Archive | January, 2013

Little Miss Restaurant Critic

27 Jan

In London, there’s always some new restaurant or other that is deemed ‘the’ place to be and over the last couple of months, I’d like to think I’ve been to a few of them (so that’s probably around 5% of the total). Although I tend to visit a year after any real restaurant critics have left the building (some would say I’m a trend follower rather than trend setter here), I still enjoy seeing if these restaurants live up to their hype.

Two of these newish openings are Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street and Tramshed in Shoreditch, both of which I’ve visted recently.

Bubbledogs

Bubbledogs

On a cold, rainy Tuesday evening, my friend and I queued for an hour to get into Bubbledogs and just as we were beginning to resemble wet dogs ourselves, losing the will to live and thinking ‘sod it, let’s just go to Nando’s’, we were in.

The atmosphere inside was intimate and informal with intimate being the operative word as the two of us shared a bench-like table with another pair of friends. Service was speedy (you soon realise this isn’t the place for lingering) and our food was yummy but not ‘knock your socks off’ amazing.

As you probably know, given you more than likely visited six months before me, the options for food are various varieties of hotdogs, paired with a glass of Champagne. We opted for ‘Fourth of July’, a bacon-wrapped hotdog with smoky BBQ sauce and coleslaw and a ‘Sloppy Joe’ with chilli, onions and cheese, accompanied by sweet potato fries and a glass of Bereche et Fils Reserve Brut Champagne.

What I loved about the fizz selection was that they all came from smaller, lesser-known Champagne houses so you could enjoy a glass of good-quality, delicious fizz for just over a fiver.

Tramshed

Tramshed2

With only two main course options on the menu, Tramshed is a haven for those who are prone to food envy or indecisiveness. The building itself is the first thing you’ll notice and, for anyone as slow on the uptake as me – I asked my boyfriend if he thought the building used to be a swimming pool – the restaurant is housed in a grade-two listed tramshed which was originally used as an electricty generating facility for the Tramway System. Oh I do love a spot of history.

There was nothing tramsheddy about the food however. The starters sounded lovely but we decided to skip ahead to the main event, with one spring chicken and one mighty marbled sirloin steak to share, with fries and sauces. The sirloin was absolutely perfect, pink, succulent and chargrilled on the outside while the chicken was, well, very chickeny, and moist.

While I’m not a big fan of waiters that constantly call you ‘guys’ – ‘hey guys, how are you?’ ‘how was that for you guys?’, ‘anything else I can get for you guys?’ blah blah blah, our waiter was very friendly and efficient. We opted for a glass of the Santa Celina Pinot Gris from Argentina to drink with the chicken and a glass of the Vista Hermosa Pinot Noir from Chile to go with the steak, and both were really tasty.

The wine list is full of slightly different wines and, although not cheap, it was definitely worth opting for something a little off the beaten track. For any Pinot Grigio fans out there, Pinot Gris is actually just another name for this grape when grown outside of Italy. This version was light, slightly floral and delicious chilled – I’m told the Pinot Noir was also a treat.

Feeling pretty stuffed from the mains but always looking to satisfy a sweet tooth, we rounded off the meal with a chocolate fondue and homemade marshmallows which was everything you could ask for really:

Tramshed3

Plus, for 50p, you could have a mini Bakewell tart with your coffee, so we obviously couldn’t resist and got one – mini was an understatement but it was certainly tasty:

Tramshed1

With expertly-cooked food and carefully selected wines, I’d recommend both Bubbledogs and Tramshed – Bubbledogs for an after-work catch up with friends (if you’ve got an hour to spare shivering in the rain) and Tramshed for a special occasion – however don’t expect either to come cheap so if you’re thinking of going, I’d get saving those hard-to-come-by January pennies now!

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Happy New Year and all that jazz

13 Jan

Hello, and a Happy New Year to you too! Thought I’d start with a photo of the blackberry and mint pavlova I made for New Year’s Eve, why not:

Pavlova

January’s rubbish isn’t it? I’m currently still in mourning for the loss of our Christmas tree (definitely need some form of standing lamp or tropical plant to fill the void in the corner of the room) and to make matters worse, I’ve also decided to give up drinking for January.

Christmas5

Given I work in the wine industry and have a blog entitled ‘LittleMissVino’, you’d think I’d know that enjoying a glass of wine or relaxing with a gin and tonic every now and again would make for a happier life. But no, I’ve gone ahead anyway and as predicted, it turns out that giving up drinking leads to a rather dull life. I’m already bored and it’s only the 13th. Having said that, saving pennies and waking up fresh as a daisy (almost) every morning is rather nice, as is filling weekends with delicious meals out, walks and run (hmmm well not so much the running).

Anyway, I just thought I’d share with you a delicious wine I enjoyed on Christmas Day. With so many flavours to deal with on the average Christmas dinner lunch plate, it can be a little tricky finding a wine to match. However, I happen to be a bit of a gravy fiend, drowning everything in more than its fair share, leaving little islands of carrots and pigs in blankets floating on the plate. Therefore, given the predominant flavours are of decadent gravy, turkey and bacon, I opted for Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Vinedos Barrihuelo Rioja Blanco, normally £8.99 but an absolute bargain at around £5.99 over Christmas.

Christmas2

White Rioja is one of those wines that will always be the bridesmaid, never the bride, given its red counterpart is much more widely recognised, which is a shame because judging by this example, it can be a very good wine.

With lots of tropical fruit notes, along with a splash of peach and citrus and a touch of creamy oakiness, this was the perfect wine to complement all the richness of the Christmas dinner plate, and just as enjoyable on its own.

Christmas3

So if you’ve not tried white Rioja before I’d give it a go, it matches perfectly with creamy chicken, pasta or risotto dishes – perfect for the January detox, no?