Posts for the 'Between £20 and £45' Category


Arthur Hooper’s

Arthur Hooper’s

Arthur Hooper’s is a relatively new addition to London Bridge and a stone’s throw away from the already vibrant food scene at Borough Market. Given that it is in an already competitive dining area full of crowd pleasers, Arthur Hooper’s does well to make its mark. In days gone by, it was once owned by a greengrocer, Arthur Hooper, hence its name.

Arthur Hooper's - London Food Blog

Arthur Hooper’s

Historically significant, the interior, designed by local London Bridge design studio Buster+Punch, features a rough jewel box concept, drawing on inspiration from the historic markets and cobbled nearby streets. Finishing touches include crafted steel caged light fittings, a custom hexagonal concrete floor and artworks by acclaimed artists Matt Small and Dan Hillier. There is a mixture of high tables and stools, “wrap around column” tables as well as quieter tables along an imposing steel-caged, back-lit bottle shelved wall. In all, the ambience is relaxed and casual.

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Eneko

ENEKO

Eneko at One Aldwych is named after its famous owner, Eneko Atxa, the chef of Azurmendi Restaurant, a 3 Michelin star restaurant in the Basque region of Spain and currently No. 38 on The World’s Best 50 Restaurants List. Azurmendi is an exemplary example of modern Basque fine dining, and at Eneko, Chef Atxa seeks to introduce to Londoners the joys of his approach to Basque cooking, something that we were excited to go and see for ourselves. Enoko is the flagship restaurant at the luxury boutique five-star hotel One Aldwych London in Convent Garden, and is prominently located at the junction where Aldwych intersects with the Strand.

We began our evening experience at Eneko in ground floor bar which was curved in its layout and cosy and comfortable in its design. Following recommendations from the extremely friendly and attentive staff, we went for the suggested Gorki Izagirre Bizkaiko Txakolina (£10 for 175 ml). The Basque white, apparently made at Mr. Atxa’s uncle’s winery, was well-balanced in terms of acidity. However, it wasn’t particularly memorable as a wine to enjoy on its own, but would be ok to have as an accompaniment to wash down food with.

As for the restaurant itself, this was on the lower ground floor and was spacious and well-appointed. Carefully designed, it was both intimate and social, with the acoustics being properly monitored to minimise any amplified chatter and clanking that often fills other establishments. This space in every way epitomised what a modern fine-dining restaurant could aspire to look like.

Our first course was a delightfully tasty dish with a burst of summery colours, the Traditional Talo (£12). This was a basil-rich salad of heritage tomatoes served on a bed of talo (Basque tortilla chips) and it proved to be an epitome of basil freshness and deep rich flavours of well ripened tomatoes. The edible flowers helped to create a multi-sensory, visually arresting, seasonal experience. This was the best dish of the evening.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Traditional Talo

Eneko – Traditional Talo

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Machiya

MACHIYA

Machiya is the little sister restaurant of Kanada-Ya, the ramen bar famed for its tonkotsu ramen. There are two branches of Kanada-Ya – the original on St Giles High Street, the other virtually next door to Machiya itself on Panton Street. The concept at Machiya is something like a gastro izakaya – a Japanese pub with homemade tapas-sized plates of food for sharing. That said, Machiya looks nothing like the typical izakaya joints found in Japan which are typically quaint, dimly lit, and worn around the edges. Here, with its clean cut and brightly lit natural wood and metal interior, Machiya has much more of a clinical modern feel to it. Downstairs is a bar which offers a list of cocktail delights.

Machiya’s menu is a mix of some izakaya classics and Japanese cafe staples like tonkatsu, kare-raisu, and zaru-soba. At Machiya, the chicken yakitori (£4.50) proved to be two skewers of deliciously moist and slightly crisped flesh. The chicken was well seasoned and did not need any gimmicky sauces, sometimes deployed in restaurants to hide a poor quality base ingredient.

Machiya - London Food Blog - Chicken yakitori

Machiya – Chicken yakitori

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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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El Pirata

EL PIRATA

If your means are not too constrained, El Pirata in Mayfair can be a good choice for those times in your life when you develop a craving for some excellent home-made food but don’t feel like cooking yourself. This rustic comfortable Spanish restaurant churns out reliably tasty and homely tapas and other classical Spanish dishes, all served with the sincerest of smiles from their knowledgeable staff. The interior leaves no doubt that this is a Spanish eatery – the walls are literally smothered with various reproductions of works by famous Spanish painters. Queen’s Brian May is reported to be a very satisfied customer of El Pirata.

First arrived bread – a thoroughly enjoyable plate of crispy crust and fluffy centre – topped with a smartly undersalted, moist and fresh tomato topping (£2.65). Because the latter was rather lightly seasoned, it enhanced, rather than upstaged any other dishes we might have had alongside it.

El Pirata - London Food Blog - Bread & jamon

El Pirata – Bread & jamon

It was accompanied by a platter of super-fancy ham with a name as long as Picasso’s: jamón ibérico pata negra, gran reserva “don agustin, iberico summon guiguelo. We were counting on a fountain of flavour and lush unctuous texture, perhaps close to that of the French Noir de Bigorre or of one of those eye-wateringly overpriced Spanish jamons in Borough Market. However, this hope did not quite materialise into reality. It was good, solid, but rather very run-off-the-mill stuff, the kind you could buy pre-sliced at El Corte Ingles in Spain. In all honesty it was not quite worth the £19.95 price tag.

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Remedy Wine Bar

REMEDY WINE BAR AND KITCHEN

The Remedy Wine Bar and Kitchen in Fitzrovia is a cosy, intimate collaboration between David Clawson and Renato Catgiu. The pair met while working together at Terroirs, a Covent Garden restaurant and wine bar which, as most foodies will know, is regarded as having pioneered the “natural” (organic and/or biodynamic) wine movement in London. At Remedy, the team have lovingly curated a list of some 100 natural, low intervention wines from both classic vintages and maverick producers from around the world, and all sold at reasonable prices.

The menu at Remedy is an all-day one, ranging from breakfast to dinner. The morning offering consists of coffees from Climpson & Sons, juices, pastries, breads and such like. For lunch there are tasty sounding sandwiches and reasonably priced mains. The evening menu at Remedy is more comprehensive and included a range of snacks and sharing boards with cured meats from the Ham & Cheese Co and cheeses from Androuet. There were also oysters, seasonal small plates and a delicious sounding array of sausages.

We began our meal with a rabbit terrine with crostini (£5) which was absolutely delicious. The terrine was tasty, moist and well-seasoned, with just the right of amount of fat for flavour. Yet at the same time, it wasn’t overly fatty which terrines can sometimes be. This terrine was pure flavour and a true joy to eat. This was some heartfelt cooking at its best.

Remedy Wine Bar - London Food Blog - Rabbit Terrine

Remedy Wine Bar – Rabbit Terrine

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C&R Izakaya

C&R IZAKAYA

Walking along the multicultural and diverse cuisine street of Westbourne Grove, you are spoilt for choice as to what to have for dinner. One of them is C&R Izakaya, a relatively new kid on the block. The location use to house a Malaysian restaurant which has now been transformed into a Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant has a slimmed down, parred back interior design, and so it doesn’t quite induce the buzzy atmosphere that you might otherwise encounter in a central London restaurant, say in the West End. When we entered for our sitting at 6:30pm, modern pop music was playing and there were a sufficient number of tables available with a few other patrons dotted around. The table was set in a simple style with a wine glass, small plate, chopsticks and soy sauce. The lighting was soft, with individual downlights granting appropriate visibility of the extensive menu.

The menu reminded us of similar casual restaurants in Japan, what with its bright colours and photos that teased you with the variety of options available. The pricing is not on the light side, and did make one wary of how much to order, but in the end we decided to go for a varied selection of items from the menu.

The Aki sashimi set (18 pieces, 6 kinds – £25.50) came first which three pieces of each fish, white tuna, tuna, yellow tail, salmon, scallops and sea bass. This was well presented on a bed of ice. The slices were large and substantial – too large to in fact be considered a technically correct cut of sashimi fish. But we didn’t mind as it was all the more for us to eat. All the fish was delicious and fresh. However, the main delight for us was the white tuna. Having never tried white tuna before, we were intrigued as to its flavour and we were certainly not disappointed. The white tuna was excellent, with a softer texture to normal tuna and a longer lingering taste on the palate. If at this point, the meal had ended, we would have all gone home and been happy.

C&R Izakaya - London Food Blog - Aki sashimi set

C&R Izakaya – Aki sashimi set

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Amici Miei

AMICI MIEI

Amici Miei is a casual Italian restaurant on Kingsland Road serving rustic fare such as wood-fired sourdough pizzas and pastas, along with a range of Italian regional dishes. The name, Amici Miei, translates as ‘my friends’, and it is indeed a welcoming spot with its bare brick-work, relaxed ambiance and cozy vibe.

I dined at Amici Miei with Artour from food blog Nifty Noshing and as we both love eating the Asian way which is to order multiple dishes and to share them all. That way, you get to try more and share not just the physical space, but share the enjoyment of the food as well. And the menu at Amici Miei is truly ideal for sharing. Apart from the pizzas and pastas, the comprehensive menu also dishes up a range of cicchetti – Italian tapas and antipastas.

We started with the polpette, meatballs (£5) which came in a faintly garlicky tomato sauce. They were simple and tasted of “homemadeness”. These exuded a rustic quality and were very enjoyable, although no distinct flavours to speak of were discerned.

Amici Miei - London Food Blog - Meatballs

Amici Miei – Meatballs

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