Pitt Cues Trailer is like a small version of Willy Wonkas chocolate factory, but on wheels, containing lots of goodies and only full of meat, not sweets, which in my opinion is much better! I’m sure you’ve heard the hype about Pitt Cue in Soho and believe me there is a reason why everyone is talking about this tiny place (it really is tiny inside). But this review is solely about the trailer.
Sitting neatly underneath the Hungerford Bridge in Southbank, sheltered away from the rain so you can enjoy your food in peace and stay dry while waiting in the queue. The great thing is that the trailer has an alcohol license and mixes cocktails on site bringing you some delicious and strange concoctions (the bacon vodka cocktail), shots and beers.
Of course Pitt Cue is not for the faint hearted or anyone who hates mess, as you will need about 5 napkins and an empty stomach. The menu consists of either ‘bun’ meals or ‘boxes’ and a selection of extras. The trailer has a special on offer which isn’t available at the restaurant, another reason why you need to go to both. Its name, The Trailer Trash (yes it’s as bad for your health as it sounds),compromised of a deliciously light and fluffy bun, a deep fried lump of macaroni cheese then topped with pulled pork and pickles, the pickles add a nice freshness to the bun.
Pitt Cue’s classic pulled pork bun is something of a revelation. The pork is tender and juicy, intensely smoked and bundles of flavour going through it, this is the first time I’ve had pulled pork this good, if it was any more tender it would quite literally melt away in your mouth. The meat is then topped off with their pickles and some pickled red onions (I think). They also offer sides such as Hot smoked wings and crispy shitake mushrooms. At the time of writing this I have just noticed there Twitter account saying they have another new dish on the menu, the Pitt Cue Larb Dog, that’s all I know.
I’ve read a lot of people saying that the portions are small here, but personally I don’t agree. They are just right for me, and if there is a queue you can just sip a cocktail while waiting. I can’t wait to come back here next time I am in the Southbank area, especially when the sun is out.
Pitt Cue Co’s trailer will be trading under the Hungerford Bridge till September, so be quick.
Pizza Pilgrims are
nestled amongst the other traders of Berwick street market in Soho, clearly
standing out from the crowd with their green van packed with a piping hot oven
to incinerate the little beauties of what they call Neapolitan Pizzas. It’s
great that they are here in Soho along with others such as Banhmi and the newly
joined Tounge & Cheek which add so much to this market, which used to sell pretty
much nothing more than fruit and Veg.
The guys behind Pizza
Pilgrims are obviously very passionate about what they do, on the times I have
been, come rain or shine, they are bursting with energy and the pizzas come out
just as good every time. The dough is rolled out, spun to order, topped with
delicious toppings and a fantastic tomato base, which has a lively acidity. Quality
is undoubtedly key to their ingredients which provide so much flavour.
The first time I spotted them
I started with a Margarita, a crisp thin crusty base, delicious sauce topped with
a creamy mozzarella that oozes flavour. I then worked my way through the menu, depending
on what they were serving (not on the same day, obviously). My favourite was the Nduja, the delicious margarita
topped with an Italian sausage. If you haven’t heard of Nduja before it’s a spreadable
pork sausage paste infused with pepperoncino (an Italian pepper/chilli) which
is also used to stain the paste/sausage red. Quite frankly, it’s delicious.
Some basil leaves are chucked on the top before being placed in the oven which
seep out into the pizza and add even more flavour (if that’s even possible).
Maybe one day they will hopefully
settle down and open up a permanent home in London (Soho would be nice), but please
don’t try and be cool by making us Queue, Britain is too cold for that.
I hate to compare but
with the rise of street food in London it’s difficult not to being so many
other traders around, but obviously few as good as these guys. I do sometimes find
myself torn between the pizzas of Homeslice, but deep down I’m a Pizza Pilgrims
follower! Keep up the work guys and don’t disappear from Berwick Street anytime soon.
Entrée, is described by the trusted Wikipedia as a dish served before the main course. This is interesting, are Entrée saying that there starters are the main feature? We will come back to this question very soon.
The restaurant has been awarded a two AA Rosetta award and opened in 2011, since then it has had some good press. Jay Rayner said the Pork belly was ‘so good’ and ‘Arancini (Risotto Balls) were as good an example as you’ll find this side of Milan’, so as expected, I had high hopes, especially for the pork belly. Sorry but I succumb to the offering of crispy crackling on a menu every time.
The service at Entrée was somewhat interesting; at times, it was lovely and attentive and at others it as impossible to grab the attention of any staff. Once seated after precariously hanging around the entrance it took another 10 minutes for a drinks order to be taken and then another ten minutes for the drinks to arrive at the table, there were only two members of floor staff on a surprisingly busy Wednesday night.
The first starter to arrive was the Pork rillettes with apple jelly, cornichons, petite salad & seared bread. This was pleasant enough and the apple jelly was well executed, but the dish was as I said, only ‘pleasant enough’.
Again the Fish cakes with caviar, mixed leaf salad & crab dressing were nice, but were nothing to shout about, I hate to say this but I’ve had fish cakes from the supermarket which were on the same level, although they didn’t carry the topping of caviar. Using the restaurant title Entrée, is certainly not living up to its name so far.
The mains were in two different leagues. The Ox cheek with kafir lime, bok choi, honey-glazed carrots and new potatoes was an interesting mix. The kafir lime was non-existent on the palate; the bok choi was just ‘ok’ but the cheek were cooked-to-perfection! It literally fell apart when trying the put the fork into it, then melted in in my mouth, quite literally. We ordered a side of Thrice cooked chips which were very nice.
The Old spot pork belly with sweet potato, butternut squash and chargrilled peach salsa made for an interesting mix. The sweet potato and butternut squash were both nice with the pork but needed extra seasoning and the cold peach salsa didn’t go terribly well with the pork, but was delicious and fresh in its own right. However, the pork, what a stunner, it was one of the best pieces and well-cooked portions of pork belly I have ever had. The glaze was lovely and sweet, slightly sticky and beautifully crisp, with no airy ruptures or overly salted. If you go here, order the pork belly, you will not be disappointed.
Lemon Posset for dessert, which is a relatively simple recipe, was just delicious, complemented by some homemade shortbread (which need a bit more butter) and an oddly spiced rhubarb compote. I had asked what had been added to the Compote and the waitress said ‘a lot’, a lot of spices were added, clove and cinnamon to name a few, which were too much for the Rhubarb to carry off. I did enjoy the Posset very much though and could have eaten a second helping.
Overall Entrée seems to use high quality ingredients but try too hard in making their dishes stand out by adding too many ingredients, which frankly can be delicious with just simple but well executed accompaniments and good quality sourced ingredients. This place is a great local restaurant if you live in the area, but it is not cheap. I would certainly travel here across London though, if only for the Pork Belly.
Churros are a Spanish delicacy, sometimes covered in sugar and normally eaten for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate, which you can dunk the Churros. If you have not had Churros before then they are very similar to a doughnut but different in shape, oilier, lighter in texture and crisper.
Having had Churros in London before I was surprised of the difference when I visited Andalucía Last year, notably Jerez where the Dough mixture is fed through the nozzle, which hangs above bubbling hot oil and is swung round in a circular motion forming a very large coil, it is then chopped up into pieces with a pair of scissors and eaten without any sugar or chocolate, the consistency is also a lot thicker.
The cooking method at Garcia is similar to that I saw in Jerez but here the dough mixture gets pushed through the tube and is snipped before it hits the oil dropping in neat six inch Churros. Once cooked they are rolled in a sugar and cinnamon mix (although I couldn’t taste any cinnamon). The Churro itself is lovely and light, not overcooked and more importantly not too oily. The chocolate they serve is sourced from the famous Spanish chocolate house, Valor, who specialise in the rich dipping chocolate and has perfected this well, the consistency is extremely smooth, a rich dark chocolate hit and a lovely bitterness which becomes very addictive.
These are some of the best Churros in London and definitely worth seeking out. However, I still think there is some room for improvement. To find out where they are serving up next check out http://www.churrosgarcia.co.uk/.
Pintxos are typical Basque country snacks, which are mainly a great way of socialising, eating slowly, drinking and having a chat. And that’s exactly what PIX does. It does not feel like you are in the Basque country in this restaurant, with modern music playing in the background, a hip crowd and the set up/decor is very modern. The one thing that annoyed me was the popularity of this place (which is obviously good for them), as I wanted to sit there all night, drink lots and non-stop eating, but the tables have a ninety minute turnaround which we outstayed and caused a Queue, Sorry PIX! However, seeing how busy this place gets this is totally understandable.
We were seated, so it seemed at the best spot, not tucked away at the back and within easy reach of the food, near the bar and good lighting. There is no menu per se in this place (you can look on line at their menu) and I am sure you could ask for one. There is no need for a menu as when you walk in the bar is filled with an array of their cold Pintxos, and the hot dishes come around the restaurant as and when they are cooked, which is dangerously addictive as you think, hmm what if that dish doesn’t come back out later when I’m more hungry, I think we managed to hit nearly 30 Pintxos!
Price wise any Pintxos with a large skewer in them are £2.75 and small Skewers £1.95, keep hold of your skewers (do not put them in your pocket) and then priced up at the end. Wine starts from a reasonable £18 a bottle, we opted for the Campo Verdejo Sauvignon from Castilla which was Organic, £19.50 and very pleasant for the price.
The food itself was generally of a good standard. The first hot dish we snapped up from the waiter was a chilli chicken kebab with a mint and coriander shot, the chicken was very tender, the yogurt shot flavoursome but the yogurt was far too intense and could have been a bit sourer, also the dish was not very Spanish. The Diablo meatballs were nice, but again did not come across as very Spanish in style and the slice of garlic bread was oh so British! How about a nice slice of pan con tomato chucked on top or some delicious rustic bread?
The Gazpacho Martini was delicious, loaded with garlic, lovely slumps of bread and roughly blended ingredients gave it a real rustic feel, the Martini glass it was in reminded me I was still in London.
The peppers stuffed with goat’s cheese and pine nuts was really delicious, a lovely sweet pepper, slightly warm oozing with the mild goats cheese and pine nuts and coated with some sort of sweet glaze, very nice. The hot honey and rosemary calamari, which we grabbed from a passing waiter, had a lovely thin and crispy batter, not overcooked or chewy. Thoroughly enjoyable and I wanted a second helping.
The different types of toppings on ‘crusty bread’ were very nice and I was pleasantly surprised, the fig with foie gras mouse and Iberico Ham topped with a quails egg were my personal favourites. One of the companions I was with insisted on eating their way through a small family of pigs and Spain’s cheese production by devouring as many quince coated Manchego and chorizo skewers, which were ok by drinking standards but the Chorizo was just not up to scratch and definitely needs improving.
Desserts consisted of an Espresso chocolate cup, summer fruit Chantilly and my all-time Spanish classic, Churros with Chocolate. Unfortunately, the Churros are served cold and Churros should ONLY be served hot, this was a major let down.
Overall I would return to PIX as this is a great watering hole, with a good selection of food, some good, some bad and some delicious. I need to remind myself that this is not your authentic Basque restaurant but a modern take. Nothing is wrong with the food here, it could just be improved, some fresher, tastier bread, good quality Chorizo and a larger selection of sherry’s. It’s a great place to eat and drink in Soho and I will be back, with friends.
Anna Mae’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese is something I urge you to approach with caution, it is highly addictive! The set-up reminds me of a Spanish paella stall, very large hot pans, filled with delicious food, lovely aromas and a constant stream of customers but these guys selling delicious southern inspired mac! Anna Mae can be found around at some of the hottest street food markets in London, most notably EAT.St but also serves up occasionally at places such as Zoo Lates at London Zoo.
There is a great selection on offering at this stall and with combinations, you think would not work, but they really do. There were four offerings when I visited, Annie Mac, (The Classic Mac ‘n’ Cheese with a sharp cheddar, monetary jack and mozzarella cheese sauce), Kanye Western, (Mac with hot dogs, house made bbq sauce and chives), Spicy Juan (Mac with Jalapenos, chipotle, sour cream and coriander) and Don Macaroni (Mac with pesto, crispy bacon and fresh basil).
Unfortunately, my stomach is not quite up to speed with me yet so I could not eat all four, but two was a triumph and a tasty one. The Classic is a great Mac, loaded with plenty of cheese, but not overpowering, perfectly cooked pasta and a lovely creaminess. I didn’t find any urges to add salt or pepper which I do some times when I make my own (albeit not very often). The Don Macaroni was a triumph, the salty crispy bacon and fresh pesto work wonders together with the man, though I would have loved a nice pinch of chopped Basil over the dish as opposed to some whole leaves.
If you have not tried Anna Mae’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese then it is about time you do, trust me. It also brings back some great childhood memories of Mac from a tin, cold! Or was that my mother trying to save money.
28:50 which after its huge success at its Fetter Lane branch has decided to open up in Marylebone Lane, which I am not surprised about, as this road seems to be the place to open up on at the moment, and keeping near its renowned Texture restaurant, which I still have not been too! It’s also just round the corner from my work, which I know is going to be dangerously addictive.
The menu at 28:50 Marylebone is short but sweet, I was torn by nearly every dish as what to have so asked the waitress to help me out, who may I add was extremely attentive and was always around if I needed anything. And with the offering of Champagne upon arrival, what more could I ask for. The interior has been finished to a very high standard, light, airy and modern. By looking closer some if its furniture has that aged worn look which adds to the atmosphere and shows attention to details has gone into this place. It almost reminds me of some of the modern Spanish Tapas places opening up around town, clean tiled areas and spacious, with the back wall adorning wooden wine boxes, there is a strong focus on wine at this place and a great bar area in the centre.
First out swiftly to the table was the Foie Gras terrine with Rhubarb chutney and toast, an unusual combination with the Rhubarb, which kind of worked. The Rhubarbs acidity definitely made the terrine feel lighter and fresher but I like my Foie Gras terrine to taste of just that, as it’s so rich you don’t always need an accompaniment, but the terrine itself was delicious and the Rhubarb had a lovely creaminess to it. The other great thing about their menu is that most of the dishes can be ordered as a small/large size, which is great if sharing with friends or you just want to pop in for a lighter lunch, and a glass of wine, of course.
The Tomato Salad with boccaccini mozzarella and roquette was so refreshing, the tomatoes beautifully sweet and succulent and the mozzarella was so creamy and fell apart in the bowl. The vinaigrette dressing really lifted the dish and added that extra zing of acidity. The roquette (which is the fancy French word for rocket) was so fresh and flavoursome I don’t think I have ever encountered it with such a potency before. A lovely refreshing starter, or main course if you prefer. Both of these dishes were accompanied by a glass of Primus Ribera del Duero, which may not have matched perfectly was still a delicious wine.
Next out was by far my favourite dish of all, Pork Cutlet grilled, with wild garlic polenta and Madeira Sauce. The piece of Pork itself was stunning! I have never had such a tender Cutlet, cutting through it was like cutting into a piece of rare beef i.e.; very easy. It was succulent and juicy and topped off with some breadcrumbs, it think. Accompanying it was some tender stem broccoli and the delicious garlic polenta, which I really enjoyed, so much I went and bought some polenta the following day.
The Confit Duck leg with pok choi, carrots and mouli was much more Asian inspired then I expected, but lovely and the skin was beautifully crisped, but also a bit sticky from its glaze. Been sprouts and other vegetables accompanied it while I tried mouli for the first time which tasted a bit like a radish and something I’ll be having again.
After all this food could I possibly squeeze in a dessert, of course! Lemon tart with yoghurt sorbet, was so good, not infused with fake lemon essence (which I have had plenty of times before believe it or not) and the creaminess of the Sorbet was lovely. Crumbly, light pastry and the top is finished off in the style of a crème brulé, blow-torched! If I had room for more I would have ordered another one.
The Vanilla Crème Brulée that was ordered was also good, with peach compote as the base. This could have been ever so slightly larger in portion size and more caramelized on the top. I matched the desserts with a glass of Riesling Auslese, Fuder 5, Merkelbach, which was not overly sweet and full of citrus which was well matched as was not heavy or overpowering.
The wine list here is great, so much choice by the glass, small/large, carafe, bottle and all at reasonable prices, with a 'Collectors list' for those wanting to indulge in some fine claret or Burgundy's and small but well executed menu selection. I definitely recommend this place and can promise you won’t be disappointed. I’ll be back very soon.
Takoyaki (たこ焼き or 蛸焼) which literally translates as fried or grilled octopus is a kind of Tempura/pancake dumpling, which according to the web is a popular street food dish in Japan, especially round the Osaka region.
I was immediately drawn to the stall by the fun paced action that goes on. The large griddle which covered in small half-spherical molds starts off looking like a big pancake mess (as you can see to the right in the photo above) which with great care and skill, two lady's keep the mixture turning inside the molds, with the high heat and fast pace flicking around with a pair of chopstick turns them into firm rounds balls.
The price is a reasonable £5 for six pieces. Each tiny ball contains Octopus, Cabbage, Japanese Red Ginger and Tempura. They are firm, but not crispy or hard and the centre is a soft cooked mush. Once cooked they are topped off with Japanese Mayonnaise, crispy seaweed and Takoyaki Sauce, LOTS of it. I am not exactly sure what goes into the sauce it but it seems to be a mixture of Vegetables, Sake, Vinegar, Ginger and an array of other ingredients.
Because they drown the balls in so much Takoyaki sauce, which by the photos it may not look like there is as much as I'm rambling on about, but I assure you there is,especially once the soaked up sauce leaves the balls, you lose any crispiness it once had and the vinegar in the sauce is so potent it hurts your nose when you get anywhere near it! The inside itself was extremely fishy, which a) masked all the flavours gone into making the balls/sauce and b) the dish was surprisingly plain.
This stall is fun, a new concept to London so will catch the eye of the passing trade but, if you're reading this give them a try if you want, maybe you will love them, but I'm definitely not heading back in a rush. The balls need to crisp up, some flavour added and less sauce on the plate so the dish doesn't resemble some 90's floating candle display, then maybe I'll try it again. However, until then... Bon Voyage from me! Takoyaki Yumi can be found at Real Food Market, Southbank. Check out www.realfoodfestival.co.uk for more details.