Chicken, Steak and Art at Hixter Bankside

16 Aug

Where
Hixter, Bankside

InstagramCapture_5b0d0a19-3755-4082-a628-459c0e07b661

What
The newest restaurant from Mark Hix. The concept is simple – chicken or steak to share. Mighty-marbled Himalayan salt dry-aged steak from hand-selected cows and barn-reared chicken from Swainson House Farm in Lancashire. Starters and puddings change with the seasons. Mark’s Bar, the latest outpost of Mark Hix’s award-winning cocktail bar is located in the basement, serving cocktails that champion British drinks’ producers.

The experience
A few years ago I worked on the PR team for Hix, so I know the concept of the restaurants well. Since I was on the scene, Mark’s portfolio has increased to include Tramshed, HIX Mayfair, Hixter City and now Hixter Bankside. The food concept is pared back and simple dishes, cooked well with excellent quality ingredients.

What sets Marks restaurants out from other steak and chicken restaurants is the stylish surroundings. It’s no secret that Mark is friends with the art crowd, and as a result, beautiful and let’s just say interesting artwork adorns the walls. My favourite was in the loos. As I was leaving the cubicle, I scoffed at a woman who seemed to be staring at a piece of artwork on the wall behind me. It wasn’t until I turned around and had a look myself that I realised it was a piece of moving artwork – a white picture of two naked women moving very slowly – one standing facing us, the other sitting with her back to us. I stood for at least two minutes gawping before I snapped myself out of it and headed back to the table.

The food is what it says on the tin – simple and well cooked. I plumped for steak tartare for starter with a beautifully bright orange egg yolk and I agreed to share a whole chicken with a friend. The whole chicken arrived bottom up impaled on a large knife and surrounded by fries. The waitress carved the meat for us and we poured our own gravy over the top from a small accompanying jug. We were unsure whether two of us would be able to polish it all off, but we had a good go and weren’t left with much at the end.

To finish we shared three puddings for the table – Peruvian gold chocolate mousse, Dorset bluberry cheesecake and salted caramel fondue with cherries and marshmallow, which was the start of the show. I’m not even going to talk about the mousse and cheesecake because they were ok, but didn’t compare to the sticky sweet and salty amazingness that was the fondue. I’m not sure the cherries worked with the sauce, but on their own they were a delight – plump and sweet. And for someone who doesn’t have a fondness for marshmallows, I kept going back to dip more pillowy bundles of joy into the sauce.

Cost
Starters from £5.75, mains from £14.50. Three courses and wine is around £60 per head.

Address
16 Great Guildford Street
London
SE1 0HS

Opening Times
The restaurant is open seven days a week, 11.30am till midnight (11pm Sundays). The bar is open till 01.30am (12.30am Sundays).

Hixter Bankside on Urbanspoon

A New Adventure – Bye Bye London

14 Aug

I have an announcement. After 9 years in what I believe to be one of the most incredibly inspiring and exciting cities in the world, I am packing up my life and heading on a new adventure.

The last year or so has been a whirlwind for me. My grandmother who I was very close to passed away and I split up from my boyfriend of 6 years last summer. I will never forget the bittersweet moment and the words of my grandma who held my hand tightly from her hospital bed and muttered the words ‘you’ll do well’ over and over whilst looking into my eyes.

In one month I went from owning a flat with a guy that had been my best friend for years, to singleton with nothing but my job and blog remaining a constant. I ran away from everything – a close group of friends, a boyfriend and a hell of a lot of security. Those close to me will know the reasons for the split and the fact that nothing for the next year was plain sailing. I broke someone’s heart and had my heart broken in one fell swoop and it suddenly hit me that life is not as straightforward as I thought. But as much as everything that has happened in the last year has pained me and at times driven me absolutely potty, I am not one to have regrets and truly believe that everything happens for a reason. And when I look back at 2013, I have memories that make me squirm in my seat, but the events that were uncomfortable and upsetting at the time led me to do things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I started playing netball twice a week, I moved to Hackney with some amazing housemates, I bought a bike (and had two accidents within a matter of months), started going to the gym and started drinking and pulling ridiculously fun all nighters (my fav was ending up in a Casino in Leicester Square at 3am on a work night). I made a whole host of friends for life, started freelance travel writing and visited no less than seven cities in seven months. Needless to say, I didn’t sit around and wait for my life to get back on track – I forced myself to get out there and try to keep my head above water.

A year later and I feel in a much better place. I still love London and I am happiest when I am out exploring the city and spending time with my friends who I share interests with. But after a series of emotional setbacks, I was struggling to see how I was ever going to fully pick myself up and be truly happy. The nervous energy that was flowing through my body for months had subsided and I felt like mentally I was crashing down to earth and I would soon hit it with a big thud. I contemplated a new job, but as I was telling myself that I was thrilled at the idea, in the back of my head I still knew something wasn’t right. I wasn’t enjoying the thought of dating again and no matter how many conversations I struck up on Tinder, I just couldn’t get into it. Everything in my head was screaming for a change – again. But had I not already been through enough change in the last year and could I handle it again?

Then a couple of weeks ago a girl that I met through a friend at work started at my company on a temporary contract as she is going travelling at the end of the year. I don’t know what happened but after a 10 minute conversation in the kitchen something clicked in my head. I got back to my desk and I had this overwhelming urge to go travelling. So overwhelming that I immediately messaged my brother who lives in Melbourne to ask if I could come and stay with him and work in the city before going backpacking around the world – on my own. I then proceeded to tell my mum, dad, best friends and ex boyfriend that I was going away for a year, or more, before applying and receiving a 1 year working visa and booking a one way ticked to Australia via Dubai to visit a childhood friend. Within 24 hours of the conversation in the kitchen, I had booked everything for my new adventure. For the first time in my life, I didn’t look to anyone for advice. There is little that I am ever certain about in life – it takes me 10 minutes to choose which packet of avocados to buy in the supermarket and I pick up 10 packets before settling on the ‘right’ one, but I had never been more certain that this was the right thing to do. I am young, single, have no ties in England, have a little bit of money saved up… and that’s as much as I needed to know. I had made a decision for myself and I felt so liberated – I was riding so high that waking up the next day, it felt like none of it had happened. But it had – and I’m going.

What I’m most excited about is blogging, eating and photographing my way around the world. My camera, laptop and phone are going to be my prized possessions when I am travelling. I want you to all follow my blog, Twitter and Instagram – I want you to all keep in touch with me and I would LOVE you to come and join me on a part of my trip. I am incredibly excited, whilst slightly scared at the same time. I will miss London, I will miss my friends and family, I will miss the food, the pubs, the culture, the architecture, the diversity, the parks, the history. Oh dear, why am I leaving? Oh yes, I know why, because you only live once and if I don’t take this chance to see the world now, I never will.

I board the plane exactly three months today – make sure you follow my new blog Doing it Anyway to follow me on my new adventure.

RECIPE – Steak San Marino

13 Aug

This is the first in a series of recipes that I will be posting from a challenge that my ex boyfriend and I set ourselves when the Olympics came to London – we attempted to cook a dish from every country that took part in the games and called the challenge Eat the Olympics.

We only made it to 170 something out of 204 but had some incredible experiences along the way, including a supper club and trips to Marrakech and Brazil.

Steak San Marino was one of our favourites and we scored it gold.

Untitled

Ingredients:

1kg topside beef steaks
Plain flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
100ml red wine
1 medium onion
4 carrots
3 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp hot sauce

Method:

1. Peel and chop into chunks the onion and carrots

2. Cut the steak into four serving portions

3. Combine the flour and salt and pepper and coat the steaks with the flour mix. Coat the bottom of an oven proof pan with a little oil and place the steaks in the bottom

4. Mix the tomatoes, wine, carrots, onion, celery, mixed herbs, bay leaf and hot sauce in a mixing bowl and pour over the steaks

5. Cook in the oven at 150 degrees C for 5 hours. Once cooked, discard the bay leaf and remove the steaks to serving plates

Okan, Brixton Village

10 Aug

Where
Okan, Brixton Village

IMG_0142

What
Small but sweet Japanese street food restaurant in Brixton Village serving okonomiyaki with a wide variety of toppings along with a wide selection of Japanese home cooking dishes.

The experience
It has been a couple of years since I ate at Okan in Brixton Village, but I found an old photo and realised that I never did a post and I really feel I should considering the amount of times I have recommended this restaurant to people.

It’s no surprise that nearly every time I have visited Brixton Village I opted for a Franco Manca. But on this particular visit I was with someone who had a huge love for Japanese food. I can’t remember fully but I’m sure I wasn’t exactly thrilled about skipping pizza for an omlette.

Okonamiyake is the most popular street food from Osaka and translates to ‘as you like it’. It is a savoury pancake with a cabbage and batter base and finished with a special brown sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, green seaweed flakes and bonito shavings. I chose the pork pancake with kimchi, a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables.

To start we shared the onasu, a small dish of delicious miso aubergine and we ate it as we watched our pancakes being made in front of us and enjoyed the delicious wafts of fresh cooking that drifted over to our table.

I quickly ate my pizza obsessed words when the pancake arrived and seriously considered placing it at the top of my list of favourite street foods. The wide range of ingredients give the pancake a little bit of everything – crunchy and soft with sweet, salty, umami goodness.

There are lots of Japanese restaurants in London, but most are known for the sushi offering. I hope that more restaurants open like Okan, as I could really eat this kind of food every day.

Cost
Small dishes from £2.20, okonomiyaki and yaki soba from £6.50. Japanese teas £2.50 and a range of soft drinks available.

Address
Brixton Village
Unit 39
London
SW9 8PS

Opening Times
Lunch – 12-3pm Wed-Fri; 12-4pm Sun
Dinner – 6-10pm Thur, Fri; noon-10pm Sat

Vapiano, Soho

8 Aug

Where
Vapiano, Soho

InstagramCapture_4f9258ec-9f69-4fbe-99f8-92d8a6a54836_jpg

What
The third Vapiano site in London follows the same concept – homemade pasta, pizza and salad dishes cooked fresh in front of guests. Each dish is ordered using a smart card system, which is tapped onto the till every time you order, meaning an easy and efficient paying system as you leave the restaurant.

The experience
I bet you think I’m going to talk about a big, juicy pizza here, don’t you? Well, guess again folks; I managed to restrain myself from ordering a pizza and instead opted for a pasta dish and a salad.

We arrived on a Thursday evening at 6.30pm and grabbed a seat on one of the tall communal tables straight away. The friendly host asked if we were familiar with the Vapiano system and provided us with our payment cards. For those who aren’t familiar with the system, you order what you want to eat from one of the three stations – pizza, salad, or pasta, and touch your card on the reader. When you are finished, simply present your card at the till near the exit and pay for what you have eaten.

I really love the concept at Vapiano, although I think we were lucky with the fact that there was zero waiting time when we visited – I imagine it can be quite frustrating having to queue. I also enjoyed the way that you interact with the chef as they cook your meal. Want extra chilli? All you need to do is ask as they scoop it into the pan.

There is a range of different pastas available and all are made fresh on site each day. I was recommended the Congnac pasta dish and I chose to have it cooked with linguine. As soon as the chef started cooking my dish I knew I had made the wrong choice. The sauce was a mix of cream and tomato and served with chicken breast, bacon, peas, garlic and cognac. I’m sure it would be totally delicious for someone who loves a cream sauce, but for me it wasn’t tasty as a pure tomato based sauce would have been.

The tomato, rocket and mozzarella salad was an absolute delight. Gooey buffalo mozzarella with sweet cherry tomatoes, peppery rocket and dressed with balsamic and olive oil.

We chose to share a dessert – a small pot of tiramisu, which was light and creamy with a mild hit of coffee – just how I like it.

Cost
Homemade pizza and pasta from £6.95, salads from £4.25. A range of specially selected and well priced wines are available.

Address
84 Wardour Street
London
W1F 0TQ

Opening Times
Sunday – Thursday: 11am to 11pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am-12pm

My First Meetup – Photographic Explorers, London

23 Jul

It took me a whole year to get my act together, but last last night I finally attended my first photo meetup. A few of us headed down after work to meet the group at Tower Bridge and we spent three hours wandering around the area, snapping away on our cameras, before heading to the local pub to share our photos and have a natter over a couple of beers.

IMG_1910

I have been interested in photography since I was a wee nipper but I didn’t get my first camera until I was into my 20s. I have to be honest, it doesn’t come easy to me and I find myself getting frustrated when I’m out and about, but the saying is true – practice makes perfect.

Last night I was shooting with two cameras – a Nikon 1 J3 and a Canon 600D and you can see the rest of my pics on my flickr.

Find out more about the Photographic Explorers meetup here.

Pizza Union – Super Fast 12″ Pizza

17 Jul

Where
Pizza Union, Spitalfields

Stagioni Pizza

What
The UK’s first Italian all-day Pizza Bar. Thin and crispy artisan pizzas, inspired by the thin and crispy pizzas found in Rome, baked in three minutes in a traditional stone pizza oven. Pizzas are ordered straight from the counter, while a host of long, bar-style communal tables help create a buzzy, informal dining atmosphere to fit with the Pizza Bar’s contemporary industrial look.

The experience
I have a problem. I can’t stop eating pizza. I ate a total of six pizzas last week – SIX!!!

Why is that a problem, I hear you say. Well it’s not the fact that I’m not getting the nutrients I need from fruit and veg and my waistline is expanding at a rate of knots just in time for my holiday in Ibiza, it is that I just can’t seem to stop.

I’m always up for finding new pizza establishments and quite frequently travel around the capital to find the best. I tried Pizza Union a couple of months ago and although this is a very belated post, I’m pleased to say that it stuck in my mind for a couple of reasons. I wouldn’t put it up there are one of the best in London, but I would recommend it as a very cheap and cheerful post work pit stop.

The range of quality toppings is impressive, with favourites such as fior di late mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and hand-stretched dough. I opted the the Calabria, which had a healthy smothering of tomato sauce, mozzarella, mascarpone and the ever popular N’duja spicy sausage and topped with rocket. And as there is no table service (simply order at the counter, take a buzzer and collect when ready), prices are incredibly low. My Calabria was a complete steal at £5.95!

Cost
Pizzas range from £3.95 – £6.50. Italian beer from £2.80 a bottle, Prosecco £15 and wines from £3 a glass or £11.50 a bottle

Address
25 Sandy’s Row,
Spitalfields,
London
E1 7HW

Opening Times
Open all day (11am – 11pm), seven days a week, with takeaway option also available.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,079 other followers

%d bloggers like this: