Giraffe Cafe, Stansted Airport, London

For my travels I’ve frequented Stansted Airport the most, but the food options always annoy me in the morning. There are two Prets, an Itsu and a Leon which can be half-decent. Than you have an even lower tier of Burger King, Wetherspoons and Giraffe. There’s a bunch more to check out, mind you. The menu at Giraffe always sounds alright, but the end result is always a disappointment. I should have learned from my last venture at the Giraffe in Heathrow. This plate was meant to be Masala scrambled eggs with cumin, coriander chillies, garlic naan and salad. The service at Giraffe is slow (food delivery is not), the coffee is poor and there is no seasoning at all in this dish.

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It’s a bit of a shame really, as a spiced scrambled egg can be very satisfying and I’d give White Mojo some post-credit for their concoction. That had a great kick, creaminess, volume and it didn’t feel so wet. The included naan is flat, dry, the eggs are utterly tasteless and the serving is rather sloppy. Some of the other tables looked to have better results but twice bitten, once shy for me. To their credit, the Giraffe Kitchen is fast and I was out with plenty of time. But I’d rather be speeding through Pret one more time than endure this.

5/10

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Nando’s, Fitzrovia, London

I can never get enough of Nando’s and a recent Nando’s sauce retail promotion that offers a free quarter chicken had me clicking at my heels to get back in. The store in Fitzrovia was closed a painfully long time, so I had to make a few attempts to get in. One of my favourite parts of the (British) Nando’s experience is the sauces at the ready. I don’t recall this feature in Australia or New Zealand ever being so strong. And onto the food. I had the Peri-Peri fries (£2.45) and the fino coleslaw (£3.25) sides along with my mango lime chicken (£3.95). Before you throw me out, this sauce is nice. The sweet and sour make a perfect pairing for this cop out basting. Chips – amazing as always. Coleslaw, way overdressed and not as special as I was hoping for. This was the fancier coleslaw option with beetroot and a yoghurt dressing, so at least it wasn’t too calorific. Chicken – good as always. A quarter isn’t enough of a portion but the meat’s well, the skin’s crisp and that sauce. Until the next Nando’s review!

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7/10

Nando's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Maitre Choux, South Kensington, London

So this is a very good eclair. But it’s also outrageously expensive. It’s £4.90 – £5.80 PER eclair, with another pound slapped on if you dine in. That was more than my lunch. Yes, Joakim Prat is a three Michelin star pastry chef, but these weren’t the best eclairs I’ve had to date. That title would go to Christophe Adam’s L’éclair de génie (for now). These are some of the prettiest I’ve seen and the shops in a fitting suburb for the aesthetics. This was a busy store and there were plenty of people more than happy to try them out too. I went for the perfectly pink and feminine Delice Rose A La Framboise (Spanish Raspberry Pink) and this was delicious. A good eclair, a fruity, full-on filling. The mousse has a slight sourness which balances out the sweetness of the fresh raspberries, as well as undertones of rose water. At Maitre Choix they go all out with custom printed chocolates, edible pearls and gold leaf. There’s no expense spared. How fitting.

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7.5/10

Maitre Choux Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chicken Cottage, Kilburn, London

What’s clucking near you? Today’s review is of the Kilburn branch of the Chicken Cottage chain. Britain has such a curious obsession with these cute cut-priced eateries. It’s laughably cheap how it all is, though one must wonder how they keep those prices down. For £3.89 the two piece cottage meal comes with two wings, fries and drink. There’s a lot of fries too, these guys ain’t playin’. The batter on the chicken is quite enjoyable, it’s very clearly emulating that KFC taste. But I didn’t find the quality of meat up to scratch. The wings are a bit weirdly small and the full pieces don’t do it either. The fries are average but are served fresh from the fryer and with peri-peri salt if you asked nicely. There are better than the ones at Eden’s Cottage, which are the only thing that let down that store.

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6/10

Chicken Cottage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Gate, Hammersmith, London

The more and more time I spend in Europe, the more and more vegetarian I’m becoming (shock, horror). There’s a distinct pleasure in eating solid, vegetarian food and there are plenty of outlets that do this quite well. The Gate is one of those, and they’ve been around in London a while, having first opened their doors in 1989. There are three branches across town and my friend Judy and were in the Hammersmith one before our day out to Kew. We were the very first diners in that day (they open at 12) and we subsequently got our dishes lighting quick.

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8.5/10

The Gate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Bageriet, Covent Garden, London

This year I’ve resolved to cut down on the refined sugars. Then it came to lunchtime and I thought to myself: bageriet. Life is for the living and you’ll be living it up when you encounter London’s finest Swedish bakery. Bread, biscuits, cakes, buns, pretzels and brioche. For such a small store, Bageriet sure pack a lot of variety in. I found the service on my visit cold but the baking is hot. I had one of the Semlors (cardamon bun with fresh cream) and a coconut tart. These were outstanding. The spiced bun is a delight to eat, with the filling inside being pillowy. It’s not a super sweet cream and they give you a lot of cream. It’s quite a big size so possibly better to have had in two servings, but I couldn’t wait that long. The tart is also superb. It tastes of freshness and the crust are filling are perfect. Well worth stopping in for when in the Covent Garden area.

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8/10

Bageriet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rosa’s Thai Cafe, Soho, London

The name of Rosa’s originally comes from the previous owner of their very first location. Times have changed and now they’re are ten Rosa’s restaurants around London. That’s some Thai food domination right there. I popped into the Soho branch of Rosa’s ready for a spicy bite to warm up my mid-Summer blues (this is London). I had the two chilli pepper-rated Drunken Noodles (£9) and these did the trick, on account of setting my mouth on fire. Safe to say, it’s quite a spicy bite. This is flavoured by a basil sauce, and Thai herbs, this gives it a lovely authentic flavour. As a starter I went for the pork skewers (£5), these felt a little expensive for what you get but are nicely seasoned. The skewers come with super sweet tamarind sauce which provides an ideal contrast to the meat. Pork always does so well coupled with sweet notes in my books. Overall, it was a nice, affordable meal at Rosa’s in a cosy (and dry!) setting. I did find the spice levels for the noodles extreme for my palate but the quality is there.

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7.5/10

Rosa's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Nando’s, Victoria, London

Time for another cheeky Nando’s. And this time I hit up the one nearest my house. It’s located next to the grocers making for a two-birds-one-stone special. Shock horror, this time I didn’t get Peri-Peri chips. Instead I went for a protein-heavy combo of a quarter chicken (£3.95) and a chicken wrap (£6.75). Nando’s isn’t the cheapest thing, eh? The food is solid though, and I love the bottles of various Peri-Peri sauces you can grab to drink alongside your meal. The wrap was nice, a fair amount of meat and the chilli jam wasn’t as offensive as it can be in other places. I do like the chicken here though this time it didn’t feel like that was that much of it in the quarter size. The skin is the best part and super flavourful even with the cop-out Mango and Lime basting. Another happy little meal down for me.

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7.5/10

Nando's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bibimbap, Soho, London

For my very last office lunch in Soho, the guys and I headed around the corner to Bibimbap. As you can imagine, it’s a focus on the the signature Korean hot stone bowls of the same name. Bibimbap literally translates to “mixed rice’ and the dish was conceived as a means to use up leftovers. These days it’s a bespoke experience and at Bibimbap you can choose what kind of rice, topping and if you want an egg as well. It’s at a neat price, most of the options would end up under £10. I also got a side of the Korean fried chicken which I quite enjoyed, I did find the pieces not so meaty though. It was coating heavy but a nice coating at that. It’s a generous size and the beef I had on mine was tasty. There’s a diverse mix of vegetables for mixing in and I enjoyed the bibimbap like I always do. The high temperature of the bowl keeps it toasty for a good while. This almost encourages you to take your time and savour every bite. You do need to mix in some soy or Gochujang as it not that flavourful without it.

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8/10

Bibimbap Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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KFC, Victoria, London

Here in the UK, KFC currently have a promotion for free fries on Friday. Great! The only problem is I forgot these fries aren’t very good. They’re of the shoestring variety like basic McDonald ones and there’s no chicken salt. I guess the latter is more of an Antipodean thing but it makes KFC that much more acceptable to be excited about. Fortunately, the wings are still good. And cheap at two for 99p. Mind you, not as cheap as those ridiculously cut price chicken shops. The pieces seem a bit smaller than the normal wicked wings but the batter/ coating is quite smashing. The KFC outlet in the Victoria station gets extremely busy (likely due to the fries offer too), so it does take some while to get your order in. The store itself was a hot mess with staff and customers looking confused and fries littered everywhere. So not my first pick of the KFCs I’ve done so far on my pilgrimage.

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6/10

KFC Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato