Rabbit

The Rabbit in Chelsea is the second venture by the Gladwin brothers who brought us The Shed in Notting Hill. I adored the food at The Shed, the fabulous restaurant founded on fresh, foraged and farm-reared sustainable principles by the brothers Richard, Oliver and Gregory, and Rabbit is no different. Richard went into hospitality, Oliver is a chef and Gregory is a farmer; and the three have therefore managed to form a perfect triangle of what it takes to produce a winning restaurant.

The interior at Rabbit also has a touch of country to it and is wonderfully rustic with reclaimed British furniture being a key feature at the restaurant. As with its sister restaurant The Shed, The Rabbit is supplied with reared livestock and wines from the family farm and vineyard in Sussex which is run by Farmer Gregory. Known as Nutbourne, references are often made to ingredients from Nutbourne in the menu. Other seasonal produce come from local Sussex suppliers.

Head Chef Oliver Gladwin previously trained at Oxo Tower, Launceston Place, Just St James and with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage. His passion for foraging and seasonality is evident in his daily changing menu, which is divided into distinct sections: mouthfuls, slow cooking and fast cooking. The menu is designed for sharing with Rabbit recommending about 4-5 plates for two to share.

We began our meal with one of the ‘mouthfuls’, a squid ink cracker filled with sea bass roe and dill (£1.50) that was really tasty. The cracker was crunchy, the squid ink flavour in the cracker was delicately poised, the mellow saltiness of the filling worked well with the cracker and the dill added great fragrance.

Rabbit - London Food Blog - Squid ink cracker

Rabbit – Squid ink cracker

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L’Eto Caffe

L'Eto - London Food Blog - Salad counter

L’Eto – Salad counter

L'Eto - London Food Blog - Salad counter

L’Eto – London Food Blog – Salad counter

L’Eto Caffe is a chain of café-restaurants with six branches across central London that offers an all day dining service. The café is most notable for their dazzling display of cakes and pastries in their front window, all of which are so tempting it’s almost impossible not to do a double take every time you walk past a branch of L’Eto. But L’Eto offer more than just cakes. They also have a counter laid out with vibrant salads and cooked mains. The King’s Road, Belgravia and Brompton branches also serve breakfast and an a la carte menu for both lunch and dinner.

I recently visited the Brompton branch of L’Eto which is located within close proximity to the wonderful V&A and Natural History Museums. It is a very inviting venue with a lovely décor that is peppered with a smart and arty European charm. The wonderful display of great salads and tempting cakes also do much to add spark to the setting.

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Chez Boubier, South Kensington

Chez Boubier, Café de Paris has opened its first branch in London on Brompton Road in South Kensington. The restaurant serves the single menu (£26.50) of salad, bread and steak and fries with a Café de Paris butter sauce that has seen its 90-year legacy thrive across Continental Europe since 1930. Its famous Café de Paris butter sauce can be found in several locations around the world with restaurants in Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong and the UAE.

Its signature trademark is not only the Café de Paris sauce but also the single menu that is promised to every diner at £26.50. The butter sauce was made famous by then owned Arthur-François (Freddy) Dumont of Café de Paris. The birthplace of the butter sauce is commonly mistaken for Paris, France however, it was actually conceived in Geneva, Switzerland by Dumont’s father in law, Mr Boubier inventor of the original butter sauce. It is considered a heavily guarded secret recipe enhanced with multiple spices, herbs and other ingredients. It is so guarded even the staff don’t know the ingredients!

We arrive to a warm and inviting décor that is relaxed with its striking red colour scheme. The interior takes you back to that unmistakeable Parisian bistro feel where you can cosy up to your own booth.

To start, we begin with a green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing and a side of bread. Don’t be surprised if they do not serve butter with the bread because there is plenty of butter to be had later on. I was even told that there is so much butter sauce that most patrons do not finish it. But of course, I was able to finish it!

Chez Boubier - green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

Green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

When your 180-gram sirloin steak arrives, you will notice that it has been slightly seared and slightly undercooked based on your serving preference. You also won’t miss the remarkable amount of Café de Paris butter used to nestle your gorgeous steaks. This plate is then placed on a burner to continue the cooking process and melt the butter sauce in and around your steak. The wait staff will assist by turning and basting your steaks but feel free to take the reigns and baste these beauties as well. The signature butter sauce is simply superb filled with robust flavours and herbs. No one can really confirm what it is in the sauce so the wait staff and I had fun guessing what was in the ingredients. You should see if you can pick out the ingredients too!

The steak was delicious, tender and of high quality. A perfect combination with the signature butter sauce, which was delicious, but very rich and a little salty. Included in the £26.50 menu are 3 servings of French fries and I would highly recommend having this dipped in the butter sauce.

Chez Boubier - Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

Chez Boubier – Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

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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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L’Eto Caffe

L’Eto Caffe operates a string of six venues in London, all of which serve a pre-prepared display of savoury items, sumptuous looking cakes, baked goods and a variety of hot and cold drinks, all of which are available for either take out or eat in. The savouries are sold by weight (about £2.80 per 100gm) and include the likes of Georgian aubergines with pomegranate, walnuts and coriander, and baby spinach salad with goat’s cheese, dried cranberries and nuts. The Kings Road and Belgravia branches also have an à la carte selection of starters and mains for those seeking something prepared to order.

We were in the Kings Road branch after a spot of shopping and we found it to be an inviting location with bright colours and mouthwatering salads on display. The salads looked great but we decided to try the à la carte menu instead with our first starter being a crab and avocado salad with soy and lime dressing (£16). The crab in the salad was lovely and the avocado was ripe and tasty. The dressing was decent and not too overpowering, although slightly less soy and more lime might have achieved a better balance of flavours between the two.

L'Eto Caffe - Crab salad

Crab salad

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Cassis Bistro

Cassis

Cassis

Note: Since this blog post, Chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have both left Cassis Bistro.

You may recall that I went to Apsleys last year, an Italian one star Michelin restaurant in the Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner. Executive and sous chefs Massimiliano Blasone and Marco Calenzo have since left Apsleys and now head up the kitchen at Cassis Bistro in South Kensington, therefore adding a star quality to the existing bistro menu. The restaurant is lovely, exuding a feeling of comfort and warmth with the use of earthy tones. There are also some high-end pieces of art on show, including original pieces by Matisse.

Cassis is part of the Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC) which also owns a number of Michelin restaurants in both the UK and the US, including The Greenhouse and Umu, and the starred Italian A Voce in New York City. With Massimiliano and Marco on board, the idea is to launch an A Voce restaurant here in London sometime next year with the hope of it obtaining a star. Cassis is therefore the springboard for that project.

I recently dined at Cassis at the invitation of the restaurant. My meal was a specially created tasting menu that included some of the dishes from the à la carte menu. Davide Buongiorno, previously the Head Sommelier at Apsleys, has also made the move to Cassis and he expertly paired wines for us to go with our meal.

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Obika South Kensington

Obikà is a concept mozzarella bar and restaurant that champions a variety of mozzarella di bufala hand picked from Italian producers accredited with a Protected Designation of Origin status. Obikà offers three different varieties of mozzarella, all of which are imported from Italy three times a week – classica, affumicata (naturally smoked) and burrata (deliciously creamy). Beyond the mozzarella, the menu at Obikà also includes cured meats, antipasti, pastas, pizzas and main courses.

Obikà has a number of restaurants in various locations around the world with two restaurants in the UK. One is located in Canary Wharf, and the second is the recently opened branch in South Kensington which I visited on its preview launch evening last week.

I wasn’t entirely enamoured by the design of the Obikà website, but don’t let this fool you as it did me for I soon realised that it did not entirely recreate the elegant and contemporary appeal of the restaurant. The décor was created by Italian architects Labics and fashioned on a style inspired by the sushi bars in Japan. The result is something funky and sleek with floor-to-ceiling windows that created a good sense of light and space.

The preview evening allowed us to try a range of dishes from the à la carte menu in the guise of a tasting menu, albeit with smaller portions. The prices indicated below are those listed on the à la carte menu. First up was a taste teaser of a shot of chilled organic tomato soup (£9.50). With a hint of aromatic basil running through it, this soup was decidedly delicious and fresh.

Tomato soup

Tomato soup

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Koffmann’s at The Berkeley

Pierre Koffmann made his permanent return to the London dining scene with his restaurant Koffmann’s at The Berkeley. When Pierre Koffmann appeared during London Restaurant Week 2009 with his pop-up restaurant at Selfridges, Restaurant on the Roof, he became the toast of the town. The ex-three star Michelin chef went into retirement after closing Le Tante Claire in 2004, so his pop-up stint was always going to create some excitement. Restaurant on the Roof was pricey, but it was well worth a visit. The food was very good, and the ambiance was great. And of course there was the opportunity to try his famous pig’s trotter dish.

Koffmann’s at The Berkeley received a fair bit of press during the last couple of weeks as a consequence of Kate Middleton dining there with The Duchess of Cornwall. The restaurant opened last summer, and occupies the space that was previously Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café. The dining room is elegantly furnished and sits on the lower ground floor. As nice as it was, I am not a big fan of this basement eating with no windows. The placement of the toilets is also awkward – you have to up the stairs, go past the reception, and then go down another set of stairs to get to them. Why there is no connecting door between the dining room and the bathrooms is a mystery to me.

A pre-starter of caramelised onions with anchovies and olives on puff pastry was a little salty. The puff pastry wasn’t particularly light.

Caramelised onions with anchovies and olives

Caramelised onions with anchovies and olives

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