Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Valentine's Day that Almost Wasn't: Ealing Park Tavern

Following the energetic consumption of sake the previous evening, our original plans for Valentines lunch were right off the rails. Crossing my fingers, legs and eyes, I dialled the Ealing Park Tavern on the off-chance that they had a spare table for an early dinner. Thankfully, Lady Luck has been having an affair with Cupid, and we snaffled the last table for a 6pm sitting.

Hussyband went back to bed for a few more hours of Nurofen induced sleep, whist I snuggled up and caught up on various downloads and imagined the juicy offerings we would be digesting in a few hours.

Arriving at the pub just after 5, we managed to hop into one of the leather sofas by the fire for pre-dinner drinks. A couple of glasses of Spago Ruggeri Prosecco from Italy for me, and a pint of Old Speckled Hen for Hussy. To accomany them as a pre-starter, we shared a half dozen of Mersea Oysters with a red wine and shallot vinaigrette, before heading into out table right on 6pm.

Knowing how large the courses are here from a previous excusion our first week in town, we decided to share the entree of Seared Foie Gras with Tempura Quail. This was my first foray into foie gras, as back in Oz, there is a pan on uncooked foie gras being imported into the country and as a result it can be difficult to obtain (although that has now changed and importers are allowed to bring in poached or semi-cooked foie gras.) Hussyband stuck to his Old Speckeld Hen, while I chose a glass of La Paz Central Valley 2008 Merlot from Chile. The foie gras was buttery and evil, and paired beautifully with the quail that was coated in more of a salt & pepper crust than a traditional tempura.

Mains saw us go our seperate ways (fork speaking). I went for a good ol' english roast beef (bloody rare) with yorkshire pud and all the trimmings including a home made horseradish cream, paired with a Reserve Tooma River Warburn Estate 2008 Shiraz from Oz (somuch for me avoiding Aussie and Kiwi wines for the first 6 months!) It was the first time I have actually enjoyed yorkshire pub - it was crisp at first, then wonderfully soaking in gravy by the end. The shiraz was full and meaty and perfect with the beef.

Hussyband went for a saddle of rabbit wrapped in prosciutto, still sticking with the OSH (he didnt want to risk mixing drinks after last night). He waxed lyrical by saying nothing at all, as his mouth was stuffed and all I could get from him was an occassional moan of pleasure and rolling of eyes.

We shared a pud of chocolate and hazelnut sable with a salted caramal icecream (churned on site). I cannot say enough good things about the icecream - I can live on good caramael, but the addition of the salt took it to another level. And chocolate is always good.

For the record, they smoke their own fish and meat on the premises and to quote the bottom of their menu...."Our fish may contain bones, our game may contain shot and our nuts definitely contain nuts."

To finish, I sipped a wonderfully icy lemoncello to build my bloody booze quotient up to a standard where I wouldnt freeze outside, then we braved the nite air for the bus home, before snuggling up in a contented puddle.

A thoroughly replete evening.

Ealing Park Tavern
222 South Ealing Road, W5 4RL
T: 020 8758 1879
E: info@ealingparktavern.com

Finding Nemo: Sushi-Hiro

We started the afternoon snuggled into Jonos, an Irish hole-in-the-wall at Ealing Common watching the Irish V French 6 Nations Rugby...suffice to say, we wont discuss the result. After a few beers and ciders with HalfTwinHelen and BeauBrett, we wandered down the block to what Time Out London has nominated as one of the Top 10 sushi bars in London: Sushi-Hiro.

The restaurant is tiny, with just five tables and ten seats at the sushi bar, and is run by a lovelly bunch of Japanese expats (and 1 local born sushi chef!) It is cash only, and apparently normally quite quiet....normally obviously is when we 4 are not around!

The opening hours are distinctly odd, with no orders taken after 1.30pm or 9pm. (We once watched, astounded, as the Fat Duck’s Heston Blumenthal was refused service at 1.32pm.)

They only serve beer, sake and umeshu (which was plenty fine by us).

We settled into our table, and the urging of HTH and BB I ordered for all of us. Edamame, clam miso (oh god that was good) a round of beers and a flask of hot sake started us off. I also ordered a glass of cold sake - as HTH and BB had never tried it before, but have now been won over to the cause.

Next up was a chefs selection of 4 types of sashimi - mackerel, prawn, otoro-tuna and sea bream. They were all stunning, melt in your mouth goodness. The tuna was just fatty enough that it dissolved in your mouth, whilst the sea bream not only tasted amazing, but was present in a "rose" style. I wasn't overly fussed with the prawn, as coming from Oz...well those little babies we had would have been used as bait. But they still tasted good!

After wading through the sea of happiness that the sashimi had us in, our next round arrived in the form of the Superior Nigiri. Also a side erving of ume-boshi and shiso mini-rolls and crab mini-rolls.

Everything was perfectly prepared, of the utmost freshness and quality. The service was efficient with fresh warm sake coming from glance to the wait-staff, and the chefs were happy to explain what some of the unidentifiable victuals on offer were.

The normally staid chefs were reduced to giggles when I mentioned pie-zuri to them, which leaves me to hope that we will be welcome back there again!

Sushi Hiro
Uxbridge Road, Ealing, W5 3LD
(Opposite Ealing Common Tube)

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Deal With the Calorie Devil

OK....a deal has been made with Ms Kanga_Rue that once I lose 10kgs at the gym I am joining next week, we will go L'Art du Fromage in Chelsea and put a percentage of it back on again. Yes, a cheese restaurant. This will be evil.

Lunch Fail.....

Back home, my standard work-day lunch is generally something of the asian variety. Thai, Chiniese, Japanese, Korean with an occassional jaunt to Middle Eastern. I am not a sandwich everyday kinda gal.

Give me a thai beef salad or some sushi over a bageuette or club any day of the week.

Working now in London, there is a serious dearth of asian options. Yet we are surrounded by Pret and Eat, readymade meals at Sainsburys and Tesco.

Today I braved Eat for the Gyoza Dumpling Soup...the gyoza's were filled with duck. Well, what I saw of the duck as the gyoza fell apart beneath the gentle ministrations of my chopsticks. Tried again with a spoon...and it still fell apart. I had it with added chilli, and it still didnt even raise a tingle withthe tom yum broth.


Who does a girl have to sleep with to get a good asian fix with in this town?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Waxy O'Connors - If A Tree Fell In The Forest....

Waxy O'Connors is an awesome Irish styled theme pub between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square in London. It is full of rabbit warrens of small rooms and booths, 2 bars, live music (at times), many stairs, and a bloody great big tree in the middle of it. It also has a smaller sister pub across the road, appropriately named Waxy's Little Sister.

Food is served all day, and the booze on offer is quite varied and well priced. I am finally starting to not convert everything back to Aussie Dollars....so it does seem well priced OK!

On this occasion, we settled into a booth in the lower bar and Hussyband rustled us up some booze - a glass of house red for me, and a pint of Caffrey's for his Lordship. A quick perusal of the menu had him licking his chops at the All Day Breakfast (grilled pork sausages, Clonakilty black and white pudding, potato cake, grilled tomato, poached egg and soda bread - £7.40), while I was feeling a bit vego and went for the Baked Goats Cheese (sauteed spinach, red onion and goats cheese in a filo pastry parcel, served with roasted peppers and Ballymaloe Relish - £7.50).

Hussyband was very quiet whilst demolishing is plate, which is a sure sign that it ticks all his boxes. The small bit of bacon I snatched was gorgeous - crispy, salty and full of flavor, and teh soda bread was served with salted butter was dense and delicious.

My plate was awesome - rich, savour, and the relish was amazing. It was so good I could only eat half of it before giving up as was also HUGE. Came with a much needed side salad with a tart dressing that cut through the goats cheese very nicely.

Will definitely be back there soon...

Waxy O'Connors
14-16 Rupert Street
London, W1D 6DD
020 7287 0255