Deliveroo and the Rise of the Teeny Tiny Restaurant

Small Restaurants London

Deliveroo, Just Eat, Uber Eats. Three little phrases that sing to the soul of any self-respecting Londoner.

As anyone that’s been on the wrong side of a wine hangover knows, sometimes there’s nothing to cure your Sunday blues other than to curl up under the biggest blanket you can find – and order in. We all have days when even the holy grail of brunch isn’t enough to drag us away from the safety of a sofa.

Cue Deliveroo. Armed with a fleet of bike couriers they’ve near single-handedly changed the food scene in London forever. Long gone are the days where sweet potato burritos and paneer tikka masalas were just out of reach. Instead, with the infinite choice available it now takes longer to choose dinner than a film on Netflix.

Our poor decision-making skills aside, there has been an unlikely side effect of the delivery service’s ongoing domination: really small restaurants.

Popping up all over the capital are coffee shops, brasseries, and diners serving up the gourmet food of our dreams from a space no bigger than your living room. The boxy bench-lined waiting rooms of the chippy’s and Chinese takeaways of the noughties are steadily being replaced with restaurants that comprise of a kitchen and just a handful of tables.

Is it possible for a restaurant to operate with a tiny number of covers, and thrive through the use of delivery services like Uber Eats and Deliveroo? Ordinarily, in London, anyone lucky enough to be able to afford some real estate pays per square inch, and what with the necessity of having a kitchen and all, a lot of space is needed for people to be able to sit and, well, eat.

However when all you need is a solid Wifi connection to make the magic happen, why not sacrifice some tables and hang on to that intimate, snug feeling that all 8 million of us crave so badly. It’s the ultimate living room experience; because the only way to munch on their fabulous food is to sit at your table, or at theirs.

Whatever the cause may be, the symbiotic relationship between the likes of Deliveroo and the rise of the teeny tiny restaurant only seems to be growing. Anyone fancy a takeaway?

 

Check out some of London’s pint-sized restaurants below, all are available on Deliveroo:

Bun and Bar – a cocktail and burger bar in Haringey that somehow manage to squeeze in music sometimes as well!

Food Lab – Islington’s answer to the rustic Italian question. Come stai?

Ahi Poké – Delicious Hawaiian-style sushi bowls. This is raw food at its best.

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Perfect Raspberry Porridge

This quick porridge is delicious and so easy to make!

It’s getting quite cold outside now, so we thought we’d share one of our favourite breakfasts to warm you up and get you going for the day. It’s wonderfully open to adaption, so get creative with your own flavours.

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Any frozen fruit works well here. It breaks up in the microwave, flavouring your entire bowl, and is much cheaper than fresh, so it’s win-win. The 2:1 liquid to oats ratio is a good one to stick to, but experiment with the liquid. You can mix milk and water, or try out a variety of milks. We find the flavour of soya works particularly well with the tart raspberries.

And the toppings. Go nuts (literally if you want). Go for as many or as few as you fancy, and by changing them up you can have what feels like a new breakfast each day! The cocoa flaxseed mix we used is from linwoods, and is really delicious.

So watch our video, and give it a go for yourselves!

For more breakfast ideas, try our Raspberry and Oat Buttermilk Pancakes, Chocolate, Hazelnut and Pumpkin Seed Granola , Irish Wheaten Bread!

Ice cream indulgence at Chin Chin Laboratories

Think the icy weather means it’s too cold for ice cream?

Then prepare to be proven wrong by the glorious Chin Chin Laboratories, serving ice cream for every occasions in the heart of Camden.

Wandering the cobbled backstreets of North East London, it’s easy to miss the unassuming wooden doors of 49 Camden Lock.

From the pavement, you can’t spot the shiny steel pipes and brass coated timers forming an intricately tangled web on the wall, or the staff, shrouded in clouds of white gas, mixing what looks like soil in glass beakers.

When you walk in, you think you’ve entered a scientific laboratory, but instead, you find yourself in Europe’s first nitro ice cream parlour.

Chin Chin Laboratories is situated in the original Camden Lock, serving one of the best ice cream scoops in London. What looks like soil is actually truffle crumble, one of the many weird and wonderful toppings on their menu.

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The mish-mash of machinery covering the walls allows the team to make bold and experimental Michelin quality ice cream, frozen with liquid nitrogen, and inspired by the likes of Heston Blumenthal.

Chin Chin’s has been awarded ‘Best Ice Cream Parlour in England’ by The Times, predominantly for their range of weird and wacky flavours. Some of their most zany specials have included green grass, avocado toast and just this Halloween, a walnut crumble and peach sorbet topped with real mealworms. The team has invented over 270 different ice cream flavours since Chin Chin’s opening in 2010. Come December time, they even offer Christmas tree.

As the ice cream is made with liquid nitrogen, the ice particles you find in normal ice cream doesn’t have time to form, resulting in a far smoother and creamier texture. The theatre involved in making each scoop provides heartwarming entertainment in itself, with vast clouds of smoke filling the small shop.

Be sure to head to Chin Chin’s this winter for an upmarket ice cream indulgence you won’t forget in a hurry. And try the burnt butter caramel scoop- sugary decadence at it’s finest.

Open Monday- Sunday 12pm-7pm. 49 Camden Lock, NW1 8AF.

Crosstown Doughnuts

This is where to find some of the best doughnuts in London.

Step into Crosstown Doughnuts and you’re immediately faced with a tough choice. As rows and rows of beautiful doughnuts are laid out in front of you, how can you possibly choose one?

The day we visited, flavours included classics such as Raspberry Jam, Cinnamon Sugar, and Vanilla Glaze. More unusual offerings included Chai Tea, Chilli Chocolate, Apricot and Lavender, and Sea-Salt Caramel Banana. Their flavours change regularly though, so keep an eye on their website for new ones.

We deliberated for a rather long time, and with some assistance from the helpful staff, finally came to a decision.

Beetroot Lemon-Thyme it was.

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We’ll admit, it was the incredible pink-coloured dough that drew us in, but the flavour somehow outshone its unusual appearence.

The slightly earthy, subtle beetroot flavour perfectly carried the delicately lemon-thyme glaze. It wasn’t a sickly-sweet concoction, it was complex, packed with flavour rather than sugar.

It was sheer heaven – we may just have to go back to try the rest of the flavours…

Crosstown have branches in Shoreditch and Soho, and have stalls in markets across London. See https://www.crosstowndoughnuts.com/ for more information. 

Post-halloween pumpkin soup

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On the eve of Halloween, I bought a pumpkin.

A hefty one, too – stolen, no doubt, by transient fit of artistic fervour. I was to be to large autumn vegetables what Rodin was to raw and unwieldy chunks of marble. A week later, and the pumpkin remained untouched. The hewn orange visage I had envisioned so clearly failed to manifest itself, the flesh that would have been disposed of unceremoniously in the event of my having got round to carving it the only thing now capable of recouping some value from it. Obviously, then, a pumpkin soup had to be made. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 50g of butter
  • Half a large pumpkin, diced
  • Half a pumpkin’s-worth of seeds
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced into 2cm cubes
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • handful of sage, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200ml single cream

Having melted the butter into the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion, garlic, leek, potato and sage, sweating over a medium heat until the onion and leek are stringy and sweet smelling. Then add the pumpkin. If you resist the temptation to add the stock straight away, you’ll be rewarded in the final outcome as moisture evaporates from the pumpkin and the contents of the pan recede dramatically. Once you have added the stock, bring the pan to the boil and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add the cream, and cook out a little. Season to taste and serve.

Whilst the soup is simmering, for a tasty and resourceful garnish, you could, as I did, roast the pumpkin seeds in olive oil, salt and pepper at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes. They’re deliciously nutty and also possess an oddly meaty quality.

Dinner at Joe Allen Covent Garden

Joe Allen Covent Garden

In a city filled to the brim with American wannabes, where can you go to find good, authentic grub?

Flashy diners, trashy diners and southern grills have been popping up with wild abandon over the past few years in a bid to fill our need for hearty comfort food. There are days when a stodgy shepherd’s pie just won’t cut the mustard, and we find ourselves yearning for that refined indulgence our transatlantic cousins seem to have perfected so carefully. On just such an occasion, we went down to Joe Allen in Covent Garden for some relaxed nostalgia.

Walking down into the cosy basement of Joe Allen, you’re instantly taken out of the endless movement of Covent Garden and gently placed in an old fashioned, but polished, American brasserie. With moody lighting, fake windows and a pianist accompanying every mouthful, the exposed brick basement is a little protected bubble of cool Americana smack bang in the middle of London.

With classics such as a monster mix grill, spiced ribs and the stellar Joe Allen hot dog to choose from, we’d highly recommend the chopped chilli beef. Served up with guacamole, skillet potatoes and a healthy dollop of sour cream, it’s the best damn chilli we’ve ever had. Hands down.

Top off the meal with the simply gorgeous brownies and there’s no way you’ll go home disappointed.

For more information head to their website at joeallen.co.uk

@JoeAllenWC2
Joe Allen – 13 Exeter St, London, WC2E 7TD

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Vegan sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry

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Today is world vegan day, and in the spirit of the day and of the bracing autumnal weather, we’ve cooked up a vivifying vegan curry, with sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach. It’s a good old sling-everything-in-a-pan-and-behold-the-transformative effects-of-heat-and-time kind of meal, perfect for those midweek evenings where the desire for good food threatens to be overridden by lethargy. It’s wholesome enough to eat by itself, but rice is seldom an unwelcome addition to a plate of curry. Here’s what you’ll need (serves four)

2 tbsps of olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 tsps garam masala
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry powder, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced
2 large sweet potatoes, or three more modestly sized ones, diced
1 400ml tin of chickpeas
150g of spinach
500ml vegetable stock
1 400ml tin of chopped tomatoes
1 400ml tin of coconut milk
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
30g fresh coriander

Begin by frying the onions and garlic in the olive oil. After a short while, add the garam masala, curry powder, cumin, chilli powder and ginger. Let it sizzle over a fairly intense heat until the onions are slightly brown and the spices start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the sweet potato and cook for a little longer.

At this point, deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock and add the three tins – that is, the tomatoes, chickpeas and coconut milk – and the ketchup. Bring the pot to the boil, and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. Let common sense dictate whether or not the sauce has reduced sufficiently to serve; about three minutes before you remove the pan from the heat, however, add the spinach and coriander, chopped fairly coarsely. Season to taste, and serve in which ever way you see fit (a heads up though: lots of shop-bought naan breads contain yogurt and are thus not vegan-friendly. Bummer, eh?)

(Trick or) Treat Yourself: This Years Best Halloween Recipes

Halloween Recipes

While some people tend to be a bit heavy handed on the old decorations this time of year, we prefer – as always – to express our seasonal selves through food.

Halloween has a few staples that can’t be avoided (think toffee apples or a cheeky pumpkin spice latte), but we’ve trawled the internet to find the best recipes to whip up some ghoulishly good treats. Have a go and let us know how they turn out.

1. Graveyard Taco Dip
This epic dip is full of avocado-ey, garlic-y goodness, and just love the spooky layer of baked tortilla headstones. Find the full recipe here from Chickabug.

Chickabug Graveyard Taco Dip
image from blog.chickabug.com

2. Frankenstein Rice Crispy Bars
Channel Frankenstein’s monster in these cute green bars, probably aimed at kids originally but who are we to judge? A bit of green colour and melted chocolate and you’re good to go. Find the full recipe here from Everyday Art.

Frankenstein Rice Crispy Bars
image from Everyday Art

3. Strawberry Ghosts
For the more romantically inclined among us, the valentines favourite chocolate covered strawb has had a seasonal update with these strawberry ghosts. They’re pretty self explanatory, but get the instructions from Taste of Home here if you’re having a long day!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ghosts
image from Taste of Home

4. Severed Fingers Hot Dogs!
We’re not going to lie, these look pretty gory. Definitely for the brave of heart. But they’re just so effective we couldn’t not include them. Grab the recipe here from Party Tipz.

Severed Finger Hot Dogs
image by Party Tipz

5. Frozen Banana Ghost Pops
Yes, we know it’s another chocolate covered piece of fruit masquerading as a ghost but they’re just too cute. Plus, they’re frozen. Find the original post on Skinny Taste here.

Frozen Banana Ghost Pops
image by Skinny Taste