Tag Archives: Michelin

The New Angel restaurant review

Now on a student budget, the frequency of visiting fine food establishments has slowed to a snails pace (presumably a snail not too fussed with how its grass is prepared). However, with John Burton Race back in London and his new restaurant, ‘The New Angel’, offering 50% off, my foodie instincts kicked in and I had to book.

Having been seated by a clearly accomplished waiting team, the menu and breads followed quickly.

I went for an onion and potato bread, followed by a soda bread. The onion variety was a little charred on top, giving it a slightly bitter and unwelcome aftertaste. Though the sweetness of the onion was very pleasing. The soda bread was beautifully soft and trumped the onion and potato.

Look at the aeration on that!

Look at the aeration on that!

After ordering, an amouse bouche was quickly served; a mushroom soup with a parmesan tuille. In terms of amouse bouche of mushroom soups that I’ve had in the past, this was probably the finest (surprising amount of competition there). Really deep, rich pure mushroom flavour. The tuille I felt was a little stale and had to revert to the uncivilised, yet welcome practice of dunking.

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For starters, I decide to shun the advice of the maitre’d (very good he was by the way) of going for the salmon, instead opting for the scallops, served with onion bhaji and pickled vegetables. Beautifully cooked and presented, if perhaps a little small. I felt however that there could have been a little more of a curry hit in the curry elements and a bit more pickle in the pickled elements. Still a pretty solid starter. Let’s go for a 7/10

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Choosing a main was nigh on torture (albeit being nothing like torture). I would have happily eaten all of the mains offered (aren’t I a  saint) and had to place my trust in my sister to choose for me, as I was that pathetically indecisive. Her verdict being the pigeon with savoy cabbage, a truffle and madeira sauce, with a mushroom and foie gras tart.

The smell emanating from the dish was just lovely. The pigeon was succulent and perfectly pink. The skin wasn’t crispy, instead melted away to gamey deliciousness. The sauce was deep in flavour of madeira and truffle, balanced perfectly. While rich, it was harmonious with the dish. Savoy cabbage was a nice accompaniment; can’t really say much more about that! But the best thing about the dish and in fact the whole night (barring the company of my sister of course … she paid!) was the mushroom and foie gras tart. Delectably smooth foie gras, worked perfectly in the crisp tart shell, with the earthy mushrooms finishing off a wonderful mouth feel (whatever that means!).  It was a most enjoyable dish. To parallel the theme of indecisiveness here, I can’t decide between an 8 or 8.5/10.

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Dessert was aesthetically stunning; a strawberry and lemon mille fueille, with raspberry sorbet and italian meringue. I almost felt bad taking my first spoonful (well, not quite)… then I tasted it. Ooh, just lovely. Fresh, light, indulgent; all words that I look for in any dessert!

It was a tad hard to eat, with the mille fueille taking a little persuasion to break free and I felt there could have been a touch more zing in the lemon element, but I’m knit picking. The italian meringue was of the highest quality, putting my own attempts to shame. The real pleasure of this dessert was the number of different combinations, making each spoonful interesting. From the texture of the crisp millie fuille with the varying creams and meringues around the plate. The flavours of raspberry and the marshmallowesque of the meringue. 8/10

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Coming in at under 30 quid a head, including a glass of wine, ordered out of a fear of looking cheap by my sister, represents very good value for money. I feel if I were paying full price (£55), perhaps an extra amouse bouche and or a pre – dessert, would have sweetened the deal (pun intended).

Not that I have any power, influence or even credibility, but I’d give it a Michelin!

Thanks for reading.

Like, comment, share if you wish, you know the drill!

Nearly made it to 2000 views on my blog, so thanks to anyone who has pushed that number up (I’m sure even my Jewish mother couldn’t have done that by herself!)

May be reviewing the Taste of London festival in June (though don’t hold me to that).

I will post a special review (well for me anyway) at some time in August … Osteria Francescana. So you all have that to look forward to!

Thank you

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To be (Michelin) or not to be (Michelin)

I’ve written several blogs on my trips to various Michelin starred restaurants over the past few years, but why not of the restaurants that don’t boast a star? 

Boy have I enjoyed my meals at The Ledbury, Royal Hospital Road, HKK amongst others, but can I honestly say that I have eaten the best, most enjoyable, tasty food at such establishments; I’m not so sure.

And yet, I remember these meals more so than any other and still look back so fondly on them; whilst simultaneously looking at my bank account with horror! The overall experience and je ne sais quoi that restaurants with a Michelin star restaurants have is my answer (to my own question). I still remember having the toilet door opened and closed for me at Royal Hospital Road, the drama of the carving of the duck at HKK and the long conversation we had with a waiter at the Ledbury. All these things culminate into an experience that stays with you and impulses you to blog about them later! 

The thing is, I know I have eaten more wholesome, tastier food at restaurants I can’t even remember the name of. I suppose it could have something to do with mood. One day I may feel like a meal consisting of 9 courses equal to the size of a main course at a local Italian; which I may fancy another night. It could also have a lot to do with occasion. The majority of my Michelin visits have fallen on birthdays and other such celebratory times (not by coincidence by the way!); having been booked months in advance. 

Don’t get me wrong, the food at such places isn’t bad! The Ledbury and HKK definitely served to me some of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten. But, while Royal Hospital Road was a touch disappointing with its flavours, I still remember it vividly from over two years ago (those toilet attendants really made an impression!) 

What it comes down to I suppose; if money were no object and I could only dine at Michelin or non Michelin starred restaurants, I would have to go for Michelin! If someone could make this happen, then it would be much appreciated.

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Thanks for reading

Roganic restaurant review

Now for the avid readers of my blogs (love you mum), you will know that I placed Roganic at the top of my list for my ‘Top 5 exciting restaurants in London’. So when my sister told me that she was taking me there for my birthday, I could’ve hugged her (I didn’t).

 

The amouse bouche’s were brought to us before the menu – very clever. They were so good that my dad suggested we go for the 6 course tasting menu, instead of the 3 that we were going to get – result! A chickpea crisp bread with cream cheese and cucumber was very pleasant, but the pork and eel croquette was superb. Up there with one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. Smoky, salty – superb!

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Pea with sugar snaps and beef tongue was our first course. I expected a tongue shaped meat with a few peas and sugar snaps – so a pea mousse with shavings of tongue (sounds appetising I know!) came as a surprise. What is was though, was a delicious, light, fresh dish. How they managed to create a pea mousse with such depth of flavour is beyond me.

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Purple sprouting broccoli with a buttermilk cream and barley was next. The barbecued broccoli was beyond any greenery I’ve had before and the texture contrast with it and the cream and the barley resulted in simple, harmonious pleasure. I think this dish sums up the food at Roganic rather well.  Before the meal, I perused the menu and thought ‘How on Earth can this be nice!?’ But the inventiveness (must be a word) and execution to turn such humble ingredients into something so tasty is really what Roganic is all about.

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Scallop puree with carrot puree was third. This was probably my least favourite dish so far; not because I didn’t like it – I most certainly did, but more because it was perhaps less inventive and unique to the previous dishes. The scallops were incredibly sweet, as was the carrot puree; in fact it was just a touch too sweet for me, perhaps a tart element would have worked here (but who am I to say, I lasted 2 months at catering college!).

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Monkfish encased in bacon with mussels was next was up next. The bacon powder acted as the seasoning, adding a great level of salt to the dish. The use of monkfish (quite a meaty fish), with the mussels, meant that it was not overwhelmingly fishy and was a clever combination.

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Chicken with ‘wispy’ leeks was the final savoury dish. A strong aniseed scent arose from the dish and was equally strong in taste. The chicken was ‘sous vide’ (water bath to you and me) and was perfectly soft and tender throughout. I felt the leeks were a touch too thin, so didn’t add the crunch expected.

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We were given a ‘free’ dessert of macerated strawberries, strawberry meringue and rowan ice cream (I believe rowan is a berry, not a dessert from a local cafe of the same name, near where I’m from). This was nice enough, although the ice cream was not as smooth and creamy as it should have been (maybe it was from Rowans after all – no that’s a bit harsh). The meringue was beautifully flavoured with strawberry and the strawberries were of good quality.

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The actual dessert was entitled ‘sweet cheese pear, pine and malt’ – I would like to suggest a new name of ‘sweet cheesus’! Again, while being very pleasant and refreshing, this dish didn’t blow me away. The pears were beautifully tender and the malt crisp was not only there for texture, but had a pleasant, unusual flavour of its own.

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The desserts while not bad, were the most disappointing section of the meal – this may be due to the fact that I had recently been spoiled by the tremendous desserts at the Ledbury.

Unfortunately, Roganic is only a pop up restaurant and is set to shut on the 20th June. It was up there with the best of dining experiences I’ve ever had. The service was beyond friendly (not in that way!) and always attentive; the food was inventive, creative and above all tasty.

Food: 8.5

Service: 10

Value for money: 8

Thanks for reading.

Please like, share and follow.

I have a nice recipe to share in the next couple of days, so keep an eye out.

I will also be reviewing HKK for the end of June, so that’s something for you all to look forward to!

The Ledbury Tasting Menu, My Review

Having run out of money, I have been unable to supplement your needs for a humorous, well written review of late. So when my 18th birthday came around, I thought hard of what I would ask for. Being a momentous year, I took the charity route; I would go out to eat and this would feed all your appetites for an Alex’s food review (how generous I am!)

First up, The ledbury

We didn’t so much opt, as we were forced to have the tasting menu, having changed their policy, meaning that Friday and Saturday nights that is all they would be serving; this only came to light after we booked – in for a penny (easy for me to say, when I’m not paying!)

Even before the amuse bouche, we were brought some canapés – the amuse before the bouche if you like.  A small oat cake topped with foie gras and with a spot of blood orange mousse. Having previously not enjoyed my first encounter with foie gras, and of course very much against the process behind it, this was pure delight, (all my morals seemed to escape me in an instant). Almost sweet enough to be a dessert and then savoury notes from the foie gras pulled it back, lovely.

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The amuse bouche itself was a courgette soup with lobster and shellfish custard. Pleasant as it was, I felt it was a bit lacking in seasoning and the depth of flavour, you expect from a soup at a 2 Michelin starred restaurant, wasn’t quite there.

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Ceviche of scallop with frozen horseradish and seaweed oil followed, was a touch disappointing. I felt the oil gave a slight bitter taste and the horseradish was not to my particular palate  The scallops themselves were nice enough. After 2 average courses, I was slightly concerned the meal would not live up to my high expectations … (that’s the hook, you can’t help but read on to see the fate of the rest of the meal now….imagine the music from Jaws!)

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Next, Flame grilled mackerel with cucumber, a dish I hear Brett Graham considers a bit of a Ledbury signature dish. Mackerel is one of my favourite ingredients and it was left to speak for itself, and what a lovely voice it had. The pockets of cucumber gave a refreshing pop in between bites from the the char grilled skin. A very well crafted dish, good stuff.

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We were then served white asparagus with morels, truffle and duck ham. While I felt the asparagus had an ever so slightly bitter aftertaste, the combination of all the ingredients amalgamated into a fresh, healthy tasting combination. The star of the plate was the duck ham.  Having been deprived of the pig variety my whole life, in that instant I started to weigh up the pros and cons of eating bacon and eternal damnation, (if this is what they are serving in hell, book me in!) Bacon or hell, Bacon or hell ……

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Sea bream with toasted quinoa and broccoli stem was next. Perfectly cooked fish worked wonderfully well with the broccoli and the nutty quinoa added the texture to complete a wonderfully simple, yet tremendously effective dish. The broccoli stem itself was wonderfully tender and tasty and came as a surprise as I didn’t know it could be used.

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I interrupt this food report, to bring you some very important news, regarding the Ledbury’s lavatories. Over the course of a ten course meal, spanning 3 and a half hours, I felt like I knew the Ledbury’s toilets like the back of my hand (which I know fairly well). They were nice enough, without being spectacular.

Now, on to the real stuff, as my dad put it – MEAT! Quail with parsnip, pear and walnuts. This along with the scallops was the biggest disappointment of the meal for me. It lacked seasoning and I was left feeling a bit, meh. The parsnips were a touch dry, almost like a packet of vegetable crisps that have been left out for a while. Its saving grace was the pear – the sweetness of which lifted the quail above mediocrity.

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The last of the savoury courses was beef with a very clever potato thing, celeriac and bone marrow. The beef was beautifully cooked, pink all the way through. The salt level was just right. The potato thing was perfectly crunchy and an innovative interpretation on using a potato. The celeriac was sweet and perfectly tender. It was simply perfect.

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Our pre – dessert was a lemon verbena cream, burnt meringue and something else (forgive me). Fresh, zingy, light and other such words could be used to describe this dish (but I don’t have commitment to think of more, so that’s all you’re getting). It was an absolute joy to behold, perhaps the best dessert of my life – and my mum’s lemon Pavlova takes a lot of beating, oh and Gordon Ramsey’s Royal Hospital Road’s famous Assiette de l’abuergine, of course.

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As it was my birthday, along with the main desert of brown sugar tart with stem ginger ice cream, I was also presented with pave of chocolate with lovage ice cream .You can send your hate-mail to my address (or if you don’t know it, simply follow me on twitter and send me abuse – a follower’s a follower!)

The brown sugar tart was wonderfully silky and the crunchy base was its perfect partner. The ice cream was pure delight, although having been called ginger ice cream, you (I) expect a bigger ginger punch, not that I felt this detracted from the dish. Again, a simple dish, left to speak for itself and what a lovely voice it had (I’m aware I’ve used this before, but I’m now struggling – it is the ninth course to be fair).

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Perhaps ironically, my ‘free dessert’ was the biggest portion of the night. It was a very rich chocolate, almost too much so, but the accompanying components balanced the dish well. Three of the finest desserts I’ve had and probably my favourite section of the meal.

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The service hit the balance between professionalism, friendly and attentive perfectly. Each dish arrived at a time that meant the meal was very well paced. The maitre’d spent a good amount of time talking to us at the end of the meal, in the middle of a busy service. It is touches like this, along with the ‘free’ dessert and petit fours (the best of which was a blood orange biscuit) that made the evening so special and why the Ledbury is thought of with such regard.

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Some dishes were so good that they were slightly aggravating, that there was not more of it and I think highlights the pitfalls of tasting menus in general. Fewer, higher quality, bigger dishes, for me would be more preferential to their current tasting menu. On the other hand, the variety does add a sense of drama and excitement which does add to the overall experience.

Food – 8.5/10

Service – 10/10

Value – Not really for me to say!

All the dishes were presented masterfully, definitely the best looking food I’ve had.

Thank you for reading.

As I say, I’m in a very charitable mood, so I will have reviews of Roagnic, HKK and William Curley’s dessert bar in the coming weeks and months – you’re very spoilt you lot!

Thanks again, keep well everyone.

Please Like, comment, share, whatever you wish, cheers

My Galvin at Windows review

For me there are two indicators of quality on arrival at a restaurant, 1) The toilets and 2) if Raymond Blanc is amongst the customers. Amazingly both were ticked; no greater first impression could have been made.

Bread was average. The granary variety had little flavour. Better was a trendy share and tear bread that was similar in flavour to a focaccia.

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Being a nice Jewish boy, I gave up the choice of going for the Pigs head terrine, with foie gras and black pudding – I fear God would have struck me down there and then if I did. Instead I went for the much holier Haddock ravioli, with a poached egg, brioche crumbs and capers.

The capers and brioche were rather lost in the creamy fish emulsion, although what was left was more than satisfactory. Beautifully soft smoked haddock delivered a striking fish flavour and worked well with the paper thin pasta. The whole thing amalgamated into a very pleasant, perhaps ever so slightly, too subtle taste.

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For main, plaice with broccoli puree, samphire and black rice. The fish was perfectly cooked, which is always nice. The puree, worked well, but was ever so slightly bitter and left an undesired aftertaste. The rice was a bit of a revelation and for someone (me) who think that potatoes are overrated, a welcome change. The samphire added the crunch and saltiness the dish needed. The original dish included chorizo, but I fear even in sausage form God would look unfavourably at me for eating pork! An omission that didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the dish.

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For dessert, I had a baked apple (One of my new year’s resolutions was to eat more fruit) with apple sorbet, crème anglaise and beurre noisette crumbs. The apple was superbly cooked, with a generous topping of caramel (still counts!). The sorbet, was perhaps too small, because once I had run out, with a third of the apple left, the dish became a bit too heavy and sickly. The beurre noisette crumbs were cookie dough esque and very tasty indeed.

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We were presented with a jar of marshmallows with the bill. But these weren’t the sort that you could roast over an open flame, singing kumbaya, more the sort to sip with a cup of tea and really appreciate. Somehow they had managed to refine a marshmallow, the end result of which was very nice indeed; especially the zingy lime flavoured one I had.

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Chocolates as well! Very nice too

Overall, a very pleasant meal, one of the best I’ve had.

Food:8/10

Service: 8.5/10

Value : 8/10 – £29 for three courses, plus a fair few extras

View: 10/10 – I would reccomend this place purely on its view. If you can get a window seat, it is well worth the journey.A great place for a romantic meal I would suggest and yes I am free ladies.

I shall not be posting another review until May, as I have run out of money!

Thank you for reading. Eat, drink and be merry.

Please comment, like and share (if you wish).

Review of Corrigans Mayfair

With such grand surroundings – a piano in the corner and hugely impressive interior, I felt hideously under dressed. I could feel my lowly Super Dry t-shirt turning a shade of red in embarrassment and my dad’s shirt and tie with a smug smile on its face.

Service started off fairly slowly, with the waiter struggling to grasp the concept of a gin and tonic.

Bread served in a flowerpot, with some butter was amusing and a decent start to proceedings. Bread, of the seeded, granary variety was tasty, perhaps slightly denser ( the best way to describe it is patchik, a Yiddish word ) than you would expect.

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After being seduced by the Maitre’d, into ordering one of the specials for starter, my Dad and I nodded approvingly at each other and didn’t look back. However, we should have given a long, intense look back, as our starter underwhelmed. Partridge ravioli, served with confit leg, with an appetising partridge foot still attached was the dish. The poor bird, bless its soul, died in vain, as the contents of the ravioli had seemingly forgotten to be seasoned. The few sultanas on the side added some sweet relief and lifted the dish to average standards, but the dish was void of any imagination and taste. Oh, how I wish I wasn’t so easily seduced by the temptations of meat and the charms of the Maitre’d!

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 As the waiters took our plates, it signaled my visit to the loo. Pleasing floor to ceiling toilet doors, with darkened lighting and sweet aromas surrounding me, I was left to enjoy toilet tranquility – the best sort of tranquility!

The mains arrived within the perfect time interval from the starters. I had gone for fish, after being disappointed by meat mains at similar establishments in the past. It was flame roasted mackerel, served with cucumber and brown shrimps. Not that I am a conspiracy theorist, but it seems as if Corrigan’s Mayfair had a sneaky peak at The Ledbury’s menu and ‘borrowed’ the dish. The dish at the Ledbury named ‘Flame Grilled Mackerel with Pickled Cucumber, Celtic Mustard and Shiso’….. case closed!  

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Despite this, the dish did the Ledbury’s high standards proud. Lovely citrus accompaniments came in the shape of Brunoised tomatoes and cucumber (basically diced – I’ll try not to show off with food terminology again), a large pickled cucumber and beautifully sweet, moist and delicious brown shrimps. They worked wonderfully well with the slightly charred mackerel. A combination as harmonious as ebony and Ivory as the great Stevie Wonder once sang – (I shall leave my opinions on Paul McCartney’s singing to myself on the other hand!).  The potential critiscm of the size of the main, was countered by generous side servings of yorkishire puddings, roast potatotes, cauliflower cheese and carrots. It was Sunday lunch after all! 

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For dessert, I had gone for buttermilk cream, blood orange and a lemon curd doughnut.  The thought of a Michelin starred doughnut was enough to lure me in. The first thing I saw was a large, golden doughnut, not a bite size one I was expecting -not that I’m complaining! My first spoonful was sweet, sweet bliss. The slightly sharp flavour of the blood orange, mixed with the creamy buttermilk, amalgamated into a dessert symphony (I detect a music theme going on!) The doughnut itself was crisp and crunchy on the outside and filled with a beautifully made lemon curd – I shall no longer look at a Krispy Kreme with such lust again! The blood orange came in two variants, one a set jelly like substance, the other a sorbet. The latter of which was the best component of the lot. It lifted the whole dish and was pleasingly refreshing.

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The bill arrived and a severe lack of petit fours was worrying me – (* My feelings have been amplified for effect). 

There was a tray of madeleines being handed out, seemingly to select customers. As we were readying ourselves to leave, they hit us with a final dose of Michelin treats. They were a joy to behold, the best madeleine I’ve ever had – not that I’m too experience in madeleine consumption,  not even Waitrose own came close!

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A Sunday lunch for £27 at an established Michelin starred restaurant, with a fair few extras shows good value for money.

 Food – 7.5/10

 Service – 7/10

 Value – 8/10

Thanks for reading. Please comment, share – you know the spiel (More Yiddish).

My next review shall be on Galvin at Windows, Mayfair, of which will be published on the 10th of March.

My top 5 most exciting resturaunts in London

My list of the most exciting London resturaunts currently

All views are my own and not those of the establishment.

The contenders: Bob Bob Richard, The Ledbury, Viajante, Inamo. 

While these restaurants are very exciting to me, they failed to reach my top 5. Inamo for example is innovative in its use of technology. You order via an electronic table, on which you can play games while you wait. However, the food isn’t quite there to reach my discerning standards! 

5) Pollen street social – It is clear what Jason Atherton was looking for when he opened up his first solo venture, Pollen Street social and the clues in the name. The restaurant is tailored for an enjoyable, relaxed yet fine eating occasion. There is a special dessert bar, a featuring of young British art talent, and the food sounds rather good too. Pollen street social has opened to rave reviews, with people enjoying the mix of Michelin standard food, in relaxed surroundings. 

4) Hedone – Chef Mikeal Jonsson, previously lawyer and flood blogger and an adviser to chefs as to where to find the best produce, opened Hedone only last year. He has transferred his knowledge and love for ingredients into his unique cooking style, in which he offers a menu that can change day to day, from lunch to dinner and even in between services, depending on what produce is available. He sources his meat from famous butchers O’shea’s in which he has his own shelf. He sets the temperature and humidity to his exacting judgments and hangs his beef for up to seventy days. It’s this dedication that earned Hedone its first Michelin star after only a year in operation. 

3) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Heston Blumenthal has opened up in London! Everything that could be said about the Fat Duck has been; best restaurant in the world in 2005, 3 Michelin stars, still regarded by many as the best restaurant in England and Heston is trying the same formula but this time in the country’s capital. Looking through the menu, like the Fat Duck is not the usual cuisine; dishes including, ‘ A made dish of Parmesan’, ‘Chicken cooked with lettuces’ and ‘Rice and Flesh’ amongst many others. However as proved with the Dinner By Heston Blumenthal being voted the 9th best restaurant in the world (above the Fat Duck), the unusualness of the menu is not primarily to provide novelty but delivers on flavour and presentation. 

2) Dabbous – Dabbous is the restaurant to eat at the moment, that is of course if you can get in. The newly established restaurant has already gained a reputation for being almost impossible to get a table. I recently tried to book here, in which there were no tables for a few months, and that was for a lunchtime! Incidentally the lunchtime deal of £26 for four courses seems to be about the best deal in London. It follows the trend in modern cooking, with many of the dishes sounding bizarre, and some would say not very appetising on paper, for example Speckled endive with gingerbread, orange and mint and Hispi cabbage with sunflower.  

And at number 1…..

1) Roganic – The man behind 2 Michelin starred L’enclume has popped up in London and I for one am extremely happy to have him here. After huge success on Great British menu and with his flagship restaurant, Rogan is one of the most exciting talents in this country. Before Roganic, if you had wanted to taste Rogan’s food a trip up to Cumbria was once needed. 

Please comment on which restaurants you agree or disagree with and which restaurants you would have in your own top 5 (not restricting to London).

Thanks for reading. I shall next be reviewing Corrigan’s Mayfair, on the 8th February.