Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Goodman City: where I got my birthday steak (London's best steakhouse)

Do you have birthday traditions? I do. 

It started in 2006 when my new friends from the UK threw a surprise party and served Argentinian steaks (which were overcooked like sorry souls from hell) and Chinese birthday noodles (to symbolise long life and had more crab stick than actual noodles). We all laughed about how none of us will ever be chefs but agreed it was a great night; despite being far from home I felt loved and felt I was exactly where I needed to be. Since then I would always have steak, crab, and balloons for my birthday.

The weeks leading up to my birthday this year have been rather hectic so I wasn't able to plan anything celebratory. However, thanks to the sweetest and most awesome friends in London, my "accidental" birthday traditions still pulled through. 

First off, my birthday steak!

My Filo girl friends threw me a pre-birthday dinner at Goodman City. Though I've visited the Maddox St branch a few times before, it was my first time at the Old Jewry branch. I liked how it felt so familiar because the ambience is pretty much the same with that traditional steakhouse feel.

Compared to other popular steakhouses in London (GauchoHawksmoorMASH) I think Goodman easily claims the top spot.

Niceties exchanged, we scoured the menu and the specials board for food options. Wine was an easier choice to make; we shared a few bottles of Vina Mar Pinot Noir Reserva (£42), a Chilean red that super easy to drink with a hint of spice and fresh aromatics.

We had three types of starters:

The lobster bisque (£7.50) was smooth. It was surprisingly light and but had a well-balanced flavour.

The tiger prawn tempura (£12) was a crowd favourite. Coated in light, non-greasy batter the prawns were juicy and went well with the creamy avocado. The cajun mayo had a nice kick and reminded us of Chippy, a Filipino brand of corn chips. 

My favourite starter was the beef carpaccio (£8). It was seriously a well-balanced dish: the meat had the perfect thickness and the amount of parmesan and balsamic dressing was just right for the portion size. It was such a refreshing starter.

And then we move on to steaks!

Most girls went for the rib-eye (£34 for 400g ) which was juicy and perfect with its marbling (bar from one piece which was about a third of fat).

The sirloin (£32 for 350g) is my second favourite cut as it's quite lean, but you still get a strip of fat (which I love when burnt to a nice crisp). C ordered a medium rare piece and it wanted to finish what she couldn't eat!

I went for my usual  fillet (£34) cooked rare. At 250g this is the perfect portion size for me. 

My photos won't ever do the cook on the steak any justice. It was a great pink colour and seasoning was on point. 

Seriously guys, it's the best fillet steak in town.

My girl friends are serious munchers so of course, how can we not have sides? Goodman's sides are so delicious and so well-portioned you could make a meal of it.

The creamed spinach with gruyere (£5) is a favourite.

Garlic butter mushrooms (£5) are so moreish and meaty. On point with the garlic, too!

The truffle chips (£5.50) were perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

And that mac & cheese (£5) with truffle sauce and parmesan? Ugh. Delicious.

After all that food we were quite full up so we tried to digest the meatsweat by snapping up some photos and acting a wee bit silly. 

We definitely worked up a sweat to warrant a round of desserts. After all, what's a birthday dinner with sweet friends sans sweet afters, non?

The Goodman City choc chip brownie ice cream sundae (£7) is every chocoholic's dream. This was insanely delicious. Rich and superbly sweet it's a perfectly indulgent way to end a feast of a meal.

Can't say much about the banana ice cream (£3.5), though. It just lacked that fresh banana flavour.

My banana chocolate mousse cake was on the house (usually £7). This dessert was fab. The banana mousse wrapped in great tasting milk chocolate was just divine. 

I absolutely enjoyed my pre-birthday dinner at Goodman City. Food was really excellent and service was very good (our main server, Rae, was absolutely bonkers in the most fantastic way).

More importantly, the company was great. I'm truly blessed to have friends who are very organised when life sometimes isn't! I definitely went home that night with a belly full of steak and a heart full of love.

11 Old Jewry, London EC2R
Ave spend pp: £100
Goodman Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal

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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Blog Hop: Plans for The Girl Next Shore

So the lovely Andrea tagged me on this blog hop thing a few weeks back. Hopefully, you'll all get to know me and my little blog more.

Ladies and gents, this is the story of the girl. Welcome to my shore.

1. What am I working on/writing?

As mentioned recently, The Girl Next Shore has been nominated in the 2015 Philippine Blogging Awards for Best Photoblog (you can show some love by voting for here). It's quite shocking and exciting all at once as I don't actually edit my photos (usually taken with a Sony RX-100 or my trusty iPhone6). However, I really want to improve my photography skills so I'm considering getting a proper DSLR and learning more about Lightroom.

What's brewing? I've been planning on sorting out my layout and branding for a while now and after dining with Lauren and Andrea, I'm inspired! Now scouting for a really good web developer/designer I can work with to convert from the Blogger template... so if you guys have any recommendations, please do let me know!

There's also still a huge backlog of food and travel posts I've been drafting and re-drafting so watch out for those!

In all honesty, I just want to be able to keep writing and keep having this blog as a creative platform and also as a way to document experiences to remind me to be grateful.

2. Why do I write what I do?
As mentioned on my "About" page (which may be difficult to find because it's hyperlinked to that banner on my sidebar) my blogging history dates back to 2001, the days when "blogging" was all about journalling emotions of youth and expressing creative juice through word-weaving. It was some sort of therapy (#cringe).

As years passed, I've come to realise how peachy life is so now I (try to) blog about what makes me happy - food, travel, musicpretty little things. From time to time, I still write musings for when the mind feels a bit philosophical (but definitely less dramatic because really and truly if I wanted people to cry, I'd just tell them to watch Sharknado). 

I write mostly about food because hellooo, I've been passionate about it from a very young age. I first dipped my toe on food blogging (Eat My Gunk, c 2010 - and yes, #cringe) to have a better relationship with food and also to improve the life skill of cooking... except I may have championed the life skill of eating out instead!

I'm very much in love with and very passionate about amazing and fresh food and the blogging got more serious when people started asking me about where/what to eat at several occasions. It's also nice sharing experiences and recommendations with fellow foodies all over!

I've also learned to appreciate food more especially after participating on the Live Below the Line challenge for two years; I've been very blessed to be able to eat wherever, whenever, whatever and for that I'll always be grateful.

3. How does my work and writing differ from others of its genre?

This blog has been my happy space where everything is bright as the sunshine and people I meet are like diamonds in the sea. 

I've joined blogging communities like Nuffnang and Zomato and it made me love blogging even more because I've met a lot of like-minded people out there. 

What I've noticed is that though bloggers are more alike than we are unalike, we are still essentially individuals. We all may exist to coexist but end of the day our opinions are all based from our own unique experiences, non?

And we all have different preferences. What matters to me may not matter as much to others; what I find amazeballs may be considered eww-ful by some.

Most of my posts are usually connected to memories I've previously had so they're somehow laced with a bit nostalgia, a bit of my (semi-corny and semi-dry) humour, and a teeny bit of philosophy. I'm not trying to be the Dalai Lama or Aristotle of blogging but it's nice to document lessons learned from life in case it helps encourage someone else, non?

One thing you can guarantee from this blog, though: you will always have honest reviews of places and products here - even when they're comped. I won't ever be afraid to say it's shit when it's shit (like the candidates on this year's The Apprentice UK).

4. How does my writing process work?

My writing process is much less complex than my food selection process. I don't particularly have a blogging regime per se; I just blog whenever I can (especially as my day job is very demanding) unless I've been briefed a specific deadline by brands I work with. Perhaps the simplest way to summarise it is this:

Step 1: Take photos of interesting and 'bloggable' experiences.
Step 2: Watermark photos and upload on Blogger. I don't edit photos, but maybe soon, I will!
Step 3: Write as you feel. When done, check what you've written. Sleep on it.
Step 4: Wake up the next day and read post with fresh eyes. Press publish, or schedule post to publish.
Step 5: Post link on social media, ie Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Et voila! That pretty much summarises what goes on here at The Girl Next Shore. I do hope you guys learned a bit more about my blog and myself, why I write what I do, and how I sort (or not sort) my writing.

Now passing the baton to the following bloggers:

Jaime at Angloyangkophile, because she writes with a bit of nostalgia, too.
Katy at LittleMissKaty, because I want to know where she gets all that energy and positivity from.
Suze at LuxuryColumnist, because she's amazingly fab and I want to know her better.

Can't wait to read and to get to know more bloggers around!

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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Jean-Jacques (Soho): where French food is shared with friends

If Japanese cuisine is my all-time favourite, French comes a close second. It's the holy grail of gastronomy after all and French ingredients are always so spot on (from herbs to dairy, wine to fungi, fruits to aperitifs, etc). I am no Julia Child but I could genuinely eat my way through her cookbooks... if only one can do the cooking for me.

The Russian hospitality company Table Talk Group has ventured out of Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time by bringing Jean-Jacques, their all-day brasserie and wine bar concept, to Soho. Taking on a three-storey townhouse on Frith Street (read: roof terrace), the place aims to be a hotspot for artists, media bees, and French cuisine enthusiasts alike.

I was invited to taste the restaurant's fare a few weeks ago and I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with megababes Lauren and Andrea.

The brasserie is as red as you could think of but not entirely an eyesore as it reminds me of actual Parisienne brasseries and bistros. Peppered with bits and bobs such as photos, French flags, and little boards of famous French quotes.

We were welcomed with a cocktail made by award-winning London bartender Davide Venturino formerly of Lab, W, Aqua fame. 

My salad of crab (£12.50) was superb and relatively big for a starter; I could definitely have this for a light lunch. There was an abundance of crab which tasted fresh despite being mixed with creamy mayo.

Andrea went for the Scallops St. Jacques (£10, Lauren had these for mains at £19) served with salsa verde and a tomato & olive fondue. The scallops were cooked nicely and I thought the natural sweetness prevailed... until I had a bit of the fondue which I thought made it much sweeter than how I'd like it.

Lauren's choice was the chicken liver parfait (£7) which I thought was decent enough, but nothing life-changing.

For mains, I chose the Barbary duck breast (£19) with baby carrots and swiss chard. Considering this type of duck is very lean, my piece was cooked beautifully so it was moist, tender and juicy. The honey and rosemary glaze gave the duck a nice caramelised flavour without making it sickly sweet while everything else on the plate worked. A winner.

I had a few forkfuls of Andrea's steak tartare (£22) and it was pretty tasty. I wouldn't usually opt for steak tartare as mains myself but this had nice seasoning (or maybe it was Andrea's magic touch of Tabasco) and a good chew. It comes with a heap load of sliced bread, plus a portion of fries.

I liked the side of tomato and red onion salad (£4.5) because nothing screams HEALTH KICK! more than a plateful of vibrant tomatoes, non? It was nice to have something light and naturally tangy/sweet to counteract the richness of our starters and mains.

But we just couldn't stop ourselves from getting some pomme frittes (£3) which were actually pretty darn good!

We were slightly too full for dessert but as #foodbloggers we felt the need to try what they were offering so we decided to pick what we thought would be the most photogenic.

The tarte au pomme (£5.5) was very pretty but didn't deliver in taste as well as it photographed. It was a little bit dry for my taste.

Of course, we had to have the chocolate fondant (£8.50) for the obvious reason: The oozing appeal of #chocolateporn.

Served with some walnut praline and pistachio ice cream, Jean-Jacques' fondant was cooked nicely and the chocolate oozed out beautifully much to our delight. It was, however, a bit too sweet and too rich that even I can't finish a whole portion of it on my own. 

Our bill was graciously footed by management so we only ended up paying for the bottle of wine we shared. Happy campers! I liked the food but the main highlight for me was catching up and getting to know Lauren and Andrea more.

On my second visit, I made sure to order different things. 

I love escargot especially when it drowns in parsley and garlic butter and Jean-Jacques' offering (£7) was no exception... although I wish they'd kept the snails in the shells because I find it more fun to eat it that way! 

The tuna nicoise was a bit of a let down. At £23, this was one of the priciest dishes on the menu. I've never paid that much for a tuna nicoise before - and I would if it's good - but I thought it was a bit overpriced and a bit overcooked.

The gilt-head bream (£16) was delicious. A solid cook on the fish made its texture perfect, combined with some roasted cauliflower and almond slivers. The only thing I'd say is that the mash/purée was slightly too salty for my liking. 

As for dessert, I went on to order a tarte au citron (£5.50). I found it quite enjoyable with just the right amount of tartness and sweetness, although I know someone who makes a meaner tarte au citron.

Overall, Jean-Jacques is a decent addition to the Soho dining scene. Traditional French food at very reasonable prices (well, save for the tuna nicoise) with friendly staff, plus a decent cocktail bar (downstairs) to boot. It's casual enough for a nice catch up with good friends and decent enough to bring clients over.

45 Frith St, London
Ave spend pp: £40
Jean Jacques Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

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