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: ★★★★★

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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: ★★★★★

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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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