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The Jam Tree – Chelsea

29 Apr

My affair with The Jam Tree started a few years ago now. Lost for a vibrant pub to go to that had a little something extra to offer and an eclectic list of cocktails, I thankfully stumbled upon this gem. I only lived about ten minutes away and now I live about 30 seconds away. Proud to call it my local, it has come up trumps every time. I’ve booked it for my birthday the last two years running and spent many a day and night there. Having noted that they were expanding their already well facilitated bar with a new loft space, I was pleased to attend the launch last week.

The Jam Tree not only now boasts the loft space, but also a ground floor area filled with tables for eating and/or drinking and a lounge area to one side. There is also a beautiful beer garden, complete with an outside bar and a huge barbecue. The decking is multi-layered and it’s a great sun trap on a lazy summer afternoon. The food is fantastic and really has excelled over the years. I wasn’t so sure the first time I ate there, but it seems they ironed out a few creases in their cooking and now its truly on a roll.
My favourite is the ribs, they’re featured on the bbq menu and without a doubt they are the best ribs I’ve had in London, if not the world. I don’t ever say things like that lightly. The meat literally falls off the bone and is marinated in a smokey and sweet, delectable barbecue sauce. It’s absolutely incredible. The pulled pork burger is undeniably the firm favourite with most guests and it doesn’t disappoint. The meat is of excellent quality and the sauce, bun and fillings have been finely tuned to perfection. Not to mention the presentation, this is not your average pub food, it’s thought through and doesn’t just look good, it tastes damn good too.
ribspulled pork burgerNot only do they have a brunch session, with a Bloody Mary list as long as your arm, a welcome shake up to the Sunday Roast, which they also do, but they have a huge list of cocktails to keep you going. Keeping with the theme, you’ll notice that jam is included in a lot of their cocktails. It brings a concentrated flavour and a fresh approach to some tired drinks. Just a few of the beauties I tried were:
Gin ’n Juice – Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Creme de Mure liqueur mixed with lime jam, lime juice and muddled with mint leaves and blueberries. This is a really refreshing and pretty cocktail. It’s elderflower and blueberry flavours are quite mild and so I feel it’s definitely a cocktail you could drink more and more of all evening.
download-3Coco Shake – Bacardi rum, Banana liqueur, lashings of double cream and a spoonful of apricot jam combined with a shot of espresso coffee and a generous helping of Nutella spread – Holy Moly is this incredible. If coffee shops caught onto this I would buy this all the time, not only would I be strongly caffeinated, but I’m pretty sure with the added splash of spirit I’d get through the working day a damn site better…it tastes like iced coffee with a hint of Nutella. I couldn’t taste the banana at all, but it didn’t matter, this one is definitely the winner.download-5
Confiture – Cariel Vanilla vodka shaken with raspberry jam, Chambord and pineapple juice. A sweet, jammy nectar of a drink, a little similar to a French Martini but a tad thicker. I think I could only manage one of these, as whilst it’s delicious, it’s a tad sickly, but if you’re going in for a treat then this is a really good one!
download-6Wham Bam – Cariel Vanilla vodka, Chambord and Passoa with raspberry jam and sour mix topped with popping candy. Passion Fruit tasting and the added surprise of popping candy. It really works. It’s a sharp taste with a hint of vanilla to smooth it and the popping candy is a bit of fun for good measure.
As you can determine by the nature of the drinks, there is a real energy about this place. The decor is fun and not too whacky, it exudes a bit of a vintage feel, with a fun throwback to the 80s with cassettes acting as wall paper in the bathrooms. Without bordering on the kitsch, it also appears professional and clean, which is something a lot of pubs with a vast turnover seem to neglect.
download-4The loft is really spacious with a gloriously high beamed peaked ceiling. It has a couple of nooks, including a long table that would be great for a Sunday lunch and it’s detailed with beautifully huge french windows. There are bathrooms upstairs as well as down, so thankfully no traipsing. You can see where a natural dance floor could appear on a more lively night and really it’s just a wonderful addition to an already thriving bar and restaurant.
download-7download-8download-9It seems I can’t rate this place enough, so I guess you’ll have to go and try it for yourself. You can always pop in on your way too, I’m certainly close enough.
Rate: 4.8
The Jam Tree – 541 Kings Road, London, SW6 2EB
020 3397 4422
Follow them on Twitter @The_Jam_Tree

The Jam Tree on Urbanspoon
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Jackson + Rye

7 Jan

We’ve been over this. Time and time again. The New York movement is upon us. Some of them work, some of them don’t. So, I read a great deal about the opening of Jackson + Rye and wanting to wait until the soft launch had passed and all the Christmas cheer, I held off. It is marketed as a New York brunch establishment. Of course most, if not all, New York brunch restaurants are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner also. This is no exception. But what it really stands for is the brunch. Much like Mogador, Extra Virgin & Cornelia, to name but a few in Manhattan, its strengths lie in that delightful time between breakfast and lunch.frontIn prime position on Wardour Street just passed Old Compton, lies the very thoughtfully designed Jackson + Rye. It looks like an East Village brunch spot, slow-moving ceiling fans and everything. We were greeted immediately and seated by the window. The place was packed, this being the first Sunday of the new year, I was quite surprised.

Having mentioned ‘The Nudge’ when the reservation was made, both me and my guest were given a free cocktail of our choice. You can use this offer until the end of January, as a heads up! I chose the Breakfast Sour – Buffalo Trace, lemon, egg white, apricot preserve, peach bitters. It arrived adorned with giant ice cubes in a no fuss, short tumbler. It was an interesting taste, a heavy tone of whiskey and a sharp bitterness to it. The whiskey hue smoothed this, but all in all it was too strong for me. Perhaps it’s old-fashioned of me, but cocktails that can be had with the first meal of the day shouldn’t be the same as the one you would choose last thing at night.

cocktailWe chose a dish each and one to share. There was just such an abundance of choice, we didn’t want to miss out. I went for the ‘Anglers’ (scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, country-style potatoes, grilled toast). The scrambled eggs were cooked to perfection with a creamy texture involving the yolk not quite hardened. Heavenly. The salmon was of very good quality and thinly sliced. The potatoes looked a little dry, but upon sampling them, they were nothing of the sort. They were seasoned excellently and combined with caramelised onions, a sprinkling of spring onions and a fluffy interior, they really completed the dish. It was not served with grilled toast as mentioned, but thick sliced rye bread. I tried this, but the potatoes gave me the carb infusion needed, so I didn’t feel the bread was really vital to the dish. All in all this was a perfect blend for brunch. anglersNext up was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. This says it comes with avocado and chipotle mayonnaise. The latter is true but there was no avocado in this burger, but a slaw instead. Served on a soft brioche bun it came open, I presume so you could add the chipotle mayo freely. chickenThe chicken was unbelievable! I know that must sound like an abrupt statement, but the slight crunch of the batter was bliss, followed by, quite possibly, the softest chicken I’ve had since visiting New Orleans. And let me tell you, it’s pretty daring to mention the deep south when talking about fried chicken. The brioche was a great choice and always a favourite when it comes to a chicken burger, it sweetens the dish and the softness of the bread works well when moulding around the awkward shape of the chicken. The slaw counterbalanced the brioche as it gave a splash of savoury to the burger. The chipotle added some spice and the end result was a pretty perfect burger. burger

Accompanying the burger we opted for some shoestring fries. I love the really skinny ones, because you can take a good fingerful all in one go. These were well seasoned, both fluffy and crispy and let’s just say chips off someone else’s plate don’t count towards calorie intake…ahem. friesThe sharing dish was The Buttermilk Pancakes. This was accompanied by ricotta and maple syrup. I haven’t yet tasted pancakes like they do in New York, I’m not sure I ever will, but let me tell you these were very, very good. I mean really delicious. The pancakes were exceptional, warm, fluffy and perfectly cooked. The cream was beyond amazing. It had a slight sourness to it, but this was balanced out by the syrup and the pancake. I wolfed it down so quickly, I could have ordered a second round. Seriously exquisite food. pancakesThis is the sort of place you want to catch up with friends at. A place full of bustle and warmth. The service is really good. Everyone was attentive and helpful and actually looked as though they wanted to be there. The food is cheap and of excellent quality and above all, taste. I will be going back every chance I get. Anything to stop the withdrawal of eating at an actual New York brunch restaurant. Until then…

Jackson + Rye

Rate 4.8

56 Wardour Street, London, W1D 4JG

0207 437 8338

www.jacksonrye.com/
Jackson & Rye on Urbanspoon
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Fonda Manhattan

13 Jan

A friend suggested we go to Fonda for brunch. I knew nothing about this place, so with no expectations, I entered!

A Mexican eatery serving a really refreshing menu. The brunch entrees had the typical ‘breakfast burrito’ and the like but everything seemed to be with a little extra je ne sais quoi and a few new surprises.

I chose the Huevos Divorciados, which quite literally means divorced eggs. The description was breathtaking. Two sunny side up eggs separated by two sauces, salsa verde and ranchera sauce, served with black beans, crispy bacon, queso fresco and crema. The taste, even better. The eggs and all the accoutrements are inside a crispy pocket of tortilla, how they manage to not break the yolk, I have no idea. Cutting open this culinary feast to see the yolk ooze out into the salsa looked so beautiful. The oranges, reds and green were good enough to eat, it was quite unbelievable! Perfectly cooked and light enough to not feel bloated and overstuffed, this place really gets it right.

Huevos Divorciados

There was a really nice atmosphere and the service was good…minor pet hate was that they cleared some dishes before others had finished. Also, eyeing up what others had…next time I am definitely ordering the guacamole!

Go and check out this East Side gem.

Rate: 4.7

Fonda Manhattan

40 Avenue B, Manhattan, NY 10009

212-677-4096

http://www.fondarestaurant.com/
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The Cornelia Street Café

3 Jan

Title

Having recently moved to New York, I know that I am in a culinary haven and not only do I need to explore new places, but I also need to relive old favourites. The Cornelia Street Café is one of those little gems that I’m so happy I found a few years ago when looking for somewhere new for brunch. When in New York one must do as they do…and my God do they know how to ‘brunch’.

Cornelia offers main plates, typical brunch dishes of course with their own twist to it, like homefries roasted with garlic and rosemary and they use fresh salad instead of an abundance of toast – really it’s quite refreshing. You can either order like normal or go for their offer of $20 for a side – there are a few to choose from including the delicious chocolate bread that literally melts in your mouth (courtesy of Amy’s Bread that is just a stone’s throw away on Bleecker), a main dish, and a hot and cold drink. This is a great bargain for the quality of the dishes.

download-3The orange juice is as fresh as it can come, the tea – well for Americans they did try. It was served as black, not even a side of milk, but when I asked they politely brought it over. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of Stash Tea before though, it wasn’t great.

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The oh so difficult question always comes to me and that is ‘sweet or savoury?’ Well lucky for you I tried them both – so you’ll hear what I thought on both accounts. First up – Buttermilk Pancakes topped with fresh fruit and accompanied with Vermont maple syrup. The pancakes were the depiction of fluffy – not too sickly sweet and the perfect amount. The fruit was ripe and sweet and the maple…oh the maple, the heavenly nectar trickled over each pancake literally completing the dish. Perfection!

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On the savoury side I chose The Farmer’s Breakfast -Eggs Any Style on a Bed of Greens w/ Crumbled Bacon, Rosemary Roast Potatoes & Roasted Garlic. The salad really takes the edge off the portion size – if it was with toast then I don’t know how much I could have handled. I chose to have my eggs poached and they really were cooked to perfection, the yolk poured out over the bacon so delectably and the bacon was just unbelievable, a slight crunch, but not too much and the saltiness mixed with the sweet of the egg just complemented the dish brilliantly. The roasted potatoes were seasoned well and thankfully the rosemary seasoning wasn’t too strong as I find it can be quite overpowering sometimes. This feels like an adult’s dish – that sounds silly perhaps, but try it and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll leave there wanting to go shopping for rugs or antique coffee tables. Eat it, you’ll see!

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The service is good, you don’t notice them that much but they’re polite and friendly. Always the best way.

Cornelia also serves all other meals and has live music and performances scheduled on a regular basis too. Be sure to visit if you get a chance.

Rate: 4.6

The Cornelia Street Café

29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014

(212) 989-9319

http://corneliastreetcafe.com/
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Il Bambino

24 Oct

So I was staying with my beautiful friend Ariana in Astoria, Queens and she suggested we go for brunch to have paninis at a place called Il Bambino. My normal brunch would be more down the pancakes/eggs royale route, also my experience of paninis was that of those practical aeroplane food paninis you get at Cafe Nero. Little did I know what I was in for.

A lovely, friendly little place with an outside area at the back too, we were welcomed in straight away. I chose a guava bellini, it had a good kick to it, not as sweet as you would imagine, but good nonetheless.

We chose a crostini to begin with to share ($6.50 for two). Avocado butter, chorizo, chili oil. OH MY GOD. It really does not get much better than this. The avocado butter was so fricking deelish it was hard not to go behind the counter, find the vat they no doubt have of the stuff and just dunk my face into it. The chorizo was salty and spicy at the perfect thickness and the chili oil, well that is the genius move, the kick of the heat pumped up the avocado butter like what the Tom Cruise divorce did to Nicole’s career. This is not to be messed with, it is unbelievably good.

For the main attraction, in came the paninis ($11 each). I chose the Italian Meatloaf – onion jam, tomato pesto, spicy mayo, provolone and Ariana had the Notorious P.I.G. – Smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, artisan cheddar, truffle spread. baibva onqvioqb. SORRY, just wiping away the drool from my keyboard.

The meatloaf panini was a sheer delight. It reminded me a little of the meatball bolognese pizza I am so fond of at Pizza Express but really, this was in a class of it’s own. The soft meatloaf, perfectly cooked like Mum makes, was whispered with sweet nothings by the onion jam that just married the flavours so delicately. The spice from the mayo and the oozing of the cheese made for the most delicious brunch I think I have ever had. Who knew Cafe Nero could get it quite so wrong.

The Notorious P.I.G. was utter brilliance. The scrambled eggs were cooked so well that you can see the yolk still oozing, which is always the best part of any other type of egg; poached, fried, boiled and so rare for scrambled. The bacon was the perfect compliment to it and far above all of it was the crunchiness and soft centre of the bread itself. So important and the base for all of this. Exceptional.

The menu is fun and inventive and the essence of the place is really good food. I would go back in a heartbeat. Be sure to make this a must eat if you are in New York.

Rate: 5

Il Bambino

34-08 31st Ave, Astoria, Queens, New York, New York 11106

(718) 626-0087

http://ilbambinonyc.com/

Il Bambino on Urbanspoon

*SPECIAL* – The Dutch

5 May

I highly recommend The Dutch in NYC…a bustling brunch spot with a great vibe and fresh approach to an exhausted meal…this was definitely not your typical menu. The use of familiar items but using unusual ingredients spiced up this meal to the max and gave it a great spin and it really was delicious.

The pastry board was mouthwatering and the curried…yes curried doughnut, was unbelievable. Hominy Grits was a bold move for me as I had NO IDEA what it would taste like, it really complemented the spicy flavours in the rest of the dish.

This place is worth a visit…

Rate: 4 (.5)

Pastry Board

Almond French Toast, Bananas Foster

Two Fried Eggs, Hominy Grits, Chorizo, Guajillo Salsa

The Dutch

131 SULLIVAN STREET NEW YORK, NY 10012

212-677-6200

http://thedutchnyc.com/menus/
The Dutch on Urbanspoon

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