The Princess; 76 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE; Tel: 020 7729 9270; Tube: Old Street
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Brian Turner Mayfair, Millennium Hotel London Mayfair, Grosvenor Square, W1K 2HP; Tel: 020 7596 3444 ;www.brianturneronline.co.uk ; Tube: Bond Street
Monday, June 25, 2007
If you are hungry, start with the best bruschetta we've tasted - two generous slices of bread, piled high with fresh, olive-oil infused tomatoes (£2.95, the picture above is of half the portion, the husband being too hungry to wait for his share to be captured for posterity). Order the house wine (at £10ish, it is unspectacular, but goes well with food) and your steak feast could come in under £60 for two. It's perfect for those (Friday) nights when you are too tired to go out properly, but also too tired to cook and in need of a treat. It's also the kind of place where you'd be made very welcome on your own.
Venezia, 3-5 Goswell Road, London, EC1M 7AH; Tel. 020 7490 1715; Tube: Barbican
Friday, June 22, 2007
Such is the proposition of this year's Taste London festival which has taken over a sizeable chunk of Regent's Park until Sunday. The £35 tickets include £20 worth of "crowns" which you can exchange for glasses of bubbly or paper plates of delicacies served to you by top chefs like Gary Rhodes or Angela Hartnet.
There was a decent haul of freebies to keep us amused as we wondered round the dozens of white tents (I suppose the restaurant equivalent is amuse bouche): pink flip flops, a green plastic piggy bank, three loaves of different types of bread made with honey, three innocent smoothies (won at their village fete by pinning the tail to the monkey - and to the drinks cabinet), glasses of a rather nice Scottish drink that is trying to muscle in on the Pimms market, lots of bite-sized chunks of cheeses and cakes and thimble-sized tasters of beers, wines and ports.
Add to that booty what we managed to purchase for out crowns and we left the festival at kicking out time - tipsy and quite full.
The food though was a bit of a disappointment.
Of the 40 or so restaurants showcasing their signature dishes, I concentrated on the ones which we had not visited and which also had a famous chef and/or rave reviews. It was perhaps not a fair trial, as cooking for thousands of festival goers in make shift kitchens and serving on paper plates with plastic cutlery is not what these guys are trying to do. So it was the simple dishes that worked best.
The highlight for my companion were "oysters with Peter Gott's spiced wild boar sausage" from city institution Scotts. The juicy oysters went surprsingly well with the small, punchy sausages.
Eton Mess from what was the Conran empire was another simple but well executed dish designed to appeal to city tastes and peppered with very good strawberries.
The "grilled organic salmon with summer herbs and lemon" from The National Dining Rooms was beautifully cooked and delicately flavoured, though we left the (bulgur wheat?) salad.
But the more adventurous marinated tuna from The Greenhouse, although beautifully rare, was utterly overpowered by a vinegary salad dressing, capers and anchovies.
Rhodes 24's "white tomato soup" did what it said on the (proverbial) tin, and was nicely creamy and warming in the early evening chill. But as my companion pointed out, it was not radically different (apart from the whiteness) from the stuff that comes out of real tins.
The "balotine of foie gras, chicken and celeriac with truffle mayonnaise" from Galvin at Windows was rather bland, with a stingy chicken to foie gras ratio -- but may be it tastes better when enjoying the view from the Park Lane Hilton restaurant.
Refettorio's "duck ravioli with orange and duck jus" sounded interesting, but the sweet jus and orange peel shavings overpowered the duck, which was probably already struggling to make itself heard from within the large pasta circles.
So there were duds. But with a glass of champagne, it's not a bad way to enjoy a balmy evening, and not bad value either.
Taste London Festival 2007; www.channel4.com/tastefestivals; Tube: Regents Park (now reopened) or Great Portland Street -- the two stations nearest to the actual festival entrance
Friday, June 15, 2007
Octave, 27-29 Endell Street, WC2H 9BA; T. 020 7836 4616; Tube: Covent Garden; www.octave8.com
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Coq d'Argent, No. 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ; Tel. EC2R 8EJ; Tube: Bank; www.coqdargent.co.uk
Monday, June 11, 2007
The Duke of Cambridge, 30 St Peter's Street, N1 8 JT; Tel. 020 8986 5384; Tube: Angel; http://www.dukeorganic.co.uk/
Friday, June 08, 2007
The trouble with piling up lots of places to review later is my fickle memory. In this case it has erased the names of the dishes we consumed at LMNT II about a month ago. But I would still like to give a nod to this new place which has sprung up in the former home of Shakespeare's pizzeria, round the corner from our flat. Owned by the same people as Stingray cafes in north London, Shakespeare's used to offer huge pizzas and incredible value set menus. But whether it was the pricey drinks, or the side-street location amid council houses and out of sight of Clerkenwell's hot spots, the place tended to be rather empty. So we weren't surprised, after 3 years or so, to find a new sign hanging above the door. I was pleased to see that the new venture is an off-shoot of LMNT, an eccentric, well-reviewed restaurant in the depths of East London, which I had never got around to visiting. Now I was saved the trek. So far the new venture lacks the eccentric decor found in the original, although they have lightened up the place. I do not remember the food, I remember that it was a nice meal, after which we discussed going back for more. The main reason I have mentioned the place is that it was nice, but has opened so quietly that there's no mention of it yet on the mother ship website, nor anywhere else that google could find. And I think it deserves to be better known.
Edited to add that this place featured in the Metro today and I was bemused to discover that it is apparently "Marooned on a large corner site near the Brunswick Estate in deepest, darkest Islington, North London".
LMNT II, 46 Percival Street, London, EC1V OHS; Tube: Barbican
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Volupte Lounge, 7-9 Norwich Street, EC4A 1EJ; Tel. 020 7831 1622; Tube: Chancery Lane; www.volupte-lounge.com
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
First, Le Gavroche - a wonderfully old fashioned institution in Mayfair. It comes in at number 28 in the list of world's top restaurants, and the listing also informs us that it's been around for 40 years and one loyal customer has been coming in for lunch every weekday for the past 18. And I can see why he (in this setting, it's bound to be he) would. The gentlemen wear jackets. There is a cosy bar with tartan sofas and an eclectic art collection (ranging from various pictures of the eponymous tearaway to Chagall) in which to enjoy an aperitif while perusing the menu and the list of merchandise (from the colourful plates with a likeness of Mr Roux to cutlery with handles shaped like Gavroche, it's all for sale!). This is Mayfair and the place has two Michelin stars, so the prices are hefty. But weekday lunchtimes offer the bargain of 3 courses, coffee, half a bottle of wine and half a bottle of water for £48 -- less than some of the a la carte main courses.
Our pink champagne was offered with amuse-bouches of tempura prawns and chicken liver pate on toast. Downstairs the green walls are adorned with more art and each table features an amazing animal sculpture made out of cutlery. Ours was a turkey, with fork handles for a tail and spoons for belly feathers. The numerous staff were very discrete, topping up our glasses of Pinot Blanc de Blancs and water when required as opposed to sloshing it all in in a bid to sell another bottle. Another amuse bouche of tender fish fillet in green sauce went down very well. My starter - half a lobster - made the menu seem like a complete bargain. My companion's salmon gravadlax was lovely, but he kept sneaking jealous glances at the lobster. There were warm fresh rolls with two types of butter to mop up the juices. My main of mackerel with wild mushrooms was also good, while my companion had some of the nicest veal I've ever tasted. For desert, we chose four cheeses each from a bulging, oozing wooden board. The fourme d'ambert was gorgeous, the camembert with Calvados a bit too adventurous for my taste. Then there was coffee, with a bowl of juicy cherries (a lovely alternative to after dinner mints), and offers of refills. We waddled stuffed and a little tipsy into the afternoon drizzle. This was the life.
Le Gavroche, 43 Upper Brook Street, W1K 7QR; Tel. 020 7408 0881; Tube: Marble Arch; www.le-gavroche.co.uk