All posts tagged: London

Review: The Lockhart, London

January was not a hugely successful month for dining for me. Not that I was on some dry January mission, January, of all months, needs decadence and I will never do that. I ate out a lot and had some good meals, but rarely anything exceptional. Then I went to The Lockhart and had my faith restored. The Lockhart opened last year but not well. So they got a new chef, changed the menu, closed and worked on it before opening again in January. I was meeting two food loving friends for dinner, and booked at the last minute after one friend objected to the original reservation elsewhere. Expectations were high. Very. We sat by the kitchen, a bright vivid space, and watched the chefs gently choreograph our meal. Brad McDonald leads the kitchen, a well respected American chef who now cooks southern food in London. And lucky us. We ordered pretty much everything between us (the menu is not overwhelming and is perfect for this).

Review: House of Ho [Vietnamese, Soho, London]

Bobby Chin is well know for his TV exploits, however, he also owns two very well regarded restaurants in Hanoi & Saigon. Now, a third in London has been added to the list in an impressive double fronted site on Old Compton St in Soho. The official opening day  was January the 6th, although they were operating in soft launch over Christmas. I popped in earlier this week. First impressions are good. The space is vibrant and buzzy and the menu looks promising. We started with cocktails, I had a horny devil simply because I can’t resist chilli anywhere, even in my drinks. With lemongrass vodka, Vietnamese devil’s chilli (floating menacingly on the top of the cocktail) and fresh coconut, it was fresh and sharp with a lovely gentle heat.

Announcing: Sunday Bacon Club (A Bacon Masterclass & Bacon Brunch) – Book Your Place Now

I love teaching my bacon masterclasses. Over the course of the 3 hour class everyone chats, and gets to know each other, but then everyone has to go home. Bacon is a terrific social glue. With the general excitement about the class, the quirkiness of the recipes, the smells (oh, those smells), then finally the deliciousness as you eat it, it always seems a shame to just go. So, I looked into ways that I could extend the classes. What to do? Evenings are too short once you leave work, so I looked at Sleepy Sunday and thought, well what about a class then? Followed by brunch? When there is no time pressure, and people can relax, and have some wine while they cook, and then after with brunch? Sounds good, doesn’t it?  The venue is the very spacious and smart Underground Cookery School. Brilliantly located a 5 minute walk from Old St station, this school is a lovely sociable space with everything we might need to help make bacon even more brilliant. There is …

Preview: Foxlow, St John St, London

St John St is a busy street, and in a very good way. Home to St John’s restaurant (from Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver), and also wine bar & restaurant Vinoteca (across the road), with Bistro Bruno Loubet (which I have eaten at 3 times but neglected to blog, a huge oversight), and The Zetter Townhouse around the corner (one of my favourite spots for drinks and bar snacks). There are lots more and I could type all day, but my point is, that this isn’t an area that has been crying out for great new restaurants. This hasn’t stopped the Hawksmoor team from taking a stab at it, and given their pedigree (I am a fan of their Hawksmoor steakhouses and bar), I was curious as to what they planned to deliver and how. I knew that this wasn’t going to be another Hawksmoor, but I was expecting it to be quite meaty. And so it was. In a very good way.

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London: Jacob Harrison Pastrami (Montreal Style Pastrami in London and it is the Real Deal)

“Square pastrami makes me so angry! I have to avoid that counter in the supermarket every time”. An unusual conversation to be having in a park in North London, perhaps. Over a portable gas burner and a pot containing a vacuum packed bag of meat. Stranger still was that it was with a someone that I had never met before and knew vaguely only through the internet. However, I had heard great things about Jacob Harrison’s Montreal style pastrami and I had to try it. Even if that meant that we had to meet somewhere in between (to be fair, he had offered to meet me at my place and invited me over to his, but I only had an hour to spare so this was the best that we could do at the time). Montreal smoked meat (aka pastrami) is famous. Schwartz’s Deli is a first stop for most travellers to Montreal – myself included. When I last visited and requested a sandwich, the waiter looked at me and said, “have you tried the …

Manicomio City Steak & Chianti Night

Preview: Manicomio City Steak & Chianti Nights

I recently found myself in the Gutter, no, sorry, Gutter Lane in East London. Manicomio City, an offshoot of the original Manicomio in Chelsea, are offering a Chianti & Steak Night Special until the end of November. I laid my waistline on the -er- line and went to check it out for you. On offer is a Longhorn T-Bone (750g) from the Ginger Pig, and a bottle of 2009 Castellare Di Castellina, Chianti Classico. The steak is available at lunchtime to share for £45 and the wine also retails at £45, so it is a bit of a bargain at £65 for both. The Ginger Pig is pretty well known in London now, and like most food obsessives, I am familiar with their steak, both from the Ginger Pig butcher shops and also steakhouse Hawksmoor, which uses their steaks exclusively. Great meat and steaks, and I especially love the blue cheese taste the Longhorn fat has. Fabulous. The offer is for the steak and wine, excluding sides and starters and desserts (should you want them), but I am …

Bacon Fudge

Bacon Masterclasses: Last Ones for 2013! Book Your Place Now.

LAST BACON MASTERCLASSES FOR OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER – BOOK NOW Ok folks! Dramatic yes, but necessarily so. I am calling an end to my bacon masterclasses this year. They are simply too expensive for me to run. But I want to teach a few more before I stop and also I want to share some of the new Project: BACON recipes through them. So, if you want to book, do so now. All places booked between now and Friday will be sold at early bird prices (£75 vs £95). I just don’t have the time to manage any admin right now, and would rather fill them (or as close to as possible), and then see you all there. THE SCHOOL I will be teaching them at a wonderful new cookery school in central London, Aveqia. The school is very central, based near Farringdon and is beautiful. The original school is in Sweden and the same elegant Scandinavian design has been used here, and as you would expect, it is a thoughtfully designed and very useful …

Morito, Exmouth Market, London

London: Seafood Festival at Morito

London is a very big city. That is not news but it frequently annoys me. It is the best and worst thing about London. I love that I can pop across to the other side of London and have a whole new and interesting experience. I also hate that I have to do that. I am a bit spoiled by it, I think we all are. I used to live in the North East of London, so popping to Morito for tapas and a swift sherry was always easy. I have written about Morito before, if you are new and unaware of it, Morito is the smaller sibling of Moro, and is just next door. Now that I am down sarf, popping to Moro is a little trickier. It needs to be planned, and you know I hate to plan anything (as much of a key skill that is for any sociable Londoner). However, Morito’s annual seafood festival is a must, so I made sure I didn’t miss it. Morito’s Seafood Festival runs only until …

This Weekend in London: Meatopia. Don’t Miss It.

I may be in Lima in Peru (and really loving it), but a chunk of my food loving soul is very sad not to be in London as I will miss Meatopia. Meatopia is the meaty brainchild of Josh Ozersky, James Beard award winning food writer. We were always going to get along. As Josh says in the recent brilliant Vice Munchies video  (which you must watch), “Every aspect of my life is utterly immersed and overflowing with the juice of literature and the love of food”. Starting out as an academic and historian, he was diverted to food by his passion and knowledge, and started with the well respected delicious tome Meet Me In Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York City. He hasn’t stopped since, and we are all very happy about that. I met Josh when he was in London, and here follows a little about Josh, where you must hit at Meatopia, and some grill tips. Tell me a little about your meat obsession? I have, from a very early age, …

Burger Monday (on a Wednesday) at Shake Shack in London

I got a sneak peak of the new Shake Shack in London yesterday evening, via Daniel Young of Young and Foodish and his terrific Burger Monday. I am not a burger obsessive by any means, but I appreciate good food (natch) and when a friend brought me to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Gardens, NYC, I didn’t have very high expectations. A burger is a burger, right? Right. Well, not really. I loved it. For the simplicity, the size of the burger, the flavour, moisture, sticky cheese slipping over the edge and the the lovely potato bun. It was a good solid burger, and I went back the next day. It became a favourite. Now, they have come to London,  the burgers are made from 100% Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef, the SmokeShack (my favourite) features British free-range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon and the concretes (frozen custard blended at high speed, a rich elegant ice cream) include Paul A Young chocolate and St John Bakery products. I focussed on the burgers last night, there is only so much that …

Posh Lunch Club at Pizarro

To refresh your memories and to introduce new readers, Posh Lunch Club is all about finding the best fine lunches at bargain prices. So set menus, and all that jazz. Mainly in London but also anywhere that I might find myself. Which is a lot of places, at times. I have a long list to hit in London, and will be focussing on that for the next few months. I love Posh Lunch Club because it makes London restaurants so accessible. I really believe that you don’t need to have a lot of money to eat well, either at home or out on the town. When I first moved to London and existed on a pittance, I took advantage of the amazing ingredients available to me and taught myself to cook more, as I couldn’t eat out that much. Now I can, but I still relish a bargainous and delicious discovery. Posh Lunch Club isn’t a real club. I have had requests to join but sometimes there is only one member – just me on …

My Favourite London Places to Eat (my Top 10 London Restaurants, if you will)

I have a shortlist of must eat places that I visit every time I am back in town. Places that offer comfort, deliciousness and that make me feel right at home. Bowls of loveliness and pies of joy, spicy fabulous curries and fatty fabulous seekh kebabs. This is not a list of anything specific, like my favourite fine dining or cheap eats, but a list of the places that I think about when I travel and head straight for when I get back. I always promise that I will share these, but I never do. (I don’t know why, I suspect it is because I find things like this a bit of a Sophie’s Choice). There are restaurants that I love that aren’t on here as they are more occasion type places for me (L’Anima, Racine & The Ledbury, for example). They are centred around Soho, and in South London where I live, but these are places that I travelled to before I lived here from the North and East and are destinations for me. …

Announcing: A Weekend Long Food Blogging Masterclass at The Guardian HQ

I was extremely honoured to be asked to curate a food blogging masterclass at the HQ of The Guardian newspaper as part of their series of masterclasses. As curator I have asked the best food bloggers in the UK to join me in sharing our knowledge with you. It will be useful, informative and hands on. We are planning it right now, and I will be back soon to share some more details for you. For now, here are some details on my fellow tutors. There will also be two influential keynote speakers, details on those soon too. The course will run on the 13th and 14th of July and therre are only 36 places. Classes will be taught in groups of 18 so it will be intimate and everyone will get lots of attention. Book on Eventbrite via The Guardian website. Niamh Shields – me! – social media, etiquette and food & travel blogging  You know about me :) Daniel Young – food criticism for bloggers Daniel is the “Young” behind young&foodish, a London-based website and …

Tickets Now on Sale: Bacon Masterclasses on Wednesday 20th & Friday 22nd March

I am woefully late announcing these, but here you go! New bacon masterclasses on Wednesday 20th and Friday 22nd March, in just over two weeks time. These are a new format and in association with Bacon Connoisseurs Week. They will be held at Food at 53,  gorgeous cookery school between Old St and Islington. As always, they will be really fun, and very sociable. Come on your own, or with friends, I promise you will be comfortable. We will kick off with a Bacon Bloody Mary, then get into the cooking three recipes. Chipotle Bacon Jam – better than any you have tasted with only the best ingredients. Chipotle fuelled, smoky and sticky. Bacon Jam Fudge – it takes time but it is fantastic, and it is amazing with a single malt Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles – smoky, rich and fabulous Then we will finish with a bacon curry. You will go home with a goody bag of everything you have made with all of the recipes. I have kept the prices as they were, £75 for 3.5 …

Behind the Scenes at Ottolenghi and Lunch

Some of you are going to hate me now, but here goes. Yesterday I went for lunch behind the scenes at Ottolenghi. The hub of all Ottolenghi activity, where recipes are developed and a lot of the restaurant items and most of the deli items are made. Ottolenghi are proud of their sourcing, and this is evident from the food. Each bite has an intensity of flavour and freshness that isn’t delivered unless you take extreme care with your ingredients, and how they are stored. Secret places and people. Every good restaurant has these. They generally don’t share them with us. Except Ottolenghi does now. In response to readers craving exotic ingredients from the books in order to recreate the food at home, Ottolenghi have now set up an online store, and they deliver all over the world. Ingredients, products, and wine too. Exciting, eh? And really delicious. Date molasses, sumac, za’atar, rose petals, (proper) rose water, dukkah. Fragrant and delicious. I cook a lot with rose petals (see the rose petal butter in my …

Ola José! José Pizarro’s New Sherry Bar Hits Bermondsey

At long last, José Pizarro, former head chef at Brindisa Group, has opened his sherry bar in Bermondsey. It’s as good as I hoped it would be, terrific food & wines are served at really decent prices in a lovely cosy room. Better than that, Josés warm personality is evident throughout, it’s really friendly and welcoming. Warm wood counters grace large windows, it’s predominantly standing room here, but that adds to the bustling vibe. The wine list has been put together by Tim Atkin MW and Jo Ahearne MW, and features a terrific house cava by Babot at £6 a glass. I also really enjoyed a glass of Verdejo from (2010 Cuatro Rayas), a fresh and lively sauvignon blanc from Rueda at £6.50 a glass. There is of course the sherry which has its own comprehensive list. I have yet to explore this properly but will definitely be going back there to sample. What of the food? There wasn’t a dud dish when I visited. My favourites were the divine croquetas, perfect tortilla, pisto with …

The Tio Pepe Tapas Trail: Barrica, Fino & Pinchito Tapas

London is an interesting city. Waves of enthusiasm seem to infect leading to trends in food and otherwise. Trends drive me crazy, food is food after all, and if it’s good it’s good. So what if I want to eat sun dried tomatoes and it’s not 1997?! I like ‘em. Sometimes they bring benefits though, and I am happy to succumb. One such trend is the interest in Spanish food and drink and the corresponding surge in quality tapas restaurants in London. Centrally this has seen the arrival of Barrica, Fino (relaunched last year) and Pinchito Tapas. Spanish style (perhaps Irish style too!),we embarked on a crawl of these three, taking advantage of the Tio Pepe Tapas Trail. Tio Pepe fino, one of my favourite summer drinks, was available free with any tapa over £4.50. What fun! We started at Barrica. My first time there, I was taken with the warmth of the traditional room with the sunny yellow walls. Lots of wood, a big counter, some tables and high stools. We opted for bar …

Tips for Taste of London

So, you’re off to Taste of London. 4 hours and some of Londons finest restaurants, best producers, and some very fine booze. Just how will you manage?! Here’s my top tips for your trip and the ones that I plan to visit when I hit there later today again. Trinity London Head to Trinity for the dish of the festival, selected on Thursday by a group of judges – Pigs Trotters on Toasted Pain Poilane, Fried Quail Egg, Sauce Gribiche and Crackling. A terrific dish, and one that I have sampled at the restaurant, I couldn’t resist it again. Trinity were selling the crackling at £1 a stick on Thursday, and on the quiestest day of the festival, sold 1,000 sticks. You know you’ve got to go. I also tried their Chargrilled Asparagus, Fried Pheasants Egg and Truffled Homemade Ricotta. Well, it wouldn’t be Trinity if there wasn’t truffle in there, and this was fantastic. I loved the gentle texture and earthy aromas of the truffled ricotta, and dipped the lime green asparagus sticks in …

Identita, London: The International Chefs Conference

I bounced back from Ireland to the International Chefs Conference, Identità, at Vinopolis. Traditionally held in Italy, it has been held in London for two years now, and is an inspiring couple of days, with chef demonstrations, talks, tastings, and an excellent selection of Italian produce to sample. More bijoux than most food conferences, there was a clear focus on quality and excellence. When I heard about it, I couldn’t resist going along for both days so cleared my diary, and made my way. There is so much that I could tell you about, I’ll start with some photos and highlights. A brilliant and hilarious demo from quirky Hong Kong chef, Alvin Leung. A self taught 2* chef who cooks at his Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation, Alvin cooked his interpretation of the English breakfast with lotus root stuffed with bone marrow, lotus seeds and 1000 year old egg. He kicked it off with a martini and his sous chefs name was Devil. He was funny, fresh, and inspiring. I found myself laughing a lot …

Edible Wild Flowers: Three Cornered Leek/Wild Onion

I always have my eyes peeled and my nose finely tuned to the colours, shapes and scents in country hedgerows. A dangerous occupation when there’s lots of silage and manure about, but, worth it for the times that you get an onion-y whiff, and then glimpse beautiful white flowers that taste somewhere between a spring onion and wild garlic. I love wild garlic and use it a lot when it’s in season. It’s incredibly pungent (usually), and is something that I cook, or at least blanche before using. Three cornered leek (sometimes called wild onion and officially called Allium triquetrum) is more delicate, and slender, like a feminine version, with slimmer, angular, less shouty leaves and petite flowers. Perfect in salads, the flowers also make a gorgeous garnish. On a walk to the beach in Glandore last week, I turned a corner and hit the most intense onion smell and smiled, knowing that I would be greeted by beautiful white flowers, looking like swanlike snowdrops. They are also common in London, I did a cheeky …