Randy’s Wing Bar

Food, Restaurants

If you ever walk along the long, thin canal in the middle of Hackney Wick, it’s hard not to notice the towering industrial structure that is Here East, opposite a row of suburban semi-detached houses. After living nearby for over a year, I’m still none the wiser on what Here East is, apart from housing a collection of small independent restaurants.

Our first visit to Randy’s Wing Bar was in the height of summer last year, when groups of friends laughed over ciders and cyclists perched on loungers in the sun. We had liked the food, but portion size was a bit of an issue. So we delayed another trip until the middle of winter, when it was a slightly deserted Friday night in Hackney Wick – not that you could tell in the packed restaurant.

Randy (whoever Randy is) has gone for a lo-fi aesthetic in his wing bar – wooden slab tables, metal buckets to chuck your wing bones in and my favourite feature – kitchen roll to clean you up. I always appreciate entertainment at a restaurant; this one had large Connect Four sets in the corner (hopefully not to play whilst you have sticky fingers).

This restaurant is probably a no-no for vegetarians out there – that’s unless you like onion bhajis in a bun (aptly titled The Argy Bhaji). But if you aren’t, there are many other aptly titled wings and chicken burgers in their simply laid out menu.

Randy's Wing Bar Buffalo Chicken

Randy's Wing Bar Espresso Martini

Randy's Wing Bar

“Can I have The Big Cock please?”

I think I’m still of an age where I can get away with giggling at names, like the title of their original burger. We shared The Big Cock (couldn’t help myself), the Hanoi wings and Buffalo wings.

I have to say, I’m not a big wings person – I often find they’re overcooked or greasy and I’m far too lazy to eat them. But they know how to cook wings right at this place – whether it’s smothered in creamy, spicy, tangy Buffalo sauce (with a splash of truffle blue cheese sauce), or delicately battered with the sweet sour flavours of the Hanoi wings.

Portion size was no longer a problem this time around (they must have realised that £7.5 is unreasonable for 5-6 wings) and they did not wuss out on the flavours and heat. I only felt that a dip for the wings was missing, but that may be due to my being spoilt at home with the various dips Harpall likes to produce on a near daily basis.

I only had a bite of the burger, but I noted two things apart from the fact that it tasted great – 1) they put adequate amounts of gherkin across the chicken *applause*, 2) the brioche bun is exactly what a soft, milky brioche bun should taste like (take note burger chains).

Randy's Wing Bar Hanoi Chicken

Randy's Wing Bar

Randy's Wing Bar

We rounded up our meal with rounds of drinks – and they don’t do too badly on this front either. Special shoutout to the Espresso Martini – you make me want to drink coffee. It’s also worth noting that they do brunch at Randy’s Wing Bar.. so if you’re ever sloth-ing around East London one morning after a night out, it’s worth a shout. It looks like a killer brunch menu.

Randy’s Wing Bar
28 East Bay Lane, The Press Centre, Here East
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3BS
randyswingbar.co.uk

Messy sour cream pancakes

Food, Recipes

Sour Cream Pancakes

Sour cream pancake toppings

It’s been years since I’ve made myself pancakes on a Shrove Tuesday; pancakes for me fit very neatly into the brunch box, and I just can’t be bothered to faff about with batter when I come home from work mid-week. So in honour of an early pancake day and with too much leftover sour cream from making chilli con queso (a recipe for another day), I fiddled with this recipe from Epicurious (what a great name).

Sure, it sounds a bit strange adding sour cream to pancakes, but you really can’t detect any sour element in its taste. It’s a great alternative to buttermilk pancakes (because those pesky buttermilk pots are never in your local shop) and gives a great fluffy, soft texture. And if you don’t already own one, invest in an egg pan, which is the perfect size for pancakes.

Harpall prefers chocolate chips and syrup on his pancakes, whereas I’m a fresh fruit with cream kinda person. But in the end, both of us just whacked on all of the toppings – hot pancake mess tastes amazing.

Sour cream pancakes

Sour cream pancakes

Sour cream pancakes

Messy sour cream pancakes

(serves two people)

Ingredients
115g sour cream
120g milk
1 large egg
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Milk chocolate chips (optional – strongly suggested by Harpall)

Method
1. Whisk together the wet ingredients (from the sour cream down to the vanilla extract).
2. Mix together the dry ingredients and mix in with wet ingredients.
3. On medium heat, coat small pan with melted butter and dollop in 3-4 tbsps of batter for each pancake. Cook for a few minutes on each side and serve hot.

Strawberry compote

Ingredients
250g strawberries – quartered
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Method
1. In a pan over medium heat, mix together all the ingredients with a 50mls water. Keep at a low boil until it reaches desired consistency.

Additional suggested toppings

» Warmed maple syrup
» Vanilla heavy cream
» Fresh blueberries / strawberries / raspberries

Breaking the funk

Life

How misleading is this title?! It sounds like a disco record from the 70s, but I assure you, I’m talking about pretty much the opposite of that.

For the last month, I’ve been in a weird grey phase of my life. I feel lazy and unmotivated. Like I’m on the fitness level of a pensioner. I can sleep for hours more than I used to. I don’t want to listen to music. I feel like a potato; I don’t know if anyone knows how that feels like, but it’s not a very attractive metaphor for yourself. Essentially, I’m in a funk.

Just to clarify, I’m in no way suggesting I have depression. I have seen depression myself and this is not what it is.

I think I can attribute a few reasons why I feel like this. The past year or so, I’ve been sitting exam after exam for my paediatrics membership and unfortunately I’ve faced failure after failure. That’s not to say I believe this reflects on my ability as a doctor (as other doctors keep telling me, they know professors who have failed these exams 6 or 7 times), but it still is a little subconscious kick in the gut every time it happens. There’s been additional issues at the workplace of short-staffing and pressures – which I’ve learnt to adapt to – but it does add a sour tone to a job I should love (I’ll say no more). Lastly, I’ve put little mental restrictions on my spending in our effort to buy somewhere at the end of the year. Not to sound all spoilt #moëtmedic, but travelling to new countries really contributed a lot to my happiness in the past few years and acted as a great motivator to get through tough weeks at work. But now, I can’t even go to the cinema or a meal and question whether this is really the best use of my hard-earned money.

I think there’s been a lot of pressure I’ve been putting on myself to get myself sorted out by the end of this year. Like all of my life’s answers will be answered by buying a house, passing my exams and excelling at work.

So I sit here on my day off from work, having had 12 hours sleep and feeling squat, round and bored. Too guilty to spend money. Too scared to start revising for yet again another exam. Too ashamed that I’m seemingly complaining about my comfortable life.

The only way I can think of getting out of this is by forming a strategy; steps to make the outlook on my life brighter and my self hearty.

1. Slow steps to getting fit

I’m never going to promise I’ll be a gym bunny in no time; I know myself too well to lie to myself. But the endorphin experience from the odd bit of yoga and the occasional treadmill jog is enough for me to want to finally get over this exercise hump. Even if it is only once every 2 weeks.

2. Giving myself time to wander

I really feel at my most calm and most happy during quiet walks. Maybe being city born and bred, I’m so used to fast walking and getting angry at the slow ones ahead, that allowing myself to actually walk at a normal pace and take in my surroundings can be pretty therapeutic for me.

3. Cutting down on the carbs

Last night, I went to The Culpeper and tried their smoked salmon dish (no carbs included) and I felt totally refreshed and satisfied. I don’t mean I’ll be adopting a carb-free diet (I can’t subject myself to that!), but cutting down would hopefully stop that sluggish feeling I get post-pasta feast.

4. Keep a diary

To schedule in dates to give myself a well-deserved break from work. To see my friends regularly for dinner. To go to a gig with my boyfriend and dance like a fool. To make my life feel less like one long stretch of shifts and revision.

5. Create

When I’m away from blogging, or reading a book, or trying out cross stitch, I forget that I can be creative and individual, have my own opinions and be capable of much more. In essence, writing this has already been the first step in the grand plan; I just need to keep reminding myself that I am more than a bored medic, a slave to work or a potato.