"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!"

Visit Stellenbosch at TheLondonFoodie

Posted on Monday, 26th September 2016

VISIT STELLENBOSCH

Stellenbosch Wines and TheLondonFoodie hosted a special #VisitStellenbosch evening recently to celebrate the wines from Stellenbosch. The evening demonstrated the quality of the wines from this famous South African wine region, and its diversity in pairing with a range of flavours. TheLondonFoodie – chef, author and supperclub host – is also extremely well known on the London food scene, having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu to run his own highly successful supperclubs to publishing his acclaimed cookbook “Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way”. TheLondonFoodie provided a specially selected Japanese and Nikkei menu to pair with the Stellenbosch wines that we had the opportunity to sample. The combination of amazing food and incredible wines made for an exceptional event.

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie - Selection of Stellenbosch wines

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie – Selection of Stellenbosch wines

The evening kicked off with a reception with canapés of pan-fried leek and tofu gyoza, and wasabi and butter flavoured popcorn. This was served with L’Avenir MCC Blanc de Blanc 2011, a blanc de blanc which was exceptionally creamy with rich flavours of nuts, biscuit and citrus. It had a superb crispness, and the delicate titillation of tiny bubbles left a lingering impression. This was an attractive bottle and incredibly easy to drink.

Starter 1 was a tasty salmon and Sicilian prawn with a fennel Nikkei ceviche in a passion fruit and aji amarillo tiger’s milk. This was served with a Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc, a delicious and easy drinking wine with concentrated aromas of guava, lychee and sweet melon, and subtle oaky notes which gave the wine a full and elegant finish.

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie - London Food Blog - Prawn & salmon ceviche

Visit Stellenbosch & TheLondonFoodie – Prawn & salmon ceviche

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Zima Russian Street Food & Bar

Posted on Monday, 19th September 2016

ZIMA

When Zima ‘Russian street food and bar’ opened next to Ronnie Scotts in Soho, we were very hopeful. Russian cuisine has struggled to break onto London scene up until now. Maybe this is because it has taken Russia a couple of decades (after the fall of communism ) to start growing its own chef talent. But right now, the Moscow restaurant scene is frothing with people and places that dig into their Slavic roots, combining them with the techniques of the brave new world (just look at ‘White Rabbit’ in the top 100 restaurants this year).

Zima - London Food Blog

Zima – The menu

The man behind the Zima menu is Alexei Zimin, a known chef on the Moscow restaurant scene. With a bushy beard, kindly intense eyes and just a smudge of a smile, he fronts the brand perfectly –a kinda 21st century style Russian bear. Zima is located in a Grade II listed building. Originally Zima was only a bar that occupied the tiny basement, but it has since expanded and taken over the ground and the first floor in the building– a sure sign the guys were doing something right.

We sat on the first floor, which was all starched white table cloths and understated colours , with the ‘Russianness’ of the place only being hinted by some (well curated) hip and happening Russian art. The ground floor ryumochnaya (vodka bar) had a livelier vibe of mainly Russian speaking youngsters. Russian rock music and vintagy enamel bowls of homely food boded well in the bar, but upstairs seemed out of place (and was frankly a tad boring as there were so few customers – we are in Soho prime estate after all).

The service was warm and friendly, with recommendations on what to choose given with a genuine twinkle.

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Noble Rot

Posted on Monday, 12th September 2016

Noble Rot Restaurant and Wine Bar is located on quirky Lamb’s Conduit in Bloomsbury and is run by Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew, the same pair who founded the well-known wine magazine of the same name, Noble Rot. Wines obviously play a key part in this Parisian-styled wine bar, but the sizeable dining room serves a seasonal British menu which changes regularly. The kitchen is headed by Paul Weaver who has worked at both St John Bread & Wine and was at The Sportsman for 5 years. Noble Rot also has another link to The Sportsman, with chef/owner Stephen Harris acting as a consultant.

Our first course of gazpacho, Lincolnshire smoked eel and lovage (£8.50) was lovely and fresh. The sweet and slightly tangy gazpacho was richly intense with flavour, and it married wonderfully with the smokiness of the delicious, fatty eel. This a wonderful dish, packed full of punch and finesse.

Noble Rot - London Food Blog - Gazpacho

Noble Rot – Gazpacho

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Social Eating House

Posted on Tuesday, 6th September 2016

Located in the heart of Soho on Poland Street, Social Eating House was the third restaurant in the portfolio of celebrated Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton, once a protégé of Gordon Ramsay.

Set over three floors with a basement chef’s table, a group floor restaurant and a top floor bar, Social Eating House offers a contemporary bistro menu and currently holds one Michelin star. I loved Jason Atherton’s food when he was still cooking under Gordon Ramsay at Maze, before he got financing and expanded internationally. His restaurants can now be found not only in London, but also in Asia, New York and as far afield as Sydney. It’s not easy to maintain high standards when chefs expand so rapidly. Too often I find that with such expansion the food develops a formulaic feel to it and lacks the sense of heart and substance that won the chef his accolades in the first place.

We went to Social Eating House and dined on the special prix-fix menu which was priced at £29.50 for 2 courses and a cocktail or £34.50 for 3 courses. The vibe was informal and quite buzzy, with a fun and funky energy. It was all very nice if a little too noisy. We found the experience to be acceptable relative to the price we paid, but didn’t find it particularly special for a Michelin starred restaurant. Sure we only had the prix-fix menu, but we hadn’t expected to find errors in the food.

Starter number one was the Normandy chicken with BBQ sweet corn, popcorn, strozzapreti pasta and laksa sauce. The chicken was pleasantly cooked, but the sauce was quite strong which ended up overpowering the chicken. There was also quite a lot of the sauce which didn’t help matters. Moreover the sauce hadn’t been heated up properly and so was slightly cold. I didn’t much like the popcorn in the dish either – it did not taste as it had been freshly popped. However the pasta was lovely.

Social Eating House - London Food Blog - Chicken with laksa sauce

Social Eating House – Chicken with laksa sauce

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Hoppers

Posted on Tuesday, 30th August 2016

Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers is the latest successful story by the Sethi siblings, the team also behind Gymkhana, Trishna and Bao, Located on Frith Street, Hoppers takes over from what was once Koya. Hoppers is named after the Sri Lankan food of the same name, a fermented rice and coconut milk pancake shaped like a bowl which serves as the accompaniment for other Sri Lankan dishes.

Hoppers is a no-frills sort of restaurant. It operates a no reservations policy so the queues can be long. We waited for an hour and 15 minutes, but the wait times can vary of course as on a previous attempt to visit the restaurant we were told the wait was to be 2 hours.

But Hoppers was well worth the wait. The food was great, and what’s more, it was also very good value for money. The highlight of our meal at Hoppers was, without a doubt, the bone marrow varuval with roti (£6). Beautifully roasted bone marrow had been smothered with a glorious coconut based curry made from toasted rice and coconut cream. This dish was divine, with the rich, sumptuousness of the fatty bone marrow marrying beautifully with the flavoursome, well spiced and lusciously creamy curry. The roti was well made and was perfect for mopping up all the sauce. We enjoyed this so much we went for seconds. This was a 5/5 dish for me.

Hoppers - London Food Blog - Bone marrow

Hoppers – Bone marrow

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Cau St Katharine Docks

Posted on Monday, 22nd August 2016

CAU ST KATHARINE DOCKS

Cau (cleverly pronounced as ‘cow’) stands for Carne Argentina Unica, a chain of Argentinian steakhouses by the same people behind Gaucho. I visited the Cau St Katharine Docks branch which is located in the newly refurbished Commodity Quay. On good weather days, the front of the restaurant opens up for al fresco dining, overlooking the West Basin of the marina.

Designed to embody the spirit of the trendy area of Palermo, Buenos Aires, the design of the Cau St Katharine Docks was sharp and funky with booth seating and bright blue sky and grass imagery. Cau has a quirkiness to it, notably with the waiters and waitresses wearing endearing ‘cauboy’ and ‘caugirl’ T’shirts.

The menu at Cau displays the best of Argentinan grass-fed beef. Dominating the menu was a variety of steaks, burgers and steak sandwiches. But for non-steak eaters, there was also a choice of twice-cooked pork belly and fresh market fish.

We began with a selection of starters, the first of which came highly recommended – the homemade jamon and manchego croquettes (£6). These were excellent, with a crispy crumb coating and a gloriously creamy filling. I would highly recommend trying these.

Cau St Katharine Docks - London Food Blog - Croquettes

Cau St Katharine Docks – Croquettes

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Picture Marylebone

Posted on Thursday, 11th August 2016

PICTURE MARYLEBONE

Picture Marylebone is the second restaurant after the originally named Picture Fitzrovia, an independent restaurant venture serving small plates inspired by British seasonal ingredients. Behind the scenes is a team that previously worked at the Arbutus Restaurant Group, Alan Christie and Colin Kelly who were both head chefs at the Michelin starred Arbutus, and Tom Slegg who was the restaurant manager at the similarly Michelin starred Wild Honey.

With its minimalist interior, Picture Marylebone is a picture of pared back urban chic. For lunchtime dining, it provides a perfectly smart setting. For evening dining, the lights are dimmed for a more intimate vibe, with the dinner menu consisting of both a six-course tasting menu priced at £40 and an a la carte menu divided into three savoury sections (vegetarian, fish and meat) plus dessert.

Reasonably priced, the food at Picture Marylebone was also excellent. We began our meal with a prettily presented ravioli of caramelised onions (£9). This was a very tasty dish decadently oozing with lots of delicious butter, which for some, might have made the dish too rich. However, I really enjoyed it. The pasta was al dente and the onions were delightfully soft and sweet. A nice mixture of fresh peas, lettuce and pecorino rounded off the dish nicely.

Picture Marylebone - London Food Blog - Ravioli of caramelised onions

Picture Marylebone – Ravioli of caramelised onions

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Inn The Park

Posted on Wednesday, 3rd August 2016

As the name suggests, Inn the Park is a contemporary British café and restaurant set in the beautiful and picturesque St James’s Park. Surrounded by beautiful views and a lakeside setting, Inn the Park provides a lovely spot for some British dining in the heart of central London.

Inn the Park is circular in shape, and the wrap around wooden-cladding of the exterior allows it to blend effortless with its natural surroundings. There is a rooftop terrace area which follows the swoop of the circular building, offering views of key London landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.

Inn the Park opened in 2004 as an initiative between restaurateur Oliver Peyton and Royal Parks. It is a year-round venture and is opened for all day dining (except Sunday evenings), stretching from breakfast to lunch to afternoon teas and dinner. Overseen by Head Chef Tom Catley, Inn the Park serves an ever-changing seasonal British menu. The café/restaurant is divided between a more formal section where diners can order from the a la carte menu, and a more casual dining area where guests can choose from the ‘Grab & Go’ self-service bar that offers a range of sandwiches and ready-to-serve hot food such as burgers and sausage rolls. There is also a freshly churned ice-cream counter serving a variety of ice cream flavours with all the toppings.

We had an a la carte lunch at Inn the Park on what turned out to be a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. St James’s Park looked stunning, brimming with sunshine and warmth and bursting with the energy of happy people out enjoying the brilliant day. We started with a variety of seafood starters including charred octopus with jersey royals (£8), flamed Newlyn squid with a wild garlic emulsion (£6.50), and handpicked Cornish crab with avocado and nashi pear (£7). The octopus was delightful, being fresh and tender with a slightly charred flavour. The potatoes were slightly overcooked, but the quality of the octopus spoke for themselves.

Inn The Park - London Food Blog - Charred octopus

Inn The Park – Charred octopus

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