London: The Palomar, Soho

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The Palomar in Soho is a snug little restaurant serving up dishes from the Jerusalem of today and has been around for a while. It’s still as popular as when it opened and I had a fab dinner with my friend Felicity here quite a while ago that I’d like to tell you all about.

Arriving on a weekday after work the small restaurant was of course full (always expect a popular Soho restaurant to be full unless you go very early or very late) so we put our names on the list and when in search of a drink.

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About an hour later our seats at the bar were ready and our enthusiastic water welcomed us and started to recommend dishes from the menu. The kabaneh, a Yemeni pot baked bread with tahini and a tomato sauce was a must and we loved dipping the fluffy bread in the different sauces.

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Next we had a special for the day; crispy Jerusalem artichoke with tuna rillette and duck fat which was amazingly good. Loved loved loved this one!

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The burnt courgette tzatziki was another favourite. It also pairs very well with the bread!

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Another special, the bonito carpaccio, savoury cookie crumble was also really nice! And full of freshness.

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The Jerusalem style polenta with asparagus, mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil was pure indulgence (I wish I could cook polenta like that!!) and a real treat.

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But the deconstructed kebab with minced beef & lamb, yoghurt, tahini, cured lemon and harissa disappointed us a little. It was still nice – but lacked a bit om oomph compared to the other dishes.

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So did The beets go prawn with smoky beetroot, labneh, prawn jus, basil and chilli but it was still a nice plate of food. Just lacking a bit of wow factor.

All together we had a fantastic evening here, chatting with our waiter, the people next to us and of course each other, enjoying some excellent food and lovely wine! This is what Soho is all about for me; the informal yet amazing dining experiences.

The Palomar, 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN

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

Dinner at Koya, Soho

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Koya, who recently opened another branch, Koya Bar, just down the streat from its original restaurant on Frith Street, has been around for quite a while but I (finally!) did my first visit a few weeks back. It was a cold cold January evening and me and some friends thought a warming bowl of noodles would make a perfect supper.

We started with a few small plates specials from the board and I must say they varied a bit. The fried tofu (above) was alright I thought, but not being a tofu fan my comments may not do it justice. My friends seemed to enjoy it a lot more!

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The sword fish came in breaded and fried chunks complete with bones and things. Not my favourite but perfectly OK.

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But I really enjoyed the grilled oysters!

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For our mains most of us had noodles, but Jenny chose a domburi (rice bowl) with beef and vegetables that looked really good!

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I had a wonderful noodle soup with pork, vegetables and miso. The broth was had great flavour and the udon noodles a nice chewiness to them, the pork itself was probably the least exciting with the dish. It was just what I needed; a soothing and warm bowl of noodle soup!

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Laura also had a noodle soup, but one of the specials with miso and fried salsify (I think), not in the picture. Unfortunately the photo of Amy’s noodle soup with vegetable tempura came out grainy, but I think you can imagine what it looked like. It was also really nice.

We were very satisfied with our meal (and wine) but it’s not a place where you can linger. As soon as you’ve finished someone wants your table; it’s first come first serve – no bookings.

Koya, 49 Frith Street, London W1D 4SG

Dinner at Copita, Soho

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I met my friends Laura and Jess at Copita in Soho the other night for a belated birthday dinner. Sadly Jess was unwell and only had bread while Laura and I shared a selection of dishes.

Copita is a sister restauran to Barrica and although they both serve tapas style small plates, the vibe in the two restaurants are quite different. Copita is more buzzing and feels like a wine bar with very nice snacks where as Barrica has some proper tables and serves more traditional tapas, making it feel more like a restaurant.

I like both, however and food wise they are quite different to compare as their menus differ a lot.

The scallops (above) with broad beans and a creamy sauce were probably my favourite dish of the evening. Very pretty too, but just lovely in taste.

 

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Almost as nice were the mushroom croquetas with oozing mushroom bechamel in the middle and a nice and crisp shell keeping it in place.

 

 

 

 

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The aubergine with harissa and mint was nice, but not extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

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The octopus with paella style rice I really enjoyed but it was pretty sparse with the fish.

 

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Gnocchi with saffron, butternut squash and almonds was a nice and fresh dish, although I wanted another dimension with different textures. The almond slivers didn’t quite to the trick, maybe some crisp breadcrumbs or chopped hazelnuts would have worked butter. Otherwise great in flavour!

 

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The duck breast with beetroots, apple and raisins was probably my least favourite, but only because I have a fobia for raisins in food so I couldn’t fully enjoy it. The meat was lovely and rich in flavour though and super moist and the thin apple slices worked well with it.

Drink wise I was really tempted by a proper G&T with Hendrick’s gin, but we decided on wine instead and had a caraffe of what they called super fresh, which we thought was quite funny. It was indeed a fresh wine and it worked well with the different dishes.

Copita, 26-27 d’Arblay Street, London W1F 8EP

Dinner at Terroirs

Some places are mentioned frequently on the blog, and Terroirs is definitely one of those places. The reasons are many; the convenience from my office (3 minute walk), their great wine list and bar snacks, their food and friendly staff and the comfortable atmosphere.

When Therése was visiting, we had supper here on the Saturday and although the West End seems so different on a Saturday night than on a weekday, we had a very enjoyable evening.

First we started with olives. These fresh sweet olives are almost impossible to find back in Sweden, so it was a must for Therése.

We then had some small plates to share, and the first was this full to the brim charkuterie board with saucisson, duck rillette, cornichons and pork terrine with pistachios. Really good, but very filling.

Next we had squid with spinach, chickpeas, chorizo and aioli. Amazingly good and something I will cook myself as well.

Traditional mussels in white wine and they were big and juicy.

Lastly, my favourite; toast with girolles, bone marrow and red wine. Settles any umami craving possible and so delicious. Will be back for this soon!

Terroirs Winebar
5 William IV Street
London WC2N 4DW

Nopi – almost a year later

When my friends Tobbe and Malin came to visit last week, we had some really nice dining experiences. First up was Nopi, where I went for my birthday last year.

Back then we were a larger group so we sat at a big table on the lower ground floor, whereas this time we sat up on the ground floor.

The food served at Nopi is fresh small plates with unusual flavour combinations. The main menu has three sections; vegetables, fish and meat and there is also a dessert menu. Nopi recommends three small dishes per person, so that’s what we did. We got nine different ones to share.

To start we were served lovely bread to dip in a very grassy olive oil. Really nice but I did miss the dip we got last time.

Roasted aubergine with black garlic, harissa and pine nuts. This dish was nice enough but not spectacular in any way.

The heritage carrot salad with black olives, endive and orange vinaigrette was nice and fresh with nice flavours.

The courgette and manouri fritters with lime yoghurt were nice too, but none of the vegetable dishes we tried said ‘wow’ this time around. Last time those were the best.

But then this came out and blew me away: organic prawns with fennel, feta and Pernod. The prawns were wuite hot and it was really nice with the flecks of salt feta to take the edge off the heat. Also the sauce at the bottom of the pan was delicious. One of my two favourites of the evening.

Scallops with pig’s ear and a sauce made form black beans and ginger was also really nice, although the flavours could have been a little bit stronger. And you can see yourselves that the scallops were perfectly fried. Yu-um.

Malin ate this lovely fried seabass with smoked labneh and pickled lemon when Tobbe and I had the seafood.

She also had this twice-cooked chicken with myrtle salt and chilli sauce that I had last time too. I think this is a staple on the menu and so for a reason.

Tobbe’s choice of sirloin with baby leeks and pickled ginger with coriander and chilli salsa. Nice flavours!

The second of my two favourties was this incredibly tender and flavoursome ox cheek with horseradish cream and sour cherries. Amazing!

Although we didn’t over order we were still incredibly full at the end of our meal and struggled with the last few forkfuls, so there was no way we could have dessert. Instead we went to a nice bar and cocktails – less filling that way.

Nopi
21-22 Warwick Street
London W1B 5NE