Monday, 17 October 2016


Having weekdays off work has it's perks, and I decided to take the opportunity to pop down to Padella for their much talked about pasta.
We are sat by the window, along the lovely marble counter, with a view of the ever-growing queue outside.

I ordered a glass of Chiaretto Rosé 2015, wishing that it was summer again, whilst WK had the Aperol Spritz, that I ended up helping to finish - because that's what friends are for.

The food menu, listed on a single sheet, is pretty brief and straight-forward: Antipasti, Pasta and Pudding.
We started with the Burrata with Puglian olive oil which was soft and creamy, and the Salame "Lovison" that had a nice balance of lean meat and white fat and a nice peppery taste. I was really tempted to order the Padella sourdough bread as well but I held back to save space for the pasta.

Being slightly over-ambitious, we decided to try four pasta dishes between the two of us - I don't eat pasta that often so I like to go all out and indulge myself every now and again ...
The tagliatelle with smoked eel and Amalfi lemon was my favourite - tasty pieces of eel playing hide and seek in between ribbons of pasta that were cooked al dente, all mixed together in a sauce that was creamy yet not too heavy.
The Pici cacio & pepe was one on my list to order after I had seen it appear numerous times on my Instagram- a thick, hand-rolled pasta that originated from Tuscany made from just flour and water. Kind of like irregular shaped fat spaghetti with a denser texture, simply coated in a cheese and pepper sauce - simple and delicious.
I do love pappardelle and this was stirred together with rich and comforting Dexter beef shin ragu.
The tagliatelle with nduja is definitely one for those who love a spicy kick in their food. As someone who can tolerate a reasonable amount of heat in my food, you can be sure that this is not for the untrained tongue - interesting, but I personally preferred the other pasta dishes. 

You'd think that we would have been too stuffed to have dessert, but a meal just feels incomplete without something sweet to finish off ...
There were three choices from which we selected two: a classic chocolate tart that was seriously indulgent, and an Affogato.

We went for an early lunch, arriving just a few minutes before they opened at 12noon, and there was already a queue forming outside, so I would definitely recommend going early or popping in for a late lunch, or an early dinner whichever suits you best ...

Prompt service, good food and affordable prices - I envy those who live/work close-by ...
I'll definitely be back for more pici, despite their 'squiggly worm' appearance (it's the taste that matters!), and will finally book myself in for a visit to their original Trullo branch.
So much food, so little time. 

Padella is one of many great venues in London that offer counter dining, giving diners a different experience: catch the chefs in action in the kitchen, and if you're lucky, you can avoid the queues of people who prefer table seating. I do enjoy a bit of counter dining, especially if I'm dining out solo, and it's good to see that more places/people are embracing this culture.
You can read more about Bookatable's latest campaign, The Counter Dining Revolution here.

The Cheekster, signing out x

The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


I have to admit that I never been one to frequent pubs that often, despite the many hidden gems that are in abundance in London, and Fuller's Kitchen was the perfect way to get me re-acquainted with what I had been missing out on.
Recognised for the craftsmanship and heritage behind their range of award-winning beers, their kitchens are one of their best kept secrets and are equally deserving of the spotlight. 

Currently being run in 100 of their pubs nationwide, Fuller's Kitchen aim to create bespoke dining experiences in some pretty stunning locations.
 Each day in Fuller’s Kitchen, there are new menus that are individually signed by the Head Chef along with a changing selection of Signature Dishes, created by in house kitchen teams. The menus are always seasonal and almost always local, some even feature their own beers, like London Porter smoked salmon and Frontier-battered cod.

Their Secret Supper, which was my first taste of Fuller's food, was held at the beautiful Sail Loft in Greenwich, the latest pub from brewery experts Fuller's. 
Located just a stone's throw away from Cutty Sark, this riverside pub boasts amazing views across the River Thames through to Canary Wharf, with an outdoor terrace that would be ideal for warmer summer days. 

Having lived in London for over four years, I am embarrassed to say that amongst many places, this was my first time venturing to that part of London. Coincidentally, food appears to be the reason on most occasions that I would be motivated enough to spend an hour trekking across London. So if you ever need to entice me somewhere ...

There was a brief introduction by Head of Food at Fuller’s, Paul Dickinson, and Head Chef Gavin before a selection of starters were brought to the table. My favourites were the West Mersea oysters which were really fresh, served with shallot vinaigrette, and the roasted octopus with chorizo jam, confit fennel and crispy capers - I could definitely do with a whole jar of that chorizo jam ...

For mains, both me and WK decided to go for the fish dishes. I had the roasted whole sea bream, lightly seasoned and topped with a generous portion of wild mushrooms, artichokes, salsify and kale ragout. 
The North Atlantic pan fried hake was just as tasty, served with sweet corn bisque and sauteed baby vegetables.
I was initially tempted by the roasted duck breast which I eyed hungrily from across the table as other diners tucked into it, followed by murmurs of approval.

Unfortunately we were slightly pressed for time and had to rush off just before the desserts were served - *HUGE SIGH*
Although they were kind enough to pack a couple of brownies into my goody bag, which satisfied my sweet-tooth on the journey home.

 I would definitely recommend a visit if you're lucky enough to live locally, if not, there are plenty more Fuller's Kitchen venues that you can search on their website here.
And here's a random tip if you're alighting from Cutty Sark station on the DLR - move towards the middle carriage if you want to avoid missing your stop like I did. Short platforms and all that ... Thankfully missing tube (or DLR) stops aren't quite as bad as missing rail station stops.

The Cheekster, signing out x

The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.

Friday, 23 September 2016


Having missed out on their soft launch, I was excited to dine at Yosma a couple of days ago, one of the latest openings in Marylebone that brings together the three pillars of Istanbul's social and eating out culture - meyhane, mangal, and seafood.
I don't exactly recall having Turkish food in the past, but I had a feeling that we were definitely going to be well-fed that evening ...

 The contemporary interior which was designed by Afroditi Krassa is inspired by Istanbul's vast history, with materials that reflect a traditional meyhane (tavern). Alongside normal table seating, the restaurant features an open kitchen with mangal grill and counter dining - ideal for those who love a bit of 'behind-the-scenes' action. A raki lounge bar occupies one side of the space, serving cocktails created by Matt Whiley a.k.a. 'Talented Mr Fox' - I sadly missed out on the cocktail tasting part of the evening as I was busy sweating it out to the tunes of Prince's 'When Doves Cry'.
I'm still curious to find out if doves do actually sound of couple's screaming at each other ... 

The kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Hus Vedat who is of Turkish heritage, and has previously worked at the AA Rosette Caxton Grill and Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa. 
 The menu is designed to showcase the depth, character and history of Anatolian food, exploring influences and flavours from his heritage.

As we settled outselves in at the dinner table, the lovely Spencer, who was our host for the evening, poured us glasses of Raki, Turkey's national aperitif. 
This was my first time trying Raki, which had a really strong smell of aniseed - we were encouraged to have it neat first, which was a bit of a shock to the system for me (!). We were each provided with chilled beakers of water which we added in equal portions, forming an opaque mixture that was then MUCH more palatable.
It strangely reminded me of this old Chinese medicine that I used to be given as a child when I had  stomach aches. Maybe Raki could have some similar medicinal properties ... ?

I was thankful when the food was brought out, realizing that I was drinking on an empty stomach, right after a workout - naughty, naughty.
An array of delicious starters and dips was spread across the table: kavun (melon) with cubes of salty feta, creamy hummus sprinkled with tahini, lemon and garlic, and fava which was crushed broad beans which held together firmly in a shallow cylindrical shape that spread quite smoothly onto the bread. 
I was a particular fan of the Köpoğlu (pronounced kop-og-loo) which consisted of aubergine, green pepper, tomato and yogurt - I do love anything with aubergine, although the texture may not be to everyone's taste, it certainly tantalizes mine.
The Pancar was also very good - thinly sliced pit roasted golden beetroot with a generous drizzle of garlic oil and dill. Garlic and dill seem to play quite a role in these vegetarian dishes. This dish interestingly felt and tasted a bit like smoked salmon, which slightly confused my tastebuds, but in a good way. 

After cleansing our palate with a few sips of fermented beetroot juice, we then moved on to the meat and fish dishes. Delicate slices of pastırma (air-dried cured beef of Anatolian origin) packed some strong flavours, followed by a tangy, refreshing dish of Levrek Marine - marinated seabass which had a nice balance sweetness from the grapefruit and heat from the green chilli. A Turkish version of ceviche that I am quite a fan of.

Then arrived the main highlight of the meal - huge trays descended upon our table which carried whole barbecued turbot, eyes and mouth gaping in my direction as I zoomed in to take a shot.
Sourced from day boats off Cornwall, the flesh was really fresh and was a delight to eat without the need for too much seasoning.
I was actually quite full by that point but refused to stop eating as I felt bad having to waste such good food (!)

It has been a while since I had a cup of Turkish coffee. My first cup was made by this guy that I used to date which immediately converted me - because it tasted good, and NOT just because he was rather good-looking ...
 Sadly there have not been many coffee enthusiasts in my dating ventures since, but I digress ...

We were treated to a trio of desserts, all of which I enjoyed - no surprise there. 
There was Şambalı which was a moist semolina cake with almonds and mastic ice cream on the side, and Armut Pişmaniye which consisted of a sweet poached pear topped with cotton candy, basil and walnuts.
The third dessert was Künefe, a heavenly Turkish dessert made with cheese and shredded Kadayif dough soaked in sweet syrup. Baked to a golden colour, the outside was nice and crisp, and we 'ooh-ed' in appreciation as the strings of cheese stretched with each pull.

We also attempted to read our fortunes when the leftover sludge in our coffee cups had dried up. Mine apparently had a blurry image of a running man and traffic lights.
I may have to ponder this over another cup of coffee.

I think we did well devouring most of the dishes, with hardly any leftovers - especially Duyku and I that tackled a whole turbot by ourselves, alongside our second round of Raki (!) #GirlPower *flexes biceps (rubs food baby)*

I have always loved the concept of sharing dishes and would recommend trying out the Meyhane set menu, if you, like me, are getting your first taste of Turkish food - a nice variety of dishes at a good price value (£29 pp - excluding dessert).
The menu does change regularly but I'm sure each one will be just as appetizing.
 There is also news that a breakfast menu will be launching soon at a later date that would definitely tempt me back for another visit.
And I also must return for that lamb ...

The Cheekster, signing out x

The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.

Yosma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato