London: Champagne + Fromage, Covent Garden

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Having lived in London for 10 years now (eek!) I have accepted the fact that I will never ever feel up to date on restaurants regardless of how hard I try. There are simply too many restaurants opening and changing for me to keep up. Especially since I want to go back to my favourites from time to time too.

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So I love when my friends suggest a new place to try. I had completely missed the arrival of these cute French Champagne + Fromage spots all over town, but luckily my friend Mary-Lou had spotted one so that’s where we went one evening.

We arrived without a reservation (big mistake) but although the place was packed the staff eventually managed to find us a table. That’s great service!

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Other than that the concept is pretty clear; this is where you drink champagne (we tried a lovely Blancs de Blanc that was the wine of the month) and eat cheese. We had a cheese and charcuterie board with lots of bread which was lovely, but there are also some lovely cooked food on offer. The table next to us sampled about half the menu and it all looked amazing!

Champagne + Fromage, 22 Wellington St, London WC2E 7DD

 

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London: New York Italian at Hai Cenato?

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Jason Atherton’s empire continues to grow and the latest restaurant to open was this New York-y Italian restaurant in the new Nova development by Victoria. It’s in goof company with Rail House Café, Aster, Franco Manca etc. nearby.

The first time I came was early one Sunday evening with my friends Helen and Pete and their son Eddie. We’d had a lovely Sunday afternoon exploring the Natural History Museum, had eclairs and coffee at wonderful Maitre Choux and a walk to Buckingham Palacea and were happy to sit down and tuck into some food just as the skies opened.

Hai Cenato? (means ‘Have you had dinner?’ in Italian) certainly feels New York-y with it’s high ceilings, long bar counter, sketched portraits and cosy feel. It’s nice but relaxes and the menu echoes that with pasta dishes, rosso and bianca pizzas and meats from the grill.  and modern yet cosy interior.

They also have a kids menu and children eat free on Sundays, which is a nice touch.

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Eddie chose a pasta with tomato sauce and plenty of grated parmesan from the kids menu  and was very pleased with his choice.

Helen and I both chose the corzetti pasta with bolognese sauce sage, browned butter and grated Berkswell cheese. It was absolutely delicious and felt very indulgent. The sauce was really rich and could have done with a bit more pasta because of the richness but it was a nice size portion. We also shared a side of amazing crushed potatoes that soaked up the last of my bolognese.

Pete chose a lovely vibrant green risotto with oeas, broad beans and crab that was just perfectly executed.

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We were certainly full after our main courses but still fancied pudding and after a quick browse on the (excellent) dessert menu I chose the brioche with salted caramel ice cream. I just love salted caramel and expected a dainty dessert, perfect to finish off my meal but instead I got a large (burger size) brioche bun and THREE scoops of salted caramel ice cream (insert surprised emoji here). The flavour combination was spot on of course but the portion size ridiculous, especially after such starchy food as pasta or pizza.

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Helen’s chocolate and coffee fondant with creme fraiche, puffed rice and caramel was more the size we had expected and absolutely delicious!

We had a lovely dinner here, but also experienced some (I hope they are) teething problems like slow service and I got poured a flat glass of prosecco which just shouldn’t have left the bar and it took ages to get a new one. It’s not the end of the world of course, but I expect an overall smooth and lovely experience when I go to a restaurant, especially when it’s a quiet evening.

I went back last week with my friend Nick for pizza and a glass of wine and the service was a lot better (i.e. smooth) and the place buzzing with people. Oh, and the pizza? DIVINE!

Hai Cenato?, 2 Sir Simon Milton Square, London SW1E 5DJ

The birthday party

Bubbles are a must!

As it was my birthday when I was in Sweden I thought I would tell you about my birthday party. It is always good fun to gather the friends and I had a fab time. Thanks guys!

The menu for the evening looked like this:

Ricotta stuffed mushrooms with lemon and persillade as well as mussels with aioli as nibbles

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Salmon with pea mousse and crayfish tails

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Venison and roast beef with potato parcels, Madeira sauce and carrots

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Elderflower parfait with red currants

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Chocolate cake

The recipe for the starter is from the book Gourmet food for a fiver by Jason Atherton. For once I actually followed the recipe but I realised I should have been a little bit critical and made it my own. It was still a fab dish, but it needs a bit more oompf to be perfect.

The main course was easy to serve since we plated the meats, potato parcels and carrots and had the guests pour the sauce at the table.

Elderflower parfait with homegrown red currants

Chocolate cake with the best chocolate frosting. Baked and decorated by my dear mama.

Apart from pictures of the food I would also like to share a few party snaps with you. It is after all the people that make the party. And this party was very fab indeed thanks to the fantastic guests. Recipes will follow in separate posts.

Cheers!

Hello, hello…

Me and my best friend!

Friday update

It is Friday again, and that means a little London update from me.

It has been a short week because of the Monday bank holiday, but I still managed to go out twice. On Wednesday I met Gaby at Busaba and enjoyed calamari and a crab pad thai. Delicious, and I really must say that this restaurant chain is great value for money. The food is fresh, tasty and cheap and although dining at communal tables with benches the interior is very pleasant with dark wood and burning incense.

Yesterday I met up with four girlfriends at da Polpo, where I have been before, and we had a great time as always. It is another great-value-for-money-place and it is nice to go out with friends for a nice meal without it being too expensive.

I have not made a weekly menu for next week, because we are going away, but during this weekend we will enjoy the following, probably:

Have a great weekend!