London: Restaurant Ours

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One Friday night before it got cold out, I met up with Rowena after work for a drink at the bar at Restaurant Ours. We found some nice comfy bar chairs and just as we had ordered a glass of champagne each (to celebrate we survived the week!), the bartender asked if we wanted to eat and if so, he could find us a table. Sure, we thought, why not?!

We didn’t actually get a table, but the last two seats at the bar in the restaurant (not to be confused with the bar upstairs where we had drinks). We quickly decided we both wanted the lobster spaghetti (yum!) but to have starters as well.

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Ro had the excellent crab and apple starter, served IN an apple. It was a bit tricky to eat from but it’s a nice idea.

I had the steak tartare and enjoyed every single bite. It was almost as good as the one at Social Eating House, which is very high praise.

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After the starters we had a plate each of the creamy and delicious lobster spaghetti. Very enjoyable but I would have liked to see a bit more lobster meat.

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To finish off the meal we shared a bag of these light and fluffy salted caramel doughnuts. So good!

I really liked this place. The food is nice, the ambiance is great and so is the people watching. The service was good on the whole, although a little confused at times. Definitely a place to go on a buzzing Friday.

Restaurant Ours, 264 Brompton Rd, London SW3 2AS

London: Black Roe

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After the summer my friend Gaby gathered her closest friends to belatedly celebrate her 30th birthday with a dinner at Black Roe in Mayfair.

There were seven of us and as the food here is for sharing we divided ourselves into smaller groups, to make it easier to order.

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There were three of us in my group; Laura, Ro and me, and we shared all the dishes, except these oysters au gratin that only Laura and I had. If you like oysters, I highly recommend them – they were so nice we were scraping the sauce off the shell.

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Black Roe is mainly a poke restaurant (the trending Hawaiian fish dish) so we had their classic ahi poke (Hawaiian tuna with sesame soy marinade. So nice!

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Then we shared the sashimi salad which was also really nice but had a little too much dressing for my liking.

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Next up were the giant tempura prawns, served with coriander salsa and truffle aioli. I loved these!

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Then it was time for the pièce de résistance; whole lobster mac ‘n cheese and it was HEAVENLY. You have to have this if you go. Promise!

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Lastly we had the smoky lamb racks which were amazing as well!

I really enjoyed our dinner here and will definitely be back for more of that lobster mac ‘n cheese (and oysters, poke and lamb racks…). It’s not a cheap place but the portions are large so when you share it works out really reasonably. This amount of food was enough for three hungry girls, if that’s of any help.

Black Roe, 4 Mill St, Mayfair, London W1S 2AX

London: fabulous Frenchie

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It was a rainy evening the other side of summer when I met up with my old friend Mattias for dinner. He wanted to go somewhere new and fun and  I’m so glad I managed to grab the last two seats at Frenchie in Covent Garden that evening, because we had such a wonderful meal.

To avoid food envy we decided to share the snacks and starters (it was encouraged by the staff), choose the same main course and then share the puddings as well. I highly recommend this strategy as it’s easier to focus on the food when you get to try everything. And trust me, you want to try everything at Frenchie.

First up was the delicious egg Mimosa. Don’t they look stunning?!

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Then we moved on to maple syrup and bacon scones which were a-ma-zing!

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Then the first proper starter; green asparagus with parmesan crème, smoked egg yolk and puffed barley. A modern take on the classic asparagus with hollandaise and it was just heavenly.

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We then had the most tender squid, served with petit poi, white asparagus and raspberries. A rather unusual combination but it worked; spring freshness on a plate.

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When it was time for the main course we were simply stunned; the hanger steak was truly amazing, full of flavour and cooked to perfection. The artichoke purée and goat’s curd further elevated this star of a dish. I really struggle to describe it but it was one of the best dishes I’d had in a long time.

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The puddings were just as nice; and this dark chocolate crème with crumble and bacon ice cream is a must-order dish. Divine!

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The Brillat Savarin cheesecake with raspberries, pistachio and elderflower was also delicious and provided a nice contrast to the dark chocolate.

I simply adore this place and can’t wait to go back. Frenchie has everything I want when I go out for a meal; food that’s utterly delicious and chef-y enough that I can’t replicate it at home, as well as a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. Top marks!

Frenchie Covent Garden, 16 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8QH

London: brilliant Bao

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I’m a bit behind on updating this blog, and have been since probably the beginning of the year. My life seems to just speedily whirl by, and I’m left with lots of things to write about but haven’t got enough time to actually write. But sometimes I have a little window, and I try to really grab it with both hands and put these posts together. Wish me luck!

Anyway, I went to Bao  sometime in the spring, i.e. a very long time ago, but I still want to tell you about this great little place.

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Gaby and I queued for a little more than an hour, which is a very long time if you’re hungry, but passes quite quickly if you’re chatting away with a friend. Either way, it’s totally worth the wait.

We started off with trotter nuggets (brilliant idea!) with a tonkatsu type sauce that really cut through the pork flavour. Delicious!

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We then moved on the the baos (filled steamed Korean buns). Their ‘classic’ with braised pork and peanuts was utterly divine and my favourite. I actually ordered one more; it was that good!

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The confit pork bao sounded promising (I love any confit) but it wasn’t as good as the classic. Still nice, but I would skip this next time and go straight for the classic.

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We then had the fried chicken bao with mayonnaise, which actually came in a different type of bun, but it was also really nice!

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We didn’t have just buns though; we also sampled some of the small dishes on the menu, like the mushrooms and century egg. It was a real umami bomb and quite different. I liked it.

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But the scallop with yellow bean and garlic was even better. The powder was just delicious and the bean paste just worked so well together with the sweetness of the scallop.

Since we were here, Bao has opened up another restaurant, but the queues seem to remain at the Soho branch. But go with a friend, chat away in the queue and before you know it you can bite into these delicious baos. Yep. Worth it.

Bao Soho, 53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS

Taste of London 2016

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The week before last, Taste of London, the restaurant festival I visit every year, was on in Regents Park. It was nice like always, but I was still a bit disappointed. Some of the restaurants were not as exciting as previous years and didn’t deliver amazing dishes. Previous years it’s been a higher standard on the whole, so I hope it gets better again last year. With that said, I still tried some great dishes, but also a few disappointments. Reviews below.

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Parmesan and polenta croquetas with truffle dip from Duck & Waffle: crispy, seriously cheesy, far too rich and not enough truffle flavour. Pretty dull actually.

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Fettuccine with broad beans, Grana Padana and black truffle from Sartoria: nice pasta and generously sprinkled covered with black truffle it still didn’t impress.

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Barbecued lamm cutlet from Roka: really nice!

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Grilled pork belly with miso marinade, also from Roka: very nice!

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Soft shell crab taco from Champor Champor: not very nice, but like the idea.

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Baked scallop with mustard, chilli and cheese, covered with puff pastry from Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen: nice and different! But very filling.

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Raw red prawns with black curry and coconut crème from Restaurant M: nice flavours but the curry slightly overpowered the lovely sweet prawns.
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Bao with duck from Chai Wu: alright but now wow.

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Hotdog with truffled mac ‘n cheese bites from Bubbledogs: nice hotdog but couldn’t really taste the truffle (oil).

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Lamm meatballs with sheep’s curd from Seacontainers: OK, but nothing spectacular.

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Fried chicken burger with Asian slaw from Chicks ‘n Sours: nice!

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48 hr short rib with lovely trimmings from Restaurant M: absolutely lovely and in a class of its own!

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Bacon and cheddar burger from Shake Shack: nice enough but it doesn’t beat their Shackburger.

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SASA roll from Sushisamba: really nice! I’ve had it lots of times already, but it’s still great!

Restaurant M was a nice acquaintance, and having had the (two) SASA rolls I can’t wait to go back to Sushisamba soon, but some of the other restaurants were a bit disappointing. Hope it gets better again next year.

Taste of London, Regent’s Park – annual restaurant festival

Breakfast at The Wolseley

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Despite having lived in London for 8 years now (yep, time flies) I haven’t had the pleasure to eat breakfast at The Wolseley until this year. Bad planning on my part, obviously. But at least I’ve been there for several lunches, dinners and afternoon tea. But there is something special about breakfast in this fabulous art deco space with perfect eggs and perfect service. If you fancy reading up on the subject (and get the recipes), I highly recommend A.A. Gill’s book Breakfast at The Wolseleyit’s very good.

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For me, this is the ultimate breakfast experience because it’s so different from having breakfast in your own kitchen. There are lots of waiters and they’re there to pour water, take your order, serve the food and fetch you whatever you want. Their attentive and efficient and together with the perfectly executed food it makes it such a special experience.

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I had breakfast here with two of my best friends from Sweden when they were visiting. We needed some morning luxury and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast here with Eggs Florentine (spinach, poached egg and hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin) and an excellent bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

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We also enjoyed cappuccinos and freshly squeezed orange juice, and to finish this lovely basket of pastries. My favourite was the plain croissant, wonderfully buttery and flaky. If you also need this breakfast experience in your live (you do), I urge you to book a table well in advance as it’s a very popular weekend treat.

The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB

Meat feast at Zelman Meats, Soho

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The team behind the amazing meat restaurants Goodman (and Beast and Burger & Lobster) opened a new meat restaurant in the space where the fish restaurant Rex & Mariano (also owned by the same company) used to reside. In fact, they still use the Rex & Mariano crockery.

Zelman Meats (after the founder Mikhail Zelman) is a mid-market steak restaurant offering “All we do is beef, and we stick to what we know best” according to the website.

The menu is simple, with just a few starters, four different cuts of beef, sides and a few puddings. I like this simple no-fuss approach, which also makes the ambiance relaxed. It’s not white table cloths like Goodman, just good steak and sides in a relaxed restaurant.

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This is where to go to pig out on great steak, because the bill won’t be that bad and the meat is just as nice here as at Hawksmoor or Goodman. Take your date or a group of friends and just let your hair down. The staff is really friendly and relaxed but with a sincere passion for steak so they can guide you through the cuts and let you know what’s best served rare or medium.

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I came here with two colleagues for lunch, and as only one of us has a big appetite we ordered modestly to begin with, some delicious picanha and amazingly smoky and tender short rib. Once that was demolished we ordered more of the same and enjoyed it with crispy chips, salad and the two sauces on the menu. It was great and even the least meat eater out of the three of us (obviously not me) loved every bite!

Zelman Meats, 2 St Anne’s Court, London W1F 0AZ