Posts for the 'Hyde Park Corner' Category


Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane – The Christmas Unwrapped Afternoon Tea

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL PARK LANE – THE CHRISTMAS UNWRAPPED AFTERNOON TEA

Words and photos by by Nicole Chui (Instagram: @nicolemmapearl) and myself.

Located on the ground floor of the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane is the Wellington Lounge, a comfortable space which offers views of the street (minus the noise) and the edges of Hyde Park. The Wellington Lounge is a lovely spot and a great place for spending time on long chats while enjoying a lovely afternoon tea. Since the holidays are approaching, it was only natural for us to opt for their special “Christmas Unwrapped Afternoon Tea” menu (£42 including a champagne cocktail), and boy was that festive.

Intercontinental Hotel - London Food Blog - Champagne cocktails

Intercontinental Hotel – Champagne cocktails

To start the course of Christmas Afternoon Tea, we were poured a generous amount of the champagne cocktail, champagne with a pear-infused cognac and a small dash of Glenmorangie whiskey. The cocktail was really fabulous, and the fruity addition was a wonderfully refreshing way to kick start the holiday spirit. Following that, the food slowly began to make its way towards our table. We started off with some warm savoury items inspired by Christmas dinner which included a stilton, chestnut and walnut vol-au-vent and a mini honey roast root vegetable pie completed with gravy served from an adorable mini gravy jug. Both of these were really delicious, particularly the pie with its excellent pastry, rustic, homely flavours and gorgeous gravy.

Intercontinental Hotel - London Food Blog - Savoury selection

Intercontinental Hotel – Savoury selection

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Ametsa by Arzak Instruction

Note: Ametsa was awarded a Michelin Star in September 2013.

Ametsa by Arzak Instruction

Ametsa by Arzak Instruction

As the name suggests, Ametsa by Arzak Instruction draws its culinary inspiration from the famous three-Michelin starred Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain. Arzak made its name by introducing Nouvelle Basque cooking to the world. By taking the traditions of this fine food region and overlaying it with an inspired modern touch, the imagination of Arzak caught the world’s attention. In 1989 it attained its three-Michelin star status, an accolade that it continues to hold to this day.

And so it is that the philosophy behind Ametsa is also one of ‘New Basque Cuisine’, a matching of the traditions of the Basque region with modern techniques. It opened in March 2013 at the Halkin Hotel, taking over the space that was once occupied by David Thompson’s Nahm. A quintet of chefs from Arzak consulted on Ametsa including Mikel Sorazu, Igor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez, and most notably the famous father and daughter pair of Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak who was recognised by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards as the World’s Best Female Chef of 2012.

No expense was spared on the interior and it looks expensive. The most eye-catching aspect of Ametsa’s décor is the ceiling that was created from 7,000 dangling glass receptacles filled with spices. It’s impressive, but the overall feel of the restaurant is quite cold with whitewashed walls and furnishings that give it a rather stark effect. In some respects, it was difficult to warm to the atmosphere of the restaurant.

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Apsleys – Visit # 3

Note: Chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have now left the restaurant. Consequently this blog post may not reflect the current state of affairs at Apsleys.

Apsleys, the one Michelin starred Italian restaurant located in the Lanesborough Hotel, kindly invited me back to try their new spring menu. I went to Apsleys about six months ago for what was my second visit and had a glorious meal (for that blog post click here) and it was such an honour to be asked back again. At the helm is Executive chef Massimiliano Blasone, Sous chef Marco Calenzo, and restaurant manager Pasquale Cosmai. Apsleys is the sister restaurant to Heinz Beck’s three Michelin starred La Pergola in Rome.

We kicked the meal off with a wonderful selection of amuse bouches that thrilled. Kingfish sandwiched in sesame ‘waffles’ was a delight, with the wafer-thin texture of the buttery waffles contrasting well with the fish.

Sesame waffle with kingfish

Sesame waffle with kingfish

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Koffmann’s at The Berkeley

Pierre Koffmann made his permanent return to the London dining scene with his restaurant Koffmann’s at The Berkeley. When Pierre Koffmann appeared during London Restaurant Week 2009 with his pop-up restaurant at Selfridges, Restaurant on the Roof, he became the toast of the town. The ex-three star Michelin chef went into retirement after closing Le Tante Claire in 2004, so his pop-up stint was always going to create some excitement. Restaurant on the Roof was pricey, but it was well worth a visit. The food was very good, and the ambiance was great. And of course there was the opportunity to try his famous pig’s trotter dish.

Koffmann’s at The Berkeley received a fair bit of press during the last couple of weeks as a consequence of Kate Middleton dining there with The Duchess of Cornwall. The restaurant opened last summer, and occupies the space that was previously Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café. The dining room is elegantly furnished and sits on the lower ground floor. As nice as it was, I am not a big fan of this basement eating with no windows. The placement of the toilets is also awkward – you have to up the stairs, go past the reception, and then go down another set of stairs to get to them. Why there is no connecting door between the dining room and the bathrooms is a mystery to me.

A pre-starter of caramelised onions with anchovies and olives on puff pastry was a little salty. The puff pastry wasn’t particularly light.

Caramelised onions with anchovies and olives

Caramelised onions with anchovies and olives

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Apsleys – The Return

Note: Chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have now left the restaurant. Consequently this blog post may not reflect the current state of affairs at Apsleys.

Back in March I went to Apsleys, a one Michelin starred restaurant, and had the five-course tasting menu. Apsleys is the London outpost of Heinz Beck, a chef who holds three Michelin stars with his restaurant La Pergola in Rome. I had therefore expected good things. Instead, I left the restaurant feeling a little under whelmed. It wasn’t a bad meal per se, but my tortellini pasta was a bit overcooked and there were inconsistencies in the presentation of the food. I also found the tuna tartare dish with herbal infusion and green tea sorbet slightly odd.

Somehow the restaurant got hold of my post. Perhaps they had a point to prove because they contacted me several months later to invite me to dine at Apsleys again, saying that things had much improved. Interestingly, The Critical Couple wrote of an underwhelming first experience followed by a much more positive one at Apsleys. I was therefore sufficiently curious to try it again.

To start was a trio of seafood amuse bouches. From left to right, tuna tartare sparkled with the gentle hint of orange pieces. Next was a seabass tartare with cauliflower and candied lemon mounted on some finely chopped cantaloupe melon. The sweetness of the fish contrasted wonderfully with the fruitiness of the melon and the acidity of the lemon. Finally, a stunning sliver of thinly sliced scallop marinated in olive oil and lemon was served on a bed of creamy amaranth (a black corn stock).

Amuse bouches

Amuse bouches

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Apsleys – a Heinz Beck Restaurant

Note: Chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have now left the restaurant. Consequently this blog post may not reflect the current state of affairs at Apsleys.

Heinz Beck has the distinction of being the only chef in Rome to hold three Michelin stars with his restaurant La Pergola at the Rome Cavalieri Hilton. And Apsleys, at the Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner, is the London offshoot of this internationally acclaimed, German-born, Italian-based chef. Apsleys opened about two years ago, and this year, it received Michelin acclaim when it earned its first star in January.

As befits a restaurant that is housed in a St Regis hotel, the Apsleys dining room is a statement in jaw-dropping art deco elegance. It exudes luxury, with three massive chandeliers holding centre stage as they dazzle in front of your eyes. The interior designer was none other than Adam Tihany, the internationally renowned restaurant and hotel designer. Pierre Gagnaire’s Sketch counts as one of his designs, and notable upcoming projects include the redesign of the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park which will feature the new Heston Blumenthal restaurant which will open this autumn.

Being an Italian restaurant, there are the usual antipasti, zuppe e primi and secondi courses on the menu. There is also a five course (£59; with matching wines – £89) and a seven course (£79; with matching wines – £119) tasting menu. The five course tasting is based on the seven course menu, but with no lobster starter and a choice between the sea bream and the venison courses rather than both.

We selected the five course menu which kicked off with a ‘Chef’s Surprise’ amuse bouche of an arancini (a rice ball coated with breadcrumbs which originates from Sicily), and a sweet pepper and courgette terrine. The arancini, which tasted like a deep fried risotto, was pleasant but unspectactular. The terrine was filled with natural sweetness and had a lovely soft texture.

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

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