London in the Sky

London in the Sky - The view from below

The view from below

Last night we had THE most amazing time at London in the Sky, a 10 day pop-up restaurant which sees five of London’s best Michelin starred chefs prepare their delicious menus in a unique sky table dining experience seating 22 guests. Eating a Michelin starred meal 100 feet above the heady heights of Canary Wharf was truly a gastronomic experience unlike any other.

London in the Sky - The dining table

London in the Sky – The dining table

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The Five Fields

The Five Fields restaurant is so named as it is located in an area which was once known in the 18th century as The Five Fields. Chef-owner Taylor Bonnyman opened The Five Fields in May of 2013. It’s a charming restaurant set in a townhouse, and it has been sumptuously decorated in soft, soothing colours to give diners both a sense of comfort and elegance. The menu is modern British and focuses on seasonal ingredients, drawing on herbs and vegetables grown at the restaurant’s own East Sussex gardens. Taylor previously cooked at the two Michelin-starred Corton in New York and now works alongside head chef Marguerite Keogh who was previously at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley.

There is a tasting menu which is priced at £75. Otherwise, three courses is a really reasonably priced £50 a head. There’s also flexibility to be had as the two of us decided to go with three starters and only one dessert rather than two of each. Our meal began with some petit looking canapés which consisted of a foie gras mousse on crispy gingerbread topped with a prune puree and a dash of orange powder. This was a tasty bite of creamy goodness meshed with gingery, orangey overtones. This was followed by a fresh crab tartlet topped with pickled golden beetroot and aromatic shiso. A refreshing amuse bouche of gazpacho with pickled watermelon and basil oil came next. We also nibbled on some warm and appetising breads including a selection of campaillou, black olive, soda bread and buttermilk.

The Five Fields - Canapés

Canapés

The Five Fields - Bread selection

Bread selection

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Yamazato – One Star Michelin Japanese Restaurant, Amsterdam

After a sumptuous dinner at &Samhoud Places, we followed this up with another lovely meat at Yamazato Restaurant which located in The Hotel Okura in Amsterdam. Yamazato is famous for its authentic Japanese haute cuisine, and in fact Yamazato was the first traditional Japanese restaurant to be awarded a one Michelin star in Europe. The restaurant is best known for its kaiseki menu, a multi-course Japanese menu that draws upon seasonal ingredients and a collection of skills and techniques in its preparation. But Yamazato also offers a wonderful variety of classical Japanese dishes from the a la carte menu, a selection of sashimi and sushi, and a more moderately priced lunch menu.

Decorated in a 15th and 16th-century Sukiya style, the décor at Yamazato embodies the essence of a classical Japanese fine dining restaurant. The waitresses were all dressed in kimonos and well trained in the art of fine Japanese hospitality. Surrounding the restaurant is a Japanese garden, beautifully landscaped to exude a sense of calm and serenity. The décor, the lovely service and the garden all went hand in hand in to create a harmonious dining experience.

Yamazato - The Garden

The Garden

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&Samhoud Places – Two Star Michelin Restaurant, Amsterdam

My recent weekend visit to Amsterdam saw me enjoying two days of glorious sunshine, a really pleasant stay at the Art’Otel Amsterdam and visits to a couple of Michelin Restaurants, one of which was &Samhoud Places, a two Michelin starred restaurant in Amsterdam headed by Israeli-born Executive Chef Moshik Roth. Roth’s career started from humble beginnings, as that of a pizzeria manager. But his career took a turn when he embarked on apprenticeships at De Librije and Zwethheul, both of which now hold three and two Michelin stars respectively. Today, Chef Roth is considered to be one of the leading molecular chefs in The Netherlands.

&Samhoud Places is a collaboration between Roth and entrepreneur Salem Samhoud, hence the name. The restaurant is located in Oosterdokseiland, the Eastern Dock Island which is located east of Amsterdam Central Railway Station. &Samhoud Places spans two floors, the first floor being where the Michelin restaurant is situated. The ground floor is a more casual eatery offering street food.

We decided to go on Roth’s full Michelin gastronomic journey, electing to take the nine-course degustation menu (€195.50). Being situated on the Eastern Docks, the restaurant offers views of the waterways. But should you get a bar seat surrounding the open plan kitchen like we did, then you will get a chance to watch the chefs beavering away at work.

&Samhoud Places - Chefs at work

&Samhoud Places – Chefs at work

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Brasserie Chavot

Chef Eric Chavot is best known for his ten-year stint at the two-Michelin starred restaurant at The Capital Hotel where he offered some of the finest French haute cuisine to be had in London. The French born chef trained with some of the most famous names in the culinary world including the likes of Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. He also worked with Marco Pierre White before venturing out on his own with The Capital.

The Capital Restaurant closed in 2009 after which Chef Chavot left for a two year sojourn in The US. But he came back, opening his self-named Brasserie Chavot in The Westbury Hotel in 2013. It’s a world away from the formality of The Capital. Instead of carpeted floors and white linen tablecloths there has been a move towards tiled floors and banquette seating for a more relaxed feel. It’s still a glamorous looking venue nevertheless, with great accoustics to soften the hum of noise from the conversation of other diners.

The menu at Brasserie Chavot may be less complex then his fine dining days at The Capital, but it still bears Chavot’s trademark of classic French cooking and it was enough to see him win a Michelin star in 2014. We started our meal with a scallop ceviche (£13.50) which showcased scallops of the highest quality. Thinly sliced, they were absolutely glorious with a soft texture and a sweet wonderful flavour. The lemon dressing with basil worked well with the scallops although it was a touch acidic in parts.

Brasserie Chavot - Ceviche of scallops

Ceviche of scallops

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Royal Ascot 2014 – Restaurant & Catering Preview

Royal Ascot 2014 will span the dates of 17 and 21 June, and as with every year, Royal Ascot 2014 promises to be something special. Last weekend I had the good fortune of being invited to a press event at Ascot Racecourse to experience a spectacular tasting menu designed to provide an insight into the cuisine that will be served throughout these five magical days.

Ascot Racecourse offers a number of fine dining options and this year two Michelin starred chefs will be cooking at Royal Ascot to present their Michelin starred food. Atul Kochhar from the one-Michelin starred Benares will be on hand to serve his modern take on Indian cooking at the Panoramic Restaurant, which as the name suggests offers unrivalled ‘panoramic’ views of the racecourse. Also cooking is the two-Michelin starred Tom Kerridge from The Hand and Flowers who will treat guests to his smart British classics in the soon to be opened On Five Restaurant overlooking the final furlong. But the premier dining venue at Royal Ascot is without doubt The Parade Ring Restaurant. Located adjacent to the Royal Box, it is here that Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal party comes to dine. Guests who savour the food at The Parade Ring Restaurant are presented with canapés on arrival followed by a five course à la carte menu and a full afternoon tea from Ascot’s Executive Chef Steve Golding.

Royal Ascot 2014 - Salmon

Salmon

Our day at The Panoramic Restaurant started with some gorgeous canapés from Rhubarb, the caterers which will oversee the private box hospitality packages during the five days of Royal Ascot. Here we were treated to salmon mi cuit – beautifully fatty salmon with a yuzu dressing, some rich and decadent foie gras rocher – foie gras parfait coated with hazelnuts, and some fresh and sunny Cornish crab. Also delicious were the garden pea panncotta with its beautifully creamy texture and a superbly tasty duck with mooli. To wash down these delicious treats was a glass (or two or three) of Bollinger champagne.

Royal Ascot 2014 - Foie gras rocher

Foie gras rocher

Royal Ascot 2014 - Pea pannacotta

Pea pannacotta

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Angler Seafood Restaurant

Angler seafood restaurant is part of the D&D Group and located on the seventh floor of the glamorous South Place Hotel. The dining room is elegant, yet unimposing with a relaxed sophistication to it, and its floor to ceiling windows and outdoor terrace provides exciting views of the city. The executive chef is Tony Fleming who previously worked with Marco Pierre White at the Criterion and the three Michelin-starred Oak Room. Tony has also cooked at Oxo Tower, The Great Eastern Hotel and at One Aldwych. Seafood has always been his specialty, and at Angler, this has translated into a British seafood menu with a contemporary twist that saw it awarded a Michelin star in September 2013.

The dinner got off to a smashing start with some of the loveliest langoustines (£5 each) that I have ever tried. These Orkney Islanders were mouthwatering with a delectable sweetness and were firm in texture. If this was anything to go by, the other crustacean options of shellfish platter, clams and crab would no doubt have been exquisite as well. The breads were also heavenly and moreish. Served warm and eaten with the beautiful salted butter made for something moreish.

The langoustines at Angler

Langoustines

Breads at Angler

Breads

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Umu Japanese Pop Up – Frieze Masters

Umu Japanese Restaurant is a one Michelin starred venue located in the heart of Mayfair. It’s a favourite of those who work at the Japanese Consulate, and understandably so as the food is divine. Chef Yoshinori Ishii previously spent nine years at Japan’s three Michelin-starred Kyoto Kitcho, and his haute cuisine approach to Japanese cooking means his food at Umu is graced with a touch that is both elegant and precise.

I dined at Umu last year (for more on that meal click here), but I also had the opportunity to try Umu’s four-day pop-up restaurant at Frieze Masters recently, a fine-arts exhibition in Regents Park. The pop-up restaurant only offered a limited selection of starters, sushi, sashimi, and mains from the original Umu menu, but it was still a great showcase of what the standard Umu menu had to offer. Umu Head Chef Yoshinori Ishii remained in charge of the pop-up and worked the sushi bar as we ate. Also in attendance was a legion of full time staff from Umu in Mayfair.

Umu’s Chef Yoshinori Ishii hard at work

Umu’s Chef Yoshinori Ishii hard at work

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