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Le Menar, London Review

Le Menar is an unassuming-looking Lebanese place tucked away behind Goodge Street that has exceptionally good food. Don’t you love that? The places you have to hunt down that make the faffing about with Citymapper worth it?

After struggling with the iron door (stupid frickin wimp arms), I made my way into what seems, essentially, like my dream living room. Mismatched, extra plumped cushions line the seat, deep golden tables with dainty candles spotted around. Deep reds, dark wood and cosy atmosphere, it’s make an ideal spot for birthday drinks, or cosying up with your date.

The food was beautiful. Simple as that. Wonderfully spiced, delicate and well measured, and generously portioned. This is the kind of place you take someone you want to impress with your knowledge of authentic hidden gems in London. It wasn’t too crowded on a Friday night, meaning that Jaime and I could have a proper natter, and still cosy enough to get chatting to our neghbouring tables (you can take the girls out of the north…)

For starts:

Starters Le Menar

Diver Scallops

Seared Diver Scallops.

Lebanese spiced squid

And Lebanese spiced squid, with almond harissa. Probably my favourite dish (but starters always are!). Squid cooked perfectly, with tiny heaps of harissa scooped into the delicate curls. What a dream.

For the main meal, I had the lamb.

Mains Le Menar

Spiced lamb

 

Perfectly pink, and twice as much as I expected (score!). Served with a few roasted veg and a aubergine Moutabal- big thank you to head chef Vernon for explaining this to me- which I’d never had before and went so well with the lamb.

Jaime kept it fishy with the sea bass.

Moroccan Sea Bass

After picking our plates clean, we chatted a while. It’s a nice novelty to be in a London restaurant and not feel like the staff want to chuck you out to turn the table over as fast as they can, and the chilled vibe of Le Menar meant Jaiand I were very happy with sipping away for a good long time. It really is a nice place for a catch up- something other London restaurants could take note of!

Then, of course, the sweeties.

Desserts Le Menar

Epic chocolate fondant with pistachio creme fraiche. Jai tried her best finishing this, but on top of her fishy dinner, this incredibly rich dessert beat her. I gallantly stepped in to scoop up the last spoonfuls.

Jaime collage2

 

Action shot!

My creme brulee was, again, delicious. Light, with a surprising scattering of pistachio dust in the centre, it was a pretty sweet way to end a lovely meal.
Pistachio Creme Brulee

 

I loved Le Menar. The food was delicious, unexpected, and the setting was incredibly warm and cosy. Great place for dates- especially if you don’t want to spend the night having to shout into each others ears.

Le Menar, Fitzrovia

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I’m a feminist, and I think we need to get over the Protein World adverts.

*deep breaths* I’m Farrah, I’m a feminist, and I think we need to get over the Protein World adverts.

I’m a feminist. I strongly believe that women are not treated as individuals in a plethora of ways, from catcalling to cultural marginalisation and under-representation. I believe that objectification is a ‘gateway sexism’ to the dehumanisation of women, leading to cultural acceptance of the mistreatment, belittling and violence women face. The Protein World advert, imho, is dangerous as well as lame.

In the weeks following the unveiling of the unimaginative, over-trodden sexualised and controversial tube ads from the ‘marketing pioneers’ behind Protein World, everyone (it seems) has formed an opinion on the billboards that literally highlight the value of a woman through June to August as her tits, froo, and the skinny bits in between bright yellow.

Protein World advert

As you can probably guess, I’m not a fan.

I don’t like that it’s a weightloss pill. I think diet pills are icky and the advertising is manipulative and boring- and to be honest if it had been an advert for a bikini rather than literally a body type, I probably wouldn’t have even raised my bushy eyebrows. These ads validated people who think if someone is fat, they’re unhealthy. They made women whoa ren’t a size 8 with grade A+ boobs (i.e. nearly all of us) feel less wonderful that day. But we need to get over it.

Protein World advert

A policy I’m trying to live by is to choose joy. It means walking on the sunny side of the street, not throwing a hissy fit when someone at work has used the last teabag, and changing my mindset to be more positive. It’s working wonders for me, and I think it’s a way of life that people who live on the internet could benefit from.

The advertising world is full of creative media types that don’t try to benefit from negativity. I spotted this advert from Whole Foods on my way home the other day.

Body Positive advert

The drama caused by Protein World’s lame ass ad- which invoked no creativity or interesting brand identity other than ‘douchebags’- saw their profits soaring. Our anger is rewarding bad behaviour.

Instead, and maybe this is naive, but we should reward creativity, positivity and responsible brands with our praise.

Punishing brands doesn’t work if it just gives them free PR and a limo ride to roll up to the bank to. We can do better than that. We can demand for offensive crap to be taken down, but we can also prove to brands that we will respond to, and appreciate, messaging that isn’t designed to make s us feel like sweaty, ugly slobs.

Body Positive

 

By moving past the crap, rather than waving our virtual pitchforks at it, we can send a message to brands that pissing us off isn’t good enough. If we want to stop being made to feel like this, we have to make a decision to use our anger in a constructive way, and to diminsh the power these shitbags have over us. We need to show more love for the good stuff out there. We’ve got this, guys.

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L’ETO Caffe, South Kensington London Review

L’ETO Caffe has one of those windows that you don’t just walk past. You double take, retrace your steps, and gawp in the window for a moment. Then, if you’re anything like me (i.e. total lack of self restraint) you head straight in to order a cake to go.

So when news came by that they don’t just serve perfectly formed cakes, but also a full dinner menu, I thought that I owed L’ETO Caffe the courtesy of at least taking them for a date before I leered at their baked goods.

I started, as every good meal should, with a cocktail.

Cocktails L'eto Caffe

My passionfruit copacabana was creamy, just a little bit sweet, and lasted me the whole menu. It was like a lighter Baileys, with just a touch of fruitiness. This might not be the greatest description in the world, so you’ll have to take my word for it, or go down and try it out yourself ;)

For starters, we were both feeling fishy.

Crab avocado salad

Tuna tartar

That’s Jonathan digging into his crab and avocado salad before I got a chance to photograph it in it’s pristine glory, and on the bottom is my tuna tartare- which, puzzingly, was spelt TAR-TAR on their menu. Have I lost my mind, or is this weird?

Spellings aside, it was lush. Generous portions of meltingly good tuna and a really sharp sauce to contrast the avocado. Jonathan’s salad was nice- though the soy and lime dressing didn’t blow my mind- I like my dressings potent, not gentle. I’ll stick to my tune tar tar/tatare.

Mains were a game affair.

Steak l'eto caffe

Veal cheek l'eto

Jonathan was boring and had a steak. With so many cool other things on the menu, amazing pastas and all sorts of slow cooking going on, I was hoping he’d go for something more adventurous I could pinch a few forkfulls of, but steak it was. He enjoyed it, in any case.

I had veal’s cheek, slow braised (how else?), on lemon potato creme, with a five spice jus. The veal was lush, falling apart at the meerest glimpse of my fork. The potato- essentially posh mash- was amazing. I would never have expected to love lemon potato mash- it sounds like a Blumenthal pudding- but I did. Top marks, L’ETO.

The main event in L’ETO is the desserts. I’ll let the cakes do the rest of the talking.

l'eto chocolate cake

l'eto cakes

l'eto tarts

l'eto carrot cake

After some serious discussion, Jonathan and I made the most important decision of the day. I went for L’ETO’s famous honey cake, and Jonathan had the chocolate cake.

l'eto honey cake

l'eto chocolate cakesAww shit.

They were, obviously, perfect. The honey cake was light, crisp, fluffy and insanely moreish. The chocolate cake was decadent, the way all chocolate cakes try to be, and the little squidge of sharp raspberry jam in the centre was like finding a little treasure chest of fruitiness. We fought over who got to eat the last spoonfuls of each, and nursed our full stomachs off into the night…

L’ETO Caffe, Brompton Road and across London.

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STK, London Review

I may be a million years late to noticing this, but there really is something to be said for a restaurant that does one thing, and does it well. Industry bods might call it a ‘hero menu’, but little old me simply calls it a ‘good idea’.

I mean, I’ve been let down before. Shoddy ramen at ramen restaurant Tonkotsu left me running back to ramen gods Bone Daddies weeping a promise to never leave them again. So it really sucks when you go into a place, scan the three item menu, and they manage to somehow cock it up.

I feel like that’s what happens when tourists go to (shudder) Angus Steakhouse and the ilk for their meat fix. Which brings me to, gloriously, my new favourite steak restaurant, STK.

STK London

They do other things- range of starters, few bits for the vegetarians in house- but, as you can well imagine, the main event here is the meat. I popped down to their last blogger evening with some foodie friends for a cocktail masterclass and a steak step-by-step chef experience. Forks at the ready.

             STK Cocktails STK Cocktails

 

After knocking back a lovely, sweet and light Vanilla and Goji cocktail, we headed behind the bar to make our own STK Martini.

Needless to say I was better at drinking them than I was at making them. Though Mary might’ve pipped me to the post on the martini-o-meter, I still think I did pretty well.

STK Cocktails

STK Cocktails

Thanks Mary for the photos and for the shake off!

We then snuck past the waiters to go into the STK kitchens. I’ve worked in restaurants before, so I know I shouldn’t still be wowed by them, but they do look impressive. And they’re hotter than the centre of the sun, so half the wow-factor comes from sheer disbelief that anyone could work in there.

 STK London

Head chef Jared took us through the differences between USDA and wagyu meat, gave us a quick lesson in knife skills and a tour of the kitchen, and spent the rest of his time fielding aggressive questions from us bloggers on why we couldn’t make our Tesco value steaks taste as good as his. He was gracious, funny, and had a corking accent. Nice guy!

 

Wagyu vs USDA #meatmeatbaby #steak #STKLondon

A photo posted by Farrah Kelly (@farrahkelly) on


We’d worked up an appetite watching the orders come and go, so after poking around, chopping, a bit of frying, and bribing the chefs to give me the best cut of meat, we went back upstairs for our dinner.

STK Steak

The steak. It was about four times as much as I would have expected. This is SO much food, and it took a good me a good long while to get through it. Obviously, I ordered rare. I don’t usually like ordering rare because I’ve been burned before by bad steak, but having seen the chefs in action, I felt as though I could trust’em, and they delivered. It tasted exactly how a rare steak should, and the sides were all fab (I didn’t get a look in on the mac n cheese, but the speed the sharing dish went down with speaks volumes)

STK desserts

And finally for dessert, a deconstrcuted STK snickers bar. This was weird and wonderful and I wish I’d ordered about seven of them- not because they weren’t filling (the beef had seen to that), but because if there was any way I could’ve snuck them into my pocket to have one a day for the rest of the week, I would have found it.

After my visit to STK, I feel like charging into the Leicester Square Angus Steakhouse and Pied-Pipering them all the way to Holborn, so they can actually experience London’s best steak, and not just an unmet promise.

 STK London, 336 Strand
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