All posts filed under “3

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Yashin Ocean House: Japanese Fusion Expansion (without Soy Sauce)?

Fish and a bit of Japanese..

Yashin Ocean House is a new venture by the team behind Yashin Sushi (in High Street Kensington). This is a designed-to-be-trendy restaurant with brown leather banquettes, smashed-and-exposed brick walls, polychrome of tiled tables, an emerald green kitchen island and counter, and a statement glass-covered facility for dry-aging fish. Not trendy enough? The restaurant also puts up a black horse sculpture with a lamp shade on its head to delight customers’ eyes as they are walked to their tables. A bit Santa Monica. A bit Moscow. The setting, kind of, helped distract me from the fact that Yashin Ocean House isn’t really a Japanese restaurant but an inventive fish restaurant with few Japanese touches. No sushi (and still no soy sauce)..

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Restaurant Story: Youthful Innovations by Tom Sellars

Young, et al.

Age, in my opinion, is an arbitrary factor. Chef Tom Sellars is young. He is, to be specific, 26 years old and is now heading the reportedly exciting kitchen of Restaurant Story. When Tom turns 30, the age factor will hopefully have been dropped (by PR and the chef himself) and the more contemplative talk about his creative gastronomic identity will surface. I am 28 years old. I eat around. And when I turn 30, I will definitely not let anybody talk about my age. I might also have accumulated an experience of taste that turns me into a snob and exempts me from enjoying ordinary innovations. And this is my concern about recommending Restaurant Story – an experience of taste on diners’ part.

Let’s begin. I liked the look of Restaurant Story. Most efficiently, it utilizes its location, which was once a public loo, to emulate the grand view of the Shard. Two tasting menus – a £45 six-course and a £65 ten-course – are being operated. Like the design of the restaurant, the dishes are precise and appealing to the eyes. The taste, however, needed work and the majority of my 6-course menu were derivatives from more mature restaurants elsewhere. In other words, if you have pretty much been there and eaten that, you might not find this retold Story a revelation of taste or innovation.

 
My 6-course menu kicked off with a parade of amuse. Nasturtium Flower was piped with greenish oyster emulsion. The proportion was wrong and the taste was indiscernibly peppery. The very light Cod Skin with benignly creamy cod emulsion was not so cloddish and exhibited skills. The potential can also be tasted in fried Rabbit Sandwich, which married the warm rilettes-like savouriness with colourful pickled carrot discs. The tarragon note was subtle. Moving on to the beef wax that was shaped into the candle, I became less impressed. While the idea – of lighting a beefy candle and letting it melt to become dipping oil for the bread – was fun, the actual experience of sitting through a beef fat candle dribbling, smelling profusely but unpleasantly, and congealing countered the enjoyment of what that followed. The crusty bread to sponge up the fat, though freshly baked, was uneven in texture and at times stodgy. To go with the bread, I was also given another side of veal tongue with apple and celery. The latter ingredient dominated the dish. Burnt Onion was served with gin, apple and thyme. In my opinion, to create a spectacular dish of humble-sounding ingredients, you need to ensure premium quality of humbleness that subverts diners’ perceptions. In this case, my onion – tender and nicely caramelised – still tasted just like any onion. The gin broth verged on being very boozy, and this unbalanced concoction with thyme left the dish with a bitter aftertaste. Scallop, lightly cured in elderflower vinegar, was an alchemical departure from a Noma signature. I found the spring-y crispness of the scallop, achieved by the curing, delightful to the tongue, while the balls of dill-scented cucumber (a few of which were ash-coated) provided refreshing contrast. The horseradish cream, however, was too glue-like and would fare better with dainty lightness. Lamb – sous-vided and seared – did not leave any impression for taste. More worrying was its garnish – best summed up as variation of raw lettuce – that was so rich in chlorophyll it could freak out vegans.

As desserts arrived, there appeared a disparity of *theme* in the meal. While the green-ish, foraged-ish taste dominated the savoury, the desserts were fun-led and less wild. Rhubarb compote was layered with vanilla custard and egg white foam in a school milk bottle. Very Tom Aikens. The consistency was thick and not easy to be sucked through a straw. The layers were also separated in ways that I was unpleasantly hit by the sharp acidity of rhubarb compote before being led into thick lovable lushness of custard. Three Bears Porridge was cute, and at first, *fun* to eat. We were encouraged to try three servings of honey-laced oatmeal porridge and pick whichever tasted “just right”. Unluckily, the fun quickly left the table, as I chanced into the inedible “too salty”, then spooned up the “too sweet” and finally cringed at the “too bloody sweet”. Rose-perfumed teacakes were enjoyably redemptive.

There is potential, still. And I don’t want to write my experience at Restaurant Story off completely. Certain individual components in a few of my dishes are skilfully prepared. As with all start-up restaurants – this being one – they will get better with age. There, too, are wonders that young talented chefs can bring, but at present, from a point of view of a presumably slightly more aged and more experienced diner, I prefer my meal to be more mature in execution and balance.

 

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RATING 3/5

RESTAURANT STORY

201 Tooley Street
London
SE1 2UE

Tel. 020 7183 2117

www.restaurantstory.co.uk

Story on Urbanspoon

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London Round Up: Little Social + Brasserie Chavot + Ametsa + Outlaw’s + Sketch (Lecture Room)

AMETSA WITH ARZAK INSTRUCTION

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction on Urbanspoon

RATING: 2/5

Replacing David Thompson’s Nahm at the Halkin Hotel is Ametsa, a spin-off restaurant by 3-Michelin-starred Arzak from San Sebastian, Spain. The team, comprised of Veuve Clicquot Best Female Chef Elena Arzak (2013), is in London on an “Instruction” basis – whatever that means. My lunch experience at Ametsa, however, was not indicative that it was a restaurant with good instructions.

I went for a la carte options (starters at £14.50-16; mains at £27-39; desserts at £12.50). The nibble of rockfish – salted, mousse-d and encased with crispy rice crackers – was finely seasoned but its fishy scent was just too intrusive for my liking. Goat’s cheese was infused with tumeric and turned into a “Puzzle”. The taste – of an ordinarily processed kind of cheese – and the texture – of an extraordinary processed kind of cheese – were both puzzling. Soup of “Quickly Changing Squid” (£16) contained four square parcels made from butternut squash and painted with squid ink. When the lukewarm broth of squid was poured over, the color of the soup *quickly changed*. Yeah (read with low voice). Theatrical attempts aside, the dish did not do much in term of taste. The soup itself lacked depth and once the squid ink paint was diluted into the broth, it created a texture combination that stole away some liquid smoothness. The filling of butternut squash parcel was gummy, sweet and nutty, a taste that was jarring, rather than complementary. Hake with Clams and Ham “Salt” (£27) did not go swimmingly. The fish itself was watery and had a taste that could be any white fish. The clams that leaped and remained on top of confit potatoes smelled. I found the modern twist on Spanish green sauce – parsley and olive oil here – daunting but not delicious. The grating of dried Jamon as “salt”, though a nice touch, did not make any impact to the dish. The desserts were a little more palatable. “French Toast” (£12.50) featured mangoes that had been re-textured into sheets. The sheets were then used as wrapping for something that was vaguely identifiable as “Toast”. The dish was then finished with milky coconut soup and a scattering of broken pistachio nuts, dried petals and lime zest. The taste did not translate into the joy of eating an actual Spanish “Torrija”. “Moon Rocks” (£12.50) was the most likeable of the bunch. These chocolate pebbles were filled with orange flavored Cointreau. One bite into my mouth. Popped liquid… Bill.. Please..

Overall, this was a meal that disappointed at many levels – unskilled execution, unsuccessful taste combination, poor quality produce. But it might just be me thinking this? You may, of course, opt for their tasting menus (£52 at lunch; £105 at dinner), which might promise a better result.. (or not).

 

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BRASSERIE CHAVOT

Brasserie Chavot on Urbanspoon

RATING: 4/5

Brasserie Chavot at the Westbury Hotel marks the return of 2-Michelin-starred chef Eric Chavot (formerly of The Capitol Hotel) to London. The fare here is not fine dining but a French brasserie with some very polished front of house. As typifying a French brasserie, you may expect a menu that is utterly uninspiring – snails, steak tartare, choucroute and something meaty from the grill. The price tag (starters at £8-15; mains at £16-24; sides at about £3.50; desserts at £6.50-7.50) fits and does not exaggerate its prime Mayfair location.

My lunch at Brasserie Chavot was a delight. Selection of Charcuterie (£9.50), (not all French as there was chorizo involved), was of very good quality. I particularly enjoyed the “Pate de Campagne” which oozed liver-y goodness. Steak Tartare (£9.50) was appetizing. The chopped steak was fresh and served pleasantly chilled; the concoction of chopped capers, shallots and gherkins with mustard dressing packed real zing but not intrusively acidic; the soft boiled quail egg was lush and precise. (In my opinion, for London, this version is only second to BBR’s Imperial Tartare). Ricotta and Parmesan Gnocchi (£16) was a vegetarian dish that I wouldn’t mind repeating on a regular basis. (Obviously not for a health benefit). The gnocchi were skillfully prepared – soft, fluffed but not too gummy – and the cheesy combination was distinct. (Think a kink of Parmesan followed by the smoothness of ricotta). The sauce – a refined white sauce and an exuberantly juicy tomato sauce – was reminiscent of lasagne and brought quite a smile to my face. The smile did not fade away with Baba au Rhum (£6.50). Though this was not the lightest baba I had eaten, it was perfectly synchronized in taste and price. There was a clarity between the spongy cake, the perfuming citric glazing and the coy dose of rum. The marinated and thinly shaved pineapple – neither too ripe nor too anemic – foiled well with the freshly whipped Chantilly.

I will be back.

 

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OUTLAW’S AT THE CAPITAL HOTEL

Outlaw's at The Capital on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3/5

Now resident of The Capital Hotel is British chef Nathan Outlaw, who has gathered loyal followers from his 2-Michelin-starred seafood restaurant in Rock, Cornwall. The outpost at the Capital Hotel also showcases the menu that is seafood led. The price (starters at £12-16; mains at £26-32; desserts at £10-12) verges on being high. The vibe is formal and quite Knightsbridge.

My lunch (I just don’t seem to go out for dinner!?) at Outlaw’s was nice. The nibble of mini salted cod croquette was tasty. The quality of the fish used was not skimped. That said, I found its garnish of herb mayo (mainly garlic and parsley) too strong. Scallops with Hazelnuts, Saffron and Jerusalem Artichokes (£16) was not life-changing. The herb and hazelnut crust was soggy; the puree of Jerusalem artichokes was sticky and sweet; the drizzling of saffron oil, despite its wonderful aromatic contribution, was excessive and intrusive for its glossy texture; the pickle-y dimension did not find itself much tasted. The identically formed medallions of scallops, however, were of decent quality, but their taste was not aggrandized enough amidst the garnish. Hake and Cuttlefish with Braised Lettuce, Red Pepper and Ink Sauce (£26) was more promising. The very fresh hake was excellently sourced and perfectly cooked. The garnish was individually lovable but disparate as a combination. I loved the sun-kissed richness of the red pepper but thought the cuttlefish ink cried for more depth. As a result, the ink failed to bind the whole dish. Equally nice was Lime and Chocolate Tart (£12). The construction, though deceptively minimal, was a successful maneuvering of different temperature and texture. The cocoa-infused tart crust and the silky chocolate mousse – both at room temperature – encased the sharp and zesty lime sorbet. The proportion of taste could be more finely tuned. I found the sugary content from the chocolate to undermine the sorbet.

 

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SKETCH (THE LECTURE ROOM AND LIBRARY)

Sketch Lecture Room and Library on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

Brainchild of maverick French chef Pierre Gagnaire, Sketch The Lecture Room and Library is now a holder of 2 Michelin stars. The best way to *sum up* this restaurant is that you need to know how much a meal there can cost before walking in, otherwise you will feel f**ked. (It is also advisable that you tell your companion how much a meal there can be, otherwise he or she is also f**ked). In a more polite manner of phrasing, the 6-course tasting menu at SLRL is billed at £95. The price for a la carte dishes is dearer (starters at £33-42; mains at £43-55; desserts at £13-25).

If you wonder why THAT much money, the Sketch townhouse complex is laboriously designed and periodically revamped. Pretty much a club for *cool* and wealthy kids (and adults). The FOH was pristine and meticulous. Together with Gagnaire’s cuisine and serving style, this is the place that excessive pomp is stubbornly encouraged. (This means, you might need to spend extra ££££ for your outfit for the occasion so that you won’t feel *humbled* by the place).

Let’s talk food, and for the sake of food, I quite like Sketch. Japanese influences are implicit in Gagnaire’s cooking, and his thought process was a breath of fresh air for London. Also, Gagnaire’s style of serving is unique. Say, my starter of “Scallops” was accompanied by 4 other mini dishes. The taste of each dish did not jar but together they ascertained a luxurious procession rather than harmony. The highlight was Mediterranean sea urchin with oyster granita. The freezing snow of oyster-scented iodine amalgamated the taste of yolk-y sea urchin. The other dishes in my collection of “starters” faded a little in comparison. For example, the scallops – thinly sliced, assembled into a shape of flower and pan-seared – came with loose, jam-like persimmon fruit. While there were some fresh dices of persimmon to contrast, I found the dish too rich for my taste. Both persimmon and scallops were well matched in (excellent) quality. “Simmental Beef” as a main course was good but not exemplary. The beef lacked robustness; the peppercorn jus was moderately neat; the crisps were deliciously fragile. Vanilla Souffle was very capably risen. The texture was ethereal. The quality of the vanilla used was a statement in itself.

(Honestly speaking, I did not know the price of this meal (but it was within the guided price of what I mentioned above) because my friend took (not “took care of”) the bill.

Go, if you are curious and think you can handle it..

The full photo album is on my Facebook here.

 

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LITTLE SOCIAL

Little Social on Urbanspoon

RATING: 4/5

Over the last couple of years Jason Atherton has opened quite a handful of restaurants, in London, Singapore and soon, Shanghai to great acclaim. Little Social, a tiny restaurant right opposite his Michelin-starred flagship on Pollen Street, is one of them. The den-like design – of leather booth, brick walls and neon lights – is cozy and impeccable. The menu is a clever mismatch of comfort and inventiveness. The price tag (starters at £8.50-11.50; mains at £17-22; desserts at £7) is not wallet-blowing.

My meal at Little Social was acutely prepared and outstandingly delicious. Cauliflower and Crayfish Risotto (£9.50) was just GOOD. The correctly al dente risotto was doused in cauliflower cream and finished with robust crayfish essence. The aroma from beautifully roasted cauliflower was unmissable, while the shavings of raw cauliflower lent great taste, texture and temperature contrast. Halibut “BLT” with Portebello Mushroom and Sauce Bois Boudran (£22). The fish was brilliantly roasted; the “Bois Boudran” sauce – chopped tomatoes, mustard, balsamic, parsley and tarragon (I think) – was refreshing and accomplished; the lettuce (again I think) was braised with the chunk of bacon and absorbed its meaty goodness. The latter was the star – smoky, voluptuous and melting in my mouth – adding mature depth of saltiness to the delicate halibut. Personally I thought the mushroom, situated behind the bacon, was redundant. Eton Mess (£7) was upgraded with poached rhubarbs, rhubarb sorbet and velvety ginger ice cream. It was a joy to eat.

(Again) I have no doubt I will return.

 

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AMETSA WITH ARZAK INSTRUCTION

The Halkin Hotel
Halkin Street
London
SW1X 7DJ

Tel. 020 7333 1234

www.comohotels.com

BRASSERIE CHAVOT

41 Conduit Street
(The Westbury Hotel)
London
W1S 2YF

Tel. 020 7078 9577

www.brasseriechavot.com

OUTLAW’S AT THE CAPITAL

The Capital Hotel
22-24 Basil Street
London
SW3 1AT

Tel. 020 7589 5171

www.capitalhotel.co.uk

SKETCH THE LECTURE ROOM AND LIBRARY

9 Conduit Street
London
W1X 2SG

Tel. 020 7659 4500

www.sketch.uk.com

LITTLE SOCIAL

5 Pollen Street
London
W1S 1ND

Tel. 020 7870 3730

www.littlesocial.co.uk

 

 

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Balthazar London: The New “It” of Covent Garden?

What’s in the name..
Keith McNally. Balthazar. These are a couple of names that could give (some) restaurant scenesters a very sturdy erection. In NYC Balthazar has been one of the city’s *top* reservations, the partyground of the beautiful and the famous, and it’s the sort of place that you feel could transform you. When the ever jolly doorman leads way to the pale amber-shaded dining room, the bustle hits you in the face and makes your blood sizzle. When you sink your well-garbed buttocks onto the gleaming red leather banquette, seeing big trays of casually dressed lobsters flying past and peeping at the trendy universe that revolves around you over those oversize brass mirrors, you know this is sort of *it* – the place to be. And this is what exactly Keith McNally has created, a venue that makes you glow and indulge a little with sense of self-importance (nothing’s wrong with it, of course), and this is, to me, what’s in the name of Balthazar.

In London the transfer of such vibe couldn’t be more spot on. I had my handsome and cheerful doorman. I had my bustle (as well as an army of receptionists). I had my red banquette, my mirrors and then trays of lobsters (not mine) flying past. I had my pale yellow light (not ideal for iPhone photography). I even had the one and only Keith McNally inches away from me. This was, of course, not to mention that I had also spent a good 25 minutes or so over the phone re-dialing and queue-waiting to make this reservation. The eating experience – bear in mind this was their first public service – was just nice.
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What’s on the menu..
The menu covers pretty much most of your well-known, humbly presented French brasserie dishes, from Onion Soup to Dover Sole Meuniere. The price for starters is between £6 and £15.25; for entrees/mains, between £13.50 and £35; for side dishes, £4.50; for desserts, around £7. The grillades and the fruit de mer platters are more dearly priced (forgot to note, sorry). Escargots (£10.50), containing six plump snails with your typical garlic and parsley butter, were good and not excessively greasy. Lobster and Black Truffle Risotto (£10.50) was finished with cauliflower cream and black truffle butter. While the risotto itself was adequately studded with lobster morsels, the truffle flavour was missing. The al dente texture here was, to me, quite soft and spoke of an American descent rather than European. Steak Tartare (£15.25/Main Size) was pleasant. I liked the careful mixture of both coarsely and finely chopped filet mignon, the rather chilled temperature and the slap of acidity. That said, it could have done with more salt and mustard-y boost. The toasted bread was also too thickly cut and rough on the hard palate, and the watercress salad too wetly dressed. Pithivier (£14.50) was a vegetarian dish at Balthazar. The pastry was nicely cooked and not heavy; the filling of spinach, squash and pine nut had iron-y bitterness and was not the most remarkable; the mushroom fricassee did not stand out. Steak Frites (£17.50) for my lovely dining companion fared better. The beef (I forgot to ask which butcher’s it was from) was requested medium rare and arrived accordingly. It was gently charred, though not to the point it formed a delicious crusty exterior. The fries, for which Balthazar NYC was famous, were nothing spectacular. I also didn’t think highly of the Bearnaise sauce, but that could be because I have a penchant for a thicker and more yolk-y version.

The desserts (both £7), sadly, were a leap below the savoury courses. Profiteroles were nice enough. I enjoyed the vanilla ice cream, which was half way between milky and icy (rather than being full-on creamy), and the warm chocolate sauce. The profiteroles cases, however, were a little dry and lifeless. Not so good was Rum Baba, served in an inglorious pool of pineapple and papaya fruit salad and topped with Chantilly cream. The baba itself was a heavy sponge soaked in inadequately boozed and over-sweetened syrup and the experience of eating this dish was akin to savouring a Gulab Jamun. (Being in England, we, of course, said it was “ok” when asked).

Worth a try, still?

Well, that depends on what you look for in a restaurant.
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RATING 3/5

BALTHAZAR

4-6 Russell Street
London
WC2B 5HZ

Tel. 020 3301 1155

www.balthazarlondon.com

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

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Naamyaa Cafe: Urban Thai Treats in North London

Enter the new chain..

Collaboration usually brings about awesomeness and when I heard of highly acclaimed restaurateur Alan Yau’s recent partnering with internationally lauded Thai chef David Thompson I couldn’t have been more excited. The lovechild is Naamya Cafe – a large-scale, well-funky and tactically conceived *urban Thai restaurant* in Islington. Its menu, featuring a friendly, photographically documented selection of one-plate dishes that middle-class Thai urbanites would eat in Bangkok – think, Cheeseburger and Salad Nicoise – as opposed to what Londoners stereotypically imagine as Thai food – think, Pad Thai and Green Chicken Curry, is quite a departure from the imaginative exotic stuff Yau is known for at Busaba Eathai. The price is set at around £9 per dish. The portion is generous. The result is.. well, I think.. not more spectacular than a chain restaurant but will promise, in UK’s immigration term, a somewhat indefinite leave to remain surely.

Thai and western modern

The offerings at Naamya Cafe don’t quite fall into the categories of starters, mains, sides and desserts but are grouped into various kinds of “set” menus, including “small plate”, “burger&sandwich”, “noodle&pasta” and of course “Naamya” (a variation of Thai rice vermicelli eaten with watery curry and assorted vegetables. My Pan-Fried Turnip Cake (£.6.50) was huge and while being billed “small plate” could itself have been a meal. The turnip cake, though floury, contained some distinguishable bites of turnip and was nicely sauteed with egg, beansprouts and Chinese chives. The seasoning cried for richer and more feisty soy-based sweetness. Naamya Gai (£9) – rice vermicelli with a base of finger-root ginger curry and shredded chicken – was probably the most authentic I’ve had in the UK. (That said, Naamya Cafe is also the only place that sells it). The curry blend, from David Thompson’s factory, was aromatic and revitalisingly hot, and the consistency of the curry was right – loose and watery as opposed to thick and creamy. This was traditionally served with a boiled egg and both fresh and pickled vegetables. The uninspiring element, however, was the bland, scent-less, slightly-too-wet rice vermicelli. Also likable was Naamya’s take on the signature Thai street food favourite of Stir Fried Minced Beef with Chilli (£8.90), which arrived complete with steamed rice, a fried egg and a mooli soup. The stir fry was dry, correctly musty (because of fish sauce), and had Thompson’s salt-prone style of seasoning stamped all over it. Personally it could have been spicier; the rice tasted a bit tired and could have been a touch softer; and the fried egg could do with a better crispy skin.

Naamya Cafe isn’t the place to go an adrenaline-fueled Thai fix. But, given my three okay dishes that could feed three people and came just under £30, it was satisfactory..

RATING 3/5

NAAMYA CAFE

407 St John Street
London
EC1V 4AB

Tel. 020 3122 0988

www.naamyaa.com

 

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London Round Up: The French

THE RITZ

The Ritz Hotel on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

The Ritz Restaurant is one of those *institution* places that are full of codes of conduct – ties, shirts, jackets, shoes, no trainers, no jeans, no sportswear – and the only thing I could do to rebel is, perhaps, to go commando. Not a thing I would personally advise if you are turned on by blings in the likes of ornate chandeliers, gilded statues and prolific tapestries. The room was justifiably handsome and makes a great and relaxingly bright retreat in summer. The front of house in a neatly pressed tail-jacket glided through the elegantly clothed tables and provided a formal, albeit patronising service. The menu – French in nature, but (mostly) British in produce -reflects such grandeur. The price, however, was sensible, from £35 for lunch and £50 for dinner. During my visit, the execution was visual oriented but not awfully precise. My pressed foie gras with girolles, walnuts and prunes exhibited the kitchen’s reliable skills, but a few other dishes – celeriac, for example – were over-salted.

 

 

BISTROT BRUNO LOUBET

Bistrot Bruno Loubet on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

In a stark contrast to the glam of the Ritz is Bistrot Bruno Loubet at the Zetter Hotel, Clerkenwell. This is a handsomely casual venue, though populated by quite a smart and suited crowd, with a focus on French classics and comforts with modern touches. The menu is reasonably priced – £7.5-9 for starters; £16-22.5 for mains; £6-7 for desserts – and the portion is generously sized. I found the cooking not rigid and also not the most precise, but it was this carefree spirit that made the place quite lovable. My bouillabaisse was vibrant, large and hearty. The seafood was carefully simmered and the fennel stewed to delicious tenderness. The touch of saffron was a little too heavy, though.

 

GREEN MAN & FRENCH HORN

Green Man & French Horn on Urbanspoon

RATING: 4/5

The Terroir Group keeps expanding and the fourth in its family is an ex-pub Green Man & French Horn. The produce-led French menu changes regularly and is prepared with a focus on big comfort and no pretense. The pricing is kind -£5-12 for starters, £12-24 for mains, around £7 for desserts. There is also an extensive (natural) wine menu from the Loire Valley. The ambiance was heaving at night and the waitresses cheerful. Pork Terrine was packed with flavours and outstanding for its meaty coarseness. I also loved Mackerel, Cucumber and Tarragon. The raw mackerel was very fresh; the cucumber crunchy and refreshing; and the olive oil and tarragon dressing provided somewhat aromatic peppery-ness to the dish. Grilled Langoustines with Lemon were freshly sweet. Boeuf Bourguignon was tender, oozing the perfume of red wine and meaty dimensions. Quite possibly the best restaurant in Covent Garden for me.

 

BRASSERIE ZEDEL

Brasserie Zedel on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3/5

Brasserie Zedel by the operation behind the successful and more expensive Wolseley and Delaunay is a grand restaurant that caters with a price range not much above your high-street average. Say, an approximate cost for a starter is £7 and for a main £14-15. The menu is strictly French and very classical. The location in the heart of Piccadilly Circus also makes it an easy access. Escargots au Beurre Persille (£8.25) were quite oily but meaty Cuisses de Grenouille (£7.75) were finely cooked and accompanied with a rich jus. Onglet Grille, Confit d’Echalote (£10.95) fared better than I would expect for a £10 steak. And if you can’t read French, the English menu is available upon request.

 

GAUTHIER SOHO

Bistrot Bruno Loubet on Urbanspoon

RATING 4/5

Gauthier Soho is a lovable house restaurant not only full of Napoleonic busts but also of carefully selected wines. The service is immaculate but friendly. The price point – £40 for a 3-course, £50 for a 4-course, and £60 for a 5-course – is kind. The cooking has its root in Ducasse-ian Mediterranean French but with Gauthier’s own inventive vegecentric flairs.

The classic-sounding dishes are always the highlights. Truffle Risotto with Veal Jus has been in Gauthier’s repertory for more than a decade and never fails to disappoint. During my most recent visit, the al dente rice was substituted by the healthy, grainy millet, which created a revitalising sensation on the tongue and allowed the rich, explosive truffle with jus to linger much longer. Australian Wagyu with Bone Marrow and Vegetables was both simple and extraordinary. The aged wagyu was cooked for a stunning crosti-bleu effect. This allowed the seared crust to release an appetising aroma and the barely cooked beef a depth of moreish robustness. The root vegetables, braised in beef jus, contributed a varying degrees of texture, sweetness and bitterness.

 

 



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Green Man & French Horn

54 St Martins Lane
London
WC2N 4EA

Tel. 020 7836 2645

www.greenmanfrenchhorn.co

Brasserie Zedel

20 Sherwood Street
London
W1F 7ED

Tel. 020 7734 4888

www.brasseriezedel.com

Gauthier Soho

21 Romilly Street
London
W1D 5AF

Tel. 020 7494 3111

www.gauthiersoho.co.uk

Bistrot Bruno Loubet

St John’s Square
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London
EC1M 5RJ

Tel. 020 7324 4455

www.bistrotbrunoloubet.com

THE RITZ

150 Piccadilly
London
W1J 9BR

Tel. 020 7493 8181

www.theritzlondon.com