Chablis Dinner at The Chancery

I recently attended a ‘Gastronomy and Geology’ dinner where we went on a journey of discovery into the unique and mineral-laden qualities of the world of Chablis. Chablis is always made from Chardonnay, and what makes it special is that it has its roots in a seam of 155m year old fossilised oyster shells, the same ground that exists in the town of Kimmeridge, Dorset, and runs through parts of Champagne, the Loire valley and of course, Chablis.

The event was held at The Chancery where we saw an amazing four-course menu prepared by Chef Graham Long being paired with a variety of different quality Chablis wines. The evening began in the Chancery’s cellar bar with crab beignets and truffled cheese arancini canapés accompanied by an accessible Petit Chablis aperitif, a Dauvissat Petit Chablis 2012, which was fresh and clean on the palate. This Chablis is supposedly from an appellation which is the most lowly (Petit Chablis) but it is in fact Petit in name alone. This is because Dauvissat is arguably Chablis’ finest, most manicured domaine.

The Chancery - London Food Blog - Chablis

The Chancery – Chablis

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

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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Chinese Cricket Club

Chinese Cricket Club is a Chinese restaurant located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blackfriars, right next to another restaurant I really like, Diciannove 19. The name is unusual as one doesn’t usually associate Chinese food with cricket. But the restaurant is named in honour of the original Chinese National Cricket team which played their first international match in 2009, so there you go.

Unlike some Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, Chinese Cricket Club follows a more contemporary formula with its décor and is very smart looking. There are also pieces of cricket memorabilia hanging on the walls for those of you who not only love Chinese food but cricket as well. Food wise, the menu offers an extensive range of authentic Sichuan food. There is also a section devoted to dim sum specialties.

We went for lunch, a time of day that saw more of a business crowd. We started our meal by trying a variety of dim sum plates including scallop and prawn siu mai (£6.80) and prawn har gau (£5.80). The scallop siu mai was superb and had been topped with a beautiful piece of sweet scallop. This was a 5/5 dish for the quality of the scallop was superb and the perfect cooking time that meant the scallop was still juicy and delicious. The prawn har gau was also very tasty and plump, with a har gau pastry that was rather authentic – slightly thick, slightly soft and slightly translucent.

Chinese Cricket Club - Scallop & prawn siu mai

Scallop & prawn siu mai

Chinese Cricket Club - Prawn har gau

Prawn har gau

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The White Swan

The White Swan, located on Fetter Lane near Chancery Lane, is an old-fashioned boozer which has long enticed the city crowd with its fine selection of ales and refined gentile feel. But it also serves as a gastropub, with the first floor area being transformed into a smart but not overly fussy dining room styled with an art-deco touch.

The food is also classically British and smartly done, teetering on high-end without being too over the top. The ground floor pub also serves food, and although its menu includes a burger and fish and chips as options, the other items are rather smart with the likes of dishes such as confit duck leg and slow roasted pork belly. Migrate upstairs to the main dining room, and the a la carte menu becomes more creative with the added option of a tasting menu.

We decided to go for the tasting menu, which was a rather reasonable £55 for six courses. Our amuse bouche was a crab salad with cucumber and tomato which was lovely and fresh and blended with a creamy mayo that tasted distinctively homemade.

The White Swan - Crab salad

Crab salad amuse bouche

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Diciannove at the Crowne Plaza Hotel

Diciannove at the Crowne Plaza Hotel is an Italian restaurant, and a reincarnation of Refrettorio, a Giorgio Locatelli outlet that was well known for its accomplished cooking. Giorgio’s influence is still visible in Diciannove as Head Chef Alessandro Bay spent over 10 years under Michelin-starred Giorgio Locatelli, working his way up from chef de partie to sous chef and finally as head chef. As such, pasta is king at Diciannove, all of which are homemade daily. Diciannove translates to 19 in Italian and represents the address of the hotel, number 19 New Bridge St.

The restaurant has undergone a complete refurbishment since it’s rebranding from Refrettorio to Diciannove. The space was tastefully done and comfortable. There was ample booth seating, but these tables were perhaps too big, so the smaller tables perched in the centre of the restaurant are probably a better choice for the ease of conversation. At the front of the Diciannove is a little deli offering a number of Italian goodies for sale.

To begin with we opted for the cicchetti (Italian tapas) from the bar menu instead of the starters from the a la carte menu. All of them proved to be really tasty and incredibly great value. The burrata crostini (£3.85) for instance came with a richly creamy burrata that paired well with some softly grilled aubergines, tomato, basil and chilli. Thinly sliced beef fillet carpaccio (£4.50) with Parmigiano reggiano, olive oil and wild rocket was deliciously tender and soft and further enhanced by the nuttiness of the cheese.

Diciannove burrata crostini

Burrata crostini

Diciannove beef fillet

Beef fillet

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28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen

28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen, a wine bar and restaurant, is the brainchild of sommelier Xavier Rousset, one of the men behind the critically acclaimed one Michelin starred Texture which he owns with head chef Agnar Sverrisson and where I had a thrilling meal recently. The restaurant is so named as most of the world’s vineyards, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, are located within these latitudes. Rousset is a master sommelier with a string of awards to his name including the accolade of winning Ruinart UK Sommelier of the Year at the tender age of 22. It therefore seems fitting that Rousset would open up a wine bar and call it 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen.

I had such a thrilling meal at Texture recently I felt inspired to try 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen. Despite its association with Texture, 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen isn’t a Michelin starred restaurant. Rather what it purports to offer is decent French fare and a range of good wines at reasonable prices. 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen has a choice of 15 red and 15 white wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. But most impressively, the wines by the glass include a 75ml option (from £2.15 to £20 for a 75ml glass), the beauty of which is the opportunity to try oodles of smaller glasses of different wines for less money than what you might otherwise have had to spend.

A foie gras and chicken liver parfait was wonderfully creamy, but it lacked a decent liver flavour and was more texture than taste. The accompanying peach chutney, with its rustic characteristics, worked well with the parfait. Less successful was the accompanying pickles which were so acidic that they were difficult to eat.

Foie gras & chicken liver parfait

Foie gras & chicken liver parfait

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Northbank

One of the things that irritate me about a restaurant is when they publish a menu on their website where the prices aren’t reasonably accurate. As was the case with Northbank, their website menu suggests that the average price of a main is £15.75 (range of £12 to £18.50 – accurate at the time of this post). But on their actual menu, the average main costs £17.50 (range of £13.50 to £21). This works out to be about 11% more. I think it’s rather cheeky for a restaurant to not update their prices with reasonable accuracy as it may mislead a customer into going to the restaurant when they might not have otherwise gone. Ok, it’s only a couple of quid, but its still 11%.

The décor at Northbank is pretty swanky. It looks modern and smart, has quite a masculine feel to it, and boasts of a prime location on the Thames overlooking the Tate Modern. With its location, I imagine that its usual crowd are tourists and city types.

A venison, rabbit and hare terrine with quince jelly and toast (£8) was meaty, well seasoned and very tasty. This was very well done, but the piece we got was stingy. It had been very thinly sliced and could have done with about fifty percent more. Cheeky I say.

Venison, rabbit & hare terrine

Venison, rabbit & hare terrine

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Vanilla Black

Bubble and squeak cakes

Bubble and squeak cakes

I am not a vegetarian (obviously), but it wouldn’t do not to try a vegetarian restaurant now and then. I have many vegetarian friends and they always lament the lack of good vegetarian restaurants around the shop. Moreover, they lament the lack of vegetarian options in most restaurants, which usually limit their choices to pasta or risotto.

So Vanilla Black, which has been on my hit list for a while now, seemed to be an interesting choice for my first veggie write-up. All the more so when you consider that their approach to vegetarian food, as explained on their website, “is not that of vegetarian in the traditional sense, but rather a passion for meeting the challenge of cooking without meat or fish”. So I went along to Vanilla Black with some veggie and non-veggie friends to test how well they would meet this challenge.

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