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Monday, 8 June 2015

Sesame - Crosstown Doughnuts - Babur

Right - it's time to catch up on some outings. Most of my spare time has been going in to planning a ridiculous Summer road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle (250+ breweries found en route so far) so London write-ups are experiencing severe delays.  That said, I did post 24 times on Matt The Tumblr in May (photos mainly) so I must have been doing something.

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Where to start? Probably by avoiding an "Open Sesame" joke for Team Ottolenghi's new Mediterranean street food joint on Garrick Street.  

Whilst Yotam was busy opening up Ottolenghi Spitalfields, director Noam Bar launched Sesame in Covent Garden, keeping things simple with classy fast-food pittas and ready-to-go packaged salads. Expect to queue, but not for long as the delicious pittas fly out of the open kitchen.  I can vouch for the meaty options, all of which proved to be more filling than they first looked.  You can skip the pitta if you like and go for skewers, but you'd be a fool to forego their squishy bread.  If you have to pick just one, go for the spiced lamb kebab.

- paprika and cardamom chicken with chopped salad, sauerkraut, hummus and zhoug - £6.65
- lemon and za’atar chicken with chopped salad, hummus and zhoug - £6.65
- spiced lamb kebab with chopped salad, tahini, mint yoghurt and zhoug - £6.80
- sabick - roasted aubergine and egg with mango pickle - £5.95

Wash it all down with fresh mint lemonade whilst admiring the funky tiling, and take a halva and chocolate cookie for the road.  Then return in the morning to eat your way through their £3ish breakfast pitta paninis list.  Simple.  Oh, and it's open til 11pm Thursday-Saturday. Huzzah. 

P.S. There is limited seating on the ground floor, plus more space downstairs.




Mon-Wed 7am-9pm, Thu-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 11am-7pm

23 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9BN


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Whilst in Central London, we took ourselves over to Soho to check out Crosstown Doughnut's first permanent superterranean outpost (you can also find them in Piccadilly Circus Underground station). Their delightful doughnuts can be found all over London in the likes of Whole Foods and Kopapa, and at various markets, but it's always nice to have a dedicated doughnut den to point people towards.

There's something for everyone in the Crosstown selection (e.g. Matcha Tea Doughnuts, Australian-inspired Lamnuts, Rhubarb & Raspberry Toasted Meringue Doughnuts) but for me it has to be the Sea Salt Caramel and Banana Cream Doughnut.  

"A winning combination of homemade chocolate soil topping, chocolate sourdough base and fresh banana cream filling. A sweet but silky banana cream filling is encased in Crosstown’s light and fluffy chocolate sourdough. We then top it all off with a generous swirl of sea salt caramel and a divine chocolate soil."    

Eeeermaaaageeeerd, it's incredible.  One of these monsters will set you back £3.50 or so, but for an extra quid (ish) you can chuck in a rather excellent coffee from Volcano or their new creation, Assembly Coffee.  Also, you can now get bite-sized versions (pictured below) which are bloody marvellous.  Or you could order 120 doughnuts for £290 and become the office hero. Save one for me.





Mon-Thu 7:00-22:00, Fri 07:00-23:00, Sat 09:00-23:00, Sun 09:00-20:00

Crosstown Soho - www.crosstowndoughnuts.com

4 Broadwick St, London W1F 8HJ

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And now for something completely different.

Over in Honor Oak Park (here, let me Google that for you), the contemporary Indian restaurant Babur is celebrating its 30th birthday with a series of exciting menus.  The second of their String of Pearls menus is showcasing seafood dishes from the Indian Ocean Islands, featuring the cooking of Mauritius, Maldives and the Seychelles.  It's only on until 30th June though, so you'll have to be quick!

I was pointed in the right direction by Selina Periampillai, aka supperclub host and pop-up chef Taste Mauritius, who collaborated with Chef Jiwan Lal and his expert team to create the special dishes. Brockley local Jo The Sis came along for the ride.

Honor Oak Park

You've got four starters and four mains to work your way through, plus eight individually matched wines too if you want to make a night of it.  A cheeky tiger (or babur) sketch pops up next to spicy dishes.  We survived, though we did tell Jiwan to go easy on us.

Starters are always the most enjoyable bit aren't they? We powered through all four:

- Maldivian mas huni - Flaked smoked tuna and fresh coconut salad, with roshi flatbread and mango

- Mauritian garlic and coriander grilled shrimp - Served with a carrot, cucumber and mango salad

- Salad zourit - Creole Seychellois octopus salad with onion and citrus dressing

- Malagasy red snapper brochettes - Served with mofo-anana (tomato and watercress bread fritters) and sakay hot sauce

Mango was used more than once to good effect, but the standout plate was the Malagasy Red Snapper Brochettes.  The Sakay Hot Sauce was powerful and full of flavour, tempting us back for just one more tear-inducing taste, but it was the pillowy mofo-anana fritters that stole the show - one to try at home.  All of them come in at just under £8 so go for one each and share!

Maldivian mas huni - Flaked smoked tuna and fresh coconut salad, with roshi flatbread and mango

Mauritian garlic and coriander grilled shrimp - Served with a carrot, cucumber and mango salad

Salad zourit - Creole Seychellois octopus salad with onion and citrus dressing

Salad zourit - Creole Seychellois octopus salad with onion and citrus dressing

Malagasy red snapper brochettes - Served with mofo-anana (tomato and watercress bread fritters) and sakay hot sauce

Malagasy red snapper brochettes - Served with mofo-anana (tomato and watercress bread fritters) and sakay hot sauce

You could stop there as the portions are rather generous, but then you'd miss out on all of these:

- Dhon riha ‘fair curry’, steamed rice - Maldivian speciality tuna cooked with pandan and curry leaves, tamarind, coconut, fennel seeds, turmeric and chillies

- Seychelles Creole fish curry, chilli garlic rice - Pan-fried sea bream, with spiced aubergine and coconut curry

- Fish vindaye, chilli garlic baguette - Mauritian pan-fried king fish marinated in turmeric and mustard seed with green chilli and onion petals

- Monkfish rougaille - Cooked in a traditional light Mauritian spicy tomato sauce with coriander, thyme and chilli


We took on the first three, starting with the moreish, creamy Dhon Riha curry that's pretty impossible not to like.  You will have to be rolled out of Babur if you take down one of those on your own.  The Fish Vindaye didn't quite do it for us with forgettable King Fish and ALL the onions, though the bizarre pairing of chilli garlic baguette was most welcome!  Finally, the Seychelles Creole Fish Curry with pan-fried sea bream was an absolute winner.  The awesome garlicky rice will stay with you on the journey home.  

The mains are all around the £16 mark which is fair for the quality, but beware of prices racking up once you start pairing everything with wine.

Dhon riha ‘fair curry’ - Maldivian tuna with pandan & curry leaves, tamarind, coconut, fennel seeds, turmeric & chillies

Behind the scenes - Butter Ghee!

Fish vindaye, chilli garlic baguette - Mauritian pan-fried king fish in turmeric & mustard seed w/ green chilli & onion petals

Fish vindaye, chilli garlic baguette - Mauritian pan-fried king fish in turmeric & mustard seed w/ green chilli & onion petals

Seychelles Creole fish curry, chilli garlic rice - Pan-fried sea bream, with spiced aubergine and coconut curry

The service was friendly and informative throughout from all members of staff, though we were the only ones in the restaurant early on a Wednesday for lunch so special treatment is a given!  I imagine it gets rather busy in the evenings, but I'm sure Jiwan and co. are up to the task.

Get down to Babur before 30th June to sample Selina & Jiwan's String of Pearls Indian Ocean Islands menu - Honor Oak Park is only 11 minutes from London Bridge. You can do it!

Early lunch at Babur in Honor Oak Park

Mon-Sat, 12-2.30pm / Sunday Buffet 12-4pm / Mon-Sun 6-11:30pm


119 Brockley Rise, Forest Hill, London SE23 1JP

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