Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Can Retro Be A Good Thing?

Can retro be a good thing?
In some cases, yes of course it can. I mean just look back at some of the music we listen to whether it be from the seventies or eighties, or even video games such as the much loved Mega Drive.
But when it comes to food, bringing back some golden oldies can be a tough one to call. Should food back in the day stay in the past?
This is where Coin Laundry comes busting in and justify bringing retro old school food into the 21st century. Unfortunately they don't quite deliver.
Sure it's a fun quirky concept that has managed to get people talking and it certainly got me interested. Visiting this new restaurant in Exmouth Market was something that I was going to go to without any expectations and looking back, it certainly was a good thing and here's why.

The menu is pretty straightforward. There's bar snacks, starters, mains and desserts. The plates they offer are nostalgic and will no doubt take anyone back to their childhood, dishes such as chicken kievs, cheese toasty, chips and curry sauce. Ok so its not that exciting but I can kind of see what Coin Laundry is trying to do.


The food isn't terrible, far from it, but it's average at best. For example the cauliflower cheese steak was overpowering. Charring a nice piece of cauliflower was overshadowed by the amount of Stilton crumbled. The Steak tartare was OK, I've had better at other places and the Spaghetti Bolognese croquettes were under seasoned. Even the steak and onions were a disappointment with some bits chewy and some bits cooked on the grill for too long.
Of course it's hard to shout home about things like prawn cocktail and lamb faggots but simple things can be done well, it's just a shame it wasn't on this occasion.

Cauliflower Cheese Steak

Steak Tartare

Prawn Cocktail

Spag Bol Croquettes
Lamb Faggots And Mint Jelly

However not all of it is doom and gloom. Their speciality is the chicken kiev and admittedly that was very good. If you like your garlic, there's plenty of it bursting out of it and what was a nice touch was that they even give you their own personalised Coin Laundry chewing gum. You will definitely need it and lads chew that gum if you're with your lady.
The cockle popcorn is a good choice to make especially when you splash loads of vinegar onto it and as for the cod cheek bap, that was probably my favourite. Meaty and flaky, it worked so well with the beans. The  "Not spam fritters" is worth ordering especially if you're still into pulled pork.

Chicken Kievs

Not Spam Fritters

Cockle Popcorn

Cod Cheek And Bean Bap


Granted, Coin Laundry is a smart, fun looking joint. It's laid back environment, impressive looking bar area will give anyone a goodnight. The staff are a cool, chatty bunch and their music playlist can be awesome at times, it just the food lets them down.
FoodPunkers by all means check this place out if you're curious. It's not the worse place you'll go to but it certainly isn't the best. Retro can be a good thing but maybe certain things should have stayed in the past.
Oh and another final thing, don't go spending nearly a hundred pounds like I did, you might come out out feeling a little more disappointed.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Lets be honest, most of us have partied hard and got tanked up on booze on a Friday night in Shoreditch and you'd probably notice the amount of kebab shops in and around of every street corner.
But for the those who have left those kind of days behind and want Turkish food that's alot more stylish and sophisticated, then look no further than Oklava.
I can't think of many places in London that takes Turkish food and give it a modern twist, so it is a breath of fresh air to see Oklava deliver just that.

The restaurant is tucked away just behind Great Eastern Street on Luke Street and if you get easily lost like me, google map it. I turned up late to my booking but thankfully the team were gracious enough to let me keep my table.

It's an impressive looking place and has a lovely laid back feel to it. Polished furnishings and a decent size open kitchen dominates the area. Not only that a charcoal grill takes centre stage with a open wood oven just beside it drawing hungry diners in.

If you're one of these people that won't go near Turkish food because of the stigma of kebabs, then I definitely would say you need to visit Oklava because this restaurant will change your mind and even more so blow you away with their take on the cuisine.

There is so much more to Turkish food than just your humble kebab and what impresses me about Oklava is that they showcase fresh, vibrant food and really get the best out of the ingredients they have.

The food itself is perfect for sharing and the staff (who are very welcoming and friendly) are on hand to recommend what is on offer.

Of the snacks, the halloumi is a great way to start proceedings. Its a very plain cheese but the restaurant give it a makeover coating it with a drizzle of  lemon, sweet honey and fresh oregano.
The grilled sausage packs a bit of heat and spice but the courgette, feta and mint fritters are a real highlight. I highly recommend those bad boys.

Almost like a risotto, the pearl barley is creamy and delicious but the only hindrance was that I couldn't quite get where the sour cherries came from.
The baked lamb fat potatoes is a clear winner in my eyes. Soft and fell apart at the slightest touch of the fork, the potatoes are accompanied by a huge duck egg, cooked to perfection with the yolk oozing out and mopped up with the halloumi cheese beside it.

The flat breads are to die for as they're homemade on site and the use of the fire wood oven really makes that dish a little bit more special. The hot, melted, gooey cheese with the charred leeks got devoured in no time. And for the salad, crisp, fresh and coated with a healthy amount of dressing.
I love my spice and the lamb koftes don't hold back on it. Pick the wrap up and just tuck in to those beauties and the yoghurt is the perfect accompaniment to cool things down, although the fennel unfortunately didn't come through.



Oklava was only lacking in a few things but all in all I had a very pleasant experience and the food was more than worth the money. It's great to see that Turkish food has been given a lift and refined in a modern way. For anyone who wants more than just a kebab, Oklava is the one. From start to finish, you're in for a treat.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

FoodPunk's Top 3 Restaurants Of 2015

Happy new year FoodPunkers!.
After eating and drinking a shed load of food and alcohol and recovering from celebrating the new year, I have taken some time to reflect with what has been a very busy twelve months.
For me 2015 has been a pretty damn good year. I have been fortunate to eat at some top places and of course at other times had some not so good experiences.
If I had all the time and money in the world then there's no doubt I would eat out more and write about it. But never the less I feel I've had a good run.
So after a little think I have come to the decision of what my personal top three restaurants of 2015 are and I hope after reading this post, you will go and check them out for yourselves.
In third place and what an exciting restaurant this is. Located in Clapton, Jackdaw serves up some of the very best food London has to offer right now. Josh and the team outdid themselves when I popped in back in September and the food, drink and service was top dollar. I couldn't pick a fault with any of it and it was even harder to pick the best dish.
Josh and Joe from Jackdaw
For example, there was the juicy tender chicken leg, the flaky succulent plaice which just fell off the bone and sweet and the tender heritage beetroots combined with the soft, salty, melt in your mouth blue stilton.
Norfolk Chicken Leg, Carrot, Tenderstem & barley
Line Caught Plaice, Salsify, Almond & Seaweed
Heritage Beets, Black Fig & Stilton
The talented team are always wanting to excite their customers and their vision and creativity always seem to create bold, mouth watering menus. Not only is the food out of this world but if you're into smooth jazz, then Jackdaw is the place to be. Kick back, relax and take in the live music with a cocktail in hand.
At number two, I've picked a restaurant that has been the toast of East London and been in many of the top magazines best restaurants list.
Matt Young
Rök is spearheaded by a very talented chef, Matt Young and I was introduced to him by a very good friend of mine. After eating at one of his pop ups in late 2014, there was an indication that 2015 Matt was going to hit jackpot. So when he opened Rök in the middle of the year, it was a no brainer and I just had to go and eat there.
Rök is heavily influenced by the Scandinavian cuisine and Matt gives quality British food the Nordic treatment.
The food there was simply stunning. From the very first dish to the last, each one just took the experience to a whole new level. The cauliflower cheese was probably the best I've ever had, it was gooey, creamy and the beef crumb on top just made it that extra special.
The pickled vegetables and the charcuterie meats were outstanding, perfect for getting the taste buds going.
 My particular favourites were the juicy scallops which had added heat from the Nduja and the rich, moist, flavoursome duck accompanied by the tarte lingonberry jam.
Cauliflower Cheese, Beef Dust & Almonds
Pickled Wild Mushrooms
Cobble Lane Charcuterie
Duck With Lingonberry Jam
Scallop In The Shell With Nduja
Matt is always posting new, creative, tasty looking food on social media and it will be a restaurant I will be heading back to very soon.
The Ninth
Finally ladies and Gentlemen here we have my number one restaurant. It may not be a surprise to some but the Ninth is a blinding restaurant. Jun Tanaka is a revered chef and to see him open his very first restaurant was exciting to see. His food on the night was nothing short of perfection. Every dish had individuality and ticked every box. His food was a mixture of  fresh, (the razorclam cerviche or the sea bass carpacchio ) warm and hearty (salted beef cheeks, lamb en croute).

Razor Clam Cerviche

Sea Bass Carpaccio, Salsa Verde and Pickled Kohlrabi

Salted Beef Cheeks, Oxtail Consommé, and Charred Cabbage

Lamb En Croute, Jerusalem Puree
It was an incredible evening and meeting the man himself was an honour and I left that evening with a big smile on my face.
So there you have it fellow FoodPunkers, that was my top three restaurants of 2015. Go check out these awesome places for yourselves and if you want more of an insight on these restaurants, you will find them in the "FoodPunk visits" section.
So what's next for 2016?
I've already booked to go and scope out a few restaurants in January, so watch this space.
Not only will I obviously be continuing to write but I think it's about time I kick start my YouTube channel again. Watch out for some FoodPunk videos in the coming months.
I hope you all have a great year ahead and I hope my blog over the last twelve months have enticed you to go out and be more adventurous. London has so much more to offer and there are plenty of more hidden gems to unearth.