Posts for the 'West Central London' Category


Rabbit

The Rabbit in Chelsea is the second venture by the Gladwin brothers who brought us The Shed in Notting Hill. I adored the food at The Shed, the fabulous restaurant founded on fresh, foraged and farm-reared sustainable principles by the brothers Richard, Oliver and Gregory, and Rabbit is no different. Richard went into hospitality, Oliver is a chef and Gregory is a farmer; and the three have therefore managed to form a perfect triangle of what it takes to produce a winning restaurant.

The interior at Rabbit also has a touch of country to it and is wonderfully rustic with reclaimed British furniture being a key feature at the restaurant. As with its sister restaurant The Shed, The Rabbit is supplied with reared livestock and wines from the family farm and vineyard in Sussex which is run by Farmer Gregory. Known as Nutbourne, references are often made to ingredients from Nutbourne in the menu. Other seasonal produce come from local Sussex suppliers.

Head Chef Oliver Gladwin previously trained at Oxo Tower, Launceston Place, Just St James and with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage. His passion for foraging and seasonality is evident in his daily changing menu, which is divided into distinct sections: mouthfuls, slow cooking and fast cooking. The menu is designed for sharing with Rabbit recommending about 4-5 plates for two to share.

We began our meal with one of the ‘mouthfuls’, a squid ink cracker filled with sea bass roe and dill (£1.50) that was really tasty. The cracker was crunchy, the squid ink flavour in the cracker was delicately poised, the mellow saltiness of the filling worked well with the cracker and the dill added great fragrance.

Rabbit - London Food Blog - Squid ink cracker

Rabbit – Squid ink cracker

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Randa

Tucked around the corner from Kensington High Street is Randa, a fine Lebanese Restaurant which is part of the Maroush group of restaurants. Started in 1981 by Marouf Abouzaki who left war-torn Lebanon for London, The Maroush Group now includes 16 restaurants, ranging from the fast food operations of Beirut Express on Edgware Road to the more upmarket establishments such as Maroush on Vere Street and Randa. All the Maroush restaurants aim to serve authentic Lebanese food the traditional way, and at Randa, the menu offers a standard staple of Lebanese goodies. The selection includes a variety of much loved hot and cold mezzes such as hommos as well as an assortment of baked goods and pastries. There is also a fine selection of main courses including seafood and meat grills.

We began our meal with a selection of mezze including chickpea hommos (£5.50) and moutabal baba ghanouj (£5.75), a grilled aubergine purée mixed with tahine. Both of these were delightfully good. The hommos was thick, creamy and tasty, but the baba ghanouj proved to be my favourite with its rich, decadent and slighted charred flavour.

Randa - London Food Blog - Cold mezze

Randa – Cold mezze

Charcoal-grilled marinated chicken wings served with garlic sauce (£6) proved to be a winner. The wings were really nicely cooked and succulent, and they paired wonderfully with the strong garlic-y flavour of the wonderfully thick sauce. These chicken wings with garlic sauce are a personal favourite of mine, and on occasion I will pop into Beirut Express on Edgware Road just to order the wings.

Other hot mezzes included kibbeh (£6), deep-fried lamb meatballs mixed with cracked wheat and onions, and falafel (£5.50), deep-fried bean and herb croquettes served with tahine. Both of these were freshly prepared with crunchy coatings and tasty fillings. Grilled halloumi cheese (£6.50) was truly yummy with a robust earthy flavour.

Randa - London Food Blog - Hot mezzes

Randa – Hot mezzes

Les successful items included the Maroush salad (£5.75) and lentil soup. The salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, parsley, mint, onion, radish and with a lemon and olive oil dressing was also wonderfully fresh. But it was over dressed with too much lemon juice and very acidic on the palate. A lentil soup (£5) was also a little bland.

For our main we shared a plate of grilled king prawns (£18) which was a dream to eat. Four jumbo-sized prawns sat on our plate and were firm in texture and very nicely cooked. The combination of texture and good cooking yielded something that was really flavoursome.

Randa - London Food Blog - Jumbo prawns

Randa – Jumbo prawns

For dessert we tried a selection of baklawa which contained a variety of fillings. The pastry was delicate and the syrupy sweetness of the baklawa was not did overpower the flakiness of the pastry and the tasty fillings. All of these were delicious.

Randa - London Food Blog - Baklawa

Randa – Baklawa

The food at Randa was really enjoyable. The mezzes sang of freshness and authenticity, the prawns were delicious and the baklawa was good too. I would have liked better balance in the salad dressing and greater flavour in the lentil soup, but otherwise it’s a big tick for Randa on the food front. The service was warm and friendly too.

Summary Information:
Likes:

1) The food was generally well executed with the moutabal baba ghanouj being my favourite.
2) The jumbo prawns

Dislikes:
1) The salad and the lentil soup were the weakest dishes that we tried.

Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Prices: About £20 to £40 a head.

Website: https://www.randa-restaurant.com/

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L’Eto Caffe

L'Eto - London Food Blog - Salad counter

L’Eto – Salad counter

L'Eto - London Food Blog - Salad counter

L’Eto – London Food Blog – Salad counter

L’Eto Caffe is a chain of café-restaurants with six branches across central London that offers an all day dining service. The café is most notable for their dazzling display of cakes and pastries in their front window, all of which are so tempting it’s almost impossible not to do a double take every time you walk past a branch of L’Eto. But L’Eto offer more than just cakes. They also have a counter laid out with vibrant salads and cooked mains. The King’s Road, Belgravia and Brompton branches also serve breakfast and an a la carte menu for both lunch and dinner.

I recently visited the Brompton branch of L’Eto which is located within close proximity to the wonderful V&A and Natural History Museums. It is a very inviting venue with a lovely décor that is peppered with a smart and arty European charm. The wonderful display of great salads and tempting cakes also do much to add spark to the setting.

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Bistro 51 – St James Court Hotel

BISTRO 51

St James’ Court Hotel on Buckingham Gate offers a number of dining options, one of which is Bistro 51. Contemporary in design but somewhat subdued in taste, Bistro 51 serves a contemporary European menu. The hotel is part of the Indian owned Taj Hotel Group, one of the largest hotel chains in the world. As such, the menu also includes a number of Indian-inspired dishes.

We dined from the Chef’s special menu which is priced at a reasonable £30. We started with a boccocini and cherry tomato tian with pickled portobello and pesto which was pleasant and tasty. The mellow flavour of the bocconini with the sweetness of the tomatoes was a lovely pairing, with the pesto providing freshness to the dish.

Bistro 51 at The St James Court Hotel – London Food Blog - Boccocini and cherry tomato tian

Bistro 51 at The St James Court Hotel – Boccocini and cherry tomato tian

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The World’s End Market

The World’s End Market

Words and photos by Katrina from Russian Revels and myself.

The World’s End Market is the second venture of the Markets Group which opened The Crystal Palace Market restaurant earlier last year. The Group set out to introduce ‘an innovative culinary concept’ to the competitive London restaurant scene by focusing on unfussy cooking using the best quality local ingredients, with the result being primarily grilled fish and meats with classic sauces.

The World’s End Market used to be an iconic pub which has been lovingly restored. Today it retains much of the atmosphere of a good old boozer. The interior design is reminiscent of an early 20th century canteen decorated in cosily hushed greens with a gleaming cocktail bar and easy-listening background music. On a Monday evening the restaurant was uncharacteristically quiet because of an important football game (so we were told by the charming French manager), but the loveliness of the restaurant no doubt can draw in the crowds on other nights of the week. We felt we could easily have spent many an hour drinking from a decent selection of wines, most of which were organic.

The concept at World’s End Market concept centres on ‘locally sourced ingredients’, and although the restaurant does not list the source of all their protein the locavore concept didn’t quite hold true as we saw scallops from the Pacific and prawns from Madagascar. But we tried these for our starters, and we found that we loved the plate of simply grilled scallops (£10.50). Three plump molluscs, with roe intact, were well cooked and served with a zingy dressing. This dish was one of our favourites.

World's End Market - London Food Blog - Grilled Scallops

World’s End Market – Grilled Scallops

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Chez Boubier, South Kensington

Chez Boubier, Café de Paris has opened its first branch in London on Brompton Road in South Kensington. The restaurant serves the single menu (£26.50) of salad, bread and steak and fries with a Café de Paris butter sauce that has seen its 90-year legacy thrive across Continental Europe since 1930. Its famous Café de Paris butter sauce can be found in several locations around the world with restaurants in Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong and the UAE.

Its signature trademark is not only the Café de Paris sauce but also the single menu that is promised to every diner at £26.50. The butter sauce was made famous by then owned Arthur-François (Freddy) Dumont of Café de Paris. The birthplace of the butter sauce is commonly mistaken for Paris, France however, it was actually conceived in Geneva, Switzerland by Dumont’s father in law, Mr Boubier inventor of the original butter sauce. It is considered a heavily guarded secret recipe enhanced with multiple spices, herbs and other ingredients. It is so guarded even the staff don’t know the ingredients!

We arrive to a warm and inviting décor that is relaxed with its striking red colour scheme. The interior takes you back to that unmistakeable Parisian bistro feel where you can cosy up to your own booth.

To start, we begin with a green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing and a side of bread. Don’t be surprised if they do not serve butter with the bread because there is plenty of butter to be had later on. I was even told that there is so much butter sauce that most patrons do not finish it. But of course, I was able to finish it!

Chez Boubier - green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

Green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

When your 180-gram sirloin steak arrives, you will notice that it has been slightly seared and slightly undercooked based on your serving preference. You also won’t miss the remarkable amount of Café de Paris butter used to nestle your gorgeous steaks. This plate is then placed on a burner to continue the cooking process and melt the butter sauce in and around your steak. The wait staff will assist by turning and basting your steaks but feel free to take the reigns and baste these beauties as well. The signature butter sauce is simply superb filled with robust flavours and herbs. No one can really confirm what it is in the sauce so the wait staff and I had fun guessing what was in the ingredients. You should see if you can pick out the ingredients too!

The steak was delicious, tender and of high quality. A perfect combination with the signature butter sauce, which was delicious, but very rich and a little salty. Included in the £26.50 menu are 3 servings of French fries and I would highly recommend having this dipped in the butter sauce.

Chez Boubier - Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

Chez Boubier – Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

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The Five Fields

The Five Fields restaurant is so named as it is located in an area which was once known in the 18th century as The Five Fields. Chef-owner Taylor Bonnyman opened The Five Fields in May of 2013. It’s a charming restaurant set in a townhouse, and it has been sumptuously decorated in soft, soothing colours to give diners both a sense of comfort and elegance. The menu is modern British and focuses on seasonal ingredients, drawing on herbs and vegetables grown at the restaurant’s own East Sussex gardens. Taylor previously cooked at the two Michelin-starred Corton in New York and now works alongside head chef Marguerite Keogh who was previously at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley.

There is a tasting menu which is priced at £75. Otherwise, three courses is a really reasonably priced £50 a head. There’s also flexibility to be had as the two of us decided to go with three starters and only one dessert rather than two of each. Our meal began with some petit looking canapés which consisted of a foie gras mousse on crispy gingerbread topped with a prune puree and a dash of orange powder. This was a tasty bite of creamy goodness meshed with gingery, orangey overtones. This was followed by a fresh crab tartlet topped with pickled golden beetroot and aromatic shiso. A refreshing amuse bouche of gazpacho with pickled watermelon and basil oil came next. We also nibbled on some warm and appetising breads including a selection of campaillou, black olive, soda bread and buttermilk.

The Five Fields - Canapés

Canapés

The Five Fields - Bread selection

Bread selection

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El Pirata de Tapas

El Pirata de Tapas in Notting Hill, sister restaurant to El Pirata de Tapas Mayfair, came to fame when Gordon Ramsay named it one of his ‘Best Spanish Restaurants in the UK’ in 2010 on his Ramsay’s Best Restaurant TV programme. That recognition belonged to a time when El Bulli trained Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy was still the head chef at El Pirata de Tapas (co-incidentally Allibhoy had also worked at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant under Jason Atherton prior to taking over the reins at El Pirata de Tapas). These days Allibhoy is busy with other ventures such as his books and Tapas Revolution with the current head chef at El Pirata de Tapas being a Julian Gil.

El Pirata de Tapas is a comfortable looking restaurant and is suitable casual in keeping with the many other casual eating options along Westbourne Grove. The restaurant serves a modern tapas menu, a throw back to the days of Allibhoy.

There was a great value set lunch menu at £9.95 for two tapas dishes including bread and wine, but we elected for the more adventurous offerings from the standard a la carte menu.

Seared scallops (£9) were nicely cooked and came with a sweet and delicious onion purée that worked well with the scallops and some pork roulade that was quite fatty. Overall this was a nice dish but it would have been better had it not come out cold.

El Pirata de Tapas - Seared scallops

Seared scallops

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