The CAKE app for easy eating out in London

Today I’m trying out the new CAKE app which really is an app meant for me. It’s an app which makes it easier to find, book and pay at London restaurants. And there’s a wide range of establishments already on its books.

I loved the fact that when you turn it on shows you nearby eateries and how far away they are – and you can book instantly. Or of course you can select any of their restaurants in advance and make your booking at any time.

On arrival at your chosen restaurant, simply open up a tab on your phone using the app and inform your waiter. Then when you’re done it’s quick and easy to pay. You can even set it up to instantly split the bill between your party.

You can also earn credit back when you eat out with special offers, just select somewhere with credit on and you’ll get a percentage of the cost of your dinner back (usually 15-20%). The more you eat the more you save! And of course as your credits build up you’ve got a great excuse to be going out and about again.

£5 for free

If you download the CAKE app to your phone you’ll get a £5 gift from me to get you going on your exploration of London’s restaurantland. Just use the referral code EATINGCG when you download the app. Happy dining.

Find out more and download your app at thecakeapp.com

The restaurants

My first outing using CAKE I visited Talli Joe in Shaftesbury Avenue. A buzzing little Indian tapas-style restaurant with great food. Full review coming soon, here’s a taster, the spicy venison mince served with an organic egg yolk atop.

CAKE app

The delectable Parsee Venison Keema Ghotala

Among the myriad restaurants you can use CAKE at here are three of my London favourites.

Ember Yard in Soho serves up a great range of dishes cooked over fire. Like what’s possibly the best cauliflower dish I’ve ever eaten.

CAKE app

Delightful spicy, grilled cauliflower

Lima Floral in Covent Garden transports you to Peru with an amazing array of truly different dishes. Peruvian ingredients are like no other and make for an exciting eating experience.

CAKE app

Tender beef Peruvian-style

And then there’s the grandeur of Brasserie Zedel. Sitting right by Piccadilly Circus, it’s a glamorous Parisian-style brasserie of marble and glitz serving great-value French food.

CAKE app

Style and sophistication at Zedel

And that’s just four lovely restaurants to tempt you – London is teaming with them after all. And eating there with CAKE makes life easier.

 

Lunch Parisian-style at Brasserie Zedel

There seem to be loads of new brasserie-style restaurants popping up all over London these days. I love them, so it makes me very happy! This one is right next to Piccadilly tube station and it’s really great value. When my friend Shirley, visiting from Australia with her daughter, Kim, suggested we met for lunch it gave me the perfect excuse to try it for the first time.

Brasserie Zedel is in the newly renovated building that used to be an old hotel – it is in the basement in the space that  belonged to The Atlantic Bar and Grill. I loved the Atlantic and always felt very glamorous when I visited there…and I’m glad to say that Brasserie Zedel also has that air of glamour. The large, bustling Parisian-style restaurant is all shiny marble, brass and chandeliers with amazing high ceilings.

The menu is very traditionally French with favourites like escargots, onion soup, vichyssoise, steak hache, confit de canard and andouillette. And it really does feel like you are lunching in the middle of Paris, stylishly too.

The value is amazing. My starter cost the princely sum of £3.50 and my main £7.95 while the tasty dessert was just £3.50. So nice to eat out in London with great food in an amazing setting and feel like you’ve really found a bargain. Doesn’t happen often!! I mean, mains for under a tenner…

I couldn’t resist ordering the egg mayonnaise. It was delicious, fabulous freshly made mayo (and plenty of it) on eggs surrounding a pile of crispy lettuce topped with yet more eggy delight. Yum!

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Oeufs Durs Mayonnaise

A simple but delicious salad. Oh, and all for £4.95.

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Salade d’Endives au Roquefort

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Crabe Mayonnaise

The pan fried chopped steak with pepper sauce (kind of a sophisticated burger without a bun and with a plateful of delicious sauce) is one of my favourites!

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Steak Hache with Sauce au Poivre

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Perfect, crispy frites

Classic, substantial and tasty beef braised in red wine with bacon and mash. Fabulously priced at £9.75.

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Boef Bourguignon

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Tarte au citron

We finished off with a sublime lemon tart (£3.50) and great coffee.

For an amazing combination of value, quality and atmosphere Brasserie Zedel gets my vote for the year (so far). What joy!

Brasserie Zedel is at 20 Sherwood Street, W1

A brand new opening in Covent Garden: Balthazar

Balthazar opened in February this year to great excitement. It’s the brainchild of  New York restauranteur Keith McNally who grew up in London’s East End but became the darling of the NYC restaurant scene after opening the celebrity-adored Odeon in Tribeca in 1980. He opened Balthazar in NYC in 1997.

It was time for his return to London to open up his Covent Garden branch. Before my visit I read so many reviews of the restaurant, all a bit puzzling. Everyone seemed to be saying that the food wasn’t really much (or actually quite bad) but they loved the restaurant. A bit of a contradiction. Time to see for myself.

Welcome to Balthazar

Welcome to Balthazar

Balthazar is housed in the old Theatre Museum just off the Covent Garden piazza. I’d read that people had felt transported to Manhattan on entering and found it disorienting on leaving to find themselves on the streets of London. Okay, I haven’t been to the NYC branch but I felt like I was transported instantly to Paris.  Red leather banquettes, fake nicotine-stained high ceilings and plenty of polish – this is one glamorous setting. And it was packed – we managed to get a table for 2.30 (it’s pretty much full for normal times) and there wasn’t an empty spot in the house.

The French brasserie-inspired menu is right up my street with plenty of solid, traditional choices. My starter of Jambon de Bayonne was served with celeriac remoulade, grainy mustard and cornichons and was absolutely perfect.

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Bayonne ham with celeriac remoulade and cornichons

The Frisee au lardons chicory salad with a warm bacon shallot vinaigrette and a soft poached egg could have done with a few more lardons but was tasty nonetheless.

Chicory salad with a warm bacon shallot vinaigrette and a soft poached egg

Chicory salad with a warm bacon shallot vinaigrette and a soft poached egg

I opted for the duck shepherds pie, one of the specialities, and found it warm and comforting with good chunks of succulent duck meat and a cheesy potato topping. A rich and substantial dish.

Duck shepherds pie

Duck shepherds pie

A classic French dish of Lapin a la moutarde completed our choices. Lovely rabbit on a bed of cabbage in a mild mustard sauce.

Rabbit in mustard sauce

Rabbit in mustard sauce

Well, although I must admit the food wasn’t stunning, it was certainly good enough. The service was spot on – attentive without being overcrowding. I simply love the actual restaurant. It’s glamorous, buzzy, bright and contemporary. I wish they’d open up the bar for drinks only, it could well become my local. I will be back…and soon.

Balthazar is at 4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden.

Somewhere new, French and fun….Societi Brasserie in Tokai

So guess what, it’s time for Sunday lunch again! Boy do the days fly by. Today we were off to try somewhere new in the area of Tokai in Cape Town – which is pretty close to Steenberg Golf Club. Highly convenient then!

Societi Brasserie is a real neighbourhood local inspired by classic brasseries. It has a real French feel both in the look of the restaurant and the menu and focuses on using seasonal produce. There’s also a lovely little courtyard if you fancy some alfresco dining.

Societii Brasserie only opened for Sunday lunch recently and wasn’t at all busy when we were there. In fact there were very few people which made us nervous initially! An empty restaurant usually doesn’t bode well. In this case it was irrelevant. Every dish we tasted was tasty and perfectly prepared, our waitress was charming, helpful and friendly, even though we were in full long-lunch mode and didn’t leave until nearly 5pm. We left with full tummies and happy hearts.

Check out the dishes that delighted us.

First, a classic French-style terrine with amazing piccalilli.

terrine

Country-style pork terrine with mustard piccalilli and crusty baguette

This beautifully simple salad was made up of all top ingredients, amazing smoked ham, perfect gruyere and a wonderful dressing.

ham salad

Smoked ham, gruyere and baby spinach with creamy vinaigrette

Starters don’t get more French than this, a classic well done.

sausage

Grilled Toulouse sausage with lentils, bacon and sauce vierge

The summer salad was light and refreshing with firm beetroot, and red onion, cucumber ribbons and silky smoked salmon that were a great combo with the creme fraiche and lemon dressing.

summer salad

Summer salad of smoked salmon, beetroot, red onion and rocket with a lemon creme fraiche dressing

For mains, as well as the a la carte menu, there was also the option of having roast beef or roast chicken with all the trimmings (being Sunday lunch of course). The a la carte dishes were all so tempting, I eventually went for this fabulous roast chicken dish with a French twist. A seriously generous portion of chicken with that perfect French pea dish in a delectable sauce.

chicken

Half a free range chicken with peas a la francaise and potatoes

There’s even a touch of Vietnam on the menu with this pork belly in a luscious sauce with sweet and comforting sweet potato mash.

pork

Free range pork belly with Vietnamese-style lacquer and sweet potato mash

Classic fish and chips were served on top of a newspaper sheet with mushy peas and tartare sauce.

fish and chips

Jack Black battered hake with frites, mushy peas and tartare sauce

Here’s what the roast beef looked like – a hearty and seriously yummy plate of food.

roast

Roast beef with cauliflower and broccoli cheese, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and glazed carrots

All I can say is that Societi Brasserie just has to catch on as a venue for a relaxed Sunday lunch. It’s relaxed, pleasant, fun and with friendly service and it’s good value too.

Societi Brasserie is at Shop 1, Forest Glade House, Tokai Main Road.