The Fat Delicatessen in Balham, London
Feb 9th, 2010 by Olivier

The Fat Delicatessen
7 Chestnut Grove
London SW12 8JA

The Fat Delicatessen

The Fat Delicatessen

The Fat Delicatessen is a deli and a restaurant located in Balham next to the tube station. It can feel strange to have people looking at packages of tea or bisdcuits located on shelves against the wall past your table but it didn’t bother us. If you want to have peace, try to go to the tables at the far end of the deli.

Cups of tea

As starters we ordered the winter soup (£4) and the chorizo picante (£3.25). Other interesting snacks I hesitated to chose from were the pork crackling with a glass of Fino Sherry and the hot green padron peppers. As main courses we had the confit belly of pork with creamed rosemary fagioli (£6.95) and a black pudding with caramelised apples (£5.75). They had an interesting dish of snails with chorizo mash (£6.25) but we were not brave enough for that kind of meal… As drinks we had two cups of tea (£3.20) to help us defrost on a cold day first, and a glass of red wine (£4.65). For desserts we chose the fruit crumble (£3.50) and a white chocolate cheesecake (£3.50).

The winter soup

The winter soup was quite good. It arrived piping hot, served with some fresh wholegrain bread that had a nice nutty flavour. The soup itself was a thick mix of a range of winter vegetables. The only things missing were some butter for the bread, and possibly some salt and pepper in case you wanted to season the soup (though it was fine as it came). Soup like this is great comfort food for winter weather.

Chorizo picante

The chorizo picante came very hot and was good but just too much for one person. The grease got me pretty quickly because of the amount of chorizo. On a small portion, it is a nice meal.

The two main courses

The two main courses

The pork belly

The pork belly was very good. A nice thick slice of pork belly, with nicely crisp crackling and accompanied by some haricot beans in a creamy sauce. The pork here is amongst the best I’ve had in London, rivaling the Ship Tavern (and miles ahead of the nasty thing I once had at Terroirs). Certainly worth trying if you’re in the area.

Black pudding with caramelised apples

The black pudding with caramelised apples was huge. It is actually about the same portion they are selling in the deli area. The taste was good, a little on the strong and too rich side but well counter balanced by the full bodied red wine fortunately. Not bad at all (I even ordered some of it after the lunch for cooking at home!) but after the chorizo it was a little too much.

Fruit crumble

The fruit crumble wasn’t quite up to the same standard as the starter and main courses. In its favour is that it was clearly oven heated to order. The downside is that it needed another few minutes, as it wasn’t quite warm all the way through. The fruit was mainly plums, which were very good. But I found the topping, the crumble, just too sweet. This was just brown sugar – but would have been much better if mixed with flour and butter which, aside from making it more crumbly, would have reduced the sweetness to manageable levels. With that small addition, it would have been an excellent dessert.

White chocolate cheesecake

The white chocolate cheesecake was massive, once again, and unfortunately too sweet. A quarter of it with some strong tea or coffee would have been fine but not in that amount. Also, some sour red fruit coulis would have been welcome.

Cost and conclusion: it was £34.80 which was well priced, and the service was friendly and extremely polite. We would gladly recommended it. Just beware of the huge portions!

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Loch Fyne Covent Garden
Jan 4th, 2010 by Olivier

Loch Fyne Covent Garden restaurant
2-4 Catherine Street
London WC2B 5JS

Loch Fyne Covent Garden

If you are into theatre, Loch Fyne at Covent Garden is very conveniently located between Fortune Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Duchess theatre. I already reviewed this restaurant many months ago, and I am back this time for lunch with some colleagues.

Fish soup

The fish soup with garlic bread was a bit of a mixed experience. That is, the soup itself was quite average and also not hot enough. The garlic bread accompanying it, however, was very good – plenty of real garlic, and nice and crusty.

Pan fried sea bream

The pan fried sea bream was also good. It was a decent size (it looks a bit small in the photo, but actually wasn’t) and was nicely cooked with firm flesh and a crispy skin. The one thing missing here was any seasoning – I’m not especially given to having to add salt to my food, but in this case a little dash of it was needed. With that addition, it was a good meal.

Tarte tatin

The tarte tatin was a bit ordinary, and a slightly strange take on this classic dessert. Overall inoffensive, but nothing to return for either.

Cost and conclusion: I was not the one paying the bill. One complaint I would make about this restaurant was the incredibly slow service. We were a group of 10, which is always going to slow things down. But an hour between the starter and main course is really too long – and in all we were there nearly 3 hours. The last time I visited this restaurant, I concluded that it was probably a decent place for groups for lunch. I would change that view slightly and now say good for groups with time to spare.

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Christmas menu Gourmet Burger Kitchen Battersea
Dec 24th, 2009 by Olivier

Gourmet Burger Kitchen
44 Northcote Road, Battersea
London SW11 1NZ

GBK Battersea

The Christmas menu at GBK

Cute Santa Kiwi at the bottom right

After spending a few hours at Wandworth Common taking photos of Egyptian geese we were starting to get cold and a burger sounded nice so we went to GBK where they had a Christmas menu including an interesting venison burger. I had to try it :-)

We ordered one Christmas menu (with cajun chicken pieces, the venison burger, the portion of fries and the Christmas mince pie – £10.95) and a Kiwiburger (£8.15) with a side garlic mayo (£1.55). As drinks we had a Macs Gold beer and a glass of redberry smoothie (£2.95). 

Cajun chicken pieces

Cajun chicken pieces

Venison burger


Good fries

Christmas mince pie

The chicken cajun pieces were great: hot, tasty and crispy. The sour cream and sweet chilli dip was also excellent. Probably not healthy but I am into anything with cream and butter… The venison burger was not good. First, it was not very warm and the spiced redcurrant and crumberry sauce was somewhat weird. It looked like a kind of gelatine on top of the burger. The kiwiburger was much better but here also it could have been warmer. The fries were quite hot and nice. The garlic mayo was not up to the one we used to have during our previous visits. It was less garlicky and on the bitter side. The mince pie was minuscule but very good. It wasn’t too sweet, probably partially because it was that small 😉

Cost and conclusion: it was £27. It was a little disappointing this time compared to our previous experiences there. Hopefully it was just an accident! The service was friendly as usual.

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Tokiya Japanese restaurant Clapham Junction London
Dec 22nd, 2009 by Olivier

Japanese restaurant sushi bar Tokiya
74 Battersea Rise
London SW11 1EH


Tokiya is one of my favourite restaurants in London. The food has always been excellent, its atmoshere is relaxed and it is truly an authentic Japanese restaurant: the chef has over 30 years of experience as a Sushi chef and he was trained in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

We ordered the agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu with tempura sauce – £3.80),  the Prawn tempura roll (5 pieces of deep fried prawn tempura with mayonnaise – £5.00), the nabeyaki udon (white udon noodle with deep fried tempura on pot – £12.00) and the Tokiya special dinner box (assorted sushi, sashimi,spinach sesame,salmon teriyaki,chicken katsu, dobin mushi – £28).

Agedashi tofu

Agedashi tofu

Prawn tempura roll

Prawn tempura roll

The agedashi tofu was its usual high standard, with a lightly crispy outside and firm inner. The prawn tempura roll was also excellent. Tokiya is one of the few Japanese restaurants in London that cooks the prawn tempura fresh in order to make your sushi – nothing is pre-prepared here!  The end result is wonderfully fresh and flavoursome.

Tokiya Special Dinner Box

Tokiya Special Dinner Box

In details

In details

In details

The Tokiya Special Dinner Box is the most expensive of their set meal costing £28 which might appear expensive considering the location of the restaurant not far from Clapham Junction train station but actually you do get quite a lot for your money, and the quality was high. The assorted sushi and sashimi were very fresh and great. The salmon teriyaki was perfectly cooked and not overdone with teriyaki sauce as it happens often in “fake” Japanese restaurants, the chicken katsu was very nice too, crispy and light as made with real Japanese bread crumbs (panko). Really a nice set meal. I would gladly take it again despite the too large amount of food (even for me, and I am not a small eater).

The dobin mushi soup coming with the Dinner Box

Another view

Another view

The dobin mushi is a soup with mushroom, fish cake, spring onion and prawns as you can see on the photos above. It is part of that huge dinner box. It was delicious and very welcome with this icy forecast.

Nabeyaki Udon

The nabeyaki udon arrived steaming hot. This dish is fantastic for winter evenings and, thanks to the hot metal pot it arrives in, stays piping hot right to the finish. Along with tempura shrimps & vegetables, this dish has an egg poaching away inside it, which lets you choose how much to let it cook before eating.

The dessert

The dessert

Cost and conclusion: it was £53 with no “optional service charge” added to the bill which is nice and unusual in London. The service was nice, the meal excellent so a very good value for money. Certainly my favourite Japanese restaurant in London! Highly recommended.

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Saki II Japanese restaurant South Kensington London
Dec 18th, 2009 by Olivier

Saki II Japanese restaurant
53 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington
London, SW7 3JS

Japanese restaurant Saki II

Saki II

Saki II

It was so windy and icy that we needed to stop and eat despite it being a very early time for dinner (it was about 6pm!). The closest restaurant around was the Japanese restaurant Saki II. That’s how we discovered it.

It is not very large inside, the decoration is sober with some frames explaining the different sorts of sushi on the wall. The tables are long canteen style so you will be probably sharing your table when it gets busy. We were the only people when we arrived.

We ordered the Age Dashi Tofu (deep fried tofu – £3), the Chicken Karaagi set (chicken marinated in soya sauce served with Miso soup, rice,salad, pickles and dessert – £7.80) and the Surf & Turf  set (beef teriyaki and prawn tempura served with Miso soup, rice, salad, pickles and dessert – £14.80). As drinks we had a Kirin beer and a green tea.

Surf & Turf  set

Surf & Turf set

Beef teriyaki and prawn tempura

Beef teriyaki and prawn tempura

The beef teriyaki was good but on the small side. The prawn tempura were not good as they were undercooked unfortunately. Some of the prawns were a little on the raw side. As pickles it was a few slices of carrots and cucumber… I had expected “real” Japanese pickles instead.

Age dashi tofu

Age dashi tofu

The age dashi tofu was decent, if a little lacking in flavour. There isn’t a great deal more that can be said about this dish, as it was generally inoffensive but equally uninspiring. 

Chicken kara age set

Chicken kara age set

The same cannot be said for the chicken kara age set, which was plain nasty. I have never had such a variation – the chicken (of which the portion was thankfully very small) was liberally coated in a dry, almost powdery batter that had the most peculiar and not very pleasant flavour. It was also very salty, suggesting it had been marinated in a very cheap soy sauce. This is a dish that should be moist and tender, made with decent sized bits of thigh meat. But it certainly wasn’t the case at Saki, where the chicken was difficult to spot inside the strange textured batter, and even more difficult to taste. Really, the strangest and nastiest variation I think I can recall ever having. The rest of the set wasn’t too good either – from a plain and uninspriring salad (bits of lettuce with a sprinkling of grated carrot a small slice of tomato on top), a small portion of non-sticky rice, and a few little sticks of vegetables, it really wasn’t a great meal and certainly not authentic japanese. The miso soup and orange were OK – but hardly enough to turn the overall meal around.

Cost and conclusion: it was £33.60 service charge included.  It was “Japanese” food but it really did not feel authentic. I am not lucky lately trying new restaurants in London!  It is like playing Russian roulette but with more than one chamber loaded. There is another “Japanese” restaurant also around South Kensington called Little Japan that I also do not recommend. If you are into Japanese food, I recommend Tokiya but it is near Clapham Junction. In the South Kensington area, the only restaurant I know and like is the French restaurant “La Bouchée” across the road.

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