I really like going out for dinner. Or lunch. Or any meal, really. And taking pictures of my food. And writing about food. But I don’t always have the time or inclination to do all-out restaurant reviews because I’m so busy stuffing my face I don’t take enough pictures. Or if I’ve just had a quick bite to eat, I feel like a full review isn’t always justified. So here are three places I’ve eaten at recently – and what I thought…
Efes, Stepney Green
Efes already has branches on Commercial Road and Great Portland Street, and I paid a visit to its newest venue opposite Stepney Green station. And most conveniently, five minutes from my office. Payday lunch heaven.
Previously a nondescript kebab shop, the Efes team have done a wonderful job transforming it into a light, airy restaurant space serving up Turkish cuisine. Plenty of tables meant we had a seat straightaway – and bread, spicy relish and raita was swiftly brought to our table.
I chose the Halep Kebab from the Chef’s Special section, and OH WOW. WOW. Slightly spiced minced lamb pieces that fall apart in your mouth, a creamy tomato and butter sauce. The portion size was plenty generous, and the sauce in particular was wonderful with the rice (which came at no extra charge).
Whoever thought kebabs were purely a delicacy eaten at 2am after two bottles of Blossom Hill need to think again. Fancy kebabs are SO my new jam, and Efes is SO one of my new faves.
Shake Shack, Westfield Stratford
We were off to see Deadpool (SO VERY GOOD) a couple of weeks ago in Stratford, and needed somewhere quick to feed our faces so our bellies didn’t rumble their way through the quiet bits of the film. Not that there were many. After hearing people wax lyrical about Shake Shack and proclaim it better than Five Guys, we decided to give the Westfield branch a try.
And to be honest – I don’t get the hype.
Although it DID taste good – it had that kinda ‘dirty’, spot-hitting vibe down – and the ShakeShack sauce and toppings were great, I was disappointed with the size of the burger. It’s still not the best I’ve had in London by far either, and for the price we paid I was pretty unimpressed. The chips weren’t up to much either – not horrendous, but I’m not the hugest fan of crinkle cut chips anyway and prefer my fries thinner and a bit crispier than these ones were.
We also grabbed some of the ShakeMeister Ale (ON A SCHOOL NIGHT) which was very disappointing – flat, bland and £5.50 a pint! Generally, I felt Shake Shack was overpriced and didn’t make much of an impression. The whole ‘fast food service at pretty much restaurant prices’ trend feels a bit old now – just gimme a friendly waiter and a craft beer with my burger and chips, please.
Toby Carvery, Snaresbrook
I’m one of those people who hadn’t been to a Toby Carvery before. Hell, I only had my first Harvester when I was already a fair way into my twenties. Pub grub is a fave and a Sunday staple, but I tend to opt for more independent venues – or good old W-Spoons the weekend before payday. When my parents were driving me about during the move-in, I noticed a Toby Carvery about ten minutes walk from our new place. One Sunday night, hankering for a roast and too lazy to cook, we decided to check it out.
The building itself is pretty fancy-looking, and when we arrived we were greeted quickly. As we hadn’t made a booking, we were told the wait would be around 30-40 minutes, but there’s a nice bar area to wait in. After waiting about 20mins, we were called to our table. We opted for the standard Sunday roast, and went to queue up for the carvery. The queue wasn’t too long, and it took us less than 10mins to get to the front. (Obviously, I kept my wine with me during this time, because I am a sensible human being).
The meat portions we were carved did feel a little meagre, but the gammon and pork I opted for were really tasty. You can also load up your plate with as many roasties and veg (there’s mash too) as it can take. The potatoes were slightly overdone, but the rest of the veg were great – and I really enjoyed the mint gravy. Just a shame they don’t do lamb, eh?
We decided to splash out (cause hey, Sunday night) and order dessert too. I chose the profiteroles and they were great – big portion and filled with oozy cream. The only (super minor) niggle was that all the chocolate sauce was at the bottom of the dish. I had a little taste of the Eton Mess, which was rather lovely too. Dessert points all round.
They also had one of those ace soft drink machines with all kinds of flavours for your fizz. Although, not quite as many as Five Guys. I drank silly amounts of Vanilla Pepsi and it took me ages to get to sleep. So worth it though. It isn’t necessarily gourmet, but Toby Carvery seems like a decent choice for an inexpensive Sunday roast – if you don’t mind queuing for a bit to get your food.
Where have you been eating lately? Anywhere awesome I need to visit?