Yeah let’s go to Jamie’s Italian for a real treat

A Review of Jamie’s Italian, Greenwich


Yeah let’s go to Jamie’s Italian for a real treat, because annoying as it is that ol’ Jamie sponsors just about every clunky kitchen gadget going, I do enjoy cooking from his recipe books, so the food can’t go wrong. Right?

The interior of Jamie’s Italian is enormous. And it is about as cliched as Mr Oliver himself, which for me is slightly annoying but mostly ok. You’d have to draw your own conclusions. For instance, the tea towel napkins: I like. They are strangely comforting. But I don’t like the school canteen glasses. They are a cuteness too far. Also at school they always used to come with unidentifiable solidified grime on them. When I was a kid, any unknown grime was the worst grime: SNOT (or possibly poo, but a little less likely given the circumstance.) Let’s move on from this topic, it’s dinner time.


Well the menu didn’t look so great. The really flummoxing part was that the centre piece focused on burgers, which surely couldn’t be the the best dish of an Italian restaurant. Where was the gem on the menu? I forced myself to look at the pasta.

The meal started with overly-battered squid.


This was really disappointing. More and more restaurants seem to over-batter their squid. You can only taste batter. A pretty, but not so funky tasting butternut bruschetta came with it and this was ok. I’m sure the mains will make the hype worth it.


I have to say that the service was perfect. Our waiter was so attentive. He could sense that we were unhappy with the starters and wanted to correct it, slipping extra bread in our takeaway box, and patient and helpful throughout the experience.


Spaghetti Alla Norma with aubergine, chilli and basil sounded great. Aubergine is quite a flavour after all. In reality, I’ve had more flavoursome dishes from cheaper Italians. It was a bore to consume. Only force of habit made me continue. I genuinely weighed up that I would not be missing out on the food, by leaving it and taking joy from the potential lost weight.


The sea bream was pleasant enough, but it is kind of hard to mess up such a magnificent ingredient. They did their best to mess it up. The samphire was woody. Something I would not have believe possible of seaweed/parsley type thing, so to give JI its due, this was an educative experience.

We had fabulous desserts at. Jamie’s Barbecoa in New Change, so we stopped around in case the meal could be redeemed. A cold winter night, we chose warm amaretti and granola crumble. Note, not ‘crumbled amaretti…’ But amaretti crumble, in other words, implying to most people baked cakey stuff that crumbles. In fact this was fruit with granola sprinkled on it. This did have nice flavours, but was not the promised comforting crumble implied by the menu. It felt kind of healthy.

What gets me, what really gets me is that even I can knock out a delicious Jamie 15minute meals in a little under half an hour. His stuff should be chef-proof. So we can’t even blame the chef at JI.

And by the way, the Jamie branded garlic press broke into shards the other day. My Ikea version is still going strong (sorry Deptford Dame!)

I have never written so rude a review. However I feel sorry for the flawlessly charming staff who deserve jobs if JI does not survive, hopefully by boosting the business of the following establishments, they will get recruited there.
If you want to eat out in the Greenwich/Blackheath areas eat out here: if you want Italian in Greenwich eat here: Bianco43
If you want a quality burger (because naturally this is the first thing you think of when visiting an Italian) eat here: Chapters
If you want bog standard Italian chain food, maybe featuring kids (at the table, not in the dishes) believe me, Pizza express and Strada do a better job and frequent good money off deals.




Mouthful of cake, swig of coffee. Savour. A Review of Mara Interiors

Now there is a mini-review of Mara Interiors on my blog already. They are actually an interior designers who happen to sell cake and coffee to chat over rather than an actual coffee shop. So it always felt a bit like cheating to write about them. Also, the owner worked out that I am the that coffee shop blogger, which always felt a little intimidating. It’s so much easier to let my opinion run free when no one knows who you are.

However I have had such consistently pleasant visits there that I thought it was worth a revisit. especially as recently they have been moving their cake selections from solely Boulangerie Jade (which you know I love) to one made no other vendors. In particular this week we discovered these tea cakes (I believe the name is)


Why have I only got a picture of half of a tea cake…? Because I couldn’t stop myself diving in. This blog, you followers, I forgot you all when faced by the tea cakes and the knife to tuck in… So I don’t even have any evidence of the raspberry one to share with you.

Was it good? Yeeeess it was good. But the one you do have a photo of is even better. The honey and lavender one that was in the words of the baker’s husband ‘less elaborate’ with only a layer of thin icing was fabulous. The best, full of subtle flavours and sugar. I liked. Mouthful of cake. Swig of coffee. Savour. Do something else for a couple of minutes. Repeat. It is necessary to get the balance between enjoying the cake and making the experience last as long as possible.

Very good coffee by the way. And sitting in an interior design shop you do get much nicer seats than in many of Blackheath’s options.

180 Westcombe Hill

Leave Trifle in the Seventies! A Review of The Guildford Arms

We decided to risk the Guildford Arms. I say ‘risk’ because our on our last visit we had a very uncomfortable experience there. Admittedly we arrived late and not too sure we wouldn’t be turned away. However on being welcomed, a rush job was done with our meals – especially the partially cooked potatoes, making the whole visit a pretty disappointing expense. This was a pity as we have never experienced this at the sister restuarant, ‘Inside’.

Fake candles

Fake candles

Ah but everyone deserves a second chance. Even if they seem to spend more time and effort advertising and writing in the local glossies than actually cooking.

I like muted blues

I like muted blues

The environment at the Guildford arms was very pleasant: a wood clad room and jazz. They even had really clever fake candles that flickered in a frosted glass. Although I did wonder why they are needed. Is the cost of wax prohibitive these days? Are the papers full of reports of restaurants burned down by escapee candles? Equally mysterious was the two cubicle toilet with one elongated sink. It was very sophisticated in appearance, but if the two cubicles were used at similar time, there’d be a queue for the single tap. Watch our for that.

I began by enjoying a very rich roquefort souffle, but then a scan of the mains menu presented a challenge. It didn’t leave me in a quandary of which exciting meal to pick, so much as trying to infer what possibly could have something exciting lurking underneath the dsecriptions. While I very much enjoy ‘traditional with a twist’ (see the Rivington review) the menu at the Guilford arms was very traditional with a very subtle twist, almost too subtle to notice. We were not entirely forsaken to a single flavour: corn purée accompanied the guinea fowl and blue cheese with the steak. In fact following the long agony between starter and main (what is with these waits?) the roast guinea fowl with bacon and beef fillet with supplement arrived and were delicious. It’s hard to describe what went so right with these dishes- clearly not their descriptions on the menu. Both were hugely reminiscent of a good English roast. I mean of the standard that your good cook friend would make you rather than an £7 a head carvery plus plate design and elegant portion sizes. I appreciate that sounds like I have missed the point, but I would go so far as to say (on this occasion) that they were absolutely and without reservation flawlessly cooked, taking the dishes to their best possible performance.

Beef with supplement

Beef with supplement

Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl

This very traditional seems to be defining Guildford’s market. I had a sneak peak at it’s more popular sister restaurant Inside’s menu, and they at least tossed chorizo into one of the meals. This is probably more my style. Mark’s and Spencer have my demographic tagged.

Fortunately the dessert menu presented more sparky selections – oh that trusty course ‘dessert’. Some of them extended to the odd spice, albeit in the traditional combinations of ginger and rhubarb or vanilla and cream. The ginger and rhubarb was a brilliant balance of the two flavours- a rare achievement having sampled many attempts at this combination, many overdo the ginger. But this being part of a trifle, I had to fight through clouds of cream to reach this harmonious performance. Leave trifle in the seventies. The only part worth keeping is the sponge fingers in jelly. The other dessert was creme brûlée with cardamom shortbread. For those of you who think that shortbread is best served with caramel and chocolate on top you need to try this- a way more sophisticated twist than millionaires shortbread.

Clouds of Cream

Clouds of Cream

Creme Brûlée

Creme Brûlée

Desserts compounded the reality that the small portions were large enough. We were now completely satiated. I ordered a black coffee to finish with. Think it was an Americano, but I can’t get excited.about the difference between this and a filter coffee. Can you? It came with such rich stiff frothy milk in a jug on the side that it quickly evolved into a cappuccino. I have no faith in my own convictions. We were warned that the truffle on the side came with cognac.

I thought that was kind.

This review was of the restaurant upstairs.
The Guildford Arms, 55 Guildford Grove, Greenwich SE10 8JY

Cliffs of Pork Belly – A Review of Venice Restaurant in Blackheath

A Review of Venice, Italian Restaurant in Blackheath.

I was drinking peppermint tea in The Railway pub when I thought to myself: I’d like to visit Venice tonight. Now please don’t make the mistake that I made with fellow tweeters of thinking that I mean the second most cannalled city in Europoe (the first being Birmingham. No really. Google it), a mistake so unfortunate it read like a bad joke and attracted a number of “boom booms”… I mean the new Italian restaurant that replaced the other new Italian restaurant, that replaced the Indian, that replaced the Tibetan which replaced Flame Bar… Which I believe (before my time) replaced a Natwest bank. (I may have missed some steps here).

Venice was pretty empty. We sat alone amongst the plastic vines desceding from the ceiling. The courses were generously sized. We started with sardines to share…. Of which came 4- nicely mariantated and quite impressive, and made us wonder what was yet to come.



Venice Interior

Venice Interior

Which was cliffs of pork belly. I do mean cliffs. Take a look.

Pork belly at Venice

Pork belly at Venice

And I would like to add that it was poor perspective on the iPhone that makes the accompanying veg and potatoes look vaguely relative in size. Still, unlike your average penny-squeezing bistro, the sides came free with the mains.

I chose king prawns in spaghetti with chilli and basil. Hard to get wrong, right? Some bright fresh ingredients that are guaranteed to taste good… Or in the case of Venice taste really really bland. Ok I fished out a chilli, so unless it was disguised horse meat all of the key ingredients technically featured in the dish. But they did not taste of anything. Not even garlic. In fact, after sampling the pork belly which was rich with garlic and rosemary, I couldn’t really face returning to the pasta. It felt like a waste of calories if you know what I mean…

Prawns, basil, Chilli

Prawns, basil, Chilli

So the verdict on the mains is really rather confused: excellent and dull at the same time. I was chided by the waitress for explaining my feeling on the prawns on invitation, rather than before I had finished.

Now I do like Italian desserts. One of my issues with the recent branding of Pizza Express is that it neglects the Italian dessert menu. There were some tempting offerings on the Venice menu, and I spent a while deciding between cannolo and cassata, only to be told they were both out of stock. So was Tartuffe. We were left with profiteroles, tart tatin and treacle sponge. We…ll at least the first 2 were from the same land mass as Italy. (Although not Sicily where most of the desserts were actually intended to originate from.) Fortunately we were rescued from just having an amaretto shot at home by spotting semi-freddo, but it wasn’t really what we’d had in mind.

Semi Freddo

Semi Freddo

Service was very friendly, although an inability in to wipe the table after it was pointed out that the dessert menus had landed in gravy was a little cringe-worthy. Does anyone else feel uptight about dessert when they know that forks, elbows and fingers are centimetres from landing in gravy? The pizza man was also very helpful, he was dressed for cooking, rather than waiting and looked a little apprehensive when he noticed we were searching for a coffee when he was the only member of staff left- but met the challenge abley and charmingly, delivering a bitter and rich blend that we much enjoyed.

1-3 Lee Road, SE3 9RQ

Ratchada’s has a waiter to melt your heart.

A Review of Ratchada in Blackheath/Lee

Anyone remember the Naked Chef? It was published 13 years ago. No, I didn’t believe it either until I took a look at the pictures of Jamie Oliver on it and wondered why a school girl was writing recipe books. I was browsing a copy of the Naked Chef for meal inspiration the other day, when I came across a fragrant green chicken curry recipe. Just a decade ago and the accompanying write up reads as follows: “I was asked to make this by my sister’s husband who’d eaten something similar in a Thai restaurant. I looked up a lot of recipes and they all seemed quite different..” Ah bless. Not only did Jamie seem much more modest in those days, but it seems we didn’t really do much Thai food at the beginning of the 2000’s. Life was all Seattle coffee shops and biscotti. These days Thai food references are getting close to Indian references for recognition: red curry, green curry and pad thai. Jamie’s recent 30 minute, 20 minute and 15 minute meals are all full of Thai-inspirations.

Fragrance, though. Isn’t that just the word for Thai food? Even more true than for Turkish delight. This word made me think about Thai food for a Saturday lunch and it had been a very long time since I had visited Ratchada on the Lee Road. (Not the Lee High Road!)

Ahh… now, Ratchada’s has a waiter to melt your heart. He would come to collect dishes and ask if we’d like to see the dessert menu. When we said yes, he put all the dishes back down and went to get the menu before returning to pick up the dishes again. All of it was done with the gentlest of smiles. I wonder if he only normally serves takeaways at lunch time. It was a little quiet. We tucked into our fragrant dishes, underneath red and yellow lanterns and accompanied by Magic on the radio… with ad breaks that discussed how easy abdominal cramps could be dispelled with one pill. At that point we decided to close our ears, even if it did mean no more relishing of eighties cheese.

Ratchada knife and fork

Opinion on the food came down to the accompanying sauces and whether they were they our favourites. The spiced fishcakes starter came with sweet chilli sauce loaded with peanuts. That was good. Actually, the spiced fishcakes were very good- perfumed and with a texture way beyond fishlike. The chargrilled mussels came with something sourer, and unexpectedly hot. The mussels were not particularly chargrilled, either, nor spiced and a little disappointing.

Ratchada starters

Ratchada starters

For mains I chose a red curry- full of (more) mussels and more squid and prawns, with a fruit bowl sized bowl of rice. I love Thai red curry – hot and rounded and slightly sweet with streaks of cream, and the seafood was swimming in it. The first few mouthfuls were amazing, but by the end of what was admittedly a large portion- I could only taste the sweetness and was looking at my husband’s plate to break the monotony.

Pork Grill

Pork Grill

Thai Salad and sticky riceThe back up dish was pork grill and sticky rice. The rice was fun, as it slipped all shinny out of the bag. But the dish really came down to the tamarind sauce to make it exciting and opinion was divided. It’s difficult to opine, when I have never eaten a tamarind. (Has anyone who grew up in the UK?) I didn’t mind it so much. There was something of a chocolate undercurrent with sour high notes.

Apple fritters come with honey, sesame seeds and dairy ice cream topped with hundreds and  thousands. Personally, I would have subtracted the honey and the sesame because, as I have explained to you all many times, fried sweet things are good, very good, in a simple way.  The waiter said banana fritters as he wrote it down, so we explained that it was apple fritters we were ordering. Then we explained that we were asking for apple fritters again after we had taken the first bite of banana fritters. He was touchingly apologetic. The ice cream was a good quality vanilla, and the hundreds and thousands seem compulsory in a lot of ethnic food. (Birmingham may have made curry a national dish, so who’s to say Bangkok can’t do the same with hundreds of thousands).

Banana er I mean Apple Fritters

If you are looking for something lighter than the rather significant dining options in Blackheath, Ratchada was enjoyable enough to recommend that you all take a (very small) hike down the Lee Road to eat out and surrounded by some quirky shops that are worth a nose. From recollection it has a lovely atmosphere in the evening.

Ratchada Thai Restaurant, 129 Lee Road, Blackheath. SE3 9DS

Did you enjoy that? The waiter asked. He mocked us.

A Review of Barbecoa, restaurant in New Change, the City of London, London

(No… it’s not South East London, but it’s easily accessible via South Eastern to Cannon Street (south Eastern dependent) so go out and be adventurous.)

It all began with the bread course. This dish definitely deserved the word ‘course’. We had a four course meal, the first course was bread. Three breads to be exact. The first we were told was a naan, but it was like a pancake with sesame seeds. It was lovely, you know, in the way only warm pancakes can be. The malted bread had a solid sweet crust; and the ciabatta was toasted in a robust olive oil. I am sure toasted, not fried, strange as that sounds.

Many exciting flavours of bread

Many exciting flavours of bread

The butter came with salt crystals… Well ok, salt crystals aren’t actually all that practical, but this bread course was about the visuals, sparkling gems scattered on the creamy yellow butter. Mmm creamy yellow butter.

Did you enjoy that? The waiter asked. He mocked us. He laughed at his own joke before we could answer. How could anyone not enjoy it? And we did eat it rather quickly.

My mandarin fizz was lovely, the Campari rounding off the otherwise sharp citrus flavour; but I should have had this as an aperitif; it was not so great with food. I switched to a Rioja. Smoothest I’ve ever tasted.

Nice for starters

Nice for starters

Starters (the course that comes after the bread course) are definitely more interesting than the mains, but it was the piccalilli that pulled me to the shredded pigs ear… Oops, I mean cheek. I had reservations. I shouldn’t have. Piccalilli perfection- just the right spiciness, the right saltiness of pork shredded into a cake.



The Calamari and avocado (not guacamole, avocado you know) was good too.

Incredible Calamari

Anxious to finish off the rest of the pig (ok, actually I was embarrassed to have pork  for both starter and main) I overlooked the various impressive sounding steaks. More often than not, I like something a little more tangy, so the pork featured again. Coleslaw and shredded pork in BBQ sauce (wooweee) and market salad and about 2 chips in duck fat. Two chips was all I could squeeze in and there were better things than chips on the table. Coriander was the ultimate fresh garnish on this flavour feast. Oh, it was so good I came over all alliterative. Market salad is another one of those dishes with a name that just don’t sell it, but was replete with all kinds of fresh leaves and herbs and uncluttered with dressing.

JO Pork Waffle coleslaw

(Incidentally, the dish working so well with coleslaw reminded me of a recipe on the excellent and exciting food stories blog which I have tried to reproduce, got a stomach bug and had to watch my guests tucking in happily with the homemade caraway bread as I held my stomach soulfully and spent the next 4 days losing half a stone).

The interior of Barbecoa seems to have been carefully considered at the architectural point before any restaurant occupied it.  St Paul’s Cathedral is visible from almost every side. From the main shopping centre a pathway hides customers from potential customers. Draped sliced black cylinders hang from the ceiling and there is one of those endless wine racks that you always wish your dining room wall slash house is big enough to accommodate.

Wine Racks

Dessert? we had to. The first mouthful passion fruit brought with it a Pavlovian disappointment after the would-be-lemon tarts at Mara’s ; but that memory faded as the creamy really genuinely cheesy substance inside kicked in, and then the gooey base. Yes- gooey base. Own up who eats cheese cake for the base, well… A normal base in this cheesecake would have been pipped by the exceptionally cheesy cheese part, but in reality the cheese was pipped again by the base. The caramelising of the pineapple took the edge of what can otherwise be a leetle bit of a hyperactive pineapple taste. And those white scoops nestling on top weren’t ice cream. They were white chocolate swirls.

White Chocoloate Cheesecake

The Other Dessert

The Other Dessert

Please I can’t eat anymore. But I have to.


20 New Change Passage, City of London, Greater London, EC4M 9AG

Sipping coffee amongst actual live flowers

A review of Hooper and Palmer’s, in Westcombe Park, Greenwich/Blackheath

Now as well as considering some of the most enjoyable things about life: food, coffee, bossing you lot about as to where and how to eat, it’s worth remembering the even finer things in life when caught up in city living, like for example, nature. And to be specific – flowers.

Manufactured scents are all too unavoidable these days, even if like me you are not one for airfresheners. As a general guideline, any smell named after a celebrity and adorned with copious airbrushing should be added to the ‘processed’ list. So, it was a real delight to sit sipping coffee amongst actual live flowers at Hoppers & Palmer some months ago.

So nice was the experience that I decided to return to write up an accurate blog about the place and take some delightful iPhone pictures of the light room full of flowers. So at 4pm on a Sunny afternoon I tripped over there to find this:

Hooper and Palmer

Well, maybe they close at 4pm, I thought to myself, so the other day I went over at a much more civilised hour to find:

Still says Closed, but a bit smaller this time

This time I was with my man who had noted that he has tried to buy me flowers from there (everyone say ‘ah’) on Saturday to find that it was:

Hooper and Palmer

(OK, that photo was recycled)
This is a pity, because they are the icing on the cake of this otherwise rather dull corner of Westcombe Park (not counting pistachios in the park… I am coming back to you) . But haven’t they ever heard of STAFF? You can get them; Supply is said to outstrip demand these days.
Well from memory it was like this, and if you are ever wanting to take the gamble, the place is nice. (although the bit behind the mini wall in the middle of the shop is private, doesn’t say so, but the staff will bark at you if you cross it). We loved (in winter time) the stirrers for turning your hot milk into hot chocolate. Please don’t confuse these with milk chocolate stirrers; they were designed to merge with the milk to create hot chocolate. These were –something else, and not in the nostalgia over lollipops sort of way, but in the comforting oozing best way to enjoy chocolate sort of a way. Spanish stand your spoon in cocoa eat your heart out.

There seemed to be a good selection of teas. I really must write that blog about my general opinion on teas types and brands so that I can introduce jargon that you can all refer back.

Selection of cakes is small, but of quality. Good Flapjack and brownies are of the suitably high standard required of Blackheath.

Hooper and Palmer, 113 Humber Road, Blackheath London, SE3 7LW

Peas have been Upgraded

A review of Nando’s the Restaurant in Greenwich Pier

If you can spot the sangria I am going straight back

If you can spot the sangria I am going straight back

I was happy to be going to Nando’s this week and in turn to blog about how great it was in an I’m-not-a-food-snob sort of a way. Sunday evening brought disappointment number one: they had run out of sangria. Oh, yeah. The world was ending along with the Olympic Closing Ceremony… there was no Sangria at Nandos.

It has been a souless few days since then. Peering into restaurant windows, seeing the Mexican on the Heath advertising that they now serve San Miguel beer on tap… and thinking, “but not sangria?” (they probably do, actually but I was busy right then).

You may have been led to believe that sangria was invented to go with something other than peri peri sauce. You should rely less on Wikipedia for your facts.
It’s long, it’s mellow, not too sweet, and is actually better than beer in many circumstances – especially ones featuring hot food. The Brahma beer I had instead might have been great, in fact it was the beer I used to enjoy with a Nando’s before I discovered sangria. But it wasn’t sangria.

Disappointments two and three were shared amongst my friends, who found that their loyalty cards were no longer accepted, and that the halloumi had run out. (Can anyone explain to me why this last oversight was a problem?)

I did enjoy my a quarter chicken medium-hot with ratatouille and a good fair chunk of my husband’s chosen side dishes including ‘rugged pea mash with whole peas, parsley, mint and chilli’. Isn’t it great how peas have been upgraded since they were something convenient to have with fish fingers? Is anyone else sure that they are never ever going back there?

I finished with an elegant Portuguese tart. This is one of the great simple eating pleasures in life and is also done very well at Boulangerie Jade. Such a tart cannot be soggy. It must be crisp, flakey and custardy or else it is nothing but a bland mash of wannabe carb. Nando’s tart hit the mark. I had it with black coffee in huge pool of a cup, hence drowning my non-sangria-d state. I tasted some of the bottomless frozen yogurt, but on the whole, I’d be skipping most the dessert menu.

The Nando’s on Greenwich pier virtually sits underneath the stunning Cutty Sark, and has with huge windows overlooking the Thames. On a hot deep blue evening, this location is something else, even if you have no hope of getting a seat in the roof garden.

Nando’s Greenwich Promenade, King William Walk, SE10 9HT

A little bit of ciabatta-nose-up-turnedness

A review of Red Door Gallery & Cafe in Greenwich SE10

In the forest of teapots, in the land of Red Door; underneath the greater luminary (the 70’s paper light shade) and the lesser luminary (the ornate pre-victorian one), my husband and I did eat 2 sandwiches (one each) and a slice of chocolate cake.

Greater and lesser luminaries

We were strangely uptight. Was it my husband’s work weighing on his mind, or was it the lack of cake for sale? (We arrived very late in the day). Or was it because the seats at the front of the cafe were facing the barista/waitress/owner as if we were on a panel interview? There were 3 of them and two of us. So I guess that makes us the interviewees.

There were other seats. There was a throne like sofa facing in the opposite direction, but then they might have spotted me taking sneaky pictures of their interior to report back to you. There was a lovely sunken tea room at the rear (I do mean lovely, not remotely lose-able oneself in, but some how labyrinthine nonetheless.) but that was full.

On our other side, sitting in the pretty window bay we were swamped by paparazzi. Thousands of tourists stopped to take photos of us. I had no idea this blog was so famous.

What am I saying? Of course the blog made the big time. It’s great. The only catch is that I think these people didn’t realise it was BlackheathCoffeeShops blogger in the window… I think they were just taking pictures of the pretty facade. Rude really.

We made 2 good choices having fluffed the seating plan. Mine was a smoked salmon, cream cheese basil bagel. Now how many times have you eaten smoked salmon with pesto and never thought to eat it with fresh basil? What is it about smoked salmon? Does it go with everything, likea sort of fabulous socialite of the food world who’s a little bit wet on her own?

My husband chose the goat’s cheese and sundried tomato ciabatta. I have to admit to a little bit of a ciabatta nose-up-turnedness  going on here. I would rather choose good bread than something a bit stodgy with an Italian name – as if that changes anything (Bognor Regicci; Johnito Majorato). But you knew when I said “Goat’s cheese and sundried tomato” that we were talking something good, didn’t you? And they didn’t fluff it neither– not the singlest drip of intrusive spread or overactive dressing.

Tea arrived in an enamel teapot, nice touch, and poured into my grandmother’s teacup. Well it’s been a long time, but one generation’s faux pas is another’s cutting edge so I sipped. I believe the contents were Twinning’s Earl Grey. This is good.

Can you see the enamel teapot hiding behind grandma’s teacup?

There is no theme to the ‘gifts’ and arts and crafts on the wall. Some I loved, some I err… I did not. I think the point is that Red Door is a work of art in its own right. It’s a sketch book of a coffee shop, rough around the edges with sparks of brilliance made all the more intriguing by demonstrating the thinking behind the art (ooo – I think I will plug one of my pages here … about time I got something selfish out the blogging process. For sketch book – click here (NOW! – no excuses)).

We were instructed by our interviewers that we could only order dessert when we had finished our mains. Finishing the main course was not a problem or hadn’t  you been reading up until now? It was unfortunate that we were so late for the full cake selection which left us with chocolate cake. This was referred to by the owner as ‘you would like a slice of that monstostiy would you?’. Chocolate cake is not what I would normally choose but the cake was light and fresh with no pretensions of ‘death by’; and gratifyingly 2 different types of icing (one within, one out) both meltingly soft. So the cake box is ticked too.

Service was also quirky and fun. No pretensions

Red Door Gallery

10 Turnpin Ln, London, Greater London SE10 9JA, UK

Starbucks is over the road (for anyone who doesn’t get it.)

Hand Made Food interior (or is it Handmade food?) Blackheath

A review of Handmade Food in Blackheath SE3

Once upon a time I thought a Bacon and Egg sandwich was just that: a Bacon and Egg sandwich. Possibly I would worry about whether it was made with butter or margarine. And I would put up with margarine if that was what it so happened to be, in the same way that I might put up with a chip in the mug of tea served with fish and chips… because this is greasy-spoon-food right? And you’ve got to eat greasy-spoon-food in a greasy kind of a way? Well it turns out that I was wrong.

I was enlightened one day after walking into Handmade Food before 12pm. I had been there before. They do such a good line in cakes (there isn’t a single cake that is worth overlooking here)  that I had rarely diverged from this option. But on this particular cold morning, I saw that they served bacon and egg sandwiches… er… admittedly for a fiver.

If I tell you that the hand made food bacon and egg sandwich is worth every penny of that fiver.. and more pennies still, would you have me institutionalised? Well before you ring for the ambulance… go and try it. I do not know what makes the difference. Good bread, perfect width of slices; butter (HMF was never going to be a margarine sort of a place); fabulous bacon and egg which I assume has been carefully sourced. But it is as if each egg had been considered with each bacon slice and each type of bread.

Have with coffee. HMF seems to vary in its coffee allegiances but I have yet to be disappointed. Starbucks is over the road, for anyone who doesn’t get it.

I will have to get back to you on the deli, the cakes, coffee surroundings and service some other time. But there is one terrible truth that you should know about HMF. Despite a clear interest in the arts, they have never exhibitied my paintings. Never. Not even when I smiled at them when I paid for breakfast/elevenses/lunch/tea/caketime/mid-mid-morning snack time etc.

It’s ok. I’m not offended. And it goes to prove how objective my views are that I continue to say nice things about them,  and their coffee and their expensive bacon and egg sarnies…

Is anyone enjoying their outdoor olympics tent, by the way? Seeing the menu I am desperate to try and get there before it all closes down.

 40 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, London, SE3 0BD