A hidden gem in North London – Café Also

I have driven past this café in Temple Fortune countless number of times and never even had the curiosity to try it. It’s so unimposing that it’s hard to believe that these beautiful dishes were hidden away inside. The high street is quiet and this place was practically dead on a Saturday night. I feel it’s my duty to spread the word of this incredible food!

The café doesn’t really deserve to be called a cafe, it’s one of the fanciest meals I’ve ever eaten. Don’t be put off by the simple wooden tables and rustic bookcases lining the walls. The food is all vegetarian and fish, catering to the local “kosher style” punters who won’t be short of things to eat which suit their dietary requirements.

I was fortunate to dine with friends who allowed me to taste their food and to wait patiently while I photographed their dinner.

Lentil Soup with spicy softie, cumin & tomato

Lentil Soup with spicy kofte, cumin & tomato

All dishes were rich with interesting combinations of flavours and textures. This elegantly placed kofte was a perfect accompaniment to the creamy soup.

Grilled goat's cheese and artichoke salad

Grilled goat’s cheese and artichoke salad

The goat’s alone cheese had a number of different textures. A gooey centre and a top that was burnt into a beautiful cheese crisp. Perfectly matched with artichoke hearts.

Salmon tandoori, pressed potatoes & chard

Salmon tandoori, pressed potatoes & chard

An interesting combination of Indian and English flavours, This dish tasted delicious with flavoursome salmon and English vegetables.

Smoked haddock with buttered leeks & packed egg

Smoked haddock with buttered leeks & poached egg

This spectacularly arranged plate was rich and creamy – actually a little too creamy to finish. The soft buttered leeks tasted fantastic with the fish, the creamy sauce and the soft poached egg.

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse

Seeing “chocolate mousse” on the menu, I should have known to presumed beauty, but this exceeded my expectations. This chocolate tube, filled with white chocolate mousse, decorated with chocolate truffles, strawberries and physalis.

Bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding

I enjoyed eating these small mouthfuls of soft creamy bread and butter pudding. Accompanied by ice cream and what can only be described as posh candy floss!

Brunch; so good we stayed for lunch – Granger and co in Clerkenwell

Clerkenwell has become a hotspot of brunch activity. Having enjoyed our mid morning meal in Modern Pantry and Workshop Coffee, it was time to try Granger and co. The restaurant felt like sitting in a nice cosy modern living room. We sat on a long bench that was more comfy than my couch! The ambience was calm and the decor was simple and warm and the service was fantastic. The waiters were friendly and helpful and the second the water jug was near empty, they were back with a fresh new chilled one.

There were so many tasty sounding things on the menu so we decided to order them all!

Broken eggs, ricotta, spinach, pine nuts & grilled sourdough

Broken eggs, ricotta, spinach, pine nuts & grilled sourdough

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 3.2
Exposure time 1/25s
ISO 200

I’m not such a fan of scrambled eggs but these broken eggs were a nice fresh take on the classic. Baked into a skillet and full of flavour from the chilli and ricotta. The sourdough was soft and crispy.

Courgette fritters, deep fried egg, haloumi, tahini yoghurt & parsley salad

Courgette fritters, deep fried egg, haloumi, tahini yoghurt & parsley salad

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 3.2
Exposure time 1/30s
ISO 200

The best thing about this dish was the tahini yoghurt. It was sweet and sharp at the same time and was a real compliment to the crispy courgette and salty haloumi.

Ricotta pancakes with banana and honeycomb butter

Ricotta pancakes with banana and honeycomb butter

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 3.5
Exposure time 1/60s
ISO 800

Next we went for brunch dessert. I used to think that dessert wasn’t necessary after brunch but I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on this one. The pancakes were incredibly fluffy with pockets of creamy ricotta.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post. We stayed quite a while in this restaurant. The waiters were so friendly and the atmosphere so pleasant that we basically forgot to leave. We were swayed into looking at a lunch menu after seeing the incredible plates coming out to the other customers. We couldn’t resist ordering a couple of small plates to share.

Pizza with broccolini, kale, tomatillo salsa & mozzarella

Pizza with broccolini, kale, tomatillo salsa & mozzarella

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 3.2
Exposure time 1/50s
ISO 800

The base was perfectly crispy and chewy at the same time. The salsa was really interesting and tasty, though I was a little disappointed by the rest of the flavours, it could have done with a little more oomph.

Courgette chips, nigella seed & tahini yoghurt

Courgette chips, nigella seed & tahini yoghurt

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 3.2
Exposure time 1/250s
ISO 800

I love courgettes and I love things fried in batter. These were more interesting than any tempura vegetable I’ve ever had. The batter was completely crispy and perfectly firm to compliment the gooey courgette. The tahini yogurt from the morning’s fritters had returned and was absolutely delicious. Served with a chunk of lime to add an extra zing.

The Grain Store, King’s Cross

Since the New King’s Cross station has opened, the whole area around it has transformed. There is an abundance of public space to meet friends or just sit and watch the world go by.

Granary Square is located just behind the station with copious of water jet fountains amongst the paving stones. Hoards of children can be found here on a weekend running through the fountains – Poor parents taking their soaking wet children home on the train.

The square often hosts pop up eateries for the KERB food festival. Here I chose one of its permanent restaurants called The Grain Store.

The Grain Store believes that the vegetables are the star of any meal. They are not a vegetarian restaurant but it was a great place to dine with non meat-eating friends as the options are so exciting.

Vegi Scotch Egg

Vegi Scotch Egg

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 1.8
Exposure time 1/50s
ISO 400

Being a non pig eater, I have never eaten a sctoch egg. I was very excited to try this vegi version using a lentil mix to surround the egg. Though I’m sure it’s very different from the original, it was perfectly cooked with a runny yoke and was incredibly tasty.

Omelette with rocket and broad beans and courgettes

Omelette with rocket and broad beans and courgettes

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 1.8
Exposure time 1/50s
ISO 400

This omelette was teaming with fresh vegetables. Not the tastiest I’ve ever had but a really exciting idea.

I would really recommend The Grain Store to anyone who is interested in trying new food combinations. We went for brunch but I’m excited to go again for their lunch or dinner menu.

Belgian waffles in the Atomium, Brussles.

On a recent trip to Brussels we stuffed our faces with some of the local specialities including chips, waffles and chocolate. This was a perfect diet for us for the weekend. The street waffles are cheap, sweet and decedent. The tastiest dessert we ate was this waffle, served with berries, chocolate sauce and ice cream, presented on a slate.

Image

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 20mm
f-stop 5
Exposure time 1/250s
ISO 200

The location of the waffles was probably the most interesting thing about it. We dined at the top of a 102m structure named the Atomium. The Atomium is a leftover building from Expo ’58 in the shape of an iron structure. The balls are rooms and the connectors are stairs and escalators. The structure is filled with information and exhibits with a restaurant on top.

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Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 24mm
f-stop 5.6
Exposure time 1/1600s
ISO 200

Brunch at Duck and Waffle, Heron Tower, London

On my second trip to Duck and Waffle, I made the difficult decision of not ordering the signature dish in favour of sampling some other delights on the menu. We started with salmon sashimi, beautifully served on a block of Himalayan rock salt, topped with a square of watermelon, basil and balsamic vinegar. The block perfectly seasons the fish whilst providing a beautiful presentation.

Image

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 8
Exposure time 1/400s
ISO 400

For main course we shared two dishes. It was brunch so we had to order eggs. Columbian eggs with avocado, tomato and smoked salmon on toasted sour dough.

Image

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 8
Exposure time 1/100s
ISO 400

The mozzarella salad was made up of several elements which beautifully complemented each other in taste and texture. The torn smoked mozzarella toped the salad leaves, surrounded by a balsamic glaze dressing topped with granola, fried sage and amalfi lemon rind.

Image

Device Model Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL
Focal Length 50mm
f-stop 8
Exposure time 1/100s
ISO 400

English Fish and Chips

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I spent the weekend in the northern city of York. We made the most of the traditional English food and went for dinner in the chippy. Mr Chippy was authentic and traditional with modern clean decor. Our waitress was extremely friendly and helpful and the food was delicious. We were served a side of buttered bread, but weren’t quite British enough to indulge in chip butties.

 

Artichokes

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Device Model

Canon EOS 600D DIGITAL

Focal Length

36mm

f-stop

5

Exposure time

1/60s

ISO

200

I found these artichokes at an Italian Market. They were everywhere and most had the tough outer leaves cut off so that the inner leaves were displayed. I recently cooked my first artichoke at home. it involved boiling it whole for 2 hours and then peeling away a leaf at a time and sucking out the meaty parts of the plant. We made a lemon butter sauce to dip the leaves into. Having peeled away the leaves and cut out the inner flower, we then reached the best part – The Heart!