Regina G Beach

The only constant is change.

Filtering by Tag: London

London Bar Roundup 1

The Jugged Hare

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The Jugged Hare in Barbican is worth a stop in just to check out the vast array of taxidermied animals displayed around the bar. A huge stag head is visible from the street where it hangs on the wall. But inside there are a dozen or so hare heads mounted on wood between the bar and the restaurant where most meats were sourced with a 12 gauge are served so be careful of the shot in the main dishes. Above the bar, a glass case displays a mink, ducks, fox, fish and other curiosities. The service is mediocre. The bar tender poured my drink and took my money but didn’t give me my drink from the tap, but it’s worth a wander in for a pint. 

Youngs

It’s not every day that a brewery turned 188 years old, or in this case young. Youngs brewery has been turning out lagers and mild stouts since 1831. Craig and I passed a bar that was celebrating the birthday with balloons, a piñata and a free pint of Youngs for everyone who downloaded the Youngs on Tap app, so that’s just want we did. You can’t compete with free. The Fox and Anchor is one of over 50 pubs that serve Youngs in London, so you’ll have your pick when their 189th birthday party rolls around next September. 

The Artful Dodger

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The Artful Dodger in on Royal Mint St. in Shadwell. It’s a classic spit and sawdust boozer, painted green to match the name of the street and sits across from a tube tunnel where trains submerge and re-emerge above ground. When I walked in to meet Craig’s friend Sam, who was also working in London for the day, I was the only woman in the bar. I had a half pint of cider for £2 which seemed like a good price by London standards. A dart league plays there and there’s free wifi, and a patio. Not a bad place for a cheap drink at all. 

The Craft Beer Co.

On the other end of the pay scale is The Craft Beer Co., which, like the name suggests is a craft ale house. Craig and I got sours that ran us £8 and £7 respectively. His was a delicious lemonade sour and mine was coconut. Astroturf and bunting decorate the patio, which is strewn with half kegs as end tables. A fun splurge for one, but you wouldn’t want to make a session out of it. 

The Eagle

The Eagle is a gastro pub in Farringdon with mismatched furniture, an ever changing menu and a great selecting of craft and traditional ales on tap. Somehow for the second day in a row the beer I wanted was out and they had to change the keg, but the service was speedy getting me a drink in their promised 2 minutes. I’d go back for food. 

DF Tacos 

The Stats: DF Tacos

What we ordered:

To Drink: Two beers 
• LOBA NEGRA 5.5% Porter style ale brewed by Cerveza Loba
• 750 IPA 6.7% American style IPA from Propaganda Brewing

To Eat: 6 tacos and a plate of nachos to share
• Classic Taco Board Grilled chicken. Pork pibil. Chile beef
• Choirzo Nachos- Tortilla chips. Pinto Beans. Cheese sauce. Sour cream. Avocado salsa. Mexican style sriracha. Pink pickled onions, Trealy Farm soft chorizo

Cost £38

Craig works in a beautiful modern office in Shoreditch. I came to visit him at the end of the day, take a tour and hang out on the rooftop to soak up the sun while summer mercifully lingers into late September. I drank a Brew Dog Elvis Juice from the office fridge, met Huxley the office golden labradoodle and admired the reclaimed wooden floors and office ping pong table. 

When Craig finished up for the day he suggested a Mexican place around the corner he had been to once before. Tacos are one of my favorite foods and I’m relieved that Europe has finally caught on to the glory of Mexican cuisine. DF, short for District Federal, the old name for Mexico City, has two London locations and packs a punch. 

Orders and payment are taken at kiosks in the front of the restaurant giving the vibe of a hybrid fast causal meets counter service. We toyed with the idea of ordering two tacos a piece but then changed out minds and went huge with a 6-taco classic taco board. I had a Mexican porter, which I didn’t know existed as cerveza tends toward the lager side of beers. Craig got a Mexican-brewed American-style IPA which he was drinking in England to maximize the international nature of it al. 

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We started out with a plate of chorizo nachos and they were some of the best nachos I’ve ever eaten. Expertly arranged chips in a low mound ensured the toppings were evenly distributed on the tortilla chips. There wasn’t actually any cheese on the nachos, which at first seemed strange but the replacement cheese sauce wasn’t stringy and melded well with the beans, onions and greasy, delicious chorizo. 

DF has a variety of sauces including a salsa verde, yellow habanero, a fiery red sauce and Valentino hot sauce for those who’s rather stick with the tried and true than try the house varieties. I was partial to the salsa verde and habanero. Craig is a glutton for punishment and enjoyed the fiery red salsa the best. We had practically licked the nacho plate clean when a waiter set down a corrugated metal tray with six tacos wedged between each V. At that moment the fire alarm started blaring and 50 eyes of the patrons turned toward the waiter awaiting directions. 

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No one moved. No one got up. No one even looked particularly worried about the red lights and siren. We waited it out and eventually the alarm turned off and everyone went back to their meals. Maybe it was a false alarm or some smoke in the kitchen or a drill. We’ll never know but I’m glad we didn’t have to abandoned our tacos and exit the building. 

There were two each of chunky grilled chicken (the least inspiring of the bunch, it would have been easier to eat and likely more delicious if it was shredded,) pork pibil and my favorite Chili beef. They came in white flour tortillas, which I said was inauthentic but Craig didn’t seem to have any qualms about it. A few weeks ago I was out for tacos with my parents and called my mom a gringa for specially ordering flour tortillas. Our waiter nearly had a heart attack from laughing so much. 

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Each taco came topped with cabbage, cilantro and fabulous salsas. The pork had achiote & citrus marinade, pickled onions and sour cream. The beef had ancho chile marinade, avocado salsa, crema and melted cheese. The chicken had habanero & pumpkin seed salsa. 

DF works with British farmers and suppliers like the South Devon Chilli farm, which supplies hot peppers, the Trealy Farm where the fabulous chorizo was sourced, and Belu water, which is a non-profit water filtration and bottling company working towards clean water.

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DF is a lively place serving great tacos for a reasonable price, prompt service great portion sizes are the order of the day.   I wouldn’t list it as a special occasions dining venue but for fast casual dining as a couple a small group it serves its purpose with style and finesse.


Berber and Q Shawarma Bar

The Stats: Berber and Q Shawarma Bar

What we ordered:

To Drink: Two beers 
• Grains of Paradise Pale Ale created for the bar in London • Beruit Pilsner from Lebanon 

To Eat: an appetizer, a hummus, a side and 3 mezzes with pitta and bread to share
• Spiced Jaffa Olives 
• Iraqi Hummus with fried aubergine, amba, boiled eggs
• Cauliflower Shawarma
• Beetroot, whipped feta, hazelnuts
• Babaganoush, muhammara, walnuts 
• Ground lamb, black lime, tehina

Cost: ‎£53

After a week in Bristol, I took the MegaBus to London. It’s going to be my home for the next few months while Craig is on a work assignment there. My first night in London, my new city and what feels like a new chapter in our relationship, I met Craig at our hotel bar. I had walked from the District Blackfriar’s Tube stop and was tired and hungry. I had one of my favorite ciders: Swedish Rekorderlig Strawberry and Lime. I first tried Rekorderlig last May during our houseboat week on the Norfolk Broads and they do not disappoint. 

After taking my stuff up and changing into something more presentable than the teeshirt and leggings I wore on the bus, we waked over to Exmouth Market in Islington. The pedestrian-friendly street is teeming with hip restaurants, pubs, coffee houses and shops. Craig had his eye set on Berber and Q Shawarma Bar and it ended   being one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten together. 

The bar is tiled in white with “shawarma” and bowls of food written on the tiles in dry erase marker. The new Berber and Q cookbook is on sale at the bar for 25 quid. We had to wait a few minutes for a table and then got seated at the bar where we could watch the magic in the making cocktails with house-made vermouth and delicious eats. 

The cocktail and wine list are more extensive than the limited beer offerings. The Grains and Paradise ale with ginger and cardamom beat the listlessness of the Beirut lager (the middle east is not known for craft ale and I should have known better.) The Grains of Paradise is brewed in London and was created especially for Berber and Q. It’s delicious. 

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One of the waiters sported a shirt in Helvetica reading: Disco and techno and deep house and Berber and Q. The soundtrack of house music enhanced the trendy vibe we felt as soon as we walked in. The momentum carried us through the olives which arrived first and through the mezze, or middle eastern salads, that made up the bulk of our meal. 

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Berber and Q Shawarma Bar opened in the summer of 2016 as a companion restaurant to the Berber and Q Grill House, which opened in 2015, brain children of chef Josh Katz. Our waiter strongly urged us to order the cauliflower shawarma and it was hands down the best cauliflower dish either of us has ever eaten. Grilled, yet still firm, the quarter head of veg is seasoned to perfection with four different sauces, pomegranate seeds, chopped parsley and a light whipped tahini sauce.  I never thought I would get excited about a cauliflower but the combination of firm crunch, spiced masala butter and light whipped tahini along with some of the slightly singed greens was quite a spectacle.  It looked great, decorated with copped parsley, bright ruby pomegranate fruit and rose petals. It tasted great, firm moist and spiced with the citrus relief of the passion fruit over the spiced masala mix, and you can even try to make it yourself.

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The Iraqi hummus was also presented beautifully. Finely whipped, smooth spiced hummus with elements of texture provided by grilled aubergines, sliced boiled egg and sweet sharp pickles. Dashes of spiced chili oil and dustings of ground spices finished off the dish, redefining what a hummus should be, alternating layers of texture and flavour.

The beetroot and whipped feta gently fried cooked beets with the savoriness of the walnuts and sweet/tartness of pomegranate made every bite for this lactose intolerant foodie worth it. 

The ground lamb was tender and pulverised in such a way to make the perfect spread for hot pitta although it was a bit salty and honestly was put to shame by the vegetarian dishes we ordered. Babaganoush is my favorite mezze in general and while this one was good, it wasn’t as spectacular as some of the other dishes we ordered.  

On the whole the service was laid back and friendly and the food was impressive for the price and offered a good variety of dishes.  Avoid large mains and go for multiple small dishes and I’m sure you will not be disappointed.