Posts for the 'French' Category


Balthazar

Balthazar Restaurant opened in Soho in New York in 1997, and within two years of its opening it became one of the hottest restaurants in NYC. It attracted celebrities far and wide, much in the same way that Chiltern Firehouse, London’s restaurant of the moment is doing. Long recognised as an institution in New York, celebrity restaurateur Keith McNally opened a branch on British shores in 2013 to much hype and fanfare.

Balthazar London looks the business and replicates Balthazar New York’s French brasserie design, from the high ceilings to the antique mirrored walls, through to the red leather banquettes down to the mosaic floors. Similar to its big sister, Balthazar London offers all-day menu with breakfast as well afternoon tea, and on the weekends there is a separate brunch menu. The food is French-inspired and includes seafood from the raw bar as well as a wide selection of classical French brasserie and bistro dishes. Next door to the restaurant is the Balthazar Boulangerie that serves an array of delicious looking artisan breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches.

The atmosphere was a little flat and lacklustre when we visited Balthazar London. Perhaps it was because it was a Sunday night, but there wasn’t the fired-up energy that was reminiscent of my past visits to Balthazar New York. With all the hype that surrounded Balthazar’s opening, this proved to be a little disappointing.

As for the food, it didn’t quite fire on all cylinders with starters of garlic prawns (£10) and steak tartare (£9.75) being acceptable if a little lacklustre. The prawns were firm in texture and came in a buttery sauce filled with garlic and piment d’Espelette chillies. But the sauce wanted for a little more flavour. On the side was a warm portion of fougasse provencale bread that soaked up the sauce nicely. But the bread was rather oily and the crust was not crunchy. As for the steak tartare, the meat was tender and flavoursome, but it needed more Worcestershire sauce and seasoning to give it a greater punch.

Balthazar - Garlic prawns

Garlic prawns

Balthazar - Steak tartare

Steak tartare

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Glass Brasserie Hilton Hotel Sydney

Glass Brasserie is The Sydney Hilton Hotel’s signature restaurant by Australian celebrity chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan. Chef Mangan cultivated his craft at Michel Roux ‘s 3 Michelin starred Waterside Inn, leading to the contemporary French influence that marks his cooking. Chef Mangan operates a string of restaurants in Australia and Asia, and in addition to having written best-selling cookbooks and a string of TV appearances, Chef Mangan famously cooked at the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark. Glass Brasserie has won a number of awards including the much coveted ‘One-Hat’ from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide.

Glass Restaurant holds an impressive 240 seats and has been lusciously refurbished in dark glossy tones by the highly claimed New York designer Tony Chi. Glass Brasserie is comfortable and glossy. It makes for a restaurant well suited for power lunches, especially as The Hilton Hotel in Sydney is a hub for business meetings and corporate travellers.

We went for the degustation menu ($140 – about £76.40), beginning with an amuse bouche
 of pumpkin soup with croutons and feta. It was really lovely with a pleasant sweetness. The croutons and feta added a nice contrasting touch to the soup.

Glass Brasserie - pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

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The Dining Room Restaurant, Park Hyatt Hotel Sydney

The Dining Room Restaurant in The Park Hyatt Hotel occupies one of the most prime positions on Sydney Harbour. It sits under the Harbour Bridge and is located directly across from the Opera House, thus offering an incredible bird’s eye view of this timeless Australian institution. The Dining Room is the Park Hyatt Hotel’s signature restaurant, one of the most luxurious 5-star hotels in Sydney. The restaurant’s decor is every bit as sumptuous as the hotel (helped in no small part by the beautiful views) and comes with a revamped menu following the recent appointment of its new Head Chef Franck Detrait who joined in October 2013. Chef Detrait has cooked in many notable restaurants in France including the one-star Michelin restaurant Vendôme in Paris where he worked closely with the highly acclaimed Jean-Francois Rouquette.

The Opera House at Dusk, from The Dining Room Restaurant

The Opera House at Dusk, from The Dining Room Restaurant

The tasting menu was great value at $95 (about £51) and was hard to pass up. But first we celebrated the beauty of Sydney Harbour with some Sydney rock oysters ($5 each – about £2.70) which were fabulously fresh. The delicious shallot vinegar dressing was also well judged for both sweetness and acidity and complemented the oysters nicely.

The Dining Room - Sydney rock oysters

Sydney rock oysters

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Quisine by Guy Savoy Doha

Quisine by Guy Savoy Doha is the first restaurant in the Middle East by the famous three Michelin starred French chef, Guy Savoy. Quisine embraces the same philosophy of Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris and therefore bears many striking similarities including a menu that adopts many of the dishes available in Paris, albeit with some local twists thrown in.

Chef Guy Savoy believes that the environment in which you eat in is as important as the food itself, and accordingly the interior of Quisine also embraces Guy Savoy’s deep passion for style and beauty. Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the Interior Designer responsible for many of Guy Savoy’s other restaurants, also took charge of designing the Doha outlet. With Quisine by Guy Savoy he has created a spectacular space with a monochromatic colour scheme that creates both a sense of harmony and indelible comfort. A mesmerising wall of flickering flames also greets diners as they enter the restaurant.

Quisine by Guy Savoy

Quisine by Guy Savoy

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Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha & La Mer Restaurant

After Dubai I headed back to Doha where I spent one night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha. It’s located right on the water’s edge in the prestigious West Bay area, north of the Pearl (Doha’s version of Dubai’s Palm) and downtown Doha, and its strategic position means that the hotel offers expansive views of the City of Doha.

The décor is a blend of classic European and Arabic design, and would appeal to those who favour a hotel with a more classical, traditional feel. Particularly impressive was the lobby with its high ceilings where the opulent Grand Lobby Lounge is situated. It’s a great social meeting point where you might meet up with friends or grab a cup of tea. My deluxe room was similarly decorated in a classical style and was incredibly comfortable. The bed was kitted out with the loveliest of Egyptian cotton sheets to make for a heavenly night’s sleep.

Ritz-Carlton Doha Deluxe room

Deluxe room

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JUST EAT Food Delivery

I am not much of a take out girl, preferring much more to eat in a restaurant for the complete dining experience. But with a sister visiting from out of town and the cold starting to bite, when JUST EAT contacted me to try their delivery service I decided it would be novel to take up their offer to ‘just eat’ and veg out in front of the telly.

JUST EAT is a website with a list of over 18,000 restaurants from which you can order take-out to be delivered to right to your front door. Thus it expands your choice of options to beyond the few local take away restaurants that you are familiar with. JUST EAT allows you to search by locality and by cuisine, and it’s a rather user-friendly website. Given the number of options available, its difficult to know which of them is worthwhile ordering from. But the website has a neat little feature which allows previous diners to rate the food out of a possible maximum 6 stars. This helps give you a sense of how dependable the food is likely to be.

We first tried Go Chisou, the take away offshoot of the well-known Chisou Japanese Restaurant with branches in Mayfair, Chiswick and Knightsbridge. We tried a mixed sashimi salad of tuna, salmon and prawn served on some greens (£8.10); a special ebiten maki, a king prawn tempura roll with asparagus topped with salmon and avocado (£10.85); and a salmon maki roll (£3.85). All the seafood was resoundingly fresh and delicious, and it was so satisfying to have such nice Japanese food delivered to my door without having to leave the comfort of my home.

Chisou sashimi salad

Sashimi salad

Chisou prawn tempura roll & salmon maki

Prawn tempura roll & salmon maki

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Les Menus by Pierre Gagnaire, Lotte Hotel, Moscow

The Lotte Hotel in Moscow only opened three years ago, but in that short time it has managed to earn the top spot on TripAdvisor as the number one hotel in Moscow as well as string of other awards such as Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Award for the Best Hotel in Russia 2012. It’s easy to see why. The hotel, within walking distance to Red Square, is finished to the highest standard and boasts of conference rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and a Mandara spa. The rooms are spacious and comfy with many classy touches such as an easy to use touch-pad lighting system and an impressive bathroom that boasts of Molton Brown products, a heated loo seat and a automated bidet. The Lotte Hotel chain is little known outside its home country of South Korea but it is one of their most respected top ten brands, and all the ingredients that have made it such a success there have been brought to the Moscow location.

Superior room

Superior room

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miX by Alain Ducasse, W Hotel, St Petersburg, Russia

Palace Square, St Petersburg

Palace Square, St Petersburg

There are not enough superlatives to describe the beauty of St Petersburg. The Neva River runs through the heart of the city, and this and the city’s many canals add to it’s picturesque nature. St Petersburg’s architecture is decidedly European, a legacy from the time of Peter the Great and his love affair of all things European, and this is one of the reasons why The Palace Square overlooking the world-class Hermitage Museum must surely rate as one of the most spectacular squares in the worlds. It might not be as famous as The Red Square in Moscow, but it certainly holds its own in terms of grandeur and wow-factor.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage

St Petersburg also lays claim to a collection of world-class art with the famous Hermitage being the second largest museum in the world after the Louvre in Paris. And what is also attractive about St Petersburg is that it is a tourist-friendly city. Contrary to Moscow where I travelled to a few months ago, signs are labelled in both Cyrillic and in the Latin alphabet, and there are tourism offices positioned throughout the city that make the travel experience far easier.

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

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