At Ravenscourt Park (between Hammersmith and Chiswick), there’s a massive Polish Social and Cultural Centre with a library, bookshop, cinema, jazz club, and, of course, a restaurant and cafe (amongst many other services). I, of course, was keen to try the final two.

We headed to their main restaurant Lowiczanka one Saturday night and just managed to grab one of the last tables for two (we hadn’t made a reservation but it was clear that we should have!). This was prior to Christmas and there were lots of groups dressed up and partying. There was live music and disco lights and a dancefloor and couples would just randomly get up and dance. We felt very underdressed.

We skipped starters that evening and went straight to mains. Sausage with hunters stew was a large grilled specimen served with a sauerkraut based stew cooked with various porky bits.

Sausage with Hunters Stew

Blai’s breast of duck served with cherry sauce was the real winner – a large roast duck portion with a sweet and tangy cherry compote. It was even served in a baked apple, though this could have been baked for longer.

Breast of Duck served with Cherry Sauce

These were served with beetroot and carrot salads..

Beetroot and Carrot Salads

…and we also got a sour cabbage salad as we didn’t originally order the beetroot one. Plus one for service!

Sour Cabbage Salad

Overall, the mains were fine though not spectacular. We were a little surprised at the atypically modest portion sizes; in our experience, most Polish restaurants have massive portions.

Much much better were their desserts! I chose a coffee gateau while Blai had some ice cream. It was all brilliant in an old-fashioned kind of way; I almost expected the desserts to come out on a trolley!

Coffee Gateau

Ice Cream

Lowiczanka Restaurant
First Floor
Polish Centre
238-246 King St
London W6 0RF

We took a peek at the jazz cafe before we left and it looks fantastic! It’s a great space with seating at tables and on the floor (with pillows) and if I were a fan, I’d definitely head there.

On another afternoon, I popped into their cafe on the ground floor for a quick lunch; it’s a much more casual place and the prices reflect that. Mixed pierogi were calling out to me and I opted for a mixture of sauerkraut+mushroom and minced meat. They had all been fried in lard and were hearty and comforting, with their sides of carrot and beetroot salads. I preferred the tang of the sauerkraut+mushrooms perogi, finding the minced meat ones a bit heavy (perfect for winter though!).

Mixed Pierogi (Sauerkraut + Mushroom and Meat

Their cake selection was looking incredible that day (it was a Saturday afternoon) and I chose something I’d certainly never seen before – this cheese and apple slice. The biscuit layers were amazingly light and melted in the mouth while the yellow cheese layer was like a cross between custard and cheesecake. All that and the applesauce layered in between, mmmmm….

Cheese and Apple Slice

If you do see their cheesecake on the counter (sernik), do ensure you get a slice! Their baked cheesecake is amazingly light and fluffy and we love it!

Last night I discovered Polish sernik, a baked cheesecake that's my most favourite cheesecake ever so far. It's so light and fluffy!

Cafe Maya
Ground Floor
Polish Centre
238-246 King St
London W6 0RF

Personally, I prefer the casual cafe to the more formal restaurant upstairs but for classic Polish food, both are pretty good bets.

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It was quite exciting to hear that a new and modern and highly rated fish and chip shop had opened in West London. The small space at Kerbisher & Malt in Hammersmith (really in between Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush) was fresh and brightly lit and very welcoming. Early one Saturday evening, a last minute decision to eat out rather than stay in had us visiting; all the round tables were already full, the large communal table was fully booked, and we only just managed to grab one of the counter tables for two right by the window. They aren’t the most spacious of counters but they do offer a fantastic view of…the road. OK, the pavement and road and yes, there was some good people watching to be had. Snag your seat and then place you order at the cashier at the back; the meals will be brought to you at your seat.

Be Healthy

We split a cod and chips (£6.90 + £1.80) as it felt like the right thing to do, trying a classic. Sure the piece of fish wasn’t as large as what you’d get at other chippies but it was a fine piece of fish and from sustainable sources too. Other options for your piece of fish include grilling or frying in matzo meal. The double-fried chips were fantastic, all craggy and crispy, just the way I like them.

Cod and Chips

A generous bowlful of calamari (£4) fried with a matzo meal coating were fresh and delicious. There was some cayenne in the coating for sure as our tongues would occasionally burn from a bit of the spice that hadn’t been evenly distributed.

Calamari

The fish bites (£3.50) we ordered turned out to be cod also and were larger than I expected. Like the calamari,  they were also fried with a matzo meal crumb. Whoever’s frying back there in the kitchen really knows what they’re doing as nothing we had was greasy and everything was perfectly crisp. Mushy peas (£1.60) and tartare sauce (50p) are absolutely essential to us and they couldn’t be left out of our order. The tartare sauce was good homemade stuff and was of just the right level of chunkiness for dipping.

Fish Bites, Mushy Peas and Tartare Sauce

Two Cokes (95p each) and two orders of Jude’s ice cream (£1.95 each – they were just ok) made up the rest of our order and brought our bill to just shy of £25. I’m keen to return to try their pickled onion rings, whitebait and fish finger butty. Oh, and their fish burger – I do love a good fish burger. With these prices, something tells me I’ll be working my way through their menu over the next year.

They offer takeaway too with the majority of their customers opting for that.

Kerbisher & Malt
164 Shepherds Bush Road
London W6 7PB

Kerbisher & Malt on Urbanspoon

Last Monday was the latest in the Dine with Dos Hermanos dinner series at Indian Zing in Hammersmith. Weeks before, I had put my name in the virtual hat and as luck would have it, my name was drawn, making this my first of these dinners. Organised by Simon Majumdar, one of the brothers of the Dos Hermanos blog, the always spectacular dinners attract food loving Londoners (and some from further afield) and bloggers. Indian Zing was chosen for this meal as Simon reckons it’s the best higher-end Indian restaurant in London. Now, I don’t live very far from the restaurant itself and had definitely passed it numerous times. Guilt set in that I hadn’t yet tried this supposedly exceptional restaurant and so I was really looking forward to this meal.

When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted with huge platters of canapes: Vegetable Bhanavla, Green Peppercorn Malai Tikka, Zing’s Seekh Kebab, and Grilled Paneer with coconut, tamarind and chili dipping sauces. No photos of these (shame!) as I was trying to balance a drink while simultaneously waving my hand to turn down a fifth piece of that chicken tikka… well….. ok, go on then! (I’m reminded of a takeaway place I pass every day with the catchphrase “Tuck into a Tikka”!) My favourites were these huge chunks of the most tender marinated chicken and the firm yet tender cubes of fresh paneer. I’ve always said that if I had to be a vegetarian, I’d always turn to the Indian school of vegetarianism.

The Table

The tables were laid with the Pappadums and Khakara basket with pickle and relish and upon seating, we all tucked in to these crunchies. But these were a temporary distraction before our starter of Aloo Tikki Chat came out. This was individually plated (I was surprised! I just assumed that everything would come out family style) and came looking quite pretty with its lashings of chutneys and scattering of chopped red onion. This was nice enough but I do admit that I was looking more forward to the main events.

Aloo Tikki Chat

The main meal did come out family style – we were having trouble making space for it all on the table! A tan-coloured Karwari Fish Curry was a lusciously coconutty curry with chunks of white fish. The gravy was lovely enough to drink. But I was mostly in awe at the Pork Vindaloo that was sweet and yet a little tangy too. Despite being a two chili dish on the menu, this was quite subdued heat-wise, nothing like the usual curry house offerings.

Pork Vindaloo

The vegetarian main course was Zing’s Saag Paneer, which was a one chili dish but I found it hotter than the vindaloo! A good version of it with the spinach not too pureed.

Who needs plain rice when there’s a big mound of Chicken Biryani at the table?! There were large pieces of chicken on the bone buried in the rice and the meat was literally falling off the bone. The copious use of a delicious spice paste throughout made this one of the best biryanis I’d ever had.

Chicken Biryani

Vegetable sides included Organic Vegetable Foogath and a Dal Makhani. The former was a combination of various vegetables (I remember carrot, green beans, broccoli and cabbage) cooked with coconut, mustard seeds and curry leaves. The vegetables all had a nice bite to them and were quite a nice way to eat one’s five a day. The latter came as a dark and creamy pool of lentils and beans and was a very soothing accompaniment to the spicier dishes.

More Dishes

Now that I’m looking at the menu again… Batatyachi bhaji. Hey, I think our table didn’t get this one. Sounds so good though – how was it? Anyone else get to try it? The menu says this was a potato, peanut and coriander dish with mustard seeds and curry leaves.

For starches we had a Jeera and saffron pulao, which lovely as it was, I was stuffing my face with that gorgeous biryani, and basketfuls of Malabar Paratha griddled layered bread (hey, Colin, there’s your thumb!). This latter was best when served hot. When cold, it was quite impliable and not at all good for sopping up curries. Our side of the table went through two of these baskets – I’ll name no names but we’re definitely greedy guts!

Malabar Paratha

There was no worry of anyone going home hungry that night. Though the bowls look small, there were many of them on each table and refills were forthcoming. We piled our plates high and ate and ate until we slapped our cutlery down and declared ourselves defeated.

The desserts came out all individually plated: Gulab Jamun, Shrikhand with berries, and a Rice Payasam (hey Colin, there’s your finger!). Now the funny thing is that I’m not normally a fan of Indian sweets and desserts but I loved all of these! Perhaps it was the (very) sweet contrast to the spice beforehand but I inhaled that gulab jamun and would have done the same with the shrikhand (a sweetened strained yogurt) and the payasam (a sweet pudding with saffron and cashews and raisins and coconut) if my poor tummy would have allowed it.

Desserts

We didn’t go home empty handed either; there were goody bags for each attendee (I’ll leave it to Simon’s post to describe what was inside). And ironically, I, the girl who hardly drinks anything alcoholic each year except for a few sips here and there, won the raffle prize of a Johnny Walker black label limited edition bottle with a label in gold – bling bling – provided by Mandeep from the company who had kindly provided a few whiskys to pair with certain dishes. Part of the prize was the engraving of a personalised message onto the bottle – I think the person who’ll be getting this gift from me will definitely appreciate it!

Thanks again to Simon for organising the dinner and chef Manoj Vasaikar and everyone at Indian Zing for making it a fabulous night! The restaurant truly is exceptional with the food excellent and the service wonderful; the waiters were all lovely with great senses of humour and this made the fun night even better. Thanks also to the great company too – it’s not often you find yourself with 40 other people who are also obsessed with food!

Indian Zing
236 King Street
Hammersmith
London W6 0RF

Indian Zing on Urbanspoon

I love Indian food – more specifically, I love South Indian food as this was what was mostly available in Malaysia and Singapore and hence what I grew up with. Yes, I ate my fair share of Indian food, Malay food, Nyonya food, Chinese food and Western food too. It was quite a multicultural upbringing I had.

Anyway, two Saturdays ago, I met Blai in Hammersmith and I dragged him down King Street to Sagar as I was craving some Indian food. I wanted crispy things and snacky things and savoury things, all of which Sagar do in abundance. We’d been before for dinner when we ordered their thalis but I’d always wanted to go back for the rest of their menu. From that menu, we had:

An aloo papadi chaat, a snack of chopped boiled potatoes, crunchy pieces of gram flour cracker, chutneys and yogurt – I was shovelling this down as it was mighty delicious and all the flavours just melded well together. Oh, and I’m a sucker for anything crunchy and savoury.

Aloo Papadi Chaat

A Mysore masala dosa, a dosa spread with a spicy chili chutney on the inside and filled with spiced potatoes – so good! It was served with a fresh coconut chutney and a sambar, a tamarind and dal and vegetable soupy stew that’s usually served with dosas and rice. Sagar’s sambar was one of the best I’ve had; it was extremely flavourful and not too sour nor too thin.

Mysore Masala Dosa

A coconut uthappam, a thick dosa like a pancake, again served with chutney and sambar. Again, this went very well with the sambar – I want to try their other uthappams next time.

Coconut Utthapam

And for dessert, an order of rasmalai shared between us. It was creamy and fresh cheesy and so good – I don’t normally like milky sweets but this I love.

Rasmalai

Alongside a couple of drinks, the total was about £20 for the two of us. With the quality of the food and the prices, I can see why this place is almost always packed! I’ll be back when another craving hits.

Sagar
157 King Street
Hammersmith
London W6 9JT

Sagar on Urbanspoon