"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!"

Grain Store

Posted on Monday, 15th September 2014

Grain Store is the latest restaurant by French born chef Bruno Loubet who brought us the successful Bistrot Bruno Loubet in Clerkenwell, a restaurant that celebrates modern French bistro classics. But the emphasis at Grain Store is different with a strong focus on earthy seasonal vegetables. Although it makes good use of meat and seafood there are also lots of lovely vegetarian options. Grain Store is not a vegetarian restaurant, but a vegetarian would definitely not go hungry here. The menu is vibrant and interesting and tells a tale of seasonality and refreshing earthiness.

Grain Store occupies a massive space in a former warehouse in Granary Square, right next to Caravan. It’s an inviting restaurant with the décor being as engaging as the menu. There’s an open kitchen, white woodwork, whitewashed brick walls and quirky touches that make the restaurant interesting. There was also a good cocktail selection and we thoroughly enjoyed the Babydoll (£8.50) with rum, rhubarb syrup, orgeat, violet essence, lemon juice and egg white as it was delicious.

A light pea mousse tartlet (£9) was gorgeous as the pastry was crispy and thin and the pea mousse filling was as light as a feather. The tartlett would have been better warm rather than cold, but it was nevertheless delicious, especially with a topping of shaved summer truffle and parmesan.

Grain Store - Pea mousse tartlet

Pea mousse tartlet

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London in the Sky

Posted on Sunday, 14th September 2014

London in the Sky - The view from below

The view from below

Last night we had THE most amazing time at London in the Sky, a 10 day pop-up restaurant which sees five of London’s best Michelin starred chefs prepare their delicious menus in a unique sky table dining experience seating 22 guests. Eating a Michelin starred meal 100 feet above the heady heights of Canary Wharf was truly a gastronomic experience unlike any other.

London in the Sky - The dining table

London in the Sky – The dining table

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The Rib Room

Posted on Monday, 8th September 2014

The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant in the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel opened in the 1960s and soon became well known in Knightsbridge as ‘the’ place to go for its roast rib of Aberdeen Angus beef. Today The Rib Room remains a grand dame of an English restaurant. The voluminous dining room is filled with plush furnishings and is sumptuously decorated in a sea of green and amber. It’s the kind of place where, back in the day, you might have imagined customers dining in their dinner jackets.

Head chef Ian Rudge worked with Nigel Haworth at the one Michelin starred Northcote Manor and the two Michelin starred Whatley Manor and he brings a touch of the modernity to The Rib Room with his Seasonal Menu. But it was for its Classic Menu that The Rib Room became well known, and this menu is still available to diners to this day. The Classic Menu is fairly pricey so the seasonal menu at two courses for £49 and three courses for £58 offers reasonable value.

From the Classic Menu, half a dozen Loch Fyne Angel oysters (£15) were glorious with the oysters being fresh, creamy and extremely meaty. There was a shot of Bloody Mary to go with the oysters which was nicely done. With the gentlest hint of Worcestershire sauce, it livened up the flavour of the oysters wonderfully. We also asked for some vinaigrette which was excellent. The sweetness and acidity was really well judged to produce a vinaigrette that was one of the best that I’d ever tried.

The Rib Room - Oysters

Oysters

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House of Ho

Posted on Monday, 1st September 2014

The House of Ho opened in January 2014 in Old Compton Street in Soho and is the first London restaurant by Bobby Chin. Born to an Egyptian mother and a Chinese father, the food at The House of Ho echoes the influences that Bobby gained during the 18 years that he spent living and working in both Hanoi and Saigon. In July 2014, Bobby was appointed Vietnam Tourism Ambassador in Europe.

The House of Ho features a rectangular shaped dining room with an impressive frontage that looks out onto Old Compton Street. Tables right by the windows are therefore perfect for people watching. There’s a long bar area, and bamboo tables have been interspersed with a selection of Vietnamese art from Bobby’s own collection. The result is a restaurant with a modern Vietnamese feel to it that is smart yet relaxed.

The menu features lots of variety including a selection of pho cuon rice noodle rolls. We tried the one with confit of duck (£5.50) and found the duck to be dry. The noodle rolls themselves were really impressive however as these were delicious and fabulously authentic. There were also some perilla leaves in the roll which were really fragrant.

Imperial spring rolls (£6) were really yummy with a crispy wrapper and came with a delicious filling of pork, mushroom and prawn that was moist and satisfying. A sweet chilli sauce served as the condiment and it worked really well with the spring rolls.

House of Ho - Imperial & Noodle rolls with duck

Imperial & Noodle rolls with duck

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Claude’s Kitchen

Posted on Tuesday, 26th August 2014

Claude Compton previously cooked at Petersham Nurseries and Club Gascon, and with his restaurant Claude’s Kitchen, he now combines his Michelin experience with beautifully fresh ingredients to produce a wholesome British menu. The fish is brought down daily from Cornwall, the meat is organic and free-range and he also makes wonderful use of seasonal greens throughout his dishes. Claude’s Kitchen is located on the first floor of the Amuse Bouche Champagne Bar in Parsons Green. It’s a cozy little outfit – uniquely comfortable and wonderfully relaxed.

The menu was not extensive but everything was wonderfully inventive and creative. There were touches of the fine dining to it with inclusion of elements such as dehydrated olives and parsnip foam. Yet the food was rustic and comforting and unpretentious. But best of all it tasted incredibly fresh. An inventive dish of raw beef fillet (£7) with blackberries, red onion, dandelion, chicory and horseradish was delectably interesting. The beef was meaty and tender and beautifully balanced against the sweetness of the berries and blackberry sauce. There was also an earthiness coming through from the dandelion and chicory and a gentle hint of heat from the horseradish that rounded off this refreshing dish.

Claude’s Kitchen - Beef fillet

Beef fillet

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Bibo

Posted on Monday, 18th August 2014

Bibo is the latest venture by Rebecca Mascarenhas, a restaurateur known for the Michelin Starred Kitchen W8 and the acclaimed Sonny’s Kitchen in Barnes, both of which are collaborations with Philip Howard of The Square. With Bibo, Rebecca has gone Italian. Head chef Chris Beverley, previously at Theo Randall at the InterContinental, has created a modern Italian menu that focuses on seasonality, freshness and simplicity. The wine list is Italian as well and includes a list of approximately 60 bins covering regional Italy.

Located in Putney, Bibo goes about bringing a sense of warmth to its interior. The long painted brickwork dining room and bar has been fitted with a mixture of artworks, bespoke light fittings and comforting oak wood furniture. Bibo is informal and relaxed with an inviting neighbourhood feel to it, made all the enjoyable with its welcoming and friendly service.

We started with an antipasta of prosciutto di San Daniele (£8.50) which was wonderful with a robust yet sweet flavour. It came with some juicy and ripe Sicilian melon that paired perfectly with the prosciutto.

Bibo - Prosciutto & melon

Prosciutto & melon

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Balthazar

Posted on Friday, 8th August 2014

Balthazar Restaurant opened in Soho in New York in 1997, and within two years of its opening it became one of the hottest restaurants in NYC. It attracted celebrities far and wide, much in the same way that Chiltern Firehouse, London’s restaurant of the moment is doing. Long recognised as an institution in New York, celebrity restaurateur Keith McNally opened a branch on British shores in 2013 to much hype and fanfare.

Balthazar London looks the business and replicates Balthazar New York’s French brasserie design, from the high ceilings to the antique mirrored walls, through to the red leather banquettes down to the mosaic floors. Similar to its big sister, Balthazar London offers all-day menu with breakfast as well afternoon tea, and on the weekends there is a separate brunch menu. The food is French-inspired and includes seafood from the raw bar as well as a wide selection of classical French brasserie and bistro dishes. Next door to the restaurant is the Balthazar Boulangerie that serves an array of delicious looking artisan breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches.

The atmosphere was a little flat and lacklustre when we visited Balthazar London. Perhaps it was because it was a Sunday night, but there wasn’t the fired-up energy that was reminiscent of my past visits to Balthazar New York. With all the hype that surrounded Balthazar’s opening, this proved to be a little disappointing.

As for the food, it didn’t quite fire on all cylinders with starters of garlic prawns (£10) and steak tartare (£9.75) being acceptable if a little lacklustre. The prawns were firm in texture and came in a buttery sauce filled with garlic and piment d’Espelette chillies. But the sauce wanted for a little more flavour. On the side was a warm portion of fougasse provencale bread that soaked up the sauce nicely. But the bread was rather oily and the crust was not crunchy. As for the steak tartare, the meat was tender and flavoursome, but it needed more Worcestershire sauce and seasoning to give it a greater punch.

Balthazar - Garlic prawns

Garlic prawns

Balthazar - Steak tartare

Steak tartare

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The White Swan

Posted on Thursday, 7th August 2014

The White Swan, located on Fetter Lane near Chancery Lane, is an old-fashioned boozer which has long enticed the city crowd with its fine selection of ales and refined gentile feel. But it also serves as a gastropub, with the first floor area being transformed into a smart but not overly fussy dining room styled with an art-deco touch.

The food is also classically British and smartly done, teetering on high-end without being too over the top. The ground floor pub also serves food, and although its menu includes a burger and fish and chips as options, the other items are rather smart with the likes of dishes such as confit duck leg and slow roasted pork belly. Migrate upstairs to the main dining room, and the a la carte menu becomes more creative with the added option of a tasting menu.

We decided to go for the tasting menu, which was a rather reasonable £55 for six courses. Our amuse bouche was a crab salad with cucumber and tomato which was lovely and fresh and blended with a creamy mayo that tasted distinctively homemade.

The White Swan - Crab salad

Crab salad amuse bouche

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