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5 posts from March 2009

30 March 2009


I had a good meal at Reubens with Chris of Cheese & Biscuits and Jon at Round Britain with a Paunch.  In fact it was surprisingly good.  I feared a re-run of the last time I encouraged someone for a salt-beef feast and it turned out more than a little wrong.

As I said in the comments, I'm not sure about his last sentence, but otherwise Chris' write-up is spot on.  Next time though, I will remember to ask them to keep that barding on the beef.  And I hope they have some tongue available.  Salt beef, good.  Tongue, better.

Particular mention should be made of the well flavoured lockshen pudding and the surprisingly flaky apple strudel.  Both rather took me by surprise. I should 'fess up to the fact that I only ordered them as an oh-so-ironic practical joke demonstrating just how awful kosher desserts can be.  That taught me.

Google Maps

Reubens, 79 Baker Street, London, W1U 6RG, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7486 0035

What others think

Michael Winner, The Sunday Times - I expected nothing. I received some of the tastiest, best food I’ve ever eaten.
Save the Deli - The chicken soup is so yellow and schmaltzy, you could be eating butter.

27 March 2009

Sushi Cafe Maco

Update, 10 Jan 2010: I'm very sorry to announce the Maco is now closed.  We last went in November and had a lovely meal there, with beautiful fish.  I'm very sad to see it go.  I understand yet another Japanese restaurant will be opening on the site (the third that I'm aware of), I hope it's of the same standard.  I fear it won't be.

If you know what Maco is up to next, I'd love to know.

I'm regularly asked which is my favourite restaurant, and the inevitable follow-up, do I know of any secret places - off the beaten path, a hidden gem. 

I wish I did, but two dynamics mean that hidden gems are unlikely to stay hidden for long.  First, this blogging malarkey means that a hidden gem soon becomes a queing-round-the-corner restaurant viz Tayyabs.  Second, as I've said before, in this economic environment we need to ensure that the places we love stay in business, which means spending money there, which means we should really beat the drum.  So, in order to continue to eat in this gem, it's time to tell the world and pray that as the hoards descend, it stays a gem, if not a hidden one, and they always have a table for you viz Tayyabs again.

North London suffers from a dearth of excellent restaurants and so the gems - hidden or otherwise - are few and far between.  There are lots of rather good bistros, including some very good sushi places like Sushi Say, but we seem to lack some of the dining highlights that those in the West of this city seem to enjoy.  I'm thinking of places like Tsunami in Clapham and Chez Bruce in Wandsworth.

And so onto Sushi Cafe Maco.  It is on the site of another Japanese restaurant Matsu. Silverbrowess and I always enjoyed it, because the sushi was okay for a local and it was dead quiet so we got a table whenever we rocked up.

However that lack of business foretold the future and the owners sold out to Macoto and Nemi Yoshida.  Who they you ask?  Or at least I did, and it turns out that Maco was formerly one of the sushi chefs at Atari-Ya's Temple Fortune branch.  This got me very excited because Atari-Ya is a small chain of sushi-bars and Japanese grocery stores that consistently has excellent fish.

And so it seems does Cafe Maco so I can sum up this review very quickly: the fish is stunning, meltingly, meatily stunning.  Furthermore, so is the rice.  In the UK, we too rarely remember the importance of great rice in great sushi.  They don't at Cafe Maco.  It is so beautifully cooked I took great pleasure in eating the gently vinegared carb by itself - having already revelled in salmon of such glistening fatty goodness, that I was immediately transported back to Sushi Yasuda and Kuruma Zushi.

So it went on: otoro that could have been steak; roasted black cod and cucumber inside out roll that was a roiling hit of umami in one mouthful; a salad of crispy salmon skin with cress, radish and ponzu sauce that was crispy, sweet, sharp and deeply satisfying.

All of it was a masterpiece and a revelation.  Seriously, seriously good stuff. 

There were a couple of duff notes, at the beginning and end of the meal.  the amuse of marinated salmon was fine - a bit meh - and in no way indicative of what was to come.  The green tea ice-cream was actively nasty, way too bitter and crunchy with ice crystals.  As Silverbrowess said: "I don't think I've ever not eaten ice-cream served to me."  She didn't get further than the first mouthful.  Although the daifuku served with it was pretty moreish.

We didn't eat any of the hot dishes so I can't attest to the kitchen's prowess there.  I did overhear the table next to us have some sort of argument with the waitress over their chicken teriyaki, but further than that I've no idea what the complaint was.

Frankly, whatever it was the sushi is excellent, truly excellent.  Yes, I have only been once and it could be luck.  But the obvious quality of the fish and the rice, indicates it is much more than luck.

So I'm not going to hold back and keep this gem hidden.  Rush there and hand over your hard earned cash.  As an incentive to do so there is a 10% discount until the end of March, bringing our bill for a stomach stretching six dishes to just under £30.

Google Maps

Sushi Cafe Maco, 50 Topsfield Parade, Crouch End, London, N8 8PT UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 8340 7773 (assuming it's the same as Matsu's, I do need to check this)

What others think

As far as I can tell, no-one has written about it.

16 March 2009

Busy tomorrow night?

If not, you'll be in London and you'd like to hear Rabbi Jeremy Conway, Executive Director of the London Beth Din discuss "What’s in your Kosher food? Behind the Scenes", then email me.

13 March 2009


I nosh.  A biscuit here, a square of chocolate there.  I'm particularly bad in the office when I'm more focused on my computer screen than what I'm putting in my mouth and I need a quick fix.

So the prospect of someone taking the hardwork out of healthy noshing was quite appealing and that's where Graze comes in.  Basically they put in the post a box of healthy snacks.  It can include fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds or a mix of the lot.  I'm rather partial to Strawberries & Cream.  

I've been having it delivered for a few weeks and love it.  Lots of variety and the ability to choose what I do and don't like means that it's not worthy or dull.

If you want to get your own box, you can use the code 5XQ7T3F when you sign up.  You'll get your first box for £1 - the normal price is £2.99 (incl. delivery) - and I get £1 off my next box.  Everyone's a winner.  You can just order the one box, it's not as if you're tied in for any period of time.

Just to be clear, this promo code has nothing to do with the blog.  Anyone that signs up gets a code they can share with friends.  Like anything I promote on this site, I'm only doing so because I use it and enjoy it, not because I have any ulterior or vested interest.

11 March 2009

Phat fat

I can barely contain my glee (or whatever the no doubt more apt German/Yiddish word is) that on the day crap like this is written, I get a call from Foyles telling me my copy of Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes is ready to collect.

Butter is not the root of all evil. It is not the reason we're careening towards an obesity epidemic. Eating crap, most of which has sod all to do with anything as fresh or natural as butter, is to blame. But laying into chefs - even painfully annoying celeb chefs - who are trying to get us to eat better food, is far easier than blaming poverty, bad legislation, naivety and stupidity.

Would the do gooders please sod off or add something useful to the debate.