The Frog Restaurant

THE FROG RESTAURANT

The Frog is the latest restaurant by Adam Handling, one of the most notable young chefs on the London restaurant scheme. He first came to fame as a finalist in the 2013 series of Professional Masterchef and was the youngest person to be tipped by the Caterer magazine as one of the ‘30 under 30 to watch’ in the 2013 Acorn Awards. In September 2014, he became the head chef at The Caxton Grill by Adam Handling in the St Ermin’s Hotel, a fine dining establishment for which he was awarded three AA rosettes. Adam was also recently featured in ‘The World’s Best Food Magazine’ FOUR, as the ‘one to watch’ for 2016.

With The Frog, Adam brings his love of Asian flavours and techniques to his menu which is very in vogue, with small sharing a la carte dishes priced at around £10 each, as well as a daily-changing tasting menu priced at £45 per head. The restaurant itself, located in Shoreditch, is much more low key and rather eclectic in taste. The floors are concrete and the finishings are bare. It feels grungy, made somewhat odder by the mismatched outdoor space perched under an awning.

The food was very good, and in some places great. There was lots of skill and flair on show, even if I did occasionally find the dishes somewhat heavily seasoned in parts. We had the tasting menu which began with a number of canape sized snacks. The first was chorizo, cheese and onion, a lovely and crispy croqueta made with chorizo and served with treacle for a touch of sweetness and some onion puree for contrast.

Other snacks included a delicious and freshly dressed crab with seaweed and green apple. This too was tasty if a tad salty. My favourite of the snacks was a beef tartar with egg yolk perched upon a beer cracker. The beef was meltingly tender and packed a punchy flavour. Warm bread made from hackney flour followed, served with a delectable chicken butter.

The Frog - London Food Blog - Crab, seaweed, apple

The Frog – Crab, seaweed, apple

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Mac and Wild

MAC AND WILD

Mac and Wild is all about meat – Scottish meat in fact. At the heart of its operation is wild deer which comes from co-owner Andy Waugh’s father’s estate, with the rest of the produce being sourced from other trusted highland properties.

The origins of Mac and Wild dates back to when Waugh first set up at Borough Market in 2010, selling raw deer meat. Before long, his next venture came about as ‘The Wild Game Co’ which saw him dishing out venison-based street food. A pop-up was next, which was so well received that Mac and Wild, the permanent location, came into being in 2015.

The finished product, Mac & Wild on Great Titchfield exudes a minimalist touch with wood tables and bare brick walls. Yet it manages to maintain a sense of a stylishness to it with its soft dim lighting and charming ambience. The menu is predominantly about the meat, but there are also a number of fish and veggie choice to ensure that every palate is catered for.

The highlight of the evening was without question the venison chateaubriand (£11 per 100gm – we ordered 310gm). Packed with flavour and mesmerisingly tender, this was staggeringly good. Perfectly cooked and well seasoned, this was truly a triumphant piece of meat and well worth the price.

Mac and Wild - London Food Blog - Venison chateaubriand

Mac and Wild – Venison chateaubriand

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Nespresso Connoisseur Club

NESPRESSO CONNOISSEUR CLUB

I recently attended a very enjoyable and informative session of the Nespresso Connoisseur Club at the newly opened Nespresso branch at Westfields London in White City. The Nespresso Connoisseur Club was designed to provide Nespresso Club Members with a unique learning experience, especially created for all those who want to develop their knowledge of coffee, understand more about the art of coffee making and how to enjoy it at its finest.

A Nespresso machine - Awesome colour!

A Nespresso machine – Awesome colour!

There are two types of sessions, both of which are conducted in small groups and last around an hour. One session is known as An Introduction to the Sensory Analysis of Coffee, and this is the session that I attended. This proved to be a fun filled journey where we were shown some of the skills and techniques that the experts use to identify the aromatic profiles of the Nespresso Grand Crus families.

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Zelman Meats

Zelman Meats is part of the Goodman Restaurant Group, the team behind the Goodman steakhouses in Mayfair, the City and Canary Wharf, as well as the hugely successful Burger and Lobster chain. It takes over the spot which was once Rex & Mariano, also another venture from the Goodman Restaurant Group. At Rex & Mariano, the focus was reasonably priced seafood which unfortunately didn’t take off. With Zelman’s Meats, the group has shifted its focus to meat, but again with an eye on reasonable pricing.
The décor at Zelman’s Meat is sleek with a tinge of industrial chic. The restaurant is spacious with an open kitchen, dark red leather booth seating, industrial-style lighting and exposed ventilation. In place of traditional paper menus are blackboards on the wall with that day’s offerings. There are three main cuts of meat, picanha (£6 per 100g), chateaubriand (£9 per 100g) and ribs (£12 per piece). The first two are priced by weight with the minimum portion size being 200g.

We ordered the sliced picanha and the chateaubriand, and we enjoyed both of them. The beef came out medium rare, was well seasoned and boasted of a robust charred flavour. Although both cuts of meat were tasty, the chateaubriand was unsurprisingly the better of the two. It had a better flavour as well as being the more tender. We also ordered some sauces to go with the beef, these being the bernaise (75p) and the chimichurri (75p). The bernaise was good with a nice hint of acidity, however the chimichurri was bland.

Zelman Meats - London Food Blog - Picanha & chateaubriand

Zelman Meats – Picanha & chateaubriand

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Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane – The Christmas Unwrapped Afternoon Tea

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL PARK LANE – THE CHRISTMAS UNWRAPPED AFTERNOON TEA

Words and photos by by Nicole Chui (Instagram: @nicolemmapearl) and myself.

Located on the ground floor of the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane is the Wellington Lounge, a comfortable space which offers views of the street (minus the noise) and the edges of Hyde Park. The Wellington Lounge is a lovely spot and a great place for spending time on long chats while enjoying a lovely afternoon tea. Since the holidays are approaching, it was only natural for us to opt for their special “Christmas Unwrapped Afternoon Tea” menu (£42 including a champagne cocktail), and boy was that festive.

Intercontinental Hotel - London Food Blog - Champagne cocktails

Intercontinental Hotel – Champagne cocktails

To start the course of Christmas Afternoon Tea, we were poured a generous amount of the champagne cocktail, champagne with a pear-infused cognac and a small dash of Glenmorangie whiskey. The cocktail was really fabulous, and the fruity addition was a wonderfully refreshing way to kick start the holiday spirit. Following that, the food slowly began to make its way towards our table. We started off with some warm savoury items inspired by Christmas dinner which included a stilton, chestnut and walnut vol-au-vent and a mini honey roast root vegetable pie completed with gravy served from an adorable mini gravy jug. Both of these were really delicious, particularly the pie with its excellent pastry, rustic, homely flavours and gorgeous gravy.

Intercontinental Hotel - London Food Blog - Savoury selection

Intercontinental Hotel – Savoury selection

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Tabl.com Stimulating the Senses

Tabl.com is a fabulous new website featuring popup events, “secret” dinner parties and other foodie adventures, ranging from the sociable to the fanciful, the delectable to the unpredictable. But it’s more then just a website where you can find a meal out. Instead, it’s intended to be a social dining revolution, matching friendly guests with awesome chefs and great food at unique venues. What makes Tabl.com special is that most of the pop-ups featured on the website aren’t everyday occurrences. They take place somewhere unexpected, often in private residences, and are designed to offer a unique social dining experience.

Take the Stimulating the Senses extravaganza that I attended recently at Parlour in Kensal Green. The masterminds behind the event were Chef Jesse Dunford-Wood and experimental psychologist Charles Spence who collaborated with Heston Blumenthal on the Sounds of the Sea, a dish that features on the Fat Duck tasting menu. The pair joined forces to produce an unforgettable multi-sensory dining experience that tantalised and teased during the course of the evening. Playful experiments were conducted during the dinner, centring on the effect of sight and sound and how it affected our reactions to the food. Charles Spence himself was on hand to carry out the experiments with the results being revealed at a later stage.

Tabl.com Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog

Tabl.com Stimulating the Senses

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Lurra

LURRA

The team behind the wonderful Spanish tapas restaurant Donostia recently launched a new restaurant, Lurra, a few months ago. Located a few steps down from it’s big sister, Lurra is similarly a celebration of Basque food. Lurra means “land”, and draws its inspiration from the traditional charcoal and wood grills of the region.

Lurra is a sleek looking outfit. The entrance is small and initially leads into a narrow space. On the right were some refrigerators boasting an impressive range of 14 year Rubia Gallega “Galician Blond” Prime Rib which forms part of the menu (but more on this later). Thereafter you enter the main restaurant area on the ground floor, a well-proportioned, comfortable and airy space with a glass wall that looks out onto the courtyard. There is also another well-lit dining area on the first floor, but the ground floor offers much more charm.

Lurra - London Food Blog - Prime rib

Lurra – Prime rib

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Masterchef Tony Rodd – La Belle Assiette

I recently attended a La Belle Assiette validation dinner cooked by Masterchef Tony Rodd, one of the 2015 finalists. For those of you who haven’t heard of La Belle Assiette, it is a private chef service company, with the chefs registered on the website being available for hire to cook in your personal home. The chefs take care of everything: shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning up. But before the chefs can become available for hire, their skills are certified during a Validation Dinner where the chef cooks a four-course meal reviewed (and validated) by panel of judges.

On the night of Tony’s validation dinner we managed to get two masterchefs for the price of one. Assisting Tony was Luke Owen, himself a finalist of Masterchef 2014. Both gentlemen were lovely and so much fun to chat to. I love a little bit of harmless gossip, and they shared with us some of the behind-the-scenes action at Masterchef.

The validation dinner was held at the lovely south London home of London-Unattached.com, the acclaimed food blogger. We started the evening with a dish called Textures of Beetroot. This consisted of beetroot served four ways – roasted, pickled, pureed and raw. The dish was lovely, and lightly dressed with a refreshing vinaigrette. Helping to boost the salad were some broad beans, feta cheese and walnuts which gave the dish more texture and dimension.

Tony Rodd - La Belle Assiette - London Food Blog

Tony Rodd – La Belle Assiette – Textures of beetroot

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