Firedog, W1

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Six words: ‘wood roasted tahini with carob molasses’. Smothered over everything. If there’s one highlight at Fitzrovia’s brand new Aegean restaurant ‘Firedog’, this is it. The ‘breakfast mezze’ is a new concept for London and once you try it, one-dish brunches will seem somewhat inadequate in comparison.

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I was invited to sample their extensive breakfast menu earlier this week and it was quite an experience.. 

The table was laden with a banquet of Aegean specialities which included unsalted young cheese with sour cherry compote, perfectly cooked house chilli eggs , freshly made lor with walnuts, thyme & olive oil, a selection of homemade jams, curds & clotted creams, fresh vegetables, sundried tomato paste and, of course, that sweet, sweet carob tahini.. img_0021

This is a place where you make up the rules – everything works with everything and you can top your sourdough with whatever you please.

To accompany your food, Firedog have a selection of refreshing homemade sodas: preserved lemon + ginger, pomegranate + blood orange and mastika + plum.

The coffee is not to be sniffed at either – their bespoke blend ‘cicciolina’ is taken from sister venue The Black Penny in Covent Garden by The Roastery Coffee Department.

img_0022For those who dislike sharing, Firedog also do a number of bigger plates, all influenced by the street cuisine of Greece and Turkey. The sujuk hash, baked eggs and Ozdemir Pasha II (halloumi, smoked tomatoes, beetroot hummus, fried eggs & za’atar) all hit the spot, and the sweet toothed among us will enjoy their toasted brioche with chargrilled plums, kaymak, honey & pistachios).

With a self-imposed ‘no avocados’ policy, Firedog is putting an exciting twist on brunch as we know it and is well worth checking out.

Firedog is open Monday to Friday 08.00 – 16.00 & Saturday to Sunday 09:00 – 16:00

Facebook / Twitter / Insta: @Firedogw1

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Ember London, The City

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The Square Mile has gained a brand new late-night drinking & dining den and I was thrilled to be asked to check out their six course tasting menu in November.

Tucked away behind Monument station, Ember is an intimate underground wine & cocktail bar serving pan-Asian small plates into the early hours. Open till 2am on Thursdays and Fridays, it’s the new place to be for city workers looking to burn off some steam to DJ sets from the likes of Lily Rivers and Becky Saif.

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With a focus on cocktails, sake, rare spirits and wines, guests can enjoy drinks in one of five unique spaces including ‘The Vault’ which boasts it’s own self-service bar.

Ember’s Asian-inspired menu is brimming with delicious small plates and sharing bowls, alongside festive specials and a tasting menu with wine & sake pairing.

Not to be missed is the Wagyu Beef & Foie Gras Burger served in an avocado bun with smoked miso relish, bacon, sriracha mayo and gruyere. Other menu highlights include the King Prawn & Calamari Fritters and the delectable Matcha Green Tea & White Chocolate Fondant.ember-london-2

Cocktail connoisseurs will be blown away by the Kitsune, a punch-packing palate cleanser served with an Acmella Oleracea flower which, when bitten before the first sip, sends a tingling sensation through the mouth, completely transforming the taste.

Ember is open Monday to Wednesday 11:00 – 00:00 & Thursday to Friday 11:00 02:00

Facebook / Twitter / insta: @Ember_EC3

Supernatural, Old Spitalfields Market

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Supernatural – the UK’s first alcoholic juice bar – began its much hyped 3-month residency at Ethos in Old Spitalfields market on Wednesday night.

Patrons can drop in during the day for signature raw shakes and smoothies or spend an evening quaffing Quin Collins and Superfruit Margharitas.

grace-forell-supernaturalWith equal attention paid to both gin and juice, Supernatural is a bar for those who work (out) hard and play hard.

Not to be missed is the Pina Kaleada – made with rum, coconut milk, kale + citrus smoked sea salt, or the matcha tea charged Thai Punch – with Thai chilli infused coconut rum, ginger, lemon grass, kaffir lime, fresh pineapple and mango.

A range of hearty breakfasts, warming soups, fresh salads and gluten free snacks are also on offer – perfect for a post-workout chow down.

Supernatural at Ethos, 1st Floor, Old Spitalfields Market. Alcohol served from 4pm.

@sprntrlUK

Oui Madame, Stoke Newington

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Fancy French tonight?  Get yourself down to Stoke Newington’s new late night bistro, Oui Madame.

Situated at 182 Stoke Newington Road, this bohemian bar serves up classic, simple French dishes and tantalizing cocktails.

Try their signature ‘Oui Madame’ served with a spritz of absinthe or go for something with gin and elderflower.  Cocktails come in singles or carafes so they’re perfect for sharing.

This Parisian hang out is an ideal place to come for a few drinks and some sharing plates before heading down to La Culotte – their basement nightclub which welcomes some of the hottest world music artists on the scene.

Try their French sausage, pork cheek croquettes, and pomme frites with blue cheese sauce.  More substantial options include your classic steak and fries or their 3 course set menu, priced at a reasonable £23.

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Open past midnight during the week, and till 2am on weekends.

@OUI_MADAME

Cheese and Cider at the Old Ship, Hackney

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  1. Q) What constitutes a ‘real’ cider?

I, the naive city dweller, wrongly assumed that ‘real’ cider just meant cider that basically wasn’t Strongbow or White Lightening. No! In fact ‘real cider’ is made PURELY from fermented apple juice and nothing more. Different ciders have been made from different apples and some have been brewed for longer than others – which gives real ciders their unique taste and variety.

The other week, the Old Ship in Hackney transformed itself into a Real Cider Festival, with all ciders and meads supplied by real cider connoisseur Dan – founder of distribution and events company The Cider Box. Dan is on what he describes as a ‘crusade’ against the commercial ciders full of artificial sweeteners and carbonated liquids that currently flood the market. He was on hand from 1pm to 1am to chat to people about the delicious produce on offer and offer samples.

At 6pm we had the CIDER VS CHEESE TASTING SESSION – eight unique ciders ranging from 4% to 19.5% (!) in generous half pint measures, paired with delicious cheeses courtesy of Ian from London company Raw Cheese Power.

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As a cheese obsessive, I feel honoured to bring you my highlights, which included a gorgeous Tomme de Savoie, a creamy Colston Basset Stilton and a cold smoked Cheshire.

The pairing of Joe Strummer’s favourite cider – the extremely dry Wilkins Medium, with an eighteen month matured unpasteurised Montgomery cheddar was unrivalled, except perhaps by the pairing of a ‘Perry’ – cider made from pears (and nothing like Kopperberg!)  – with a pungent Warwickshire goats cheese.

Other highlights involved the Pilton keeved cider, served in a champagne flute, and the Somerset Pomona mead. I implore you to ask for mead next time you’re in a well supplied bar – sweet, warming fermented honey – could anything be better? No wonder those medieval guys loved it.

It was a fantastic evening – just the ticket to ease you into the festive season.

You can catch the Raw Cheese Power fellas every Saturday at Archway Market, Broadway Market and Maida Hill Market, and every Sunday at Chatsworth Road and Harringey.

@theciderbox

@TheOldShipE8

@rawcheesepower

Tonkotsu East, Haggerston

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Tonkotsu East has the hallmarks of a classic new East-End eatery: it’s built within Haggerston station railway arches, there is exposed brickwork, it’s management team is friendly and knowledgable and – of course – a large percentage of its customers have beards.

But there is one feature that sets this new Japanese bar / restaurant aside from its neighbours – an industrial-sized noodle making machine, housed in its own in a glass room, easily viewable from the dining area.

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It’s the only one of its type in the UK, and you can literally watch as long strips of dough are stretched, cut, noodalised, dried, and then brought to you in steaming bowls of ramen. Homemade cooking at its best.

And noodles aren’t the only distinctly homemade product available at Tonkotsu East – they also make their own very yummy ‘Eat The Bits’ chilli oil, made from d’Archbol chilli flakes, shichimi togarashi, red miso, garlic, onion and sesame seeds, available to buy from the restaurant.

The food menu is small but perfectly formed – clearly a lot of care has gone into each dish. The highlights are the Tokyo Ramen – a soy-based pork and chicken stock with medium thick noodles topped with mirin, sweet soy-glazed pork belly, half a soft boiled egg, menma and spring onions… and the handmade, slightly crispy prawn goyza (dumplings) are quite possibly the best in town

 

mmmm... a hot steaming bowl of ramen.

mmmm… a hot steaming bowl of ramen

Side dishes include crab or pumpkin croquettes, king prawn katsu, salt and pepper squid and sea bass carpaccio, as well as tenderstem broccoli and pickled cucumber.  Wash it all down with a flask of sake, a Japanese beer or something from the cocktail list.

Tonkotsu East is definitely one if of the best Japanese restaurants around at the moment, and a welcome addition to the Haggerston area – for more information check out http://tonkotsu.co.uk

@Tonkotsu East