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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Kopapa

We went to Kopapa on Saturday before going to see a show, as it seemed to be the perfect place for a before or after an event dinner. As I am always late to visit new restaurants, it was my first visit. Kopapa has been well reviewed and was recently voted runner up in the Best New Restaurant category in Time Out’s eating and drinking awards. On top of that it also has a fairly wide range of vegetarian options, which as anyone who reads any of this blog will know I am always whining on about as an ‘issue’ in most  restaurants.

The decor is relaxed, a sort of cafe style, with brisk and friendly service and it was busy enough to create a buzzy atmosphere. It is also one of the increasing breed of small plates restaurants, there is 1 main dish in each category (meat, vegetarian etc) and the rest are tapas size. They recommend you to order 3 of these each. And this is when the doubts started to creep in. If you order three each it is going to cost over £18 for the equivalent of a main course, which is pretty hefty seeing as it seems to present itself as a ‘casual’ all day dining place. On top of that you can’t specify the order they come in, so I had soup and croquettes and they both came at once. Eating soup at the same time as anything else doesn’t really work, and it doesn’t really make sense either. Being contrary I only ordered two dishes, Joff ordered the main, a risotto. A lot of the other tapas dishes were fritters of one kind or another and he didn’t fancy a fritter. The fritters were nice, stodgy but tasty, the soup was fine, but  not hot enough and the risotto was also a bit lukewarm and a little meagre. In fact if you look at the picture on the left you will see the sum total of our main courses, add a banana tarte tatin between us and two glasses of Prosecco and that was it. The bill came to £50, and we were both still hungry. £50 for soup, risotto and 4 croquettes! No salad, no bread and no sides. I don’t mind spending money on food and have happily spent more than this and felt as if it was worth every penny but I have to say I felt a little cheated, and that tends to sour a dinner a little.  The food was ok, but nothing more than that and for the price it should have been. Maybe I don’t really get Kopapa and am starting to resent the small plates shtick which mean you get less food, order more dishes, pay more and don’t always get what you actually want to eat.

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Bermondsey Kitchen

So Bermondsey Kitchen is closing. This is a shame as it is my local and I am very fond of it. It has not been as popular with critics and bloggers as it is with me and with the arrival of Zucca it’s days were certainly numbered. However I will miss it, the menu changed daily and it always had 2 veggie choices, which very rarely involved risotto. Jose Pizarro, previously of Brindisa, now of Jose in Bermondsey street, is opening a Spanish restaurant called Pizarro on the Bermondsey kitchen site. I should be happy, I like food and love new restaurants, particularly local ones, however Spanish food is not known to be especially vegetarian friendly and I don’t want yet another local restaurant that only offers me 1 dish, as does Zucca, however adored it may be. Anyway here’s hoping it will leave me some choice and it will become my new local favourite. It also promises a cava bar and that is never a bad thing. Bermondsey is becoming buzzy, here’s hoping it stays local friendly.

Scandinavian Kitchen

Open Sandwiches.

Scandinavian kitchen is in Great Tichfield Street, which is looking increasingly good for food (Salt Yard, Riding House Cafe, Kaffeine). I am not going to give an in depth review here (tired and weary), however we had open sandwiches, good coffee and lovely, sticky banana cake. And there were fairly good veggie choices. There is also a shop to peruse as you wait. Splendid.

Banana Cake and coffee
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