Posts for the 'South Kensington' Category


L’Eto Caffe

L'Eto - London Food Blog - Salad counter

L’Eto – Salad counter

L'Eto - London Food Blog - Salad counter

L’Eto – London Food Blog – Salad counter

L’Eto Caffe is a chain of café-restaurants with six branches across central London that offers an all day dining service. The café is most notable for their dazzling display of cakes and pastries in their front window, all of which are so tempting it’s almost impossible not to do a double take every time you walk past a branch of L’Eto. But L’Eto offer more than just cakes. They also have a counter laid out with vibrant salads and cooked mains. The King’s Road, Belgravia and Brompton branches also serve breakfast and an a la carte menu for both lunch and dinner.

I recently visited the Brompton branch of L’Eto which is located within close proximity to the wonderful V&A and Natural History Museums. It is a very inviting venue with a lovely décor that is peppered with a smart and arty European charm. The wonderful display of great salads and tempting cakes also do much to add spark to the setting.

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Chez Boubier, South Kensington

Chez Boubier, Café de Paris has opened its first branch in London on Brompton Road in South Kensington. The restaurant serves the single menu (£26.50) of salad, bread and steak and fries with a Café de Paris butter sauce that has seen its 90-year legacy thrive across Continental Europe since 1930. Its famous Café de Paris butter sauce can be found in several locations around the world with restaurants in Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong and the UAE.

Its signature trademark is not only the Café de Paris sauce but also the single menu that is promised to every diner at £26.50. The butter sauce was made famous by then owned Arthur-François (Freddy) Dumont of Café de Paris. The birthplace of the butter sauce is commonly mistaken for Paris, France however, it was actually conceived in Geneva, Switzerland by Dumont’s father in law, Mr Boubier inventor of the original butter sauce. It is considered a heavily guarded secret recipe enhanced with multiple spices, herbs and other ingredients. It is so guarded even the staff don’t know the ingredients!

We arrive to a warm and inviting décor that is relaxed with its striking red colour scheme. The interior takes you back to that unmistakeable Parisian bistro feel where you can cosy up to your own booth.

To start, we begin with a green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing and a side of bread. Don’t be surprised if they do not serve butter with the bread because there is plenty of butter to be had later on. I was even told that there is so much butter sauce that most patrons do not finish it. But of course, I was able to finish it!

Chez Boubier - green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

Green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

When your 180-gram sirloin steak arrives, you will notice that it has been slightly seared and slightly undercooked based on your serving preference. You also won’t miss the remarkable amount of Café de Paris butter used to nestle your gorgeous steaks. This plate is then placed on a burner to continue the cooking process and melt the butter sauce in and around your steak. The wait staff will assist by turning and basting your steaks but feel free to take the reigns and baste these beauties as well. The signature butter sauce is simply superb filled with robust flavours and herbs. No one can really confirm what it is in the sauce so the wait staff and I had fun guessing what was in the ingredients. You should see if you can pick out the ingredients too!

The steak was delicious, tender and of high quality. A perfect combination with the signature butter sauce, which was delicious, but very rich and a little salty. Included in the £26.50 menu are 3 servings of French fries and I would highly recommend having this dipped in the butter sauce.

Chez Boubier - Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

Chez Boubier – Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

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Cassis Bistro

Cassis

Cassis

Note: Since this blog post, Chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have both left Cassis Bistro.

You may recall that I went to Apsleys last year, an Italian one star Michelin restaurant in the Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner. Executive and sous chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have since left Apsleys and now head up the kitchen at Cassis Bistro in South Kensington, therefore adding a star quality to the existing bistro menu. The restaurant is lovely, exuding a feeling of comfort and warmth with the use of earthy tones. There are also some high-end pieces of art on show, including original pieces by Matisse.

Cassis is part of the Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC) which also owns a number of Michelin restaurants in both the UK and the US, including The Greenhouse and Umu, and the starred Italian A Voce in New York City. With Massimiliano and Marco on board, the idea is to launch an A Voce restaurant here in London sometime next year with the hope of it obtaining a star. Cassis is therefore the springboard for that project.

I recently dined at Cassis at the invitation of the restaurant. My meal was a specially created tasting menu that included some of the dishes from the à la carte menu. Davide Buongiorno, previously the Head Sommelier at Apsleys, has also made the move to Cassis and he expertly paired wines for us to go with our meal.

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Obika South Kensington

Obikà is a concept mozzarella bar and restaurant that champions a variety of mozzarella di bufala hand picked from Italian producers accredited with a Protected Designation of Origin status. Obikà offers three different varieties of mozzarella, all of which are imported from Italy three times a week – classica, affumicata (naturally smoked) and burrata (deliciously creamy). Beyond the mozzarella, the menu at Obikà also includes cured meats, antipasti, pastas, pizzas and main courses.

Obikà has a number of restaurants in various locations around the world with two restaurants in the UK. One is located in Canary Wharf, and the second is the recently opened branch in South Kensington which I visited on its preview launch evening last week.

I wasn’t entirely enamoured by the design of the Obikà website, but don’t let this fool you as it did me for I soon realised that it did not entirely recreate the elegant and contemporary appeal of the restaurant. The décor was created by Italian architects Labics and fashioned on a style inspired by the sushi bars in Japan. The result is something funky and sleek with floor-to-ceiling windows that created a good sense of light and space.

The preview evening allowed us to try a range of dishes from the à la carte menu in the guise of a tasting menu, albeit with smaller portions. The prices indicated below are those listed on the à la carte menu. First up was a taste teaser of a shot of chilled organic tomato soup (£9.50). With a hint of aromatic basil running through it, this soup was decidedly delicious and fresh.

Tomato soup

Tomato soup

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Ricardo’s Italian Restaurant

Ricardo’s Italian Restaurant is a little Tuscan eatery that we – two girls at a loose end as to where to eat on a Saturday night – stumbled into. It’s not a well known restaurant, but I’ve driven past it a gazillion times and it’s always full, so I figured it couldn’t be half bad.

Although we had not booked, we managed to get a table, which was a bit of a squeeze. The dining room is rectangular, and most of the tables are packed very tightly along the wall. The menu makes for difficult reading as well. It’s one long laminated list of starters, pasta, fish and meats, in no particular order, which caused us some confusion as to what were starters or mains. There was also a shortlist of the day’s specials attached to it.

Fish soup with Sardinian fregola

Fish soup with Sardinian fregola

We started with a fish soup (crab, clams, prawns) with Sardinian fregola and chilli (£9.99). I am a big fan of Sardinian fregola, which goes deliciously well with fresh seafood and a rich tomato base. The menu listed crab as an ingredient, but this was hard to detect in the soup. There were two decent sized pieces of butterflied king prawns which were crunchy but not particularly flavoursome, and the clams were ok. This was a passable dish, but the soup lacked intensity of flavour.

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Ambassade de l’Ile

Note: this restaurant has now closed.

Amuse bouche of goat’s cheese croquette & cod brandade

Amuse bouche of goat’s cheese croquette & cod brandade

I lamented the closing of Lundum’s last year, a Danish restaurant which previously occupied the beautiful red-brick Edwardian building at 119 Old Brompton Road. It was a lovely spot – luxurious and comforting. The food was delicious, and the dining room with its cream walls, charming staff, and candle-lit tables, set the scene for cosy, intimate dinners. However, good things must sometimes come to an end. But in its place has opened Ambassade de l’Ile, the London outpost of Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex, a Chef who owns the 2 star Michelin restaurant in Lyon of a similar name (Auberge de l’Ile), and who was once the personal chef to Christina Onassis.

Ambassade de l’Ile opened to some unfavourable reviews from certain members of the written press. Although it’s not unheard of for such negativity publicity to kill off a restaurant no matter how good the food, it has managed to hold on and earn its first Michelin star earlier this year, seven months after it opened. It has also won praise from certain food blogging camps that I follow, and with that, it felt like high time that I went off to explore.

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Tom Aikens – A Friendly Lunch

Ever since I started this food blog, I have come to realise just how tolerant my wonderful friends are. When we eat out together, they sit patiently by as I take photos of all our food. All the while they look hungrily on, twitching to start eating. I also suspect they silently groan every time I say “just one more photo”. But ever so supportive of my cause, they always let me taste their dishes without necessarily wanting to taste mine. One of my friends occasionally lets me order for her. (Am I spoilt or what?) I have therefore decided that there is definitely some merit in writing these restaurant reviews: I get to eat my food, and I get to try everyone else’s too. Could there possibly be a more winning combination? But in what was to be a first, I recently found out what it felt like to eat out with someone like me.

Tom Aikens

Tom Aikens

Having got in touch with a professional food writer recently, we decided to meet for lunch; our choice of venue – Tom Aikens, one of the restaurants currently taking part in London Restaurant Week. So here we were the two of us, at a one-star Michelin restaurant, with notepads in hand, scribbling madly away. And there was also the not so subtle matter of our photo taking: swivelling plates around for that ever better angle, rearranging the table for perhaps a more superior shot. What a sight we must have been to behold, both snapping crazily at the food like Japanese tourists! And oh no, it wasn’t just one photo, but at least two, three or four of every dish. At one point, I almost elbowed my dining companion in the face as I scrambled to take better aim. And we really couldn’t have been missed. With only five tables occupied during our sitting, less than half of those available, the black and white dining room was rather quiet and a little stark.

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