Once you get past the fact that Ekachai is located in a shopping mall (in Wandsworth's Southside shopping centre to be exact), and that it's a bit awkward to get to if you're hoofing it on foot (as I did), the food is actually surprisingly good.
Specialising in Southeast Asian cuisine, the menu at Ekachai features a wealth of Asian classics such as pad thai, spring rolls, curries, noodle dishes and soups.
For our starters we enjoyed the tasty pork and chive sticky dumplings with Chinese vinegar dip (£3.90), which had a unique tangy soy and ginger flavour sauce, and the crispy squid with Schezuan peppercorns £5.50), which was light, crispy and not at all greasy or chewy as can often be the case with squid.
For our mains we opted for the Char Kway Teow (£7.50), which consisted of wok fried flat rice noodles, stir fried with egg, chilli, soy sauce, bean sprouts and chives and the Beef Kendang (£7.20), a traditional Indonesian curry, which featured slowly simmered beef with roasted coconut, galangal, chilli and lemongrass.
The Char Kway Teow was OK, however the Beef Randang was fantastic, with tender meat and a great depth of flavour, which was perfect paired with coconut rice. We also enjoyed the bok choy, a classic Asian vegetable, that made a nice accompaniment to the other dishes.
The only disappointment was the drinks list, which was very limited and featured only a handful of wines. We opted for a bottle of the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (£18.90), which wasn't great, so I'd recommend sticking with an Asian beer, which usually goes down well with spicier dishes.
The service is fast and efficient, but sometimes lacking in warmth, apart from the restaurant manager Eddie, who is quite possibly the friendliest man on the planet!
Overall, it's a great place to go if you're out and about in Wandsworth and you fancy something cheap, cheerful and tasty, but you can't bear going to the neighbouring Nandos or Prezzo yet again.
Our experience overall
Food and drink: ★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★
Southside Shopping Centre
Unit 205, Upper Concourse
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Pennethorne's unveils new cocktail menu for Summer Screenings with Film4
Pennethorne's Cafe Bar at the renowned Somerset House, is celebrating the opening of its annual Summer Screenings with Film 4 with a fabulous selection of cocktails to match the al fresco films.
Situated in the New Wing of Somerset House, Pennethorne’s Cafe Bar offers an, elegant, yet relaxed atmosphere, which is perfect for enjoying cocktails and nibbles with a friend.
Film4 Summer Screen – Pennethorne’s Cafe Bar Cocktail List
A French Affair - Gemma Bovery | 9.5
Cognac, sherry, agave syrup, mint, bitters
60’s Fizz - The Man From U.N.C.L.E | 6
Sloe gin, gin, sugar, grapefruit, bitters, soda
Tropical Tonic -The Second Mother | 7
Cachaça, coconut milk, passion fruit, lemon, agave syrup
Hibiki Sour - Princess Mononoke |12
Hibiki, lemon, sugar
A Nice Chianti - Silence of the Lambs | 7
Chianti, bourbon, port, cranberry, lemon
The Sound of Silence – The Graduate 7
Gin, grapefruit juice, lemon, elderflower
Colonial Cider – Last of the Mohicans 9
Apple cider, spiced rum
Serendipity – Me & Earl & The Dying Girl 5.5
Gin, apple juice, green tea, ginger
The Dirt Nap – True Romance 8.5
Cider Pomona, whisky, lemon, bitters, champagne
During our visit, I enjoyed the 'A Nice Chianti, which was amazing - rich flavours of Chianti, bourbon, port and lemon, made this a bit like sangria, but with a kick. My friend, who prefers her cocktails a bit on the frutier side, opted for the Tropical Tonic, a sweet concoction comprised of Cachaça, coconut milk, passion fruit, lemon, agave syrup.
To keep peckishness at bay, we ordered a selection of sharing plates and nibbles, all of which were fantastic. Our selection included the manchego cheese (classic, Spanish cheese with a mild flavour) on toast triangles and drizzled with olive oil; the meat sharing platter (Oxford air dried ham, Cornish coppa, smoked duck and venison salami); the fig and apricot bread (fruity, without being too sweet); mushrooms on toast (earthy sauteed mushrooms on a half toasted bun).
The meat platter was by the most impressive of the sharing plates, with a hearty portion of meats that is pure Heaven for any carnivore. The venison was lovely and not too 'gamey' and the thick slices of duck had an amazing smokiness.
The beautiful manchego cheese traingles and the mushrooms on toast...
The stylish decor at Pennethorne's Cafe Bar...
A great place to unwind ....
So, the next time you find yourself looking for a stylish cocktail on The Strand, ensure you pop by Pennethorne's Cafe Bar - you won't be disappointed.
Our experience overall
Food and drink: ★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★
Pennethorne's Cafe Bar
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Brasserie Blanc, Charlotte Street
Suvlaki Athenian Grill
It had been more than a year since my last visit to Brasserie Blanc's Charlotte Street location, so I was thrilled to return and even more pleased to see that it had undergone a stylish transformation. A new, understated, yet chic decor in muted hues of charcoal greys and inky blues created a relaxing atmosphere for one to unwind while enjoying the delicious French cuisine.
There are two levels for dining here - the ground floor restaurant and 'The Clubhouse', a more relaxed dining and lounging area located on the first floor, which is in their own words, is 'perfect for eating, drinking, working, chilling and chatting'.
'The Clubhouse’ features comfortable chairs and sofas to sink into and a large aged oak kitchen table perfect for plugging in a laptop or sharing drinks and nibbles with friends. For a more intimate dining option, you can also reserve the 'Hideout' (see pic below), the private dining option located on the second floor, which is ideal for a private party of six for dinner.
One of the things I loved most about the decor was the attention to detail, as there were lots of stylish accessories that made you feel as if you were hanging out in the living room of a trendy friend's house, rather than dining in a restaurant.
In fact, next time I visit, I think I'll opt to while away the hours with a good book and a large glass of Pinot Noir in The Clubhouse. There are certainly worse ways to spend an evening...
As per my last visit, the food was superb. Brasserie Blanc specialises in traditional, seasonal French cuisine, that's simple and delicious. For those that are unsure of what to order, the friendly and exceptionally knowledgeable staff are on hand to provide recommendations.
Every day diners can choose from the A la carte menu or the Prix Fixe menu, which offers a two-course lunch for £11.95, a three-course lunch for £14.45, a two-course dinner for £14.45 or a three-course dinner for £16.95, all of which are great value considering the superb quality of the food.
During our visit, my dining companion and I opted for the A la carte Menu and decided on the cheese souffle and the escargot for our starters (see pic below). Now, I must admit I was a bit squeamish about the escargot, but it was absolutely delicious! For those of you who have never eaten a snail, it has the same consistency and earthy flavour as a mushroom and to be honest, you can only really taste the rich garlic herb butter sauce that they are baked in. So nothing to be afraid of (other than perhaps the calories in the garlic butter)!
The cheese souffle was every bit as decadent as you'd imagine and was light and fluffy, with good height - the true benchmark for a great souffle. It also came with a cute little pot filled with warm cheddar cheese, the perfect dish for any cheese lover.
Next up was our main. With so many options to choose from including duck leg confit, boeuf bourguignon, steak tartarte and sea bream with boullaibaise sauce, to name a few, it was a difficult choice to make with so many scrumptious options to choose from!
I opted for the steak frites topped with a generous portion of garlic and parsley butter sauce. The steak was thick, tender and perfectly cooked and the parsley butter sauce was very rich, but for those who don't want to detract from the flavour of their steak, I'd advise asking for the sauce on the side rather than on top of the steak as it can be a bit overpowering. My dining companion opted for the fillet steak, which was also perfectly done.
For the sides we enjoyed the rocket and parmesan salad and the dauphinoise potatoes, which were so creamy and delightful, they stole the show. The salad was OK, but to be honest, it's hard to compete with the potatoes and the homemade chips.
As anyone knows, no meal is complete without dessert and dessert is truly not to be missed. Dessert options include chocolate souffle, tarte au citron, cherry amondine and a selection of cheeses as well as a dessert of the day.
We opted for the dessert of the day, which was a lemon posset with liqueur soaked morello cherries topped with a crispy almond shard. The bitterness of the lemon with the boozy sweetness of the cherries and the nutty flavour of the almond shard resulted in perfectly balanced flavours that made for a truly indulgent dessert.
So, overall, it was a great experience that was incredibly relaxing.
I'm not sure if it was the comfy booth we were sitting in, the peaceful background music or our pleasantly full bellies after a rich and comforting meal, but whatever it was, I left having felt as relaxed and content as I usually feel after a visit to the spa...
8 Charlotte Street
Pizza in the park = the recipe for the perfect summer...
Some days after a frazzled work week, a cheeky cocktail, carbs and a relaxed catch up with a friend are just the ticket to help me unwind. So, when Rocket invited me to try out their summer pizza in the park delivery service, I jumped at the chance.
I love pizza and I enjoy relaxing outdoors when the sun is shining, so what better than to combine the two for the ultimate summer afternoon?
From now until the end of August, Rocket restaurant in Holborn is offering its customers the option to head outdoors to enjoy the perfect pizza picnic in Lincoln Inn Fields park. The pizza in the park offer includes two pizzas, two classic cocktails, a bottle of water, and use of cutlery, glasses and a picnic blanket, all for only £20 per person. So, if you haven't enjoyed a spot of al fresco dining yet this year, do it now before we see the last off the summer sun!
Rocket is renowned for its fresh, stone baked sourdough pizzas, made with Italian flour, so I couldn't wait to sample them. On the day we visited, we popped in to place our order, which was to be hand delivered to us in the nearby park.
As I'm obsessed with pulled pork, I opted for the Barbequed Pulled Pork Shoulder Pizza, which featured pulled pork, rainbow slaw, chipotle spiced pizza sauce and mozzarella and cheddar cheese. My friend opted for the Spicy Mediterranean Sausage pizza, which was a winning combination of Gorgonzola, roasted tomato, aubergine, peppers and caramalised red onion.
After we placed our order, the server led us to the park, armed with a blanket and all of our picnicking supplies, to help us set up our al fresco dining area.
I must say we felt pretty pampered as our server carefully laid out our soft blanket and carried over our cocktails as we stretched out on our blanket without a care in the world. I mean, it's one thing to bring a Tesco sandwich and a tin of soda to the park, it's quite another to be waited on!
In fact, I'm pretty sure I saw more than a few jealous glances as people watched us greedily devour our generously sized, scrumptious pizzas.
The pizzas were both fantastic, however, my favourite was definitely the Barbequed Pulled Pork Shoulder, as the rainbow slaw was a unique addition that I haven't had on a pizza previously, but I really loved the crunchiness of the slaw, which provided a nice balance to the sweet, tender pulled pork.
Overall, we had an amazing time and I would definitely recommend it for a casual date or a nice afternoon with a friend. London being London, though, keep a watchful eye on pesky pigeons and ravenous squirrels or you might end up sharing your pizza!
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The authentic Greek menu, designed by acclaimed Greek chef Elias Mamalakis, features traditional Greek delights such as Baked Feta, Pita Burgers, Fresh Herb and Vegetable Salad, Suvlaki Wraps, and of course, olives, pita bread and tzatziki.
To ensure the suvlaki is as tasty as it can be, the meat is delivered fresh and prepared daily, with the best cuts chosen for the skewers. The suvlakis (meat skewers) are cooked on a robata-style grill with top quality charcoal without using chemicals or additives, just pure, highly carbonized wood.
For those who like to enjoy wine with their meal, there is a small wine menu, which features only four wines, however, the Alpha Estate Malagouzia 2014 (£6 per glass), which had floral aromas and melon and lychee flavours, was light and lovely and complemented the food nicely.
During my visit I decided to try a bit of everything, so I could indulge in the full experience! My friend and I enjoyed the Exuberance Sharing Platter (£34.00 for two to share), which featured 2 x mini wraps, 2 x skewers, 4 x sides and 1 x pita burger, however, I substituted the pita burger for lamb burgers stuffed with feta, which were ridiculously delicious!
All of the items we tried were fresh and flavourful and I'd happily eat all of the dishes again. So, what were our favourites? To summarise:
The atmosphere was very relaxed and the staff were all exceptionally friendly. I also liked that you can watch your food being prepared, so you know that everything is as fresh as possible.
I will definitely be back the next time I find myself searching for quick, easy and delicious food in Soho!
21 Bateman Street
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Fresh, simple, delicious food in the heart of the West End
I love simple food done well, so I was pleased to pop by Lazeez Lebanese Tapas to sample a selection of Lebanese delights. Located only a stone's throw away from iconic Selfridges, it's the perfect place to drop in for a quick and tasty morsel after a long day of shopping.
'Lazeez', which means 'tasty' in four languages, specialises in Lebanese sharing dishes. From chicken or lamb shawarma to falalfal platters to wraps with falafel, halloumi and chicken or Lebanese-style burgers, you'll find it all here. Other favourites such as hummus and babaganoush, are made fresh on-site.
Lazeez always uses fresh ingredients in their cooking, many of which are sourced from Lebanon.
All meat is cooked over a charcoal grill and sprinkled with herbs, to give it a natural taste and flavour.
During my visit, I enjoyed the Lazeez Tapas Sharing Platter (see pics above), which included delicious hummous, chicken and lamb shawarma, falafal, olives and bread.
Post dinner you can enjoy Lebanese-inspired cocktails made using ingredients such as fresh mint, lime, lemon and arak, or if cocktails aren't your thing, you can indulge in the indoor shisha pipe.
Owner and operations manager of Lazeez, Emilio Malik, who has plans to expand the brand this year, said, 'The main ingredient in our food is passion. We want to encourage people to take the time to slow down, switch off and enjoy what they eat." If you ask us, that's what life's all about.
Lazeez Lebanese Tapas
29 Duke Street
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