"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Meet the Makers – At Hix Selfridges

Posted on Sunday, 6th July 2014

Over eight weeks of summer, Selfridges will be running a ‘Meet the Makers’ event to showcase the heros and producers behind the fabulous food found at Selfridges. It is a celebration of the Selfridge’s foodie artisans, and as part of the occasion there will be walking tours of the confectionery and food halls as well as tantalising daily demonstrations by top chefs. And to kick the ‘Meet the Makers’ Celebration off, Mark Mix hosted a ‘Meet the Makers’ dinner at his restaurant in Selfridges, Hix Restaurant and Champagne Bar last week. It was an opportunity to meet his ‘Makers’, the people who supply him with his great British produce.

The menu started with Hix’s De Beauvoir smoked salmon ‘Hix cure’ with Corrigan’s soda bread, a starter which can be found throughout his restaurants. I have had this salmon before and adore the sweetness of the cure and the gentle smokiness of the fish. The smoked salmon had its origins in Hix’s former East London home, back in the days when Hix use to home cure, hence the name given to this dish. The bread is from a recipe by the king of Irish, Richard Corrigan.

Hix Selfridges - 'Hix cured' smoked salmon

‘Hix cured’ smoked salmon

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Coya

Posted on Friday, 27th June 2014

Coya is a super cool Peruvian Restaurant and Bar which has a touch of the theatrical to it. Brought to us by restaurateur Arjun Waney who is responsible for other famous restaurants such as Roka and Zuma, the décor is a mixture of sumptuous furnishings and a fabulous colour scheme that combines vibrancy with a distressed metallic finish. There is a basement restaurant and bar as well as a dedicated members area on the ground floor. The menu has been designed for sharing and puts up a broad offering of ceviche, tiraditos (similar to sashimi), anticuchos (grilled skewers) and small bites alongside a mixture of meat and fish mains. Peruvian in inspiration, there are touches of the eclectic to it with some Asian twists thrown in.

From the anticuchos section we tried the grilled skewered tiger prawns (£8.50) which had been beautifully cooked. The prawns were firm and tasty and had been coated with a pleasant, but rather delicate tomato, garlic and ginger rub. A touch more seasoning might have therefore worked better.

Coya - Tiger prawns

Tiger prawns

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El Pirata de Tapas

Posted on Friday, 20th June 2014

El Pirata de Tapas in Notting Hill, sister restaurant to El Pirata de Tapas Mayfair, came to fame when Gordon Ramsay named it one of his ‘Best Spanish Restaurants in the UK’ in 2010 on his Ramsay’s Best Restaurant TV programme. That recognition belonged to a time when El Bulli trained Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy was still the head chef at El Pirata de Tapas (co-incidentally Allibhoy had also worked at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant under Jason Atherton prior to taking over the reins at El Pirata de Tapas). These days Allibhoy is busy with other ventures such as his books and Tapas Revolution with the current head chef at El Pirata de Tapas being a Julian Gil.

El Pirata de Tapas is a comfortable looking restaurant and is suitable casual in keeping with the many other casual eating options along Westbourne Grove. The restaurant serves a modern tapas menu, a throw back to the days of Allibhoy.

There was a great value set lunch menu at £9.95 for two tapas dishes including bread and wine, but we elected for the more adventurous offerings from the standard a la carte menu.

Seared scallops (£9) were nicely cooked and came with a sweet and delicious onion purée that worked well with the scallops and some pork roulade that was quite fatty. Overall this was a nice dish but it would have been better had it not come out cold.

El Pirata de Tapas - Seared scallops

Seared scallops

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Berners Tavern

Posted on Friday, 13th June 2014

2013 saw Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton open three restaurants, the third of which was Berners Tavern at the Edition Hotel. All three restaurants – the other two were Little Social and Social Eating House – were well received, but it has been Berners Tavern that has made the boldest and most stunning of statements with its fabulously opulent décor. Designed by Ian Schrager who is famous for his makeovers of luxury boutique hotels, Berners Tavern comes with improbably high ceilings, grandiose chandeliers and lavish paintings that run from wall to wall. Berners Tavern is nothing short of palatial, and it simply takes your breath away as you enter it’s grand dining room. Simply put, the use of the word ‘tavern’ does not do the restaurant justice.

The restaurant is an all day affair serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, sandwiches, tea, dinner as well as late supper. At the helm is Head Chef Phil Carmichael, Jason Atherton’s sidekick who worked with him at Maze in London and also at the now defunct Maze in Prague. The menu offers a collection of contemporary British dishes as well as seafood and meat platters for sharing and grass fed British steaks from the grill.

Our waiter recommended the aged beef tartare (£13) and it was indeed delicious with a wild garlic salsa verde, chopped duck egg and thin pieces of crispy thin croutons. The beef was supremely tender and flavoursome, but it had been unevenly and quite coarsely cut. A finer chop would have provided a more refined and enjoyable texture.

Berners Tavern - Beef Tartare

Beef Tartare

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Chiltern Firehouse

Posted on Friday, 6th June 2014

Chiltern Firehouse is THE hottest restaurant in London at the moment. It’s so much of a sensation that it has become a regular on the celebrity circuit. Barely a day goes by where there isn’t a press mention of an A-lister passing through its doors.

Chiltern Firehouse is owned by property magnate André Balazs who is known for his luxury hotel portfolio which includes Chateau Marmont in LA and The Mercer in New York. Balazs has similarly converted the Chiltern Firehouse property, a Grade II-listed building that was once home to the Chiltern Street fire station, into a luxury hotel. The restaurant is run by Chef Nuno Mendes who needs no introduction to those who know the London dining scene well. He trained at El Bulli and his last residence at Restaurant Viajante went on to receive great critical acclaim as well as a Michelin star. Working along side Mendes is Dale Osborne who previously cooked at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

The entrance to the Chiltern Firehouse is closely guarded with admission being impossible without a reservation. Once past the security, there is a lovely courtyard seating area with a fireplace where you may sip an aperitif before dinner. Inside, the restaurant is a statement in understated luxury and comfort. The bar area is tiny however, and the tables are tightly packed together. There is an elevated open kitchen where one may watch the chefs at work.

The food deviates from that previously found at Viajante where innovation and originality was the key. Instead, the food at Chiltern Firehouse is more modern American, drawing on the time Mendes spent with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Wolfgang Puck in the US with items such as fried chicken and cornbread fingers to be found.

Chiltern Firehouse - Cornbread fingers

Cornbread fingers

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Cafe Murano

Posted on Friday, 30th May 2014

Cafe Murano is the latest venture by Michelin starred chef Angela Hartnett. Located on 33 St James Street, it occupies a site that has played host to a number of restaurants including the original Pétrus by Marcus Wareing, Fleur, Fiore, and most recently Brasserie St Jacques. Far from being a café, Cafe Murano is a contemporary and stylish restaurant serving modern accomplished Italian food.

Cafe Murano’s menu by Head Chef Sam Williams starts with cicheti (tapas) and then moves onto antipastas, primi plates of pastas and secondi mains. The restaurant seats about 80 and includes a long bar area where guests can also tap into a small bar menu. As Cafe Murano is located right on the fringe of the West End, there’s also a set lunch and theatre menu of 2 courses for £18 and 3 courses for £22.

It’s an elegantly decorated restaurant, and given that it’s located on a prime piece of real estate, Cafe Murano has done a great job of balancing smartness with a sense of relaxed refinement. There isn’t an ounce of stuffiness in the restaurant. Take our waiter – he might have been wearing a smart shirt, but he also donned a pair of jeans.

We started with a generous portion of king prawns with garlic and parsley (£15), six pieces of tasty prawns that were really nicely cooked. Sautéed in butter and olive oil with a well-judged amount of garlic and parsley, this proved to be a lovely dish.

Cafe Murano - King prawns

King prawns

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Cookery School Social

Posted on Wednesday, 28th May 2014

Cookery School - Our charming host, Rosalind

Our charming host, Rosalind

I went to a cooking social at Cookery School last Thursday hosted by its founder Rosalind Rathouse. Cookery School opened ten years ago and aims to bring cooking to a wider audience by demystifying and simplifying some classic home cooking techniques. What’s more, and this is the piece I admired the most about Cookery School, is that it focuses on sustainability.

Over 75% of the ingredients used at Cookery School are both organic and sourced locally, all food waste is recycled and Cookery School also has a ‘no plastics’ policy. Therefore, not only does Cookery School not use any plastic, it also chooses supplies that are delivered in glass or tins. It is for this reason that Cookery School was awarded a Three Star Rating – the highest possible – from the Sustainability Restaurant Association (SRA) for the last two years running.

Cookery School - Piping sponge fingers

Piping sponge fingers

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Skip Garden by Global Generation

Posted on Sunday, 25th May 2014

Skip Garden

Skip Garden

The Skip Garden was established in 2009 by Global Generation, a charity launched in 2004 whose core purpose is to inspire and empower young people to develop a living relationship with the natural world and to take a lead in generating positive environmental and social change in their communities.

The Skip Garden is the base for the Global Generation’s youth work programme and is located within the King’s Cross development site. It is a portable urban garden where a variety of organic vegetables, herbs and fruits are grown out of both skips and polytunnels made out of reused materials from the surrounding construction site. It is at the garden that the young people are trained in leadership and accredited vocational business and horticultural programmes, whether it be working on the garden or building furniture.

One of the skips in the Skip Garden

One of the skips in the Skip Garden

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