"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Street XO Madrid

Posted on Friday, 9th October 2015


Street XO in Madrid is the casual eatery by David Munoz, the chef of the highly acclaimed DiverXO, the only restaurant in Madrid with three Michelin stars. David Munoz has long tantalised diners far and wide with his extraordinary renegade approach to fine dining. When Anthony Bourdain visited DiverXO on his show No Reservations in 2010 (and I particularly loved the programme on Madrid and DiverXO), he declared that Munoz’s food was “something that should probably suck”, yet he ended up proclaiming his love for it. Back then in 2010, DiverXO only had one Michelin Star. Now DiverXO has three.

Munoz’s approach to food is designed to shock and delight, and with Street XO his approach to cooking is no less electrifying. Street XO is a temple to Asian fusion gastronomy, and draws upon an incredibly bold use of ingredients, seamlessly weaving together Western techniques with inspirations from across Asia to produce food that is colourful, delicious and different.

The décor of Street XO is no less daring. The grungy ‘street’ look of the restaurant is completed with ‘graffiti’ on the walls, neon signs and bright red colours. Diners can choose to sit on bar stools around the open kitchen or dine al fresco on the balcony, waited on by waiting staff dressed in straitjackets. This is clearly no run-of-the-mill restaurant.

One of the signatures at Street XO is the Pekingese ‘dumplings’ (€12.50) with pork, crunchy pig’s ear, strawberry hoisin sauce, togarashi aioli and gherkins. These did not resemble traditional Chinese dumplings, with the presentation representing a piece of modern art. Yet the dumplings thrilled with their exquisite flavours and arresting ingredient combinations. The meat was beautifully moist, the pig’s ear was lusciously crunchy and there was a nice touch of spiciness in the creamy aioli. The gorgeous dumplings were simultaneously creamy, fatty and crunchy, tempered by a touch of acidity from the gherkins.

Street XO - London Food Blog - Pekingese ‘dumplings’

Street XO – Pekingese ‘dumplings’

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Al Trapo, Madrid

Posted on Wednesday, 7th October 2015


Al Trapo Restaurant in Madrid is a slick operation serving a fun-filled, modern menu by renowned Spanish chef Paco Morales. With Al Trapo, Paco Morales’ vision was to give diners complete freedom to mix and choose so that they could personalise their own sharing experience. In 2011 Paco Morales was awarded a Michelin star for his Restaurant “Ferrero-Paco Morales” which closed in 2013. With his Michelin star background, Paco Morales brings a level of refinement to the quirky menu.

Situated on the ground floor of the IBEROSTAR Las Letras Gran Vía, the concept behind Al Trapo’s menu revolves around different inspirations, each of which are originally titled. The inspirations begin with ‘To eat with your hands and lick your fingers’, a section devoted to small canapé sized tasters. From there it moves on to ‘Gentle And Classy’ for something subtle and then to ‘Roguish and zingy’ for something more bold. ‘Meseta and sea’ are for all things swimmingly delicious, and then there is ‘From just around the corner’ which provides diners with a taste of traditional Spanish flavours. For a touch of the international there is ‘So far and yet so near’. A selection of ‘Cheeses from far and near’ and ‘Desserts, little indulgences’ round off the choice of culinary delights to be savoured at Al Trapo. Each section features about four to six dishes.

Our first stop was ‘To Eat With Your Hands And Lick Your Fingers’ where we tried a number of different items, the first of which was the Spanish tortilla soufflé bites with green bell peppers and anchovies (€5 – 4 pieces). These were really interesting. Inside the thin crispy aerated bread shell was a ‘cream’ filling that tasted like an eggy tortilla. The filling was a little salty, but was otherwise really tasty with a beautifully smooth texture.

Al Trapo - London Food Blog - Spanish tortilla

Al Trapo – Spanish tortilla

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Stars of the Loire Valley

Posted on Monday, 5th October 2015


The Stars of the Loire festival, which runs from 21 September to 25 October, will see Loire Valley Wines as the guests of honour at a range of D&D London restaurants across the capital. Throughout the festival, over a dozen top restaurants and three wine shops across the D&D group will be offering a variety of different Stars of the Loire events. There will also be a number of pop-up events and tastings including special dinners hosted by BBC Saturday Kitchen’s Jane Parkinson; Channel 4’s Four Rooms art dealer Wendy Meakin; and Daily Telegraph wine correspondent Victoria Moore.

New Street Grill, one of the restaurants in the D&D Group, played host to a Loire Valley wine tasting last week, and I was lucky enough to be a guest at this special event. We tried a selection of lovely Loire Valley wines including the following:

1) Vouvray Brut Dilettante, Pierre Breton, Loire Valley, France NV, a sparkling Vouvray,made using the traditional method Champagne method, (i.e.: induced secondary fermentation in bottle, aging, disgorgement and dosage). It is made using minimal sulfur and has a lively and very pure, zesty Chenin Blanc flavour.
2) Savennières ‘Clos du Papillon’, Domaine des Baumard, Loire Valley, France 2007, a spicy, rich and elegant wine with a fruity and floral finish.
3) Chinon ‘Coteau de Noiré’ Philippe Alliet, Loire Valley, France 2011, a complex and refined bottle offering tempting aromas of cherries, blackcurrant, vanilla, and perfumed tobacco.
4) Coteaux du Layon ‘Selection de Grains Nobles’ Philippe Delesvaux, Loire Valley, France (50cl) 2011, a well rounded and spicy wine with hints of ginger, juniper berries and allspice.

All the wines retail at very reasonable prices and deserve some attention. For more details about the Stars of the Loire festival, check out the DandDwine website. Ideal for wine lovers!

Flavours of Mexico

Posted on Friday, 25th September 2015

Last week, The Cookbook Café at The Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane played host to the pop-up event, Flavours of Mexico. The event was designed to showcase the best of Mexican food, namely the cooking of Executive Chef Ricardo de la Vega from the award-winning Frida Restaurant at the five-star luxury Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort. Located on Playa del Carmen, the resort is about an hour away from the popular tourist city of Cancun and about three hours from the famous Mexican ruins, Chichen Itzá. More importantly, the resort hugs Mexico’s sublime West Coastline which boasts of pristine sandy beaches and clear, crystal waters.

Flavours of Mexico is no longer running, but I wanted to talk about the event as the food was so delicious. Chef Ricardo de la Vega was born in Mexico City and has worked for some of the best hotels and restaurants in Mexico, and with this experience has developed a style of Mexican food that delicately balances traditional ingredients with modern, refined cooking techniques. Flavours of Mexico showcases some of Chef Ricardo’s dishes from Frida, and it was a chance for Londoners to get a taste of some Mexican fine dining.

For starters, aguachile, green shrimp and scallops, radish, green apple and garlic scented chips (£12) was a very tasty starter. The seafood was wonderfully fresh and the combination with the acidity of the aguachile was well judged. The prawns and scallop were served whole, and although tasty, my preference would have been for the prawns and scallops to have been cut into smaller pieces for a finer texture.

Flavours of Mexico - London Food Blog - Prawns & scallops

Flavours of Mexico – Prawns & scallops

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Little Red Pocket – Japanese Food, Sake, Cocktails and More

Posted on Wednesday, 23rd September 2015


There are many restaurants and bars to visit, but the Little Red Pocket cocktail bar in Melbourne, Australia offers the best cocktails the city has and can offer. Quiet, discreet and overlooking Melbourne’s central district, the bar is a gem hidden in the streets of the city. Little Red Pocket serves traditional and Japanese inspired cocktails that are bound to give the feeling of Japan’s national spirits. Their cocktail menu is filled with many different refreshing and tantalizing flavors that aim to bring out the Japanese spirits to its audience.

When it comes to their drinks they have their house favorites or their pride and joy, The Fallen Blossom. This drink is recommended as an introduction to Sake newbies. Their sake is mixed with fresh ingredients that add wonderful flavors to your taste buds unlike most standard drinks. Sake is a strong Japanese alcohol that has been serving the Japanese culture for a long time, it has a very strong flavor and odor so it may seem unattractive to other people, but Little Red Pocket’s touch to the Japanese sake makes it easier for others to enjoy the taste and feel of the drink and tastes great as mentioned before.

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Posted on Monday, 21st September 2015


Casse-Croute is a quaint and intimate French bistro located on Bermondsey Street, a street that ranks as one of my favourite streets in London for eating out. With the likes of José, Zucca, Antico and Pizarro all on Bermondsey Street, Casse-Croute faces up to some stiff competition. Casse-Croute is decidedly French, from the Francophile posters hanging on the walls, to the red and white tablecloths down to the red leather seating. The cosy placement of the tables also adds a level of intimacy to the restaurant. It’s a wonderfully inviting looking restaurant, a place that you could happily linger in for hours on end, and there’s no doubt that during the winter Casse-Croute is nice and snug. Their menu is small and changes daily, and typically boasts of French classics such as sole with hollandaise sauce and beef cheek bourguignon (which we tried).

For our starter we had the crab ravioli (£9.50) which was beautifully prepared. The homemade pasta was nice and thin, and the crab filling was fresh and tasty. As a complete package the ravioli was truly delicious and showed off tremendous skill. The sauce, made from a reduction using crab and lobster shells, was intensely flavoursome and was a delight to eat. The only problem was that there was not enough sauce to cover the pasta and consequently some of the ravioli tasted naked without the sauce. It felt like this dish had been plated up in a rush. The base of the pasta consisted of some samphire which was very salty and could have probably done with further soaking, etc.

Casse-Croute - London Food Blog - Crab ravioli

Casse-Croute – Crab ravioli

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Posted on Monday, 14th September 2015


Tonkotsu on Dean Street specialises in ramen noodles, the tonkotsu kind from which it derives its name. Tonkotsu ramen hails from Kyushu, the most south-western of all Japan’s main islands. Tonkotsu ramen is distinctive as it is made using a pork bone broth, typically cooked for about 16 hours which gives it a rich creamy flavour and is distinct to the miso and soy broth based varieties.

There are a plethora of ramen noodle restaurants in Central London. Tonkotsu was one of the very original ones to open, before it was joined by the likes of Bone Daddies, Shoryu Ramen, Kanada-Ya, and most recently Ippudo. Having tried Bone Daddies, Shoryu Ramen and Kanada-Ya, it is my opinion that Kanada-Ya serves the best tonkotsu ramen out of the three. But Tonkotsu on Dean was one of the first in London, and I have always wanted to see how it would fair against the rest.

We began our meal with starters of king prawn katsu (£6) with a tonkatsu sauce and salt and sansho pepper squid. The prawns were delicious, with a lovely firmness and a tasty, sweet flavour. The panko crumb coating was crispy and light, and with the sauce, the crispy prawns tasted wonderful.

Tonkotsu - London Food Blog - Prawn katsu

Tonkotsu – Prawn katsu

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The Duck and Rice

Posted on Monday, 7th September 2015


The Duck and Rice is the latest outlet by design supremo and superstar restaurateur Alan Yau who is best known for the Michelin starred Chinese restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, and the high street dining chains Wagamamas and Busaba Eathai. With The Duck and Rice, Yau pays “homage to the ‘holy’ [sic] British drinking establishment” by converting what was once the rather shabby Endurance Pub into a modern day boozer on the ground floor and a funky Chinese restaurant on the first. It’s an interesting new approach to Chinese eating, and it certainly adds a new twist to the concept of east meets west.

I went to The Duck and Rice with Krista from Passportdelicious.com and we both agreed that we loved the ambience of the restaurant. It was very COOL with a dynamic energy that made it a great dining venue. Krista was happy for me to order and so I did my best to order as much food as I could with the £50 that I received for writing about the UNCOVER app.

We started with some sesame prawn toast (£6.50) which had been recommended in many reviews. These proved to be really enjoyable and had been expertly prepared with a generous spread of tasty and well-seasoned minced prawn topping. The sesame seeds worked well to complement the flavour of the prawns, and the toast was crispy and admirably did not taste oily.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - Sesame prawn toast

The Duck and Rice – Sesame prawn toast

Venison puffs (£4.80) are a take on another dim sum classic, the char sui (BBQ pork) puff, and here they were delicious, packing in lots of great flavour. The sauce in the filling had the right level of consistency and sweetness and was very authentic tasting. However the pastry was ever so slightly underdone and not quite flaky enough. A few more minutes of cooking time and these could have been perfect.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - Venison puffs

The Duck and Rice – Venison puffs

Jasmine smoked pork ribs (£14) were sublimely tender with a great flavour. But the ribs needed more sauce, and the sauce needed more spicing. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed the ribs. We both agreed it was better to have good quality ribs that were well cooked with not enough sauce, rather than badly cooked ribs with too much sauce.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - Jasmine smoked ribs

The Duck and Rice – Jasmine smoked ribs

A dish of wasabi prawns (£10.50) contained some good quality battered prawns that were sweet and meaty. But we didn’t enjoy the wasabi mayonnaise that came with the prawns as it was too rich and a little sickly. Serving the mayonnaise as a dipping sauce would probably have worked better. This would have also meant that the batter on the prawns would have stayed crunchier for longer.

Our final dish was the No23 (a reference to how in some Chinese restaurants you order by the number). The No23 was a chicken chow mein (£9.50) which we both found a little disappointing as it tasted flat. The dish lacked for that fragrant (香), almost slightly caramelised effect that you normally get with really well cooked Chinese wok noodles, and this usually comes from having the right level of work heat.

The Duck and Rice - London Food Blog - No23 Chicken chow mein

The Duck and Rice – No23 Chicken chow mein

We both enjoyed The Duck and Rice, especially for its great ambience and funky vibe. As for the food, notwithstanding some weak spots in the cooking, this was fairly tasty with the occasional glimpses of authenticity. The service was pleasant and friendly, and far better than what you would get in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Price wise, we were rather impressed with ourselves that we managed to as much as we did for about £50. That said we found the 13% service charge (rather than the standard 12.5%) to be quite cheeky.


1. The sesame prawn toast.
2. The pastry on the venison puffs was admittedly underdone, but the flavour was otherwise excellent.

1. The No.23 Chicken chow mein tasted flat.
2. The 13% rather than the standard 12.5% service charge.

Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

About £25 to £45 per head, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.theduckandrice.com/

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Duck & Rice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato