut savaged it and it fared little better at the hands of London Eating. All and sundry bulked at the limited availability of key menu items, a perceived lack of authenticity and then the kitchen’s smokers went and caught on fire….oh dear God the irony! The one glimmering point of light at the end of what appeared to be a very long, very dark tunnel, was the concession that this was early days for The Red Dog and that signs of promise were visible. The problem with “promise” is that it is entirely speculative and with so much competition and choice in London the chances of giving a restaurant another go after suffering a bad experience are slim. I went early doors and wasn’t particularly impressed: small menu, no-one really seemed to know what they were doing, etc. etc. Luckily for me I live REALLY close (that and the fact that my girlfriend is on holiday and so I have nothing to do….), so I went back. And I’m really glad I did. It looks like the operation is starting to fire up and it appears that we have Buffalo Wings to thank. I ordered 8 wings for £8.50 but had I known how good they were would gladly have paid more. These were the best Buffalo Wings I’ve ever had. In fact these were one of the nicest chicken-related things I’ve ever had – I shit you not: Sweet, salty, tangy, hot, tender, satisfyingly messy – just totally, incredibly delicious. I also ordered a very good BBQ Burger piled high with onion rings, really crisp bacon and a slathering of tangy sauce. Fries are good and the mostly American beer selection is great too. Service is very sweet – which is not an adjective I thought I would use given the restaurant’s location – and the aesthetic is appealing. The menu has got longer, become more interesting and now represents a coherent operation which seems to have found a direction. The bill came to a fraction over 30 quid, which for 2 beers, a burger, fries, service and those wings, is OK. I should point out that I was totally stuffed.
Conclusion: Everybody that wrote The Red Dog Saloon off should go back. Go back and have the wings. Have a beer too. It will change your life.
Price: £30 odd per head – the going rate for commensurate places. The beer prices put the bill up but since it seems that nowadays we should regard Craft Beer as we would a glass of wine that seems fair.
- Some olive oil
- An onion
- Some garlic
- Some cooking chorizo (Picante is good)
- Some chilli – seeds out if you don’t like it hot. Some do…
- A bunch of coriander
- Passata (about 250ml should do enough for two)
- Chicken stock cube
- A block of parmesan
- Some good Gnocchi (you can make this yourself – dead easy – or buy a good one from a shop)
- Finely dice your onion, slice up your garlic (use however suits your needs) and chop your Chorizo into nice sized cubes.
- Get a pan of salted water boiling – you’ll need this for your Gnocchi
- Splash a little olive oil (not too much because of what the Chorizo is going to do) into your pan and get the vegetables softening.
- Throw your Chorizo in next and allow all the gorgeous oil and spices to bleed out and colour everything in the pan
- Finely slice the chilli and add that, cook for a bit
- When it’s all soft and sizzling away break a chicken stock cube in, stir around to help it dissolve and then add the Passata
- Cook for 10 or so minutes until the liquid is reduced and everything is lovely and thick and ace
- Throw the Gnocchi into the boiling water, cook until it floats, drain it and then introduce it to the lovely tomato-ey thing going on in the pan
- Season all of this, sprinkle liberally with chopped coriander, spoon it into a bowl, shave a heap of parmesan on top and eat the bastard
Here’s a photo of what it might look like, you lucky things:
EPISODE FOURTEEN: GAS STATION STATUS
Nine miles separated Spats’ Diesel from the normal stuff. “Long live spats’ Diesel” cried Tarvey. He was right you bitch. The Locals looked sad.