Posts for the 'NW1' Category


Mestizo

MESTIZO

Last month, Mestizo, Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, celebrated Día de la Independencia (The Mexican Independence Day) with a special gastronomic week. One of the most traditional, authentic Mexican restaurants in London, the week was designed by Mestizio to showcase the diversity and depth of Mexican food by curating a regionally inspired menu that took guests on a culinary journey around Mexico. For this purpose, the menu included such dishes as pescadillas from Guerrero, to a warming Pollo con Mole from the highlands of Puebla, to the Mexican lamb stews from Birria.

Gastronomic Week at Mestizo is long over, but it was still a good opportunity to experience one of the most authentic Mexican dining experiences one can get in London. Mestizo first opened its doors in 2004, and has long been one of the leading ambassadors of Mexican food in London, often championing this diverse cuisine through special gastronomic events such as the Gastronomic Week seen last month and other events organised in conjunction with the Mexican Embassy. Moreover, Mestizo, has the largest tequila selection in the UK (some 260+) and is proud to share the Mexican’s love of its iconic national spirit through the various tequila Masterclasses, tequila tasting experiences or ‘Tequila and food pairing experiences’ at Mestizo.

Mestizo - London Food Blog - Tequila Bar

Mestizo – Tequila Bar

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Q Grill

Q GRILL

A guest post by Food Porn Nation.

What makes Q Grill, Camden truly special is that it comes armed with its very own charcoal pit grill and oven house Jasper smoker, essentially a purpose built grill and smoker inspired by the smoking and barbecuing traditions of the Deep South. This means that we’re talking about some serious soul food from Memphis, Tennessee. Q Grill means business when it comes to meat and offers a selection of American dishes with a Southern and English feel. All meat dishes are carefully prepared and marinated with their own Q cajun seasonings which is then grilled and smoked for optimum smoky richness. Q Grill also serves a range of southern comfort favourites such as macaroni and cheese, fried buttermilk chicken, beef hash and cheesy grits, just to name a few.

We began our meal with the sticky hen wings with Bourbon BBQ sauce (£7.75) which was absolutely delicious. They were perfectly moist, tender and falling off the bone with a lovely charred surface and smokey undertone. The addition of extra house made BBQ sauce made these wings even more exceptional. Sweet, sticky and smokey, simply scrumptious.

Q Grill - London Food Blog -  Sticky hen wings, Bourbon barbecue sauce

Q Grill – Sticky hen wings, Bourbon barbecue sauce

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Porky’s Camden

PORKY’S

Photos and words by Food Porn Nation and I.

In the southern states of the USA, BBQ is king. Meat is treated with reverence and when barbequed, is done using special slow cooked techniques that generally last for 16-18 hours. The result is charred meat that is distinctively smoky and tender. Here in London, the restaurant group Porky’s seeks to capture the essence of Memphis style BBQ by adopting they same slow cooking BBQ approach. And as they do in the Deep South, portions are generous, prices are reasonable and flavours are bold. There is plenty of meat and Porky’s happily caters to the heartiest of carnivores.

The Camden Town branch of Porky’s (there are also branches at Bankside and Boxpark Bethnal Green) is low-key with its friendly, casual service. In a nod to its roots, there are classical Southern posters hanging on its exposed brick walls with Tennessee greats such as Elvis playing in the background. The lighting is soft and low for a relaxed ambiance, making it a great venue for groups.

The ‘warm up’ mixed platter (£24 – serves 4) included the house chilli and 4 other starter items. The highlight of the platter was the house chilli which was homey, spicy and delicious. The BBQ wings were a little overcooked, but tasty with a sticky homemade BBQ sauce. Our least favourite items were the crab cakes as there was not enough crab, and the hush puppies which were floury and starchy. We also tried the garlic toast which was very buttery.

Porky's - The Warm Up Platter includes the house chilli and 4x of the following items. Bbq wings, crab cakes, hush puppies, pulled pork croquettes and garlic toast

Porky’s – The Warm Up Platter includes the house chilli and 4x of the following items. Bbq wings, crab cakes, hush puppies, pulled pork croquettes and garlic toast

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The Gilbert Scott

The Gilbert Scott is situated in The Renaissance Hotel St Pancreas (previously the Midland Grand Hotel) which finally reopened last year after being closed for almost three-quarters of a century. In keeping with the style of the original architecture, the restaurant has maintained many of the ornate features of the building. With high ceilings, limestone pillars and intricate details. The Gilbert Scott feels grand, but also somewhat old-fashioned and sterile. The refurbishment of the dining room was undoubtedly expensive (the whole hotel cost about £150m), but I didn’t care much for the garish peachy colour scheme or the icy atmosphere of the restaurant.

The restaurant is named after Gilbert Scott, the architect who originally designed the building. However it was the name of Marcus Wareing that I was most curious about. The two-starred Michelin chef of Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley is behind the brasserie and bar operations at The Gilbert Scott. The menu made for a nice read, and fittingly, resonated Britishness.

The kitchen operated with clockwork precision, and eerily so. It only took a few minutes from the time we placed our orders until our starters turned up. The turnaround time was so quick it made me question the level of effort that had been made with our food. My first course of curry spiced mulligatawny with quail (£9) tasted like it had been pre-cooked and quickly reheated for service. The mulligatawny could have been hotter and better spiced. The quail was a nice touch, but as it had been immersed in the broth for some time it had become bland. This was an unremarkable dish.

Mulligatawny

Mulligatawny

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Namaste Kitchen

Indian restaurant Namaste Kitchen is from the team behind Salaam Namaste in Bloomsbury and Sabir Karim who previously worked at Chutney Mary and Red Fort. Based in Camden, Namaste Kitchen boasts an inviting and modern look. The main point of focus in the restaurant is its modern Indian grill. Its open layout allows diners to watch the chefs at work as well as lap up the lovely warmth that it emits, a feature that was particularly inviting on a cold winter’s night. To complete its cosy feel, Namaste Kitchen plays host to a blend of exposed brick walls, American walnut veneers and cream leather seats.

We kicked of our meal with a spicy soft shell crab (£5.95) coated with a crunchy semolina batter. The crab was yummy, if a touch oily. Accompanying the crab was a sweet fig and prune sauce which worked well with the crab.

Spicy soft shell crab

Spicy soft shell crab

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Odette’s – Visit # 2

I have always thought highly of Bryn Williams. That man can cook, and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal the last time I went to Odette’s even though I had a bit of a bad service experience (click here for that post). But the food at Odette’s was good enough, and it deserved another chance.

This time around I dined as a guest of Odette’s. We kicked off the meal with an amuse of mushroom soup with pickled mushrooms. The soup was wonderfully flavoursome and creamy, and the pickled effect of the diced mushroom pieces gave the soup an interesting contrast.

Succulent, moist and perfectly crisped hand dived scallops (£14) were accompanied by some velvety smooth cauliflower and coconut purée that worked well with the star ingredient and which left me wanting more. There were also some salted grapes which weren’t particularly salty but which didn’t quite match with the scallops. Nevertheless, this was a very classy and accomplished dish.

Hand dived scallops

Hand dived scallops

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Odette’s Restaurant

Pan-fried salmon

Pan-fried salmon

Odette’s Restaurant has become something of an institution in Primrose Hill since it opened in 1978. In 2006, Bryn Williams took over as the head chef, and went on to become the owner in October 2008, when he purchased the restaurant from music mogul Vince Power. Having previously worked at Le Gavroche, The Orrery and Galvin at Windows, Bryn gained further recognition in 2006 on the television programme, The Great British Menu, by winning the fish course, and consequently the opportunity to cook the dish for The Queen at her 80th birthday banquet.

Therefore it was with great curiosity that JK (and that’s not Rowling) and I ventured to Odette’s. Having met up for a drink before dinner, we set off to the restaurant in two separate cars. And what a journey that turned out to be. As she thought she knew the way, I decided to follow her. But as it turned out, she didn’t really know the way. Furthermore, her road handling is of the kind that belongs more on a race track than on the speed bumps that lead to Primrose Hill. In contrast, I am rather slow in my little car. And alas, it was not long before we became separated.

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