Casa Lola, Malaga 04-2019

Casa Lola was one of the few places I wanted to hit on the tapas route. However the first two times, hunger was higher than patient for the queue that stretched onto the street. The other places were La Tranca (but this only has a very limited tapas menu), Las Merchanas (which I didn't get to) or trying a local restaurant of which Meson Mariano was top of my list (but again didn't get to).

Third time was a charm and also going at 11pm (on a Tuesday) when the masses had settled. It's a very local tavern setting although the number of seats means it isn't setup for standing and eating. Once you get through the long menu and see the sorts of dishes, you'll understand why.

- Porra Antequerana €2 - the local version of salmorejo was a cold soup delicious with garlic, topped with savoury jamon and tuna and perfectly eaten with bread. Really excellent;
- Croquetas €2 - small discs of fried ox tail;
- Abre los ojos (tomate ort, corazon de alcachofa, bechamel y virutas jamon iberico) €3 - an eclectic dish of (almost blue) cheese sauce, artichoke heart, sprinkles of jamon and a bit of vinegar;
- Pancetamol (rabo de toro, panceta iberica, salsa de vino y miel de cana) €3.5 - a disc of ox tail meat with a sweet honey sauce served in flat bread.

The prices for the quality were simply outstanding. I'm not surprised at the queues. The drinks were ok too - although the sangria had an unusual distinct taste that I couldn't put my finger on.

Avoid the rush if you can, but if you can't then it's worth the queue.

Bico de Xeado, Malaga 04-2019

 There's a few reputed gelato places (heladeria in Spanish) in Malaga. I only tried two, but the look and appeal of this Galician one turned out very well. In fact I'd be hard pressed to say I've ever had any better than this.

Look at the colour of that pistachio - a distinct brown colour and the manager said it is more nut and less sugar. It sure tasted like it too. I have had a couple in Italy that are so pure nut it is almost like eating pistachio butter, and to me that is probably a bit too far. But this was a good balance with more emphasis on the nutty side and creamy.

The coconut had little tufts of coconut flesh and a strong flavour.

Wow. I wanted to go back but ran out of time...

Coq d'Argent, London 03-2019

Bargain 3 course lunch for £22.5 when the London City shuts down on weekends.

French at its finest.

Excellent warm bread to start of. The seeded one was warm, crisp shell and so soft inside.

- Coquille Saint Jacques (Orkney Island scallop, bouquet prawns, mussels, puff pastry vol au vent, American sauce) - American sauce tasted like crab/shellfish sauce;
- Venison tartare (celeriac & green apple remoulade, Avruga caviar, black truffle) - a perfect dish to look at. The diced meat was tender and soft and not too strongly flavoured;
- Loup de mer (seared fillet of sea bass, Devon white crab risotto, crab essence)
- Cote de veau (250g Rose veal cutlet vallee d'auge, creamy wild mushrooms, apples, truffled pomme puree) - looked white as (and tasted as if it could have been) pork with the pink of rare. Very flavoursome;
- 2 desserts including my molten dark chocolate fondant with pistachio icecream.

Excellent brunch.

Kanishka, London 03-2019

Michelin star Indian comes to London. Surprisingly there wasn't a full complement of guests but maybe they kept it slower for the soft opening. It didn't stop some cheapskate annoying other tables from ordering takeaway. The nerve.

Roast Banana Old Fashioned (tandoor roasted banana with cinnamon, orange & pecan bitters, maple) £8.5 didn't have much banana or roast flavour. But it did taste like a strong but quite smooth slightly smokey old fashioned. It was good.

- Pappadums with chutney
- Naga scallops (smoked chilli spiced diver scallops, parsnips achar, puree & papad) £18 - delicate scallops (slightly overcooked) with excellent flavour and accompaniments for contrast;
- Tibetan guinea fowl thupka (classic north eastern noodle & meat soup with coriander & green onion) £12 - like a perfect Chinese chicken noodle soup dish. I savoured every drop of broth;
- Sagolir manxo (tribal goat curry, cumin, black pepper) £26 - probably the best goat curry I've had with a reasonably strong flavour, the most tender delectable meat pieces and no bones to fill out of the dish. I suppose the most expensive too...;
- Banana leaf steamed seabass (sorrel chutney marinated wild seabass, pineapple & shrimp kutchumber) £28 - excellently cooked and if I recall correctly even de-boned...?;
- Kanishka signature black dal £8 - incredibly rich, creamy with a butter/ghee flavour. It would have to rival the one at world famous Bukhara (;
- Bread basket (naan, paratha, roti) £10.

Overall a great meal. It seemed like excellent versions of classic dishes rather than particularly modern takes. Would gladly go back.

M Restaurant, London 03-2019

With a show in Victoria, I looked and managed to find a half price dinner nearby on First Table. I haven't heard about M previously but apparently they've won awards for both their meat and seafood. What are the odds?

- Crab raviolo (white chocolate, artichoke, caviar) £14.95 - the singular of ravioli is raviolo. Nice although expensive if it was full price...
- Pan fried hake (parsley, swede & celeriac gratin, seaweed butter) £20.95;
- Botswana rib-eye 400g £36.50 - look at how perfectly rare (as requested), full of flavour, not the most tender but good enough. Really good.

Good food at a good price in a nice location and restaurant. Great for pre-theatre.

Ember Yard, London 03-2019

Salt Yard, Dehesa, Opera Tavern - all names I knew last time in 2012-2013 but never tried. The Opera Tavern foie gras burger was one that was thrown around Hot Dinners back in those days. Finally the opportunity arose in halfprice weekend dinners. No idea why, maybe it is difficult staying new during the quieter months. I chose Ember Yard due to their having a special josper grill.

All the dishes were nice, but particularly the josper roasted duck (turnip, calcot, pork rillons) £9.5 and the iberico cuts plate £30. These were the dishes cooked on the josper so it isn't surprisingly they pleased me most.

Most interesting was the rare to medium-rare pork that only iberico could. The iberico abanico with chicken butter (left, fan that surrounds the ribs), iberico pluma with black pepper (middle, feather blade) and iberico presa with jamon butter (right, shoulder) were all phenomenal. The texture was probably the softest on the presa, the grain and flavour most powerful in the pluma (which was my favourite) and the strong saltiness from the seasoning and chicken butter was sometimes a touch too potent. But boy was it good.

Desserts were ok but nothing special. We ate way too much...

Roti King, London 02-2019

After passing long queues, queuing this time before lunchtime opening and waiting until the whole party arrived, I finally ate here.

Excellent roti, some of the best I've had. Flaky, chewy, buttery, delicious. Laksa is ok, nice taste but not many ingredients. Char kuay teow wasn't charred enough and lacked flavour.

Would definitely go back for the roti.