"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!"

&Samhoud Places – Two Star Michelin Restaurant, Amsterdam

Posted on Thursday, 17th July 2014

My recent weekend visit to Amsterdam saw me enjoying two days of glorious sunshine, a really pleasant stay at the Art’Otel Amsterdam and visits to a couple of Michelin Restaurants, one of which was &Samhoud Places, a two Michelin starred restaurant in Amsterdam headed by Israeli-born Executive Chef Moshik Roth. Roth’s career started from humble beginnings, as that of a pizzeria manager. But his career took a turn when he embarked on apprenticeships at De Librije and Zwethheul, both of which now hold three and two Michelin stars respectively. Today, Chef Roth is considered to be one of the leading molecular chefs in The Netherlands.

&Samhoud Places is a collaboration between Roth and entrepreneur Salem Samhoud, hence the name. The restaurant is located in Oosterdokseiland, the Eastern Dock Island which is located east of Amsterdam Central Railway Station. &Samhoud Places spans two floors, the first floor being where the Michelin restaurant is situated. The ground floor is a more casual eatery offering street food.

We decided to go on Roth’s full Michelin gastronomic journey, electing to take the nine-course degustation menu (€195.50). Being situated on the Eastern Docks, the restaurant offers views of the waterways. But should you get a bar seat surrounding the open plan kitchen like we did, then you will get a chance to watch the chefs beavering away at work.

&Samhoud Places - Chefs at work

&Samhoud Places – Chefs at work

(Continue reading…)

Easy Homemade Low Fat Mac and Cheese With Three Fusion Variations

Posted on Tuesday, 15th July 2014

While most people are familiar with this classic comfort food from boxed versions that combine pre-packaged cheese powders with plenty of butter, making lower calorie mac using fresh, low fat cheeses is a lot easier than you might think. Making your mac from scratch also makes it easy to prepare some incredible variations that will feed your craving while tickling your taste buds.

A Basic Guide to Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

The three basic stages for making homemade macaroni and cheese include: cooking your pasta, preparing a cheese sauce, combining everything (along with some bread crumbs and extra shredded cheese), then briefly baking in a casserole or other oven-safe dish. For no-frills mac your basic ingredients for an 8-serving recipe are:

• 2 cups dry pasta
• 3 Tbsp. flour
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 cups low fat milk
• 8 oz. shredded low fat cheese, divided (about 2 cups)
• 2 oz. Neufchatel cheese
• 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
• Cooking spray

To prep the pasta, simply cook to an al dente finish, thoroughly drain, and set aside. At this point you will also want to coat your baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350˚F.

(Continue reading…)

Brasserie Chavot

Posted on Wednesday, 9th July 2014

Chef Eric Chavot is best known for his ten-year stint at the two-Michelin starred restaurant at The Capital Hotel where he offered some of the finest French haute cuisine to be had in London. The French born chef trained with some of the most famous names in the culinary world including the likes of Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. He also worked with Marco Pierre White before venturing out on his own with The Capital.

The Capital Restaurant closed in 2009 after which Chef Chavot left for a two year sojourn in The US. But he came back, opening his self-named Brasserie Chavot in The Westbury Hotel in 2013. It’s a world away from the formality of The Capital. Instead of carpeted floors and white linen tablecloths there has been a move towards tiled floors and banquette seating for a more relaxed feel. It’s still a glamorous looking venue nevertheless, with great accoustics to soften the hum of noise from the conversation of other diners.

The menu at Brasserie Chavot may be less complex then his fine dining days at The Capital, but it still bears Chavot’s trademark of classic French cooking and it was enough to see him win a Michelin star in 2014. We started our meal with a scallop ceviche (£13.50) which showcased scallops of the highest quality. Thinly sliced, they were absolutely glorious with a soft texture and a sweet wonderful flavour. The lemon dressing with basil worked well with the scallops although it was a touch acidic in parts.

Brasserie Chavot - Ceviche of scallops

Ceviche of scallops

(Continue reading…)

Meet the Makers – At Hix Selfridges

Posted on Sunday, 6th July 2014

Over eight weeks of summer, Selfridges will be running a ‘Meet the Makers’ event to showcase the heros and producers behind the fabulous food found at Selfridges. It is a celebration of the Selfridge’s foodie artisans, and as part of the occasion there will be walking tours of the confectionery and food halls as well as tantalising daily demonstrations by top chefs. And to kick the ‘Meet the Makers’ Celebration off, Mark Mix hosted a ‘Meet the Makers’ dinner at his restaurant in Selfridges, Hix Restaurant and Champagne Bar last week. It was an opportunity to meet his ‘Makers’, the people who supply him with his great British produce.

The menu started with Hix’s De Beauvoir smoked salmon ‘Hix cure’ with Corrigan’s soda bread, a starter which can be found throughout his restaurants. I have had this salmon before and adore the sweetness of the cure and the gentle smokiness of the fish. The smoked salmon had its origins in Hix’s former East London home, back in the days when Hix use to home cure, hence the name given to this dish. The bread is from a recipe by the king of Irish, Richard Corrigan.

Hix Selfridges - 'Hix cured' smoked salmon

‘Hix cured’ smoked salmon

(Continue reading…)

Coya

Posted on Friday, 27th June 2014

Coya is a super cool Peruvian Restaurant and Bar which has a touch of the theatrical to it. Brought to us by restaurateur Arjun Waney who is responsible for other famous restaurants such as Roka and Zuma, the décor is a mixture of sumptuous furnishings and a fabulous colour scheme that combines vibrancy with a distressed metallic finish. There is a basement restaurant and bar as well as a dedicated members area on the ground floor. The menu has been designed for sharing and puts up a broad offering of ceviche, tiraditos (similar to sashimi), anticuchos (grilled skewers) and small bites alongside a mixture of meat and fish mains. Peruvian in inspiration, there are touches of the eclectic to it with some Asian twists thrown in.

From the anticuchos section we tried the grilled skewered tiger prawns (£8.50) which had been beautifully cooked. The prawns were firm and tasty and had been coated with a pleasant, but rather delicate tomato, garlic and ginger rub. A touch more seasoning might have therefore worked better.

Coya - Tiger prawns

Tiger prawns

(Continue reading…)

El Pirata de Tapas

Posted on Friday, 20th June 2014

El Pirata de Tapas in Notting Hill, sister restaurant to El Pirata de Tapas Mayfair, came to fame when Gordon Ramsay named it one of his ‘Best Spanish Restaurants in the UK’ in 2010 on his Ramsay’s Best Restaurant TV programme. That recognition belonged to a time when El Bulli trained Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy was still the head chef at El Pirata de Tapas (co-incidentally Allibhoy had also worked at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant under Jason Atherton prior to taking over the reins at El Pirata de Tapas). These days Allibhoy is busy with other ventures such as his books and Tapas Revolution with the current head chef at El Pirata de Tapas being a Julian Gil.

El Pirata de Tapas is a comfortable looking restaurant and is suitable casual in keeping with the many other casual eating options along Westbourne Grove. The restaurant serves a modern tapas menu, a throw back to the days of Allibhoy.

There was a great value set lunch menu at £9.95 for two tapas dishes including bread and wine, but we elected for the more adventurous offerings from the standard a la carte menu.

Seared scallops (£9) were nicely cooked and came with a sweet and delicious onion purée that worked well with the scallops and some pork roulade that was quite fatty. Overall this was a nice dish but it would have been better had it not come out cold.

El Pirata de Tapas - Seared scallops

Seared scallops

(Continue reading…)

Berners Tavern

Posted on Friday, 13th June 2014

2013 saw Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton open three restaurants, the third of which was Berners Tavern at the Edition Hotel. All three restaurants – the other two were Little Social and Social Eating House – were well received, but it has been Berners Tavern that has made the boldest and most stunning of statements with its fabulously opulent décor. Designed by Ian Schrager who is famous for his makeovers of luxury boutique hotels, Berners Tavern comes with improbably high ceilings, grandiose chandeliers and lavish paintings that run from wall to wall. Berners Tavern is nothing short of palatial, and it simply takes your breath away as you enter it’s grand dining room. Simply put, the use of the word ‘tavern’ does not do the restaurant justice.

The restaurant is an all day affair serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, sandwiches, tea, dinner as well as late supper. At the helm is Head Chef Phil Carmichael, Jason Atherton’s sidekick who worked with him at Maze in London and also at the now defunct Maze in Prague. The menu offers a collection of contemporary British dishes as well as seafood and meat platters for sharing and grass fed British steaks from the grill.

Our waiter recommended the aged beef tartare (£13) and it was indeed delicious with a wild garlic salsa verde, chopped duck egg and thin pieces of crispy thin croutons. The beef was supremely tender and flavoursome, but it had been unevenly and quite coarsely cut. A finer chop would have provided a more refined and enjoyable texture.

Berners Tavern - Beef Tartare

Beef Tartare

(Continue reading…)

Chiltern Firehouse

Posted on Friday, 6th June 2014

Chiltern Firehouse is THE hottest restaurant in London at the moment. It’s so much of a sensation that it has become a regular on the celebrity circuit. Barely a day goes by where there isn’t a press mention of an A-lister passing through its doors.

Chiltern Firehouse is owned by property magnate André Balazs who is known for his luxury hotel portfolio which includes Chateau Marmont in LA and The Mercer in New York. Balazs has similarly converted the Chiltern Firehouse property, a Grade II-listed building that was once home to the Chiltern Street fire station, into a luxury hotel. The restaurant is run by Chef Nuno Mendes who needs no introduction to those who know the London dining scene well. He trained at El Bulli and his last residence at Restaurant Viajante went on to receive great critical acclaim as well as a Michelin star. Working along side Mendes is Dale Osborne who previously cooked at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

The entrance to the Chiltern Firehouse is closely guarded with admission being impossible without a reservation. Once past the security, there is a lovely courtyard seating area with a fireplace where you may sip an aperitif before dinner. Inside, the restaurant is a statement in understated luxury and comfort. The bar area is tiny however, and the tables are tightly packed together. There is an elevated open kitchen where one may watch the chefs at work.

The food deviates from that previously found at Viajante where innovation and originality was the key. Instead, the food at Chiltern Firehouse is more modern American, drawing on the time Mendes spent with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Wolfgang Puck in the US with items such as fried chicken and cornbread fingers to be found.

Chiltern Firehouse - Cornbread fingers

Cornbread fingers

(Continue reading…)