Posts for the 'Between £20 and £45' Category


Machiya

MACHIYA

Machiya is the little sister restaurant of Kanada-Ya, the ramen bar famed for its tonkotsu ramen. There are two branches of Kanada-Ya – the original on St Giles High Street, the other virtually next door to Machiya itself on Panton Street. The concept at Machiya is something like a gastro izakaya – a Japanese pub with homemade tapas-sized plates of food for sharing. That said, Machiya looks nothing like the typical izakaya joints found in Japan which are typically quaint, dimly lit, and worn around the edges. Here, with its clean cut and brightly lit natural wood and metal interior, Machiya has much more of a clinical modern feel to it. Downstairs is a bar which offers a list of cocktail delights.

Machiya’s menu is a mix of some izakaya classics and Japanese cafe staples like tonkatsu, kare-raisu, and zaru-soba. At Machiya, the chicken yakitori (£4.50) proved to be two skewers of deliciously moist and slightly crisped flesh. The chicken was well seasoned and did not need any gimmicky sauces, sometimes deployed in restaurants to hide a poor quality base ingredient.

Machiya - London Food Blog - Chicken yakitori

Machiya – Chicken yakitori

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The Laughing Heart

THE LAUGHING HEART

Probably one of the best meals I’ve had this year, The Laughing Heart in Hackney is a wonderfully smart venue that operates as a late night wine bar, dining room and wine shop. The space is intimate and cozy with a warm and comforting open kitchen and brickwork walls. The tables – all custom built – each hold individual cutlery drawers for every diner. We were really taken aback with this thoughtful, ingenious and quite simply, adorable touch, and it really set the tone for the wonderful meal that was to come.

The food, sharing plates of modern-European with Asian influences, were all inspired, starting with the Dungarvan oyster with shiso and apple (£2.50 each) which was incredibly fresh and refreshing. The oyster was meaty and rich, and both the sweetness and sharpness of the apple, and the aroma of the shiso served as a lovely contrast to the oyster.

The Laughing Heart - London Food Blog - Oyster w. shiso & apple

The Laughing Heart – Oyster w. shiso & apple

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El Pirata

EL PIRATA

If your means are not too constrained, El Pirata in Mayfair can be a good choice for those times in your life when you develop a craving for some excellent home-made food but don’t feel like cooking yourself. This rustic comfortable Spanish restaurant churns out reliably tasty and homely tapas and other classical Spanish dishes, all served with the sincerest of smiles from their knowledgeable staff. The interior leaves no doubt that this is a Spanish eatery – the walls are literally smothered with various reproductions of works by famous Spanish painters. Queen’s Brian May is reported to be a very satisfied customer of El Pirata.

First arrived bread – a thoroughly enjoyable plate of crispy crust and fluffy centre – topped with a smartly undersalted, moist and fresh tomato topping (£2.65). Because the latter was rather lightly seasoned, it enhanced, rather than upstaged any other dishes we might have had alongside it.

El Pirata - London Food Blog - Bread & jamon

El Pirata – Bread & jamon

It was accompanied by a platter of super-fancy ham with a name as long as Picasso’s: jamón ibérico pata negra, gran reserva “don agustin, iberico summon guiguelo. We were counting on a fountain of flavour and lush unctuous texture, perhaps close to that of the French Noir de Bigorre or of one of those eye-wateringly overpriced Spanish jamons in Borough Market. However, this hope did not quite materialise into reality. It was good, solid, but rather very run-off-the-mill stuff, the kind you could buy pre-sliced at El Corte Ingles in Spain. In all honesty it was not quite worth the £19.95 price tag.

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Remedy Wine Bar

REMEDY WINE BAR AND KITCHEN

The Remedy Wine Bar and Kitchen in Fitzrovia is a cosy, intimate collaboration between David Clawson and Renato Catgiu. The pair met while working together at Terroirs, a Covent Garden restaurant and wine bar which, as most foodies will know, is regarded as having pioneered the “natural” (organic and/or biodynamic) wine movement in London. At Remedy, the team have lovingly curated a list of some 100 natural, low intervention wines from both classic vintages and maverick producers from around the world, and all sold at reasonable prices.

The menu at Remedy is an all-day one, ranging from breakfast to dinner. The morning offering consists of coffees from Climpson & Sons, juices, pastries, breads and such like. For lunch there are tasty sounding sandwiches and reasonably priced mains. The evening menu at Remedy is more comprehensive and included a range of snacks and sharing boards with cured meats from the Ham & Cheese Co and cheeses from Androuet. There were also oysters, seasonal small plates and a delicious sounding array of sausages.

We began our meal with a rabbit terrine with crostini (£5) which was absolutely delicious. The terrine was tasty, moist and well-seasoned, with just the right of amount of fat for flavour. Yet at the same time, it wasn’t overly fatty which terrines can sometimes be. This terrine was pure flavour and a true joy to eat. This was some heartfelt cooking at its best.

Remedy Wine Bar - London Food Blog - Rabbit Terrine

Remedy Wine Bar – Rabbit Terrine

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C&R Izakaya

C&R IZAKAYA

Walking along the multicultural and diverse cuisine street of Westbourne Grove, you are spoilt for choice as to what to have for dinner. One of them is C&R Izakaya, a relatively new kid on the block. The location use to house a Malaysian restaurant which has now been transformed into a Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant has a slimmed down, parred back interior design, and so it doesn’t quite induce the buzzy atmosphere that you might otherwise encounter in a central London restaurant, say in the West End. When we entered for our sitting at 6:30pm, modern pop music was playing and there were a sufficient number of tables available with a few other patrons dotted around. The table was set in a simple style with a wine glass, small plate, chopsticks and soy sauce. The lighting was soft, with individual downlights granting appropriate visibility of the extensive menu.

The menu reminded us of similar casual restaurants in Japan, what with its bright colours and photos that teased you with the variety of options available. The pricing is not on the light side, and did make one wary of how much to order, but in the end we decided to go for a varied selection of items from the menu.

The Aki sashimi set (18 pieces, 6 kinds – £25.50) came first which three pieces of each fish, white tuna, tuna, yellow tail, salmon, scallops and sea bass. This was well presented on a bed of ice. The slices were large and substantial – too large to in fact be considered a technically correct cut of sashimi fish. But we didn’t mind as it was all the more for us to eat. All the fish was delicious and fresh. However, the main delight for us was the white tuna. Having never tried white tuna before, we were intrigued as to its flavour and we were certainly not disappointed. The white tuna was excellent, with a softer texture to normal tuna and a longer lingering taste on the palate. If at this point, the meal had ended, we would have all gone home and been happy.

C&R Izakaya - London Food Blog - Aki sashimi set

C&R Izakaya – Aki sashimi set

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Amici Miei

AMICI MIEI

Amici Miei is a casual Italian restaurant on Kingsland Road serving rustic fare such as wood-fired sourdough pizzas and pastas, along with a range of Italian regional dishes. The name, Amici Miei, translates as ‘my friends’, and it is indeed a welcoming spot with its bare brick-work, relaxed ambiance and cozy vibe.

I dined at Amici Miei with Artour from food blog Nifty Noshing and as we both love eating the Asian way which is to order multiple dishes and to share them all. That way, you get to try more and share not just the physical space, but share the enjoyment of the food as well. And the menu at Amici Miei is truly ideal for sharing. Apart from the pizzas and pastas, the comprehensive menu also dishes up a range of cicchetti – Italian tapas and antipastas.

We started with the polpette, meatballs (£5) which came in a faintly garlicky tomato sauce. They were simple and tasted of “homemadeness”. These exuded a rustic quality and were very enjoyable, although no distinct flavours to speak of were discerned.

Amici Miei - London Food Blog - Meatballs

Amici Miei – Meatballs

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Maze Grill – Sunday Roast

MAZE GRILL

Maze Grill by Gordon Ramsay in Mayfair was the first of the three Maze Grills to open (the other two are on Royal Hospital Road and Park Road) and sits adjacent to Maze, the original fine dining establishment that bears the word ‘Maze’ in its name. Whereas Maze offers an eclectic European menu with an Asian twist in a more formal setting, Maze Grill took its inspiration from the Manhattan grill rooms where steaks are the order of the day. Maze Grill is the kind of place where select US and British cuts of aged prime steaks are brought out on a board for customers to choose from. But also prevalent at the restaurant is a range of sushi and sashimi. On Saturday afternoons, Maze Grill Mayfair offers a bottomless bubbles and sushi menu for £40.

We visited Maze Grill on a Sunday afternoon, during which time the ever popular Sunday roast is served. For £25, diners can have a 35 day dry aged sirloin beef with slow braised shin of beef, Yorkshire pudding, rich bone marrow gravy and unlimited sides such as buttered carrots, honey glazed parsnips and wagyu fat roast potatoes.

But before tucking into the Sunday roast we decided to try a number of starters. Salt and Szechuan pepper squid (£5) with chilli and lime was fairly tasty with a crispy coating. Deep fried onion rings (£4.50) were fat and big and nicely done. Also pleasant (and also deep fried) were the buffalo chicken fillets (£5). These were crunchy and well made, but at £5 for a few measly pieces, this plate felt a tad overpriced.

Maze Grill – London Food Blog - Salt & Szechuan pepper squid

Maze Grill – Salt & Szechuan pepper squid

Maze Grill – London Food Blog – Onion rings & chicken bites

Maze Grill – Onion rings & chicken bites

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Oliver Maki

OLIVER MAKI

Oliver Maki, a Japanese restaurant located on Dean Street, Soho, was founded by Lebanese-Canadian Oliver Maki and his family. The Zeitoun family come from a long line of olive grove farmers (Zeitoun means ‘olive’ in Arabic) and the influence of olives can be felt throughout the restaurant, from the impressions of olive trees on the mirrors in the restaurant, to the use of the word Oliver in the restaurant’s name (alluding to the word olive). But even so, the restaurant is about combining the traditions of Japanese food with modernity. At the helm is Executive Head Chef Louis Kenji Huang, formerly a sushi chef at Nobu in Las Vegas.

Oliver Maki has a number of branches throughout the Middle East, and the Soho branch is the first in Europe. The restaurant is set on two levels and is modern, understated, chic and comfortable.

The menu is deal for sharing and is divided into various sections, ranging from the Cold and Hot Appetisers, to the signature sashimi to the mains, but to name a few. The first was Filo Ebi Tempura Shots (£12.90), consisting of three beautifully presented pieces of prawn, wrapped and fried in vermicelli rather than the traditional batter, and served semi-submerged in a spicy creamy sauce in a shot glass. The prawns were perfectly cooked and worked well with the hint of chilli in the sauce. On the side was a yamamomo peach which was a nice accompaniment as it offered a touch of acidity.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Shrimp tempura shot

Oliver Maki – Shrimp tempura shot

Hamachi Chilli Sashimi (£10.90), slices of yellowtail dressed with ponzu, extra virgin olive oil, slices of jalapeño and coriander cress proved to be very tasty and well presented. The yellowtail was fresh, but had been cut quite thin, perhaps a touch too thin, but it went well with the acidity of the ponzu and the hint of chilli.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Yellowtail sashimi

Oliver Maki – Yellowtail sashimi

Unagi Tacos (2pcs – £8.60) was a fine dish using chopped eel, avocado, spring onions, cucumber and wasabi emulsion, the use of which combining to create a lovely explosion of flavours on the tongue. The tacos themselves were a little too thick in texture, but otherwise this was a very enjoyable dish.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Eel taco & nigiri

Oliver Maki – Eel taco & nigiri

We tried a selection of nigiri including sea bass (£3.50), a nicely proportioned piece of fresh seabass on well vinegared rice. The aburi o-toro (£6.50), a torched flame fatty tuna was delicious, although the aburi wagyu beef (£8) was decidedly chewy and difficult to eat.

For maki we chose the interesting sounding wagyu burger maki (6pcs) (£18.00) made from Australian wagyu with a mushroom sauce, avocado, Japanese pickles, tomato and cucumber on a base of rice. We weren’t particularly impressed with this dish. Expecting a more luxurious texture from the fat content that is typically found in wagyu, we found the beef to be a tad dry.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Wagyu maki

Oliver Maki – Wagyu maki

To the mains, and a matcha yuki udon (£13.70) consisted of stir fried homemade green tea udon with thinly sliced scallops, shiitake, black truffle oil and dill. The scallops were over cooked and overall the dish was very salty, resulting in the flavour of the truffle oil being lost. Conceptually the idea was good, but the execution could have been better.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Green tea udon

Oliver Maki -Green tea udon

Gindara (black cod) shiitake (£27), a dish of miso grilled black cod with shiitake, was a very well cooked dish. The fish was moist and succulent, and the miso sauce was lovely and rich.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Black cod

Oliver Maki – Black cod

For dessert we opted for the Terrarium matcha tiramisu (£8) made up of fresh mascarpone, white and dark chocolate, green tea, and “rock” chocolate on the side (chocolate made to resemble the appearance of a piece of rock). Served in an elongated see-through glass jar, the presentation was made to look like a garden and was very appealing. What’s more, it tasted delicious, although there was some unevenness in how the tiramisu had been layered.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Green tea tiramisu

Oliver Maki – Green tea tiramisu

From the mochi (£3 per piece) selection we chose green tea, mango and toasted sesame. These were excellent with the right level of consistency in the rice casing and each filled with delicious and well-made ice cream.

Oliver Maki - London Food Blog - Mochi

Oliver Maki – Mochi

Oliver Maki makes a nice mark in the world of Japanese fusion cuisine, balancing traditional Japanese food with a contemporary culinary approach. On the whole, the food was well prepared, interesting and affordably priced, especially for a Soho location. The menu including the drink menu was very extensive, meaning diners are spoilt for choice. There were a few elements in the food that we didn’t like (avoid the wagyu), but overall there was a high level of consistency in the well judged cooking.

We liked the service, finding it very effective and appealing.

Summary Information:
Likes:
1. Filo Ebi Tempura Shots
2. Unagi Tacos
3. Hamachi Chilli Sashimi
4. The matcha tiramisu
5. The mochi

Dislikes:
1. Aburi wagyu beef nigiri
2. Wagyu burger maki
3. Matcha yuki udon

Food rating: 3.75/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Prices: about £40 to £50 per head. Excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.olivermaki.co.uk/

Square Meal

Oliver Maki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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