Tag Archives: restaurant

De-ja-moo

It’s risky business revisiting a restaurant when your first trip was this epic! But ever since tasting the delights of Hawksmoor during their soft opening week in October, I’ve been longing to return. This time we thought we’d mix it up and go for burgers in the bar.

I’m not going to blab on as I think the pictures speak for themselves. So…sit back, relax and prepare yourselves for some good old fashioned food porn. Behold the mighty meatfest that is the ‘Piggyback Burger’…a Hawksmoor classic topped with BBQ style pulled Tamworth Pork…

Hawksmoor have decided to mix things up a bit and have introduced ‘The Third Burger’, a monthly rotating burger that remains a secret until it’s launch. The Piggyback Burger is only available until the 16 February, so I highly recommend getting you ass down there asap! or follow @HawksmoorLondon to find out what delights will be gracing the burger menu next!

It may be a meat-centric establishment but, trust me, their pudding menu should not been neglected…

I made sure I had space left for the most delicious peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream…

The cocktail menu is vast and lip lickingly tempting, which makes decision making a tough one. But my personal recommendations are the zingy, punchy and super refreshing ‘Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew’ and the potent, eye opening, must for coffee lovers…’Square Mile Martini’…

The perfect end to another perfect evening…

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This little piggy went to market…

Borough Market used to be a weekly haunt of mine when I lived south of the river, but since affecting to North London I seem to have neglected it totally. However, another great toptable deal gave me the perfect excuse to get my ass down to Roast, a meat orientated restaurant situated in the floral hall above the market.

Me and my friend Hannah were taking advantage of the 3 course market menu at £26, which I realised after looking at the prices on the rest of the menu, was a very good deal indeed.

We were served a basket of delicious bread from the Flour Power City Bakery, who have a couple of stalls in Borough Market as well as a few other locations in and around London. Bread and butter are my nemeses, in hindsight I wish I’d been able to resist them or at least refuse the top up from our very attentive waitress. I just wasn’t aware how much food there was to come…

For my starter I had a pot of pickled Dorset herrings with beetroot, sour cream and horseradish. I’m a real sucker for kilner jars and was totally won over on first appearances. However, it not only looked amazing but the little jar was chocka block full of flavour and delicate, melt in the mouth herrings…

Han opted for pressed ham hock with toast and picalilli. And despite the fact that the toast actually turned out to be bread and the picalilli portion was a little stingy, she was very impressed…

I chose my main on the grounds that it came with a ‘Franconian cheese sausage’, which intrigued me…German sausage plus cheese…a match made in heaven surely?

The complete dish was grilled saddleback bacon chop with aforementioned Franconian cheese sausage, crabapple jelly and chips, which were served in their own little deep frying basket…

I would liken the sausage to a cooked Polish kabanos with veins of cheese running through it, weird but wonderful!

Hannah had the pot roast featherblade of beef with caramelised onion and thyme dumpling, which was so tender and succulent that it fell apart, no knife required!…

We were pretty full at this stage (darn that bread!) but as usual, I’d already eyed up the dessert menu and knew I’d regret not sampling it. It was a nightmare for a dessert loving, indecisive diner like me as everything just sounded soooo good. I decided to forego the Cornish Yarg cheese (one of my favourites) and instead chose the perfect dessert for a cold, wet, January evening…rhubarb, bramley apple and almond crumble with English custard…

Hannah was nearly passing out from over indulgence so chose what she hoped would be the smaller, lighter, but no less tastier option of lemon posset with vanilla thins…

We savoured our puds in silence, wishing that we could somehow be transported magically back to our sofa’s without having to brave the nasty weather. Unfortunately that’s not yet included in the service at Roast. They were very accomodating and welcoming but as yet don’t provide food coma recovery beds!

I’m sure I’ll be back again soon to sample their breakfast menu or just to savour one of their legendary Lorne sausage Scotch eggs and a few cocktails in the bar

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Come on…chop chop

My friend Owen recently accused me of neglecting the, let’s say, ‘less posh’ eateries of London on my blog. I tried to assure him that I still regularly frequent aforementioned venues but probably too frequently to be able to keep up with blogging them all! 

However, I thought I would pander to him on this occassion, especially as he was the instigator of our foray into the world of Shepherds Bush’s noodle bars.

So…if you’re ever short on time before a gig at Shepherds Bush Empire, which is exactly the situation we found ourselves in on Tuesday, I highly recomend a visit to Chop Chop. Just minutes away from the Empire, behind a pretty generic looking shopfront lies bowl upon bowl of steaming, tasty noodles and soups and…most of them are under £4!! bargain!

I’ve actually been hankering after noodles for a good few weeks (mostly when hungover) but have been lured away from them in favour of other food genre’s so I was glad to finally get my way.

The Chop Chop menu was pretty extensive, which is always problematic for me and my indecisiveness, but the minute I saw that they did kway teow I had to have it! I have very fond memories of it as my favoured dish when travelling through South East Asia a few years back. A plate piled high with flat, juicy rice noodles, crunchy beansprouts, pieces of pork and chicken and ginormous king prawns mmm….

Owen had the Laksa, which apparently he always has when he visits Chop Chop and only falls slightly short of the BEST, which he told me he tasted in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo…praise indeed I reckon!…

The king prawn noodle soup looked pretty impressive too…

and rest assured…all of the above were eaten with extremely hygienic chopsticks :)…

and washed down with some tasty Tsingtao beer.

I’ve been told good things about the Kings Cross branch too so come on…Chop Chop!

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Hawksmoor…we’ll meat again…

I’m currently teaching myself Twitter and realising just how addictive it is. Everyday I’m bombarded with tasty tit bits…@HawksmoorLondon have been tweeting updates and alluring photo’s of their new restaurant in Seven Dials and when they announced that reservations were open for their soft launch week I, along with over 1500 others blitzed them with reservation requests. I heard nothing for a couple of days and thought I’d missed out when all of a sudden an email pinged into the inbox offering me a table for 4. I didn’t know who I was going to take with me at this stage but accepted anyway, knowing that I would have no problem finding 3 steak loving accomplices. In the last few days the amazing reviews have been tweeted thick and fast…my excitement knew no bounds! 

I’ve been to Hawksmoor in Spitalfields a few times but have only ever sampled their cocktails, which I hasten to add are amazing. I was really looking forward to finally getting a chance to taste the highly acclaimed food plus, during soft launch week, the lovely people at Hawksmoor were offering 50% off food…and I love a bargain! 

So last night found me traipsing through the rain, down a dark alley near Seven Dials sure that I’d taken a wrong turning when all of a sudden out of the murkiness shone a beacon…

It was all so new and spangly and smelling slightly of paint and polish (in a nice way)…

Our reservation wasn’t until 8.30pm but we arrived nice and early so that we could sit in the bar and enjoy a cocktail of two. I found the decision making particularly difficult as Pete and his team have concocted a tantalising list of alcoholic beverages. These guys really know their stuff and their bar, lined with jars and flasks full of intruguing concoctions, would make any scientist proud…

In the end we were so overawed we put our trust in the bartender and asked for his recommendation. We ended up with a very yummy selection of drinks, my favourite of which was made with gin and marmalade but wasn’t at all sickly or cloying. I just wish I could remember what they were called…

I think these beauties were called concealed weapons (?)…

After some civilised supping we were lead through to our table and presented with the mouthwatering food menu…

Again we needed help and asked our lovely waitress for advice on cuts and quantities of steak.

*WARNING the following photographs contain a level of food porn that is not for the faint hearted or those of a nervous disposition!*

We sampled a couple of starters…succulent Tamworth belly ribs served with red cabbage…

and melt in the mouth grilled lamb chops with a mint and caper salad…

For the main course both Simon and I opted for a medium, 400g ribeye steak…

Hannah chose the D-Rump, which had been aged for 55 days, eliminating the toughness that is sometimes associated with rump steak and leaving behind an extremely tasty, tender piece of meat…

and Shane went for the humungous 600g bone-in sirloin…

We ordered a selection of sides to share including 2 varieties of chips (triple cooked and beef dripping), grilled field mushrooms and buttered spinach and a veritable feast of sauces and accompaniments for our steaks…peppercorn sauce, anchovy butter, stilton hollandaise and bearnaise sauce…

My fully loaded plate was a sight to behold…

We tucked in with vigour, only stopping occasionally to smile beatifically at one other and make sounds of carniverous appreciation and joy!

I tried a piece of everyone’s steak and although they were all divine, in my opinion the D-rump won out on taste and will be what I order when I return (that’s a given).

We made a valiant effort to finish everything on our plates but were absolutely stuffed and sinking into a meat induced coma. What should you do in this situation?…order pudding of course!

I’m from the school of thought that however full you are, there is always a bit of space left for pudding, a different compartment as it were. We ordered sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream…

chocolate pudding with ivy house cream…

lemon curd served in the most gorgeous mini kilner jar with shortbread…

and we were also brought complimentary ice cream in 2 varieties…salted caramel and cornflake…

I am still reeling from the exquisiteness of the food that we experienced last night. Words (nearly) fail me. I asked my dinner companions to supply me with some quotes to describe their Hawksmoor experience. Here’s what they came back with…read them and weep…

“A culinary experience that that would have made a caveman proud.”

“An orgy of gastronomic decadence.”

“A carnivorous celebration that had us weeping tears of exultation onto empty plates.”

“Got my juices flowing”

“A moo-ving experience”

I received a couple slightly more risqué suggestions, which I have omitted because my Mum reads my blog and they would have made her blush! 😉

Hawksmoor, in my opinion, are the leaders in their field (pun well and truly intended) serving meat porn to the hungry London masses…I hope their success continues and both Spitalfields and Seven Dials go from strength to strength, growing the adoring fan base that they have nurtured. I for one will be going back for more…

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I heart the gherkin!

I know ladies aren’t meant to divulge their age but…I’m celebrating a big birthday later this week, one that’ll make me older than 29 but younger than 31. A few weeks ago my friend Han asked me to keep Friday 24 September free and then said no more on the subject. I realised there was some form of birthday surprise plan being hatched but had no clue what until last weekend, when I was treated to a few tip tit bits…it was something that not everyone can do, involved all the things I love and required me to dress up smart…to be honest I was none the wiser! Now, I don’t think I’ve ever had a proper surprise, so until now I didn’t realise that I’m not very good at them…I’m far too much of a control freak. The only way to not drive myself insane was to force it to the back of my mind until the morning of Friday 24th, when I received a text from Han, telling me to meet her at a City bar at 6.15pm. I obeyed, put on my poshest frock and headed on down to Aldgate. I was greeted by 2 friends, which soon grew to a gang of 8! After a couple of drinks and some red herrings to try and throw me off the scent we left the bar. A few steps down the street they stopped and blindfolded me. I was led uncertainly, via a revolving door into a building, where we had to show ID, walk through a security arch and go up in 2 lifts! I still didn’t have any clue as to where I was but I was finally freed from my blindfold and this was the view that met me…

I was only in the bloody gherkin!

I absolutely love the gherkin and since moving to London have been dreaming of visiting the restaurant and bar at the very top! Unfortunately this was hampered by the fact that it’s private members only…but somehow my lovely friends made it possible for me! It felt like all of my Christmases had come at once! 

We drank champagne in the bar at the very top to begin with…I was in awe, as you can imagine the view was immense. My photo’s really don’t do it justice but I’ve safely stored it all in my memory banks!

If you look closely you can see St Pauls in the very centre…

Once my heart had stopped racing we were shown to our table on the floor below and given gorgeously fresh veggies and olive tapenade to nibble on whilst we perused the menu’s…

Han is our resident wine expert and together with the sommelier we were presented with the most perfect complimentary wine for each and every course!

Before the main event we were given a goats cheese and pea pre-starter …

I chose carpaccio and tartar of beef with aged balsamic and horseradish bavaroise for my starter…

I’d never had beef tartare but figured that if I was going to eat raw meat topped with a raw egg I’d rather do it in a smart restaurant. I was amazed! it was so well seasoned and tender, it just melted in my mouth!

For main I had pan roasted fillet of cod with chorizo, feta stuffed squid and roasted fennel…

it was divine and came with roasted new potatoes and runner beans…

The portions weren’t at all stingy and I savoured every mouthful!

Next up was a pre desert, which involved (green!) white chocolate mousse…

which was followed by a special birthday cold chocolate fondant with apricot, black pepper and blood orange sorbet…

I had to take this photo upside down and rotate it on the computer so as not to obscure the message with my shadow, a bit strange I know…but you get the idea…

and last but not least an array of petit fours…

The food alone was amazing, so the fact that every time I looked across the table and was subjected to the truly most amazing view over London and I realised I was dining in my favourite building and realising my dream, things couldn’t get any better! I felt like I was dreaming! I officially have the best friends ever and am feeling extremely special right now!

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The poshest arctic roll I’ve ever eaten

Yesterday, found Kim and I, courtesy of Toptable, on another of our monthly fine dining experiences. I was very excited to be visiting the Grill at the Dorchester as it’s a bit of a London institution. The actual restaurant is a funny old place though. It’s a riot of gold bling, tartan fabric, red velvet sofas, vast vases of deep red roses and to top it off the walls are painted with murals of angry looking, windswept, intimidating scotsmen and women. 

I’d done my homework and read some reviews, which helpfully warned us not to be tempted by the champagne trolley that they wheel around to tempt you with before your meal and there was also a recommendation to opt for the 3 course set menu as opposed to 2 as it comes with quite a few extras. Oh boy were we in for a treat….

First off we were served a platter of speciality breads and rolls including stilton (mmmmm), multi-seed and rye and an amuse bouche of smoked salmon with a pea foam – 

The starters all sounded so good that we ordered 2 out of the 3 on the menu and went halves on the english asparagus topped with a poached pheasant egg and hollandaise sauce – 

and the roasted mackerel on toast with a quenelle of crab mousse, topped with pea shoots – 

We both decided on the rump of lamb with a basil and garlic risotto. It came with kidneys, which I made myself try thinking that my tastes may have grown up but….no I still don’t like them! and an unidentified meat dish, which we think was duck but texture wise can only liken to pulled pork – I’m not doing it justice in my description but it was extremely rich and tasty. I just wish I’d noted the description off the menu as it’s annoying me now that I don’t know what it was. It will remain a mystery for all time.

The lamb was cooked to perfection and accompanied by a lovely glass of Baron Philip de Rothschild Mouton Cadet “Origin” Pauillac 2006.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were presented with a pre-desert of (posh) arctic roll topped with strawberries and jelly. Who’d have thought we’d be served jelly and ice cream at the Dorchester – I’m such a pleb that I have to admit, it was actually my favourite part of the meal 🙂

The waiter wasn’t much use in helping us decode the desert menu but all was forgiven when he brought me out the sabayon parfait, a delicious, extremely light, frozen custard – 

and a banana financier served with praline and ice cream for Kim – 

By this point we were fit to burst but still managed to put away some home made petit fours – it’d be rude not to wouldn’t it??

And the best bit…..we only paid £33 for all of the above including service! God bless Toptable!

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Man what a View…….

Me and my friend Kim, a fellow lover of good food, try to make a monthly appointment in our diaries to make the most of some of the great offers on toptable. It gives me the chance to visit places that I would never be able to afford otherwise and…everyone loves a bargain. So far, courtesy of Toptable I’ve visited Maze Grill, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Babylon at the Roof Gardens and last but most definitely not least, a cheapy but definitely one of the best…Ziloufs.

Last night we ventured to the 28th floor of the Hilton on Park Lane to visit Galvin at Windows and what a view we had from those windows! I think I could get used to sitting, watching the sun set over Buckingham Palace, being treated like a princess by being personally guided to the ladies, having my chair pushed in for me and all the while being served the most amazing morsels of food. We had the set menu of 3 courses for £35.

The whole experience was kicked off with an amuse bouche courtesy of the chef of pea puree in a shot glass topped with mashed potato and served with a minature silver spoon. I’m not really doing it justice but I can assure you it was absolutely delicious! I’m not usually the type to be overcome by shyness but I wasn’t sure it was the ‘done thing’ to take photos of your food in such classy establishments. However, the moment didn’t last long and for the rest of the meal I was snapping away so I could share the experience with you….

For starter we both chose the Roast spiced quail, baked potato foam, confit leg & French bean salad

Followed by the Roast fillet of Loch Duart salmon, wild black rice, broccoli & vanilla velouté for me

and the Confit belly of organic pork, lentils du Puy, Vichy carrots,
cinnamon & clove scented jus for Kim

By the time the deserts were rolled out I was getting a little bit over excited but I think you’ll agree that the Caramelia ganache, mango & pineapple minestrone even manages to look yummy when blurry 🙂

and Kim had the mascarpone cheesecake, hibiscus syrup & blood orange sorbet

and it didn’t end there…..we were brought petit fours and finally a whole jar of home made lime and raspberry marshmallows.

I would highly (no pun intended) recommend Galvin at Windows – every mouthful was a dream and I left with with an extremely satisfied palate and apetitite and definitely think it was worth every penny! The only problem is now I’ve realised I’ve got an apetite for how the other half live…roll on the next Toptable deal!

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