Monday, 4 December 2017

The Square

The great come back?



Marinated Scottish langoustine, hibiscus, citrus

If you are a serious foodie and lives in London, the chance is you will know about The Square, an iconic restaurant in the fine dining sector in the UK. Once owned by the double Michelin starred chef Philip Howard before it was sold to a fine dining restaurant group called MARC in 2016, it went through a sketchy patch with a replacement chef coming in leaving due to personal reason. However, it appears MARC is determined to regain The Square's formal glory and has appointed a new Executive chef from France and redesign the dining room completely to a more urban, dark and modern look and feel. New chef Clement Leroy earned a Michelin star for Auberge du Jeu de Paume back in France before taking on his new role at The Square.

Claude Bosi at Bibendum

Hibiscus MK2?



Claude Bosi at Bibendum

Claude Bosi is one of the most talented chefs in the UK, his cooking is all about daring to explore new flavours and challenging your mindset of what should and shouldn't work. Many chefs tried something similar but very few can pull it off, and Claude is one of them. I was gutted when his double Michelin starred Hibiscus was shut down last year as the restaurant offered some of the most exciting tastes you can find in London. Fortunately, he has returned to a new restaurant, taking over the top floor of Bibendum in South Kensington. Amazingly, the restaurant was only opened in Spring this year but already awarded 2 Michelin stars from the 2018 guide.

La Dame de Pic London

Pure class


Scottish Langoustine seared in shellfish butter with cucumber Kabosu, Granny Smith


This is my second visit to the 3 Michelin starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic's London restaurant inside the Four Season Hotel in Tower Hill. Having eaten its set lunch menu before it gained a Michelin star, I was impressed by its clean taste and creative element, and that was my reason to return for its tasting menu. As while set lunch menu offers a good indication of a restaurant's capability, usually the al la cate or tasting menu are a step above with use of top level and more expensive ingredients. What also caught my eye is almost every dish on the menu contain some element of alcohol, from gin, whisky to sake. Something that I think it can become a trend in the near future as top end premium spirit offers so much flavours.

The Clove Club

Edgy modern British dining


Burnt clementine granita

2017 has been a fantastic year for The Clove Club, long only it has retained its Michelin star status, it is now also the highest ranked UK restaurant in the "World 50 best restaurants" award from the influential trade media, Restaurant Magazine, ranked higher than the like of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and The Ledbury. Combing with its fashionable location in Shoreditch and the media hype, booking is high in demand and it becomes one of the very first UK restaurants to employ a new booking system which diners have to pay in advance in order to secure a booking. This can be annoying for some as sometimes things don't always go according to plan. However, the payment in advance rule only applies to dinner and you can book for lunch without the hassle.  

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Ceru South Kensington

The taste of Eastern Mediterranean coast


Lamb Shoulder


Lately, I have been dining out at European restaurants very often, so is good to switch it up a little to try something different. Ceru is a Middle Eastern themed restaurant offering the taste of Levant region so this could be anything from Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel to Turkey. This is actually my second time trying Ceru after having experienced its pop up restaurant in The City a while back. It was an enjoyable occasion and that was the main reason I have decided to visit the South Kensington venue. The dining room contains an open kitchen with bar counter sittings for walk-in. It has a really modern and casual feel to it and it was buzzing and busy on my visit.

The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen

Seafood joint in Covent Garden


Oysters time!


Newly launched in the summer, as the name would suggest, The Oystermen is a seafood bar that is specialising in fresh oysters. The tiny Covent Garden joint is located on Henrietta Street and somehow has made into the no1 ranking on Tripadvisor for London restaurants, not that it really matter anyway as the site is loaded with fake reviews. I decided to pay a visit as I am a massive oyster addict, and central London really lacks a proper good old fashioned oyster bar. True that there is the like of classic choices such as J Sheekey and Bentley's, but these joints are much premium and formal and I am seeking something a bit more casual.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Core by Clare Smyth

A new chapter



Isle of Mull scallop

It is very common to see chefs wanting to have their very own restaurant, but what surprise me was it took that long for Clare Smyth to leave Gordon Ramsay to set up her own gig at Notting Hill. After maintaining 3 Michelin stars status for Gordon's flagship restaurant Royal Hospital Road for almost 9 years and won countless awards such as National Chef of the Year and perfect 10 by the Good Food Guide. I had high expectation and I was really interested to see what Clare's cooking is really like when she has total freedom on the dishes creation, and how it compare to other top dogs in London, such as The Ledbury, which is just down the road from Core. 

Galvin at Windows

Sunday lunch in style


Seared fillet of halibut, chilli shellfish, mussels, hispi cabbage


This is my third time visiting Galvin at Windows, a fine dining French restaurant on top of Hilton Park Lane hotel. The restaurant is one of the two restaurants with a Michelin star by the Galvin brothers, a successful restaurateur duo with numbers of restaurants across the UK. These days, Galvin at Windows is headed up by Joo Won, a Korean chef who has injected some Asian element into the restaurant's signature modern French cooking. Dining at this restaurant is usually reserved for a special occasion, with high-class service and a sky-high view over London to match, as the Hilton Park Lane is one of the tallest building around Mayfair. 

Seven Park Place

Cosy fine dining 


Saddle of Lune Valley lamb, turnips, red wine jus


Located inside the luxury boutique St James Hotel in Mayfair, Seven Park Place is a tiny restaurant with less than 10 tables. Headed up by William Drabble, the Michelin starred restaurant offers modern French cuisine in a cosy, warming and intimate space. I have dined here a couple of times before for lunch, and both visits have proven me that William is such a skilful chef and the lunch menu is one of the best value for money deal you can find in London. This time, I went for the tasting menu to fully experience what the restaurant is really capable of.

The Coal Shed London

Seafood BBQ


Fire Roasted Shellfish

If you visit Brighton and ask a local to recommend a top restaurant, the chance is the name "Coal Shed" would be mentioned high numbers of time. Back in Brighton, Coal Shed is a popular restaurant that serves fresh seafood and steak, and the big selling point is the restaurant loves cooking the food over an open fire, it is all about big smoky and savoury aroma. The team from Coal Shed has launched a second outpost in London, and once again, seafood and prime steak will be the main focus. The restaurant is located in the new One Tower Bridge development by the River Thames, over two floors with an impressive slick modern looking decor.

Old Butchers

Hidden seafood heaven


Fruits de mer

I love the Cotswolds, I usually travel there a few times a year for holiday, and one of my favourite thing to do at the Cotswolds is to discover great hidden gems. This time, I stopped by Stow on the Wold, right in the heart of the Cotswolds countryside and dined at the Old Butchers. The interesting thing about this place is that it is actually a family-run seafood restaurant and wine bar, you won't find much meat on the menu, it is all about fresh seafood from around the UK. The Old Butchers is one of the most popular restaurants in Stow on the Wold, it was buzzing with locals on my visit while the street on the outside is totally empty.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Martell Cognac

The Sublime Society of the Beef Steaks & Cognac Punches


Roasted scallops with garlic and white port


As part of London Cocktail Week 2018, Martell (the oldest cognac house in the world) teamed up with British steak joint Hawksmoor to offer one hell of an evening called "The Sublime Society of the Beef Steaks & Cognac Punches". A special dinner that paired with cognac and food. (For those who would like to find out more cognac, check out my "Harmonies" article in partnership with Cognac Bureau). It is great to see cognac brands repositioning to be a bit edgy, more versatile and fun along the way, vs the old days when it was associated just as a winter warmer. Good quality cognac is such a beautiful thing that can rival the finest single malt whiskies in the world.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Michelin

A list of Michelin starred restaurants I covered in my blog. By no means Michelin is the perfect restaurant guide, but still a decent sources when it comes into searching top level dining experience and a guide that is respected by top chefs around the world. (Apart from the HK edition)


* Rating as of 2018 guide

UK

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester***

Ametsa*

Angler*

A Wong*

Alyn Williams at the Westbury* (2nd visit)

Aquavit*

Barrafina*

Bonhams*

City Social*

Club Gascon* (1st visit)

Club Gascon* (2nd visit)

Claude Bosi at Bibendum**

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal**


Elystan Street*

Fera(1st visit)

Fera(2nd visit)

Fischer's Baslow Hall*


Galvin at Windows(2nd visit)

Galvin at Windows(3rd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(1st visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(2nd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(3rd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(4th visit)

Greenhouse** (2nd visit)

Greenhouse** (3rd visit)

Harwood Arms* (2nd visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (3rd visit)


Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (4th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (5th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (6th visit)

Kitchen Table* (1st visit)

Kitchen Table* (2nd visit)

Kitchen W8(2nd visit)

L' Atelier Joel Robuchon* (2nd visit)

La Dame de Pic* (1st visit)

La Dame de Pic* (2nd visit)

La Trompette*

Le Gavroche** (1st)

Le Gavroche** (2nd)

Lima* (2nd visit)

Lyle's 

Le Champignon Sauvage**

Murano* (2nd visit)

Midsummer House**

Marcus ** (2nd visit)

Marcus ** (3rd visit)

Marcus ** (4th visit)

Nut Tree Inn*

Outlaw's at The Capital*

Petrus*

Pied a Terre* (1st visit)

Pied a Terre* (2nd visit)

Pollen Street Social* (4th visit)

Portland*

Seven Park Place*

Seven Park Place* (2nd visit)

Sketch**
 
Social Eating House* (1st visit)

Social Eating House* (2nd visit)
 
Story*

St John*

The Clove Club* (1st visit)

The Clove Club* (2nd visit)

Trishna* (2nd visit)

The Ledbury** (2nd visit)

The Ledbury** (3rd visit)

The Ledbury** (4th visit)

The Ledbury** (5th visit)

The Ledbury** (6th visit)

The Ledbury** (7th visit)

The Square* (3rd and 4th visit)

The River Cafe*

The West House*

The Ninth*

The Five Fields*

Celeste* (1st visit)

Celeste* (2nd visit)


Waterside Inn*** (2nd visit)


Spain

Azurmendi***

Akelare***

Arzak***

Martín Berasategui***

Mina*

Etxanobe*

ABaC**

Dos Palillos*

Lasarte**

Comerc 24*

Sergi Arola**

Ramon Freixa Madrid**

El Club Allard**

Hisop*

Manairo*

Via Veneto


Hofmann*

Nectari*

Restaurante Kokotxa*




Portugal

Alma*

Belcanto**




France

Benoit*

Les Climats*

Le Celadon*

Les Fables de la Fontaine*



Ireland

Chapter One*

Th Greenhouse*

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud**



Hong Kong

Amber**

Bo Innovation***

Pang's Kitchen*

Sun Tung Lok**

Ming Court** (2nd visit)

8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana***

Lung King Heen***

Shang Palace**

Ah Yat Harbour View*

Tim Ho Wan* (1st visit)

Tim Ho Wan* (2nd visit)

Yan Toh Heen**


Kam's Roast Goose*

Ho Hung Kee*

Jardin de Jade*

Zhejiang Heen*

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Waterside Inn

French fine dining, the classic way


Devon crab with langoustine tails, lovage


In the whole of UK, only 4 restaurants have been awarded 3 Michelin stars, and Waterside Inn is one of them. However, Waterside Inn is far more than that. Located in Bray, this 3 starred restaurant has been holding such acclaim for 30 years, which is an amazing achievement and no other restaurants in the UK can rival it. This restaurant is what traditional fine French dining is all about, dining at The Waterside Inn does come at a cost, however, with most dishes costing around the £50 mark, my advice would be go for the 8 course tasting menu, as you would be only paying just a touch more than the standard a la carte option, but with so many more dishes to try. 

Shikumen

Top notch Chinese cooking in The City


King Prawn Curry with Almond Slice


Shikumen, the highly acclaimed Chinese restaurant in Shepherds Bush has long been on my to visit list. The only thing that has been stopping me is due to the western location, but this has all changed with it has launched a new site in Algate, right by the tube station, inside Dorsett City hotel. The restaurant offers a dim sum menu at lunch hours and an a la carte for dinner. What really stood out is its menu is pretty short for a Chinese restaurant, which could actually be a good thing, as the chefs can focus on really refining the dishes and reducing waste. Below are some of the highlights from my two visits.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Gauthier Soho

King of Soho


Scottish scallop, chorozo, squid, marrow


For the 6th time, I headed back to Gauthier Soho for a lengthy tasting menu affair. Located in the heart of Soho, this fine French restaurant is full of charm and renowned for its modern French cooking whilst maintaining a touch of classic element. Unlike many other high end French restaurants, it is well priced with one of the best lunch deal in town, £45 for 3 courses, a glass of bubbles and 2 glasses of wine.  Come for dinner, its low light setting, small but well spread out space make it ideal for impressing a date, not to mention its 8 course tasting menu is simply a patch to food heaven. The below are some of the highlights from the dinner tasting menu.

Le Relais de Venise

Steak-frites combo at its best


Steak frites

Le Relais de Venise is a mini French restaurant chain spreading across London that came from France. It is now a global presence business with sites across France, UK, US and Mexico. The restaurant is renowned with its single menu item, a starter of salad and a plate of steak and frites, at £24 per person. The only choice you have is for the dessert course (which you need to pay extra for). In a way, it is a little bit similar to Flat Iron's £10 steak concept. The house "Porte Maillot" steak, aka a piece of tender sirloin steak that came with a special sauce was simply a pure sensation. The secret recipe contained butter, parsley and anchovies, which offered bags of rich and creamy flavours to the steak, and was perfect to dip in with the crispy fries. Also special shout out to the wine selection, well priced with some bottles costing under £15 but at a fine quality at the same time. This is an amazing value for money steak joint, with charming and classy service. Perfect for any steak lovers.

One O One

Seafood fine dining


Cod / Red Prawn / Paimpol Coco Beans Cassoulet /
Iberico Chorizo / Piquillo / Parsley

This is my second time dining at One O One restaurant, a fine dining seafood restaurant located in Knightsbridge, inside the Park Tower Hotel. The restaurant is highly regarded with its seafood offering. It has won countless awards including Sunday Time's best UK restaurant award at 13th and 3 AA Rosettes. The cooking style is French in essence with a few creative element in the mix. They use the top quality seafoods such as Cornish seabass and Norwegian king crab, to turn it into something refine and visually tempting. The restaurant has a best kept secret, 50% off for its tasting menu if you book online.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Temper City

Indian BBQ


Dry goat curry


Temper City is the second BBQ concept from Neil Rankin. I have been a fan of Neil Rankin for a while, from the Smokehouse days to his first Temper restaurant ,when it was launched in 2016. Temper City is nothing like the first Temper in Soho however, the Soho site focus on South American theme with tacos and tortillas, while the brand new City site is all about Indian BBQ, with curry and tandoori taking central stage. I was really interested to see how Neil's BBQ and open fire pit style of cooking can apply to one of the most loved world cuisine in the world.

Magpie

Trays and trolleys



Starters selection from a tray

Magpie is a brand new restaurant by the same people behind the Michelin starred Pidgin. Located in Oxford Circus, Magpie is a modern British restaurant offering a rather unusual dining concept, with guests getting to pick their starters and desserts from trolleys and trays that goes around in the dining room. Diners have the chance to see the look of all the dishes before deciding, the trolley dish sizes are similar to dim sum and tapas, ranging from £3 to £8. Magpie also offer main courses in a more traditional manner, cook to order with about 5 choices.

Belcanto

Lisbon's finest


Oxtail with chickpea, foie gras, veal tendons, onion cream with Serra cheese


Located in the heart of Lisbon, Belcanto is one of the only 2 Michelin starred restaurant in Portugal, and some would consider it is the very best the country has on offer in terms of fine dining, as voted one of the top 100 restaurants in the world by the much celebrated San Pellegrino's world best restaurant award. Operated by heavyweight chef Jose Avillez, the restaurant is all about progression and develop highly creative modern Portuguese cuisine. The restaurant has a short choice of a la carte, along with 3 tasting menus to pick from. It is a small restaurant with no more than 15 tables, so do book well in advance.

Alma

Modern Portuguese fine dining


"Cobblestreet" salted cod, onion purée, egg yolk


Alma is one of the handful of Michelin starred restaurants in Lisbon, located in the city centre and headed up by a talented and ambitious chef, Henrique Sá Pessoa. The cooking are playful and forward thinking, with some classic Portuguese elements in the mix. At the same time, there is plenty of global influence, from French to Japanese. There are a few set menus to choose from, as well as an a la carte menu. If you visit in a large group and enjoy tasting a range of dishes, I would suggest the a la carte so that everyone can pick different dishes, just like what I have done on my visit.

Cervejaria Ramiro

Seafood heaven


Giant red shrimps


As Lisbon is surrounded by fishing villages nearby, seafood doesn't come short in supply, and if you ask a local to suggest a seafood restaurant, most will recommend Cervejaria Ramiro. It started off as a beer house back in 1956 and has since developed into a well regarded seafood joint. The restaurant offer an iPad menu in multi-languages as some of their English are limited, we ordered a large selection of seafood, from langoustine to lobster. Basically it was a seafood feast. Be aware as this is an extremely popular place and it doesn't take booking, try to arrive early or you might will need to wait for over an hour. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

XU Restaurant

Exquisite Taiwanese cuisine



Char shui Iberico pork

Xu is from the trio behind the successful casual dining joint Bao, Wai Ting Chung , Shing Tat Chung, and Erchen Chang. They started off as a street food vendor before setting up their first restaurant in Soho, and Xu is their latest offering, specialising Taiwanese cuisine with a slightly more upmarket approach. Xu is located right on the edge of ChinaTown, it has a retro feel with a mini cocktail bar and a tea bar. The menu is fairly long, with some Chinese and Taiwanese classic dishes, along with some innovative dishes, such as XO Carabinero prawn and shortrib & bone marrow pancakes. Xu also has an excellent set lunch menu which you can have 2 courses with rice for under £20.