December 11th, 2015
The Smoking Goat on Denmark Street
T H E S M O K I N G G O A T
7 Denamark Street
Opening Hours: Midday-3pm / 5pm-11pm
The Smoking Goat is not your regular Thai restaurant. It specialises in Thai barbeque and is one of the closest things I’ve found to authentic Thai street food - which is my all time favourite kinda food. Most Thai restaurants in London are stuffy, formal and overpriced but The Smoking Goat offers food you’d be a fool not to use with your hands. Most dishes are smoked in a sweet chestnut and oak cask timber.
It may look more like a pub upon entry but it sure ain't pub food! The menu is simple and to the point, offering a whole chilli crab, pork belly and barbequed duck which were all being devoured around us. We opted for the smoked chicken served with a fish sauce dip, which there wasn’t enough of but it was delicious as was the perfectly smoked chicken with crispy skin. The Beef Kra Pow was unlike any Thai dish I’ve ever tasted. Served with a raw egg yolk in the centre to mix into the minced beef and sprinkles of spinach wilted into the mix. The flavours were intense and rich with a hint of smoked barrel, we couldn’t get enough of it. The Som Tam (Papaya salad) offered a spicy bit of crunch and the sticky rice was a perfect accompaniment to soak up the juices of the minced meat. With Mojitos for a fiver and plenty of other cocktail options plus affordable wine, making this place a must visit.
The only downside is how busy and small the restaurant is, you all feel slightly on top of each other and the staff seem understandably stressed out. Although we were seated within 5 minutes, being almost shoulder to shoulder with your neighbour and fighting against the noise pollution made attempting to talk a real challenge. So I wouldn’t advise going with a date but more like a close friend you don’t mind not talking to and just digging into the food - which I had no problem doing. Crowds inevitably come with the territory of being the new ‘it’ restaurant oozing with hype, but once the food arrived I had completely forgotten about my surroundings.
Despite the crowds and the noise, the food was oozing with flavour and the portions generous. I will definitely be returning in an attempt to try out everything on the menu.
Kirazu on Rupert Street
K I R A Z U
47 Rupert Street, W1
Opening hours: 6pm-10.30pm
‘Kirazu’, translating to ‘beans’ in Japanese refers to the heart of all authentic Japanese cooking, the soya bean. Whether it be in the form of Soy sauce, Miso or Tofu the soya bean is used in most Japanese dishes and is believed to be the reason behind Japan’s label as one of the healthiest nations with the highest life expectancy in the world! Kirazu is a small Japanese tapas bar centering around this concept of authentic Japanese cuisine. It’s easy to walk past the restaurant, but don’t let the understated exterior fool you, this place is one of Soho’s hidden treasures and the prices aren’t bad either.
The atmosphere is lively and the restaurant is often packed, almost to the point where the windows have been known to steam up. The decor is authentic with everything made of rustic wood supposedly to reflect the wooden barrels Soy sauce and miso are aged in. Bare lights dangle from the ceiling and seating is casual with stools gathered around shared tables and the serving bar. Staff are friendly and eager to serve up their home brewed sake. It’s a do-it yourself way of ordering where you check off dishes on the menu, allowing you to do this multiple times and eat multiple rounds!
Dishes start from £2.50 and a range of specials are stacked high on the blackboard. Highlights were the dry fried balls with diced octopus, pickled ginger and green onion dressed with ribbons of mayonnaise. The iberico pork marinated in miso sauce melts in your mouth and the breaded chicken with ponzu sauce is delicious. The ramen was rich in flavour and the sashimi so tender and fresh. We’ve already been back for seconds and have already made this our go-to Japanese stop off.
Palomar on Rupert Street
T H E P A L O M A R
34 Rupert Street, W1D 6DN
Opening hours : 17-30- 11.30
The Palomar Serves the food of modern day Jerusalem. A menu influenced by the rich cultures of Southern Spain, North Africa and the Levant. The passion in their cooking has been nurtured in this cultural mix but with a contemporary approach. The setup of the restaurant is amazing although it is fairly small with a narrow entrance and a bar view overlooking the chefs preparing the food. The back seating area feels almost like you are in a lavish yacht with the dark wood panelling and Royal Blue leather banquette seating.
In total the restaurant holds around 64 people and is constantly booked up though if you’re happy to que or put your name down on a waiting list for the same day there is also that option. This is one of the more pricier restaurants I’ve been to with my meal for 2 with drinks coming to around £130. What is lovely about this place is the atmosphere. The staff were super helpful when it came to picking what to order and the interior helped relax you. Despite the restaurant being small, when seated at the back you almost feel that the other customers are non-existent probably as they were all too engrossed with the food.
We decided to go for a number of raw dishes to share with a few of the warm options. I was mainly drawn to the raw dishes not only because it was suggested by others but because it had one of my favourite dishes (thanks to Daniela) beef tartar. We started off with 5 between us but we ended up with more. There was so much detail put into every dish from the seasoning to the presentation. I think it has been one of the best places I have eaten in London for a long time. From the Challah Bread to the Beef Tartar, the food was exceptional!
Here are some suggestions of dishes to try:
Aubergine & Feta Bourekas
If you are looking for somewhere which has great food and a lovely atmosphere then I would 100% suggest The Palomar. Just make sure you book first.
B I R D
81 Holloway Road, N7 8LT
Opening Hours: 11.00am-11.00pm
With the evolution of fast food restaurants ever growing, it was about time the chicken shop had a revamp. Now we have a few across London but the bright orange neon lights of ‘Bird’ caught our eye especially as there was one opening up in my neck of the woods (Islington). Set up by former banker Paul Hemings and chef Cara Ceppetelli, who saw the need for a revamped KFC style chicken shop. Bird offers free range fried chicken wings along with burgers and even waffles. There is a great atmosphere in the restaurant with the waiting staff being polite, funny and the music on point. It's a nice pit stop for a chilled catch up.
The wings are a must to start with and you have an option of 5 glazes or dips with your chicken pieces. I decided to go for the classic buffalo wings which were delicious and come with a side of blue cheese. The sides differ to what you would usually find in a chicken shop with Korean salad, deep fried pickles and Korean cheesy chips accompanying your main. I decided to tackle the waffle burger which is pretty hefty. It consists of the bun made up of 2 waffles, 2 pieces of fried chicken breast, cheese, maple syrup and bacon... I know a heart attack waiting to happen or maybe just indigestion but despite my efforts I couldn't finish without the help of my peers.
It's not just the chicken that tastes great here but the cocktails too! I was shocked to see such an extensive beer list let alone cocktails. I do love a mojito but it's nice when there is something different on a cocktail list for example the Dirt Ribena which is a great mixture of nostalgia and alcohol - what more could you want from a drink??? After unashamedly unbuttoning my jeans I decided not to go for dessert this time... But have gone back to try their freshly made donuts which vary every day.
If it’s good quality fast food you are craving, I suggest you pay a visit to Bird. They have started branching out with a new store opening in Camden later this month and one already in Old street. Though pricier than your KFC or chicken cottage you can really taste the difference.
6 wings with Korean Gouchang glaze
Deep fried pickles
Waffle and chicken
Dirty bird (cocktail)
Dirt Ribena (cocktail)
Just some of the dishes tried at Xi'an Impression
X I 'A N I M P R E S S I O N
117 Benwell Rd, N7 7BW
Opening Hours: 11am-10pm
Authentic Chinese at its best. This restaurant is not like the usual Chinese restaurants you see scattered across London. And the name gives it away for the region of Chinese cuisine it offers. Though home to the Terracotta warriors, Xi’an is also home to some amazing dishes that give you a true feel of some authentic Chinese street food.
I found this small canteen a couple of weeks back. It doesn’t feel like a restaurant but more like a pop-up that you find in street festivals with nothing in the interior of the restaurant to catch your eye or make it stand out from any other Chinese restaurant. The menu is not very big but I'm sure there are only a few dishes on there that you may have heard of or tried.
So to start with I went with the staff’s suggestion of the X’ian pork burger. The bun was a cross between a toasted pitta on the outside and a squidgy dough on the inside. Whatever seasoning they used for the filling was one of the best seasoned meats I have tried. It wasn’t at all oily but was delicious with just the right amount of spice. I then went on to have the Biang Biang noodles which consist of 2 extra long flat egg noodles that have been hand pulled. The description on the menu said it included ‘special sauce’ of which the chef was not willing to share the ingredients with us.
Everything about this little canteen screams try something new from their eclectic asian drink choices including an awesome plum juice and lemon ice tea (of course they have coke too) along with dishes that are so flavoursome and different.
Here are a list of dishes which are definitely worth trying :
Xi’an Cold Rice noodles in Traditional Sauce
X’an Beef Burger
Biang Biang noodles
I have now become a regular at Xi’an impression and have denounced my usual order of special fried noodles and prawns on toast from my regular chinese take out. It isn’t too pricey with a starter, main and drink totalling around £15+