Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe: Affordable Classic French Cuisine on Baker Street

Despite walking past Galvin Bistrot de Luxe on Baker Street plenty of times, I had never really given much thought to checking it out till I saw a sign outside proclaiming their set course menu: 3 courses for £20 !

I had heard of the Galvin name before; two brothers, both chefs, who’d, opened up a small collection of fine and fancy French restaurants. The restaurant on Baker Street with its casual bistro vibe was the first restaurant to be opened.

Back to the food – the set menu had two options for each course. In a bid to be healthy, I chose to order fish as my main course and then negated any healthy effect by ordering the game terrine with quince jelly as a starter. My friend chose curried parsnip veloute as a starter and the slow cooked shin of veal served with pearl barley and beetroot as a main.

Slow Cooked Shin of Veal

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hakkasan: Glitzy Cantonese Restaurant in Fitzrovia

For my birthday, I was treated to dinner at Hakkasan, a Chinese restaurant in Fitzrovia. Crossing over the mayhem that is Tottenham court road and then going down a dodgy-looking lane that came to a dead end, the last thing I expected was to see the sleek and swanky entrance of Hakkasan.

Given it was my birthday treat – I certainly I wasn’t holding back and we decided to go for their £55 tasting menu which showcased all their signature dishes.

We started with the Dim Sum platter that had scallop shumai, har gau, Chinese chive dumplings and shimeji dumplings. The eight little bejewelled parcels of deliciousness were simply sublime. The Jasmine tea smoked pork ribs that followed didn’t fare so well. While the sweetish barbeque flavour was a winner, the ribs were dry and could have done with a bit more sauce to add moisture.

Then the mains arrived of which the Roast Chicken in Satay sauce was my favourite. I devoured the chicken pieces with crispy skin coated in a gorgeously flavourful peanut sauce. Another highlight was the Stir fry Black Pepper Rib-eye Beef with Merlot. The sauce had a delicate sweet taste though be warned, it is doused liberally with gigantic cloves of garlic.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Le Vieux Comptoir: French Wine Store and Cafe in Marylebone

Le Vieux Comptoir is a muddle of a place. It initially opened as a French wine shop and then they expanded the downstairs area into a café with a charming courtyard and a delicatessen. We found it was a rather nice place to go for brunch in Marylebone. I liked how there were lot of French dishes you don’t normally see at other cafés like Oeufs Cocotte and I thought in time, it would provide some healthy competition to the massively popular Fromargerie next door.

Le Vieux Comptoir eggs Oeufs cocotte ginfizzgirl marylebone

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Flavrbox: Review of September Flavrbox

This time when I received my Flavrbox at work, it caught the attention of my co-workers and upon unearthing the first item, a lady near me gave a squeal of excitement. The Torta de Aceite (£3.00) biscuits I was holding were her favourite as a child growing up in Spain. I wasn’t familiar with them so I was a bit astonished by her enthusiasm. Turns out they are quite special – each crispy flakey biscuit is hand-made using extra virgin olive oil, flavoured with cinnamon and lemon and are utterly addictive.

Next was a large bottle of sweet Moscatel Vinegar (retail price £8.95). This sounded promising to use as a salad dressing or even as a glaze for vegetables. Then came some nibbles called Habas Fritas (£1.50) which are crunchy salty broad beans that I’ve been snacking away on. I have to say I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about these and could have done without them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Amalfi and Ravello: Two beautiful towns on the Amalfi coast || One week in the Amalfi Coast, Italy

I know there's been an avalanche of posts on my recent trip to Italy and when I look back, I can’t believe we saw so much in six days. It’s pretty incredible to say the least. But that was the purpose of our trip. My friend and I knew this was never going to be a trip where we were going to lie on a beach and chil. It was our first visit to this part of Italy and once we had a taste of how beautiful each little town and island was, we had to see as much of it as we could.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Candlestick Maker Supperclub by Ian Ballantyne in Dalston, Hackney

I’ve been keen to attend one of Ian Ballantyne’s a.k.a. ‘The Candlestick Maker’ supper clubs ever since I tried his gorgeously assembled Salmangudi, a salad made of vegetables, fruits, nuts and flowers at a Melba event. I finally got a chance this weekend to go to a dinner he was hosting at the Mouse & De Lotz Café in Dalston called ‘Celebrate Hackney’ and it was such an enjoyable experience despite the initial trek along Shacklewell Lane in the classic wet and windy London weather.

‘Celebrate Hackney’ is all about using the locally sourced products in and around Hackney. Ian partners up with a number of local producers and creates a dinner that showcases their products and his style of cooking. It’s a lovely experience to be able to support the small artisan businesses based in Hackney and even get a chance to meet the people behind all those great produce like Hugo from the Black Hand Food Group who specializes in curing and making his own pork products.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A visit to the ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum || One week in the Amalfi Coast

In terms of cultural history, there's a huge amount to see at Pompeii and Herculaneum, the ancient Roman sites frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

A visit to each individual site cost 11 euros for admission but you can buy a ticket for 20 euros that gives you access to 5 different archaeological sites across 3 days that include Herculaeum and Pompeii. You can take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples or Sorrento to the Ercolano station for Herculaneum or the Pompeii Scavi station for Pomepei.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Brick Lane & Shoreditch Street Art Tour by Alternative London

Artist: DALeast

Guided tours can be rather hit or miss at times. It's a bit stifling to be herded around in a big group but then on the other hand, if you get a great tour guide then you suddenly get an incredible opportunity to learn about things that you wouldn't ordinarily ever educate yourself on.

And that's what happened last weekend: I went on a Street Art Tour of Brick Lane and Shoreditch - an area I'm not terribly familiar with and I came back with an immense of interest and respect for street artists. What boggles my mind is how these artists share their work for free for everyone to view, knowing there is no longevity or permanence to their work - for it could be wiped out or drawn over the next day. Yet the fact that some of these stay and become famous icons and landmarks that have lasted on buildings and walls for years shows the strength of this art form and the support and appreciation from the community in the area.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

One week in the Amalfi Coast || A day in the romantic town of Positano

“ A dream place that isn’t quite real when you get there and becomes beckoningly real once you have gone” – John Steinbeck

Seeing Positano from a distance is almost dream-like. It’s perched on the side of a cliff, with pastel coloured houses and winding little streets lined with fuchsia pink bougainvillea that cascade all the way right down to a sandy beach cove by the stunningly blue water.

Positano GinFizzGirl Amalfi Coast

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flavrbox: A Unique Monthly Food and Drink Delivery Box Service

I first heard about Flavrbox, a gourmet food and drink delivery service, when it appeared in the Guardian last year as one of the top 10 Christmas presents to give someone. And then I met Seb, the founder at a Melba supperclub event where he told me about how he started Flavrbox. I instantly loved the concept: connecting consumers to high quality, award winning products from independent producers in the UK. I found it a brilliant gift idea to give friends for birthdays – they loved getting a surprise package in the mail full of goodies. Yet despite thinking it was such a good idea, I never actually got a package for myself. In my head, I felt it was too much of a luxury – my rationale was that it was alright to spend £20 as a gift for someone but not as a monthly treat for myself. 

But after hearing from my friends how they enjoyed their Flavrbox, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for their subscription service where I get billed £20 a month and get a box delivered to me at the end of every month. I figured, in addition to being a fun treat, this might give me an incentive to try new recipes and get some variety by discovering new and interesting products. And if I’m not happy or feel I’m just getting stuff that I don’t like or use much, I’ll stop. 

There is a bit of flexibility available: you can either say you want to know upfront what’s going to be in the box before it gets delivered and if you’re not excited about the contents, opt out for that month’s service or you can just choose not to know and get a little surprise package in the mail. I opted for the latter – it’s nice to have a little excitement every now and then!

Since Flavrbox delivers via Royal mail, I’ve opted to get it sent to my work address rather than have to worry about if I’ll be home when the postman comes around. And oh what a treat it was when it arrived at work. I was was giddy with excitement and opening it up. And here’s what was in the box:

1. The Pelagonia Aivar Sauce

I was most excited when I saw this. My friend got one in her gift box and said it was incredibly tasty and addictive. I opened it when I got home and it totally lived up to the all the hype. A sweet roasted red pepper sauce that can be used as a dip or spread for sandwiches or sauce with pasta.

2. Seggiano Fennel Brigantini Savoury Wheat Snacks

To be honest, when I first saw these I  wasn’t too enamoured. But then they were quite nice when I tried them - light crunchy wheat snacks with a delicate fennel flavour. I then suddenly realized I could pair these with the Aivar Red Pepper as a dip and the combination was so good! I spent the evening gorging on both as my dinner!

3. Spicentice Moroccan Spice Blend Mix

I wasn't quite sure initially what to do with this. I’m not one for making tagines and cous cous – bit too daunting for me to attempt. But inside the tin, is a little booklet with ideas on how to use the spice mix – which was a nice touch. I’ll probably use it as dry or wet marinade for when cooking fish or chicken in the oven which is one of my staple weeknight dinners. Oh and this won a Great Taste Gold award in 2011. 

 4. Ouse Valley Pineapple Lime and Lemon Marmalade

This citrus sweet marmalade and winner of a 2007 Great Taste Gold award intrigued me. I couldn’t help but think of my father – I know he’d love this. He’s quite partial to a nice marmalade with little orange bits in it. It’s one of his favourite things to eat at breakfast – spread thickly on a buttery slice of toast. Nonetheless he’s in India and I’m tempted to store this away and bring it along on my next visit.

5. Inspiral Raw Purple Corn Kale Chips

These sounded so promising – could they really be a healthy alternative to snacking on those horrible addictive prawn cracker crisps from the vending machine? I’ll never really know – they were unfortunately crushed to bits during transit and the bag is full of powdered bits of kale which aren't very appealing. I guess packing them with fairly heavy glass jars was not in the best interest of the chips.

So all in all, a decent haul. One jar of delicious red pepper dip, one bag of crunchy wheat snacks, one jar of intriguing lime and lemony pineapple marmalade, one tin of morocco spice mix that will test my cooking skills and one bag of doomed kale chips crushed to bits.

Till next month’s Flavrbox, Adieu!

In case you’d like to learn more about Flavrbox or to order a box, here is their website: www.FlavrBox.com

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One week in Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast || A Day trip to the Alluring Island of Capri

It seems that beauty does come at a price. Visiting Capri to feast on its splendour is wickedly expensive. I was expecting it to be pricey but nothing prepared me for just how much. The only way to get to Capri from Sorrento is either by ferry boat that takes half an hour and costs 13 euros or a slightly faster ferry at 20 minutes for 17 euros. And that's just one way! The cheaper boat runs less frequently and tickets seem to be mysteriously not available so you send up spending 34 euros on a round trip just to get Capri and back. In a bid to cut cost, we decided to avoid eating out in Capri and packed a light picnic lunch with us. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

One week in Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast || Staying in Sorrento to explore the Amalfi Coast

After a day in Naples, we headed to Sorrento for six days. We picked Sorrento as our base to explore the Amalfi Coast, though technically not on the Amalfi coast, it is very well connected by bus and train to other towns.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

One week in Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast || Things to do in Naples when visiting for a day

This summer I spent a glorious week in the beautiful Amalfi Coast. I had heard the rave reviews from friends who had been there, read the guidebooks and seen the pictures but still, nothing prepared me for how magnificent the Amalfi coast is - I have never seen such beauty like that before. We couldn't get enough of the views and I think this is the first vacation where going to the beach or finding a nice restaurant to eat was not a priority at all. All we wanted to do was visit as many pretty towns as possible, wander around winding paths, soak up the Italian sun and let our eyes feast on the views.

But first, the easiest way to get to the Amalfi Coast is to go from Naples and so we ended up spending a day in Naples. I wasn't expecting much but the short time I spent there had me changing my mind. There's more to Naples than just pizza and we really enjoyed our time there. Here are the things I recommend you do if you're there for a short visit:

Via Toledo

1. Walk around the Historic Centre

Wander around Centro Storico - the historic centre to get a feel for the heart and soul of Naples. We had heard so many stories that Naples was a 'rough' city -but I found walking around to be rather nice and pleasant - sure it wasn’t as picture perfect as the streets of Rome or pretty as Verona but there was a sort of dark romantic film noir element to it and all the things that people warn you about are just same precautions you should take for any big city. In Naples, be aware of your purse, watch out for the scooters that zip past you and you’ll be fine.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Casa Malevo: Classic Argentinean near Marble Arch, Edgware Road

After having a lazy Sunday lunch at and then another fabulous dinner at Zoilo, I was quite up for trying out Casa Malevo, the big brother restaurant to Zoilo. Close to Marble Arch, on a quiet street away from the hustle and bustle of Edgware road is Casa Malevo, home to classic Argentinean food with a reputation for serving hearty steaks.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Koba: Delicious Korean BBQ in Fitzrovia

Koba GinFizzGirl Korean BBQ

When my friend told me that he loved Korean barbecue and waxed lyrically about the food he at when visiting Seoul – I knew I had to take him to Koba.  It was bit of a risk though since the last time I had been there was four years ago!  So I wondered if it would be still as good as I remembered.

And it was! Dinner was superbly fantastic. The restaurant still has its casual buzzy vibe, with its hectic but always friendly service, and the food still as excellent as I remember. When we got there, we were so ravenously hungry that we skipped ordering appetizers and went straight to choosing the meats for the barbecue  You can order various selections of marinated, raw meat like beef, pork, chicken and the waiter barbecues them right in front of you on a circular grill that’s in the middle of the table.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Koya: Simple, Unassuming Japanese restaurant in Soho specializing in Udon noodles

GinFizzGirl Koya udon noodles

I had my first experience of tasting udon noodles at Koya and was rather comforted by the clean fresh flavours presented. Thick long gloopy strands of cold udon noodles were dunked into a hot broth sprinkled with slivers of ginger and spring onions. Coupled with some crispy prawn and vegetable tempura, it was just the right amount of food to walk back home feeling content and satisfied. I had a bit of trepidation when I was handling the noodles with my chopsticks and wondered if I could manage eating this without making a muddle of it and hey, it wasn't too bad. You get into the rhythm of lifting with your chopsticks, twirling the udon around, dunking quickly and then satisfyingly slurping it up. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Patty & Bun: Contender to Meat Liquor for Best Burger Joint in London

The last year or so has seen London embrace the classic American cheese burger. Sure there are burgers in London, but with the arrival of pop-ups turned restaurants like Meat Liquour, the greasy, oozy, dripping with love, meat feast of burger has arrived in London. I’ve written about the burgers at Meat Liquor before…which were so good that I no longer crave for burgers from Burger Joint in New York but this weekend, I had chance to suss out the competition – Patty & Bun.

Just a few streets away from Meat Liquor on St. Christopher Lane near Oxford Street is a burger joint that’s  been getting rave reviews since it opened. Having seen the lines that snake out of this tiny restaurant and hearing about the infamous hour and a half long wait times, I never really actively sought out a visit. Until one sunny day, when I was in Hyde Park with a friend and heard him moan about how hungry he was – a flash of inspiration hit me. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and highly unlikely that there would be a hungry crowd waiting outside Patty & Bun and my friend in his hunger-induced state, having no idea what or where Patty & Bun was, agreed to join me.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tinello: Excellent Chic Italian restaurant in Chelsea

I was a tad bit unenthusiastic when my friend suggested we try out a restaurant near Sloan Square called Tinello. The moment I heard the words ‘Sloan Square’, I instantly started moaning about how over-priced it’s going to be. I also made a big fuss about trudging all the way out to Chelsea for a meal when we could easily go to one of the many good restaurants in and around Marylebone and Soho.

But in the end, I’m so glad my friend picked Tinello because our meal was amazing!  My dish of Nettle Pappardelle with Duck Ragout was outstanding. Delicate pasta ribbons made with nettle that curved around the most delicious ragout I’ve ever tasted. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gauthier Soho: Elegant French Fine Dining in Soho

I was thrilled to bits when I found out we were going to dinner at Gauthier Soho. I’m always excited at the prospect expanding my repertoire of French food given my relatively late start in discovering it.

Upon arriving, I found myself in front of what appeared to be a posh townhouse right in the middle of Soho. You ring the doorbell and then are welcomed inside and led upstairs passing various rooms on different levels till you’re seated at your table. The subdued lighting creates a romantic dreamy atmosphere and discrete service is provided by an army of waiters all who are quite charming and I’m pretty sure have jobs as male models during the day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Briciole: Bona Fide Italian Trattoria in Marylebone

Is one visit to a restaurant ever enough to base a review on? Of course you expect a certain standard service but then again, dining can be such a variable experience. Hence, why I hesitate on providing a harsh critique if I’ve only visited once; though I’m always up for giving effusive compliment from time to time to a well-deserving chef whose food rocks my socks. ;)

So for Briciole I can confidently state my opinion having been there at least half a dozen times since they opened. It's a great local Italian restaurant if you live in the area - the type of place you go to with family or close friends. Casual yet cosy, the service is warm and friendly and the food has a sincere, homespun authentic feel to it. 

We always tend to start out sharing small plates of delicious creamy Burrata with tiny cherry tomatoes doused in olive oil, or luscious sliced melons draped with Prosciutto.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bonnie Gull: Charming British Seafood Shack near Oxford Circus

Upon hearing my dining companion’s wish for something light for dinner, I immediately thought of Bonnie Gull. The self-professed seafood shack has been getting good reviews ever since they opened in Fitzrovia. And they actually took reservations – which didn't really help me to be honest since this was a last-minute plan and they were all booked up. Luckily, if you’re flexible and near the area you can get yourself on the wait list to get a call when some of their bar seats open up. 

Which is exactly what we did – parked ourselves in a nearby pub while I was on constant vigilance waiting for the phone to ring. And soon we found ourselves in Bonnie Gull on Foley Street, just a few lanes away from Oxford Circus.

While it is a fairly small restaurant, I loved the whole cheerful nautical feel of it. From the striped awning outside to the sea maps on the wall and treasure chest of oysters at the bar, you start to feel like you’re in some tiny seaside shack somewhere along the British coast. We started with some oysters and I preferred the slightly sweet Carlingfords to the Jersey Oysters from Ireland which had strong mineral aftertaste.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Zoilo: Friendly Argentinean Tapas restaurant in Marylebone

On a lovely spring day we wandered down Duke Street in Marylebone to have lunch at Zoilo, an Argentinean tapas restaurant that opened about six months ago. It’s not really been on my radar (and I tend to know about most restaurants in Marylebone) so I didn’t know what to expect. At first glance, it has rather low key unassuming appearance and when we walked in, we felt a bit odd to be the only customers there for lunch on Sunday afternoon. Any doubts I had were pushed aside by the friendly welcome from the staff and we were invited to take our pick of seats. We opted to perch ourselves at the bar counter and soon found ourselves in a discussion about Argentinean wines with the bar manager.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lima: Authentic Peruvian Cuisine in Fitzrovia

Shortly after my first experience of Peruvian cuisine at Coya, I got a chance to visit Lima, another Peruvian restaurant in Fitzrovia. The two couldn't be more different. Coya is all glitz and glamour, chandeliers and sumptuous surroundings, luring you to spend all your money while Lima has a more wholesome, authentic feel to it with all the focus on the food. The restaurant space has a simple clean design, the service is friendly and Lima seems to modestly downplay the fact that they have quite a prestigious pedigree with chef Virgilio Martinez.  Virgilio Martinez  is chef-patron of Central and previously executive chef at Astrid y Gastón – both highly rated restaurants in Lima, Peru.

Scallop Tiradito & in the background, Sea Bream Ceviche

I went a little overboard at Lima. Having fallen in love with ceviches and tiraditos at Coya and comforted by the fact that the prices at Lima are a bit cheaper, I took this as licence to order as much as I could. I like how the menu in Lima is short and concise – Coya has extensive menu which can be confusing and redundant at times.

I absolutely loved the Scallop Tiradito - slightly sweet scallops drenched in this gorgeous vibrant yellow aji pepper sauce. The Sea Bream Ceviche was brilliant as well – raw fish in Tiger’s milk (a citrus marinade of lime and chilli peppers) with red onion and corn. 

Attempting to eat lightly I decided to have the organic Salmon Tiradito as a main while my dinner companion had the Hake with Rocoto pepper served on bed of potatoes. I had a bite of his dish and wished I had more! It was much too small a bite.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wild Honey: Pricey Modern European restaurant in Mayfair

Main course: Roast chicken and in the background,
Slow cooked Ox tongue

Wild Honey is known for their French inspired menu which uses seasonal British ingredients. The restaurant on a quiet street near New Bond Street in Mayfair and has a slightly low-key appearance from the outside. Inside you’re transported to an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club with warm wood-panels, comfy leather booths and striking paintings on the walls.

I decided to be adventurous and have the Lamb sweetbreads with sheep’s curd, spinach and fennel as a starter while my dinner companion went for the Scottish crab with avocado and green mango. The sweetbreads were tender and the sauce slight sweet and as far cooking thymus glands go, these were done quite well. I also tried a bit of my companion’s starter which I really liked – you can’t go wrong with fresh crab paired with avocado.

For the mains, we switched a bit and I played it safe with Roast chicken with morels and gnocchi which was nice but nothing spectacular and I struggled to finish the plate. My companion had a much more livelier dish of slow cooked Ox Tongue. I've never had ox tongue before but based on my experience of trying lamb tongue at St Johns, I was quite convinced I wouldn't like this dish. Nonetheless I have to say it was cooked well with a pleasing texture.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Roka: Sleek and Stylish Japanese cuisine in Canary Wharf

Roka is one of the more popular Japanese restaurants in London. With excellent food and a sleek stylish ambiance, everyone wants a piece of it - so much so, that I’ve never been able to get a reservation at their restaurant in Fitzrovia. Then they opened another Roka in the high-rise little isolated island of Canary Wharf which makes it so much more easier for anyone who works (or shockingly even lives) in Canary Wharf to sneak in a reservation without waiting the usual two weeks.

Roka Canary wharf Gin Fizz Girl

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Coya: Fine Dining Peruvian Style in Mayfair

 Our dinner at Coya was superbly awesome! I’ll be honest, I went expecting it to be a bit over-hyped, possible pretentious and terribly expensive. It is rather reminiscent of dining at Nobu or Zuma. But despite the high price tag, Coya scored well by  showcasing good quality ingredients, beautiful creative plates of food and the right atmosphere and service to ensure you’re having the best possible dining experience.

You enter one of the townhouses on Picadilly opposite Green Park, walk down the stairs into a cavernous basement which holds a huge dining space.  To be honest, it didn't start on a good note as we ended up sitting next to a couple who were talking incredibly loudly. I started feeling intensely cranky about the whole situation while my friend valiantly tried to keep up the conversation but it was of no avail – we couldn't beat that decibel level and fell silent. The thought of being forced to listen to this non-stop flow of inane conversation for the rest of the night freaked me out and as politely as I could, with desperate begging eyes, I asked the waitress if we could move. And thankfully she understood and moved us to another table. So 10 points to Coya just for that single act of kindness.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bone Daddies: Soho's self professed Rock n Roll Ramen Noodle Bar

I had my first taste of the ramen noodle craze that’s hit London at Bone Daddies. This uber-trendy ramen bar is located on Peter Street in Soho and I love the whole feel of the restaurant – from their signature Elvis icon, to the funky posters on the wall and pumped up music.

I decided to ordered the T22 – chicken ramen in a chicken bone broth. It was nice to dive into this comforting dish of stringy noodles with tender soft chicken, wholesome broth and crunchy vegetables but I got full rather quickly and I have to say, it felt rather one note after a while. There only so much noodles and soup I can eat and I was much more intrigued by their other options like curiously named ‘pig bones’ which I gather from a neighbouring plate looked like some pretty delicious pork ribs. 

I still want to try out the other noodle bars in Soho like Koya and Tonkotsu so I will reserve judgement on Bone Daddies till I have. And now, for a alternative perspective, here is my friend and dinner companion Tom’s review of the same meal:

Bone Daddies GinFizzGirl Ramen

Intrigued by the prospect of Ramen noodles a la mode, I set foot into Soho on Saturday not knowing to  exactly which of them we were heading. Arriving at Bone Daddies (A name conjuring different imagery to me), it was low key from the outside, with only a row of intriguing Japanese rice wine bottles and an orange glow  indicating the snug atmosphere within.  

Notably they had eye-catching Japanese posters paper-mached on the wall, and the branding was authentic, down to earth but nonetheless trendy. The menu was intriguing  and not overwhelming in terms of choice, which was a good thing, given that I was hardly the expert in selecting from it. The staff were friendly and relaxed, and everything happened very rapidly once they'd settled us down. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

L’Autre Pied: Fine Dining French Restaurant without all the formal fussiness

Cereliac Mousse Amuse Bouche

We had an impromptu Sunday lunch at L’Autre Pied, a Michelin-starred French restaurant on Blandford Street in Marylebone; the same street that is home to two other great restaurants Trishna and Roganic. The choices on their 3 course Sunday menu for £35 looked interesting and since it wasn't too crowded, we were able to sit down without a reservation.

For the first course I chose the Herefordshire Snails in Parsley Mousse, Morteau Sausage and Pickled Shallot which I simply loved.  My lunch companion chose the Grilled Mackerel and Tartare with Apple Tapioca, Reblochon Milk and Miso which was interesting but I much rather preferred my starter. They also served us a celeriac mousse as an amuse bouche  which had some other little bits to it that I can't remember but it was delicate and refreshing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ducksoup: Tiny restaurant in Soho serving up creative plates of Modern European food

 We were wandering around Soho one evening after watching Argo at the cinema. Soho has such a buzzing vibe about it - the one area in London which is packed with bars, restaurants, jazz bars, clubs and of course, some shady shops. It's rather gentrified now than it was a few years back and is home to a lot of good restaurants. 

We walked past Barrafina which was busy as usual, past Koya which is on my wish list to try out the udon noodles but again the queue was ridiculous, Burger & Lobster which I wasn't really in the mood for and then ended up outside Ducksoup, a recent entrant on the Soho strip of Dean Street. I had never been there before and given that we could instantly get a seat and the menu looked interesting, we ventured forth inside.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Le Boudin Blanc: Authentic French Bistro hidden away in the heart of Mayfair

 I recently had the pleasure of dining at Le Boudin Blanc in Mayfair where I had the most delicious French Onion soup. This post is written by my dinner companion 'Ragueneau', a French guest reviewer who introduced me to the restaurant.

French Cuisine, Une Piece of Resistance: Le Boudin Blanc

Lovers of French cuisine: maybe your palate has been over-tested by the avant-garde dishes served in exotic London eateries. Maybe you feel a little uncomfortable dining in pretentious haute cuisine restaurants, where you are constantly wary of committing a faux pas. Perhaps you simply long for the Paris bistrots, which maintain a tradition of simple and savoury dishes, so quintessential to the French savoir vivre. Let me save you a journey across the Channel, and tell you how to satisfy legitimate cravings in good old London. Let me introduce you to the Boudin Blanc.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Trishna - South Indian Coastal food restaurant in Marylebone

Trishna Gin Fizz Girl Chaat Quail Pepper Fry

When I went to Bombay for a friend's wedding, I got several recommendations to visit the famous Trishna, known for their fresh seafood. And oh my god - best decision of my life. Buttery garlic crab, crispy more-ish Koliwada prawns and an amazing grilled Hyderabadi Pomfret fish blew my mind. 

To get to the restaurant you have to wander down an alley behind the Fort in Kala Ghoda and then you emerge into a busy bustling restaurant crammed with diners sitting at tables heaving with the most delicious food.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Melba Supper Club Dinner: Four delicious Courses served by four unique Chefs

Salamagundi by Ian 'The Candle Stick Maker'

I was looking forward to going to the launch party of Melba (the company formerly known as Epicurely). Melba is a social dining website that helps people find out about supper club events in London or even host their own. I've written about some of their events here and here. For their official launch, they decided to host an event that showcases some of the new and upcoming talent - young chefs who have been recently listing their events on the Melba site. The Melba Supperclub Dinner had 4 courses - each created by a different chef and was hosted at Salvation Jane in Shoreditch. Tickets were priced at £30.

The first course was by Tim Dorman. Tim is the head chef at Lantana, a popular brunch spot in London. His starter was Hake and Kaffir Lime Thai Fish Cakes with Nahm Jim Dipping sauce and an Asian herb salad. Upon tasting the dish, the I could instantly see his influence on previous meals I've had at Lantana. Clean, fresh flavours and a slightly fusion twist to the familiar. I think however, I prefer fishcakes that are made with mix of fish and potatoes. For more about Tim and future events, check out the Melba site.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Barrafina: a taste of Barcelona at a tapas bar in Soho

Whenever I go to a Spanish restaurant in London, I always mentally compare it to Barrafina in Soho. Among all the good Spanish restaurants I've been to like DonostiaJoseBrindisa - I tend to favour Barrafina. It's partly due to the amazing food, the friendly service and the buzzy vibe that makes me feel like I'm in a tapas bar in Barcelona and partly due to the fact that even though there is a crazy waiting time of say one hour or more (which is sadly becoming a norm in London), you can start drinking and even eating from the moment you queue!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wine tasting at Vinoteca in Marylebone

It was a strange experience walking into Vinoteca on Seymour Place and seeing the restaurant practically empty. In the past, whenever I've gone, I've always had to wait at least half an hour due to their 'no reservation' policy. Oh well - I suppose it's the benefit of going the weekend right after New Years Day with most of London still away on vacation.

Vinoteca is an ideal place to go to if you feel like doing an impromptu wine tasting session. They sell wines by the glass which are quite reasonably priced and of course, being a wine bar, they have a rather extensive wine list. It was fun for me to compare the two glasses of white wine that we ordered - a dry Sauvignon from Oisley Thesee and a lovely, honey coloured Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France.

And then of course there's the food - there was this dish of snails with pancetta and watercress in a buttery, garlicky sauce which was amazing. I absolutely adore snails and am not grossed out by them at all. I think it's because their texture reminds me of mushrooms - so more familiar than frightening. What I did not enjoy was the Middlewhite pork crackling - much too greasy.

For the mains, we had the grilled Bavette - which came out perfectly medium rare with horseradish and these gigantic chips. Honestly, the chips were bigger than the steak. I found the addition of the horseradish rather strange and unwelcoming with the steak. The other main was grilled sea bass which came with little tiny clementines - a nice combination of flavours.

 I can't elaborate more on the mains since we had started drinking a bottle of red wine at that point and I may have lost focus on the food! Though what did bring my attention back was dessert - the perfect chocolate fondant - decadent flourless chocolate cake with a gooey, melting middle of dark chocolate combined with some cherry ice cream. Divine!

Seymour Place is really turning out to have some good restaurants. If you remember, my last visit there was to eat some gorgeous Basque food at Donostia.


15 Seymour Place London W1H 5BD
Tel 0207 7724 7288
Tube: Marble Arch/Bond Street/ Baker Street


Vinoteca on Urbanspoon

Delicious Lebanese food at Fairuz in Marylebone

I'm still thinking about the delicious Lebanese food I had at Fairuz this weekend. I can't believe I walk past this Middle Eastern restaurant so many times and have not thought to try it out. It's on Blandford street just off of Marylebone High street and there is warm, cozy atmosphere the moment you walk inside.