Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Albania: Alba Grill

Week 2 and we're in Maida Vale. Actually, more like West Kilburn. Today we visited the Alba Grill for a spot of Albanian. Sue came along for the giggles, it's just down the road from her house.

A 15 minute walk from Maida Vale tube, we arrrived at a reasonably smart restaurant (compared to the neighbouring establishments). We needn't have booked, we were the only diners. Possibly the only diners for quite some time. The waiter showed us to our table, seated downstairs in the basement, after he'd turned on the lights and switched the telly to Alsat TV, treating us to the current top 10 of Albanian folk music videos while we ate. Classy.

Another limited menu, but luckily the Albanian specialities were available. We chose a selection of kebabs, grilled chicken and beef steaks, accompanied by a mixed and greek salad. No obvious Albanian drinks, so we stuck with bottles of beer.

The nosh was perfectly fresh, if a little unappetising to look at. The steaks had a spicy kick. Sue liked her chicken. The sheep's cheese  in the salad was very tasty although not sure if it was feta or a creamy alternative.

No Albanian dessert! :-(

Overall, a pleasant enough dining experience, but I wouldn't rush back. There is not a plethora of Albanian restaurants in London to choose from, in fact this was the only one we could find....but to be honest, there are plenty enough Greeks to cover off the menu.

Food: **
Atmosphere: *
Value for money:***

More photos at my lourobbo flickr account.

Next up - Algeria.

Alba on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Afghanistan: Afghan Kitchen

Tuesday night, we began our quest, with a trip to the Afghan Kitchen in Islington.

This restaurant is tiny. Minute. But we'd found a little gem. We arrived early, about 6.30 on Tuesday night, but that was probably fortunate as it soon filled up and we hadn't booked. They do market themselves as eat-in and takeaway. This is not a place to come if you want to linger over your food, we were in and out within about 40 minutes.

For dinner, we chose the following from the limited menu

  • Lamb with potatoes
  • Lamb with spinach
  • Chicken in yoghurt
washed down with green tea (supposedly a popular beverage in Afghanistan according to the Travel Book), a yoghurt and mint concoction (a bit like drinking tsatsiki) and diet coke (well, I guess you can get it anywhere!)

All three dishes were excellent. We had some nicely cooked, fluffy plain rice to accompany the mains. And the highlight of the meal had to be the fresh bread (only cooked for the evening session). Similar to a naan, but slightly crustier texture and smothered in poppy seeds. Absolutely delicious.

Then a portion of Baghlava for pudding...honey and pistachios, always a good  way to end a meal.

Like all good food review sites, we need a ratings system. Out of 5 stars for each category, Afghan Kitchen scores as follows:  (Happy to be challenged, fellow diners!)

Atmosphere: **
Value for money: *****

More photos available at my lourobbo flickr account

Afghan Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

I had an idea for a new challenge

....and I don't think it was necessarily an original one. But it seemed like a good idea anyway. And I had probably had a few glasses of wine when I decided to give it a go.

Using the Lonely Planet Travel Book as a definitive list of countries, I wanted to attempt to sample the cuisine from each of those places, without leaving London. Actually, without leaving the confines of the M25.

Hopefully, this would mostly be in restaurants. Say, once a week or so. But, in the event that no such establishment could be found for a particular country, I'd attempt to cook something traditional at home. And just to add another dimension, let's do this in alphabetical order. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe

Everyone said "Great idea.....could I come along when you reach Vietnam?". That should be sometime around the end of 2013.

Pictures of our foodie expedition will be posted here on my flickr site:

There are a mere 231 countries/principalities/constituent parts included in the Travel Book! The culinary journey round London starts here...