Nanban Brixton

Nanban is the ramen restaurant from former Masterchef UK 2011 champion Tim Anderson. When it comes to ramen he really knows his stuff having lived for a time in Fukuoka aka the Japanese home of ramen. I’d been wanting to check out his place for a while, so as soon as lockdown restrictions on restaurant lifted I headed straight down to Brixton. I went for the Lazy goat ragù-men ramen. This is one of Nanban’s signature dishes and is inspired by Brixton’s West Indian history and culture. Several years ago now it won the Evening Standard dish of the year, so I was keen to try it out and my expectations were high. The ramen consists of slow-cooked boneless goat leg and noodles in a spicy Indo-Caribbean curry sauce, topped with seafood sawdust, fried shallots, scotch bonnet bamboo shoots and a tea pickled egg. An innovate twist on the traditional ramen, but it worked. The goat was beautifully tender and tasty. It sat in what was definitely more of a sauce than a broth and had a good spicy heat to it, without being blow your head off hot.

Camel Valley Vineyard Cornwall

On Friday after a bit of a late start due to quite a boozy first night we made our way to the nearby Camel Valley Vineyard to do a tour of the estate and most excitingly do some wine tasting. We sat on a beautiful terrace overlooking the vineyard. We started with a selection of five sparkling wines and before moving onto five of their white wines. Each selection came with details of the particular wines and tasting notes. It was really interesting seeing and tasting the differences between them all. Collectively as a group our favourites were almost all the same. Our favourites were the Sparking Brut Rose and our favourite white wine was the Atlantic Dry.

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Finding a good authentic laksa in London is not easy, but I’d heard good things about this place and with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme I felt it was as good time as time as any to give it a try. What with it being named after the namesake dish I had high expectations. I started with a honey duck bao bun. While the filling was pleasant enough, the bun was a bit hard in places and certainly not the soft pillowy bun one would expect. It was also torn, to be honest if I was the chef I wouldn’t have served it, but they did. Not a great start. For the main dish I of course also ordered a laksa. There was several different options but I went for the classic Singapore-style curry laksa. This dish was better, as one would hope for a restaurant literally named after the dish. Was it the best Laksa I’ve ever had no, not the worst either, pretty average overall though. Also afterwards I had quite a nasty stomach ache, which I’m not certain but may or may not have been from the meal. Either way don’t think I’ll be going back. My search for a decent Laksa in London continues.

The Green Goose, Bow

The Green Goose is my local ie. the closest pub to where I live. It used to be a really rough old East End boozer called The Lord Cardington. In fact the Pokemon Go stop still has it listed under that name. A few years ago now it was taken over and had a massive much needed refurb. I’ve been quite a lot since then, but this was the first time after lockdown and the first time I’d been for food. I went for dinner there with two of my neighbours Adam and Craig who are in my support bubble. We went as part of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, therefore all the food was half price up to a maximum discount of £10 each. After a few pints of Five Points IPA, we ordered a chateaubriand, which was for two to share and also a rib eye steak. All came with chips, roasted tomato and a little watercress salad. We all ordered our steaks medium rare, they were perfectly cooked and a bargain at just £10 each because of the deal. Really good quality meat as well. They also had a whole lobster on the menu for just £10. With our steaks we had a lovely Argentinian Malbec which perfectly complemented the food. I mean is there much better in life than a perfectly cooked steak and a glass of decent red wine I ask you? Afterwards, though we really didn’t need it, we all ordered the sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. It’s one of my favourite desserts ever and this was a decent version. Love this place, good honest pub food done very well.

The Game Bird at the Stafford Hotel

This year for my Terrence Higgins Trust Supper Club I chose as our restaurant of choice, The Game Bird at the Stafford Hotel. I really like game and I’d read that Jay Rayner, the brilliant Guardian restaurant critic, highly recommend this place.

We met pre-dinner at the hotel bar, it’s quite a small bar so unfortunately there wasn’t any free space for us inside so we ended up sitting outside on the terrace, thankfully it was heated. The outside area at the Stafford is lovely btw, a really quiet pleasant space in what was the old stables back in the day. It’s off the busy St James Street and is a little haven that not many people seem to know about. It’s a wonderful spot for a drink during the summer, can highly recommend it. Unlike all the restaurants I’d been before for The Supper Club we were seated in the main restaurant which is painted in a pleasant if not terribly exciting shades of grey. Sophisticated and elegant, but just a tad boring. I would have preferred to have been in one of their private dining rooms to be honest, though the restaurant was at least quiet.

All the food is all covered in the ticket price, so we ordered a dozen oysters for the table pre-meal. We had six Colchester rocks and six Porthilly rocks. Both were delicious, the Porthilly were larger than the Colchester, but maybe not quite so sweet. I love oysters and don’t get to eat them often and so they were a real treat. For my actually starter I had dressed Devon crab. A classic dish, it was excellent. There were so many good options I struggled to choose, but I knew I wanted something fishy and the crab was the most expensive starter and thankfully I wasn’t paying so wanted to get my money’s worth! Then for mains I ordered the signature game bird that the restaurant is named after, this consisted of roast pigeon, parsnips, cabbage, braised leg and ‘bullshot’.  On the specials menu there was a Beef Wellington for two, which was presented and carved at the table. It looked amazing, I was very jealous of my dining companions who ordered it. I’m not a massive mushroom fan though so although I love beef fillet I avoid Wellington because of the mushroom duxelle. For dessert I ordered the sticky toffee pudding soufflé with pecan ice cream. I have a bit of a sweet tooth and sticky toffee pudding is probably one of my very favourite desserts so I was really intrigued to try this. I wasn’t disappointed it was delicious, surprisingly light with just a hint of sticky toffee.