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Arkansas barbecue in London


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An article appeared in our Sunday travel section on The Arkansas Cafe - and Spitalifields market in particular.

My husband will be in London for 5 days beginning Sunday, and he will be staying in the financial district near the Banks tube station. While he will not partake of barbecue, given that we live in North Carolina, he is very interested in knowing which ethnic fare he can get near his hotel.

On our last trip to London, we visited Camden market. Is Spitalfields fun, too?

He definitely plans to visit the Borough market for a foodie experience.

Also, is the Poilane bakery still open in Belgravia?

Edited by hazardnc (log)
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Couldn't read the article without registering @ charlotte.com, but isn't Kir - the Arkansas Cafe guy - from Carolina way? He was well known for providing the only US style BBQ in London (and catering the US Embassy's July 4th garden parties), before Bodeans opened in Soho.

Sadly for your hubby, Spitalfields is hardly worth visiting since not much goes on there during the week (apart from the BBQ). On Sundays, there's an organic veg market, an array of indifferent fast food stalls and far too many people crammed into too small a space...

However, since your man is interested in ethnic foods, he should cross the road from Spitalfields, walk down Fournier Street and find himself - taraa! - in Brick Lane. It's full of 'Indian' restaurants (I use the quotes because, actually, they're all run by Bangladeshis). I can't recommend any one in particular because I haven't been for a while, but the intense competition tends to mean that they're all pretty good.

Probably the best Indian in the City, however, is Cyrus Todiwala's Cafe Spice Namaste @ 16 Prescot Street, E1 (Tel: 020 7488 9242) which is unusual because it's chef-owned and the chef is not from the Sylet region of Bangladesh, but is a Parsee. Again, I can't be too effusive because I haven't been for ages (too long!) and I've read some negative reports recently, but it's got to be worth a punt.

I'd also recommend Eyre Bros @ 70 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4QX (Telephone: 020 7613 5346) where the food is kinda Mediterranean in concept. Out that way, you've also got Fifteen <www.fifteenrestaurant.com> but it's unlikely that you'll get a table at short notice... Also worth mentioning is Terry Conran's gastrodrome (over Tower Bridge, turn left) where there's a choice of poncey French, expensive Italian and earnest English restaurants and, best of the lot, the Blueprint Cafe @ the Design Museum.

Borough Market is worth a visit on any day of the week (although the foodie market is on Saturdays). It's a nice walk over the river from Bank and there's some decent pubs.

Finally, can I warn you about Baker & Spice, as mentioned above? The one in Queens Park is possibly the most pretentious cafe in the known world, run by supercilious Gallic twats who charge by the weight of food on your plate. Somehow, a plate of salads ammounted to 12 quid!

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Don't, whatever you do, send him to Brick Lane. Send him to New Tayyabs which is just round the corner. There's a huge thread about it on here.

If he's close to Spitalfields he might fancy trying St John Bread and Wine. Not ethnic, British food. Don't miss deserts.

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

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Not too far away is THE REAL GREEK, which gave us one of the better lunches we've had in the past few years in London: bottarga flakes fell from the sky over aromatic braises of lamb shoulder. I believe that they also have a more casual touch-and-go spot in The City now but can't comment on its quality.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

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Couldn't read the article without registering @ charlotte.com, but isn't Kir - the Arkansas Cafe guy - from Carolina way? He was well known for providing the only US style BBQ in London (and catering the US Embassy's July 4th garden parties), before Bodeans opened in Soho.

According to the article, he hails from El Dorado, Arkansas.

However, since your man is interested in ethnic foods, he should cross the road from Spitalfields, walk down Fournier Street and find himself - taraa! - in Brick Lane. It's full of 'Indian' restaurants (I use the quotes because, actually, they're all run by Bangladeshis). I can't recommend any one in particular because I haven't been for a while, but the intense competition tends to mean that they're all pretty good.

I remember reading about Brick Lane. I will have to research the thread on New Tayaab.

He is in London now - had dinner at Fish and tried to find Noura in Knightsbridge - but he forgot to take my notes and was looking on the wrong street. He lunched on ethnic fare at Camden market. I am sure he was too brain dead to really enjoy too much.

He plans to visit Borough market and try to get a sandwich frm the place mentioned in the Gourmet London issue. He took the mag with him as a guide.

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Not too far away is THE REAL GREEK, which gave us one of the better lunches we've had in the past few years in London: bottarga flakes fell from the sky over aromatic braises of lamb shoulder. I believe that they also have a more casual touch-and-go spot in The City now but can't comment on its quality.

The Real Greek Mezedopolio, next to the restaurant you went to, is great for casual dining - 30 or so different meze, an interesting wine selection and nothing else. Their two branches in the City - Real Greek Souvlaki - are quite different: a limited selection of meze and a short menu of souvlaki. Good enough, but a place for a quick bite rather than a proper meal.

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He plans to visit Borough market and try to get a sandwich frm the place mentioned in the Gourmet London issue.  He took the mag with him as a guide.

If you are talking about the heavenly Toasted Cheese sandwich made with Montgomery cheddar and Poilane bread I'm afraid he will be disappointed. He has shut down for the summer to return to France!

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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He was already disappointed when he learned the man also only sold the sandwiches on Saturdays. I gave my husband orders to buy some cheddar and a loaf of Poilane bread :biggrin:

He had a tapas lunch at Meson Los Barriles (in the city) and said it was fantastic - and crowded. Sadly, he did't get my email about Brick Lane before dinner and headed in that direction for Indian. He did say this morning that, though he has had better, he has also had much worse Indian fare.

He is dining at Belgo tonight -- we ate at the Covent Gardens location several years ago and he loved the moules frittes and the atmosphere.

On Wednesday, he is hoping to dine at Noura for Lebanese - anyone out there have comments on this place. My husband lived in Beirut for 7 years and loves the food.

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I'm a big fan of Noura, although the real Lebanese experts seem to think Ishbiliya in Knightsbridge is a bit better.

Both the mezze and the grilled meats are good. I tend to order one of the set meals (even the "light" meal has plenty of food; the "Noura" menu leaves me full to bursting, and the "Gourmet" meal is so large that the waiters have always discouraged me from ordering it :unsure:).

A few simple things about Noura that make me happy are the silky, smokey babaghanoush, the potent but fresh-tasting toom that comes with the grills, and the pistachio ice cream.

In any case, I'm very envious.

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although the real Lebanese experts seem to think Ishbiliya in Knightsbridge is a bit better

Interesting. My SO met two Lebanese people who recently moved to London (less than a year in the city) and so far, their top picks are Noura and Maroush in Knightsbridge.

You want to talk jealous? All I get to do is think about the food he is eating while in London! :biggrin:

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He is in London now - had dinner at Fish and tried to find Noura in Knightsbridge - but he forgot to take my notes and was looking on the wrong street.  He lunched on ethnic fare at Camden market.  I am sure he was too brain dead to really enjoy too much.

In case you haven't already realised, Noura is not in Knightsbridge but just near Victoria Station (there is also a new branch on Lower Regent Street but haven't been there).

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My husband wanted to dine at Noura Knightsbridge (he was alone) but said it was much more take away than sit down. Ishbilia looked too "upscale" for what he was in the mood for, so he went to Maroush on the suggestion of a couple of Lebanese co-workers. He loved it! All of the baked goods are made onsite, the hummus was the best e has ever eaten. He said if he'd found Maroush on the first night, he would have eaten there nightly.

Edited to add:

BTW - he's bringing home a loaf of pain Poilane and some Montgomery Cheddar from Neal's Yard Dairy!

Edited by hazardnc (log)
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An article appeared in our Sunday travel section on The Arkansas Cafe - and Spitalifields market in particular. 

used to live around the corner and every so often would go to the arkansas and have Kir whip me up a bbqed duck breast. if you make it there, ask Kir if he has any duck breasts. his bbq sauce is delish.

once i did a radio programme (BBC radio 4) on spitalfields market which was the foodie place before borough......its charming around christmas time especially, and the butcher used to sell sausages from happy pigs only. also i think the felafel place was quite good. but then, well, moved to the country and hardly every get spitalfields way any longer. :sad:

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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You'd be disappointed, Marlena. Redevelopment @ Spitalfields has halved the space available to stall holders, so the flea market is crammed in with the organic food stalls and the eating court has shrunk. The old seating pavilion and that mad kinetic art piece is long gone and the stalls now face each other in a strip, rather than occupy one corner. The falafel stall is one that's been moved. I tried one of their sandwiches a couple of Sundays ago and it was a shadow of its former self, partly no doubt because it was produced in a high-pressure production line. Its main problem was that the falafels weren't properly cooked, but its assembly was slap dash, sort out your own salad, kerching, next please... Thinking back, the episode has a nightmarish quality of desperation, with hundreds of hungry, hollow-eyed people queuing forlornly for falafels... Maybe it's just as well the government's clamping down on the sale of magic mushrooms :wacko:

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The falafel stall is one that's been moved. I tried one of their sandwiches a couple of Sundays ago and it was a shadow of its former self, partly no doubt because it was produced in a high-pressure production line. Its main problem was that the falafels weren't properly cooked, but its assembly was slap dash, sort out your own salad, kerching, next please...

I had a felafel sandwich at Spitalfields market a few weeks ago that was truly execrable. Mealy and flavourless (could have been at least partly caused by undercooking) - god it was awful. I wonder if this was the same place? You certainly had to fix your own toppings. Sort of in the middle of the market, facing east, but closer to the north side of the market than the south, if that's any help.

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That's the place. Used to be wicked. Now it's shit.

The decline in standards among falafel providers across the capital is worrying :shock:

Ranoush Juice, near Marble Arch used to be really good, but now it's no better than OK.

Falafel King, in Portobello, still rules in my book but the staff can be surly.

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Oh You Guys, I am sooooo Depressed about this!

But not surprised, alas, not surprised!

why is it that as soon as something is getting good, generally the rot sets in. how many places keep up their standards? and as for spitalfields, well, iredevelopment was long on the cards.

why don't these folks ever redevelop something to a better rather than worse state?

and why can't a felafel place just keep making good felafel? once you got it going, it ain't like you need to emply a crew of chefs to keep the cuisine up to par.

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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