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?

IMG_9147

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

IMG_9149

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.

FoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_full

 

 

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.

food_standards_agency_-_search_for_food_hygiene_ratings

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

badgerhigh

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.

img_8569

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.

img_8570

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.

img_8571

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.

FoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_half

3.75 boys out of 5

FoodieBoys food tour of Kent #LongRead

“There are only so many London restaurants, we don’t want to run out before our domain registration, www.foodieboys.com, expires.” Tony sighed.

“Too true, perhaps we should go and review some places in Kent. After all, Kent is much like London. They have similar accents, for example.”

“I was thinking the exact same thing.”

And so it was we took the evening train heading East, towards a little place they call Birchington Vale Caravan park.

Friday

To get there we alighted the train, with all our personal belongings, at Westgate-on-Sea.

“Okay Google” shouted Toby at his Android phone, “Westgate-on-Sea foodie locations.”

Next thing you know, we’re standing outside Paul’s, which came complete with a 4.2 Google rating from five reviews. We entered and immediately noticed the delightful outside area.

“It reminds me of a Spanish garden,” Tony mused.

“I knew a girl who had her bum hole licked in a Spanish garden,” Toby shouted slightly too loudly as we pulled the door open.

After explaining ourselves we were granted permission to stay.

“Hi, we’re the FoodieBoys and we’d like to try some of your local, seasonal fare,” we said in unison.

“We’ve got burgers,” the barmaid said.

“That is SO London.We’ll have two.”

“How would you like them cooked?”

“Medium-rare please, we’re foodies from London.”

The burgers arrived, topped with blue cheese and bacon. They were perfectly pleasant, although neither of them were medium-rare. Perhaps to be expected in the sticks.

IMG_5624

Not a medium-rare burger.

After devouring our medium-well burgers we asked at the bar for a cab to take us to the caravan park.

“Call for carriages!” Tony shrieked.

“Sorry?” the barmaid responded.

“We need a taxi to take us to the caravan park.”

“Oh.”

And so the taxi driver came, hunched over, into the bar. “TAXI FOR THE FOODIE BOYS!” He was quite the character and even asked if he could work with us on our website. We of course declined.

The Birchington Vale Caravan park came fully equipped with a bar, full to the brim of drunken men and children high on litres and litres of slush puppy.

We perused the menu to see what sort of culinary delights we might enjoy.

Chicago Town pizza or Chicago Town pizza were the options. Washed down with slush puppy.

“We’re going to need that freak taxi driver again,” Toby said with delight.

Saturday

Sure enough Saturday arrived, how predictable.

During the day we ate Hula Hoops, biscuits and Feast ice creams acquired from the shop, as well as some exquisite flapjacks.

When evening arrived we headed to the bustling, seaside town of Margate – FoodieBuoys more like!!

After a pleasant hour chatting to locals on the seafront, we decided we needed to book a table at a local bistro.

“OKAY GOOGLE,” bellowed Toby, much to the bewilderment of the locals.

But before he could complete the sentence, Tony chimed in, “what about this place?”

The website’s mobile site confusingly hid the menu from us so we decided it must be exclusive. We used our influence on Twitter to acquire a table at Giorgios – an Italian/ Greek / Mediterranean restaurant depending on which site you read.

Walking in, we found that a huge stag party had also found their way into the place, but we recognised the commercial imperative that large venues have to get as many people in as possible to make their restaurant economically viable. Plus, we were hungry and didn’t know anywhere else to go. So we snapped up our table.

Cocktails! Personally, we can’t have a meal without having at least one before. That’s because we’re London foodies, you may feel differently. We ordered espresso martinis but received one more than we asked for*! Whether this was a genuine mistake, or an attempt to butter up #FoodInfluencers we can’t be sure.
(*Full disclosure – we did not request this but these “mistakes” are a perk of the job.)

We ordered our food.

Starters: Tone opted for scallops with bacon and asparagus, while Tobes went for a mozzarella and tomato salad.

“It freaks my nut every time I piss after asparagus,” Tony told the owner.

Mains: Sea Bass with lemon and white wine jus and a ‘Grigliata Mista’ – steak, chicken, sausage, aubergine and chips.

“I can see why you call it a Mista!” Toby said to the waitress as it was placed before him.

“Sorry?” she replied.

“I can see why you call it a Mista!”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“You wouldn’t called it a Missus, would you?”

“Erm, no. Can I get you any more drinks?”

“Because it’s too big for a woman isn’t it? Really. Unless she had a particularly large appetite, which is fine, I actually like women who eat more than me. Have you ever been in a Spanish garden?”

“JUST some tap water please!” Tony interrupted.

The food was fine. Look at the pictures and taste it for yourself. Do we really have to explain everything to you?

Although we were stuffed, we thought we’d order dessert. Chocolate fudge cake and a chocolate fondant.

Sadly, when thrusting my spoon through the fondant it did not deliver a gooey ending. If this had happened in London I would have demanded to see the chef, but I presumed the ovens in Kent may not work as effectively, so let them off.

IMG_5664

Solid fondant

Sunday

Another day of eating like four year old children left to their own devices for the first time at the caravan park left us hungry for more of Kent’s foodie scene.

So, obviously we went to Broadstairs.

We were busy debating our favourite type of sausage in the back of the taxi when the driver began to talk.

“Charles Dickens used to live here you know.”

“I think the Lincolnshire is better than the Cumberland and you’re never going to be able to persuade me otherwise.” Tony declared.

“Charles Dickens used to eat sausages here.” Said the driver, desperately.

“Bollocks.” Toby said, we threw a tenner at him and jumped out. He shouted, “THIS HAS GOT CHARLES DICKENS ON IT” as he drove away.

We walked around the corner and BAM! The Charles Dickens pub.

“He was right!”

What does Sunday say to you? To some it would say “church,” others would say “The Observer,” but to Tobes it would say “Roast.”

So he ordered the lamb roast but Tony went for the fish and chips, as he’d spent the day looking at the sea and wondering if fish eat potatoes.

We had a top seat, right next to the kitchen. An exclusive spot! We saw our food being plated up which was a real treat.

“HEY! What are you doing to his fish?” Toby yelled.

“I’m just checking its temperature,” the chef said as he removed the metal thermometer from the cod.

“Bit late for that, mate, it’s already dead!” Tony quipped, but sadly they’d disappeared around the back of the kitchen so they couldn’t hear it.

IMG_5680

Fish with lemon in a little bag, “the best invention I’ve ever seen,” – Toby.

Monday

Time to go home.

We bid farewell to the oddballs at the caravan park ( including the topless man shouting “this is the life eh mate?” as he drove past on a sit on mower) and headed back to Westgate-on-Sea. With an hour to kill before our train we spotted an opportunity for one last foodie adventure.

We approached the man working at the train station.

“Hello, do you know anywhere we can get a coffee?”

“I’m not from here,” he barked at us.

“Oh, so you don’t know anywhere that sells coffee near the station where you work?”

“No.”

With this horrid interaction ringing in our ears we disconsolately trundled up the street. Fortunately, about 200 metres from the station were three cafes.

“Perhaps he’s blind?” Toby tried to justify the station master’s actions.

“He wasn’t blind! He was just a massive twat.” Tony shouted as we flung the door to the Beano cafe open.

“I’ll have the breakfast special and a flat white please.”

“A flat what?”

“White.”

“Make it two coca cola, a special breakfast and a sausage and chips please, buddy?” Toby interrupted, bored of this second difficult interaction of the day.

“Look at that plastic washing-up bowl full of bacon,” Tony said, for there was one.

IMG_5686

Mmm special

We speculated as to why the cafe was called the Beano cafe, and settled on the fact there must have been a character who made shit breakfasts, maybe one of the minor ones in the middle you didn’t read. Like Beryl the Peril.

Kent’s food scene clearly wasn’t prepared for us and we’ve come to the conclusion that London is better than Kent.

Kent gets two boys out of five.

FoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_full

 

 

Review: William Blue College of Hospitality Management (Sydney)

As some of you may remember, towards the end of last year Tony took an ill-fated business trip to Sydney to scope out the viability of starting a food blog in Australia.

It was ill-fated for two reasons:

1) I got food poisoning on the first night of a week long trip to the other side of the world.
2) It turns out the vast majority of Australians can’t actually read – rendering a potential food blog redundant.

IMG_3522

Sydney rock oysters

On my last full day in Sydney, with my bowel back to full working order, I decided I should treat myself to a nice lunch.

After some Googling my options seemed to be:

1) Eat a packet of chicken flavoured Twisties
2) Leave my hotel.

I opted for the latter. I ended up at the William Blue college of hospitality management. I think I was drawn in by the catchy name.

It’s a restaurant run by hospitality students. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to inspire the next generation of hospitality workers.

Anyway, I got a table for one and an eager young man fetched me some water and some bread. Bless him, he was so nervous he was shaking. He was obviously clued up on the foodie world and knew he was serving a FoodieBoy!

To begin I ordered the  Sydney rock oysters with red wine, shallot (they called it ‘eschallot’ for some reason – bloody Australians) and tomato vinaigrette. The vinaigrette offered a sharp contrast to the (insert adjective for texture which can apply to oysters here) of the oysters.

IMG_3523

Roast pork loin

My main of roast pork loin, crackling, crispy kale, colcannon croquette and apple cider jus was tender and very tasty. The colcannon croquette was a treat.

I asked the waiter to sing me the colcannon song while I ate, but sadly he was unaware of the lyrics. Upon hearing this I leapt from the table, adopted my best ‘Oirish’ accent and sang, merrily:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

The chorus:

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Repeat to fade:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Blushing, the waiter said, “Crikey mate, that’s one of the most bloody moving things that’s every happened to me, mate.”

I said, “mate, stop calling me ‘mate’, mate.”

We embraced, I sat back down, and told him to bring me dessert and a glass of shiraz.

The dessert was a chocolate delice, orange and cardamom ice cream, pop rocks and orange sherbet.

Chocolate delice

Chocolate delice

This was most pleasant.

I asked the waiter to sing me the orange and cardamom ice cream song while I ate. He looked worried. “Only joking, there isn’t one!” I said, as I laughed myself to tears.

A very nice meal indeed.

Four boys out of five.

FoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_fullFoodieBoys_review_full

 

Smokehouse Chiswick – review

Neil Rankin’s Smokehouse has opened a second branch, taking over the Hole In The Wall pub in Chiswick.

Goat tacos

Goat tacos

If it can deliver as much pleasure as some holes in the wall they will surely be on to a good thing.

The Smokehouse is all about the meat – a lot like some holes in the wall.

Myself and my lady friend were booked in to enjoy dinner during the ‘soft launch’ period – something you’d hope to not experience at some holes in the wall.

We arrived slightly early so we ordered a drink to enjoy in the whisky room. If you like a stiff one there’s plenty on offer. Whiskies not penises.

Deep fried oysters

Deep fried oysters

We sat down to dinner and first enjoyed some olives with our bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Domaine des Moulines 2012. Our starters arrived, I enjoyed the goat tacos which had a nice level of warmth emanating from the chipotle. My lady friend had the deep fried oysters with beef dripping toast and smoked bone marrow. It resulted in her making the sort of delighted noises a high pitched man might make on the receiving end of some holes in the wall.

For mains we enjoyed the lamb shoulder with polenta and sambal and a short rib bourguignon. Both were very tasty, and the portions were large – a real mouthful you could say (something about a hole in the wall).

We both had a double d cake with pistachio ice cream for dessert washed down with another bottle of wine. The pistachio ice cream was delicious (something about nuts and cream).IMG_0062

It was a lovely meal and the staff were great. We’re already looking forward to returning.

(If you didn’t pick up the reference, it was to glory holes. You can find out more about glory holes on the internet)

Short rib bourguignon

Short rib bourguignon

Review: The Old Dairy, Crouch Hill

Happy Sunday! What better day to share a review of a roast dinner I recently sampled in Crouch Hill?

Welcomed in by the dulcet tones of Bon Iver, I knew instantly I would warm to the Old Dairy like an old friend. With a nice India Pale on tap, so much the better.

As I sat and watched a thrilling 3-3 draw between Reading football club and Wolverhampton Wanderers (the view partially obscured by the reflection of a chandelier) I began to feel a little peckish and consulted the menu.

Mmmenu

Mmmenu

Too Chicken? Not Me.

I settled on the chicken after enquiring at the bar where the chicken was from. They thought it might have been from Norfolk but weren’t unequivocal. They reiterated it was corn fed so I pressed on.

The food was delivered fantastically quickly, which shows this chef must be at the top of his game. I asked for his / her name but was politely rebuffed.

Chicken, vegetables, beer. Did someone say paradise?

Chicken, vegetables, beer. Did someone say paradise?

What did I think? Let’s start with the carrots. Innovative. Cut into long, thin strips, they were unlike any other carrot I’ve eaten. The cauliflower? Creamy. The potatoes? Crispy. What of the chicken? Moist and herby. I enquired about the chef’s methods but this is a pub that values its uniqueness and were admirably secretive once again.

One word of caution: the mustard viscosity was of some concern. To my mind it flowed too easily and lacked a gloopiness . The video below should show you what I mean.

Despite explaining at length my thoughts on the matter, the waiting staff seemed unperturbed, a complacency that endangers their livelihoods.

In summary, this was a wonderful meal and experience, I would liked to have stayed a great while longer but my date fell ill.  4/5