Saturday, 25 August 2018

Trullo, London Italian restaurant review

Hoards of people queue for the epic pasta at Borough Market’s Padella on a daily basis.

I’ve even done it myself.

However, from now on I’ll just book a table at Trullo in Highbury instead.

They serve the same glorious pasta from the same team and I was able to bag a reservation on a Saturday lunch just a couple of days in advance.

Alongside their more compact selection of brilliant pasta dishes, Trullo has an extensive menu of antipasti, primi, secondi and desserts. Everything sounds reassuringly simple - there are no spherified chefs’ egos, dirty protest-like smears or scattergun pea shoot garnishes.

We made extensive use of the wines by the glass. Aperol spritz (£8), Barraco Catarratto skin contact white (£10) with a saline citrusiness, seriously neckable Tormaresca Calafuria rose (£6.50) and a soft and fruity Valpantena Torre del Falasco white (£4) were all delicious. 

Complimentary bread was uber-crisp, bronze of crust and served with a bowl of almost sweet olive oil. 

A light antipasti of charred Cornish sardines (£8) were scattered with a fine dice of lemon zest and parsley. This was summery food for a very summery day. 

Trullo’s beef shin ragu (£9) is legendary for a reason. Al dente, slippery egg rich pappardelle were enrobed in a deeply meaty sauce and a generous blanket of savoury parmesan. I’d come back to Trullo time and time again just for this plate. 

Fettuccine (£10) were coated in a barely visible sauce that was packed with the earthy funk of summer girolles and hum of savoury cheese. 

There’s no doubt these two dishes were the highlight of the meal. But, the mains which followed didn’t let the side down. 

A remarkably creamy burrata (£17) had spilt its luxury innards across the plate. It was accompanied by stock rich al dente chickpeas, olive oil and garlic twanged baby courgettes, and a cool pepper salsa which brought an acidic chilli lift to the whole plate. 

A beast of a Tamworth pork chop (£22) contained as much fat as meat. Thankfully, the flub was just as tender and flavoursome as the the flesh itself. The whole thing had a good lick of smoke from the charcoal grill. Accompaniments comprised of a pool of creamy baked borlotti beans and a seriously punchy salsa verde heady with parsley, anchovy and garlic which balanced the richness of the dish beautifully. 

A couple of scoops of salted caramel ice cream (£4) were toasty, salty and creamy in equal measure. This was the good stuff. 

Almond tart (£7.50) comprised of an unfeasibly buttery and warm frangipane and a ludicrously short pastry case. A side of fragrant strawberries and cream brought a summery freshness to the plate. 

It takes a ridiculous amount of confidence and skill to pull off such simple yet flavour packed food. That and first rate ingredients. I highly recommend a visit.

The Details:

Address - Trullo, 300 - 302, St Paul's Road, London, N1 2LH
Telephone - 020 7226 2733

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Holy Cheesus, Newport toasted cheese sandwich shop review

Pun restaurant names offer a whole world of opportunities.

Thai Tanic. Tequila Mockingbird. Lord of the Fries. Planet of the Grapes. Pho Shizzle. Lebaneser Scrooge. Frying Nemo. Grillennium Falcon. The Wieners Circle. Prawnbroker.

All of these places genuinely exist and I doff my cap to the owners.

Holy Cheesus, a toasted cheese sandwich shop in Newport, has an Instagram feed which has been making me drool for the past six months.

The cosy shop has a lovely vibe with its floral wallpaper, second hand record collection, eclectic art and pop-culture knick-knacks.

Reassuringly, the menu is compact. A handful sandwiches are all cooked on a flat top grill using freshly baked white bloomer.

We happened to visit during a summer sale which meant the already well-priced sandwiches were practically being given away.

A Mac Daddy with extra chorizo (£3.60 reduced from £5.60) saw a couple of huge bits of toasted bloomer loaded with macaroni cheese, oily piquant chorizo, and a good slick of oozy cheese. It was a very tasty sandwich - the carb on carb action making it the ideal food for a hangover. A minor criticism but the cheese sauce on the macaroni could definitely have taken a bigger hit of cheese.

A Chilli Con Carnage (£4 reduced from £5) was the clear winner. The oozy, tangy and creamy cheese blend was combined with a spicy, meaty and fatty beef chilli punctuated by the crunch of nachos, briny chilli heat of jalapenos and fragrance of coriander. This was my kind of toasted sandwich.

The kicker with both sandwiches was a thin, uber-crisp golden layer of toasted cheese on the exterior of the sandwich. And they were served with a mound of Wotsits; I like their style.

We had a lovely lunch at Holy Cheesus - from the tasty food, to the friendly team and upbeat vibe, this is exactly the type of independent that brings colour to a city.

The Details:

Address - Holy Cheesus, 42c Bridge Street, Newport NP20 4NY
Web -

Saturday, 11 August 2018

The Honours Brasserie, Edinburgh, French restaurant review

Truly exceptional service in a restaurant comes along less often than a new season of Rick and Morty.

Darren, our waiter at The Honours in Edinburgh, was charming, super passionate about the food he served and all his recommended booze pairings were on the mark. He elevated what was already a brilliant meal into a truly memorable meal.

The Honours is the more casual restaurant of the double Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart. The whole gaff oozes modern art deco sophistication. Wishart brings his bags of classical technique to bear on French brasserie food. This is brasserie lux. 

Pre-dinner drinks saw a textbook strawberry daiquiri (£10) made with berries that had been macerated in booze for 10 days. I had a highly drinkable Paolozzi lager (£5.50) from Edinburgh Beer Factory. 

A snack of haggis bon bons (£3.75) were golden crumbed morsels of well-seasoned meat. We quickly inhaled them. 

Sea bream tartare (£11.95) let its main ingredient speak for itself. Supremely fresh cubes of clean tasting fish were bathed in a light creme fraiche dressing with a subtle warmth of horseradish. It was punctuated by pieces of lightly pickled cucumber. 

Crab cappuccino (£9.50) sounded a bit naff but in reality was as cool as the Fonz. A light foam and creamy soup were the pure essence of crab. A mound of sweet white crab meat, a dollop of smooth saffron rouille and dainty gruyere topped croutons were the classic accompaniments dialled up a notch. 

A rump of Dornoch lamb (£24) was one of the best bits of sheep I’ve ever eaten. Ridiculously tender with buttery fat, it was bathed in a meaty, fragrant thyme jus. Accompaniments included painstakingly turned golden potatoes and precisely grilled courgettes and skinless tomatoes. A fine dice of sweet tomato, black olive and potent garlic brought a distinctly rustic feel to the whole plate. 

Across the table, a golden and juicy piece of guinea fowl (£24) was served with squidgy goats cheese gnocchi and a light fricassee of garden peas, artichokes and crisp pancetta. Another first rate sauce brought the whole dish together. 

A cracker of a cheese plate (£12.50) combined a nice mix of socky, tangy and savour numbers joined by a brick of quince jelly and pieces of warm and crisp fruit bread. 

An apricot souffle (£9.50) was unlike any I’ve eaten before. A light and sweet puck of plain souffle was bathed in a summery apricot sauce and joined by a super smooth apricot sorbet, candied pecans, honeycomb and apricot coulis. It was delicious but I think I prefer the theatre and burnished edges of a potted souffle. 

Dinner at The Honours was exquisite from the food to the service and setting. If you want relaxed French luxury then I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Details:

Address - The Honours Brasserie, 58A North Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3LU 
Web -
Telephone - 0131 220 2513

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Secret Garden cafe, Bute Park, Cardiff review

It might seem an odd decision to wait until the only rainy weekend of the summer to visit the Secret Garden cafe in Bute Park.

But, on the last two occasions we’ve tried to visit it was a full house with a decent queue.

This time, there there were plenty of free tables and no one waiting to be served. And there’s sheltered seating so we didn't get wet. Win.

The Secret Garden was taken over earlier this year by the lovely team behind Penylan Pantry and Cheese Pantry.

A hearty brunch menu (see the bottom of the post for pics) includes nutty granola, avocado on toast and sausage sandwiches. Lunches comprise of seasonal salad bowls, stews, toasted sandwiches and baked sweet potatoes.

If you arrive between 11.30am and 12pm on a weekend both menus are still in action…

A sugar free Karma Kola had a proper medicinal hit instead of being bland sugary fizzy water. Filter coffee was fragrant and delicate rather than harsh and bitter. 

A salad bowl (£6.50) was a pretty beast which included marinated mushrooms, dill-fragranced tomato and bread salad, vegetable couscous, creamy tahini dressed butternut squash and butterbeans, basil spiked red cabbage and harissa spiced new potatoes. 

A big wodge of frittata (£3.50) was flecked with tangy goats cheese, sweet butternut squash and tender courgettes and scattered with pine nuts. Mixed leaves were well-dressed rather than just shoved on straight from the bag and a pot of spiced apple chutney was a lovely accompaniment.  

Crisp wholemeal waffles (£6.50) were topped with buttery kale, tender avocado and a runny fried egg. A side of killer Welsh sausages (£1.50) were golden brown and loaded with peppery meat. It was a lovely plate but as the waffles cooled they unfortunately became rather soft and chewy. 

Whilst mains were very good, desserts knocked it out of the (Bute) park.

Soft serve ice cream (£3.50) was the creamiest I’ve ever eaten. It was topped with intense blackcurrant sauce and cinnamon spiced oat crumble. I inhaled it so quickly that I gave myself brain freeze. 

A slice of lemon and almond polenta cake (£3) topped with icing and flaked almonds was stupendously moist and fragrant. 

We had a delicious brunch, lunch and afternoon tea rolled into one at the Secret Garden. I can see why it’s been so busy on my previous attempts to visit.

The Details:

Address - North Rd, Cardiff CF10 3ER

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Ondine, Edinburgh fish restaurant review

The top 50 lawn bowlers of East Anglia. The 20 best coiffured mullets of the 80s. Gateshead's 30 finest spam fritter wholesalers.

Countdown lists are a load of guff. But, they’re a load of fun even if they’re completely subjective.

This brings me to Ondine, recently named the best restaurant in Scotland and the 26th best restaurant in the UK in the National Restaurant Awards 2018.

Informal, with a bustling atmosphere and grand oyster bar which dominates the dining room, this Edinburgh seafood restaurant is located just off the Royal Mile. 

Light bread and gorgeously warm and airy cheese gougères were delivered promptly after we took our seats. I like places that give you something complimentary to swiftly put in your gob. 

My starter was epic. Crisp, warm and squishy mini crumpets were served with a heaving bowl of dressed crab (£15). Sweet white flesh, savoury brown crab mayonnaise and crunchy breadcrumbs were a delight slathered on the crumpets. 

A bowl of huge flavoured fish soup (£9) with a nice citrus twang came with the classic accompaniments - grated gruyere, crisp croutons and cayenne spiked rouille. Mrs G was a big fan. 

Onto mains, and a piece of deep fried haddock (£18) was an absolute unit. The fish was perfectly flaky but the golden batter was a touch greasy. 

Sides of thin chips and fresh mint-laced pea puree both hit the mark. 

A sea bream curry (£24) saw a bronze-skinned meaty bit of fish, cleverly filleted down the middle, bathed in a lush smokey and well-spiced curry sauce that was packed with long-cooked soft and sweet onions. 

Accompaniments came in the form of buttery, citrusy coriander-flecked rice and a fresh, cleansing chunky cucumber raitha. The only downside was that the super crisp edges of the bream had become a touch dried out. 

Replete after two massive courses, we passed on dessert.

Thankfully, a pair of delicious chilled chocolates filled with a smooth chocolate and berry ganache brought the meal to a close on a sweet note. 

Ondine is a lovely restaurant and we had a very good meal indeed. 

Is it the best restaurant in Scotland or even Edinburgh? Probably not in my opinion. But, countdown lists are a load of guff anyway... apart from rankings of Cardiff burgers or kebabs obviously ;-)

The details:

Address - Ondine, 2 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1AD
Web -
Telephone - 0131 226 1888