THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Holy Birds, Liverpool Street

TMM was meant to visit The Holy Birds in January, at the nadir of a dry January and in the gloom of a post-Christmas health drive. For one reason or another, we were unable to dine on that occasion, and as a result spent a delightful evening downstairs in the Mule Bar. There, we sampled the ample and accomplished cocktail menu (more on that anon), and tore through the Bar Snacks menu, which boasted buttermilk chicken and duck sausage rolls as particular highlights.

Holy Birds

You might guess from the name on the door, and if you miss this then the menu confirms it, The Holy Birds is indeed a destination for poultry. What isn’t so obvious until you step into the restaurant, but certainly makes an impact when you do, is the 1960s Danish design from which founders Gerry and Jon Calabrese have taken inspiration to create an eye-catching, individual look which conveys confidence, style and more than a hint of fun.

The menu also offers plenty of opportunity for a gamier dining experience, with pigeon, grouse and guinea fowl dishes to choose from, but we opted for a couple of half chickens, one drenched in garlic & herb, the other in paprika, served simply with chips and gravy.

Roast chicken

The chicken was good quality, well cooked and coloured, and while the paprika could have done with more heat, the garlic & herb iteration was standout. The chips were acceptably crispy and seasoned but it was a side of mushrooms roasted in herbs and chicken stock that packed a meatier punch than their humble billing betrayed. Stellar stuff, we agreed we would return for those and the shirred hen’s egg starter (think poached eggs in a tub of béchamel, blue cheese and spinach with sourdough to dip) alone.

Dessert went one for two. The “baked”Alaska was finished with a blow torch at the table, arguably pushing the definition of baked, and definitely a case of theatre over taste. The redeeming member of the pud portion was a “parkin” (Scottish ginger cake) that once the extra requested toffee sauce arrived, was as soft and rich as you might hope to imagine.

holy birds cocktails

Drinks, compiled by Salvatore Calabrese, legendary bartender and father to Gerry and Jon, included the well-balanced and fun-to-say-quickly Little Italy, picked from the extensive Negroni menu, the minty, creamy Silk Stocking (think After Eights meet Irish Coffee) and a refreshing and light Sloe Gin Fizz.

The staff who served us were lovely, managing the spacious and airy dining space with the minimum of fuss, and although a few plates were underwhelming, we left feeling satisfied. Holy Birds isn’t cheep, but if feather you’re in the neighbourhood, you’d do worse than to wing your way over for a bite.

More information about Holy Birds here.

Written by James Bomford.

Honest Burgers, Liverpool Street

There are very few chains in London which make the successful transition from one-off triumph to multi-branch brilliance. Honest Burgers however, now with fifteen branches across London, has spread from Brixton market to some of the city’s most prestigious postcodes.

honest burgers

Liverpool Street is a full of suits during the week, but when Saturday dawns the hipsters come out to play. I love visiting this area on a Sunday morning for the colourful Columbia Road flower market, and afterwards I am often in need of sustenance. Honest Burgers Liverpool Street is a large venue, with a pretty white tiled exterior and lots of space for groups inside.

Choose from the short and simple menu… I always go for the classic Honest burger with Dry Aged Beef, onion relish, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce. There are often special varieties of burger to choose from, using extra indulgent ingredients or a different cut of meat. Every burger arrives with an irresistible pile of rosemary-salt dusted fries.

Honest cater for non-meat-eaters with Cauliflower Fritter burger and poultry fans should opt for the Chicken burger. On the drinks list there is a range of tin-cup cocktails and local craft beers, but my favourite is the homemade lemonade, which I find is sharp and citrusy enough to cut through the rich burger.

honest burgers

For weekenders in the area Honest Burgers now serve brunch too, a lavish list of dishes to get you ready for the day ahead. I’m looking forward to going back to try the avocado with Brindisa chorizo, guacamole and fried egg on sourdough and the Bubble and Squeak.

Read more about Honest Burgers Liverpool Street here.

La Tagliata, Liverpool Street

The best Italian restaurants are often the simplest – little, unpretentious eateries that only offer a few specialities and service with a smile. This is exactly what you will find at La Tagliata, a new Italian establishment near Liverpool Street.

The restaurant is named after the main dish served here… La Tagliata is a traditional Italian steak dish – sliced meat with potatoes, rocket and tomatoes, rustic but delicious when done well. The team here is passionate about offering high quality Italian food without the endless menu options and complications. Manager Carlo Palumbo brings his much-loved family recipes to the table, while executive chef Antonio Tonelli brings the experience and techniques he has learned from working in southern Italian kitchens since the age of 13.

Choose between just a main course for £19, a starter and main for £24 or three courses for £29. For first course there is a choice of four seasonal sauces with daily homemade tagliatelle. The sauce options when we visited were: pomodoro, limone, ragu and pesto and the special for the week, white truffle. Unable to decide on just two the lovely Carlo let us taste three, omitting the basic tomato pomodoro and ragu. Pesto is classic and flavoursome, truffle felt indulgent and special, but the limone was our favourite, a light and creamy sauce, originally from Capri, made with egg yolk, lemon and parmesan.

For vegetarians there is a Scamorza cheese and porcini mushroom option to replace the Tagliata. Though I would urge everyone to try the delicious steak: thinly sliced meat with a wonderfully seasoned chargrilled edge, topped with fresh peppery rocket, the sweetest cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and thick shavings of parmesan. We tasted both the herby roasted potatoes and the lesser known shepherd’s potato (crushed and seasoned). If I had to recommend one I’d say go for the roasted as the taste and texture is so appealing.

For dessert there are a few classic Italian dishes: cheese, pannacotta or tiramisu. If you are a fan of coffee and cream I urge you to order tiramisu, a glass of pillowy sweet cream and sponge.

La Tagliata represents the best things about Italian culture; passion, pasta and parmesan. There’s not much that can go wrong with these ingredients, and this little start-up manages to exceed expectations bringing some humble authenticity to an overcrowded chain restaurant ridden area of London.

More information here: