Tramshed, Old Street

Tramshed is the newest eatery to jump on the two-choice menu trend, following cult restaurants like Burger & Lobster. This East End establishment offers Chicken and Steak, just as the specially made Damien Hirst installation suggests – a cow and chicken are installed in formaldehyde above your heads – as you gorge on their relatives.

The venue is a feasting hall, a vault like chamber for cooking and consuming meat, not dissimilar to St John. It is a huge space with lots of wooden tables and stalls for the crowds to eat at. A concept like this usually delights the press and populace and yet on a Saturday lunchtime the place was far from full. We ‘enjoyed’ a  clear view of the creatures above our heads while we ate, but I was too hungry to be squeamish despite a little shudder beforehand.

Skipping starters, we went straight to the main event and tried the signature Roast Woolley Park Farm free-range Chicken (£25) and a 250g mighty marbled Glenarm Sirloin Steak (£20). Needless to say the two of us had way too much food to finish, but we needed to try both for the sake of the review!

The chicken is intended to feed 2-3 people… at home this amount of meat is enough for my whole family of six! It was sensationally displayed ‘feet up’ and sizzling hot when it arrived. Tender white meat and plenty of crispy skin, just like the rotisserie poultry you can cook at home. My only criticism? I needed more gravy, much more gravy. A few spoonfuls of salty brown sauce fill the bottom of the terracotta dish but for a whole Spring Chicken we needed more moisture, as the final mouthfuls were painfully dry.

The steak had a magnificent flavour and was prepared and cooked perfectly to my specification, with a portion of creamy herby Bearnaise sauce on the side. The steak had a lovely charred outer layer and was incredibly juicy inside, the ideal combination. We polished off the 250g portion no problem and spying a nearby table devouring a massive 1kg size… I got a tiny bit jealous.

Overflowing pots of chips arrived, thin and crispy just as I like them. They were a little dry but had a delicious flavour, especially with a sprinkle of salt… perhaps double fried for extra taste, though I’m not sure. Mayonnaise was eventually provided, yellow, creamy and homemade that I used for the chicken too.

It was necessary to try one dessert, luckily only one option really appealed to me from the menu – the Chocolate Rippled Cheesecake. It was bloody good, a dense square of chocolaty goodness with delicate flakes of white chocolate on top sitting on a crumbly, buttery base. Thinking about it is making me hungry again.

A meal for two came to £64 for no starters, a huge main course, one pudding to share and soft drinks.

And so as choice becomes more limited at London restaurants it seems the quality and popularity increases… as an indecisive foodie I am more than grateful for this new easy style of dining.

Visit the website here for more information.

The Meter, Shoreditch

The Meter looked a bit dull and dark from the outside, and yet once I experienced the vibrant Italian food and exquisite cocktails, my first impressions were reversed. This new eatery (only three weeks old) has opened in the happening area of Shoreditch, a few steps from Old Street tube. I am always surprised by how grey this part of London is, no green to be seen anywhere… and yet behind the doors of the independent cafes, bars, shops and restaurants some of the most exciting creative activity in the city takes place.

Though the interior is all still quite makeshift, there is an obvious New York vibe… cool and laid back. The Meter offers simple Italian cuisine with a clever and appealing menu. I was incredibly impressed with the cheap prices, and after tasting the food was even more surprised that they could be kept so low with such high quality ingredients.

I’m embarrassed to say we tried about half of the cocktail list between us. Unique combinations and inventive ideas that really worked. My absolute favourite was the Rhubarbomb – a sweet mix of Santa Teresa anejo Rum, home-made rhubarb compote, lime juice and vanilla sugar… it is a summery drink, fruity with a sour kick. My friend tried the W.T.S Collins made with Gin, Poire Williams, cucumber, lemon and sugar… served very cold, this is the ultimate refreshing cocktail, mixed to perfection. Later on in the night I ordered a more grown up Rhum Blazer which was made at our table, a little performance with fire and dramatics producing an incredibly strong but wonderfully aromatic drink.

Our waitress was adorable, helping us choose from the menu and suggesting her favourites. An array of attractive food arrived promptly and I suddenly realised how starving I was… wolfing down herby olives, peppery salami and lightly toasted focaccia bread from the beautiful board of classic antipasti and finishing off the small dough fritters with spicy homemade tomato sauce very easily. The Antipasti sharing plates are generous and would be ideal for a light lunch with wine.

Pizzas feature prominently on the Meter menu, priced per 0.25 m. We decided on the Broccoli e Salsiccia with wild broccoli, pork & fennel sausage, chillies, cream and mozzarella… they are artisan-made and delicious, though I think I chose the wrong topping, as the pizza on the next door table looked more interesting. The ingredients individually were lovely, but together without a tomato base it was disappointing and a little bizarre. Next time I will be trying the Melanzane (aubergines, parmesan, tomato, mozzarella, ricotta and basil) or the Salame Piccante (spinata calabra, black olives, tomato, chillies, scamorza).

From the rest of the menu, we tried the veal and almond meatballs and the grilled aubergine and pine nuts salad. The meatballs arrived with polenta in a sweet tomato sauce, a comforting and rich dish, I loved it. The salad was fresh and crunchy, but needed a more punchy vinegary dressing.

Desserts were very typically Italian, served in small glasses they looked and tasted divine. Tiramisu was the star of the show: silky, creamy, sweet. I have never tasted such an insanely yummy tiramisu! We also tried wine poached pear, yogurt cream, ginger crumble, cinnamon, chocolate – a unique pudding with layers of contrasting textures and tastes.

The Meter offers the best of both worlds, innovative cocktails and delicious reasonable food, I think once word gets out this understated venue will be a hit eatery.

Visit The Meter website here.