The Laughing Heart

THE LAUGHING HEART

Probably one of the best meals I’ve had this year, The Laughing Heart in Hackney is a wonderfully smart venue that operates as a late night wine bar, dining room and wine shop. The space is intimate and cozy with a warm and comforting open kitchen and brickwork walls. The tables – all custom built – each hold individual cutlery drawers for every diner. We were really taken aback with this thoughtful, ingenious and quite simply, adorable touch, and it really set the tone for the wonderful meal that was to come.

The food, sharing plates of modern-European with Asian influences, were all inspired, starting with the Dungarvan oyster with shiso and apple (£2.50 each) which was incredibly fresh and refreshing. The oyster was meaty and rich, and both the sweetness and sharpness of the apple, and the aroma of the shiso served as a lovely contrast to the oyster.

The Laughing Heart - London Food Blog - Oyster w. shiso & apple

The Laughing Heart – Oyster w. shiso & apple

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ferdiesfoodlab

FERDIESFOODLAB

Simon Fernandez, the man behind ferdiesfoodlab, burst onto the supper club scene some seven years ago, with his then legendary fernandezandleluu supper club. His latest pop up being a project sees him in collaboration with the London Kitchen Project in Battersea. A non-profit community centre that started life about six months ago, the London Kitchen Project seats 40 and devotes itself to food, sustainability and the use of 100% renewable energy.

The collaborative project sees ferdiesfoodlab running a series of pop up dinners at the London Kitchen Project approximately every four weeks, serving a six course-tasting menu priced at £45. P and I popped along recently and found the dinner to be well considered and cleverly constructed. The first course was a 5hr slow roast rib of lamb, pulled, pressed, cubed and coated in breadcrumbs, served with garlic Turkish bread and a dip of fresh herbs and lime. The lamb was delicious, moist and moreish, and went swimmingly with the accompanying bread and dip. But the crumbing on the lamb could have been crispier which would have really elevated the dish.

Ferdies Food Lab - London Food Blog - Slow cooked lamb

Ferdies Food Lab – Slow cooked lamb

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Dabbous

DABBOUS

When Dabbous opened in 2012, it became THE most talked about restaurant in London. The cutting-edge Modern European cooking by Oliver Dabbous, previously of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Hibiscus, Mugaritz, The Fat Duck, Noma and Texture, bewitched the critics. Dabbous went on to earn critical acclaim, a Michelin Star in 2013, and the distinction of being the most unattainable dinner reservation in town.

The décor at Dabbous is every bit as cutting edge with the restaurant carving out a dark, minimalist space. Dabbous oozes industrial chic with the sound of loud house music ringing in the background. In the basement is Oskar’s Bar, named after Ollie’s business partner and Dabbous co-founder Oskar Kinberg who was once the head barman at The Cuckoo Club, a private members’ club. Here bar snacks and a heady array of cocktail delights is served, making Oskar’s Bar a go-to destination for cocktail lovers. Together the pair also opened Barnyard in 2014.

Dabbous offers a four-course set menu (£56) as well as a seven-course tasting menu (£68). We chose the latter option, which began with a dish of burrata, basil and tamarillo which was lovely. The burrata was creamy and the basil was fragrant. But it was the deliciously zingy tamarillo that proved to be the most exciting element of this dish. It’s lively flavour and freshness brought all the elements of the dish together beautifully.

Dabbous - London Food Blog - Burrata

Dabbous – Burrata

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Mr Cooper’s House & Garden

MR COOPER’S HOUSE & GARDEN

Mr Cooper’s House & Garden is located in the luxury Midland Hotel in Manchester. The name of the restaurant pays homage to Thomas Cooper, a popular historical figure in Manchester who came from a family of coach-makers. The family’s house and garden, where the restaurant is currently located, was famous for the fruit that it produced and The Coopers would often open the doors of their garden to the general public so that they could have access to it for picnicking and leisurely strolls.

The décor of Mr Cooper’s House & Garden has stayed true to it origins by offering a multitude of different dining settings. There is a lounge in the garden surrounded by a wall of plants and a 30ft tree, a cosy Library where drinks can be enjoyed, and a study area with leather booths where friends can enjoy intimate chats and some lovely food.

Mr Cooper’s House & Garden comes from the hands of Simon Rogan who is undeniably one of the best chefs in the UK. He tolds two Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel, as well as a one Michelin star at Fera at Claridge’s in London. With Mr Cooper’s House & Garden the food is more casual than that served at his Michelin outposts, but no less engaging. The menu centres on a spirit of flair and creativity, and particularly interesting were the starters with their many Asian-inspired touches.

We started with some caramelised scallops (£11). These were nicely cooked and were accompanied by a delectable cucumber sambal, memorable because it was nice and tangy. To temper the sambal was a lovely tahini dressing, and as garnish there were some jalapeno fritters which were glorious. Surrounded by a light and fluffy batter, they offered a sharp bite to the dish.

London Food Blog – Mr Coopers - Caramelised scallops

Mr Coopers – Caramelised scallops

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Fera at Claridge’s

FERA AT CLARIDGE’S

London Food Blog - Fera at Claridges

Fera at Claridges

Simon Rogan launched Fera at Claridge’s in May 2014, taking over from the space that was once occupied by Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. The word Fera means ‘wild’ in Latin and was chosen as the name for Simon’s London restaurant to reflect both the influence of nature and seasonality that are key to Simon’s cooking. Nowhere is this more evident than at Simon’s 12-acre farm where he grows his own fruit and vegetables, and breeds poultry, sheep and cattle.

Simon’s love of harvesting the finest produce combined with his exacting standards has earned him the distinction of being one of the best chefs in the UK. Today Simon holds two Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel, as well as a one Michelin star at Fera. Fera was also recognised as Newcomer of the Year by in both Harden’s London Restaurants 2015 Guide and Decanter Magazine.

The art deco design of the restaurant blends beautifully with the grandeur of Claridge’s. But there are also softer, natural touches such as walnut tables and a ‘tree’ in the centre of the room to complement the opulence of the dining room. Along one wall is an open entrance to the kitchen, which offers views of the pass. There is also an intimate bar area in one corner of the restaurant that accommodates five guests.

We went for the tasting menu and this was truly an experience to behold. The menu consisted of a canapé, three amuse bouches and eight courses for a very reasonable £95 (Wine to accompany 6 courses – £85.00). The canapé was a blue cheese emulsion on a chickpea and rosemary wafer. This was spectacular, with the emulsion boasting of a delicate cheesy flavour and a lovely airy lightness. The wafer was crispy and thin, and to finish was a drizzling of a tangy, sweet vinegar and elderberry gel that brought everything together beautifully.

London Food Blog - Fera at Claridges

Fera at Claridges – Chickpea rosemary wafer with blue cheese emulsion and elder berry gel

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Brudenell Hotel – Aldeburgh, Suffolk

BRUDENELL HOTEL

Words and photos by Food Porn Nation and myself.

We popped along to Suffolk for a weekend visit recently and stayed at the lovely 4 Star Brudenell Hotel which is located in the quaint, charming town of Aldeburgh. The Brudenell Hotel is perched on Suffolk’s Heritage Coast, and accordingly the hotel offers panoramic views of the sea along the property’s frontage.

The décor at the hotel is fresh and vibrant, and embraces the seaside theme with its vibrant energy and light, bright colours. It’s an intelligent, engaging space, and wonderfully comfortable. There are 44 cosy rooms in the hotel, with some offering sea views. Our bedroom again embraced a contemporary, coastal themed décor with a seating area by the window which allowed us to relax and watch the ever-changing movements of the sea. Our room was really comfortable, and there was something wonderfully rustic about sleeping to the sound of waves lapping up along the shore.

Also in The Brudenell Hotel is the recently opened AA two-rosette Seafood & Grill restaurant. This too has a sea-facing terrace which will soon be made available for use when the weather gets warmer. It’s a contemporary dining venue, and there is an informal bar area where hotel guests and local residents can relax and enjoy a drink or two.

We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast in the Seafood & Grill restaurant and thought highly of both the food and the service. Chef Tyler Torrance draws inspiration from his surroundings, proliferating his menu with not only seafood dishes but also sourcing his other ingredients from the abundant Suffolk area. For dinner we tried a variety of starters, with the wild scallops (£12) being our favourite. The scallops were heady with flavour and came together beautifully with the accompanying cauliflower puree and caviar.

London Food Blog - The Brudenell Hotel

The Brudenell – Wild Scallops

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Crocker’s Folly – Sunday Lunch

Crocker’s Folly in St John’s Wood was a thriving pub in its former life. Built in 1898, the beautiful Grade II* listed building fell into disrepair and sadly closed in 2004. By 2007 Crocker’s Folly had been placed on the Victorian Society’s list of top ten endangered buildings.

In 2014 The Maroush Group took ownership of Crocker’s Folly and lovingly restored it back to its former glory. Thus Crocker’s Folly was reborn, re-opening after a long ten-year absence. Many of the original aspects of the building have been maintained along with the addition of some beautiful bespoke features such as dazzling chandeliers, mahogany woodwork and the use of at least 50 kinds of marble. It’s a glorious restoration and beautifully done, with the finishing touches being some gorgeous imported Italian furniture. Crocker’s Folly now speaks of grandeur, but also with a relaxed and inviting tone.

Crocker’s Folly is divided into three sections – two separate bars and a dining room. Heading up the kitchen is Head Chef Arek Bober who previously worked under Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social. His Crocker’s Folly menu is modern European with a section specifically devoted to steaks cooked on the josper grill. On a Sunday, Crocker’s Folly offers a special set lunch menu with two-courses for £20 and three-courses for £25. It is also possible to order each dish individually and the prices listed below are the price per dish.

We started our lunch with a 62c egg with soft polenta (£10) which was delicious. The egg, slow cooked at 62c was soft-set in the centre with a beautifully golden yolk and it married well with the creaminess of the soft polenta. Completing the dish was a topping of lovely fresh truffle shavings, Parmesan cheese and a mushroom emulsion that added a nutty, earthy flavour to the combination.

Crocker’s Folly – 62c egg with parmesan & mushroom emulsion

62c egg with parmesan & mushroom emulsion

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Eleven Madison Park – New York

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park – so named as it is located on Eleven Madison Avenue facing Madison Square Park – is a three star Michelin restaurant, a designated Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux restaurant and the fourth ranked restaurant on San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Housed in the classical looking Credit Suisse building, the spacious dining room speaks of grandeur with its huge floor-to-ceiling windows and impressive art deco design.

Eleven Madison Park is the brainchild of Executive Chef Daniel Humm, a Swiss-born chef who earned his first Michelin star with Gasthaus zum Gupf, a restaurant located in the Swiss Alps. Humm also cooked at the famed Restaurant Pont de Brent, a Michelin starred restaurant in Montreux before moving Stateside to San Francisco in 2003.

His rise in the States was meteoric. In 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle named him a 2004 Rising Star Chef, and in 2005 Food & Wine named him one of Best New Chefs of 2005. Humm took over the reigns as executive chef of Eleven Madison Park in 2006, and under his guidance Eleven Madison Park received a four star rating from The New York Times in 2009. In 2010, Humm was awarded the James Beard Award for “Best Chef, New York City.” And of course, Eleven Madison Park holds three Michelin stars and a ranking as one of the best restaurants in the world.

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