"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!"

The Shed – Visit No. 2

Posted on Friday, 28th August 2015

Last week I paid a repeat visit to The Shed, a restaurant by The Gladwin Brothers. My first visit was great and you can read about that meal and the background to The Shed here. I also visited The Rabbit recently, the sister restaurant of The Shed and loved that experience too. Sadly this second visit to The Shed was somewhat underwhelming. There were a couple of poorly executed elements in the food. The service was slow as well. Clearly there are some consistency issues at The Shed.

We’ll start with the service which was disorganised. We ordered some wine which failed to arrive as and when it should have. We had to repeat our order three times before the wines finally showed up which meant we had to wait, wait, wait. The restaurant was busy, but not so busy that this couldn’t have been avoided.

The concept of the menu at The Shed continues to centre around a variety of different sharing plates that the restaurant refers to as fast cooking and slow cooking. There are also mouthfuls, the idea of which centres around canapé sized morsels of food which are ideal for getting a mouthful of something tasty.

From the fast cooking section, we tried the pan-fried goat’s cheese (£6.30) with a drizzling of honey and a touch of thyme which tasted warm and good. To round off the dish was a topping of hazelnuts. The idea of the nuts worked with the cheese, but disappointingly, they did not taste as fresh as they should have.

The Shed - London Food Blog - Goat's cheese

The Shed – Goat’s cheese

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Galvin At Windows – The Lunch Menu

Posted on Monday, 24th August 2015

GALVIN AT WINDOWS – THE LUNCH MENU

We recently tried the set lunch menu at Galvin at Windows, a Michelin One Star Restaurant by the renowned chefs and restaurateurs, the Galvin Brothers. Located on the 28th floor of the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, Galvin at Windows offers glorious views over Hyde Park and Central London. The three-course set lunch with bellini is priced at £33 and was great value, offering three choices for starter and main, and two choices for dessert.

We both started with the beef steak tartare which was lovely. The beef was tasty and had been finely chopped and marinated with herbs and a strong level of acidity for a great flavour. Accompanying the tartare was a well-made selection of condiments including mustard mayonnaise, a gorgeous confit egg yolk and pickled vegetables.

Galvin at Windows - London Food Blog - Beef Tartare

Galvin at Windows – Beef Tartare

To mains, and the roasted fillet of Suffolk pork with braised pork cheek proved to be an accomplished dish. The pork cheek was particularly delicious as it was tender and rich with flavour, although the fillet was a touch chewy as it was slightly overcooked. All the other elements on the plate were good, including a fricassée of broad beans, celeriac and a chorizo and honey spiced jus, all of which were delicious and worked well in bringing the dish together.

Galvin at Windows - London Food Blog - Suffolk pork

Galvin at Windows – Suffolk pork

Kimchee risotto with slow cooked egg, fresh corn, sesame and Parmesan proved to be a very interesting dish. There was good depth in the stock, the rice was al dente and the egg added a lovely richness to the risotto. The big disappointment however was that it was very salty.

Galvin at Windows - London Food Blog - Kimchee risotto

Galvin at Windows – London Food Blog – Kimchee risotto

To desserts, and an apricot and cherry almond tart with a verbena cream was good but not great. There wasn’t enough of a frangipane flavour in the tart, and it lacked for a buttery sweet pastry that makes classic French tarts taste so great.

Galvin at Windows - London Food Blog - Apricot & cherry almond tart

Galvin at Windows – Apricot & cherry almond tart

A second dessert of rice pudding with peach compote, raspberries and pink pepper sorbet was tasty and enjoyable as it was fresh and very summery.

Galvin at Windows - London Food Blog - Rice pudding

Galvin at Windows – Rice pudding

There were a few elements in the Galvin at Windows lunch menu that could have been better, but on the whole, I couldn’t fault the cooking which was accomplished and refined. Another plus point was that the menu was very reasonably priced at £33, making it decent value for money. Other plus points included great service and wonderful views. The lunch menu Galvin at Windows definitely gets a big tick from me.

Summary Information:

Likes:
1. The quality of the cooking especially at this reasonable price point.
2. The good service.
3. The amazing views.

Dislikes:
1. The saltiness in the kimchee risotto.

Lunch menu food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 4/5

Lunch menu price: £33 for three courses plus a bellini. Excludes other drinks and service.

Website: http://www.galvin-at-windows.com/

St James Court, A Taj Hotel

Posted on Friday, 21st August 2015

ST JAMES COURT HOTEL, A TAJ HOTEL – AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 TASTES

Last week I attended a preview evening of the ‘Around the World in 80 Tastes’ experience (£100 per person) at the gorgeous St James Court, A Taj Hotel on Buckingham Palace Gate. The experience takes you through a culinary journey of four of the different restaurants in the hotel with tasting plates paired with matching wines. We began our evening with a Laurent Perrier Champagne flight paired with canapés in the St James Courtyard of the hotel, an idyllic outdoor dining space surrounded by the world’s largest Shakespearean frieze. It’s a gorgeous al fresco spot, little known about. So spread the world as it’s a lovely spot for a drink and deserves greater recognition.

For our champagne flight we had (from right to left) the Laurent-Perrier Brut, Cuvée Rosé and the Vintage 2004 with scallops and avocado, smoked salmon and ratatouille. The champagnes were delectable and the canapés were fairly tasty.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Canapes

St James Court Hotel – Canapes

Next we moved to Bistro 51 where a contemporary European menu is served. I recently dined at Bistro 51 where I had a mixed experience. You can read about that meal here. As part of this ‘Around the World in 80 Tastes’ culinary journey, we had a trio of starters including stir-fried chicken with bell peppers, sesame-crusted tuna with pink grapefruit and beetroot gazpacho with feta crumble. The tuna was smart and very tasty, and nicely flavoured with some soy sauce and sesame seeds. The gazpacho was good but could have done with a little more feta for a better balance between sweet and savoury. The chicken didn’t work and wasn’t that appetising. To accompany the starters was an Argentinian Septima Malbec.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Starters at Bistro

St James Court Hotel – Starters at Bistro

Next we moved to Quilon, an Indian One Michelin Star Restaurant which was the highlight of the evening. Here we enjoyed some pepper shrimp, crab cake, lentil fish, grilled scallop and the Quilon signature fish curry of halibut simmered in coconut, chilli and raw mango sauce. All of these were delicious and perfectly prepared. My particular favourites were the lentil fish as it was beautifully moist and succulent and the fish curry as its flavour was delightful. The tasting plate was accompanied by some Malabar paratha which was outstanding for it was wonderfully light and flaky. The accompanying wine was a Chapel Down Flint Dry.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Tasting plate at Quilon

St James Court Hotel – Tasting plate at Quilon

From Quilon we moved to Kona, a newly opened restaurant at The St James Court Hotel that serves contemporary dishes prepared using locally sourced, sustainable and organic ingredients. It’s a beautiful, modern looking restaurant, and here we tried the Sussex lamb cooked two ways, as a cannon and Bolognese. The lamb was served with aubergine caviar, polenta, wild roquette pesto and confit eggplant. This was respectable, tasty cooking, although I would have preferred the cannon to more medium rare. The accompanying wines included an Albarino Davila.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Lamb dish at Kona

St James Court Hotel – Lamb dish at Kona

To finish, we had a dessert platter of calvados marinated apple on a walnut and pecan crumble, chocolate ganache and a deconstructed lemon meringue pie and poppy streusel, all of which were nicely done.

St James Court Hotel - London Food Blog - Dessert plate

St James Court Hotel – Dessert plate

“Around the World in 80 Tastes’ was great fun as it offered lots of different flavour sensations, and I can see this as a good date night option if you want to impress someone with a taste of something a little different. Without doubt, the highlight was the food at Michelin starred Quilon. The food at the other outlets held up well too, and overall £100 was a reasonable price to pay when you take into account the champagnes and the pairing wines.

Website: http://www.stjamescourthotel.co.uk/

Summary Information:

Overall experience rating: 3.5/5

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The Bridge Room Sydney

Posted on Monday, 17th August 2015

THE BRIDGE ROOM

The Bridge Room in Sydney is located within the heart of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD) and is within walking distance of key landmarks such as the Opera House and Circular Quay. Owned by Chef Ross Lusted and his partner and Sunny, The Bridge Room is recognised as one of the best restaurants in Sydney, receiving many glowing reviews and high critical acclaim. The Bridge Room holds a Two-Hat distinction (out of a possible three) as awarded by the prestigious Sydney Morning Good Food Guide. In 2014 Chef Lusted himself was also recognised as The Chef of The Year by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and as the Hottest Chef in Australia by the Weekend Australian Magazine Hot 50 Restaurants.

Chef Ross Lusted has had an illustrious cooking career, previously holding the positions of Executive Chef at Sydney’s Rockpool, Park Hyatt Sydney’s Harbour Kitchen & Bar and Singapore’s Mezza9. Chef Lusted then went on to become the Head of Food & Beverage Development for Aman Resorts before returning to Australia and opening The Bridge Room in 2011. The Bridge Room serves Modern Australian cuisine, drawing inspiration from European and Asian influences cooked with the best of local, seasonal Australian produce.

Housed in an art deco building, The Bridge Room features an open kitchen with a custom built charcoal grill. The dining room is rectangular in shape and is modern and airy in its design, with a key feature being the hand-made ceramics designed by Chef Lusted himself.

We had an amazing experience at The Bridge Room, starting with some Smoky Bay Pacific (on the right) and Port Stephens Rock oysters ($4.50 each – £2.10), both of which were gorgeous. Meaty and tasty with a rich sea flavour, the oysters were served with a shallot and red wine vinegar as well as a white miso dressing with chives that was fabulous.

The Bridge Room - London Food Blog - Oysters

The Bridge Room – Oysters

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Top Eats in Luang Prabang

Posted on Friday, 14th August 2015

TOP EATS IN LUANG PRABANG

Wat Sene Luang Prabang

Wat Sene Luang Prabang

The ancient town of Luang Prabang in Northern Laos is without a doubt one of the most beautiful spots in South East Asia. Abundant in natural beauty, Luang Prabang sits at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers and is surrounded by lush green hills. Also cementing Luang Prabang’s title as the premier tourist destination in Laos is its blend of French colonial architecture and timeless Laotian temples. In 1995 Luang Prabang was designated as a World Unesco Heritage Site.

Luang Prabang is also the foodie capital of Laos, and I had a fabulous time trying some of its delightful food offerings and restaurants. I was in Luang Prabang for only four days, but the TheLondonFoodie spent almost two weeks there. He has written two excellent and extensive blog posts on his food experiences in Luang Prabang, so I highly recommend that you read these should you intend to visit Luang Prabang (post one and post two).

L’Elephant

But I’d also like to share with you my top eat experiences in Luang Prabang, beginning with L’Elephant Restaurant. This is often cited as one of the best restaurants in Luang Prabang and I would concur as L’Elephant Restaurant proved to be my best meals in Luang Prabang. L’Elephant is part of a group of restaurants in Luang Prabang owned by a French and Laotian pair. L’Elephant serves both French and Laotian cuisine, and we decided upon the Laotian set menu, the “Saveurs du Laos” (145,000 KIP – £11) which we loved. The menu began with an exquisite clear soup of tender delicious beef with betel leaves, galangal and lemongrass. The soup was wonderfully tasty with a clean, fresh and fragrant flavour.

L'Elephant Restaurant - London Food Blog - Clear soup

L’Elephant Restaurant – Clear soup

This was followed by a main plate consisting of a number of different dishes, all of which were delicious. Particularly delightful was the Mekong fish with lemongrass, rice powder and kaffir lime. This had been steamed in a banana leaf papillote and was delightfully fragrant and moist. Also on the plate was a tender and tasty piece of grilled pork marinated in lemongrass, a wonderful steamed piece of pork on a lemongrass stalk and a local specialty of crispy Luang Prabang weeds with sesame seeds.

L'Elephant Restaurant - London Food Blog - Main plate

L’Elephant Restaurant – Main plate

Accompanying the main plate was some sticky rice, a fabulous chicken laap (salad) with coriander, spring onions, mint and chilli that was fresh and full of flavour, and some delicious sauteed vegetables with mushrooms. The dessert was a fruit salad topped with a delightful ginger ice cream.

L'Elephant Restaurant - London Food Blog - Fruit with ginger ice cream

L’Elephant Restaurant – Fruit with ginger ice cream

I thought the food at L’Elephant was excellent. It was fresh and refined with wonderful authentic flavours. The cooking was very strong technically and I would thoroughly recommend it as the one must try restaurant in Luang Prabang.

Website: http://elephant-restau.com/

Tamarind

Tamarind is both a restaurant and a very known Laotian cookery school. I didn’t have the opportunity to do any of the cookery courses as you need to book these in advance. However we tried the Pun Pa (110,000 Kip – £8.50) on Friday night, a colourful evening which began with a tasting platter of Tamarind’s delicious savoury Laotion dips (jeow) including tomato, smoky eggplant, buffalo skin with peppers as well as a chilli paste. These were served with Mekong weed with sesame.

Tamarind Restaurant - London Food Blog - Laotian dips

Tamarind Restaurant – Laotian dips

The dips were followed by a whole tilapia marinated with herbs and lemongrass, wrapped in banana leaves and then barbequed over charcoal. The fish was perfectly cooked and very moist. The fish was eaten wrapped in leaves with a selection of noodles, vegetables, herbs and savoury sauces.

Tamarind Restaurant - London Food Blog - Whole tilapia

Tamarind Restaurant – Whole tilapia

To finish we had a really tasty tamarind and coconut sticky rice and a selection of fresh fruit. The Pun Pa evening was really fun, being a sharing experience where we sat with other diners at a communal table and got our fingers really dirty. The food was really homely and yummy and well worth trying.

Tamarind Restaurant - London Food Blog - Sticky rice

Tamarind Restaurant – Sticky rice

Website: http://www.tamarind-laos.com/

3 Nagas

3 Nagas is a boutique hotel in Luang Prabang with a very fine restaurant. We had lunch here and enjoyed a dish of minced pork in banana leaf with fresh herbs (60,000KIP – £4.65) and Laotian omelette (60,000KIP – £3.90) with herbs, Mekong riverweed and tomato sauce. The pork was good, but the omelette was outstanding and delightfully with lots of lovely dill. The tomato sauce was sweet and lovely and worked a treat with the eggs. It was worth going to 3 Nagas just for this dish. Note you can get 20% off voucher from the Tourism Office for use at 3 Nagas.

3 Nagas - London Food Blog - Minced pork

3 Nagas – Minced pork

3 Nagas - London Food Blog - Laotian omelette

3 Nagas – Laotian omelette

Website: http://3-nagas-luang-prabang

The Morning Food Market

The Morning Food Market is without a doubt one of the highlights of any visit to Luang Prabang. Here you can try some delightful spicy Laotian sausage and some delicious, if somewhat fatty, skewered pork (both 10,000KIP – 80p). I recommend buying the sausages and the pork from the vendor featured in the photo. She cooks the sausages and the pork right in front of your eyes. I walked up and down the length of the market and her products were by far the best.

Luang Prabang food market - London Food Blog - Laotian sausage

Luang Prabang food market – Laotian sausage

Luang Prabang Food Market - London Food Blog - Skewered pork

Luang Prabang Food Market – London Food Blog – Skewered pork

Grilled meat vendor

Grilled meat vendor

One of my most favourite Laotian treats was the coconut cakes, ‘khao nom kok’ (5,000KIP – 40p). These were a delight with a crunchy outside and soft creamy inside and very addictive. I tried these from a number of different vendors and liked the ones sold by the lady featured in this photo the best. If you go at the right time of the day to the morning food markets she’ll make these hot for you. And if you buy from her regularly she’ll probably give you extras like she did for me!

Luang Prabang Food Market - London Food Blog - Coconut cakes

Luang Prabang Food Market – Coconut cakes

The Bamboo Bridge

One of the tourist highlights in Luang Prabang is the Bamboo Bridge which sits over the Nam Khan River. This bridge only exists for six months of the year. During rainy season the bridge has to be taken down as the water levels are too high and the current is too strong. The bridge is then rebuilt after the rainy season. What a quirky labour of love! It’s worth crossing the bridge for the views, and on the other side of the bridge there is a cool little hangout spot, the Dyen Sabai Restaurant. Set in a bamboo garden and surrounded by greenery, it was a great place to chill out and enjoy some cocktails.

The Bamboo Bridge - London Food Blog

The Bamboo Bridge

Website: https://dyen-sabai-restaurant.com/

Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao – Phou Savanh Restaurant

Posted on Saturday, 8th August 2015

BELMOND LA RESIDENCE PHOU VAO –
PHOU SAVANH RESTAURANT

Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao is a beautiful luxury resort and spa located in Luang Prabang, Laos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The resort is located on Phou Vao hill, about two kilometres from the centre of Luang Prabang, and is set within three hectares of lush gardens and greenery. Its hill top location means that guests are afforded with views of the surrounding hills and Mount Phou Si, Luang Prabang’s sacred hill upon where there is a Buddhist Temple. Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao combines a French colonial style with Laotian touches to create the ultimate sense of classical luxury and comfort. It’s a gorgeous part of the world and incredibly intimate and tranquil, making for a very romantic setting for dinner.

Phou Savanh is the restaurant at Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao and is wonderfully comfortably and spacious. It has high ceilings and open doorways that give it an airy feel. Executive Chef Walter Andreini hails from Brussels but also spent 14 years running his own restaurant in Koh Samui. Consequently, the restaurant is a blend of east meets west, with both an Asian and a more classical French menu. The Asian menu itself is a fusion of inspirations, drawing on dishes from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, all cooked with a European touch.

There is both indoor and outdoor seating at Phou Savanh, and adjacent to the restaurant is the Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao’s Champa Bar. Both the restaurant and the bar look out onto the resort’s infinity pool, which in turn merges with a view of Luang Prabang’s beautiful green treetops and Mount Phou Si. It made for a spectacular spot to knock back some cocktails which we duly did. We tried the Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao’s signature cocktail of ‘Simply Laos’ which consisted of Lao-Lao (a Laotian rice whisky), hibiscus flower, honey and lime (USD$9.50), and a Laojito (USD$9.50) with Lao-Lao, lemongrass, mint, lime and sugar over crushed ice. Both were really delicious and refreshing.

La Résidence Phou Vao - London Food Blog - Cocktails

La Résidence Phou Vao – Cocktails

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JW Marriott Bangkok

Posted on Thursday, 6th August 2015

In Bangkok I stayed at the JW Marriott Hotel, a 5-star hotel aimed at both family and business travellers. Located at 4 Sukhumvit Road, JW Marriott Bangkok provides easy access to the bars and restaurants in the Sukhumvit area and the shopping areas of MBK Shopping Mall and Siam Paragon Shopping Centre. The hotel is well situated within the transport network and is just a short walk from its closest BTS station (Ploenchit).

JW Marriott Bangkok resonates with charm and has a strong Thai theme running through its décor, especially in the large and elegant lounge bar and lobby areas. As for the rooms, my deluxe room was smart and comfortably furnished with dark wood furniture, a flat-screen TV, mod-cons and soundproof walls.

JW Marriott Bangkok - London Food Blog - Deluxe Room

JW Marriott Bangkok – Deluxe Room

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Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – The China House

Posted on Tuesday, 4th August 2015

MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK – THE CHINA HOUSE

The China House is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok’s in-house Cantonese Chinese restaurant. The design is inspired by Shanghai’s art deco period and is decorated in an opulent old-world style with dark wood furnishings and atmospheric low lighting. It’s a classy restaurant and features dim sum as well as a series of Cantonese dishes interpreted in a contemporary style.

On Tuesdays to Saturdays The China House offers an unlimited all you-can-eat dim sum menu (1,080THB net – £20). What was a surprise was that there was not only dim sum, but that you could choose from a buffet counter as well as order off an a la carte menu. This all-you-can eat brunch menu at The China House was fabulous and incredibly good value as well.

We headed for the buffet first and I thought the buffet dishes were excellent. We tried a selection of goodies including drunken chicken, fresh prawns, jellyfish, all of which were delicious. Also fabulous was the Chinese roast pork belly. This really was sensational, with the crackling being superbly crunchy. It was a little fatty but the fat was what made it so tasty. There was also some roast duck, but we didn’t try this as the pork looked better.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Buffet selection

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Buffet selection

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok - London Food Blog - Roast pork

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Roast pork

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