All posts filed under “British

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Barnyard

A bit of Dabbous..

It is a truth universally acknowledged by food critics that Dabbous is a restaurant worthy of month-long reservation attempts. For me, I have found tastier solace at its downstairs bar. You’ll find bar nibble quickies (BBQ beef buns, etc.), some Dabbous signature dishes, awesome desserts and funky cocktails. And, in my opinion, Barnyard – a walk-in only restaurant by Ollie Dabbous – is precisely that.

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F.A.T by Freddie Residency @ Sharp’s * DunneFrankowski

A cut above average..

A buzz cut. A neck shave. An espresso. Or, a sandwich!? Sharp’s can fix it for you. This is a relatively hip barber’s formerly located on Charlotte Street. Recently, it was seduced to a new *flagship* site on Windmill Street. The operation is split into two parts, as trend has it in Fitzrovia. The front bit is a premium coffee shop by consultancy coffee brand DunneFrankowski, known to those from the East (of London). The barbers are kept in the vintage grooming ground in the back. According to TOB, who has been a loyal Sharp’s customer since its Charlotte Street site, if you get a cut, you can get a free barista-grade coffee. (I can’t verify this as I have my haircut at an internationally corporate, expensive and soul-less hair salon elsewhere). The sandwich that I speak of is a fabulous two-month addition at Sharp’s * DunneFrankowski.

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Michelin Guide London (2014 Results)

The most controversial yet?

2 stars – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Greenhouse.

1 star – HKK, Angler (South Place Hotel), Outlaw’s at the Capital, Story, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction (seriously!?), Brasserie Chavot, Bo London, Lima, Social Eating House.

One Leicester Street retains its star after the transition. Yeah!!!!

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Mayfield: The New Impression of Hackney

The emerging gastro-scene of Hackney..

I like the way the up-and-coming crowd of East London make it work by throwing random things together and strut with a cool smirk. A new restaurant in Mayfield in Hackney is a bit like that. The team behind Borough Wines (with chef Matthew Young) took over a site that was once a greengrocer’s shop on Wilton Way, kept the name (and the facade) but transformed the rest in tune with the changing vibe of East London. White veneered tables contrasted with black, repainted wooden chairs. Very pristine. The walls were robed with a wavy surface of wood and glowstick neon lights. It is, still, a neighborhood restaurant. It exudes that particularly friendly charm and bustle but also couples it all with a cool smirk. (I like it very much).

The menu reads an inventive deviation from Paris bistronomique – not as British as the Young Turks and leaning towards being European. There is no fixed price and no tasting menu. You order what you want, and as much as you want. The price for the savoury is between £5 – £14; for the desserts, £4.50 – £6.50. The portion is substantial. The taste, focusing on the natural, is light and with not much jus/dressing. My Peach, Mozzarella and Ham (£8.50) was quirky and predictably tasty. The mozzarella used was of good quality, and so was the olive oil. The torn purple basil added an extra touch of aroma. The peach, if just a little more ripe, would make the dish exquisite. Beef, Lettuce, Mint & Summer Truffle (£14) was a visual delight. The strips of beef, which seemed lightly blanched, were pleasantly chewy and slowly released a decent length of taste. This foiled nicely with the onion-y crunch of shredded and coyly vinegared lettuce. The unusual addition of mint left me with a familiar (Thai) note. The truffle did not taste or smell much. (But, I think it is an environmental problem and we have the bad weather to blame). Next was Octopus in Miso Broth with Broccoli and Slow-Cooked Egg (£12.80), which I highly recommend. The elasticity from the octopus was naturally toothsome and well-judged. The halved and charred broccoli was skillfully prepared. The silky miso broth (with chevril) boast a mild fermented saltiness that combined well with the leaking egg yolk. Pea Veloute (£6.50) – served with tart apricot foam, white sesame seed and samphire – was visually out of place from the rest we ordered and did not hit as high a note. Though the veloute was refreshingly pea-y and smooth, I would have liked it to be more liquid. I also found the seeds and the samphires redundant. Duck, Courgette and Raspberry (£11.50) was pretty and good. The duck breast (pink and tasty) could have held a little more moisture but the crispy skin (and the leak-y fat underneath) was sublime. I also liked the fresh tang of the raspberry, the juicy sweetness and dense texture of the grilled courgette. Brown Butter Ice Cream (£4.50) was stellar. The perfume was luscious and caramel-like. There was also gummy creaminess to the texture, too. The cherries served alongside were moreish. TOB didn’t let me eat his Peach Melba (£6.50).

 
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RATING 4/5

MAYFIELD

52 Wilton Way
London
E8 6GG

Tel. 020 7254 8311

www.mayfieldswiltonway.co.uk

Mayfields on Urbanspoon

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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

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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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Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs&: Gastronomy behind the Curtain

Auto-correct “put of date!”

 

 

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My first meal at Kitchen Table dated back to its very first opening slots in October, but given a long meal and many returns, dishes had piled up; my taste memory was overwhelmed; and any effort to write had never been quite materialized.

Now 7 months after.. you have this post!!

Worthy of note(s)

Let’s start. Kitchen Table, by ex-Per Se, ex-Noma, ex-Ramsay, ex-Wareing chef James Knappett, is an inventive Anglo-American “restaurant” tucked away in the behind of London’s most unique champagne bar Bubbledogs&. From a diner’s perspective, there are a few points that you need to note. First, Kitchen Table only does one menu of 12-or-so courses (£68) dictated by the freshest produce that is delivered to the restaurant on a nearly daily basis. James’s cooking philosophy centers on his own carefully orchestrated impulsiveness and faiths in produce and his suppliers. Some herbs and vegetables are foraged by the young and energetic kitchen team at weekends (fingers crossed they get OT); some are acquired from very obscure growers; others are developed and tended in James’s own allotments. Dishes are frequently reworked to reflect this limited availability and micro-seasonality. Second, Kitchen Table isn’t a “restaurant” per se (pun badly intended) but a 19-seat counter in a meticulously polished, awesomely ventilated kitchen. Two sittings (currently at 6pm and 7.30pm) are operated. The meal can take some time between 3 and 4 hours. From my experience, the early sitting lasts longer and often finishes just half an hour or so before the second sitting. Once seated, you observe live kitchen action and get served at that counter. No glam. No sensationalism. Chefs may get frustrated (not with diners). Emotion may blaze up. (But, it is not guaranteed in the price). For the majority of the time, dialogue between chefs and diners are encouraged. This physical encounter means the barrier between diners, chefs and cuisine is eased, and if you are food/produce enthusiasts, you might find this new synergy between chefs, raw produce and diners enlightening.

 

Nude inventions

The cooking at Kitchen Table focuses on all things bare and naturally untampered. Say, there will be no more than 3-4 components going into one dish. The complexity of taste derives from premium quality produce and thoughtful inventiveness. James’s idea is to strip away gimmicky construction and serve food that is not only well-intentioned but also tastes like great food. The influence for flavor combination via James’s and Sandia’s Anglo-(Franco-)Asian-American roots are implicit and leans towards being playful comforts – popcorn puree or hot cross bun ice cream? – while James’s skill sets, especially in classical French training, are explicit.

From my multiple meals at Kitchen Table, due to the periodic and unexpected nature of produce availability, the menu is loosely formatted but consistently delivered. The meals, therefore, have ranged from good, very good, bl**dy good, to exceptionally good. Some day you’ll get more meat; another day, more fish. (And below was my most recent meal at KT. You can find other meals on Facebook here).

The meal began with raw iodine-rich “Oyster” under the tangy, herbal granita of Balfour Brut Rose. The iciness also naturally firmed up the flesh of the oyster, resulting in a minimally springy texture. “Ling” – a fish from a cod family and traditionally salted – was served as mayo made from its roe with a piece of rock-lookalike bread. The mayo itself was loose and studded with unbroken pearl-like roe. The voluptuous milky exterior from the warm, crusty bread that was buttered and fried mediated the delectable saltiness of the mayo nicely. There was also an extra smoky dimension from the grating of dehydrated scallop roe. “Chicken” has now been registered as the permanent staple of Kitchen Table’s tasting menu. This was a surrealistically flat piece of dehydrated chicken skin finished with a smear of rosemary-ed mascarpone and bacon jam. The skin, tasting completely fat-free and mildly chicken-y, became a medium for texture to carry forth the aromatic mellowness of mascarpone and the cubes of toothsome, onion-sweetened bacon. Just to die for. “Scallop” was among one of the freshest I’d eaten in London. Firm but crunchy – suggestive of its just being “put to sleep” – the scallop was seared in hot pan and simply seasoned with salt to bring out its natural sweetness. The garnish was that of bergamot puree – made from the skin and oozing a fragrant orange-y taste – and raw bok choi sprout. The puree had a good balance between acidity and fruity sweetness, which foiled well with the chlorophyll bitterness of crunchy bok choi. Personally, I would prefer less bergamot puree per serving as it had a tendency to overwhelm the scallop.

 

 

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Superbly fresh “Crab” – flaky white and creamy brown meat – was layered and dressed with lemon skin puree. The latter was exuberant, with a healthy dose of zesty acidity and aromatic bitterness. Generally, this was a good progression of taste from the bergamot puree in the scallop dish. The topping of multi-textured radish (raw and poached), deep fried spiky artichokes, coriander and chervil provided zingy, sweet and earthy dimension and cleansed the palate. I did not as much love “Haddock”, which had been slow-cooked and served with warm buttermilk sauce, poached mussels, grilled fennel and dill oil. While the sauce was very finely made – delicious yogurt-like acidity – and the aniseed-y note from the garnish was thoughtful, it took the limelight of taste away from the rather calm-tasting fish. The mussels were also too good they became distracting! “Truffle” was a pasta dish – homemade and appetizingly al dente – with wild garlic sauce, raw slices of wild mushrooms and (a lot of) Perigord truffle. Mind-blowing. A kind of taste that married the emerging joy of spring with sumptuous farewell of.. eh.. prime winter truffle! That said, I particularly loved the slight earthiness from raw mushroom slices which worked to sponge up the wild garlic goodness. “Beef” was British (in fact Welsh) and aged. The robustness, almost akin to cheese, was imminent in its untrimmed fat. The beef – pan-seared and roasted for a perfect darkish pink hue – had a good chewy texture, slowly releasing the depth of taste. The garnish was a quirky coupling of classic red wine jus and grit-like puree made from popcorn (!!). The maize-y sweetness from the puree contrasted and complemented the spiced acidity of the jus very well.

“Soureliette” – a semi-hard French sheep’s milk cheese – was boost with a taste skin to the Mediterranean (juicy red pepper, olive tapenade and balsamic-like reduction of Worcestershire sauce). Alfonso “Mango” granita with lime, young coconut and yogurt ice cream was a bomb. The young coconut had a mild fermented taste and addictive jelly-like texture. The intense velvety mango puree was quickly whipped with finely shaved ice and lime juice (and zest). The yogurt ice cream was smooth but possessed great lactic strength. The interplay between texture and temperature contrast of two icy elements – granita and ice cream – left my taste bud craving for more. Like “Chicken”, this “Mango” is a more permanent staple at Kitchen Table. It was followed by an additional festive dish of “Hot Cross Bun” ice cream. James tipped some mixed spices on top of a fragile crispy pastry and served it on a rather milky, bread-tasting ice cream. “Beetroot” forewent my stereotypical idea of sponge cake. Very moist, fluffy and red, the cake only retained a hint of beet muddiness. The natural aggression of beet taste was also diluted by the zingy, caramel-like liquorice ice cream and powder. The additional pairing of sour cream and beetroot sorbet was a clever way of re-constructing a dish and made me relate back to an experience of (savory) taste that wasn’t too alienating. The meal concluded with “Orange” – James’s twist on traditional English teacake with orange marmalade and frozen marshmallow.

So.. KT.. Go!!

 

 

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RATING: 4.5/5

KITCHEN TABLE @ BUBBLEDOGS&

70 Charlotte Street

London

W1T 4QG

Tel. 0207 637 7770

www.bubbledogs.co.uk

Bubbledogs& on Urbanspoon