North West London Love

For all my twenty five years I have remained entirely within a north west postcode - discounting the LS1 whilst at uni. Gravitating around the leafy Hampstead heights to the bottom of the hill of diverse (in all sense of the word ) Cricklewood and all hoods in between. If ever you find yourself in my neck of the woods check these places out, I can vouch that they are the best around, up north anyway!

The Chinese: Green Cottage
9 New College Parade, Finchley Road, NW3 5EP     (020) 7722 5305    
My dear friend Amelia and I have been coming here for a decade. I warn service is hit or miss, though this is not the reason it’s kept its place in the local’s hearts and bellies. For that we have the mixed BBQ meats on rice. Yes it’s a staple on any Chinese menu, but what every other lacks is the indescribable nectar like sauce that's generously poured on top.

Mixed meat on rice with magic sauce - Chinese tea
Salt and chili squid again is another staple but here it is escalated to perfection. The batter is crisp with minimal grease, the squid slithers have a bite but still juicy.
Baby squid not to be confused with THE salt and chili squid (right picture)

And for the Asian favourite flavour muddle of sweet and savoury I highly recommend honeyed prawns. Butterflied and lightly battered prawns tossed in sticky honey and garlic with a third nutty dimension.
Honeyed Prawns - Bejing duck and pancakes
When we occasionally stray from the above Green Cottage also do hearty clay pots, and unashamedly from time to time I tuck into their mean pork sweet and sour. Boundary breaking it is not, but to do something well that is so often poorly interpreted is a feat worth shouting about.
Green Cottage on Urbanspoon

The Gastropub: The Bull and Last
168 Highgate Road, London NW5 1QS     (020) 7267 3641      
I had been very faithful to the Holly Bush for quite a while but noticed the food was getting a little tired, so off to pastures new. Across the heath to the home of legendary scotch eggs, fine fish and charcuterie boards and homemade chocolate salt caramels. Hello Bull and Last!
I will be astounded if you find a better always runny scotch egg than this on our fair land!

Homemade Charcuterie Board:
Duck prosciutto, chicken liver parfait, ham hock terrine, rillettes, pig's head, remoulade and toast
The Bull and Last have covered all bases of the gastropub genre with big fat high fives. Pub culture nailed with relaxed and manly (provided with the taxidermy bull heads and the like) surroundings, easily allowing for a drunken stupor to creep up on you.  Bar shelves abundantly stocked with good poisons and guest ales on tap, this is not to mention super quaff able wines. Essence of a good local remains with the sincere staff.
Salad of Crubeens:
Breaded stuffed trotters, speck ham, dandelion, beetroot and soft egg dressing.
Salty sweet doughnut fingers with dulce de leche and yoghurt sorbet and in my opinion the best of the array of homemade ice creams, prune and armangac but if that doesn't float your boat apple crumble, ferrero rocher or millionaire shortbread flavour might!
Where the Bull and Last smacks it is the food. Whether you are going all out for a Sunday roast rib of beef or a snackette of trotter wontons, it won’t disappoint. There are many an interesting thing happening in the kitchen, starting from well sourced produce and conjuring of new flavours and combinations, living up to the quality British food a gastropub is renowned for.

Triple cooked chips you would fight over!
Duck egg, confit hearts, sauteed potatoes, alscace bacon lardons and wild mushrooms. Rich, savoury, perfect.
Bull & Last on Urbanspoon

The Bagel Shop: Beigel Bakery
92 Cricklewood Broadway, London NW2 3EL     (020) 8450 9084
Cricklewood and West Hampstead have some great long standing bakeries. I bulk buy bagels for lazy weekend brunches and my midweek pastrami bagel! You can't go wrong at 45p a pop with a choice from caraway to cinnamon and raisin. The chunky loops are chewy and dense in the middle and have a crusty bottom with bite. And for those extra lazy days pre fill them with trad sandwich fillers. Swing by if you're round, your smoked salmon will thank you next Saturday!

The Sushi Place: Cafe Japan        
626 Finchley Road NW11 7RR     (020) 8455 6854    
This little wooden clad corner in Golders Green bides it's time silently but always brings in the sushi starved. First step in and the Japanese order and serenity hits you, the chefs warmly greet you from the bar and carry on methodically. I love this place for it's freshness and simplicity. What's the point of sushi if it doesn't taste pure? I find good sushi has remedial qualities and I often come here for a refuelling Sunday lunch or a takeaway for a healthy and not too heavy dinner.
Cold counter ready for slicing and rolling - Sweet shrimp roll
My favourite sushi: salmon roe roll

Cafe Japan on Urbanspoon

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