Posts for the 'South East London' 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

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ferdiesfoodlab

FERDIESFOODLAB

Simon Fernandez, the man behind ferdiesfoodlab, burst onto the supper club scene some seven years ago, with his then legendary fernandezandleluu supper club. His latest pop up being a project sees him in collaboration with the London Kitchen Project in Battersea. A non-profit community centre that started life about six months ago, the London Kitchen Project seats 40 and devotes itself to food, sustainability and the use of 100% renewable energy.

The collaborative project sees ferdiesfoodlab running a series of pop up dinners at the London Kitchen Project approximately every four weeks, serving a six course-tasting menu priced at £45. P and I popped along recently and found the dinner to be well considered and cleverly constructed. The first course was a 5hr slow roast rib of lamb, pulled, pressed, cubed and coated in breadcrumbs, served with garlic Turkish bread and a dip of fresh herbs and lime. The lamb was delicious, moist and moreish, and went swimmingly with the accompanying bread and dip. But the crumbing on the lamb could have been crispier which would have really elevated the dish.

Ferdies Food Lab - London Food Blog - Slow cooked lamb

Ferdies Food Lab – Slow cooked lamb

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Pizarro

Pizarro has been receiving all the same rave reviews that its sister restaurant José also collected when it first opened. But one of the things that make Pizarro more appealing than José is that it is bigger, a huge bonus when both restaurants do not have a booking policy and happen to be two of the most sort after tables in London at the moment. I still imagine there could be long waits, but we turned up around 6.30pm on a Saturday night and managed to nab a spot straight away.

The dining room spells T-R-E-N-D-Y. It feels more formal and less raw than José, but it still follows the bar-seating-around-the-open-kitchen formula of its sister. We sat right near the pass during our visit which meant we got to see José at work. The menu is small, and it has less of a tapas-focus than at José and more main course selections (five).

As we decided on what to order, we were presented with some veggie nibbles of radish and cauliflower dressed with olive oil and cava vinegar. These are worth a mention as they were lovely with a hint of delicate acidic sweetness.

Veg dressed with olive oil & cava vinegar

Veg dressed with olive oil & cava vinegar

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Delfina

Delfina is a restaurant I discovered while on route to Zucca and Jose, all three of which are on Bermondsey Street near London Bridge. It has an inviting contemporary look to it – lots of white space – and its high ceilings can be attributed to the fact that it is housed in what was once a converted chocolate factory. The building is now used for exhibitions and the like, and the restaurant opens for lunch from Monday to Friday, and for dinner on a Friday night.

On the Friday evening of our visit we tried seared scallops (£7.50) which disappointed. The scallop had started to go bad with an unpleasant taste to them. Furthermore, they weren’t really scallops (plural), but one scallop cut into two. The accompanying saffron cauliflower was also a touch underdone.

Scallops

Scallops

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