Bistro 51 – St James Court Hotel


St James’ Court Hotel on Buckingham Gate offers a number of dining options, one of which is Bistro 51. Contemporary in design but somewhat subdued in taste, Bistro 51 serves a contemporary European menu. The hotel is part of the Indian owned Taj Hotel Group, one of the largest hotel chains in the world. As such, the menu also includes a number of Indian-inspired dishes.

We dined from the Chef’s special menu which is priced at a reasonable £30. We started with a boccocini and cherry tomato tian with pickled portobello and pesto which was pleasant and tasty. The mellow flavour of the bocconini with the sweetness of the tomatoes was a lovely pairing, with the pesto providing freshness to the dish.

Bistro 51 at The St James Court Hotel – London Food Blog - Boccocini and cherry tomato tian

Bistro 51 at The St James Court Hotel – Boccocini and cherry tomato tian

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Photos and words by Food Porn Nation and I.

Kouzu, which means ‘composition’ in Japanese, sits in a beautiful historical 1850s Grade-II listed period building in Belgravia. Kouzu is a slick, modern affair spanning two levels, with a sushi bar on the first floor and the main dining room on the ground floor. The contemporary décor is further glamorised by a lavish set of chandeliers gracing the entrance area.

Kouzu’s head chef is Kyoichi Kai who hails from Kyushu in Japan where he worked as a chef before moving to London in 1988. Chef Kai has cooked at notable restaurants such as Zuma and most recently at The Arts Club in Dover Street. His menu includes traditional Japanese fare such as sashimi, nigiri and maki. These are moderated by modern twists such as the ‘new stream’ contemporarily styled sashimi, charcoal grills, a range of tempuras, and cooked dishes such as miso-marinated black cod. On the drinks list there are a range of Japanese whiskies, cocktails, Japanese beers by the bottle and a variety of sake.

From the ‘new stream’ sashimi, the salmon with yuzu soy dressing (£11.00) was flavoursome, but the dressing of yuzu soy, ginger, garlic, and sesame seed and hot sesame oil was a little too acidic and salty and therefore slightly overpowering against the salmon.

Kouzu - salmon with yuzu soy dressing

Kouzu – salmon with yuzu soy dressing

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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


The Five Fields - Bread selection

Bread selection

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The Thomas Cubitt

The Thomas Cubitt, named after London’s legendary master builder, is a gorgeous and inviting pub located in the heart of Belgravia. On the ground floor is the pub itself with the dining room located on the first floor. The Thomas Cubitt is owned by the same group who also own The Grazing Goat, and they do a fine job of providing rustic British gastropub food in an inviting setting.

In the upstairs dining room we sat down to a chicken liver and port parfait (£8.50) which was well made, flavoursome and wonderfully creamy. It was paired with a pumpkin, thyme and blood orange compote that was fruity and aromatic, and boasted a good amount of acidity to cut through the richness of the parfait.

The Thomas Cubitt - Chicken liver parfait

Chicken liver parfait

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A Wong

A Wong is the latest ‘buzz’ Chinese restaurant in London at the moment and is the baby of chef Andrew Wong who has studied in kitchens throughout China. But Chef Wong already came from restaurant stock for his father use to run Kym’s, the Chinese restaurant that previously occupied the same space as A Wong. Basically Andrew has taken on the same address as his own and refurbished it with a more minimalist taste. The result is a restaurant with shiny surfaces and none of the Chinese chintz. Not that there is anything wrong with Chinese chintz, but this style is much more in keeping with Western ‘cool’.

Chef Wong’s solid bio shows in his menu with a diverse range of dishes drawn from throughout China. During the day he serves dim sum from Hong Kong, and in the evenings the a la carte menu includes touches of the Sichuanese, etc. The pricing of the menu is also fabulously cheap, something of a bonus in this day and age.

To the starters and sweet and sour ribs (£1.50 each) were tasty if a little overcooked leaving the outer layer of the rib a bit dry. The sauce was well made and had a lovely sticky, sweet quality to it that was delicious.

Sweet and sour ribs

Sweet and sour ribs

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Where is the best place to dine in Central London?

Caxton Grill - St Ermins Hotel

Caxton Grill – St Ermins Hotel

The rather grand St Ermin’s Hotel in central London is the home of stylish dining spot The Caxton Grill. The hotel and its dazzling restaurant are firmly in the poshest side of town, steps from St James’s Park, Westminster and Buckingham Palace. The beautiful hotel sets the scene for the restaurant, setting high standards that The Caxton Grill easily meets.

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Boisdale Belgravia

I had never been to a Boisdale Restaurant before but I was very pleasantly surprised to discover how much I enjoyed the experience. There are four outposts: Canary Wharf, Bishopsgate, Wiltshire, plus the one that I visited which is in Belgravia. This is the original Boisdale and was opened in 1985 by Ranald Macdonald, the eldest son of the 24th Chief of Clanranald.

A happy blend between Scottish restaurant, jazz club, whisky bar and Cuban cigar haunt, this place exudes a traditional, easy charm. Some of this can be attributed to the décor, a mixture of rich reds, dark greens, mahogany and tartan-covered furnishings. But I think most of it was due to the lovely jazzy tunes being belted out by the fantastic jazz band that was there for our entertainment pleasure. Whatever the reason, the vibe at the Boisdale Belgravia works.

Boisdale are operating an Oyster Festival Menu (6 oysters plus three courses) until April 2012 which I tried. To kick off was a selection of oysters, judged by a panel from Boisdale and The Wright Brothers as being the best rock and native oysters. These included a couple of different Maldon Rocks which I loved for their meatiness, a Duchy of Cornwall No.3 which had a deep mineral flavour, and a Loch Ryan Scottish No. 2 which was voted the winner with its particularly complex flavour.



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