This is the final post from the meatball and the salted cod. We’ve both left London: the salted cod has moved to Berlin for an awesome job as marketing manager for a new startup, and the meatball is in Brussels, having found a snug space between the fine dining and snail soup stands of the city. The blog will remain live for any recipes that might be of interest, and Ingrid will keep writing about Swedish food and Brussels adventures here.
Thanks for reading.
Isabel and Ingrid
To me, lobster always sounded like lots of fuss for little, and expensive, food. I have no problems with seafood that makes you work for your nibbles: anyone who’s attended a Swedish crayfish party knows the joy of devouring small red sea creatures for a small fingers’ worth of white meat. But since crayfish is cheap and lobster isn’t, I out of hand dismissed lobster. Now I must change that tune, having celebrated the end of university (forever!) together with Miss Salted Cod and some friends at Soho’s newly opened Burger & Lobster. Because it was ridiculously nice. And while it wasn’t cheap, it wasn’t really expensive either.
We arrived to our reserved table for four in the afternoon and the queues and stress I’d been warned about were nowhere to be found. After ordering in a round of Asahi we were offered to choose between a lobster, a lobster roll, or a burger. All would be 20 pounds each. The waitress also suggested a fourth option which we ended up going for: sharing a ten pound lobster between us, with unlimited fries and salad. She even brought him out on a tray whilst he was still alive, saying she’d named him Brett.
As Brett was steamed and grilled off to perfection (we were told he died by a swift cut through the head) we were kitted out with bibs, little lobster-tools and more Asahi. Once cooked and prepared for us, Brett was so large he had to come in on two different trays. He arrived together with bowls of shoestring fries, salad and garlic and parsley butter sauce. The sauce was simply divine dripped onto tender lobster meat, and as we fought away over the best claw meat we almost forgot about the fries and salad, although these were also very nice. A few more rounds of Asahi and lobster picking was loads of fun, and it turns out eating a massive lobster is a nice group activity if nothing else. As we started using Brett’s claws as gloves (see Kristine’s hand above) we decided it was time to move on to a boozier establishment. But as for the quality of the lobster, the price and the overall experience, burger and lobster get a unanimous nine meatballs out of ten from both me and Miss Salted cod.
Indian YMCA is a new meatball and salted cod favourite find. Situated in the slightly unlikely neighbourhood of Fitzrovia, it is super-cheap, friendly and very unpretentious. The atmosphere is nice, especially if you like talkative neighbours. It’s a bit like a school canteen – if only canteen food had ever been delicious and the food ladies were nice old Indian chefs instead of intimidating force feeders.
On the day we went, we had a good meaty mutton curry (long cooking made it taste very rich and full of lamb, but given the price one shouldn’t expect too much from the meat), a tarka dhal which was smoky and delicious, and a tangy and spicy Goan fish masala, which made the Salted Cod recollect Portuguese fish stew (stemming from historical links between Goa and Portugal). To this we had rice, chapatis and popadoms, which were fine, really tangy mango pickle, cooling yoghurt (needed for the fish!), wonderful herby raita, and onion bhajis which were nice but not freshly made (the only thing that suffered for not coming straight from the fry).
We had lots to eat, beside which there is also a chicken curry, vegetable lentils, chickpea curry, mango chutney, mixed salad and mango lassi to choose from.
If you go two of you, pick random curries and condiments and make your own little thali at the table. But if you are on your own you are still in good company: there are lots of lone-eaters here and going on your own would not feel awkward. There is probably higher likelihood someone tries to start conversation with you, though. The chefs behind the food counter are helpful, and you just pick and mix whatever dishes you like (they are already dished up in small bowls, but it’s all newly made and given the lively queue it is doubtful much of it stands for long). Water is free and already placed at the table. We paid 11.50 for both of us, were very satisfied and absolutely stuffed leaving the place. In fact, we couldn’t finish it all.
Given the home-cooked flavours and the friendly atmosphere coupled with the incredibly good-values price, we award it 8 meatballs out of 10. As usual, you can find this place through the Meatball and Salted cod map of London here.
Exploring London this weekend? Have a look at the Meatball and Salted Cod map of cheap cafés, restaurant reviews, food markets and other gems. The places we have reviewed are sorted by meatball score in the left hand side, and clicking on them on the map will give you a short description and link to the review.
The other pins may have been mentioned in blog posts (like markets or shops), or are simply places we love but have not had a chance to write about yet. From now on, you’ll find the map in the sidebar to the blog, where we pin our newest reviews and finds! (however it sits a bit awkwardly in such a small sidebar so for now you might want to click “view larger map” to find it useful…)
After days after days of revising the metaphysical aspects of IR theory, we thought we deserved a fatty break as exam-prep and headed to Meatmarket in Covent Garden today. We were drawn to it because of its relation to Meat liquor (which Isabel has declared previous love for here), and simply couldn’t resist a place with dishes like “Dead hippie burger”. The decoration around the counter is rather random as you have a view of the tourist-packed inside of the Covent Garden Market, whilst surrounded by True Blood-style accessories of a nitty gritty fast food place (plastic knives and forks, industrial sized condiment packages stored in chicken cages at the sides, a big roll of kitchen roll places on each table to wipe off grease), but it is all carried off very well. Playing on their name, the ceiling is full of little tweet-style signs carrying messages of cheesy contact ads filled with meat puns.
We skipped the fries and went for jalapeño poppers with rance sauce as a side, and then opted to share a dead Hippie burger and a Philly cheese steak. Had we not decided to go for a coke each, the bill would have landed on £14 for us both, which is very reasonable given the greasy fulfillment the food gives you. We got one refillable coke each at £2.50 which is very good value considering you can refill it as many times as you want.
Now, the food. The Dead Hippie Burger came charred on the outside and perfectly medium rare on the inside, and was high stacked with two patties, cheese, pickles, Dead Hippie Sauce – of course – and lettuce. For me this didn’t taste like the sauce from previous versions of the Dead Hippie but tasted like McDonald’s ‘sauce for fries’ sauce which you can only find in Portugal and which I (Salted Cod) absolutely love! So that was a nice extra. The bread was glazed and sweet and it was all so very lovely, in a drippy sense. The Philly cheesesteak is basically shaved steak fried with peppers and cheese, all pushed into a glazed hot dog roll. Simple as that sounds, it was chunky, sweet from the pepper, and gorgeous. Most likely also heart-attack inducing. The final decadence in the jalapeño poppers was so over the top it was kind of funny, but somehow ridiculously nice. The deep fried cheese balls with jalapeño were perfectly spicy, and they were served with a dill, mayo and sour cream ranch dressing which added to the deep fried grease by making it taste rich and fresh. So easy to overeat, and so so satisfying.
So the tip is: go on a rainy day when the market hall isn’t too hot, and never ever bring anyone with a heart condition. Else you should be fine. Not as good as Meat Liquor (less choice of food and drinks) but a good 8.5 meatballs out of 10.
Meatmarket, Covent Garden Market, WC2.
It’s basically summer in London! So me and Miss Salted Cod had a stroll around Ridley Road market (bit more info about that market in the middle of this post if you fancy going) and enjoyed the sunshine bashing down on Hackney’s back alleys. The result of our little shop is this delicious salad Read the rest of this entry »
Today the Meatball and Salted Cod bring you bacon mini quiches and another episode of our Lunchbox Extravaganza! This looks a lot more complicated than it is, but is actually quite easy and is so worth it. You can have it as a normal quiche or as mini quiches to take for lunch.
Start by making the dough, Gordon Ramsay style. It’s really easy and only takes a few minutes actually working on it (although be prepared for a lot of rolling), the rest is resting time.
While your dough is rising in the fridge prepare the filling. We used fried bacon, mushrooms, cheddar and thyme but you can make any combination – salmon and ricotta is really good, as well as mediterranean grilled vegetables. You then combine these ingredients with a milk and egg mixture. You can also use cream instead of milk (or half and half) but after the crazy amount of butter going into that pastry we decided to save our growing stomachs from any more grease. We didn’t really use any measurements, but you should use a minimum of two eggs and make sure the mixture is not too liquid, otherwise it won’t settle properly.
Cut the pastry in the shape of the tin you are using (we cut in in small circles for our mini quiches) and fill them up. Put them in a preheated oven at 180 for 15mins, but keep checking to make sure the pastry is not burning.
These quiches are great served hot or cold, so you can make a big batch and eat them throughout the week. They can also be frozen and reheated later.