Wednesday, June 13, 2007

De Poteo in Portobello


The girlfriend made a startling confession last weekend. Now, she's not a born and bred Londoner like myself, but has lived here a fair old while so I was taken aback when she announced that she'd never actually been to Portobello Market before. In fact, she doubted she'd ever been to the Portobello Road. Now, as any good Londoner of Spanish extraction knows, NW London and environs is where you traditionally go to get ripped off if your after Spanish produce, particularly round Ladbroke Grove (though Borough Market is gaining ground). Once a bastion of Spanish and Portuguese immigration and home to the only place you could decent churros outside of the Spanish Convent in Southfields (festivals only, I hasten to add) I aimed to set this sad omission right. So a brief gander in the time out guide later we hopped on the tube.

They are still there amongst the trendoid Pie and Mash restaurants and shops selling Japanese denim. The old guard Spanish community still chugs along merrily, a few places have caught on to the Spain is the New France vibe and have smartened up and they are selling paella Valenciana from the market stalls but a couple of the old crusty places I remembered as a kid are still there, if not actually open when we turned up (ah, how authentic!). Cafe Garcia with attached grocery is all glossy and sleek these days and charging seven quid for a can of tuna and 5 for white asparagus. I suppose they have to pay for the new fittings somehow. The cafe was ok, a nice pork empanada and a passable tortilla had survived the lunch crowd and were nuked for us. The coffee was good and as a very hungover friend of mine turned up a plate of free churros were handed over as the place was closing up. They weren't as good as the ones I had earlier from one of the market stalls but it was the thought that counted. Galicia, a seriously old school restaurant about a ten minute walk away was closed. This used to be the hub of the local Spanish community and I hope it still is.

My hungover friend sheparded us off the Portobello Road onto the roads around Blenhiem Crescent to good effect. The swank factor rises somewhat and we were faced with some serious where to have dinner dilemmas. We settled on a change of theme, despite mine and the girlfriend's intention of eating Spanish the whole day (and night).

E & O is Pan-Asian and one of the more chilled dining expereinces in the capital. The hubbub of the bar is soon forgotten when you hit the dining room, a nicely mellow modern space made for minor celebrity spotting. That aside, the simple presentation and service is relaxed and amiable. The menu is a pretty standard assortment of thai, chinese and japanese dishes, all competently prepared at an agreeable price. You can't say much fairer than that. A salt and pepper squid was a highlight as was the cripsy roast chicken and I hear the sushi is pretty good. It seemed to do my mate's hangover the world of good.

E&O 14 Blenheim Crescent, London, W11 1NN
Telephone: 0871 2238049

PS The tortilla is actually one I made the next day to make up for breaking the Spanish theme of the day.

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