Plate Restaurant

PLATE RESTAURANT

Plate Restaurant is located in the M by Montcalm Hotel in Shoreditch, on the first floor of what is a striking building a stone’s throw away from the Old Street Roundabout. Plate restaurant looks very much like a hotel breakfast lounge, and understandably so as it is part of a hotel. But the modern British menu speaks of a creativity that would seem to exceed the standard quality of the average hotel restaurant.

At our waiter’s insistence we ordered Plate’s signature “bread flight” (£7.5) and thank goodness we did. Three homemade brioches – plain, with wild mushrooms, and sourdough, came with three tiny bowls of the fluffiest of whipped butter. These had also been made on the premises: plain with sea salt; red balsamic vinegar with crispy nuts on top; and caramelised onions garnished with crispy shallots. Fresh, exquisitely textured, and warmly flavourful, they stood head above shoulders compared to any restaurant bread basket we have tried recently.

Plate Restaurant - London Food Blog - Bread flight

Plate Restaurant – Bread flight

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Wellbourne Brasserie

Wellbourne Brasserie, located in the heart of White City Place, features a unique all-day dining menu designed by head chefs Ross Gibbens and Michael Kennedy. Formerly Head Chef and Senior Sous Chef of Dabbous, respectively, Gibbens has also worked at Launceston Place and two Michelin-started venues such as Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, The Square and The Vineyard in Berkshire, and it was at Launceston Place where the pair first met.

The all-day menu begins with breakfast choices, moving onto lunch and then dinner, with the dinner options proving to be simple yet refined. The Brasserie and Bar area collectively accommodates about 70 covers, but it was the al fresco terrace area which worked a treat on a sunny summer’s evening. But the location itself in White City Place is somewhat off the beaten track and slightly hidden away, so it feels more like a neighbourhood spot than a venue that can be easily reached after a bout of shopping at Westfield’s.

We went for dinner and began our meal with a trio of vol-au-vents. Seemingly a dish from the past, it happened to be one of the specialties of the house and were filled with contemporary fillings such as broad beans, ewe’s cheese & mint; salted cod brandade and pulled lamb shoulder with violet mustard. All the fillings were delicious and were encased in a perfectly flaky pastry (1 for £2.5, 2 for £4.5 or 3 for £6).

Wellbourne Brassiere - London Food Blog - Vol-au-vents

Wellbourne Brassiere – Vol-au-vents

The list of starters was quite compelling and there was a huge temptation to try more than one each. We ordered three to share. First was the chicken liver parfait with toast, grape chutney and white balsamic (£7). The presentation was tasteful and the parfait itself was velvety and creamy. The white balsamic jelly layered on top of the parfait was however slightly overpowering against the parfait so perhaps the grape chutney alone would have been enough to complete the combination as the acidity element of the dish.

Wellbourne Brasserie - London Food Blog - The starters

Wellbourne Brasserie -
The starters

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Rudie’s Dalston

Rudie’s Dalston

Winter is here and there’s nothing better than a bit of spice on your plate to warm you up. So Elika (Instagram: @Sunny_Elika) and I headed to Rudie’s in Dalson after work one evening, starving, but filled with excitement for the Jamaican feast that laid ahead of us. Jerk chicken is one of our go-to dishes at food markets, and so we were more than ready to give Rudie’s a try. It was a chilly night, and as we entered Rudie’s we were greeted by some Jamaican tunes and kindly staff that warmed us up on the spot. We got in early enough to get a window table so that as we drank our Mai Tai (£7.50) and Jamaican Mule (£7.50) we were able to watch the world of Dalston go by. If you are a fan of rum, then the Jamaican Mule will not disappoint, and the Mai Tai will make you feel like the sun is blowing you kisses by the beach.

Rudie’s takes Jamaican food to another level, offering a more refined and contemporary approach to the more traditional Jamaican experience of jerk and spicy BBQ. We kicked off with the Peppered Shrimp (£8.50) for starters which was not for the faint of heart. We had been appropriately warned that these were hot, and this dish lived up to its reputation. The sauce was spicy and bold and served the plump juicy prawns very well. And although fiery, the intense, rich flavour of the dish was entirely worth the risk of the burn on your tongue. Topped with some avocado, this helped to balance out the heat of the dish.

Rudie’s Jamaican Patties (beef £6) proved to be love at first smell, offering up a comforting and delicious aroma of homemade food that we found difficult to resist. The pastry on the patties was flaky, and the moist beef filling contained a hint of Jamaican curry which was wonderfully delicious. For those feeling less adventurous and looking for a more familiar option, we would recommend the Crispy Calamari (£7.50) which had been battered and deep fried in polenta. These were tender and crispy and had been sprinkled with a delicious jerk seasoning.

Rudie's Dalston - London Food Blog - Starters

Rudie’s Dalston – Starters

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Arthur Hooper’s

Arthur Hooper’s

Arthur Hooper’s is a relatively new addition to London Bridge and a stone’s throw away from the already vibrant food scene at Borough Market. Given that it is in an already competitive dining area full of crowd pleasers, Arthur Hooper’s does well to make its mark. In days gone by, it was once owned by a greengrocer, Arthur Hooper, hence its name.

Arthur Hooper's - London Food Blog

Arthur Hooper’s

Historically significant, the interior, designed by local London Bridge design studio Buster+Punch, features a rough jewel box concept, drawing on inspiration from the historic markets and cobbled nearby streets. Finishing touches include crafted steel caged light fittings, a custom hexagonal concrete floor and artworks by acclaimed artists Matt Small and Dan Hillier. There is a mixture of high tables and stools, “wrap around column” tables as well as quieter tables along an imposing steel-caged, back-lit bottle shelved wall. In all, the ambience is relaxed and casual.

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Eneko

ENEKO

Eneko at One Aldwych is named after its famous owner, Eneko Atxa, the chef of Azurmendi Restaurant, a 3 Michelin star restaurant in the Basque region of Spain and currently No. 38 on The World’s Best 50 Restaurants List. Azurmendi is an exemplary example of modern Basque fine dining, and at Eneko, Chef Atxa seeks to introduce to Londoners the joys of his approach to Basque cooking, something that we were excited to go and see for ourselves. Enoko is the flagship restaurant at the luxury boutique five-star hotel One Aldwych London in Convent Garden, and is prominently located at the junction where Aldwych intersects with the Strand.

We began our evening experience at Eneko in ground floor bar which was curved in its layout and cosy and comfortable in its design. Following recommendations from the extremely friendly and attentive staff, we went for the suggested Gorki Izagirre Bizkaiko Txakolina (£10 for 175 ml). The Basque white, apparently made at Mr. Atxa’s uncle’s winery, was well-balanced in terms of acidity. However, it wasn’t particularly memorable as a wine to enjoy on its own, but would be ok to have as an accompaniment to wash down food with.

As for the restaurant itself, this was on the lower ground floor and was spacious and well-appointed. Carefully designed, it was both intimate and social, with the acoustics being properly monitored to minimise any amplified chatter and clanking that often fills other establishments. This space in every way epitomised what a modern fine-dining restaurant could aspire to look like.

Our first course was a delightfully tasty dish with a burst of summery colours, the Traditional Talo (£12). This was a basil-rich salad of heritage tomatoes served on a bed of talo (Basque tortilla chips) and it proved to be an epitome of basil freshness and deep rich flavours of well ripened tomatoes. The edible flowers helped to create a multi-sensory, visually arresting, seasonal experience. This was the best dish of the evening.

Eneko - London Food Blog - Traditional Talo

Eneko – Traditional Talo

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The Laughing Heart

THE LAUGHING HEART

Probably one of the best meals I’ve had this year, The Laughing Heart in Hackney is a wonderfully smart venue that operates as a late night wine bar, dining room and wine shop. The space is intimate and cozy with a warm and comforting open kitchen and brickwork walls. The tables – all custom built – each hold individual cutlery drawers for every diner. We were really taken aback with this thoughtful, ingenious and quite simply, adorable touch, and it really set the tone for the wonderful meal that was to come.

The food, sharing plates of modern-European with Asian influences, were all inspired, starting with the Dungarvan oyster with shiso and apple (£2.50 each) which was incredibly fresh and refreshing. The oyster was meaty and rich, and both the sweetness and sharpness of the apple, and the aroma of the shiso served as a lovely contrast to the oyster.

The Laughing Heart - London Food Blog - Oyster w. shiso & apple

The Laughing Heart – Oyster w. shiso & apple

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Sakagura

SAKAGURA

Sakagura is an upscale Japanese restaurant snugly hidden behind Burberry’s flagship store right off Piccadilly. The street-side entrance does in no way betray its interior: a glitzy post-modern izakaya with strategically positioned lighting and judiciously chosen Japanese memorabilia. The management team are from Kyoto, the original Japanese seat of the imperial court, where a high culture of luxury and sophistication has matured over one thousand years. Those influences of high culture were apparent throughout our dinner at Sakagura.

We started with maguro tartare with yuzu dip (£16) which was served on a tiny wooden tray lying on a bed of ice and decorated with multi-coloured edible flowers. There was also a layer of black capelin roe which added an exquisite visual touch as it created a contrast with the tuna’s pink. The tuna was delicious, as was the yuzu dip. The array of accompanying Japanese condiments that came along with it – wasabi, pickled ginger, toasted sesame seeds – also worked really well with the tuna.

Sakagura - London Food Blog - Tuna tartare

Sakagura – Tuna tartare

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El Pirata

EL PIRATA

If your means are not too constrained, El Pirata in Mayfair can be a good choice for those times in your life when you develop a craving for some excellent home-made food but don’t feel like cooking yourself. This rustic comfortable Spanish restaurant churns out reliably tasty and homely tapas and other classical Spanish dishes, all served with the sincerest of smiles from their knowledgeable staff. The interior leaves no doubt that this is a Spanish eatery – the walls are literally smothered with various reproductions of works by famous Spanish painters. Queen’s Brian May is reported to be a very satisfied customer of El Pirata.

First arrived bread – a thoroughly enjoyable plate of crispy crust and fluffy centre – topped with a smartly undersalted, moist and fresh tomato topping (£2.65). Because the latter was rather lightly seasoned, it enhanced, rather than upstaged any other dishes we might have had alongside it.

El Pirata - London Food Blog - Bread & jamon

El Pirata – Bread & jamon

It was accompanied by a platter of super-fancy ham with a name as long as Picasso’s: jamón ibérico pata negra, gran reserva “don agustin, iberico summon guiguelo. We were counting on a fountain of flavour and lush unctuous texture, perhaps close to that of the French Noir de Bigorre or of one of those eye-wateringly overpriced Spanish jamons in Borough Market. However, this hope did not quite materialise into reality. It was good, solid, but rather very run-off-the-mill stuff, the kind you could buy pre-sliced at El Corte Ingles in Spain. In all honesty it was not quite worth the £19.95 price tag.

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