Dalloway Terrace – Afternoon tea

Dalloway Terrace - London Food Blog

Dalloway Terrace

Dalloway Terrace, a restaurant and bar, is part of the Bloomsbury Hotel in the heart of Bloomsbury. It is a gorgeous indoor-outdoor terrace decked out in a floral design which almost gives you the sense that you are in some luxury English garden. The décor is relaxed, yet has a sense of urban sophistication to it. The covered element is also heated in the winter months, and so Dalloway Terrace works well all year round, whether it is hot, wet or cold.

Both a restaurant and bar, Dalloway Terrace serves a very versatile menu, ranging from breakfast to brunch to small bites, as well as an all day dining menu featuring salads and larger sized mains. There is also delightful selection of cocktails, and a recent addition was the launch of its afternoon tea menu.

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Barrica Tapas Bar

Barrica Tapas Bar, sister restaurant to Copitas Tapas Bar in Soho, is a quaint and cosy Spanish restaurant in Fitrovia with yellow walls and checkered tiles. Laid-back it might be, but both the food and wine list are adorned with serious stuff to offer the diner an experience that is genuinely authentic.

On the menu were the usual classics such as croquetas de jamón and tortilla (both of which had run out by the time we turned up), a range of hams, but to name a few. The wine list had been carefully compiled to showcase the diversity of Spain and included 16 sherries, ranging from sweet to dry, with each being available by the glass. Barrica means business, having invested in a bespoke, temperature-controlled cabinet which keeps red wine at its optimal drinking temperature, 16 degrees celsius. What’s more, everything is very reasonably priced. In 2016, Barrica was awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide which recognises quality at great value.

Sadly we didn’t have the opportunity to try the tortilla or the croquetas (my go-to favourites), but we were thoroughly thrilled by all the other savoury items that we tried, especially the grilled king prawns (£9) which were a delight. On the plate were three large prawns in the shell which were nicely cooked, succulent and juicy.

Barrica Tapas Bar - London Food Blog - Grilled prawns

Barrica Tapas Bar – Grilled prawns

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Fino

FINO

Fino Restaurant opened in 2003 and became one of the first restaurants in London to offer a contemporary brand of Spanish tapas. Others followed, but Fino has managed to carve out a niche as an oldie but a goodie on the London tapas scene. Fino comes from the hands of Sam and Eddie Hart, the well-known restaurateur brothers that also brought the critically acclaimed Barrafina to London. The original branch of Barrafina opened on Frith Street in Soho in 2007 and went on to won a Michelin star in 2014. A second branch of Barrafina also opened on Adelaide Street last year.

Fino’s Executive Head Chef is Nieves Barragán Mohacho who originates from the Basque country. Her menu changes daily, drawing on influences from not only the Basque region but from throughout Spain. The Fino menu makes for a tempting read, interspersing modern influences among much loved Spanish classics.

Fino has an address on Charlotte Street although the entrance itself is located on Rathbone Street. From here, diners are led to Fino’s restaurant and bar area in the basement. The interior is contemporary and boasts of a relaxed ambience. It is also spacious and well laid out, which unlike the tiny spaces of both the Barrafinas, would accommodate large parties well.

We tried the Cecina de León (£9.80), a smoked and dried beef which was maroon in colour. It was juicy with a strong character and a slightly fibrous consistency. Lightly salted and with small bits of fat running through it, the beef was delicious.

Fino - Cecina de León

Cecina de León

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Pachamama

Pachamama is the latest addition to the Peruvian food scene in London, and a really exciting one at that. It serves innovative dishes by combining together an interesting array of quality ingredients, with fish from Cornwall and meats from Yorkshire. It is going up against other Peruvian heavy weights such as Michelin starred Lima, Coya and Ceviche. But Pachamama is as good as it gets, and holds its own with class.

The décor of Pachamama was unconventionally un-Peruvian and resembled the style of an old British colonial home with reclaimed antiques. But it was very tasteful and comfortable, with the restaurant stretching along an L-shape and backing onto the open kitchen. There is also a swanky cocktail bar serving Peruvian classics such as home-infused Piscos with seasonal berries, herbs and fruits, and other creative and reasonably priced cocktails such as The Curandero – a vodka, lime and chilli sherbet drink topped with ginger beer (£8).

We visited Pachamama for lunch, to try their special ‘Pick and Mix’ set lunch menu which features dishes from various categories – ceviche, robata grill, Josper oven, salad and dessert, all at a very reasonable £6 per dish. This special menu is only available during weekday lunchtimes, and in the evenings and weekends Pachamama offers an a la carte menu.

It wouldn’t do to not try ceviche at a Peruvian restaurant, and at Pachamama we had the chilled prawn and sea bass ceviches. Both were resounding fresh, with the bouncy prawns being paired with some fabulously crunch onions, squash, English mustard and tiger’s milk. It was refreshing and tangy, but a little too sharp on the palate. As for the sea bass ceviche with tiger’s milk, this was very pleasant, especially with the crunchy samphire, radish and luscious sweet potatoes.

Pachamama – Chilled prawn ceviche

Chilled prawn ceviche

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Barnyard

Barnyard London is the latest project from Oskar Kinberg and Ollie Dabbous, the duo behind the one Michelin starred restaurant Dabbous. Kinberg and Dabbous both came from esteemed backgrounds. The former was previously the bar manager at The Cuckoo Club, and the latter a chef at the Michelin starred and much celebrated Texture. Together they conceived a concept that set the London dining scene on fire. When Dabbous opened in 2012 it was one of the hottest openings of the year. It received rave reviews with critics like Fay Maschler giving it 5 stars and calling it a game changer. With that, a destination restaurant was born.

At Dabbous the focus is on innovation and invention, but with Barnyard, the approach the duo has adopted is much more simplistic with an emphasis on wholesomeness. The Barnyard menu features items such as homemade sausage rolls and roast beef on toast. As the name suggests, there is a touch of the country in the restaurant’s set up, with the interior featuring reclaimed timber and corrugated tin.

We tried the homemade sausage roll (£6) which was meaty and nicely seasoned although it would have been more enjoyable had it been served hot rather than lukewarm. The pastry was light and crispy, and came with a tangy, mustardy piccalilli that worked really well with the meatiness of the roll.

Barnyard - Sausage roll

Sausage roll

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Lima

Peruvian restaurants are all the rage right now. At one end of the spectrum, there is the ever-busy, ever-popular crowd pleaser Ceviche. But towards the more upmarket end, there is Lima on Rathbone Street, a Peruvian restaurant that blends the traditional with the contemporary and which was recently voted as the ‘One to Watch’ at the 2012 National Restaurants Awards.

The people behind Lima include chef Virgilio Martinez, who is currently chef patron of Central restaurant in Lima, named as the best restaurant in Peru by the 2012 Summum Guide. Prior to that, he headed up the kitchen at Astrid y Gaston, a notable restaurant in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Lima’s Head chef is Virgilio’s long-time friend Robert Ortiz, who for the last five years has been part of the creative team at Central. There’s a strong cooking pedigree behind the restaurant and the menu reads like a dream – exciting, creative and enthralling with its strong use of South American ingredients. Lima is refreshing and modern in its design with an Aztec-like feel running through the restaurant.

A starter of bay scallops tiradito (raw), yellow aji emulsion, umami salt and cassava (£8) was distinctively interesting. The scallops were sweet and the emulsion added a delicate hint of spiciness to this beautifully presented, eclectic and delicious dish.

Bay scallops tiradito

Bay scallops tiradito

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Hakkasan – The Lunch Menu

I used to love the food at Hakkasan, not to mention their specialty cocktail, the Hakka, so much so that I use to be a semi-regular at the restaurant. Founded by Alan Yau who fused sexy interior design with high-end Chinese food, he created something iconic on the London dining scene. Alan Yau sold his majority share of Hakkasan to an Abu-Dhabi based company in 2008, and since then branches of Hakkasan have sprung up all over the shop with one in Mayfair, four in the US, two in the Middle East and one in Mumbai.

It was difficult to believe that standards would stay the same with the change in management even though it has still managed to hold onto its star. I haven’t been back to Hakkasan since the sale, and to test the waters, we decided to try their three-course set lunch menu (£29). The first course of dim sum platter contained a beef ball, a steamed scallop dumpling, a char sui sou (pork with flaky pastry) and a deep-fried pork ball.

Dim sum platter

Dim sum platter

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Riding House Café

The Riding House Café may call itself a café, but let’s get one thing straight – the modern all-day brasserie is a restaurant in every sense of word. It’s been cleverly split into two with a bar area that houses a long wooden table for casual drop-in diners. The bar then leads into a main dining room with leather chairs and banquettes, sumptuous wood panelling and gorgeous low light pendants which have been brought together with a slightly retro feel. The Riding House Café is gorgeous, and it has to be one of the sexiest restaurants I have seen of late.

And then it has the kind of menu which makes you want to taste everything. There are lots of smallish plates for sharing, satisfying sounding salads and hearty rustic mains. Make no mistake; the clever people behind The Riding House Café took great pains in the design of this outfit. This is the kind of restaurant you want to come to eat at and slink around in.

With such great expectations, we decided on a number of small plates, starting with the chicken liver parfait (£5) with truffle butter, cornichons and served on crostini. The parfait was creamy and tasty, and this would have been a good dish had it not been for the over seasoning.

Chicken liver parfait

Chicken liver parfait

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