Posts for the 'British' Category


Masterchef Tony Rodd – La Belle Assiette

I recently attended a La Belle Assiette validation dinner cooked by Masterchef Tony Rodd, one of the 2015 finalists. For those of you who haven’t heard of La Belle Assiette, it is a private chef service company, with the chefs registered on the website being available for hire to cook in your personal home. The chefs take care of everything: shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up. But before the chefs can become available for hire, their skills are certified during a Validation Dinner where the chef cooks a four-course meal reviewed (and validated) by panel of judges.

On the night of Tony’s validation dinner we managed to get two masterchefs for the price of one. Assisting Tony was Luke Owen, himself a finalist of Masterchef 2014. Both gentlemen were lovely and so much fun to chat to. I love a little bit of harmless gossip, and they shared with us some of the behind-the-scenes action at Masterchef.

The validation dinner was held at the lovely south London home of London-Unattached.com, the acclaimed food blogger. We started the evening with a dish called Textures of Beetroot. This consisted of beetroot served four ways – roasted, pickled, pureed and raw. The dish was lovely, and lightly dressed with a refreshing vinaigrette. Helping to boost the salad were some broad beans, feta cheese and walnuts which gave the dish more texture and dimension.

Tony Rodd - La Belle Assiette - London Food Blog

Tony Rodd – La Belle Assiette – Textures of beetroot

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Percy and Founders

PERCY AND FOUNDERS

Percy and Founders - London Food Blog

Percy and Founders

Percy and Founders, an elegant bar and restaurant, opened in the spring of 2015 and offers a contemporary British menu. Open all day, everyday, Percy & Founders serves everything from a quick morning coffee, to business lunches to a sit down dinner. It has also an eloquent bar area, and is equally ideal for evening cocktails. On weekends, Percy & Founders serves boozy brunches and Sunday roasts.

Executive Chef Diego Cardoso brings with him a wealth of experience having worked a seven-year stint as the Head Chef at Angela Hartnett’s Murano. The menu is seasonally and showcases a comprehensive selection of dishes. The drinks list is also comprehensive and affordable. It includes wines from both small grower labels as well as established producers, and a variety of cocktails, mocktails, bottled craft and draft beers. In the nicer summer months, there is also an alfresco drinks area on the terrace.

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Reform Social & Grill

REFORM SOCIAL & GRILL

Reform Social & Grill has a presence in London and Dubai, with the restaurant in London being housed within the Mandeville Hotel. The restaurants pride themselves in providing a British experience, offering a complete experience of afternoon tea, brunch and an a la carte menu that showcases a number of British classics.

The décor of Reform Social & Grill London was tasteful, taking its inspiration from a traditional British gentleman’s club. There were a variety of photos and prints, eclectic without being impersonal. The seating was comfortable with a mix of tables and chair and dark leather booths. There was punk-era music playing in the background at a suitable volume, non-intrusive until you take the time to notice.

The menu opens with a variety of sharing platter options to suit all palettes: fisherman’s platter, baked cheese platter, butcher’s platter. Starters followed including Crispy South Coast Squid, Chicken Liver Pate and Hendricks Gin Salmon.

Along with salads, classic main dishes including Fish and Chips and Braised Ox Cheek Pie are offered alongside some “Josper Grill” specialties. We feel that people who utilise Josper Grills mean business so we looked no further, feeling spoiled for choice with a range of meats: Burgers, Glazed Beef Short Rib, Minted Lamb Cutlets, Butchers Steak, Rib Eye Steak, and Pork T-Bone.

There was a reasonable selection of wines by the glass on the menu and we started the evening with a couple of glasses of Chapel Down Brut, English Sparkling Wine. We enjoy finding English wine more frequently on restaurant menus, and it certainly holds its own against the fizz from the continent.

Bread arrived at the table and these were nothing special, nor were they a representation of the meal to come.

To start we had the squid (£7) and the salmon (£7.50). The waiter brought a small glass of gin to accompany the salmon which was presented as thin slices with a creative ‘tartare dressing’. The salmon was firm with delicate flavours and, when eaten before a sip of gin, the gin was far more fragrant and palatable than it would be if drunk neat. The ‘Tartare’ was broken down into separate elements: scattered capers, gherkin and heavily whipped cream placed on top of the salmon. The concept had potential, but the cream masked the salmon’s taste. If the cream was infused or flavoured in some way, perhaps this effect could have been dampened.

Reform Grill - London Food Blog - Salmon

Reform Grill – Salmon

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Antidote

ANTIDOTE

We had a gorgeous meal at Antidote Wine Bar recently, a lovely little number just off Carnaby Street in the heart of Soho. Although a wine bar, there is a strong focus on food at Antidote as well. Antidote’s Head Chef is Michael Hazelwood, who cooks under the guidance of Mikael Jonsson, the Chef Patron of Hedone. More than just a one Michelin star restaurant, Hedone is also ranked as the number 60 restaurant on the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list.

On the ground floor is an all day wine bar offering cheese, charcuterie and small plates, and on the first floor is the restaurant which offers both an a la carte and a tasting menu. The wine list focuses mainly on French wines with a select few options from other countries. All the wines at Antidote are organic and biodynamic with no artificial additives used.

Our excellent meal began with some lovely breads and butter from Hedone. Mikael Jonsson studied the art of bread baking with one of the finest bakers in France, Alex Croquet, and much has been written about the bread at Hedone. Suffice to say, the bread was delicious with a light springy texture.

Antidote - London Food Blog - Breads by Hedone

Antidote – Breads by Hedone

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108 Brasserie

108 BRASSERIE

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:

Likes
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.

Dislikes
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/

Square Meal

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St James Court, A Taj Hotel

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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Rabbit

The Rabbit in Chelsea is the second venture by the Gladwin brothers who brought us The Shed in Notting Hill. I adored the food at The Shed, the fabulous restaurant founded on fresh, foraged and farm-reared sustainable principles by the brothers Richard, Oliver and Gregory, and Rabbit is no different. Richard went into hospitality, Oliver is a chef and Gregory is a farmer; and the three have therefore managed to form a perfect triangle of what it takes to produce a winning restaurant.

The interior at Rabbit also has a touch of country to it and is wonderfully rustic with reclaimed British furniture being a key feature at the restaurant. As with its sister restaurant The Shed, The Rabbit is supplied with reared livestock and wines from the family farm and vineyard in Sussex which is run by Farmer Gregory. Known as Nutbourne, references are often made to ingredients from Nutbourne in the menu. Other seasonal produce come from local Sussex suppliers.

Head Chef Oliver Gladwin previously trained at Oxo Tower, Launceston Place, Just St James and with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage. His passion for foraging and seasonality is evident in his daily changing menu, which is divided into distinct sections: mouthfuls, slow cooking and fast cooking. The menu is designed for sharing with Rabbit recommending about 4-5 plates for two to share.

We began our meal with one of the ‘mouthfuls’, a squid ink cracker filled with sea bass roe and dill (£1.50) that was really tasty. The cracker was crunchy, the squid ink flavour in the cracker was delicately poised, the mellow saltiness of the filling worked well with the cracker and the dill added great fragrance.

Rabbit - London Food Blog - Squid ink cracker

Rabbit – Squid ink cracker

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The Swan Hotel – Lavenham

The Swan Hotel & Spa is set in the heart of Lavenham, Suffolk, a beautiful 15th century medieval village steeped in centuries of history. Lavenham built up great wealth due to its woollen cloth industry in the 15th and 16th centuries, and with this came a sprawling set of period buildings catering to the wealthy of the time. As such Lavenham is known as one of England’s finest medieval towns. Not far from the hotel’s doorstep is the stunning timber framed Guildhall, a National Trust property, and the splendid St Peter and St Paul churches. Lavenham is also well placed for the surrounding countryside, with its scenic walking routes. It is also within driving access to the other wool towns of Hadleigh, Sudbury and Long Melford, the latter being famous for Melford Hall (a National trust property) and Kentwell Hall.

London Food Blog - The Swan at Lavenham

The Swan at Lavenham

The Swan Hotel is in itself an excellent example of the architecture from that time. The hotel’s exterior is a picture-perfect half-timbered structure that incorporates several notable buildings including an Elizabethan house and Lane Ham’s former Wool Hall. Inside there are beautiful oak beamed interiors, open fireplaces and cosy lounge seats. The rooms have been decorated by blending classical period touches with a contemporary style so that guests can enjoy a sense of history, yet still be able to relax in comfort. I stayed in The Heritage Room which was lovely. With its original features and uneven floors that stayed true to the structure of the original building, the room offered an old world charm and character.

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