London: crudo and pasta at Veneta

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SaltYard Group, the company behind favourites like Ember Yard and Opera Tavern recently opened a restaurant in the newly redeveloped area of St James’s, just next to Swedish Aquavit actually. Called Veneta it has a distinct Italian, and Ventian, cuisine, compared to the other restaurants with a more Spanish menu.

I assume it’s because of my frequent visits to Opera Tavern (I wonder how many times I’ve eaten their mini pork and foie gras burger) that I was on the mailing list for Veneta’s soft launch.Either way, I was quick to book a table and went there one night after work with my friend Ro.

As it was a soft launch they offered 50 % off food in exchange for trying things out on us, and requesting feedback.

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Just like the other restaurants in the group, Veneta’s menu consists of small dishes perfect for sharing. I was super excited to see a whole section of the menu devoted to crudo, i.e. raw fish and seafood, which I love and we quickly ordered the raw red prawns with rosemary (top photo). They were plump and sweet and very fragrant from the rosemary. Lovely! Next time I want to try the raw red prawns with lardo.

Next we had the tortelloni, filled with red prawns and served in a seafood broth. It was nice but didn’t blow us away.

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The goat kid ragu with pappardelle however, did. It was just amazing and I predict it will become one of their signature dishes (if it isn’t already!).

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The salt baked carrots and beets with sheep ricotta, date purée and oregano was lovely and the plate was as pretty as a picture. It’s fun to see the vegetable dishes getting as much care and attention as the meat and fish dishes.

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The lamb with chard, lamb fat crisps and caprini fresco cheese was another amazing dish I’ll come back for.

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For pudding both Ro and I were set on having one of the amazing sounding sundaes but they were all sold out (sob) so we had a rethink and settled on fritelle doughnuts for Ro and tiramisu for me.

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The doughnuts were rather compact and chewy but that could have been intentional, as neither of us have had Italian doughnuts before. The taste was lovely though and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and jam works every time. The tiramisu was really nice but lacked a little in presentation I thought.

I could definitely see some teething problems here, like the tables being too close together (it felt like we had dinner with, not next to, our neighbours) and the waiting staff didn’t seem to have worked out a routine yet, but that’s also the whole point of this trial run soft launch.

Food wise I think the savoury dishes were very good and thought out, whereas the puddings could have done with a little more work, however I’m still intrigued by those sundaes and hope they haven’t sold out on my next visit.

I have already planned my meal. Definitely lots of crudo, the kid goat ragu and the lamb. And that ice cream.

Veneta, 3 Norris St, St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4RJ

London: Loved every bite at Kricket Soho

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It feels like almost every day a new fun restaurant opens its doors in Soho. Maybe not quite, but I love how this part of London evolves quicker than the rest.

One of the latest additions to Soho’s Denman Street is the opening of Kricket Soho. Kricket started out in a shipping container in Brixton and created such a following with their trendy Indian dishes that they opened a proper restaurant in Soho.  My friend Felicity, and also my dinner companion this evening, has frequently visited the Brixton restaurant and so was my menu guide here.

Some dishes were completely new additions to the menu, which our waiter kindly highlighted for us. And when I queried if the Grüner Veltliner would work well with the food he poured us a taster so we could decide. And yes, the slightly fruity (but not sweet) Grüner Veltliner complimented the array of dishes perfectly.

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Our first dish of the evening, and a must for Felicity, was the bhel puri – one of their classics consisting of puffed rice, raw mango, tamarind, sev and yoghurt. Sublime!

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The Hyderabad baby aubergines with coconut and curry leaves we had next were nice, but lacked a little oomph compared to the other dishes, we thought.

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The Lasooni scallop with goan sausage, poha and seaweed (we had one each) were really nice! Perfectly cooked, the roe still attached and full of flavour.

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Next we had another seafood dish; butter garlic crab with seaweed papad (papadums) which was also delicious. It was served warm but we still had some left towards the end of the meal and it was just as nice cold.

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The kathi roll with duck leg was utterly moreish and perfectly paired with the peanut chutney and pickled cucumber.

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Although it may not look that special, this kulcha bread with bone marrow and cep was amazing!

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The last dish we had were these grilled lamb chops that we could see on the pass when we arrived and I knew straight away from the smell that they would be delicious. They certainly were and the two sauces; yoghurt with black stone flower and wild garlic chutney were lovely too!

Although using lots of Indian flavours and ingredients there is definitely an element of cross-over here, by using wild garlic and creating dishes full of flavour but not too spicy. I’m sold! And will be back shortly. Probably with Felicity as we both loved it!

Kricket, 12 Denman Street, London W1D 7HH

London: Shackfuyu

As proof that time is passing at what feels like the speed of light, here’s a post I meant to publish at the end of the summer last year when I’d just enjoyed my birthday meal at Bone Daddies’ Shackfuyu. I love this type of food that I would describe as Japanese junk food and the restaurant calls Western Japanese food.

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My friend Ro and I met up for a drink at then newly opened Café Monico before heading over to Shackfuyu. We were both really hungry and ordered away. First up was padron peppers. Not much to say about them really; they’re always lovely!

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Next we had the Korean fried wings which were nice and hot, just very messy to eat!

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The imo fries, crispy sweet potato fries, with yuzu mayo were also lovely.

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And by the time we had the sashimi it was a lovely palate cleanser with its fresh flavours.

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At the beginning of the meal the food arrived at a fast and steady pace but when it was time for the last two dishes – the heavier ones – we waited for approximately 40 mins. Not great and it wasn’t communicated very well to us either. It was just a shame as we then started to feel full before the rich meaty dishes finally arrived. We still managed to enjoy them though, but it was a bit of an effort trying to finish them!

The sukiyaki style wagyu picanha was amazing but so so rich. It was piping hot when it arrived, cooking the beef in the stone bowl at the table. When it was cooked we mixed it all together and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet sticky sauce enriched with an egg yolk and the enoki mushrooms. A must-order dish!

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The sticky fatty lamb ribs with pickled plum miso glaze were also full of umami and finger-lickin’ good.

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We were beyond full at this point but still had to order the Kinako French Toast with matcha soft serve ice cream. It’s probably the most instagrammed dessert in London and very very good, even when you’re so full you’re about to explode!

Shackfuyu, 14a Old Compton St, London W1D 4TJ

 

London: dim sum at Grand Imperial

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Luckily all my friends appreciate good food, but out of them Gaby is definitely my dim sum buddy! Last time we went for dim sum she introduced me to a new restaurant, and one of her favourites; the  Grand Imperial at The Grosvenor Hotel just next to Victoria Station.

We ordered most of their dim sum menu; xialong bao, pork buns, scallop dumplings and prawn dumplings, duck spring rolls with hoisin sauce and the most amazing turnip cake.

All the dishes were really nice and very authentic. Although it lacks the bustle of China Town, which I find charming, it’s very authentic yet more upmarket without being expensive.

Grand Imperial, The Grosvenor Hotel, 101 Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 0SJ

London: nachos, tacos and meat at Temper

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When I moved to London almost nine years ago (yikes!) I was a more modest foodie than I am know, partly because the restaurant scene in Malmö at the time was quite limited, especially compared to London but also compared to Malmö today.

Back then, nine years ago, I liked most places I tried in London (apart from the obvious bad ones like Garfunkels). Nowadays I’m more choosy but love to try new restaurants and eat things I can only dream of cooking myself.

Neil Rankin’s food at Temper falls into that category, but without being pretentious at all. When my friend Daisy and I came here for dinner on a Saturday night about a month ago the place was full with people chatting, good music and relaxed waiters explaining the menu. And in the middle of the room an open kitchen with chefs cooking the delicious meats.

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There is definitely a focus on meat here, chef Rankin is a barbecue expert, but without the excess you get in steak restaurants. Instead you pick as many 100 g you want of each meat and it’s served on top a flatbread to be enjoyed with all the great side dishes.

But back to the beginning. We came in, liked the atmosphere and sat down. Scanned the menu, chose a cocktail each and said yes to the waiter when he asked if we wanted some nachos (easiest question ever). The nachos arrived and we were really impressed as these are the most perfect nachos I’ve come across. It’s a small portion but since it’s loaded with meat, cheese and spice it’s the perfect amount to get you to start salivating over the rest of the menu.

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After the nachos is was time for tacos and we ordered two different ones to share. They were not as mind blowing as the nachos but still nice. My favourite was the top one with pork and pineapple but next time I want to try the ‘aged cheeseburger’ (!) ones.

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Next up was the famous meats and we decided on just 100 g each of beef and lamb to share but with all the starters and the sides it was plenty for two.

The lamb was tender and lovely – some of the best I had, but the beef was even more amazing. So tender and full of flavour it simply melted in the mouth. And together with the beef fat potatoes with cheese (amazing) I was in food heaven. We also had the corn salad (very good) and the grilled baby gem which was insanely good! The green sauce and chipotle sourcream were both nice sauces that went with everything.

We loved every bite of this and I can’t wait to go back for the meat, potatoes and that baby gem. Top marks to the chefs!

Temper, 25 Broadwick St., London W1F 0DF

Skanör: lunch at Stationen

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Most restaurants I visit back home are in Malmö, the biggest city in the area I’m from, but in the summer there are lots of smaller places scattered by the coast and in the countryside. In winter, not so much, but there are a few exceptions, like relatively new Stationen in Skanör. I had lunch with my friend Cecilia and Fredrik here one day at the beginning of the year and it was nice to see the restaurant was full, even in January.

All three of us ordered their classic burger with slaw and fries which was really nice and the portion was very generous too. On top of that coffee or tea and cookies were included in the lunch option. This is fairly common in Sweden and I think it’s really nice as you can sit for longer.

Bäckatorget 10, 239 33 Skanör

Malmö: lunch at the new food market

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When I was at home in Sweden for Christmas, everybody was talking about the new Saluhall (food market) that opened in Malmö in November. There used to be a food market in the centre of town when I was younger but it was redeveloped around 10 years ago. I really liked the old one, although it was more like a food court than a food market, but this new one is a good mix of both. It may lack Borough Market’s charm and diversity but I’m still really impressed by it. The space is used really well and although there aren’t that many vendors everything is there; produce, flowers and nice food. And everything is of the best quality.

My friends Malin and Emma  and I came here for lunch but next time I really want to buy groceries as well.

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The three of us had completely different lunches but ate together at a shared table upstairs. Most food stalls have seating but you can sit anywhere you find an empty table.

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I was absolutely starving (verging on hangry) and decided on a burger from Falafel & Burgers as I’d heard they were very good. And it was. it was rather greasy, but in a good way. Will definitely go back.

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Emma had a salad from her new favourite place Holy Greens. They have some really interesting flavour combinations, like this one with melon and mint.

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Malin was also starving and decided on a pizza.

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Hedvigsdal only have two pizzas on there menu (cheeky!) but apparently they’re so good one doesn’t need a bigger menu. Can’t wait to try one when I next visit. And love the fact that the pizza comes in a basket!

The food market is really nice and although not bang in the middle of town it’s a short walk away from the Central Station. It’s really buzzing here at meal times so I would suggest coming early or late to avoid queues.

Malmö Saluhall, Gibraltargatan 6, 211 18 Malmö, Sweden