Saturday, 16 October 2010


Heaven, absolute heaven. Could have had 3 of these. Why does no one make xuxos in this country?!


cinc sentits

What used to be the best olives I had ever tasted (marinated in house) but a tad too orangey this time, the best olives now are found at El Xampanyet.

The signature maple syrup shot.

Deconstructed pan mab tomate- liked it as before.

An interesting dish little cubes of very tasty fresh mackeral with cubes of cherry in a ajo blanco. The last time we were in Barcelona the thing was to use strawaberries in savoury dishes, not it seems it the cherry's turn.

I like this way of having foie gras, the texture of the pastry and the savouriness of the chives offset the potentially overwhelming richness of the dish.

My least favourite course primarily as I am not that fussed on red mullet. It was a pleasant dish even after I dropped my camera in it! The service was so attentive and gracious that I was offered another to replace it, of course i declined, touched though I was, and proceeded to tuck in, slighlty tipsy were we!

The long awaited suckling pig, again not the best version of this dish I have had, the crackling was too hard if such a thing can be?, but the meat succulent and soft and offset perfectly with apple, two ways.

I think we are spoiled in this country (UK) with cheese courses, so we found this to be a poor offering

Fun palate cleanser with space rock in it! ah the 80's..

Rich dense chocolate mousse could have done with being a bit sweeter

Some mini puddings all of which were inventive and good.

All in all a very pleasant meal, a little less impressive than before but maybe that's because I have had many of the dishes multiple times before and found them too comfortable? The service was excellent and the environment very calm. If I had a lot of time on a next visit to fit in other places i want to try out then I would come back but if I was pushed for time, I might have to try somewhere new until the menu changes significantly.


Thursday, 26 August 2010


What I have to say about this place will not go down well with some folk especially those who like Paul Kitching's previous venture, Juniper, down Manchester way.

I did not enjoy this meal, in fact I was relieved when it ended, and thats not happened in a long time. Call me old fashioned, call me a philistine, insult my intelligence but I failed to see the point. The Emperors new clothes perhaps.. I tried all of the many ingredients seperately, I tried them all together and I was not bowled over by either the individual quality or provenance of the ingredients, nor the techniques involved. As far as experimental goes I have had more interesting meals at Sat Bains or Maze, and certainly in Barcelona. At no point did I say mmh with delight or close my eyes with pleasure. This meal was not about good mouthfeel or happy tummy taste. It was about having to refer to the menu repeatedly to figure out what I had just eaten and wonder why I had been made to eat it.

The positives were the environment, a lot of money had been spent on the refurbishment and it showed. The staff were very helpful and friendly and maybe it was my imagination but I thought they were a little embaressed at having to explain why there is no wine pairing (too many flavours therefore too difficult) or why the coffee comes in paper cups(ranging from the chef is quirky to it retains heat better(!)). Katie was there and she is very personable but thats about all the positive I have to say.

Apologies for the photos they were taken on my iPhone.

The bread with no butter or olive oil for that matter. Fruit and curry paste essentially, and it wasn't even warm.

My first course of 'tender spicy pork fillet,smkoed bacon and sage,babyglobe artichokes, cauliflower and hazelnut oil, pinenuts, sweetcorn, carrot confit, mangetout, peas, HP fruity and dried orange' was not hot or warm but cold with some warm bits. I didn't know if that was intentional or not. It had been cooked sous-vide and cut up into cubes to match the cubes of carrot. The other annoying thing was the bowl it was served in, which made it difficult to cut up the food and to eat it. The portion size was also on the small side but given the fact I didn't enjoy it, wasn't a bad thing. The problem with it was the overwhelming taste of Sharwoods curry powder which I hate. Given the myriad of spice avaialable thee days and the potential versitility of pork it seems lazy and not retro to use this pedestrian flavouring.

HI's first course was 'creamy smoked risotto of gruyere cheese, smoked haddock confit,caviar and smoked salmon,cucumber,figs, brazil nuts,saffron,fresh dill and argan oil sauce' The haddock itself was creamy and again quite pleasant by itself but together with the rest of it was, meh?

HI had opted to have the soup course which worked out at £10 for a very small bowl of soup. Again it had about three layers of cream of celeriac with asparagus foam and something in between but although it was quite pleasant it was not different to any other asparagus veloutes that we have had.

My main was 'very tender fillet of beef with apricots and walnuts, white asparagus, button mushrooms and onions, blue cheese kebab, boiled rice sweet potatoes, with a sauce of spinach ,nutmeg and garden pea cream.' Indeed this sounds like not one dishes but two. The first half is quite a traditional combination of beef friendly ingredients but the second half? A gourmet version of a drunken visit to the kebab shop?
Again the meat was sous-vide which although gives a tender result makes it curiosuly devoid of any character, and again was cut into cubes. Which were to be eaten with this curiously bovine implement.

HI had the 'slowed baked fillets of young pink trout,tomato and melon confit,pasta twirls, almonds, parsnips, black sesame seed, kidney beans, grated courgette, parmentier potatoes, meaux mustard cream sauce,garlic mayonnaise, fresh mint'

I can't tell you what he thought about it becuase he said nothing about it which is never a good sign.

I had the cheese course and I guess I have been spoiled by the cheese trolly at Martin Wishart because I don't like having my cheese picked for me.

Having said that the portions were generous and the dried apricots were nice.

Then there was the cow with the porridge milk with lavender which was pleasant but tasted like my son's breakfast.

On to the puddings which were the best course of the meal.

I had the 'crispy baked lemon curd with ginger nut crunch, granny smith, soft vanilla sticky rice and sultanas and crabbies giger wine eggy anglaise'
The lemon curd was very good creamy and tart at the same time. This would have been enough by itself but was spolied by the additional sticky rice which unfortunately looked very similar to the bolied rice of my main course.

HI's 'layered classical italian trifle,marscapone cheese, summer soft red fruit puree, bananna,vanilla sponge, praline, coconut, oatmeal, kahlua and baileys white chocolate anglaise' was very good and had a bit of an alcoholic kick which by this point HI was in dire need of.

Suffice to say we shall not return. This is of course only my opinion as there were two men there who had been for lunch only the week before. However, I could not get the thought out of my mind that this was someones idea of a joke-lets give some folk who have foodie inclinations a mish mash of ingredients in some annoying crockery and sit back and laugh whilst they try to make sense out of it and give it praise.
Not for me.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Harwood Arms

I wish this place was my local. I hope the the folk of Fulham know how good they have it. We had some of the best food we have eaten in ages there. I would make the effort to come here again.

Can't say more than that..

Well I can, and I shall.

It's down a residential street and if you didn't know it was there, I don't know how you would stumble upon it. From the outside it looks like many other English pubs, inside it is the illegitimate love child of a tin of Farrow and Ball paint and a Wedgewood table setting.

They had recently divided the menus into lunch and dinner and two of the things I wanted the most were only available in the evenings. So, as I am want to do I emailed ahead, explained the situation and asked if we could have the snails and the vension platter please, pretty please. Gratifyingly the answer was, of course, and I am so glad they said yes as they were exceptional. I would go back for the snails alone. Or the vension rissoles, or the lamb cutlets or the rice pudding or the bread and butter ice cream.I think you see where this is going.

The venison platter. As you know HI loves all thing deer and this was a very good showcase for what can be done with venison. Particularly good were the rissoles again I could have eaten five of them.

The snails. I had requested these as they had been moved to the evening menu, and I was so glad I had. Soft and garlicky with a sliver of bone marrow on the top. Yum yum.

This was very good, the sort of dish you would want on a wet blustery day, beef cheeks with a very luscious mash and onion rings.

My lamb dish, which was the weakest of the lot. The lamb cutlets were amazing, tender and the quality of the meat was evident. I could have eaten five of these. The accompanying salsa verde, haggis and kale seemed misplaced.

This was a freebie a mininature pudding that they were thinking of putting on the menu, it was beautiful. It is not the sort of pudding I usually go for but I now would, rice pudding with rosewater jelly and passionfruit sorbet. Light, refreshing, intense.

Sticky toffee and date ice cream with caramelized brown bread and lemon curd. The only complaint I would have about this was that the ice cream was a bit too hard, and the flavour was best when it had melted slighlty.

Hawksmoor burger

Finally, after much anticipation, I had the Hawksmoor burger. Annoyingly it is only served during the week, and you may recall my attempt to get them to serve it to me whilst pregnant and dining on a Saturday. I think it is the only time my sweet talking has failed, and contrasts starkly to the accommodating FOH team at the Harwood Arms.

Anyway, I digress.
The burger is that good.

I think it's a tad overpriced at £15, if it were £12.50 you would think you were onto a good thing. I had it with the Ogelshield. What can I say: the bun was maybe the weakest part of it, I don't like sweet buns, my personal preference is sesame seed. The cheese was salty and strong, the burger cooked perfectly, charred on the outside, adequately rare on the inside. The juices flowed. The meat was ground coarse enough and it was possible to taste the different meats used as well as the bone marrow nuggets.

It is therefore, now my favorite burger displacing the Stravaigin burger from top spot. Of course, that is until I can get back to New York and do my own top five burgers of NY throwdown: shake shack vs diner vs veslka vs five napkins vs burger joint. One can dream..

St John Bread and Wine

Finally, here are some of the posts from our trip to London back in March!!

For our first adventure without his highness we popped into STJBAW to have a couple of starters before heading to the Hawksmoor. Again more took HI's fancy than mine, his choices are below.

fresh bread

blood cake with duck egg= posh black pudding

baked bone marrow- this was a bit fancier than their normal much feted roasted bone marrow, which bizarrely is not on the regular menu at STJBAW. This was a special and the bone marrow had been seasoned with some blood cake and was quite rich.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Nicks grill

I don't often eat pizza or pasta but this place is just round the corner from where my friend lives and she said it is always busy, so that usually being a good sign, we decided to go for lunch. It is owned by the same people who own Antipasti, and certainly one of Antipasti's staples, gnocchi with pesto featured on the menu. This was a generous size portion and would be a meal in itself. I prefer my gnocchi slightly more crispy, but the sauce was rich and tasty. The pizzas were thin base, could have been more crispy but the toppings were fresh. I had the parma ruccola, which measured up favorably to the one at the Big Blue.

If I ate pasta I would go there, for pizza I prefer Little Italy but for a sit down meal this is not bad. The denizens of Hyndland certainly seem to like it. Guess the walk to Byres road is just a bit too much.

Rumours Kopitiam

This is apparently the sister restaurant to Asia Style which is closed for refurb at the mo. Not knowing how long it is going to be shut we went into town, to Rumours, hoping to find some of our favourites. It's a very small place and was pretty busy for a Tuesday night.
The roti canai was great, very fresh with spicy curry sauce. The garlic chili prawns were more heavily battered than at asia style where they come with a light rice flour pepper coating, the portions were smaller but, it was a stater portion. The Malaysian style kung po had the taste of that pre-fried chicken coated in batter that you get in many small Scottish town Chinese restaurants. I didn't like it on the Tuesday evening but bizarrely on Wednesday the left overs were quite addictive?! The sliced beef in pepper sauce was very good, tender strips of beef in hot peppery sauce that tasted of cognac. We asked for morning glory done just in garlic and ginger and this was superb, very fresh.

I can't decide if I would go back. I kept comparing it to Asia Style which is unfair. I did enjoy it it and I certainly enjoyed the leftovers!


No photos for this one, but I ate pretty much what I had the last time, so you could look at those photos If you really wanted to.

Much the same as before-friendly chatty service. Excellent squid, perfectly cooked not a chew in sight. Very generous tasty fish and chips. Chips perfectly cooked again. All very tasty and congenial. Go.

velvet elvis

I like Pinxto next door although, I wish they would serve padron and some decent pan am tomate. The owner bought the premises next door to stave off competition and it seems to have worked.

The styling is retro cool and the service was very good. The little one was with us and they were very accommodating to us.

The lunch menu has a very good value offer two courses for ten quid.

I had the mussels off this menu, good size, not too many closed ones, no grit, creamy rich garlicky sauce-all very good for dunking bread in.

HI loves chowder but was disappointed by the selection of fish in his, it was altogether too lumpy and creamy for our liking.

The steak pie was huge and had decent bits of meat in it.

My burger was too finely ground for my liking and had other stuff (tomato lettuce relish) in it that I don't like. Stravaigin still wins.
So, yes if I was down this end I would definitely make a bee line for it, the lunch deal can't be beat.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

lazy blogger

Right, I have no excuse other than sloth to explain why I have not posted since February, well maybe a 9 month old baby and recurrent attacks of the lurgy are part of it but really come on, I must pull my socks up.

As a way to spur myself on here is a list of posts I need to do:

from the March(!) trip to London
St John bread and wine
Hawksmoor burger
Harwood Arms
La Trompette

from recent forays in Glasgow
nicks grill
rumours kopitiam
thai siam
bibi's canteena
velvet elvis


Monday, 15 February 2010

Asia Style

I know, I know. I really should start trying out some new places, but it's hard to, when you know that if you come here you are guaranteed a tasty meal. There were six of us which is an ideal number as it allows for mucho ordering of food.

The usual suspects prevailed.

Malaysian pancakes, we have gotten into the habit of asking for extra sauce which they are happy to provide no questions asked.

salt and pepper ribs, which are finger licking good

salt and pepper prawns

Interestingly the sichuan chicken which was very good, is different to the sichuan beef. The former comes in an addictive light crispy coating whereas the latter is thinly slice tender strips of beef, both of which are spicy and moreish

kangkong with ginger and garlic was tender and fresh

seabass, the last time we had this it came steamed with ginger and garlic and was very light, this time although we thought we had asked for the same thing it came with an abundant sauce all over it, still, very tasty.

crispy beef, I don't know why my friends insist on ordering this, as far as I am concerned it is a waste of a dish as it's all crisp and no beef.

all this and some beers for £16 each. you can't ask for better than this.