Manuka Kitchen, Fulham Road

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Finally caught up on the backlog of pictures and reviews I want to do except for the ones that are now so old that I can’t possibly begin to remember which photo goes with which meal and where, tough old gig this blogging stuff innit. So I had to go out to dinner. I mean, I didn’t HAVE to, I could have stayed at home, bought some delicious ingredients and done a recipe for the blog. But it was a Tuesday night, I had the rest of the week off and the tube strike (that never was) was imminent. So the tweet went out, wonderful people answered and off to Manuka Kitchen we toddled. Or, in reality, having promised I wouldn’t be late I obviously left work late, threw myself into a cab with 15 minutes to spare and prayed the cabbie knew all the shortcuts. I have of course now realised that if my time keeping was a tad better I wouldn’t have to use cabs so often so wouldn’t be so skint all the time!

It’s a tiny place with room for probably about 30 covers. In my fluster of being late I totally failed at nailing the arriving subtly and looking unstressed look by dropping stuff and knocking probably everyone’s chair as I apologetically sidled up to the table. Oh well; maybe next time I’ll be on time.

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It was drizzling and cold so I chose the ham hock broth with kale and lemon zest, which also had pearl barley in it – if I’d have known it had that before I ordered I would have chosen something else, as I was fairly full by the time my main course arrived. That said, it was lovely, warm and hearty, just what was needed and would make a perfect lunchtime dish if I was only having one course. Jim had the bone marrow and saffron arancini which were hotter than the sun (as arancini tend to be) but good and crispy with a suitable rich soft texture in the centre.

I was hungry so had chosen the bavette steak for my main course, but by the time it had arrived my starter had settled in and I struggled to get through it. I love a baguette cut, and have had some fantastic dishes with this relatively cheap cut. Whilst the taste and the cooking was good; the plate (I think) must have been so hot when the meat went onto it that it continued cooking a bit on the bottom so the meat in contact with the plate took on this grey over-cooked state. I’ve never seen that before, the problem is, if the plates aren’t hot we all complain, but if they are too hot you get a grey steak so the chef can’t win.
The other main course was the pan-roasted market fish which was cod and looked lovely. The truffle mash and hazelnut pesto were big flavours to put with a delicate fish but they didn’t over power it.

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Only room for a teeny tiny gorgeously strong espresso after all that served in a cute little Pyrex glass on a pretty saucer at the end of all that. I would try it again, however, given the proximity to home, knowing what I like and liking what I know, I’d be more likely to opt for the ever reliable Boma, which is where we ended up for a post dinner drink.

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