It’s been quiet here at the Iambic Cafe lately, but only because I’ve been so busy frequenting a few of London’s eateries and drinkeries.
Last week for example I made a joyful visit to Ottolenghi whose pastries look as beautiful as ever; the salads (shaved fennel, roasted aubergine and roasted sweet potato) were exquisite. I’d also heard that the Devonshire Arms was worth a visit, so I popped in for a bit of smoked eel and a most delicious mixed salad and will have to make a return visit soon.
On Thursday I spent a happy evening swanning around Covent Garden with several thousand other merry-making shoppers, lapping up free drinks and hors d’oeuvres at shops participating in a seasonal shopping promotion. At the end we found ourself a cozy bench at Cantina Laredo, which promised gourmet Mexican food. The guacamole, prepared at our table, was fun, and the avocado enchiladas were wonderful – full of artichokes, rice and avocado.
Friday I went to the movies with Nancy and Mike and we wandered Lamb’s Conduit Street in search of nourishment. It was my second visit to La Cigala and although it was good I did sense a few standards slipping (along with a couple of plates in the kitchen). In the chickpea and chestnut stew, for example, I may have found the only rancid chestnut (Mike said the rest were fine), and Nancy – and the pair at the adjoining table – who had the goose stuffed with pork and prunes and served with roasted parsnips, found it tough. Good, but tough. Not, she remarked, what you want with a goose.
I was happy enough with my trio of starters: boquerones – marinated anchovies – with a nice vegetable salad on thinly sliced jerusalem artichokes; a towering tortilla; and padrone peppers. As is the custom there, we did a little celebrity spotting while desserting: meringue with prunes, a stunning orange flan, and a mountain of membrillo (poached quince) with an alcoholic dollop of cream.
And I had a lovely Neopolitan pagnotella – “sandwich” – at Canta Napoli – just flatbread, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.