Wednesday, June 26

Food: Smoke & Pepper Click for more info

After a couple of weeks of fancy meat places, we decided to turn things modest and try a medium fancy gourmet burger place. The stakes were low (there were no steaks on the menu at all), so there wasn't much that we expected to go wrong here.

And we were right. Smoke & Pepper is nothing amazing, but neither was it a disappointment. In line with our general vibe we kept things safe and went for the well understood burgers and they panned out and the inoffensive price was in line.

I don't have a strong enough opinion to recommand this place, but neither would I mind going back. That in itself has its place.

Thursday, June 20

Book: Persepolis Rising, James S. A. Corey Click for more info

I'll say it again: if there is one thing that The Expanse nails it's its pacing. Book 7 out of 9 is firmly third arc stuff, very Empire Strikes Back, and ultimately one of the better books in the series.

The book was a breeze to read too, not exactly gripping but with a high enough content density that you didn't feel the slog. It was a rebel, no wait, rescue, no actually a heist movie of a story, and it was this linear plot that actually benefited it the most.

Unfortunately this came at the cost of any real science fiction: this was politics and war, and as such The Expanse cements its place in whatever the genre has become over the last decade or so. But to be honest I didn't mind too much as I was having such a good time anyway.

Wednesday, June 19

Food: Janna Cafe Click for more info

Woo, this was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Not that I often judge a book by its cover, the idea of trying Somalian food in what seemed to be a very under hygienic par joint filled me with dread, and even almost pushed me to something I've never had to do - veto a place. I even avoided using the local restrooms they were that bad.

But before I knew it, it was too late to back out and so we stuck with it. And I have to admit that I'm glad we did as it all just got better from that point onwards.

The menu had four items on it: lamb, beef, salmon and chicken. It also had a bunch of platters, which confused me as they seemed to all be more expensive than their component parts. But eh, this is why I don't run a restaurant.

I went for the diced stir fried beef with spaghetti. And, quite frankly, it was great. Cooked and seasoned to, well I wouldn't say perfection, but maybe to an inoffensive standard, it really did hit the spot. The portion was generous (although I finished the meat, some pasta was left) and at £9 a bit of a bargain too.

I wouldn't say Janna was a hidden gem but it's definitely become my go to now for a quick post ELM meal. And given my initial (and quite frankly current) impression of the rest of the place, I've surprised myself with such a recommendation.

Thursday, June 13

Food: Just Meat Smoke & BBQ Click for more info

Ah, now this is more like it. There's times when I think that I'm just not a meat person, a kinda foodie imposter syndrome if you will. It takes a place like Just Meat to make me realise that actually I might have an idea of what decent grub is supposed to be like.

The pitch is exactly that - this is a place that specialises in smoked meats of varying types. That's it. Vegetarians or those who like fish have no business here. And as is always with places that have a focus, they know what they're doing.

Now all this said, I did stick with the Loaded Burger, having been burnt already with a poor steak once this week. I can say that the burger at least was great - sizeable and substantial in all the right ways, without overdoing it with poor filler. Others on the table went for the brisket, and although I got to try some towards the end, it was still melt in the mouth done well.

Service was as great as you would expect, with us enjoying the novelty of the external kitchen. If we had come at another time we could have even bought our own picked meat from the adjoining butchers. For now though, baby steps.

Given the what's left on the menu to try, I definitely need to come back for more. Recommended.

Monday, June 10

Food: T-Bone Steakhouse Click for more info

I would never bet on a steak being any good. I've been around the block way too many times to live in that much hope, and it's why I'm so impressed the rare time a halal steak is actually good. Either we just don't know how to cook them, or we cheap out and get substandard ingredients.

Unfortunately the steak at T-Bone was not great. I took the easy low-risk option and went for the £20 steak and chips, rare, with my rump steak having already been sliced. This paid off a little as I didn't have to deal with cutting the tough meat myself, although of course that didn't mean my jaw avoided its workout.

That said, a more than a few of the strips I ate tonight were sublime, which leads me to believe the trouble lay on the meat side and not the preparation side. Ultimately it doesn't matter since both need to be on point for the food to be worth it, and unfortunately T-Bone just doesn't reach that standard.