Kaffeine – Fitzrovia

Reviewed on July 20th, 2014 by Dina

Glorious blue sky summer days means the pleasure of making the most of the great outdoors but also taking the chance for a relaxed lunch. Kaffeine is a very popular cafe with queues coming out the door at busy times. Wooden panels and crate like tables make up the small seating area with some high stools near to the counter. There is a bench outdoors too.

Kaffeine serves up one of the best smoothest coffees and one that I would return for. The Americano decaf was served in a matching black cup and saucer with soy milk. The food is displayed in the counter fridge and includes toasted foccacia sandwiches, baguettes, tarts and salads. As the food is seasonal, Kaffeine has a menu that changes each week.

KaffeineKaffeine Vegetarian TartKaffeine Chocolate and Hyssop FriandKaffeine InteriorKaffeine CoffeeKaffeine Interior 2

The vegetarian tart on offer on this particular visit was roasted vegetables in a Gruyere pastry with saffron cream. The pastry was thin, light and crispy. Parsnips, aubergine, red pepper, onion and courgette made up the chunky filling. It could have done with slightly less saffron cream. The tart was garnished with wood sorrel.

For something sweet, the chocolate and hyssop friand was chosen. The cake was almond based and was not too dense. The chocolate and almond made a wonderful combination with the hyssop icing. In Kaffeine’s own words, this is what hyssop is:

“Hyssop is a foraged plant that is quite resilient and best picked in early spring or early autumn when it’s in blossoms. The leaves and stems have a menthol aroma and taste of a combination of peppermint and lavender.”

Kaffeine

There are lots of other sweet treats on offer such as cookies, brownies, Portuguese tarts and muffins. It is a shame that the cakes are not covered and are just on display on the counter top. The staff gave service with a smile and were efficient.

Kaffeine is a great cafe with fresh tasting food and undeniably fantastic coffee! It makes for a lovely place for just coffee or for lunch.

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 7QJ

Rating: ★★★★½

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Andy’s Taverna – Camden

Reviewed on July 9th, 2014 by Dina

Andy’s Taverna is a small cosy restaurant which has a family run feel to it. The outside is decorated with hanging flower baskets. Several attempts were made to come to this restaurant but each time they were fully booked and one of the times they were closed for a private party.

To have some variety to our meal, the Vegetarian Platter was chosen. This started with a selection of dips and a basket of bread. The houmous, tzanziki and the aubergine dip were all tasty and the bread was fresh. The portion size was generous!

Next came the main part of the platter which had a great colourful selection. Grilled vegetables included mixed peppers and aubergine. The centre piece was the vegetable moussaka. Thick vegetable slices baked with a creamy cheesy top was delicious.

Andy's Taverna Vegetable PlatterAndy's TavernaAndy's Taverna Dips

Golden crispy triangle parcels filled with spinach and feta cheese were the spanacopitta. Tender chargrilled ovals of halloumi were dotted around the platter plate. The piperies gemistes were peppers stuffed with vegetables, feta cheese and bulgur wheat.

If that was not filling enough, it all came with a big salad. Everything that we had been served at Andy’s Taverna had been cooked just right and not at all overdone.

For dessert, it was ice cream: banana, chocolate and mango sorbet. The ice cream was divine with each flavour holding its own with chunks of banana, chocolate and intense mango!

The only thing that we had issues with at Andy’s Taverna was that although the staff were friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed, the service was quite slow. There was a party dining at the same time as ourselves and so it was hard to get the attention of the staff.

At the end of the meal, the staff did apologise for the slowness. It was refreshing that they had recognised that they could have been swifter with the service and did not need us to mention it to them.

The cuisine at Andy’s Taverna is of great taste and quality. Hopefully, the slow service was just a one off!

Andy’s Taverna, 81-81a Bayham Street, Camden, London, NW1 0AG

Rating: ★★★½☆

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Ristorante Al Paradiso – Venice

Reviewed on June 18th, 2014 by Dina

The original place that we had in mind was a pizza place called Antico Forno. But when we arrived there, it was a take away place and we wanted somewhere with a sit down dining area.

Antico Forno was visited a couple of other lunchtimes and it did do one of the best pizzas. Big freshly cooked pizza slices with generous toppings and a tasty pizza base too. The hard part was always deciding which pizza to choose as they all looked so good. Sitting by the Grand Canal with pizza from Antico Forno, nothing could be more blissful!

Now onto Ristorante Al Paradiso which was only a short walk away from Antico Forno. Ristorante Al Paradiso was slightly hidden away in one of the side streets but not too far from the main restaurants lining the Grand Canal.

Ristorante Al ParadisoRistorante Al Paradiso SpaghettiRistorante Al Paradiso BreadAntico Forno Pizza CounterAntico Forno PizzaGrand Canal Venice

Hunger had definitely kicked in so we started off with the bread that was given. Unfortunately, the bread was quite hard and a little stale. It was quite airy and there was not much depth to it. The rolls were more like breadsticks. For the main course, the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro was had. It was an average dish. The spaghetti was cooked well and the tomato sauce was tasty.

It was nice to dine outside in the section lined with boxes of flowers. The staff were friendly and service was good. Saying that though, if you are in the San Polo area, it is more worthwhile to head to Antico Forno!

Ristorante Al Paradiso, Sestiere San Polo, 767, 30125, Venice

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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