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Café Rouge SE1: Fine French food

I was lucky enough to be invited to try some of their new menu.

On a friend’s recommendation, we shared a couple of starters: a dish of oven-baked potted snails with Roquefort butter, smoked lardons and lemon paprika crumble, and a Bouillabaisse. The snails were delicious; we got three, each baked in a small individual terracotta pot.

The main course was huge, with two bones sticking out of either side, and a beautiful criss crossing from where it had sizzled on the grill. It was tender, our knives sliding through it like butter, incredibly flavoursome, with a smokey aroma, and downright delicious all round. With a massive slab of Dauphinoise potatoes and some green beans, it formed a classic French feast. I have to say that it defeated us, and we simply couldn’t finish it (though they kindly let us have the leftovers to take home).

All in all, a lovely visit, and I’ll definitely be going back soon.

Café Rouge  – Hays Galleria, Tooley Street, London SE1 2HD –  020 7378 0097

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Padella, SE: Glorious handmade pastas

Londoners lucky enough to have visited Trullo in Highbury & Islington will already know about its glorious, handmade pastas. Now its owners have brought Padella, a pasta-only restaurant to Borough.

All pasta is made on the premises, and prices are, for London, frankly ludicrous, starting at only £5.50 for a basic tagliarini with slow-cooked tomato sauce, and not shooting past a tenner.

I start with a small plate of Salame ‘Lovison’ [£5.50], a soft-cured, peppery sausage from a speciality salumeria in northern Italy, and some creamy, spreadable burrata [£5].

Then, the main event. Tagliarini with nduja, mascarpone and parsley [£7.50] the fiery sausage is barely tamed by the cooling cheese, delivering a whopping – and exciting – punch to the palate.

I vow to return as soon as possible. Or possibly move to the area, permanently. Get yourselves down here NOW.

Padella – Big V London, 6 Southwark St, London SE1 1TQ

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Veneta, SW1: Suitably classy affair

 

Veneta –  3 Norris St, St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4RJ – 020 3874 9100

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The Brown Bear, E1: Old School Thai

By Lynn Reynolds, writer: longtime EastEnder, sometime Bermondseyite.

The Brown Bear has way more highly-buffed brass than any pub I’ve seen for years, and it’s also blessed with some classy original architectural features.

It’s a low-key, peaceful place with friendly staff and a decent selection of beers, including craft beer in bottles and cans.

But I’m more interested in what goes on in the kitchen, because the distinguishing feature of The Brown Bear is that it does a very fine line in Thai food.

Beef Massaman curry was rich without being cloying, and expertly spiced. Duck stir fry with bamboo shoots was a delight, with a good chilli kick and nicely-textured vegetables. Both came with generous portions of fragrant jasmine rice.

Prices are decent, too, at £6.50 for the beef dish and £7.50 for the duck. So you can have an enjoyable lunch without breaking the bank, or having to shout over loud music.

The only slightly cautionary note I’d strike is that when they say a dish is hot, the chefs at The Brown Bear really mean it!

But heed the chilli symbols in the menu and you’ll be just fine. Heck, you’ll be better than fine – you’ll be extremely well fed.

The Brown Bear – 139 Leman Street, London, E1 8EY

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Burro e Salvia, E2: Pasta Made Perfect

By Lynn Reynolds, writer: longtime EastEnder, sometime Bermondseyite.

Anyone who knows me also knows I’m routinely underwhelmed by Italian restaurants, so when I say that Burro e Salvia is well worth a visit, consider it high praise indeed.

Peek through the cute chicken-and-egg window displays and you’ll see skilled artisans making fabulous fresh pasta, but you need to go through to the back to be where the magic really happens.

There, you can take a seat in the small and stylish dining room, and sample some of the best Italian food I’ve ever encountered. Anywhere.

Don’t skip the starters, because there aren’t many places in London you’ll find as meltingly savoury anchovies or such luscious drapes of San Daniele ham.

Follow up with Burro e Salvia’s adventurous take on filled pasta, or their equally sublime versions of classics like orecchiette.

And then, when you’re leaving via the delightful pasta workshop—after coffee and dessert, of course—don’t forget to pick up a takeaway of fresh ravioli for the next day’s dinner.

A person’s got to eat, right?

Burro e Salvia – 52 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP – 020 77394429

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Goodman’s Field, E1: Something For Everyone

By Lynn Reynolds, writer: longtime EastEnder, sometime Bermondseyite.

It’s ironic that in my part of the east end of London, fish and chips is so hard to find. That’s why I’m glad that Goodman’s Field, my local (and newly refurbished) JD Wetherspoon’s pub, does such a reliably satisfying version.

Fish is always a thick, juicy cod fillet enrobed in light, crisp batter. Chips are fat and crisp with fluffy centres, and the whole thing comes with a side of mushy (or, heaven forbid, fresh) peas.

Best of all, you can order without going anywhere near the bar. Download the JDW ‘Order and Pay’ app, and you can conduct the whole show from the comfort of your seat.

The selection of beers at Goodman’s Field is impressive. I like lager, either Brooklyn craft or good old Kronenbourg, but ‘im indoors is partial to a drop of real ale, and at Goodman’s Field his itch does not go unscratched.

On our most recent outing he enjoyed a Kentish aperitif of Gadds’ No 5 Ruby Coloured Best Bitter, followed by Brazilian Burton Pale Ale. Interestingly, the Brazilian beer is brewed exclusively for Wetherspoon by Paolo & Samuel Cavalcanti, who’ve apparently swapped their native Curitiba for the delights of Wolverhampton.

That’s typical Wetherspoon’s for you – there’s something for everyone, from the everyday to the exotic.

Goodman’s Field – 87-97 Mansell Street, London, E1 8AN – 020 7680 2850

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Black Sheep, E1: Unorthodox, Ambrosial Coffee

By Lynn Reynolds, writer: longtime EastEnder, sometime Bermondseyite.

Black Sheep’s Leman Street coffee shop may be overhung by the faceless bulk of Aldgate Tower, but that’s no reflection on the quality of their brew.

I first encountered Black Sheep Coffee at the London Coffee Festival about four years ago, and was so struck by the unusual depth and richness of their free sample that I bought a kilo of beans to take home.

Since then the company has gone from strength to strength, and their four-shot flat whites are a fixture in my office-based mornings.

When my energy runs low I’m also partial to their delicious, witty take on the bulletproof coffee craze: ‘Bullet-hoof coffee’, a kind of latte made with coconut milk and coconut cream.

Next time you dash out of Aldgate East tube station, make sure you break away from the herd for long enough to treat yourself at this cute little hole-in-the-wall café.

Black Sheep Coffee – 2 Leman Street, London E1 8FA

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Yuu Kitchen, E1: Asia-Pacific Manga

By Peng Hui Lee, Eastender in more ways than one (east end of London, east end of the planet)

This lively bar and restaurant on Commercial Street serves delicious small plates with flavours inspired by Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim.

We ordered crispy soft shell crab bao (Taiwanese steamed bun sandwiches), Satay tofu, salt and pepper calamari, and sweet and sticky eggplant, which were delicious, and to drink we had Beatnik Light Pale Ale. On a future occasion we’d like to sample their cocktails, which looked enticing (Mr Miyagi, anyone?).

The interior deserves a special mention. The walls are decorated with large manga-style pictures. Birdcages hanging from the ceiling give the place the feel of a restaurant in a Chinese swordfighting movie.

Yuu Kitchen – 29 Commercial Street, London E1 6NE – 020 7377 0411

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28 Church Row, NW3: Discreet Iberian Charm

By Lynn Reynolds, writer: longtime EastEnder, sometime Bermondseyite.

Descend the steps into 28 Church Row, and you immediately enter into a different, more charming world. It’s more charming than even the habitual discreet appeal of Hampstead would suggest. Believe me – that’s charming.

Iberian and Italian small plates is what this restaurant does, and they’re charming, too. We especially enjoyed our Serrano ham croquettes, courgette flower—tiny courgette attached—stuffed with goat’s cheese and drizzled with honey, and chargrilled octopus with capers.

Everything about this pretty cellar bar and restaurant is just right. From the genuine friendliness of the ultra-competent staff to the carefully curated wine list (wines served, I must note, at exactly the right temperature), you feel you’re in good hands from the very beginning.

28 Church Row – 28 Church Row, London NW3 6UP – Tel: 020 7993 2062

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Loose Ends London Eye Competition: Win 2 free tickets to the London Eye

Do you think you have the best selfie of London? Good enough to WIN 2 FREE tickets to the London Eye? If so what are you waiting for?! RT, follow & send us your selfie now!

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