"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!"

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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A taste of traditional Maltese cuisine

Posted on Tuesday, 6th May 2014

Malta is a hugely popular Mediterranean island with a beautiful climate, as well as pretty beaches and the friendliest of people. The Maltese definitely have a lust for life and this is reflected in their eclectic mix of dishes.

Malta attracts approximately 1.5 million visitors every year, which is a lot considering the island’s small size; the population is only 370,000. The island is an inexpensive holiday option and its popularity has grown in recent years, partly due to the many last minute holidays to Malta deals available.

The climate is conducive to outdoor activities and the beaches are a part of daily life while the restaurants with open air garden terraces are ubiquitous. If you’re a lover of long leisurely dinners with the friendliest of locals then you have picked the right destination.

Image of Maltese fruit market by John Haslam, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

Image of Maltese fruit market by John Haslam, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

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Lanes of London – Afternoon Tea

Posted on Saturday, 3rd May 2014

Lanes of London pays tribute to the great multiculturalism that is the hallmark of the English capital by drawing from its many and varied culinary pockets for inspiration. Head Chef Anshu Anghotra trained at Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc’s culinary school at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and cooks an all day menu designed for sharing with four key sections, each of which have been named after a well known London Lane. There’s ‘Brick Lane’ for some fiery, spicy flavours; ‘Edgware Road’ for some Middle Eastern exoticism; ‘Kingsland Road’ for the fragrant aromas of Asia and ‘Portobello Road’ for a touch of eclectic comfort dining. Its an interesting menu and extends to British classics including fish and chips. What’s more, there’s also afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and pastries (£23 or £29 with a glass of champagne).

Lanes of London is a really engaging restaurant with a classically smart décor, which is sophisticated yet comfortable. Located in the Marriot Hotel on Park Lane, it’s like a little oasis that makes for a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. We had gone to Lanes of London for afternoon tea, but tempted by the rather engaging all day menu we decided to try some fried chicken with a honey and sesame sauce (£12) from the Portobello Road section of the menu and the Cornish lamb cutlets (£10.50) first.

Lanes of London - Fried chicken

Fried chicken

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Tribeca Café – New York Style Coffee in Glasgow

Posted on Thursday, 1st May 2014

If you love the energy and vibrancy of New York City and wish for a taste of the Big Apple closer to home, then Tribeca Café provides a good imitation of the New York experience. Tribeca Café is a relaxed coffee bar located at 102 Dumbarton Road in Glasgow and aims to replicate the essence of the famous city of New York with its grungy, downtown Tribeca vibe. Furthermore, it celebrates the essence of New York by specialising in one of the city’s most favourite pastimes – brunch with great coffee.

Tribeca Cafe

Tribeca Cafe

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The Only Running Footman

Posted on Saturday, 26th April 2014

The Only Running Footman is a wonderfully quaint pub/gastropub whose name pays homage to the footmen who were in service to the households of Mayfair in Georgian times. The role of the footman included such tasks as carrying lights after dusk, paying toll-keepers and generally paving the way for safe passage for his aristocratic master’s carriage. It was here at The Only Running Footman, known as The Running Horse during those times, where the footmen congregated for drinks after their duties.

The pub’s full name is actually ‘I Am The Only Running Footman’ and has been the venue for many a pub crawl, mystery tour, etc. Most notably it served as the inspiration for a novel of the same name by detective fiction writer Martha Grimes.

The ground floor acts as the pub proper with the first floor holding the dining room. It’s a small space, but it is nevertheless plush and cozy with its inviting leather banquettes. The look of The Only Running Footman is smart, and the food is equally smart and more refined than might be found at the average gastropub.

We started with a tian of fresh Cromer crab with avocado and melba toast (£11.50). There was a decent amount of crab meat which was deliciously sweet and fresh. The avocado purée worked as a nice accompaniment to the crab. It was beautifully smooth but we wanted for a slightly richer, deeper avocado flavour.

The Only Running Footman - Tian of crab

Tian of crab

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Michael Nadra Chiswick

Posted on Saturday, 19th April 2014

Chef Michael Nadra has an impressive list of restaurants under his belt including time as Sous chef at Chez Bruce and La Trompette and stages at The Square in Mayfair and The Glasshouse in Kew. His first solo venture was a restaurant called Fish Hook in Chiswick which he opened in 2005. Many readers may not recall Fish Hook, but I remember it to be a quaint little restaurant serving accomplished and wonderfully tasty seafood at reasonable prices.

With Restaurant Michael Nadra, Chef Nadra continues to delivery really good quality contemporary cooking at reasonable prices in a relaxed and comfortable setting. For dinner, two courses from a prix fix menu are only priced at £30, and three courses are £36. There are two branches of Restaurant Michael Nadra, one in Chiswick, and the other in Primrose Hill.

We found ourselves in the Chiswick branch, a comfortable looking restaurant with dark furnishings and waiting staff dressed in black. We started with a sautéed foie gras (+£3) which was beautifully cooked and oozed with a lovely fattiness. But the foie gras lacked for a touch of seasoning which contrasted sharply with the blood orange salad which was very over seasoned. An accompanying caramelised red onion tart was impressive for the perfect caramelisation of the onion and the lusciously flaky and buttery puff pastry that surrounded the onion. An accomplished madeira jus worked well with the foie gras. Seasoning aside, this was an extremely well executed dish.

Michael Nadra - Sautéed foie gras

Sautéed foie gras

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Caxton Grill by Adam Handling

Posted on Sunday, 13th April 2014

The Head Chef of Caxton Grill at the St Ermin’s Hotel, St James Park, is none other than Adam Handling. Remember him? If like me you were a big fan of Professional Masterchef, you would have probably been devastated when Adam failed to win the 2013 series. The ambitious and highly inspirational Scottish chef was probably the most deserved of the title, but unfortunately he failed to pull through on the day of the final. But onwards and upwards as not winning Masterchef hasn’t held Adam back. Not only is Adam the head chef of Caxton Grill, he was listed as one of the ‘30 under 30’ to watch in The Caterer & Hotelkeeper’s 2013 Acorn Awards and recently crowned as the British Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year, 2014.

Adam started his cooking career at the age of 16 at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. This was followed by positions at Rhodes 24, The Malmaison Hotel in Newcastle and the role of Head Chef at Fairmont St Andrews where he won two AA rosettes. At Caxton Grill, Adam cooks one part creative menu that is designed to excite, and another that is devoted to simple cooking of quality meats and fish from the Josper oven for more conventional palates. But in my view, if you are going to go to Caxton Grill, then a taste the creative inspiration that drives the ‘almost’ Masterchef winner is a must.

Our first interesting flavour experience was a breadbasket containing rye and bagel, and accompanied by a chicken butter with seaweed and mushroom. The rye was tasty, but the bagel was a dream with a centre that was lusciously soft, fluffy and wonderfully seasoned. The chicken butter consisted of 75% butter and 25% chicken fat and was supremely tasty with the seaweed providing the seasoning and the mushroom giving it an earthiness.

Caxton Grill - Bread

Bread

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