Posts for the 'City' Category


Chinese Cricket Club

Chinese Cricket Club is a Chinese restaurant located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blackfriars, right next to another restaurant I really like, Diciannove 19. The name is unusual as one doesn’t usually associate Chinese food with cricket. But the restaurant is named in honour of the original Chinese National Cricket team which played their first international match in 2009, so there you go.

Unlike some Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, Chinese Cricket Club follows a more contemporary formula with its décor and is very smart looking. There are also pieces of cricket memorabilia hanging on the walls for those of you who not only love Chinese food but cricket as well. Food wise, the menu offers an extensive range of authentic Sichuan food. There is also a section devoted to dim sum specialties.

We went for lunch, a time of day that saw more of a business crowd. We started our meal by trying a variety of dim sum plates including scallop and prawn siu mai (£6.80) and prawn har gau (£5.80). The scallop siu mai was superb and had been topped with a beautiful piece of sweet scallop. This was a 5/5 dish for the quality of the scallop was superb and the perfect cooking time that meant the scallop was still juicy and delicious. The prawn har gau was also very tasty and plump, with a har gau pastry that was rather authentic – slightly thick, slightly soft and slightly translucent.

Chinese Cricket Club - Scallop & prawn siu mai

Scallop & prawn siu mai

Chinese Cricket Club - Prawn har gau

Prawn har gau

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One Canada Square

One Canada Square Restaurant and Bar is located in the north-eastern corner of the lobby of the iconic One Canada Square building, once the tallest building in the UK. The restaurant boasts an art deco inspired décor featuring two sweeping staircases, luxury leather furnishings and marble fittings that create a lavish corporate ambiance. The restaurant is split over the ground and mezzanine floors and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as bottomless Saturday brunches. The menu is Modern European, but for those not looking for a full meal, the bar area offers a bar menu as well as a diverse range of cocktails.

At first glance One Canada Square looks very corporate. However, as the restaurant area on the ground floor is neatly nestled behind the cocktail bar, helping to create a sense of intimacy. On Fridays and Saturdays the restaurant’s in-house pianist belts out some wonderful pop songs and old classics. We visited on a Friday night and the music was great, setting the tone for a lovely relaxed evening.

We started with some wild venison carpaccio which was delicious (£9). The meat was tender with some crispy fried slivers of artichoke providing a lovely crunchiness to the dish. There were also some touches of rosemary and a dash of truffle oil that created an aromatic finish.

One Canada Square - Venison carpaccio

Venison carpaccio

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The White Swan

The White Swan, located on Fetter Lane near Chancery Lane, is an old-fashioned boozer which has long enticed the city crowd with its fine selection of ales and refined gentile feel. But it also serves as a gastropub, with the first floor area being transformed into a smart but not overly fussy dining room styled with an art-deco touch.

The food is also classically British and smartly done, teetering on high-end without being too over the top. The ground floor pub also serves food, and although its menu includes a burger and fish and chips as options, the other items are rather smart with the likes of dishes such as confit duck leg and slow roasted pork belly. Migrate upstairs to the main dining room, and the a la carte menu becomes more creative with the added option of a tasting menu.

We decided to go for the tasting menu, which was a rather reasonable £55 for six courses. Our amuse bouche was a crab salad with cucumber and tomato which was lovely and fresh and blended with a creamy mayo that tasted distinctively homemade.

The White Swan - Crab salad

Crab salad amuse bouche

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Scarfes Bar

The luxurious 5-star Rosewood Hotel located at 252 High Holborn, previously the Chancery Court Hotel, reopened last October after an extensive refurbishment. The hotel’s launch also brought along some new dining options, one of which was Scarfes Bar. The bar was named after Gerald Scarfe, a London born satirical cartoonist who worked for Punch magazine and Private Eye during the early 1960s. Scarfes Bar has not only borrowed Scarfe’s name, but also his artistic vision by showing off a selection of his distinctive drawings of historical and well-known personalities.

Scarfes Bar epitomises the height of English sophistication. There are cosy armchairs and sofas, dazzling chandeliers and bookcases lined with antique books dotted throughout the room. But the focal point of Scarfes is the gorgeous fireplace that gives it an air of an old English manor.

Although a bar, Scarfes Bar also serves a lunch menu. Head Chef is Indian-born Palash Mitra who moved to the UK in 2007 to join The Cinnamon Club as the Senior Sous Chef. As such the menu is predominantly Indian, although there is a small selection of traditional casseroles and pizzas on the menu as well.

Our first starter was a half lobster with Bengali spices (£18) consisting of Indian green mustard, ginger, chilli and Indian mustard oil. The spicing was excellent and resulted in a sauce that was wonderfully creamy from the use of coconut milk. The lobster was a little lacking however as it’s texture was soft and flimsy.

Scarfes Bar - Lobster with Bengali spices

Lobster with Bengali spices

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Diciannove at the Crowne Plaza Hotel

Diciannove at the Crowne Plaza Hotel is an Italian restaurant, and a reincarnation of Refrettorio, a Giorgio Locatelli outlet that was well known for its accomplished cooking. Giorgio’s influence is still visible in Diciannove as Head Chef Alessandro Bay spent over 10 years under Michelin-starred Giorgio Locatelli, working his way up from chef de partie to sous chef and finally as head chef. As such, pasta is king at Diciannove, all of which are homemade daily. Diciannove translates to 19 in Italian and represents the address of the hotel, number 19 New Bridge St.

The restaurant has undergone a complete refurbishment since it’s rebranding from Refrettorio to Diciannove. The space was tastefully done and comfortable. There was ample booth seating, but these tables were perhaps too big, so the smaller tables perched in the centre of the restaurant are probably a better choice for the ease of conversation. At the front of the Diciannove is a little deli offering a number of Italian goodies for sale.

To begin with we opted for the cicchetti (Italian tapas) from the bar menu instead of the starters from the a la carte menu. All of them proved to be really tasty and incredibly great value. The burrata crostini (£3.85) for instance came with a richly creamy burrata that paired well with some softly grilled aubergines, tomato, basil and chilli. Thinly sliced beef fillet carpaccio (£4.50) with Parmigiano reggiano, olive oil and wild rocket was deliciously tender and soft and further enhanced by the nuttiness of the cheese.

Diciannove burrata crostini

Burrata crostini

Diciannove beef fillet

Beef fillet

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Angler Seafood Restaurant

Angler seafood restaurant is part of the D&D Group and located on the seventh floor of the glamorous South Place Hotel. The dining room is elegant, yet unimposing with a relaxed sophistication to it, and its floor to ceiling windows and outdoor terrace provides exciting views of the city. The executive chef is Tony Fleming who previously worked with Marco Pierre White at the Criterion and the three Michelin-starred Oak Room. Tony has also cooked at Oxo Tower, The Great Eastern Hotel and at One Aldwych. Seafood has always been his specialty, and at Angler, this has translated into a British seafood menu with a contemporary twist that saw it awarded a Michelin star in September 2013.

The dinner got off to a smashing start with some of the loveliest langoustines (£5 each) that I have ever tried. These Orkney Islanders were mouthwatering with a delectable sweetness and were firm in texture. If this was anything to go by, the other crustacean options of shellfish platter, clams and crab would no doubt have been exquisite as well. The breads were also heavenly and moreish. Served warm and eaten with the beautiful salted butter made for something moreish.

The langoustines at Angler

Langoustines

Breads at Angler

Breads

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Fifteen Restaurant

Fifteen Restaurant by Jamie Oliver opened its doors in 2002 with a view to mentoring underprivileged youth and giving them prospects for a future. The scheme revolved around a cooking apprentice training programme to create chefs of the future. Ten years later, and with branches in Cornwall, Amsterdam and Melbourne, Fifteen has seen over 350 students graduate, about 80% of which have continued to work in the food profession. Admirably all the profit from the restaurants gets donated to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

The original Fifteen is in Shoreditch and it is a handsome looking restaurant. Split over two floors, the décor is dark; dark tables, dark floors, etc, made even darker as the sunlight goes down as the lighting is kept very dim. But it sets the tone for an intimate atmosphere made buzzier by the constant chatter of the guests. Tables are closely positioned, but the space works.

Fifteen delivers a daily changing ‘British’ menu. It’s seasonal, cleverly constructed, and is based on whatever is in fresh and available from suppliers that day. Unlike standard à la carte menus, the menu isn’t split between starters and mains. Instead everything is listed on one long list, although in principle there are about eleven starters and five main courses. It’s a sharing feast and the dishes are brought out as and when they are ready, although you may request that they be brought out in a certain sequence.

The beef and barley bun with a horseradish cream (£5) has to be one of the nicest things I have ever eaten in my life. Consisting of a donut dough baked with a filling of minced beer, barley and pickled walnuts, it was stupendously good. The dough was soft and moreish, and the contrasting textures and flavours of the filling went hand in hand with the lightness of the bun. The horseradish cream was also excellent, and with the use of both horseradish ‘juice’ and grated horseradish, it had that extra special little kick that matched with the flavours of the bun really well.

Beef & barley bun

Beef & barley bun

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The Clove Club

The opening of The Clove Club earlier this year was one of the most eagerly awaited restaurant launches of 2013. It’s the combined effort of former Ledbury chef Issac McHale, and the pop-up maestro duo of Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith who ran the hugely successful Upstairs at Ten Bells. The menu is ambitiously refreshing, and focuses on the use of fresh, seasonal British ingredients. Home for The Clove Club is The Shoreditch Town Hall which has been turned into a bar area at the front, and a dining room at the back with an open plan kitchen. The space is light, airy and decorated with a minimalistic approach. It’s rather sparse in fact, and the lack of soft furnishings in the dining room meant dinner was a rather noisy affair.

Nevertheless, the food was excellent. Dinner was a set tasting menu that consisted of three little appetizers followed by three savoury courses and two desserts for a very reasonably priced £47. The first of our three appetizers was some perky and slightly crunchy English asparagus that was served with a fantastic gochuchang mayonnaise. Gochuchang is a Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. Here it had been used to create a mayonnaise that gave the asparagus a little kick. A sprinkling of finely ground black sesame was warm and aromatic and worked with the asparagus nicely.

English asparagus

English asparagus

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