Sunday, 20 May 2018

Brat

Basque-inspired cuisine 




Whole turbot

If you ask me what is my favorite type of cuisine, Spanish would be high on the list and food from the Basque Country, the northern part of Spain is what I consider the temple of high-quality cooking. From rustic pintxo bars to high-end fine dining restaurants, I just got nothing but love for Basque cuisine. Brat by Tomos Parry is a Basque-inspired restaurant opened in early 2018, and it has already gathered plenty of love from the food critics, and judging from the menu online, it does appear plenty of the items can be related to Basque and I was interested how does it compare to the real deal.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Flitch of Bacon

Essex's finest




mackerel, dill, mustard

Where do I start with The Flitch of Bacon... If you have been following my blog, you would know I am a massive fan of chef Tim Allen's cooking. First, at Launceston Place in Kensington, followed by The Wild Rabbit in the Cotswold, both pretty much gained Michelin status instantly thanks to Tim and his wonderful team. The Flitch of Bacon is his very first owned restaurant in Essex, which happened to be pretty close to where I live. So of course, a visit to support The Flitch of Bacon was high on my agenda. The restaurant spit into a bar and dining area, with a back garden that also has its own bar and BBQs, which make it a far-cry from Wild Rabbit's super posh setting. The dining room currently only offers a la carte menu, but we were lucky to be offered a special tasting menu to sample some of Tim's latest creation.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Stem by Neo

Experimental flavours



Grilled Large Black pork chop, Romano pepper and Cornish mussels

Stem is a brand new restaurant by Mark Jarvis, a chef, and restaurateur who also owned Anglo in Farringdon and Neo Bistro in Mayfair. Personally, I am a big fan of Neo Bistro, which is just down the road from Stem. I enjoyed its simplicity approach, using fine British ingredients with a modern but a rustic feel to it. The presentation of the dishes are not fancy but they deliver bags of wonderful flavours. Stem, however, is a totally different beast, the pricing is more up-market and the approach is far more creative and experimental. It has a tasting menu, as well as a pretty small a la carte menu with some fairly ambitious ingredients combination. 

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Coach Marlow

Slick and edgy gastropub 


Whole Stuffed Rotisserie Quail with Black Pudding and Moilee Sauce

Tom Kerridge is the chef of the moment right now, gaining mainstream success with TV appearances and book launches, he is well on the way to becoming one of the biggest chef names in the UK. His flagship restaurant, The Hands and Flowers in Marlow is a 2 Michelin starred pub, the only pub in the UK with such acclaim. I drove pass Marlow but without the time to sit down for a proper sit-down meal, so his other gastro pub The Coach, just down the road was a perfect solution for me. The Coach is a Michelin starred pub with limited tables and a long counter sitting area facing the kitchen, serving pub classics with a modern edge in small plates format, diners are encouraged to order 3 - 4 dishes per person.

The Hinds Head

Heston's gastropub



Scallop, artichoke, hazelnuts, smoked bacon

Heston Blumenthal surely is a household even for none foodies, his flagship restaurant, The Fat Duck, holds 3 Michelin stars and is perhaps one of the most talked about fine dining restaurants in the UK. However, at over £300 per person ahead before drink and service, I run the risk of not be able to pay my bill on time! Joke aside, Heston actually got a pub next to The Fat Duck, which offers modern British gastropub food at a much more reasonable price. With a Michelin star to its name, The Hinds Head is a good alternative to The Fat Duck to experience Heston's offering in a much more casual, relaxing setting.

Pitt Cue

King of BBQ


Bone in prime rib

Where do I start about Pitt Cue... the legendary BBQ joint which gained a cult following when it was based in Soho, before moving to the current site in the City of London as a trendy restaurant with an open kitchen and smart bar. It has a reputation for dishing some of the very best BBQ dishes in the UK, having eaten there 3 times already, I couldn't agree more. For the true Pitt Cue experience, order off the daily specials blackboard, which offer some mouthwatering giant cuts of meat, ranging from aged Dexter beef to the special Mangalitsa pork.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Martín Berasategui

Perfection



Pigeon, stuffed with olives and foie gras, charcoal roasted with pil-pil kohlrabi
and carrots, cocoa and potato cappuccina 

There are not many restaurants at the top end level I would return for, especially ones that are not in London. However, Martin Berasategui's flagship 3 Michelin starred restaurant in San Sebastian is an exception. Having eaten at all three 3 starred restaurants in San Sebastian in my first trip to the city, I found that Martin was far superior and totally faultless. It was an easy decision for me to come back, the food at his restaurant is modern, refine and visually stunning, I got nothing but high praise. Once again, I opted for the restaurant's signature offering: The Great Tasting Menu, with 15 courses of world-class dishes one after another. 

Mirador de Ulía

Fining dining with a spectator view


Hake cheek with white wine jelly and potato


One of the best things about San Sebastian is its beautiful landscape, with green hills overlooking sandy beaches and a sky blue ocean. To truly enjoy the amazing view, it is hard to beat a meal at Mirador de Ulía, a fine dining restaurant which located on Monte Ulia and has a complete view overlooking the city. The restaurant is not just about the view, however, it is a holder of a Michelin star, offering modern Basque cuisine using some of the freshness ingredients you can find in the region, it offers a 10-course tasting menu that contains some of the best dishes from its standard a la carte menu. 

Bar Nestor

All about the txuleta


Txuleta steak


San Sebastian is known to be the foodie capital of Europe, blessed with fine ingredients such as seafood, Basque pigeon, and the txuleta steak. Located in the Old Town, Bar Nestor is a steak temple that loved by both the locals and the tourist alike. An extremely popular bar, the bar's signature dish is the well-aged txuleta steak. Besides steak, the bar is also famous for its tortilla, freshly prepared for each lunch and evening serving. For some reason, the chef only cook one try of tortilla so we are only talking about only 15 portions per service which make it extremely demanding!

Borda Berri

Pintxo at its best


Roasted hake, beetroot and pickled

When you visit San Sebastian, diving in pintxos with wines is a no-brainer. But with so many pintxos bars to pick up from, it is hard to identify which one to go to. For me, one of the important factors for me is knowing if a bar cook the food to order and Borda Berri is one of those pintxo bars that exactly does that. I am not a fan of some of the bars that made all the pintxos in advance and just place them out in the open, not a problem at a high season when the food is moving fast, but the freshness can be questionable when is less busy. 

La Cuchara de San Telmo

Pintxos heaven


Slow-roasted suckling pig

Located right next to the San Telmo museum in San Sebastian, La Cuchara de San Telmo is a tiny pintxo bar that has a big reputation, owned by the same people behind another successful pintxo bar Borda Berri. La Cuchara de San Telmo is all about dishing up simple pintxos that packed with impactful flavours and freshly cooked to order, using the amazing ingredients around the Basque Country. The bar has no seating and is always busy, so best come extra early, otherwise, you might risk be waiting a while as this is an extremely popular bar that loves by the locals as well.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Roganic

Welcome back to London


Salt baked celeriac, enoki, whey

5 years later, Roganic, by Simon Rogan is back in London again as a permanent restaurant, located in Marylebone, where the Michelin starred L'autre Pied used to beat. I first experienced Simon's cooking in his pop up back in 2013 and it was such a mind-blowing experience, his style of cuisine was so unusual and made humble ingredients such as carrots and spring onions taste like heaven. I was so happy when I have discovered Roganic is back in town and I wasted no time in booking a table. The restaurant offers put tasting menu on the central stage, with snacks after snacks before the main courses, followed by multi courses of desserts, just how I like it.

The Royal Oak

Top class gastropub


Dressed Crab, Blood Orange, Radicchio and Sorrel


I got to admit, without watching Masterchef the Professional, The Royal Oak would never come to my attention. Craig Johnston, who works at the Michelin starred gastropub is the winner of the 2017 edition and he seems like a real talent with some speculator dishes showcased on the TV show, one after another. Looking at the menu online from The Royal Oak's website, the menu appears to be modern British with a hint of European touch, what I really like is that it retains some classic British essence with items such as black pudding and pie on the menu, but of course, done in a very refine manner.  

Nut Tree Inn

Not your average pub


Roast loin of venison, truffled sprout puree, parsnips, red wine sauce

Every once a while I need a city escape and traveling to the Cotswolds from London for a long weekend has fast become a regular activity for me. In true Michelin guide fashion, I have started to do some detouring for lunch or dinner on my way to the Cotswolds, and sometimes those meals can be the highlight of my weekend trip. On the edge of Oxford, the Michelin starred pub the Nut Tree Inn is one of the stands out places I have been to from my latest trip, this is my second time visiting this cozy gastropub, and we opted for the a la carte menu.   

The Oxford Kitchen

Oxford's finnest?


Squab pigeon, confit leg, celeriac purée, pear, pigeon gravy

My recent London escape was a trip to Oxford, and it turned out to be a mission to find a top-level fine dining restaurant in the city. After some extended research online, it appears The Oxford Kitchen is a solid choice with some fantastic reviews from the media, Executive Chef Paul Welburn used to be the head chef at the Michelin starred Rhodes W1 and in typical modern fine dining fashion, it has an a la carte menu and a tasting menu for dinner, and a short lunch menu at a very affordable price (£27.5). The restaurant is located in an area called Summertown, a classy neighborhood on the edge of Oxford, about 10 minutes bus ride from the Oxford city center. 

Pint Shop

Sunday delight


Pig in blanket Scotch egg

For my long weekend trip to Oxford, one thing that was on top of my to-do list was a nice Sunday roast after a long day of shopping, Pint Shop came to my attention thanks to its "hipster" branding, with a wide range of craft beer on taps and a really attracted range of food offering, from classic fish & chips to more modern dishes like salt baked celeriac and devilled lamb shoulder, the menu won't out of place in a proper restaurant. The restaurant also offers an amazing value for money Sunday roast, with 3 courses at £25, with a choice of 3 roasts for main and you can pick any starter and dessert from its all-day menu.