Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 London restaurants high and low

The high, top 3:


The Ledbury

Not much to say really, The Ledbury should be a household name for all food lovers, two Michelin stars and countless awards speak for itself. It is simply the best London has to offer, exceptional taste and a world-class service in a relaxing way, The Ledbury is an excellent model of the modern fine dining as it should.

Read my The Ledbury review

Launceston Place

Launceston Place ticks all the boxes what I would consider a top restaurant, the cooking is modern European in principle with a touch of creativity without being gimmicky. It is also great to see the kitchen progressing all the time, each visit the cooking has developed with more refinement and surely it is only a matter of time before it gains its well deserved second star.

Read my Launceston Place review

Kitchen Table

Dining at Kitchen table is one kind of an experience, and a special one. You are placed on a bar stool overlooking the kitchen watching the chefs cooking your dishes right in front of you. All the ingredients are at its prime with some clever mixture of elements and flavours combination. Diners are taken on a food journey with 12 plus small plates course. 

Read my Kitchen Table review

Honorable mention: L'Autre Pied, The Five Fields, Smack Lobster


The low, Bottom 3:


Chiltern Firehouse

The most talked about restaurant in London in 2014, led by Nuno Mendes, former executive chef at the Michelin-starred Viajante. Now a hangout joint for the rich and famous, with overwhelming hype and buzz. The food here is not bad at all, but clearly overrated. A place for  celebrities and paparazzi, you can find much better value and the same quality of food elsewhere.

Read my Chiltern Firehouse review

Lobster Kitchen

Try to ride on the trend of lobster concept, but clearly missed the final touch, it's more expensive than some but taste wise, it was average at best and errors all over the show. It failed on both quality and quantity, and now running a student discount? Maybe time to go back to the drawing board.

Read my Lobster Kitchen review

Ippudo

A respectable ramen giant from Japan decided to enter the London market. The portion is tiny and most garnishes that you would usually expect in a bowl of traditional ramen cost extra. Maybe whoever calculated the costing got a little greedy and trying to maximum profit at the expense of the diners.To sum it up, very expensive, half decent food, small quantity and canteen service. Waste of my time.

Read my Ippudo review

Chiltern Firehouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, 22 December 2014

Comptoir Gascon

French bistro in the City


Comptoir Gascon

Comptoir Gascon is the sister restaurant of the fine dining restaurant Club Gascon, it's position itself as a gourmet bistro, sourcing its food and wine from South West of France. I'd always enjoyed classic humble French cooking and I found that lacking in London, judging from what Club Gascon could deliver, I was hoping for some well executed traditional French cooking from its little sister.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Square

French Haute cuisine


The Square

With two Michelin stars and countless awards over the years, The Square is perhaps one of the most loved French food institutions in London beside the legendary Le Gavroche. Phil Howard is one of the greatest British chefs, and under him he has trained up some supreme talents such as Brett Graham at The Ledbury and Rob Weston at La TrompetteThis is my second visit to The Square, having eaten there about three years ago.

My 5 Spirit Christmas Gift Guide Ideas

Christmas Gift Guide


1) Grand Marnier Limited Edition


Grand Marnier is the perfect addition to any Christmas cocktail. The bitter orange flavours are enhanced by the cognac with nuances of orange marmalade and hazelnuts. Grand Marnier Limited Edition continues to celebrate their French heritage and ensure Christmas remains special with their new Limited Edition Bottle. This annual treat is available from October at £26.05 for a 70cl bottle.

http://www.alexanderandjames.com/

2) François Voyer XO Cognac


François Voyer is a Cognac producer originating from a family of winegrowers, and are now into their fifth generation. Aging takes place in 100% Limousin oak, and is always extended far beyond the minimum requirements, resulting in delicate yet powerful cognacs with incredible complexity. The XO has a wonderful floral notes & pronounced rancio. Complex & balanced palate of spice, fruit, flowers & wood. An exceptionally long & elegant finish.


http://www.amathusdrinks.com/

3) Zacapa XO Rum



Zacapa rum is produced high up in the verdant Guatemalan countryside, under a dramatic backdrop of soaring mountains and active volcanoes; Zacapa is exceptional in that unlike most rum that uses molasses, Zacapa is produced using only the sweetest, first pressing of sugar cane juice, referred to as ‘virgin honey.’  Zacapa rum uses a Solera System aging process, with the rum being laid to rest in selected barrels that previously aged Bourbons, Sherries and Pedro Ximenez wines; in the case of XO, the aging occurs in restored French Oak barrels.

http://www.alexanderandjames.com/

4) Sazerac 18 Year Old Straight Rye

The famed Sazerac Coffee House was founded in 1850 on Exchange Alley in New Orleans, Louisiana and soon gained fame as the home of “America’s First Cocktail” known as the Sazerac. Using rye whiskey in place of the French brandy, a dash of Peychaud Bitters, and Herbsaint, what eventually became the official cocktail of New Orleans was created. This straight rye has a mellow spice and dry sweetness that dances on the tongue, giving pure delight that is worthy of the Sazerac name.

http://freespace.virgin.net/vintagehouse.co/

5)  Glenmorangie Dornoch Single Malt Scotch (exclusive for duty free)

Inspired by the unique natural environment surrounding the Glenmorangie's Distillery, Dr Bill Lumsden set out to encapsulate the essence of the Dornoch Firth in a special Limited Edition release. Representing the often wild, wind-swept coastline, Dr Bill created a robust spirit, extra matured in Amontillado Sherry butts. But to reflect the occasional tranquility of the Firth, he also crafted an elegant spirit using 1st fill American White Oak casks to bring layers of distinctive floral, vanilla and citrus notes.

http://www.worlddutyfree.com/our-products/wine-and-spirits.html

Monday, 15 December 2014

Angler

Seafood in the City


Angler

Angler is a modern British seafood restaurant just off Moorgate station in London, part of the premium restaurant group D&D's portfolio and located on the top floor of the South Place Hotel. It gained a Michelin star in the 2014 guide and retained it in 2015. I am a big seafood lover and found top class seafood restaurants lacking in London so Angler offered me high hopes especially after such an awful meal at Outlaw at the Capital.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Launceston Place

Personal favourite


Launceston Place, photo from management

Holder of 4 AA Rosettes and a Michelin star (Which really should be two), Launceston Place is my personal favourite restaurant in London, in terms of price vs quality, it is simply the best in what London has to offer for me. If you are seeking a top notch fine dining experience without seeing red in your bank statement, I can't think of a better place than Launceston Place.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Marcus

Causal fine dining


Marcus, photo from management

Marcus Wareing is pretty much the chef of the moment right now, acting as the main judge on the BBC show Master Chef The Professional, he's also just opened Tredwell's in Leicester Square. His flag ship restaurant had a major revamp this year, with a much more contemporary and casual look. This restaurant was my very first two Michelin stars experience three years ago and it really opened up my eyes on what is the meaning of exquisite food. I was interested to see how the food has progressed after the revamp.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Helene Darroze at The Connaught

Luxury brunch


Helene Darroze at The Connaught

Every Saturday inside The 5 star Connaught Hotel, its main restaurant Helene Darroze turns into a brunch heaven, American style. In a semi buffet system, guests get to eat as much starters and desserts and pick a main course which is cooked to order. This is my second time trying out Helene Darroze's Saturday brunch.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Koffmann's

French Classic in Knightsbridge


Koffmann's photo from management

Pierre Koffmann, the legendary French chef who used to be the head chef at Waterside Inn before opening his flagship restaurant La Tante Claire, which reached 3 Michelin stars along the way. These days, Koffmann opted for a much more laid back, brasserie approach and no longer chasing Michelin stars, his Koffmann's restaurant is now located inside the luxurious Berkeley hotel, the same site where Marcus Wareing is with his flagship restaurant.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Honest Burger

Honestly good


Honest Burger
Honest Burger is growing and growing fast, not so long ago it was just a humble burger joint in Brixton, now 8 chains strong with more to follow in 2015. Honest Burger is known for its juicy premium burgers and the infamous rosemary chips and I am a massive fan of it, I was lucky to be invited to visit its latest opening at Liverpool Street to try out some of its new items on the menu. The Liverpool Street joint also serves breakfast with some interesting items such as the sausage and sage patty muffin with fried egg and black pudding, sounded like a winner for me. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Smack Lobster

Lobster joy


Smack Lobster
Smack lobster is the latest offering by the people behind Goodman, in Burger & Lobster, they already had changed the dining scene in London with affordable whole lobster either cooked on the grill or steamed. With Smack Lobster, they had push to the limit with lobster roll going for £9 eat in or £7.50 for take away. Service is fast food format, you order at the till and wait for yours orders from the other side. 

Balvenie Whisky

24x24


Balvenie, a single malt Scotch Whisky owned by the world renown drinks company William Grant is somewhat an interesting malt whisky, while sales volume is no way near as close to its flagship single malt Glenfiddich, Balvenie is loved by whisky lovers and connoisseurs around the world, its playful and innovate ageing technique creates some very unique and bold flavours in its offering.
Balvenie Whisky

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Wild Honey

Wild tasting


Wild Honey
Located in Mayfair, Wild Honey is a single Michelin restaurant serving modern European cuisine, I've eaten at it's sister restaurant aka Arbutus a few weeks ago and found the cooking was not able to reach the 1 star Michelin level that I was expecting so I was hoping Wild Honey would provide something better as its positioned itself as a more premium offering compared to the more relaxing Arbutus.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Arbutus

Modern bistro in Soho


Arbutus

Arbutus is a contemporary bistro in Soho, with a Michelin star and perhaps the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in London. According to its website, it is known for "turning seasonal and inexpensive food items into affordable and interesting dishes". With a 3 course lunch menu costing less than £20, I went for its pre theatre menu wondering if I was getting a real bargain.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Pizza Union

Super fast pizza


Pizza Union

Pizza Union is an all day pizza bar/canteen located in Spitalfields, according to it's press release: "Pizza Union is inspired by the authentic Italian pizza experience, where locals happily queue for high-quality, fresh pizza that is ready in minutes and surprisingly affordable." All in all it sounded like a great concept as I am always in the hunt for good food at great value, so when I was invited down to try out its pizza I went with great enthusiasm.
stone oven

I went for the Carne pizza, a thin 12 inch pizza with chicken, beef and pepperoni, it was a real meaty affair, cooked in a traditional pizza stone oven and ready in under four minutes. It had a lovely crispy edge but not dry at the same time which was a real delight, taste wise the ingredients really stood out and it was light in flavour. The Dolce aka dough ring stuffed with nutella and mascarpone was a surprisingly well executed dessert, not overly oily and still moist inside the dough, served hot with the ever delightful nutella chocolate.

Yelp's Local London Wish List

Yelp present: Local London Wish List



It's time to live in the present!

Explore London and get your shopping done, all at once. We've collected an amazing list of stores (and checked it twice) in four fantastic neighbourhoods. We want all of London to get out of big box stores and online spots and shop local for the next month!

Check-into any of the store below and receive a gift. We've even gotten some great restaurants to give away some joy in case all that shopping makes you hungry! Happy hunting!

BOXPARK
The Brokedown Palace (yelp.co.uk/biz/brokedown…) - Free chocolate
MOO (yelp.co.uk/biz/the-moo-s…) - 10% off
Nordic Poetry (yelp.co.uk/biz/nordic-po…) - 10% off
Pärla (yelp.co.uk/biz/pärla-lon…) - 10% off
PLAYN Eyewear (yelp.co.uk/biz/playn-eye…) - 10% off on Frames (in conjunction with Llenses)

CAMDEN
69 Camden Lock Vintage (yelp.co.uk/biz/69-camden…) - 20% off all designer vintage clothing
Asador Argentine Grill (yelp.co.uk/biz/asador-ar…) - 20% off and free fries
Butterfly Tarot (yelp.co.uk/biz/butterfly…) - 20% off a reading and free stone.
Celtic Dawn Jewellery Arts Crafts and Gifts (yelp.co.uk/biz/celtic-da…) - 15% off
Chaboba Limited (yelp.co.uk/biz/chaboba-b…) - 10% off
Eden Ethiopian Coffee (yelp.co.uk/biz/eden-ethi…) - 20% off order
Hola Paella (yelp.co.uk/biz/hola-pael…) - Free mulled wine with any paella
Ismad London (yelp.co.uk/biz/ismad-lon…) - Free keyring with purchases over £15, free leather card holder with purchases over £50 and free belt with purchases over £100
Lock 17 (yelp.co.uk/biz/lock-17-l…) - 25% off
Lockside (yelp.co.uk/biz/lockside-…) - 15% off your bill
Louisiana Chilli Shack (yelp.co.uk/biz/louisiana…) - 10% off food
Massive International (yelp.co.uk/biz/massive-i…) - Free CD with vinyl purchase
Limena (yelp.co.uk/biz/limena-lo…) - 1 free small chicken with rice
We Make London (yelp.co.uk/biz/we-make-l…) - 1 free copy of "Inspired London" with purchase
Whoops (yelp.co.uk/biz/whoops-lo…) - 10% off

MARYLEBONE
By Suzannah (yelp.co.uk/biz/suzannah-…) - 10% off your first order
China House (yelp.co.uk/biz/china-hou…) - £25 for a four course Christmas menu
Eliska (yelp.co.uk/biz/eliska-lo…) - 10 to 15% percent off
Exceldent (yelp.co.uk/biz/exceldent…) - 25% off whitening and cleaning
Robert Taussig (yelp.co.uk/biz/robert-ta…) - 25% off Bang and Olufsen headphones (or other brands if customer wants)
The Portman (yelp.co.uk/biz/the-portm…) - Free glass of prosecco with main course for groups up to 8, valid until 23rd December
Trunk Clothiers (yelp.co.uk/biz/trunk-lon…) - 1 free Trunk notebook with purchase
V&S STATIONER (yelp.co.uk/biz/v-and-s-s…) - One free Christmas card

PORTOBELLO
Leathermad (yelp.co.uk/biz/leatherma…) - 25% off all AW14 Styles
The Penny Market (yelp.co.uk/biz/the-penny…) - 10% off all products from all traders in the market
Stewarts Cakertree (yelp.co.uk/biz/stewarts-…) - 10% off purchase


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Lobster Kitchen

Work in progress


lobster kitchen

Burger and Lobster is one of the most successful restaurant concepts for the past few years, the idea of serving lobsters at affordable prices became a big hit to Londoners and now it has become a mini chain with more openings underway. Almost two years on, finally we have other businesses who would like to take a share of the popular formula. Lobster Kitchen, a new New England inspired lobster joint aims to provide American style lobster with a few innovative twists along the way.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Meat Liquor

Meaty delight


Meat Liquor Brighton

Meat Liquor has gone from strength to strength over the years as a business, with expansions beyond London and acquiring other businesses such as Wishbone in Brixton and re-branded to Chicken Liquor. Meat Liquor is edgy, fun and trendy, plus factoring in the popular premium burger trend, all of these proven to be the formula that is turning the Meat Liquor brand into one of the biggest independent up market burger operations. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Ledbury

Best in class


canapes

2014 has been a great year for The Ledbury, rated as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world by the World 50's Best Restaurants Guide and awarded the best restaurant in the UK from the Observer OFM awards. But what makes this place truly special is the desire and determination to progress and take it to the next level, on top of that the service at The Ledbury strikes a perfect balance of professionalism and charm.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Foxlow

Hawksmoor junior


Foxlow

Foxlow on St John Street is a casual steak and grill restaurant from the Hawksmoor team, the Hawksmoor brand is regarded as one of the best steak restaurant groups in London along with Goodman so expectations were high when I headed down there on a Saturday night. Hawksmoor is known for its quality cocktails and the Foxlow retained that standard, my St John cocktail was light with the honey blending in nicely with the botanicals of the gin.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Tredwell's

Street food, restaurant style


Tredwell's

Tredwell's is a brand new opening by industry heavyweight Marcus Wareing, his talent can not be questioned, a former right hand man of Gordon Ramsay and holder of two Michelin stars with his luxury restaurant Marcus inside the 5 stars Berkeley Hotel. Having eaten there a numbers of times, I somehow found it strange that he is going with a completely different approach with Tredwell's, simple modern British foods in a relaxing setting.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Monkey's Shoulder

London Cocktail Week Glaswegian style



At London Cocktail Week 2014, many spirit brands set up pop up bars at Seven Dials. Monkey's Shoulder, a triple blended Malt Scotch is well known for its fun and creative events, last year the Popcorn Flip event and DIY kitchen was truly one of the most unforgettable events with pop corn flying left and right! This year team Monkey took a different approach with "The Cowbell" pop up, it has been 6 months in the making, brought to you from the winner of The Ultimate Bartender Challenge.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ippudo London

A total rip off


Ippudo London

Ippudo London, yet another global ramen operation entering the UK market, opened just opposite of its business rivial Kanada Ya on St Giles High Street. I will not mention too much about the whole business side of the operation as I already covered that in my Kanada Ya post not so long ago. Ippudo London has a lot to offer on its menu beside ramen, with a full starters and ALC options too, with some traditional Japanese dishes with a western twist such as wagyu tatki and hakata tonpu yaki. With a no booking policy, it took me about 30 mins to get a table on a Friday night.

El Dorado Rum

The Lost City of Gold


I am a rum geek, every time when I go to a bar I always order a rum based cocktail and buy at least a bottle or two on my travels. I knew nothing about rum 4 years ago, like most people, thanks to the infamous Bacardi, I always thought rum was just a nasty spirit that you downed at parties. But one day I discovered El Dorado at Rumfest and everything changed from there. El Dorado came from Guyana and is the only remaining distillery in the region, it sources its sugar cane from local producers before being distilled using both column and pot still then aged in American oak barrels, resulting in some of the finest rum in the world.

The El Dorado Rum Collection
El Dorado 3, 5 and 8 year old

Sunday, 19 October 2014

L'Amorosa

Simple Italian


salmon and prawn with fregola pasta, tomato and herb

L'Amorosa is an interesting opening near where I work, formerly a restaurant/cafe called Lola and Simon, already a popular choice for the locals. It was brought by Andy Needham earlier this year who was ex-head chef of the highly regarded Italian restaurant Zafferano, former Michelin starred and where Giorgio Locatelli used to operated before Andy took over as head chef. Having eaten at Lola and Simon a couple of times in the past, I was keen to see what changes Andy had done.