"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!"

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

108 Brasserie

Posted on Friday, 4th September 2015


Set in the heart of Marylebone, 108 Brasserie on 108 Marylebone Lane is a beautiful brasserie restaurant offering a classy all-day dining experience. Furnished with antique mirrors, sumptuous red leather upholstery and nickel detailing, the showpiece of the brasserie is the dark stained oak bar that helps to create a stylish and welcoming ambience.

108 Brasserie houses several distinctive areas. First is the brasserie’s restaurant, a classy dining space which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. The Executive Chef is Russell Ford who previously worked at The Grove. With 108 Brasserie, he has come up with a menu of simple British dishes made from the finest locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Main dishes include Roast Cornish lamb and a selection of salads including a superfood salad for the health-conscious. There is also a section devoted to the josper grill where a selection of meats and seafood can be cooked to order. Second is 108 Pantry, a bright and modern space where breakfast, light lunches and afternoon teas are served.

The bar is the third space at 108, an elegant and stylish area that serves wines, classic British cocktails and a weekly changing menu of small plates. Here we enjoyed a sophisticated and delicious signature cocktail before dinner – The Marylebone (£13) with vodka, champagne, elderflower and black raspberry liquer. The wine list features a comprehensive selection of wines, including the excellent Nyetimber Classic Cuvée (£11.50 a glass, £57 a bottle) English sparkling wine.

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - The Marylebone

108 Brasserie – The Marylebone

Moving into the restaurant proper, we began our dinner by savoring the bread selection (£2.50) that included soda, sourdough and Guinness bread. The soda and sourdough were respectable, but it was the Guinness bread that proved to be a knockout. It was delicious, with a distinct, robust, and slightly sweet flavour. It was so good we had to have seconds. The bread was served with some wonderful Abernethy Butter.

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Bread selection

108 Brasserie – Bread selection

From the josper, the tiger prawns (£15 starter, £24 main) with garlic and parsley butter were gorgeous. The prawns were fat and juicy, and delicious with the butter. A second starter of seared tuna (£11) was also lovely. The tuna was fresh and tasty, and it paired well with the soy and ginger dressing with wasabi as it had a good kick to it.

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Tiger prawns

108 Brasserie – Tiger prawns

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Tuna

108 Brasserie – London Food Blog – Tuna

To mains, and the lemon sole meunière (£25) cooked on the josper grill was also delicious. The lemon sole can be served on or off the bone (here I had it one the bone), and while I had it as a meunière, there was also the option to have it grilled. The fish was wonderfully fresh and skillfully cooked, and the caper topping added a nice level of acidity to the fish.

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Lemon sole

108 Brasserie – Lemon sole

Also from the josper grill was the 8oz steak rib-eye steak (£27). The meat was cooked to order – medium rare and nicely seasoned. It was a tasty cut of meat, but rather chewy, and in this regard it was a little disappointing. The steak came with a choice of sauce and here we ordered a well-made Béarnaise.

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Rib-eye

108 Brasserie – Rib-eye

Now a word on the sides. We had some steamed spinach (£4.50) and seasonal greens (cabbage) with toasted seeds and lemon dressing (£4.50), both of which were tasty. But particularly noteworthy was the double-cooked hand-cut chips (£4.50) as these were especially delicious. The chips were wonderfully crunchy on the outside and lovely and fluffy on the inside.

To desserts, and the lemon tart (£7) contained a filling that was good and zingy. However the pastry was soft and let the tart down slightly. The josper grilled pineapple with coconut sorbet, chilli and lime glaze (£7) was light & refreshing, and a vanilla cheesecake (£3), which we ordered from the 108 Pantry display, was also delicious. It was rich and creamy with the right level of density and a good biscuit base.

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Lemon tart

108 Brasserie – Lemon tart

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Josper grilled pineapple

108 Brasserie – Josper grilled pineapple

108 Brasserie - London Food Blog - Vanilla cheesecake

108 Brasserie – Vanilla cheesecake

We had a delightful experience at 108 Marylebone. Although simple in its design, the dishes were delicious, well executed and fresh. The service was warm and welcoming, and the beautiful restaurant created a really lovely spot for dinner.

Summary Information:

1. The Guinness bread. This was excellent.
2. The meaty tiger prawns.
3. The vanilla cheesecake, especially with its buttery biscuit base.
4. The double-cooked hand-cut chips as these were really crunchy.
5. The warm and welcoming service.
6. The lovely ambience.

1. The chewiness of the rib-eye
2. The soft pastry on the lemon tart.

Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 4/5

Prices: £28 to £49 for three courses, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://108brasserie.com/

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Uncover The Lastminute Restaurant App

Posted on Sunday, 30th August 2015


The difficulty with making last minute dinner reservations is that you can spend a lot of time trying to book a restaurant, only to find out that the restaurant has no availability. UNCOVER the lastminute restaurant app helps to get rid of this problem by only showing restaurants with availability on the same or next day.

I found out about UNCOVER through Krista from Passportdelicious.com. Uncover works by curating a highly selective list of cool places. The restaurants on the list then let Uncover know when they have last minute cancellations or no-shows. These pop up on the app allowing you to make your same-day or next-day reservation. Easy.

Uncover app - London food blog

Uncover – The app

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