All posts tagged: Review

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.

Lunchtime at Bouillon Chartier in Paris

When In Paris: Lunch at Bouillon Chartier

Most declare a fond love for Paris. Some find it rude. Those poor Parisians have a reputation to maintain, earned for them, from what I can see, by a small handful of people. Sure, there are some rough characters, but we have them here too, right? I think mainly, we are just intimidated by the language, and their lack of patience for us attempting to speak it. I can’t blame them. I muddle through like a cat that has just had her tongue removed. Limping by, mumbling French through an Irish accent, expecting at any moment to be told off. And I sometimes am. On a trip to Paris last weekend (very brief and just for one night), I ate at a restaurant that has a reputation for being brusque, rude and maybe not very good at all at times. So why did I go? Because it is a slice of Parisian history and I am eternally curious. Bouillon Chartier is tucked away down an alley off a side street. One of the turn of the …

Eating Buenos Aires! La Cabrera: Your Sweetbreads, are My Weak-Ness

(the title should make sense to those compos mentis in the 80s ;) In Argentina, you seek out beef. That’s a given. The Argentine and particularly gaucho diets until relatively recently consisted almost entirely of beef and all sorts of offal. All cuts fired over parrilla flames and served toppling on platters. Nothing is  wasted when an animal is slaughtered here, Argentines absolutely love offal. The sweetbreads (thymus and pancreas) are some of the best that I have ever eaten, simply cooked with lemon juice over some hot coals, the crisp offal taste rich and delicate. The chewy rich chitterlings (intestines) are fought over by children. When the bullocks are castrated, the testicles are slung on the parrilla to be eaten. It’s a time of year that all farmers here look forward to. So, the Aubergine Parrillas (BBQs) are a must and they are everywhere. In Buenos Aires, I explored and visited quite a few. I have 3 favourites (so far!), the first being La Cabrera in Palermo. Palermo is like the Notting Hill of …

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 …

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 Texture

There has been a lull in the transmission of Posh Lunch Club – apologies. The lull was only a week, but a week is a long time in politics blogging. I have been busy moving house and it has been a difficult transition. My new place is better located, and lovely and bright, but it is much smaller, and as a result I have a ridiculous amount of excess stuff. This takes sorting and dispensing, so it was lovely to escape from the chaos and indulge in a Posh Lunch with Sig of Scandilicious once more. We had chosen to go to Texture, an Icelandic restaurant near Marble Arch. Iceland you say? You’ve heard of that recently? Well, this is possibly the star in the Icelandic crown. Forget attention seeking Eyjafjallajokull, that infernal volcano spouting puffing ash clouds all over the northern horizon and ruining everyone’s holiday plans. Forget about the collapse of the economy. Londoners, when you think of Iceland, you need to think Texture and you need to go there. Why? Well, it’s …

Posh Lunch Club at Racine

Friends were visiting from Ireland recently and staying in Knightsbridge. As always happens these days, recommendations were requested, and I had one must visit for them in the area – Racine. I couldn’t get through to them, and when I finally did they announced that they had already happened upon it and loved it. High praise from two Francophiles indeed. I was delighted that they had had a chance to try it, I feel now that everyone should. Racine is a classic French restaurant that serves very elegant, well executed food. Henry Harris is at the helm, with impeccable credentials having trained at Hilaire with Simon Hopkinson. I’ve eaten there a few times now and have never been disappointed. Each dish delivers what you expect and more. It’s classic French food, rich but not heavy with excellent sourcing of ingredients that are cooked in perfect harmony. I went here for Posh Lunch Club but for the first time fell off of the horse. Posh Lunch Club is about fine dining at bargain prices, only from …

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 …

Posh Lunch Club at Kitchen W8, Kensington

Posh Lunch Club last week could only be a success, for I was to be in affable company. Oliver Thring, fellow blogger and now writer, joined me for a sojourn to the wilds of Kensington. Always cheerful and ever sharp, I knew we would have some fun. We had booked lunch at Kitchen W8, a restaurant not on my radar at all, and for that reason, I was keen to try it. It’s like watching a film without seeing a trailer, or reading a review, and not really being sure what to expect as a result.  It can be very successful or perplexing, I wondered what I would get. En route, I spied a tweet from Ollie, stating that they had tried to seat us at the worst table in the room, even though the restaurant was empty. I sighed and speeded on, as ever a fashionable ten minutes late. Chronoptimism, my faithful stalker. On arrival I spied a beige room, with lots of emaciated blonde older diners, lots of Ladies-What-Lunch. As a less svelte …

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 …

January in food and frolics: the roundup

It seemed like January was never-ending, truly a bottomless pit of rushing to work while skidding on ice and low heavy skies. Skies that were so heavy, I felt like chicken licken, and wanted to roar to the world “The sky is falling in!”. But then, it was gone. Gone! Just like that. And suddenly it was February. How can that be? To stay so long, then leave so quickly. My sense of time is distorted, and now what do I do that I no longer have January to blame for everything? As much as I proclaimed the misery of it all, the heart wrenching, grey boredom that January cruelly bestows on me, there were some culinary moments that may make my best of 2010. Some really fun and utterly delicious adventures. An evening where I was demolished not by January, but by vodka and my own lack of sense, some time in the kitchen with Francesco Mazzei, a Bisol cookoff, a very good pie crafted by my own fair hands, and a new way …

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 …

The Civet Cat Club

Another day, another supper club. It would be easy to be cynical, but this trend of challenging the established, and the chains, and doing your own thing, utterly independent and free from any driving force but your own, is to be championed. What’s to lose? At worst: a poor evening, at best: a fantastic experience, sometimes: in the middle, offering something utterly pleasant and different, an insight into another home, chatter with your neighbouring guests, and a warm fuzzy feeling on the way home. Recently, I had the pleasure of an invite to a new supper club in Newington Green, London: The Civet Cat Club, nestled in the loft of a gorgeous flat, that filled me with such envy and admiration that I was happy to sit there and pretend that it was my own, if only for a few hours.  Seated at a communal table with the ever charming Gastrogeek, we tucked into our prosecco (you know I am a fan!) and stole a few moments to catch up, before chatting to  our neighbors, …

Dine with Dos Hermanos at The Bull & Last

A bit of a photostory for you today. Last night I had the pleasure of attending another wonderful Dine with Dos Hermanos at The Bull & Last in Highgate. It was a great night with really excellent food, and fun company. The theme was Best of British and was fantastically well executed. Favourites (and it’s tough to chose) were a wonderful hand of pork, shoulder of mutton with lentils, steak tartare with quails egg yolk and fried cornish skate cheeks with tartare sauce. It really was all wonderful. There wasn’t a weak dish, and the deep fried calves brains were intriguing, almost like a mozarella fritter, I now know why a brain dish is called head cheese! Starting with the snacks while mingling and drinking martinis, we proceeded to the main course and dessert, which we ate at one enormous table, family style. I was a little worried about this, as my memories of family style usually mean some eat really well and others badly. That was not a worry here, there was so much …

Julie & Julia – in 3 Parts

Warning: contains spoilers There’s been a lot of buzzing and hashtagging of Julie & Julia on twitter of late and I couldn’t help but be intrigued, given I read Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously last year, and read her follow up Cleaving last month. Always keen to engage and align with other food obsessives, I looked forward to reading about her adventures. I hadn’t heard of the book but was browsing a remainder book shop last year and spotted it. The cover roared chick lit but I read the blurb and bought it – the obsessive foodie nature of the project reeled me in. Julie Powell, desperate to escape the quotidian banalities of her job and life, started blogging a behemoth project, cooking her way through the entire of Julia Child’s tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. 536 recipes in 365 days and she had never eaten an egg. It seemed like the kind of overly ambitious, introspective project that I would find myself in. An indulgence, a …

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 …

The Providores Tapa Room

I adore the tapas room at The Providores in Marylebone. Such a lovely place. Good food, fusion done well, one of the rare places that manages it, and delivers food that isn’t over powered by the sensation of the experiment. Great for dinner with a wonderful wine list to accompany the lovely food, and fabulous for brunch. I’ve blogged about my Sunday brunches there before and those wonderful Turkish Eggs. I also promised a post on the fine dining, but failed to deliver – apologies. I’ll need to go again! For now, excuse this brief and effusive post, but I wanted to share my photos of a recent lovely dinner there with old friends. I’d recommend you try it. Everything was really good, except perhaps the snails which were too earthy for my taste, but still intriguing and comfortable amongst the deliciousness of the other dishes. Effusive, yes. Good meal, yes. Recommended, yes. Enjoy! Pimientos de Padron Ginger and garlic roast pumpkin with Goat’s curd, grilled artichokes, cape gooseberries, black vinegar dressing, walnuts and sumac …