La Brocca – West Hampstead

Reviewed on September 22nd, 2014 by Dina

It had been many years ago that I had been to La Brocca and I remember it to have been a lovely restaurant. It was going to be interesting to see if it would still be just as good this time round. The hope was that it would be especially as it was a belated birthday meal for my friend.

La Brocca is split into the bar and the restaurant, with the bar on the street level and the restaurant on the lower level. The restaurant entrance is separate and it is down the steep stairs. The bar was heaving the evening we went and we had to squeeze past the customers to get to the restaurant entrance.

The staff welcomed us into the restaurant and we were given a table towards the back of La Brocca. The restaurant was fairly dimly lit and it looked that the outside area had been decorated with lots of greenery and plants.

La Brocca Pumpkin RavioliLa BroccaLa Brocca PizzaLa Brocca InteriorLa Brocca Mint TeaLa Brocca Interior 2

Pizza and pasta was our meal for the evening and it was all freshly cooked. The staff were really friendly and let us customise the San Remo pizza into a vegetarian one. Originally, the San Remo pizza had toppings of baby spinach, mushrooms, egg and Parma ham. The ham and the egg were replaced with roasted red peppers and onion. A crisp base, an intense flavoursome tomato sauce, lots of vegetables, all topped with fresh baby spinach made this a perfect pizza.

Big pillows of the fresh pasta ravioli were stuffed with the orange pumpkin and served steaming hot. The sauce was made of plenty of juicy cherry tomatoes and was fairly spicy. The sweet soft pumpkin was a great contrast to the spicy heat of the sauce.

Fresh mint leaves steeped in hot water made the mint tea. It was served with slices of lemon.

La Brocca was just as good as it had been many years ago and it seems like this restaurant is a timeless place. It does simple no fuss Italian cuisine with big bold flavours and great freshness.

La Brocca, 273 West End Lane, West Hampstead, London, NW6 1QS

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Zupperia – Bergen, Norway

Reviewed on September 5th, 2014 by Dina

Bergen is a beautiful and charming city and is known as “The Gateway to the Fjords of Norway”! The old wharf of Bergen called Bryggen has a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Opposite the well known fish market on the harbour, is where Zupperia is located.

On the evening that we went to dine at Zupperia, the outdoor seating area was jam packed with diners. We assumed that the restaurant was probably just as busy inside and weren’t sure if there would be availability. Our plan B was to venture to another one of the four branches of Zupperia if this one was full.

Luck was on our side and we only waited for a few minutes in the bar area before we were taken to a table towards the back of the restaurant. This area was like an alcove with the red brick exposed and soft lighting. It gave a really nice ambiance.

ZupperiaZupperia BreadZupperia InteriorZupperia Herb Baked MonkfishZupperia TeriyakiZupperia Woket ScampiFjords of NorwayBryggenBergen Sunset

As its name suggests, Zupperia is known for its traditional and international soups. But we opted to go straight for the main course. Whilst deciding on what to have, the waitress brought us a basket of seeded brown baguettes and butter. The bread was fresh and it filled our hunger holes.

There were a few vegetarian dishes but the ones that took my interest were stated as spicy. The staff were really helpful and accommodating when I asked if one of the fish main dishes could be made as a vegetarian meal.

The Teriyaki Laks was the one that was chosen. This was supposed to be a salmon teriyaki with rice. Instead, the salmon was omitted and a plate full of vegetables in the teriyaki sauce was served. The portion was huge and all of us with our mains in front of us had wished that we had saved our appetites and not munched away on the bread. As an afterthought, we could have shared a couple of dishes but at least this way, we all got to try different things.

A good selection of vegetables including carrots, courgettes, peppers, mange tout, red onion and mushroom were coated in the dark sauce and garnished with sesame seeds and coriander. The teriyaki sauce had a sweet yet not too salty flavour and the rice soaked up the flavours well.

Both of the seafood dishes that the friends had were equally tasty and went down a treat. The Herb Baked Monkfish was local monkfish in a mussel and white wine sauce. This came with new potatoes and vegetables. The other dish was Woket Scampi made with chilli and garlic langoustine in a creamy sauce. This was served with rice and even though it had chilli, it was not spicy.

On another day, after a day trip exploring the Norwegian Fjords, we did try the branch of Zupperia by the train station. The food was just as good but the restaurant was lacking the atmosphere of the Torget restaurant.

After the wonderful meal at the original Zupperia and with our tummies all full, it had become quite late into the evening. The sun was only just setting as we walked along the harbourside by the Hanseatic wharf. A beautiful end to a wonderful day in Bergen.

Zupperia, Torget 13, 5014 Bergen, Norway

Rating: ★★★★★

Yo Yo Bar & Restaurant – Shipley

Reviewed on July 29th, 2014 by Dina

Asian fusion cuisine can be a bit of a hit or miss situation. But Yo Yo had nothing at all to worry about with the taste and quality of their food.

As Yo Yo is a bar and restaurant, the restaurant area is on the raised level which overlooks the bar area. The dining area is spacious and has high backed chairs, wooden tables and a beige and brown decor.

Soup and fried delights were the start of this family feast! The Tom Yam Soup had the perfect balance of sweet, sour and tangy flavours. Sliced carrots, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, mange tout and spring onions were the vegetables in this clear soup.

The Vegetarian Combo was a good variety of items which included dim sum, samosas, tempura and salad. The vegetable tempura were aubergine slices, peppers and courgette. They were all really tasty; not just the vegetables but also the batter. Filo pastry filled with spiced vegetables were the samosas. The dim sum were pan fried and stuffed generously with the vegetable filling. The dipping sauces were mint yogurt raita and tempura sauce. All of the starters dishes were satisfying and had a good flavour to them.

Yo Yo Tom Yam SoupYo Yo Yo Yo Vegetable ComboYo Yo Massaman CurryYo Yo Stir Fried Vegetable MedleyYo Yo Thai Red CurryYo Yo Baked Lemon CheesecakeYo Yo Ice Cream SurpriseYo Yo Sticky Toffee PuddingYo Yo InteriorYo Yo Interior 2Yo Yo Bar Area

Thai influenced dishes were chosen for the mains. Even though the Yo Yo menu did not give the option for the curries to be vegetarian, the staff were more than happy to make them without the meat.

The Massaman curry had big cubes of tofu, potatoes, onion, cauliflower, mushrooms and carrots. The creamy coconut curry had a richness to it and the tastes of the tamarind and ginger came through.

The Vegetable Thai Red Curry was slightly lighter and was made with similar vegetables to the Massaman curry. Instead of tofu and potatoes though, this curry had broccoli and peppers. Both of the curries were mild and were served with jasmine rice. A medley of colourful stir fried vegetables were also had as side dish.

The portion size of the food at Yo Yo is fairly big. But there is always room for dessert! Our selection included the hot pudding of the day, baked lemon cheesecake and the ice cream surprise.

Sweet sticky toffee pudding with custard is a classic hot pudding. This particular one had to be a personal favourite out of the desserts. It was sweet, sticky, rich and delicious; everything that is expected from such a pudding. It was the first time that I had baked cheesecake and it was not as nice as a normal cheesecake. The lemon cheesecake was tangy but the texture was slightly dense for my liking. The ice cream surprise was served in a sundae glass with scoops of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream. It was topped with chocolate sauce and a wafer.

The Yo Yo staff were lovely, friendly and gave good service. Even though the kitchen was soon to close, they gave us time to decide on our order and also gave us a chance for dessert.

Yo Yo is a great place to go to for some variety to your meal selection. From starters, to mains right through to dessert, you won’t be disappointed. The only problem you may have is what to choose from the different Asian dishes!

Yo Yo, Rosse Street, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3SW

Rating: ★★★★☆

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