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Posts for the 'Soho' Category


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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Hoppers

Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers is the latest successful story by the Sethi siblings, the team also behind Gymkhana, Trishna and Bao, Located on Frith Street, Hoppers takes over from what was once Koya. Hoppers is named after the Sri Lankan food of the same name, a fermented rice and coconut milk pancake shaped like a bowl which serves as the accompaniment for other Sri Lankan dishes.

Hoppers is a no-frills sort of restaurant. It operates a no reservations policy so the queues can be long. We waited for an hour and 15 minutes, but the wait times can vary of course as on a previous attempt to visit the restaurant we were told the wait was to be 2 hours.

But Hoppers was well worth the wait. The food was great, and what’s more, it was also very good value for money. The highlight of our meal at Hoppers was, without a doubt, the bone marrow varuval with roti (£6). Beautifully roasted bone marrow had been smothered with a glorious coconut based curry made from toasted rice and coconut cream. This dish was divine, with the rich, sumptuousness of the fatty bone marrow marrying beautifully with the flavoursome, well spiced and lusciously creamy curry. The roti was well made and was perfect for mopping up all the sauce. We enjoyed this so much we went for seconds. This was a 5/5 dish for me.

Hoppers - London Food Blog - Bone marrow

Hoppers – Bone marrow

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Morada Brindisa Asador – Calcotada

Morada Brindisa Asador is part of the Brindisa family, but instead of focusing on tapas, it brings Castilian tradition to London with an emphasis on roasting meats in an “asador”- a vast wood fired oven.

Morada Brindisa Asador - London Food Blog

Morada Brindisa Asador

We attended a traditional calҫotada earlier this month, held at the restaurant only on weekends in February and March. A calҫot is a Catalan onion, described as a vegetable somewhere between a spring onion and a leek. We could have never imagined this vegetable could be such a highlight in the delicious, social gathering that the calҫotada is.

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Bao

BAO

Bao, the Taiwanese sensation that is the talk of Soho, was everything that I expected it to be and more. Bao serves BAOs, Chinese steamed buns with a variety of fillings plus a number of other Taiwanese specialties. It’s a no frills kinda place, simply decorated, tiny and cramped with little wooden stools. Yet all this matters not when you taste the sensational flavours that Bao dishes up. Little wonder that there are constant queues lasting for upwards of an hour out front.

Bao came from humble beginnings, more specifically from a Taiwanese trio in their twenties (including a brother and sister). The three first set up a food stall in North-East London and quickly gained a loyal following. Enter, the Sethi family as backers, the people behind the Michelin starred Trishna, Gymkhana and Lyle’s, and Bao on Lexington Street was born.

Everything was really, really good, but the classic bao (£3.75) with slow braised pork belly, preserved vegetables and peanut powder was my favourite. The pork was superbly tender with a lovely sweet tenderness to it. The bun was light, airy and sweet, and I loved the aroma and nuttiness that the peanut powder provided. Finally, the preserved vegetables added a touch of acidity to cut through some of the richness of the pork. This was nothing short of spectacular.

BAO - London Food Blog - Classic bao

BAO – Classic bao

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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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Tonkotsu

TONKOTSU

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

THE DUCK AND RICE

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.

SUMMARY INFORMATION:
Likes:

1. The sesame prawn toast.
2. The pastry on the venison puffs was admittedly underdone, but the flavour was otherwise excellent.

Dislikes:
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

Prices:
About £25 to £45 per head, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.theduckandrice.com/

Square Meal

Duck & Rice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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