"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!"

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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Scarfes Bar

Posted on Tuesday, 20th May 2014

The luxurious 5-star Rosewood Hotel located at 252 High Holborn, previously the Chancery Court Hotel, reopened last October after an extensive refurbishment. The hotel’s launch also brought along some new dining options, one of which was Scarfes Bar. The bar was named after Gerald Scarfe, a London born satirical cartoonist who worked for Punch magazine and Private Eye during the early 1960s. Scarfes Bar has not only borrowed Scarfe’s name, but also his artistic vision by showing off a selection of his distinctive drawings of historical and well-known personalities.

Scarfes Bar epitomises the height of English sophistication. There are cosy armchairs and sofas, dazzling chandeliers and bookcases lined with antique books dotted throughout the room. But the focal point of Scarfes is the gorgeous fireplace that gives it an air of an old English manor.

Although a bar, Scarfes Bar also serves a lunch menu. Head Chef is Indian-born Palash Mitra who moved to the UK in 2007 to join The Cinnamon Club as the Senior Sous Chef. As such the menu is predominantly Indian, although there is a small selection of traditional casseroles and pizzas on the menu as well.

Our first starter was a half lobster with Bengali spices (£18) consisting of Indian green mustard, ginger, chilli and Indian mustard oil. The spicing was excellent and resulted in a sauce that was wonderfully creamy from the use of coconut milk. The lobster was a little lacking however as it’s texture was soft and flimsy.

Scarfes Bar - Lobster with Bengali spices

Lobster with Bengali spices

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Dieci Restaurant

Posted on Thursday, 15th May 2014

Dieci Restaurant is the house restaurant of Ten Manchester Street Hotel, a stylish boutique hotel located at (yes you guessed it) No. 10 Manchester Street. The location reigns supreme as it’s within walking distance from Marylebone High Street and Oxford Street. It’s a rather small restaurant but comfortably designed with a stylish look that exudes a masculine feel with its dark lines, bold features and plush seating. The restaurant serves an all day menu from breakfast through to dinner as well as afternoon tea. There is also a set lunch menu with two courses for £19.50 and three courses for £22.50.

We visited Dieci during a recent bank holiday to try the set menu for what proved to be a rather quiet affair. There were three options per course and we both went for the most tempting starter which was the pumpkin ravioli served with black Umbrian truffle sauce. It was exquisite, with the pasta being perfectly cooked and the filling being smooth and creamy. The rich sauce, elevated by the hints of truffle, matched wonderfully with the pasta.

Dieci Restaurant - Pumpkin ravioli

Pumpkin ravioli

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The Botanist

Posted on Saturday, 10th May 2014

The Botanist has long been a sloaney favourite, ever since it opened in 2008, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s located right on the heart of Sloane Square, and its prime location combined with a stylishly contemporary décor means its perfectly suited for a well-heeled glamorous clientele. The Botanist is hip and exciting and radiates a highly charged energy. It’s a great venue for people watching and more often than not there is nary a standing room at the bar.

This past Saturday evening was a bank holiday weekend so the size of the crowd was more temperate than usual which provided us with a more relaxed space to savour our pre-dinner drink. Space in the restaurant is a little tight, but the setting is elegant and chic with its beautiful chandeliers and an exotic back wall mural featuring some beautifully drawn pictures of flora and fauna.

Food is served all day with breakfast starting at 8am during weekdays and 9am on weekends. Breakfast transforms into lunch from 12 noon and dinner is available until 11pm. On top of the all day dining there is also a bar menu and a pre and post theatre menu for the Royal Theatre crowd.

Being May, Gull’s eggs are in season, and as part of the specials soft-boiled Hampshire black headed gull’s eggs were available with celery salt and a herb mayonnaise (£6.50 per egg). The egg was perfectly cooked with a runny centre and a lovely texture, and the celery salt gave the egg a tasty seasoning.

The Botanist - Gull's egg

Gull’s egg

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Brown Brothers Wine Ambassador Dinner – HIX Soho

Posted on Thursday, 8th May 2014

A few weeks ago I attended a bloggers event at Hix Soho to sample a selection of Brown Brothers Wines which had been carefully selected to accompany our ‘HIX Oyster and Chop Feast’ menu. Our host was Andrew Harris, a wine ambassador for Brown Brothers who provided us with a great insight into the workings of the Brown Brothers vineyards as well as background information on each of the wines that we tried that night. He spoke with such passion for the Brown Brothers products that it was easy to see how much care and attention goes into the making of their wines.

A family owned business, Brown Brothers is one of Australia’s oldest wineries with vineyards in Victoria as well as the pristine farmlands of Tasmania. Each of the vineyards in the Brown Brothers portfolio have varying characteristics ranging from cool to sun-drenched plains. Consequently the grapes from each vineyard offer different characteristics which contribute to the diverse range of wines in the Brown Brothers portfolio.

For starters we were presented with a variety of oysters which included British regional rock and native oysters, some scrumptious fried rock oysters with a dittander mayonnaise and jellied oysters with cucumber and wild chervil. The oysters were meaty and delicious and accompanied by two Brown Brothers wines, a Limited Release Banksdale Chardonnay, 2012 and an 18 Eighty Nine Sauvignon Blanc, 2013.

Hix Soho - Fried oysters

Fried oysters

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