Saturday, 3 November 2012

Bistrothque: A Revelation

Saturday. 11am. The night before is still lurking -that "I had one too many shandies, I should have gone home after the second pint, maybe I shouldn't have had that third whisky" feeling.  You need something to save you, to bring you back to life. Brunch, that is what you need.  And not just any old brunch. Coffee, certainly, bacon or something else suitably salty (smoked salmon perhaps) and eggs.  Yes, eggs, those great redeemers.  And since I lived with the great Jenko, they must be poached, preferably doused in hollandaise.

And so last weekend I awoke with that feeling - a faint memory of ending the night with a Kraken rum over ice - I just wanted to try it, I'd heard good things apparently! We needed brunch and fast. But where: L'eau a La Bouche on Broadway - a favourite, but too busy for today. No, I needed somewhere peaceful.  

Hidden down a lane off Mare Street I was to find the haven for my hangover - Bistrotheque. A converted warehouse filled with the tunes from the night before, but this time being belted out not by Bose but by a baby grand piano.  Peaceful it certainly is.

They do all manner of things from early doors (the beef tartare and burgers looked particularly good) but we stuck to the basics. The Fashionista had a single eggs royale with a side of avocado on toast. All as it should be.

I went for the eggs benedict - salty ham, gooey eggs, tart hollandaise and comforting muffins. On the side, some peppery black pudding. Suddenly I was alive again.

You may have guessed, I owe quite a lot to Bistrotheque. They saved my Saturday.  But the thing is, I don't think it was the night before that made it. It was just a nice place to be. The calming interior, the excellent pianist and the superb food makes you want to stay a little longer. Another coffee? Perhaps a Bloody Mary? Oh go on then! Hello Saturday!

Bistrotheque on Urbanspoon

Mr Buckley's: A Mixed Bag

Sometimes I walk into a newly-opened restaurant and I instantly want to like it.  I am going to try my best to make the most of what's on offer, try and see the upside in everything, the silver lining in things which are sub par.  Mr Buckleys is such a place.

It is but a hop, skip and a jump from my flat, that helps.  The interior is achingly cool - stripped-back back walls, industrial lamps and candles create a low-light intimate atmosphere.  We were greeted by the owner, Phil Way.  He asked us our names, a nice touch.  The menu is concise, the chef has a good back story (Riding House Cafe, Elk in the Woods).  The ticks were mounting up.

We started with a couple of cocktails - the Fashionista had the Gooseberry Fizz  -  gin and gooseberry jam, frothy and pink, it went down a treat.  I had the Grog - a potent mixture of Goslings, Appleton and El Dorado rums with grapefruit and lime - possibly my new favourite drink.

On to the food - we were told that two to three dishes per person was about right. To start we had the bacon guacamole and salt cod with saffron oil.  Both came with flat bread.  Both were nice, if not spectacular.

We then had the confit duck and pistachio terrine with pickled onions and gherkins and crostini.  Again, a nice plate of food.

Unfortunately, despite our upbeat mood and determination to be positive that is where our luck ran out.  Crab cakes were soggy, the candied lime out of place.  Nut crusted lamb cutlets with honey, pomegranate molasses and pumpkin puree sounded like my kind of dish - it was let down by the lamb.  Tough and fatty, it was a chore.

We were now a little downbeat.  But Mr Buckleys came through at the end.  Mac 'n' cheese will get the Fashionista excited at the worst of times.  Throw in some lobster and she reaches fever pitch.  Mr Buckley's version did not disappoint.  Sufficiently light, with just enough tail meat to keep you happy, it came adorned with little jewels of roe.  A positive to end on.

Mr Buckleys has just opened - a new team has been assembled which will take time to settle in.  And, as a place for a few drinks and a couple of snacks, Mr Buckleys has perhaps stolen a march on some of its more established neighbours.  But dishes like the lamb and crab cakes are going to need to improve quickly, such is the quality of competition around Broadway these days.  A good start and I for one am hoping it goes from strength to strength - after all, you cant have a Lucky Chip from the Sebright every week can you?

Mr Buckleys on Urbanspoon
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