C&R Izakaya

C&R IZAKAYA

Walking along the multicultural and diverse cuisine street of Westbourne Grove, you are spoilt for choice as to what to have for dinner. One of them is C&R Izakaya, a relatively new kid on the block. The location use to house a Malaysian restaurant which has now been transformed into a Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant has a slimmed down, parred back interior design, and so it doesn’t quite induce the buzzy atmosphere that you might otherwise encounter in a central London restaurant, say in the West End. When we entered for our sitting at 6:30pm, modern pop music was playing and there were a sufficient number of tables available with a few other patrons dotted around. The table was set in a simple style with a wine glass, small plate, chopsticks and soy sauce. The lighting was soft, with individual downlights granting appropriate visibility of the extensive menu.

The menu reminded us of similar casual restaurants in Japan, what with its bright colours and photos that teased you with the variety of options available. The pricing is not on the light side, and did make one wary of how much to order, but in the end we decided to go for a varied selection of items from the menu.

The Aki sashimi set (18 pieces, 6 kinds – £25.50) came first which three pieces of each fish, white tuna, tuna, yellow tail, salmon, scallops and sea bass. This was well presented on a bed of ice. The slices were large and substantial – too large to in fact be considered a technically correct cut of sashimi fish. But we didn’t mind as it was all the more for us to eat. All the fish was delicious and fresh. However, the main delight for us was the white tuna. Having never tried white tuna before, we were intrigued as to its flavour and we were certainly not disappointed. The white tuna was excellent, with a softer texture to normal tuna and a longer lingering taste on the palate. If at this point, the meal had ended, we would have all gone home and been happy.

C&R Izakaya - London Food Blog - Aki sashimi set

C&R Izakaya – Aki sashimi set

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The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald

The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald, with locations in Islington and The City, is a posh modern day neighbourhood fish & chip shop that takes pride in serving fresh sustainable fish. Fish and chips takes pride of place as the signature dish, and is cooked using Des McDonald’s own special batter recipe made with Camden beer and served with hand cut chips. But The Fish and Chips Shop doesn’t just serve ‘posh fish and chips’. Instead diners can also select from a range of raw bar items such as rock oysters and Atlantic prawns. There are also a variety of starters such as crab on toast with spiced avocado, and mains such as Scottish mussels marinière and Cornish monkfish vindaloo. Diners can also chose to have their fish served grilled, steamed or breaded.

Des McDonald is a man who knows his food well. Previously a Head Chef at The Ivy, Des later went on to become the group chief executive of Birley Group, Caprice Holdings, and Soho House, before eventually forming his own restaurant group, Des McDonald Restaurants etc. Des is also the restaurateur behind Holborn Dining Room, a restaurant styled in the essence of a grand brasserie. With The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald, the city restaurant resembles a traditional British café, drawing on the use of salvaged timber, duck egg blue panelling and burgundy-glazed tiles. Key to its design is a rectangular bar where one can find a wide range of bottle and draft beers as well as a variety of cocktails. The wine list at The Fish & Chips Shop by Des McDonald features a variety of reds, whites and roses including some of Des McDonald’s own blended wines.

Our first course was the crumbed scampi tails (£11.50) which were wonderfully crunchy, with the coating not only helping to seal in the juiciness of the scampi, but contrasting well with the softness of the flesh. These came with a homemade tartar sauce which was zingy and creamy.

The Fish & Chips Shop - London Food Blog - Scampi

The Fish & Chips Shop – Scampi

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Randall & Aubin

RANDALL & AUBIN

I recently had a lovely Sunday Lunch at Randall & Aubin as part of a Zomato meetup. An oldie but a goodie, Randall & Aubin has been a Soho institution since it opened in 1996 and is known for its fresh seafood and fun, convivial atmosphere. I have often walked past Randall & Aubin and been deterred from going in by the queues outside. But queues can be a good thing too as that must surely mean that the food is good!

Randall & Aubin – London Food Blog

Randall & Aubin

The meetup event began with a cooking demonstration by Chef Ed Baines. He took us through the intricacies of making a good seafood sauce and the key to prepping seafood such as the cod that we had for lunch and other crustaceans. The session was really informative and enjoyable, particularly the bit where we got to try the oysters! Ed began his career at the age of 16 with an apprenticeship at The Dorchester under Anton Mosimann. Thereafter he travelled the world, spending time in Australia where he was instrumental in developing the Pacific Rim cuisine there. Ed has also cooked at Bibendum, The River Cafe, and has worked as the official chef to Giorgio Armani. Thereafter he went on to open Daphne’s in South Kensington before teaming up with Jamie Poulton to open Randall & Aubin in 1996.

Randall & Aubin – London Food Blog – Chef prepping the cod for lunch

Randall & Aubin – Chef prepping the cod for lunch

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Rotunda – Edouard Brun Champagne Dinner

ROTUNDA

Rotunda is a bar and restaurant located at King’s Place, Kings Cross, so named as it is semi-circular in its layout. Situated right on Regent’s Canal, Rotunda is perfectly situated for some waterside drinking and dining. In the summer months Rotunda’s outdoor terrace opens up with deck chairs and an outside gin bar. The BBQ is fired up for some hearty meaty cooking as well.

Rotunda also has a private dining room where themed nights are held throughout the year. These are open to the public for bookings and I recently attended an Edouard Brun champagne dinner in the private dining room. This proved to be great fun with the menu designed around the champagnes. Edouard Brun is a family champagne house founded in 1898, with management of the house having been passed down through the generations. Located in the heart of Champagne, Edouard Brun maintains its quality standards by tasting each tank after fermentation and performing all blending in-house.

The first course was a lobster roll with tarragon mayonnaise and crispy lettuce. The lobster was a little salty, but it was still tasty and juicy, with the bun being soft and tasty. The accompanying champagne was the Edouard Brun 1er Cru, a fruity and well-rounded champagne made from 75% pinot noir and 25% chardonnay. It had a strong body and therefore paired well with the lobster.

Rotunda - London Food Blog - Lobster roll

Rotunda – Lobster roll

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Brudenell Hotel – Aldeburgh, Suffolk

BRUDENELL HOTEL

Words and photos by Food Porn Nation and myself.

We popped along to Suffolk for a weekend visit recently and stayed at the lovely 4 Star Brudenell Hotel which is located in the quaint, charming town of Aldeburgh. The Brudenell Hotel is perched on Suffolk’s Heritage Coast, and accordingly the hotel offers panoramic views of the sea along the property’s frontage.

The décor at the hotel is fresh and vibrant, and embraces the seaside theme with its vibrant energy and light, bright colours. It’s an intelligent, engaging space, and wonderfully comfortable. There are 44 cosy rooms in the hotel, with some offering sea views. Our bedroom again embraced a contemporary, coastal themed décor with a seating area by the window which allowed us to relax and watch the ever-changing movements of the sea. Our room was really comfortable, and there was something wonderfully rustic about sleeping to the sound of waves lapping up along the shore.

Also in The Brudenell Hotel is the recently opened AA two-rosette Seafood & Grill restaurant. This too has a sea-facing terrace which will soon be made available for use when the weather gets warmer. It’s a contemporary dining venue, and there is an informal bar area where hotel guests and local residents can relax and enjoy a drink or two.

We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast in the Seafood & Grill restaurant and thought highly of both the food and the service. Chef Tyler Torrance draws inspiration from his surroundings, proliferating his menu with not only seafood dishes but also sourcing his other ingredients from the abundant Suffolk area. For dinner we tried a variety of starters, with the wild scallops (£12) being our favourite. The scallops were heady with flavour and came together beautifully with the accompanying cauliflower puree and caviar.

London Food Blog - The Brudenell Hotel

The Brudenell – Wild Scallops

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The World’s End Market

The World’s End Market

Words and photos by Katrina from Russian Revels and myself.

The World’s End Market is the second venture of the Markets Group which opened The Crystal Palace Market restaurant earlier last year. The Group set out to introduce ‘an innovative culinary concept’ to the competitive London restaurant scene by focusing on unfussy cooking using the best quality local ingredients, with the result being primarily grilled fish and meats with classic sauces.

The World’s End Market used to be an iconic pub which has been lovingly restored. Today it retains much of the atmosphere of a good old boozer. The interior design is reminiscent of an early 20th century canteen decorated in cosily hushed greens with a gleaming cocktail bar and easy-listening background music. On a Monday evening the restaurant was uncharacteristically quiet because of an important football game (so we were told by the charming French manager), but the loveliness of the restaurant no doubt can draw in the crowds on other nights of the week. We felt we could easily have spent many an hour drinking from a decent selection of wines, most of which were organic.

The concept at World’s End Market concept centres on ‘locally sourced ingredients’, and although the restaurant does not list the source of all their protein the locavore concept didn’t quite hold true as we saw scallops from the Pacific and prawns from Madagascar. But we tried these for our starters, and we found that we loved the plate of simply grilled scallops (£10.50). Three plump molluscs, with roe intact, were well cooked and served with a zingy dressing. This dish was one of our favourites.

World's End Market - London Food Blog - Grilled Scallops

World’s End Market – Grilled Scallops

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Eleven Eleven Houston – Sunday Brunch

Eleven Eleven in Houston is a restaurant and bar that serves Southern Coastal Cuisine with a twist. Alongside the likes of dishes such as citrus tea brined game hen and pecan-smoked baby back ribs, there’s also a raw bar that serves a variety of crab and lobster plus 10 to 15 different kinds of oysters daily. It’s an eclectic, unconventional menu with an equally detailed beer and wine list and an inventive cocktail selection.

Eleven Eleven - Cocktails

Cocktails

Eleven Eleven is housed in a 1940s home in the artsy residential area of Montrose. With its brickwork walls, dark earthy tones and a leather interior, Eleven Eleven has a loungey feel that draws in a hip and trendy crowd. There’s also a large relaxed outdoor patio area, perfect for the American social institution of brunch.

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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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