Humming Bird Caribbean Restaurant

My sister moved to Finsbury Park, N4 this year and has introduced me to many restaurants in the area. (View her blog, EatNowTalkLater). The area is surrounded by an eclectic mix of foodie delights from restaurants to small grocery stores which I have been eating my way through!I had decided to catch up with a friend over dinner and we chose theHumming Bird restaurant, which serves Caribbean cuisine. We arrived at 8 on a Saturday night with no reservation – no problem as there were only a few couples inside. We were seated immediately and chose some funky cocktails to start; they do both virgin and alcoholic. We obviously both chose the latter! I had a mango daiquiri that came with real pureed mango. It was a tad thick, but delicious all the same.
It was difficult to choose our dishes for the night as everything on the menu sounded good, ranging from lots of shellfish dishes to curried goat and jerk char-grills. We chose to share starters ofpeppers prawns and salt fish fritters. While we sat back drinking our cocktails more people arrived and the atmosphere in the restaurant really started to buzz, but we could still talk to each other and have a laugh. Then our mouth-watering starters arrived. The plate of prawns was massive, tasted fresh and was covered in an amazing spicy garlic sauce. And all for under £4. We were very happy!

 

 

 

 

The starters had really whet our appetite and left us utterly excited for our mains. I had ordered half char grilled jerk lobsterwhich comes with rice and peas, fried plantain and home made coleslaw all for a whopping great value of £11! Almost all the main meals had the same accompaniments and some also included corn on a cob. The smells of chilli, garlic, spices and coconut coming from the kitchen literally filled up the room and were seriously good. When the mains arrived we were….. too happy for words. They looked and smelled incredible!

 

The bowl of rice and peas was huge, and better then I’d ever tasted. It had subtle hits of coconut and cumin and was truly scrumptious. (That coming from a non rice-lover!) The plantain was sticky and golden on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. And the l,obster! Oh my, was it fantastic! The meat was juicy and creamy in texture, spot on and covered in the amazing jerk seasoning and topped with perfectly soft and golden onion and peppers. They even added a char-grilled tiger prawn! The coleslaw was good too! Really fresh and not just covered in mayonnaise. Every part of this plate complemented the others beautifully. It was not too spicy but had such a great kick. It was exquisite.

 

 

 

All in all it was thoroughly enjoyable!  The food was great, as was the atmosphere. The service was okay but as there was only one waitress she was a little rushed off her feet. Other than that I highly recommend this restaurant if you want to go out and have great food that is very reasonably priced! All things considered, I would mark them, 8 1/2 out of 10! And I would go back. 🙂

Fiore D’Olivo

I met up with a friend last night; we wanted to go somewhere we could have a good old natter, nice food and not break the bank. I recently received a one month free trial of tastelondon (now called tastecard) so went on their website to find out where we should eat. http://www.tastecard.co.uk/ All you have to do is type in an area or post code. One of the first on the list was this Sardinian restaurant Fiore D’Olivo. So I clicked on the website and had a gander at the menu. Looked like good honest Italian food, mostly pizza because they had a wood fired oven. I was sold and booked a table (mentioning my tastecard whereby you get 50% off).

On arriving I realised we really didn’t need to book a table as there were only three others inside. This didn’t bother me though. It looked nice, tables were fairly close to each other which if it was full I can imagine being very intrusive. As it was we felt we had to whisper somewhat as everyone could hear our conversation, which we found very uncomfortable. You can see the kitchen from the seating area, you have the pizza man, standing and waiting for his pizza orders, and then a number of other people, not sure if they were the management, overseeing the catering, but they were not dressed in whites. From what we could see the kitchen was small. After looking at the menu I decided to resist the pizza and try three different starters. I asked forMelanzane alla parmigiana, Carpaccio di manzo con rucola e parmigiano (Beef carpaccio with rocket salad & parmesan cheese) and Calamari fritti.

We then waited around 45 minutes till our starter of  Melanzane alla parmigiana arrived. I can tell you I was absolutely starving at this point. When it arrived, piping hot straight out the wood fired oven, it looked fantastic and the combination of tomatoes, cheese and garlic smelt divine. It was covered in melted mozzarella. I could not wait to dig in. It was stunning, layers of fried aubergine, a beautiful tomato sauce and cheese. They even put a few strips of courgette which although not traditional (and not on the menu), worked nicely. It added a different dimension and a slight crunch to the dish. It was heavenly, however about 5 mouthfuls in the waitress approached our table to tell me they had no more Beef carpaccio. I was slightly dumbfounded. She asked if I would like to order something else, I could see I would be quite full after the Melanzane  so I chose a simpleBuffalo mozzarella, tomato salad, basil & pesto. At this point I thought, something’s not right here, either the kitchen is not communicating with the front of house staff, or they are not looking at the whole order.

As starters go I was pretty full already, but I was happy; it was a great dish.  We then had to wait 45 minutes for the next course to arrive, though there were only three other customers in the restaurant. A few people came in and ordered pizza to take away, but the service was far too slow. I shudder to think how they would cope with a full restaurant. On the one hand I feel for them, they must be a smallish family run business, working from scratch, making everything to order, which is fantastic. But if you can’t handle it time-wise something is going wrong. In all the waiting time between meals the waitress didn’t notice that my glass of tap water had been empty for a while and I had to ask for it to be refilled. After another long wait the Calamari and Mozzarella salad arrived. It was a generous portion of calamari served with a kind of tartare sauce. They were cooked perfectly, soft and melting in the mouth with the slight crunch of breadcrumbs on the outside. Not rubbery or chewy at all. The mozzarella salad, however, left much to be desired. The presentation was unimaginative, and dare I say it, I do not believe it was buffalo mozzarella. It was too firm, didn’t tear apart or melt in the mouth like buffalo mozzarella should.

We paid up with our 50% off and left. And I’m in split minds. Usually with a service like that, I would be really happy to rate lowly out of ten, but for some reason I feel sorry for them. However,if I was on a bad first date, with not much to say, and it took 45 minutes between each course, I would be a very unhappy person. So I’m going to have to mark them, all things considered, the wonderful food but waiting time imbalance, a 5 1/2 out of 10. I can’t say I would go back, but if I did, it would be for the food, or maybe a take away pizza 🙂