When the boat comes in. A Taste Of The New(lyn) Cornish Food Scene.

In and around Newlyn, restaurants are cool, creative and it’s now a food destination that has to be tasted to be believed. I take a trip to taste for myself.

Just past Penzance on the south coast of Cornwall, and about as far west as you can get before falling into the sea, sits pocket-sized Newlyn  home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the UK.

Small winding lanes, many impassable for cars, conceal the cutest cottages often still lived in by the fishermen and their families. Up the hill, larger houses enjoy panoramic views of the ever changing coastal comings and goings.


Once Newlyn was only food- famous for its Cornish Pasties, which are still delicious and home made at Aunty May’s, the place to score a proper steak pasty.

These are best eaten straight out of the bag, while sitting on the harbour wall swinging your legs, but the food scene has all changed recently with new and exciting restaurants popping up all the time.


‘It’s different down here,’ says Rich Adams who styles himself owner/sous chef, ‘but these days mostly fish sourcer!’ of Argoe, a restaurant that’s a stylish hut located on the harbourside, cosily nestled among the fishing boats.

‘Not so long ago all the amazing fish and seafood caught here went straight out in lorries to London and beyond, which was such a shame.’ Rich points out. ‘Now there are new restaurants here in the port and all around all doing great things with our local produce. After all, the best place to eat fish is always by the sea!’

Argoe is definitely one of those places. As the afternoon February sun beams down on Rich and his team as they make more simple restaurant tables and chairs (he once trained to be a cabinet maker), go behind the pass to see the most important part of this kitchen, the charcoal grill.

Here they cook very simply, ‘fish, salt, olive oil, top quality charcoal,’ says Rich. It’s cooking in the style of the Basque country, such as you’ll find at places like Elkano near San Sebastian whose grilled turbot ‘rodaballo’  is legendary. At Argoe they use instead Megrim Sole, an ugly local fish underappreciated by most as it’s so cheap. It is, however, very tasty.

That night in Argoe I find the sole is soled out, so instead I have superb locally caught hake three ways, griddled on the coals and served with Kokotxas, the hake’s throat, a gelatinous delicacy in Spain that’s often discarded here. 

Rich’s father runs a big fish wholesaler over the road from Argoe, and Rich tells me he goes over to his father’s place to take the unwanted Kokotxas for the restaurant, often trimming them out himself.

Kokotxas also feature as starters at Argoe, served with chilli and garlic, but we had Braised Cuttlefish and Fried Potatoes, the cuttlefish sweet and meltingly tender in a rich inky sauce.

Wines are natural, chosen by another new Newlyn place, Lovetts,  a tiny wine and coffee bar on Newlyn front ‘The Coombe’, serving a range of superb wines, and, as we found out, some rather good charcuterie as well. It’s a great place to make friends, as you’re so close together it’s impossible not to fall into conversation with other couples.

On ‘The Boat’

We had a couple’s retreat par excellence in Newlyn, The Blue Place, rented via Aspects Holidays, a marvellous converted old workshop a little way up the hill and a few minutes walk from the harbour.


Wooden, and so blue on the outside we could see it from the harbour, this quirky cosy place is cleverly ‘upside down’ so that the lounge and kitchen get the great views, as does the outside deck.

We took to calling it our ‘little boat’, as it felt so much like one, a cosy place to end the day’s exploring with snug underfloor heating and tight insulation. Fast wi-fi, and a TV that was internet enabled, took care of entertainment but really watching the harbour comings and goings was entertainment enough.

Downstairs was a comfortable bedroom with high quality linens, as well as a very smart bathroom with large walk in shower and lots of fluffy towels. Outside a pretty courtyard was just big enough to accomodate an average sized car, a very useful thing as parking in Newlyn is scarce. All in all, it was perfect.

The Blue Place also came with a wonderful welcome hamper of remarkable Cornish produce, including sea salt that we put to good use one night on brilliant takeaway haddock and chips bought from the legendary Lewis’s on the Coombe.

We’d heard from friends in Cornwall of another special place in Newlyn, the Mackerel Sky Cafe. “The queues are enormous, whenever we drive past’ said our friends.’ We don’t know what they’re selling, crack cocaine perhaps?, they joked.

‘The queues do get a  bit long,’ laughs chef Paul when I mention it to him when we meet before the day’s opening,’ we don’t do reservations and, as you can see, it’s a small place’.

It certainly is, although there are outside seats which, as I’d seen the night before, people seem happy to use even on a chilly February evening, the food is that good.

Mackerel Sky was opened in May 2015 by Nina and Jamie MacLean who’d previously wowed locals and tourists alike in Penzance. Like Argoe it keeps it simple, letting the fish do the talking.

‘We don’t have any freezers, only fridges,’ says Paul ‘the boats text us with what they’re coming in with and every day we prep fresh fish for our service 12 am until 9pm. We can also call up fresh fish anytime of day if we’re running low, after all the sheds are just across the road.’

‘If people are waiting too long,  and the queue is down the road, we send them to Lovetts to have a drink or recommend other restaurants in Newlyn, we all help each other out, we’re not rivals.’


‘Our dishes are small plates and the whole experience is not geared to lingering; get in and order a load of dishes, enjoy and move on. We also do takeaway, if you’re staying in Newlyn.’

That night we timed it right to get a seat and soon found ourselves oohing and aahing over plates  of Salt & pepper squid with aioli; tender perfectly fried squid seasoned just right, then some Grilled mackerel, pickled cucumber, horseradish – something of a signature dish – was redolent of the sea.

Finally grilled local white fish, samphire and capers. The fish also turned out to be hake that night, but we weren’t complaining. Hake is such a great fish that for some reason the British fail to appreciate fully. We washed it all down with St Ives Meor, a crisp IPA perfect for fish.

Good news is that Mackerel Sky will be expanding in time for the summer, taking over a small space next to Newlyn Cheese and Charcuterie, a wonderfully compact and aromatic artisan cheese shop with cheeses from all over the west county and France.

We ran out of time and couldn’t eat at The Tolcarne, which at ten years old is one of the more venerable ‘new’ restaurants in Newlyn, and one the most-respected, but I did get to speak to co-chef and owner Ben.

“We had been looking for a pub for some time,” he tells me. “It was a bit of a gamble at the time as Newlyn wasn’t on a ‘food map’ so to speak, but it had this raw appeal and I just thought – that’s where I want to be, I can make it work.”

“Simple dishes, which highlight excellent ingredients – that’s how Matt and I both like to cook. We spend more time removing components from dishes than adding them!”

At The Tolcarne you might find Spiced monkfish, hummus, fine beans, pomegranate molasses, dukkha on the lunch menu, and Hake, pancetta and fagioli bean stew, broad beans, salsa verde, pangrattato on at evening time. Hearty food that flits across borders, but is solidly built on Newlyn produce.

The boats keep coming in. The fish gets served. Newlyn is a food paradise, at the Land’s End.

Of course Newlyn is just the start, check out its antiques scene, the prestigious Newlyn Art Gallery, the remarkable fresh fish and shellfish at Trelawney Fish and Stevensons Fish, and  try the baked potato and crab at the timeless Ship Inn in beautiful, bijou, Mousehole just ten minutes away.

Top tip, take the bus because Mousehole has limited parking and is unsuitable for larger cars. You will lose at least one door mirror. Ask me how I know.

And further afield, and nothing is very far in this part of Cornwall, is Lands End itself, the rugged beauty of Zennor, the sands of Sennen and the remarkable grandeur of St Michael’s Mount clearly visible from Newlyn.


Oh and we have to mention the cafe at The Lizard, the southernmost point of the UK – lovely home made fruit cake, a dollop of clotted cream and a view of the rocks and waves to die for, if you don’t watch your step.

We stayed in one of Aspects Holidays Cottages, a Cornish company which began as a family business in 1989 and still feels like one. Their selection of quirky yet luxurious cottages is one of the best in Cornwall.

Adesse London Restaurant Review

Vegan food has come a long way from hippy and the hipster, now it’s set up shop in Selfridges and is every bit as stylish as you’d expect.

‘Now that’s a nice coat,’ says P fingering the colourful fabric. She turns over the price ticket to reveal £3575.00, ‘but not that nice,’ she concludes, rapidly letting go.

Adesse is what used to be Selfridges Corner Restaurant on the Second Floor. It’s just behind the Womens Designer Galleries section where, on inspection, all the clothes have gasp-inducing price tickets.

What do people holding that kind of spare change want to eat? Well usually something expensive but light, fashionable but not filling, and preferably a bit ‘woke’.

Adesse is thus a good choice for Selfridges, a new restaurant by award-winning chef ​​Matthew Kenney. Kenney has plant-based restaurants around the globe, as well as Hollywood A -listers as clients. They all love a bit of elegant vegan.


It’s also part of Project Earth, which is Selfridges’ sustainability commitment to offer more meat-free and plant-based options in its restaurants and Foodhall.

It’s a clean lined, minimal styled restaurant that’s very much in keeping with its surroundings. Tables are linen-free and utilitarian chic in both style and colour. The menu is minimalist too, the dishes’ ingredients are listed with no ‘lovingly caressed by the grill’ flim flam description just the facts.

We share ‘baked raclette, toasted sourdough, house pickle, shichimi oil.’ It’s not real cheese of course, I assume  that it’s nut based as most Vegan cheeses and sauces are, but it does a very good impression.

It is tangy and umami and we love the pickles of cauliflower, carrot, beet, cherry tomatoes and chili. The crunch is perfect and the shichimi oil (pepper, orange peel, black sesame and white sesame seed, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed) is a palate powerhouse. Really loved those pickles.

I spy jackfruit on the starter menu, but despite all the hype I’m still not buying into jackfruit; there’s something about it that repels me.

Nothing wrong with the idea of ‘frittata, green goddess, cashew yoghurt, shaved vegetables and herbs’. It’s an absolute joy to look at as well as to eat. The frittata is not stodgy and the cascade of veg, including spiralized carrots and wafer-thin two tone beets, need only a bit of sharpness, some vinegar or lemon juice, to improve them imho. The green goddess sauce is a riot of flavour against the creamy yoghurt.

P has a potato and celeriac rosti, creme fraiche, fennel and apple salad. The rosti is crisp on the edges, soft and sweet in the centre, in other words it’s perfect. The apple and fennel combo is clever, the crisp sugar of the apple against the absinthe of the fennel is a lively combination.

On to mains and more plates of beauty with a staggering assemblage that’s rather sold short by the prosaic description of ‘raw courgette + tomato lasagne, pistachio pesto, macadamia ricotta.

It’s at room temperature, which does disappoint P a bit, she likes her mains hot, but of course raw ingredients maintain their goodness better than cooked. It’s all good though, once disassembled to make it a bit easier to eat. The pesto is particularly fine against the ‘ricotta’.

As an aside, the menu is carefully annotated as to diet issues should you be worried – C -Celery, G-Gluten, N- Nut, M-Mustard, S- Sulphites, SO- Soy and SE- Sesame. There are a lot of nuts involved in most dishes though, so anyone with a severe nut allergy needs to be careful

There’s a good and extensive wine list of organic and biodynamic varieties, by the way, although the mark up is almost as high as the clothes outside, as well as cocktails, kombucha and teas.

My spicy udon, togarashi, seared tempeh, shiitake mushroom,  roasted cashew, and hoisin, is plenty hot, both physically and spicily.  I love the nuts and the dense, rich, mushrooms and I even like the tempeh, not usually being a fan of its rather odd pseudo meat-like texture. I feel meat should not be imitated, just replaced.

Fantastic broth and the plump and slippery udon (udon are always plump and slippery in restaurant reviews) go down a treat. A really gorgeous dish down to the last fiery spoonful.

Vegan food is less filling I find, so we are still able to manage a hibiscus cheesecake, berries, pistachio, as well as a brilliant carrot cake with sesame ice cream and beet syrup.


The steel grey of that ice cream is a visual treat and it’s certainly the best carrot cake I’ve had, quickly dispelling memories of a hundred horrors eaten in North London cafes.

Few foodie people these days think vegan food is boring food, but not many realise just how far it’s come as haute cuisine.  A visit to Adesse will soon fix that, this is cooking for the future, one where eating meat will no longer be default and we’ll all be better for it.



Barshu Soho, London. Review

Still hot, numbing and exploding with flavour. Barshu has not thrown the baby out with the bathwater with this new makeover.

One pm in Soho, Friday, on the corner of Frith Street. ‘Where is everybody?’ says H peeking out through the slats at Barshu and out into the road.

Where indeed?  Back in the day, pre-Covid, on a Friday lunchtime there would have been people everywhere in Soho – standing outside the pubs, packed into the restaurants or just moving purposefully about.

‘It’s not the same,’ she sighs, tweezering up a crispy piece of salt & pepper squid and popping it ruminatively into her mouth. ‘Nothing is the same’.

It’s true, even Barshu, where I’ve been eating on and off for over ten years, has had a makeover. It still feels the same though and the staff behind those fatuous paper masks still have the same cheerfulness of old. It’s just brighter and better now

And the food is still as good as ever, but now with extra dishes, and they’re still serving the kind of authentic Sichuan meat dishes that scare most non-Chinese half to death, including me.


Dishes such as  ‘Assorted meats in fiery sauce (duck blood, honeycomb beef tripe, beef tripe, pig’s intestine, luncheon pork, etc)” for example. I wish I had the bottle to try it.

The menu is new,big and glossy, clearly fresh from the printers, and full of high-quality photographs. It goes on for pages and pages and you can easily find yourself going back and forth forever. Just what to have?

Well a mix of old and new suited us for starters, that classic salt and pepper squid for example. Colourful, crispy and fresh,  all the dish lacked, for me, was more salt. Perhaps I was wrong about that, because I did end up drinking almost a gallon of Barshu’s excellent jasmine tea over the course of lunch.

Classic too was the sweetcorn soup, perhaps the first Chinese dish I ever ate when Chinese restaurants were still a novelty in the South London suburb where I grew up.

Back then I loved the strange glutinous texture of the soup and the egginess. I still do and Barshu, with the benefit of no doubt plenty of chicken bones for the stock, does an excellent version. Comforting and familiar, deeply flavoured

Unfamiliar can be good too though, and Sichuan pea jelly with chopped salted chillies was just that. Translucent green ‘logs slippery with fiery sauce. Handling them was like trying to pick up dropped shower soap with chopsticks, I finally resorted to fingers.

We liked the cool refreshing tones of the pea jelly against the chili, this would make a good vegan main with rice, depending on what’s used to solidify the jelly of course.

Sea bass has long been a Barshu staple, I had to have it but this time instead of the usual oven-roasted we had it in ‘soup’, Barshu calls it ‘boiled’ which rather undersells it.

We had Boiled Sea Bass fillet with chilis and Sichuan peppercorn, which was superb.

In the broth, semi submerged, was lots and lots of pure white seabass fillet lurking under environmental-disaster-sized slicks of fragrant oil. Slippery mushrooms and sweetly sour tomatoes evaded the spoon like playful dolphins, and everywhere bobbed the Sichuan peppercorn that makes this food so different from the largely Cantonese cooking of nearby Chinatown.

We ladled it over plain steamed Jasmine rice, because that broth was born to be absorbed and raved over our fish even as the peppercorn did its business on our lips. Why do we love the numbness and the citric shock of Sichuan? What alchemy makes it so addictive?


We didn’t need the Ma Po tofu, here given its less attractive name of ‘Pock-marked old woman’s beancurd’, but it was loaded with peppercorns and chili and was hard to resist, so we didn’t.

Barshu is not cheap, although you can always find plenty of well-priced dishes that deliver plenty of taste. Splashing out one of the sea bass dishes, which are easily shared is well worth it though. Go as a crowd and you can really dive into the menu.

Hopefully Soho will return to life and when it does Barshu will once again be one of its premier places to eat.

barshurestaurant.co.uk

28 Frith St, London W1D 5LF

The Dark Secret Of Great Bread. Grano Arso

Not perhaps the best product name, for English speakers at least, Grano Arso is a magical baking ingredient.

Myth has it that back in 18th Century Italy, poor villagers would scrabble to gather the scorched grains left after farmers burned their harvested wheat fields to make way for new crops.

They’d use this free flour to make bread and pastas with a distinct flavour.


Well, as is often the way with food, what was once only for peasants has become sought after by the well-heeled.

Knowing that I am a keen bread baker, online Italian foods specialist shop Gourmica sent me a bag of Grano Arso(400g, £5.15) to try out. They make it by toasting 100% Durum wheat flour.

Opening the bag you get an immediate hit of the aroma of ash, almost sepulchral, and the colour is a darkish grey. It’s not as attractive as ordinary flour. This is probably what Nosferatu bakes with.

Usually I’d have made a sourdough loaf, but my ‘mother’ (who is now six years old) was having a bit of a sulk in the cold weather and not responding well to feeding, so I reluctantly fell back on Instant Yeast


I normally use 500g of strong white bread flour, so I decided to make this mix 400g white and 100g Grano Arso. Nothing added but fast action yeast, water, salt and a smidge of sugar.

The KitchenAid made easy work of the kneading (I don’t need to knead sourdoughs) and I soon had a dark ball of smooth dough which after two rises went into the oven for 35 minutes.

The resulting Humbrol Battleship Grey loaf was a bit flat, I’d used a bit too much water, but still good to go. I had to then impatiently wait for it to cool properly. If you cut into a loaf that’s still hot, you release steam and spoil it.

Finally slicing it a few hours later revealed a typical fast yeast close crumb, but grey. The aroma was of fresh bread in a dusty room. Not unpleasant.

The taste was at first a bit of a shock, a definite hint of ash, intriguing and moreish. Adding butter made it totally magical.

After a few slices I was hooked, it responds particularly well to toasting and is marvellous made into toast soldiers to dip into boiled egg.

I’ll be making sourdough next time for sure, and I am really looking forward to adding it 00 flour to make fresh pasta. Pasta always looks so bland. The pack also has a recipe for a kind of ciabatta, which looks interesting

You can also of course vary the flour ratio. I wouldn’t use any more than 1:4 myself but I might try a little bit less Grano Arso to see what happens. A pack won’t last long otherwise


It’s just one of the many products from Gourmica a new online destination for gourmet Italian food which focuses on extraordinary Mediterranean foods.

There are tomatoes (including the champagne of tomatoes, San Marzano); pasta, rice & grains; oils & vinegars; beans & pulses; soups & sauces; antipasti and even plant-based choc-hazelnut spreads. 

Gourmica is curated by Londoners Ernesto Coppola and Maria Suleymanova, of Coppola Foods , a fourth-generation family food business.

The team at Gourmica actively seek out family businesses whose specialist expertise has been passed down through the generations, just like the Coppola family.

Check out the whole range at www.gourmica.co.uk

And definitely try the Gran Arso, it’s not much of a name for sure, but it’s certainly something special to add to your food armoury.




Fill your boots. The Booze Cruise is back.

And it’s not a cruise anymore, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle makes the going fast and easy and VAT refunds make it even more of a bargain.

Anyone my age might remember their dads bundling them, sleepy and complaining, into the Ford Cortina well before dawn to drive down to Dover and catch a ferry to France.

Cue hours of mal de mer and boredom, followed once landed, by a manic zoom around the Booze Barns before wheeling groaning shopping carts full of drink to the car to catch the return ferry just before it sailed.

Then finally home at midnight, with dad fit to be tied swearing ‘never again’ and the rest of us fast asleep.

Happy days? No, not really, but things have changed.

Under Not Over

Hearing that super-fast Eurotunnel LeShuttle have got together with French supermarket giant Carrefour to offer passengers a €10 gift card for every €100.01 spent in store until 30th November 2021, I was once more interested in making the trip.

And even more interestingly, post-Brexit UK residents can now get a VAT refund (up to 20%) on items bought in France including cosmetics, technology, jewellery, and of course food and drink items.

And Carrefour Calais is part of Cité Europe, a massive modern mall a short drive from the Eurotunnel terminal. Lots of shopping opportunities there,

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How Do You Like Them Apples? The English Apple And Pear Harvest Has Begun.


I join Chef Raymond Blanc to visit an apple and pear farm and see one of the UK’s food treasures begin its glorious, and green, journey to your fruit bowl.

Apples, apples everywhere –  Gala, Braeburn, Jazz, Cox and English Bramley. The colours sing off the trees in all directions on Boxford Farms  giant apple and pear orchards in Suffolk . Reds, greens, bicoloured and yellows and all shades in between.

The colours are especially vibrant this year as Ali Capper, Executive Chair of British Apples &; Pears Limited who is with us in the field explains: “Most British dessert apples have a beautiful colour to their skin that is created, in part, by our fantastic maritime climate which lets the apples mature slowly, and this year is no exception.” It’s why apples from abroad rarely please the eye as much.

And let’s talk about ‘green’.  Robert Rendall from Boxford Farms, a third-generation family business, is enthusiastic about his growing methods. “As a business we already produce more green energy and recover more water than we use, and it is our goal to be a carbon sink by 2027.”

Like 93% of growers he uses biodiversity measures, such as varied grasses and wildflowers to encourage insects, as well as creating beetle banks and bee hotels to encourage natural pollinators.

Nothing goes to waste here, the apples that naturally fall before they can be harvested are not allowed into the food chain by law,  but they make excellent fodder for the farm’s Anaerobic Digester. This turns the apples into Biogas, enough gas to produce heat and electricity for the farm’s needs and often enough surplus to sell.

Chef Raymond Blanc nods approvingly at Robert’s words and crunches into another apple. We’ve only been out here fifteen minutes and he must have already eaten three at least, he certainly takes his role as ambassador seriously.

A few minutes later he’s got another apple in his hand, as he good naturedly follows the tabloid photographer’s directions to stick his head through a wall of apple trees and bite down for the camera.

“Britain produces some of the finest apple and pear varieties in the world,’ he says, ‘and it is hugely important to me that we support our home grown produce. With so many wonderful varieties available this season in an array of beautiful colours, textures and flavours, there really is a British apple to delight everyone.”

And he says we should all recognise the work that goes into getting apples to us as we’re shown how the apples are harvested, always by hand as no machine can beat the skill of a human picker.

Ripe for picking

Firstly it’s about knowing when the apple is right. That comes with experience, but also today by science. One device that’s used tests the firmness of the apple on the tree – rock hard is under ripe, the apple should give to the teeth.

Then there is the starch iodine test. As apples ripen their starch is replaced by sweetness. The test apple is stained with a 4% potassium iodide/1% iodine solution. As the apples become ripe, they go from a dark iodine staining to a lighter staining.

And finally there is the refractometer; a small amount of juice from the fruit is squeezed onto the prism of the refractometer which is then held up to the light and the percentage of soluble solids is read by looking through the lens. Chef Raymond has a go and soon resembles Admiral Nelson looking for ships.

It’s in the wrist action

Every aspect of the harvest is an exercise in care. Each apple is picked by a twisting wrist movement, ‘you never pull,’ I am advised by a pro who is watching me carefully as I try. ‘Twisting means the little spur branch stays on the tree to produce fruit next year, and there’s less risk of shaking other apples to the ground. And use your palm to grasp,’ he admonishes me,  ‘not your fingers which might bruise the apple. If the apple doesn’t want to come away easily, it’s not ripe so leave it.”

Each apple is carefully placed in a cloth lined box on the tractor hopper- never dropped in. When the box is full the apples are gently transferred to the main hopper.

‘We take all this care,’ one of the pickers says ruefully ‘and then I go into some supermarkets and see the shelf fillers just tumble the apples in!’

That is a shame, we all should respect English apples, an original and unique English crop that’s been grown here commercially since Henry VIII set up the first large-scale orchards in Kent.

An apple a day

So do try as many varieties as you can, as they are all in their prime and in the shops now.

Try them with cheese, for example, apples partner excellently alongside cheeses with each variety’s unique textures and tartness add to the taste experience. Sweet is not always the most exciting kind of apple, although it remains the most popular.

British Apples are a sustainable green choice, endorsed by a top chef and easily enjoyed by everyone. Look out for them in the shops from this week onward.

Try these delicious apple recipes.

The Little Lobster Bar Review

Fresh from the mother restaurant down the road, Bob’s Lobster has docked it’s smaller ship in Borough Market to dispense all manner of lobster loveliness to hungry passing punters.

“That’s a quidsworth you’ve dropped there,’ L says casually, as I battle to contain my Lobster & Crayfish Roll from disintegrating entirely onto the table.

She’s probably right, this seafood monster costs £19, so every bit is sacred and not a morsel can be wasted. I scoop up the chunk of dropped lobster, with the edge of my finger and then eat it. I’m sure the table’s clean enough and I hate waste.

It is one heck of a roll, containing lobster claw, tail and knuckle, as well as crayfish, in a toasted brioche bun all doused in rapeseed mayo and sprinkled with house celery salt. You need three hands to eat it but boy is it good, the lightly toasted bun’s slight dryness balancing out the rich filling. The meat is generous and sweet.



It’s gloriously rich and yet unpretentious, rather like the surroundings. We’re sitting in the large hall part of Borough Market, a section that is being slowly turned into a food court and the first resident is BOB’s Lobster’s Little Lobster Bar

They’ve extended their crustacean operation from their main restaurant by bringing around Ruby, their original 1957 Vintage VW split screen converted Campervan to serve as a small kitchen,as well as eye candy.

The space around is for now a bit bleak, the Campervan is the only splash of colour, but while they wait for others to join them Bob’s Snappers do have plenty of room for tables. Which is good as this is not the kind of food to ideally eat on your feet, unless you want your shoes splashed.


We’re having a bit of a seafood fest in the breezy space with these native lobster from the south coast and the Shetlands. 

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Three lobster arancini on a semi- spicy tomato base are gloriously stringy with mozzarella cheese. Arancini were once a peasant’s way of using up leftover risotto, but with the addition of lobster they become gentrified and then some more. Three between two of us results in a clash of wooden forks.

And then there are the Crab Tacos; warmed corn tortillas filled with hispi slaw, guacamole, crab, cashew butter, fresh herbs, lemon and Valentina hot sauce.


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I think maybe these are my favourite. There’s an awful lot going on inside, as is kind of obligatory these days of more meaning more, but the flavours manage to remain distinct. That said, a bit more of that hot sauce wouldn’t have gone amiss.

We’re washing it all down with Prosecco which, along with Champagne Laurent-Perrier, frozen margaritas and van-made, Southern style lemonade, is part of the drinks menu. Perhaps they should have called this pop-up Bubbles and Bobs?

We are understandably quite full by now, becoming part lobster ourselves, but it would be rude to leave without sharing a Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese.

This is three cheeses, macaroni, lobster bisque bechamel, lobster tail and knuckle meat and topped with crispy shallots and oregano.



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It’s as rich as Bill Gates and easily more than enough for one person, in fact even two of us gourmands had to reluctantly leave some in the pot. A frantic mix of flavours, it’s the sort of comfort dish that rappers might go for – recognisable as home cooking, but only if home is a penthouse.

We leave with our carapaces strained to bursting, perhaps on reflection I should have let that bit of lobster roll escape after all.


The Little Lobster Bar is open Tuesday to Saturday

11am to 5pm and until 6pm on​​ Fridays. In the evenings the 60-cover space can be hired out for events.


BOBs Lobster Market Hall, Bedale Street, Borough Market London, SE1 9AL

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Six By Nico.Canary Wharf



It’s all in the name –  ever changing, very affordable, six course tasting menus from the mind of Chef Nico Simeone. 

It’s been an astonishingly fast journey for Nico Simeone. From his first restaurant in Glasgow in 2015, he’s now knocking it for six all over the UK.

The concept is simple; an affordable, innovative, tasting menu of six courses that changes every six weeks.

Tasting menus? I hear you cry. Surely no one wants those anymore? In the wrong hands they had become a byword for a culinary theatre of cruelty, one where demonic chefs crazed with self importance battered you with course after course until you became angry and desperate to escape.

In theory though, a menu of innovative small plates cleverly thought through is a good idea if kept sensible in length (I once had a twenty four course menu that was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons), they are easily eaten and enjoyed.

So Six it is and for the opening six weeks In his new Canary Wharf restaurant Simeone has brought back his original hit The Chippie first served in Glasgow in 2017. It’s a meal themed around fish and chips, pies, and a deep fried Mars bar.

First though we add to our bill by trying an aperitif called Seaside 75. To a glass of Earl Grey, Prosecco and lemon juice we stir in samphire and sea salt. This causes the glass to froth like those chemistry lessons where you added baking powder to vinegar. A nice bit of fun and a refreshing drink.


Also off-piste is what’s called ‘a snack’. Superb sourdough bread with rich shellfish butter that’s as iron grey as a battleship, plus cannelloni made from filo pastry and stuffed with salty taramasalata and topped with lemon gel and a smattering of caviar. Don’t try eating the pebbles, they’re real.

Curry sauce is not a chippie thing in the soft south, but north of Midland Keynes they can’t get enough. First course proper is Chips & Cheese –  potato terrine cut into a chip and topped with a curry oil mayo that has the Proustian aroma of 1970s curries (if you’re old enough to remember those, that is).

A bowl of foamed Parmesan is where you dip your chip, a powerful and rich sauce that we both ended up scraping out the bowl with the desperation born from knowing that it was coming to an end.


Of course you need battered fish in a chippie, and it came as a ‘scampi’, but made with a chunk of monkfish cheek. Once upon a time monkfish was regarded as a cheap version of scampi, my mother used to warn of restaurants that tried passing it off. Hard to believe now with monkfish being more expensive.

A rich dill and butter sauce set off the cheek, along with a tangy gribiche sauce (posh tartare) and peas, which I thought were a bit starchy and undercooked.

A good chippie always has a few pies in its warming section, usually wrapped in plastic and containing meat whose origin it’s best not to speculate on. Nico’s take on this is a mini jewel of steak pie made from unimpeachable Speyside beef shin accompanied by mushroom duxelle and an onion ketchup that hints at HP but soars above it.

This is just the right size; any larger a portion and I’d have been done for.  As it is, I am soon refreshed and ready for the ‘Big One’.

The Fish Supper is a lovely chunk of Shetland cod cosied up with sharp and briny pickled mussels, a remarkable confit fennel and crisp, salty samphire. A  beer emulsion brings it all together.

The final savoury almost tips me over. It’s a heavy one that picks up on the theme of the dubious sausages and frankfurters usually found in a chippie, but of course is all high quality here. It’s a trio of porky bits with apple, black pudding, salt baked celeriac and a sharp choucroute to cut the fats.

It’s very good but I am glad it’s the last of the mains, I am flagging now, so dessert ahoy. And what else could it be but ‘deep fried Mars Bar’.

Did this dish ever exist, or was the story of how a chip shop in Scotland made them in the  mid-1990s just an English joke about the Scottish diet? Who knows, but it’s a great story and here is its 2021 interpretation.

It’s not of course a real Mars Bar chez Nico, but a slab of chocolate pavé topped off with a deep fried dough ball and dished on a bed of chocolate soil (hello Heston) alongside a quenelle of Irn-Bru sorbet. Irn-Bru for those not familiar with it, tastes rather like Tizer although Scottish people get rather upset when you say that.

It’s a great finale to a great meal which comes in, without the extras we had, at a remarkable £37. When you think about what cod and chips cost in a chippie these days, that’s a real steal.

We also had the matched wines for an extra £33. Great choices, lucidly but not boringly explained each time by the charming staff.

The look of the restaurant, the cool staff and the superlative cooking make this one of London’s best deals for an affordable real treat. Okay it’s in Canary Wharf, and not everyone works there, but it’s a simple and short ride from central London.

Fish lunch or fish supper, it’s your choice, but hurry as the menu changes on September 17th.

Six by Nico Canary Wharf

6 Chancellor Passage, 

London, 

E14 5EA

www.sixbynico.co.uk | IG: @sixbynicocanarywharf 


Getting The Bee(r)s In With Hiver Beer

Bees make honey, honey makes great beer. Nick Harman goes to meet the buzzing workers in South London and of course taste some of the honey beer.

‘I’ll just make sure the Queen is still in there before I put the frame back in the hive,’ says Barnaby Shaw, Lead director at Bee Urban, as we observe apprehensively from inside our bee suits.

It’s spitting with rain and the bees seem spitting angry too. They need to have their home put back together asap. ‘It’s a bit late in the day to disturb them’, says Barnaby peering closely at the frame, still looking for the Queen who will be marked with a coloured dot. ‘The bees are usually active between about 10am and 4pm and out foraging. Now they need to rest’.

The ones trying to get at my face could certainly give it a rest. Although I’m totally secure behind my spaceman mask, the bees are right up in my grill and while I know they can’t get past the mesh visor, I still feel a bit uneasy. And is that something crawling up my ankle? Continue reading

La cuina dels genis. The cooking of the geniuses.

Discovering the Catalan dishes and landscape that inspired Gaudi, Picasso, Miro and Casals.

I’m holding a large loaf that I’ve just hollowed out, it’s now filled with herring, roasted tomatoes and garlic and a very great deal of olive oil.

Biting into it I temporarily lose sight of the beautiful convent  at the foot of the mountain across the fields from the village of Horta de Sant Joan in Catalunya.

Bread completely fills my vision and olive oil runs down my sleeves. Now this is what I call a sandwich. Continue reading