Category Archives: London

London, UK: Pieminister and Square Pie

I never knew what a good pie was until we were lucky enough to have chanced upon two really good joints in London. One was  Pieminister and the other was Square Pie, both of which believe in using fine ingredients in their pies. Most of the pies at Pieminister have clinched some kind of award. So no worries if you don’t really have what to eat in mind, whichever you might pick will probably be good. The Chicken of Aragon Pie with mash and gravy (GBP 4.90, student set) tickled my fancy that day.

The Pie sitting on a bed of golden mashed potatoes

The small rustling sound made when my knife and fork came upon contact with the pastry signaled the most wonderful pie-experience I was about to have. The crispy outside complemented well with the moist chicken and warm gravy. What’s more, one can indulge in these tasty treats and feel good about themselves! After all, patronizing Pieminister means you indirectly endorse in their use of humanely treated, mostly free-range meats, sourced within the UK to reduce food mileage.

Square Pie, on the other hand, pride their pies on being free of artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives. I had the Steak and Guinness classic pie (GBP 4.70) on the recommendation of the staff behind the counter.

My first Steak and Guinness Pie!

Square Pie most certainly did not cut corners. The chunks of beef inside were cooked to tender perfection. Natural sweetness from the bits of carrots also made sure that the pastry didn’t get too heavy. I was left craving for more after devouring it in less than 5 minutes.

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The outlets we visited:

Pieminister

56-58 The Covered Market
Oxford
OX1 3DX

Opening Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 3pm


Square Pie

Spitalfields Market
105c Commercial Street
London
E1 6BG

Opening Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10.30am – 4pm
Sunday: 10.30am – 6pm

-Y

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London, UK: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

In the world of sports, an athlete aspires to compete at the Olympics held once every four years. They put their lives’ efforts, pin their hopes, and give their all in that ephemeral moment in the competition, to prove that all the hard work was not for naught. That is excellence in the sporting world.

Excellence in the culinary world, however, is measured a little differently. Restaurants are recognized for their worth by the number of (if any) Michelin Stars they are awarded. These stars – a maximum of three – are awarded by an anonymous panel, and can be taken away if they are later found to have fallen below the bar. It breaks my heart a little to say that no, Michelin does not rate restaurants in Singapore.

So it is with much anticipation that we set off to our very first Michelin-recognised restaurant of our lives – L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Covent Garden, London. This restaurant is one in seven 2-star restaurants in London, and we were very excited because they have special pocket-friendly lunch sets at GBP25 and GBP29 for two and three course meals respectively. A great deal for such an acclaimed restaurant!

Here is my starter course:

Egg Cocotte

Egg cocotte topped with light wild mushrooms cream

I’ve never had egg cocotte before, but it was love at first bite! Actually, the texture is so airy and light I’m not sure if I even consider it a bite. Given its light colouring and frothiness, I thought it would taste mild, but I was wrong! And of course a little surprised when my taste-buds and expectations didn’t quite concur. The flavours really stood out; the airy yet creamy egg and the natural flavours of mushroom really complemented each other!

Atelier Style Spaghetti

Atelier style spaghetti

Of all that is on the menu, why in the world spaghetti when there’s fish, meat, to choose from, right? Well, the louder voice in the head was saying: “Oh, heck it. It’s a 2-star, let’s see how special it is.”

And special it was! The spaghetti was al dente and the sauce thick, almost meat-like. Very soulful sort of food considering it’s fine-dining. My only gripe? Not enough to go around; it’s such a pathetic portion. Le sigh.

Tarts

Selection of traditional tarts

Dessert was a selection of five tarts… and it was nothing to rave about. The slices were almost miniscule and the flavours lacked the ‘wow’ factor. It was a rather disappointing way to end the meal, more of a whimper than a bang. I was expecting more from a 2-star Michelin restaurant.

No matter, the decor, mainly red and black makes for a cosy dining experience. I didn’t, however, enjoy sitting on the high stools very much; it isn’t the most comfortable of seats for one to kick back, relax, and enjoy a lazy afternoon chit-chat with your dining companions. Service, on the other hand, was good and prompt, nothing to complain about.

Overall a good dining experience although I’m not in a great hurry to get back. Neither am I very inclined to try the local outlet. Maybe when I have a bit more pocket money to spare, but for now, I would rather explore other gastronomic options.

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, London
13-15 West Street,
London
WC2H 9NE

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Singapore
8 Sentosa Gateway
Hotel Michael Level 1
Resorts World Sentosa

– M

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London, UK: Tatties

The day we explored Cambridge was undoubtedly one of the coldest we had experienced during our stay in London. With the weather windy and gloomy with a slight drizzle, we knew we were set to have a miserable time there; exploring the university town, or any other place for that matter, in the rain would be a pain.

We arrived an hour before noon and decided to just head for lunch first because the wind ate up a lot of our calories because of the ‘bah!’ weather. Thus, off we went to look for food! It wasn’t long before we stumbled upon this shop stuffed full with people inside. The short queue that was formed on the steps leading into the shop cleared pretty quickly, allowing us access to Tatties’ ordering counter and the basement (which had more seats and bathroom facilities).

Our orders came soon enough despite the large crowd. As the name might suggest, those that visit Tatties (a dialect word for potato) are mainly drawn to the plethora of ways in which their potatoes are prepared.

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We tried the jacket potato with their homemade chilli con carne (GBP6.95). It was astounding! The potato wedges were prepared till crispy on the outside, yet soft and fluffy on the inside. On top of the potato was a heapful of chilli con carne, which was mildly spiced and had generous amounts of meat in it. Top it all off with a dollop of nice and cold sour cream and – TADA! – we’ve got ourselves a winner!

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We also ordered the baked potato with spicy chicken (GBP6.65). You’d be expecting the sauce from the spicy chicken to melt the healthy amount of cheese that was burying the potato, making the dish all nice and stringy. But nope, it didn’t quite work that way for this dish. It was really just the hot and piping potato at the bottom melting the cheese. You see, the spicy chicken was cold – not unpleasant but not what I was expecting either when I first bit into it. The sauce was slightly sweet and not at all spicy for me, tasty nonetheless. This dish is definitely not for one who’s unadventurous with their food. However, M enjoyed this thoroughly because of the nice contrast in heat between the spicy chicken and the potato.

Would definitely revisit this place for the potatoes if I’ve got the chance!

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The outside of the Tatties we visited

Tatties Cafe Restaurant (Baked Potato Merchants Since 1981)

15 Trinity Street
Cambridge
Cambridgeshire
CB2 1TB

*NOTE: Make sure you visit the one at Trinity Street which states that they are baked potato merchants since 1981! We later learnt that there is another shop with the exact same name located along Sussex Street with no connection to the former.

-Y

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London, UK: Wahaca

It may be halfway round the world from the origin of the food, but from what we heard, Wahaca serves up one of the best Mexican street food in town, and what’s better? It wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket!

I’m going to admit that we don’t know our Mexican food well at all, so you can either (a) dismiss this as an amateur post on Mexican cuisine, or (b) think of it as a Singaporean’s tongue’s take on Mexican food.

Pork Pibil Taco

First up was a Pork Pibil Taco (GBP3.95). These are small, palm-sized tortillas with a good heap of pork on it. Slow-cooked till tender, the meat melts in your mouth without much effort and if you’re not careful, the sauce might dribble down your chin! The spice of it comes from the chilli and onion – a great way to get your appetite working.

Next is the Tender Marinated Chicken Taquito (GBP3.95). Instead of a soft tortilla wrapping (like the one above), these are deep fried and the crunch of it compliments well with the tender chicken inside.

British steak burrito

The British Steak Burrito (GBP6.85) was the only ‘main’ we ordered. It was black beans, cabbage, rice, spring onions and beef wrapped in a lightly toasted tortilla. While the fillings blended well together, there was a tad too much carbs in the overall combination, what with the rice and tortilla. Oh, and see the spoonful of salsa on the chips? Best salsa ever. Not the punch-in-your-arm kind of heat, but the kick-in-your-face kind of spicy, tangy, with a subtle sweetness that keeps you wanting more. A great refreshing side to the otherwise heavy main.

The winner of Best Mexican for the Zagat London Restaurant Guide 2010, Wahaca is definitely worth the trip!

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Canary Wharf
The Park Pavilion
Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London, E14 5FW

Covent Garden
66 Chandos Place
Covent Garden
London WC2N 4HG

Soho
80 Wardour Street
Soho
London, W1F OTF

White City
1074 Westfield Shopping Centre
Ariel Way London W12 7GB

PS: We visited the one at Covent Garden, just a little off the hustle and bustle of the shopping crowd!

– M

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London, UK: New Mayflower

We visited New Mayflower on a Sunday evening, just before the dinner crowd started streaming in. As with most Chinese restaurants we visited in London, it’s a big plus if you are an Asian and can speak Cantonese – the waiters sure seem to serve this group of customers a whole lot better than the Caucasians.

The waiter highly recommended the Crispy Aromatic Duck with pancakes, spring onion, cucumber and hoisin sauce.


Novel at best

The duck was too dry, in my opinion. And there was too little skin to satisfy my need for crispy fat (even the neighbouring table of Asians asked the waiter why there was no skin D:). Sad to say, it was rather disappointing for a supposedly popular dish.

The Stir Fried Hor Fun with Beef was good (wok hei flavour and all), but too oily for my liking. However, I must say they give a healthy portion of beef.

beef nom nom nom

There was however one highlight for all of us – the Mui Choy Kau Yoke! For the non-Cantonese, Mui Choy Kau Yoke is essentially pickled mustard greens with braised pork belly. This dish is rich, flavourful and the meat is beautifully layered with melt-in-your-mouth fat. Definitely not for those on a diet! Would have loved another bowl of steamy rice to go with it, but it would have set me back by a whopping 2.2pounds per bowl (as compared to SGD0.50)!


more rice for me please! 😀

Overall an average meal, but it most definitely satisfied our craving for Chinese cuisine.

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New Mayflower

68-70 Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 6LY

Y

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London, UK: The Muffin Man Tea Shop

Great Britain – land of great culture, history, and of course, SCONES.

So off we went, in search of the missing puzzle piece to complete our trip in London on a chilly afternoon and winded up at The Muffin Man Tea Shop. Cute name for a cosy shop around the corner that is quintessentially English.
muffinman3

muffinman1

Fan of scones? This is a must-eat!

The scones were warm and lightly toasted, and once you get past the layer of crisp on the outside, you’re greeted with warm fluffiness. This is complimented with the strawberry jam and clotted cream. The jam is mildly tart and you can still feel small bits of seeds from the strawbs; the cream is cold and silky, leaving a buttery fragrance that keeps you wanting more.

The balance of flavours and textures is perfect, nothing too heavy for a late afternoon munch.

We also had a slice of Passion fruit cake – the cake was moist and the cream cheese dense; nice, but it is really the scones you’re after.

It really is a joy when something as classic as a scone is kept that way and one can taste nothing but excellence in the simplicity.

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The Muffin Man Tea Shop

12 Wright’s Ln
London W8 6TA, United Kingdom

– M

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