Friday, 8 June 2012

Friday eating: Violet and Cigala

Being on early shift means having the afternoon to loaf around, woohoo! Since I was in town already, I decided to finally make the effort to haul my ass back over to Hackney and check out Violet Bakery once and for all. Violet is owned by Claire Ptak, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse. I had passed by the Violet stall before at Broadway Market and wasn't particularly tempted by what was on offer but decided to give the shop a shot anyway on the basis that there might be more selection? The shop is much smaller than I imagined and literally, in the arse end of nowhere so requires a special effort to track down (esp. for someone who live out west). The ground floor is mostly taken up by a miniscule open kitchen and a small counter in one of the corners. It was pretty dead when I arrived with  just one customer ahead of me but it took an eternity to get served. There was a bit more selection at the shop than at the stall but sadly again, nothing that jumped out and said "Eat me!". I plumped for a couple of mini cupcakes and a mug of Barrys Tea (which was proudly advertised on their blackboard, haha!!!) with milk. Upon sitting down on the first floor, I noticed that my tea was looking particularly greasy and concluded that there must be bits of butter in my milk, eeeugh! When I asked for some more milk, I was told that the milk was non-homogenised which is what produces this extra cream/butter. Thats all grand for baking but not helpful when you don't want tea looking like an oil slick. In the end, the 2nd batch of milk was no better so I had it black. 

Not worth the trek (even with Darina Allen as a champion of Claire), my curiosity got the better of me :(
Okies, I admit that I too am prone to the odd sunken cake but what I will never do is have my dodgy work on display for EVERYONE to see!!!!

Salt caramel and strawberry mini-cupcakes - I had read somewhere before how Claire was really proud of her cupcakes and using fresh seasonal fruits for the icing to give them their vibrant colour. Vibrant they were but more than a little disappointed to find it was a plain vanilla cupcake under the icing. Is it too much to ask for your whole cupcake to taste of the flavour being advertised? If so, then please tell me its a vanilla cupcake with "x" icing next time

Mmmm......not appetising

The "view"? ;)

I met JD later for dinner at Cigala, a Spanish resto recommended by my friend P. She is the marketing and communications of a 2-Michelin star resto so I trust her recs. First impressions were good, the resto is located in a very nice pedestrianised street north of Holborn called Lambs Conduit Street. Welcome at the door was nice but as the resto filled up, the service slowly went downhill.......always requested by us and never offered. The menu had lots of dishes which sounded tempting so we ended ordering 8-9 plates to try. The first plate of croquetas were excellent, the razor clams were not bad but the rest was forgettable, oh wellos.....
Mediocre meatballs

2 stars of the night 

Sorry looking and tasting chipirones

The fact that these chorizo were homemade didn't help - dry, thin and lacking in flavour

This was supposed to be anchovy and Jerusalem artichoke salad - they ran out of the latter and offered just the anchovies to us. We were fine with that but we were charged full whack for the salad, not cool!

I feel "dining out in London fatigue" setting in.....

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