Dinner at Fera at Claridge’s, Mayfair

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One of my favourite British cooking programs on television is definitely The Great British Menu and after seeing Simon Rogan cook one amazing dish after another I really wanted to try his food. Unfortunately it took until now as Roganic closed, but I am thrilled that he’s opened Fera instead.

Having been to the same restaurant when it was Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s it was wonderful to see the transformation. The ambiance is a lot more modern now with an open kitchen and sleeker design but it’s still a stunning room that works well with the interior of the rest of the hotel.

When it opened Fera only offered a tasting menu, and although it now has an a’la carte as well we preferred the tasting menu consisting of seven courses.

First, we had an lovely amuse bouche with an incredibly light and airy goat’s cheese mousse and pea shoots.

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The first course consisted of three bite sized dishes, the first being rabbit with lovage. The rabbit was incredibly tender but the coating crispy and although I’m not a fan of lovage in general but I must say it worked perfectly in this dish!

 

 

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Next up was mackerel, oyster and seaweed in a wonderful combination which tasted like the sea. Loved the presentation too.

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Smoked roe and red cabbage was next (although I had requested mine without cabbage). It was a lovely foam, both thick and light at the same time. Wonderful flavours!

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Moving on to larger plates we got to enjoy scallops with parsnip puré and hazelnits which was nice and autumnal.

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Raw veal with oyster, Wiltshire truffle, kohlrabi and apple was motley dish. The applepuré, although lovely, was very acidic and didn’t harmonise with the more subtle flavours but I loved the combination of veal, oyster and truffle.

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Lobster, kale, lobster cream and crispy pork was delicious. The lobster was perfectly cooked the mild cream lovely in flavour and the pork and kale made it feel very seasonal.

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Next up was sea bass, grilled leeks and razor clams. The charred leeks were lovely just like the razor clams but I thought the fish a little bland.

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The suckling pig with celeriac, watercress, sprout tops and mead was interesting. One of the pieces of meat was crisp and lovely whereas for the the other one had a bit too much of the soft fat. I love crackling but find soft fat has a strange texture that doesn’t appeal to me. The watercress reduction was amazing though. ‘Very one dimensional, but in a good way’, as Caroline put it.

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The first pudding was chocolate malt nitro wuth prune and dandelion. I had mine without prunes and it was utterly delicious, but Caroline thought the prune jam married well with the malty flavour.

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The finale was a wonderful creation of baked figs, gingerbread cream, crispy gingerbread and fig leaf yoghurt. Just delicious!

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We had coffee and tea after our meal and also received some petit fours. I think we were to full to properly appreciate them though. My favourite was the elderberry meringue but the others (liquorice, hazelnut jelly and ginger) were lovely too.

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Our sommelier was very helpful and recommended beautiful wines and when he saw our longing looks to the kitchen when another table got to go in, he offered to show us around. Needless to say we were over the moon! Thank you.

We had a wonderful evening at Fera. We were well looked after, the food was terrific and the atmosphere really nice. I definitely thought some dishes were stronger than others but overall everything was well cooked and utterly delicious.

Fera at Claridge’s, 49 Brook St, London W1K 4HR

Sticky ginger cake

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This slightly spicy sticky cake feels very autumnal and although I’m not wild about the dark musty flavour myself I realise that this is a very classic type of cake in Britain. It’s sticky and although I served like a cake on it’s own when I made it for the office it is often served with butter, almost like a bread. I love trying classic British recipes and although all are not to my taste I enjoy coming closer to the food culture.

It was my first time baking with treacle, which is surprisingly unsweet considering it is a sugar product.

Sticky ginger cake, serves 8-10

Adapted from the cookbook Cooking for Chaps.

175 g plain flour

110 g soft brown sugar

2 tbsp ground ginger

175 g black treacle

30 g butter

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125 ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter and line a 20 cm springform.  

Mix flour, sugar and ginger in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix treacle, butter, bicarb and boiling water. Mix until the butter is melted then pour the mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry. Remove from oven and cover with a clean tea towel for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.  

Lunch at Goodman, Mayfair

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There’s steak and then there’s STEAK. Goodman serves the one in capitals; the type of steak that is full of flavour and melts like butter in your mouth.

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As you can see, this is proper steak. Perfection.

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Good steak is one thing, but the sides are almost as important. Almost. It is so disappointing when you have a nice proper steak cooked to perfection but with average side dishes like slightly soggy chips and an awful sauce. But Goodman has got it; the chunky chips are utterly crispy on the outside and wonderfully fluffy within. The truffle chips I ordered also had a nice truffle taste, from oil, but still.

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The spinach was also nice and the portion generous and the mash was velvety and delicious.

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And the sauce past the test too. The bernaise sauce was thick and a nice acidity. Det ultimata testet är ändå alltid bearnaisesåsen.

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Goodman, 24-26 Maddox St, London W1S 1QH

For more steak, have a look at my Hawksmoor review.

London’s best burger! – lunch at Soho Diner, Soho

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I had my suspicions after my last visit, and after being back once more I can conclude that Soho Diner in my opinion has the best burgers in London. There I said it! It’s quite a big statement but they are so so good. When I dream about a burger it is this once that appears on my retina.

I haven’t tried every single burger in London, but out of the (quite a few) ones I have sampled Soho Diner is the clear winner.

On my last visit I came here with a colleague. We were both starving and went all out ordered quite a lot of (actually a bit too much) food. First a plate of nachos to share which was just as you want them; nice guacemole, delicious salsa, good tortilla chips and nice cheese.

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Then it was time for the burgers (my mouth is watering just seeing this picture)!. We both chose a double which illogically has three patties (a single has two) and it was almost too big for me. The last bites I ate out of pure will because it was so so good!

The patties have a nice flavour, are nicely packed and pink in the middle. Extremely juicy. The cheese is just perfectly melted and gooey, the dressing a nice addition that doesn’t overpower the other flavours and the brioche bun sturdy enough not to fall apart and soaks up the juices. This, my friends, is perfection.

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The thick fries are incredibly crisp and absolutely delicious too!

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Although we were extremely full after that big burger and fries we couldn’t resist the puddings. Max had a chocolate brownie which came out plain, I like the no nonsense approach here, and it was to die for.

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I should have known better than ordering a chocolate milkshake but in a weak moment I did. It was perfect too and I was sad I couldn’t finish it.

Soho Diner (Soho Kitchen & Bar),19-21 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JJ

Thai inspired lettuce parcels with mince, cucumber and chilli

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Sometimes, especially when the weather changes more or less daily between Indian summer and autumn, I find myself in the mood for something fresh and light but something more substantial than a salad. These little lettuce parcels with turkey mince, cucumber, spring onions and Thai flavours with a sweet chilli dip really hit the brief!

You don’t need to follow the recipe religiously, the most important thing is to taste the mince and find a good balance of flavours.I used turkey mince in these, since it is readily available in any supermarket but chicken mince or pork would work just as well.

I had some leftovers that made a great tortilla wrap for lunch the next day, I just put the dipping sauce in the wrap instead of dipping it and it’s just as delicious!

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Thai lettuce parcels with mince, cucumber and chilli, serves 4

500 g turkey mince

oil for frying

salt, white pepper

1 lime, juice only

1 1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 pinch of sugar

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

3 spring onions, chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

a handful coriander, chopped

2-3 little gems

Fry the mince in oil. Season. Mix lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the mince with spring onions, chilli and cucumber and add the lime mixture. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Add chopped coriander and fill the lettuce leaves with the mince mixture. Roll into wraps and dip in the sauce below.

Sweet chilli dip, serves 4

300 ml creme fraiche

1-2 tbsp sweet chili sås

a pinch of salt

Mix creme fraiche and sweet chilli sauce after taste. Season with salt.  

Lunch at La Bodeguilla, Palma de Mallorca

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Although I loved going back to two favourites, I also wanted to make sure to try a new (for me) restaurant in Palma. La Bodeguilla was high on my list and open on Sundays (result!), so I booked a table online for lunch.

I instantly took a liking to the place. Impossible not to when you’re greeted by a huge jamon ready for carving! The interior is cosy and semi-formal. It has white table runners and napkins but still feels relaxed. And walking into the restaurant you can sneak a peek into the kitchen behind the bar, which further adds to the relaxed ambiance.

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Seated we had a look at the menu and ordered some tapas to share and received an amuse bouche almost immediately after ordering the food. I actually don’t know what it was, but the creamy concoction was very nice!

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We had some classic tapas that were very well executed. The croquetas with jamon and ceps were full of flavour, but not as perfectly delicate as at Puro Chef. Still very nice though!

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The jamon bellota, was of course melt in the mouth delicious. I wish we had ham like this more readily available in the UK.

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The calamari was really nice too, the batter was light and very crispy and the fish very tender.

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The pan con tomate on granary bread was nice but I must say that I prefer it on white bread, that way the tomato make more of an impression, and doesn’t have to compete with the bread.

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The patatas bravas were also well executed, full of flavour and both sauces were spot on.

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We also had one proper cooked tapas; pig’s cheeks that were extraordinarily tender. They came with a jus and root vegetable puré which worked really well with the cheeks.

I will definitely come back to La Bodeguilla. The menu was a good mix of traditional tapas and more exciting ones and everything we had was cooked really well. It’s not as easy at it seems to cook simple food perfectly.

La Bodeguilla, Carrer de Sant Jaume, 3, 07012 Palma, Illes Balears, Spain

Two favourites in Palma revisited

During the last few years I have come to love Spanish cuisine. In London there are plenty of authentic and nice tapas around, at Barrafina, Barrica and the Saltyard group for example.

Palma has plenty of nice restaurants and it was especially two I couldn’t wait to go back to; Tast and Puro Chef.

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On Saturday we had lunch at Tast in the middle of the town centre. There are cold pinxtos at the bar to pick yourself and warm pinxtos and tapas on the menu to order. Further in there is a proper restaurant serving more filling maincourses but I prefer the all day bar menu. We ordered some pan con tomato because the neighbouring table had some and it looked amazing. And it was. Of the cold pinxtos we had crab mayonnaise with smoked salmon, white fish with pickled pepper and fried quail’s egg and beef with tomato and mayonnaise. The marinated camembert (looks like a fish tartar) was the only one we didn’t like – the others were amazing! From the menu we ordered a crab and gulas (mini eels) gratin each (so so good!), a kebab with monkfish, king prawn and peppers and a mini toastie with the local sombrassada sausage and cheese. All great!

I like the fact that Tast is unpretentious, nice but not fancy and that the food is consistently good. Everything is well-cooked but simple and you can pop in for a proper dinner or just a glass of wine and nibbles. The wines, by the way, are very good and very reasonably priced!

Tast, C/ Unión, 2, 07001 Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Puro chef

Another afvourite is Puro Chef in Santa Catalina. Here they take pinxtos to gourmet level, serve nice tapas, proper maincourses and puddings. I never seem to be able to order anything other than the amazing gourmet pinxtos and a few tapas to share.

The jamon iberico croquetas were the best I have ever had (and I have sampled my fair share). They came out piping hot, were incredibly delicate and creamy and of course the flavour was spot on. How they were able to deep-fry anything so soft is a mystery to me! The amuse bouche was a creamy concoction with tuna and eggs served on sourdough. Of the gourmet pinxtos we both had the scallops with paprika purée which was delicious. Laura had the anchovies and lime toast full of salty goodness that she really liked and I couldn’t help but order the crispy suckling pig with Spanish sauce that I fell in love with last time. And it was just as delicious as I remembered. But the star of the evening was a brand new pinxtos the waitress recommended to us. Octopus with potato foam. It was utterly amazing. The foam was rich and light at the same time and had the most amazing flavour and hidden underneath were pieces of wonderful octopus.

Puro Chef, c/ Sant Magí 66, Palma De Mallorca, Spain