Tag Archives: restaurant

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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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.

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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!

My Catering College experience

My love of food and cooking, made me take the plunge and walk away from academia and into the heat of the kitchen and my word it was hot!

I attended Westminster Catering College, supposedly one of the best of its kind in the world.

On my very first day, I was late – the train was packed and I thought I would wait for the next one, so I could get a seat. I knocked at the door of the classroom (we started of doing theory) as timidly as it is possible to knock a door. I received, how should I put it, a rather stern telling off (I’m keeping this post family friendly!) The chef was an intimidating Scottish man (not Ramsey!), he told me ‘I would never be late again’ – he was right!

After a week of mainly boring work on food theory; if you touch raw meat, you will die, that sort of thing, we were finally in the kitchen.

Roast chicken, fish and chips, soup, among other things were practiced in this first rotation. This was the most enjoyable experience I had at college and even here I was not happy. I know it was very early days, but I wanted to jazz it up a bit with my own personal flair and not stick so rigidly to the cookbook.

I learnt certain tips; don’t use a high edged baking tray and lay it on a bed of vegetables – carrots, celery, onions when roasting chicken and also the joys of triple cooked chips! Overall however there wasn’t much that was that insightful to me.

Remember the big, scary Scottish man I was telling you about, well it was time to enter his kitchen. Endless intimidation tactics and tellings off were his main teaching methods. This rotation seemed to last for an absolute age, with I dreading each and every day. I remember once, where I had been sent out. The corridor was a scary place, with other chefs eyeing you up and feeling like you’re under constant surveillance, in case you drop you’re military like stance, or your hands resort to the safety of your pockets. I was called back in, where too scared to ask of what I have missed, set about cutting the tortillas we were making. But, oh know, Lord above, they were meant to go in the fridge before being cut. Chef then asked if I had mental problems (on more than one occasion) and sent me out again. Bearing in my mind, that my crime was cutting a tortilla before refrigeration, I felt this was a little harsh.

Now, I wouldn’t have minded (as much) if we were making something the least bit exciting or challenging, but the whole of this rotation centered around making sandwiches and salads!

For weeks on end we chopped onions and cut open baguettes.

I started to think that I could not go on much longer (that sounds quite dramatic on paper).

We were finally finished the sandwich making rotation and we entered a real kitchen, one where we would be making and serving food for the college’s cafe. I decided to stay a while longer, as I thought, away from a certain someone and with a more creative, exciting and challenging experience things would improve.

While I was happier here, the pressure that you feel in the kitchen is something that I really didn’t enjoy. You (I) always feel only 10 seconds away from a stern telling off if you’re working to slowly and you (I) dread having to ask for any sort of help. It wasn’t for me.

I was taking more and more sick days and at times claimed I was feeling rather unwell when I did go in (as we had been taught, I can’t cook other people’s food when I’m unwell – so I must go home – at least I listened to the theory!). After a (lets be honest here) pathetic 2 months at catering college, I decided enough was enough.

I am now nearly finished my A -levels and I can report that those 2 months at catering college were by far more stressful, intense and difficult than a year and a half doing academic work.

I understand the need to start with the basics, but to be so strict and intimidating to first year students, I feel is unnecessary. There are different ways to gain respect. All that a certain someone gained from me with his manner was a less productive chef, to scared to try anything on his own back or ask questions.

I don’t want to be dramatic, but my experience at college has left certain mental scars. For one, every time I hear a Scottish accent, I honestly get a bit scared. Also, I have had to change my alarm from the one I used to use to wake me up at 5:30 for college every morning, as when I hear it, I start to feel all anxious – I definitely wasn’t cut out to be a chef!

I wouldn’t advise against catering college, but expect extremely early mornings, the scariest of people and it must be something that you know will be an all consuming experience.

Most of all, if you love cooking and you are prepared for a long slog to pass as a qualified chef then go for it. I clearly wasn’t  but love cooking at home now, where I can be more creative and stress free – how it should be in my opinion.

Thank you for reading.