Mishkin’s

Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, the people behind the successful eateries Polpo, Polpetto, Spuntino and Da Polpo, have produced another offspring with Mishkin’s in Covent Garden. Mishkin’s bears the trademark of the other Norman and Beatty restaurants in the sense that it is cool, hip and happening, but deviates as it steers away from their Italian tapas theme. With Mishkin’s they’ve tapped into the vein of a New York styled Jewish deli, one that also serves cocktails.

The restaurant has a grungy Lower East Side vibe to it with its exposed brick work, metallic topped bar and banquette seating. And let’s not forget the cramped space which makes it feel even more like a New York eating hole. Towards the back of the restaurant were some tiny tables, and it was on one of them that were placed. Our particular table was lopsided. It was unclear to me whether this was a deliberate attempt to be avante-garde , but irrespective, it was rather impractical as our matzo ball soup split when it was placed onto the even table. The chicken broth in the soup (£6) had a nice chicken flavour running through it, although it was rather too peppery. The matzo ball itself held together well and had a light and springy texture.

Chicken matzo ball soup

Chicken matzo ball soup

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Loch Fyne Covent Garden

Loch Fyne offer an online seafood and larder ordering service and is probably best known for the oysters that they grow naturally in the waters of Loch Fyne, Scotland. Loch Fyne works closely with the Marine Conservation Society and uses only sustainable methods for farming. The oysters feed on plankton and no artificial feed is used. In addition to the oysters, Loch Fyne also farm a variety of fish, again using only sustainable methods. Their fish stocks are also topped up by their wild fish catches that are landed from the waters off Cornwall and the South-West.

The online business is only one part of what Loch Fyne do. In addition, they also operate 42 seafood restaurants throughout the UK. There are two in London, one of which is on Catherine Street in the theatre heart of Covent Garden. The restaurant has a charming brasserie feel to it and oozes warmth and congeniality. At the back of the restaurant is a seafood counter that displays the seafood of the day. It’s a really good way of checking out the freshness of your seafood before your order.

Seafood bar

Seafood bar

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Green Man & French Horn

Ed Wilson and Oli Barker, the boys behind the renowned Terroirs and its sister restaurants Soif and Brawn, have created a certain niche by selling biodynamic wines imported through wine specialists Les Caves de Pyrène. The practice of biodynamic agriculture refers to the use of organic, sustainable and ecological methods in wine making, and it is a practice that has gained momentum in recent years.

Wilson and Barker’s latest restaurant is The Green Man & French Horn. They’ve kept the name of the pub that once graced the site where the restaurant now stands. Located right in the heart of Covent Garden, it’s a quaint little place. But it’s also a tight squeeze with cramped tables and noisy acoustics.

The French menu is rustic, homely and comforting. A starter of chicken livers (£8.50) with artichoke and mâche were fat, silky smooth and dripping in flavour. Cooked to medium rare, they were well seasoned and superbly done. A drizzling of merlot vinegar and olive oil dressing left the dish with a lovely glaze and added a moist finish.

Chicken livers

Chicken livers

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Brassiere Blanc Covent Garden

Raymond Blanc, the two Michelin starred chef behind Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, lends his name to the new chain of restaurants called Brasserie Blanc which serves French brasserie food. The branch at Covent Garden has taken over the space where Chez Gerard once was, on the rooftop patio overlooking Covent Garden Piazza.

The interior of Brasserie Blanc Covent Garden allows for a lot of natural light, but the restaurant feels cramped with all the tables being tightly squished together. There is no disputing the fabulous location, but our table on the terrace did little to guarantee a view given the high stone balustrade that runs along the terrace.

A selection board (£11.90) of guinea fowl rillettes, Milano salami, seared mackerel, apple and pear chutney, cucumber crème fraîche, carrot vinaigrette, celeriac remoulade proved to be decent. The rillettes had a good gamey flavour running through it, and surprisingly did not taste overly fatty. The mackerel was fresh and nicely cooked.

Selection board

Selection board

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Dalla Terra

Dalla Terra, a lovely Italian wine bar in St Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden, set up shop about three months ago. Its focus is to offer a wide variety of quality (and predominantly Italian) wines – some 180 bottles and 30 by the glass – and a simple but delicious food menu in a welcoming setting. For the heart of Covent Garden, wine prices were reasonable with a Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve champagne costing only £10.

Chef Araldo De Vitis, who previously worked at St John Bar and Restaurant, has come up with a small menu of delicious tasting dishes to match the wines. The menu was well thought out and included simple delights such as a selection of bruschetta that featured cherry tomato with rocket and oregano which offered freshness and bite, and spreadable “Ventricina di Campotosto” salami with broad beans and pecorino which was rustic and hearty (£3.80).

Tomato bruschetta

Tomato bruschetta

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The Delaunay

The Delaunay is the sister restaurant to the grande dame of brasserie eating, The Wolseley, and it is in every way as resplendent as its older sibling. Owners Jeremy King and Chris Corbin’s approach was simple – to bring the best touches of old-world European café glamour and sophistication into one establishment. Think doorman with top-hat, dark wood and shiny brass fittings, a gorgeous French antique clock, and you have a sense of the Continental grandeur that The Delaunay exudes and which is also the trademark characteristic of The Wolseley.

The restaurant offers an all-day service. There are soups, eggs and sandwiches, but the slant on the food is decidedly Germanic, and there are items such as wieners and ‘tagesteller’ (dish of the day) on the menu. There is also a bit of French and British thrown in with the likes of croquet monsieur and Welsh rarebit, and for something more refined, Sevruga and Beluga caviar are available as well.

A steak tartare (small with toast – £10.50) boasted of quality meat with a rich hearty flavour. It was extremely tasty, but the tartare was a touch too acidic, and it also needed a little more onion to better balance the dish. It was served with some rustic sour dough bread.

Steak tartare

Steak tartare

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Kopapa Cafe and Restaurant

Kopapa Cafe and Restaurant is situation on Monmouth Street in the heart of Seven dials, a Covent Garden hub which plays host to a range of restaurants and bars. There is the Michelin-starred L’Atelier by Joel Robuchon and Hawksmoor Seven Dials, but to name a few. Seven Dials also offers a plethora of shopping options and is well know for its boutiques. No wonder then that Kopapa Cafe serves an all day menu, ‘tapas’ style, to cater for the shopping crowds.

As with Providores in Marylebone, sibling restaurant Kopapa Cafe remains true to New Zealand born Chef Peter Gordon’s approach to fusion cuisine which blends a mixture of Asian, Middle Eastern, European and American influences. This eclectic approach is one that is rarely seen in restaurants elsewhere and can sometimes come across as a little unconventional.

Take for instance, the seared yellowfin tuna (£11.20) which was delicious. But the accompanying nori sauce tasted flat and did not really work with the tuna which needed something with a little bit more acidic zing. A side of green papaya and coriander salad was aromatic and fresh.

Yellowfin tuna

Yellowfin tuna

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Tamarai

For a taste of nightclub dining, I recently tried Tamarai at their invitation. Billed as a pan-Asian restaurant and bar, it also morphs into a club at 11pm with a DJ and a 3am licence.

As befits a nightclub, the décor is dark and dimly lit with lots of well spaced plush seating. But it felt a little tired and probably could do with some refreshing.

Caramelised Szechuan pepper king prawns (£16) was seductively good for the fat, meaty and tasty jumbo-sized prawns. There wasn’t anything particularly Szechuanese about the dish, no real hint of heat or spiciness, but there was a lovely sweetness coming through from the caramelisation effect.

Caramelised Szechuan pepper king prawns

Caramelised Szechuan pepper king prawns

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