The Waiting Room – Whetstone

Reviewed on May 10th, 2015 by Dina

A slightly different take on a cafe, The Waiting Room teams itself with its small home furnishing store. The Waiting Room is a really cute cafe adorned with fairy lights, dressers lined with lamps, frames, tealights and flowers. A garland of hearts decorates the cafe window. Stars hang above the lamps and small chandeliers also make up the lighting.

At the back of The Waiting Room, there are a few cosy seats. The rest of the cafe is made up of table and chairs. The soft lighting and jazz music create a lovely ambiance. Even though the cafe was busy, it was not noisy. There was a gentle hum about the place.

The staff were friendly and not intruding. They provided excellent personal service. The Waiting Room seemed to have its regular customers with the staff taking time out to chat to them. It made it feel like the staff were caring.

The Waiting RoomThe Waiting Room TeaThe Waiting Room InteriorThe Waiting Room SandwichesThe Waiting Room Afternoon TeaThe Waiting Room SconesThe Waiting Room Interior 2The Waiting Room CakesThe Waiting Room Interior 3

As I was seated at the back of the cafe, I was next to the kitchen. It looked clean and compact. There was not much noise from the kitchen and hence it did not impact on the atmosphere.

The tea that caught my eye was the rooibos with cherry. The tea was from the Little Sparrow range of loose teas. A heavy silver teapot with its own stand contained the tea. There was a traditional feel to the teaware. Small flowers decorated the teacup and saucer.

The aroma of the cherry was strong from the loose tea. Sometimes teas can be a letdown, as in they do not taste as good as they smell. With this Little Sparrow tea, the taste of the cherry with the rooibos was divine. The staff had no problem refilling my tea when the pot was empty.

The Afternoon Tea continued with the silver theme and it was presented on a square silver cake stand. Squares of soft bread, one filled with classic cucumber and the other with cheese and pickle were the fresh sandwiches. It was nice to have a combination of white and brown bread.

The two small fruit scones were delightful. The attention to detail really made the Afternoon Tea at The Waiting Room great. Shot glasses with teaspoons contained thick clotted cream and strawberry jam. Whole pieces of strawberry made the jam more special.

The last of the cakes were the macaroon and chocolate brownie. The almond macaroon was perfectly crispy on the outside with a chewy texture and creamy filling. Rich, gooey and moist made up the intense chocolate brownie. Just to make it more indulgent it was lovely to have it with a little bit of the clotted cream and jam.

The Waiting Room gives a ray of sunshine to a dull rainy day. It definitely brought me that happy feeling. It is a gem of a place and I am excited to introduce my friends to the wonderful world of The Waiting Room!

The Waiting Room, 50-52 Totteridge Lane, Whetstone, London, N20 9QJ

Rating: ★★★★☆

Waiting Room on Urbanspoon

Max’s – Crouch Hill

Reviewed on January 10th, 2015 by Dina

Two figures were sat by the window and as soon as I entered Max’s, I was greeted with big cheery hellos from them. They gave me the choice to pick which table to take a seat at. Soft lighting from the quirky grey mache lampshades, wooden tables with sufficient space between them and cladded walls made up the restaurant. The decor was just right with the colours and a nice touch was the few vases of roses and plants dotted around.

Let’s get onto the main event. Hot sandwiches on a cold winter’s day! There are only four items on the menu, one which is the dessert. For the veggie option, Max told us that he wanted to have something different and just as a main event as if it was a meat option. He said that he did not want the regular mushrooms, goat’s cheese, nuts and beetroot that are normally offered to vegetarians.

Max's The SpaniardMax's Ham, Egg 'n' ChipsMax's PuddingMax's InteriorMax's MenuMax's Interior 2

Instead, there is The Spaniard. Three big sweet onion croquetas together with baby gem lettuce, sweet herbs, lime pickled onions and Morunos mayo. What a wonderful combination, it definitely works! They are called croquetas because the filling is made of Bechamel sauce instead of potatoes that are used for croquettes.

The other two sandwiches went down well too. The Ham, Egg ‘n’ Chips had slow cooked ham hock and the shoestring fries had the same thinness and crispness like crisps.

To call them sandwiches really does seem like an understatement and does not do them justice. It is a real filling meal with quality ingredients. The only way to brace the hot sandwich is with hands as there is no cutlery. No side dishes are needed at all; everything you want is in the sandwich.

The sandwich comes wrapped in paper and it is kept together with an elastic band. If like myself, you can’t finish your meal, it is all ready to wrap back up in the paper to take away.

To end the meal, we did have the Pudding! The choux buns are filled with black sesame ice cream and then topped with delicious caramel and black sesame seeds. The savoury like ice cream works well with the sweetness of the caramel. The ice cream was from Gelupo.

It was really nice that Max took the time out to come and chat to us. He explained the different items on the menu and how he would change the menu whenever he came up with new combinations. All the food is made fresh on the premises including the soft foccacia bread, the fillings and the choux buns. You can tell that a lot of thought has been put into the items on the menu and that Max wants to offer something unique to his customers. The service felt very personal and we felt that we were valued as customers.

Max’s is a fantastic place to go to for his tasty sandwiches. There are cocktails, beers and wines on offer too. Just one thing that we found was that it was a little chilly in the restaurant on the evening we visited. It is exciting to see what other sandwiches are going to make it onto the menu in the future. Once you have visited Max’s, you won’t want any other type of sandwich!

Max’s, 19 Crouch Hill, London, N4 4AP

Rating: ★★★★★

Max's on Urbanspoon

Marine Ices – Camden Town/Chalk Farm

Reviewed on August 22nd, 2014 by Dina

For all you gelato enthusiasts, such as ourselves, it is a relief to know that the institution that is Marine Ices is not closing down. Instead it is moving to a new location, just down the road, with the shop front marked by the beautiful wisteria tree!

The new branch of Marine Ices is concentrating on what it does best: gelato, sorbets, sundaes, milkshakes, sauces and toppings! Coming to Marine Ices makes you feel like a kid in a sweet shop! The range of ice cream flavours displayed in the front counter makes you spoilt for choice. So much so that the only solution that worked for myself is by letting the staff choose.

Marine Ices CounterMarine Ices DisplayMarine Ices Counter 2Marine IcesMarine Ices InteriorMarine Ices Cones and Tubs

Creamy gelatos and fruity sorbets make a good combination. It is difficult to choose a favourite but there a few that do stand out. Dark Chocolate with Pieces is not too rich and has the right level of sweetness. The Mint Choc Chip gives that intense hit of fresh mint. The simple Coffee and Strawberry flavours are done perfectly. These are just a snapshot of what Marine Ices has to offer and from past experience, other flavours that have been had have always impressed.

As for sorbets, the ones that stand out are the Mango and the Raspberry. The Raspberry is not too sour or tart and come to think of it, it would go well with the Dark Chocolate gelato. The Mango is delicious and the reason for this is that the king of mangoes, the Alphonso, is used to make it!

Marine Ices is proud to source local ingredients and to support other local businesses. Hence, the coffee that they serve is from Black Sheep from Camden High Street.

Something that has made me look forward to return to Marine Ices (not that I need an excuse) is to try the cakes and cookies. These are supplied from the artisan bakery Galeta. The one that I am looking forward to trying is the fruit Pastel de Nata; the Portuguese egg custard tart.

Friendly staff at Marine Ices greet you and allow you the time to choose your order. They are happy to make flavour suggestions and combinations too. It is refreshing to know that hygiene is top of the list with Marine Ices. All of their products, including the cakes and cookies will be displayed covered in transparent containers.

Marine Ices has some seating area at the back of the cafe or you can have your gelato delights to take away. In our eyes, we are happy that Marine Ices is staying in Camden to serve its customers with its sweet treats. It has been around for 83 years and let’s hope that it continues for many more!

To end the post, in Fabiano’s (the manager) own words:

“All our gelati and sorbets are made to the original recipes that Gaetano Mansi brought with him from Italy as a young man. Those same recipes that have been passed down through the generations, we don’t let any artificial ingredients near them. Everything is completely natural and free from any animal products ensuring that all our produce today have a mouth wateringly authentic flavour”.

Marine Ices, Old Dairy Farm, 61A Chalk Farm Road, Camden, London, NW1 8AN

Rating: ★★★★★

Marine Ices on Urbanspoon