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Damson and Co

Damson and Co is a small coffee shop on Brewer Street which is fairly new and very ‘of the moment’. It serves a variety of dishes that you can have at any time of the day, including boiled eggs, eggs Florentine, breakfast muffins, cheese, charcuterie, cakes and sandwiches. No Brunch served until 1, lunch until 2 … Continue reading

Orchard

WP_000620Orchard Kitchen is owned by the team behind Vanilla Black, a high end vegetarian restaurant in the city which I have not yet been to. Orchard is a vegetarian cafe on Sicilian Avenue currently open from 8.00-8.00 Monday to Saturday.

Firstly it is vegetarian which may put some off, and secondly it is styled in the sort of ‘remember the war, remember rationing’ style which is now being marketed to the generation that quite clearly could not possibly remember the war. By that I mean artfully chipped tin cups, whitewashed bricks, 1940s style waitresses and plain wooden tables.  All done in a way which looks inexpensive but is not. I love this style, although I feel slightly guilty about doing so but am not quite sure why. It is also populated by people who  have the whiff of that time period, there was the odd waisticoat, a woman in a black cape, a touch of artful facial hair and a woman with a dog. Everyone looked very neat and clean.

The food is all vegetarian. It’s a vegetarian cafe. I am vegetarian so I was very pleased by this. There is nothing so relaxing as being able to order anything you like from a menu, and it doesn’t happen often enough in my opinion.  We, unadventurous souls that we are, had sandwiches and cake. I had white bean pate with cherivl (I think) and assorted, picked fresh from the garden looking leaves in home made raisn bread. Joff had an egg sandwich with herbs and leaves in granary bread. They were both excellent and surpassed pretty much any other sandwich I have had for a long while. The bread was soft and fresh and made you want to eat an entire loaf, the use of herbs lifted them out of the ordinary and it was so nice to choose from stuff that wasn’t limited to cheese or egg. They did have a goats cheese on but I didn’t try it, next time.

We then shared a buckwheat coffee cake with an espresso buttercream that was deliciously bitter sweet. The coffee (we had flat whites) was rich and licorishy and served in delicate tea cups, as you can see from the blurry photo. The whole thing set us back £18 and it was entirely worth it.

Other offerings included eggy bread (that I do remember) with potatoes and some ‘small plates’ which included mini marmite baked potatoes. It is a lovely place serving lovely food and I will definitely go back. I wish more cafes and coffee shops would serve imagintive vegetarian food without having to corner themselves in the niche market of being totally vegetarian.  Until that happens this will do nicely.
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The Delaunay

This is a very late posting and I didn’t take a single photograph. So here is a photo of an egg as I ate an egg dish. We took my mother and step father to The Delaunay  as a thank you for an extravagant family Christmas in Norfolk. There had been a lot of twitter (and witter) written about it already, some of the established food critics liking it and the food bloggerati pretty much unanimously disliking it.

The criticism seemed to be mainly that it was a posh restaurant with white tablecloths, didn’t specialise in ribs or dogs or burgers and took reservations. But perhaps I am trivializing it. Oh, and there was much discussion on whether you would be given a good table if you weren’t a celebrity.

I booked a table for four and yes you had a two hour time limit which I hate, but that hate is not reserved especially for The Dealunay but for all restaurants these days as they all seem to do it. The waiting staff let us sit there for almost three hours before whispering in my ear that there were in fact people waiting. The late shift crowd did look quantitatively different, more sort of botoxy and wearing dresses with not much holding them up and a lot of heel.

One of the main reasons that I chose The Delaunay, apart from the white table cloths and the nice wooden, old European feel of the room, was that it had an extensive vegetarian menu. something lacking from the trendier, blogger friendly restaurants. No, the food was not adventurous, my mother had Schnitzel, Joff had something with mushrooms on, my stepfather had omelette Arnold Bennett followed by a cheese savoury and I had a herb omelette and chips. We also had ice cream and Joff had an apple strudel and I can’t remember what we had for starters but I know that we ate a lot. The wines were not too extortionate and came in a glass, a carafe and a bottle. I do like it when restaurants sell carafes of wine, I had white with my mother Joff had red and my stepfather had beer.

The omelette was the best I have ever had and my mother loved the schnitzel, in fact everybody loved everything. It is comfort food but they cater well for vegetarians, it is the perfect place to take your mother, it wasn’t ruinously expensive, the service was fantastic and we all left feeling happily full, wine flushed and very happy. Yes, it is conservative and not even remotely edgy but sometimes that is just what you want and a smart restaurant where I don’t have to eat rissotto and where Joff and I can eat different things is always going to be a winner.

One o One Amersham

We went to One o One in Amersham on Saturday with my brother and sister in law as they live there. It is in the new bit not the ye olde bit. It was jolly nice. Local Italian, run by local Italians. They were twinkly of eye, kissed my sister in law, patted my brother on the back and gave away a free dessert. And the food was good too. Although I had eggs on toast so didn’t really taste the food proper, the eggs were creamy and not too done and I also had a tomato and onion salad, which was generously sized. Everyone else had pasta or pizza and it smelled and looked very appetising.

We had wine, coffee and pudding and the bill was about £20 each. The place was rammed, the place is obviously popular. It is the sort of restaurant you don’t get in London anymore really, except perhaps in the villagey bits like Stoke Newington (although I haven’t been there for a while). It’s not remotely trendy and it might not stand up to the food twitterati but people like eating there and the staff look like they enjoy working there, the rest doesn’t really matter.

Union Jacks

Union Jacks, as many of you may know, is the latest Jamie Oliver opening. It is a pizza restaurant. All the food here is presented through’ rosy Brit’ tinted spectacles: the pizzas are called flats, a margherita is a Margaret, mozzarella is replaced with cheddar, there are sardines instead of anchovies and…you get the picture. The whole experience is how I imagine it would be if you were starring in one of his TV specials, the music is a hopeful, middle class lifestyle soundtrack and the waiting staff perky, youthful and helpful. The restaurant itself is in an ugly glass hall, part of Central St. Giles, and looks as if it was designed to be an office, however, they have installed 2 large fiery ovens which warm the place up and manage, miraculously, to make it cosy.

The menu is simple and reasonably proved, starters are around the £4-£5 mark and include fish fingers and the now ubiquitous beets. There are six varieties of pizza but you can choose a Margaret for £6.50 and add your own toppings, so really the menu is unlimited.  This was our second visit, Joff had the Woodman, £11, both times, which is covered in meaty looking mushrooms on top of a ground mushroom base, he loved it, or I presume he did as he had it twice. The first time I had the Chilli Freak, which was fantastically hot, the second time I had a Margaret with added chillis, onions and rocket (less chilli tastic than the Chilli Freak). The Pizzas are, to my mind, perfect. They have the right amount of slightly burnt crust, with bubbles and cracks on the chewy and crispy crust and the cheddar works well, adding a salty tang which I love. The proportion of topping to crust is also just right and so is the size as I didn’t have much trouble finishing my pizza either time. The salads again play on the British theme, salad cream instead of french dressing, baby gem lettuce in the salad and red russets in the coleslaw.  I love baby gem lettuce. And salad cream.

The wine list serves British wine and the drinks list includes perry and British vodka. I had Bacchus from the whites and Joff had  Union from the reds, both were good. There is not a huge choice of wines but it is not that sort of place.  The pudding list is short and includes Arctic Roll. I had marathon (snickers) ice cream which was definitely home made and not as good as the pizzas, it was a little too crumbly and not quite smooth enough, but not disastrous.

It would be all too easy to knock this place, it is relentlessly cheery and harks back to a type of Britishness which undoubtedly didn’t exist. However, the food is great and reasonably priced, it is not subtle but it does make you feel good and the atmosphere is infectious; if everyone around you is perky and jolly, serving you good food and treating you well, it is hard to remain cynical and picky. I liked it unashamedly.

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Bob Bob Ricard

We went to Bob Bob Ricard for our 6th wedding anniversary. I wanted somewhere that was a bit of a ‘do’ but that served food we could eat (yes, vegetarian). I had been enticed by tales of Bob Bob’s opulence and the slightly bizarre menu.  Our options were a veggie burger, a tray of curries, eggs Florentine and a Vareniki which is a Russian dumpling I believe.  Not too shabby given that at the moment meat and fish are king of the restaurant scene, although there are an increasing number of places that do vegetarian menus but, much as I love my husband, I didn’t want to stump up for a £60 a head menu either. Burgers and Curry do us fine thank you, call us low rent if you will.  I had the burger and he had the tray of curries, we also had a tomato salad and a cocktail followed by a glass of wine , we didn’t make use of the champagne button which is a shame, maybe next time.

The decor is indeed opulent, you get a blue leather booth to your self, they don’t squeeze the tables in too close or move you to a smaller table if there are only two of you, it doesn’t feel squeezed if you know what I mean (unlike Kopapa, but that’s another story). The staff were attentive and yes, they mentioned a 2 hour window only after I had booked the table which is a little irritating and service was perhaps a touch quick but otherwise it was perfect for the occasion. There was slightly less champagne button fueled hedonism than I had hoped for but the bean burger was beany and carby and topped with crispy onion and served with a delicate dish of ketchup. I really did enjoy eating this kind of food in proper restaurant surroundings and Joff’s tray of curries was pronounced delicious and  served in a range of small dishes which kept him interested.

We had ice cream to finish, I had peanut butter and banana which didn’t quite work but I ordered it more out of curiosity and a nostalgic fondness for American peanut butter ice cream than with the expectation that it was going to be a winner. They did the cheesy Happy Anniversary decoration on the plate which always pleases me. It was an enjoyable evening and I will go back, perhaps when I am feeling particularly flush and in the mood for champagne.

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