October 18, 2011

Les Deux Salons

I was really excited about finally visiting Les Deux Salons in Covent Garden, so jumped at the chance to take some clients there for dinner.

The team behind Arbutus have done a fantastic job to create a restaurant with a fantastic ambience and more importantly, a mouth watering menu.

They’ve certainly done a fantastic job with the decor – you’d never have guessed it used to be an All Bar One. It looks authentically French.

The food was a triumph. Delicately cooked steaks, the best seabass i’ve had in a long time and an amazing cheeseboard, that you could smell on arrival.

One of my guests was a veggie, which left them with the option of one main meal – macaroni. So definitely not worth a visit if you don’t eat meat!

Staff were stiff, unfriendly and hard to pin down. But a fantastic restaurant!

Definitely worth a visit if you get the chance.

www.lesdeuxsalons.co.uk
Les Deux Salons on Urbanspoon

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August 25, 2011

A guest blog – The Stafford London by Kempinski

I was invited to join the team at The Stafford London for a Gourmet Soiree but due to more boring commitments, I couldn’t make it – but my foodie friend, Nicole Wright, did.  So see below for her view on the event. Sounds like I missed a goodie:

Hidden away on a side street of the historic St. James’s district, away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Piccadilly, this is not an easy hotel to find. This is all part of its charm however, as once you are greeted by the doorman and shown inside you feel like you have found a well-kept London secret.

I went along to the first in the series of their (free!) ‘Pub Talks’ entitled ‘Gourmet Soiree’,lead by Executive Chef of the hotel’s Lyttelton restaurant, Brendan Fyldes. I was escorted down to the superbly replete wine cellars dating back to the 17th century. If you ever need a special private dining space for the wine buff in your life then this would be the place to hold it.

Word has obviously not got out yet about these evening talks as less than 20 people took part. A likeable mix of PR girls, hotel residents and genuine Foodies. Once everyone had a glass in hand Brendan began preparing his first creation; sea bass with rosemary and lemon. He made gutting and scaling the 12lb fish look like something everyone could easily try in their own kitchen, pointing out the techniques for removing the head and scales and how once removed the head and bones can be used to create a fish stock (make sure to remove the fish eyes!). The prepared fish was then whisked away and came back 20 minutes later beautifully grilled and ready for us all to dig in to accompaniedby a simple and delicious dip of blended chick peas and olive oil.

Following on from this we were shown how to prepare foiegras with rose salt and andPedro Ximenez (Spanish sweet wine from the Andulsian region). This reappeared later for us to try in the form of an incredible foiegras burger. I would definitely have indulged in a second one if Brendan had not whisked me away to the kitchen to try his freshly prepared Eccles cakes. The Eccles cakes alone make it worthwhile coming for afternoon tea here.

Throughout the food preparation and tasting we were encouraged to try a variety of different beers picked to match the food as well as being shown the different effects that different shaped beer glasses can have on taste. The final cheery beer was served elegantly in a martini glass.

I left having learnt how to gut and scale a fish, eaten well, sampled beers I never would have tried myself, made new friends, and with a new destination in my address book. There are 4 more Pub Talk evenings scheduled throughout September and October looking at wine and cigar pairing, cocktail making, custom jewellery and portrait photography and I plan to be at all of them!

http://www.kempinski.com/en/london/Pages/Welcome.aspx

Brendan’s recipe of the week can be found on the Lyttelton’s website: http://www.thelyttelton.com/Recipe-of-the-Week/

Stafford on Urbanspoon

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August 19, 2011

Venetian Style Tapas

I love Tapas.  I love the whole sharing, passing around ritual and love even more the fact that you get to try a bit of everything without really trying…which is why i’m excited to hear about the new Venetian Style Tapas at Zizzi. Launching in September (so just a couple of weeks to wait) the tapas dishes give us a taster of Italian Tapas. Originally from Venice, you can now try this across the country.
Dishes range from Polenta Croccante – crunchy nuggets of polenta – to Arancini, mini risotto balls with mozzarella, peas and a tomato chilli sauce.
I’ve never been that keen on Zizzi, as it’s always felt like a bit of a ‘poorer sister’ of pizza express…but I think these new dishes may well persuade me otherwise.
Don’t worry, i’ll let you know what i think when September comes around!

 

 

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July 12, 2011

L’Italiana, St Albans

Since we moved to St Albans, a full year and a half ago, there were two places we didn’t hear the end of – The Waffle House and L’Italiana. Well, we’ve made it to the waffle house once already (review to go up soon I promise) but until Friday night, we had tried and tried but not been able to get a table at L’Italiana. Amazed that we finally managed to pin down a table, we were pretty eager to get started and arrived ten minutes before our booking.

We were told to wander around town for ten minutes before we could take our seats – which was a little strange, but I felt the food would be worth it, so didn’t mind too much.
We shared some calamari to start, which was melt in your mouth delicious. Followed by a L’Italiana pizza on my part (rocket, parma ham, cheese and tomato) and a prawn and scallop pasta for my other half. Both were fantastic – in particular the pasta.
We finished up with an irish coffee and a creme brulee (as all my friends/readers know, i’m a bit partial to a creme brulee!)
Overall the dinner was pleasant and well put together but neither of us could understand quite why the restaurant was so busy.
I think this is one of the places you go to for the atmosphere more than anything…singing along, clapping to the music and dancing all make for a great night out.
Definitely one to go back to!
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June 28, 2011

Wicked Lady, Wheathampstead

So, i’ve been a bit slack in keeping up with my blog – but don’t worry, i’m back on board again and have been visiting plenty of restaurants to tell you all about. So i’ll be working backwards over the next few days.

Last night was the most gorgeous weather in a long time and the perfect opportunity to go for a drive into the countryside for a pub dinner. The Wicked Lady in Wheathampstead really is in the middle of nowhere. It’s not the first time i’d been as i’d visited previously for their Sunday lunch which is pretty impressive and takes up an entire plate.
Last night though we went for the regular menu, sharing some rosemary pizzetta and splitting the fishcakes and the spit chicken in garlic with chips. Finished off with a decadent Eton Mess and Caramelised Banoffee Cheesecake. Fantastic.
This is standard pub fare at it’s best – service is impressive as they were incredibly busy but didn’t leave us waiting and always had a smile. Food was good and hearty.
Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
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February 16, 2011

The Clarendon

When my friend suggested we go with our boys to a pub for a good old fashioned Sunday lunch I jumped at the chance. So we woke up late, pulled on our jeans and headed off to The Clarendon, which was apparently a pub which did a good Sunday lunch just outside Watford.

Well, we were under-dressed and pub didn’t really describe it – definitely a restaurant. Admittedly I should have done some research first, as it doesn’t describe itself as a pub but as a restaurant and bar. Fantastically furnished, designer looking venue in the middle of the country side.

We went for mains and dessert. Main for me was a delicious traditional roast beef which came with an enormous Yorkshire pudding on top of the plate. The beef was cooked to perfection and the whole dish well co-ordinated. I finished off with my favourite dessert of all time, Creme Brulee and it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was decent enough.

If we’d just been for the food and weren’t worried about the service, the meal would have been amazing. Unfortunately, we received appalling service. Drinks were taken away before being fully drunk. The waitress actually stuck her finger in my drink and then instead of getting me a new one, just poured the same one into another glass.

It took ages to order and staff were hard to get hold of and miserable. One of the waitresses, who was highly pregnant, was trying her best, but needed more help.

All in all, great meal, fantastic location and i think we were probably unlucky with the service. I’d definitely try it again. Great place to take someone you want to impress (parents?)

www.clarendon.co.uk
01923 270009

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November 30, 2010

Giraffe

I’ve always had a few issues with Giraffe. I’ve been there twice in my life time and both times been limited to eating the same dish – and no, i don’t remember what it was. Try visiting Giraffe with a nut allergy – i dare you. There is literally nothing on the menu to choose from – everything has, or may have nuts. Pretty poor really. Surely they can manage not to sprinkle nuts on top of everything.

However, I’m always tempted to visit Giraffe due to the bright colours, good feedback I get from everyone else who goes there and the varied and interesting menu, which is why it was with a glad heart I heard that Giraffe has it’s own cookbook. The cookbook features over 90 different recipes from across the globe including green onion slaw, miso lime salmon and more.

Sounds like a bit of a challenge to me – now I have access to the Giraffe Family Cookbook (£14 I can create my own ‘Giraffe’ experience at home. Just have to buy it now (unless Santa drops it off for Christmas!)

I’ll update you on how it goes!

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November 19, 2010

The past couple of months

I just don’t seem to be able to remember to update this blog which is disappointing. So a new mid November resolution is to keep it up regularly to let you all know what i’ve been up to…

Over the past few months i’ve eaten in a variety of places:

Wahaca, Soho – Much better than the Covent Garden version – more spacious and better service. Even better – didn’t even have to queue!

Back to my favourite venue for afternoon tea – Bob Bob Ricard – we started at 4pm and left at 10pm – fantastic place with amazingly good service – i’ll be back!

The Waffle House in St Albans – apart from the fact they can’t guarantee a nut free experience – delicious bannoffee waffles with flake on top – definitely a must for the wrong time of the month!

Norfolk Arms, Bloomsbury – Great venue for Tapas – although i’m not sure you would classify Greek food as being a Tapas option – great variety and good atmosphere

The Grove, Hertfordshire – Very fancy afternoon tea in very posh surroundings. £25 a head for it. Service wasn’t good but the afternoon tea was.

Harvester – enough said – everyone goes out for one of these once in a while – this was my first trip.

The Speckled Hen pub, St Albans – good basic pub grub

Billesley Manor restaurant, Stratford Upon Avon – Delicious 3 course meal – cheap but tasty!

Many many more places that have slipped my mind at the mo. We’ve been having our house done so our kitchen has been out of action!

I’ll be doing proper reviews from now on – i promise!

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September 8, 2010

August

So, I’ve been pretty bad at keeping the blog up to date with what i’ve been up to recently food wise – and only took a few pics. But here they are…

Coffee tasting in Starbucks

 

Cocktails in the Waldorf – the cocktail of the day included champagne and ginger – but beyond that I can’t remember as there were quite a few…

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July 20, 2010

Afternoon Tea at The Botanist

Time Out listed The Botanist as one of the top places to go for Afternoon tea in London, so we headed there with high expectations. A glass of champagne accompanied a delicious selection of hand cut, tiny sandwiches – cucumber, egg and smoked salmon. Two gorgeous melt in the mouth scones and a Victoria sponge cupcake each – break into the centre and jam oozes out.

If you are looking for a classic afternoon tea – then head to The Botanist. However, if you are looking for good service – give it a miss! Having had the most fantastic service at Bob Bob Ricard the same week – I was expecting roughly the same at The Botanist – but received nothing like it.

We arrived ten minutes early for afternoon tea and were told we would have to wait before placing our order. Making us feel stupid, just sitting there without a menu. We then ordered our afternoon tea with a waiter, asking him to make sure that there were no nuts in the cakes. He came back ten minutes later telling us that as they didn’t mill their flour on site, this couldn’t be guaranteed – Please, Mr Waiter, point us to a restaurant which does mill it’s own flour – as that is something I want to see. Finally he accepted our order!

45 minutes after placing the order, I asked another waiter where our afternoon tea was – he took our order again. Turns out the other waiter had gone on a break without passing on our order. So roughly 3 hours later, we had finally finished our tea.

Check out The Botanist at www.thebotanistsloanesquare.com

Venue: Lovely, traditional setting 4 stars
Food: Amazingly delicious 5 stars
Service: minus 1 – Explained above The Botanist on Urbanspoon

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July 16, 2010

Bob Bob Ricard – Dinner on a 1920’s train

I’ve always fancied being in a Poirot. The romance and drama of helping him discover the murderer onboard the Orient Express has always appealed. Poirot plays his role as detective in a glamourous, old fashioned world.

So my trip to Bob Bob Ricard helped me to satisfy some of these dreams. I went along with two female friends (one Kosher) for a slap up meal and a gossip.

On entrance we were greeted by attentive staff who kept us stocked up on Prosecco and who were always at our beck and call. Certainly the service of a time gone by.

Bob Bob Ricard is a restaurant based on an old railway carriage, with booths reflecting the theme. Very Orient Express.

It really is a bit of a feast for the senses, as well as the tummy! There is a fantastic little button that allows you to order champagne on demand. We pushed it, but nothing happened – disapppointingly. I’m not sure what i was expecting, but no free champagne gushed from the ceiling or suddenly appeared infront of us.

We went straight to the main courses – and I chose the crabcakes. The test of a good crab cake is quantity of crab vs other filling, and i wasn’t disappointed. This was a crab filled cake. Try the bubble and squeak too – classic British cooking that doesn’t disappoint.

Dessert was a creme brulee – nothing exciting, but tasty. I think i chose the wrong dessert, as one of my friends ordered the strawberry souffle which was a fantastic dish. A little hole is made in the top and the waiter pours in a sugary strawberry sauce.

I would definitely go back – and would recommend dinner there to anyone. Many were tucking into afternoon tea when we were there which looked fantastic. I’d love to go back and give it a try.

Venue: 5 star – absolutely fantastic, nothing like it
Food: 4 star – good food but limited menu
Overall: 4 star – give it a go

Visit www.bobbobricard.com Bob Bob Ricard on Urbanspoon

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July 12, 2010

The Chamberlyne, Kensal Rise

I enjoyed a delicious evening at The Chamberlyne in Kensal Rise on Friday night. If you’ve never been, it is one of my favourites. We were seated outside in the sunshine and went straight into our mains.

All of us went for the steak which is a bit of a house speciality and comes with a choice of chips, mash or new potatoes. Obviously I went for chips. However, my friend went for the mashed potato – which is apparently to die for.

As I suffer from a nut allergy, it’s always a pleasant change to go to a restaurant and be told that I can eat any dessert off the menu without a problem. One of the main reasons I love this place. The Banoffee pie was enormous – like a brick – and so deliciously creamy and sweet. Highly recommend their homemade desserts.

The only downside to the night was when the waitress was unable to divide a bill in half and tried to charge us for the meal twice…but not everything can be perfect.

Food: 4 stars – Pretty basic British food, limited choice but well cooked
Venue: 4 stars – sitting outside in the sunshine was perfect. Not so great on a cold day though as the dining room is quite small
Overall: 4 stars – worth another trip

www.chamberlyne.co.uk

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