Review: Zindiya

Having lived in London for the past five years I was totally under the impression that the very concept of ‘street food’ had been invented here. It turns out people have actually been selling food items outside of restaurants and shops for  thousands of years! Who knew?!

With this newly acquired knowledge I decided to stick it to London and get a train to Birmingham.

Birmingham’s one of those places that feckless dullards say “it’s shit,” about whenever its name crops up in conversation. These people have never mustered an original thought of their own and tend to go through life parroting opinions they’ve heard that they think will be socially acceptable to their peers.

Not like me, I have loads of opinions of my own. Don’t believe me? Tweet and ask for one: @FoodieBoys This not going along with the crowd can probably be put down to the fact that I’m incredibly well travelled and interesting. Not only have I lived in Vietnam, but I also lived and worked in Delhi for a year. That’s right, Delhi, in India.

Indian food a short taxi ride from Birmingham city centre

You can only imagine my delight when I discovered there was a recently opened Indian street food establishment in Moseley, Birmingham. I booked a table for two and dusted off my Hindi dictionary.

“Bhains ke aage been bajana,” I said as I walked towards the bar.

“Sorry?” The waiter responded.

“Playing the flute to a buffalo is a waste of time.” I said, with my eyes closed, nodding slowly in a wise manner.

“Table for two is it?”

“Ek anaar, sau bimaar – one pomegranate is all there is, and a hundred men are sick trying to get it.”

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Lager and a From Oozy with love cocktail

After sitting down and looking at the menu we ordered some drinks, then some food. A tale as old as time – this is commonplace in restaurants.

Being a man, I ordered a pint of lager and my lady woman ordered  a rose cocktail that came in a plastic bag. A lovely touch. I attempted to come up with a  suitable anecdote from my time spent in Delhi, India.

“Oh, that’s such a lovely touch. It actually reminds me of a time in Chandni Chowk when… a… whe a… erm plastic bag… erm, fell… from the sky and it made me think… about… plastic bags.”

Fortunately the menu offered more opportunities to reminisce, for example with Pani Puri. I looked back fondly on the time in Delhi when this particular treat gave me a few days of watery diarrhoea.

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Aloo Tikki Chaat

To begin we ate Aloo Tikki Chaat – Potato cakes and spicy chickpeas, drizzled with tamarind chutney and yoghurt. LOVELY.

I ordered Lady Fingers as I wanted to do an Alan Partridge impression, it goes like this: “Oooh, lady fingers.” Pav bhaji is something I ate in India too, actually in Mumbai.

Sure, I’ve been to Mumbai. Where else have I been I hear you ask? Thanks for asking, I’ve also been to Jaipur, Kolkata, Amritsar, Varanasi and others. Incredible, India.

Chicken tikka – now, I like chicken tikka, chicken tikka is good and tasty. I am pleased, NAY, THRILLED to announce that this chicken tikka was delicious. The meat was perfectly moist, and the edges were slightly charred which gave it a lovely depth of flavour.

The seekh kebab was very good too, with a decent level of spice present.

I often think the best part of an Indian meal is the starters, Zindiya with its tapas style Indian street food was perfect and allowed me to talk about myself at length, wonderful.

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Four boys out of five.

 

Review: Little Social

I’ve seen Jason Atherton on Saturday Kitchen quite a few times, he wears tight t-shirts in that: “Yeah, I’m a middle aged man, sure, I look after myself. I like a couple of pints with the boys but I’m equally happy with a kale smoothie? Absolutely. What’s the big deal?” kind of way. And fair play to him.

Jason has 74,000 restaurants spread across the world. Many of them have the word ‘social’ attached to them.

City Social – you’re only allowed in if you had a part to play in the financial crash.

Social Eating House – the menu is inspired by bricks.

Pollen Street Social – the waiting staff all buzz constantly, only stopping once they’ve stabbed you and they perish.

And then there’s Little Social where the chef is a midget. It was here we went for a birthday lunch back in January! I know! So many questions, like: How has it taken me so long to write this up? Why didn’t I take a photo of the menu so I could remember what I ate? Aren’t professional kitchens potentially hazardous to midgets?

What I can tell you is that I had a cocktail, here’s a picture of it. It was very nice indeed.

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Here’s a photo of some butter, which I almost certainly had with some bread. If memory serves me correctly this was also perfectly pleasant.

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Here is my starter. Now, this was a beetroot based starter, and I do remember it as it was very nice.

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Here’s a mackerel. I think it was alright, I mean mackerel is always alright isn’t it really. Cheers mackerel.

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Here’s a bottle of wine we drunk. Notice the butter in the background, it’s been partly eaten. This lends weight to my earlier point about having consumed the butter with some bread.

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What can you say? A lunch time menu – 3 courses for £30 (I think, it was in that ball park) enjoyed in the knowledge that you’re helping a midget. Perfect.

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3.5 boys out of 5.

Review: Duke of Sussex

Before we begin discussing food we thought it might be useful to give you some interesting facts, meaning you come away from the blog with knowledge you didn’t have before. You might then share this newly acquired knowledge with your friends – helping to boost our reach.

DID YOU KNOW?: When Prince Harry gets married his Grandma is going to make him the Duke of Sussex? I know?!

DID YOU KNOW?: The first Duke of Sussex was Prince Augustus Frederick, the sixth son of King George III, back in 1801.

DID YOU KNOW?: The Duke of Sussex is also a pub by  Chiswick Park station / Acton Green.

“How will this help boost your reach?” you ask. Well, allow us to explain.

“You know that Prince Harry?” You say while sat in a pub / on the bus / having a smear test.

“Yes,” responds your friend / the driver / the nurse.

“He’ll become the Duke of Sussex when he gets married.”

“Oh really? Where did you hear that?”

“FoodieBoys.com.”

It really is that simple.

The Duke and tapas

Prince Augustus Frederick absolutely adored tapas and once famously said to his mate John, “John lad, there’s just something proper reassuring about paying £60 for 6 tiny plates of food rather than spending £15 on one actual meal.”

Augustus loved tapas so much that he actually used to spell his name ‘Prince Augustus Frederack’ just so he could say his name contained all the letters that make up the word ‘tapas’.

His dedication was SO great he actually grew giant croquetas in his garden.

The first Duke of Sussex showing off his massive croqueta.

With all this in mind it is of little surprise to find a pub named after the Duke serving up tapas to the eager mouths of West London.

The food

It was a…Tuesday afternoon I believe, possibly a Wednesday or even a Thursday, when we entered the pub (for full disclosure I can’t remember but it could have been any day of the week that wasn’t a Friday, Saturday or Sunday – I remember those days, it’s the others that are all just one long, sad, blurry march towards death).

We entered the pub and ordered various tapas items and a bottle of Rioja – I ordered Rioja as it is from Spain and I wanted to impress the barkeep. “I’ll have one of the SPANISH riojas,” I said, just loud enough for the rest of the pub to hear.

The wine was good, I also had a beer which was most pleasant. The food was, like so much tapas, total and utter ‘meh’ as people on the internet used to say back in the day.

Before we leave you with the all important score, there’s one last fact for you.

DID YOU KNOW?: The first Duke of Sussex invented aioli? 

The first Duke of Sussex discussing aioli with his mate John.

The score

2.5 boys out of 5.

As far as bog standard tapas goes this is well up there. The Duke would have been piiiiiiiiiiised.

Review: The Quality Chop House

You know that tricky scenario when you want to go for dinner but you’re also poor?

There are options available to you, such as:

  • Nandos
  • Take a Pepperami to a Michelin star restaurant and eat it in the toilet before leaving
  • Have a Pot Noodle in the park

Sadly I’m not allowed to lower myself to these levels as I’d have my official #Foodie hashtag removed.

So, rewind to Monday 27th February, one day before pay day. I remember it well, I was hungry and I was poor.

I’d wanted to visit The Quality Chop House in Farringdon for ages and never got round to it, then on Monday 27th February I discovered they do BYO on Mondays.

I should specify here that the ‘your own’ here refers to wine – not chops. Going to a ‘chop house’ and bringing your own chop is almost always frowned upon – you wouldn’t rock up to KFC with your own chicken would you?

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Quality Chop House Menu

I booked a table and headed to Tesco to grab as many bottles of Echo Falls I could carry. Three bottles of Echo Falls is as many as I could carry – one under each arm, one clutched in a hand, with one hand free for other activities.

“Good evening, would you like me to pour your wine?” The waitress asked.

“Erm? Decant it first for goodness sake.”

“Of course, and can I take your order?”

“Perhaps first you could advise what would best compliment my Echo Falls Peach And Mango flavoured wine.”

“Oh, without doubt the leeks followed by the mince on toast.”

“Very well.”

Starter

Leeks and anchovy

Leeks and anchovy

The burnt leeks and anchovy was underwhelming. Fine, but not great – which is why I used the word ‘underwhelming’.

Now I think about it, I’m not sure it’s the right word – if the leeks had blown my mind would I have described it as ‘overwhelming’? I doubt it. Being ‘overwhelmed’ by leeks sounds like something that might happen to a frail old man at an allotment. Think on.

Main course

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Mince on dripping toast

That’s a dreadful photograph, I blame the fact I’d just polished off my second bottle of Echo Falls – this time I quaffed Strawberry And Lime flavoured wine.

This dish was not underwhelming, if it was appropriate to use the word ‘whelmed’ I’d say it well and truly whelmed me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The beef dripping toast made me feel all warm inside.

I also had a delicious treacle tart, but I didn’t take a picture of that as after the bottle of Echo Fruit Rose Summer Berries flavoured wine I could no longer operate my phone.

All in all, a ruddy good experience.

Four boys out of five.

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Review: Il Pampero

Greetings! Welcome to another food blog! YAY! Hopefully we can expect some of this:

“I perused the menu.”

“Oooh, this sausage is cooked to perfection.”

“The asparagus had a real depth of flavour.”

“I’m not paying for this so I’m not actually going to tell you it was BANG AVERAGE.”

As a top, London foodie influencer I receive emails about soft launches of restaurants. I don’t really like the phrase ‘soft launch’ as it makes me think of Donald Trump wearing a sailor hat, trying to thumb his flaccid penis into you having forgotten to take his viagra.

Restaurant soft launches are basically a chance for them to make sure everything works before officially opening their doors to the public. Usually they will only charge 50% for food, so it’s a good chance to go somewhere you might not normally visit.

With this in mind, a few weeks ago I found myself in Belgravia. ME! In Belgravia, with my reputation (my reputation as someone really fucking cool who used to live in East London).

Basically I really like Italian food these days, so saw a soft launch for a new Italian place there and thought: “well, surely it’ll be good because posh people have great taste right?”

WRONG

Il Pampero is the restaurant in the Hari Hotel, which is owned by Harry Styles of One Direction fame (this is included for SEO purposes).

I ordered a Negroni to start, which was a pretty good Negroni. It came on a little bit of wood with a bit of fake, old newspaper on. Quirky, but bloody annoying having to peel it from the bottom of your glass every time you took a sip. I only had like four sips though as I’m an absolute, bloody, raging LAD.

Negroni

Negroni plus paper

My starter of sweetbreads with mushrooms was pretty good. I’d give it a good solid 7/10. Here’s a picture of it.

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Sweetbreads

My main was less good. Saffron risotto with veal ragu and crumbled bone marrow.

The veal ragu and crumbled bone marrow could have been literally anything in the whole wide world and you wouldn’t have tasted it over the massively over-powering saffron.

Saffron risotto

Saffron risotto

If I hadn’t have been here on the soft launch that risotto would have cost £19.50. Imagine! Fortunately they took it off the bill so I didn’t have to weep.

Two boys out of five.

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Review: Viet Eat / Viet Food / Ngon

Have I ever mentioned that I taught English in Vietnam during my gap year? I hope I have as it’s probably worth knowing, but just to be sure I’ll mention it again here.

Back in 2003 I taught English in Vietnam, yeah 2003 – before you even knew Vietnam existed. It was a crazy time, get in touch if you’d like to arrange a meet-up with me where I can talk to you, at length, about this.

Anyway, as a result I really got a taste for the cuisine over there – pho, bun cha, beer, summer rolls, cafe sua da, banh mi pates, marijuana – all the good stuff.

So, I often go to Vietnamese restaurants in London. Here I will treat you to a review of three of them I have recently visited.

Viet Eat

Here we had various things, but I’ll talk about the two in the picture – the first being a beef bao – MEH – go and have bao somewhere that specialises in bao, like that restaurant called Bao.

The Vietnamese fried rice was OK. I always used to have this in Vietnam on my gap year, have I mentioned I went to Vietnam on my gap year? I also always used to oder this in Tre Viet in Hackney, I used to live in Hackney, have I mentioned that? Yeah, I had a gap year and I also lived in Hackney – I’m everything you always hoped you’d be.

I like this stuff as it’s got rice, prawns and bits of sausage in it. The sausage is sweet and tasty, cover the whole thing in soy sauce and you’re on to a winner. This one was OK (as I mentioned in the previous paragraph #OK).

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2.5 boys out of 5

Viet Food

How DO they name these places? Here are a few ideas for any potential Vietnamese restaurants opening:

  • Viet nourishment
  • Viet sustenance
  • Viet nutriment
  • Viet fare
  • Viet foodstuffs
  • Viet edibles
  • Viet provisions
  • Viet rations

You get the idea. I was here for a work lunch, did I mention that I have a job? A job, a gap year and a former dwelling in Hackney – blows the mind really.

Here we’re looking at Bún Thịt Nướng or chargrilled lemongrass pork to you shit munchers, and crispy spring rolls. The bun was good, the spring rolls were rubbish.

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3 boys out of 5

Ngon

Ngon is Vietnamese for ‘tasty’. This seems like a good opportunity for me to teach you some Vietnamese.

  • Tôi là một giáo viên – I am a teacher

That’s the main one you need when you’re teaching English on your gap year in Vietnam.

During my gap year in Vietnam I would often drink shit loads of 5p beer and then have a banh mi pate. Banh mi pate’s are baguettes with various bits of meat and pate in them and frankly when you were pissed they were incredible.

I’m yet to find one in London anything similar, however Ngon do an excellent pork banh mi.

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Banh mi

They also do a good cafe sua da – iced coffee with condensed milk. I would show you a photo but I forgot to take one.

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3.5 boys out of 5

All in all, the lesson here is that I’m better than you in every conceivable way.

Review: We Serve Humans

Having moved away from London’s trendy East I think it’s important to go back every now and then to keep up with the latest on-point, peng (reminder: Google some Vice articles for some more trendy phrases to add here) food happenings.

So, last Saturday I gave Toby a ring:

We Serve Humans?”

“Yep.”

“Is this like those weird German couples who eat each other’s penises that you’re always going on about.”

“I’ve mentioned it like three or four times.”

“I’m not letting you eat my penis.”

“How many times! I don’t want to eat YOUR penis, I just wonder what they’d taste like and what garnishes would go with them. Anyway, I’ll meet you at the Jackdaw and Star in Homerton at 12:30.”

“Fine.”

“Bring your penis.”

As we approached, we began to debate how we introduce ourselves.

“We can’t just march in there and say we want to gorge on the meat of the slain.” Toby worried.

“Don’t worry, we’ll say: ‘I believe the kitchen is expecting us’.” said Tony.

“Perfect.”

We walked into the bar:

“We’re here for the humans!” Toby barked in a mad panic.

“Oh, of course. You must be the bloggers,” the barman said calmly.

“Shhhh, don’t call us that in public, we’re not monsters.” We responded in unison.

“OK, just a minute. Take a seat.”

We sat ourselves down and nervously waited, the tension was palpable.

“I don’t want to be a party pooper, but I just couldn’t wait…” Toby said as he stared, ashamed, at his shoes.

“You couldn’t wait for what?”

“To try…human flesh.”

“Oh fuck, what did you do?”

With this Toby flung off his left shoe, his left sock and put a bloodied foot on the table.

“You tried to gnaw your little toe off didn’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“How was it?”

“I could only taste blood and tears really.”

“Shut up! They’re coming!”

A man emerged from the kitchen and walked towards our table. Tony grabbed the ketchup and placed a napkin in his lap.

“Hi,” the human said offering us his hand.

Unsure whether to bite it or shake it, we ignored it totally.

“OK, what can I get you?” The human offered.

“Human, please.”

“Yes, that’s me.”

ANYWAY, long story short, this chap was Paul Human the founder of We Serve Humans.

We then proceeded to feast on NOT the flesh of humans but the flesh of cows, chickens and pigs. Lovely.

Potato

Let us begin with the chips (chips are made with the flesh of the potato). These were covered in beer cheese sauce and we stuffed them in our faces at quite a rapid rate.

Fries with beer cheese sauce

Fries with beer cheese sauce

Chicken

We then had some of the fried chicken wings (chicken flesh) with whisky and ginger sauce. These chicken wings are reason enough why we are better off continuing to eat chicken rather than human. They were delicious. If human arms were this tasty chickens would be eating them greedily.

Buttermilk chicken wings with whisky and ginger sauce

Buttermilk chicken wings with whisky and ginger sauce

Beef

Burgers. This is what We Are Humans are all about. Proper beef, served medium rare covered in some seriously good toppings.

‘The chairman’ was great, but even better was the ‘End of democracy’ which is ‘the chairman’ covered in chilli and jalapenos. NICE.

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The End of Democracy burger

A shout out to the buffalo chicken burger too.

“This is good, it tastes like buffalo sauce.”

“It is buffalo sauce.” Paul Human told Toby.

“But it’s not bright orange like Donald Trump’s penis?”

It turns out they make their own buffalo sauce, rather than use Frank’s like everyone else does.

We then discussed what Donald Trump would taste like until the early hours.

The best burgers and wings we’ve had in Hackney.

Five boys out of five

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Review: La Trompette

Music and food is a match made in heaven, one of my favourite past times involves settling down in front of the Mini Disc player, blasting out some tunes and chowing down on some good nosh. Here are a few of my favourite combinations:

  • Take That with Squid
  • Bon Jovi with Asparagus
  • Taylor Swift with Ham

Try it, you might just like it.

One type of music I’ve never eaten food to is the trumpet. There’s something about someone dribbling spittle down a brass instrument that just turns my stomach.

Fortunately there wasn’t a trumpet in sight at Chiswick’s ‘La Trompette‘. It’s only fair to mention here that I’ve dined at this Michelin star establishment before because as a foodie it’s imperative for me to eat in places that others simply can’t afford.

To the La Trompette menu

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Quite the feast I think you’ll agree. What do you think I picked? Go on, have a guess. No, don’t think about what you’d have – this isn’t about you. What would I have?

Correct, I had the Bresaola to start.

“I’ll have the Bresaola, please.” I said confidently in an Italian accent.

“Excellent choice, sir”

“It is?”

“Yes”

“What is it?”

I can inform you that it’s air-dried, salted beef. This one had been hung in their wine cellar. Which you could certainly tell by the taste, that’s a lie, it could have been hung anywhere (within reason). But it was good, the spiky artichoke (artichokes are currently in season – KNOWLEDGE) weren’t that spiky, I tried to attack the sommelier with it and he hardly noticed.

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Bresaola

For my main I had the fallow dear, mainly because I wanted to say “Spätzle”. Go on, give it a try, shout it at the person next to you – especially if you’re on public transport.

“Before the invention and use of mechanical devices to make these noodles, they were shaped by hand or with a spoon and the results resembled Spatzen (plural of Spatz, meaning sparrows, sparrow is Spatz or Sperling in German; Spätzle is the diminutive of Spatz, unchanged in plural).” Spätzle Wikipedia page

“You can probably guess what I’d like for my main.” I said to the waiter.

“I’m not sure.”

“I’m the man behind Seagulls and Sausages…”

“Erm…”

“So, I’ll have the deer with the little sparrows, please. This is basically a research trip for me.” I told my dining partner.

So, what did I think of the deer? It was fantastic and far better than this rubbish photo suggests.

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Fallow deer

Dessert – obviously I had the soufflé as it was the fanciest sounding one.

The word soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler which means “to breathe” or “to puff”.

Which is why I only eat soufflé while listening to P.Diddy /  Sean Combs / Diddy. The good people of Chiswick thoroughly enjoyed my rendition of ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ while I stuffed  banana flavoured baked egg in my face.

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Four and a half boys out of five. Congratulations.

Review: Duck and Rice – London

The Chinese New Year is the perfect time of year to indulge in the cuisine of the Chinese.

The Chinese are famed for making all sorts of food – rice, dumplings and noodles to name just a few.

During Chinese New Year celebrations it’s traditional to eat fish as it’s considered to be a lucky food – not so lucky for the fish!!!

I didn’t feel like eating fish though, plus it’s the year of the Rooster , so I had a think and the closest thing I could think of was a ‘seagull’ but seagull meat is yet to become a mainstream meat sold in the UK* so I came to the conclusion that I’d go and eat some duck.

THUS I ended up at Duck and Rice in London’s trendy Soho district.

“Gōngxǐ fācái.” I greeted the barman.

“Sorry?” He responded.

“Happiness and prosperity!” I shouted towards the other bar folk.

“Oh, thank you. What can I get you?”

“A table for two please.”

“Would you like to sit in the bar or upstairs in the restaurant?”

“Bùbù gāoshēng.” I answered confidently.

“I’m not sure what that means.”

“A steady rise to high places!”

“Oh, so the restaurant.?”

“Nah, I’ll sit down here.”

I ordered some beer, some fried chicken and some duck and rice – a dish cleverly sharing the name of the restaurant!

The beer was ‘hǎo’, the duck and rice was ‘pretty salty’, and the chicken was ‘hélǐ’. (Good/pretty salty/fine)

Three boys out of five.

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* – Now on to important matters: As anyone who has visited a seaside town in Britain recently will realise – Seagulls are a pest and a danger to our way of life. I propose we start murdering them and serving them up at a restaurant in London’s trendy Soho district.

What do seagulls taste like?

Think about it – they eat fish and chips – so surely they’re like a chicken that tastes of fish and chips?

Inspired by my trip to Duck and Rice I thought I’d name the restaurant after the signature dish served there. Get in touch for investment opportunities for ‘Seagull and Sausage’.

Review: Foxlow – Chiswick

I read the other day that the Stoke Newington branch of Foxlow was closing down after receiving a food hygiene rating of zero.

Eager to find out what all the fuss was about I made my way to their Chiswick branch to see if I could contract something that would give me a few days off work.

Sadly, the Chiswick branch has a an absolutely massive 5/5 on the hygiene scale.

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Foxlow is the sister restaurant to the renowned Badgerhigh, Soho.

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We decided to sit in the bar area and ordered cocktails and anchovy crisps to start us off.

“I bet your anchovies are pretty hygienic!” I suggested.

“What?” Replied the waitress.

“I imagine the anchovies have washed their hands!”

“I don’t think they have hands.”

“A good point well made, well, they’ve probably disinfected their shoes!” I laughed.

“I don’t think they have shoes.”

Anyway, let me tell you about the anchovy crisps. They’re on a little crisp bread/cracker type thing, with some goats cheese butter/mousse, an anchovy fillet and a couple of shallot rings.

Now, I bloody love anchovies. I put them on everything: pizzas, Coco Pops, satsumas. These anchovy crisps are exceptional – I’d happily eat 4,000 of them in a sitting.

My main consisted of jerked pork – a pig that has been wanked to death and covered in spices.

As a manly man who has lived in India (have I ever mentioned that before? I should probably mention it more often) I like a bit of spice, but I was disappointed as the pork didn’t even come close to making me cry.

It came with an apple and fennel slaw which was nice and allowed me to go into a rant about how there’s fucking fennel on everything.

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Jerked Pork

We had a side of broccoli which was covered in garlic and lemon juice – this was good – all vegetables are better when they’re covered in garlic.

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Broccoli

Dessert – a malt chocolate pannacotta.

“That looks like a mess,” my dining partner mentioned.

“It does, it has an air of a dubious bowel movement that’s been covered in Oreos and Ovaltine.”

Fortunately, it tasted good.

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Malt chocolate pannacotta

Decent food, decent drinks, and no sign of food poisoning.

We did wait about 15 minutes to pay the bill as everyone disappeared, which was annoying.

“We could just leave,” my lady friend said.

“We could…” I pondered this for a while and came up with all the pros and cons:

Pro: Free dinner
Con: Dying in jail.

In the end I decided to pay.

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3.75 boys out of 5