1. Flesh and Buns, Covent Garden - Sunday Brunch
For Sophie's birthday, Flesh and Buns' brunch offering was in order. I've been before (and also for dinner) and even though the prices have gone up since, it's so worth it. For £46 we got cocktails on arrival, unlimited prosecco, wine or soft drinks, all of the small plates to share, a "flesh" and bun dish each and smores for dessert. I had a Kimchi Bloody Mary to start which was (I think) my first ever Bloody Mary, I think I liked it, and as I'm not a prosecco / wine drinker then stuck to the Diet Cokes. The small plates were my favourite - as a fish-eater there was a lot of choice - the sushi and sashimi were amazing and so fresh-tasting. On the less healthy side, the deep friend squid and soft shall crab provided a good balance and are great options if you prefer your fish cooked. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of choice for "proper" vegetarians - although the broccoli is amazing it's probably not worth splashing out on if you can't take advantage of the seafood. For my main I chose the miso aubergine bun as I've had the salmon teriyaki twice before. Its as super tasty although I was already pretty full by this point from all the small plates and opted for the lettuce leaf wraps rather than the pillow-y buns. Of course, I still had a tiny bit of room for dessert and the smores are fun to make over a mini open fire at the table, if a little messy and sickly sweet. I am so up for doing this again if anyone fancies a Sunday eating, drinking and being merry underground away from the grey old weather. The restaurant's policy is that tables are due back after two hours but we weren't rushed to leave on this visit but it's something to bear in mind (i.e. read the menu online beforehand so as not to dither over ordering!).
2. Nanban, Brixton
Continuing the Japanese theme, Hannah and I headed to the newly-opened Nanban in Brixton to eat ramen while discussing Japan travel plans - perfect! Ramen isn't my first choice of Japanese cuisine but when done well it's the perfect winter dish, warming, filling and comforting. I had the seafood ramen which was a little pricey at £14 but was a very generous portion and the flavours were amazing. The broth was just the right side of richness and I loved the ponzu butter and "seafood sawdust". Ramen can sometimes be dull but every bite and slurp of this dish was different and full of flavour and the noodles were perfectly al-dente. Hannah had the kumamoto ramen and a side of karate chicken which looked amazing - definite food envy at the perfectly cooked orange egg yolks. The restaurant is simple and unfussy, modelled on a Japanese ramen izakaya which are often located in and around Japanese train stations to serve solo "salarymen" on they way home from work. Service was quick and efficient and I'd definitely be tempted to return for the matcha adffogato and some of the non-ramen options.
3. Cinnamon Soho - High Chai Afternoon Tea, Soho
My friend S is a chai fan so Cinnamon Soho's High Chai Afternoon Tea sounded like the perfect birthday treat. After visiting The Cinnamon Club I had high expectations for its smaller, causal sister restaurant. At £25 for two the afternoon tea is great value for money and a twist on the traditional - we all had the masala chai tea to start which was spicy and warming, much less sweet than the coffee shop versions. For the savoury offerings I had the vegetarian option which I can't find the menu for online and as the waiter didn't explain what it was I'm not *entirely* sure... To be fair, I could have asked but I think with afternoon tea its a nice touch to be told what the items are when they are served. The toastie definitely contained cheese and the slider was a spicy veggie patty, both were really good and I liked how they were warm after running a wet 10k race earlier in the day. The sweet offerings were equally tasty - a spiced scone each which was somewhere between sweet and savoury and a mini ginger and garam masala cake which I could have eaten by the (giant) slice. As it was my friend's birthday, she was brought a slice of chocolate tart which was a really nice touch (and a chance for us to embarrass her by singing happy birthday).
The High Chai Afternoon Tea isn't as much of a feast as others in London but a sandwich, tea and cake in a coffee shop would set you back more than £12.50 and the taste and novelty factor means I'd re-visit. My only slight irk is that the restaurant shuts at 5pm (on the dot pretty much) and as 3pm is the earliest you can book the tea it did feel a little rushed - especially as we were a big group and had a lot of catching up to do.
Where have you been eating this month?