All posts tagged “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 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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Beagle: Quality British in *Hip* London

Not too *hip* but rather good..

I don’t take pride in my knowledge of East London, but most recently, the word “hip” has become synonymous with its restaurant scene. Beagle, conveniently situated next to Hoxton Overground Station and at a stone throw from the Vietnamese restaurant community of Kingsland Road, seems a breath of fresh air because it is neither just hipster pleasing nor Vietnamese.

Housed in a rather vast, renovated archway – think exposed brick walls, gaslight-inspired chandeliers, and stubbornly wooden tables – Beagle exudes a charm of old-school “East London” Britishness. The venue itself is sectioned into the bar and the restaurant. The former runs an all-day bar snack menu (£3-50-5), coffee and drinks; the latter an ever-changing menu inspired by British seasonal produce. The kitchen team, led by James Ferguson, an alumnus of much loved Rochelle Canteen, is capable; the price (starters at £4.50-6.50; mains at £12-16; desserts at £5-6.50) is wallet-friendly. There is also a blackboard featuring daily specials (slightly more expensive or with bigger portion for sharing).

I started with Pork Pie (£4), which was part of the bar menu. The filling – a thoughtful mixture of finely ground and coarser chunks of pork – was pleasantly herbed. However, I would have liked the pork jelly to layer between the pastry and the filling more evenly. The piccalilli benefited much from its fresh crunchy veggie components but would fare better with more acidity. Pig’s Head Croquette & Tartare Sauce (£5) was out of this world. The crumb-ed exterior cracked up some indulgently spiced porky aroma; the stringy and moist pig’s head was warm and comforting. My dining companion summed it up as “best pig’s head ever” and my thought was pretty much the same. The tartare, in my opinion, was too creamy and could do with more tang. Moving on to the restaurant menu, I liked (but was not head-over-heel in love) Salt Ling, Chickpeas and Marinated Tomatoes (£6). Good quality ling (iodine-rich and gently flaked) and good quality tomatoes (mellow but juicy). I found the robustness of both diluted by a dash of cream. Grilled Squid (£7.50) was beautifully scorched to tenderize and skilfully handled at the grill. The texture was dainty; the char aroma was explicit. Roast Hampshire Pork Loin with Borlotti Beans (£14.50) arrived with state-of-art pork crackling (pretty much surrealistically blown out of its proportion). The loin, though tender and nicely cooked, had a rather muted taste; the beans were reliable but did not make big impact. I concluded with a very, very good Pear & Almond Tart (£6.50).

Overall.. a lovable scene and food. So, go (when you’re in the area)!

 

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RATING 3.5/5

BEAGLE

397-400 Geffrye Street
London
E2 8HZ

Tel. 020 7613 2967

www.beaglelondon.co.uk

Beagle on Urbanspoon