20 August 2014

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Blog Reviews from The Insatiable Eater


What are you eating today?

  1. You've never really needed me to tell you to go to Barrafina have you? It's a given. When it opened on Frith St it was an instant classic. On one of my visits, Keira Knightley was in there chowing down on quail. Who'd of thunk it eh? She eats. Clearly then, that should be recommendation enough - if it's good enough for someone who probably only eats a meal a week, then it's definitely good enough for those of us who aren't perpetually hungry. The only problem with Barrafina is that it became a victim of its own success. I've seen people queue before it even opened just to score one of the stools, meaning my visits became more sporadic. I'm not good with paramilitary planning when it comes to food. Joyfully, they've decided to share the Barrafina love and open a second location, which miraculously, improves on the experience at the big sister...

  2. Published : Sunday, 18th May 2014

    Rotorino | Rotorino: west meets east

    I don't often find myself in East London these days and it generally takes a bit to convince me that the hour travel is worth it. Don't get me wrong, I watch the constant string of restaurant openings with a tinge of jealousy and a mental note for the "must visit one day" list which is ever-lengthening, but then remind myself why I moved west and enjoy the relative quiet of my leafy street rather than the smog and grit of the Kingsland Road. Anyway, a sudden craving for bread from Fabrique after a recent trip to Sweden, et voilà I'm back in the thick of it. Rotorino has a decent pedigree with Stevie Parle from the Dock Kitchen (and time at the River Cafe - hooray for West London!) behind the food, which has a Southern Italian bent to it. Think of great ingredients with a light touch and you're pretty much there. We ordered four dishes from the menu which is split into sections with headings like First, Second, Third, Stove and Sweet...

  3. Published : Sunday, 2nd February 2014

    A. Wong | A Wong: Not Your Grandma

    You have to love what's going on at A Wong. It's not often you get an utterly original take on traditional Chinese dim sum that, more often than not, works. This is Chinese food rooted in tradition, but taken up more than one notch. It's definitely not your Grandma's dim sum (if your grandma was Chinese that is, which mine is not, but you know what I mean). I went in early January to meet up with some Instagram chums from Denmark and we ordered a decent chunk of the dim sum menu which is only available at lunch. It's a fairly small venue but we snagged a table by the window looking out onto Wilton Road, which is only a 5 minute walk from Victoria station. It's not the most atmospheric of locations but make the trek from Chinatown and you're bound to have a fine meal.

  4. Published : Thursday, 30th January 2014

    Honey & Co | Honey & Co: Eating Against the Clock

    I booked a table for 11am because I'd heard of Honey & Co's immense popularity, but on a cold Monday the small room was only half full. Our waitress gave us the pick of the tables, but when we sat down she told us we could have the table until 12.30pm because it was booked for lunch. I was a little taken aback at the 90 minute slot, mainly because we had made a booking (and even the most regimented of spots let you have it for two hours), but also, come on it's just a cafe! Eating against the clock isn't something I enjoy. The short menu had a number of dishes that weren't familiar to me, but most of what was available was on display in the window...

  5. Published : Tuesday, 21st January 2014

    Dabbous | Dabbous: is it still worth the wait?

    Dabbous is still one of the hardest tables in London to secure. If you search the website for a prime time slot a month from now, you'll be told there are no tables within the next eight weeks and probably just give up. The reason for the supply/demand mismatch is that it's a relatively small room with a little more than a handful of tables meaning demand remains high two years after it opened. I went to Dabbous shortly after it opened, but the week before Fay bestowed a glowing five stars on it, and have never been able to get another table since without planning more than six months ahead. Frankly, I'd given up ever eating there again too. But one good turn on my part (an invite to join me at Sushi Tetsu) was repaid with reservations at Dabbous. See? Karma is a beautiful thing people, so be nice to each other out there. I loved my first visit to Dabbous, finding the food incredibly refreshing and light and, in general, that deft touch remains today...

  6. Published : Sunday, 12th January 2014

    Tommi's Burger Joint Marylebone | Tommi

    You know a picture tells a thousand words right? Well if you take a looksee over there at that cheeseburger from Tommi's Burger Joint in Marylebone, I could probably finish this post right now. I'll go on though (but hopefully not for a thousand words). It looks delicious doesn't it? You just want to eat it and savour every glistening, juicy, cheesy mouthful. You might be able to tell that I like Tommi's a lot. While you could get lost in the burgeoning Bermuda burger triangle just north of Oxford Street, I'd like to resurface at Tommi's over MEATLiquor and Patty & Bun any day. The venue is light and bright (looking at you ML) and I prefer the Tommi's bun over that of the P&B crew. But if there's a food that polarises people more than any, I reckon it's a burger, given the many variables involved in its construction, so feel free to disagree. Tommi's landed in London from Iceland last year in a temporary location before setting down roots on Thayer Street in Marylebone...

  7. Published : Saturday, 11th January 2014

    Jackson & Rye | Jackson + Rye: stick to brunch

    've been to JR twice now - once for brunch before Christmas and again for dinner this week. Based on what I've eaten I'd probably stick to brunch. I'm quite fussy with scrambled eggs and can think of nothing worse than dry, overcooked, lumpy ones. I requested runny eggs at JR and got exactly that with the oddly named Prison Eggs (which don't seem to be on the website menu anymore, although saying that, the all day menu lists the buttermilk chicken served with both a spicy coleslaw AND fries but actually you have to order the fries separately). My eggs were mixed with jalapeños, borlotti beans and spring onions giving it great texture and more than a bit of pep...

  8. Published : Saturday, 10th August 2013

    Five Guys | Burger wars: Five Guys versus...Five Guys?

    I have to admit, I'm quite partial to Five Guys, but my experience is from regular trips to the US. Over there, I get my fix from the outlet in a pretty small town about an hour outside Boston, so it doesn't quite compare to the hustle and bustle of the site on the corner of Long Acre in Covent Garden. The set up is practically the same though, with the somewhat sterile but gaudy red and white tiling, sacks of peanuts delineating the queues and the not-too-subtle critical praise staring at you from all angles...

  9. Published : Tuesday, 4th June 2013

    Sushi Tetsu | Sushi Tetsu - The Joy of Sushi

    Sushi Tetsu is one of those rare places that reminds you why you go out to eat. This welcoming seven seater in Clerkenwell, run by an amiable husband and wife team, serves unpretentious, high quality sushi and sashimi to an appreciative audience. As you step behind the noren, hiding prying eyes from the street, you emerge into a cosy bar much like what you would find on the back streets of Japan. When I visited, the atmosphere was buzzing with happy punters, with the bubbles of conversation occasionally popping to be replaced with a soft groan of happiness or an appreciative nod to the chef, acknowledging a wonderful shared experience. It's the best sushi experience you'll find in London...

  10. I always feel some pressure recommending places to eat since there can be so many variables that affect the enjoyment on that particular day. So far though, Dinner hasn't failed me, with people always having good things to report back so I was pretty confident it would deliver again. And deliver it did...

  11. Published : Wednesday, 27th February 2013

    Hedone | Hits and misses at Hedone

    Hedone is an interesting one. My potted summary goes a little like this: it's a critical darling serving somewhat polarising Michelin-starred food by an ex-blogger out of a cube-like space with an open kitchen in, of all places, Chiswick. Although serving arguably the best bread in London, I otherwise find it hard to categorise the food. Despite the Swedish heritage of the chef, Hedone doesn't really rock to the new Nordic vibe, but it is clearly produce driven. Some dishes we ate were spectacular, but others felt strangely one dimensional...

  12. Published : Monday, 25th February 2013

    The Shiori | The Shiori - a welcome piece of Kyoto in London

    The Shiori is probably as close to having a meal in Japan as you're likely to get without jumping on a plane. Recently relocated to Bayswater, The Shiori is the evolution of Sushi of Shiori, the tiny sushi bar near Euston that closed late last year. I never got a table there, since, much like Sushi Tetsu, it only held a handful of seats. At The Shiori, the emphasis moves away from sushi to explore the full range of Kyoto-style kaiseki and showcase the incredible skills of the chef. The room is still small, with around 6 tables, but it is obviously a labour of love for the husband and wife team. That passion for perfection is infectious...

  13. Published : Tuesday, 6th November 2012

    Roganic | Roganic: in perfect harmony

    I guess like most of us, I love watching cooking shows on TV. I just can't bare, however, to watch ones with a competitive element. OK, Come Dine With Me was good to begin with but quickly went off the rails, and I can spend some time with the Great British Bake Off. But Masterchef, for example, irks me beyond belief. Throw in a celebrity element and you've completely lost me. I'm much happier watching Nigel Slater wax lyrical about a fig, or better yet, repeats of The Two Fat Ladies with their brilliant theme tune, smothering each other in lard. As a result, I completely missed the Great British Menu, which combines both celebrity and competition. Simon Rogan was in the latest season (apparently) and if I'd watched the show I probably would have understood his oeuvre earlier, as I had his London restaurant Roganic figured all wrong. I mistakenly thought I was in for Hestonish culinary trickery. Instead, what I got was interesting food combinations sure, but also one of the most balanced and harmonious meals I've had the pleasure to enjoy...

  14. Published : Sunday, 7th October 2012

    Duck & Waffle | Duck & Waffle: everbody

    I've not told anyone this before. For my 11th birthday I really wanted tickets to see Culture Club in concert at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. The band was riding high in the charts in 1984 with Colour by Numbers, my dad was grooving to Karma Chameleon and all seemed to be right with the world. Instead, we went to the revolving restaurant at the top of Centrepoint Tower in Sydney and had dinner. I sat patiently until dessert was served waiting for the tickets to emerge, but sadly they didn't. I don't remember anything about the food we ate that night, but I do remember getting lost finding my way back to the table after going to the loo thanks to that rotation. That and disappointment at having no tickets to see Boy George. As a result, eating at a great height always comes with a tinge of trepidation for me. So it was in that frame of mind that I stepped into the glass elevator and hurtled upwards to the 40th floor to Duck & Waffle.

  15. Published : Sunday, 2nd September 2012

    Sacro Cuore | Sacro Cuore: pizza to cross town for

    I sometimes wonder how my brain is wired. After eating at the recently opened Sacro Cuore Pizza in Kensal Rise all I could think about was a line from the "Apartment" episode of Seinfeld. Have you ever watched it? It's the one where the gang are at a house party to watch the New York Marathon and George proclaims to be Lord of the Idiots for giving up a lifetime of guilt free sex and tickets to sporting events at Madison Square Garden. Suddenly one of the revellers at the party shouts to the marathoners, "you're all winners!" only for George to reassess his Lordly claim with the line, "but suddenly a new contender has emerged". I guess you had to be there. Anyway, it's the "new contender" phrase that I thought of when I ate at Sacro Cuore...

  16. Published : Friday, 17th August 2012

    Shrimpy's | Burger madness at Shrimpy

    This brings us to Shrimpy's and its soft shell crab burger. I mean, London is awash with burgers at the moment with new places opening up quicker than you can yell "order up". But so far there's been a relative dearth of seafood burgers (fish fingers excepted), so if there's an unexploited niche then you might as well fill it, right? So how does Shrimpy's fare with its foodie gimmick?...

  17. I'm generally a pretty cluey person. Well, I'm prone to episodes of imitating Dr Stupid now and then (for you Ren & Stimpy fans out there), but generally, I'm fairly switched on. What worries me is that I'm still puzzled by Brasserie Zedel. Eating food shouldn't be confusing, should it? But being served broadly mediocre food, with haphazard service in an over-the-top lush setting resulted in such perplexity that it's taken me ages to order my thoughts enough to tell a coherent story. But let's attempt to document the meal as best we can. Shall we start with the good?...

  18. What can anyone say about Dinner by Heston Blumenthal that hasn't already been said? I mean, it was the most anticipated restaurant opening in London of 2011, and is still as popular judging by the difficulty in securing a prime-time table. That will get even harder now that Dinner has entered the hallowed ranks of the Top 10 best restaurants in the world at number nine. It even pipped its older brother The Fat Duck which sank to 13. Now, in my opinion, there is no way that Dinner is the 9th best restaurant in the world, one rank behind the incredible Arzak for example. That's not to say that you won't eat well at Dinner, because you most certainly will. You probably know what the shtick at Dinner is, right? It's all about renewing sometimes ancient British recipes and using modern techniques to bring them to life with Heston's usual flair, of course...

  19. Published : Sunday, 26th February 2012

    Dabbous | Dabbous: London

    There's been so much buzz about Dabbous since it opened a mere five weeks ago. The simple and elegant food, the rockstar chef with a pedigree CV, and prices which are shockingly affordable (well by London standards). I heard about Dabbous via user restaurant reviews on Bloomberg before the big hitters like the Evening Standard showered it with five stars. Thankfully I booked a few weeks back and had the choice of sittings. Now Dabbous is booked out for the next two months. They deserve to be as this was one of the best meals I've had in London for a long time...