Tag Archives: restaurant

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.

Pratts and Payne, Streatham

So this weekend I was working, tramping the hills of Highgate in the far north of London to hand out leaflets. Not too taxing, admittedly…in the end we finished early on the second day, and ended up heading for a pint at a nearby pub. 

Now, I don’t often head that far north, it’s an alien planet – and even quieter than normal given the Northern line of the tube was shut – making it a mission to get there, I can tell you! 

That’s one thing about London transport, at least part of it shuts down every weekend, without fail, for maintenance work. Why don’t they do it at night – when it isn’t running any way? WHY?!

But any way. If I get too much into the whole London transport system I will explode, and that would make a mess.

Back to the delightful voyage of food related discovery I went on through Streatham! Much more pleasant.

So after heading to The Hideaway Jazz Cafe, we moved on to ‘Pratts and Payne’ for some English grub (by the way, why is ‘grub’ slang for food? Its possibly one of the most unappetising sounding words…) They were busy, and service was somewhat brusque. They kept us waiting for the food, but when it arrived, it was admittedly delicious. My other half went for ‘huevos rancheros’ and I had ‘goats cheese, honey and fig tart’ – all much fancier than we’re used to, with our current diet of baked beans on toast!

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I have to admit, I’ve never seen a square egg, but its all about learning new things! It was quite spicy, but very tasty, and a surprisingly filling portion given the cheap price.

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I love me a bit of goats cheese. The fig set off the taste nicely with a certain amount of sweetness, and the presentation wasn’t half bad.

Once again, sorry for the slightly dark pictures, next time I’ll have my camera charged and ready to go. I guess with my excitement at seeing the outside world again, I forgot it!

Any how the atmosphere was pretty buzzing, although the decor struck me as a tad odd with what looked like neon sales signs displaying prices in frames across one wall (49p! and so on). The fireplace had…well, a fire, painted into it, and we nabbed some comfy armchairs next to it. Luckily no heat eminated from it, given how hot a night it was. There was a nice selection of beer (including Fruli – strawberry beer, perfect for my childlike palate!).

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I would perhaps go back for a drink, and the food was very tasty, but I think if I was cashing out for dinner in a restaurant, I personally would perhaps go for something a little more unique (although if there was another food festival involving cheap food? I’d be there like a shot.)

Stress, Dumplings, and A Really Sore Ear

I’m afraid to say this has been one hectic month. Between studying, doing exams, being ill, looking for a job and now for a new flat – all whilst my laptop has been repeatedly crashing (I swear I came close to tearing it’s wires out and wearing them as a trophy. Unfortunately that would void the warranty.) it’s all been a bit up in the air and as such I haven’t been giving this blog and you lovely folks the attention you deserve. For that, I’m sorry!

I have squeezed in some London exploration however. Packed around the trials and tribulations of my every day life – I packed in some dumplings.

We’d booked tickets to see Omid Djalili live at Leicester Square Theatre – a smaller venue than I realised, much more intimate and definitely one I would recommend. Afterwards, all of us having a hunger on, we were heading to a Mexican place I’d heard about – but unfortunately there was a long wait. But never fear, when in London one can almost certainly head to Chinatown for a filling meal…

Having passed about a million suspicious and delicious looking all you can eat buffets (somewhat of an exaggeration. It was perhaps more like 12.) we stumbled across the delectable Dumplings’ Legend. untitled

 

The name had me running in there like a…hmm. All my similes appear to have left me. Like something that runs very fast towards something that it really really wants. Not perhaps the most poetic, but accurate.

Any way we got in and say down at a vast table – far too large for a mere 5 of us, but at least there was a table free. As you walked to the seating area there was a room surrounded in glass windows, where you could watch the chefs putting together the dim sum and dumplings which was pretty cool.

We ordered a variety of food…lots of dumplings, naturally. A sharing platter, to be precise. And they were delicious! Perhaps not on the level of Opium (mentioned in an earlier post – a speciality dim sum/cocktail bar) but a perfectly tasty – and cheaper – option. Plus there was one green set, that apparently had been coloured with algae, which was interesting. Unfortunately these were all snaffled before I managed to get a hand in!

Portions were huge, I had stone bowl rice with pork and duck – delicious but enormous. Others had beef and broccoli, chicken noodles, and mixed meat I think. It all came very quickly and very hot, somewhat of a bonus in itself. The service wasn’t bad – could have been a little friendlier but to be honest, it was a busy Friday night so I wasn’t expecting long chats about philosophy.

We paid just under £20 each for a filling meal, and that in London, is spectacularly cheap. And they happily bagged up our left overs to take away. So there you have it folks – Dumplings’ Legend…they really are a legend!

Oh, and the sore ear in the title? Well, my ear is sore. I think I have water stuck in it. Not really relevant, but I felt my title needed to come in a 3. Stress and dumplings doesn’t sounds so happy. Or even worse, stress dumplings. Who wants a stress dumpling?

Blergh.

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour

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It’s been a while since me and my other half ventured out for dinner. So we were pretty excited to venture back out into the world of those strange beings, ‘other people’, and treat ourselves to something tasty. 

Opium has been on the cards for a long time. We booked to go way  back in January, but became too ill and had to cancel. Since then time has flown by, until last night, when we finally made it there. 

It’s hidden behind the jade door on Gerrard Street in China Town, between to very loud Chinese restaurants. Easy to miss, apart from a small bronze sign and a very tall, serious looking bouncer manning the door.

He’s lovely though. 

Now, it really is best to make a reservation. They can get very busy; they certainly were when we were there. When we told the door bloke who we were, he checked the list then invited us in out of the cold whilst he radioed up to the hostess.

Ear pieces and everything, very MI5. 

After that, it was a bit of a mountain climb up 3 flights of stairs, leaving us puffing for breath at the very top – but we made it. The scent of incense was quite strong, (unsurprising given that pots of it were burning at every floor), giving the whole place quite a mystical vibe. 

Once at the top, we were quickly led to our seats and given cups of water – which throughout the night were constantly refilled by the very attentive waitress. The room itself was relatively small, with lots of snug seats, wooden chairs and relatively low lighting – giving off the ambience of it’s namesake: an opium den.

One wall was made up of a giant map, which I rather liked. And various small suitcases, umbrellas and such were on shelves above us. It simply added to the old-worldy vibe, rather than the impression of sitting in a lost property office. 

Our orders were taken. My other half had a caipirinha – their selection of regular cocktails is exceptional, and the liquor generously added. This makes a change to many current cocktail bars, which are unfortunately very stingy with the alcohol (and some, I suspect, water it down, or mess around with the shot measuring thingy-mabobs to ensure everyone gets slightly below the 50ml.) But not this place!

I went for one of their special Chinese styled cocktails. The list was, once again, impressive – and the cocktails all sounded wonderfully exotic. I went for ‘The Sorceror’, which came – interestingly – in what looked like a cough syrup bottle, with a label pronouncing ‘Chinese Medicine’ stuck on. The waiter poured it for me, and added a spritz of a rose scented fragrance. Very showy. It was deliciously fruity, consisting of Absolut wheat vodka, maraschino liqueur, pomegranate juice, aloe vera juice, lemon juice and rose syrup. The rose syrup gave it a slightly different taste and it was nice to enjoy something apart from the norm. The only downside was the drinks were really quite pricey, at least for our student budgets, coming in between £10.50 for the regular cocktails and up to £14.00 for the original mixes. There are several sharing cocktails (including one the table next to us had, that was served in a teapot with dry ice steam pouring out of the top. Very dramatic!) but judging by the prices, they were mainly for considerably larger groups than just us two!

We quickly ordered the dim sum, going with a variety. We went for Scallop Dumplings, Sea Bass and Fennel dumplings as well as Cantonese Barbecue Pork Buns. They arrived all together and steaming hot in wicker container type things, piled one on top of the other. This, the waiter explained, was so that the steam from the lower courses could maintain the heat and continue to steam the dumplings above them. Crafty!

We shared each of them, starting with the pork buns. And oh my, the pork buns. They were utterly delicious. The dough was light and fluffy, the pork tender and sweet. I honestly could have eaten about 5 helpings to myself. Sadly I was forced to share.

Next were the sea bass and fennel. The chunk of sea bass in each one was once again, generous. They were very flavourful; at first I was unsure whether it was to my taste or not, but by the second one I was won over.

And finally, the scallop dim sum. These were lovely. Scallops were tender and fishy and – well, everything you want from a scallop. I could have eaten a thousand of them as well. They are so morish.

Altogether the dim sum varied from about £6.00 to £11.00 (although the £11.00 dim sum was lobster, so I could understand that). To me, a little over priced considering you only got 4 pieces per portion – but they were the best dim sum I have ever had in all honesty, and they were not stingy on the feelings or over zealous with the seasoning. So I was happy enough to shell out, I just wished I could have more.

We had a lovely evening there, with friendly staff, amazing food and original cocktails. My only complaint was that it all seemed a little pricey, but I think I’ll be saving up the pennies to go back and sample some more of the menu. It was somewhere a bit different, a bit off the beaten track, and when you disappear behind an almost unmarked door – it makes you feel like you’re being let in on a secret. A feeling one does not often have in the capital, where frankly, very little is a secret.

I would recommend this place to anyone, if only for dim sum…which actually translates as ‘Touch The Heart’ – kind of romantic for something so delicious, and something perfect for sharing on a date. It’s also a nice place for visitors of London to find…definitely off the beaten tourist track, and not like anywhere else.

Just to add, please excuse the lack of photos. They didn’t really come out well!
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Square Meal

Duck and Waffle (At last)

Last night, we had the rather unusual experience of going to dinner at 1 am. Other than wolfing down a hubcap sized burger after a drunken night out, this is not something I generally do…mainly as most restaurants in the UK are shut past 12 for the majority of evenings.

But the Duck and Waffle is a 24 hour food fest, only taking a short break between 5 and 6 am,and serving alcohol until 3 am. This piqued my interest, it has to be said. However what really drew me to sample it’s varied delights is it’s location.

It’s found on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, in City of London. The views are spectacular, and I am nothing if not a sucker for a view. I have spent the past year and a half now hunting down good places overlooking London. There aren’t many, at least not around my haunts. But the Duck and Waffle ticked that box perfectly for me,

But I’m jumping ahead of myself. Me and my other half arrived at Liverpool Street at 00.42 to be precise, and headed over to Heron Tower. Easier to find than I thought would be, it was literally a 2 minute walk. The entrance to the Duck and Waffle was roped off and looked after by door staff, who had a reservation list. As we had only made ours a couple of hours before, they had to radio up to see if we were on there. After a couple of nail biting minutes we were allowed in, and told to take the lift to the 40th floor.

One would not think the lift would be a particularly eventful part of the evening, But in this case whooshing up in a tiny see through pod was actually – for want of a better way to put it – really cool! Unfortunately as it travels at 5 mps (I know, pretty speedy…) my camera couldn’t compensate for the movement for photos. My other half got a video on her phone though…

We were taken straight to our seats, through the bar – after wowing at the Gherkin from above. And St Paul’s Cathedral. Once again I sadly couldn’t get decent photos, much to my frustration. But our seats were right by the window, luckily. Despite condensation sadly making the view a little misty, we still had fun pointing out things – particularly police cars which, with their flashing blue tops, became very obvious. 

Having studied the menu online we already knew what we wanted so we ordered the BBQ spiced pig ears:Image

They were served in a brown paper bag, shut with the seal and logo of the Duck and Waffle. Seeing how we oohed at it, the waitress went and got us our own to take back with us. They certainly were attentive. Any how the pig ears were quite tasty, but I found it difficult to get past the cartilaginous chewiness that made it abundantly clear to me that it was indeed an ear I was eating. My other half felt the same. However we finished most of them off any way…so not bad!

We also ordered the scallops with black truffle, apple and lime – much fancier than anything I’m used to eating…:Image

 

They were served on a salt block, if you’re wondering what that giant pink slab is. A Himalayan salt plate to be precise, that can be both heated and cooled and gives the food on it a slight salty texture. The waitress took the time to tell us this when she served us.

They were very tasty. I woulda liked more scallop less apple, but I enjoyed them – more than the pig ears if I’m honest. But both of them were served in an interesting way which I thought was nice, added a bit of…uniqueness to the whole dining experience.

We each decided to share the eponymous dish…of course, the duck and waffle. Which was surprisingly, delicious…:Duck and Waffle 015
I would never have thought a duck leg, a duck egg, a soft and sweet waffle and mustard maple syrup would be so damn good…but it was. It was damn good. My other half thought so too, we couldn’t stop laughing at what a surreal moment it was. 40 storeys up, at half one in the morning, eating duck. And waffle. Paha.

A lot of people commented online (having done some extra curricular research before going) that it wasn’t anything special…but I thought it kinda was. It perhaps isn’t a culinary sensation, but it was something fun and new, and that you can’t get anywhere else. That’s rare in a city where chains are becoming more and more prevalent. So I very much enjoyed my duck and waffle. So much so I decided we had to try for the finale…drumroll please?

Dun dun DUUUUUUUUN…the oxtail doughnut. I know, I know. I was horrified too when I first discovered this. A doughnut dusted with sugar and paprika with oxtail meat in it…served with apricot jam? Duck and Waffle 018
(It wasn’t served like that. But I took that photo to prove it’s no bluff…that really is a meat doughnut. Who knew?) Any way…the verdict? Tasty, but a little heavy handed on the paprika unfortunately. It kinda overwhelmed everything else, although dunking it into the apricot jam was good – added some tanginess to it. Perhaps not my favourite thing that time, but I was glad to try it out myself and it was pretty good, so no complaints. And I really was very suspicious of that dish.

Drinks were good, my other half asked for a caipirinha and they made one for her – though it wasn’t on the cocktail list. I got a Winter in Manhattan. Served very plainly, unlike most cocktails in my experience, it tasted like Christmas. But then it got too sickly and alcoholic and after that I stuck to lemonade. Oh well!

Overall, we both really enjoyed it. As we left the door staff told us we’d been the friendliest people that evening and to come back soon, which made us both leave with a bounce in our step too. It’s always nice to hear that, flattery or not! In all fairness being late on a Saturday the bar was pretty busy so they’d obviously been dealing with a lot of traffic.

It was an amazing view, the service was great, food was good – perhaps not amazing, but good. And yes the prices aren’t exactly bargain store, but considering where the restaurant is – I think it’s pretty damn good. Especially when you compare to other restaurants with views and locations like that – the brasserie at the top of the Oxo tower for instance. A main course is at least 30 quid. Duck and Waffle the most expensive one is about 16. So when you look at it that way, I don’t think the prices are too bad. Not for London. And not to see a view as good as that one. Literally, the city at your feet. Definitely worth a go, guys, if you’re ever about!

Square Meal

Birthday fun: A 20 year old accepts that turning 21 means she is ‘in her 20s’

So I turn 21 on Tuesday. Unfortunately both me and my other half are back in college next week studying, so tonight we are out to celebrate together…at The Duck and Waffle! I know I mentioned this ages ago, ever since I read it in londonfox’s blog. Finally we have the chance to visit and sample the view and the food!

I’m ridiculously excited. Since touching down back in London I’ve mainly been sleeping or studying, hence my neglect of this blog unfortunately, and of my wanderings around the Capital. But as I mentioned before, I have plenty on the cards. And I got a camera for Christmas so I can include more photos of everything.

Excuse the short entry. I’ll write lots more tonight, with photos and ramblings, but right now I have to head off out to collect my fixed phone (finally) and get some Belgian beers (that’s right. After visiting Brugge the first thing we did when we got back was find a shop in London that sells speciality beer. Literally like heaven in a bottle!)

I hope you’re all well. As always if you have suggestions for places to visit, let me know…