On the whole, the Michelin guide is a safe place to consult when looking for somewhere to eat out. For a consistently good meal, forget twos and threes, and stick with the cheaper, humbler one star. Undoubtedly, the ‘little red book’ gives preference to European food, so when South West Indian seafood specialist Trishna gained a star (and subsequent blog appeal) in October 2012 for its foodie fireworks, I felt I ought to give it a try. Continue reading
On the eighth day, God created brunch. And He saw that it was good. And He loosened his belt, and He rested. Brunch is on the rise, it seems. Neither breakfast, nor lunch, it caters for those like me – the interminably picky. What better way to start the weekend than with an assortment of breakfast/lunch items that really should never be seen together on a plate. But whilst everyone’s at it, brunch always leaves me wanting more. Metaphorically. Could Alan Yau‘s Naamyaa Cafe (of Wagamama/Hakkasan/Yautacha/etc fame) sate the insatiable? Continue reading
I don’t like Mondays just as much as the Boomtown Rats. Nor does the restaurant industry. Everyone’s back to work, the markets are closed, and no one goes out to eat. Indeed, the best places are often shut at the beginning of the week. Not, however, The Square. I’d read praise for it as having “flawless” service, serving up “sophisticated” food, with Phillip Howard‘s restaurant being “the best of its type”. An excellent reputation demands high expectations. On the Monday I went, I experienced nothing to such acclaim. I have to ask: Where was our fantastic meal that everybody else is having? Continue reading
Whether you’re a lover or a hater, you cannot deny that Gordon Ramsay has influenced some of the finest British chefs around. Without Ramsay there’d be no Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, neither Angela Hartnett’s Murano, nor Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social. Now, however, each chef has left the Ramsay nest, and seems much the better for it. They’ve realised that the old dog has given up on the new tricks, and it’s time for them to shine. And indeed they do. This week there are no quips, no jibes, and no cynicism. Pollen Street Social is my favourite restaurant in London. Well, probably. Continue reading
Dishoom can be translated as that Bollywood sound effect heard when someone is punched. ‘Pow!’, in another word. This might seem a strange name for a restaurant, but when you walk through the door your nose is indeed hit by that wonderful aroma of gently-frying spices. If this isn’t enough on a Sunday morning to get your tastebuds going then I’m not sure what is. However, breakfast at home at a weekend is difficult to beat: eggs with a kiss, toast with a hug, and bacon crisped within an inch of its life – that’s mine please if anyone’s listening. But it’s still worth trying to beat it with a morning trip to an Indian restaurant, nonetheless. Hindus are well-known for their reverence and utmost respect for cows, to the extent that daily life can grind to a halt to ensure that the animals are wholly satisfied. It’s rather ironic, therefore, that at Dishoom diners are treated like cattle. Continue reading
Peruvian cuisine has crept up on the London restaurant scene with three recent openings in the past year; indeed, the whispered word on the lips of the online food brigade at the moment is that speciality from Peru – ceviche. The last time I had ceviche was a few years ago at The Ledbury; the dish was let down by its sharp citrus marinade and gelatinous texture. A huge disappointment for two star cooking. I’d been put off ever since. But being older and wiser, it was time to give ceviche another go. So of the three new Peruvian restaurants, we chose newest kid on the block, Lima, to tickle our South American tastebuds. And tickled they were. Continue reading
It was going to be a hard act to follow last week’s Corner Room, but if anywhere could stand up to its brilliance, it would be Gauthier. If Michelin-pomp isn’t for you, it’s somewhere to avoid, but previously I’d found the converted West End townhouse to be a welcome indulgence, serving consistently high-quality French cuisine with finesse. Once a year, the restaurant serves a two-for-one tasting menu, “to experience the full creativity of Alexis and his team the way he would want you to, but for a very special price”, said their email. And £35 each is a very special price for eight courses. You’ve heard the old adage that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is? This was no exception.
A simple space on the first floor of the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green gives little away, but look a little closer and it becomes apparent that someone has a sense of humour: a spiral staircase leading nowhere; lamps hung at spectacularly varying heights; no external telephone. The place is unassuming. The menu is the same. Three ingredients are listed for each dish, with no indication as to how they’re to be prepared or served. Portuguese chef, Nuno Mendes – who trained at El Bulli – is best known for working his magic at Michelin-starred Viajante, downstairs, so as you settle into your seats at Corner Room you feel like you might just be in for a treat. And you’re not wrong there. Continue reading
In late 2009, mid economic crisis, Russell Norman bravely opened his first bacaro (a Venetian wine bar to you or me) just off Carnaby Street. Three years later and Norman has four more successful restaurants to his name. He’s done well. Very well. And why wouldn’t he have? The concept is instantly likeable: fairly-priced food to share, served in a hip venue. Throw in enough booze and everyone will love it. And indeed they do; it’s very difficult to find a bad word against Polpo anywhere. Until now. Not much feeling up to the scrum that is undoubtedly their evening ‘no reservations’ policy, I set on a Monday afternoon to take out a friend for a belated birthday lunch to see what all the fuss was about. Everything that goes through the door seems to have been ‘distressed’: the walls, the menus, the waiters’ jeans. Me too.
Château le Terme Blanc Monbazillac 2010: Golden hue in the bottle, becoming a more pale yellow in the glass. Much less viscous than I was expecting – almost watery. On the nose honeysuckle and candied fruit. Very clean and crisp in the mouth with hints of melon and honey – again, less syrupy than expected. However, fairly one-dimensional; could have been slightly too chilled. Enjoyable but not very interesting. Paired well with foie gras pâté; had enough acidity to cut through the fat, and a lingering sweetness which countered the richness of the pâté. Surprisingly, it really suited the dessert of passion fruit, cherries, and redcurrants, possibly due to the warmer temperature. Good value. Perhaps a few more years in the bottle to really let it shine. (Wine Society, £20) 8/10
Château Pey La Tour 2008: Deep ruby red on opening – closed nose to begin with. Slightly barnyardy. After a few hours it gave a full, brambly nose an d a touch of oak and white pe pper. Definitely one to decant. In the mouth at first jammy and slightly sweet, moving towards some pepper and spice on the finish. More oak coming through. Medium bodied with fairly smooth tannins. Unmistakeably a claret, almost St. Emilion. Difficult to enjoy without food, but that’s fine. Was served with a warm salad of rare beef, rocket and sun-dried tomatoes. Probably could have done with a richer dish, but the pepperiness really shone through in the wine. Tasted side-by-side with the pinot noir and fared better. Bit pricey for what it is. (Wine Society, £13.50) 7/10
Bourgogne Domaine Jean Grivot Pinot Noir 2006: A very pale brick red colour and slightly thin in the glass. Very little on the nose to begin with, but after a few hours open in the bottle there was a fragrance of strawberries and vanilla. It’s quite delicate and doesn’t give much away. A bit simple in the mouth with some taste of raspberry, and a touch of sourness on the short finish. It had a slight earthiness on the nose the more we drank. Its soft tannins make it easier to drink than the claret, but it was lost in the food, so it might be matched more to drinking on its own, maybe even slightly chilled. Not my sort of wine, but I can see its appeal. Recommended to drink now by the Wine Society, but still feels a bit young. (Wine Society, £10.99) 6/10