Posts for the 'South West London' Category


Manson

Every time I have gone past Manson Restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night it always seems to be heaving with people. And with good reason. Perched on Fulham Road in Parsons Green, it has a ‘neighbourhood’ feel to it with the exterior exuding a certain charm and warmth which makes it hard to ignore.

The interior of the restaurant is just as pleasing on the eye. There is a separate bar area and lots of wooden touches throughout the restaurant to round of its cosy appeal. Stopping by for a Sunday lunch, I was pleasantly surprised the quality of the British cooking. A dainty looking dish of caraway cured sea trout (£7) was lovely. The tanginess in the side of pickled cabbage worked well with the fish, and the use of dill added a lovely fragrance to the dish.

Cured sea trout

Cured sea trout

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Fox and Grapes

Ludlow in Shropshire is a gorgeous country market town which at one point boasted of more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world. One of these included Hibiscus before Chef Claude Bosi relocated the restaurant to London (Mayfair) in 2007. A brave move many said, but it seems to have worked out just fine for Hibiscus. Not only did Hibiscus regain its second Michelin star which it lost when it first moved, but it also now holds a place in The San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurant’s Awards.

With Fox and Grapes, Bosi makes another mark on the London dining scene. Brother Cedric manages the day-to-day while Patrick Leano, formerly the sous chef at Hibiscus, runs the kitchen. The site of an old London inn on Wimbledon Common, the gastropub retains many original features and is lovely and quaint.

It was hard to think that Fox and Grapes would be any ordinary gastropub given its affiliation with Claude Bosi. That said, the mains on the menu were fairly uninteresting (sausage and mash, gratin provencal (ratatouille), mutton moussaka, pollock, chicken, and steaks, etc) and not as inspirational as it could have been given the Michelin-starred status of the gastropub’s patron.

We kicked off with some bar snacks including a wild boar scotch egg (£4.50) which gave way to a runny yolk centre. But the boar meat, whilst well cooked and decidedly gamey in flavour, was too peppery.

Wild boar scotch egg

Wild boar scotch egg

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Enoteca Turi

Enoteca Turi is a family-run Italian restaurant in Putney which specialises in regional Italian cuisine. Opened by owner Giuseppe Turi in 1990 (hence the name), this restaurant is still going strong after two decades, and can be considered something of a Putney institution given the proliferation of chain restaurants which have emerged on the High Street in recent years. Giuseppe can still be seen walking around the restaurant floor, and you know pride and care has been placed into every detail of the restaurant. I have eaten at Enoteca Turi before and enjoyed the food very much. This time around I dined as a guest of the restaurant.

A classic Venetian dish of smoked haddock mantecato (£7.75) was lovely. Similar to a pâté blended with a little olive oil, it wasn’t particularly smoky, but the fish flavour was rich and distinctive. It was accompanied by a trio of polenta crostini with pepper, cauliflower and green beans topped with polenta crisps. The polenta crostini was a little dull, but the red peppers were sweet, and the cauliflower and green beans were cooked al dente. The beans had been finished with a drizzling of some fantastic homemade pesto.

Smoked haddock mantecato

Smoked haddock mantecato

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The Fish Place

It has to be said that eating in a restaurant with no other guests feels rather odd – it makes for a deathly quiet experience. That is what happened to me when I visited The Fish Place as a guest of the restaurant recently. It opened in the middle of November, and is situated in a rather obscure spot, right near the heliport in Battersea overlooking the Thames. It’s pretty tricky to find, and the best way seems to be to look for the Hotel Verta and head to the left of it (you’ll get what I mean if you ever decide to go and look for the restaurant). I imagine not being on some major thoroughfare, its newness, and the fact that it was bitterly cold when I went were the reasons behind the zilch guest list.

But let’s talk about the food. As you probably guessed, this is a seafood restaurant. For the first amuse bouche, we had the fish veloute with pernod and parsley cream which is also listed as a starter on the menu. Thick and creamy, this was really lovely and nicely reduced to produce a good strong flavour of seafood.

Fish veloute

Fish veloute

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The Glasshouse

Whenever a restaurant bears the name of Nigel Platts-Martin, you know you will be assured of quality and consistency. With a string of well-known critically acclaimed restaurants, Nigel, a former lawyer turned restaurateur, seems to have that foodie magic that guarantees success. His restaurants include The Square, The Ledbury, Chez Bruce, La Trompette and The Glasshouse, the latter three which he owns with Bruce Poole, chef of Chez Bruce. What is also notable about these three sister restaurants is how reasonably priced they are. Even though all three establishments bear a Michelin star, prices have been kept at are around the £40-£45 mark for three courses.

A recent visit to The Glasshouse (£34.50 for two courses, £39.50 for three courses) saw me start with the grilled mackerel and miso, oyster dressing, shiso leaf and crispy squid. An inspired sounding dish, it did little to live up to expectations. The mackerel was well cooked, but the skin tasted slightly burnt. The miso sauce, a combination of miso, uzu, sake and mirin, had a nice flavour, but was extremely rich, as was the oyster dressing made with oyster sauce, iceberg lettuce, oysters and mayonnaise. The combination of these two heavy tastes overwhelmed the fish, drowning out its natural sweetness. I love shiso, but rather than being used as a garnish, it was buried under the oyster dressing which left this beautiful herb soggy and bereft of the exotic aroma that it usually exudes. Japanese food is about the clarity of flavour and the cleanliness of the palate. Here I found a heavy and muddled dish that didn’t quite live up to its Japanese inspirations. There was good technique here if you analysed each of the components individually, but the dish as a whole was flawed.

But as a saving grace, the wonderful accompanying crispy squid – a mixture of squid, prawns and mushrooms wrapped in nori and a wonderfully crispy, pastry – was divine. I would have happily had ten of these and forgotten the rest.

Grilled mackerel

Grilled mackerel

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Harwood Arms – The Return

The first time I went to the Harwood Arms (click here to read about that meal), I was bowled over by both the wonderful quality of the food and the very reasonable pricing. Resident Harwood Arms chef Stephen Williams trained under Brett Graham at The Ledbury which now holds two Michelin stars. So while the Harwood Arms may be a collaboration between Brett, Mike Robinson from The Pot Kiln and Edwin Vaux from the Vaux brewery, it resonates with Brett’s trademark cooking. It’s little wonder then that the Harwood Arms won its first Michelin star earlier this year.

With its new star rating, bookings have gone through the roof. Its focus has switched solely to the food, and so it’s dropped the gastropub label. There is still a bar area at the Harwood Arms, but this is mainly used for pre-dining aperitifs with casual pub drinking now being frowned upon.

My last visit to the Harwood Arms was over a year ago, and ever since then I have yearned for their wonderful venison Scotch egg (£3). A perfectly cooked runny egg encased in beautifully seasoned venison meat and coated with crispy breadcrumbs delighted once again. However, from memory there use to be more meat to be had.

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

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Marco at Stamford Bridge

Foie gras terrine

Foie gras terrine

The last couple of meals that I had with LD (at The Cadogan Arms and Le Café Anglais) proved to be somewhat unsuccessful. This seemed to have the effect of putting a dent in my ‘restaurant choosing capability’ as this time round she suggested (insisted) that she pick the destination for our next meal out. With a sniff, I agreed. I obviously don’t get it right all the time, but I like holding the mantle of ‘restaurant picker’ amongst my friends, even if it is self-bestowed, and it isn’t a title that I wanted to relinquish easily.

So this is how, at LD’s suggestion, we ended up at Marco at Stamford Bridge (sniff). The restaurant is a collaborative effort between Chef Marco Pierre White and as you might have guessed, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. The restaurant has the look of money behind it. The room is filled with leather cubicle seating and glamorous black and white photographs of celebrities from a bygone era. It’s dark and decadent, and if cigars were allowed, I would have almost hazarded a guess that this was an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club house.

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Wallace & Co

Note: This restaurant has now closed.

Wallace & Co.

Wallace & Co.

Wallace & Co is the new cafe/restaurant (opened about three weeks) undertaking by Greg Wallace of Masterchef fame. You know, the self-proclaimed “cooking woman’s crumpet”. The happy chappy with the shiny skull and the big booming voice, who along with John Torode, came up with some rather memorable (or depending on your viewpoint – laughable) turns of phrase on the show. Wallace & Co is located in Putney, rather than the more competitive locales of Central London, and it looks the part of a wholesome neighbourhood restaurant. It’s cosy, airy and spacious, and decorated in warm green and beige colours, it feels so homely that you can’t help but want to go in and sip a cappuccino or two.

The centrepiece at the front of the restaurant is a huge wooden table, littered with scrumptious looking baked goods. There is also a take-away salad bar, and, something that should come as no surprise, vegetables for purchase (Greg is a wholesale greengrocer after all – his business is called Secrett’s Direct). Behind the front section is the split level dining area.

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