Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

November 1st, 2013 by Pie


There are some restaurants you go to that never change and why would you want them to. Their menu stays the same, familiar faces beckon you to your table, you know what wine you like, how much you are going to spend. But sometimes you do find yourself stuck in an ordering rut. The choice that is never really a choice but an old faithful that keeps pulling you pack in, no matter how much you claim you need to break the habit, change your patterns. But here’s the funny thing. Sometimes a change can be for the better.

I went to Petek this week on Stroud Green Road. I have been there many times since I moved to Stroud Green two years ago, it was a rebound restaurant for another Turkish place I frequented back on Green Lanes. I never thought it could hold a candle to the one I left behind but these days I barely find myself thinking about my old haunt, Petek has muscled its way into my hungry heart. But familiar patterns still remain. I have long resigned myself to the fact that I will always order chicken shish, or a variation of it, with one glass of chilean sauvignon blanc which is fine as I always leave happy. But this week when I visited I needed something new, so I ordered differently.

Now when I say I ordered differently please let me put into context the fact that I have eaten all the variations of chicken shish on this menu. I’ve had it with aubergine and red pepper puree, with yoghurt sauce, claypot and even naked. So I do know how to mix it up, that’s all I’m saying. However, there was a choice on this menu that I would have never seen coming, spicy chicken meatballs. Hold the phone, meatballs? I know, it never would normally have appealed to me either, but like I said, something had happened to me that day and I needed to change my pattern.

Thank goodness my dinner companion was on hand to order the Petek special so that if it all went disastrously wrong with the meatballs he would have a few pieces of chicken shish going spare. My concern was short-lived though as I was presented with a colourful plate of food that looked every bit as good as I needed. After I had quickly dispatched one of the five huge meatballs on my plate I vowed that never again would chicken shish have me under its thrall. Meatballs can sometimes go horribly awry with chicken, which is often too dry to be minced up and shaped into patties, but the texture and spicing here were perfect. The deftly dressed salad on my plate was generous, the rice in perfectly separate grains and the aubergine and red pepper puree which I have had before with my shish was outstanding.

I would seriously recommend this good local restaurant if you are in the area, and if you go you will more than likely see me there drinking my glass of wine and chowing down on the spicy chicken meatballs. I would also recommend the mezze served here but if you can manage both then you are a stronger person than I, these portions are not for the weak willed.

Petek Restaurant
96 Stroud Green Rd, London N4 3EN
020 7619 3933

October 21st, 2013 by Pie


I had been keen to try Smokehouse for a while.  Often a new restaurant opens, I will read a glowing review, then after deluding myself that I’ll book a table right there and then it will be put on a to-do list never to be thought of again.  Then months later I find the to-do list scribbled on a manky receipt at the bottom of my bag.  I’ll delude myself once more and then put it back feeling very organised to have such an infallible system.

This past year John Salt was one of these restaurants, I had salivated over the menu and clapped my hands with glee at the fact it was practically on my doorstep.  But then I forgot about it.  Then comes Smokehouse to remind me.  It boasts Neil Rankin fresh from John Salt fame and an origin story of the Pitt Cue Co.  It has also taken over the delightful location where the House used to be, a twinkly lit gastropub which I used to go to all the time but then stopped.  I have no idea why, those lights were very becoming on a chilly evening in leafy Canonbury.

This time though I actually to-did it.  Although to be fair to my uselessness it was on a list for a couple of months, we didn’t book a table and we turned up at 7.30pm on a Friday night wholly expecting to be turned away, so it wasn’t a perfect plan.  But low and behold, we were not rejected cruelly like an over-25 on X-Factor but instead we were welcomed in with open arms, offered a dinky table in the bar area and were brought gin and tonics forthwith.

In fact it was this service which sold the place to me.  Yes, the Foie gras, apple pie and duck egg thingy was great fun, yes the crab toast wasn’t just crab toast etc. etc.  Oh, okay then my mutton chops were fabulous with their silky capanota and the anchovies and parsley showing off all over the place.  Sure my Vanilla Vanilla Vanilla reminded me exactly why we should ALWAYS pour a bucket load of alcohol over ice cream for it to even be worthwhile.

But it was the service that sang to me.  Never once did it feel intrusive or distant, it was that special place in between.  The nirvana of offering to bring another glass of wine before I’ve finished the previous one without making a fuss or making me feel like an alky.  The breezy easiness of getting the bill without us having to perform semaphore or wait until we’re 80.  Oh, and the cherry on top of the Friday Pie (which they also serve for dessert by the way and it’s very nice thanks for asking; honeycomb, chocolate and caramel) is those lights.  They still twinkle as if it were yesterday.

63–69 Canonbury Road,
London N1 2DG
020 7354 1144