New burger joint BRGR Soho

Another week, another new burger joint. This time it is BRGR in Soho. It is an expansion of a chain from Lebanon, strangely enough.

I was there on the first week. There was a queue at the door and a buzzy if cramped dining room. There are a few casual tables as you walk in, an open kitchen on the right where the burgers are cooked and second dining room at the back. There are also a few seats in the window to maximise the seating in this small space.

BRGR Soho Burgers

I dropped by for a quick lunch en route to a meeting. They squeezed me into the last free seat by the window felt by being wedged in by a shoe horn. There is no where to hang your coat or a handbag which is a big minus in my books. It felt like I was practically sitting on top of the tables behind me. Must have been uncomfortable for them.

I promptly ordered the 6oz Gourmet Signature BRGR (6.95 without the extras) and a Lebanese home made lemonade. The waitress informed me that the meat for the burgers are from the Duke of Buccleuch estate in Scotland. This sounds grand but doesn’t tell me much about breed or welfare. I guess at this price range, that could be asking for too much.

The head chef from Lebanon came over to train the new brigade in “brgrology” and to mix up their secret recipe for the burger patties which is made up of their bespoke blend of cuts. The meat patties are made up of hanger steak, rib eye, etc although this is not disclosed on the menu.

BRGR Soho Burgers

I didn’t order any sides as they were all enormous and way too much for one person at lunch time. They had a choice of chips, cheesy chips onions rings, the usual stuff.

BRGR Soho Burgers

The meat, served in glazed brioche, was served medium rare and was quite nice and chunky, good meaty flavour, well seasoned but drips all over the trendy tray that it is served on as you eat it. As far as burgers go it’s not bad, unlike the opinion of other reviewers on the net. Maybe because the boss was in the kitchen.

For the price I prefer Byron.

187 Wardour Street,
London W1F 8ZB

BRGR Co.  on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Ittenbari Ramen Soho 麺屋一点張

Ramen shops are like buses, we wait ages for one and then 2 comes along at the same time. Ittenbari Ramen (麺屋一点張) appeared quietly on the Soho food scene a few months ago. I was alerted to their presence by a Japanese lady at the hairdressers who was raving about it.  She said that everything was from Osaka but this was a bit of misinformation. It is however associated with the guys behind Ryukishin from Osaka.

Ittenbari Ramen Soho

Finally, I found myself in the area one lunchtime and popped in for a quick bowl of ramen.As you enter, you are enveloped in the steam of the hot soup pots bubbling away in the open kitchen at the front of the shop. The setup is quite basic with a few tables squeezed into this narrow shop. There is no decor to speak of except for the cloth banner on the far wall with name of the restaurant in Osaka. It makes the place look shabby for a new restaurant.

Ittenbari Ramen Restaurant Soho

The serving staff didn’t really acknowledge me as I came in so I just found myself a table and sat down. They then dumped a menu on the table and rushed off. One of the smiley waitresses came over to take my order. The place is obviously staffed by and frequented by students. It was late for lunch but the place was still quite busy.

The menu is very simple, a choice of 3 types of soup, clear chicken soup, shoyu and miso. There is also a seafood fried ramen. Prices start at £8.90 for the Ittenbari and Shoyu Ramen and £11.50 for the Miso Ramen. All of these have an option to go DX which I think means a couple of extra slices of pork and a whole egg.

The ramen noodles that is served here is made in collaboration with a local noodle maker and they have done a good job.

I ordered the Shoyu Ramen which came in a deeply flavoured chicken soup with home made soya sauce and topped with half a boiled egg, some spring onions, bamboo shoots and a slice of pork. The noodles had a good texture, with enough of a bite but I could have done with a bit more soup.

There is an option for an additional portion of ramen for £1.50. Noticably, there are no bottles of spicy chilli oil on the table unlike at Tonkotsu.

This is not a pure ramen place as they have a few other common Japanese dishes on offer like Sushi and some rice dishes. The service is about par with those of the Chinese Restaurants nearby, effecient enough but uninterested. It is just a ramen cafe after all.

Ittenbari is a great addition as we can never have too many proper ramen shops. I have to go back to try their Shio Ramen which is made with their secret recipe home made salt that’s made with mussels. It seems this is their specialty. Go check it out.

ITTENBARI

84 Brewer Street
London
W1F 9UB

Tel. 020 7287 1318
Ittenbari Ramen Restauant on Urbanspoon

Spicy Ramen has landed in Soho Tonkotsu

On some grey and muggy London days, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hot soupy noodles. A new Ramen place has hit London. Tonkotsu is an offshoot of The Tsuru chain.

As it is still in soft opening mode, the menu is simple , just a few starters and a choice if ramen for the soft opening, there was just 2 flavours.

For starters we had the prawn and pork gyoza, the tofu, a salad and a very tasty chicken karaage.

Tonkotsu Ramen Soho London

I then had the spicy Tokyo Ramen in a 15 hour pork bones based broth and my friend had the miso and shimeji mushroom ramen. both were served on enormous bowls and were quite substantial.

Tonkotsu Tokyo Ramen Soho London

Tokyo Ramen

The hand made noodles had a good bite. Pots of chilli oil are in the table in case you wanted to chilli up your soup.

The space in ‘Tonkotsu is narrow with a counter and 4 seats in front of the open kitchen. A few tables in the back room and more seating upstairs. The best seats are of course the seats at the counter where you can watch them make the noodles and also keep an eye at the entrance of the Groucho Club and do some celebrity spotting.

This is a nice addition to Soho and would be great for a quick meal. Social media buzz is already driving the crowds to this new place as there were a lot of people waiting on the night we were there. I am waiting for them to launch their London ramen, which is going to be a bacon and eggs flavour-a big bowl of ramen with a slab of  smoke bacon. That sounds like a winner to me already.
Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon
Slow Food Kitchen was a guest of Tonkotsu

 

Yoobi Temakeria Soho

Yoobi prides itself for being the first Temaki bar in London,  a new concept which is inspired my a recent Japanese Brazilian trend.

Yoobi Temakeria in Soho is the first venture for newbue food entrepreneurs Nick (Swiss) and Carolina (Brazilian) . As Carolina is also an architect, she designed the quirky interiors which is dominated by a 3 sided sushi bar in the middle of the room.

Yoobi Temakeria Soho

On offer are 3 sizes of hand rolls with prices from £3.20, £3.60 and £4 and some sides like miso soups and seasonal vegetables. The flavour combinations might sound familiar like spicy tuna handroll (an old favourite) has been jazzed up to include their own hot sauce recipe with a surprising addition of crispy croutons in the middle. All the rolls are available as maki rolls or a low card version with no rice too.

On chatting with Nick, we learnt that there was a lot of testing behind some the combinations of favours on offer, mainly from their own food and travel experiences. Also great to know that they take their ingredients very seriously. For example, the sun blush tomatoes tomatoes is home made and with just olive oil as they couldn’t find a local producer. In a similar vein, they sourced a specialist French baker to make the bread from which they make their croutons.

We really enjoyed the temaki we tried, citrus salmon, spicy tuna roll and the Sweet Salmon with Asian pears as another unconventional combination.We didn’t much like the vegetarian sub blush version which has Philadelphia as one of the main ingredients, too fusion.

Yoobi Temakeria Soho Spicy Tuna Rolls

There has been a lot of thought put into the food and drink on offer at Yoobi and from what we had, it was fresh and delicious. This is a keeper. The prices are very reasonable for quality sushi in this area. A great place for a quick meal or a takeaway.

 

Yoobi on Urbanspoon

Polpetto Soho -A little taste of Venice

I am a massive fan of Venice and Venetian food as I have been religiously visiting that floating city for it’s Film Festival for over 10 years. In that time, I have found many non touristy places to eat and have been delighted with new flavours and seafood from the Venetian Lagoon.

When Polpo announced that they were opening a little offshoot, I had to go along to check it out. Both Polpo and Polpetto’s menus are based on those served in Baccarros (wine bars) in Venice where you would normally stand at the bar and order some local wine or a spritz ( a bright orange concoction made with Aperol, White Wine and ) and some cicchetti, small plates not unlike tapas.

A quick tweet to Polpo secured us a table for lunch during their opening frenzy.

Polpetto is found above The French House in Soho. If you weren’t looking for their Octopus signboard, you would probably have missed it altogether. The dining room is quite small and the tables are squeezed in. Not a place for a romantic meal. For lunch, it was buzzy and with the windows open, there was the sounds of soho wafting up.

Polpetto Soho

Polpetto Soho

The menu was a mixture of cicchetti and some other better know Italian dishes, not all the same as on the Polpo menu. In my opinion, not enough choices on the cichetti side as I was expecting the Venetian style massive array of little plates.

To start, we ordered some Duck Porcini Meatballs (inspired by one of the older baccaros in Venice, Alla Vedova (see bleow) which was sadly closed on our last visit) and the crispy soft shell crab in parmesan crust.The meatballs were very well in a tomato sauce and was a delightfully tasty morsel. Luckily it was only one each or we would have been totally stuffed before the mains.

Alla Vedova Venice

Alla Vedova Venice

The crab didn’t arrive as a starter but together with the mains but as one of the mains was delayed, all was fine. Crispy soft shell crab, didn’t get any of the parmesan flavour in the crust and served with a sliced fennel coleslaw. Rather too large a portion for one person to have as a starter but shared, it was fine.

Polpetto Soft Shell Crab

Polpetto Soft Shell Crab

This was swiftly followed by the Veal Osso Bucco on saffron risotto. The veal was falling off the bone tender but the saffron risotto was great for the first couple of mouthfuls but just too rich for my taste.

Osso Bucco

The Flank Steak must have been a winner at Polpo so we had to order it. The beef, cooked medium rare, was very chewy and after the first hit of truffle flavour, not a great mouthful.

Flank Steak with truffle sauce

Zucchini Fries, light and crispy, just right.

Zucchini Fries

Since it was lunchtime, we shared a pudding, the Chocolate Tart. Very chocolatey and really delicious and perfect finish.

Chocolate Tart

So overall, the food is a bit hit and miss with some delights. The service was a little chaotic and if you don’t mind getting your food when it’s ready, then it will work out great. Our lovely waiter Daniel in the pic below was very friendly and helpful with the  The place is very buzzy and quite noisy when all 28 seats are filled. With tables set so close together, you feel like you have suddenly gained new friends over the meal. At lunchtime, the frenetic energy is perfect but probably will not make for a relaxing evening meal.

Polpetto Soho

The booking policy needs to be mentioned, you can book for lunch but it’s a first come first served basis for dinner. The bill with a couple of glasses of wine came to £50.

Polpetto on Urbanspoon