Posts for the 'East London' Category


The Laughing Heart

THE LAUGHING HEART

Probably one of the best meals I’ve had this year, The Laughing Heart in Hackney is a wonderfully smart venue that operates as a late night wine bar, dining room and wine shop. The space is intimate and cozy with a warm and comforting open kitchen and brickwork walls. The tables – all custom built – each hold individual cutlery drawers for every diner. We were really taken aback with this thoughtful, ingenious and quite simply, adorable touch, and it really set the tone for the wonderful meal that was to come.

The food, sharing plates of modern-European with Asian influences, were all inspired, starting with the Dungarvan oyster with shiso and apple (£2.50 each) which was incredibly fresh and refreshing. The oyster was meaty and rich, and both the sweetness and sharpness of the apple, and the aroma of the shiso served as a lovely contrast to the oyster.

The Laughing Heart - London Food Blog - Oyster w. shiso & apple

The Laughing Heart – Oyster w. shiso & apple

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Tapas Revolution Shoreditch

TAPAS REVOLUTION SHOREDITCH

Chef Omar Allibhoy’s Tapas Revolution has locations in Shoreditch, Westfield, Bluewater and Grand Central, Birmingham. We recently visited the Shoreditch branch. The restaurant was about a third full, and had a pleasant buzz to it. Built around a central bar, the design of the restaurant embodies a modern Spanish wine and tapas bar.

Having eaten our fair share of Spanish food and visited a good handful of the acclaimed tapas restaurants in London, we have a good understanding of classic tapas. Staple dishes were therefore our primary focus as we feel a good tapas restaurant should be able to produce these to a high standard without breaking sweat.

Service was relaxed and friendly. We started with a glass of pleasant and affordable cava and a fresh and fruity Godello from Galicia. With these they brought us a small basket of bread sticks and sliced salchichon to snack on.

Tapas Revolution - London Food blog - Croquetas

Tapas Revolution – Croquetas

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Monikers

The bus

The bus

Note: Monikers has now closed.

Monikers restaurant and bar recently opened on a corner of Hoxton Square, on a site that was previously occupied by The Hoxton Apprentice, a Training for Life charity restaurant that was set up to train young chefs in the same vein as Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant. The building was once an old schoolhouse and Monikers has cleverly maintained the spirit of its former history with a vintage blackboard that lists the daily specials. The wittiness continues with the upstairs area boasting a façade of an old London bus with trendy retro vinyl seats. It’s all very cool, and the restaurant exudes a sense of Hoxton fun. The bar area is funky as well with its chemistry-style water beakers and science-lab stools, and here you can sample some lovely cocktails such as the Greta Garbo (£8.50) with calvados, rhubarb, agave syrup and champagne, and the French 75 (£7.50) with gin, lemon, sugar and champagne.

Cocktails

Cocktails

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Plateau

D&D London is one of the largest UK-based restaurant chains, with a reach that extends to 30 restaurants around the UK and other major capital cities such as Paris, Tokyo and New York. Plateau is one branch of the D&D family tree, and the décor of the restaurant is suitably attired to serve the likes of a Canary Wharf business crowd. It’s shiny and polished, with a slick city feel to it. Located on the fourth floor of Canada Square, right above Waitrose, the restaurant grants wonderful views of Canada Square. On a long sunny summer’s day this would offer a true spectacle of the hordes of people gathered around to enjoy the warm weather.

Plateau is divided between the Bar & Grill and the main restaurant. The former offers a more casual dining menu, whereas the latter bears a more contemporary French theme. In addition to the à la carte there was a three-course £25 set menu available on the night of our visit. It’s one of the things that D&D London does quite regularly – offering set price three-course menus through TopTable or The Evening Standard. In this day of austerity, these fixed-price options can be an attractive proposition for those wishing to seek out an opportunity of dining at a reasonably budget price in the swanky type setting that is a trademark of most D&D restaurants.

Well we tried both options – three courses from the à la carte menu, and three courses from the £25 menu. Starting with what we ate from the à la carte first: a risotto cooked with a Jerusalem artichoke stock (£9) was nicely done, although the rice could have done with slightly less time for a more al dente finish. A red wine reduction served as a finishing touch and added a nice sweetness to the risotto, but the flavour of a promised garlic and parsley butter as listed on the menu was not discernible. Furthermore, the braised Aylesbury snails that topped the dish were overcooked and bland.

Jerusalem artichoke risotto

Jerusalem artichoke risotto

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Les Trois Garcons

Les Trois Garcons

Les Trois Garcons

When Les Trois Garcons opened in 2000, much noise was made about its fanciful décor, and justifiably so. The three men behind the restaurant, Hassan, Michel and Stefan, all interior designers, have fashioned the once Victorian pub into something of an art house and are also owners of the delicious Loungelover bar around the corner. Les Trois Garcons is eclectic and tasteful – the handbag installations, glamorous chandeliers and its display of taxidermy make the design of the restaurant nothing less than unique.

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Viajante

Note: Viajante was awarded a Michelin star in January 2011, subsequent to this visit.

House sashimi

House sashimi

After closing his critically acclaimed Bacchus in Hoxton in 2008 and an-almost two year hiatus, Nuno Mendes finally opened his eagerly anticipated restaurant, Viajante, in March. Mendes’ career spans stints under Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Ferran Adria at El Bulli, and his travels throughout Asia and South America have helped to formulate the concept that is behind Viajante, a word that means travelling in Portuguese.

To get the full Viajante experience, a restaurant located in the Bethnal Green Town Hall, we felt nothing less than the 12 course menu would do. So when we arrived for our 8pm booking, JK wasn’t particularly pleased to be told that we couldn’t be seated. A table of 16 had just arrived, and even though our table was available, we were asked to wait at the bar so that the restaurant could even out the service. We were led to believe we had to book an 8pm table if we wanted to do the 12 course tasting, so it seemed a bit odd that we couldn’t be seated AT 8pm.

The table we got was great though – right in front of the open kitchen and in full view of all the cooking action. The décor is pseudo-Scandinavian and looks a bit like an expensive version of Ikea. Nevertheless, it’s very comfortable and quite informal. Six, nine and twelve course tasting menus are available at dinner for £60, £75 and £85 respectively. Menus are not handed out before the meal as they’re surprise tastings, but brief explanations are given by the server as each course is presented.

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The Loft – A Taste of Love

A Taste of Love

A Taste of Love

I recently got the opportunity to sample a dinner prepared by pop-up restaurant extraordinaire Rachel Khoo. In the last year or so there has been a growing movement in the underground restaurant scene where home cooks prepare meals for members of the public in the comfort of their own abode. Its growth has no doubt been spurred by the fact that the idea is brilliantly novel, and there are similarities between her pop-up restaurant and the underground ones – you eat in someone’s home and the location is kept secret until you have booked and paid. But Rachel’s events are not regular occurrences which is why she prefers to call them ‘pop-ups’. Furthermore, Rachel always creates a different theme for each event, which on this occasion was endearingly called ‘A Taste of Love at The Loft’.

Rachel Khoo, a ‘food creative’ (stylist), has an Art & Design degree from Central St Martins and a pâtisserie diploma from Le Cordon Bleu and is now based in Paris. ‘A Taste of Love’ was the food theme for the evening; and The Loft, in a secret location in East London, is the personal test kitchen of Nuno Mendes who lends Rachel his digs for these occasions. Nuno, who trained at El Bulli, was previously the head chef of the now closed Bacchus in East London and will be opening a new restaurant, Viajante, in Bethnal Green next year. Nuno was on holiday and therefore did not join us for the evening.

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