I have lived in Hackney in the last 8 years and have been passing through Islington via the 38 bus route and have always been curious about this quaint restaurant called The Afghan Kitchen just on the corner of Islington Green as it merges with Essex Road. First off, I liked the simplicity of the restaurant with its canteen style wooden table and chairs and how it’s always full everytime I pass by there. A work colleague was due to have a leaving do here last Wednesday and I couldnt make it, then I realised I was going to be in Islington anyway to watch Duet for One at the Almeida with fellow theatre trotters Lynne and Tony, we decided to book seats and try it out for our pre-theatre meal. The excitement to finally dine here stems from the fact that I have never tasted traditional Afghan cuisine before, I have heard quite good praises about this place, and tonight that curiousity will be finally satisfied.
I booked the table for 6 pm but knew I wouldn’t get there till 630 pm so on my way texted Lynne my order to save us time waiting for the food to arrive. I ordered their Qurma Suhzi Gosht (lamb with spinach), rice, and Afghan mixed pickles, whilst Tony & Lynne both had the Banjon Borani (aubergines with yoghurt). Service was friendly and lightning quick, our food arrived just as soon as I got there. So how was it then? Decadently delicious! My lamb reminded me of the Indian sag aloo but as I am picky with my sag aloo and only ever orders it in my local Indian take away, this was just as tasty and the lamb very tender. How many ways can you describe the rice. I mean how did they cook the rice, it’s already a meal on its own! Tony and I both couldnt get over it. The portions are generous although their menu is quite limited with just 4 meat and 4 vegetarian dishes but I can say now that I would like to try them all! I had my eye on the Lavand-e-Murgh (chicken in yoghurt) and will also try the highly recommended Sarah’s (kidney beans, chick peas and potatoes cooked with yoghurt). What’s more is that it’s also very reasonably priced, our total bill was only £50 including a bottle of white, and superb cafetiere coffee. Be warned, they only accept cash or cheques but there’s lots of nearby cashpoints.
If you happen to be around the area, forgo your usual dining fare and try this little wonder called The Afghan Kitchen, and come back here and tell us all about it!
The Afghan Kitchen- 5/5
35 Islington Green, London N1 8DU
Telephone: 0207 359 8019
Eat in or Take Away
Closed on Sunday and Monday
Addendum: Lynne left her bag of strawberries so we returned at 2230 and the lady who served us very kindly gave it back to her, all 26 of ‘em! More brownie points there!
I have my Welsh friends Ioan and Christine visiting me this weekend, and I was tasked with two important things to make their visit memorable, i. e., make sure I book at least one musical that is highly entertaining and something that will be good enough for Ioan as this is his supposed foray in theatre. So having remembered the good reviews on Zorro the Musical one of which came from the the West End Whingers, I decided to book it this evening and in keeping with the ongoing Spanish-Mexican theme of Zorro, I need to find an equally good Spanish restaurant for our pre-theatre meal. See, if we were in Edinburgh I will easily take them in the direction of Barioja.
Having just signed up with tasteLondon, it was quite surprising to find that there werent very many Spanish restaurants around Central London, and that’s how we found our way to El Cantara. The lady who took our reservations was very friendly and as it was not a busy time at 6 pm, we were seated straight away and was served their quite good on the palate House Red in no time whilst we were still busy deciding on their inventive menu.
Christine opted to order several dishes to make them into her own little tapas treat whilst Ioan and I settled for their tagine lamb – lamb cooked with cinnamon, honey, prunes rosewater, showered with almonds and served with cous cous. I was so intrigued by the orange and carrot salad so I also had it as a side dish. I thought that it was quite interesting, the differents bursts of flavour of all the dishes. We also later found out El Cantara is more Spanish-Moroccan. A two-course meal with a glass of wine came out to an affordable £20 plus gratuities. As I have no claim of reference whether it’s a good enough Spanish-Moroccan restaurant, I’ll give it a good score for its inventiveness, good ambience and exceptional service.
El Cantara: 3/5
I was quite skeptical when I first saw that there has been quite a few new establishments sprouting over at Chatsworth Road, like Cafe Venetia and L’epicerie Deli which is both a stone’s throw away from my local Trust and is also within the heart of our field service territory.
A friend of mine commented that they are not gong to last, and we both felt that it was out of place with what else is at Chatsworth Road; if you know your local Hackney, then you know what I am on about. But we might be wrong, as it’s been several months since and their still here and it looks like their going to stay. I think that’s quite good because it’s giving Chats a better look and might encourage more new establishments to set up and make this side of Hackney vibrant, at least during the day.
I’ve been to Cafe Venetia several times over the winter months and stopped there for coffee breaks and have enjoyed their cafe mocha, which even if this pains me to say, I must admit was better than Starbuck’s version and their Chelsea buns are to die for! I tried getting hold of a few buns during the week but apparently they only have them on Saturdays. Crumbs. My friend Lauren felt that with the ambience of Venetia, it was like being transported to another cafe in a foreign city. A large mocha, a large hot chocolate, an au pain de chocolat and Chelsea bun all came to an even £6.
L’epicerie, is a quaint French deli which is just across the road from Venetia where my friend Alleyna took me a few week’s back for a quick lunch and introduced me to their vegetable bastilla, a traditional Morroccan sweet and spicy pie, served with leafy green salad and some spicy dressing called harissa that tasted just right and completed my meal. I thought it really went well with all the flavours coming out of the pie. I went back there today where I brought my sister/friend/colleague Jenny for another helping of their bastilla, (chicken, this time around) but this time as we were both starving we also tried the soup for the day, served with a really delicious crusty bread, I wanted to ask where are they getting this delightful bread from? It’s just delightfully sinful! The bastilla with salad, soup with bread and butter and a regular capuccino came to a total of £8.60. A bit pricey for an everyday working lunch but I thought was well worth it. Being a deli there’s a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, charcuterie, fresh bread, croissants etc. Check out the L’epicerie’s website.
So if you happen to be passing by my neck of the woods and end up in Lower Clapton in Hackney, head over at Chatsworth Road, and stop by in either Cafe Venetia or L’epicerie for a cuppa and some more!
This is the second time I have been to Frocks, a dainty little restaurant in Victoria Park. The first time I dined here was for a leaving do of a work colleague and I have always wanted to comeback again just to have that feeling of familiarity, its location being just in my village.
I initially wanted to take my friend Morbius for a Bangladeshi/Indian meal in Brick Lane, just to show him a little bit of East End hospitality and culture, but due to the bad weather and lateness of the time, heck, he came all the way from Wales to London, I thought it was a much better solution to just stay local and check out one of my village’s gourmet restaurants rather than venturing out, although Brick Lane is really not that far, maybe next time eh?
Frocks’ menu is classed as eclectic European, and my friend who is the most easy to please when it comes to food, surprisingly didn’t cringe at their rather fancy menu but safely opted for their parmesan soup, saying ‘you can never go wrong with soup’, but quickly forgetting that parmesan is actually cheese and since he only eats plain cheese, with Branston pickle in a sandwich, then I wonder if this will bode well. I chose their crayfish risotto which was fine, although I was expecting a different texture to my risotto, so with that one I couldn’t say I was thrilled about.
We had a glass of the House Rosé, and for our mains, a well done Argentian rib eye steak with chips for my friend (why didnt they add in some greens there too instead of ordering it as a side?) and a pan fried sea bass fillet with fresh garden vegetables and new potatoes totally won us over. Debating whether we would need some afters, we gave in to a really small serving and quite inventive but annoying way of serving apple crumble and custard and my different flavoured creme brulee.
For a quiet evening where you can relax and talk and really take time with your meal, Frocks is a good place for you. Quite pricey but I have to say wass worth it. A 3-course meal for 2 with wine is £60 plus a 12.5% gratuity added to the bill.
I love dining out. One of the perks of being single includes being adventurous with different types of cuisine. I am no stranger to Thai food and since I organise an annual dine-out with my dear friends Trudy & Tania, I thought we could have a Thai meal this year. That’s what I love with these girls, they do love good food like myself. In previous years we’ve had lovely Greek and Turkish meze dinners at Kolossi and Gallipoli (also in Islington) and the year before Trudy spotted this fine Chinese restaurant at Baker’s Arms in Walthamstow and the three of us went there too. Since Tania and myself have been to Thai Square before, we can vouch for the quality of their dishes so I booked us dinner reservations for 6 pm.
Knowing the generous portions they do at Thai Square, we skipped our starters and went straight to our mains of Gang Kiaw Wan Gai (Chicken green curry), the most famous Thai green curry with chicken, cooked in coconut milk with bamboo shoots, Thai baby aubergines and sweet basil leaves, Yum Nua (Beef salad) Thai style char-grilled beef salad with tomatoes and Thai herbs in spicy dressing which is my staple favorite, and Lamb Yang, special marinated rack of lamb ribs, lightly cooked on flaming char-grill, served with a traditional Thai spicy sauce and we ordered side dishes of coconut rice. All these came within 10 minutes of waiting time, by now the restaurant is beginning to fill, not surprisingly on a Saturday night.
The menu at Thai Square is very reasonably priced, so with our 3 mains, side dishes of rice, a glass of Rosé wine and cups of coffee for afters, it all just came to an even £60. And the night was still young.
Thai Square Islington: 5/5
Check out their website here: http://www.thaisq.com