London: Scandi lunch at Aster

ast1.jpg

The building works near Victoria station has been going on for years, but now some parts of the development are finally ready. The rest is still a building site but the whole Nova area is brand new and quite exciting. There’s a Shake Shack (yum!), Franco Manca (yes, please!) and lots more restaurants to explore. The Scandinavian one was the first one I tried out, with my dear friends Gaby and Rowena for lunch one weekend.

Aster, as the restaurant is called, has a very nice interior (like all D&D London restaurants) and has a café area, restaurant area, bar and deli.

ast2.jpg

We had lunch in the café area but it still felt restauranty enough for a lunch.

ast9.jpg

With lots of familiar items on the menu it was difficult to choose but we got there in the end.

ast6.jpg

Gaby had the meatballs with potato mash, cream sauce and lingonberries. Really nice and I got a small case of food envy (even though my homemade meatballs are really nice too!).

ast3.jpg

I went for the smørrebrød (open-faced Danish sandwiches). One with pork belly, apple sauce and lovely crackling on rye.

ast5.jpg

And one with prawns and mayonnaise. The pork sandwich was lovely and ticked all the boxes but I was disappointed with the prawn sandwich. It tasted nice, but I would have expected at least the double amount of prawns. Smørrebrød always have more toppings than bread but here that wasn’t the case.

ast7.jpg

Rowena had the Aster Caeser salad with prawns, smoked vendace and rye croutons, but it arrived without the fish on the plate (!) and we had to ask for it. Then it took quite a while until the complete salad arrived and it was also smaller in size than the first one.

ast14.jpg

The food was nice though (not wow – but nice) so we had pudding as well. Rowena had the apple cake with custard above which was really nice.

ast13.jpg

And Gaby and I had a cinnamon bun each which was amazing. Still warm, buttery and lovely. We also spied people around us having afternoon tea which looked great so definitely want to go back and try that.

There are definitely a few tweaks to be done here, both when it comes to food and service (it was rather slow and wobbly) but hopefully it was all teething problems and it’s fixed now.

Aster restaurant, 150 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5LB

A proper Caesar salad

IMG_3172

Spring is here. At least occasionally and at day time. When the sun is shining and it is around 10 degrees C. (Let’s not talk about the temperature dropping to zero or below at night.)

Like the autumn makes me crave rustic soups and hearty stews, nothing is more satisfying to eat in spring than salads or new vegetables. And the ultimate salad for me is, without a doubt, the classic Caesar. I don’t like when people play around with classic recipes too much, but I do think the addition of chicken for a supper or a more substantial lunch works really well in a Caesar.

And what makes a really good Caesar salad for me, is of course the dressing. It can’t come from a jar, it just can’t.

I have a quick cheat recipe that works if you’re in a hurry, but nothing beats the proper stuff!

IMG_3173

Caesar salad with chicken, serves 2

2 chicken thighs

oil for frying

salt, pepper

4 slices smoked streaky bacon

1 1/2 romaine lettuce heads

10 cm ciabatta

butter and oil for frying

1 garlic clove, pressed

Parmesan shavings

Fry the chicken thighs on both sides. Season and fry in the oven for about 15 minutes, 200C. Leave to cool slightly. Fry the bacon crispy. Mix the dressing (see below). Wash and slice the lettuce roughly.Cut the ciabatta in cubes. Fry until crisp and golden in butter and oil. Lower the heat and add the pressed garlic. Take the chicken meat off the bone and chop roughly. 

Divide the lettuce between two plates. Add the dressing. Top with chicken and croutons. Add plenty of Parmesan shavings and place two bacon slices on top of the salad. Serve!

Caesar dressing

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 tsp dijon mustard

80 ml vegetable oil

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

1/2 garlic clove, pressed

1 anchovy, finely chopped

salt, white pepper

Mix the yolk with the mustard in a mixing bowl. Add the oil drop by drop while whisking. Add the lemon, Parmesan, garlic, anchovy and season with salt and pepper.