Review – The Delaunay Counter

(photo from the Delaunay website)

Since we are students we have not amassed the funds necessary to review the newly opened Delaunay restaurant yet (a relative to the widely respected fancy eatery The Wolseley), but its separate counter is a student-friendly, surprisingly cheap slice of central European café decadence. The Delaunay serves German/central European/Austrian food with a hint of New York, and since Meatball and Salted Cod are convinced that German food is underestimated this is most likely our new hangout around LSE.

Their sachertorte at £4.50 is according to Timeout the best sachertorte in London, and after a try we can confirm that it is perfectly soft and velvety, not too sweet, with an apple streak in the middle for perfect tangyness. Chocolate bliss for us who are a little dazed by the current trend of incredibly sweet and large American bakery. In fact, it might be best chocolate cake ever eaten by a meatball.

Their apple and poppyseed cake at £3 goes along the same trend of tasty while not too heavily reliant on sugar, and it is also amazing. It incorporates good and generous use of poppyseed, and the apple sauce really tasted of apple and not of artificial flavouring.

Their noisette at £1.90  and Melange £2.10 feel like the best coffees around Holborn, and as you can see from the photo, they are very beautiful too. Very mild, without even a bitter or sour tone.

The picture at the top of this entry is their salt beef pretzel. Whilst £6.50 is not exactly a student price for something the size of a sandwich, it comes with a side of creamy potato salad and is made up delicate, juicy beef, mustard (although not enough according to Mr Meatball) and gherkin. A nice lunch if you are treating yourself.

They have a cheaper lunch option in their hotdog which is £4. It comes with sauerkraut which is salty, sweet and tangy, and not too sour. Whilst I added more mustard to that as well, it tasted just like my childhood Swedish hotdogs (that might of course be an insult, but for me its a good thing).

The only minus for this place (and unfortunately it is a rather big one), is the service. Two of the three times we’ve visited it has bordered on rude, and it is not made better by the confusing counter system of large trays that you carry to your own table, only for it to be picked up by one of the waiters in the middle of you eating your food. It is rather disruptive of the otherwise lovely Delaunay experience. 7 meatballs out of 10 (with good service this would definitely be an 8.5/10).

Window view from the Delaunay. Salted cod in the foreground.

The Delaunay  Counter, 55 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB

http://www.thedelaunay.com/counter

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Puttanesca

Puttanesca is a loaded name for a fiery pasta dish (Meatball and Salted Cod reject imposing stigmas on innocent pasta so won’t develop it more here. But there’s always google…). It is garlicky and rich with anchovies and tomato and has a fiery kick of chili, which blends with saltiness from olives and capers. It was supposedly invented in Naples or Syracuse, and I’ve been told it is good with tuna. In any case it is delicious as it is, makes your kitchen smell like an Italian restaurant and requires very few ingredients (if you substitute the fresh chillies with dry crushed ones it doesn’t require anything fresh, so it’s a good SOS-dish when you’ve got very little at home but all the stores are closed/too far away/it’s raining/can’t afford a take-away/all the local take-aways are overpriced rubbish/don’t fancy another night with packet noodles). In short, it’s a winner. Did we mention it is cheap? It is also super-simple to make, so another recipe for the kitchen-phobes out there.

For 2 persons:

  • 4 heaped tablespoons of olives, roughly chopped (preferably greek calamata but cheaper stuff works too)
  • 2 tablespoons capers (more if you like it salty, less if you want it milder)
  • 1 can peeled plum tomatoes (chopped tomates are also good, but the peeled taste tomatoier)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 anchovies
  • 2 red chillies (or chili flakes to the strength you fancy)
  • Spaghetti or linguine

Start with slicing the garlic cloves thinly, and de-seed and chop your chillies. Fry this together with the anchovies in some oil for a few minutes until their flavours are released and the anchovies dissolve (it smells amazing together) and then add the can of peeled plum tomatoes. Make it simmer, then turn down the heat. Crush the tomatoes with a suitable utensil. After 10 minutes, start making your pasta. When the pasta is almost done, put the tablespoons of olives and capers into the sauce and let them heat up. Drain the pasta and mix it in with the sauce. Done!

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(If you are into your cooking programmes, Meatball and Salted cod can strongly recommend the BBC French food fetishism that is Raymond Blanc: The Very Hungry Frenchman; it goes as well with a large plate of puttanesca as a full-bodied bottle of Primitivo).


Review – The Bluebird Restaurant

Today I will be reviewing the very posh completely-out-of-a-student-budget-your-parents-are-in-town Bluebird Restaurant I went to when J’s parents were in London a few weeks ago. The Bluebird Restaurant is a posh Chelsea establishment on  Kings Road and call itself, “the place to see and be seen in Chelsea”. Although there is a lot of that attitude among the people dining there, the restaurant itself, the staff as well as the food are pretty unpretentious.

We started with the complimentary basket of bread, which was ok, but nothing special either, and a bottle of Malbec, recommended by the in-house sommelier, which was perfectly full-bodied. We moved on to starters with potted shrimp and crab for me, and salt cod scotch egg for everyone else. I guess I should have stayed true to my roots because the potted shrimp and crab was supbar, a bit tough instead of creamy and lacking enough bread, while the other started seemed to be widely appreciated by everyone else.

My main of roasted duck was much better, served with apples and red cabbage in a port jus, if a tiny bit too sweet.

J’s mum had the fish and chips as she had never tried one before. She did like it, but mentioned the batter tasted a bit too much of oil.

J and his dad thad these impressive sirloin steaks, which I can guarantee were amazing! Tender, perfectly charred and accompanied by perfectly cooked chips.

We ended the meal with a dark chocolate fondant which was perfectly oozy with chocolate and coffee. The meal ended on a bitter note when by double espresso turned out to be an espresso with a bit of water which did not taste like much.

All in all this is a good place for a nice, relaxed, more expensive lunch. But maybe stick to that amazing steak.

Rating: 7/10.


Ella’s mars bar brownies

My friend Ella is a trainee-journalist master brownie-maker from the North, and taught me how to make these amazing bundles of lavishness. Still can’t make them as well as she does, and I failed miserably two nights ago by forgetting eggs and making them with hard flour (see photos below: they were simultaneously liquid AND horrifically burned. Awarded myself the first crushed meatball on the 1-10 scale).

Anyway, the second, successful attempt, included the three missing eggs and normal plain flour. Ella usually has them in the oven for 40 minutes but mine were in for 1 hour and could probably have taken another 10 minutes but I chickened out. You simply have to feel your way there.

They are not the cheapest sugary treat to make, but everyone deserves a bit of luxury for special days. My ingredients came to about £7 for one batch. You need:

140 g dark chocolate
225 g butter (unsalted)
450 g caster sugar
110 g plain flour
55 g cocoa powder
1 mars bar (added an extra to mine to compensate for not having any cocoa powder, but really sticking with Ella’s recipe is a safer bet)

+ 3 eggs, don’t forget!

Heat the oven to 190 degrees and line a tin with baking paper (smudging some butter underneath it makes it stick). Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (I did this in the microwave, which works as long as you take it out every 30 seconds and stir so it doesn’t burn). While the chocolate is melting, put the butter and sugar together in a pan on the stove and make that melt together too. Take them off the heat and stir in the eggs, then the flour and roughly chopped mars bars. Pour the mix into the roasting tin and bake for 30-40 mins until the top of the brownies is firm but the inside feels soft. Let them cool off in the tin, and serve them with your preferred creamy, milky addition: vanilla ice cream, cream, raspberries? Or just on their own with a coffee. They steal all the attention anyways…

PS. You are doing something wrong if they look like this:


Saucisses de Toulouse aux Lentilles du Puy – French Sausage Casserole

Last week I went home to visit my parents who, surprisingly, do not live in the land of salted cod, but in Paris! Every visit home is a chance to indulge in all the amazing food and ingredients Paris has to offer (I will soon be doing a mini-guide to Paris).

Among many meals this one stood out, especially as it is a French classic. It can obviously be made outside of France as most of the ingredients are easily available (you can substitute Toulouse sausages for Cumberland sausages or use normal green lentils instead of Puy lentils). This is my version of Saucisses de Toulouse aux Lentilles du Puy, which might be slightly different from the classic recipe.

You will need (for six):

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped.
  • Half a Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, sliced roughly.
  • 1,5 kg of Toulouse (if you can find it) sausage meat, cut in pieces.
  • 650 g of Puy Lentils, rinsed (or other green lentils).
  • Some rosemary sprigs.
  • A glass of red wine.
  • Half a litre of beef stock.
  • Salt and Pepper.

1. Start by browning the meat in some olive oil. When all sides are brown, remove from the pan and reserve.

2. Using the same pan fry chorizo for a few minutes on a medium heat and then add the onion and carrot. When the vegetables become soft, add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes.

3. Turn the heat up, add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate.

4. Turn the heat down, add the sausages, the lentils and the rosemary and mix well. Add the stock (adding enough more water, if needed, to cover everything.

5. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for 25 minutes.

Enjoy


4th floor café – review

Me and Miss salted cod are today reviewing one of the uni hangouts, the 4th floor café in the old building. A favourite among many because of its comfy chairs, old photos of 1920s LSE students and deli sandwich bar, it is arguably one of the best places for lunch on campus. But don’t get carried away – that is in comparison with other uni outlets, which, in all honesty, hardly send us through the roof.

Their americano is decent and studently priced at 1.20 (admittedly 70p more than the canteen coffee, but I still feel a bit nauseous after having one of those yesterday) and the deli sandwich bar has a nice chicken tikka filling which, whilst on the pricier side, is nicer than anything we’ve so far tasted in the canteen opposite of the café. Remember to go for the speciality bread because the normal is disappointingly small.

The queue system is painstakingly slow as no one really knows how the ordering at the deli bar works, so avoid going here ten minutes after the end of any lunch time lecture. Their cakes always look inviting but beware: the lemon drizzle is nice and zesty but the coffee and walnut – for all it’s glorious frosting – it’s not very walnutty and too sweet. Massive minus for the fact that they chanrge you 20p for a glass of water. 4.5 meatballs out of 10.


Blogging on the go – Tsuru Review

Today I took the opportunity of having a meeting in London Bridge to go and taste a sandwich I had heard lots about: Tsuru’s chicken katsu sandwich. And I can tell you it definitely lives up to its reputation! Despite looking rather simple with its sliced white bread it is its simplicity that makes it better. Fluffy white bread, crispy but moist breaded chicken breast and a really delicious mayo/slaw which was slightly sour, contrasting perfectly with the chicken and the white bread.

I thought the sandwich might be too small, so I ordered a miso soup too which was good but nothing extraordinary either.

The sushi looked great so I might try than next time I go there (although it might be pretty hard to resist the katsu sandwich!).
In total my lunch cost me £5.75 (this would be around £1 cheaper if I had had it to take away) for the sandwich and a small miso soup which is exceptionally good value for the quantity and quality of food. All in all a great place for a quick lunch in the area which is a great alternative to the pret’s and costa’s of the area.

This is also a test on blogging through my phone (sorry for the low quality pictures!).

 

Details:

Tsuro Bankside (there are two others) – 4 Canvey Street, SE1 9AN