Tag Archives: Soho Restaurants

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

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La Bodega Negra

13 Jun

Let me just get this out quickly. OVERATED. There, I said it.

Before proceeding onto the real problems, I’ll focus on the positives.

I chose the café/diner part of this Mexican ‘hot spot’ instead of the restaurant. I thought the menu looked a little friendlier and when I saw the restaurant had Veal Tongue on their menu, the pretence of this unappetising ‘food’ told me I’d be better off in the less poncy, more casual, above ground part of this joint.

First impressions, it was light and airy, really well spaced out, nice décor – the bar being the focal point and the variety of tables and booths gave off a really friendly vibe. The ceviche bar when you walk in gives a take away essence to the place and almost puts you a little at ease as it all seems so very casual. I was approached straight away and our waitress throughout the night was so sweet, really friendly and did her job really, really well. This was quite refreshing actually as I find service lacks considerably in London restaurants on the whole. The buzzy atmosphere is lovely, it’s busy, but not too bustly and the music level is perfect, you can hear it and gives an authentic ambience to the place, but it doesn’t overpower the meal by being too loud.

The waitress recommended the Pineapple Spiced Daiquiri which was really good. It was mixed well and the flavours complemented each other. It wasn’t amazing, by any means, but it was a good cocktail. Aky had the non-alcoholic Passion Fruit Mojito, it was fresh and looked great, however too much lime that was too bitter, either they needed sweeter limes or more sugar. On the whole, pretty ok though.

Now, here’s the problem. Mexican food is relatively simple, you have a mix of ingredients that apply to quite a lot of their dishes. It’s usually the same mix in a different order and magically at somewhere great, each dish has it’s own, very special highlights.

I have been to some corkers of Mexican places in my time, places that serve guacamole that is made right in front of you, so it can’t get any fresher. Guacamole that is not bright, almost fluorescent green, but that dull, nutty green complemented by red onion and finely chopped tomato with a hint of lime, salt and coriander. Being the dish/dip that Mexico is famous for, along with salsa, this is something that is going to be the first impression and if you can’t get this right then you should stop, go back and try again. The guacamole came with chips and pico de gallo. Not salsa. Why no salsa? I don’t know. There was no salsa in sight, anwhere. Corn chips made fresh (I’m thinking Dos Caminos here) should have that (I hate the next word) ‘moreish’ affect on you, the one that means no matter how hard you try, you just can’t stop picking, dipping and basking in the salty, fresh goodness. These corn chips were cardboardy, flavourless and I stopped after only a few…and I was starving hungry! So far, not impressed. It wasn’t fresh and didn’t taste good. I could pop down to Sainsbury’s and by some Dorito Dippas and some guacamole and that would have been a lot better and wouldn’t cost a fiver for the experience.

Next…a Chicken Tostada. There didn’t seem to be so much chicken on the menu, so thought this would be a good taster. It was ok, a little bland, nice, but nothing special.

Steak Tacos with Green Rice and Cowboy Beans. The tacos were too hot, with chunks of pretty much plain, raw, chewy steak on a processed mini tortilla that broke because it was so soggy when you lifted it up. Not good. Tortillas are made of pretty much flour and water…and these are so small, why not make them fresh? The meat should be a little smoky, marinated really well in Mexican spices, none of this applied to this meal. The best part was the rice and beans. These were delicious. Best part of the whole meal. Fantastic, well mixed, original, really fresh tasting and a great accompaniment. If only the thing it accompanied was any good…you wouldn’t have to eat mouthfuls of beans and rice on their own.

Chorizo Quesadillas were up next. These were ok. That’s kind of all I can say. The chorizo didn’t taste of anything really. I can think of hundreds of fabulous market stalls and vendors of great chorizo with all different kinds of flavouring and none of them got a look in as Bodega Negra has chosen a run of the mill, bland, nothingness as their main ingredient. The cheese was good, but they only way I managed to jazz them up was by dipping them in the beans that came with the tacos.

For dessert we went for the chocolate mousse served with berry compote. It didn’t look particularly appetising when it arrived…you’ll see by the photo. The mousse was too thick, almost as if they had a great consistency and then decided to add gelatine and cornflour to it. It was stodgy and the berry compote was embedded within it, this was very bitter and would only have complemented the mousse if it had been light and smooth tasting.

The rating for this one will be a little different as the service, ambience and decoration was good, but the food was so distinctly average. Also, if I took a New Yorker here and told them this place had been written about as THE place to go, they would laugh in my face.

New York Rate: 1.5

London Rate: 3.5

See what I’m getting at?

Worth a visit if you want a drink maybe…not worth it if you want some really nice food.

Overrated and disappointing. Oh and Time Out refer to this place as a speakeasy. Wha????? Oh please.

Bodega Negra

16 Moor Street  London, Greater London W1D 5NH

020 7758 4100


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