Pizza

BrewDog – Camden

‘Hello! How are you?’ These are that questions you should say to every beer you drink.

If it doesn’t answer you back (in a manner of speaking), you’re not having Brew Dog.

Luckily, the six beers I tasted at BrewDog’s new bar in Camden were full of words. They wouldn’t shut up, to be honest. Considering, I’m not the biggest beer drinker, this was a good thing. However, I still brought along the boyfriend (nicknamed DQ for the purposes of this blog) to give his expert one-line, beer-loving opinion along with my totally amateur one.

  1. Tokyo
    Me: This is the first beer I tasted, and it actually wasn’t part of the event, meaning that I had a half pint of an 18.5% beer that that tasted like a chocolate-covered cherry. Trust me, that gets a 5’3” girl tipsy in about 3 sips.
    DQ: A beer that tastes port. Yes.
  2. Punk IPA
    Me: A bit strong, sort of citrusy. If you don’t like beer a whole lot, I would skip it
    DQ: Nice, tastes a bit weird, but I like it (Editor’s note: we were back at Brew Dog two nights later, and he had two pints, so I think ‘like it’ is a bit of an understatement)
  3. 5am Saint
    Me: Almost like a bitter honeycomb. We’ve been told it’s been boiled for 90 minutes and hops are added after fermentation, sort of like brewing tea.
    DQ: I like this. Full of flavour.
  4. Scotch Ale
    Me: It’s dark like the Tokyo, and I’m immediately disappointed that it’s not.
    DQ: It’s like coffee and beer had a love child (Editor’s note: can you tell we were a bit far gone by this point?)
  5. Hard Core IPA
    Me: Yes, hardcore. Way too hardcore for me.
    DQ: Very hoppy, slightly acidic, overall pleasant
  6. AB08
    Me: I can’t really taste anything at this point.
    DQ: Smells like a farmyard, but in a good way. It’s a combination of hay and manure, but tastes like coffee and honey

Beer isn’t the only thing at Brew Dog, though – and that’s where I come in. There is a very small menu devised by Masterchef winner Tim Anderson, which features a rolling menu of burgers, pizza and cheese plates.

During the tasting, we tried the Santa Ana pizza – a hot little tamale of corn, onions, chilli, spicy salami and crème fresh. If you’re sensitive to spice, it’s not for you. I loved it, though.

Later on and still hungry, we bought the Milwaukee burger (£6.95), and absolutely perfect blend of pork, sauerkraut and a sauce I can’t quite remember, that is surely a contender for best burger in London. It was amazing.

Actually, the whole place was so amazing that DQ and I found ourselves back there two nights later. I’ll be honest, I’m not the hugest fan of Camden, but Brew Dog is enough to sway me. I’ll be back in a heartbeat.

The Hideaway Bar and Kitchen – Tufnell Park

The Hideaway Bar and Kitchen is one of those local haunts that most people in London (bar those who live in Tufnell Park or around) will have never heard of. Although ‘kitchen’ is in the name, I suspect the ‘bar’ part is a more accurate description. Looks like they’re trying to change that though.

I first heard about the place through my friend Alice who was doing the marketing for them. She suggested I come down for the relaunch of their menu, specifically their locally-acclaimed pizzas.

DQ and I had a table booked for 6:30, which is *slightly early* by London standards, but apparently unheard of at The Hideaway – we were the only people there for about an hour and a half. It’s always slightly disconcerting when your server can hear your every word, especially when they know you’re reviewing.

The menu is limitied, mostly just pizzas with a few nibbles and salads, but considering pizza is what they’re known for, it’s probably best they stick to it! As they say, Jack of all trades, master of none.

We chose to split the Chorizo (£8) and Carni (£9) pizzas:


The crust at The Hideaway is thin, but luckily still manages to pass the ‘droopy’ pizza test. I love that. There’s nothing worse than picking up a piece of pizza only to have all the sloppy toppings slide off.

Both pizzas (despite the amount of pork on them) felt much healthier and fresher than London’s thinner-crusted competitors. The toppings were fresh, but I could have used a bit more on the Chorizo, which seemed a little sparse. Much better was the Carni, which with salami, parma ham, chorizo and pancetta was bursting with savoury goodness.

The verdict…Was it the best pizza place I’ve ever been to? Not quite. It was consistent, service was friendly and it seems like it would be a great place to have a drink and a pizza on a Friday night.  Tufnell Park, Kentish Town and Camden residents should check it out, but for those outside the vicinity, I wouldn’t say it’s one to go out of your way for.

…unless of course you’re a fan of the show Spaced, in which case you can kill two birds with one stone by taking a picture outside the house used as the location of ‘23 Meteor Street’, which is located just a 10 minute walk away. Awesome.

Om Nom London was a guest of The Hideaway through a personal connection to the rstaurant. This connection in no way influenced the review

Pizza East Portobello – Notting Hill

When it first opened in 2009, you could have called me Pizza East‘s biggest fan. However, over the next year, I kept going back to increasingly disappointed food and service, which is why when they opened up a new branch in Notting Hill, I had mixed emotions. I was as equally elated that I would no longer have to travel to Shoreditch for Veal Meatball goodness as I was dubious that the decline in quality would follow westward.

Luckily I was proved wrong. But still, the meal wasn’t without mixed emotions.

The good: the food was top notch
The bad: they don’t take reservations (yet) and they have the most asinine system of ‘first-come, first-served’ I’ve ever seen. There is no list. If the waiting area/bar is full, the smiling ladies at the front tell you to come back in 20 minutes, and *maybe* then you might be allowed to wait in the bar/staging area for 45 minutes to an hour for a table where – I might add – you are not allowed to order any starters or nibbles. If there happens to be a two-top that comes up, and they happen to remember you’ve been waiting a while, you might get the table. Completely asinine . You can tell the hosts think so too. Through their smiles, I think they were dying inside to tell every single person ‘Sorry, we don’t do a list here.’

Anyway, the food… Mostly excellent. I enjoyed the Char-grilled squid, salsa verde (£6), although it was slightly overcooked

DQ had a big loaf of Garlic Bread (£3), in which its garlic-y goodness lingered pretty much the whole night.

I naturally went with my favourite Veal Meatball pizza (£11):

Fluffy, wonderful bubbly crust brushed with a lemon cream sauce, sprinkled with sage and topped with prosciutto and veal. I love this pizza and won’t get anything else at Pizza East.

Our other pizza was the Salami, Red Onion, Chilli (£11):

Also good, but no veal meatball. We asked for extra chillies, and I’m glad we did – the salami lacked a bit of punch.

Service was a bit spotty, but as alluded to, the place is ridiculously busy, and they’re still finding their feet (We waited almost two hours for a table and dinner took about an hour and a half). I’ve no doubt Pizza East Portobello will end up on my heavy rotation of West London restaurants, but only when they sort out the reservation system!

Pizza East Portobello on Urbanspoon

Rossopomodoro – Notting Hill

Do you want to hear the saddest thing ever? Up until a couple weeks ago, my flatmate wouldn’t eat cheese. In fact, he hadn’t tried it since he was a kid. Just went off the idea of it all. ‘It’s squidgy’, he told me on a number of occasions.

I know. Let me give you a moment to pull your jaw from off the floor.

When he moved in about a year ago, I remarked that we’d have him eating it in no time. Well, it took longer than I thought it would, but we’re nearly there. The first step was cheese on toast – a mild cheddar. As one could imagine, it was slightly dry – not the first thing I’d eat.

The second step was pizza, so Neil (my other cheese-loving flatmate) and I took Charlie to Rossopomodoro in Notting Hill.

We started out with the Bruschetta (£3.50):

Fairly standard, but nice and fresh. And no parmesan! I think he liked this one.

What didn’t work for him, but I found a cheesy delight, was the A Tiella Platter (£6.00):

This was an assortment of Traditional Neapolitan fritters – some with cheese, some with potato, all fried to a delicious crispy golden brown.

For the main event, I went with the Pizza Fru Fru (£10.50):

Divided into three sections, this pizza was a bit schizophrenic. Provola and tomato sauce on the left; Ricotta and salami in the middle ;and friarielli (wild turnip tops) and provola on the right. While I really enjoyed the first two, I wasn’t too keen on the turnip tops. Slightly too bitter and overpowering for the milder provola. What was delicious though, was the crust. Perfectly structured, but not too crisp – this was really nice bread.

Charlie, a bit anxious at this point, had a margherita pizza, which he did actually finish. I think he wanted to say that he didn’t like it, but the fact that he ate the whole thing tells me otherwise.

With all of that, and a bottle of wine down, we took a look at the dessert menu. Man, oh man, the choices. Curiously though, 90% of them featured Nutella as a key ingredient. Not that I’m complaining.

We had the Calde Calde (£5.00):

Sweet warm doughnuts iced with vanilla sugar and topped with Nutella – these were the best, by far.

I went with the Tiramisu (£5.00):

The actual Tiramisu was good – not fantastic, but good. The Nutella was good too (of course), but I’m not sure about the two together. It was a bit heavy.

Neil went with the Nutellotto (£5.00):

Buffalo milk ice cream topped with (you guessed it) Nutella. I really enjoyed this. It was just a nice subtle flavour. I wouldn’t mind getting it on its own for a nice light treat.

And to top it all off, because we were fat asses that spent over £20 a head, we were given three placemats featuring Italian vegetables. Here’s Charlie modelling one:

Fetching, isn’t it?

I should add here that the service was stellar. Warm, friendly – very Italian. In fact, I think we may have been the only native English speakers in there, which is is generally a good sign.

So that’s it. Charlie’s first real brush with cheese was a success. So much so, that we got Firezza two days later, takeaway from our local pizza place the next weekend and this past Sunday we had Mulberry Street delivered. I wouldn’t go so far to say that Charlie ‘likes’ cheese yet, but he certainly likes pizza.

Rossopomodoro on Urbanspoon

Yard – Old Street

I was at Yard a few weeks ago when the place was absolutely buzzing with all the Shoreditch office locals. I don’t often get a chance to eat lunch outside of a 5-minute walk radius of my office in Fitzrovia, so it was a rather welcome change.

After walking into the rather industrial/trendy restaurant, we were sat promptly and ordered a bottle of red and a sharing platter starter of  Crostini, Pesto, Olives, Hummous and Tzatziki:

A nice little sharing platter, but nothing more. Everything obviously came out of a jar.

I should mention that Yard is one of those pizza places that serve clever pizzas not by pie, but by yard (hence the name). A quarter yard yields you a normal size pizza though, so for my main, I went with their specialty – 1/4 yard of Crispy Duck Pizza:

I enjoyed this quite a bit. The hoison sauce was a nice blend of five spice – nothing was too overpowering. The duck was indeed crispy. The crust lacked some of the flavour I’ve come to expect at ‘nicer’ pizza joints, but it was certainly edible. In fact, I ate the whole thing (much to my stomach’s dismay).

They were busy, and I can’t complain too much about the service. Everything tasted perfectly fine, but it didn’t leave my mind soaring and my tastebuds reeling.

I’d say Yard sits somewhere in between Zizi and Pizza East in terms of price, quality and cache. It’s just a stone’s throw from Old Street tube station, and worth a try if you’re nearby or Pizza East has too long a wait.

Yard on Urbanspoon

Takeaway: Firezza – Notting Hill

It was one of those Fridays where you can’t bear to think about making food for yourself. I had had a horrible week, and by the end of it, I was emotionally and physically exhausted.  The only thing I could possibly do to get food in my belly was to pick up the phone and have someone bring it to me. Luckily, my flatmate was up for takeaway too. Having already tried Basili, we opted for the ‘pizza by the meter’ at Firezza in Notting Hill.

Turns out a meter of pizza is really really big. So much so, that they don’t really technically offer it – you order by the quarter meter. If you order two separate quarter meters, they’ll put it in one giant half meter box.

I went for the Mediterranea with buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and prosciutto, and Neil went for the Mista with pepperoni, chorizo and prosciutto.

Firezza Pizza

The pizza was delivered within 40 minutes (5 minutes under their quote), and we got some free bread for ordering online. When it arrived, it was still hot and fresh. Love that.

Mine was gorgeous. Fresh basil, tart tomatoes, mild cheese. Just delicious!
Firezza Pizza

The only other pizza delivery place in the area we’ve been wanting to try is Mulberry Street. I’m very curious how it will stack up. They’ve got a lot to live up to.

Firezza on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Bucegi – Sinaia, Romania

Another gem from my trip to Romania…

After train ride to Sinaia in Transylvania, a near-attack by stray dogs, and getting lost on the way to Peles Castle, I was STARVING. Like, raving lunatic ‘You-Wouldn’t-Like-Me-When-I’m-Angry’ hungry.

I stopped at one of the first places I saw, a half traditional Romanian restaurant, half pizzeria called Restaurant Bucegi.

I was going back and forth about what type of food I should order. I mentioned in my last post, the Italian influence on Romanian cuisine. The happy result of this is the amazing Italian food in the country.  Even though I’d already had pizza in Romania at least 3 times by this point, I opted for it again. I’m so glad I did.

Pizzeria Bucegi, Sinaia Romania

Gorgeous bubbly crust, melted cheese, fresh ingredients… Who’d of thought that a little hole in the wall would produce better pizza than I ever had in Italy?

And the thing is, Bucegi isn’t really unique. It’s about the same as every other Italian place I went to. Cheap, good food, and something for everyone.  And to top it all off, my bill came out to the equivalent of £6 with a main, a glass of wine, still water, coffee and service.

Restaurant Bucegi
Sinaia, Bd. Carol I, Nr. 22
Tel: +40 (0) 244 313 902

–Restaurant photo from Sabin.ro‘s Sinaia Gallery