"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!"

Oblix at The Shard

Posted on Wednesday, 14th January 2015

OBLIX AT THE SHARD

Words and Photos by TheLondonFoodie and I.

About:
Oblix on the 32nd floor of the Shard offers some of the most spectacular views over Central London that money can buy. Oblix is divided into two sections – the Restaurant and the Lounge & Bar, both with different menus and different perspectives. The Restaurant serves a more formal à la carte menu overlooking St Paul’s, whereas the more relaxed Lounge & Bar offers a deli menu during the day, brunch on weekends, and a sharing style menu with wonderful live music in the evenings (comes with a £5 cover charge). From the Lounge & Bar diners have a view over London Bridge and Tower Bridge which dazzles at night.

The mastermind behind Oblix is Rainer Becker, who along with Arjun Waney launched Zuma and Roka, helping to explain the various Asian influences in the Oblix menu. The Executive chef is Fabien Beaufour who previously worked in The States at The French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park, both of which are three Michelin starred restaurants.

Cost:
Oblix Lounge & Bar offers various menus depending on the day and time. During weekdays there is a deli menu priced at £29 for three courses and on weekends the champagne brunch is £58 for three courses. The evening menu is a sharing menu with starter-size plates ranging from £6 to £18.50, seafood dishes from £24 to £38 and meat dishes from £18.50 to £80.

What We Ate:
TheLondonFoodie and I dined in the Oblix Lounge & Bar area and we really enjoyed it’s buzzy ambience and the sultry tones of the live band. We started our meal with some fabulous tidbits from the small bites section of the menu including fried padron peppers (£5.50) and devilled eggs (£3.50 each), both of which were wonderful. The padron peppers had been sprinkled with crispy panko crumbs that gave them a lovely crunchy texture. Accompanying the peppers was a salt and balsamic powder that provided a nice touch of seasoning and an acidic contrast. The devilled eggs were also gorgeous. Smooth and creamy, they had been topped with slices of aromatic truffle that heightened the flavour of the eggs.

Oblix - Padron peppers

Padron peppers

Oblix - Truffled eggs

Truffled eggs

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Turga Restaurant – Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Posted on Sunday, 11th January 2015

Turga Restaurant is the fine dining restaurant at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, a luxurious five star hotel overlooking the Bosphorus. In its former life, the Ciragan was an Ottoman Palace and home to a long line of sultans. Today it is one of the properties in The Leading Hotels of The World and provides some of the most luxurious hotel rooms in all of Istanbul.

Turga Restaurant is considered to be one of Istanbul’s finest and most romantic restaurants. The restaurant is beautiful and grand, offering sweeping views over the Bosphorus. The menu covers many classical Turkish dishes, some of which draw from ancient Turkish cooking techniques such as the ‘Testi’ lamb casserole, a clay pot dish that dates back to 1600 BC Anatolia.

There are hot and cold mezes on offer, and perhaps one of the most interesting and varied was the Classic Turga treats (TRY70 – about £19.70) which contained a lovely selection of different goodies. All of them tasted wonderful including mash curd cheese with fresh herbs, tomato and pine nuts, fava beans, lentil kofte with herbs, stuffed vine leaves with onions, Circassian chicken with walnut sauce, roasted eggplant, humus, melon and white cheese with rose water. The presentation of the meze platter was dainty and precise, and each meze showed off a skilled hand behind its preparation.

Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul - Classic Turga treats

Classic Turga treats

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Pera Palace Hotel – Istanbul

Posted on Friday, 9th January 2015

Pera Palace Hotel - Lobby

Lobby

Pera Palace Hotel in the Tepebaşı district of Pera, İstanbul, right near Taksim Square, is a luxury boutique hotel which is steeped in history. It opened in 1895 and was a groundbreaking hotel for many reasons. Other than the Ottoman Palaces, it was the first building in Istanbul to be powered by electricity. It was also the only address in the city to provide hot running water for its guests and it is also home to the first electric, and thus the oldest electric elevator in Istanbul.

Pera Palace Hotel was borne out of a gap in the market for luxury hotels in Istanbul at the time. When the wealthy passengers aboard the Orient Express arrived in Istanbul, they similarly desired a hotel of equal stature to rest their heads. Thus the Pera Palace Hotel came to be. Designed by the French-Turkish architect Alexander Vallaury, the hotel is a beautiful blend of neo-classical, art nouveau and oriental styles.

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Arbutus

Posted on Wednesday, 7th January 2015

Arbutus is a one Michelin starred restaurant which offers a modern European bistro menu. Located in the heart of Soho on Frith Street, Arbutus is the brainchild of Anthony Demetre and Will Smith. The pair met while working together at Putney Bridge when Demetre was Head Chef and Smith was the restaurant manager. Demetre previously trained under the guidance of Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffman and within a year of becoming head chef at Putney Bridge in 1999 he had earned the restaurant a Michelin star. The pair decided to venture solo and thus Arbutus was born in 2006. In 2007 Arbutus went on to win a Michelin star and Four AA Rosettes. Two other restaurants from the pair followed with Wild Honey in Mayfair which also holds a Michelin star, and Les Deux Salons in Covent Garden which offers an all day bar and grill menu.

I first visited Arbutus soon after it first won its star and was thrilled with the energy of the food as it was vibrant, fresh and accomplished, yet not too pretentious. The menu was also well priced and ever changing based on what was seasonal. I also liked the intimacy of the dining room which was simply furnished yet inviting.

Little has changed in terms of the look of the restaurant and it continues to be intimate and inviting. The menu still offers up some interesting choices although prices are of course higher than way back when. During our visit to Arbutus a couple of weeks ago we started with some Scottish scallops (£16) which were plump and beautifully cooked. There was some piquillo pepper which offered a lovely sweet contrast to the scallops. Some nicely toasted hazelnuts added a very enjoyable nuttiness and crunchiness, and pickled sea herbs provided a sense of freshness.

Arbutus - Scottish scallops

Scottish scallops

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Roka, Aldwych

Posted on Sunday, 4th January 2015

The chain of Roka restaurants offer a unique style of contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine, a cooking method where items of food are slowly grilled over hot charcoal. The original branch of Roka opened on Charlotte Street to much success and subsequent branches followed in Canary Wharf, Mayfair and on Aldwych. But the menu extends beyond just robata dishes. There is also a delectable selection of sashimi and nigiri, fried options including tempura, snacks, soups and rice dishes such as hot pots with lobster and miso butter. Now how good does that sound?

We visited Roka Aldwych which opened last November. Designed by Claudio Silvestrin who was also responsible for L’anima and Alan Yau’s Princi on Wardour Street, the restaurant is spacious and grand with a sleek, contemporary minimalist look, a style for which Silvestrin is well known. Like all the other Rokas, the robata grill plays centre stage at Roka Aldwych, and in addition to the tables in the main dining room, guests can also eat in the lounge area and at the robata bar.

We started with the yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing, mizuna and pickled vegetables (£14.60), and the spectacular scent of truffle immediately caught our attention when the dish arrived at our table. This dish was pure perfection. The quality of the fish and the balance of the truffle yuzu dressing was absolutely flawless. It was an exquisite dish and we enjoyed it immensely. If you only order one thing at Roka Aldwych, this has to be it.

Roka - yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing, mizuna and pickled vegetables

Roka – yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing, mizuna and pickled vegetables

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Pachamama – Visit No. 2 Update

Posted on Thursday, 1st January 2015

I couldn’t wait to go back to Pachamama for lunch after my hugely rewarding last visit (you can read about it here). I loved the food and I was also pleasantly surprised at what good value the lunch menu was. Each dish was priced at a mere £6. So during a spot of gift shopping along Oxford Street two days before Christmas, I decided to pop into Pachamama for a bite to each for some respite from all that Christmas craziness.

This time I tried two new dishes, starting with the lamb anticuchos which were really nicely cooked, with meat that was were tender and very tasty. Charred mackerel with bleeding tiger’s milk was also very enjoyable. The mackerel was fresh and there was a pleasant and well-balanced acidity coming through from the tiger’ milk (the citrus based marinade used in ceviche). The mackerel was cooked through so it wasn’t really a ceviche dish, but the combination worked well together.

Pachamama - Lamb anticuchos

Lamb anticuchos

Pachamama - Charred mackerel

Charred mackerel

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Diciannove 19 at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Blackfriars – Visit No. 2

Posted on Friday, 19th December 2014

We dined at Diciannove 19 at the Crown Plaza Hotel about a year ago and loved the experience. We tried a variety of cicchetti (Italian tapas) and home made pastas and enjoyed all our dishes as everything was absolutely delicious. The service was really fabulous as well. So it was with great expectation that we decided to visit Diciannove 19 again. You can read about that previous visit here.

The menu hasn’t changed much since our last visit other than the fact that Diciannove 19 are currently offering an exclusive white truffle menu created by Executive Chef Alessandro Bay. There is a starter, pasta and main dish, all accompanied by shavings of glorious white truffles from Umbria and which can be ordered a la carte.

To get things started we began our evening with the Il Supremo for 1-2 people (£17.50), the antipasta platter. This included fried calamari, fried zucchini, prosciutto Toscano ham, Finocchiona salami, Mortadella di Bologna, sausage, Parmegiano Reggiano cheese, mozzarella cheese and pickles. This was a great cross section of Italian nibbles that did much to whet our appetite. The meats were tasty, and there was a lovely crunchiness to the calamari and zucchini.

Diciannove - Il Supremo - Fried calamari, fried zucchini, prosciutto toscano ham, finocchiona salami, mortadella di bologna sausage, parmegiano reggiano cheese, mozzarella cheese and pickles.

Diciannove – Il Supremo – Fried calamari, fried zucchini, prosciutto toscano ham, finocchiona salami, mortadella di bologna sausage, parmegiano reggiano cheese, mozzarella cheese and pickles.

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The Porchester

Posted on Wednesday, 17th December 2014

The Porchester is a gastropub located in the heart of Bayswater. Part of the Young’s Pub Group, it is a colourful local completed in warm autumnal colours. The interior skillfully strikes a balance between a modern and a traditional English pub. Similarly this concept carries through to the menu which is traditionally British but cooked with a modern flair.

To begin, we couldn’t resist ordering a few items from the bar snacks. The chicken wings (£4) fell off the bone and were slightly charred which gave them a lovely caramelisation. Cooked with chilli, they also offered up a light kick of spiciness. A ranch dressing was a nice accompaniment to these subtle yet spicy wings as it provided a deliciously cool and tangy contrast.

The Porchester - Chillied chicken wings

The Porchester – Chillied chicken wings

The chorizo and black pudding scotch eggs (£3.50) was the standout from the bar snacks. The black pudding and chorizo paste struck a great balance in the scotch egg as it was soft and subtle without undermining the delicate flavour of the runny egg. The textural contrast between the soft gooey interior of the egg against the crunchy crumb coating made it even more scrumptious.

The Porchester - Chorizo and black pudding scotch egg

The Porchester – Chorizo and black pudding scotch egg

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