Posts for the 'Recommended restaurants' Category


Al Trapo, Madrid

AL TRAPO MADRID

Al Trapo Restaurant in Madrid is a slick operation serving a fun-filled, modern menu by renowned Spanish chef Paco Morales. With Al Trapo, Paco Morales’ vision was to give diners complete freedom to mix and choose so that they could personalise their own sharing experience. In 2011 Paco Morales was awarded a Michelin star for his Restaurant “Ferrero-Paco Morales” which closed in 2013. With his Michelin star background, Paco Morales brings a level of refinement to the quirky menu.

Situated on the ground floor of the IBEROSTAR Las Letras Gran Vía, the concept behind Al Trapo’s menu revolves around different inspirations, each of which are originally titled. The inspirations begin with ‘To eat with your hands and lick your fingers’, a section devoted to small canapé sized tasters. From there it moves on to ‘Gentle And Classy’ for something subtle and then to ‘Roguish and zingy’ for something more bold. ‘Meseta and sea’ are for all things swimmingly delicious, and then there is ‘From just around the corner’ which provides diners with a taste of traditional Spanish flavours. For a touch of the international there is ‘So far and yet so near’. A selection of ‘Cheeses from far and near’ and ‘Desserts, little indulgences’ round off the choice of culinary delights to be savoured at Al Trapo. Each section features about four to six dishes.

Our first stop was ‘To Eat With Your Hands And Lick Your Fingers’ where we tried a number of different items, the first of which was the Spanish tortilla soufflé bites with green bell peppers and anchovies (€5 – 4 pieces). These were really interesting. Inside the thin crispy aerated bread shell was a ‘cream’ filling that tasted like an eggy tortilla. The filling was a little salty, but was otherwise really tasty with a beautifully smooth texture.

Al Trapo - London Food Blog - Spanish tortilla

Al Trapo – Spanish tortilla

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The Bridge Room Sydney

THE BRIDGE ROOM

The Bridge Room in Sydney is located within the heart of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD) and is within walking distance of key landmarks such as the Opera House and Circular Quay. Owned by Chef Ross Lusted and his partner and Sunny, The Bridge Room is recognised as one of the best restaurants in Sydney, receiving many glowing reviews and high critical acclaim. The Bridge Room holds a Two-Hat distinction (out of a possible three) as awarded by the prestigious Sydney Morning Good Food Guide. In 2014 Chef Lusted himself was also recognised as The Chef of The Year by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and as the Hottest Chef in Australia by the Weekend Australian Magazine Hot 50 Restaurants.

Chef Ross Lusted has had an illustrious cooking career, previously holding the positions of Executive Chef at Sydney’s Rockpool, Park Hyatt Sydney’s Harbour Kitchen & Bar and Singapore’s Mezza9. Chef Lusted then went on to become the Head of Food & Beverage Development for Aman Resorts before returning to Australia and opening The Bridge Room in 2011. The Bridge Room serves Modern Australian cuisine, drawing inspiration from European and Asian influences cooked with the best of local, seasonal Australian produce.

Housed in an art deco building, The Bridge Room features an open kitchen with a custom built charcoal grill. The dining room is rectangular in shape and is modern and airy in its design, with a key feature being the hand-made ceramics designed by Chef Lusted himself.

We had an amazing experience at The Bridge Room, starting with some Smoky Bay Pacific (on the right) and Port Stephens Rock oysters ($4.50 each – £2.10), both of which were gorgeous. Meaty and tasty with a rich sea flavour, the oysters were served with a shallot and red wine vinegar as well as a white miso dressing with chives that was fabulous.

The Bridge Room - London Food Blog - Oysters

The Bridge Room – Oysters

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Pachamama

Pachamama is the latest addition to the Peruvian food scene in London, and a really exciting one at that. It serves innovative dishes by combining together an interesting array of quality ingredients, with fish from Cornwall and meats from Yorkshire. It is going up against other Peruvian heavy weights such as Michelin starred Lima, Coya and Ceviche. But Pachamama is as good as it gets, and holds its own with class.

The décor of Pachamama was unconventionally un-Peruvian and resembled the style of an old British colonial home with reclaimed antiques. But it was very tasteful and comfortable, with the restaurant stretching along an L-shape and backing onto the open kitchen. There is also a swanky cocktail bar serving Peruvian classics such as home-infused Piscos with seasonal berries, herbs and fruits, and other creative and reasonably priced cocktails such as The Curandero – a vodka, lime and chilli sherbet drink topped with ginger beer (£8).

We visited Pachamama for lunch, to try their special ‘Pick and Mix’ set lunch menu which features dishes from various categories – ceviche, robata grill, Josper oven, salad and dessert, all at a very reasonable £6 per dish. This special menu is only available during weekday lunchtimes, and in the evenings and weekends Pachamama offers an a la carte menu.

It wouldn’t do to not try ceviche at a Peruvian restaurant, and at Pachamama we had the chilled prawn and sea bass ceviches. Both were resounding fresh, with the bouncy prawns being paired with some fabulously crunch onions, squash, English mustard and tiger’s milk. It was refreshing and tangy, but a little too sharp on the palate. As for the sea bass ceviche with tiger’s milk, this was very pleasant, especially with the crunchy samphire, radish and luscious sweet potatoes.

Pachamama – Chilled prawn ceviche

Chilled prawn ceviche

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Kintan

Kintan is the first yakiniku-style restaurant in London, a style of Japanese BBQ where the diner orders a selection of meat, seafood, and vegetables and barbeques the food using a grill set in the middle of the table. In Japanese the word yakiniku means ‘grilled meat’, and it is a concept similar to the better-known Korean barbecues. It is a hugely fun and interactive experience and engages everyone at the table. What’s more you also get to cook the food how you want, which in my case is medium rare for the red meats. The grills at Kintan are smokeless, so you get all the flavour of the food without having smoke in your eyes or on your clothes. It’s hot work though as the heat radiates off the grill, but it’s also a really nice way to warm the soul as we make our way into winter.

Kintan opened in July 2014 and is part of the Kintan yakiniku group of restaurants which also have branches in Hong Kong, Jakarta and Tokyo. The restaurant is very slick and modern and spaciously spans two floors. It is a very professional operation and you get the sense that the waiting staff have been well-trained to guide the diner through the menu and the finer points of yakiniku. Our grills were constantly changed as they got dirty, a service which I appreciated as there is nothing worse that getting burnt bits on your food.

Although yakiniku is the specialty at Kintan, the restaurant also serves a selection of small hot dishes, salads, rice and noodles. We tried the tuna tartar volcano (£7) starter which consisted of some tuna tartar with spicy mayo served on top of a crunchy rice cracker. The tuna was delicious, especially with the creamy mayo, but it was the crunchy rice cracker that really impressed. It resembled a rectangular block of rice that had been deep-fried so that it was really crunchy on the outside, thereby offering up a really interesting textural combination with the tuna.

Kintan - Tuna tartar volcano

Tuna tartar volcano

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Afternoon Tea at The Rose Lounge, Sofitel Hotel St James

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

Mum was in town visiting and so I decided to take her to afternoon tea at the Rose Lounge, Sofitel Hotel St James. I love taking visitors for afternoon tea as I can’t think of anything more quintessentially English for a Sunday afternoon treat. The Sofitel Hotel is a gorgeous hotel and epitomises the height of elegance. We only walked through the lobby and The Rose Lounge, but you can tell this is one classy hotel.

The Rose Lounge is where the afternoon tea is held and it is as pretty as pretty can be. The space is cozy and quaint, although the tables are probably a little bit too small. But we loved the décor and thought it was perfectly decorated for an afternoon tea experience. The room was feminine and charming with the glorious sound of a harpist playing in the corner of the lounge to really set the mood.

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

The Rose Lounge Sofitel St James

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Chinese Cricket Club

Chinese Cricket Club is a Chinese restaurant located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blackfriars, right next to another restaurant I really like, Diciannove 19. The name is unusual as one doesn’t usually associate Chinese food with cricket. But the restaurant is named in honour of the original Chinese National Cricket team which played their first international match in 2009, so there you go.

Unlike some Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, Chinese Cricket Club follows a more contemporary formula with its décor and is very smart looking. There are also pieces of cricket memorabilia hanging on the walls for those of you who not only love Chinese food but cricket as well. Food wise, the menu offers an extensive range of authentic Sichuan food. There is also a section devoted to dim sum specialties.

We went for lunch, a time of day that saw more of a business crowd. We started our meal by trying a variety of dim sum plates including scallop and prawn siu mai (£6.80) and prawn har gau (£5.80). The scallop siu mai was superb and had been topped with a beautiful piece of sweet scallop. This was a 5/5 dish for the quality of the scallop was superb and the perfect cooking time that meant the scallop was still juicy and delicious. The prawn har gau was also very tasty and plump, with a har gau pastry that was rather authentic – slightly thick, slightly soft and slightly translucent.

Chinese Cricket Club - Scallop & prawn siu mai

Scallop & prawn siu mai

Chinese Cricket Club - Prawn har gau

Prawn har gau

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Claude’s Kitchen

Claude Compton previously cooked at Petersham Nurseries and Club Gascon, and with his restaurant Claude’s Kitchen, he now combines his Michelin experience with beautifully fresh ingredients to produce a wholesome British menu. The fish is brought down daily from Cornwall, the meat is organic and free-range and he also makes wonderful use of seasonal greens throughout his dishes. Claude’s Kitchen is located on the first floor of the Amuse Bouche Champagne Bar in Parsons Green. It’s a cozy little outfit – uniquely comfortable and wonderfully relaxed.

The menu was not extensive but everything was wonderfully inventive and creative. There were touches of the fine dining to it with inclusion of elements such as dehydrated olives and parsnip foam. Yet the food was rustic and comforting and unpretentious. But best of all it tasted incredibly fresh. An inventive dish of raw beef fillet (£7) with blackberries, red onion, dandelion, chicory and horseradish was delectably interesting. The beef was meaty and tender and beautifully balanced against the sweetness of the berries and blackberry sauce. There was also an earthiness coming through from the dandelion and chicory and a gentle hint of heat from the horseradish that rounded off this refreshing dish.

Claude’s Kitchen - Beef fillet

Beef fillet

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The White Swan

The White Swan, located on Fetter Lane near Chancery Lane, is an old-fashioned boozer which has long enticed the city crowd with its fine selection of ales and refined gentile feel. But it also serves as a gastropub, with the first floor area being transformed into a smart but not overly fussy dining room styled with an art-deco touch.

The food is also classically British and smartly done, teetering on high-end without being too over the top. The ground floor pub also serves food, and although its menu includes a burger and fish and chips as options, the other items are rather smart with the likes of dishes such as confit duck leg and slow roasted pork belly. Migrate upstairs to the main dining room, and the a la carte menu becomes more creative with the added option of a tasting menu.

We decided to go for the tasting menu, which was a rather reasonable £55 for six courses. Our amuse bouche was a crab salad with cucumber and tomato which was lovely and fresh and blended with a creamy mayo that tasted distinctively homemade.

The White Swan - Crab salad

Crab salad amuse bouche

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