Restaurant Reviews

Street is a local village to us, probably best known for the Clarks Village Outlet shopping centre which pulls in shoppers from all around, but seems to do little for the high street shops, but while visiting Clarks Village my son and I decided we wanted more that they offside for lunch so decided to take a walk along the high street.

Amigos Street

To our great surprise we came across Amigos, a small Burrito/Fajita outlet and decided we had to give it a go, the menu is simple you can select a Burrito, Fajita or Burrito Bowl (Burrito/Fajita ingredients without the tortilla), you then get a choice of the main filling, either BBQ pulled pork, Chilli Con Carne, Mexican Chicken or as a vegetarian option Mixed Beans. the finally add one of the salsa’s Corn, Tomato or Salsa Picante. There are a few optional extra’s I added to my chicken burrito some Jalapeños, while Antony had the Guacamole.

This was served wrapped in foil with a drink just a few minutes later, while not as spicy as expected it was very filling, and on each table was a couple of bottles of Cholula which I could have used to spice it up a bit.

All this was served with a cold drink for just £4.50, with the lucky local students getting a £1 discount.

Amigos Street

This is a great little find for a village in Somerset, while a little more heat would be required for our hardened diners, this is targeted as students of the local collage and the people of Street, which is not a major metropolis. We will definitely be back, but I may take then a few samples of hot sauces they can try out.

For opening times or to check out the menu visit http://www.amigosstreet.com

Food
(7.5/10)
Atmosphere
(6.5/10)
Staff
(9/10)
Value (7.5/10)
Overall
(7.5/10)

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Whilst most of the population of London are tucked up in bed dreaming about sheep, there is a man who goes by the name of “The Ribman” working hard, all night slaving away over barbecues to cook “The Best Ribs in London” ready to serve to his customers the next day, but what sauce would you serve with Ribs?….. Chilli Sauce right? well not just any Chilli sauce but his freshly made range of sauces available in your Rib roll or as a full bottle, more about those in a bit.

The Ribmans real name is Mark Gervaux and he serves up his Ribs every Thursday and Sunday mornings to hungry punters who come from across London and all parts of the UK and beyond to sample his famous ribs.

On Thursdays Mark can be found in Kings Cross as part of the Kerb, an organisation who are helping to promote street food in London, who’s intention  is “to contribute to the life of the city by expanding its street food culture in both depth and flavour” . He also, from time to time sells Ribs at their site by the Famous Gherkin building and City Point.

On Sunday mornings you can catch Mark in the heart of Brick Lane creating amazing flavours and aromas which hold their own against the hundreds of other street food vendors. A couple of weeks ago I was able to visit him here with some friends and finally meet the Ribman!

 

Mark has been selling his Ribs on the streets of London for four years, in fact this summer sees his 5th anniversary doing what he loves. Meat has always been a big part of Marks life as from the age of 12 he was working in a Butchers on a Saturday in Essex, progressing to become the Assistant Manager of Matthews Butchers in Bethnal Green at 15! and fully qualified at 17, in fact he was a speed boner being paid the princely sum of 50p to tunnel bone a leg of pork and prepare it for the ham pot. He could do this in 52 seconds!

Eventually this evolved into what Mark does today, he started selling rubs for Ribs and cooking samples which were very sucessful and the rest is history. Mark is not shy when it comes to hard work, along with all the preparation, he starts cooking the ribs at midnight on the BBQ, packs them carefully so they continue to rest and tenderise even more so the meat falls from the bone ready for the mornings hungry customers who can buy them from 9am. He does not have a closing time, there’s no need as he sells out everytime, they are that popular! There is plenty to sell too as during the winter Mark is cooking an average of 120 kilos a night at Brick lane and Kings Cross, and manages 200 kilos at the Gherkin which he hopes to raise during the summer to 500 kilos a day!

All this hard work is achieved with one leg after Mark lost his left leg 7 years ago after a car accident many years before, so now has a metal prosthetic leg which makes him literally ‘stand out’ from the crowd!

Marks food has drawn media attention, he was featured on Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food Programme, See below for the clip (start at 16 minutes in)

He has also garnered an international fan from the US, Man Vs Food Legend Adam Richman, who took time out of a busy schedule on a rare visit to the UK last year and paid Mark a visit.

The Ribs are babyback ribs from pigs that are outdoor reared on norfolk and suffolk farms and have had a good life.

Mark sells a roll stuffed with meat for £6 and you can buy a half rack for £7 or a whole rack for £12 which is very reasonable given the love and time that has gone into cooking them.

Having sampled these Ribs, they are indeed excellent, I stood at Marks stall hypnotised by the view everytime the lid was lifted to take out another portion of rib meat. The meat is stripped from the bone with ease, only the heat of the meat makes this job harder, the pork is so juicy and melts in the mouth, you don’t even have to chew! There’s no gristle here, just meat, some secret spice mix, a roll, a lot of passion! oh and a sauce if you dare…

Now to the pre mentioned sauces. To compliment the meat, Mark started to make sauces to serve in the rolls, he loves the heat and flavour that Chillies bring, but with any Chilli product it is always important to keep the heat/flavour balance there especially when it is being used to accompany other things.

He started off making a standard BBQ sauce and then dabbled with a sauce containing the humble Naga which was named by his customers as Holy Fuck. This contains 1% Naga. (the rest of the ingredients unknown apart from Scotch Bonnets) This sauce went down well, but there was a demand for something hotter so Christ on a Bike was born, same content except around 3% Naga. Yet again there was demand for an increase in heat and Holy Mother of God was created, same as before but with 9% Naga. This was still not enough for some, and at the end of the summer last year Mark created Judasisscaryhot with 20% Naga, and he has just released a new sauce called Mother Inferior for those who want a little heat and just contains a few Scotch Bonnets and no Naga.

These sauces are available to have on your roll or to buy by the bottle at the stall. Alternatively you can visit Marks Hot Sauce Shop and buy direct. All the sauces are handmade in small batches, and are generally made fresh on a Rib day or when orders come into his web shop. Mark does not follow a strict recipe so the taste can vary slightly but you can be sure that the heat will be the same! During the UK Chilli season he buys his Nagas in from Shawn and Jo at Edible Ornamentals due to the sheer volume he needs.

In July last year our very own Darth Naga took on Marks Holy Fuck and Christ on a Bike sauces, here is the video review

So there you have it, if you find yourself in London on a Thursday or Sunday morning be sure to check out TheRibman, but be warned, get there early or you might end up leaving disappointed, he will sell out!

You can keep up to date with where Mark will be and enter his regular competitions to win his Chilli sauces by following him on twitter @theribman

the ribman brick lane market morning.jpg.opt514x342o0,0s514x342

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A long time ago in a galaxy far away, a group of Chilli Padawans travelled from far and wide to tackle a challenge of epic proportions. Would they be able to conquer the towering inferno that stood before them, or would a disturbance in the force lead them down the path of failure? Read on to find out…

Back in December, Darth Naga and a few brave souls (myself included) met up for a Darth Naga’s Funhouse ‘O’ Pain Christmas gathering. Since a few of us had previously tackled challenges at Paul’s Pizza and the Red Dog Saloon, the quest was on to find another challenge to test even the most seasoned chilli-head. Hailed as potentially the “World’s Hottest Burger”, Atomic Burger’s Fallout Challenge ticked all of the right boxes, so with some trepidation we headed to Oxford to see if we could earn a place on their Top 100 Wall of Flame.

Atomic Burger opened its Oxford restaurant in 2009 and a second restaurant in Bristol last year. The Fallout Challenge started life as the Godzilla Challenge – a huge burger with a massive helping of fries and only 1 hour to complete it. In May 2012, Atomic Burger decided to increase the challenge by adding an extreme chilli sauce and so the Fallout Challenge was born.

The big day came and after a chaotic drive down the A34 to Oxford, I parked my car and headed for the restaurant. The outside of the restaurant features two large Atomic Burger logos and is decorated with a vast array of comic book covers – It definitely stands out from the other businesses on Cowley Road!

As I stepped through the entrance the first thing that struck me is just how busy it was. Granted it was Saturday lunchtime, but there wasn’t a single empty table in the whole restaurant. Luckily, we’d booked in advance! Darth Naga and the gang were already here, so I made my way across to our table. There were 6 of us in total – Darth Naga, Chris Whitehouse, Jon Doody, Mike Johnston, Ashley Ground and me.

As I was running late, Chris had kindly ordered me the Fallout Challenge – there was no chance of backing out now. Chris and Darth had both passed on the challenge this time leaving 4 of us to sit and contemplate what we’d let ourselves in for.

Whilst we were waiting, I took a look at the other items on the menu. These included ribs, hot dogs, sandwiches and a staggering selection of over 20 different burgers – most of which are named after famous figures. Unlike other burger restaurants, Atomic Burger gives you the choice of having beef, chicken or vegetarian patties with every burger on their menu which is nice to see.

A few moments later, a waiter appeared with disposable gloves and a “disclaimer & liability release form” for each of us. This served as a gentle reminder of the perils that lay ahead.

Darth Naga had previously completed the challenge at Atomic Burger’s second restaurant in Bristol and felt we would all stand a good chance of completing it. His words of encouragement were of little comfort though as the waiter appeared from the kitchen carrying possibly the biggest plate of food I have ever seen.

Ingredients: 

Three 6oz burgers, three slices of American cheese, two deep-fried cheese & tomato pizza buns, three servings of chilli & garlic fries and lashings of XXX Fallout Ghost Chilli Hot Sauce.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s one of Jon Doody holding the Fallout Pizza Burger.

As Jon held the plate of food aloft, the enormity of the challenge dawned on me. The fourth plate soon emerged from the kitchen and the waiter asked if everyone was ready. After a few nods of agreement, the timer was started.

Everyone else seemed to dive straight into the burgers, but I decided to take a different approach and started with the chilli & garlic fries. A minute later and there were a few groans and hiccups from across the table – perhaps this challenge wasn’t going to be as easy as we’d anticipated.

Undeterred, I continued with the fries and finished them in around 4 minutes. With half the plate cleared, the challenge looked a lot more manageable. I proceeded to cut the burger into bite size pieces and then tackled the first of the pizza buns. By this point, a few spectators had gathered to the side of our table and I was feeling confident.

It was at this point that the heat of the sauce hit me. It wasn’t as hot as the Saltdean Sizzler or the wings at the Red Dog Saloon, but it packed the extract burn that I was dreading.

My progress was starting to slow, but after 10 minutes I had finished 1 pizza bun, two burgers and all of the fries. Only a single burger and pizza bun stood between me and a place of their Wall of Flame, but I was fast approaching the dreaded “Food Wall”.

I took a break for a few minutes and looked around the room hoping to draw inspiration from one of the cartoon figurines or movie characters that decorated the walls, but alas I couldn’t manage another bite. Everyone else was struggling too and despite words of abuse encouragement from Darth Naga, we’d all thrown in the towel by the 30 minute mark. As we recovered, we learned that the sauce is made with Cayenne pepper,fresh chillies and 5M SHU chilli extract! As we left the restaurant we were each handed a loser’s t-shirt.

At the time of writing the success rate of this challenge was around 12%, which is much higher than I expected. Even so, there’s no denying that this is an incredibly difficult challenge.

Overall, the food was really good. The burgers were cooked well and the chilli & garlic fries were delicious. The staff and atmosphere of the restaurant were excellent too. My only gripe is the cost of the Fallout Challenge – £25.

For the money you do get a lot of food and a t-shirt, but I believe the challenge would be a lot more attractive if it were priced between £15 and £18 with t-shirts only being awarded to the winners.

That aside, I did enjoy my visit to Atomic Burger and look forward to trying something else from their extensive menu in the future.

Fallout Challenge:

Flavour
(7/10)
Heat
(10/10)
Difficulty
(9/10)
Value (5/10)
Overall
(8/10)

 

Restaurant:

Food
(8/10)
Atmosphere
(8/10)
Staff
(9/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(8.5/10)

 

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Many of you will have heard of the “Saltdean Sizzler”, a pizza made by Paul Brayshaw of Paul’s Pizza in Saltdean near Brighton, along with some delicious handmade pizzas for the, shall we say, sensible customer! I reviewed Paul’s creations including the Sizzler back in May this year here.

Well it’s been a a very rocky road for Paul over the last few months with an attempted break in at the restaurant, resulting in a very nasty injury to his leg which resulted in him having an emergency operation to have the lower part of the leg amputated. This meant a long stay in hospital and the rehab that follows.

Now many people might give up at that point, but not Paul, he is champing at the bit to get back at the oven to make more fantastic pizzas for the people of Saltdean and beyond.

Since my own and Rob House’s visit to Saltdean, Paul attended the reading cook off where he was serving up slices of his sizzler to the unsuspecting crowds. During his recovery period the Saltdean Sizzler has regularly been discussed on Facebook and has gathered certain recognition among Chilliheads as a challenge to beat all challenges. Being that just before he closed, Paul had served just over 1000 Sizzlers and only 8 people had managed to consume a full one, you can see why!

The pizza was sent off to Warwick University where it came back with a Scoville rating of just under 3.2 million!

So on the 15th November 2012, exactly a year since he opened originally, Paul is scheduled to fire up the ovens, and open the doors once again. He isn’t even waiting until his new prosthetic leg is ready, he is that serious to get his life back on track and I for one salute him for that.

Opening hours will be slightly reduced with the new opening, I believe being shut on tuesday and closing earlier in the evenings, but it still leaves you all plenty of time to come down to Saltdean and take on the Sizzler, or something more tame!

To keep you going here is my successful attempt at the Sizzler:

And here’s our very own Rob House with his speed eating record! Blink and you will miss it!

At the moment Paul can be contacted via Pauls Pizza on Facebook or PaulsPizzaUK on twitter

So do you think you can handle a Sizzler? there’s only one way to find out!

 

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