30th October 2011

Amico Bio

44 Cloth Fair, London EC1

Located, as the name of the street suggests, in a most interesting area of old London, and a stone’s throw from the Romanesque church of St Bartholomew the Great where we had been to a wonderful performance of medieval music, this vegetarian organic Italian restaurant was just the place for an apres concert. We feasted on bruschetta al pomodoro, more dainty in its presentation than this dish sometimes is, tagliere con foccacia (bread, cheese, olives and oil for dipping), crocchetta (luscious aubergines with spelt cake),  cous-cous and a dish of polenta with chick peas, tomato and shavings of carrot. For desert we were offered four different sorbets, among them an especially memorable peach. There is an interesting list of Italian wines, all of them organic and each labelled vegan or vegetarian; I’ll take a dry white with food of this kind. Stylish in ambience and innovative in its cuisine, Amico Bio can mix it with the best of them. I hope to be able to repay the generosity of the kind friends who took me there very soon!

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16th October 2011

Addis Restaurant and Bar

40-42 Caledonian Rd, London W1, UK

The walls of this attractive restaurant display various Ethiopian artefacts, and it’s obviously popular with members of that community. Among the wide range of vegetarian options, one of the salads is a winner: tomatoes, shredded lettuce and slices of green chilli are drenched in plenty of lemon juice and olive oil, giving it a very fresh and clean taste. For a main meal, the Yetesom Beyaynetu provides injera, the sourdough soft bread, with serves of legumes, such as lentils, and vegetables, among them a very satisfying cabbage and potato. It’s a tasty and filling meal, but be warned that the proportion of bread is high. There’s also an amazing side dish of long green chillis stuffed with finely chopped onion. Needless to say this has a strong taste, one that lingers in your mouth when you have stopped eating, but if you have some injera at hand there’s no reason to be daunted. This cuisine could never be described as subtle, but its tastes are appealing, it is extremely wholesome, and to judge by the folk at the Addis, those who eat it are lovely.

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2nd October 2011

Maharaja Indian Restaurant

50 Queensway, London W2

Indian food is now so well established in Britain that it becomes an interesting experience to sample the food in a restaurant that, to judge from the variety of languages and range of accents of English spoken by the diners, mainly caters for visitors to the country. You can begin with vegetable samosas, of the small variety with flaky pastry, or a bowl of dahl in which the legumes have dissolved, topped with flecks of parsley and a slice of lemon you can squeeze with your spoon to release the juice. The main dishes include an aloo gobi which, despite being enlivened by pieces of tomato, I found a little bland and, most unusually when eating Indian food, wanted to add pepper to, and sag chana, a dish made more interesting by the stronger flavour of the spinach. Perhaps the food here is less spicy than usual in Britain…could this be because the British have become accustomed to the strong tastes of Indian food, so that a restaurant aiming at visitors will tone down the intensity? A meal here is a reminder of the infinite possibilities of Indian food!

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