Izakaya by Sushi and Robata

This was my first stop in London. After the most stressful traveling 12 hours–stranded on the runway due to bad weather and waiting almost 2 hours in the immigration line to enter–I finally got to London.

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So, my international plan did NOT kick in, so when I first landed, I was confined to only the wifi. Which was shitty as hell. And then trying to figure out the Tube to get to my sister. And then trying to get to her. And then my parents were like “So, listen, you only have $175 for the week.” HAHAHAHAHA. Surpassed that day 3 into London. They were wild.

And then when I finally got to my sister, she told me that she had to take the Tube to go to a group meeting. So after napping for 3 hours, I ventured with her. We went into Whole Foods, where I had my pick of restaurants. I was feeling some raw fish, so the cute, expensive-looking Sushi restaurant ran by French men was obviously where I had to go. Partly because I really wanted sushi. Partly because my parents told me not spend money.

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Eating alone alone (so not doing any work while eating) is not a new thing for me in general, but I have not eaten alone since… freshman year college? So… 6 years ago? Sometimes I would eat alone and do some homework or catch up on emails. But I haven’t sat down and been conscious of my surroundings while eating alone. So this was a first, and it was pleasant.

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The aesthetic was pretty adorable. I loved the cherry blossoms paired with the more “modern” look of the place. I learned that “Izakaya” is a term for a Japanese pub, so I’m guessing that a traditional Sushi and Robata is more formal and less… izakaya-y.

To conserve my parents’ money, I decided to be kind and get the 2 courses for 15 pounds. My math is horrible and the conversion rates change, so I won’t even begin to figure out how many American dollars I spent.

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I got the dragon roll. It wasn’t on the actual menu, but it was on the pick-2 menu. It was… avocado, cucumber, topped with salmon. That’s really all I was able to get from that. It was a little spicy and very refreshing. Normally, I like my sushi with tempura flakes for a little bit of crunch and texture, but my paleo-ish self is opting out of tempura for the time being.

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I also got some spicy beef dumplings. Usually, I get them gyoza style, so this was the first time having an open top dumpling, and I really enjoyed it. Yes, dumplings made out of wheat. Yes, I’m supposed to be paleo-ish. Oh well.

I did learn how to use chopsticks better, so that was exciting. I always just used to eat sushi with my fingers, but your girl is learning! One day, I’ll be able to flip omelettes with chopsticks. Probably not, but we will see.

A friend told me a story about how one of her friends only posts pictures of empty plates. And I like that concept. An empty plate is a happy stomach. So watch for those end-of-post pictures with my empty plates.

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London, United Kingdom

Finals are over. Not only did I survive another year of law school, I also survived a year of my bioethics masters program. So to treat myself, I obviously had to travel.

I’m very much a beachy person. First choice definitely is somewhere in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. But beach town was just not in my finances. Want to know what was though? Crashing with my sister and her 2 roommates* in a one bedroom for a week while she was studying abroad in London.

Sad thing was? Sis was in the midst of finals. So, you’re going to get a lot of mediocre quality pics of everything except for me. Too bad I didn’t bring a selfie sick. Too bad I also didn’t trust people to take picturesque pictures of me. I miss my Cleveland food crew taking the greatest pics.

Anyways! I spent my first two days in London just sleeping. I was exhausted from finals and jet lagged. But once I started getting up, that’s when the exploring came in.

I really didn’t care much for exploring London places and sightseeing. I’m not a huge UK history person. I enjoy Italian, French, Spanish, and Greek history though… And Catholic history. I just wanted to walk around, find food places, drink craft beers and ciders, and chill, chill, chill. What I didn’t do? Drink lots of craft ciders.

So you’re going to get lots of food pictures and lots of random pics from around London.

33 walking miles over the course of 5 days. Enjoy! Every Tuesday, I’ll add greater details and photos for each location in a separate post. So stay tuned! And don’t worry… I’ll keep you updated every week.

Izakaya by Sushi and Robata:

Cute and quaint Japanese pub located right above the Whole Foods in Kensington. Sushi was great, but the dumplings were phenomenal. Really wish I had more of the dumplings. Only regret? Not getting a signature cocktail and some dessert.

Leon:

I could probably be vegan if I lived in London, at least in Central London. I wasn’t planning on being vegan in London, but I did try to be vegan as often as I could. Most places had sustainable vegan options, and for that, I applaud them. But Leon caught my eye, so I decided to give it a try. The meatless meatballs? Very good. Although, I think I’m slightly allergic to eggplants.

Pizza Union:

So my sister said that London is not good for pizza. I’m inclined to believe her. I didn’t hate Pizza Union, I actually enjoyed it. The gluten-free dough sucked, but I’m glad they had the option. The goat cheese and tomato combo was great, as per usual. And sprinkled the pizza with spicy oil and basil, which did give it some flavor.

The raspberry mojito though? Great. Too bad it wasn’t on the rocks instead of frozen.

Borough Market:

My sister said to check out this place. And I loved it. I LOVE markets. This reminds me of the West Side Market in Ohio City, Ohio. Lots of vendors setting up shop to sell you their goodies. It’s a farmer’s market… but cooler? More urban, if that makes sense. Honestly, if I lived in the area, I would probably come here at least once a week, even if just to grab some of the street vendor foods.

Fish!:

Okay, so, they had a sign outside saying that they won several awards for best restaurants. Obviously, I HAD to try it, for the blog of course. Stupid me confused the street vendor for the restaurant. The vendor (still part of Fish!) sells actual fish and chips. The restaurant serves higher end plates. I tried out a new dish: deviled whitebait, and I am a fan.

London Bridge:

I didn’t take the history tour or lesson, so enjoy the pictures. Also… didn’t realize the River Thames was so mucky. Shoutout to the two girls who saw me struggling with my selfie and decided to take a picture of me. That was the first day (of the rest of the week, ugh) I experienced the London cloudy and rainy temperature.

Tossed:

Like I said: Easy to be vegan here. I love the “technology” aspect of it. You place your order at one of the iPads, then you wait to pick it up. Took like 5 minutes. It’s like a salad place, but better. I would actually eat at Tossed at least once a week. Move over Chipotle.

I actually really want a Leon and Tossed near me…

Covent Garden:

All the high end restaurants and stores all located within walking distance? Thank goodness I’m personally broke and had no space because your girl would have been STRESS buying EVERYTHING. #TreatYoSelf #SelfCare. Ended up going to grab a late lunch at a burger joint and a speakeasy-esque basement lounge where happy hour is from noon to 9pm. Didn’t take pics. Sorry.

Honest Burgers:

A burger place is a burger place is a burger place. The rosemary “chips” were great though.

Dirty Martini:

Who doesn’t like all day happy hour, £10 bottles of wine, and half-priced martinis? By the way, the hibiscus martini? Amazing. Sorry for crappy photos. My phone did not like the dark lighting? I just really enjoy the picture of me…

Dishoom:

By far, my favorite (and priciest hahaha) restaurant in London. Always packed–I’m honestly surprised I was able to find an open spot without a reservation during peak lunch hours. The food was meant to be shared, but the person who I went with wanted to get his own plates instead of ordering a lot and splitting it. Regardless, my food was bomb. And kachumber is now probably my new favorite side.

Overall, London, you’ll be missed. But also, not really. Managed to get a sinus infection and an upper respiratory infection. BUT I’ll catch ya when another one of my friends are staying in London. Maybe next time, I’ll check out more of the nightlife.

Oh, I also got lost in London. Took a bus to Shoreditch, ended up napping, ended up in Zone 6 of London. Woke up confused as heck. Since the buses don’t loop, I had to get out and find the next bus stop. Then I had to trek all the way back to Shoreditch, only to be severely underwhelmed when getting off the bus in Shoreditch. So just walked the 2 miles back to my sister’s and drank some cider and went to sleep.

Tired of the food? Feel free to check out my other random pics of London:

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As they say (or do they say?): Cheerio xx.

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*These roommates were the coolest people EVER. They also asked me to talk about them. But they legitimately were some of the chillest people, especially because they let me stay in their one bedroom, me sleeping on their floor, for a whole ass week. That’s cool.

Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute

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I have heard so many good things about this place, from the quality of food to the personable service, but what really piqued my interest was the social responsibility that surrounds Edwins. Edwins incorporates ex-convicts into its non-profit business model.

Built on the mindset that everybody deserves a second chance, Edwins takes it upon itself to teach these ex-cons, these human beings, how to gain employable skills and reintegrate into their communities. Edwins opened in November of 2013, and since has graduated almost 500 students. In addition to teaching them, Edwins also helps their students in basic medical care, clothing, legal services, employment searches, job coaching, and literacy. Yearly, 95% of the students find employment after graduation, and only 1.3% go back to jail. Now how about those amazing numbers? *cough this is why TEACHING and REHABILITATION is IMPORTANT when you’re going to incarcerate somebody instead of subjecting them to slave labor but ok cough*

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Anyways… I also did want to come to Edwins to actually try the food. Honestly, I was sold on the restaurant when I received 10 compliments from different people, both staff and customers within minutes.

I was shocked at how packed Edwins was. Every table, even though it is a small restaurant, was full. And once a party got up to leave, another party was seated within minutes. The atmosphere was dressed up but still relaxed, and I enjoyed that. My young blogger self felt out of place taking pictures of everything, since the demographic was older, business/professional people, but oh well.

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We spent probably way too long trying to pick out a wine, only to end up with a bright and clear wine from the mountain regions of France. I went in wanting to get the sea scallops (hence the choice of a white), but the burger was calling out my name a million times. And since I am now paleo-ish instead of seagan-ish (even though I do try to not eat meat on Fridays), I decided to opt for the burger (Le Burger), mainly for the theatrics of it. The burger and sauce is prepared table side.

Our burger prep person was named Richard. Richard is from Cleveland and he, like all the other staff members, is an ex-con who just wants to be better and give back. Richard will graduate in June and is deciding on which cruise ship he wants to accept an offer from. His childhood dream was to travel the world, and especially visit France, and now he will get to do that, as a chef aboard a cruise ship. Hey mom, let’s do all the cruises to see if we can find him, okay? Since Edwins does pride itself on teaching their students, I did ask questions about the history of the Diane sauce and the preparing techniques, and Richard went above and beyond answering the question. It was more than a simple memorization, but an actual application and comparing it to other techniques.

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My food crew got the Confit de Canard (salted duck leg with mushroom risotto) and boy, was it actually salty. And the Saumon en Croute de Raitfort (salmon encrusted with horseradish and a cucumbers and cream sauce). Now, the white we picked out paired amazingly with the salmon and fresh cucumber sauce.

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We wanted to get dessert, but we were just so full. So, obviously, next time, I’ll have my dinner and my dessert too. They also prepare the Banana Foster table side.

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What’s your social impact?

Brewnuts

Woke up and it was raining. Now if you know me, if I can even sniff the faint scent of impending rain, I will cancel all of my plans.  I’ll fake sick. I’ll actually be productive with cleaning or doing homework. I’ll even blame it on the dog, “Oh, Chessie is needy, sorry.” But, honestly, if I don’t have to drive, then I care less. I did wake up, staring at my phone, “If Celena texts me within 10 minutes, I’ll get up and go to Brewnuts,” I said from the comforts of my thick and heavy comforter, having no present intention to move. Lo and behold, 9 minutes later, I get the glorious text from Celena. So off we adventured…

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i havent evolved from the awkward kindergarten poses sorry

Enter Brewnuts, love child of two Clevelanders who apparently loved doughnuts (seriously… is it donuts or doughnuts?) and decided to infuse craft beer into their baked goodies. 100% here for it. I have not been to this area of Cleveland, but I always did want to try out the infamous Brewnuts. If you know me, I’m not really a beer or doughnut fan, but the combination of the two just sounds almost too good to pass up. Ask me about the time I went to the Urban Winery with their wine doughnut holes. I’ll even buy you a drink at the Winery while I tell you about it. Very Meta, right?

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Hibiscus Limade was 10/10

Now, I really should have gotten the Dark Chocolate Coffee and Strawberry… but I realized I can’t do the “-egan” lifestyle anymore, unless there is a “not” right in front of it. So I’m back to Paleo-ish. Yes, -ish. I make exceptions for speciality items… like beer infused doughnuts. Check back Lent 2018, I’ll be back on my Seagan/maybe plant based Vegan lifestyle.

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#NiceForWhat You’re welcome, Drake

But first, we had to get the mood started. Who doesn’t love Drake’s “Nice for What?” Popped in that dollar and got to play Drake AND Nicki’s “Barbie Tingz” all at 9:45 in the morning. It’s never too early to jam out while drinking a beer. Maybe except in the Bible belt… Eh.

What I did get though… Key Lime Pie Filled and the Hibiscus Limade. Celena and Sam got the Reeses Puffs with Nutella and the Coff Toff.

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the pink: hibiscus limade
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cuckoo for coc… wait, reeses puffs!

Sometimes I wish I was a chocolate person, but I prefer floral and fruity, but not too sweet. The Hibiscus Limade was PERFECT. Not too sweet but still full of flavor. The Key Lime was great for the first bite, but all of that sugar… Of course, I was full within 3 bites. I’m not a sugar person, but I can shamelessly eat a bag of kettle cooked salt and vinegar chips with popcorn without ever getting full. Now, what would be great, are craft doughnut holes. Then I can try 5-6 different flavors before my sugar migraine kicks in.

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eye donut see you, ha ha ha.

I really only bought two doughnuts just to take this picture. That’s really it. I still have my other doughnut sitting right next to me as I’m writing this post. Saving it for my post-thesis breakfast. Yes, because my thesis will be done in the morning. I hope this sugar rush will get me through the remaining pages I have left. Oh, didn’t snap a pic, but I was drinking the Rose Ale Cidergeist. It is now my new favorite beer/cider of choice. It was a “Bubbles-Mosa” so just the beer with some orange juice. Nothing special. But still great.

Until next time! If you have any suggestions on where I should venture next, let me know.

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#donut mess wi… get it, get it?

Inn on Coventry

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I’ve been here once before, so I had a friend over for the weekend, so I decided to take her here. It’s yummy, it’s close, and it’s popular.

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Last time I came, I got the Maryland Style Crab Cake Benedict. Like I said, I’m seagan-ish. Not gonna turn down some poached eggs. Fun fact though, this was the first time I’ve had eggs in about 2 months. Not as good as I remember them, though. I used to eat eggs like 3 to 4 times a week: over medium, over medium omelets, hard boiled, regular omelet… It’s just so easy to make with a side of fish.

Anyways, this time around, I got the same exact thing. Mainly because that was the only fish option on the menu. But this time, I got a side of avocado.

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Now, does this look like fresh avocado to you?

Here’s a funny story: I once bought non-ripe avocado and I had a serious urge to make some guacamole. So, I decided to google “how to quickly ripen avocados.” First thing? “Put avocado in microwave for 30 seconds” or something like that. So what did I do? What Google told me to do. Do you know how it turned out? More or less, just like that picture above. It was okay when I was making my guacamole. I put some spices in that. But these avocados up there? Not spiced and you can taste the weird mushy, not- butter, kinda-plastic texture of it. The nice waiter noticed that we did not like (we had taken a bite out of it and, whew, our faces) the avocado, so she stuck it from our bill.

Besides for the avocado, the food was good. I love crab cakes, even outside of Maryland and the east coast, so no complaints from me.

Mitchell’s Fish Market

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It was a series of twists and turns that lead me to Mitchell’s Fish Market. I wanted to help out a friend in dire need, so I took her phone to the Apple Store. They SAID it would take a little over an hour, so to kill time, my friend and I walked around the Eton shopping center, and we were deciding between B Spot Burgers and Mitchell’s. Since I had B Spot the first time I was ever in Cleveland (and man, the fries were good!) and my friend was feeling a lighter lunch, we chose Mitchell’s.

I was looking extremely bummy. Ripped jeans, my snow boots (because it’s April and Cleveland is still cold with snow drizzles), an over-sized sweatshirt, and a beanie hat. I wasn’t expecting to go to a nicer place for lunch, let alone anywhere outside of the Apple store. But, I had the money, the lack of shame at that time, and the appetite, so does it really matter? (No).

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The menu was extensive for lunch. I could have gone for the lunch options, but none of the fried options were really appealing to me. So I availed myself to the larger menu. I’m not sure why I was so shocked about the amount of fish options, and preparations, I could have had. I’m simple, so I chose pan seared salmon and opted to get a side of french fries.

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But first, we probably had the best sourdough bread I have ever eaten in my whole entire life. Ever. It was fresh out of the oven, light, melts in your mouth. And the butter was my favorite type: whipped! Bread was so warm that the butter just melted perfectly. Everything was perfect. Normally I don’t pig out on the bread, but we asked for a second loaf, which we also ate with a fierce intensity — even though we were already stuffing ourselves with our own plates.

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Back to the salmon. It was okay. I honestly make a better salmon. I think the pan seared could have been a little more darkened. Maybe I should have asked for broiled salmon or specified for a darker pan sear? Anyways, like I said, I make a better salmon. Maybe I should have gotten some swordfish or scallops, or one of the featured items. Or next time I’ll just go back for dinner, so I don’t feel some type of way about spending $30 or so on my meal.

My friend’s plate looked very good. Sesame crusted pan seared tuna with quinoa and pureed peas, with a side of rice. To me, it seemed more like a dinner entree than a lunch special, but to each their own. I’m more of a light lunch, bigger dinner type person anyways.

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If I go back, I’m definitely going to try their cocktails. And not the salmon. Being seagan-ish is hard when going out, mainly because I make my fish the way I like it. Salmon, scallops, and tilapia are three things I think I make better than most restaurants (and my friends who have tried them have yet to tell me otherwise).

Market Garden Brewery

Happy Easter, friends! Decided to hop on over the Ohio City to get some yummy tummy brunch. I had wanted to go to Cleveland Chop, since they have $7 “pitchers” (maybe like 12 ounces or so) of mimosas and margaritas. BUT, it’s Easter Sunday, and I did not make my brunch reservations in time (aka a week or two ago), so I did not find a time at Cleveland Chop. I also wanted to go to Urban Farmer… But guess what? Also full! This is what happens when you underestimate Cleveland. But, by the glory of God, Market Garden Brewery had available times.

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mkt grdn bc y not
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beer beer beer beer beer

I’ve been here once before for dinner. Then, I got the buffalo cauliflower tacos (highly recommend!) and this cocktail drink with St. Germaine (one of my favorite liquors). My friend and I also split this tray of different mustards and meats, and a scotch egg. This was my first time having a scotch egg, and I really did enjoy it. But, this post is about the brunch we had! It was delicious. First, we started off with a flight of mimosas. From most favorite to least, it was passion fruit, strawberry, blackberry, and white peach. I LOVE passion fruit. LOVE. LOOVVVEEE. Every day when we were in Haiti, I would have all the passion fruit cocktails. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, I don’t care. I had it.

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From left to right… blackberry, strawberry, passion fruit, white peach.

So naturally, since we all loved the passion fruit mimosa (I love my cultured friends with good taste), we got a carafe of it.

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passion fruit, it’s like i’m back in haiti

I’m not really an egg person when it comes to brunch. If I get eggs, it’s usually with some steak, or on top of a burger… But, I’m seagan(ish), so could not opt for my burger with a friend egg on top for brunch. Instead, I got the crab cake tacos. At first, I was suspect. I normally don’t eat crab cakes outside of Maryland, let alone the true east coast. But since I became seagan(ish), I had to let that curtain fall. Ohio has pretty good seafood. Where it comes from? No idea. Was it tasty? Yup!

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not maryland crab cakes but yum nonetheless

So the crab cake tacos were topped with hollandaise sauce (hence the “ish” in seagan-ish), red cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, and red onions. The dish came with a side of guacamole and pickled jalapeños. Uh, I would not have picked jalapenos again, but Market Garden’s guac? Definitely better than Chipotle’s, but not as good as mine. Stay tuned for posts about my guac.

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egg burritos w/ chorizos

My friend got the egg burrito with potatoes and chorizo, and her boyfriend got the same thing I did (honestly, the crab cake tacos were very VERY yummy, and I honestly would get it again, no shame).

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on easter we brunch with friends

I really do enjoy the vibe of Market Garden, and Ohio City! If it wasn’t too far away from my school, I would probably live in Ohio City. The other places (Porco, Bier Market, Bar Cento, Speakeasy, Townhall, Bakersfield…) are so cool, and I would just love to walk downstairs from my apartment to grab a craft drink or a paleo entree at Townhall, or a pitcher or margaritas from Baskersfield… Unfortunately, I’m in University Circle. Sucks. But, I will be doing more outings, most likely when I get back from summer vacation.

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Oh! Dress by Elizabeth and James. So cute. 

Until next time, Ohio City!