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Tuesday 8 April 2014

La Polenteria - Concrete - Boom Burger

Tuesday 18th March - March has been a bit of a restaurant fest on The List but I've got to eat somewhere and pasta & pesto won't cut it every night of the week (actually it probably would).  

Last week I made my way over to La Polenteria in Soho with one of my siblings, Sister Jo, hoping that she might produce some overdue birthday presents. She sadly arrived empty handed, but I soon forgot once we were greeted by our awesome waiter, Francesco, who kept us royally entertained throughout our meal.

La Polenteria specialises in, surprise surprise, polenta-based dishes. Fat free, gluten free, high in fibre, no cholesterol - makes a change from pulled pork, burgers and triple-cooked chips!  Polenta dishes are hard to come by in London, unlike in the north of Italy where polenta is said to "run inside the veins" of the people, so La Polenteria may just be on to something.

We started with a plate of tiddly Polentini, tasty polenta-based canapés including one bold combination of blue cheese and raspberry jam that got the thumbs up.

Polentini at La Polenteria

On Francesco's advice, we went for the Wild Boar and Tuscan Sausages with Borlotti Beans for mains.  Whilst they weren't the most photogenic dishes in the world, they were comforting, generous plates of delicious meat & polenta mash.  They will be soon be adding a Cuttlefish in Black Ink Sauce option, but fish wise there is already the traditional Baccala'alla Vincentina, salt cod with a bone that you can unsheath like a sword apparently!

The meal flew by with Francesco's tales of his D&G sunglasses model days and his proud presentation of the Evening Standard review which was dominated by a huge photo of him.  Before we knew it, we were onto dessert.  Whilst you can go for the full house with a lemon polenta cupcake, I decided to go for the attractive Ferrero Rocher cupcake.  It is impressively entirely vegan, though it is most definitely not healthy.  Most of the puddings would feel more at home in a café, but La Polenteria is such a laid back place that it gets away with it.

We shared a lovely bottle of Sauvignon Blanc on our visit, but I would return for the interesting beers, including the large wax-sealed Baladin Isaac & a smaller Birra Antoniana, neither of which I had seen before.

Thanks to Francesco & co for a very pleasant evening.  La Polenteria offers something a little bit different in Soho, and is perfect for a speedy, filling, affordable meal in London.

Afterwards, I wandered over to Southbank for a couple of drinks with Team List regular Tim, with no particular place in mind.  We soon settled on an old favourite, the relatively unknown and underrated Concrete which is tucked away amongst the raised walkways around the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

By day, Concrete is a café with pastries, salads and hot food. At night, Concrete becomes a bar with eclectic music playing in the background.  Get there from 5-7 for "laughing hour" 2-4-1 deals on selected drinks, or just settle in with a Curious Brew later on.  I spotted some Southbank Gin behind the bar - I would imagine it is a standard London Dry Gin.

Concrete displays regularly changing works of contemporary art, and a concrete-mixer outlined by fluorescent pink strip lighting - created by artist David Batchelor - is displayed outside the cafe.

Concrete mixer by David Batchelor

Tim chanelling the Sistine Chapel with some exposed cables

Wednesday 19th March - The next day, I was out for food again, this time in the wild West of London near Ladbroke Grove. I was happy to make the journey as I knew that Boom Burger was waiting for me at the far end of Portobello Road.

I wrote about Boom Burger when they popped up at the Earl of Portobello pub last year, and I have been dreaming about their bacon jam, plantain fries & chicken wings ever since. Now, Jamaica-born Josh de Lisser has found a permanent home for his burger joint that started life in his Notting Hill garden.

Caroline joined me in Boom Burger's funky little new house, which has seats in front of the kitchen, a couple of booths, and some outdoor tables which will come into their own in a month or two.  There's a little bar in one corner from where sweet Pina Colada, Rum Punch and So Sorrel cocktails appear. Red Stripe is probably the way to go considering the food though.  You order everything at the counter, fast-food style.

No, it's not a lifestyle blog, it's just an AWESOME PACMAN NECKLACE
We started with Stamp & Go, saltfish chilli and herb fritters which were enjoyable, but these were totally upstaged by Boom Burger's Jerk Wings marinaded in a house jerk sauce & served with jerk mayo.  I am going to put it out there and say that these are my currently my favourite chicken wings in London, though I will admit I need to a little more research in this department.

The wings are a tough act to follow, but the signature Boom Burger (with cheese & bacon jam) and Jerk Boom (jerk chicken, with fried plantain, rocket, mango and pawpaw sauce) coped well with the pressure, and deserve to be considered amongst London's best burgers. You can also order Veggie, Brunch & Fish Booms, as well as a couple of Boom Salads.  Whilst they all sound delicious, it would take a lot of willpower to not order exactly what I had again!

Last but not least - the plantain fries.  So simple but so good, served up with a load more jerk mayo. You may not want to share these.  

Make sure you go hungry to Boom Burger, as prices are low, portions are generous, and you will want to eat everything.  We had to go for a 45 minute walk after our feast before we felt we should sit down again.  Fingers crossed, Boom Burger will expand to Battersea soon so someone can just roll me home next time.  

Boom Burger thoroughly deserves to keep its spot on my Favourites page - go and eat there now, thank me later! It is closed on Mondays - for full opening times and more details, head to their cool, colourful website -

Square Meal

Square Meal

BOOM Burger on Urbanspoon

La Polenteria on Urbanspoon


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