Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Heron Pub: A Thai Gem

Last night I had the best Thai food I have had outside Thailand.  That is a big statement I know, but it's true. Tucked underneath a rather shabby looking pub near Edgware Road called the Heron, is a haven of Thai cooking and karaoke! 

You walk in and the smell of Thai food physically hits you, this place is packed to the rafters with Thai's singing along to their favourite Thai hits.  There was about eight of us so we had the opportunity to order a raft of food.  Unfortunately I got so caught up with the number of dishes arriving that I forgot to take a note of what we ate and photos of all the dishes so I may have missed some things out.

The menu comprises around 100 dishes with a whole page dedicated to som tam - sometimes this can be a bad sign, leading to old ingredients cobbled together by a chef trying too much.  Not so here, everything is fresh, full of flavour and expertly created.  The drinks list is dominated by bottles of spirit in the true Thai way (a friend of mine used to live in Bangkok and kept his own bottle behind the bar and only bought soda all night to top up his 100 Pipers whisky, standard practice apparently) along with a few cocktails and the ever present Singha.

Back to the food, from what I recall we had ground pork and vermicelli salad, (spicy, sweet and salty, delicious) som tam (unripened papaya salad) with prawns, the best I have had for a very long time, catfish and mango salad (full of lemongrass and galangal, this was intense), a couple of fried rice dishes, one with pork one with crab, ho fun with beef and with seafood (Chinese, but delicious nonetheless), crispy pork salad.  Everything was incredible.

After wolfing down everything that came our way we sat back satisfied, beer in hand.  And then then singing started - on the table next to us was a group of four Thai twenty somethings.  One of them requested the microphone and began singing along with the cheesy Thai music videos being shown on the screens (there are subtitles to sing along to if your Thai is up to scratch) - her friends rolled around laughing at her attempts and so did we - great fun!

If you are looking for toned-down Western-style Thai this is not the place for you! The food at this place is a spicy, packed-full of flavour, assault on the senses! I love it!  The only disappointment is leaving to find out that you are not in fact in a basement in Bangkok but are still in London!  Still, you can't have everything...

Heron on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 5 February 2012

L'Eau a la Bouche

Just a quick post on L'Eau a la Bouche, a great little French cafe near me on Broadway Market! This place is constantly busy - not only on Saturdays when the crowds throng to Broadway market, but also at nine on a Tuesday morning.  To say this place is popular is an understatement.

I regularly buy cheese and fresh bread from here and it has always been delicious!  However one lunchtime on a Saturday I thought I would brave the crowds to see if I might squeeze in for some sit-down food.  To my surprise sucess. 

We shared a croque monsieur and a cheese and ham croissant.  The croque monsieur was creamy and delicious, coffee good, croissant fresh.  All in all a very delicious breakfast.

L'Eau à la Bouche on Urbanspoon

Pizarro: my new favourite restaurant?

I have now been to Pizarro three times in as many weeks, I fear that at this rate I may be judged to be addicted.  This episode started just before New Year when, having failed to get into Jose, Jose Pizarro's sister restaurant also on Bermondsey Street, we decided to try our luck at Pizarro.  I then returned on New Year's Eve for a full-blown feast.  Finally I went again the other weekend for a friend's birthday after the wait at Brindisa turned out to be over an hour.

While the food at Brindisa is always good, that on offer at Pizarro has to date has been even better - every dish has been exceptional.  The first visit we shared all of the starters as tapas between the three of us, the croquettes (more on them later) and the squash and pomegrante salad were the stand out plates.

On New Year's eve, the Fashionista and I went to town.  We started with a couple of glasses of cava and were expertly guided through the options by the excellent somellier.  His favourite was not normally served by the glass but in order to allow us to try, he opened a bottle especially.  We shared a plate of the Manuel Maldonado jamon iberico with the cava - this is expensive stuff at £20 a plate but it delivers on every level.  Sweet, salty, almost treacly flavours linger long after you have finished.

I then moved onto the sherry list - which showcases an exceptional array of Spain's best (there's a choice of nineteen)- the Fashionista tried a rose cava - again expertly guided by our sommelier.

We then had the croquettes - little bombs of gooey, rich, delicious potato and cheese.  These are absolutely incredible - I now doubt I will ever be satisfied with a croquette again in any other restaurant.

Not satisfied with two starters between us, we then shared some beef tartar with a soft yolk egg on top - well seasoned tender beef with deliciously rich yolk.

I had a main course of sea bass, morcilla (Spanish black pudding), piquillo peppers and mash.  Crispy skinned sea bass with earthy morcilla and sweet but tart peppers- I had tapas version of this dish at Jose but Pizarro's larger version did not disappoint.

The Fashionista had the bacalao (salt cod), she was suitably impressed.

We normally finish with cheese but the desserts looked too interesting to pass up on - we went for the toast, a nutella style ice cream, vanilla ice cream and sea salt.  Not your normal dessert but it worked wonderfully - the sea salt and nutella paste together were a treat!

Everything we ate that night was incredible.  Brindisa was very good, Jose delicious, but with Pizarro, Jose Pizarro has truly arrived.  A chic but comfortable space, incredible service and course after course of delicious food.  I cannot recommend Pizarro enough.

P.S. On a later visit, four of us shared a whole leg of lamb for the Ginger Weegie's birthday.  Around 2 kg of lamb was served up in a wonderful broth with garlic roast potatoes and chicory salad - the perfect dish for a celebration!
Pizarro  on Urbanspoon
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Morphy Richards