Posts for the 'Overseas locations' Category


Firedoor – Sydney

FIREDOOR

I recently had a fabulous meal at Firedoor, a slick and modern outfit located in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, close to the heart of the Sydney Central Business District. Firedoor is a very unique restaurant in that it serves an entirely fire-powered menu. The first of its kind in Australia, each dish is cooked to order and powered entirely by wood fire. The kitchen draws upon a collection of different woods every day, purposefully used to create a certain effect from the coals that best enhance the natural characteristics of the ingredients on show.

The head chef is Lennox Hastie who spent the early part of his career working at various Michelin Star restaurants across the UK, France and Spain. The pinnacle was the five years that he spent at one of the best grill restaurants in the world, the much-touted Asador Etxebarri located in the Basque country. A one Michelin star holder and a regular on the 50 Best Restaurants in the World’s List, Asador Etxebarri readily makes use of wood-fired grilling. Here, Lennox spent five years working with Victor Arguinzoniz, honing his skills on working with an open flame.

Lennox opened Firedoor in April 2015. Focusing primarily on seafood and vegetables, he has transported his unique understanding of wood fire cooking to Firedoor, His talent was recognised when the restaurant was nominated for the Best New Restaurant in the 2016 Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards. Firedoor currently holds a chef’s hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and sits at number 17 on the Australian Gourmet Traveller Top 100 Restaurants.

We shared a selection of dishes and all were fabulous, starting with the albacore tuna with radish (A$27) which was sensational. Wild caught Mooloolaba albacore had been grilled (seared) over apple wood and was meaty and ripe with flavour. Texturally the albacore was heaven and a joy to each. The fish was served with shaved fennel and breakfast radishes that were fresh and lively, and a well-judged grilled lemon dressing which provided the right hit of acidity. Everything on the dish came together superbly.

Firedoor - London Food Blog - Albacore tuna

Firedoor – Albacore tuna

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Cinnamon Kitchen

CINNAMON KITCHEN

Cinnamon Kitchen is an upmarket Indian fusion restaurant in the Liverpool Street area. Bearing the word “Cinnamon” in its name, it is part of the Cinnamon Collection, a group of Indian restaurants run by Vivek Singh, restauranteur, and a celebrity chef regular on a number of television cookery shows such as BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Vivek first made his name with his flagship restaurant Cinnamon Club by championing a brand of modern, innovative Indian cooking. His contemporary approach has further translated into his other restaurants including Cinnamon Soho and Cinnamon Bazaar.

As we walked into Cinnamon Kitchen, we were immediately seduced by both the aroma of the tantalising smells wafting through the restaurant, as well as by the excited murmur of happily munching clients. The interior is both smart and trendy, and gave both a happening vibe with a balanced sense of a cozy intimacy.

To begin our meal we were offered some miniature spiced potato fritters on a curly bamboo stick as the complimentary amuse-bouche from the chef. Usually, such throw-ins are an opportunity to showcase the chef’s best skills or new, novel ideas, to dazzle and intrigue customers into coming to try more next time. This one was a little bland and unassuming and tasted like a deep-fried ball made of faintly curried mashed potatoes.

Next we tried a variety of chutneys with naan. Of the three chutneys that arrived, the most memorable was the tomato one. With just the right level of hotness, it treated tomato as what it technically is: a fruit, which is that it was intensely rich with flavour and naturally sweet. The naan that accompanied the chutneys was pleasantly spliced with fennel seeds.

Cinnamon Kitchen - London Food Blog - Naans & chutneys

Cinnamon Kitchen – Naans & chutneys

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Tootoomoo Islington

Tootoomoo

Tootoomoo offers a Pan-Asian Tapas-style menu designed by Chef Ricky Pang. The restaurant appears to have more of a reputation as a takeaway; however, the Islington branch was well located (a few minutes from Highbury & Islington station) and reasonably popular on the weekday evening we visited. As the menu covers key dishes from different parts of Asia, we were eager to order dishes across the breadth of the menu.

Tootoomoo - London Food Blog

Tootoomoo

The drinks list was not extensive but covered a handful of classic cocktails, wine, beer and spirits selection enough to cover most tastes. To begin with we were offered cocktails (all priced at £7.50) and we chose the Elderflower Tootoomoo and a Lychee Caipirinha. Both were served as long drinks in glass jars. They were refreshing, quite sweet but balanced. We could not taste the lychee in the caipirinha and wonder if it was missed by accident.

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Bella Cosa

BELLA COSA

Bella Cosa is an Italian restaurant located within a few minutes walk of South Quays DLR station, close to the heart of Canary Wharf. It’s an elegant venue, split over two floors, with the first floor offering a fine dining service, and the ground floor reserved for a more casual Italian experience of antipastas, cold cuts and pastas.

Japanese born Executive Chef Kentaro Torii graduated from culinary school in Tokyo after which he made a move to Italy to follow his passion of Italian cookery. Chef Kentaro has also worked at various Michelin restaurants including Bvlgari il Ristorante in Tokyo, Els Casals in Barcelona and Keisuke Matsushima in Nice. And so it is the combination of his roots, his Italian cookery training and his grounding in fine dining that defines the elegant ‘Italian with a Japanese twist’ menu at Bella Cosa.

I attended a bloggers’ dinner at Bella Cosa recently and we were firstly treated to some excellent canapes including some delightfully fine and crispy black ink chips filled with mascarpone and salmon roe which offered an interesting contrast in flavours. Also very tasty was the cannoli with ricotta, walnut and beetroot powder, with the cheese pairing well with the nuttiness of the walnut.

The amuse bouche was cooked scallop, with cannellini puree, truffle, lardo and olive oil powder. The scallop had been beautifully cooked and contrasted well with the creaminess of the puree and the fattiness of the lardo.

Bella Cosa - London Food Blog - Scallop amuse bouche

Bella Cosa – Scallop amuse bouche

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Les 110 de Taillevent

LES 110 DE TAILLEVENT

Les 110 de Taillevent London is a classic French brasserie which brings the kind of classic French cooking championed by its sister Taillevent restaurants in Paris, the most well-known of which is the two-Michelin starred Le Taillevent, along with Les Caves de Taillevent and the similarly named Les 110 de Taillevent in Paris.

The Taillevent restaurants are owned by the Gardinier brothers, a family which also impressively operates Château Phélan Ségur in Bordeaux and the Relais Châteaux hotel Domaine les Crayères in Champagne, a restaurant which I had the opportunity to try some years back. With such pedigree backing it’s unsurprising that the offering at Les 110 de Taillevent London is refined French cooking using seasonal ingredients.

But what makes Les 110 de Taillevent even more unique is its approach to its wine offering, no less than 110 wines by the glass or half glass. The menu has been designed in such a way as to facilitate ease of choice, with four different wine suggestions in four different price categories listed for each dish.

As for the setting, Les 110 de Taillevent can be described as nothing less than sumptuous. The restaurant, in a listed building on Cavendish Square, is beautifully appointed and elegant. Great food paired with a considered and carefully curated wine list in a beautiful setting – what more could hard core foodies hope for?!

Les 110 de Taillevent - London Food Blog - Truffle Sandwich

Les 110 de Taillevent – Truffle Sandwich *

I dined at Les 110 de Taillevent recently as part of a bloggers’ dinner and enjoyed a wonderfully complete evening. We were firstly treated to a delectable array of canapes including a supremely tasty mushroom veloute and deliciously fresh confit salmon. But the highlight was unquestionably the truffle sandwiches which consisted of layers of bread infused in truffle butter and then layered with truffle. These were really outstanding, what with the flavour of the rich butter and the delightful truffle merging together beautifully.

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Cinnamon Bazaar

CINNAMON BAZAAR

Cinnamon Bazaar is the latest addition to the Cinnamon Collection, a group of Indian restaurants run by Vivek Singh, restauranteur and a celebrity chef regular on a number of television cookery shows such as BBC’s Saturday Kitchen. Vivek first made his name with his flagship restaurant Cinnamon Club by championing a brand of modern, innovative Indian cooking. His contemporary approach has further translated into his other restaurants: Cinnamon Soho, Cinnamon Star and now, Cinnamon Bazaar.

As the name suggests Cinnamon Bazaar plays on the idea of a “bazaar”, a central marketplace where for centuries ideas and ingredients were exchanged, and cultures converged to come together to create one big melting pot. The fusion concept translates well at Cinnamon Bazaar with the restaurant’s menu drawing inspiration from countries dotted along the trading routes of old. The design of the restaurant also plays on the theme of a bazaar, offering a laid back environment where diners can relax and share a varied selection of dishes and drinks.

Laid over two floors, Cinnamon Bazaar is richly decorated in vibrant colours such as deep blues and fresh greens. The restaurant has made use of organic, natural materials which reflect the history of India. Finally, Illuminated lanterns and hanging ceiling drapes complete the eclectic bazaar ambience.

We visited Cinnamon Bazaar as part of a bloggers’ evening where we were treated to a variety of items from the diverse menu which includes a selection of snacks, chaats and main plates. We were firstly welcomed with a variety of delicious canapes from the snack menu such as crab bonda – pleasantly spiced Calcutta crab with a hint of tangy beetroot in a crispy chickpea batter; creamy chicken Haleem (pate) on some crunchy sourdough toast; and some velvety smooth chana masala hummus.

Also wonderful was the grilled aubergine with sesame peanut crumble, labna and toasted buckwheat. Although not actually a ‘snack’ but an item from the main plates, the aubergine was delicious. It had been beautifully cooked with the aroma of the sesame and the crunchiness of the peanut in the crumble adding a wonderful texture and vibrancy to the soft warmth of the aubergine.

Cinnamon Bazaar - London Food Blog - Aubergine in a canape size

Cinnamon Bazaar – Aubergine in a canape size

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Thai Silk

Thai Silk in Southwark is the latest addition to the Royal China Group, a Chinese restaurant chain that made its name throughout London popularising dim sum. With Thai Silk, the group has diversified, looking to offer a different and a more complete experience for those guests that wish to not only eat, but also to drink and party. The restaurant proper at Thai Silk is a large generous space, big enough to serve about 100 covers. Sitting adjacent to the restaurant is a separate bar which has both indoor and outdoor seating. Here, the cocktail list is long, and on Friday nights there is a DJ in the house – ideal for young party goers. And for an added twist, Thai Silk also houses two private karaoke rooms.

The a la carte menu is your standard run-of-the-mill type stuff. However Thai Silk has also devised a new street food menu. Designed by Head Chef Mr Pornthep Kongha, the idea is to embrace London’s culturally diverse foodie scene. The street food menu is interesting, and includes tempting sweet, salty and spicy dishes include crispy dried pork; steamed fish in lemon sauce; glass noodle salad; deep dried rice salad with minced pork; papaya salad with small crab; Thai sour spare ribs; hot & sour soup with spare ribs; Thai sausages; and minced pork cake. Influenced by Bangkok’s street food scene, the street food dishes are priced from £6.25 and offers a guests a way to line their stomachs before having a dance at the bar.

Website: http://www.thai-silk.co.uk/


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The Frog – A Parmigiano Reggiano Celebration

THE FROG -PARMESAN CELEBRATION

I reviewed a lovely meal at The Frog recently, but last week was an opportunity to try more of Adam Handling’s excellent cooking at a bloggers’ event (again at The Frog), this time to celebrate parmesan cheese. Adam Handling “leapt” to fame as a finalist in Professional Masterchef in 2013 and since then has gained further awards along the way. And on our night to celebrate Parmigiano- Reggiano, Adam came up with a creative 3-course menu take us through the various ages of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a much revered cheese, not only by Italians, but in every corner of the world.

The event started with a lively reception in the conservatory area of the restaurant. Italian prosecco Ca’di Alte accompanied a generous array of Italian cured meat antipasti – a spread of Parma ham, bresaola, mortadella as well as freshly baked bread with olive oils. Plates with chunks of Parmesan cheese were dotted around tables to flag the star ingredient of the evening. We had to be careful not to nibble too much as the dinner was still to come, although good quality Parmigiano and fresh bread were hard to resist.

The Frog - London Food Blog - A celebration of parmesan

The Frog – A celebration of parmesan

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