Some places in Southwark, London
• Sin Fronteras
A slow Colombian place, with a decent empanada, the crust on the light side and not grease-logged. Microwaving was uneven, with a few cool spots. Beef and potato filing was hearty, but I longed for more onions.
Out of sancocho; I got braised chicken in a tomato-based (criollo?) sauce. Not bad, not great. Side of unripe avocado that was better with their salsa (on the acidic side). Nice potatoes. Alas, they don't serve Colombian fruit juices anymore, and my request for lula was futile. Might go back for the sancocho just because, but certainly not a destination if the food I had was representative.
Basic Peruvian, but also out of chicha morada. Papa a la huancaina was ok (potato slices with a sauce made with eggs, cream, cheese, aji ammarillo, herbs etc..), just not the finest example ever. The sauce just wasn't as complex as the best of them. Makes me suspect that their aji de gallinha isn't going to be exemplary either.
Lomo saltado (a stir fry of beef stripes with onion, tomato, parsley, served with rice and french fries) on the other hand was actually pretty good, homey and basic in its own way, the dripping flavours soaked up by the rice and fries. Proper balance of tomatoes and parsley, but as always, needs more sauteed onions.
Pretty full and passed on dessert menu, with standards like mazzamora morada (purple corn pudding) and alfajores (short bread with dulce de leche).
• Shake Catering and Sandwich Bar
A small corner NIgerian place with a lady in the back that makes good, intensely beefy flavoured meat pies that are baked on premises. Not necessarily a bad alternative to Manze's on Tower Bridge Road
Red spicy jollof rice, very good vegetable sides. A creamy puree of spinach with dark spices; mashed beans dotted with kernals of corn, with a smoky backdrop of flavour; another type of mashed beans, this one with groundnuts, mingling nutty flavours with a certain spicy earthiness. Fried balls of cassava flour are as addictive as donuts, with their spongy texture and light sweetness. Beef and tripe were only ok, fried and then cooked in a stew, they remained tough, jerky-like.
• The Cut at the New Vic.
Bad. Ordinary eggs florentine, ok coffee, soury overtones on the sticky toffee pudding, where flavour has yet to penetrate the density of the pudding..
Another meal at Tito's, this time the aji de gallinha. Have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised -- the yellow sauce based on aji amarillo, a yellow peruvian pepper, could have had more of the pepper's tangy smokiness, and some might say more cheese for a thicker, fluffier texture -- but this sauce had a really good tasty chickeny flavour, with nuances of everything else supporting it. Silky shredded chicken, honest boiled potatoes along with a couple of black olives and a wedge of boiled egg, and rice for mopping up. Really good.
Anyone been to their sister restaurant on Exmouth Market? Or another one near Seven sisters?
Ate again at Tito's.
Very nice chicha morada, the purple corn drink - this version topped with litte bits of apple.
Pato de aji, a duck leg with a pepper sauce was very well made, loved the earthy savoury sauce, with little hint of heat. Beneath that was a comforting mound of rice - soft and little yellow perhaps of saffron, and laos with white beans. The texture is almost mash potato-like, and great flavour all round.
Alfajores, the classic Peruvian biscuit, is well made - just the right amount of dulce de leche with the faintest shade of a soury tang that I like. The shortbread itself is not as crisp and freash as I would have liked, will have to figure out where they get them or if they have a baking schedule.
An excellent meal. Will have to try other things on their menu.
I had a fantastic pre-theatre meal in a restaurant called RSJ near the South Bank last night. It's a French restaurant which specialises in wines from the Loire Valley.
I had the prix fixe (2 courses for £16, a bit more for 3). My starter of broad bean and rocket soup was simply lovely, with a nice peppery kick from the rocket, and soft creamy nuggets of ricotta for contrast. My main was fillet of bream, perfectly cooked, with a crispy skin, on a bed of minted peas, with baby herb salad and a few (very delicate) capers. Mr GG was very happy with his smoked mackerel paté and roast chicken with risotto.
I will definitely go back, maybe for one of their special wine tasting evenings. They also have occasional Italian Sunday lunches, cooked by the well-known food writer Ursula Ferrigno.
RSJ is very good. I had the prix fixe menu for £18.50. Salmon quiche was fine, a light filling with a good pastry. Came with a well-dressed green salad. Pork main course was delicious, though the crackling (which tasted fine) could have been crisper. Deserts were ok, but my poached pears would have benefited from a little longer cooking and further reduction of the sauce. They were also served at refridgerator temperature, which was disappointing.
But eight or ten interesting wines available by the glass from the Loire, including an outstanding desert wine. A comfortable and unpretentious room and excellent service. Good stuff.
Wandered into a Columbian between Holloway Rd station and Highbury and Islington, where I had my first taste of lulo. Excellent drink. The food I had was simple and fine. Slight communication difficulty with matronly cook who only spoke Spanish so I left it to her to give me a basic meal -- rice/beans/grilled chicken/salad/tuberous slices. Beans were fantastic. Rest was passable. Will try more unusual things when I'm next there -- they were out of both corn fritters and corn bread, both of which I love and they have a more extensive menu. Chap beside me had meatballs, which I would have gone for if it were possible to have a discussion with the cook. Also was at Simply Delicious on Holloway Rd near there which to my chagrin is closing soon -- decent Jamaican food at decent prices near central London.
Thanks, limster, you get to very interesting spots. I found a listing and photo for a "Flakes Catering and Sandwich Bar" at 46 Tower Bridge Rd.(Manze's is at 87? T.B.R.), it appears to be in a brick, corner location building with an orangish coloured storefront. Is that the right Nigerian cafe?
Yes - that's the spot. I'm just lucky in live in an interesting nabe. Lots of places to try. No great finds so far, although the Nigerian place was interesting enough to me to go back. Further afield, I'm working my way up Kingsland road and will probably start a first installment in the next few weeks.
Have you been to Los Arrieros, the slightly sketchy looking latin place off the Walworth Road? (http://www.london-se1.co.uk/restauran...) It's just under the railway arches, and I'm very tempted by the delicious smells emanating from there, even though the menu appears to be all in Spanish, and I can't understand much of it!