Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bank Holiday Monday lunch - Feng Sushi

OK - take 2 for this entry.......having logged into Blogger, there was a pop-up suggesting that I should try their spanking new interface so I thought, why not? After laboriously typing in this entry plus doing the usual photo editing, I was then met with a great big error message and on return to my blog entries, found that my latest musings HAD NOT BEEN SAVED!!! (cue mini rant on Twitter - I mean, seriously, whats the point in asking ppl to use smthg that crashes??)

Needless to say I am back using the old and hopefully, more reliable interface so let's see if I can remember what I wrote in the first place......

After a bit of a hectic week at work (including pitching in at the weekend as a favour to my boss), I had Bank Holiday Monday off before heading back to the grindstone the following day. Needless to say, the day began with a much needed ly-in, followed by a meander up to High St Ken to pick up a few bits and bobs. Since we were already in the area, JD and I decided to head to Feng Sushi for a spot of lunch. I had forgotten how titchy the resto was but we managed to squeeze ourselves into one of the tables in the corner.

The food was OK but we were a little disappointed to find some of the stuff on the menu had already sold out  (namely, yuzu infused lemonade and a special scallop maki) even though it was only around 2 in the afternoon? The highlight of the meal was the sushi, less so for the hot dishes - oh wellos.
Some pretty good spicy tuna roll plus soft shell crab roll

 JD's fish tempura plus sweet potato chips - the chips were NOT sweet potato!! I had a bowl of spicy baby cuttlefish udon soup - the cuttlefish was NOT baby!! (notice a pattern here??)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

1st ever Leon fish finger wrap!

....for those of you who no longer eat at Maccy-D's (para mí, it was after reading "Fast Food Nation") and craving a (more sophisticated) alternative to a Filet-o-Fish, bon app! :)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Barrafina lunch

JD's mate, the Dude was in town for a few days so we arranged to meet in town for a spot of Sunday lunch. Having not been back in a while, we decided to take a chance and see if we could get into Barrafina assuming that it should be relatively painless on a Sunday afternoon. How wrong were we.......the resto was due to open at 1pm, we arrived at 12:45pm only to find a queue formed on the pavement in front of a closed door??? Worse still, once the door opened and we were edging closer to the front, there was still no sign of the Dude - when we enquired, we were told that we could not hold seats so had to sit tight and take a chance that the Dude would turn up before another punter took the space. Luckily, he arrived a few minutes later at which point, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. This is a prime example of why dining in London has lost its appeal....the sheer hassle!

I have eaten at Barrafina a number of times but they have mostly pre-dated this blog.....I can still remember the first couple times we were there (back in 2007?) and what great meals we had so expectations were high. Things have changed a little and am not sure if I like them. The resto used to have a really nice buzz but the open kitchen was always calm and efficient, on this particular occasion, all we could hear was the head chef shouting out orders which was a little jarring since we were sitting right in front of him. Unlike some of the comments on other websites, I thought the service was pretty good and friendly and did not encounter any of the "we think we are better than our customers" vibe?

The food was a mixed bunch - mostly OK, but in total did not reach the same heights as back in the day. JD and I were really disappointed to see that one of our fav dishes, lamb chops has now been replaced by rump of lamb. It suggests that they're possibly cutting back on the quality of ingredients which is a bit of a shame.....was also shocked that the croquetas portion has now been shrunk from 4 to 2 - it just feels like that they are sort of taking the piss now their reputation is so resolute. I guess the main thing was that the Dude really enjoyed his lunch (post-lunch gelato at Gelupo went down a treat too!) which was cool - it was good to catch up and hopefully, it won't be another years before we see him again!

 Ham croquetas - I remember when they used to be 4 for £4.00, at the time, I was balking over the fact that each mouthful was costing me a squid! Well, they are now 2 for £3.50.....and to add insult to injury, ours were stone cold in the middle!

 Pan con tomate - this was excellent.

 Cold meat platter - not bad, but I think the one at Brindisa might be better?

 Classic tortilla - the Dude was very impressed with this!

 One of the daily specials - razor clams a a la plancha with garlic and parsley, very nice but there was grit in the clams.

 One of my favourite Barrafina dishes, chips with brava sauce - it has lost a bit of its yumminess sadly.

 Tuna tartare - my least favourite dish and did not appreciate the "Asian" flavours, someone should tell them that sesame oil and soy sauce are STRONG flavours and should be used with some caution??

Saturday, 20 August 2011

New local resto - Hedone

I first heard about Hedone through Twitter and after establishing where it was on the high road, I then thought "so that place is FINALLY occupied"!! I had originally tried to get a table for our monthly anniversary dinner but at the time of ringing, was told that they were fully booked at the weekends for dinner for the next 2 weeks and then the resto would be closed for the 2 weeks after. I ended up making a booking for dinner about 6 weeks in advance but bizarrely, "c'est normale pour Londres?" To be honest, in the week leading up to dinner, I had thought about cancelling for a couple of reasons: another blogger who I follow didn't think her dinner was all that and I wasn't sure about shelling out a substantial amount of dosh for a tasting menu (which is all they serve). JD twisted my arm so in the end, the reservation stayed and we wandered down for a spot of grub.  

We were one of the first customers to arrive and got to sit in the corner by the window which gave us a great view of the rest of the resto and a slight peek at the open kitchen where the head chef was working away. Its a weird thing to say (and notice) but I really liked the decor of the dining room: light, airy, simple yet elegant, the only dodgy thing was prolly the pseudo "cave-painting" ceiling :)

As mentioned, there is only a tasting menu served with difference prices depending on how many courses you decide to choose. We decided to go the whole hog and do the whole 6 courses which works out at 70 squid per head. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the dinner - there were a few things food-wise that weren't quite perfect (especially if the resto has Michelin aspirations which it looks like it does) but despite that, it was a wonderful evening and the service was excellent too. A big thank you to the sommelier for recommending my glass of white plus dessert wine for the meal :)
 Aperitif accompaniment of Berkswell sable

 Amuse bouche of slighty smoked salmon with beetroot foam - nice flavour combination, I did pick out a little bone from my salmon which you might say is a little careless.

 The bread was "awesome" - we were also offered more during the course of the meal which was a nice touch (am tempted to ask if they might sell it cos I would definitely stroll over at the weekend for a fresh loaf!)

 First course of grelot (bulbous) and cébette (straight) onions with pear shavings - tasty, the former more so than the latter. We didn't think there was any point in leaving the roots on since they were too chewy to eat.

 2nd course of Scottish girolles tarte with coffee cream - pastry was a little soggy but it also had a layer of girolles puree for extra flavour. Wasn't sure about the coffee cream initially but it worked!
 3rd course of Cornish mackerel - really simple but absolutely delicious.

 4th course of Lobster with cavalo nero and coral sauce - very pretty to look at. Lobster was very sweet, yum!

 5th course (choice of main) - I had wild turbot with fennel. Very simple, fresh produce and well cooked.

 JD's main of aged Angus beef with endive - beef was surprisingly tough which was a shame. Also thought it was very brave for the chef to not serve any sort of sauce! 

 My pudding of peach millefeuille with fresh mint infused cream - pretty good. If I was nit-picking, the bottom piece of my pastry was missing a corner which is a little unprofessional. I also would've glazed both sides of the puff (impressive that its home-made) to give it a pro sheen. Finally, I woud've put poached peaches inside the millefeuille - didn't see the point in having raw, sour slices inside? One final gripe, if you are going to serve an apero accompaniment and amuse, why was there no pre-dessert??

 Petits fours of mini-madeleines served with tea/coffee - very nice and had "humps" too! :)

Home-made caramels to take home - nice touch!

Friday, 19 August 2011

PH in London

Can't believe its taken me over a year to visit the PH store here in London after its opening - in fairness, its not a part of town which I frequent often (in the heart of Knightsbridge, across the road from Louboutin) but I had that Friday feeling after work and decided to make the pilgrimage for some macarons :)

The shop is pretty small, more Bonaparte than Vaugirard and unfortunately, only stocks macarons, gateaux de voyage, chocolates and jams. I plumped for a dozen macarons and had a brief chat with the sales assistant to ask if they would sell any fours secs here - according to him, they are too fragile to transport here so I guess if I want any chocolat fleur de sel sables, I'm gonna have to make them myself :(
Not a vast selection but I think my favourites were lemon, rose and jasmine - word of warning, jasmine cannot be eaten after any strong flavours, otherwise you can't taste it!!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

New(ish) resto - Medlar

For our monthly anniversary dinner, I had originally wanted to go to a new resto in our neck of the woods but was upon ringing for table, was told there would be a 3 week(!) wait (one of the many reasons why dining in London is more chore than pleasure) so based on the recommendation of a food blogger I check into regularly, we decided to try our luck at Medlar instead. According to the aforementioned blogger, this was his new local resto opening of the year and he had liked it so much he had been back twice so I guess I was going with high expectations.

We did have a nice night and enjoyed some well-cooked food; however, I couldn't help but feel the dining room was a little soul-less (we had arrived early, there were 3 other tables but the place still felt like a morgue) and that the food, whilst good, was not though I had seen and eaten it somewhere else (quite likely, since the chef had previously worked at Chez Bruce).
The one surprise of the night was the desserts which on paper, did not look particularly inviting but were actually very good (and this is coming from someone who will look at desserts with EXTRA scrutiny!) Definitely worth a visit but am not sure if I would be hurrying back......I guess with all reviews, mainstream and blogs, you have to take them with a pinch of salt......perhaps even more with the latter?
 Starter of crab raviolo with samphire, brown shrimp, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce - nice and perfectly tasty but in terms of shellfish ravioli, does not hit the heights of the langoustine version at L'Ardoise in Paris or the langoustine plus sweetbreads version at Caprice in HK. 

 Main of under blade fillet with persillade snails, salad, triple cooked chips and béarnaise - would've been prefectly happy if I had just been served steak, chips and béarnaise, not sure how the snails add to the dish. The chips were outstanding, only wish there had been more!

 Macaroon with English raspberries and lemon curd - personally, don't think this menu description conveys just how good this dessert was, stunning to look at, every component perfectly executed no dud sour raspberry either!!

 Chocolate and almond torte with honeycomb ice cream and caramel sauce 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Remedy for sick people - 瑶珠粥

Very easy to make but not when you are feeling poorly :(
Best comfort food I know of tho! :)