I know it’s a bit basic but I LOVE anything truffle flavoured. I know this fancy type of mushroom tends to divide the people with its unique earthy notes, but for me when truffle is on the menu I simply have to order it.
More often however than should be the case, what ends up getting served in front of me turns out to be a real disappointment, indeed not tasting of truffle (or very faintly) at all. After years of searching I have, however, found some real standout truffle dishes in London which I can guarantee will satisfy any truffle lover’s cravings! Have you tried any of these or am I missing any hidden truffle gems? This girl’s mission to keep on eating truffle in any shape or form is sure to continue…
Pizza East has been a reliable East London dinner spot of mine for many years. Soho house run, you always get amazing service, top quality food and a fun dining environment. It’s the sort of place fancy enough to take your parents to but cool enough to start a Friday night out in East London, serving reliably good cocktails and decently priced wine, and I am yet to eat badly here. The mac n cheese is worth commending, the best one I have had out (nothing will ever beat my homemade fig, rosemary and blue cheese mac of course), all cheesy gooey goodness and presented in a rather chic iron skillet, but the real star of the show here is their exceptional truffle pizza.
I have had many so called “truffle pizzas” that merely tasted like some cheap truffle oil had been hastily drizzled on top in the end, if even that, sometimes they just tasted like a plain old cheese pizza, but Pizza East’s version ticks ALL the boxes. It is simplicity at its best – four cheeses, a perfectly bouncy dough with a thick and slightly charred crust and fresh black truffle shaved on top. It’s pizza truffle perfection and for £12 it is also an absolute steal. A long-standing favourite that never loses appeal.
I have sung the praises of this pasta, first enjoyed at Gloria’s sister restaurant Pink Mamma in Paris, many, many times and there is not much more to add. If you want heaven in a bowl order this. Yes, £18 isn’t cheap for pasta but you are also eating at the undoubtedly coolest restaurant in London right now (more on that here) and it’s no ordinary bowl of pasta.
We are talking fresh mafalda pasta, a sort frilly ribbon linguine, in a mascarpone sauce with lashings and lashings of black Molise truffle, so much full on truffle flavour that one is ready to go into a truffle induced state of happiness. I could eat this by the bucket load but be warned this REALLY is only for real truffle lovers and could be slightly overpowering to some. I for one have been dreaming of eating it ever since my last visit. An iconic dish that is worth every queue and one you will never forget sampling for the first time.
This is my ultimate truffle comfort food and never fails to put a smile on my face. Spuntino of course used to my favourite hipster dive bar and small plates restaurant back in my university days. It really used to be the coolest spot in town (with the hottest barmen who I shamelessly and unsuccessfully tried to flirt with for free drinks) and you were lucky if you managed to score a stool around their bar in under an hour. Of course, as time has passed it was inevitable for Spuntino to start appearing in tour guides as “hip spot to visit” and for new places further afield and away from the tourist masses to open, making it less of a dining and drinking destination than it used to be. Silver lining: they still serve the great American comfort junk food with slick edge that I loved so much all those years ago but without the queues and if you get on board with the slightly less “cool” crowd it is still a fab place for a late night dinner in Soho as they are open until 1 am.
The menu has pretty much remained the same which is no bad thing. Their PBJ dessert (peanut butter ice cream “bread slices” sandwiching berry compote) may have gotten a lot smaller and more expensive but I am happy to report that the real star of the show here, the truffled egg toast, is as good and utterly indulgent as it was when I first tried it. Picture a thick slice of fluffy white bread, hollowed out in the middle to house a gooey egg yolk, drizzled with truffle oil and topped with lots of amazing stringy cheese. It really is obesity on a plate but boy is it worth it, combining basically all the bad / good things in life – carbs, cheese, truffle and eggs. It will fix a hangover, it will line a stomach ahead of a night of drinking, heck I’d even say it would meant a broken heart, it is that comforting and THAT good. Just don’t think about the calories you are consuming via one slice of toast, after all a little indulgence is part of life!
As all my good friends know I am a bit of snack fiend. Friday night drinks for me are never complete without an array of yummy nibbles and I am not talking your average Pringles and doritos! There are a lot of crisp brands that have jumped on the truffle flavour band wagon but really have produced crisps that tastes nothing like real truffle (yes looking at you M&S and Tyrell’s!) but Torres’s offering has never failed to deliver. They are a bit of a treat, costing between £3-5 depending on where you find them, but OMG are they worth it. Perfectly crunchy potato crisps with deep truffle flavour, they are snack tray luxury I always get for special occasions and cannot recommend enough!
Only ever so often will you have a meal where everything feels just right. Food, service, atmosphere and drinks- all coming together beautifully and effortlessly, to not only leave you stuffed, but also with a massive smile on your face. That was pretty much the case at Hubbard & Bell, the cosy restaurant inside the hipster friendly yet chic Hoxton Hotel in Holborn, where me and my friend Maddie got to enjoy a spectacular Sunday roast dinner that delivered on so many levels.
Firstly, I have to applaud the service and staff in general at Hubbard & Bell, especially living in a city where I have almost gotten used to being barked at by waiters for the smallest of request. Here we were looked after from the minute we sat down at our comfy diner inspired leather booth until the minute we left. Our wine glasses never ran empty and we even ended up extensively chatting to one of the chefs about the most spectacular of desserts they had created in the kitchen (more on that later), with him genuinely excited to see our faces light up as pudding arrived at our table. Clearly the team morale runs high here and it really reflects on the mood of the dining room, each plate served with a smile and with the intension of giving you the best Sunday afternoon possible.
Of course, this would have all not been any good had the food been mediocre but I am happy to report that their Sunday roast menu, served every Sunday from 12-5pm, was equally stellar- without a doubt serving me the best veggie roast I have had in London so far. Yes, it is slightly more expensive than your regular pub roast (all are priced at £20 whether you go for slow roast lamb shoulder, herb-fed spatchcock chicken or mushroom wellington) but you get a hell of a lot of amazing food, with surprising culinary touches that make it a real flavour experience.
My veggie roast for example came served with the indulgent buttery kale, a great array of roast vegetables including beetroot, carrot and parsnips, the most amazing rosemary roast potatoes and one of the most flavourful gravies I have ever had- a porcini gravy with hints of soy sauce and garlic that I could have drank by the litre. The portions were huge and just about manageable which makes it slightly ironic that one of the unique selling points of the menu is the offer of “bottomless Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes”, I physically could have not fit another bite of either in (and I was post Barry’s bootcamp kinda hungry). Is it a bit of gimmick to advertise it as bottomless? I guess so unless you genuinely can eat for 2 because then heck knock yourself out, the Yorkshire puddings were after all “outstanding” as my Yorkshire dining companion concluded. To be honest though it didn’t really matter as we were more than satisfied by the one plate.
My only small criticism when it comes to the roast was the mushroom wellington- advertised as being filled with truffled celeriac and mushroom, it turned out to be a little bit of a bland and soggy affair, still very edible and in no way bad, but just not as amazingly good as what else was on the plate and am sure is something they can tweak in the future to make it even better (I say more truffle and more filling).
Post-roast we were, as I said, pretty stuffed but also not quite stuffed enough to not order the one dessert on their menu, which not only sounded EPIC but was legitimately one of the best things I have ever eaten. Keeping to the roast dinner theme, their hot apple Yorkshire pudding pancake (a huge portion to share at a bargain £9) was one of the most delicious, comforting and incredible looking desserts I have come across and the chef had a huge smile on his face as he served up this beauty to our table.
A sweetened Yorkshire pudding dough was used as a sort of edible bowl for slowly stewed cinnamon apple slices in a bourbon caramel sauce, pecans and two big scoops of cornflake ice cream. My mouth is watering even as I type this and to be honest I have been thinking about it ever since, heck I would even come in casually on a Sunday (the only time they serve this dessert which is a travesty in itself), demolish the whole thing and skip the roast, it was THAT good. Even if you have to be rolled out by the end, make sure you order this pudding because you won’t forget it in a hurry and desserts like this are not to be missed.
We washed all this food down with a very good white wine (their list is extensive and affordable with the cheapest bottle being £19) and a fantastic espresso martini, you are after all still dining inside a hotel of a pretty high standard and with highly trained bar staff.
Overall if you are after a Sunday roast with a difference, where you feel spoiled in every way, the food is amazing, the drinks are good and you will have to unbutton your trousers after a Yorkshire pudding extravaganza, both sweet and savoury, Hubbard & Bell is the place to go. I for sure will be back and can’t wait to take more friends to experience this slick yet hearty take on the classic English tradition that is a Sunday roast dinner.
*I was invited to review the restaurant but all views are my own.
I am always on the look out for quick to prepare but WOW factor inducing pasta dishes that aren't just your standard spaghetti with tomato sauce and which you can quickly rustle up for friends on a Friday night without hours of prep time.
After a bit of online research I came across these two amazing pasta recipes. They not only looked stunning once served up and tasted like spring on a plate, bursting with fresh flavours, but both only took under half an hour to prep, prep that was easily down while chatting to friends and sipping on a glass of wine or an Aperol Spritz.
I have been trying to use Deliveroo and the like a lot less recently, having been wasting way too much money on, what most of the time, turned out to be very mediocre takeaways, and recipes like this prove that it is easier than one thinks to cook delicious and relatively healthy food from scratch and also a lot more cost effective and satisfying.
Enjoy and do let me know if you end up making any of these!!
RACHAEL RODDY'S COURGETTE, SPRING ONION
& ASPARAGUS LINGUINE - A KIND OF VEGETARIAN'S CABONARA
2 whole eggs, plus two extra yolks
90g grated parmesan plus extra for serving
A few basil leaves
Salt and black pepper
Thinly slice the spring onion, then cut the courgettes into 5cm long, 2mm thick strips. I used a vegetable peeler for ease. Snap of ends of the asparagus
In a large frying pan, warm the olive oil over a medium-low heat, then cook the spring onion, courgettes and asparagus gently with a pinch of salt, turning them regularly with a wooden spoon until they are very soft and tender – which will take about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add salt to the boiling water, stir, then add the linguine, fanning it out, and using a wooden spoon to push it down. Cook until al dente (check the cooking time of the packet and start tasting at least 2 minutes before).
While the pasta is cooking, in a largish bowl whisk together the eggs, extra yolks, cheese, a pinch of salt and lots of pepper. During the last minutes of pasta cooking time, put the courgette pan back on the heat to thoroughly warm the fat and vegetables.
Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water (this is key!).
Add the pasta to the frying pan (or move the vegetables to the pasta pot if you only have a small pan), stirring so that the pasta tangles with the vegetables.
Turn off the heat, and, working quickly, add the egg mixture and a splash of pasta cooking water, then stir and swirl the pan vigorously until each strand is coated with creamy sauce and the consistency is slithery. Add a little more pasta cooking water if it seems too stiff and stir again.
Rip the basil into the pan, stir again, top with freshly grated parmesan and serve
SPAGHETTI WITH SLOW ROAST YELLOW AND RED TOMATOES, OLIVE OIL AND TORN BURRATA
300g linguine - again went for the gluten free Rummo linguine
450g of red and yellow ripe grapevine tomatoes (don't worry if you can't find yellow ones)