Posts Tagged With: Cheap and cheerful

The Dark Ages weren’t so dark after all: Chicken Kiev and other comfort foods at West End Kitchen

Copyright of West End Kitchen. Sourced from West End Kitchen website

Copyright of West End Kitchen. Sourced from West End Kitchen website

Cuisine: European

Address: 5 Panton Street, SW1Y 4DL

Area: Leicester Square

Nearest Stations: Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square

Tel. No.: 020 7839 4241

Website: http://www.westendkitchen.co.uk/

Good For: Filling meal, Cheap and cheerful, Quiet meal

It is interesting to see that Chicken Kiev is making a ‘come back’ in London, according to the Evening Standard. Firstly, I am glad: Chicken Kiev was always a favourite school supper of mine, as it combines so many good things – breading, juicy chicken breast, butter and garlic – even if the execution back then was not always top-notch. Secondly, I am somewhat bemused that this dish has supposedly been absent from the West End since the 1970s. Granted, ‘sophisticated’ (as the Evening Standard names them) restaurants may not have been serving it, but I’ve been getting my Chicken Kiev fix for some time now in the West End. Gosh darn it am I being smug.

Welcome to the West End Kitchen on Panton Street.

It’s a small diner tucked away between Leicester Square and Haymarket, and has apparently been serving well-priced comfort food for many, many years now. I stumbled across it with my ex a few years back, when we’d just been to see a film; wet from the rain and desperately hungry, we couldn’t muster the effort to trudge to Chinatown and so we ducked into one of the few open doorways on Panton Street in order to dry off a bit and see what the menu had on offer.

That first time, I had the rather butch Pique a lo Macho (fried beef, chips, egg, sausage, onion, olives, pepper and cheese) that turned out to be a veritable macho mountain of hot and fulfilling food that would have overwhelmed lesser men. That and the friendly and irreverent service was enough to charm us back. Any time we were hungry and in the area, we would pop into the West End Kitchen.

Chicken Kiev at the West End Kitchen - yummy yummy I've got love in my tummy

Chicken Kiev at the West End Kitchen – yummy yummy I’ve got love in my tummy

And it is through these repeated visits that I came to appreciate their Chicken Kiev. It is a well-made dish: succulent chicken breast wrapped around creamy and rich garlic butter and encased in wonderfully crispy breading. It comes with standard boiled vegetables and new potatoes on a bed of adequately done rice, all of which are nothing that special when compared to the spinach and chicken jus of Primo, but then again you can have a very decent meal here for under £10.

And when you’re hungry and in need of some comfort food, do you really need anything more?

VERDICT – A good place. It’s a nice go-to place for a decent feed and you will always find a welcoming booth. And, now that Chicken Kievs are chic again, why wouldn’t want to be flocking down to the West End Kitchen?

Currently listening to: Horrorpops – Freaks in Uniform

Categories: European | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Land of the Western Sun: A West London Filipino experience at Sunrise Café

View of Sunrise Café. Sourced from Local Data Search website

View of Sunrise Café. Sourced from Local Data Search website

Cuisine: Filipino

Address: 12 Kenway Road, SW5 0RR

Area: Earl’s Court

Nearest Station: Earl’s Court

Tel.: 020 7373 3840

Website: N/A

Pricing: Cheap-Medium

Good For: Casual dining, Community feeling, Friendly conversation, Cheap and cheerful

It was the last weekend in October 2012; the first great chill of the winter, when you can really feel it seeping through your clothes and into your bones. Brrrrr. Why did I leave the warmth of my apartment?

Oh, that’s right, to go shopping. Whilst it is pleasing news that Tesco has finally got its act together and is selling select Filipino products (in places distant to me like Wembley and Harrow – booo), at the moment the best place to stock up on those hard-to-get treats is ‘Little Manila’ in Earl’s Court. It is little, and it’s not quite Manila, but there is still a smattering of shops and restaurants (okay, only two restaurants) that proudly fly the Filipino flag. I’d made the trek to Earl’s Court to chase down some ingredients (and impulse-buy a whole range of completely unnecessary yet absolutely yummy treats), and had timed my trip so that as I exited the shops, night was falling fast around me and dinner time was calling. So, here was an opportunity to try the newest (relatively speaking) restaurant on the block – Sunrise Café.

Grated ube, embutido, puto, calamansi concentrate, hopiang baboy, patis, canned laing, pandesal, frozen calamansi... all the things I did not *really* need

Grated ube, embutido, puto, calamansi concentrate, hopiang baboy, patis, canned laing, pandesal, frozen calamansi… all the things I did not *really* need

Sunrise Café is a family-run business that seems to have a real ‘part-of-the-community’ feel – which is good in a way, but also meant that I immediately felt like the only person in there that the owner did not know personally and was not talking to at the time. I would get to have a pleasant and short conversation with him as I left (“hope to see you again, salamat po for coming!”), but upon entering I stood around awkwardly, waiting to know whether I needed to be shown to a table or take one myself, whether I needed to grab a menu myself, or whether I should serve myself from the buffet on the side. Not the best of starts, then. Service finally did arrive with a smile, but alas it would remain relentlessly slow and haphazard the rest of the night.

Feeling the cravings of comfort food, I had opted for lechon kawali (deep-fried pork belly) with a portion of rice. In retrospect I should have gotten the significantly cheaper meal deal option, but this was not brought to my attention at the time of ordering. Nevertheless, it was a good meal.

Lechon kawali done properly. Sunrise Café was not too far off the mark. Sourced from pinoyfavrecipes.blogspot.co.uk

Lechon kawali done properly. Sunrise Café was not too far off the mark. Sourced from pinoyfavrecipes.blogspot.co.uk

The pork was freshly-cooked – which may explain the lengthy time lapse between ordering and eating – and was all that I expected: real crunch of the skin, softness of the fat and chewy meatiness. A very commendable effort, helped along by copious amounts of Mang Tomas All-Purpose Sarsa. The rice was hot and sticky, adding even further to the comfort and homeliness factor of the meal. I washed it all down with a refreshing San Miguel beer (not the Spanish one, but the original Filipino one) – but only because they had forgotten my order of iced buko juice (ordering this on a winter’s night? You crazy?).

So I guess that you could sum up the real story of the evening like so: a rather enjoyable meal let down by a slapdash operation, which I feel means this in-the-end charming café may not become something a bit more than just a neighbourhood diner for the owner’s friends and family. Which is a real shame, as they have the potential to be better and become a ‘destination restaurant’ that even non-Filipinos will want to go to.

VERDICT An okay experience. I rather enjoyed the food – when it eventually came. I rather enjoyed the hospitality of the owner – when it eventually came. In the end, I am willing to go back and try some of their other dishes; their breakfast section looks particularly enticing (meat/fish with fried rice, fried egg, vegetable ‘medley’ and coffee or tea for £5.50…. mmmmm). I just hope that Sunrise Café can show more of the renowned hospitality that the Philippines is known for.

Currently listening to: Arch Enemy – Night Falls Fast

Categories: Filipino | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments