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Pasta. The freshest of pasta made in house every day with homemade sauces and the very best of simple ingredients. That’s all you need to know, really. I’d heard about Padella via Sabrina Ghayour’s Instagram, and figured if Sabrina was a regular who raved about it, it was certainly worth trying. I trust Sabrina. Then one of my colleagues pounced on me one morning and went on and on and on about how it’s the best pasta he’s had in London, and he continued to hound me until I went. They were both right – this is without question some of the best Italian food I’ve had in the city.

I am a long time fan of a ‘small plates’ menu, mainly because I want to try everything in any given restaurant, which I think is totally acceptable. I don’t want to be tied down to one choice, suffering from food envy should my companion have chosen wiser than me. Luckily for me, restaurants going down the small plates route are hugely popular and opening at a rapid rate in London, and Padella is one of them, taking inspiration from traditional Italian small plates. Coming from the team behind Trullo (er hello, one look at that sample menu and I’m now desperate to visit), Padella is based on years of travelling through Italy making and eating a shit tonne of pappardelle. Sounds like the perfect excuse to open a pasta bar if you ask me.

After a 30 minute wait in line for a table (for Padella is one of those no reservations places we don’t mind so much in the summer months but cry about in the winter), we were fortunate to get a table outside on one of the last warm, sunny evenings in September. Vowing to eat as much as we could, we went in hard with an order of four dishes to share as a start to our meal. We went classic with cold meat and cheese with bread and salad – the simplest of European combinations that is always some kind of perfect. The salami was excellent and the burrata spot on (£5), but when is burrata not spot on? Next time I would opt for the spinach with chilli, garlic and anchovy (£5.50) over the radicchio, watercress and rocket salad (£5.50), though it’s not like we didn’t polish it off – the spinach just sounds more interesting. I have apparently memorised the beauty of Padella’s sourdough (£2), crunchy on the crust but so soft and warm on the inside, the perfect accompaniment to soaking up the Puglian olive oil it’s served with. A very solid start.

Despite a great start to our meal, the mains really did steal the show. The ricotta ravioli in sage butter (£7) came out on top, helped by the fact it’s one of my favourite dishes of all time, but therefore at high risk of being judged too harshly. It was second only to some ravioli I’ve had at a wedding in Tuscany, which I swear to God I can still taste if I close my eyes. The ravioli is a must order, as is the pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu (£8.50), on par with that I’ve eaten in a Florentine trattoria. Tagliatelle with nduja, mascarpone and parsley (£5.50) was creamy but much spicier than expected – not necessarily a bad thing, and I am certainly one for spice, though I may substitute for fettuccine carbonara next time (£7.50). Or maybe just go with more people and get both? That’s probably a better idea. Also worth a mention – aforementioned colleague of mine still talks about their Taglierini with Dorset crab, chilli and lemon on a weekly basis, so there are two things we can take away from this: a) you cannot go far wrong choosing between any of the eight mains Padella offer, and b) we thank the pasta Gods once more that Padella is somewhere you are actively encouraged to order multiple dishes to share (around three or four dishes between two).

Desserts came in the form of a chocolate tart, an almond and blueberry tart or salted caramel ice cream. We tried the chocolate and ice cream, and whilst both were pleasant they did pale next to the high standard of the starters and mains, which is perhaps to be expected when the pasta is known to be the star of the show. And for all of this, wager how much the bill came to? Four dishes to start, three pastas, two desserts, and a very decent amount of wine, prosecco and Aperol came to £45pp including service. For this amount of food, I consider this a great deal in a city such as London, and for food of this quality, it’s heaven.

Despite being advised that the tables had a turn around of 1.5 hours per sitting, we didn’t feel rushed whilst we had our meal which is absolutely key. Service was friendly and accommodating, offering drinks to those waiting in the near constant queue that didn’t die down until gone 9pm. Sure, a queue can be off putting and I for one have little patience to wait outside in the cold, but the reward is a great one: a warm, friendly atmosphere with good wine and what surely must be some of London’s best pasta.

6 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TQ
Mon – Sat: 12-4pm; 5-10pm; Sun: 12-5pm

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The Best Burgers In The World

To celebrate the holiest day of the year, National Burger Day, I’ve rounded up The Best Burgers In The World for you to feast your eyes on. Get ready to salivate… TRIED AND TESTED Bleecker St Burger Possibly the best burger in London. At least, it’s my favourite out of all I’ve tried so far. Bleecker …


Soft Serve Society

I love ice cream. Chocolate is great, cake is even better, but ice cream I really love. Recent years have seen an insurgence of great independent ice cream makers doing their thing on the street food circuit and beyond, but rarely are they soft serve. Scoop ice cream is bloody brilliant and I have many favourites, but soft serve takes you back, doesn’t it? Ice cream vans rolling down the street playing the music you so desperately longed to hear as a kid every summer evening, Mr Whippy 99s, McFlurries even – soft serve ice cream is nostalgic, and still as good now as it was then. Now imagine soft serve pimped up as other ice creams have been, and let me introduce Soft Serve Society.

Part of the fun of loving food is having a hit list as long as your arm of places you plan to try – in your own city and beyond. Food is a hobby, whether you consider yourself a full blown foodie whose penchant is tasting course menus or someone who strives to know the street food market like the back of their hand. What’s even more fun than finally making it to a restaurant you’ve read about, is lucking out by stumbling upon somewhere that unexpectedly serves amazing food, and feeling like you’ve discovered it. Of course many other people will feel this way too, but this is essentially what happened when I walked past BoxPark the other day and found Soft Serve Society. The queue snaked out onto the street, but whether hype or the sunny day caused it, I don’t know. Despite being on our way to Voodoo Ray’s for a slice and a frozen margarita, we stopped off for dessert first. Who says we have to play by the rules?

As ever when it comes to sweets, the difficult part was picking our delicious poison. Sundae (£4.95) or regular ice cream (£3.50)? Or to go big and go freakshake (£7.95)? Soft Serve Society had taken this latest trend under their belt but considering the imminent pizza, I thought it may be overkill. We both landed on regular ice cream – flavour of the day: chocolate with sea salt. Turns out, sea salt is just as good in chocolate as it is in salted caramel. I’d happily say it’s among the best soft serve ice cream I’ve had, if not the best. You get plenty of it too, though don’t be too fooled by those cups – there is a smaller cup inside that one that stops about two inches down! They’re generous but not that generous.

The menu is small, only two regular flavours: vanilla and green tea (the founder is Japanese), but always with a weekly special. The toppings do the talking here, with everything from meringue, popping candy, granola, popcorn, honeycomb and even puff pastry, along with all the usual sauce suspects – chocolate, strawberry, caramel. I topped mine off with Oreo crumbles for good measure. The pull of Soft Serve Society is going back to basics: soft serve ice cream done well, and from an independent too. I hope they’ll start popping up at street food outposts and festivals, but until then, head over next time you’re in Shoreditch for your own taste of nostalgia.

Have you tried Soft Serve Society yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Unit 35, BoxPark, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GY

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Cheap Eats London

Voodoo Ray’s

Voodoo Ray’s were on my list to try at this year’s Glastonbury, and then the mud happened. The mud that meant what should be a twenty minute walk between stages took forty five, and an hour across festival took two. Glasto is still my favourite place in the world, but that mud was trying and physically exhausting. It also meant I did not make it to Block 9, the temporary home of Voodoo Ray’s for the duration of those amazing days in June. That God damn mud.

Since then I have been meaning to make it to Dalston specifically to try Voodoo Ray’s famed pizza by the slice, American style. Luckily for me, this weekend I stumbled upon their smaller site at Shoreditch’s Box Park. Despite having already eaten lunch and ice cream in the two hours previous, we ordered a slice of the meatiest pizza they do – The Meat Is On: minced steak, pepperoni, ham and pancetta with oozing melted mozzarella; along with a couple of frozen margaritas to wash it down. I can now confirm that yes, it really is worth the hype.

Voodoo Ray’s is described as a New York style pizza joint, so I assumed their pizzas would be the kind of deep pan pizzas you get in the Big Apple, which isn’t really my thing. But instead they have combined the very American concept of buying large hunks of pizza by the slice in a chilled atmosphere with the more favoured Napoli style pizza of Italy, and it’s genius.

First off, these pizzas are HUGE. Measuring at 22 inches across the whole thing, one slice is bigger than my face. Generous with the toppings, there is a great range of choice, including plenty of vegetarian options that sound seriously enticing despite my inevitably wanting the meatiest pizza they do. The Green Velvet – artichoke hearts, green olives, sun blushed tomatoes, mozzarella, tomato sauce and green sauce looks particularly good and there’s even an option that caters to the vegan crowd out there. For the meat lovers there is almost too much choice. The Meat Is On was excellent but I definitely want to go back to try the King Tubby with fennel and chilli sausage, kale, caramelised onions, mozzarella and marinated tomatoes; as well at the Rubenesque with salt beef and sauerkraut. Of course the real joy with this being a New York style pizza place is the fact you can try multiple slices and therefore multiple toppings, though you’d surely struggle to see away more than three of these slices in one sitting, big as they are.

Key to Voodoo Ray’s achieving the real vibe of a NYC pizza joint is the price. Sure, in New York you can pick up a huge slice of brilliant pizza slathered in cheese for $3 a pop, but this in London and nothing ever seems to be much of a bargain anymore. Until now. These slices come in at £4 each, and for such high quality and the sheer size of them, that is a great deal. Dips to see off your crusts come in at 50p each including classic garlic mayo, sweet BBQ and a chili sauce that comes from a secret recipe, and you can also get mac and cheese on the side for a mere £4.50.

Frozen margaritas (£6.50) made with Olmeca tequila saw no complaints from a seasoned margarita drinker such as myself, and a variety of cold beers from around the world will keep others happy. What’s more, the original Dalston outpost is open until 3am Thursday through Saturday so it really does feel like being in the city that never sleeps. Voodoo Ray’s have successfully brought a slice of New York City to East London, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it.

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Facebook recently reminded me it’s been two years since my friend Harry and I went to Bodean’s and ordered five sides. Five. Between two, in addition to a huge plate of BBQ meat each which, yes, already came with sides. I recently showed my mate Tom (of Foulder Online) the wondrous ways of the world of Bodean’s for the first time, and it struck me I’ve never actually written about my love for the place other than random comments or tweets screaming ‘BODEAN’S I LOVE BODEAN’S’ into the void. I assume everyone knows about Bodean’s because they’ve been around for years now and have quite a few outposts, but then I think, ‘God, what if you don’t? What if you don’t know and you’re missing this amazing meat mecca in your life?’ So here we are.

I’m going to start with the drinks first, because without fail the first thing I do when I reach any Bodean’s is order a margarita straight up, with salt. Let me tell you, they know this cocktail. I’d like to tell you they know all their cocktails, but I couldn’t, because I only ever have the margs. I’m not steering off piste when my favourite cocktail is that good. For those who don’t want to plough their way through the long cocktail list they also serve a wealth of American beers and ales, as well as a decent offering of reds and white wines.

And then, of course, there’s the meat – the star of this all American show. Look around and you’ll see huge racks of ribs smothered in their house smokey BBQ sauce, towering burgers, foot long hot dogs. The smell as you walk past other diners to your table is genuinely saliva inducing. My go-to is forever the pulled pork with burnt ends combo (£13.95): tender meat that falls apart at the softest of nudges from your fork, full of flavour and never, ever dry. It’s a tough pick from an extensive menu, but I can personally highly recommend any platter of meat they offer, and if you’re into hot dogs, Tom assures me the chilli cheese dog (£8.25) is more than up to scratch.

But back to these five sides. If you want to truly experience a Bodean’s feast to its greatest potential, order extra sides. That time Harry and I went a tad overboard (no regrets), we ordered sweet potato fries, macaroni cheese, cornbread (oh God I love cornbread), BBQ beans with extra pulled pork (I know) and onion rings, because of course. All were excellent, but the onion rings and cornbread are a must. Needless to say that what with all that and several margaritas, I’ve never made it to dessert, though the menu is made up of American classics such as pecan pie and New York style cheesecake. You don’t go to Bodean’s for the sweets though, you go for the meat. And then you keep going back.


Locations in Soho, Tower Hill, Balham, Old Street, Fulham, Clapham and Covent Garden. For addresses and specific opening times for each restaurant visit the website.

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