The Shed – Visit No. 2

Last week I paid a repeat visit to The Shed, a restaurant by The Gladwin Brothers. My first visit was great and you can read about that meal and the background to The Shed here. I also visited The Rabbit recently, the sister restaurant of The Shed and loved that experience too. Sadly this second visit to The Shed was somewhat underwhelming. There were a couple of poorly executed elements in the food. The service was slow as well. Clearly there are some consistency issues at The Shed.

We’ll start with the service which was disorganised. We ordered some wine which failed to arrive as and when it should have. We had to repeat our order three times before the wines finally showed up which meant we had to wait, wait, wait. The restaurant was busy, but not so busy that this couldn’t have been avoided.

The concept of the menu at The Shed continues to centre around a variety of different sharing plates that the restaurant refers to as fast cooking and slow cooking. There are also mouthfuls, the idea of which centres around canapé sized morsels of food which are ideal for getting a mouthful of something tasty.

From the fast cooking section, we tried the pan-fried goat’s cheese (£6.30) with a drizzling of honey and a touch of thyme which tasted warm and good. To round off the dish was a topping of hazelnuts. The idea of the nuts worked with the cheese, but disappointingly, they did not taste as fresh as they should have.

The Shed - London Food Blog - Goat's cheese

The Shed – Goat’s cheese

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The New Angel

THE NEW ANGEL

The New Angel is the latest restaurant from Michelin-starred chef, author and restaurateur John Burton-Race, and is his first London restaurant after an absence of 12 years. The New Angel is set in a converted Victorian pub on Chepstow Place, in Notting Hill, and is neighbour to another well-known London establishment, Assaggi. The New Angel opened in April 2014, and within its first year of opening it was awarded three AA Rosettes and recognised by Harden’s as one of its Top 10 new openings of 2015.

John Burton-Race has a long string of Michelin credits to his name, starting with Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons where he worked with the renowned chef Raymond Blanc from 1983. In 1986 John opened his own restaurant, L’Ortolan in Berkshire which went on to win two Michelin stars, a feat John repeated in 2000 with his restaurant at John Burton-Race at the Landmark Hotel. John then sojourned to France for a number of years before returning to the UK in 2004, opening The New Angel in Dartmouth, Devon. This restaurant also attained a Michelin star in 2005, an achievement the restaurant retained until John’s departure in 2010.

With The New Angel Notting Hill, John seeks to replicate the French inspired contemporary European cooking for which he is so well known. The restaurant is classically decorated and oozes with warmth and elegance. Rounding off the fine dining experience is a comprehensive wine list and an experienced team of waiting staff.

We chose the tasting menu (£77) with pairing wines (£137) which kicked off with an amuse bouche of salmon gravalax with a lime and horseradish cream and some vanilla apples which was heavenly. The combination of the acidity from the lime, the sharpness of the horseradish and the sweetness of the apples was perfect judged and added a touch of magic to the delicious salmon. It was a small plate of food, but a truly delicious one at that.

New Angel – London Food Blog – Salmon gravalax

The New Angel – Salmon gravalax

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El Pirata de Tapas

El Pirata de Tapas in Notting Hill, sister restaurant to El Pirata de Tapas Mayfair, came to fame when Gordon Ramsay named it one of his ‘Best Spanish Restaurants in the UK’ in 2010 on his Ramsay’s Best Restaurant TV programme. That recognition belonged to a time when El Bulli trained Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy was still the head chef at El Pirata de Tapas (co-incidentally Allibhoy had also worked at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant under Jason Atherton prior to taking over the reins at El Pirata de Tapas). These days Allibhoy is busy with other ventures such as his books and Tapas Revolution with the current head chef at El Pirata de Tapas being a Julian Gil.

El Pirata de Tapas is a comfortable looking restaurant and is suitable casual in keeping with the many other casual eating options along Westbourne Grove. The restaurant serves a modern tapas menu, a throw back to the days of Allibhoy.

There was a great value set lunch menu at £9.95 for two tapas dishes including bread and wine, but we elected for the more adventurous offerings from the standard a la carte menu.

Seared scallops (£9) were nicely cooked and came with a sweet and delicious onion purée that worked well with the scallops and some pork roulade that was quite fatty. Overall this was a nice dish but it would have been better had it not come out cold.

El Pirata de Tapas - Seared scallops

Seared scallops

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The Shed

Brothers Oliver and Richard Gladwin have lovingly created The Shed Restaurant in Notting Hill, taking over from where the Ark Italian Restaurant once stood on Palace Garden Terrace. Paying homage to their lifestyle in rural Sussex, the ingredients are sourced from their youngest farmer brother in Nutbourne and other local suppliers in Sussex. Otherwise it is foraged for, and the British menu is ever changing depending on what is available. It is classified according to ’mouthfuls’, ‘fast cooking’ and ‘slow cooking’, etc, and designed for sharing with smallish-sized plates.

As it is a ‘shed’ with a back garden/farm yard feel to it, the restaurant is charmingly decked out with wooden benches, countrified tables, and colourful barrels. It’s a carefully designed hodge-podge furniture collection with a playful feel to it. But the problem is that The Shed is pretty cramped making it a little uncomfortable. And being so small with lots of people being squeezed into it and no floor padding made for some pretty noisy acoustics too.

From the mouthfuls (small bites) section, quail’s eggs with celery salt (£1.50) would have worked better if they were slightly runnier. The celery salt was very good and worked a treat with the eggs. There was a good balance between the salt and the celery flavour. Pork crackling (£1.50) with apple sauce was tasty.

Quail’s eggs with celery salt and pork crackling

Quail’s eggs with celery salt and pork crackling

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Assaggi

Assaggi use to hold a Michelin star which it lost this year. But to be honest, two previous visits to this Italian restaurant have always left me at a lost as to why it ever had a star to begin with. The food was decent, but unspectacular, and very pricey. In my opinion, not only was it not Michelin worthy, it wasn’t worth the price tag either. So it was no surprise to me when it was stripped off its star this year. About time I thought. I’ve never been anxious to go back but friends who wanted to try it invited me along.

Assaggi is housed above a pub in a beautiful Georgian building on Chepstow Place. But the lovely building masks a poorly decorated dining room, which, with its bad lighting and dull wall hangings makes the restaurant feel little better than a cheap café. It was also very noisy as there is no carpeting on the floor.

Culatello di zibello, the prized cured ham from Italy, was delicious. Thinly sliced, the lovely red flesh was sweet and delicate, and further enriched by the tasty pieces of white fat running through it. The ham can be ordered with burrata, a mozzarella cheese with cream (£24.40 with cheese or £16.90 without cheese). I think the combination would have worked well had the cheese been served at room temperature. Instead, it was spoiled by the fact that the cheese had only just been taken out of the fridge and was far too cold to eat. £24.40 is not cheap for a starter, and so it was disappointing to have the restaurant ruin it through careless preparation.

Culatello di zibello with burrata cheese

Culatello di zibello with burrata cheese

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The Ledbury – Sunday Lunch

There are some pretty exciting Australian chefs on the London scene right now, eg, Shane Osborn (Pied a Terre), David Thompson (Nahm), Skye Gyngell (Petersham Nurseries). Another is Brett Graham, who after opening The Ledbury at the age of 26, became the youngest Australian to ever win a Michelin star. This January saw Brett earn his second star, an achievement further capped when his sideline venture, The Harwood Arms, also won its first star. But then, Brett has always been on a steady climb. After arriving in London in 2000, he became a winner of the Young Chef of the Year award just two years later. Before The Ledbury, his time in London was spent working his way up to senior sous chef at The Square under Philip Howard.

For a two star restaurant, The Ledbury has one of the best value Sunday lunch menus around. Three courses from the a la carte menu costs only £40, with a similar menu in the evening being priced at £65. However, the only drawback of dining on Sundays (and Saturdays) is that Brett typically doesn’t cook during the weekends. Although, not having the head chef in action should, in principle, not make a difference.

Amuse bouche was a pomegranate macaroon with foie gras parfait and ginger crumbs. The parfait was creamy with the richness of the foie gras, and it married beautifully with the lightness of the macaroon. The touch of ginger added a nice zing to the combination.

Pomegranate macaroon with foie gras

Pomegranate macaroon with foie gras

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Supperclub – London

Sea bream

Sea bream

I first heard about the concept of a ‘bed bar’ from watching Sex & the City years ago. (If you’re a serious fan like me and have watched every episode over and over again, then you’ll know the episode that I mean). It inspired me to visit The Bed Bar in New York which didn’t look nearly as glamorous as the staged version on the TV show, and co-incidentally is now closed.

The Supperclub London recently opened in Notting Hill and incorporates the use of ‘beds’ as well. The iconic original is the one in Amsterdam, and from its origins there it has spawned a number of branches around the world. A ‘supper’ venue, there are also two bars to choose from, a string of eccentric performances for your entertainment pleasure, and a live DJ. The theme is outlandishness, and no better way to reinforce this fact than the staff who are all dolled out in kooky electric dress. I have never been to the one in Amsterdam but I thought it might be fun to try out the London venue so that I could test out its ‘supper’ element.

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The Oak

Having been away for a couple of months, it was nice to make steps towards settling back into life in London again. My first foray back onto the London dining scene was to the ‘gastropub’ The Oak on Westbourne Park Road in Notting Hill, which turned out to be a far more pleasant experience than another first, one that involved going back to the gym (ouch).

Other than the usual starters, mains and desserts, The Oak also offers a selection of ‘small eats’ and antipastas, but they are probably best known for their wood fired pizzas. We started with paprika deep fried squid with rocket, chorizo, aioli and cherry tomatoes (£8.50), and chargrilled octopus with San Marzano tomatoes and rocket (£9.25). The accompanying salads were lovely and fresh, although the squid was slightly overcooked and chewy, and the octopus was extremely soft and limp – a firmer texture would have been more appetitising.

Paprika deep fried squid

Paprika deep fried squid

Chargrilled octopus

Chargrilled octopus

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