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.

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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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Miracolo – Kings Cross / Chancery Lane

Reviewed on May 15th, 2014 by Dina

Miracolo is no ordinary Italian restaurant. What makes it stand out is that it specialises in medieval food and most of its menu is based around this.

This restaurant is very welcoming and feels spacious and warm from the moment you first step in. There are big white sofas and tables in the entrance and then the dining area is adjacent to the drinks bar.

The striking decor is created by the contrast of the grey walls with the wonderful orange and reds on the canvas paintings. Later, I was told by the staff that all the artwork was from the collection done by the textural artist Gill Hickman.

The staff at Miracolo were so friendly and gave lovely efficient service all accompanied by happiness and smiles! When certain dietary requirements were mentioned, the staff checked it all with the chef and made sure that we were correctly informed. The staff really did make us feel that our custom was valued.

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The Miracolo menu is very refreshing and all the dishes certainly did impress not only in taste, flavours, quality but also in presentation. The menu has some vegetarian dishes including risotto, pasta, dips and a cabbage filled pie. But if you are feeling adventurous, then your choice can be between dishes which have rabbit, venison, wild boar, goat, pheasant, partridge, quail, salmon, tuna and duck pie!

The meal started with the Torre di Melanzane salad. A tower of warm grilled aubergine slices sandwiched between caramelised onions was presented on a criss-cross grid of balsamic vinegar. It was delicious with the pine nuts. The sweet onions complemented the treacle like balsamic vinegar and it worked well with the aubergine. The homemade bread that was served with it was very moreish and helped to balance out this starter dish.

A safe option was chosen for the main meal but it was still special. Big pillows of ravioli generously filled with ricotta and spinach topped with a black truffle sauce. This dish was stated on the menu as Circa mid XIV century! The black truffle sauce was very tasty. The only thing that I would change is that I would prefer less oil in this dish. Apart from that minor thing, the spinach and ricotta had so much flavour. It has to be one of the best ravioli dishes that I have had to date.

Instead of a soft drink, I was in the mood for a cup of tea. The Earl Grey tea was served in a small silver teapot with hot milk on the side. The staff did not mind giving us a refill of hot water too.

Miracolo is a truly wonderful Italian restaurant and it should be proud of all the dishes that it serves. The food is amazing and of such a high standard. The service is great. Dining at Miracolo was a real joy and it is good to have discovered such a fantastic friendly restaurant.

Miracolo, 73 Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross, London, WC1X 8TP

Rating: ★★★★★

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Salvador and Amanda – Bloomsbury

Reviewed on April 17th, 2014 by Dina

Salvador and Amanda is a Spanish restaurant focussing on tapas. It has more of a bar like informal environment. There are small booth sections on the raised levels. The little white washed alcoves have cushioned seating and small buffets. Even though the seating was supposed to feel quite relaxing, it was difficult to get comfortable.

Our tapas selection started off with some salted smooth Marcona almonds and grilled tomato bread. The artisan bread was toasted and topped with a paste of fresh flavoursome tomatoes.

The Spanish omelette was a classic choice and you can never go wrong with the potatoes teamed with the egg. It was crispy on the outside and not overcooked.

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The highlights of the meal were the two fish dishes. The garlic black rice was delicious with the squid and prawns. The rice was cooked so that it was not too soft. The pan fried cod with samphire was a fairly big portion. The cod was succulent and came dressed in a light sauce.

The staff were friendly although at times it was hard to get their attention. There were no complaints to be had at all about the food. It was served swiftly and it was all tasty.

Salvador and Amanda is open till the early hours, just in case you are looking for somewhere late at night. It can be spotted by the neon lit sign on the exterior.

Salvador and Amanda, 1 Vernon Place, Bloomsbury, London, WC1A 2EP

Rating: ★★★★☆

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