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25 July 2014

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Blog Reviews from The Cutlery Chronicles

(menu)

A personal anthology charting the food I cook and eat, and the impressions they make upon me.Having been brought up with exceptional cooking from my Mauritian mother and Turkish father, the huge range of wonderful flavours available in the culinary world are what I actively seek out on a daily basis.This blog chronicles my thoughts, experiences and endeavours along my culinary journey.


  1. Published : Thursday, 10th July 2014

    Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote | le relais de venise l

    A jack of all trades, or a master of one; the latter has always been a draw for me. A person or place that can do one thing very well is an attractive quality, be that whittling wood, playing an instrument or a restaurant serving up little else but steak and chips with a closely-guarded and very secret sauce. Sure, they could tells us what makes up the brown-green gravy lacquered over the meat, but they would almost certainly have to kill us...

  2. Published : Monday, 7th July 2014

    The Palomar | the palomar, soho - review

    The Palomar is the first international foray from the people behind Jerusalem’s hottest restaurant, Machneyuda. Yossi Elad (Papi), Uri Navon and Asaf Granit have come over to open a restaurant serving food from modern-day Jerusalem, with a menu that takes influences from southern Spain, Italy, north Africa and the Levant. Striking royal blue frontage and a pink neon sign in handwritten font greet you on entry. The main area is long and narrow with the kitchen running the full length of the bar, and enough space behind the 16 stools for no further breadth than that of a single-file throng. I’ve heard some lamenting over this design; busy evenings see those waiting for the coveted (and non-reservable) bar seating doing so in that lane directly behind diners, which must result in inevitable elbow-bashing and frustrated waiters...

  3. Published : Wednesday, 2nd July 2014

    Brasserie Zédel | brasserie zedel, soho - review

    Under the interminable throngs of West End slow-walkers and shops hawking tourist tat, beneath the beguiling facade of the ground-level ZL coffee bar on Sherwood Street, you can find a capacious slice of 1940’s Paris that I don’t think everyone knows about. Hands up, I didn’t. Brasserie Zédel is a grand dining room and just one part of the sprawling subterranean entertainment offering that occupies this space; it was previously the basement of the former Regent Palace Hotel built in 1915 as the largest in Europe. Behind the venture is Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, famed for their work on the baroque beauties that are The Wolseley and The Delaunay. ..

  4. "An Iranian and a part-Turk walk into a Levantine-inspired bar (and restaurant)". Remarkably, not the opening to a joke with potential to offend, but an innocuous intro to an evening at recently launched Arabica Bar & Kitchen in the thick of Borough Market. For me to delay a visit to a newly opened Middle Eastern restaurant for much longer than it takes to glance over the online menu, would mean committing nothing less than sacrilege. And so - on only their second day of trade (after a soft-launch period) - I arrive in the heat of the evening expectant and hungry and with a Persian in tow for good measure...

  5. Published : Saturday, 21st June 2014

    Comensal | comensal, clapham - review

    The village-esque idyll of Abbeville Road lies at the heart of SW London’s “Nappy Valley” district - a handsome street to the east of Clapham Common, occupied by artisan producers, quaint cafés and restaurants, premium estate agents flaunting properties most can do little more than gaze wistfully at, and a lot of new mothers congregating at coffee mornings and lunches. It is here - alongside the likes of reputable butchers The Ginger Pig - that you’ll find London’s newest Mexican bar and restaurant, Comensal. There are a lot of good things going for this place before the food even passes your lips. It’s independent and family run, the brainchild of John Sim and Cati Bego who met in Mexico City (and are due to marry); Cati has a background running successful restaurants there. Cati is Mexican, and her mother smashes up the guacamole to order out the back in a traditional molcajete (mortar) carved from exceptionally heavy volcanic rock - they get through 12 boxes of avocados a day...

  6. Published : Friday, 13th June 2014

    Salaam Namaste | salaam namaste, bloomsbury - review

    Bloomsbury is relatively close to the well-heeled business folk of Chancery Lane and its immediate surroundings, should any of them fancy a 20 minute walk for an Indian lunch. Yet here you will find the ‘finest Indian’ cuisine, according to the website of Salaam Namaste, a restaurant in this spot since 2005, run by award-winning Chef-patron Sabir Karim. And yes, it is fine. In the same way five pound coins change instead of a crisp note is fine. Or your medium-rare steak request revealing only the most modest blush of pink within is fine. It’s ‘fine’ in that it did the job - it fed us and we ate (most of) it...

  7. The Indian venues I have recently stumbled across - stuffing me with all things keema and seekh and sambar, cooked in tandoors and on tawas, and served in pretty copper karahis - have been doing it quite well. It seems I’m on a good-Indian roll. The most recent is Scarfes Bar, stashed away in the splendid Holborn neoclassical landmark that is now the Rosewood Hotel. In a similar vein to Zumbura, Scarfes Bar is about as far from the well-worn and tired Indian high-street restaurants of yesteryear as you could hope to achieve. Firstly, it’s not a restaurant - it’s a bar. A beautiful, stately bar. A bar with the atmosphere of a drawing room and the sophistication of a gentlemen’s club. A bar you would equally be chuffed to find out was the destination of a first date, or the location of today’s business meeting. A bar with live music in the evenings and potions that make you squiffy after one if the day is warm...

  8. Published : Friday, 30th May 2014

    Chakra | chakra, notting hill - review

    Many a cow sacrificed itself to kit out Chakra in Notting Hill. Whilst there is an expected absence of beef on the menu, there is a strong bovine presence; leather covered tables, sunken cream leather chairs and dimpled leather banquets, padded leather walls - there’s potential to moonlight as a sectioning ward. The space does initially feel like someone went wild at the everlasting DFS sales. The off-white colour scheme is one most restaurateurs would run a mile from, particularly for a cuisine with staining powers that would render even the most concentrated dose of Vanish as redundant. But along with the shimmering chandeliers, classy cocktails, well-drilled waiting staff, and clientele that boasts a few celebrities, it packages very nicely as an up-market and lavish dining destination set in an affluent part of town...

  9. Published : Monday, 26th May 2014

    Zumbura | zumbura, clapham - review

    The first thing you’ll notice about Indian restaurant Zumbura - nestled in the well-to-do idyll of Clapham Old Town - is that in almost every way, it does not feel like an Indian restaurant. The interiors: no linen, leather bound menus, chandeliers, or sitar recordings. Instead, a vivid ceiling butterfly-and-birdscape, and deep turquoise and bare brick walls embellished with wild flowers in slim glass vases. There’s a wooden bar of organic form laden with ingredients used in the kitchen including the namesake fruit zumbura (pomelo in Urdu) and fresh tamarind. The crockery is beautiful, imperfect, handmade, and purchased from a local pottery. Brass light fittings with bare bulbs adorn the walls, chairs are seemingly salvaged classroom-style wood and metal, and there’s a presence of shabby chic nick-nacks...

  10. Anyone who is anyone (and a lot of people who are no one) have been paraded and snapped at Chiltern since its opening in the new André Balazs hotel in February. It’s won Tatler’s Restaurant of the Year (after being open for just three months - does that even make sense?), has been fawned over by almost everyone who has visited (national critics included), and is so hot on the celebrity front that the Daily Mail Online Showbiz column could dedicate a whole section to it. I - as well as everyone else, I’m sure - went in with high expectations. Some were met, others were very far off. One thing that is indisputable is the splendour of the place - it is achingly beautiful...

  11. Published : Tuesday, 13th May 2014

    Café Murano | café murano, mayfair - review

    It’s been a while since the efforts of a restaurant kitchen have greeted me - and subsequently shaken me by the shoulders - at the door. The babble of full-flowing conversation from every table, alongside the enticing aroma of seafood stock were the first things to strike the senses once over the threshold of Café Murano. I don’t think it’s that common to smell the food a restaurant is cooking as soon as you walk in; perhaps ventilation systems are so good these days, and restaurants can be rather large. But it was a welcome I’d like to experience more often, like when entering a friend’s home with a hello of “something smells good”. It felt right and was indicative of the meal to come - unafraid to make itself known and for good reason...

  12. Published : Friday, 9th May 2014

    Hedone | hedone, chiswick - review

    The story behind Hedone is a rare one, if not completely unique. Swedish-born Mikael Jonsson pursued his “borderline obsession” for ingredients of the highest quality by training as a chef in his early years. But his severe allergies to a variety of food put on hold any dreams of opening his own restaurant and instead, he forged a career as a lawyer. During this time, Jonsson authored a food blog, Gastroville.com (now closed), demonstrating great understanding and in-depth analysis of food, whilst also advising chefs and restaurateurs where to find the best ingredients...

  13. Published : Tuesday, 1st April 2014

    The Rum Kitchen | the rum kitchen, notting hill - review

    It could be the Mauritian in me, but wave the prospect of rum, rotis, calypso music and sunshine vibes in front of my nose and I’m first in line. Situate these in Notting Hill - one of the epicentres of London’s vibrant Caribbean community - and you have a great next-best substitute when a flight to the Port of Spain is still a depleted bank balance away. The Rum Kitchen looks like the sort of place you could imagine on a white sandy shore, full of natives whiling away languorous hours over games of backgammon and tumblers of dark rum - but with a dose of London refinement...

  14. Published : Thursday, 27th March 2014

    Mele e Pere | mele e pere, soho - review

    Occupying a prime location on the corner of Brewer Street and Great Pulteney Street in the middle of the dining hotspot that is Soho, the heart of Mele e Pere (“apples and pears”) is found below ground. Continue down a flight of tiled stairs - past the few tables, window bar-seating and mirrored wall adorned with glass apples and pears upon entrance - and diners are greeted with an impressive copper-topped bar and a large yet restful dining space. My companion was someone who knows the restaurant and the dishes well, so I said that thing that is either well-received or slightly aggravating in this situation; “I eat anything, I’ll leave the ordering to you - whatever you think is good”. The reply to which was, “Well, it’s all good”. Dammit...

  15. Published : Wednesday, 26th March 2014

    Tommi's Burger Joint Chelsea | tommi's burger joint

    To the person who said, ‘London can never have too many burger purveyors’ I say, ‘Be careful what you wish for’. Still, they continue to pop up everywhere like a teenage breakout. The burger trend - that feels like it’s been with us since BC times - shows little sign of abating. What’s nice about Tommi’s Burger Joint is that it’s anything but a bandwagon-jumper. The name above the door is that of Tomas Tómasson, the entrepreneur with a small five-strong chain in his homeland of Iceland (one of which I have eaten at - the country knows how to do fast food), an existing site in Marylebone and now this new opening on Kings Road...

  16. Published : Tuesday, 25th March 2014

    Pacata | pacata, covent garden - event

    Mention the words ‘fusion restaurant’ and I make that sound of inhaled air through pursed lips builders are so good at when you ask them what the damage is. The concept can be so hit and miss. Usually, miss. But whilst Pacata may market itself as an East-meets-West endeavour, I would describe it as Asian street-food with a dash of creativity. And one would expect nothing less from a menu designed by Yasuji Morizumi, the first Michelin starred ramen chef...

  17. Published : Thursday, 20th March 2014

    The Dairy Bar & Bistro | the dairy, clapham common - review

    Along with a number of other high-end restaurants in London and beyond, Chef Robin Gill and his wife Sarah (commandeering front-of-house) previously worked at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. They’re from Dublin, now living locally in Brixton, and with their team have created a destination dining experience. It’s put Clapham firmly on the culinary map with one of those flag-pins you stick in a cork-board print of the world to proudly display that you’ve visited somewhere. It's had a similar effect. Until two weeks ago, I worked a five minute walk from The Dairy. I’ve enjoyed brief and exceedingly pleasant weekday lunches there, but they were never the tasting menus and they were never with wine. It’s taken the removal of my daily existence in SW4 and me no longer walking past it each morning to finally secure a visit. The environment is that of conviviality and rustic charm - seating straight out of a 60’s school room, daffodils and rosemary sprigs in simple glass vases, the day’s menu printed on rough brown paper...

  18. Published : Wednesday, 19th March 2014

    PipsDish Covent Garden | pipsdish, covent garden - review

    From where I’m seated, my surroundings are that of homely familiarity. I have a view into the kitchen with a duck-egg blue Smeg fridge, double porcelain sinks, coffee mugs dangling from hooks, and cookbooks stacked up by the window. There are rows of empty shelved kilner jars waiting for preserve, and the remaining half of a recently shattered crusty loaf left on a chopping board. Heavy hooked-back drapes keep out the chill, and a stately wardrobe stands fast in the corner. There are film posters on the wall and the general nick-nacks of life scattered about the room. Any other place and I’d be seated in the dining area of someone’s home. Not so here; I am in fact in a restaurant in Covent Garden. PipsDish is a venture that has taken the supper club experience into a more commercial setting; its intention is to make you feel like you’re at home when you are in fact, out. The man behind the enterprise is Philip Dundas - food writer, author, cook, member of the Guild of Food Writers committee and all round culinary dynamo...

  19. Published : Saturday, 8th March 2014

    La Mancha | la mancha, chiswick - review

    Whilst La Mancha might be a relatively new kid on this particular block, it was previously located on Putney High Street where it fed local patrons for more than 20 years. Proprietor, Mr Salvatore, upped sticks and re-located to this smaller and more manageable (but still substantial) site in the past year. With a south-facing bi-fold glass shop front allowing the unobstructed flooding of natural light, al fresco seating fully occupied at the first hint of sunshine, gentle Spanish guitars playing in the background and Spanish diners in the full flow of conversation to the right of me, it could almost have been Seville...

  20. Published : Wednesday, 5th March 2014

    Dirty Bones | dirty bones, kensington - review

    There’s a lot of filth-focussed nomenclature when it comes to casual-dining eateries these days. We’ve already got Dirty Burger in Kentish Town and Vauxhall, not to be confused with Big Dirty Burger popping up around London. It’s a fitting adjective to describe the sort of food you expect to get around your mouth as much as in it, eaten without cutlery, and always great with alcohol. To this list we can now add Dirty Bones - the new Kensington cocktail and dining hotspot for subterranean gourmet dude-food, where the light is low and the beats are brash...

  21. Published : Tuesday, 4th March 2014

    Hibiscus | hibiscus, mayfair - review

    Following its revamp in early 2013, the dining room is now one of understated elegance and sophistication, without being stuffy - a pale wood floor, white walls with contemporary art, upholstered blue chairs, and a playful and brightly coloured theme found in the knife holders and water glasses. It also acquired a new bells-and-whistles development kitchen where Head Chef Claude Bossi and team unleash their creative juices on new menus. Not to mention front-of-house were a complete joy; when my companion lamented over wine being the first thing she would consume that day after a stressful morning, our waiter quipped with a smirk, “Wine is better than orange juice anyway”. Good point...

  22. Published : Monday, 3rd March 2014

    Bibo | bibo, putney - review

    Upper Richmond Road is as uninspiring a high-street as most in London. But nestled in the bosom of a Nando’s, Pizza Express and Dominos that flank either side, Bibo and its interiors have a transportational quality that plucks you out of SW15 and plants you straight into a Soho dining-hotspot. It looks great - airy, high-ceilinged, white-washed exposed brick, dark wood, leather banquettes, a mezzanine at the rear, and an impressive bar upon entry. Once you’re in, you’ll be in no hurry to leave...

  23. Published : Friday, 21st February 2014

    La Sophia | la sophia, notting hill - review

    A French restaurant claiming to be the only in London with a fully halal menu is unique enough for me to journey to neighbourhood restaurant La Sophia in Notting Hill to investigate. I asked two friends to join me me; a big-eater Muslim along with a lactose-intolerant vegetarian, just to help up their game. A stone's throw from Portobello Road, the restaurant opened in the summer of 2010 and presents a Mediterranean and French menu with classics from the latter cooked with no presence of alcohol (think confit de canard and escargots de Bourgogne). Not to mention all the meat is halal (which includes what can be eaten and how it is sacrificed and prepared). Halal snails and foie gras? Who even knew there were such things...

  24. Published : Wednesday, 19th February 2014

    Copa de Cava | cava tasting at copa de cava, blackfriars - event

    I like a glass of fizz as much as the next person. But I’ll be the first to admit I know little about the intricacies and variations of wines - oenology (yes, I had to look that up) isn’t quite my bag. That said, when it comes to bubbly I know what I like the taste of and I’m always willing to learn. Couple this with a deep-set appreciation for a plate (or nine) of quality tapas, and the opportunity to attend a cava tasting evening with complimentary Spanish bites reads as a perfect way to spend an evening. A handsome bare-bricked subterranean haunt situated just a minute’s inebriated stumble from Blackfriars and brought to us from the team behind Comino (upstairs), Copa de Cava is the UK’s first restaurant and bar dedicated to that very quaffable Spanish sparkler. They stock an impressive range of 29 types of cava and have devised a menu (different to Comino) to compliment each one. I’m very drawn to the idea of whiling away a few hours over their tasting menu with a different glass for each dish; "here is my money, bring me everything that is good"...

  25. Published : Saturday, 15th February 2014

    Bocca di Lupo | bocca di lupo, soho - review

    Bocca di lupo ("the mouth of the wolf") is a spruced-up Soho trattoria, more stylish and better dressed than one would usually associate with an informal Italian dining experience. It’s too easygoing and friendly to call itself a high-end ristorante, but it certainly looks the part with a front half dominated by an impressive marble bar overlooking an open kitchen for off-the-cuff grazing and home to a busy prosciutto slicer, and the rear occupied by tables and statuesque paintings with the feel of a living room in a stately home. Established in 2008, it could easily be regarded as a senior representative of the Soho dining scene when compared to the unending list of recent openings within the area. Victor Hugo (what a name) and Head Chef Jacob Kennedy (formerly at Moro) present an almost daily-changing menu of honest and uncomplicated regional Italian cuisine, the sort of food you would like to think your mamma would make if she was Italian. Where they can make ingredients themselves, they do - pasta, gelati, breads, sausages, salame, pickles...

  26. Published : Wednesday, 12th February 2014

    Gaylord Restaurant | gaylord, soho - review

    Gaylord is a smartly furnished (in that princely old-school handsomeness long-serving Indian restaurants often do) and established West End fixture of the dining scene focussing on Mughlai and North Indian cuisine. Established in 1966, it is part of a large group with a sister Gaylord in Mumbai and was the first to house a tandoor oven in the UK. It was also the chosen venue for a dinner organised by the restaurant review platform Zomato for some of their most prolific contributors - they know how to put on a good show. Crisp puri spheres containing a little potato and chickpea and filled at the table with flavoured water and tamarind chutney were demolished whole in the mouth, just before the liquid made a break for the table linen. Cones of fluffed up and chewy rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce (bhel puri) were tasty nods to the classic Mumbai beach snack. The flavours and textures of crunchy, aromatic, hot and sweet aloo papdi chaat came together very well in one mouth-swoop over the spoons they were presented on...

  27. Published : Tuesday, 11th February 2014

    A. Wong | a.wong, victoria - review

    ‘A. Wong. A. Wong! You should have gone to A. Wong; it has some of the most innovative modern Chinese cooking in the city. You need to go for lunch, for the dim sum lunch.’ As Zeren continued to lament over my missed opportunity, I feverishly finger-swiped my way through my Google calendar to find a free lunch spot. To reinforce the decision, and by some well-placed coincidence, both Richard Vines and Andy Hayler tweeted about visits in the following days. Bumped to the top of my restaurant hit-list, it was. The name above the door is that of London-born Andrew Wong, a chef that has travelled and worked in China, and responsible for transforming the old family restaurant (known as Kyms) into the slick, double-fronted, bright-eyed offering it is today...

  28. Published : Monday, 3rd February 2014

    Topolski Gallery & Bar | topolski bar, southbank - review

    The concept of Topolski Bar was interesting enough to make me wander into the culinary void that is the immediate area surrounding Waterloo station and pay a visit. Recently launched in collaboration with the artist Feliks Topolski’s family, it fills a cavernous yet warm, high-ceilinged space (once the artist’s studio) comprising of three distinct rooms and with some of his vibrant pieces furnishing the walls. Staying true to Topolski’s heritage, the food here is Polish and the vodka is potent. It’s also house-infused with such novel flavourings as horseradish (served with tomato juice and spices - so a Bloody Mary), pink grapefruit (slightly bitter - good), blueberry (with cloudy apple juice - sweet - good to finish up on), and tarragon (not tried - there are only so many vodka cocktails I can justify on a Monday)...

  29. When a restaurant plays mum for the evening (albeit one that lets me drink a lot more wine), I am both grateful and drawn to it. ‘Finish it!’, you say? ‘Enjoy it!’, you demand? Well, MAYBE I WILL. Both of which happened at The Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road, where the chefs write three menus each day based on the produce delivered that morning. In the evening you’ll find a set menu in the Dining Room for £35 with four starters, a main and a dessert, all for the table to share. There is no picking, no choosing - you receive it all and you ultimately enjoy it all. It’s full of old-world charm and that type of shabby chic floral bijoux crockery that in the hands of the wrong host and along with a room full of kitsch chintz can be utterly nauseating. But against the stalwart-Grandad masculinity of dark wood panelling, a handsome check floor and the creaking booths of a Grade-II listed establishment in its 145th year (opened in 1869), it is thoroughly charming...

  30. Published : Sunday, 5th January 2014

    Duck & Waffle | duck & waffle, liverpool street - review

    Perhaps the air is a little thinner 40 floors above London. Perhaps it’s the threat of vertigo when peering over the precipice. It could even be the vitalising qualities of a room flooded with natural light from the wrap around floor-to-ceiling windows. Whatever the reasons, dining at Duck & Waffle made me feel a bit giddy, in a good way. There are a couple of uncommon attributes occasionally found within the London dining scene that come together here: it is the highest restaurant in the UK (with the spectacular views to go with that accolade) and it welcomes and serves people at any hour of every day. Combine these two crowd-pleasers with very agreeable things coming from the kitchen and striking interiors, and you’ve got something that feels quite special...

  31. Published : Monday, 30th December 2013

    Koya | koya, soho - review

    There is something to be said about a restaurant with the guts to pare down the interiors to four walls, a tiled floor, basic wooden furniture, and a curtain at the entrance. It’s a combination that doesn't fail to pique interest as it often translates to an assurance in the offering. And Koya in Soho has just that - oodles of understated confidence. And oodles of noodles. As is typical of Japanese aesthetics, the lack of exaggeration or pretence found inside is reflected in the honest food. Whilst the country is home to an array of carbohydrate options to accompany a bowl of steaming stock, Koya’s contribution is built around a specific type - the thick and slippery wheat flour udon...

  32. Published : Saturday, 14th December 2013

    Gymkhana | gymkhana, mayfair - review

    There has already been much said about Gymkhana, the Indian restaurant in Mayfair decked out to transport guests to the high-society social sports clubs (gymkhanas) of British Raj India. Most of it, if not perhaps all, consist of glowing testimonials: Jay Rayner advises getting ‘armpit deep in a menu which is not afraid to make a mark’; Grace Dent hails it as ‘one of the greatest restaurant openings London has seen in 2013’; and Fay Maschler gave it a rare 5 stars, describing the Muntjac biriyani as the best she’s had outside Hyderabad...

  33. Published : Tuesday, 10th December 2013

    See Sushi | See Sushi, Paddington - review

    Walk into a restaurant in Japan and prepare to face the full force of an ‘IRASSHAIMASE!’ greeting, often yelled with enough terrifying enthusiasm to shorten life expectancy by at least a few hours, so I’m told. Meaning ‘welcome!’ or ‘come on in!’, it is the same greeting you’ll find emblazoned above the counter at the Japanese fusion restaurant SeeSushi situated at the waterside of Paddington Basin, the tranquil body of water behind the station leading to Regents Canal...

  34. Published : Monday, 25th November 2013

    Casse-Croûte | Casse-Croûte, Bermondsey - review

    If it was possible to pluck a fictional eaterie out of the Parisian back streets of the film Amelie and plant it on Bermondsey Street in London, it would look exactly like Casse-Croûte. This small bistro with around 20 seats and a few spaces to prop up the digestif laden bar is about as French as Gérard Depardieu sporting a beret and belting out the full run of La Marseillaise. But more bijou (thankfully). It has everything to match the French bistro of your mind, the sort you would hope to stumble into on the left bank after a walk from Montparnasse late one evening to continue a conversation about the works of Yann Tiersen over pastis and cassoulet...

  35. Published : Monday, 18th November 2013

    Honest Burgers Soho | Honest burgers, Soho - review

    Some restaurants want to be all things to all people. Welcoming but exclusive, cavernous but intimate, classic but innovative, broad in their offerings but still specialists. It’s a format that works for a select few when mastered. But for the rest of the mere mortal dining options that line our streets, do one thing really well and there's a good chance you’ll be a success. Honest Burgers in Soho is the offshoot from the original branch in Brixton Market and opened in the summer of last year. Founded by Tom Barton and Phil Eles, the recipe for their burgers was refined over time through customer feedback via the small catering operation they started with in Brighton. When the unit in Brixton became available, they snapped it up as a perfect spot to settle in the big smoke and have not looked back since...

  36. Published : Wednesday, 6th November 2013

    Ba Shan | ba shan, soho - review

    The province of Hunan is located in the south-central part of China; a little piece of it can also be found in Soho with the name of Ba Shan above the door. Owned by the people who run the Szechuan sister, Barshu, over the road, it boasts an all Hunanese menu developed with Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop. If your idea of a great meal is having your chops whalloped with fire and flavour, there is little need to entertain the thought of dining anywhere else in town. Piquant preserved yard-long beans chopped into chewy segments provided an unusual but stellar texture for the vegetable. Stir-fried with stiff boards of salty Chinese bacon and slithers of preserved crisp garlic, it was a piled high plate of spicy and savoury splendour...

  37. Published : Friday, 1st November 2013

    Shoryu | shoryu ramen, regent street - review

    In a restaurant proud of its Hakata-born Executive Chef cooking up ramen dishes from the region, the inclusion of a ‘Piri Piri Tonkotsu’ in these offerings had the dial on my gimmick-radar twitching. I believe I am correct in thinking Hakata is in Japan, and not Portugal. Despite these initial shortcomings, the karaka tan tan tonkotsu was presented with all the appeal you would expect from a spicy bowl of hot broth and noodles on a chilly evening. It looked great - cloudy thick white miso stock vibrant from the chiu chow chilli oil, fried mince pork (rather than barbecue pork in most of the others), lemon and garlic. And in fact even more garlic as the bulb fiend within me made full use of the well received pot of cloves complete with crusher at the table...

  38. Michelin star Head Chef Simon Hulstone (usually found at The Elephant in Torquay) donned his apron and got to work on a teppan. Tenderstem broccoli (harvested from his 30+ acre Devonshire farm) and caramelised scallops dressed in a soy, mirin, olive oil and sesame oil sauce were shared amongst all. Appetising and savoury and of course, no need to add salt. Simon spoke of other dishes he cooks often featuring soy as the savoury component, some of which can be found at The Elephant: with chocolate, in soy salted caramel, tarte tatins, cider brandy, even with vodka and beetroot as a marinade for monkfish - I’d eat all of these...

  39. Published : Sunday, 6th October 2013

    Hakkasan | hakkasan hanway, dim sum sundays - review

    Hakkasan is the long-serving establishment that did the slick-lined, low-lit, subterranean celebrity haunt thing before most others. Since 2001 it has served as a dining vestibule for evenings often ending in whichever night-life hotspot is currently the most impenetrable, unless you have a surname of Geldof, a first name of Tarquin, or are friends with Prince Harry. It certainly lends itself to this clientèle The interiors are dimly lit enough for wisp thin socialites of the evening crowd to avoid interacting with the food without attracting too much attention to the fact. There’s a lot of black leather, dark wood and punters with deep pockets...

  40. Published : Tuesday, 1st October 2013

    Pizza Pilgrims | pizza pilgrims, soho - review

    Taking their launch on Dean Street, Soho in August of this year from a three-wheeled green Piaggio Ape complete with pizza oven driven here all the way from Italy and a presence in Berwick Market, to prime real estate in one of London’s most bustling food quarters. The boys’ (brothers Tom and James Elliot) done good. Now I’ve eaten pizza in Naples and with no hyperbole intended, it was one of the best things I’ve ever consumed. The sort of meal that on first bite, the wide-eyed unspoken stare of ‘ye GODS - did you just experience the same thing I did?’’ towards your dining companion is all you can manage as your brain attempts to process the pleasure receptor overload...

  41. Published : Monday, 19th August 2013

    Sticks 'n' Sushi | Sticks 'n' sushi

    Fully glass fronted, the space within is cavernous to the point that first time visitors exclaiming on entry, ‘it’s massive in here!’ must be an all too common greeting for the staff. The space used to house horse carts (so our very pleasant waiter Jordan informed us), reflected in the carriage wheel design incorporated into the ends of the long dark tables stretching across the space, ideal for large parties and communal dining. Above this layer of activity is a huge expanse occupied only by large contemporary Japanese-style lighting hanging from the lofty ceiling...

  42. Published : Monday, 5th August 2013

    L'Autre Pied | L'Autre Pied

    My ideal location for a birthday treat (of which this meal was), would be an informal and relaxed restaurant with no pretenses serving Michelin quality food. And L’autre Pied in Marylebone achieves that in spades. The kitchen is commandeered by head chef Andy McFadden and his seven course tasting menu was the agenda for the evening. On arrival we were seated by a very charming maitr’d who recommended a rather spectacular glass of Italian red, the name of which I failed to note. An amuse bouche began proceedings consisting of silk thin poppy seed pastry topped with cool, smooth and meaty chicken liver parfait and sprinkled with chopped olives...

  43. Published : Monday, 5th August 2013

    Shake Shack | shake shack, covent garden - review

    Situated in the old Market Building at the centre of Covent Garden, Shake Shack comprises of the premises housing a band of cash registers backed by the kitchen and only al fresco seating (although dining areas are covered by the Market Building roof). Along with your name, you give your order to the well trained and smiling till staff and a buzzer you’re handed makes a racket once the food is ready to collect from the pick-up counter. We were a party of three, each ordering the double Smoke Shack - essentially a bacon cheeseburger with two beef patties. I also ordered the Union Shack concrete (ice cream) and there were a couple of portions of crinkle cut chips on the table...

  44. Published : Tuesday, 9th July 2013

    Maki Yaki | makiyaki, south wimbledon - review

    Makiyaki is situated on a busy Merton Road a mere five minute walk from South Wimbledon station on the Northern Line, positioned next to a set of billboards. Step inside and you’ll be greeted with pleasant interiors, smiling staff and a sushi chef dressed in traditional Japanese garments behind the counter; no doubt to delight the clientèle hoping to experience something close to an authentic Japanese experience, whatever that may be. I like to think in restaurants in Japan, belted samurai swords are whipped from holders at the call of an order and in a blur of metal and kimono silk, fresh fish is portioned up with exacting precision. That would be so cool..

  45. Published : Tuesday, 25th June 2013

    Fino | fino, fitzrovia - review

    Fino situated on Charlotte Street presents London with the same quality, freshness and delight you would expect from dining in Castile–La Mancha itself, but with a modern twist and closer to home. Both Fino and Barrafina (the Soho sister restaurant) are run by brothers Sam and Eddie Hart with the former opening its doors in 2003 as one of the first restaurants in London to offer contemporary Spanish food. The kitchen is commandeered by Executive Head Chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho with roots in the Basque country, and the menu is fluid with seasonality dictating the provincial dishes that are made available. The focus on ingredients is centred around the best Spain has to offer alongside available local produce. Having been privy to nothing but glowing reports from friends and colleagues who have sampled it, I’m still trying to figure out why it’s taken me so long to visit. But visit I have, and visit I most certainly will again...

  46. Published : Thursday, 30th May 2013

    Pied à Terre | pied a terre, fitzrovia - review

    Boasting a lunch time deal that is reputedly ‘the best value Michelin star menu in London’ conjured up by Head Chef Marcus Eaves and his team, the term ‘pied a terre’ is given by the French to a small second home in the city – if the welcome, service and our leisurely and extended stay was anything to go by, it certainly lived true to its name. My companions and I...

  47. Published : Wednesday, 22nd May 2013

    Dishoom | dishoom, covent garden - review

    What I haven’t really experienced is making a specific trip to a ‘proper’ Indian restaurant as opposed to a curry house. I see the differences being that the former would be a larger establishment well kitted out, centrally located rather than local, innovative dishes alongside traditional, enticing interiors, and with most if not all of their business coming from meals dined on the premises rather than take-away. Dishoom in Covent Garden certainly ticks these boxes...

  48. The Connaught is a prestigious five star hotel nestled in a quiet corner of Mayfair Village and is home to the two Michelin-starred Hélène Darroze restaurant. Each Saturday, in the dark wood panelled restaurant with carpeted floor and Damien Hirst originals, you will find a feast available in the form of a buffet brunch. Or as I like to refer to it, 'two Michelin-starred all-you-can-eat'. Yes, you heard correctly. I suspect this needs no further sell. But indulge me...

  49. Published : Thursday, 4th April 2013

    Tonkotsu | tonkotsu - review

    Tonkotsu in Soho had been recommended to her by her Japanese hairdresser and described as ‘excellent’. If you find natives eating in any restaurant, you know it’s going to be good. Ramen makes up a large part of the Japanese offering when it comes to their excellent cuisine (one of my favourites in the world). It is comprised of a life-giving and deeply flavoursome stock, noodles...

  50. Published : Thursday, 14th February 2013

    Cah Chi | Korean at Cah-Chi - Review

    I've had Korean a few times before, and had it again tonight at Cah-Chi in Earlsfield, and it is a cuisine that is yet to disappoint. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Commonly used ingredients include sesame oil, fermented bean paste, soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger and fermented red chilli paste...