"Half plates and Full Drinks"
That is an inviting tag line. Tallie Joe opened on Shaftesbury avenue in 2016 and being located just round the corner from work, I have wanted to go for a while. It has taken over a year but I finally visited the other week.
I have walked past the restaurant over lunch a few times and noticed quite a sparsely populated restaurant. It was because of this, I was confident of getting a seat one Friday afternoon. Having previously stared at the menu and seeing what was on offer, I was excited and expecting a tasty visit.
"Talli Joe is a casual, all-day drinking and dining destination on Shaftesbury Avenue, London’s latest foodie hub. Our menu is innovative and vibrant, and delivers the undiscovered regional flavours of India straight to your table"
Half plates to me, means sharing plates and quick bites to eat and share with friends. Gunpowder in East London does this really well and if Talli Joe can get close to this, then it can only be good for all foodies. To be honest, my expectations were not too high. A friend had visited before and spread positive vibes, but not as positive as Gunpowder.
The small plates we ordered were:
With so much on the menu, I would stick to all the half plates. The Dabba, or Tiffin which others are used too, can be useful for one person but as a group order off the larger menu.
The Dabba is an Indian equivalent of what pies used to be. think of a meal for workers, or a packed lunch in one. Almost 200,000 Bombay office workers enjoy a dabba, a three-tiered lunch box carrying a fresh meal prepared at home. Talli Joe do this for ten pounds and give you a veggie or meat half plate, a side plate and some filling goodness. An example of what they have today is:
- Veggie Curry + Coconut Rice and Crispy Okra Raita
The food is tasty and nice but not too outstanding. The equivalent to me is Gunpowder off Commercial Road and Gunpowder has that extra layer and level of quality. The sharing half plates were good and you need to order a good amount to get fully satisfied. Good quality is here, but a few visits is needed to find out what are the standout dishes.
GOOD TIMES: The Chicken Malai Tikka as good as the picture above. Justice
WATCH OUT: These are small plates so you will need to order a fair bit to get full
OMG: I was surprised at how quite it was on a Friday lunch time; maybe busier in the evenings.
Pizza is a type of cuisine where you have to eat in. Once you put it in a box for delivery or takeaway the firmness and flavour goes away. The steam takes away some of the core greatness of a Pizza. That is why to truly judge somewhere you need to eat in.
Sacro Cuore in Crouch End is not a new restaurant. I have had takeaway before and it has been decent enough. When asked for a Pizza Joint in the area, this was the first place I thought of.
Let's get a few words from the restaurant itself:
"Sacro Cuore is a traditional Neapolitan Pizzeria in Kensal Rise. We opened in summer 2012 and the pizza we make is identical to what you would eat in Naples, the birthplace of pizza. We use the same ingredients, the same cooking method and the same oven. For us it is all about the pizza!"
The big claim nowadays is of pizza from Naples and that is what everyone wants. The birthplace of Pizza and many other new London eaters are making this claim too; Santa Maria in Ealing and L'antica Pizzeria in Hampstead and Stoke Newington.
Twice in one week is a good sign of a solid, reliable restaurant. Sacro Cuore is exactly this and some more as well. A cosy restaurant situated up on the hill of the broadway, the chilled but busy vibe makes it a venue you wished to be at. On both visits there were many Italians and this made me confident that the food was good and appreciated by all.
I was sat by the chef and asked if for his advice on what to eat and he suggested the special number two. This was smoked mozzarella, pancetta and mushrooms. The smokey mozarella was key to making this pizza great as just bought everything together with the toasty and crispy pancetta and brief hints of basil throughout.
I tried the Diavolo the week before and this too was a good one, chilies gave it a bit of a kick but not overpowering. Two good pizzas in a week and two good garlic focaccia's too. These were packed full of garlic an Italian herb. Some more seasoning on the focaccia and the pizza too wouldn't be a bad thing. But maybe that is a personal taste. Strangely enough,, there is no salt on the tables just pepper. Maybe they are trying to look after our health.
GOOD TIMES: Smokey cheese- the mozzarella was very good as was the garlic focaccia.
WATCH OUT: no salt to be seen, maybe it is a good thing, although I wanted to a bit
OMG: only San Pellegrino here; no coke.. They stick to what they know.
Foodie Entrepreneurs, they are an inspiration. More importantly, people who can turn their passion in to a business successfully are even more of an inspiration. Going to a lot of restaurants, you can really tell the difference between those who do it for love and those who do it just for money.
I went to Coriander in Hatch End in December 2016 and got to meet, albeit briefly, Salim Chowdhury the owner. Here is someone who has turned his passion into a successful business, feeding me.
Good but tough work.
See my interview with him below, where we discussed inspiration, the "curry crisis" affecting restaurants in the UK and the future of Bangladeshi cuisine.
Salim Chowdhury is a highly experienced British Curry Award- nominated restaurateur, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Educated and qualified in Business Management, Salim currently owns three very popular high street restaurants in Harrow, north-west London: Jaflong, Curry Mahal and Coriander, the latter in the upmarket enclave of Hatch End, Harrow and which recently won the national ‘Best Restaurant’ category award in the UKBCCI (UK Bangladesh Catalysts of Commerce & Industry) Business & Entrepreneur Excellence Awards 2016.
Previously, Coriander had won Newcomer of the Year (Asian Curry Awards 2013), Restaurant of the Year 2013 & 2014 (Harrow Times) and Pat Chapman’s Curry Club Certificate of Excellence for ‘Best in Middlesex’ 2016. Coriander has also been a finalist at the prestigious British Curry Awards in 2013, 2014, and 2016.
Who is to blame for the current staff crisis in ethnic restaurants?
I think you have a number of things coming together. In the case of Indian restaurants, there is a cultural change in the Bangladeshi community, there are more young people going to university as well as a whole range of different professions than ever before, but that means there are less people considering a career in restaurants. They don’t want to slog out the long hours and various other things which are associated with the restaurant sector.
What steps can restaurants and the government to do help with this crisis?
I think restaurant owners need to talk about what a good career working in restaurants can be because it can be tremendously rewarding. In the case of the government, Brexit may well present an opportunity that has not been available. A cut in immigration from Eastern Europe for example, may give them a more sensible perspective by allowing work permits from hard working staff originating from Bangladesh.
When did you get a passion for food?
I grew up with food because my father was a restaurateur, so food has always been a part of my life. Growing up in that world, I’ve both learnt and enjoyed the process of running a restaurant business, particularly dealing with customers and giving them a first class experience with great food.
Where would you like to see Bangladeshi cuisine in five years?
I would like to see people realise the diversity of Bangladeshi food, in that it is not just about 'going for a curry' on a Friday night, but that there is a variety of different eating experiences within the cuisine. I think there is a space for a variety of Bangladeshi food, from fine dining to the more traditional Indian food experience, which the public have yet to experience and it is up to us restaurateurs to offer them that.
I really like the name coriander
It suites our tag line - "Garnished with Passion"…
Which are your 5 favourite restaurants in London?
I have no one restaurant in particular that I like but more about what mood I’m in and the type of cuisine my family and I might want to eat. London is so diverse nowadays and it’s great that you get to eat so many eclectic foods from across the world.
Thank you Salim. Some hard hitting questions, dealt with a straight bat.
Basically: Step up UK and future foodies. Restaurants need you, I need you. Hard work will lead to rewards, don't let the grind put you off.
This restaurant is not related to the Hawksmoor crew. But when I saw the name I thought of Steak and lucky for me, Steak is a key item on the KittyHawk agenda.
The lads/boys/friends decided to meet in Moorgate and as a collective we decided to go somewhere new. Az chose KittyHawk and so we listened and went. Located a two minute walk from Moorgate station in a nice venue is a bar, slash restaurant, slash private dining venue.
Here is how they describe the restaurant:
Step down into our steak restaurant, hidden beneath the bustle of the city streets, and sink into luxury. Tuck into West Country award-winning beef and sustainably sourced seafood. Pair your dish with the perfect drink – just ask the mixologists at the cocktail bar.
The older we get, the harder it is to catch up with friends so when you do, you are happy (ish) to spend a bit extra and maybe drink a bit extra too. Therefore this called for Cocktails and Steak.
We skipped past the starters as they didn't seem appealing to us and went straight for the meat in the Mains sectio. The menu does focus on steak in its various guises. A quick glance at the menu draws your attention straight to the big ones. STEAK
Especially the sharing steaks: Big Steaks with big Prices (pic above)
No starters, just big steaks to fill big bellies.
The Tomahawk is a cut of beef ribeye with extra bit of bone; mainly for its good looks. Ribeye, i have been told is the best cut because it has small amounts of fat which when cooked well, marble and create great added flavour.
The Tomahawk was an experience, bought to the table by a very good waiter was this huge slab of meat on the bone. This added level of excitement and presentation was key to the dining experience. Drinking my espresso martini and gnawing meat off a tomahawk steak was very satisfying. Both classy and savage like at the same time.
This could be my new motto - Life of Shayan = Classy and Savage
The steak was how a steak should be. Well seasoned, meaty, well rested with all its juices and most importantly coating my taste buds and filling my belly. I wasn't full after this and with the lack of a starter, I went main course and a tasty chocolate cake. A decent enough way to end the evening.
With Hawksmoor and Gaucho being nearby, I am not sure if KittyHawk has done enough to make me go there again. A good start and a nice venue, but the others I feel offer just that bit extra.
I would however recommend going ot KittyHawk for their bar and for drinks in the evening. A good place for the city folk and others to visit.
GOOD TIMES: Big steaks and a good venue - make sure you have a cocktail
WATCH OUT: starters did not look too appetising, a bit generic and boring to me.
OMG: Get a sharing steak, it adds a bit more to the restaurant experience