Posts for the 'Contemporary' Category


Firedoor – Sydney

FIREDOOR

I recently had a fabulous meal at Firedoor, a slick and modern outfit located in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, close to the heart of the Sydney Central Business District. Firedoor is a very unique restaurant in that it serves an entirely fire-powered menu. The first of its kind in Australia, each dish is cooked to order and powered entirely by wood fire. The kitchen draws upon a collection of different woods every day, purposefully used to create a certain effect from the coals that best enhance the natural characteristics of the ingredients on show.

The head chef is Lennox Hastie who spent the early part of his career working at various Michelin Star restaurants across the UK, France and Spain. The pinnacle was the five years that he spent at one of the best grill restaurants in the world, the much-touted Asador Etxebarri located in the Basque country. A one Michelin star holder and a regular on the 50 Best Restaurants in the World’s List, Asador Etxebarri readily makes use of wood-fired grilling. Here, Lennox spent five years working with Victor Arguinzoniz, honing his skills on working with an open flame.

Lennox opened Firedoor in April 2015. Focusing primarily on seafood and vegetables, he has transported his unique understanding of wood fire cooking to Firedoor, His talent was recognised when the restaurant was nominated for the Best New Restaurant in the 2016 Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards. Firedoor currently holds a chef’s hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and sits at number 17 on the Australian Gourmet Traveller Top 100 Restaurants.

We shared a selection of dishes and all were fabulous, starting with the albacore tuna with radish (A$27) which was sensational. Wild caught Mooloolaba albacore had been grilled (seared) over apple wood and was meaty and ripe with flavour. Texturally the albacore was heaven and a joy to each. The fish was served with shaved fennel and breakfast radishes that were fresh and lively, and a well-judged grilled lemon dressing which provided the right hit of acidity. Everything on the dish came together superbly.

Firedoor - London Food Blog - Albacore tuna

Firedoor – Albacore tuna

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Yardbird – Hong Kong

YARDBIRD

Yardbird in Hong Kong ranks as one of the hottest restaurants in Hong Kong. It’s a perpetual hit with the Hong Kong in-crowd, helped in no small part by the slick urban design and the all too-cool wait staff. Yardbird has a no booking policy and given its popularity, this often means that there is a timely wait. But notwithstanding its coolness, it’s popularity is understandable when one comes to learn that the head chef at Yardbird is Canadian Matt Abergel who has previously cooked at leading Japanese/Japanese-fusion restaurants such as Masa in New York and Zuma in Hong Kong.

The menu is fashioned on the Japanese style of “izakaya” casual eating with small plates for all to share. Predominating Japanese in flavour, Abergel also draws on other Asian influences, bringing in items such as KFC, a dish of Korean fried cauliflower (yes cauliflower and not chicken) which was an absolute treat.

Yardbird makes good use of the chicken, endorsing a head to tail concept of eating. We saw just about every part of the chicken on the menu, with the thigh, breast, wing, heart, liver, gizzards, you name it, all being skewered for yakitori grilling. Of these we tried the Chicken meatball yakitori served with egg yolk (HK$48 – about £4.80).

Yardbird - London Food Blog - Chicken meatballs

Yardbird – Chicken meatballs

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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/

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Dabbous

DABBOUS

When Dabbous opened in 2012, it became THE most talked about restaurant in London. The cutting-edge Modern European cooking by Oliver Dabbous, previously of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Hibiscus, Mugaritz, The Fat Duck, Noma and Texture, bewitched the critics. Dabbous went on to earn critical acclaim, a Michelin Star in 2013, and the distinction of being the most unattainable dinner reservation in town.

The décor at Dabbous is every bit as cutting edge with the restaurant carving out a dark, minimalist space. Dabbous oozes industrial chic with the sound of loud house music ringing in the background. In the basement is Oskar’s Bar, named after Ollie’s business partner and Dabbous co-founder Oskar Kinberg who was once the head barman at The Cuckoo Club, a private members’ club. Here bar snacks and a heady array of cocktail delights is served, making Oskar’s Bar a go-to destination for cocktail lovers. Together the pair also opened Barnyard in 2014.

Dabbous offers a four-course set menu (£56) as well as a seven-course tasting menu (£68). We chose the latter option, which began with a dish of burrata, basil and tamarillo which was lovely. The burrata was creamy and the basil was fragrant. But it was the deliciously zingy tamarillo that proved to be the most exciting element of this dish. It’s lively flavour and freshness brought all the elements of the dish together beautifully.

Dabbous - London Food Blog - Burrata

Dabbous – Burrata

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Mr Cooper’s House & Garden

MR COOPER’S HOUSE & GARDEN

Mr Cooper’s House & Garden is located in the luxury Midland Hotel in Manchester. The name of the restaurant pays homage to Thomas Cooper, a popular historical figure in Manchester who came from a family of coach-makers. The family’s house and garden, where the restaurant is currently located, was famous for the fruit that it produced and The Coopers would often open the doors of their garden to the general public so that they could have access to it for picnicking and leisurely strolls.

The décor of Mr Cooper’s House & Garden has stayed true to it origins by offering a multitude of different dining settings. There is a lounge in the garden surrounded by a wall of plants and a 30ft tree, a cosy Library where drinks can be enjoyed, and a study area with leather booths where friends can enjoy intimate chats and some lovely food.

Mr Cooper’s House & Garden comes from the hands of Simon Rogan who is undeniably one of the best chefs in the UK. He tolds two Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel, as well as a one Michelin star at Fera at Claridge’s in London. With Mr Cooper’s House & Garden the food is more casual than that served at his Michelin outposts, but no less engaging. The menu centres on a spirit of flair and creativity, and particularly interesting were the starters with their many Asian-inspired touches.

We started with some caramelised scallops (£11). These were nicely cooked and were accompanied by a delectable cucumber sambal, memorable because it was nice and tangy. To temper the sambal was a lovely tahini dressing, and as garnish there were some jalapeno fritters which were glorious. Surrounded by a light and fluffy batter, they offered a sharp bite to the dish.

London Food Blog – Mr Coopers - Caramelised scallops

Mr Coopers – Caramelised scallops

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Fera at Claridge’s

FERA AT CLARIDGE’S

London Food Blog - Fera at Claridges

Fera at Claridges

Simon Rogan launched Fera at Claridge’s in May 2014, taking over from the space that was once occupied by Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. The word Fera means ‘wild’ in Latin and was chosen as the name for Simon’s London restaurant to reflect both the influence of nature and seasonality that are key to Simon’s cooking. Nowhere is this more evident than at Simon’s 12-acre farm where he grows his own fruit and vegetables, and breeds poultry, sheep and cattle.

Simon’s love of harvesting the finest produce combined with his exacting standards has earned him the distinction of being one of the best chefs in the UK. Today Simon holds two Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel, as well as a one Michelin star at Fera. Fera was also recognised as Newcomer of the Year by in both Harden’s London Restaurants 2015 Guide and Decanter Magazine.

The art deco design of the restaurant blends beautifully with the grandeur of Claridge’s. But there are also softer, natural touches such as walnut tables and a ‘tree’ in the centre of the room to complement the opulence of the dining room. Along one wall is an open entrance to the kitchen, which offers views of the pass. There is also an intimate bar area in one corner of the restaurant that accommodates five guests.

We went for the tasting menu and this was truly an experience to behold. The menu consisted of a canapé, three amuse bouches and eight courses for a very reasonable £95 (Wine to accompany 6 courses – £85.00). The canapé was a blue cheese emulsion on a chickpea and rosemary wafer. This was spectacular, with the emulsion boasting of a delicate cheesy flavour and a lovely airy lightness. The wafer was crispy and thin, and to finish was a drizzling of a tangy, sweet vinegar and elderberry gel that brought everything together beautifully.

London Food Blog - Fera at Claridges

Fera at Claridges – Chickpea rosemary wafer with blue cheese emulsion and elder berry gel

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Brudenell Hotel – Aldeburgh, Suffolk

BRUDENELL HOTEL

Words and photos by Food Porn Nation and myself.

We popped along to Suffolk for a weekend visit recently and stayed at the lovely 4 Star Brudenell Hotel which is located in the quaint, charming town of Aldeburgh. The Brudenell Hotel is perched on Suffolk’s Heritage Coast, and accordingly the hotel offers panoramic views of the sea along the property’s frontage.

The décor at the hotel is fresh and vibrant, and embraces the seaside theme with its vibrant energy and light, bright colours. It’s an intelligent, engaging space, and wonderfully comfortable. There are 44 cosy rooms in the hotel, with some offering sea views. Our bedroom again embraced a contemporary, coastal themed décor with a seating area by the window which allowed us to relax and watch the ever-changing movements of the sea. Our room was really comfortable, and there was something wonderfully rustic about sleeping to the sound of waves lapping up along the shore.

Also in The Brudenell Hotel is the recently opened AA two-rosette Seafood & Grill restaurant. This too has a sea-facing terrace which will soon be made available for use when the weather gets warmer. It’s a contemporary dining venue, and there is an informal bar area where hotel guests and local residents can relax and enjoy a drink or two.

We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast in the Seafood & Grill restaurant and thought highly of both the food and the service. Chef Tyler Torrance draws inspiration from his surroundings, proliferating his menu with not only seafood dishes but also sourcing his other ingredients from the abundant Suffolk area. For dinner we tried a variety of starters, with the wild scallops (£12) being our favourite. The scallops were heady with flavour and came together beautifully with the accompanying cauliflower puree and caviar.

London Food Blog - The Brudenell Hotel

The Brudenell – Wild Scallops

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Crocker’s Folly – Sunday Lunch

Crocker’s Folly in St John’s Wood was a thriving pub in its former life. Built in 1898, the beautiful Grade II* listed building fell into disrepair and sadly closed in 2004. By 2007 Crocker’s Folly had been placed on the Victorian Society’s list of top ten endangered buildings.

In 2014 The Maroush Group took ownership of Crocker’s Folly and lovingly restored it back to its former glory. Thus Crocker’s Folly was reborn, re-opening after a long ten-year absence. Many of the original aspects of the building have been maintained along with the addition of some beautiful bespoke features such as dazzling chandeliers, mahogany woodwork and the use of at least 50 kinds of marble. It’s a glorious restoration and beautifully done, with the finishing touches being some gorgeous imported Italian furniture. Crocker’s Folly now speaks of grandeur, but also with a relaxed and inviting tone.

Crocker’s Folly is divided into three sections – two separate bars and a dining room. Heading up the kitchen is Head Chef Arek Bober who previously worked under Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social. His Crocker’s Folly menu is modern European with a section specifically devoted to steaks cooked on the josper grill. On a Sunday, Crocker’s Folly offers a special set lunch menu with two-courses for £20 and three-courses for £25. It is also possible to order each dish individually and the prices listed below are the price per dish.

We started our lunch with a 62c egg with soft polenta (£10) which was delicious. The egg, slow cooked at 62c was soft-set in the centre with a beautifully golden yolk and it married well with the creaminess of the soft polenta. Completing the dish was a topping of lovely fresh truffle shavings, Parmesan cheese and a mushroom emulsion that added a nutty, earthy flavour to the combination.

Crocker’s Folly – 62c egg with parmesan & mushroom emulsion

62c egg with parmesan & mushroom emulsion

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