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Birthday lunch 2/2: Report of meals at Fera and Barrafina

Of the four noteworthy places we dined during my husband's birthday celebration, my favorite was Fera. Granted we don't indulge in tasting menus on a regular basis (I wish), but I do know that I prefer small bites of many different and unique flavors to an overabundance of one amazing dish. Perhaps that is why I preferred Fera. In this regard Fera may have been my favorite because that's where we experienced their tasting menu and where I felt like I was taken on a culinary journey as opposed to just having a nice meal. What I also liked about Fera is that, although the dining room exudes a typical hotel restaurant architecture (big and industrial), the Art-Deco interior decor keeps it a bit more interesting. I usually have reservations about eating in a hotel restaurant but Fera proved me wrong. Their carpeting also helps to make the space feel more cozy. Combined with their excellent customer service and their staff's knowledge of the menu and wines and their beautiful plating presentations, it was an extremely enjoyable time for us. I would recommend Fera's tasting menu. They also had a three-course lunch menu but the choices didn't really appeal to us.

Here's the tasting menu for that day with the wines:

Champagne accompanied the amuse bouche and these three starters-
Stewed rabbit with lovage
Pollock, horseradish and seaweed
Smoked row and red cabbage

Swede dumplings, Isle of Mull cheese and Wiltshire truffle (I could eat this every day!!)
Cotes due Jura Chardonnay 'En Chalasse', Julien Labet 2012

Raw veal, oyster, kohlrabi and apple (surprised at how tender and delicious raw veal can be)
Eden Valley Riesling "Didier', Tom Shobbrook, Australia 2013

Native lobster, kale leaves in lobster cream, crispy pork, sunflower seed (lobster could have been a bit more tender)
Gut Oggau 'Timotheus' Austria 2013

Sea bass, razor clams, salsify and sea beet
Vouette &Sorbee 'Blanc d'Argile', Cote des Bar 2009

Goosnargh duck breast, watercress, celeriac, sprout tops and mead (perfectly cooked breast, went well with the 100% Nebbiolo)
Maremma Ansonica, Santa Maria, Tuscany 2013
Valtellina 'Carteria', Sandro Fay, Lombardy 2010

By this time I was pretty happy from all the food and wine. I can't remember
all the details of the next libations, but the Sommelier brought us three different glasses of dessert wines and set them down in front of us. He asked us to taste and guess and we somehow managed to guess two out of three. I guess he poured us something else afterwards, but I can't remember it all (too much great wine and food).The Sommelier was wonderful and we really enjoyed chatting with him about different artisan wines.

Arbois Savagnin, Jacques Puffeney, Jura 2010
Amontillado '30 years', Bodegas Tradition, Andalusia
Sauternes 'Aletheia', Rousset Peyraguet, Bordeaux 2010
Maury, Clot de l'Origine, Roussillon 2011

British and Irish cheeses
Dorstone, Gorwydd Caerphilly, Lincholnshire Poacher, St. James, Stichelton

Chocolate malt nitro, prune and dandelion
Roasted fig, gingerbread and fig leaf yogurt
Licorice cake
Pumpkin and whiskey
Elderberry marshmallow
Hazelnut jelly

After walking around and shopping for a few hours, we ended up at a Barrafina's in Soho for dinner. Although there was a long queue of diners waiting for a seat at the bar, we were seated within a few minutes because a table freed up outside and none of the diners (about 12 people) before us wanted to sit outside.

By this time, my note taking took a backseat to people watching and just enjoying a lovely evening sitting outside in Soho. We ate the Milk Fed Lamb, Pluma Iberica, Calamares, Sardines and a few other dishes from their daily specials (can't remember now) and then tried a few of their different reds by the glass (Humilitate 2011, Rioja Reserva 2009, Vilosell 2011). We finished with the Conference Pear in Red wine, the last one for the evening. I liked Barrafina for its casual food in an easy open-kitchen environment. It's definitely a good destination for casual dinner after shopping in the Soho/Covent Garden area. It would also be a good place for solo diners. However, there was a line the entire time we sat there and ate, but it seemed to move relatively fast. The service is efficient and quick and the staff very friendly and helpful.

Nov 25, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Birthday meal 1/2 - Report of lunch at Square, dinner at Terroirs

Hi Zuriga1. Interesting that we had similar experiences; I thought I was just being too critical about their space. I want to be wow-ed whenever I eat out and when I am not, I feel a bit let down and disappointed.

Nov 20, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Please can you spare 30 seconds to help a student in need?

Done. As I'm new to the UK food scene, all of my street-food cities were outside the UK. Good luck with your project! It would be nice to offer an offline map that travelers can use when they're outside their home country. I've used google maps offline but there must be better technology now to make it more GPS interactive.

Nov 20, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Birthday meal 1/2 - Report of lunch at Square, dinner at Terroirs

Warning-this is rather long...
Saturday lunch, seating at 12:30.
We started off with glasses of Champagne in lovely thin glasses. As we sipped our drinks, we reviewed the menu and because neither their lunch nor tasting menu appealed to us, we opted for a la carte options.

I started with Cornish Mackerel with Loch Ryan Oysters, Pickled cucumbers, Fennel Pollen and Toasted English Muffin. The vivid green color of the dish reminded me of Spring, and the flavors conjured up memories of ceviche. My husband started with Saute of Sottish Langoustine Tails with Parmesan Gnocchi finished with an emulsion of Potato and Truffle. His starter was the Fall to my Spring, and I preferred his.

Crisp Berkshire Pork Jowl with House Made Sausage, Carrot and Swede, Granny Smith Apple and Vacherin Mont d’Or is what I chose for my main. The pork was served separately from the sausages and mash, which came in a little Staub enamel pot. I wasn’t crazy about the house-made sausage, but the rest of the dish was fine. The mash with Vacherin Mont d’Or was addictive.

I can’t remember too much of my husband’s fillet of cod with chestnut Spaetzle, Cauliflower, sprout tops and grey leg Chanterelles, but he must have enjoyed it; it disappeared quickly from his plate. Or else he was just very hungry.

We washed our meal down with an excellent bottle of 1973 Mersault Rougeots Domaine Potinet Ampeau.

None of their desserts appealed to me so I chose four cheeses, Morbid, Mothais Sur Feuille, Ossau Iraty and Roquefort from their cheese cart for my dessert and my husband dove into the Provence Quince Souffle with Darjeeling Tea and Bergamot Ice Cream. Again, his dessert quickly disappeared and he helped me with the cheeses. My favorite cheese was the Morbier, which I don't eat as often as the Ossau Iraty and the Roquefort. I need to add Morbier to my weekly cheese shopping list.

As we enjoyed the last courses, we chatted with our Sommelier about wines and Calvados and found out that he comes from Normandy. As my husband and I have been contemplating a quick trip over there this winter, the Sommelier gave us his recommendations for places that we should try when we're there. Now we're even more motivated to take a ferry over. By this point, we had moved onto several glasses of Calvados and, unfortunately, my note taking took a backseat to my drinking and I didn’t write down which Calvados we tried. Sorry.

What we liked about Square was the excellent service and presentation of the food. Although the food was delicious, I wasn’t ‘wow-ed’ by it. Would I make an effort to go back? Probably not, especially given that there are so many other restaurants I want to try in London. Comparing it to one-star Story, I prefer Story because I thought the food at Story was ‘wow' worthy. The other reason I did not care for Square is its large, cafeteria-style room and the non-inviting decor; I prefer the smaller, intimate size of Story to Square. Everything from Square's parquet flooring to the unappealing art on the wall made me think of an outdated cafeteria or senior-citizen’s center. Charm was definitely missing, for me. And the food was just okay, nothing special. However, the Square presented us with a bag of truffles as we left. We enjoyed them the next day and they were excellent. I wouldn’t mind going back there just for those truffles.

After our indulgent lunch, we walked around Mayfair and Soho and through the throngs of Leicester Square and Chinatown before we started getting a bit peckish again. Terroirs wine bar was not too far from where we were so we decided to check it out for a glass of wine. When we entered, the place was packed and it wasn't even dinner time yet. We usually prefer to sit at the bar and chat with the servers but there was no bar seat availabe, just a few small tables. The hostess offered us a small table, but said that it was reserved for 8:00. We answered that we would be gone by then. I immediately loved the cozy atmosphere of Terroirs and the hustle/bustle of the servers, diners, drinkers, etc. It definitely has a bistro-style atmosphere: a casual place that has a mix of interesting people. I was intrigued by a well-coiffed lady probably in her late 60's or early 70's sitting alone at the bar sipping a glass of wine, sandwiched in between two couples in their 30's or 40's. She looked like she had just popped in for a fortifying drink in between her appointments. The couples on either side were eating and drinking and in no rush to get back outside. All the food going by looked wonderful.

We started off with bubbles and duck rillettes. As we tucked into the duck rillettes, we reminisced about Le Bistrot du Sommelier in Singapore, our favorite place to dine when we were craving homemade duck rillettes, terrine and delicious French fare. We commented on how lucky we were to be back living in Europe again. After the duck rillettes, which I could probably eat every day, we moved onto Gilt Head Bream with Fennel and Shrimps, and Bone Marrow with pickled walnuts and parsley salad. I usually love Bone Marrow but, either I was still stuffed from lunch or the Bone Marrow was just missing something. We tried couple of their interesting wines by the glass and finished up with some Calvados. Terroirs is definitely more wine than food bar.

After a Michelin meal for lunch, everything will pale in comparison unless it's another M meal. However, there is just so much food coma I can experience in one day. I like having a luxe meal for lunch and finishing with something more down to earth for dinner. For that, Terroir was perfect for us for that evening. We got to try a new place and it was great value. I would definitely try Terroir again if I were in the area and looking for some wine, small bites of duck rillettes, and other some nibbles. It's also a good place to pop in if you are dining/drinking alone. You can sit at the L-shaped bar and not feel like you're out of place or taking up a large table by yourself. Square, on the other hand, is definitely not a place that I would feel comfortable dining by myself.

http://www.squarerestaurant.com
http://terroirswinebar.com

We also ate at Fera and Barrafina. I will post that in a separate post.

Nov 19, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Normandy report

Thanks for your trip report. This is quite helpful as I am researching for a possible trip to Normandy for a week in mid Dec, right before Noel. Because this will be my first trip there, I am concerned that many small towns and restaurants will close down for winter. Is this so? Or should we book ahead and go for it?

Nov 14, 2014
lecker in France

Help with the London trip that never happened...

I've only eaten at Dishoom in Shoreditch and can recommend it for a fun, lively place for Indian food and cocktails. Expect a line if you go in the evenings. I have eaten at Koya and I don't really understand what all the fuss is about. Maybe if you are an avid Udon fan, that is the only place to get Udon here. I'm not sure. I have heard that Koya's backbench dinner is worth a trip, but that happens once or twice a month. And I don't think Udon is the focus.

As for hand-pulled noodles, I have tried one place that is a tiny noodle bar called Lanzhou noodle bar near Leicester Square. I think their sign is only in Chinese. It was recommended to be by couple Chinese folks who said their pulled noodles are good. The place is a hole in the wall, kinda dingy, dirty and tiny. It's a eat-quick-and-leave kinda place. When I ate there, I was the only non-Chinese; everybody else ordered in Chinese so I assume they were Chinese or spoke the language fluently. Fortunately the waiter spoke broken English. I tried the hand pulled noodles with beef. It was okay. They also have the noodles that is in a big block that the chef cuts into little strips, flicked into the wok. I did not try those but I usually love those, if the broth that they are served in is good. It was a cold and rainy day when I went to Lanzhou and I was looking for something that would remind me of the amazing hand-pulled dishes I have enjoyed in Asia. This place didn't satisfy my craving at all. But maybe I ordered the wrong dish or I should have tried the knife-cut noodles. However, if you are looking for noodles, convince your wife away from Wagamama and give this place a try (why waste a meal at Wagamama?). You may order better than I did at Lanzhou. There are other hand-pulled restaurants in Chinatown that may have better options but I am concerned that I may be disappointed so I haven't yet tried those.

I have eaten at Yauatcha and thought their downstairs atmosphere, drinks and service trumped their food quality. But I know that others here rave about their food...

If you're looking for ramen noodles near Soho or chinatown, there are quite a few places. Of the ones I have tried, I go back to Bone Daddies more often than the others. Their Soy Ramen and T22 are tasty. Both are in chicken broth. Sometimes the T22 can be a tad too salty for me. But then their selection of sake by the glass helps remedy that. I also love their sticky, sweet pig bones as a starter. What I also like about Bone Daddies, aside from their sake, are the fresh garlic cloves and sesame seeds that you can grind directly into you ramen. They also provide a plastic bib and hair ties for long hairs. All these little details remind me of Japan.

Nov 14, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

New Pierre Herme shop opened near Seven Dials

Unfortunately, it's just chocolates, macarons, boxed truffles, and Christmas cake, shipped in from France. Chocolates and macarons seem to be the only things you can buy solo; the rest seem to be in boxed sets. They also have some of his books and a few other odds and ends. I went back yesterday to purchase a few more macarons and chocolates; the cold weather makes me crave sweets and chocolates. I hope the cold weather doesn't last too long here.

Nov 14, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

New Pierre Herme shop opened near Seven Dials

I was walking back down Monmouth and noticed the Pierre Herme shop, which was not there last week. I popped in and chatted with the friendly salespeople. Apparently they just opened last Saturday. For those shopping near Covent Garden/Leicester Square, now there is both Laduree and PH within an easy walk. Just in time for the holiday shopping. Of course, I had to make a petite purchase for my journey home.

Nov 11, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Wonderful "not fancy" asian places in London ?

Well, that works for me; I'm feeling rather old-school lately. Your memories of "Beatles-era Chinatown" sound much more appetizing than the Kraft's mac n cheese, Campbells soups, and Swanson's frozen dinners I grew up eating in the U.S.

I remember seeing a crispy duck served at Yauatcha. When I asked if it was supposed to be quasi Peking Duck, I was told that it was crispy duck, a 'big' thing in Britain. I do love fried and confit so I'm curious to try it.

Safe travels.

Nov 07, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland
1

Wonderful "not fancy" asian places in London ?

Count me in too. Although I am not a big fan of Cantonese or Chinese food in general, reading everybody's posts here has certainly piqued my curiosity to see what's available in London. Are you thinking purely Chinese or anything in the environs of Chinatown?

Nov 06, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Where do you shop when you need new cookware or a new knife in London?

Thanks everybody! You have given me so much to consider. Gareth, yes I would love to fly to Japan and go shopping for knives and eat amazing food but alas, I am relegated to London or it environs for now. We lived in Japan and most of our knives are from there; the rest are from Germany. I usually use the Takamura Blazen or this other more "ergonomic" Japanese blade because it seems to fit my smaller hands better than the other knives we have that were all sized to fit my hubby's hands. He is the cook in the family, but I am thinking about changing that.

Yesterday I stumbled into Nisbits near Seven Dials. Apparently that's where the restaurants get their supplies. I handled a few of their knives, preferring the Global Sai and G series; they fit my smaller hands better. Before entering the shop, I was looking for a 8 or 10 inch chef's knife, similar to what I had used at the LCB class I just took. The LCB chef instructor had told me that I could do pretty much all I needed in the kitchen with a good chef's knife. Admittedly, after using the bigger knife in the class, our Takamura knife at home seemed so small in comparison. I realize it's not all about size but after handing the bigger knife in class I thought a bigger knife was better. I know it makes no sense. And, I thought that with a longer blade knife it would be easier for me to chop in the cradle-manner that most chefs and cooks seem to do, and which I haven't quite figured out how to do. But yesterday, while speaking with a salesperson at Nisbits, he informed me that the blade of the knife determines how one chops and that the Japanese knives are meant to be used up and down and not front and back like the more curved bladed chef's knives. So basically, it seems that with the two Japanese knives I have been using, I can chop without rocking forward and back. Is this true? I thought chopping the way I do, guillotine style, was bad for the knives...

So now, after all your suggestions, I am thinking that I need to take a knife skills class to learn more about knives and how to take care of them and how to chop properly before I invest in a pair. We have knives but because they were all purchased by my husband, they are sorta like his knives. Not that I can't use them but.... I never imagined that I would ever want to purchase a knife for myself but now that I do I see buying my first knife as an investment and not just a purchase. So I think I need to do a bit more research. So, has anyone taken any knife skills class that you would recommend?

Also, has anyone had experience with the Vogue casserole dishes? They are at Nisbits, look exactly like the Creuset cookware but without the Creuset name stamped on it. At a significant price difference from Le Creuset, I just wonder if the difference is more than just the branding... I want to pay for quality but if the Vogue dishes are coming off the same assembly line or have the same specs as the Le Creuset, I am willing to give it a try.

I have only walked by the Japanese Knife Company and peered inside longingly, but I felt a bit intimidated to ring the bell and seek entry. I might feel a bit more comfortable going in, after having taken a knife skills class and learning a bit more about knives and what I want. Now that I am turned on by cooking, I am discovering a whole new world of gadgets and things I never knew I was missing...dangerous....

Thanks everybody! I appreciate all your suggestions and your insights.

Oct 31, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Where do you shop when you need new cookware or a new knife in London?

Having recently become enlightened with the potential powers of cooking at home (thanks to a recent cooking class), I am looking to purchase a good quality chef's knife that I can use every day and a nice-sized braiser like a small rondeau, or cocotte ideal for preparing roasts or meals for two persons. I assume Liberty, Selfridges, and John Lewis have cookware but I am wondering if there are any cookware-specific shops in London I should also check out? I researched and found Divertimenti and Gill Wing but haven't yet visited those shops. Are there any other shops or places I should also visit? Which are your favorite shops? Thanks in advance for any tips you may have.

Oct 30, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Ippudo - London

As the weather turns colder, I will be craving a nice bowl of ramen to keep me warm. I am still searching for my favorite ramen shop in London. Having only tried Tonkotsu, Shoryu, and Bone Daddies thus far, I will give Ippudo a try. Thanks for the review.

Oct 30, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Please critique my unfinished itinerary + some more..

Salt Yard is achievable without reservations, if you pop in between the lunch and dinner times. Between 16-18 is a good target time. Around the corner from there sits Lima, a very good Peruvian restaurant. Not sure if you have had lots of Peruvian food before but London has a surprisingly healthy mix. Reservations are a must for Lima but if you get there early enough and your group is small, you might get lucky and snag a table or a place at the bar.

Yauatcha, IMHO, has great service but I didn't think their food was anything special. Yes, it is presented well and the place looks clean and more orderly than many of the Chinese places in Chinatown, however, I found the food to be a bit disappointing. Would I go there for a cocktail and to sit downstairs and view the full-bar-length aquarium? Yes. Would I go there if I wanted amazing food? No.

Oct 30, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

The Cooks House , Good Burmese- Herne Hill (London)

Feastfinder: Their takeaway menu lists Tues-Fri 15:00 to 23:00; Sat to Sun 12:00 to 23:00; Monday closed. However, Sunday afternoon (around 13:00ish), when we thought about grabbing a quick lunch, their shop was still closed. Fortunately the Herne Hill farmer's market, around the corner, was in full swing and we grabbed some bites from there. Since you do not live in the hood and would be making a journey, it may be wise to call them ahead to make sure they are open. 02086169161.

Oct 21, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

The Cooks House , Good Burmese- Herne Hill (London)

Hi Zaol, Michele here. Thanks again for posting that you deliver. As stated, my husband and I just moved into the area and your posting came just in time. We love the fact that you are so close to our new home.

Last night we tried the Shan Chicken, which had a bit of fire to it for me but my husband likes it a bit more blazing so he pimped it up with the chili oil you provided. We also had the Pickle Tea leaf salad, with was my favorite. I could eat it as a daily meal, but, as you said, maybe it is better for lunch. We also tried the coconut noodle, which had just the right sweetness and comfort that my husband drank the entire soup after we ate all the noodles and chicken. The cassava cake was delicious as well. We didn't really need dessert but I am glad we ordered it to take home with us.

We are looking forward to our next visit when we can try more of your Burmese dishes. Thanks again and good luck with your other projects!

Oct 17, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Wonderful "not fancy" asian places in London ?

If you are in London on a Sunday, a good area to check out for those types of cuisines would be Brick Lane. The Sunday food market at Truman Brewery has plenty of stalls offering Chinese, Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, etc. at student prices. Depending on how hungry you are, you can have all three cuisines for lunch. If you walk further up Brick Lane, towards Shoreditch, there are plenty of pop up stands offering other food/drink. The duck confit and the rib man stands always seem to have mega lines. Get there early because once the food is gone, they close up their stands.

Oct 14, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Interesting "foodie supplies" stores in London – spices, bulk choholate, speciality cheeses etc..

Japan Centre at Piccadilly has good selection of Japanese products and almost all their staff seem to speak Japanese. I have seen Yuzu juice and other interesting ingredients there. I don't know how their shop prices compare to the Japanese shops out in Ealing, where many Japanese expats apparently live. I haven't been out to Ealing. I shop at Japan Centre because of its convenient location. There is also another shop in Chinatown that sells Japanese products on the second floor of their shop. Sorry but I can't remember the name of the shop. This shop has Japanese/Korean on the second floor, Indonesian/Malay products in basement and Chinese products on the first floor. Does anyone know the name of this place? I prefer Japan Centre to this shop but they might have other ingredients that you might be looking for.

I have seen lots of spice shops for Indian/Bengalese, etc. around WhiteChapel and along Bethnal Green Rd between Brick Land and Bethnal Green station. I would think you would get better prices here because the local shoppers seem to know the merchants and they seem to haggle. This is just an observation from someone who doesn't speak any of the foreign languages spoken in these areas, but the locals who do speak it seem to be particular about what they are buying and how much they are expected to pay for it....

Androuet at Spitalfields Market is close to where I am staying so I shop from them often. They have a huge selection of French cheeses, which are my favs, but they do have a few UK cheeses on offer. I noticed that the markets like Borough and Broadway have several cheese stands as well, but they all seem to offer similar selections. I think Androuet's selection of cheeses is the best that I have seen so far in London. Their staff speaks French and are extremely helpful.

There'a an Asian market on Hackney Road, around the corner from the Shoreditch Church. I can't remember the name but it looks relatively new. They had Vietnamese green rice, which I don't see often in Asian markets, and they also had tempeh, which looked better than the tempeh I found in Planet Organic. If you like interesting spices/condiments, you may find something there that other Asian markets do not carry.

The only patisserie supply shop I have visited is on Liverpool Rd in Islington/Angel, a couple doors down from the Waitrose. A baker friend of mine was in search of brushes for her cakes and she brought me along to the shop.

Hope this helps.

Oct 14, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Visiting chefs heading to Lyle's in Nov for two special dinners...

Just heard about this event to be held at Lyle's in Nov, in case anyone is interested and a fan of some of these other chefs from London and abroad...I just copied a part of the newsletter below:

On Friday 7th November and Saturday 8th we're hosting two special dinners at Lyle's to celebrate game season, aptly called GAME. We've asked some of our favourite London-based chefs to come cook with us and are flying in a few guests from abroad for the occasion. Joining James in the Lyle's kitchen are Brad McDonald (The Lockhart), Junya Yamasaki (Koya), Thomas Lim (Goldie's, Los Angeles), Isaac McHale (The Clove Club), James Henry (Bones, Paris) and Fredrik Berselius (Aska, NYC), with more names to be announced over the next few days along with ticket info. We will start taking reservations next week.

Make sure to sign up to our GAME newsletter on game-london.com and keep an eye out for further details on our Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Oct 08, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Upcoming London Restaurant Festival - Any Thoughts?

Is this similar to Restaurant Week in the U.S. and other parts of the world?

Oct 08, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland
1

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

I've decided to take the plunge; I signed up for an essential cooking class at LCB. If they're not able to help me, I will abandon all hope and sign up for one of those meal-delivering services.

My dear, patient hubby has to "bring home the bacon...And fry it up in a pan... Do you remember that commercial from the 80's? I always thought bringing home the bacon was the most important part; totally forgot to learn how to cook. :-)

Oct 06, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

One more dinner in London

I don't understand the hype about St.Johns; a group of us tried it and none of us were impressed, but to each his own...

If you are up for a little adventure, maybe you could try a supper club. I am planning to check one out this weekend.
http://www.edibleexperiences.com

Two Japanese places that I have on my list to try but haven't yet are Dinings and Umu...in case you are still searching for Japanese recs...Some folks really rave about Koya. I have had lunch there (I thought it as just okay; I don't understand all the drooling about this place), but I haven't tried their backbench dinners, which is supposed to be 'amazing'.

Otherwise, you could play it by ear, walk around your favorite neighborhood, check out menus and try to snag a walk-in place at the bar... Good luck; I know how frustrating it can be when you're trying to book and have no luck. There are so many restaurants in London; you'll find something great.

Oct 06, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

One more dinner in London

That's good to know; thank you. I wonder how celebrity chefs who branch out to more than one location manage the quality of food at their locations. Just because one is a talented chef, IMHO does not mean one is also a talented teacher able to teach and mentor others effectively. I think this explains why celebrity chef restaurants in different cities can be very underwhelming. My ideal is going to a restaurant where the chef is resident, is actually doing the cooking and not just following a formula marketed by someone else. Does that make me old fashioned and out of touch with what seems to be the norm now?

Oct 06, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

One more dinner in London

Depending on how much time you will have here, you could always journey up to L'Enclume. That was recommended to me and is on my list to try. Not sure how that would differ or compare to Fera. But I hear the Lake District is a beautiful area.

I prefer Ottolenghi to Nopi. But maybe I was just expecting too much from Nopi. There is a new place called Mission in Bethnal Green, which I tried last night. I wouldn't say it is mind-blowing good, but it is a bit off the beaten track and a neighborhood place that I could easily see becoming a regular destination once a week, sort of like a comfortable dinner place close to home.

Oct 05, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Yauatcha in Soho

Although I am not a fan of Chinese food in general, a Foodie friend raved about this place and insisted that I try it; so I gave it a try for lunch. Without reservations, another friend who had never been and I arrived at 12:30. The restaurant was relatively empty and we were seated immediately downstairs. By 13:00, the downstairs was full. I have no idea what the upstairs was like. Because my friend likes Cantonese food, can read Chinese and has more experience eating Dim Sum on a regular basis, I gave her free range to order for the both of us. She ordered:
Spicy pork Szechuan wonton
with peanut
Prawn and beancurd cheung fun
Fried chilli squid
with oatmeal and curry leaf
King crab Shanghai siew long bun
with pork
and a pot of Jasmine Tea to washed it all down with.

When the waiter asked if we had any allergies, I replied that I was allergic to Shellfish. He looked at me as if I was not quite right. He looked at my friend, my friend looked at me and I looked at the waiter and replied, "Yes, I am allergic to shellfish but it's okay; today's my cheat day and I accept my risks." The waiter patiently repeated each of our orders and remarked on the shellfish content of each. I reassured him and said that I understood. As the dishes were brought out to us, each server remarked that he/she had heard that I had an allergy to shellfish and that that dish had crabs, shrimps, etc. The waiters even pointed out to me which of the side sauces and condiments contained a bit of shellfish. I was very surprised at how attentive and concerned they seemed to be. I reassured them that I understood and that I would accept full responsibility. Yauatcha's service was surprisingly great.

Now on to the food...As I stated above, I am not a fan of Dim Sum. I have been taken to the "best" dim sum restaurants of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, NYC, etc., but I just don't like it. After eating at Yauatcha, I still am not crazy about it. Of the four dishes we had, if I had to choose the one I liked the best, it would have to be the Chili squid dish, which, for the first part of my meal, I thought was prawns. Yes, I thought it was prawns, until my friend corrected me and said, "No, that's squid." At first I thought, "Gosh, is this the early onset of Alzheimers?" But then I realized why my brain was initially convinced that it was prawns. The fried oatmeal coating on the squid reminded me of the creamy, buttery fragrance of butter prawn dishes that I enjoyed eating in Singapore. So as soon as I took a bite, my little brain immediately associated it with a previous meal that tasted similiar-Singaporean butter prawns. I found the slightly sweet, crispy coating with a hint of chili addictive and hard to stop eating. My friend thought the Cheung fun was more interesting and different than what she normally eats. I found the skins on both the XLB and the wontons too thick and both of their broths weren't that inspiring. As I was eating these dishes, I kept thinking about the other restaurants where I have eaten similar dishes and where they were so much better.

For dessert, we ordered six macarons and a pot of blue tea. Of the six macarons (Rose, Lavender and Honey, Sesame, Chili Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Pandan), both of us preferred the Rose and Salted Caramel; the other macarons didn't work for various reasons (taste, filling texture, filling flavor, etc.). The waiter observed us dissecting the Chili Chocolate but not being completely satisfied with it, so he surprised us by bringing us a Champagne macaron, which tasted much better than the chili chocolate one. Again, I give them high marks for their service.

The two tables around us ordered the set menu, which included crispy duck roll. Because my husband loves eating duck, I would consider going back to this restaurant to try their crispy duck. Also, the downstairs has a full bar-length aquarium, which is unique and something my husband would enjoy. Their wine and cocktails menu also looked interesting, but we did not try them at lunch (mainly because my friend doesn't drink.). If I were to return, however, I would not order again any of the dishes that we had...with the exception of the fried squid, just for the coating, which I would eat again.

I give them kudos for their attentive, friendly service, their extensive cocktail and wine lists, and a lively, hip atmosphere. Also, our lunch lasted four hours because we were chatting and taking our time. During this time, we never felt rushed or as if we had to eat quickly and leave. After the initial lunchtime crowd came and went, a later lunch group of diners joined in for a leisurely late lunch. However, based on my initial visit, I would not recommend the place for amazing and decadent food, which is what my Foodie friend described it as. Okay food, interesting atmosphere? Yes. But this is probably because I am a bit biased about Chinese food. If you are not, then you may really like and love this place.

Oct 04, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

Thanks Zuriga1! This is so helpful. I see skyco has Mott's applesauce. :-) Umm, if you saw me trying to cook in the kitchen, you would definitely steer me towards the living room or garden; I think I was MIA when the cooking genes were being created.

Oct 04, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

One more dinner in London

Maybe I'm too old or a bit jaded, but 'mind blowing dinner' seems pretty unattainable..Kudos to you for looking for it. Of the restaurants I have tried in my limited time here, Story and Lyle are the ones that I would recommend for something a little better than average. Clove Club is on my list, but I haven't tried them yet. Maybe that would fit your criteria. They did recently receive their Michelin star, if that matters to you.

I was trying to think if I would describe any of the meals I have had as mind-blowing and the ones that come closest are the restaurants I have tried in France, Italy, Japan and the U.S. If you do find your ideal 'mind-blowing dinner' in London, I would love to read your report. Enjoy!

Oct 04, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Kurobuta (London)

Izakayas in Japan are something that is hard to replicate in other parts of the world, although I did experience a few good in Taipei and NYC many years ago. Of course, it was always something we stumbled into so if I had to go back now, I probably wouldn't be able to find them again. I lived in Japan about ten years ago, a little after you husband. My husband and I love reminiscing about our times in Japan and their level of quality, which we have found is unmatched in other parts of the world. If you and your husband are up for it, we should try a few izakayas together. I have also been wanting to try yoisho but they were closed on the day we walked by and so we ended up at Salt Yard.

Oct 04, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Kurobuta (London)

I haven't tried them yet. I think I am a bit biased, especially when I read their claim to be the first Japanese Izakaya in London. When I hear Izakaya, I think small, little hole in the wall where the one chef, usually a bit older and wiser, doesn't speak a lick of English, where there is no written menu except a few wooden slates on the wall with Kanji and katakana/hiragana that lists the daily specials, where every inch of the back wall seems to be covered with bottles of sake/shochu. Well, I should say those are the Izakayas that i have enjoyed the most in Japan and other places. So, based on that bias, when I read Kurobuta's claim, I can't help but raise my eyebrows and think, "uhhhh huhhh..." But I will try to keep an open mind and try them, when I have a chance. The menu does look interesting and I do love eating Kurobuta, which they seem to have on their menu.

Oct 02, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this here, but I am not a cook. However, I love homemade apple sauce so I may try to make it, following your directions, or I could just ask my hubby. He makes sautéed apples for breakfast, and I love eating those. The apple sauces I did see here seem to have lots of other ingredients in them. Mott's natural is my favorite because it only has the key ingredients. I know what you mean about pb and mayonnaise. I prefer Adams or Skippy and Hellman's. The mayo my husband bought here tastes a bit lacking in comparison. Maybe it's just that I'm not used to it. Yes, the longer I live abroad, the less attachment I have to the American products I grew up with and thought I couldn't live without. Nowadays, however, I am surprised to find more and more US products all over the world, albeit with a steep price tag. I almost fell over when I saw the price of spam and Campbell's can foods in Japan. Craziness! Just in case I get nostalgic for comfort food, what are the sites you use? :-)

Oct 02, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland