Posts for the 'Cuisine/Type' Category


School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

SCHOOL OF WOK

School of Wok in Covent Garden has been doing some fine work in recent years. Founded by Jeremy Pang who comes from a long line of Chinese restaurateurs, School of Wok has been running for about 4 years and is one of the few Chinese Cookery Schools in the UK. Before opening School of Wok, Jeremy was already teaching students Chinese cookery at homes, trying to share with them the true essence of Chinese cooking. His enthusiasm of the subject matter is striking and is a testament to why School of Wok has seen such success.

School of Wok - London Food Blog - Woking with Jeremy Pang

School of Wok – Woking with Jeremy Pang

Last week I attended an event at the School of Wok to learn some wok skills from Jeremy. The class was called “Understanding the Wok” and was to showcase the new Dexam School of Wok wok range, made by Dexam in consultation with Jeremy. The woks are made with carbon steel to heat up quickly and bamboo handles for easy handling. What’s more, the woks are light, to enable the cook to lift the wok and easily toss the food!

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The Frog Restaurant

THE FROG RESTAURANT

The Frog is the latest restaurant by Adam Handling, one of the most notable young chefs on the London restaurant scheme. He first came to fame as a finalist in the 2013 series of Professional Masterchef and was the youngest person to be tipped by the Caterer magazine as one of the ‘30 under 30 to watch’ in the 2013 Acorn Awards. In September 2014, he became the head chef at The Caxton Grill by Adam Handling in the St Ermin’s Hotel, a fine dining establishment for which he was awarded three AA rosettes. Adam was also recently featured in ‘The World’s Best Food Magazine’ FOUR, as the ‘one to watch’ for 2016.

With The Frog, Adam brings his love of Asian flavours and techniques to his menu which is very in vogue, with small sharing a la carte dishes priced at around £10 each, as well as a daily-changing tasting menu priced at £45 per head. The restaurant itself, located in Shoreditch, is much more low key and rather eclectic in taste. The floors are concrete and the finishings are bare. It feels grungy, made somewhat odder by the mismatched outdoor space perched under an awning.

The food was very good, and in some places great. There was lots of skill and flair on show, even if I did occasionally find the dishes somewhat heavily seasoned in parts. We had the tasting menu which began with a number of canape sized snacks. The first was chorizo, cheese and onion, a lovely and crispy croqueta made with chorizo and served with treacle for a touch of sweetness and some onion puree for contrast.

Other snacks included a delicious and freshly dressed crab with seaweed and green apple. This too was tasty if a tad salty. My favourite of the snacks was a beef tartar with egg yolk perched upon a beer cracker. The beef was meltingly tender and packed a punchy flavour. Warm bread made from hackney flour followed, served with a delectable chicken butter.

The Frog - London Food Blog - Crab, seaweed, apple

The Frog – Crab, seaweed, apple

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Noble Rot

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

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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Picture Marylebone

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

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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Dalloway Terrace – Afternoon tea

Dalloway Terrace - London Food Blog

Dalloway Terrace

Dalloway Terrace, a restaurant and bar, is part of the Bloomsbury Hotel in the heart of Bloomsbury. It is a gorgeous indoor-outdoor terrace decked out in a floral design which almost gives you the sense that you are in some luxury English garden. The décor is relaxed, yet has a sense of urban sophistication to it. The covered element is also heated in the winter months, and so Dalloway Terrace works well all year round, whether it is hot, wet or cold.

Both a restaurant and bar, Dalloway Terrace serves a very versatile menu, ranging from breakfast to brunch to small bites, as well as an all day dining menu featuring salads and larger sized mains. There is also delightful selection of cocktails, and a recent addition was the launch of its afternoon tea menu.

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The Meat Co

Established in South Africa in 2000, The Meat Co Steakhouse opened in London in 2008 at the Southern Terrace end at Westfield’s Shepherds Bush. It is an expansive space, with the ground floor operating as a bar, and upstairs as an enormous dining area decorated in warm dark tones. The headline act is the Connoisseurs’ Choice of Cuts, which includes chateaubriand, wagyu and kangaroo. There are also super-aged steaks, and these meats, sourced from both the UK and the US are firstly basted in a secret traditional recipe before being flame grilled to order. Also on the menu is a variety of chicken, seafood and veggie options. And paramount to its success is that The Meat Co prides itself on offering an approved Halal menu.

I first visited The Meat Co a couple of years ago and had a very respectable and enjoyable experience. This time around it was just as enjoyable. Moreover the desserts had stepped up another level and were even better than I remembered.

We tried a variety of starters including the salt and pepper calamari (£8), peri-peri prawns (£10.50) and chicken wings (£8.75). The calamari was excellent, being tender and coated with a light, crispy and well-seasoned batter. The prawns in a peri-peri sauce had been pan-fried with shallots and garlic and were firm in texture with a good flavour. The peri-peri sauce itself was decent, if a little bit too strong in flavour from the use of peppers. The chicken wings were solid and had been coated with a sweet, sticky sauce that was ever so moreish.

The Meat Co - London Food Blog - Calamari

The Meat Co – London Food Blog – Calamari

The Meat Co - London Food Blog - Prawns peri-peri

The Meat Co – London Food Blog – Prawns peri-peri

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