All posts tagged: Restaurant

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 …

Eating Buenos Aires: Pizza, Fugazzetta & Empanadas at El Cuartito

So you’re in Buenos Aires. Well, you’ve got to eat like a Porteño and go get yourself some pizza. You weren’t expecting that now, were you? El Cuartito has been making pizza in downtown Buenos Aires since 1934. Not just any ole pizza, they serve the pizza peculiar to Buenos Aires, the fugazzetta (or fugazza con queso). Why pizza? There was a huge influx of Italian immigrants, particularly from Genoa in the 19th and 20th centuries to Argentina. Now, 25 million Argentines are of Italian descent (that is up to 60% of the total population). So, this naturally has had an enormous influence. There are Italian restaurants and pizzerias all over Buenos Aires, and El Cuartito is one of the old standards. Why go? It’s brusque, big and noisy and fun. Bustling and joyful, I loved it. Eat at the counter or queue for a table. Either way, you will be having a proper local experience. The fugazetta is a slightly insane extremely rich deep cheese and onion pizza. If you eat a whole one …

Hidden Ireland: The Tannery, Dungarvan

And on to The Tannery. You’ve been waiting for this one, haven’t you? Dungarvan was never really a food destination, not until Paul & Máire Flynn moved in and opened The Tannery in 1997. The Tannery was an old leather factory, I remember it very well from my youth. One distinct time when very young I recall lots of people working with animal hides which were hanging very visibly, lots of steam, and a sense of industry. I remember people in hats and my surprise when I was told exactly where those skins came from. From animals! I remember the stench. I was very small. Since then, I’ve noticed a very big change in attitudes to food in the area. Maybe this was happening already, and the opening of The Tannery crystallised it, but I think it’s fair to say that they were critical to this development. They’ve since opened an award winning guesthouse (Tannery Townhouse) and an award winning Cookery School which I have yet to check out. I have enjoyed food at the …

Posh Lunch Club at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

Another day, another Posh Lunch Club. This, my friends, is why none of my clothes fit me right now. I wish I was exaggerating! How can I go about continuing my lifestyle as savoury cookie monster, without putting on weight, or going to the gym? No purging either please. There has got to be an answer. Answers in a comment. This lunch date was at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, one of the Galvin brothers numerous outposts in London. I ate at sister restaurant Galvin La Chapelle last year and really enjoyed the well executed and elegant French food. I was very much looking forward to (belatedly) trying the Bistrot. It has been recommended to me by many people for years. I was meeting fellow blogger and good friend, Sig of Scandilicious for lunch. I arrived first, and was immediately taken by the authentic Parisian buzz, high ceilings, low lit and low lamps, mirrors lining the walls, and lots of diners chattering surrounded by hues of brown and cream. It was a very elegant space with …

Posh Lunch Club at Terroirs

I have several bad habits, who doesn’t? One is not writing about some of my favourite places. It occured to me recently, and I wondered why. I suspect that it’s part not wanting to taint a lovely dining/wine-ing experience by dissecting it for a review, and part confident that I will be there again soon and I can review it then. A little greedy bit of me may not want to share, I like this part less than you do. So, I’ve decided to write a list of these places, and start ticking them off. The first one that I will review is Terroirs in Charing Cross, for no reason other than that I was meeting a visiting friend and wine blogger (Vaguely Vinous) there, and I love it. It had the makings of a perfect afternoon. Terroirs is a natural wine bar and restaurant in Charing Cross, French in character offering a vast selection of natural/biodynamic wines, and a great food selection. It’s bright with lots of light, and is always busy. It’s always …

Posh Lunch Club at The River Cafe

I love the River Cafe. It’s so bright and cheerful. By the Thames, the room is lined with high large windows and the room is flooded with light. A big woodfired oven blazes at the end of the room, and the kitchen and bar line the restaurant. Staff buzz behind and high ceilings mean the surrounding customer chatter isn’t imposing. It’s really nice and lively. Even the toilets are cheerful with big bright doors of different colours. It’s at the high end of most budgets, and mine is no exception, so it’s been a while since I visited. Some years ago, pre blog days in fact. Imagine, there was a time when I didn’t blog?! I have long been a fan of their style of cooking, simple flavoursome Italian far so I was excited at the prospect of a return visit, especially as I had secured a reservation with the Winter lunch offer of 3 courses for £24. Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray are accredited with changing perceptions of Italian food in this country, and …

In the kitchen at L’Anima with Francesco Mazzei: Linguine Vongole

I was very excited, and also a little hot and bothered. I had to be in Liverpool St at 5pm, but I didn’t finish work until 5.30pm, and I work an hour away. Eish! What to do?! Thankfully, Francesco and his team were patient and flexible, and unfazed when I burst through the door, earlier than I thought possible, but later than arranged, red and frizzy and ready for vongole. Vongole? What’s that? It’s one of the best Italian culinary offerings, and when nestled with linguine, a real treat. Fresh and lively, salty and sweet, fruity and toothsome, you can’t beat it. I’ve cooked this at home, but not for a while. It’s one of those things that has to be done right, great vongole from an even better fishmonger, great pasta and some time. That’s all. Like anything else, there are ways to do it to do it and to do it right you need to adhere to the rules, but really it’s not that complicated, and once you know the steps, it’s utterly …

A Roast Lunch with English Fizz

Borough Market is a frequent stomping ground, and as many years as I have been going there, there are some nooks still unexplored. One of these was Roast, a restaurant dedicated to British cooking using seasonal produce. I had sampled their breakfast wares on occasion, and they do a scoffable scotch egg, but on this occasion, I had an invite to lunch from Chapel Down Wines, one of our fantastic donors for the blaggers banquet and one of the market leaders in the budding English wine industry. I know the sparkling well, I’ve had it many times, and I really like it. I also really like the Bacchus 2006, a fine white wine, but their other wines, and new beers were unexplored territory. Roast were making a lunch with some blind matches aranged by the chef and the winemaker. I really enjoy this kind of lunch, as it gives me an opportunity to learn some more about matching, and to speak to the people that produce the wine and make the food. We’re too dissociated …

Lunch at Galvin La Chapelle

The Galvin brothers have moved east and opened a new eatery in Spitalfields, or rather two, Galvin La Chapelle for high end dining, and attached, Galvin Cafe de Luxe for more relaxed dining. I’ve been pretty lax this year for checking in on new openings, so when Fiona Beckett, prolific author, blogger and twitterer invited me there for lunch, how could I say no? I couldn’t. Housed in the former church hall of St Botolph’s in Spitalfields, on the new and spruced up Spital Square, an area once full of character, but sadly now more full of chains, Galvin La Chapelle sits on a corner. Behind an imperial grey doorway lies an arresting cavernous restaurant, with high vaulted ceilings and a glass walled mezzanine area housing the toilets at the back, and a private dining area at the front. It’s very impressive, and screams decadence. The clientele are, given the location, predominantly city types, donning designer suits and brandishing brandy. I am relieved when I spy Fiona, relaxed and smiling at a table by the …

Hawksmoor – The Burger

The Hawksmoor Burger. Everyone loves it. Often touted as the best burger in London by the food bloggerati, I had to try it. Fast forward to a Friday lunchtime and a decadent solo lunch. Not everyone loves solo lunches, but I do. Every now and then, there’s nothing nicer than being very nice to yourself, allowing yourself some quiet time. You, a nice meal and a glass of nice wine in nice surroundings. Enter a book that’s grabbed your attention, and for me, that’s a perfect couple of hours. Of course, I also love more gregarious ones, they’re the most fun of all, but life’s about balance and contrast and to appreciate one you need the other. Hawksmoor at lunchtime on Fridays is busy. Very busy. Lots of people, lots of chat, lots of steak on the tables and lots of people drinking wine. I like it. I seat myself at the bar and on the barman’s recommendation (I told him I would be ordering the burger and would like a red wine with body but also some …

Jai Shri Krishna

Moving to a new area always has a little bit of a thrill, especially if it’s relatively unexplored (by your good self of course) and has gastronomic bounty to offer. My move to Turnpike Lane in North East London has been particularly good in this respect. I’ve found some great new Turkish restaurants (Antepliler, I salute you, and I’ll bring my camera next time!), am addicted to Turkish Lahmacun, particularly weak for it after a few drinks, and I have found a number of great food shops and a local butcher that I like. This time, I won’t talk about Turkish food. This may seem odd for Londoners familiar with Green Lanes, packed with Turkish restaurants, food shops and Turkish men’s social clubs. Like many parts of London, Turnpike Lane is full of surprises, and turning a street corner can throw up some unexpected flavours. On Turnpike Lane itself, for example, there’s multi-ethnic eateries and shops with Lebanese, Caribbean, Malay and Indian flavours. The ones that really impressed me recently and that I will describe …

Alan Yau’s latest flavour – Cha Cha Moon

Another year, another stylish restaurant opening from Alan Yau. The entepreneur and restaurateur, native of Hong Kong, has taken London by storm in recent years with a succession of well received asian restaurants including two michelin starred restaurants (Yautcha & Hakkasan). He started with Wagamama in 1992 which he sold in 1998 when it comprised 2 restaurants. These were followed swiftly by Satsuma (for the Royal China Group), Busaba Eathai, Hakkasan, Yautcha, Sake no Hana and now Cha Cha Moon. Famously, he was very unhappy with what happened with Wagamamas. It was a hostile buyout and he is quoted as saying that that was “was like seeing your baby brought up by strangers with different values”. He is seeking to make amends with Cha Cha Moon. It is intended to be the Chinese Wagamamas serving healthy, casual fast food. On approach, Cha Cha Moon is even more startling and modern than previous offerings with bright panels of lights on the walls, broader than at Yautchas, a pretty neon sign by the door. The kitchen is …