Boom Shake The Room

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Still excited from the #NottingHillCarnival vibes the mandem wanted one more taste of their Caribbean heritage and @boomburger seemed just the place! Located in the heart of the carnival route it is calling out to be visited and what better time than now in the bask of Carnival week.

As soon as you step inside you can clearly see this is more of a take away place rather than a dine in restaurant. They literally only have 2 booths in there that can seat about 7-8 each. They don’t take reservations so you have to just turn up and hope you can get a seat or failing that just take it away. They do have outside seating for about 15-20 people but who wants to be sitting outside in this confused English weather.

Luckily for us, both inside booths were available for us to utilise so we were able to eat in. The music was so loud though, we couldn’t hear each other speak. Clearly another sign that this isn’t for dining.

Anyway on to the food…

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STARTERS: After the #hotwingchallenge evening we did with @whitemencantjerk some of the Man Dem have a lust for the heat of a well done chicken wing!

Both our mains and starters all arrived at the same time, and as much as we wanted to tuck straight into our burgers, we started slowly on the wings. We ordered two types, Jerk Wings, they called them sticky wings, and Boom wings.

We all tasted the Boom wings first… they were dry and crispy, perfectly fried chicken, piping hot, made from a quality grade of chicken. The first bite could only be described as dipping your full body in a bath that was set to just the temperature you like it and as you enter you make that “Ahhhhhhhh” sound. The wings were actually “boom”!!

The other type was the sticky wings, we were expecting these to blow off our heads, but no, these wings were the same as the Boom Wings but with a Jerk sauce covering them, the sauce was perfect, if you’re not one for very spicy food these are for you, but in saying that if you like a little kick and love the jerk flavour these are also for you, we’d actually visit Boom Burger just for the wings, that’s how good they are in our view.

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SWEET TOOTH: The ironic thing for me is that I passed @boomburger on Carnival Monday and thought to myself “aahh this is where it is… I must come n visit soon” so imagine how immediately enthused I was about finally visiting there as I’ve heard nothing but good things about the place. I arrived at this Reggae Shack looking place 30 mins late (bloody #TfL 😤) and had to stop n check I wasn’t in sunny #Jamaica as it reminded me of many a roadside eatery out there. #Dancehall playing in the background n a jovial greeting from the man dem already inside. Two two fist bump n a couple of nods later The Manager said, “Boy you better order quick, man dem have ordered already star!”

A quick peruse of the menu and I knew I wanted the Stamp & Go (aka saltfish fritters) for starters but unfortunately they had run out of the fritters #KMT #vex and the rest of the #mandem had already ordered both sets of wings to share so that was that!

For my mains I ordered the Jerk Boom (a burger highlighted as ‘popular’ on the menu) with plantain fries… wait, what… Wha ya mean plantain fries?! Do you mean actual fries made of plantain or do you mean plantain chips… man needs to know! Actually, who cares I’m ordering them same way… will see what they are when they arrive init!

The food arrived and to my surprise the chicken in the Jerk Boom was not a breast fillet/burger as expected it would be better described as pulled jerk chicken. #levels The meat was tender and succulent and seasoned VERY well. It was so full of flavour I had to pause and ask myself “Did i just die and go to #foodheaven or what?” then combined with the bed of fried plantain and rocket and topped off with the mango and paw paw sauce, it was like my taste buds were still chipping down the road in carnival holding the #sweetestwhine lol #amazing

The plantain fries were… #drumrollplease …actual fries! Think hand cut potato fries but made of plantain! I know it’s hard to comprehend but that’s exactly what they were. They were not too greasy, as you might expect when plantain is fried and had the crisp outside and soft inside you’d expect from a potato chip shop chip but of course slightly sweet, being that it was plantain. An innovative dish that I would easily have again.

In fact, writing this review I think I’m going back today!!

PEPPER MAN: Obviously I was there first as I’m always on time. The reggae music was blaring out at carnival decibel levels which kept me entertained until everyone else arrived. I came to boom burger a couple of months back and since then I’ve always wanted to come back. I managed to sneakily persuade the mandem to venture out of the manor to #NottingHill, well #PortobelloRoad to be exact and try it for themselves.

I know we covered the starters already but I have to mention the sticky wings were a little bit spicy but after man recently completed the #WMCJ hot wings challenge man can deal with that no problem. I think they were the boom wings with jerk/BBQ sauce. Weirdly enough I would still choose the boom wings over the sticky wings though. Not because of the spice but because you can taste the chicken flavour more in the boom wings. The sauce on the sticky wings takes away the succulent chicken flavour.

Bacon Boom Burger – absolutely delicious. I asked them to add plantain for the sweetness and…mate! It was amazing. I didn’t order chips (on a diet) and I was seriously considering buying another one. It was that good. The sweetness of the plantain, the salty flavour from the bacon and the creamy melted cheese over the medium cooked beef Pattie was truly delightful.

If boom burger was local to me I’m pretty sure I would forget the diet and be ordering every week!

CHEESE LOVER: Pepper Man looked at the menu and told me what I was ordering the ‘Cheesy Boom’. He was correct, although the ‘Mad Boom’ did catch my eye.

Presentation was nothing special, but let’s not judge a book by its cover! The Burger arrived in a healthy size, but not too big to pick up with my hands, which I prefer to cutting it in half.

This was probably the softest brioche bun ever! Soft that the first time I picked up the burger, the patty almost slipped out because my fingers just sunk into the bun without a firm grip. Very good start once I trained myself to hold the burger. Please can any other bun type be banned! #Brioche only.

So the ‘Cheesy Boom’ looked ok, the bun felt deluxe, but how did it taste? In one word #marvellous! On a par with some of my favourites over at @byronburger and @pattyandbun. Slightly messy like #Pattyandbun but manageable. Succulent with every bite, well seasoned bun, every bite was a delight.

The piece de resistance was the plantain strips, which gave the burger a tangy sweet after taste. The first time I had experienced plantain in this fashion was in the #legendary @dubplateskitchen Curry Goat Slider, which is still my first choice Caribbean influenced burger or slider.

The ‘Cheesy Boom’ comes close to the #Dubplateskitchen’s slider, I would return for more.

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THE MANAGER: For me carnival was still in the air, a lil back pain from whining a few females but hey, BOOM BURGER, let’s be honest nothing to look at from the outside but we had heard lots about this spot.

I was starving (as always) but was taken by two burgers on the menu, the Jerk Boom burger, and the Boom Cheese burger! I was in two minds to order both but I’m on a diet, and not the “see food” diet either. I was also interested in the wings, after the Hot Wing challenge we did with @whitemencantjerk I have a lust for the heat of a well done chicken wing! Talking of the starters the wings were that good to the point that in the portion I probably ate more than my fair share, (shhhhhh don’t tell them, bah I’m The Manager I don’t care!)

On to the Burger, I watch as they lightly toasted the burger bun and my immediate thought was “they’re not gonna be soft”, but how wrong I was, considering the food arrived at the same time and we started on the wings first, the burger bun was still soft, light and purposeful.

I have one rule when it comes to food that I rarely break, and that is no fruit in food, but the Jerk Boom consists of a bed of plantain plus a Mango and Paw Paw sauce! First bite…… remember what was said about a perfectly run bath that you slip into? It was that sensation for me, for a second or two with all the flavours in my mouth I found myself contemplating the universe, understanding the end of inception (he was awake) due to the fact that the taste combinations complimented each other perfectly thus unlocking a part of my brain that enabled me to see food (or that burger) in the same way Neo saw the matrix! Amazing!

The Jerk part of the burger was chicken, lightly jerked so not over bearing and it was almost chopped so I couldn’t say it was a whole cut of chicken which was in the burger, but it worked none the less. My one critique would be the fries, again perfectly fried BUT a little bit too much salt for my liking, hopefully the fries were a one-off and the chef was a lil heavy-handed with the salt.

 

SERVICE: The venue doesn’t really have a waitered service to speak of, more of a #Nandos type setup where you basically go up to the till to order and the food is brought to you at your table, and cleared for you when finished or you can takeaway if you wish. With that in mind the staff were not overbearing and still asked if we needed anything else.

Nothing like the generally stereotyped Caribbean establishment, service in Boom Burger was quick iyah! #roundofapplause The wings and the rest of the man dem’s orders arrived promptly, piping hot and at the same time with the last order arriving only a few minutes behind the rest even though it was ordered a good 10 minutes after the first set. The man dem hadn’t even finished the first set of wings by the time the last order came! To the guys @BoomBurger, the @mandemvfood commend you!

OVERALL: The food in Boom Burger is just as the name suggests… #BOOM
Whether you’re a local to the area or live further out, there is no excuse for you to not go there! Even vegans and vegetarians can get a munch. #MDVF give their seal of approval so go grab a bite. You won’t regret it… trust the man dem on this one!

SCORE: the 5.5 out of 6 Man Dems

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Wenger Out!

Pepper Man asked the lads who wanted to go to Harlem for a review of a new restaurant. Cheese Lover and The Manager immediately started packing their suitcases. MDVF has gone international, we have made it! But something was fishy when Pepper Man told us to meet him on Old Street instead of at Heathrow Airport. Maybe pre-drinks before heading off to the airport? So we followed Pepper Man into a place called @Redrooster, headed downstairs and took our seats.

We opened the menu and read “Harlem Meets Shoreditch”. But wait, is this what Pepper Man meant by going to Harlem? Cheese Lover and The Manager almost threw the menu in his head like a frisbee!

We all explored the menu and gulped at the prices. “If this is some bland chicken like we have experienced at other restaurants Pepper Man will be sacked on the spot!”, berated The Manager. The menu was a well thought out fusion of soul food and European dishes, very interesting and not too many options. The Man Dem were intrigued, counted down the days to pay day and got to ordering starters and mains with excitement. No dessert because #NottinghillCarnival is around the corner and Man Dem need to fit into our costumes!

Was ordering two courses going to be a costly mistake, should we have just played safe and ordered a main with water? You know like an Arsenal fan who pays the highest season ticket prices, expecting to win the #Premierleague, but at the end of yet another expensive season, ends up with just another FA Cup! Or would #Redrooster wow the Man Dem; like how Chelsea did last season, and steamroll over all of the competition to claim the top prize as the go to place for Soul Food and proper fried chicken in London?

FOOD:
For  starters we had chicken and waffles, which came with some interesting augments on the traditional dish; this is listed as a starter but the portion size was generous. The dish consisted of a boneless piece of what we think was chicken breast, complimented by waffles and a light drizzle of maple syrup.

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At first we thought the waffles were burnt, but on taste the waffle batter had obviously been seasoned, which led to the colour looking more brown than golden. The waffles were light and full of flavour, this easily could be a main dish!

Now the chicken! All we can say is proof is in the taste! But we know you all want more of a description than that! So, the chicken seemed to be of a high grade, meaning you could actually taste that it was chicken, the coating was amazing, fried to a crisp with a vast array of spices, which almost gave the chicken even more flavour. The chicken was most definitely fresh, none of this pre-cooking in water crap that some other establishments try to pull off (check out some of our previous reviews of fried chicken restaurants). In our opinion the chicken and waffles are a reason to visit #RedRooster by themselves!

Pepper Man asked the waiter to recommend a dish (he loves taking risks!). The waiter suggested the “jerk pork & shrimp hot rice”. Just take a second to think about that…bet it makes your mouth salivate as you think about it and repeat the description in your head. Go on say it again “JERK PORK & SHRIMP HOT RICE” (Is your belly hungry now?). The rice has pineapple in it which is a great compliment to the pork flavour. The pork was a very small boneless rib which was slightly disappointing as it tasted so good, it just wasn’t enough to satisfy Pepper Man’s greed. However, it was sweet, juicy and fell apart in your mouth, so tender! The shrimp was huge and delicious and comes in two pieces. It was cooked to perfection.

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Cheese Lover: I went for the THE LENOX SMASH BURGER, double beef, onion jam, cheddar (of course), chili aioli. Wait ‘chili’? I am not a chili fan but the waiter stated it is not overpowering so I agreed to let it stay.

For £17 this burger best be better than @pattyandbun (my current favourite burger)!

On arrival the burger looked sexy; the onion jam was tantalizingly dripping down the burger, giving me the eye, seducing me in for the first bite.

I went for first base and took a small bite. The combination of flavours just worked. This was one of the tastiest burgers I have come across. I will have to start experimenting with chili sauce now when I next go to #Mangal (Arcola Street branch).

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This was almost the perfect first date; the only let down was the bun. If the bun was brioche I would have ended my relationship with #pattyandbun and proposed to The Lenox Smash Burger on the spot. @marcuscooks could have conducted the ceremony whilst I made my vows. “I, Cheese Lover, take you, The Lenox Smash Burger, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer (I will definitely be poorer lol), in sickness and health, until death do us part.”

The Manager: I’m not gonna lie I was in a chicken mood after the chicken and waffles, I was thinking to myself maybe the “Fried Yard Bird” was the one for me? However, some of the condiments that accompany the dish were new to me; also beans with chicken! What nonsense was this, but I thought let’s throw caution to the wind and dive into it like a two footed tackle from Eric Cantona when Man United played Crystal Palace!

There is always this expectation that no restaurant in the UK could ever match the level of Fried chicken that is produced from the South, not London, America, no not that far down the world map! I mean Atlanta, Tennessee and them places. In this instance I can safely dispel that myth. The dish arrived fresh, piping hot, with a compliment of sauces and beans, which is where I started.

In the UK we call them runner beans, boring huh? Not these, I might get this wrong but they seemed to be lightly boiled (blanched), then lightly pan fried in garlic and salt, meaning you were able to taste the greens, but it wasn’t eurrrgh like the boiled veg I used to get for school dinners at Stamford Hill Primary. The Garlic and Salt worked perfectly. Now to combo the beans with the chicken! WAIT! Let’s give the Bird some respect and deal with it separately first!

The pieces of chicken given were Leg and Thigh, both attached. Personally I would have preferred a breast piece of chicken, as they say Breast is best!

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Regardless you got two in the portion, as I cut into the chicken there was NO oil running out, always a good sign that the chicken would not be sloppy, and swimming in oil like other chicken outlets. The coating was almost bread crumb like, it seems the chef here had sided away from the traditional batter, which in some restaurants’ cases is an anti climax.

In previous spots we have been to there has been more batter than chicken!!! (We have another review talking about the poor method of cooking chicken coming soon!) The taste surprised me, the grade of chicken again was of a high standard and remained consistent with the starter, this I could tell via the taste and texture. The coating was crispy and held together well and tasted fantastic. So fantastic that you want to pretend you are eating alone, abandon the knife and fork, pick up the chicken and simply throw your hands to it? Well it was that level of fantastic!

Unfortunately due to my excitement I didn’t taste the chicken with some of the sides, most notably Chicken Shake, or the Hot Honey! I know I’ve failed you all! I will just have to go BACK and do it ALLLLLL again!

SERVICE:
The service was top notch, attentive, knowledgeable and patient. This felt more like an experience, not just a restaurant trying to turn over tables as quickly as possible. We soon forgot the menu prices as we absorbed ourselves into the ambiance with the thought provoking decor and an array of  fascinating pictures. Overall the experience was well worth the money.

To further enhance our experience, Red Rooster owner #marcuscooks sauntered over to our table for a chat. Marcus told us about his background, menu influences and why he decided to set up a restaurant in #Shoreditch. The Man Dem do love a back story. Somehow we then moved on to #football and the conversation suddenly got serious. Marcus is a massive #Arsenal fan and wants ‘#Wengerout’. Another two years to go lol!

OVERALL:
Just like how most people thought Arsenal would flop against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, we braced ourselves to be disappointed by Red Rooster based on past history visiting restaurants who also serve fried chicken. However, Arsenal ended up winners and blowing away Chelsea. Red Rooster most definitely blew away other similar restaurants we have reviewed with its service and food; and more than matched one of the MDVF all time favourite restaurants @Dirtyboneslondon. These two are a close call.

Man Dem V Food highly recommends a visit to Red Rooster. Eating or even just having drinking with a few nibbles upstairs is a must! There are also themed days such as ‘Sunday Gospel Brunch’. Red Rooster is suitable to impress on date or a catch up with friends.

SCORE:

6 Man Dems out of 6.

https://thecurtain.com/red-rooster

*Header picture courtesy of Trip Advisor

Pepper Man’s Revolution

During the weekly MDVF whatsapp group catch up, Absurd Bird was mentioned for the @ManDemVFood team to visit! Immediately in BOLD capital letters ‘The Manager’ said, “Long, we ain’t going!”, the rest of the team were shocked at his swift and abrupt response. We all asked “Why?”, but as he was ‘typing…’ ‘Pepper Man’ quickly posted in an attempt to overthrow management… “It’s booked, and I’ve paid a deposit” (Which was a lie but sometimes needs must!) The rest of the #mandem were excited… well, except ‘The Vegan 🙄‘. All we’re getting from him are random angry emojis! The team were confused… “What’s wrong with you, talk up!” said ‘The Manager’. ‘The Vegan 🙄 ‘ responded: “It’s not fair! You man posting all these menus with pure meat on them and i’m here tryna do this Vegan ting… do you know how hard it is and you lot ain’t helping!” – If you ever saw the lol’s and teasing that ensued after that!!
Read on to find out if Absurd was worthy of Pepper Man’s rebellious act, or did he get thrown into the gallows. Is ‘The Vegan 🙄‘ still a Vegan or did he turn up and eat meat?

FOOD:
STARTER: The man dem decided to go for the #wings, which started a debated about what flavours to choose. After a quick consultation with our waitress we decided on “Wild Wing Flavour of the Month” aka BBQ Moonshine, Crispy Fried Buttermilk and Smoked Garlic Parmesan & Lemon (Sweet Tooth was wholeheartedly against this option but got out voted… he wasn’t happy!  😤).

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The wings came late, and at different intervals which was annoying.

The buttermilk wings arrived first. They were plain as white paper, no art, no creativity. Just fried in batter than actual seasoned chicken, it was like biting into a small pack of homepride flour! What does it take to add a little more seasoning to the flour before frying, or, low and behold seasoning the chicken before frying!!!!! They were basically wings dipped in buttermilk batter n fried crisp, no flavour, no seasoning, nothing PLAIN!… We’re still trying to work out if there was even a little salt & pepper on them!
To show you how plain they were, we were given a free extra portion of the buttermilk wings, due to the delays waiting for the other flavours and we didnt even finish them. Usually we are fighting over the last wing and end up playing ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’.

Finally the Smoked Garlic Parmesan & Lemon arrived. They were lightly fried, and then covered in the garlic and parmesan coatin. These wings had a strong cheese flavour, with a kick of sourness from the lemon. ‘Sweet Tooth’ screamed “Yuck! Who thought of this combination? I mean I’ve never agreed that cheese goes with chicken in the first place and this just heightens my belief. Chicken & cheese DOES NOT GO!”. Meanwhile the rest of the team disagreed “Nah man cheese goes with everything!” . General consensus was this batch of wings was passable, but didn’t leave us wanting more. The cheese was a little over bearing.

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The pick of the litter, sorry, we mean bunch and the saviour of our Absurd starter experience, were the BBQ Moonshine wings. Fried crispy wings smothered in the Absurd Moonshine sauce (basically the Absurd version of #JackDaniels BBQ sauce) and topped with sesame seeds. Not the most intense taste and not as good as @TGIFridays sauce but still a pleasant flavour. We actually got to taste the chicken and it’s quality. Definitely the best of the bunch.

MAINS:
THE VEGAN 🙄: As I am in the process of giving up meat, when we go out I usually get the veggie option (obviously) but I have been having withdrawal symptoms, and when I saw the menu my mouth started dribbling, memories of the good old meat days came flooding back into my taste buds. So I thought what the heck, “YOLO”… Absurd could be worth a cheat day.

For my mains I got a barbecue pulled chicken burger and since I hadn’t eaten chicken in a while I was excited, a little gassed even… like a kid who had been grounded for 2 months that was finally given the green light to play out.

First bite of the burger did not fulfill the excitement I felt. Instead I was deflated to an unenthused, I’m hungry and this will fill the gap feel 😐. No excitement, this is not how I remember the ‘good old meat days. I have personally made better chicken burgers and I’m not even a chef, I’m an electrician! 🙈. For me, #meatmission is still the No. 1 chicken burger around! Absurd was a waste of cheat day!

PEPPER MAN: This time I didn’t want to take any risks. I was hungry and I wanted something I knew I would like and would satisfy my growling stomach. I chose the crispy fried chicken burger which comes with fries. To wash it down I requested a rekorderlig (strawberry & lime obviously).

The food took slightly longer than I would have liked and when my main came I was praying that this was going to convince me that it was just the wings that were bad. I took my first bite and half of the contents of the burger fell out the other side. I put it all back together and gave it another try.

The burger was not amazing. I wouldn’t go as far as saying horrible or disgusting but definitely not something I would go back for. I would much prefer A #KFC chicken fillet burger. This burger didn’t have the finger licking flavours you would want from a burger. It was a dry, tasteless chicken breast and coleslaw in a bun. The chicken was very crunchy so maybe it was over fried (is that even a thing?) Overall, I wouldn’t go back to this place as nothing did it for me.

CHEESE LOVER: I haven’t had a slider since visiting @sliderbar_ldn at @streetfeastldn and @AbsurdBirdUK had a mixture of dirty buns and sliders. Both the same size but the dirty bun was those white soft Japanese Buns often associated to eating #DimSum. I was in a dilemma, the fillings that were attracting my attention were all dirty buns 🙈, but I have never had Japanese food before! This was the most difficult decision of my food blogging life! After much deliberation and a google of fillings I went for 3 dirty buns…

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1. Marinated grilled chicken dirty bun with honey mustard mayo and pickled Asian slaw. Loved it, and this Japanese bun has opened up my palate to trying out more Asian food other than pad Thai lol. The fillings complimented the chicken so well, could the other dirty buns match up?

2. Pulled Chicken dirty bun with shredded spring onion, cucumber and sesame seeds. The flavours didn’t have as much impact on me as number 1, but admittedly it was a hard act to follow.

3. Fried chicken dirty bun with sriracha mayo, picked cucumber and pickled onion. Now was number 3 going to leave me regretting not ordering 3 marinated chicken dirty buns (number 1) or would it come through and blow the competition away?

Well, let me just say this… I had no clue what ‘sriracha’ is, but I do now! I need to have this sauce on everything, I hope @costco stock it 🙏. This was the tastiest miniature burger I have ever tasted, the flavours had me drooling for more, wishing it was a full size burger. Definitely coming back for this!

THE MANAGER: For some reason I was excited about this one, even though I vowed never to return to an Absurd bird location due to the service I received from the Soho branch on a solo trip, but hey, the #mandemvfood talked me round, and we compromised after the overthrow attempt. Pepper Man your revolt has been noted, and will be sent to the gallows if Absurd wastes my time again.

For the main I had the Nashville Hot Chicken Burger, yeah I’m not Pepper Man but I like a likkle heat. To accompany the burger I had the Jalapeño Mac and Cheese, with a portion of sweet potato fries.

Sooooo, the burger, man o man, to say it was good would be an understatement, the chicken was well cooked / fried. I can’t say it was perfect, as perfect would be a burger cooked and served by Alicia Keys while she played the piano singing “fallin” to me, but it was good!

You could taste the chicken as well as the light seasoning that it had been cooked with, also the spicy elements of the garnish, not overly hot so if you expect to be blown away, that won’t happen. The down side to the burger was the fact that it did not (to my knowledge) have a brioche bun, and for me if you want to be in the Premier Burger League category, brioche bun is a must have, the same as salt and vinegar, rum and ting, chicken and jerk these things go hand in hand. My question is; “Whose idea was it NOT to have a brioche bun? Huh?” I’ll wait!

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The Mac n Cheese was pleasant, very flavoursome, however not the best I have tasted. That crown, at the moment, belongs to the guys over at @dirtybones, but let’s not digress, The Macaroni was a tad over cooked but that’s me being picky, it’s something I would have again but not in a hurry. As for the Sweet Potato fries, well again, not the best I’ve had. Sweet potato fries are one of those things in my eyes you can’t get wrong and one of those things that no matter how full I am I will finish them, with that, I didn’t finish these, why I hear you ask! I’m not sure… something was missing I guess maybe they weren’t hot enough, or crispy enough but they just weren’t up to the standard I am used to.

SWEET TOOTH: For my main, after much temptation from the Grilled Chicken n Chicken & Waffles, I finally decided on the 3 Dirty Buns or Sliders for £10.50 option. Sliders are basically mini burgers, made with mini brioche rolls in this case. Cheese Lover described Dirty Buns earlier

I chose the Fried Chicken Slider (with bacon jam and pimento cheese), Marinated Grilled Chicken Dirty Bun (with honey mustard mayo and pickled Asian slaw) and Fried Chicken Dirty Bun (with Sriracha mayo, pickled cucumber and pickled onion). Each had their own distinct taste and were delicious.

The Marinated Grilled Chicken Dirty Bun was a pleasant surprise as I’m not usually a fan of honey mustard mayo but this along with the Asian slaw complimented the delicately cooked grilled chicken perfectly then placed in a dirty bun rather than the mini brioche roll was definitely the right decision… genius!

The Fried Chicken Slider was a piece of fried chicken breast in batter with a jam that reminded me of a thick sweet chilli sauce and gave that same texture sensation when you tasted it but with a salty sweet taste instead. The combination of textures with the soft bun, crunch and tenderness of the chicken, salt / sweet of the jam n slight kick from the pimento cheese made for a party of flavours in my mouth… Excellent!

The Fried Chicken Dirty Bun was the same chicken as the slider version. Sriracha mayo for those that don’t know is Sriracha sauce (a chilli paste, vinegar and garlic sauce) mixed with mayo therefore taming the ‘heat’ and making for a deliciously flavoured dressing. Not being a fan of traditional mayo I was dubious but decided the Sriracha (even though I had no idea what it was at the time) would make it taste different so worth a try. What a gamble!! The slider was VERY nice. The combination of the chicken’s textures along with this great Sriracha sauce, the pickled cucumber and onion made for a delightful piquant mouthful with every bite… Amazing!

If I had to put them in order of favourite I would say, Fried Chicken Slider, Fried Chicken Dirty Bun then Marinated Grilled Chicken Dirty Bun. All 3 were delicious and I wish they were full sized burgers even though I know I couldn’t manage to eat them all if they were! Definitely try these if you visit.

DESSERT:
Being the sweet tooth of the group (it is in the name after all lol) Sweet Tooth craved dessert, especially because milkshakes were off the menu due to a faulty machine. However, with a little help from the waitress he persuaded the #ManDem to get involved in “The Dipsy”. Described on the menu as “The ultimate tear’ n share! Warm and fluffy brioche, baked-to-order and served with creme anglaise, caramel & chocolate dipping sauce” – sounds great, right… Like who could resist that?? Wrong! It was mediocre at best. Not really very sweet and the sauces were nothing special, although the caramel gets a special mention as it was the nicest of the 3 sauces. The dessert overall was a disappointment and didn’t fill the void of the lack of milkshake. The man dem weren’t best pleased with the extra expense.

SERVICE: Service in this establishment seemed very hit and miss. For example, we were seated almost immediately but then were given our starters at lengthy differing intervals. The waitress was pleasant, professional and knew her menu, but still got the odd thing wrong. She got the timing of the mac n cheese wrong, it came with the starters. This was replaced with a new batch with the mains with no hesitation which was outstanding service. According to the staff the service problems were down to them having a short notice party of 50 in the downstairs segment of the restaurant but we can’t help but wonder… Should that really affect service in the rest of the establishment? 🤔

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OVERALL: Absurd seems to be a bit like #marmite either you love it or you hate it. There are definitely some stand out items on the menu, but hard to say if they are potent enough to entice you to go back in a hurry. As nice as some of the dishes are, you can take or leave a visit. Not to be too harsh on them, maybe the service issue and the party of 50 played a part but it’s also a lot to do with the fact that not many dishes gave us that wow factor and were generally substandard. Not bad for a social evening out as a group, where alcohol and banter takes your attention away from the food, but be warned… you might have to wait a bit! 😳

SCORE: 3 out of 6 mandems

Turkish Tuesdays!!

 

One of those one away #MDVF impromptu linkups on a Tuesday evening… No plan so no reservation… Man Dem are hungry but what to eat?! The Manager says “Hold on Man Dem, it’s Tuesday… what else?!?”, “TURKISH!!” the rest of us reply in unison like a well rehearsed choir.

Pepper Man then decided to pipe up with “I’m down but Turkish restaurants to me are like McDonald’s!” You could virtually hear the rest of the man dem’s jaws hit the floor! “WHAAATTTTTT?!?!” the rest of us exclaimed simultaneously… “Hear me out before you start cussing. What I mean by that is, no matter where you are in the world, McDonald’s always tastes exactly the same. No particular branch stands out. That’s my feelings with Turkish restaurants, they all taste the same in North, South and East London. Does West London have Turkish restaurants? (Tell us about any Turkish restaurants in West) I like the food but I could never consider any to be the #bestturkishrestaurant in London. I’ve never been disappointed but the one in South did come close though lol.”

And this is how #TurkishTuesdays morphed into #MDVF being on the hunt to find London’s ‘Best Turkish Restaurant’. Can we find any other Champion’s League restaurants on the same level as #Gokyuzu #Kervans #Mangal #Capital instead of your average Europa league standard of Turkish restaurants.

We will also be exploring what makes the Champion’s League Turkish restaurants stand out from the others. The flavour of food, the free bread quality, cost, portion sizes and the service.

Where to continue this hunt? Green Lanes in North London of course, the Mecca of Turkish restaurants!

But which to choose… there’s so many to choose from! One of the man dem dives straight onto the #iPhone7 and Google’s ‘Best Turkish restaurants’ for the area. Selale Restaurant pops up in the ranking results with positive reviews. A quick scan of the website reveals Selale was the winner of best British Kebab Award 2015. Man Dem definitely have to try this!

Will Selale qualify for the Champions League or end up in the Europa League. Will Selale be a contender for London’s Best Turkish Restaurant?

 

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FOOD: We ordered mixed grills, or as they call it, the Selale Special. Each mixed grill comes with lamb ribs, chicken wings, lamb kofte, chicken and lamb doner (which Sweet Tooth and Pepper Man swapped for lamb beyti), chicken shish and lamb shish! (Is your mouth watering yet?) It’s safe to say if you are a Vegan this probably isn’t the place for you. The meal was served with white plain rice, red bulgur wheat and salad.

In most Turkish restaurants except @kervans the lamb and chicken shish lack flavour, and in Selale’s case it was the same. The meat was tender and well cooked but it just didn’t have that finish, you know like how @UsainBolt blasts away the competition in the last 50 meters of the 100m sprint. These meats were more like Justin Gatlin… and, ummm, where did he finish again?

However, the lack of flavour was covered up by other parts of the mixed grill, similar to a boy band which has one member in the background who’s dancing is average.

Now the lamb ribs, lamb kofte and beyti. The ribs were lean, not too fatty and pretty much standard in taste compared to other Turkish restaurants. That’s not a bad thing, but, (according to The Manager) what made the difference was the chilli sauce. He says, “When you lather that bad boy on it, it changes the game!” However, if you can’t handle the spice, the lemon juice on the lamb also gives a nice taste sensation.

We still can’t find a lamb kofte to match the flavour of Mangal’s, (Arcola Street, E8). Selale’s effort was middle of the road. The kofte and beyti were very similar in taste being that they were both minced lamb on a skewer, but the beyti just edged it as it had more flavour due to the larger amount of ever so visible herbs within it.

The doner wasn’t the more common type that most people have come to know but the type where it is layered cuts of the meat piled on top of each other. The doner was, average, we definitely prefer the “original” type. Don’t get us wrong, it works but not the reason why we would return.

For mixed grills, the rice and bulgur wheat are just plate fillers to make your plate look buff, @Kervans are the worst for this trick. Selale didn’t fill the plate too much, but they all taste the same and nobody really cares about them. Reminds us of them songs nobody cares about on albums that have just been added to make up the numbers so you don’t pay £12.99 for only the 3-4 good songs.

 

The bread and mixture of salads that is standard when you come to these establishments was again, on point! One thing we will say is the bread that came on the platter had a completely different taste to the bread that’s served as an entree (see them posh words there lol). The bread on the platter was seasoned or flavoured with something and it wasn’t particularly nice. Tasted like it was stale, yet soft garlic bread but instead of garlic they used some other herb like oregano or thyme.

Last but not least, the chicken wings! Yes exclamation! Probably the best we have tasted EVER from a Turkish restaurant! The pieces were so well seasoned to the point that writing this sitting on a Jubilee line tube to Stratford at 8.05am the thought of eating them gives that feeling like a fiend wanting to be back there for their next hit.

The chicken wings were seasoned so well they made you do that thing where you pause to look at them to make sure you’re not dreaming before taking your next bite. Lol They tasted amazing, top notch, higher level, orgasmic even… definitely champion’s league! We agreed we would actually consider revisiting just to have the chicken wings again!

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SERVICE: The service was amazing! Staff were very attentive, despite it being bigger than the size of Gökyüzü, and went that extra meter. We can’t say mile because that would be Michelin star level service, but it was swift and efficient, not at any point did we have to signal a waiter or waitress for anything. As soon as eyes looked up from the plate someone was there to ask if you were ok or needed something, and not in an overbearing way. They got the balance just right.

The staff were so polite, knew about everything on the menu and answered all questions asked without hesitation. Even when we were awkward and asked to substitute items from the mix grill (as we often request) it wasn’t an issue, unlike other establishments we’ve visited. They were more than happy to oblige. And the little extras like opening and closing the main door made Man Dem feel like we were in Mayfair. Top marks for this place.

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OVERALL: Once again the Turkish never failed. In regards to portion size, it was a feast for kings. We tucked in until we couldn’t eat anymore… bellies were niiiicceeee!

However, Pepper Man was right (for once!) the majority of the food was not much different to any other Turkish we’ve visited. Only the chicken wings really stood out, but on the whole, pretty average.

The biggest difference between this restaurant and other Turkish restaurants was the service. ROUND OF APPLAUSE! These people know how to treat customers!

Overall, although relatively new to Green Lanes, Selale makes it into the Europa League, but we can see it creeping into the Champions League if the lamb seasoning is improved.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 6 Man Dems.

Best Burger Ever!!!

Where is the best burger in London? This is an ongoing argument amongst the @ManDemVFood team.

The Photographer prefers @meatgram. Sweet Tooth can’t get enough of @dirtyburgerldn. The Manager thinks no one does better burgers than @fiveguysuk. Cheese Lover is obsessed with @pattyandbun. The Vegan 🙄 just craves any burger with real meat in it and not #quorn. And finally Pepper Man… Pepper Man took a random shopping trip to Reading, stumbled across @handmadeburgerco and ever since has been banging on about being “The best burger EVER!” whenever the ‘Best burger in London’ debate is re-visited, despite it being out of London. 😄

The rest of the lads had never heard of #handmadeburgerco or their alleged 40 varieties of #burgers.

There were only so many months we could keep ignoring Pepperman’s Handmade burger rhetoric, especially when he found out there is a branch in #Wembley. So The Manager and Cheese Lover reluctantly agreed to put Handmade Burger to the test and took a visit to North West London with Pepper Man.

However, if the burgers are no better than @mcdonalds Cheese Lover wants some petrol money for his long journey around the A406.

Did Pepper Man end up at the nearest petrol station with his hand in his pocket or is there another contender in the Man Dem V Food’s pursuit to find London’s best burger?

PEPPER MAN: It’s been a long time coming but the time is finally here. I’ve managed to convince the #mandem to travel a lil further out than they would like to and head to Wembley. What’s in Wembley they say? Handmade Burger Company. I went to their other branch in Reading a while ago and oh my gosh. BEST BURGERS EVER!! Yea I said it. I’ve laid my cards on the table.

I ordered the HBC Cheese & Bacon. The burger consisted of a single beef patty, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onions and BBQ sauce all sandwiched between what we were lead to believe was a fresh #handmade buttermilk bun. For a side I felt daring and opted for the newly added Mexican chips. These were thick cut like the ones you get in a fish & chip shop. The reason why they’re called Mexican chips is because they are topped with melted cheese, salsa, chipotle sauce, hand crushed avocado and jalapeños.

The chips were dead! Simple as that. I liked the idea of the cheese, salsa & avocado but in reality they didn’t do it for me. They were really thick so heavy going down and flavourless so adding the extra ingredients helped but not enough. The chipotle sauce was absolutely awful on them. My preference is fries over chips all day all day (Kanye) so i wouldn’t order them again.

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Now the burger, oh gosh, I had been looking forward to this all day. I dived in like Tom Daley at the #Olympics. My first bite had my eyes rolling back in my head like when you put a cotton bud in your ear and you hit that spot. The beef and bacon along with the BBQ sauce all went together perfectly. But hold on! After a few more bites, I realised this could have been a lot better. Maybe all the excitement got the better of me. Something wasn’t right. I started to think and I came to the conclusion that the chef ever so slightly over cooked the patty. It was a bit tough and chewy, it began to be a task to eat it. Jaw bones working extra hard to break everything down. This was a major disappointment as I was really plugging this place like It was my actual restaurant. I said it had the best burgers EVER… several times! That’s a massive statement, even for me. I hope the others still enjoyed theirs…

THE MANAGER: Pepper Man said “It’s the best burger EVER” and that I would be “overly full”. Hmmmm… that’s a lot to live up to but we shall see. From the menu several burgers and the Hipster chips sounded promising. Although it’s a burger establishment we also partook in a helping of chicken wings, I mean if they are on the menu why would you not get a portion.

So, the wings, apparently seasoned over a long period of time, and come in two different flavours, BBQ and Hot. It was at this point I saw a nervous gleam from the eye of Pepper Man, ah well!

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The wings were almost perfect! As much as I try to find a fault, I can’t. Beautiful texture and grade of chicken. It didn’t fall off the bone so that would suggest they were fried, also the slight, the ever so slight, crispness leans toward a fried wing. The sauces were amazing! In other establishments, it’s as if the wings are soaked in water before cooking or stored in a place where they develop an odd taste, but not these! They were fresh! With a taste sensation that I can only describe as intense, but not over bearing. I’d go back there just for those if the price was a little better, or should I say “pocket friendly”. 👀

The chips! One of the man dem accurately nailed it… “these are pub chips” and I’d have to agree, but in my case they were pub chips with shredded cabbage and a hint of some form of mayonnaise or burger sauce on them. For me, a waste of money, there was no reason for me to pay £1 more for raw cabbage and mayo, the chips were not even crispy man! Not one iota! I would even go as far as to say they were soggy! And not even hot hot either, even @Nandos chips are better!

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On to the Burger, I kept it simple and opted for the Cheese Classic and I can’t fault it, it wasn’t perfect, but I can’t complain, a thick beef patty, with lettuce and tomato (I don’t like tomatoes in burgers), original #HBC burger relish, mayo, red onion with a generous helping of what seemed and tasted like Swiss cheese. There was no option in regard to how I wanted the burger cooked, with that could it have been medium well to add to the flavour? Maybe, the burger bun was (as stated in the menu) #buttermilk which we were excited about, but for me #brioche buns have to be industry standard as they maintain the softness allowing for a perfect compliment to the burger and sauces. I wasn’t overwhelmed but I was definitely not disappointed, however, the Handmade Burger Co need to work on their chip man! Chat bout!

CHEESE LOVER: Pepper Man picked the American BBQ Bacon Stuffed for me (beef patty stuffed with Swiss cheese, topped with smoked bacon, HBC BBQ pit sauce, mayo, shredded iceberg lettuce & red onion with handmade coleslaw, topped with a gherkin). The buttermilk bun caught my eye, usually I like to keep things simple but his experimental ways have influenced me to open up my tastebuds. The only question I had for the waitress was about the Swiss cheese as I have never tasted it before. Her response didn’t instil any confidence, in fact she stated it wasn’t very nice lol.

Despite this place being called ‘Handmade’ burger I wasn’t able to make a straight swap and have cheddar cheese because the cheese is already inside the burger patty. Sounds more like ‘Ready made’ burger to me.

However, the waitress was very accommodating and suggested slightly tweaking the burger patty thus allowing me to change the cheese.

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The burger itself reminded me of #Pogba. It was trying to be the best burger but instead was a young pretender with lots of potential. The ingredients were sourced from a high quality vendor, visually the burger could sit alongside the big boys, but two things let it down. 1. The buttermilk bun was too tough. I will be sticking to brioche in future. 2. The patty was slightly overcooked. Hugely disappointing and if Handmade Burger wants a seat at the ‘Best burger in London’ table they must train their chefs to be consistent!

All I will say about the chips is don’t bother, probably the worst chips I have ever had at a restaurant.

If I was in Wembley buying furniture at @ikea I would pop in for another burger, but based on this experience I would not trek around the A406 just to visit here again.

OVERALL: The service we received was pleasant, honest and efficient. We couldn’t ask for more. S/O to Kristina (our waitress) excellent job. The atmosphere was calm, but with it being Wembley, we assume that on an event day the place would be heaving with people. Unfortunately, the burgers were a slight let down; over cooked is never a good thing when you’re choosing the “best burger” in town.

However, this shouldn’t deter you from giving this place a try. With over 40 different variations of burger on the menu, there’s something for everyone. Pepper Man did state he had never been to the Wembley branch and his views were solely based on the Reading branch. Looks like he’ll still have to fork out for some petrol for a road trip for the mandem to go to Reading to redeem himself.

That might reduce the banter but Pepper Man is still going to get it in the neck for this one… well, until someone else pipes up with another burger place that is. Anyway, the ongoing best burger debate continues…

We give Handmade Burger Co an average but fair 4 out of 6 Man Dems.

http://handmadeburger.co.uk/

Training Day

So, in preparation for a direct challenge to “Pepper Man” from the guys over at @whitemencantjerk as “The Manager” it was my duty to provide our #MDVF contender with some training, and where better than the famous @therumkitchen based in trendy central #Brixton Cold Harbour Lane to be exact. A little different to how we remember Brixton, but hey we are only here for the food.

In this neck of the woods Wednesdays are dubbed “Wings Wednesday”. In a nut shell, £20 gets you a Red Stripe #beer, a portion of #fries and unlimited chicken wings. I REPEAT! #UNLIMITED #CHICKEN #WINGS!

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Yes this is a MDVF training exercise, what kind of manager would I be if I didn’t coach and correct my team to success!

Pepper Man and I walk in and we’re seated quickly, probably because the place had only opened half an hour before we arrived. Inside was warming nicely, the place already had over 20 people seated so make sure you book a table. #MDVFtip

As this is one-to-one coaching there will only be 2 opinions on the MDVF ‘Wing Wednesday” experience.

Pepper Man: We didn’t realise it was happy hour so that was a bonus and we got our orders in straight away. I had a Tingwray (wray & nephew rum, blue curacao, ting and lime juice) and The Manager had Wreggaemeister (wray & nephew rum, jagermeister, lime and passion fruit juice). We asked for the #Wingsday deal (I mean why else were we there?) and didn’t bother look at anything else on the menu!

Don’t worry, we will be back to make a full #blog and taste the other bits and bobs at a later date, what do you think we are… #cheapskates who only go cinema on #MeerkatMovie days 👀

Round 1, the first tray of wings came within 5 minutes of ordering. Impressive! The wings got boxed off quick fast. #NoLongTing Now these were authentic Caribbean chicken wings. Not like the tasteless wings we have sampled at other reggae reggae rastarants 👀…Anyway these wings were quality, no complaints.

I went quiet all of a sudden. “Wha gwarn…is man crying due to the pepper on the wings??? (Said The Manager) “They’re not even hot! Are you really drinking rum cocktails to try and dilute the fire in your mouth?” (The manager likes to wind people up 😐).

So far this training is an #epicfail! Round one done!

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On to round 2…These wings took about 10 minutes to come which was alright for me as it gave more time for my mouth to cool down, get my breath back, wipe the sweat from my brow, look at myself in my #iPhone (selfie view) and say “Man up kid! I ain’t going out like no sucka #wordtoMrT I can do this!”

We tucked into the second batch of wings and once again they tasted great. Finger licking good #noKFC. I could manage the very slight spice on this batch and began munching through them like I’m the Cookie Monster eating cookies. Pieces of chicken were all over my face like crumbs!

The wings were well seasoned and full of flavour. Round 2 done! I think this is a pass.

Now for round 3… 15-20mins wait. The taste of these wings were different, but I was on a roll and continued to chow down until we were left with another mountain of bones. This round was another pass 🙌🏾 I can handle this @WMCJ challenge #calm

Round 4 was when I remembered I was in a Caribbean restaurant due to the length of time the wings took to arrive. It must have taken about 30 minutes. During which time not one member of staff came to take away the mountain of bones left over from round 3, or try sell us more drinks.

The Manager and I were fuming at the wait, it messed up our flow! It got to the point we lost motivation to eat anymore.

Our eating swagger was crushed like when La La Lands cast members were on stage hyping themselves up for their acceptance speeches when they thought they had won an oscar!

When a waiter did turn up he actually had round 4’s tray of wings but by this point we just wanted the bill and requested the wings to be packed up in a takeaway box so we could leave.

The bill came… wait, what… £66?! #WTF!! We messed up. One of us should have ordered a completely different food option while the other chose the unlimited wings. #MDVFtip 😉 We basically got charged twice for the wings. The fries were £3.50 (and nowhere near enough so we had to buy extra) and the happy hour cocktails were not buy one get one free, it meant one cocktail was £5 and not the normal £8 (Hmmmm 🤔). Lessoned learned but I reckon I have passed this training exercise and proved I can handle pepper…

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The Manager: Soooooo, unlimited wings, even as I write this my heart skips a beat. Even though I had an ulterior motive for bringing Pepper Man here (to bun up his mouth to make it numb for the White Men Can’t Jerk Pepper Sauce Challenge) I also was intrigued to have my own Rum Kitchen experience after hearing the odd comment from other #foodies, and I wanted to sample these wings. Historically for me the best chicken wings I have tasted had been either from a #Turkish restaurant, or from @clutchchicken (I need to revisit that place. Read review), but we digress.

The décor in the place was interesting, where we sat there were numerous bottles of rum locked away in a cage, a little disturbing that one of the bottles had a picture of Ron Jeremy on it (Google the name if you are unsure).

So order placed, Wing Wednesday, and that all important Red Stripe which I an I love! Ya si me! (Urban dictionary if you’re unsure).

The first batch arrived, and I was impressed. These wings were well seasoned, and well cooked, it seemed as if they were fried first, then steamed, possibly with jerk seasoning and then covered in their own jerk sauce, none the less they tasted heavy! The pepper ratio was on point, none of that lightweight jerk seasoning you get in other places. At that point I looked up at Pepper Man, man was struggling already and as a good manager would do, I said “They’re not even hot! Nyam (eat) some more! This is training for the #WMCJ challenge, you think they gonna take it easy on you? The video said they were gonna take your head off!” Ha Ha! 😳

The texture of the wings were good, the grade of chicken was high also, and the wings didn’t taste like they were soaked in water before hand. (Shouts to @pengestmunch if you haven’t been here you should try these lots chicken). Round 1 done, off to round 2.

The second batch arrived swiftly, bones cleared, and we were ready to munch again. For me something was different here, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, were these cooked differently? Were they made with a different seasoning? Did a different chef make them? Ahhhh maybe it was just me. In essence, the second batch were also tasty, I could taste the jerk seasoning and yes they were of a high standard.

Right, on to the third round! Something wasn’t right. Less jerk sauce? DEFINITELY! Wings cooked in another different style? DEFINITELY! Did it seem as if they didn’t care about us after the second batch? In my view, MOST DEFINITELY!! Was I disappointed? 100%! Maybe the 4th batch would make up for it…

5 mins pass, 10 mins pass, 20 mins pass, 34 mins passed (yes I counted) and still no rahtid wings! Was this a plan by #therumkitchen to see if we would ask for the bill and leave, or was the service just that bad? Were we forgotten about? Hmmmm, who knows!

Finally the fourth batch of wings arrived… What started off so well, for me, ended so badly. After such a long wait man don’t even wanna eat them again “Pack them up star! Send for the bill”

I feel you got fresh wings made with love in rounds 1 and 2. However the more rounds you sit through… actually here’s how I’d sum it up….

Round 1 wings were Halle Berry in her prime (She still hot now though 😍).

Round 2 wings were Rhianna when she did Umbrella – quirky tune but it worked!

Round 3 wings were like Nikki Minaj after being duppied by Remi Ma.

Round 4 wings were Cardi B’s teeth (before surgery) harsh I know, but that’s how I felt.

As for Pepper Man’s training, I have failed as a manager! 🙈

Look out for the White Men Can’t Jerk Pepper Sauce Challenge coming soon.

See how many wings you can get through at http://www.therumkitchen.com/

Header picture courtesy of http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. ME!

We bet you have been wondering why we added ‘🙄‘ to the end of The Vegan’s name? It wasn’t meant to disrespect any vegans, it is only appropriate for our in-house MDVF #vegan as one day he doesn’t eat meat or anything that comes out of an animal, (whatever the rule is). The next day he is devouring a chicken wing like he’s been on hunger strike since #Trump became #President
The rest of the team began to feel guilty about the ‘🙄‘ so agreed to give this vegan thing a try and visit a vegan restaurant. We only had one stipulation, there had to be a @Fiveguysuk within walking distance in case we were still hungry afterwards.

The Vegan 🙄 recommended we go to @mildredrestaurants in #Soho one of the first #vegetarian restaurants in #London

What happened on our maiden vegan voyage? Did some of the Man Dem walk out after browsing the menu and the reality struck of seeing no meat? Did we end up at a #Burger joint afterwards? Or was it a case of once you go Vegan there’s no going back? (Yeah we know it doesn’t rhyme!)

FOOD:
The Vegan 🙄: I’ll be honest, I’m not a full vegan yet but I’m on my way there. I have coaxed the #mandem to a vegan / vegetarian spot #mildreds I’m quite chuffed about this actually, as even getting them to agree to come is an achievement in itself! These lot are the most notorious carnivorous bunch I know, don’t believe me, read previous reviews, check our #instagram content… meat and more meat! #savage.

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I had the (chef recommended) mushroom & ale pie with chips and mushy peas. To be honest I did not know what to expect but it was lovely.  The pastry was well done, light, flaky and none of that soggy stuff you sometimes find when you buy a pie. The filling could easily have been mistaken for a steak and ale pie. The seasoning was on point. The mushrooms were cooked exactly right, not too soft or rubbery and the gravy reminded me of a typical Sunday dinner. Top marks to the #chef on this dish.

The peas were standard, nothing special there but at least they weren’t runny. Same for the chips, not too crispy and just enough bite to warrant a decent chip. Would I get this again, no! But not because of the taste, but because I would want to try out other dishes on their menu.

I must say it was interesting watching the rest of the mandem’s faces and their reactions as they indulged in their meals. Yoo Manager how did you find your first Vegan meal?

The Manager: The voice in my head keeps saying “You fool, where’s the meat?” Is this ignorance? Fear? Who knows, but after the first look at the menu it was hard to find something that remotely looked interesting until I heard that voice again, this time it was saying “open your mind”.

Another 15 minutes scanning the menu, asking the waiter what this and that was, I stopped at the #burger section and took a punt on the Polish: beetroot, white bean and dill in a focaccia bun with iceburg lettuce, red onion, mayonnaise, pickled cabbage and gherkin. The description was a mouthful, but to us non-vegans it’s just a bean burger, right? My thinking is that this would taste like baked beans and soya milk so must be edible!

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The burger arrived with a healthy side of sweet potato wedges. The menu states fries but these were 7 to 12cm of hand cut chunks of sweet potato, with a light sprinkling of REAL sea salt, seemingly oven baked thus keeping in the flavours and producing minimal oil. In a word… Amazing! I would go back to Mildred’s just for the “fries” alone.

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Now for the real test… the burger! At least it looked like a burger so that’s a positive start. Part of this adventure into veggie food is the visual aspect, looking at a meal and seeing no meat thinking I will still be hungry after. Yes I know, I may be coming across a bit ignorant, but hey I’m trying and there is some stat about how we taste 50% of food with our eyes.

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The size of the burger was XL, you know the size where you contemplate whether it will be best to cut it into two halves! First bite, nothing but bread and lettuce. The bread had a nice texture but it was heavy while in the mouth. With the second bite I eventually got to the patty, the burger, the “meat”, wait, I mean the veggie patty….. ahhh you know what I mean! Surprisingly the flavours were intense, I can’t say I tasted beetroot or beans, (baked or otherwise), all I can say is I tasted a wonderment to my tastebuds. The textures were different but when you open your mind and stop tasting with your eyes, it’s a pleasure to the senses. I’d definitely return for this vegan burger. I wonder what the others thought…

Pepper Man: So here we go… It’s Mr Experimental once again and true to my character I’m not going for the “safe option”, I’m diving straight in, head first with the “Soul Bowl Salad”. I don’t even know what half of the ingredients taste like but you can’t go wrong with a salad, right? We all know they’re very healthy and if you choose the right one they can be really filling so surely this is the best option for a vegan virgin, init?

This salad had a plethora of #superfoods which included; carrots, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, dates, quinoa, kale, avocado and a few more ingredients that none of the mandem had ever heard of such as shitake mushrooms and cashew cheese.

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This was a huge risk for me as, for one, I’ve never had quinoa before so wasn’t sure what to expect. As soon as I took the first bite my face dropped… The disappointment was REAL! It was so confusing! There were crunchy bits, gritty bits, sweetness from the dates and then to top it off the smooth but tough and clearly unripened avocado made it all just a complete disaster. It was like a tornado of flavours and textures all battling together and none of them winning! The rest of the mandem were bussing up (laughing) and with every bite I took they laughed harder! They didn’t even try and hide it! Great friends these are!

Now don’t let my opinion on this salad put you off. There were a few things in it that I had never tried before so maybe that was the reason I didn’t enjoy it. I’m sure if you’ve had all the ingredients before it would be a very pleasant and satisfying meal.

SERVICE:

Expect to queue, Mildreds is a famous restaurant, popular most days of the week. They do not accept reservations, so whilst waiting chill out by the bar and make your way their extensive cocktail and organic wine menu.

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The service itself didn’t blow us away, quite laid back, but most importantly the staff were friendly, knowledgeable and adequately attentive considering it was so busy.

We set out by telling the waiter that we were noobs to the whole vegan thing (apart from The Vegan 🙄) and he walked us through our choices in regard to ingredients. Sidenote: You will need to be careful if you have allergies so ensure you tell the waiting staff at first opportunity.

OVERALL:

With Mildred’s being our first ever visit to a restaurant with no meat on the menu, all of the Man Dem were positive about their experiences, except Pepper Man, who maybe was too experimental with his order.

The dishes sampled were acceptable alternatives for meat and we could see why so many people have been able to successfully drastically change their diet cutting out meat. We respect your commitment.

We will visit other Vegan restaurants to bring you comparisons. Just remember to thank us in your speech if our reviews contribute towards you converting to Veganism.

If becoming Vegan has been playing on your mind we highly recommend Mildred’s for your first attempt. MDVF will be back to sample the rest of their interesting menu.

We give Mildreds 4 out of 6 man dems

http://www.mildreds.co.uk/soho/