Thursday, July 20, 2006

eating in london (2)


Part 1

Day two of the trip began in the Camden Markets, which will be discussed in a general entry on Camden Town coming soon. One of the biggest changes I noticed was the explosion of fast food stalls. After passing a few, I began to wonder if they were all operated by the same vendor. The cuisines and menus varied, but the staff looked alike, pitches offering samples were closely related, foil mini-cake pan containers were the same and signage was similar.

Moroccan Food Stall, Camden Market Moroccan Food Close Up
I went with "moroccan food", since its offerings weren't dominated by delights from the deep fryer. This stand served up a variety of meat and couscous dishes. I tried the lamb, drizzling half with harissa sauce, half with mint. Proved a good choice - the lamb was lean and flavourful, the vegetables well cooked, the mint sauce enhancing the dish.

I ate in an open area of picnic tables, where all of the accents were North American.

Bistro 1
Dinner that night was near Covent Garden, where I wandered for half-an-hour trying to decide which chalkboard had the greatest chance of luring me in. By the time I came to a decision, most restaurants had ended their pre-theatre prix fixe deals for the evening.

One that hadn't was Bistro 1 on Southampton St. Part of a mini-chain, it offers up decently-priced three-course prix-fixe meals. In my case, this meant shrimp with avocado salad, moussaka and an apple tart. Comfort food with fancy names for under 10 pounds that hit the spot after a day of walking. Time Out review.

The New Culture Revolution Bowl O' Noodles
Day three started in Camden Town again, this time at an old haunt. The New Culture Revolution is around the corner from where I lived and was dependable for a cheap noodle fix. Little has changed in the past decade; the noodle bowls remain filling. Pictured above is a mixture of chicken breast, roast beef and BBQ pork and greens. Being used to rare beef or other sections of the cow in local pho joints, the roast beef wasn't far removed from Sunday leftovers growing up took some adjusting, but tasted fine.Time Out review.

Masala Zone Masala Zone Chicken Grand Thali
For dinner, I wound up in Soho, at Masala Zone on Marshall St. One section of the restaurant was set aside for the England-Trinidad World Cup match, for which you could pay a slight surcharge to eat in front of a big screen. The area was crammed, so I sat near the window. Went with another sub-10 pound meal, the Chicken Grand Thali. Since the trip, I have attempted to duplicate the best item on the tray, potatoes seasoned with coconut and mustard seed (in the picture, just above the rice and pappadum). The butter chicken was tender, while the sauce, while standard, was not overwhelmed by tomato paste like other cheap versions I've had. Time Out review. - JB

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