Morton’s Club

Morton’s Club occupies an impressive spot on Berkeley Square in Mayfair. Housed in an elegant Grade II listed Georgian building which dates back to 1823, it has a lavish history, and was once the private residence of a Chancellor of Exchequer. The famous Bentley brothers also played here during the 1920s.

Morton’s Club entered the MARC (Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation) fold in 2001 when it was purchased by its multi-millionaire Chairman Marlon Abela. It underwent extensive refurbishment and was finally reopened in 2004. The décor is lavish, and world class pieces of art adorn the walls. Morton’s Club consists of a snazzy ground floor bar, an intimate night club in the basement area, and an intimate restaurant on the first floor which has views overlooking Berkeley Square. Sister restaurants include the Michelin-starred The Greenhouse and Umu, both in Mayfair. So it is therefore unsurprising that the restaurant at Morton’s supports a lovely classical French menu.

I dined as a guest of Morton’s. To kick off our meal, we had amuse bouches of wild mushroom soup, marinated salmon and quiche Lorraine. All were tasty.

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

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Laurent-Perrier Champagne Pairing Menu at The Greenhouse

Note: Chef Antonin Bonnet has now left and been replaced by chef Arnaud Bignon from the two-starred Michelin restaurant Spondi in Athens.

I was lucky enough to be invited to sample the new limited edition Laurent-Perrier champagne pairing menu recently launched at The Greenhouse for the festive season. The House of Champagne Laurent-Perrier, founded in 1812, is one of the most recognisable and famous champagne brands in Europe. The Greenhouse is a one Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of Mayfair and is well known for its Asian-inspired French cuisine.

The menu matches five of Laurent-Perrier’s most prestigious and pioneering champagnes with a selection of dishes created by head chef Antonin Bonnet. Each course is designed to enhance the lightness, freshness and elegance of each of the Laurent-Perrier champagnes in the menu. Antonin Bonnet is a protégée of the famous three Michelin-starred chef Michel Bras, and this influence shows in his elegant and refined cooking. I have been to The Greenhouse several times and I adore the food (my last blog post for The Greenhouse is here), and this evening had the makings of a glorious affair.
The evening kicked off with a salmon canape followed by an amuse of runny hen’s egg. This was followed by our first course of a refreshing apple cider marinated mackerel with horseradish snow and pickled black radish. The zingy acidity of the cider was a wonderful match against the oiliness of the fish, and the freshness of the snow added a touch of spark to the dish. The accompanying champagne was Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut which had lovely hints of citrus.

Apple cider marinated mackerel

Apple cider marinated mackerel

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Pollen Street Social

Jason Atherton broke away from the Gordon Ramsay stronghold last year by leaving Maze and going it alone. Pollen Street Social – one of the hottest restaurant openings of 2011 – was the result. The décor is sleek and modern. Tastefully done, it exudes understated elegance. The furniture is dark and the tablecloths are crisp and white. Located on Pollen Street, it sits directly opposite the very expensive (and bad value for money) 5 Pollen Street.

I have been dying to try this place. I was a big fan of Maze and wanted to see if the food at Pollen Street Social would live up to its predecessor. However, the concept here is meant to be more social (hence the name) than it was at Maze. There is a large bar area open for both drinks and food. And at Pollen Street Social, Jason Atherton has introduced London’s first ever dessert bar.

But we decided to station ourselves in the spacious main dining room instead. The menu presented an interesting read with a strong ‘deconstructed’ theme running through it, in particularly with the desserts. We kicked off with scallop ceviche, cucumber and radish, yuzu soy dressing and apple (£11.50) which was absolutely beautiful. The scallops were of the highest quality and the acidity in the yuzu worked wonderfully with them. The icy cold effect of the horseradish snow was a clever complementary addition to this starter. This was a lovely, classy dish – delicate, light and well judged.

Scallop ceviche

Scallop ceviche

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Tamarind

Tamarind made waves in 2001 when it became one of a hand full of Indian restaurants in London to win a Michelin star. Executive chef Alfred Prasad ran a number of restaurants in five-star hotels in Southern India before coming to the UK in 2000. The food at Tamarind draws its influences from North-Western and Southern India and offers a modern interpretation of Moghul cuisine, the ancient courtly food of Rajasthan that centres round Tandoor ovens.

I dined at Tamarind at the invitation of the restaurant along with a number of other guests. The prices listed below are for the à la carte portions. We started with pudhina chops, ginger, turmeric and mint coated lamb cutlets served on a chilli-yoghurt dip (£10.25). This was accompanied by aloo tikki, sago crusted potato cakes on a bed of spinach and topped with tamarind chutney (£6.95). The lamb was tender and the potato cakes yielded a lovely texture, although the tamarind chutney was a touch too sweet against the potato.

Lamb cutlet & potato cake

Lamb cutlet & potato cake

A side dish of papdi chaat, spiced chickpeas, whole-wheat crisps and sweetened yoghurt topped with blueberries and tamarind chutney (£7.50) was lovely with its creamy and chilling nature.

Papdi chaat

Papdi chaat

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5 Pollen Street

This restaurant has now closed.

5 Pollen Street is the brainchild of Head Chef Stefano Cavallini who had the distinction of being the first Italian chef to receive a Michelin star in 1995 for his restaurant ‘Stefano Cavallini at The Halkin’. This place is glamour personified with its art-deco inspired décor and luxurious surroundings. But this place was not cheap, and the privilege of sitting in this beautiful looking restaurant located just off Hanover Square in Mayfair came at a price.

The pasta in a stracci di pasta with rabbit ragout (£15) was nicely done and cooked al dente. The flavour of the rabbit ragout was pleasant and tasty, but it was also a little salty and slightly runny. My current benchmark for a good ragout is the pappardelle duck ragout at Enoteca Turi which, at £11.75, was outstanding. This rabbit ragout was decent, but on a comparative basis it didn’t achieve that same high standard as at Enoteca Turi. Furthermore, the presentation was dull, and at £15, the portion size was also small.

Stracci di pasta with rabbit ragout

Stracci di pasta with rabbit ragout

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Chor Bizarre

According to the Chor Bizarre website, every city in India has its own special “Chor Bazaar” which translates as “Thieves Market”. Apparently, all kinds of wares can be found at these markets, from furniture to fabrics, pearls to periodicals, carpets to cutlery, with some of these making their way to the market without the knowledge of their owners.

This sense of eclecticism thus forms the backdrop of the décor at Chor Bizarre, so named as a play on the words Chor Bazaar. There is an eclectic mix of items “where nothing matches but everything goes” at the restaurant, and the idea is based on a sense of “finery, frivolity and joie-de-vivre”.

The original Chor Bizarre opened in Dehli in 1990 and the London sibling opened in Mayfair in 1997. The menu is fun to read and includes a number of ‘playful starters’, ‘street’ snacks (chaat), tak-a-lak curries, tandooris and other dishes.

My wonderful sister (check out her blog Food Porn Nation) and I dined as a guest of Chor Bizarre. Purani dilli ki papri chaat (£6), a dish of crispy semolina and wheat biscuits, yoghurt, tamarind chutney, ginger and hot spices was delectable. The biscuits provided a crunchy texture to the lovely mixture of sweet chutney, cooling yoghurt and yummy spices. This was a lovely dish.

Purani dilli ki papri chaat

Purani dilli ki papri chaat

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The Cuckoo Club

About a month ago, I was invited to a bloggers’ dinner to mark the 5th anniversary of The Cuckoo Club, a members-only rock ‘n’ roll club. Their website is very cool (well worth a visit) and I was excited about the idea of going to the club. Artists such as Johnny Borrell and his band, Tinie Tempah and Seb Fontaine performed at The Cuckoo Club just before Christmas to mark its 5th birthday and I believe many other star performers have also passed through its doors.

The Cuckoo Club is not as glamorous (thinking Mayfair here) as the website would have you believe, but it is certainly cool in a rock-chic kind of way. The lighting is very purple which made it very difficult to see what the food really looked like. I originally had the photos up, but in the end I decided to remove them from this post. As you can imagine, with this blog having a purple background, the photos were an eyesore.

We (Boo in London, Leluu from Fernandez & Leluu and many others) kicked off the evening with some fancy cocktails, all of which had very rock ‘n’ roll names. The prices are steep though – they come in at £13 a piece with the classic champagne cocktail at a staggering £24.

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Nobu Berkeley

Is Nobu Berkeley the most uptight and pretentious restaurant in London? Well, judging from my experience, it most certainly deserves to be on the shortlist.

So here are some examples for you:

(1) Handing my coat to the ice maiden at reception invoked nothing but a snooty glare. She said and did nothing other than stand there until the coat lady turned up to take it (I mean, how was I suppose to know that it was someone else’s job?).

(2) It appears that if you sit in the bar area downstairs with a drink, and it runs past your reservation time, another ice maiden will not hesitate to come over and insist you go upstairs to your table. Apparently the restaurant only holds tables for 25 minutes and each sitting is two hours. I may not have been Cheryl Cole, but was it really necessary to exercise such Stalinist muscle when we were spending money at the bar and the restaurant was one-third empty throughout the evening?

So upstairs there were three more beautiful ice maidens behind another reception counter who didn’t appear to be doing very much other than look pretentious and occasionally take people to their tables. To be fair, the waiter that served us was quite friendly, but then he probably wasn’t some struggling model type.

The bar downstairs is the height of sophistication and elegance and justifies its tag as an A-list celebrity hangout joint. The décor in the dining room upstairs was far less striking but was far more stylish than Nobu London on Old Park Lane which I thought looked like it had been fitted out as an expensive canteen.

Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa spent three years in Lima and a short stint in Buenos Aires in his twenties, and it was there that he developed his fusion Japanese and South American style. It was therefore unsurprising to see dishes such as seafood ceviche (£10) on the menu. Containing a mixture of lovely fresh prawn, salmon and turbot, there was also a touch of coriander which was beautifully fragrant. However there was too much citrus in the dish which slightly overpowered the delicate flavours of the seafood.

Seafood ceviche

Seafood ceviche


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