Posts for the 'SE1' Category


Qvintessenza

QVINTESSENZA

Italian restaurant Qvintessenza set out with great intentions. The site says that the owner, clearly a lover of great wine, wanted to bring the best of Italian produce to his restaurant. And despite an awkward location on noisy Borough High Street in between Elephant and Castle and Borough stations, Qvintessenza is spacious, cosy, with lovely wooden surfaces, and lines and lines of wine bottles.

Italians often joke with seriousness how the magic ingredient in their food is simply love. That certain je ne sais quoi, the careful throwing of great ingredients together, where nothing extra is added other than attentiveness. Provenance means a lot. You need to know the source to guarantee the quality of ingredients when there’s so little to hide behind. So all the more disappointing that the food that followed was not very good.

No, not inedible, but so non-descript and lacking, well, in love, that we couldn’t help but feel this is a place that stopped caring. We know how disheartening it could be for staff to stay motivated when the numbers of punters dwindle (which we sense may be the case at Qvintessenza), but black slates and large square plates can’t prop up the lack of attention.

To kick off we asked for a basket of homemade bread – a joy and pride of Italian restaurants across the globe. Here we got a few small slices of bread at a highly overpriced £3.50. Furthermore, the bread had been shop bought despites claims of being homemade.

Burrata cheese (mozzarella filled with cream) with Parma ham (£12.50) said to be matured for 26 months was just fine, but it was difficult to enjoy to the dish fully without any proper bread to soak up the flavours.

Quintessenza - London Food Blog - Parma ham & burrata cheese

Quintessenza – Parma ham & burrata cheese

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: , ,



Casse-Croute

CASSE-CROUTE

Casse-Croute is a quaint and intimate French bistro located on Bermondsey Street, a street that ranks as one of my favourite streets in London for eating out. With the likes of José, Zucca, Antico and Pizarro all on Bermondsey Street, Casse-Croute faces up to some stiff competition. Casse-Croute is decidedly French, from the Francophile posters hanging on the walls, to the red and white tablecloths down to the red leather seating. The cosy placement of the tables also adds a level of intimacy to the restaurant. It’s a wonderfully inviting looking restaurant, a place that you could happily linger in for hours on end, and there’s no doubt that during the winter Casse-Croute is nice and snug. Their menu is small and changes daily, and typically boasts of French classics such as sole with hollandaise sauce and beef cheek bourguignon (which we tried).

For our starter we had the crab ravioli (£9.50) which was beautifully prepared. The homemade pasta was nice and thin, and the crab filling was fresh and tasty. As a complete package the ravioli was truly delicious and showed off tremendous skill. The sauce, made from a reduction using crab and lobster shells, was intensely flavoursome and was a delight to eat. The only problem was that there was not enough sauce to cover the pasta and consequently some of the ravioli tasted naked without the sauce. It felt like this dish had been plated up in a rush. The base of the pasta consisted of some samphire which was very salty and could have probably done with further soaking, etc.

Casse-Croute - London Food Blog - Crab ravioli

Casse-Croute – Crab ravioli

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: , ,



Oblix at The Shard

OBLIX AT THE SHARD

Words and Photos by TheLondonFoodie and I.

About:
Oblix on the 32nd floor of the Shard offers some of the most spectacular views over Central London that money can buy. Oblix is divided into two sections – the Restaurant and the Lounge & Bar, both with different menus and different perspectives. The Restaurant serves a more formal à la carte menu overlooking St Paul’s, whereas the more relaxed Lounge & Bar offers a deli menu during the day, brunch on weekends, and a sharing style menu with wonderful live music in the evenings (comes with a £5 cover charge). From the Lounge & Bar diners have a view over London Bridge and Tower Bridge which dazzles at night.

The mastermind behind Oblix is Rainer Becker, who along with Arjun Waney launched Zuma and Roka, helping to explain the various Asian influences in the Oblix menu. The Executive chef is Fabien Beaufour who previously worked in The States at The French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park, both of which are three Michelin starred restaurants.

Cost:
Oblix Lounge & Bar offers various menus depending on the day and time. During weekdays there is a deli menu priced at £29 for three courses and on weekends the champagne brunch is £58 for three courses. The evening menu is a sharing menu with starter-size plates ranging from £6 to £18.50, seafood dishes from £24 to £38 and meat dishes from £18.50 to £80.

What We Ate:
TheLondonFoodie and I dined in the Oblix Lounge & Bar area and we really enjoyed it’s buzzy ambience and the sultry tones of the live band. We started our meal with some fabulous tidbits from the small bites section of the menu including fried padron peppers (£5.50) and devilled eggs (£3.50 each), both of which were wonderful. The padron peppers had been sprinkled with crispy panko crumbs that gave them a lovely crunchy texture. Accompanying the peppers was a salt and balsamic powder that provided a nice touch of seasoning and an acidic contrast. The devilled eggs were also gorgeous. Smooth and creamy, they had been topped with slices of aromatic truffle that heightened the flavour of the eggs.

Oblix - Padron peppers

Padron peppers

Oblix - Truffled eggs

Truffled eggs

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: , ,



Roast Restaurant

Founded in 2005 by restaurateur Iqbal Wahhab OBE, the man behind the famous Cinnamon Club, Roast Restaurant sits within the iconic Borough Market. It’s a beautiful looking restaurant with its high ceilings and tall windows that usher in lots of lovely natural light. The arched window panels high above the dining room add a sense of the angelic to the restaurant, and there’s a sense of serenity and calm to it that makes for a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the famous foodie market.

The menu is distinctively British in both design and choice of ingredients. We started our meal with a Scotch Burford brown egg with Macsween’s haggis and piccalilli (£8.75). It was delicious with a solid meaty flavour, a beautifully cooked egg yolk that was still runny and golden, and a coating that was nice and crispy. The acidity of the piccalilli was also well judged and worked brilliantly with the Scotch egg.

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: , , ,



China Zen

China Zen is located in the County Hall Building on Southbank and offers lovely views of Waterloo, Westminster and the London Eye. On their website they state that they specialise in Beijing cuisine, and according to some food blogs I’ve read, its Peking duck is allegedly its specialty dish. So when a TopTable 30% off special offer popped up I was rather excited. Peking duck and 30% off was something too good to miss.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I turned up at the restaurant to discover that the Peking duck was not part of the special offer. I might not have read the fine print properly, but it’s annoying when these specials hide a number of conditions. Nevertheless, I had come to China Zen to try the Peking duck, so offer or not, I decided it was still worth ordering.

But as it turned out it mattered little as the restaurant came back to us a few minutes after we had placed our order to inform us that they had run out of Peking duck. Run out of duck? On a Friday night at 7pm? What kind of restaurant runs out of their specialty dish at the beginning of service on one of their busiest nights of the week?

So began our calamitous experience at China Zen. We had also tried ordering about three different types of dumplings to be told that none of them were available. Intent on having some dumplings, we eventually stumbled on one which they said they had, only to discover minutes later that once again they were unable to deliver.

So we gave up on the dumplings and had the seafood and crabmeat soup (£5.80) and the salt and pepper squid (£7.80) for starters instead. Disappointingly, the soup was quite a small portion, and the ‘seafood’ quoted on the menu didn’t really consist of any seafood but some tiny shrimp that was extremely bland. It tasted as if it had been sitting in the freezer for far too long and all its flavour had been bled from it. The rest of the soup was decent with the crab being tasty.

Seafood soup

Seafood soup

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: , , ,



The Cube by Electrolux – Simon Rogan

The Cube by Electrolux

The Cube by Electrolux

The concept behind The Cube by Electolux – a “pop up restaurant” – is intimate and original. Sponsored by Electrolux, the restaurant showcases the use of Electrolux products by a roster of Michelin chefs who rotate kitchen duties on a weekly basis. The restaurant, seating only 18 guests, is perched on the 6th Floor of the Royal Festival Hall, and its glass-paneled walls offers luxurious views of The Thames, Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament. An open-plan kitchen affords diners an interactive and visual experience with the Michelin chef in residence.

Simon with his back to us

Simon with his back to us

Lunch is priced at £175 and dinner is £215 for a minimum six-course meal and matching wines. There is also a champagne reception which is enjoyed on the balcony – a treasured moment to allow all guests to drink in the gorgeous views.

The Cube by Electrolux

The Cube by Electrolux

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: , , , ,



The Refinery Bar

I loved the décor at The Refinery Bar with its elegant industrial take on urban dining. Its use of floor to ceiling glass windows has also helped to create an airy, light and gracious space, and its use of colour and texture added to its comfort. The Refinery Bar is a visually arresting restaurant. Situated on Southwark Street right behind the Tate Modern, it is well positioned to service museum goers.

The Refinery

The Refinery

The menu is varied with a selection of plates for sharing, nibbles, sandwiches, burgers, mains and steaks. There is also a large selection of cocktails to choose from, including a variety of Bloody Mary type cocktails. I went for the Crystal Mary martini (£7.95) which was so fiery from the Tabasco that I found it too harsh on my palate. But this was made good with an excellent Russian rose martini (£6.95). The drink was well balanced and smooth which helped it go down a treat. Also impressive was the large selection of wines on the drinks menu that you could order by the glass and in varying measures.

Crystal Mary martini

Crystal Mary martini

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: , ,



Cantina del Ponte Pasta Masterclass

A month ago, I attended a very successful lamb butchery masterclass at The Chop House. Its neighbouring restaurant Cantina de Ponte pasta masterclasses are run on select Saturdays throughout the year with each class covering different types of pastas. I attended the class last week which touched on tagliatelle, taglioni, orecchiette and ravioli.

Pasta Masterclass

Pasta Masterclass

The class included a basic pasta demo on how to make pasta dough and how to roll the different types of pasta (and in the case of the orecchiette, how to cut and shape it). We all got a chance to try our hand at making pasta dough and some members of the class got to participate in rolling the pasta. All this was great fun, but I would have liked the class to have covered some sauces as well, after all, a good sauce is what makes a pasta dish great.

Tagliatelle & ravioli

Tagliatelle & ravioli

(Continue reading her story…)


Tags: ,