Chimichanga: Mexican favourites
Ealing now has a branch of this popular chain of Mexican restaurants, and we tried it for lunch earlier this year. It’s an attractive space in a former pub, decorated with mock Mayan statues. The menu has all the usual Mexican suspects – nachos, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, etc. There are also steak, chicken, fish and veggie dishes and a selection of burgers. The range of beers is somewhat limited, considering how well beer and Mexican food go together, but of course there are margaritas and other tequila-based cocktails.
Favorite Dish: We shared some very good marinated olives to start with, which I followed with a very tasty salmon dish, Fiesta Salmon: “Grilled salmon marinated in lime, coriander, spring onion, garlic and chilli served over red fiesta coleslaw with a peach and pineapple salsa”. Chris also liked his chimichanga. Prices are not too bad, and since our visit a more limited set priced lunch menu has been introduced which offers even better value – we may have to go back to try this!
various: Some new coffee shops
Since I wrote my tip here about the large number of coffee shops in Ealing, even more have opened! We recently tried two of them.
Harris and Hoole is a small, newish chain and I was pleased to see that they were opening a branch right in the centre of Ealing, on the Broadway. However when we tried it for breakfast one morning I was disappointed – the coffee was weak (despite asking, as I always do, for an extra shot) and the muffins dry. It was also one or two pounds more than we pay in the other chains. So despite the friendly service, nice décor and great location, we won’t be back in a hurry.
The other new place we’ve tried in Yvon’s Patisserie in Oak Road, and this was more successful. The cappuccino was good and the pain aux raisins light and tasty. There was also a very attractive display of cakes more suited to an afternoon visit so I think we may just have to pop back one day and sample those!
Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen: Another good lunch choice
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2013: now changed hands, and we haven't been back, but this review is left for my own records
This isn’t somewhere I would choose to come for dinner in the evening as I gather the pub is generally very noisy and not conducive to a pleasant meal out, but it does make a good choice for lunch. There’s a nice terrace with views of Pitzhanger Manor, perfect for sunny days, and inside the large first floor shares similar views and has plenty of space for diners. There are large wooden tables and comfortable leather seating. The changing displays of photos by local photographers are a nice touch. If I have a criticism it’s that service can be slow – when we were there for lunch with friends on a recent Sunday we got the distinct impression that our waiter had forgotten all about us for a while, and it wasn’t busy so there was no real excuse for that.
Favorite Dish: The menu is the same as every Ha! Ha! Bar, with a lot of the regular pub choices. I like the fishcakes in particular, and Chris nearly always chooses a burger. They also do a 2 course Sunday Roast for £10, which sounds like a bargain though I’ve never sampled it.
Meals are accompanied by the chain’s own brand of sauces, which can be purchased – the mustardy one is great if you like to pep up your food with a bit of heat!
Sitar: A good traditional Indian
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2013: this restaurant has now sadly closed down but I leave the review for my own memories of a favourite haunt.
This is our local Indian, and fulfils that role admirably. Expect nothing fancy here, just good traditional curries and other dishes served in a pleasant environment (clean lines, nice prints and no flock wallpaper, but not ultra modern) by efficient and friendly waiters. We’ve been coming here for years and are yet to have a bad meal, but at the same time we don’t expect to be excited by what’s on offer either. This is our safe choice for when we want to eat out (or order in) rather than cook.
Favorite Dish: For starters we particularly like their aloo chat, and for mains they do a great mushroom bhagi and I love their dhansak dishes. If you like things spicy, make sure you ask for the lime pickle to accompany your poppadums – it doesn’t come as standard but will fire up your taste-buds very nicely!
Green Mango Café: For juices and smoothies
UPDATE October 2012 This cafe unfortunately was one of the victoms of the August 2011 riots, which led to this whole block being set on fire. Although it appears relatively undamaged, it is yet to reopen more than a year later. But work seems at last to have started so hopefully they will be back.
Another new addition to the café landscape in Ealing is this unpretentious healthy option on Ealing Green. We popped in recently for a cold drink and were very impressed by both the range and quality. My Acai Berry juice (blended with apple and lime) was tart and refreshing, and Chris’s Berry Berry smoothie was also tasty. We didn’t have anything to eat on this occasion but I noted a good range of wraps and Panini, and also of crepes and waffles.
Their “green” credentials seem very good too, and I was particularly impressed by the information about the plastic derived from plant material which is used to make all their containers. These are biodegradable and can be thrown out with the food waste, turning into compost in just a few weeks.
Eatalien: A new Italian for Ealing
UPDATE October 2012 - Eatalian has recently closed down, and been replaced by a Persian restaurant in the same premises. I will add a new tip when we try that, but am leaving this one here just for my own records - please don't rate!
This restaurant has recently opened in the space formerly occupied by one of our favourites, the lamented Oporto. As it’s just down the road, and we love Italian food, we felt compelled to give it a try, despite the awful pun in its name! The verdict? Some plus points, mainly the food, but could do better, especially on service. We didn’t fare too badly, my only complaint being the over-eagerness of waiting staff to remove my plate before I’d barely put down my cutlery, and before Chris had finished his meal (I know that’s the done thing in the States but it’s considered rude over here). But the mutterings from tables on either side were hard to ignore. One group of four were served three of the four pizzas ordered and had to wait until these were nearly consumed before the fourth arrived, leaving one member of their party hungry and bored while the others ate. The waitress’s apology was lacklustre, to say the least. Meanwhile, just behind me a couple were asked three times, in rapid succession, if they were ready to order, with no time for consideration of the menu being allowed between enquiries. And a plate of food served to a man sat across from us was slopped so badly on delivery that both floor and table had to be wiped down.
On the plus side, we had to warm to the enthusiasm of the owner who greeted everyone and took steps to ensure they were happy with the table allocated. He was also apologetic when Chris’s first choice of starter was unavailable, explaining that the main ingredient (a particular cheese) was imported from Italy and they had run out – a good sign of quality we thought.
Favorite Dish: So to the food. The stand-out for both of us was the basket of excellent warm focaccia delivered to our table along with a bowl of tasty marinated olives. No cover charge was made for this, and it was left on the table throughout our starter and main course – a very nice touch. Chris’s prosciutto in truffle oil was delicious, but my bresaola a little on the chewy side, though well-flavoured. Chris also really enjoyed his gorgonzola pizza, cooked in the traditional wood-fired oven, and my fusilli with a broccoli sauce, spiked with chilli and garlic, was unusual and flavoursome. By the end of these courses though, the over-eager, clumsy service had got a bit much, so we declined desert and asked for the bill. This came to a very reasonable £37, with a beer and large glass of house red.
So will we go back? Yes, I think so. The food was generally good, and the convenient location means we’d be mad not to give it another try. But hopefully by then they’ll have got the quality of the service up to that of the food. If they succeed in doing that, they could well be on to a winner. Ealing folks love to dine out, and this could be a welcome addition to the options available.
Cardamom: A stylish setting for curry
UPDATE Oct 2012 This restaurant appears to be either closed down or under major refurbishment - check before travelling.
This restaurant straddles the middle ground between traditional Indian restaurant and the more stylish and innovative ones that have sprung up in recent years. The decor definitely veers towards the latter, with abstract paintings and drapes in jewel-rich colours but otherwise plain and neutral - no flock wallpaper here! The menu meanwhile has a mix of traditional favourites and some more unusual choices, with a particular emphasis on fish and on Bangladeshi cuisine. Ingredients are fresh and the dishes retain the flavours of the individual spices used, rather than that generic "curried something" flavour offered in less good Indian restaurants.
Favorite Dish: On one recent visit I ate bharta (a starter of shredded fish cooked with spices, including ginger, and served in a wrap) and chingri halim (prawns cooked with lentils and fenugreek) - both were delicious. Chris enjoyed his choices too, especially his starter of choti poti (a chickpea dish with a wonderful name!)
Prices are reasonable too - for three courses each and a bottle of wine we paid £54 (not including service). This place is definitely recommended, but do book for weekend evenings - on the Saturday we visited it was full by about 8.00 PM (weekdays are much quieter).
Carluccio’s: Great for lunch
This is one of our favourite lunch spots in Ealing, although I find the atmosphere a bit lacking for an evening out. But the food is good - the pasta is always tasty and they make a great mushroom risotto. At lunchtime it matters less that it can be a bit noisy. It is family-friendly and good for small groups but I wouldn't come here for a romantic evening for two.
We’ve also had breakfast here a few times. I like the fact that the coffee comes in two strengths, and the croissants are HUGE! We also like the attached shop, which is great for buying authentic Italian treats such as olive oil, pasta sauces and tempting biscuits. The deli counter has excellent cured meats, cheeses etc.
Osteria del Portico: A genuine family-run Italian
This is a rarity in the London area – a genuinely Italian, non-chain restaurant. I can almost guarantee that as soon as you walk through the door you will think you are somewhere in Italy! OK, the door doesn't look great, but peep behind it to see the pretty courtyard and the restaurant beyond, and I gurantee you'll be charmed.
The décor is rustic Italian, with solid wooden tables and homely touches. You’re likely to be welcomed by an Italian waiter or waitress, and as soon as you sit down a bowl of tasty olives will materialise, setting the tone for a down-to-earth but delicious meal.
Favorite Dish: I’ve never had a bad meal here, but some particular stand-outs that come to mind are the beef carpaccio starter, and several good fish dishes that I’ve had for mains. Chris is a pizza addict and always enjoys them here.
In good weather there are also some table set outside in the courtyard – the surroundings are nothing special but rhe owners have done their best to create a Mediterranean atmosphere, and it’s pleasant to be able to eat outside without having traffic passing too close (another rarity in London!) And if you're in the area at lunch time, there's a special deal menu that offers excellent value for money - £10.95 for starter, main course and a glass of wine (or soft drink).
Cafe Rouge: Cuisine Francaise
Before visiting Pitzhanger Manor I decided to have lunch at this chain French restaurant. The restaurant has a similar decor, layout and ambiance other restaurants in the country. I still had a wonderful meal and would visit a Cafe Rouge Restaurant again.
I paid 22.50 gbp (including drinks and tips for the meal) (August 2011) and I considered this good value considering the quality of the food I received.
Favorite Dish: I ordered soup of the day, leek and spinich, and this was followed by chicken with French seasoning and fries.
I had a satisfying meal which was accompanied by Cider.
- Food and Dining
Freddo on the Green: “Best coffee in Ealing”? I’m not so sure ...
There are plenty of places to have coffee in Ealing but it seems there is still always room for one more. And when a new one appears, we like to try it! This one is very handy for the station and is doing a lot of the right things, but for me it doesn’t quite yet live up to its own claims.
The attractive counter, with eye-catching goodies (big muffins, fresh baguettes, various pastries) = great.
Lack of comfortable seating = not so good.
Free wifi = yes.
Scruffy decor = more careless looking than studied trendiness.
Interesting photo exhibition gracing the walls = spot on, as is the community notice-board and the generous supply of newspapers.
But the biggest let-down for me was the coffee. They claim it’s the best in Ealing and a friend of ours agrees, so maybe it’s just a matter of taste, but my skinny cappuccino with extra shot, though it looked good, was far too milky for me. On the plus side, again, the accompanying pain aux raisins was good and the service friendly. I would give the place another chance if I was looking for coffee near the station, but wouldn’t go out of my way – and I’ll have an espresso next time!
Chisimath: Wonderful selection of Asian foods
Chisimath offers a selection of Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, and Thai food - hence the acronym which forms the restaurant name. Nearly every dish is £5 or less, there are HUGE portions, a full colour take-home menu with photos of every dish, and very comfortable tables and chairs. Go once, and you'll find yourself saying "Let's have Chisimath tonight," quite often. We do!
You can easily eat for £5 or £6 per person if you only order one dish each. Three dishes for two people seems to be ideal for us - not because of small portions (we always have leftovers, which don't last long) but because we can't decide what one thing to order!
Favorite Dish: I have a very hard time choosing a favourite dish. I love the special fried rice, vegetable fried rice, seafood rice, orange chicken, lemon chicken, sweet and sour scallops....okay, now I'm getting hungry... Lots of currys and things too, which I'm not a fan of so I skip that part of the menu, and vegetarian offerings as well.
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CAFÉ CHAI: Cafe Chai
This was the last place we had a breakfast before we say goodbye to our local friends and head for the station on a lovely Sunday morning.
We didnt really get excited with the place but it was ok, kind of dark at the ground floor(pic 1) but upstairs its more spacious with some nice seatings next to the windows.
They serve english breakfast of course but also sandwiches & bagels(£4-4.65), paninis, wraps, soups and salads, pies & pastas, fish & chips, baked potatoes, desserts, smoothies, fruit juices and beverages.
We tried the Big Breakfast(£5, pic 2) which wasn’t the best in town but just ok before we catch the train. The service was slow but they apologized for that.
its open daily
ROSE & CROWN: Pub ROSE & CROWN
Pub ROSE & CROWN is a typical pub with a beautiful garden where we decided to stay because the sun was really great that day (I think they also have better prices outside instead of the bar).
Every Wednesday they have live jazz in the lounge while every Monday there is an offer 2 for 1 pizzas and a really good movie as they say :)
We didn’t eat anything, we just enjoyed a pint of lager beer and glass of white wine, what else to ask when you’re on holidays and meet with old friends? :)
BISTRO 21: Bistro 21
This is a small café that we met with some friends for a coffee one morning.
We ate a “vegetarian light” breakfast(£4.40) which was (as expected) with no sausage and bacon but it had 2 fried eggs topped with sauteed mushrooms on oasted english muffins served with salad. It was very tasty.
They also have some other breakfast (bistro brunch, farm house breakfast, eggs bededict, egg royal etc), some tasty sandwiches with wood oven baked nutritional poilane bread(£4.90-6.50), salads(£5.50-6.50) and pastas(£5.10-6.20)
For drinks we tried the cappuccino (£2.1), a hot chocolate(£2.1) and a tea. They also serve espresso, Americano(£1.9), caffe latte(£2.1), mocha(£2.4), juices(£2.7), fruit cocktails(£3.4)