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Our lunch spread at Portal

Everyone loves doing good, right? That’s why PORTAL at No. 1 Martin Place is so amazing. You get to do good, while eating lunch. PORTAL is the new cafe from the same people who brought you FOLONOMO and GRATIA CAFE (now closed) in Surry Hills. The concept is the same, as they say on their website:

We are a social business, which donates 100% of profits to a range of “not for profit” causes. Our customers choose their impact with every purchase…
Each time you order a coffee, a salad or any items or our menu you can choose what’s important for you.

https://www.portal.org.au/aboutus
  • Lunch at Portal
  • Blue Latte

Finding the cafe itself is a bit tricky. Does anyone else find the No. 1 Martin Place building hard to navigate?! I couldn’t find PORTAL on the entry level, but then noticed a (new?) escalator on one end that led up to a mezzanine level. Once up there, I was immediately impressed by the space. Firstly, it’s huge. I love all the different seating options – casual benches if you’re just here for a coffee, proper cafe seating, and they even have booths for you to work with your team! The whole space is airy and beautifully decorated with many plants. It’s a place you immediately feel comfortable in.

  • Chai Latte
  • Vegan Banana Chocolate Cake (GF and DF)
  • Blue Latte

PORTAL have a selection of healthy dishes, with many ‘cafe classics’. For example, I went for the Avo Coriander Smash with crushed feta, preserved lemon and dukka (12). Not a bad price for smashed avo! It was really delicious and just what I felt like. Also worth mentioning that the toast didn’t get too soggy, even under all that avo.

  • Avo Coriander Smash ($12) – with crushed feta, preserved lemon and dukka
  • Broccoli Salad ($11) with soy & sesame marinated tofu ($4) and poached chicken ($4)

My friend KS had a much more substantial lunch. There were some Weekly Seasonal Salads on offer in the display cabinet, and she chose the Broccoli Salad ($11) with extra soy & sesame marinated tofu ($4) and poached chicken ($4). I love that you can add extras to your salad! I do feel that I need to mention how salty the tofu was. Neither of us (both from Asian backgrounds) had had tofu like this before. The saltiness was really overpowering. Perhaps it’s worth adjusting that recipe? Other than that though, no complaints about this healthy lunch bowl!

  • Vegan banana chocolate cake (GF and DF)
  • Vegan banana chocolate cake (GF and DF)

We couldn’t have a completely health lunch though, could we! I spotted the Vegan banana chocolate cake at the front counter too and it looked too good not to have a piece. It’s gluten and dairy free! Very tasty end to our meal.

Avo Coriander Smash ($12) – with crushed feta, preserved lemon and dukka

Man, cafes like PORTAL make me wish I still worked in the city! I would definitely be here all the time – in the morning, with a book. Then, a quick lunch with my colleagues! I can just imagine it. If you work in the city, I hope you make use of this lovely space with great food, as well as doing some good for our greater society!

PORTAL
NO 1 MARTIN PLACE
SYDNEY CITY
https://www.portal.org.au

NB: talk&spoon and KS were invited to eat at Portal, with thanks to Melody Brass. All opinions, however, remain our own.

The post Portal – Martin Place, Sydney CBD (Invite) appeared first on talkandspoon.

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Talkandspoon by Talk&spoon - 2M ago
  • Spring roll, mung bean noodle, shiitake, wood ear fungus, beansprouts (£4)
  • Crispy duck, pancakes, plum (£18)

When we travel, we always find ourselves searching for good Asian food. Whether it’s Japanese in Amsterdam, or Chinese food in London! I’ve had A.WONG on my list for ages and when I heard they had a sister restaurant in the newly opened KYM’S I thought I just had to check it out!

We headed over for lunch and I’m just going to stay at the start that it was good, but we weren’t blown away. There were a couple of creative touches that we enjoyed but we came away feeling sort of ‘meh’ about it. I’m not sure if we were over-saturated in terms of eating out?! I guess when you’re travelling for a while and eat out every meal it can get a bit same-y. I’d love to hear what you thought if you’ve been to KYM’S!

  • Sweet & sour pork ribs, sesame, star anise (£7)
  • Spring roll, mung bean noodle, shiitake, wood ear fungus, beansprouts (£4)

The menu is divided into a couple of sections which I found a bit confusing: small plates, share, classics, sides and dessert. So were the small plates and classics not to share? I feel like all Chinese food should be shared, unless you’re having a bowl of wonton noodles to yourself? Just my opinion! From the ‘small plates’ section we enjoyed the Spring roll, mung bean noodle, shiitake, wood ear fungus, beansprouts (£4). How cute are the ‘wings’ on the spring rolls! I also like this thinner ‘basket’ sort of pastry around the spring roll, therefore making it a bit lighter to eat.

I was surprised at the size of the Sweet & sour pork ribs, sesame, star anise (£7). What a generous portion for just the equivalent of AU$12! These were totally delicious. The type of ribs that just fall off the bone! I would definitely recommend getting this dish.

  • Crispy duck, pancakes, plum (£18)
  • ‘Buddha Jumped Over The Wall’ Vegetarian Hotpot (£12)
  • Crispy duck and Vegetarian hot pot

From the ‘Share’ section of the menu we ordered the Crispy duck, pancakes, plum (£18). This is not Peking duck, if that was what you were expecting! I really enjoyed the presentation of this dish with the whole, chunky duck leg and the think slices of plum and cucumber on top. We then shredded the meat ourselves and had it with pancakes! Bit of a fun experience.

Finally, we got the ‘Buddha Jumped Over The Wall’ Vegetarian Hotpot (£12) to satisfy our veggie cravings and to try something new. The dish was packed full of different vegetables, which I loved, but unfortunately I didn’t realise this would have chilli in it. It was a bit too spicy for me, which was a shame. I do think it is so important to advertise when there is chilli on a dish! Who knows, someone might have an allergy, right?

KYM’S is in the ‘business’ area of town and we couldn’t help but feel a bit out of place sitting there at lunch amongst the suits. I guess that’s why they also have a Grab & Go menu for those in a hurry! The place has a cool decor and would definitely be a cool place to take clients too. I’d be super keen to check out A.WONG next time too!

KYM’S
19 BLOOMBERG ARCADE
LONDON, EC4N 8AR
UK
https://www.kymsrestaurant.com/

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  • Bread & butter
  • Snack – seaweed (with SW’s hand encroaching)
  • Snack
  • Pickles

One of our best meals of our entire January 2019 trip was probably at TIMBERYARD in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Was it because the restaurant was soooo dark that we couldn’t really see our food and assumed it was good? I joke – although, it was very dark. I do apologise for the average photos of some dishes!

As I mentioned in my previous post about Edinburgh we headed up there with our friend SW. He recommended TIMBERYARD and we were more than happy to go with a recommendation with a somewhat local (well, more local than we were).

  • Salt Bream – horseradish, sorrel, samphire, dill
  • Scallop – wild leek, parsley, fennel, roe

At TIMBERYARD you have the option of a 4, 6 or 8 course menu. DS and I had only just been to CAFE ST HONORE the night before, so we weren’t feeling like another big meal. We settled for the 4 course menu at £56. Of course, there were some extras, starting with some delicious warm bread and butter. We also had some pickles with salami, a crunchy seaweed snack and a charcoal cracker or some sort that was absolutely delicious!

Our first course was the Salt Bream – horseradish, sorrel, samphire, dill. That’s essentially bream that’s been cooked in salt. Kind of like curing the fish. The addition of samphire really added a taste of the ocean!

  • Scallop – wild leek, parsley, fennel, roe
  • Quail – red cabbage, burnt plum, elderberry

For the second course we had a choice of Scallop – wild leek, parsley, fennel, roe or Quail – red cabbage, burnt plum, elderberry. By all accounts the quail was delicious, however I opted for the scallop. It was probably the biggest, fattest, juiciest scallop I’ve ever had. Because of this, one single scallop was actually enough!

  • Beef – onion, garlic, kale, hen of the wood
  • Beef – onion, garlic, kale, hen of the wood

For the third course we also had a choice between halibut and beef, however, we all chose beef! The Beef – onion, garlic, kale, hen of the wood was just absolutely delicious. I couldn’t fault this dish at all (save for the onion and garlic giving my FODMAP intolerant body some digestive challenges!). Yes, the meat was served quite rare but it was just. So. Good. Hen of the wood is actually a mushroom, which I’d never heard of! It’s actually more of a fungus and is used all around the world.

I really loved how in all the dishes we had so far incorporated mostly quite common ingredients in interesting combinations, but also the addition of quite a random ingredient like samphire or hen of the wood! It really kept the dishes interesting.

  • Chocolate – yoghurt, cherry, nut
  • Chocolate – yoghurt, cherry, nut

The servings had not been huge but by the time we got around to dessert we were all suddenly quite full! Luckily the Chocolate – yoghurt, cherry, nut was equally reserved in terms of size. You might even call it a ‘wee’ dessert! I loved the presentation of little dollops of sauce that kept me guessing the whole way. Is that the cherry? Or the yoghurt? Or the nut?!

We walked out of TIMBERYARD truly having enjoyed the whole experience. Yes, the whole place was exceptionally dark. I nearly stumbled down the stairs to the bathrooms. But when you get to the bathrooms, you’re greeted with the sounds of a thunderstorm and other nature noises as you get on with your business. How enjoyable! Food-wise I loved that, like CAFE ST HONORE, there was a focus on local produce and ingredients. I am putting this on my food list of places, not just to recommend to everyone but to come back to hopefully soon!

TIMBERYARD
10 LADY LAWSON STREET
EDINBURGH EH3 9DS
SCOTLAND
https://www.timberyard.co

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North Sea Coley, Shetland Blueshell Mussels, Largo Bay Cockles, Smoked Bacon, Leeks, Pink Fir Apple Potatoes (£22)

On our travels back in January we also headed up to Scotland with our friend SW. He wanted to go climbing in the Cairngorm mountains, which sounded terrifying to me. More so because, on the train to the airport, he proudly showed us the new ice pick he bought. Any sort of climbing that involves an ice pick probably isn’t for me…

I have been to Edinburgh before – years ago with SLW. I wrote a couple of blogposts back then and was pleased that some of the places were still around when we went this time! The Edinburgh Larder
http://www.talkandspoon.com/2013/08/05/the-edinburgh-larder-cafe-edinburgh-scotland/ was a lovely breakfast spot the first time round, and DS and I went back again to this time to find it still super popular and packed with locals.

DS was super excited to head to Edinburgh because it was right up his alley in terms of its history, particularly around philosophy and the Enlightenment. He’d also done some foodie research and found CAFE ST HONORE. He sold it to me as a restaurant that has traditional foods with a focus on organic and local produce, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed!

  • Our Cure Belhaven Organic Smoked Salmon, Pickled Cucumber, Pink Fir Apple Potato Salad, Fennel Fronds (£13.50)
  • Our Cure Belhaven Organic Smoked Salmon, Pickled Cucumber, Pink Fir Apple Potato Salad, Fennel Fronds (£13.50)

The setting is absolutely stunning and just what you want when you’re in Edinburgh. The restaurant is tucked in a back street of the New Town. It has dark wooden furnishings that add to an old-world atmosphere. The service was not at all stuffy, though, and everything on the menu looked approachable and delicious.

As an entree we couldn’t go past Our Cure Belhaven Organic Smoked Salmon, Pickled Cucumber, Pink Fir Apple Potato Salad, Fennel Fronds (£13.50). Belhaven is just East of Edinburgh, right on the North Sea coast. I couldn’t help but be amazed at how fresh this salmon was. It was presented simply with nothing particularly unusual in terms of flavour pairings. But it didn’t need to be paired with anything else. We just wanted to taste the salmon itself, and it was spectacular.

  • North Sea Coley, Shetland Blueshell Mussels, Largo Bay Cockles, Smoked Bacon, Leeks, Pink Fir Apple Potatoes (£22)
  • Burnside Estate Sika Deer, Organic Pumpkin & Crowdie Tortellini, Cavolo Nero, Chestnuts (£26)
North Sea Coley, Shetland Blueshell Mussels, Largo Bay Cockles, Smoked Bacon, Leeks, Pink Fir Apple Potatoes (£22)

For our mains, you also couldn’t get past the local produce. DS had the
North Sea Coley, Shetland Blueshell Mussels, Largo Bay Cockles, Smoked Bacon, Leeks, Pink Fir Apple Potatoes (£22). Coley, sometimes known as pollock, is a fish we really don’t get in Australia so it was a treat to have that. The Mussels were from Shetland, the islands further north of Scotland and closer to Norway. Largo Bay is just north of Edinburgh across the water. All this produce was sourced within a few hundred kilometres of where we were eating it – how cool is that! This was a warm and filling meal, perfect for a cold wintry night!

I had the Burnside Estate Sika Deer, Organic Pumpkin & Crowdie Tortellini, Cavolo Nero, Chestnuts (£26). I’m not quite sure where Burnside Estate was but I’m sure it was close to Edinburgh as well. In this dish you can see the use of organic vegetables as well. This dish was a rather interesting combination of deer and tortellini. I must admit that I enjoyed the tortellini much more than the deer. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of game meat but I thought I should try it. The cavolo nero and chestnuts added some interesting flavours and textures to balance out quite a heavy dish.

Sticky Toffee Pudding, Vanilla Ice Cream, Toffee Sauce (£8)

We were pretty full by the end of the meal, however there’s a few desserts that DS can never say ‘no’ to and one of them is sticky toffee or sticky date pudding. This Sticky Toffee Pudding, Vanilla Ice Cream, Toffee Sauce (£8) was so delicious and perfect. I’m glad it was served simply with vanilla ice cream. You can tell when it’s good vanilla ice cream when you can see the vanilla bean seeds on it! This is such a classic dessert – you’ve gotta get it if you’re there!

What a wonderful meal and I just loved the concept of CAFE ST HONORE. Please go and check it out if you’re ever in Edinburgh! I’m sure the menu changes frequently and you’ll get to try some very local and amazing product.

CAFE ST HONORE
34 NORTH WEST THISTLE STREET LANE
EDINBURGH, EH2 1EA
SCOTLAND
http://www.cafesthonore.com/

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DIEPPE – scallops, sea urchin emulsion

I don’t quite recall how I heard about SAN BRUXELLES. What I did recall, though, was feeling really excited at eating some modern dishes inspired by Asian flavours. Enough of traditional hearty Flemish food! I did enjoy all that. However, it was time to change things up again and particularly get some vegetables into me that weren’t in the form of fries.

Luckily for us, Brussels is small and most things were within walking distance from our hotel. We enjoyed walking through the old town square and weaving through cobbled streets on our way to SAN BRUXELLES. The restaurant seemed to be on a really cool street, filled with other eateries we would’ve loved to have tried.

PARIS – Textures of carrots

[On a side note, we really liked our hotel ‘9 Hotel Sablon’ in Brussels, but overall we didn’t really enjoy Brussels. One contributing factor, unfortunately, was that all the museums we wanted to go to were closed for their annual staff day. This was not announced on the websites when we checked. So we were disappointed and left with not much to do. While there are some cool new buildings around, we found most of the old part of town quite derelict, run down, full of graffiti and dirty.]

Bread and butter

SAN BRUXELLES has a really whimsical feel to it. There is bar seating downstairs, but upstairs it’s almost like you’ve entered an Alice in Wonderland-esque space with lots of muted pastel tones, wooden furniture and fake vines creeping along the walls and ceiling.

We sat down upstairs, and again we were the first to arrive at around 7pm. Like I mentioned in my last post, people must eat rather late here!

At SAN BRUXELLES they serve a 5 course tasting menu for €65, plus an extra course available at €12.

Here’s what we ate:

Complimentary bread & butter

  1. DIEPPE – Scallops, sea urchin emulsion – What a wonderful dish to start our meal. I was so impressed with this, with the thinly sliced raw scallops in particular. I don’t usually like sea urchin but the flavour was really delicate and it worked so well together.
  2. PORTOMUÑIOS – Mackerel, cabbage, seaweed – While DS really liked this dish, I really don’t like mackerel so unfortunately this was not great for me. I could appreciate that it was a beautiful dish but mackerel is just too fishy for me!
  3. LANDES – Beetroot, smoked duck, walnuts – It’s been a while since I’d had beetroot due to sticking to a low FODMAP diet! I really enjoyed this dish and felt the sweet taste of the beetroot worked really well with the duck. It was a great alternative to the usual duck and citrus pairing.
  4. LIERNU – Seasonal vegetables and oil of the time (Extra €12) – When I saw this extra dish I knew I had to have it. It’s so hard to get fresh veges whilst travelling! This dish was everything I’d hoped for – clean and fresh. I’m not sure what ‘oil of the time’ meant but the subtle flavour of the accompanying sauce didn’t overpower the vegetables which was great!
  5. JERUSALEM – Venison, Jerusalem artichoke, cacao – My first experience of the venison + cacao combination was at Sepia in Sydney, many years ago. It took me by surprise back then and I didn’t enjoy it. I was able to prepare myself a bit better this time round and thought it worked quite well! I think the key is to make the cacao quite subtle so as not to overpower the dish. This was definitely the heaviest dish of our meal.
  6. PARIS – Textures of carrots – When I read this on the menu I wasn’t sure if it was dessert or not. Carrots? Like carrot cake? The actual dish took us both by surprise and we LOVED it! There’s some sesame snap-type things, and I think it was candied carrot…I’ll leave the rest as a surprise for you to taste one day!
  • DIEPPE – scallops, sea urchin emulsion
  • PORTOMUÑIOS – Mackerel, cabbage, seaweed
  • LANDES – Beetroot, smoked duck, walnuts
  • LIERNU – Seasonal vegetables and oil of the time (extra €12)
  • JERUSALEM – Venison, Jerusalem artichoke, cacao
  • JERUSALEM – Venison, Jerusalem artichoke, cacao
  • PARIS – Textures of carrots

As far as I can tell, the names of the dishes refer to places or regions. Except for Portomuñios…if anyone can shed some light on that, that’d be much appreciated!

We had such a wonderful time at SAN BRUXELLES and would highly recommend it to anyone going to Brussels. I’m sure the dishes will be completely different but still totally creative and delicious like it was for our meal!

SAN BRUXELLES
RUE DE FLANDRE 19
1000 BRUSSELS
BELGIUM
http://sanbxl.be/en/

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Coq au Vin with garnishments (€25)

When I was looking for more modern restaurants to try out in Bruges, Belgium, KOK AU VIN kept popping up. It has excellent reviews on Google too, which gave me a bit of confidence. I was surprised that we could get a booking with only a few days’ notice. In fact, our hotel receptionist was surprised at that too! We attributed that to it being the middle of winter in January. It was quite ironic when we showed up at 7pm that we were the only people there. It started to fill up a bit more when we left around 9:30pm – I guess people dine a bit later in Belgium!

  • Fresh bread
  • Condiments to go with the bread including butter, pâté and olive oil

As with our dinner at CHAGALL, we were served complimentary bread and condiments first up. I guess we can say that this was a liiiittle bit more fancy than what we were served at CHAGALL though! We got a beautiful (still warm!) little loaf to ourselves, plus three condiments. Churned butter – who can say no?! Especially when it melts as soon as it touches the bread. Again there was some sort of meat pâté and also some olive oil. It was really hard not to fill up on this, knowing we had ordered some pretty hearty meals!

Plate of great Italian and Spanish charcuterie (€20)

As a starter, we ordered the Plate of great Italian and Spanish charcuterie (€20). I love that they included the word ‘great’ in the description! And great it truly was: we had 5 different cured meats, some of which I’d never tried before! Truly delicious. But with the generous portion it was hard trying to save some space for the next dishes…

  • Coq au Vin with garnishments (€25)
  • Potato croquettes
  • Cabbage salad
Our mains:

With a restaurant called KOK AU VIN, you can’t skip ordering the actual coq au vin (€25). For those not familiar with the dish, it’s chicken braised in wine with mushrooms – in this particular dish they also threw in some speck which was awesome! It was probably some of the most delicious chicken I’ve ever eaten.

The dish was definitely enough by itself, but it also came with potato croquettes and a cabbage salad. No complaints about the potato croquettes – they were basically like up-market potato gems! The cabbage salad was quite simple, but it was nice to have some greens. I always struggle to get enough greens when I’m travelling!

  • Pheasant, pumpkin, lentils, mustard, Brugge Tripel beer (€28)
  • Pheasant, pumpkin, lentils, mustard, Brugge Tripel beer (€28)

DS had another dish that was very hearty and perfect for the cold weather – Pheasant, pumpkin, lentils, mustard, Brugge Tripel beer (€28). Pheasant is something we don’t get much of in Australia I think, so it was a good thing to try while over in Europe. DS had no complaints about this dish. The pumpkin puree was deliciously smooth. Overall though, it was also quite a heavy dish. Perhaps don’t order a starter if you’re planning on having one of the heavier mains – there were also lighter mains.

  • Speculoos cake, tangerine butter cream, white chocolate (€10)
  • Speculoos cake, tangerine butter cream, white chocolate (€10)

I know I’ve talked a lot about how big and heavy the food was…however, we spotted the speculoos cake on the dessert menu right at the beginning of our night and decided we had to order it no matter what. Speculoos is a spiced biscuit that you can easily find around Christmas time in Belgium and the Netherlands. We are huge fans of it, in particular we love the Lotus speculoos spread. So of course, how could we resist speculoos cake?!

I’m not sure the pairing with tangerine worked. The citrus flavour didn’t match with the cinnamon and spice of the cake. I think I would have preferred the cake without any of the tangerine pieces or butter cream!

Overall, though, we had a lovely experience at KOK AU VIN. It was great to try a more modern take on some traditional dishes. We definitely rolled out of there super bloated and never wanting to eat again, so maybe I would recommend ordering less than we did or take a bigger group so you can share!

KOK AU VIN
EZELSTRAAT 21
8000 BRUGGE (BRUGES)
BELGIUM
https://www.kok-au-vin.be/en/

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Talkandspoon by Talk&spoon - 4M ago
Chagall in Bruges

On our first night in Bruges we asked our hotel, the delightful Monsieur Ernest, where to go for dinner. It was a Monday night so not much was open, but thankfully a traditional Flemish restaurant was open. We headed out in the drizzly cold, along cobbled streets til we reached the cute, festive front door of CHAGALL.

  • Bread, patê and beer to start
  • Chagall menu

As we browsed the menu of traditional Belgian (or Flemish, I never know if those words are interchangeable if the area of Belgium you’re in is Flemish too!) we were served some sort of meat patê and bread. By the end of our trip we realised that this was a traditional snack that every restaurant gives you! DS also ordered a Belgian beer to wash it all down.

  • Braised beef Flemish style -Beef with brown beer ‘Keizer Karel’ and onion (€18.90)
  • Braised beef Flemish style -Beef with brown beer ‘Keizer Karel’ and onion (€18.90)
  • Fries – a must!
  • Speciality ‘Catch of the day’: Dover soles (3) with a salad, tartar and fries (€24.50)

While I’m not usually a fan of touristy sort of restaurants, CHAGALL managed to be a full of tourists yet somehow still authentic and traditional. It’s just far away enough from the main square not to be tacky, and the quality of the food was also way better than the usual tourist places. Having said that, and perhaps because it was a Monday night, no one dining there seemed to be from Belgium!

But let’s ignore that and just focus on the food. Of course we had to have traditional dishes. DS had the Braised beef Flemish style -Beef with brown beer ‘Keizer Karel’ and onion (€18.90) which is really the perfect dish for a cold winter’s day. It’s hearty and warming. It’s the kind of home-style dish that makes you feel really happy.

I had the Speciality ‘Catch of the day’: Dover soles (3) with a salad, tartar and fries (€24.50). I don’t think I’ve ever had Dover sole before but it’s a very light white fish that was delicately panfried and served with a simple butter and lemon sauce. It’s the type of dish where you can really tell if the produce is fresh – and it definitely was! Thank goodness the dish also came with fries, although I must say they weren’t as good as some street vendors we found.

All in all, it was great to try some traditional food on our first night in Belgium to really get us in the mood. I would recommend CHAGALL for just that – traditional fare, but don’t expect it to be overly high end!

CHAGALL
ST-AMANDSSTRAAT 40
8000 BRUGGE / BRUGES
BELGIUM
https://www.restaurantchagall.be

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Breakfast at German Gymnasium

We were about to pop on the EuroStar and head to Belgium, so why not stop by for a German breakfast at GERMAN GYMNASIUM at Kings Cross?! Makes sense in my head, somehow…

From what I hear, GERMAN GYMNASIUM was an actual gymnasium in a previous life. I imagine wooden floors and lots of German men doing vaults and hanging from the rings. However it is also quite confusing, as DS pointed out, because the word ‘gymnasium’ in German is a kind of high school. So it also kind of means German high school?! I digress…

  • The GG Breakfast – two eggs (scrambled or fried), grilled Nürnberger sausages, dry cured crispy bacon, tomato and potato Rösti (£12.80)
  • Extra toast (£2)

DS had the ‘big breakfast’ – The GG Breakfast – two eggs (scrambled or fried), grilled Nürnberger sausages, dry cured crispy bacon, tomato and potato Rösti (£12.80). How cute it is that the toast is served in its own stand? My dad, as a collector of old silver, has a few of these, but I think we should bring them back! They keen your toast separated and not soggy!

This is the breakfast to get if you’re hungry and you’ve got a long train journey ahead of you. Of course, the sausages were the highlight and rightly so! It’s a German breakfast, after all, right?

  • Bavarian Morning – Münchner Weißwurst, a pair of poached pork & veal sausage with parsley, sweet mustard, brezel (£11.80)
  • Bavarian Morning – Münchner Weißwurst, a pair of poached pork & veal sausage with parsley, sweet mustard, brezel (£11.80)

My breakfast was arguably even more German than DS’s. I had the Bavarian Morning – Münchner Weißwurst, a pair of poached pork & veal sausage with parsley, sweet mustard, brezel (£11.80). I love all Germany sausages, but I have a particular soft spot for white sausages. Also, I’m not so on board with this whole BBQ sausages business. German sausages are often boiled or poached! Delicious.

I loved this breakfast and couldn’t believe I was having such good German food in London, let alone for breakfast! Highly recommend if you don’t mind trying a German breakfast.

I think many people must not know that GERMAN GYMNASIUM serves breakfast – we, and another couple, were the only people there in the huge restaurant! I’d be keen to come back for dinner too, but if you’re keen for a German breakfast I’d check it out. It still seems to be a bit of a hidden gem!

GERMAN GYMNASIUM
KING’S BOULEVARD
KINGS CROSS
LONDON N1C4BU

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Talkandspoon by Talk&spoon - 4M ago
  • Snack – butter beans in chilli oil with aioli (complimentary)

Can you believe that I have never been to an Ottolenghi restaurant before?! All those trips to London… Ok, I have been to Ottolenghi in Belgravia where you get takeaway and there is barely any seating. I feel like that doesn’t count.

This trip, we decided to hit up 2 Ottolenghi places to make up for all those years! I was also particularly keen because I have recently gotten into his cookbook ‘SIMPLE’ and been really enjoying it. Has anyone else been cooking from that?

We will be going to NOPI towards the end of our trip, but right at the beginning of our trip we went to Ottolenghi’s newest restaurant, ROVI.

Drinks

I know I don’t talk about drinks much on this blog, but one thing Ottolenghi seems to do well in all of his restaurants is non-alcoholic drinks! So, naturally, I had to get one. I had the Seasonal fruit pressé (£6.5) – pear and lime which was not only tasty, but super fun because I got to mix my own drink! I was served some soda water, then two syrups of pear and lime so I could choose how much of each to put into my drink as the night went on.

DS had an Oak Fashioned – Oak barrel aged Jensen’s gin, Pedro Ximénez, cinnamon, bitters (£12) which he says was totally delicious. A bit of a fun take on an Old Fashioned cocktail, I suppose.

  • Seasonal fruit pressé (£6.5) – pear and lime
  • Oak Fashioned – Oak barrel aged Jensen’s gin, Pedro Ximénez, cinnamon, bitters (£12)
Food

Before we get onto our main meal, we were also served a little snack of Snack – butter beans in chilli oil with aioli. It’s always a nice little touch to receive a complimentary amuse bouche or snack! This was subtle, with the spices blending well with the smooth butter beans.

  • Parsnip and pecorino croquettes with smoked garlic aioli, pickled walnuts (£7.5)
  • Crumpet lobster toast with kumquat and chilli sauce (£8)

The menu is divided by size of the dish. We got two snacks to begin with. I am a huge fan of parsnip, so I made us order the Parsnip and pecorino croquettes with smoked garlic aioli, pickled walnuts (£7.5). In fact, parsnip is on my list of underrated vegetables, in case you’re interested! These were pretty much as described, no surprises. However, I would only recommend you order these if you do, in fact, like parsnip, as the taste is quite strong.

The other snack we had was the Crumpet lobster toast with kumquat and chilli sauce (£8) which was completely different to expected! I was expecting more of a lobster-roll style snack, however it was more like an Asian-style prawn toast! The lobster is minced, I suppose, and put on top of a brioche roll. The sesame seeds added a crunchy texture. This was a tasty snack, but a little difficult to share.

  • Celeriac Shawarma with bkeila and fermented tomato (£14.5)
  • Chalkstream trout with pistachio salsa, kohlrabi, bergamot (£19.5)

It was quite difficult to decide on which big dish to order because they all looked SO good! The friendly staff recommended us to get the celeriac shawarma. Turns out we were going to order that anyway because celeriac is another vegetable on my list of underrated vegetables!

We decided to get the Chalkstream trout with pistachio salsa, kohlrabi, bergamot (£19.5) as well because we hadn’t had fish for a while. You gotta get that balanced diet of vitamins and minerals in whenever you can while travelling! The trout was tasty. It was nice to be able to eat it with the different combinations of condiments too!

The Celeriac Shawarma with bkeila and fermented tomato (£14.5) isn’t quite like anything I’ve had before. I haven’t had much Indian food, to be honest. This is mostly because I don’t deal well with spicy food. Again, it wasn’t easy to share, but we got there – in a messy sort of way! I really did enjoy this and it reminded me of a vegetarian kebab in a comforting sort of way!

Hay smoked pink fir apple potatoes, crème fraiche (£7)

As a side, we ordered the Hay smoked pink fir apple potatoes, crème fraiche (£7), which I think sounded a lot fancier than they actually were. I’ve had hay smoked potatoes before, and each time they just taste like normal potatoes…! I would recommend perhaps getting a different side.

The things that stood out to me most about ROVI is the interesting combination of ingredients and the cross-cultural influences. But I must say that having now been to NOPI, ROVI kind of pales compared to that… However, ROVI is at a more manageable price point so if you’re on a tighter budget, head over to ROVI for your Ottolenghi experience!

ROVI
59 WELLS STREET
LONDON, W1A 3AE
https://ottolenghi.co.uk/rovi

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I forgot to take a picture of the menu but I think this was: Pappardelle with chopped chicken liver, Marsala and sage

I had heard HEAPS about PADELLA, which is located just outside the famour Borough Markets. And then we walked past one day, and I realised that a lot of other people had also heard of PADELLA! We jokingly asked how long the wait would be on an evening, as they don’t take bookings – 2 hours. This must be bloody good pasta.

  • Padella sourdough bread with new season Fiorano olive oil 2018 (£2)
  • Burrata with new season Fiorano olive oil 2018 (£5.50)

We decided to brave the crowds (and cold) for a Saturday lunch. Arriving at around 11:40am (they open at midday), there was already quite the queue forming. Thankfully it moved quickly and we got in at around 12:30pm. We did have to go and buy some snacks from Borough Markets to get us through.

I didn’t realise that the restaurant had a downstairs section too! Guess that’s how they were getting through the tables pretty quickly. They seem really apologetic (and perhaps a little defensive) about making people wait in line. There was even a sign that said something like “Our chef can only make pasta for 10 people every 15 minutes”. Maybe they’ve had a lot of complaints?

Honestly though, all your qualms will be washed away as soon as you have the first mouthful of pasta. Or even before that, like in our case! The photos above show the delicious, thick crust sourdough bread we devoured as soon as we sat down. I didn’t even realise we were being charged for it – Padella sourdough bread with new season Fiorano olive oil 2018 (£2). We can’t really resist burrata whenever it’s on the menu, so we got that too: Burrata with new season Fiorano olive oil 2018 (£5.50). 

I love the simplicity, it’s literally just burrata, olive oil and a little bit of cracked pepper. Honestly, that’s all you need. The burrata was intensely creamy and delicious, worth every penny. I’d recommend ordering this if you’ve been waiting in line for ages and just need to justify it to yourself.

Taglierini with pancetta, parmesan & egg yolk (£10.50)

Choose a pasta, any pasta. You won’t go wrong. I was also blown away by how cheap everything was. You’d be paying double for this quality in Sydney.

DS had the Taglierini with pancetta, parmesan & egg yolk (£10.50). It seems like the go-to dish that a lot of people get. It’s also basically like carbonara, if you’re wondering. I love the perfect egg yolk on top and that added creaminess once you mix it in. This is hearty, wintery food at its best.

I forgot to take a picture of the menu but I think this was: Pappardelle with chopped chicken liver, Marsala and sage

As I mentioned in my post about yakitori at Jidori, the only offal I really eat is liver. And I flippin’ love it, so I order it whenever I see it on the menu. I don’t think I’ve ever come across liver in a pasta though! I forgot to take a picture of the actual menu we had on the day, but from some Instagram stalking of the PADELLA page I think what I had was the Pappardelle with chopped chicken liver, Marsala and sage. Although I think there may have been mushrooms in mine as well… Super delicious, I love wide pasta! Couldn’t fault this dish and DS loved it too when he tried it.

Overall we had SUCH a great time at PADELLA. While I was waiting in line I thought to myself, this can’t be that good. This isn’t going be worth the wait.

But then as DS and I were sitting there eating out pasta we both agreed that it is totally worth the wait. And yes, we will be back!

PADELLA
6 SOUTHWARK STREET
LONDON SE1 1TQ

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