Sunday, 29 July 2018

Launceston Place

Behind the Pass: Sat Bains


Pigeon, carrot, dates, black olive, Moroccan spices

I have always wanted to take a trip to Restaurant Sat Bains, the double Michelin stars restaurant in Nottingham by the industry legend Sat Bain. When my beloved Launceston Place announced that head chef Ben Murphy is teaming up with Sat for a one-off chef collaboration dinner, it was the perfect opportunity for me to sample Sat's cooking without needing to travel up north. At the same time, it was great to get the chance to sample Ben's cooking one more time. Having eaten Ben's creations last year, I was really impressed with the unique innovative approach that really makes him stand out among his peers. The Ben and Sat's special dinner contain 6 courses, with each cooking up 3 dishes.

The Ledbury

Still the best


Warm Bantam’s Egg, Celeriac, Arbois and Dried Ham

Do I really need to say much about The Ledbury? the double Michelin starred restaurant is my all time personal flavorite London restaurant. The highly regarded fine dining restaurant in Notting Hill has pretty much won every single restaurant awards that are available in the UK, exquisite food with world-class service is what The Ledbury is all about. Chef-owner Brett Graham has developed his restaurant into a gastronomy temple, a place for serious food lovers. It is one of those restaurants I would just keep returning as a meal at The Ledbury guarantee you a top-notch dining experience. 

The Wild Rabbit

A brand new chapter


Iberico ham peach, cucumber, mint and lemon dressing


My 5th visit to The Wild Rabbit in the Cotswolds, but it was a brand new experience. The restaurant installed a new chef, the Michelin starred Alyn William from London. Alyn is one of the most accomplished chefs in the UK and I was excited to see how Alyn would adapt to a gastro pub environment with so much wonderful local ingredients available for him. Having eaten a few times at his London restaurant at The Westbury Hotel, it would be interesting to compare the two. The Wild Rabbit's menu is much more ambitious than most gastropub out there, with plenty of creative dishes, as well as a 7 tasting menu for anyone who is looking for the full dining experience.

Alyn Williams at the Westbury

Good to be back


Poached halibut, courgette, lemon 


It has been 5 years since I last dined at Alyn Williams at the Westbury, I am a fan of Alyn, a top class chef with an amazing personality. The main reason I never went back was mostly down to the fact that there are so many new restaurant openings all the time and is hard for me to keep up. However, I do find the quality of most of the new openings in the last few years has been pretty average, lacking the cutting edge factor. So it is about time to return to old-time favourites, and Alyn Williams at the Westbury has to be one of them. These days, Alyn is also the Executive Chef at the gastropub Wild Rabbit in the Cotswold, leaving his head chef Tom Booton taking the lead at The Westbury. 

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Xi'an Biang Biang Noodles

Xian noodles shop


Hand-pulled Chongqing noodles

Regional Chinese cuisine is making a big splash in London at the moment, and Xian Biang Biang Noodles is one of the latest openings that is fitting into that trends. Operated by the same people behind the popular Chinese restaurant Xian Impression, Xian Biang Biang noodles is a casual noodle shop in the mood of a canteen in East London, specializing in make to order Biang Biang noodles, which is a special type of hand-pulled noodles that is popular in the Xian region in China. The menu is fairly short for a Chinese restaurant, with about 40 dishes in total, ranging from starters, mains (mostly noodles) and side dishes. 


Saturday, 14 July 2018

China Tang London

Luxury hotel Chinese fine dining


Steamed Dover Sole

When you think of the luxury Dorchester hotel in Mayfair, Alain Ducasse's 3 Michelin stars' French fine dining restaurant would instantly come to your mind if you are a foodie. However, Dorchester also has a fine dining Chinese restaurant: China Tang. Launched by the legendary restauranter David Tang, China Tang is a celebrity hang out joint for top quality Chinese food. The restaurant is known for its none gimmick Cantonese fine dining, just pure good quality, classic Cantonese cuisine, from dim sums to classic steam fishes. China Tang also has a beautiful cocktail bar that is known for combining Asian flavours and western spirits to create something unusual and original.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Duddell's

Modern high-end Cantonese cuisine in London Bridge


Dumplings of prawn, king crab and scallops & prawn

High-quality Chinese cooking is hard to come by in London, Duddell's, a new modern Chinese restaurant launched in early 2018 has given me high hope. The team behind Duddell's has already gained Michelin star status back in Hong Kong, they have appointed  Daren Liew (Ex Hakkasan) as the Executive Chef to oversee Duddell's London which sounds like a great partnership to me. The early days of Duddell's have already gathered some pretty impressive feedbacks, with a majority of high-profile newspaper food critics has given their thumbs up. Duddell's menu is heavily focusing on Cantonese style, with a touch of Western elements in the mix to make it somewhat creative and unusual.

Xu

Upmarket Taiwanese cuisine in London 


Black Mountain Goose

Xu, a Taiwanese restaurant on Rupert Street in Soho is slowly gaining a reputation and some would consider it is the best Taiwanese restaurant in London. It has recently just picked up the Menu of the Year Award by Cateys 2018, a well-respected trade award by the leading trade media title, The Caterer. From the same people behind the highly popular Taiwanese restaurant Bao. Xu is more upmarket with a bigger menu, and plenty of dishes that would not find elsewhere, as well as classic Chinese and Taiwanese dishes. This is my second visit at Xu, and in typical Asian dining fashion, we order a few selections of a la carte dishes and shared with the whole table.

Ming Jiang

Fine dining Chinese with a fine view 



Wood-fired Beijing Duck


If you ask me to recommend a real top quality Chinese restaurant in London, Ming Jiang would easily be the first one to come to my mind. Located inside the 5 stars Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, Ming Jiang is on the top floor of the building with a stunning view of Hyde Park. The restaurant is all about top end Chinese cooking with a strong focus on Cantonese cuisine. I went to Ming Jiang for the first time back in 2013 and I was generally impressed with the quality of the food. 5 years later, I headed back to Ming Jiang once again and wonder if much has changed.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Ciel Bleu

The definition of fine dining


Strawberries, pannacotta, lemon


If you ask an Amsterdam local to suggest you a fine dining restaurant, for a truly special occasion that you will be remembering for a long long time, the chance is Ciel Bleu would most likely to be the recommendation. Located inside the super luxury 5 stars Okura hotel on the top floor, Ciel Bleu is a double Michelin starred, modern French restaurant with a stunning view overlooking the city. The restaurant is all about using luxury, prime ingredients from around the world with a touch of creativity. Diners have the choice of 3 tasting menu and a standard a la carte, if you really want to splash the cash, you can also upgrade to the caviar menu which contains caviar in every dishes.  

The White Room

Elegant gastronomy in the heart of Amsterdam



Tuna 4 ways, turnip, white asparagus, soy sauce 

Jacob Jan Boerma is one of the only 3 chefs currently has a triple Michelin stars restaurant in The Netherlands. Launched in 2016, The White Room by Jacob Jan Boerma in Amsterdam was one of the biggest restaurants openings of the year in the country and it reached Michelin 1 star status in 2017. Located inside the super luxury NL Collection, the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, right in the heart of Amsterdam. The first thing you would notice is the stunning interior of The White Room, with a harmony of white and gold colour in a classic royal French setting. The menu offering at The White Room fairly standard in the world of fine dining, aka al la carte and a tasting menu, but there is also an amazing value for money lunch menu at under 40 Euro per person.

Rijks

Not your standard museum restaurant


21 days dry aged duck


Rijks, a modern European restaurant is located right next to The Netherlands' national museum, which shared the same name. Rijks is not your typical standard museum restaurant, along with a slick modern interior design and outdoor sitting, it has a Michelin star. The menu is highly ambitious, with a mixture of international influences, from India to Italy. It also offers some ballsy dishes, such as veal brain and duck heart, so if you are into adventurous and surprises, this could be an ideal restaurant for you. It is a very popular restaurant and booking is highly recommended. 

Sinne

Fusion modern cuisine in Amsterdam


BBQ duck breast with bimi, creme of red curry lentils, Thai basil

Dutch cuisine is somewhat an unknown outside Holland, but actually, there is plenty of top quality, exciting restaurants in the country, taking influences from around the world. With Amsterdam alone, 25 restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars, and Sinne is one of them. It is a very modern restaurant that combines French, Asian and Mediterranean flavours together to create something unusual and contemporary. Unlike most other restaurants, Sinne also doesn't run a classic a la carte menu. Instead, diners would be asked how many courses they would like, ranging from 3 to 8 dishes. It is a no choice fixed menu in a way.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Brat

Basque-inspired cuisine 




Whole turbot

If you ask me what is my favorite type of cuisine, Spanish would be high on the list and food from the Basque Country, the northern part of Spain is what I consider the temple of high-quality cooking. From rustic pintxo bars to high-end fine dining restaurants, I just got nothing but love for Basque cuisine. Brat by Tomos Parry is a Basque-inspired restaurant opened in early 2018, and it has already gathered plenty of love from the food critics, and judging from the menu online, it does appear plenty of the items can be related to Basque and I was interested how does it compare to the real deal.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Flitch of Bacon

Essex's finest




mackerel, dill, mustard

Where do I start with The Flitch of Bacon... If you have been following my blog, you would know I am a massive fan of chef Tim Allen's cooking. First, at Launceston Place in Kensington, followed by The Wild Rabbit in the Cotswold, both pretty much gained Michelin status instantly thanks to Tim and his wonderful team. The Flitch of Bacon is his very first owned restaurant in Essex, which happened to be pretty close to where I live. So of course, a visit to support The Flitch of Bacon was high on my agenda. The restaurant spit into a bar and dining area, with a back garden that also has its own bar and BBQs, which make it a far-cry from Wild Rabbit's super posh setting. The dining room currently only offers a la carte menu, but we were lucky to be offered a special tasting menu to sample some of Tim's latest creation.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Stem by Neo

Experimental flavours



Grilled Large Black pork chop, Romano pepper and Cornish mussels

Stem is a brand new restaurant by Mark Jarvis, a chef, and restaurateur who also owned Anglo in Farringdon and Neo Bistro in Mayfair. Personally, I am a big fan of Neo Bistro, which is just down the road from Stem. I enjoyed its simplicity approach, using fine British ingredients with a modern but a rustic feel to it. The presentation of the dishes are not fancy but they deliver bags of wonderful flavours. Stem, however, is a totally different beast, the pricing is more up-market and the approach is far more creative and experimental. It has a tasting menu, as well as a pretty small a la carte menu with some fairly ambitious ingredients combination. 

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Coach Marlow

Slick and edgy gastropub 


Whole Stuffed Rotisserie Quail with Black Pudding and Moilee Sauce

Tom Kerridge is the chef of the moment right now, gaining mainstream success with TV appearances and book launches, he is well on the way to becoming one of the biggest chef names in the UK. His flagship restaurant, The Hands and Flowers in Marlow is a 2 Michelin starred pub, the only pub in the UK with such acclaim. I drove pass Marlow but without the time to sit down for a proper sit-down meal, so his other gastro pub The Coach, just down the road was a perfect solution for me. The Coach is a Michelin starred pub with limited tables and a long counter sitting area facing the kitchen, serving pub classics with a modern edge in small plates format, diners are encouraged to order 3 - 4 dishes per person.

The Hinds Head

Heston's gastropub



Scallop, artichoke, hazelnuts, smoked bacon

Heston Blumenthal surely is a household even for none foodies, his flagship restaurant, The Fat Duck, holds 3 Michelin stars and is perhaps one of the most talked about fine dining restaurants in the UK. However, at over £300 per person ahead before drink and service, I run the risk of not be able to pay my bill on time! Joke aside, Heston actually got a pub next to The Fat Duck, which offers modern British gastropub food at a much more reasonable price. With a Michelin star to its name, The Hinds Head is a good alternative to The Fat Duck to experience Heston's offering in a much more casual, relaxing setting.

Pitt Cue

King of BBQ


Bone in prime rib

Where do I start about Pitt Cue... the legendary BBQ joint which gained a cult following when it was based in Soho, before moving to the current site in the City of London as a trendy restaurant with an open kitchen and smart bar. It has a reputation for dishing some of the very best BBQ dishes in the UK, having eaten there 3 times already, I couldn't agree more. For the true Pitt Cue experience, order off the daily specials blackboard, which offer some mouthwatering giant cuts of meat, ranging from aged Dexter beef to the special Mangalitsa pork.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Martín Berasategui

Perfection



Pigeon, stuffed with olives and foie gras, charcoal roasted with pil-pil kohlrabi
and carrots, cocoa and potato cappuccina 

There are not many restaurants at the top end level I would return for, especially ones that are not in London. However, Martin Berasategui's flagship 3 Michelin starred restaurant in San Sebastian is an exception. Having eaten at all three 3 starred restaurants in San Sebastian in my first trip to the city, I found that Martin was far superior and totally faultless. It was an easy decision for me to come back, the food at his restaurant is modern, refine and visually stunning, I got nothing but high praise. Once again, I opted for the restaurant's signature offering: The Great Tasting Menu, with 15 courses of world-class dishes one after another. 

Mirador de Ulía

Fining dining with a spectator view


Hake cheek with white wine jelly and potato


One of the best things about San Sebastian is its beautiful landscape, with green hills overlooking sandy beaches and a sky blue ocean. To truly enjoy the amazing view, it is hard to beat a meal at Mirador de Ulía, a fine dining restaurant which located on Monte Ulia and has a complete view overlooking the city. The restaurant is not just about the view, however, it is a holder of a Michelin star, offering modern Basque cuisine using some of the freshness ingredients you can find in the region, it offers a 10-course tasting menu that contains some of the best dishes from its standard a la carte menu. 

Bar Nestor

All about the txuleta


Txuleta steak


San Sebastian is known to be the foodie capital of Europe, blessed with fine ingredients such as seafood, Basque pigeon, and the txuleta steak. Located in the Old Town, Bar Nestor is a steak temple that loved by both the locals and the tourist alike. An extremely popular bar, the bar's signature dish is the well-aged txuleta steak. Besides steak, the bar is also famous for its tortilla, freshly prepared for each lunch and evening serving. For some reason, the chef only cook one try of tortilla so we are only talking about only 15 portions per service which make it extremely demanding!

Borda Berri

Pintxo at its best


Roasted hake, beetroot and pickled

When you visit San Sebastian, diving in pintxos with wines is a no-brainer. But with so many pintxos bars to pick up from, it is hard to identify which one to go to. For me, one of the important factors for me is knowing if a bar cook the food to order and Borda Berri is one of those pintxo bars that exactly does that. I am not a fan of some of the bars that made all the pintxos in advance and just place them out in the open, not a problem at a high season when the food is moving fast, but the freshness can be questionable when is less busy. 

La Cuchara de San Telmo

Pintxos heaven


Slow-roasted suckling pig

Located right next to the San Telmo museum in San Sebastian, La Cuchara de San Telmo is a tiny pintxo bar that has a big reputation, owned by the same people behind another successful pintxo bar Borda Berri. La Cuchara de San Telmo is all about dishing up simple pintxos that packed with impactful flavours and freshly cooked to order, using the amazing ingredients around the Basque Country. The bar has no seating and is always busy, so best come extra early, otherwise, you might risk be waiting a while as this is an extremely popular bar that loves by the locals as well.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Roganic

Welcome back to London


Salt baked celeriac, enoki, whey

5 years later, Roganic, by Simon Rogan is back in London again as a permanent restaurant, located in Marylebone, where the Michelin starred L'autre Pied used to beat. I first experienced Simon's cooking in his pop up back in 2013 and it was such a mind-blowing experience, his style of cuisine was so unusual and made humble ingredients such as carrots and spring onions taste like heaven. I was so happy when I have discovered Roganic is back in town and I wasted no time in booking a table. The restaurant offers put tasting menu on the central stage, with snacks after snacks before the main courses, followed by multi courses of desserts, just how I like it.

The Royal Oak

Top class gastropub


Dressed Crab, Blood Orange, Radicchio and Sorrel


I got to admit, without watching Masterchef the Professional, The Royal Oak would never come to my attention. Craig Johnston, who works at the Michelin starred gastropub is the winner of the 2017 edition and he seems like a real talent with some speculator dishes showcased on the TV show, one after another. Looking at the menu online from The Royal Oak's website, the menu appears to be modern British with a hint of European touch, what I really like is that it retains some classic British essence with items such as black pudding and pie on the menu, but of course, done in a very refine manner.  

Nut Tree Inn

Not your average pub


Roast loin of venison, truffled sprout puree, parsnips, red wine sauce

Every once a while I need a city escape and traveling to the Cotswolds from London for a long weekend has fast become a regular activity for me. In true Michelin guide fashion, I have started to do some detouring for lunch or dinner on my way to the Cotswolds, and sometimes those meals can be the highlight of my weekend trip. On the edge of Oxford, the Michelin starred pub the Nut Tree Inn is one of the stands out places I have been to from my latest trip, this is my second time visiting this cozy gastropub, and we opted for the a la carte menu.   

The Oxford Kitchen

Oxford's finnest?


Squab pigeon, confit leg, celeriac purée, pear, pigeon gravy

My recent London escape was a trip to Oxford, and it turned out to be a mission to find a top-level fine dining restaurant in the city. After some extended research online, it appears The Oxford Kitchen is a solid choice with some fantastic reviews from the media, Executive Chef Paul Welburn used to be the head chef at the Michelin starred Rhodes W1 and in typical modern fine dining fashion, it has an a la carte menu and a tasting menu for dinner, and a short lunch menu at a very affordable price (£27.5). The restaurant is located in an area called Summertown, a classy neighborhood on the edge of Oxford, about 10 minutes bus ride from the Oxford city center. 

Pint Shop

Sunday delight


Pig in blanket Scotch egg

For my long weekend trip to Oxford, one thing that was on top of my to-do list was a nice Sunday roast after a long day of shopping, Pint Shop came to my attention thanks to its "hipster" branding, with a wide range of craft beer on taps and a really attracted range of food offering, from classic fish & chips to more modern dishes like salt baked celeriac and devilled lamb shoulder, the menu won't out of place in a proper restaurant. The restaurant also offers an amazing value for money Sunday roast, with 3 courses at £25, with a choice of 3 roasts for main and you can pick any starter and dessert from its all-day menu.