Tag Archives: Cheap

Jimmy’s World Grill

This is not a well kept London secret. Some unexplored nook or darkened cranny. This is a UK chain of world food buffet restaurants; however, I deemed it worthy of a hallowed blog post thanks to a) the cheap prices, b) the good location, c) the good food and d) the chocolate fountain that I’ve been harping on about.

At £7.99 for an all you can eat week day lunch, the price is definitely right. I ordered a glass of pineapple juice – drinks come extra – but given it was practically fish bowl sized, it seemed worth the price.

So Jimmy’s consists of a series of ‘live stations’ – including a noodle stand where a chef made your noodles from order and a naan stand where – you guessed it – a chef made your naan to order. There was a Tex Mex station that was closed, but given the other choice on offer this was not too great a loss.

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Strewn between the live chefs flinging food together with expert ease, there were vats of curry, rice, trays of fried chicken, vegetable dim sum and spring rolls, and a salad bar. There was also a pizza and pasta station – and I haven’t even started on the dessert yet.

I ate my way round the world – from Thai green curry to chicken korma to cous cous to pizza to olives to prawn crackers – I had a little bit of it all, and was surprised by how good it was. None of it was cold or looked suspiciously congealed which is always a plus, and honestly I almost wished I had a bigger stomach. I didn’t end up trying out a live station as I was so full from the help-yourself bit, but they seemed to know what they were doing and the food I saw them turning out looked good.

However, I do have the separate dessert stomach and that was ready and waiting to try out the dessert buffet – included in the £7.99 price. All the offerings were cut into little bitesize pieces to allow for people trying everything:

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Cheese cake, red velvet cake, more cheese cake, a cocounut…thing, carrot cake – ALL THE CAKE

And finally the chocolate fountain had marshmallows and chunks of fruit ready to be skewered. I very nearly went full Vicar of Dibley on that thing – and for those of you who’ve never watched Dawn French’s Vicar of Dibley series, it starts off like this:

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(Image from UKTV Gold.)

And ends up like this:

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(Image from Somersoft)

Yup.

Any way, I would recommend Jimmy’s if you’re ever in Wimbledon, looking for a cheap and filling meal and feel like avoiding the hefty gastropub and restaurant fees of the area. Whilst its not exactly culinary genius, its a buffet – that’s not really the point. Easy, accessible, filling and…well, now I’m hungry.

Living La Vida London Takes La Vida On The Road

In a few blog posts I’ve hinted at some exciting developments, some news, if you will. And whilst I have plenty of London fun times to share with you lovely folk – from a restaurant with a chocolate fountain to early morning wholesale markets – I felt it was time to just tell you guys exactly what’s been going on.

Recently I’ve worked a huge amount of overtime, and with uni that’s meant I have neglected this blog and most other aspects of my life to some extent, hence the lack of posts; but it seems like its going to pay off. You see, I bought myself a wodge of flight tickets, and come August I’m off jaunting for about 4 months. I have a rough route planned:

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(Excuse the exceedingly wonky, horribly drawn map. I haven’t used Microsoft paint in years.)

There will be lots of wandering – especially in Japan, where I’ll be staying on an island off the mainland for a while. So whilst I will, sadly, have to leave London temporarily, I will be jaunting about the place and still posting about my adventures on here – if you guys still happen to be interested!

Any way, that’s what’s going on with me after I graduate university and before I start applying for full time jobs and postgraduate courses and various other things. Off on a jolly holiday, and I will naturally be taking you guys with me.

Although not literally. That would be expensive, I imagine.

Cafe Joy, Roehampton

If there’s one thing I love to do in London, its visit the coffee shops. The independent roasteries, the little off-the-beaten track nooks, anywhere that isn’t Starbucks, Costa or Caffe Nero, basically. Somewhere a bit different. 

Now, I wouldn’t say Cafe Joy was necessarily worth heading all the way out to Roehampton for especially, but if you’re ever around Wimbledon Common, or Richmond Park, its pretty close by and easy enough to pop into on the way to Barnes station or Hammersmith. I just happen to pop in after my lecture for a sandwich and a coffee, and my, what an artistically layered coffee it was.

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Look at it! LOOK. 

I ordered a ham and cheese panini thing; the sandwich was hot and on ciabatta bread, if a little plain, but at £2.99 the price already undercut any of the big chains. There’s table service, which is unusual in most cafes but its nice not to lurk around awkwardly for 5 minutes whilst the stressed barista gets increasingly stressed by you being forced to hang over them. 

There are big old bags of coffee on display and the man is pretty friendly. Essentially, a nice place to stop off for a snack or a light lunch, or indeed just a hot drink if you’re being sophisticado or just feeling a bit chilly. Even the drinks themselves are quite cheap, with my latte clocking in at only £1.99. 

Now I’m off for a midnight snack, in the hope that eating will make me sleepy. Venturing into central tomorrow night; a rare occurrence for me. Some would say an adventure. Most wouldn’t. 

Pie And Mash: The Epitome of British Cuisine

It came to my attention recently, that despite living in London for over 2 years now, I had never ventured through those hallowed doors into a pie and mash shop. Pie and Mash being the standard London meal, I felt this would not do, and five minutes of investigation showed I had such an establishment down the road from me in Tooting.

Boom.

So off I trotted after a morning of hard work not listening to my lecturer, and arrived to the little, slightly run down looking caff called Harrington’s. The windows were steamed up and the doors closed tight against the pouring rain; at first I thought it was closed so I was relieved when I made my way in to find it reasonably busy. 

The woman who served me was brusque but friendly, throwing together my pie, mash and parsley ‘licker’ quickly. The pies had been cooked that day and were still hot from the oven, and the parsley sauce loosened up the mash beautifully.

I wasn’t ready to face the jellied eel, although I came close enough given the parsley sauce is made with the water the eels are stewed in! But sitting at that bench with the women behind the counter chatting amiably way, salt and vinegar on the tables and the tiled walls, it was easy to feel I’d slipped back in time. From old men who’ve been visiting the same place for 50 years for their fix of pie and mash to young families who pop in for the warm, cosy and traditional feel of the place – its universally loved. And cheap with my meal clocking in at roughly 3 quid. 

It was warming and homey and everything you could ask for from pie and mash.

I will be returning, and hopefully pie shop hopping around London. This new area needs to be explored to the fullest. I want to eat all the pies I can. ALL THE PIES. 

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Oh, there’s a picture of the pie. Wasn’t exactly the most beautifully presented plate, but that wasn’t really the point any how. Trust me when I say it tasted better than it looked. 

Don’t look at me like that. It did. 

(Hopefully good) Vibe Bar

A few days ago I made my reasonably regular pilgrimage to Beigel Bake. I won’t bore you with that bit, having waxed lyrical about the (delicious) beigels you can get there already, I shall move on.

Although they are amazing. 

Wandering down Brick Lane, a sprained ankle resulted in a decision to head to the first bar we found – for both a sit down and some medicinal drinking. This actually turned up a doozy, surprisingly enough, with ‘Vibe bar’.

Having walked past several times on my moochings around East London, I had always assumed it was just part and parcel of Brick Lane’s Sunday market – having never been there any other day. There’s a large courtyard with stalls, so a safe assumption I guess. However, once the market had packed up and we noticed people were still drinking merrily, we felt that warranted some investigation. 

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9Proof of the misleadingly placed stalls. One sold sausages, one did Mexican food I think, and the other shisha. An odd combo but it worked.)

A bottle of wine was quickly ordered and decanted into a plastic…well, decanter. The wine glasses were also plastic. At first we wondered if the bartender had simply assumed we were particularly klutz-y, before quickly realising this was probably to avoid smashed glass all over their yard. Fair enough really. So safety first – a pretty solid basis for a good bar.

Despite being reasonably spacious inside we decided to sit outside, given the reasonably temperate night and the lit up trees (cue another photo):

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Look how pretty and atmospheric!

The courtyard was set aside from the street, so it didn’t have the slightly claustrophobic feel of tables simply plonked on the pavement in the way of passers by and right next to cars. Several tables meant there was ample seating, and it was easy enough to people watch. I think a bloke cycling past with a rocking horse on the front of his bike that he was shouting at has made my Hall of Random (Like a hall of fame but for random stuff instead…) 

Having noseyed at the bar website, they apparently do food too. Unfortunately I was more preoccupied with the wine side of things and did not sample the culinary delights to be had, although I am sure they are indeed delightful. The kitchen closes at 6pm however, so if you want to go for the grub you need to get there afternoon time rather than for dinner. Although the stalls meant food was readily available. I don’t know if they were with the bar or late set ups from the market after all, but they were there…

Bottle of house red wine was £15.50 – pretty cheap for a central London bar. They run a whole load of events from gigs to DJ sets to comedy shows…

Basically a nice way to round off a day around Brick Lane, or possibly to start off a night in Shoreditch. Or get lunch, but at this point, that is mere speculation on my part. I’d just say pop along for the lovely atmosphere, the good location, the decent prices and happy hour cocktails – and perhaps have a burger or 5. So…a slightly premature Bon Appetit, and enjoy the wine. I did. 
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The Gorringe Park – a misleading name…

This post is not about a park. Indeed not. It’s about a PUB. 

Even more exciting. There’s alcohol there. We all know I love a drink. Being both a 21 year old student and British I think its pretty much in the constitution.  

Any how, this place is in Tooting – very close to where I live in fact! And it’s no ordinary pub. Oh no.

Firstly, there’s fancy popcorn. I think the term they use is ‘gourmet’ or something, but I’ll settle for fancy. Lots of flavours, like chocolate or chicken tikka – I’ve yet to sample but I’ll get back to you when I do. They have some decent draught ales and ciders, another plus. And FOOD.

My next mission will be to sample the delights on their menu. Mainly the desserts. I’ve always had, and always will have, a serious sweet tooth. 

But we haven’t even got to the best part yet. OH NO.

What can it be? I hear you cry. What could possibly be better than popcorn and booze? 

Well…if you could give me a drumroll please…

Ah sod the cheesy gameshow host thing. There’s a cinema under the pub. They play a variety of DVDs – kids ones for mothers and children during the day, and then an evening showing. They have reclaimed cinema seating as well as a squishy sofa and chairs at the back and beanbags.

BIG beanbags.

Oh, and tables with feet. 

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See, feet!

(As always, sorry about the less than fantastic photo. I’m going to dig out my camera charger this week as my phone just doesn’t cut it. Either way, that’s a table and it has feet. That must be pleasing, or perhaps a tad creepy, but either way it’s cool.)

 

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The cinema itself.

And…oooh it gets even BETTER.

Sorry, that’s probably pissing you off now, but it does.

It’s FREE. You can take your DRINKS down there. So you can DRINK and WATCH FILMS on a BIG SCREEN.

FOR FREE.

Well, the drinks aren’t free. But it’s still cool. 

Any how, there you go. Free pub cinema. Happy days. I’ll get back to you about the food, but it looks pretty damn good. Next time I plan to sample the popcorn. 

In other news, it’s pay day this Friday. I’ll have MONEY. I can finally get that Vera Wang dress, some diamond ear rings, a tiara…

Or, more importantly, food. Like, loads of it. If I’m not 300 pounds by next pay day then I have failed. 

Japanese Matsuri Festival

Forgive me for being pretty late in this post. Between a variety of stress including, but not limited to, a dissertation that is making me want to bang my head against a brick wall – I’ve let this slide somewhat. Any how this festival happened 2 weeks ago, but I figure you guys aren’t too pernickety.

Right? Right?!

Any how, its a big old shindig in Trafalgar Square to celebrate all things Japanese – from sushi to martial arts to music to anime to…well, you get the picture. Only been going for 2 years but already a big deal, and worth going to even for the atmosphere.

I only got there around 5 or 6 having worked all day, so unfortunately I missed a lot of the displays. Wasn’t bad though, arrived just in time for a very lovely sunset:

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And I wasn’t too late to stuff my face with raw fish and ice cream (not together. That would be weird.) and listen to some very restful music. 

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Photo of the sushi bento box, and my friend’s hand. She was eager to get on with soy saucing this bad boy up. I got this for £4. £4! For SUSHI?! This is unheard of. Big variety, very filling, and the first time I’ve ever eaten raw squid (odd texture. I recommend sticking to calamaris if you’re a squid fan. Although to be honest I don’t think I’ll ever get over being tricked into thinking a calamaris was an onion ring. Cue nasty surprise.) Any how beautifully made, and surprisingly very filling! 

On we went to nosey at an anime wall…drawing thing?

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POKEMON. I grew up wishing I could BE a pokemon. I have Japan to thank for that. 

Ahem. Any way, from food stall to food stall we went. I had green tea ice cream (no photo but it wasn’t that interesting to look at. If I could share ‘taste’ on here I would. But I can’t.) and this pancake thing with this saucy thing in the middle that was apparently Japanese – unfortunately I can’t remember the name. OH I CAN. DORAYAKI. 

It’s Dorayaki. 

There was a large stage, much like for Chinese New Year, where a variety of acts gave us a taste of different elements of Japanese culture. When we were there it was classic music, but there’d been a range throughout the day…

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(That isn’t a picture of the stage. It’s just lots of people in Trafalgar Square. The stage was in the opposite direction but unfortunately as it got darker it got harder to get a decent photo. Hopefully this one will do instead.) 

Next year I hope to return earlier in order to catch more of the celebration. I can only see it getting bigger to be honest, and it inspired me to…wait for it…

GO TO JAPAN. 

But…y’know, not right now. Although that would be cool. 

Any way I have lots more to ramble on at you guys about, including a pub with tasty cider and another pub with a free cinema underneath it. And BEANBAGS. 

Hope you’re all plodding along okay. I must now go and try to stop my housemate’s dog crawling under my bed and getting stuck again. He just doesn’t seem to learn. 

Rainy Days in London Town

When it rains in London, the parks don’t do you much good. Of course there are cafes in the bigger ones – but in general, you’re trapped until it stops raining.

And this is England. Once it starts, it never seems to stop. Much like a hormonal woman watching Titanic (or, if you’re me, Toy Story 3. I know, I know.) 

But there are other things on other. Museums. Cafes. Restaurants. So whilst I’m trapped inside by the rain and overtime at work, here’s a run down of my favourite things to do when the heavens open – which, lets face it, is most of the time when it gets to September. (Also since I did a run down of things to do in the sun, it seemed appropriate.)

1. Natural History Museum

There’s always fun exhibits on. You can wander around most of it for free, but there’s a charge for some of the more interesting areas. I don’t think there’s much open now – but soon enough there’ll be the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, and in February there’s Britain: One Million Years Of The Human Story. Am actually quite excited for that one!

An ice rink also opens come 31st October and they usually do a Night at the Museum, where they show you artefacts they have that are surrounded by folk lore. They even have a cursed jewel, said to have left all it’s owners dead in it’s wake…spooky!

2. Pubs. Millions of Pubs.

This was on my sunny list, but there’s nothing nicer than sitting inside a cosy pub, with a fire or at the very least central heating, with a pint (or a glass of wine if you have to get all sophisticated on me) and a friend. When it gets closer to Christmas they break out the mulled wine and cider too, and even in winter a lot of the pub gardens have blankets, shelters and heaters for you to snuggle under. 

One of my favourites is The Coach And Horses on Barnes High Street. They have a huge garden, blankets freely available and heaters you control yourself. It’s kind of refreshing to be sitting outside, watching it pelting down around you but not getting wet yourself. There’s often deals on the food too – we got 2 courses and a bottle of wine for £20. The staff were friendly; even though you needed a form for it they allowed us to fill one in there and then. 

Another one is The King’s Head, Roehampton. You may know these are both Young’s pubs, but even though they are a part of that group they’re all so different that to be honest – you’d never notice. The King’s Head has been refurbished recently – its warm, the food is gourmet (if pricey) and the staff are really friendly. We went there as a group for dinner and drinks at Christmas, and they bent over backwards to make us welcome. We’re hoping to go again this year!

To be honest, many of the nicer pubs are further out. In Central London they are either ludicrously expensive or small and dingy, but that could just be lack of exploration on my part. There are some lovely little ones in Chelsea or Kensington. The two above just happen to be my favourite for rainy days!

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3. Camden Market

Most markets are free to the open air and generally quite miserable in the rain, but Camden is different. Most of it is undercover, and you can shelter whilst looking at the odd little knick knacks found throughout. There’s the book store full of old copies of classics; a store hung all over with gas masks (I kid you not); a shop guarded by a giant robot statue and that essentially houses an all day rave. Then of course there’s the food stalls. 

You can get a good container of tasty curry there for £4. It was just the right size to quench my hunger I was pleased to say, and cheaper than what you’d get practically anywhere else. If curry isn’t your deal, there’s Thai, Chinese, Burgers, Pizza, you name it – it’s there. You can also puff away on shisha at the Moroccan cafes dotted about, or investigate the Stables Market. Horses were once housed there and there are now some impressive statues to commemorate that. 

4. Book Shops.

Brick Lane Book Shop being my current favourite, although there’s another in Balham (unfortunately I don’t know the name) but I plan to investigate it very soon. It’s dark and smells of old paper, perfect for hiding. My favourite kind. I love the old places, the different places, the independent places. Waterstones and WH Smith are great – but you find the real treasures in the old, forgotten stores or the charity shops. I can happily spend hours hiding away in London book shops (although after reading on someone’s blog they went into a book shop only to find it was a front for a somewhat dodgier kind of deal, I’m a bit more careful before stepping inside…)

5. Coffee!

London is brimming with coffee shops. And I’m not talking about your Costas and Starbucks and Prets. There’s a whole world of cafes to explore – I even have a book full of them. 

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Proof. There’s me, and I have the book. Can’t say better than that.

I’m now on a coffee trail throughout London. I’m thinking every 2 weeks, or maybe once a month if it gets a bit pricey, of trying out a new place in that guide. I’ve already got my sights set on the closest one…roll on Thursday…

6. Sleep

Now this is my personal favourite. But it’s also somewhat boring, so I won’t spend too much time on this. You get the gist!

Any way happy rainy day to you all, I hope you’re having a fun packed day of…well, fun.

Streatham Restaurant #4: Addome

Final restaurant – we were too full to continue! We headed here, right up next to Streatham Hill, for our final taster meal.

They were small and very busy, so we had to take it to go, although they did allow us to sit down for ten minutes whilst we waited for them to prepare it. It seemed to be family run, quite quaint – unusual for a London Italian restaurant; most of them are run by chains at this point. 

Small tables, a little cramped but if one has good company you don’t notice the rest! We were only there briefly, but the food that we ate once we got back was delicious…

The course was: Trio of Neapolitan Bruschetta. Fancy, right?

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Excuse the brightly coloured plate. But it was tasty, tangy…and well, I dunno what else to say about Bruschetta!

Any way this brings the Streatham Food Festival series to an end. This week, I have an induction to work at a large supermarket and an ear infection unfortunately! Have you guys got anything fun planned? 

Streatham Food Festival 2013

So it finally happened. I was hired for two jobs this week – a part time waitress at a second, more established hospitality company in London; and a shop assistant in a large supermarket chain. It felt time to celebrate, and fortunately, the Streatham Food Festival happened to fall this weekend.

Serendipitous indeed. 

Any way, there’s a range of events going on over the next couple of days, but the one that most captured my interest was the ‘food tour’. They’d arranged with 20 restaurants around Streatham to do a special cheap taster menu for the festival, with each dish ranging from £2-£5, and people were to hop from place to place, trying new things and types of cuisine. 

Now I’m never one to turn down a free (well, close enough) meal, so leaflet in tow, me and my other half went striding into the midst of it. 

The restaurant we chose first, one we had in fact had our eye on for a looong time, was ‘The Hideaway Jazz Cafe’. Behind it, there lies a jazz bar, but right on the street there is a cafe that serves from early in the morning to late into the night. They’d laid on quite a gourmet sounding menu, and eyes wide with excitement, we picked the:

‘Confit Pork Shoulder with Smoked Eel and Poached Quail Egg Hollandaise’

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(Excuse the less than spectacular photography. Once again, phone was running out of battery.) 

Any way…delicious. Smoky, flavourful, just the right amount for a taster dish for us to share. I could ramble on, but I know little about food beyond whether it tastes good, its burnt or its cold. Either way, this was possibly one of my favourite dishes of the whole evening. 

We splashed out for a dessert here too, with Home Made Coconut Ice Cream With Pineapple In Cardamom and Lime Syrup.

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With a crunchy layer of desiccated coconut around the sweet ice cream, and with the tanginess of the pineapple and fruity syrup to set it off…well, I was a happy bunny to say the least. This is somewhere I definitely plan to return. The staff were friendly and obliging, the music played low in the background gave the whole atmosphere a lovely, relaxed vibe and the doors opened onto the street made for an open and airy room; I was surprised the cars and passers by didn’t have more of an effect.

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Large murals decorated the walls, keeping the space from becoming too dark or dingy, and in keeping with the theme of the place…

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They do regular jazz shows as well as comedy nights, and to anyone that would appreciate some blues or some laughs, I would recommend it heartily. It’s across the road from Streatham Rail Station, and about fifty (well, slight exaggeration, but a lot) bus routes go right by the door. Worth the journey.

Any how I visited 3 more restaurants, plan to head to a 5th tomorrow…but to give them all their due, I shall write separately. The Food Tour will be operating again at 12 until 10pm tomorrow – grab a guide (there are people standing around Streatham common in aprons and hats, or you can get one in a participating restaurant, or print one off at http://www.streathamfoodfestival.com!) and go sample the delights that Streatham has to offer. Despite many a bad reputation, it may surprise many to know the variety that is to be had, at a cheaper price than many more central eateries. 

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