Posts for the 'West London' Category

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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The Meat Co

Established in South Africa in 2000, The Meat Co Steakhouse opened in London in 2008 at the Southern Terrace end at Westfield’s Shepherds Bush. It is an expansive space, with the ground floor operating as a bar, and upstairs as an enormous dining area decorated in warm dark tones. The headline act is the Connoisseurs’ Choice of Cuts, which includes chateaubriand, wagyu and kangaroo. There are also super-aged steaks, and these meats, sourced from both the UK and the US are firstly basted in a secret traditional recipe before being flame grilled to order. Also on the menu is a variety of chicken, seafood and veggie options. And paramount to its success is that The Meat Co prides itself on offering an approved Halal menu.

I first visited The Meat Co a couple of years ago and had a very respectable and enjoyable experience. This time around it was just as enjoyable. Moreover the desserts had stepped up another level and were even better than I remembered.

We tried a variety of starters including the salt and pepper calamari (£8), peri-peri prawns (£10.50) and chicken wings (£8.75). The calamari was excellent, being tender and coated with a light, crispy and well-seasoned batter. The prawns in a peri-peri sauce had been pan-fried with shallots and garlic and were firm in texture with a good flavour. The peri-peri sauce itself was decent, if a little bit too strong in flavour from the use of peppers. The chicken wings were solid and had been coated with a sweet, sticky sauce that was ever so moreish.

The Meat Co - London Food Blog - Calamari

The Meat Co – London Food Blog – Calamari

The Meat Co - London Food Blog - Prawns peri-peri

The Meat Co – London Food Blog – Prawns peri-peri

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On the hip-and-happening strip that is Golborne Road is a new addition, Zayane, a modern Moroccan restaurant owned by Casablanca-born Meryem Mortell. With Zayane, the effervescent Meryem has brought her love of her homeland to life with a beautiful traditional Moroccan décor that is both attractive and welcoming. Think colours of oranges and blues, tea-lights in Moroccan styled brass candleholders and plush cushions. What’s more, on the night of our visit there was a singer on hand belting out soulful Middle Eastern tunes which were literally ‘music’ to our ears. Zayane was definitely not short on atmosphere!

The head chef is Chris Bower, previously of Michelin Starred Thackerays and The Ivy, and his remit was to combine the vibrancy of Moroccan cooking with modern cooking techniques and the use of seasonal British ingredients.

I visited Zayane as part of a bloggers’ dinner, and we were welcomed with a Zayane Passion, a passion fruit and vodka cocktail which was absolutely delicious. It was fresh and sweet with a hint of acidity and I would recommend this as a way to start the meal.

Zayane - London Food Blog - Zayane Passion

Zayane – The Zayane Passion

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Tucked around the corner from Kensington High Street is Randa, a fine Lebanese Restaurant which is part of the Maroush group of restaurants. Started in 1981 by Marouf Abouzaki who left war-torn Lebanon for London, The Maroush Group now includes 16 restaurants, ranging from the fast food operations of Beirut Express on Edgware Road to the more upmarket establishments such as Maroush on Vere Street and Randa. All the Maroush restaurants aim to serve authentic Lebanese food the traditional way, and at Randa, the menu offers a standard staple of Lebanese goodies. The selection includes a variety of much loved hot and cold mezzes such as hommos as well as an assortment of baked goods and pastries. There is also a fine selection of main courses including seafood and meat grills.

We began our meal with a selection of mezze including chickpea hommos (£5.50) and moutabal baba ghanouj (£5.75), a grilled aubergine purée mixed with tahine. Both of these were delightfully good. The hommos was thick, creamy and tasty, but the baba ghanouj proved to be my favourite with its rich, decadent and slighted charred flavour.

Randa - London Food Blog - Cold mezze

Randa – Cold mezze

Charcoal-grilled marinated chicken wings served with garlic sauce (£6) proved to be a winner. The wings were really nicely cooked and succulent, and they paired wonderfully with the strong garlic-y flavour of the wonderfully thick sauce. These chicken wings with garlic sauce are a personal favourite of mine, and on occasion I will pop into Beirut Express on Edgware Road just to order the wings.

Other hot mezzes included kibbeh (£6), deep-fried lamb meatballs mixed with cracked wheat and onions, and falafel (£5.50), deep-fried bean and herb croquettes served with tahine. Both of these were freshly prepared with crunchy coatings and tasty fillings. Grilled halloumi cheese (£6.50) was truly yummy with a robust earthy flavour.

Randa - London Food Blog - Hot mezzes

Randa – Hot mezzes

Les successful items included the Maroush salad (£5.75) and lentil soup. The salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, parsley, mint, onion, radish and with a lemon and olive oil dressing was also wonderfully fresh. But it was over dressed with too much lemon juice and very acidic on the palate. A lentil soup (£5) was also a little bland.

For our main we shared a plate of grilled king prawns (£18) which was a dream to eat. Four jumbo-sized prawns sat on our plate and were firm in texture and very nicely cooked. The combination of texture and good cooking yielded something that was really flavoursome.

Randa - London Food Blog - Jumbo prawns

Randa – Jumbo prawns

For dessert we tried a selection of baklawa which contained a variety of fillings. The pastry was delicate and the syrupy sweetness of the baklawa was not did overpower the flakiness of the pastry and the tasty fillings. All of these were delicious.

Randa - London Food Blog - Baklawa

Randa – Baklawa

The food at Randa was really enjoyable. The mezzes sang of freshness and authenticity, the prawns were delicious and the baklawa was good too. I would have liked better balance in the salad dressing and greater flavour in the lentil soup, but otherwise it’s a big tick for Randa on the food front. The service was warm and friendly too.

Summary Information:

1) The food was generally well executed with the moutabal baba ghanouj being my favourite.
2) The jumbo prawns

1) The salad and the lentil soup were the weakest dishes that we tried.

Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Prices: About £20 to £40 a head.


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Square Meal

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Michael Nadra Chiswick

Chef Michael Nadra has an impressive list of restaurants under his belt including time as Sous chef at Chez Bruce and La Trompette and stages at The Square in Mayfair and The Glasshouse in Kew. His first solo venture was a restaurant called Fish Hook in Chiswick which he opened in 2005. Many readers may not recall Fish Hook, but I remember it to be a quaint little restaurant serving accomplished and wonderfully tasty seafood at reasonable prices.

With Restaurant Michael Nadra, Chef Nadra continues to delivery really good quality contemporary cooking at reasonable prices in a relaxed and comfortable setting. For dinner, two courses from a prix fix menu are only priced at £30, and three courses are £36. There are two branches of Restaurant Michael Nadra, one in Chiswick, and the other in Primrose Hill.

We found ourselves in the Chiswick branch, a comfortable looking restaurant with dark furnishings and waiting staff dressed in black. We started with a sautéed foie gras (+£3) which was beautifully cooked and oozed with a lovely fattiness. But the foie gras lacked for a touch of seasoning which contrasted sharply with the blood orange salad which was very over seasoned. An accompanying caramelised red onion tart was impressive for the perfect caramelisation of the onion and the lusciously flaky and buttery puff pastry that surrounded the onion. An accomplished madeira jus worked well with the foie gras. Seasoning aside, this was an extremely well executed dish.

Michael Nadra - Sautéed foie gras

Sautéed foie gras

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Launceston Place

My last meal at Launceston Place was around the time Tristan Welch was competing on The Great British Menu. He came across as such a likeable fellow, and the rhubarb and custard crumble served in a cone with ginger and orange sauce that he prepared on the show seemed so enticing that I was really excited to try it at Launceston Place. Things have moved on since then and Tristan has long left to be replaced by Chef Tim Allen who took over the reins in February 2012.

Allen has done what Welch wanted to achieve but was never able to at Launceston Place, and that was to win the restaurant a Michelin star. Having come from a two Michelin-starred background after seven years at Whatley Manor in The Cotswolds, and having worked at The Landmark and the Michelin starred L’Ortolan in Berkshire prior to that, it was perhaps unsurprising that this Michelin success would flow over.

Launceston Place is part of the D&D restaurant group and is located in a regency house tucked away in an adorable part of Kensington. The street is beautiful and grand. As for the décor, it remains very formal and austere with its dark, greyish colours.

For a Michelin restaurant, they do a surprisingly good value Sunday lunch menu with three-courses for £29.50. Unlike some set lunch menus, there were a good range of options within each course. Furthermore, there appear to be only minor differences between the options on the lunch menu and those on the a la carte menu priced at £48 for three courses.

While we deliberated on what to order we started with some G&T’s, delectably served with a thyme-infused ice cube in a very stylish glass. What a great refreshing way to start a meal! We also snacked on some lovely gougères with béchamel that were really nice – the choux pastry was fluffy and warm, and the béchamel was gooey and soft.





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Naga Restaurant

Naga Restaurant and Bar, located across the road from Kitchen W8 on Abingdon Road, is an Oriental restaurant that draws its influences from both Vietnamese and Chinese cooking. There is also a Pan-Asian twist to the menu, and Head Chef Syarief was recognised as the Best Pan Asian Chef in 2011 by the Asian Curry Awards. Naga Restaurant and Bar also won Best Chinese Restaurant 2012 from the Asian Curry Awards.

The décor is appealing, helped in part by the glass ceiling overhead that leads to a light and airy feel. It’s a comfortable, casual space that one can easily relax in.

There were four of us so had a large variety of dishes to share, starting with the silken tofu with ginger dressing (£5.70) that was lovely and smooth and very delicious. The dressing, with its sweet and savoury tones, worked really well with the tofu even if there wasn’t a strong hint of ginger. The deep fried coating around the tofu added a nice texture to it.

Silken tofu with ginger dressing

Silken tofu with ginger dressing

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As pointed out to me by some readers, Sushi Hiro which has now closed, use to be the Japanese restaurant favoured by chefs Heston Blumenthal and Anthony Demetre of Arbutus. But just a few steps down the road is another Japanese gem, Kiraku. The story goes that Heston only stumbled across Sushi Hiro because he was trying to get a table at Kiraku after being sent there by the head of his experimental kitchen, Kyle Connaughton. Finding the latter full, he wandered down to Sushi Hiro instead.

I haven’t been to Kiraku in a while, but I use to be a bit of a regular there, and time and time again I was hooked by the kaki fry (fried oysters: £8.80) and the saba shio (grilled mackerel: £6.90), so much so, I had to introduce the delights of these two dishes to my friends. They were suitable impressed. The meaty flavour of the giant sized oysters exploding in your mouth as you bit into the wonderful coating of crunchy panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) was impressive, as was the contrasting sweetness of the tonkatsu sauce.

Fried oysters

Fried oysters

The mackerel also delighted with its fantastically crispy skin and moist succulent flesh. A drizzle of lemon juice and some grated daikon also worked a treat. I adore the way the Japanese grill their mackerel, and Kiraku probably produces some of the best in London.

Grilled mackerel

Grilled mackerel

A special sushi set (£18.50) was very fresh. The sweetness and acidity in the rice was well balanced. It was reasonably priced, but Atari-ya still has better priced sushi in London just like the So Good Sushi bar in France.

Special sushi set

Special sushi set

A serving of gyoza was good and decent (£5). Nasu dengaku (grilled aubergine with miso and sesame pastes: £5.90) was gooey and soft, as well cooked aubergine should be. Both the miso and sesame pastes were nicely flavoured, but there was a touch too much of each which slightly overpowered the delicacy of the aubergine.

Gyoza & grilled aubergine

Gyoza & grilled aubergine

Prawn tempura (£12) with firm juicy prawns was delicious. The tempura batter was wonderfully crispy but could have been a little lighter. Agedashi tofu was slightly disappointing as it was a little bland.

Prawn tempura

Prawn tempura

Agedashi tofu

Agedashi tofu

We finished with a selection of ice creams (azuki beans, green tea and cinnamon: £3.80 to £4.30) which weren’t bad, although there were ice crystals to be found in my green tea scoop.

I like Kiraku a lot. I’ve been here a number of times and I think the food is consistently good, especially the kaki fry and the saba shio. Kiraku is a family business and it shows in the homely atmosphere, down-to-earth Japanese decor and warm friendly service. It’s well worth making the trip to Ealing Common for.


Summary information

Food rating: [xrr rating=4/5]
Service rating: [xrr rating=3.5/5]

Price range: £25 to £35 per head, excludes drinks and service.


Kiraku on Urbanspoon

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