The Joint

THE JOINT

Guest post by Food Porn Nation.

With locations in Marylebone and Brixton, The Joint is another American BBQ spot to hit the London food scene. The Joint originally began as a pop up by Warren Dean and Daniel Fiteni and has morphed into an establishment due to its pop up success. The signature dishes include the baby back ribs and chilli chicken wings which are worth a try and the rest of the menu is short and sweet. The dining experience is a casual take away affair, with understated communal wooden benches, and a mixture of paper plates and cutlery for service. Simple yet effective.

To begin, we tucked into the chilli chicken wings (£4.50). These were sticky, tangy, succulent and falling off the bone. The sauce wasn’t as spicy as suggested but the flavour of sauce and the execution of wings were definitely solid.

The Joint - London Food Blog - Chilli Chicken Wings

The Joint – Chilli Chicken Wings

The Joint - London Food Blog - Chilli Chicken Wings

The Joint – Chilli Chicken Wings

The one item I couldn’t resist was the the bloody bacon vodka shot. Ideal for lovers of bacon and lovers of vodka, this shot was infused with a delectable bacon flavour that was followed by a savoury tomato based chaser shot. I highly recommend you try this. Incredibly novel and delicious!

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Pachamama – Visit No. 2 Update

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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Chiltern Firehouse

Chiltern Firehouse is THE hottest restaurant in London at the moment. It’s so much of a sensation that it has become a regular on the celebrity circuit. Barely a day goes by where there isn’t a press mention of an A-lister passing through its doors.

Chiltern Firehouse is owned by property magnate André Balazs who is known for his luxury hotel portfolio which includes Chateau Marmont in LA and The Mercer in New York. Balazs has similarly converted the Chiltern Firehouse property, a Grade II-listed building that was once home to the Chiltern Street fire station, into a luxury hotel. The restaurant is run by Chef Nuno Mendes who needs no introduction to those who know the London dining scene well. He trained at El Bulli and his last residence at Restaurant Viajante went on to receive great critical acclaim as well as a Michelin star. Working along side Mendes is Dale Osborne who previously cooked at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

The entrance to the Chiltern Firehouse is closely guarded with admission being impossible without a reservation. Once past the security, there is a lovely courtyard seating area with a fireplace where you may sip an aperitif before dinner. Inside, the restaurant is a statement in understated luxury and comfort. The bar area is tiny however, and the tables are tightly packed together. There is an elevated open kitchen where one may watch the chefs at work.

The food deviates from that previously found at Viajante where innovation and originality was the key. Instead, the food at Chiltern Firehouse is more modern American, drawing on the time Mendes spent with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Wolfgang Puck in the US with items such as fried chicken and cornbread fingers to be found.

Chiltern Firehouse - Cornbread fingers

Cornbread fingers

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Dieci Restaurant

Dieci Restaurant is the house restaurant of Ten Manchester Street Hotel, a stylish boutique hotel located at (yes you guessed it) No. 10 Manchester Street. The location reigns supreme as it’s within walking distance from Marylebone High Street and Oxford Street. It’s a rather small restaurant but comfortably designed with a stylish look that exudes a masculine feel with its dark lines, bold features and plush seating. The restaurant serves an all day menu from breakfast through to dinner as well as afternoon tea. There is also a set lunch menu with two courses for £19.50 and three courses for £22.50.

We visited Dieci during a recent bank holiday to try the set menu for what proved to be a rather quiet affair. There were three options per course and we both went for the most tempting starter which was the pumpkin ravioli served with black Umbrian truffle sauce. It was exquisite, with the pasta being perfectly cooked and the filling being smooth and creamy. The rich sauce, elevated by the hints of truffle, matched wonderfully with the pasta.

Dieci Restaurant - Pumpkin ravioli

Pumpkin ravioli

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The Grazing Goat

The same people behind The Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia have produced another charming rendition of a public house with The Grazing Goat. Situated on New Quebec Street just off Portman Square, The Grazing Goat is more than just a pub serving an interesting array of beers, wines and cocktails. The first floor also plays home to the restaurant, and on the floors above there is a hotel with eight guest rooms. It was to the restaurant that we went – a delectable dining room furnished in the vein of a posh gastropub with blond oak panelling and soft muted lighting. The overall effect was a charming ambience that made you feel right at home.

A starter of seared Scottish scallops (£11) was tasty and nicely cooked, with accompaniments including a salt cod and herb potato purée and some citrus lentils. The purée was smooth and pleasant, but you couldn’t really taste the herbs, and the lentils were very acidic. The result was that the saltiness of the cod purée and the acidity of the lentils overpowered the gentle flavour of the scallops. This dish lacked for balance and needed something more delicate to make it work.

Seared Scottish scallops

Seared Scottish scallops

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Cotidie

Cotidie on Marylebone High Street is the first London restaurant for Chef Bruno Barbieri, an Italian chef who most recently held two Michelin stars at the Villa del Quar in Verona, and before that, two stars at Il Trigabolo in Argenta. In total he has laid claim to seven Michelin stars. Furthermore, regular stints as a judge on the Italian Masterchef has ensured that he is one of the most recognisable chefs in Italy. So it came as some surprise to the Italian public that Barbiere would leave Italy and venture out to London. The opening night of Cotidie was reputedly packed with Italian journalists.

The word cotidie means ‘everyday’ in Latin. But if such a terminology suggests something casual, rest assured there is nothing casual about Cotidie. The décor is decidedly refined with soft hues and a leather-banquette look. The staff are smartly dressed and the cutlery is very expensive.

The menu reads of a man who knows his stuff, and for someone of his pedigree, the pricing was fairly reasonable. For our amuse bouche, we were presented with an aubergine roll with rocket and Parma ham which was delicious. The aubergine was soft, and the rocket was fresh with bite. There was a hint of parmesan running through the roll, and the garnish of cherry tomatoes was lovely and sweet.

Aubergine roll

Aubergine roll

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Donostia

There are some incredible Spanish tapas restaurants in London at the moment. The ones that immediately spring to mind are José, Pizarro and Barrafina all of which are fabulous in their own way. The latest tapas restaurant to burst onto the London scene is Donostia, named after the Basque word for the Spanish foodie mecca that we all know and love as San Sebastian. Head chef is Tomasz Baranski who use to run Barrafina and Fino, both of which are owned by the hugely successful restaurateur brothers Sam and Eddie Hart.

Situated on trendy Seymour Place, just down the road from Vinoteca, Donostia has a canteen look to it, albeit a very stylish one. Dark wood floors provide a contrast to the restaurant’s long, sleek and white interior. Donostia rings with a comfortable and contemporary casualness.

The menu is designed for sharing of course, and there is a range of pintxos (smaller plates) plus larger ones that cover a range of meat, fish and veg. First up were the tempura prawns (£4.20) with Bayonne ham and mango. The prawns were well cooked and firm, but was let down by the fact that it was very, very salty. The batter was neither flaky nor airy in the way that proper tempura batter ought to be, but was quite crispy nevertheless. The ham and the mango was a nice contrast for the prawns.

Prawn tempura

Prawn tempura

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L’Autre Pied

L’Autre Pied is the little sister restaurant to Pied à Terre on Charlotte Street. Opening in 2007 under Marcus Eaves, it went on to win critical acclaim as well as a Michelin star in 2009. When Shane Osborne left Pied à Terre last year, Marcus took over the head chef spot at Pied à Terre. I adored the food at L’Autre Pied when Eaves was there, having eaten there on several occasions. His cooking was top notch, and the pricing was very reasonable for the standard of his cooking. His one-Michelin star was well deserved.

But his departure has paved the way for some new blood. Enter Andy McFadden who previously worked at three-Michelin-starred Oud Sluis in the Netherlands and under Osborne at Pied à Terre for four years. A new head chef may mean a new approach, but the restaurant has managed to hold onto the contemporary and relaxed style that has always made L’Autre Pied one of the most accessible fine-dining establishments in London.

We kicked off with an amuse bouche of pumpkin and ginger mousse which was wonderfully light and tasty. But the topping of black olive, sesame seeds and chives was probably a little heavy against the delicacy of the mousse.

Pumpkin and ginger mouse

Pumpkin and ginger mouse

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