Sunday, 26 June 2011


Like so much of East London, Laxeiro, in Columbia Road, has undergone a makeover, with fresh paint inside and out, and modern prints on the walls.  However at heart it is still the unpretentious Spanish restaurant, bar and tapas joint that pulls in the punters with its simple, high quality fare.  
Never is this more true than on Sunday mornings when on-trend locals (black leather, skinny jeans) do battle with hordes of tourists (floral dresses, straw hats) in a Battle of the Blooms in the Flower Market.
In spite of the crowds, it is one of our favourite breakfast haunts. On a cold, grey winter's morning, nothing sets up the day better than their chorizo and fried eggs plate. This morning though is more Mediterranean than English. 
We bag a rare outside table, contemplate the chorizo feast, but restrict ourselves to Serrano ham and tomato drizzled with dark green olive oil and stuffed into soft ciabatta. Meanwhile a forest of vegetation seems to be moving past, like Birnham Wood to Dunsinane, as the Flower Market empties its wares onto Columbia Road.  Sated with sun and serrano, we wave away the killer croissants and Portuguese custard tarts and go off to snap up some shrubbery.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


As a matter of course we do not Rock the Casbah on a school night, but bad organisation combined with innate fecklessness mean we have an NIF situation on our hands (Nothing In the Fridge). Now this usually means a gentle toddle to Mill Road for a supper of the ho hum variety; by this I mean something familiar, comforting and inexpensive.

In the 6 years we have lived in Cambridge, there has been a mysterious restaurant called Bedouin on Mill Road. Fully refurbed with an array of Moroccan lamps, kilim and other North African paraphernalia, it has remained resolutely and tantalizingly closed.

So far so bizarre – or should I say bazaar (hor hor), but about a month ago it discreetly opened its doors.

So why not try it tonight? To be honest, our expectations are not high – themed restaurants are usually to be avoided in all situations (medieval banquet anyone?), but this is a ho hum evening.  Why the hell not?

And yes, pleasant surprise is the order of the night. It’s nicely done, wall lamps glimmering, walls and ceiling swathed in Moroccan hangings, Tinariwen and Khaled on the sound system. Do we think we have been transported to the Sahara, are we in a nomadic tent? …Uh no … but there’s lots of attention to detail and plenty of authentic flavours in the food. The tagines are laced with cinnamon, cumin and saffron, and the little cakes accompanying our cardamom coffees are delicately scented with rosewater. So rather more than a ho hum meal: to bludgeon the metaphors to death – a star has risen in the east – you’d be nomad not to go. Enough!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. 
Eric Cantona

Heck, Eric is right, seagulls do follow fish laden vessels. I know, I know, he meant it in some weird metaphorical way, but once sat in the pretty terrace of the Porthminster Beach Cafe it's the only reality you need to know. 
Eric's seafaring knowledge may have been acquired on the Cote d'Azur but the white sand, sparkling blue sea and cerulean sky of St Ives give the French Riviera a run for its money.

For a beach cafe this is some classy joint; blue awnings, white china, stripped wood and fish so fresh it could have leapt on your plate from the waves a few feet away. 

Needless to say we whiled away a good few hours sipping Prosecco, crunching and sucking on lobster claws and generally having a time of it. (C'mon, we earned it after 6 hours hard cliff walking.) 
The food is great and prettily presented but, on this sunny afternoon, it is the ludicrously picturesque view, the susurration of the waves and the seagulls' cries (following the trawlers) that make this such an enchanting venue for lunch, tea or dinner. Now where the hell are those sardines?