Old Tree Bakery – Golders Green

Reviewed on March 29th, 2015 by Dina

Old Tree Bakery is a Taiwanese bakery with displays of its buns and cakes in the shop window. This bakery is a little different in the sense that it prides itself on trying to keep their products low in salt, sugar and fat. All of their food is baked fresh every day on site. Trays of small bags of hand made cookies are also on display.

It was great to see that the baked good items were all covered on the shelves and that it was not self service. After we were seated, we went to the front of the store to choose our delights. One of the staff picked all of our items and packed them for us as we had wanted some for takeaway.

To dine in at Old Tree Bakery, the Chinese mushrooms, bamboo and vegetables in soup was ordered. The big bowl of steaming soup was packed full of the vegetables and garnished with coriander. The soup was very flavoursome with a slightly sweet and sour taste and it was also thicker than I had expected. It was a hearty soup with its gravy like broth.

Old Tree Bakery SoupOld Tree BakeryOld Tree Bakery Coffee BunOld Tree Bakery DisplayOld Tree Bakery InteriorOld Tree Bakery Interior 2

As I was not feeling adventurous to try the milky bubble tea, a decaffeinated Americano was had instead. Coffee and cake are a match made in heaven. The coffee bun was soft and had a light texture to it. The coffee paste that intertwined through the bun was just sweet enough.

Old Tree Bakery felt clean and well maintained. The cafe area is of a medium size with some comfy seating by the windows and normal tables by the counter. There are a few tables and chairs outside too. The staff were friendly and gave us good service.

There are so many cakes, buns and savoury dishes that Old Tree Bakery has on offer and it really is hard to decide which ones to choose. It is great that the products are available for takeaway. The Curry Bun that was had as a takeaway was equally delicious as the other food had at the bakery. The bun was fresh, soft and had a slight sweetness to it. The curry filling was potato based and not too spicy.

It was great to have such a wonderful first experience of Taiwanese food and it is all thanks to Old Tree Bakery!

Old Tree Bakery, 105 Golders Green Road, Golders Green, London, NW11 8HR

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Moeders – Amsterdam

Reviewed on March 20th, 2015 by Dina

A whole day was spent out at the world’s second largest flower garden, Keukenhof in Lisse. Even though the tulip fields were not awash with so much colour as the tulips were late blooming, there was still plenty to see at this Garden of Europe.

Gorgeous displays and many varieties of tulips and other flowers painted the conservatories. Our luck was in as we also got to watch the annual flower parade pass by Keukenhof as it travelled its 40km route from Noordwijk to Haarlem. Float after float of scenes made from fresh flowers together with a marching band brought the streets to life.

After such a beautiful day out, on our return to Amsterdam, we still decided to go to our planned restaurant Moeders. As it was a fair walk from central Amsterdam, we had to have some of the most delicious chips from Manneken Pis to munch on while we walked. Any excuse to have tasty chips from this award winning fries institution. Manneken Pis do chips with various sauces but nothing beats the classic ketchup and mayonnaise.

MoedersMoeders InteriorMoeders Interior 2Moeders Carrot and Onion HotchpotchMoeders Green Pea SoupMoeders Endive HotchpotchMoeders MenuMoeders Dutch Delight DessertMoeders Plate SettingKeukenhofKeukenhof 2Keukenhof 3Keukenhof 4Annual Flower ParadeManneken Pis Fries

Moeders means mothers and this restaurant is dedicated to mums everywhere. There are endless pictures of mums covering all the walls and even the windowsills have framed pictures of diner’s mums. Even though my mum couldn’t be there that evening, an equally special time was had dining here with my dad.

There is something quite quirky and homely about Moeders from the mismatched plates and glasses to the decor. The staff were really friendly and gave us food suggestions. They even made a couple of dishes specially for us. The atmosphere was relaxed and it was all about the comfort food this evening.

Two soups and two hotchpotch dishes were ordered. The soup of the day was mustard and leek. The other soup had to be the traditional Dutch green pea soup. This soup was made more filling as it had bacon and sausage. It even gave the name of the butcher (Loumen) who had made the meats. Both of the soups came in little casserole like dishes with lids and were equally as tasty.

Hotchpotch is a Dutch dish made of mashed potato, vegetables and meat. As we opted for the vegetarian version, the staff made us one with carrot and onion and the other with endive. The portions were fairly big of the creamy potato combined with the vegetables even though they were side dishes. The endive one was slightly bitter.

Soup and mashed potato made for a filling meal but there was room for dessert. Moeders does a dessert trio called the Dutch Delight. These are a mini curd, small pancakes and “speculaas” ice cream. The mini curd was like a yogurt topped with fruit compote. Fluffy pancakes went perfectly with the spiced biscuit ice cream.

Moeders is a wonderful restaurant to go to with delicious home cooked traditional Dutch food. It has a real charm about the place. A few facts about the restaurant are written on the menu.

The “did you know” caption on the Moeders menu states:

“photographs of mothers are still welcome;

all plates, cutlery and glasses are unmatched because people who attended the opening brought them along;

if we know in advance that you come with your mother on her birthday, we have a surprise for her; mother’s day is every year a happening.”

Moeders, Rozengracht 251, 1016 SX, Amsterdam

Rating: ★★★★☆

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FreeState Coffee – Holborn

Reviewed on March 8th, 2015 by Dina

On the outside of the quaint Sicilian Avenue is FreeState Coffee. There is a good buzz and a relaxed atmosphere with this coffee shop.

Wooden tables and chairs, a bit like Victorian school desks are inside and there are also benches for the outdoor seating. The tables are decorated with green foliage and berries in vases. Lots of natural light comes through into the seating area.

The staff are friendly and give service with a smile. They make you feel like a valued customer. There is a counter near the entrance where you place your coffee and food order. Once your order has been made, your name is called out and you go and collect it.

An additional counter is where the V60 Drip Coffee is made. V60 Drip Coffee is a manual style of coffee brewing where the coffee flows through a cone straight into your cup.

FreeState V60 Drip CounterFreeStateFreeState InteriorFreeState Flat WhiteFreeState V60 Drip CoffeeFreeState Pastel de NataFreeState SandwichesFreeState Cake DisplayFreeState Interior 2

At the moment, my coffee of choice seems to be the Americano. The popular Latte has become too heavy and milky for my liking. It is guaranteed that at some point my drink preference will change, maybe with the change of seasons.

As FreeState only do caffeinated coffee, a Flat White soya coffee was had this time. It came in a small green cup. It was a really smooth rounded coffee. There are guest espressos and a daily brew available. On this particular day, the special brew was Caravan roasted Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee.

A perfect treat with the coffee was the Pastel de Nata. Sweet, creamy filling encased by the flaky pastry was delicious. The staff were accommodating when we asked if we could have the pastries that had not been on display. They gave us them from the fridge behind the counter.

All of the croissants, muffins and pastries are baked daily on site. There are also freshly made sandwiches, soups and salads. It is a shame that all of the baked goods and the sandwiches are on open display where the customers queue. It would have been better for the items to be displayed behind the counter or at least with covers. The food looked of a high quality. There was an interesting soup of the day, Kale and Quinoa.

FreeState is a wonderful place and it feels like a “proper” coffee shop with its quality coffee, friendly staff and a good place to come and relax!

FreeState Coffee, 23 Southampton Row, London, WC1B 5HA

Rating: ★★★★☆

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