Etto Italian Street Pasta, South Melbourne

I’ve had a mix of experiences with Etto across Melbourne, with the South Melbourne one being my usual go to due to proximity to my now former office. The menu is mostly pasta, wholly customisable, as well as other Italian treats and sides. On the restaurant side of pricing for street pasta, but it comes quick and with good service. I was quite a fan of the carbonara from my first visit – perfectly creamy, cheesy, the right treat for a cold afternoon in. My last visit I picked up the Black truffle and Salami ($19) which I wasn’t quite as enamoured with. The pasta wasn’t fully hot on this occasion and the butter was a bit of a pool. Much  too splashy for my liking. The extra chicken was worth it and it was a more than filling lunch fix with it in the mix. Also, they seem perpetually out of the gnocchi option, which makes me sad.

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7.5/10

Etto Italian Street Pasta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Pain Quotidien, Victoria

Brunch is such an impressive time of days in eating life these days and that makes it hard to decide what to have. Fear not, as you can order a platter at Le Pain Quotidien that gives you everything. It’s only mildly disappointing that it is a chain affair. There’s 219 other Le Pain Quotidien about and chains never make for the most fun or inventive options. The food is good at least. My choice was The Farmer brunch (£16.95). That comes with a boiled egg, ham, gruyere, granola parfait, a drink, a juice, a pastry and a choice of bread. Phew. The price point is on the high side (not including service as well but it could go towards a pair of mouths. The pain au chocolat and sourdough are particular highlights of the board and I would have to commend the proper Belgian hot chocolate (not pictured). There was also three of the spreads (Speculoos, Blondie and Noisella) that are fun to sample as well.

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Benito’s Hat, Fitzrovia

The friendliest Mexican-ish meal I’ve had to date. I say “ish” as Mexican food is a little weird here in London. Brit-Mex feels like there’s a thrilling edge taken off for the local palate. Fitzrovia is a bit of a desert in the weekends, so there wasn’t much of a crowd, and only one woman was running the service. She did an incredible job though, and let us know in advance of the delay. We had some margarita, some nachos, a burrito and a burger. Yeah, a burger. See what I mean? But it was a mean burger. Pulled pork, in fact. The dishes arrive fresh from downstairs and we happily nibbled on the nachos before the others made their way. An impressively loaded bowl of the fried corn, though worth noting the mains also came with even more chips. Great pricing and a loyalty that’s sure to get you coming back for more.

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Hummer-Austen Bar, Zürich

For my evening in Zurich, I opted to have my sweet third course at a different establishment. Progressive dinners aren’t quite as much of a thing here. And there’s usual some bemusement when  I inevitably get asked to explained. This is generally followed by an “ahh, that makes sense”. Of the dessert options at the upmarket Hummer-Austen Bar I went for the humble Tarte Tartin (19Fr). This version is made from scratch and the delay was a bit hefty. The restaurant being mostly vacant as well. Still, I was pleased when it arrived. A perfectly crisp pastry with wonderfully caramelised fruit slices that sat underneath a scoop of margarita ice-cream. The flakes of the pastry were buttery and melted in your mouth with the contrast of the not-overly-sweet dairy confection. Worth the wait.

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8/10

Donuts & Baguettes, Soho

If I needed a spot for some hangover-sugary options, Donuts & Baguettes is a good pick. But not if I’m looking for a good donut. Or Baguette. The location is handy, being in the crust of Piccadilly Circus. And with wide opening hours of 7am to 11pm every day, it no doubts captures some of the confused-where-to-eat crowd. I popped in on my way home and had a vanilla lined donut. Not sure what the difference is to the other vanilla donut but probably moot. The frosting is fine, and Dunkin Donuts like, but the cake wasn’t up to scratch. Could have been the lower level of freshness at this evening hour but it ended up tasting dry. For £1.85 not too diasterrific but I’m sure you can do better around here.

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6/10

Donuts & Baguettes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

EAT, Covent Garden

EAT’s another rather basic eating chain. As basic as the name suggests. I don’t find it quite as tasty as the likes of Pret, who do deliver a consistent level of quality, especially on the salad front of late. I finished up a long half day of training and needed something speedy to eat en route to my client hotdesking. In the spirit of hot (which is what London is right now) I went for the chilled curry salad. A bit of an usual mix, but I had some hopes it could have been a good one. Including a slice of the watermelon and thyme cake it comes under the £8 mark. Not expensive, but overall EAT’s not impressive. The sauce is a bit weird tasting and it ends up being a pedestrian mix of slaw, salad leaves and curried veges. I eat it and feel nothing. The cake had some good (albeit, artificial) flavours but that didn’t taste of complete freshness. I mean, it came in a bag, so I should have anticipated as much. So eh, I could eat the stuff, but I couldn’t love it.

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Frankie & Benny’s, Finchley Road

This chain is so dire. With a general level of crowd, you’d think it would be half decent but I’ve only been disappointed on every occasion. On the plus side, it is fast so it’s all over quick enough. The prices are expensive too, so it’s not like a cheap eat option. It was a morning and as I was needing a hearty early fix, I went for the usually safe option of the bacon and eggs on English muffin. There’s just no joy on this plate. The eggs are fine, the muffin is fine but the bacon isn’t right. Texture is a bit weird and there’s not a lot of it. Also had a coffee and that was something I try not to think about again. So that’s one I’m going to try avoid. And yes, I should have heeded the warnings from my London friends.

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Joy King Lau, Chinatown

Chinatown is a plethora for Chinese cooking and despite the original flair of every storefront, it does start to feel a bit homogenous. It’s hard to know what’s good and what’s bad when it all starts to mould into the same. Joy King Lau has been around since the 90s and the name means a place where people can get together to eat eat and drink. It was most appropriate as a meeting ground for our little group catchup. One of the group had been before and said it was good. We ordered a mix of dim sum (dumplings, pork bun), sweet and sour pork (£8.50) and the fried rice noodles (£8). It was all quite good, the sweet and sour pork less so. The sauce was a bit gluggy and the pieces were small chunks. The tastes are authentic and there wasn’t any lingering aftertaste, the buns were meaty and a good variety in the noodle mix. Service was to the point and we were able to be in and out in a very short space of time. So good marks for Joy King Lau.

7.5/10

Joy King Lau Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Plum + Spilt Milk – Great Northern Hotel, King’s Cross

I visited Plum and Split Milk off the back of this Hot Dinners offer I had. 50% off the weekend brunch menu price was enticing and the food and venue looked upper class to boot. It ended up being a bit snobby in service but the eating for the most part is crowd pleasing. With bargains to be had, I ordered three items being the Irish potato cakes with bacon and egg (£12), duck slaw salad (£11.50) and the plum and split milk dessert. Three friends were along for the savings. We were well looked after with all dishes satisfactory. Of my choices I enjoyed the duck salad the most. The potato cakes were a bit more pedestrian (I’ve had better bacon for cheaper) and the signature dessert was tasty but not stellar. It’s a fantastic space and there’s some fantastic food on offer. With a touch equal attention to the food as their is to the design, and you’ll be onto a winner.

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Dirty Bones, Carnaby

Carnaby Street does events every now and then and we took advantage of a recent one for a cheaper (cough, bargain) dinner over at Dirty Bones. There’s three branches of Dirty Bones in Carnaby, Soho and Shoreditch. Their menu is New York style American comfort food, so it was one I had my eye on for some time. Also, I love the Carnaby Street area, it’s a nice little retreat from the crowds and tourist traps. So what did we order? We had a lot of the fried chicken, the beef short rib and truffle fries. The short rib was actually meant to have been a salad. But we were happy with our mistake order, and it was my favourite of the table. The BBQ sauce on the ribs is flavoured by salted caramel and burnt onion, so you know there’s some delectably sweet notes. The fried chicken fell a bit more flat, which was disappointing as one of the things we were most looking forward to.

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