Dinner and Drinks at Darkhorse, in Stratford’s East Village

It’s remarkable how much living in Stratford has changed in the four years we’ve been here: in that time we’ve seen the former Olympic Village move from being boarded up, to having a few ghostly residents, to now being the full of life year round. For me and my greedy stomach, the highlight of this has been the array of great restaurants and coffee shops that have now popped up on our doorstep, including Darkhorse among others.

The menu is southern European inspired, but with British roots: think tiger prawns on a bed of swiss chard, roasted guinea fowl with gratin dauphinoise, pork chop with celeriac remoulade, and was all perfectly cooked and presented. The desserts were especially good. I opted for a bitter chocolate tart while J had the hot chocolate bread pudding, which he promptly declared the best he’d ever had. Another highlight for us was the interesting cocktail menu – I tried a bergamot gimlet while J went for a classic Aviation. Delicious, but one was definitely enough on a Wednesday evening as they were pretty strong!

Darkhorse’s menu has been designed so that you can go for the traditional starter and main combo, or make your own ‘picky bits’ selection built up from charcuterie and smaller plates which are fantastic for sharing. It made the perfect mid-week date spot and would be a great way to finish off your day if you’ve been shopping in Westfield and want to get away from all the hustle and bustle for a far more relaxed meal than you can otherwise find.

A review of Darkhorse in E20's East Village: the perfect grown up date spot

Our meal at Darkhorse was complimentary, but we’ll definitely be back (especially as I have my eye on the Baked Vacherin Mont D’Or to share) 

Canada Water | Hawker House

A review of Street Feast's latest venture, Hawker House at Canada Water
What better way to spend a damp, miserable evening than hiding out in Canada Water’s Hawker House? Street Feast’s latest pop up has taken up residence in Canada Water for the next seven weeks (down to six now), and it’s the perfect spot to spend a Friday or Saturday night evening.

While Street Feast haven’t exactly reinvented the wheel with their latest spot, it means you’ll know exactly what to expect: multiple bars, all your favourite street food traders, free entry before 7pm, and neon lights all over the space. Only since it’s winter, there’s a roof.

Korean pajeon from Busan BBQ at Hawker House, Canada Water

I tucked into my first ever dish from Busan BBQ, of korean pajeon. Super light spring onion filled pancakes, one topped with spicy pork belly and the other with fried chicken. While neither had quite the level of spice I was expecting, they were bloody delicious, and the highlight of the evening for me. The pork melted apart, and the chicken was fried in a really light batter, so you had none of the usual greasiness of fried chicken. J went for a classic pulled pork bun from SmokeStack, and finally admitted that just maybe, he appreciates a heavy hand on the vinegar in a coleslaw. Long overdue my friend…

Arepas at Hawker House, Canada Water

We also tried an arepa from Petare, which I’d seen Lisa recommend a few weeks before. Made from venezuelan cornbread, and packed full of shredded beef brisket, fried sweet plantain and plenty of black beans, they sounded totally delicious. In reality, I wasn’t such a fan. The beef was only right at the top of the cornbread, rather than running the whole way through the cornbread pocket, which in practice meant only two mouthfuls in you were out of brisket and into the sweet plantain, rather than having balanced mouthfuls of each. Great idea in theory, but perhaps not so tasty in the execution that evening. To finish we dropped by the Meringue Girl’s neon pick stand for an ultimate eton mess, made from their beautiful pastel pink meringues. Safe to safe, meringues + cream + fruit is always a winning combination, and tonight was no exception.

Overall we had a great evening at Hawker House, and it was nice to break away from my usual favourites of Yum Bun and Breddos Tacos in favour of some new traders. Safe to say, I’ll be back before they leave.

Hawker House , Canada Street, Canada Water, SE162XU

Meringue Girls at Hawker House, Canada Water

St Albans | A Review of Tabure

Tabure review, St AlbansI am pretty sure that when we lived in the area, St Albans was not all that exciting for food: and yet since I’ve moved into London, there’s all sorts of exciting places that have popped up in the down. We were back this weekend for some birthday celebrations, and headed to Tabure on Spencer Street.

This small restaurant, tucked in off the high street is the perfect spot for mezze style Turkish dining. Newly opened at the end of April, it is beautifully designed for group meals, with long wooden tables, gorgeous ceramic plates and ornate lampshades floating over the interior.

Tabure review, St Albans

Their menu is made up of small dishes designed for sharing, and it’s not just your usual hummus, tzatziki and kebabs. We had the best babagunus I’ve ever eaten, loaded with pomegranate seeds and flaked almonds as well as a spicy acuka, made from red peppers, caramelised carrots, chilli and walnuts. Not something I’ve had before, but something I would very much like to try and recreate at home.

Other stand out dishes were the inegol kofte, perfectly pink and tender inside and served with some pistachio yoghurt, and the lamb cop sis- classic Turkish kebabs, grilled and served with more yoghurt and pitta. Vegetarians would be equally happy with their halloumi and vegetable cop sis, loaded with fresh vegetables. In fact, the only weak spot for me was the manti – homemade dumplings – as their pastry coating was rolled pretty thickly meaning they felt on the heavy side compared to the rest of the dishes.

Tabure is a great little spot for a group meal where you get the benefit of being able to order most of the menu, or would be lovely for a relaxed weekend date – it would be worth grabbing a couple of the seats running along the edge of the kitchen so you can see everything that’s coming up. And best of all, it’s about £20- £25 a head, without alcohol. One to revisit, for sure.

Tabure  – 6 Spencer Street, St Albans – www.tabure.co.uk