Saturday, 14 September 2019

Core by Clare Smyth

Modern British fine dining as it should be


Scottish langoustine, wasabi pea, rose geranium and almond

This is my second time at Core, the fine dining restaurant by chef Clare Smyth in Notting Hill. One year later, a lot has changed since then, Core is now a double Michelin starred restaurant and has two tasting menus, one classic (which is what I had from my first visit) and a seasonal menu, which use more luxury and premium ingredients. I really enjoyed Clare's style of cooking from my first visit, very clean and extremely refined at the same time. The only reason put me off heading back is mostly down to how popular it is, you got to plan well ahead to book a table. I opted for the seasonal tasting menu for my second visit, a 7-course menu with canapes and petit four, at £145 per person.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Luke Selby at Mortimer House

Guest chef series at Mortimer House


Roasted Native Lobster, Fennel & Smoked Butter Sauce with Tempura Claw

I have been a fan of the TV program The Great British Menu on BBC for years, a great show that put some of the finest chefs from around the nation, completing to put up showstopping dishes. One of this year's winners is Luke Selby, the former head chef from the Michelin starred Hide in Mayfair, he has taken over Mortimer House (a private clubhouse with a restaurant) in Fitzrovia for 1 month, showcasing his cooking flair, including his winning dish the smoked butter lobster from The Great British Menu. His menu at Mortimer House is short and snap, it is basically a small a la carte menu, with only 3 choices from each of the starter, main and sweet sessions. 

Holborn Dining Room

British pastry master


Hand raised pork pie

I rarely go to a hotel restaurant these days, simply just because usually is overprice with cooking that has no soul. You are paying for the expensive decor and fancy interior design instead of the quality of the cooking, hence I always try to stay away from hotel restaurants. Holborn Dining Room funny enough is inside a hotel and is at the luxury 5 stars Rosewood Hotel no less. The restaurant caught my attention as it has gained a reputation in providing top class British pies, the humble pie is somewhat a childhood memory for me so I was eager to see how head chef Calum Franklin has turned such an iconic British dish into something exquisite without losing its true essence. There are 5 choices of pies on the menu, along with a selection of modern British dishes and steaks.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Two Lights

American in East London


Crayfish Boil, Jersey Royals, Chorizo, Corn

Located in Hoxton, Two Lights is an American inspired modern restaurant by The Clove Club group. The Clove Club is one of the most regarded restaurants in London, and gaining a spot in the World 50 Best list from Restaurant Magazine is an amazing achievement, so naturally, the expectation is big on the groups' other restaurants. Two Lights is a very different beast compared to The Clove Club, is even more casual with spaces reserved for walk-ins. The menu is a la carte with no tasting menu, focusing on modern American cuisine. As someone who has little knowledge of American food, I was really excited to see what Two Lights is all about.

BaoziInn London Bridge

London Bridge casual Chinese den


Char siu pork

The first Baozilnn in China Town is somewhat an iconic Chinese restaurant known for its regional Sichuan cuisine. Fast forward to 2019, Baozilnn is now a mini-chain with 5 sites across London. The latest one is located in London Bridge and is the biggest restaurant in the group. Looking at the menu, it doesn't appear to be in the mood of Sichuanese style like its Chine Town counterpart. Instead, the majority of the items on the menu are mostly Cantonese dishes, ranging from wonton to roasted meat. In fact, you would see most dishes in many restaurants back in China Town. So when Baozilnn London Bridge is charging around 30% than the standard cost if I compare to China Town, it better be good.

Quo Vadis

Modern British with a European touch


Vol au vent of cod, mussels & sea vegetables

Located on Dean Street, Quo Vadis is one of the most historic sites in Soho. The upstairs members' only space is a popular joint for people in the trade to hang out or conduct businesses. The ground floor space is headed up by chef Jeremy Lee, a former Great British Chef winner, and a highly respected figure among the chef network. His modern British cuisine is all about taking classic recipes with a fresh makeover to create something extremely flavoursome but truly remain the British essence. I returned for my second time to try out its summer a la carte menu.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Gauthier Soho

Comforting and classy French dining 


Summer black truffle risotto


I have lost counts on how many times I have been to Gauthier now, the iconic French restaurant in Soho is highly regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the area. Chef-owner Alexis Gauthier is a classically French-trained chef and he has earned a Michelin star not long when he launched Gauthier around 10 years ago. The ever-changing seasonal menu, based on modern French cuisine concept has turned Gauthier Soho into a top French dining restaurant and is still going strong after so many years of trading.

Park Chinois

Top-level Chinese Sunday lunch


Mushroom rice rolls with black truffle

Without a doubt, Park Chinois is easily the best Chinese restaurant in London for me. Located on Berkeley Street, the restaurant has two floors. The ground floor is ideal for relaxing dining while downstairs is in a night club manner. The lavish restaurant in Mayfair showcased top Cantonese cuisine, as well as some regional Chinese classics, all done in a fine dining manner, using top of the range ingredients from around the world. I returned to Park Chinois for the seventh time for a lazy long Sunday lunch, with a selection of dim sum as the starter, before moving onto duck and seafood dishes.

Duddell's London

Cantonese weekend lunch in style 


Braised abalone in chicken stock

I returned to Duddell's for the seventh time. The reason I am heading back is simple. Head Chef Chris Tan's style of Cantonese cuisine is something that I really enjoy. While it is not classic at all, it does still maintain the hallmark of great Chinese cuisine essence, with a simple touch of western flair. The modern Cantonese restaurant in London Bridge is the best Chinese restaurant south of River Thames for sure. For my seventh visit, I opted for dim sum as starters, before moving on to a selection of mains that especially put together by Chef Tan.

Mei Ume

Classy Chinese banquet in style


Signature Peking duck

Located inside the luxury 5 stars Four Seasons Hotel, Mei Ume is an Asian restaurant that championing the best two Asian cuisines: Chinese and Japanese. The restaurant is headed up by chef Tony Truong, with over 30 years of Chinese cuisine experience, worked in some of the finest kitchens from China to the UK. For a special occasion, I have booked in Mei Ume's private dining room for a long and mouthwatering banquet, an extended 12 courses marathon. The menu was specially put together by Tony, offering classic Cantonese dishes that you would see in a traditional Chinese banquet, as well as some modern Japanese dishes. 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Five Fields

A top-notch fine dining experience in West London


Short Rib, Turnip and Nasturtium

I have always got a special spot for The Five Fields, one of the finest restaurants in London. I first experienced its cooking 6 years ago, before it gained a Michelin star, and I was really impressed with how exceptional it was. I just find the cooking at The Five Fields so special, really interesting with amazing attention to detail in its cooking, it is truly unique. Fast forward to 2019, I returned for my second visit. A few things have changed since then, it is now also open for lunch, with a more affordable menu at £65 for 3 courses. However, to fully enjoy the full Five Fields experience, I opted for the tasting menu at dinner time.

The Coach Clerkenwell

Classy pub food in Clerkenwell


Duck confit, grilled purple sprout broccoli and anchovy sauce

Every once a while, I crave for a good classic pub food experience. Good quality British pub food in a gastropub setting is not that in common anymore, which is sad. The Coach at Clerkenwell is a casual pub that has always been a popular joint for after-work drinks, but the restaurant within has also gained a reputation since 2018 after installing a new chef in the name of Henry Harris. He has rejected his French fair into Britsh pub food cooking, you would no longer see burgers or pies on the menu, instead, some brasserie-style food with a rustic pub feel to it, using a range of British ingredients.

BAO Fitzrovia and Borough

Bao to the test


Beef, Taipei Butter Rice at BAO Borough

It has been over 2 years since I last visited Bao, the ever-popular Taiwanese restaurant in London. Since then, it has slowly expanded into 3 sites, so clearly they are doing something right, as it is popular to both the locals and tourists. Many places have since tried to copy Bao but without much success, while Bao is still going strong. I headed back to Bao Fitzrovia and also visited its new site at Borough to do a direct comparison, as I have noticed each site has some very different items, apart from the iconic bao dishes. 

Scully St James's

Asian fusion, Scully style


Tomato and Coconut Salad, Green Strawberries, Tomato Shrub

Fusion food is hard to get it right, and it seems to be a dirty word to many chefs around the world. However, when a chef managed to get the balance right when executing fusion cooking, it can be some of the most exciting and impactful things. Located in St James, London, Scully is an Asian fusion restaurant by Ramael Scully, a chef that has traveled around the world and came up with a southeast Asian style fusion cuisine with inspirations from all over the world. From using the Europen dry-aging method, Asian pickling techniques to using South American ingredients. 

Leroy

Hipster wine bar in Shoreditch



Cured trout, samphire, cucumber, horseradish

Leroy is a wine bar and restaurant in the trendy area of Shoreditch. Surprisingly, it landed a Michelin star in the 2019 guide, which is a bold move from the guide as Leroy's setting and food is far from fine dining level. The decor is your typical modern wine bar, with table closely packed together with an ever-changing daily menu. The food is modern British, small pates, which is something that is so popular in London right now. Our waiter on the day suggested us to order 3 dishes per person and the food are best for sharing.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Tayer and Elementary

Twisted fusion with an Asian flair


Eel, potato, truffle, lettuce

Tayer and Elementary is a brand new food and drinks concept by top bartender 
Alex Kratena and chef Zijun Meng. The place is not your typical bar or restaurant setting. The front of the venue is an all-day coffee bar with pre-mixed cocktails and snacks. However, the real magic is behind the coffee bar, with a stylish and modern cocktail bar taking central space, along with a kitchen counter, which serves only 4 people at a time. Chef Meng offers a blind 5-course tasting menu at £60 for each dinner service, no menu and guests would know what are in for till the dishes are ready in front of them.

Opera Tavern

Tapas bar in the West End



Slow-cooked Galician octopus, saffron aioli, datterini tomatoes


Part of the successful Salt Yard Group, Opera Tavern is an Italian and Spanish tapas bar in Covent Garden. When it was first launched back in 2011, Opera Tavern was one of the most trendy and popular tapas bar in London in that era. Fast forward to 2019, many things have changed. Chef director Ben Tish has moved on, and the group has been sold to Urban Pubs & Bars, which owns a host of pubs across London. I first ate at Opera Tavern when opened, and wonder how much has changed since then. Looking at the menu, it has a selection of tapas, spitting into snack, meat, fish and vegetable session. I opted for 3 dishes per person, in typical tapas fashion and shared everything.

The Culpeper

East London gastropub


Pollock, Curried Mussel Sauce, Wilted Spinach & Coriander Oil


A good quality gastropub is not easy to find in London. There are many pubs out there that claim they are a gastropub offering top class British pub food, but very feel can actually deliver it. Around in East London, most people would think of The Marksman near Hackney as the top gastropub. However, having eaten there before, I think The Culpeper is just as good, if not better. The Culpeper is a 3 floors pub and its restaurant space offers a short but eye-catching menu, with some international influences but still staying true to British seasonal cooking. 

Wun's

Cantonese tearoom


Iberico char siu

Tea room at Soho has launched a few years ago, the upstairs space serves steam buns ad downstairs has a restaurant and bar serving Cantonese cuisine. However, it has all changed with the bun concept has moved to China Town, and both floors have been rebranded to Wun's Tearoom. A Chinese cocktail and restaurant den in the mood of classic Hong Kong dai pai dong. All the cocktails from the bar are made using Asian spirits only, such as Taiwanese whiskey and Japnese gin. The menu itself is fairly small, with a selection of skewers, clay pot rice and snacks, ideal with beer and cocktails.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Bar Douro

Taste of Porto


Octopus with sweet potato


Portuguese is one of the most underrated cuisines in the UK, always overshadowed by its Spanish counterpart. However, Portuguese cuisine can be exceptional, with a strong focus in seafood and stew dishes. Located in London Bridge, Bar Douro aims to recreate a slice of authentic Portuguese dining culture. The dishes are split into four sessions, starting from snack, to garden, sea and earth. along with a strong collection of wine. For per person, it is recommended to order 3 plates per person. Having eaten Bar Douro's cooking at Taste of London, it was enough to justify a visit to its actual restaurant, to get an idea what true Portuguese cuisine is all about, before my trip to Porto.

Temper Covent Garden

Meaty party


Aged beef skewers flatbread

I have always been a fan of Neil Rankin, the chef-owner of the Temper empire. Neil Rankin is considered a top BBQ and meat master in the trade. When I first encountered his cooking when he was at Smokehouse, I instantly have fallen in love with his cooking style. Fast forward to 2019, he has moved on to set up Temper. Now 3 sits strong, its Covent Garden site followed a similar format like the flagship Soho site, with a real focus in meat and taco, but with woodfire pizza on top. What I really like about all the Temper concept is its open kitchen, with open fire and robata grill taking central stage, diners get the chance to see the fine cut of meats cooked in front of them.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Ledbury

World-class


raspberry millefeuille, olive oil ice cream

I have almost lost count on how many times I have been to The Ledbury, The 2 Michelin starred restaurant is simply the best fine dining restaurant in London for me. It has everything you want from a top restaurant. Great service, relaxing decor with stunning food from the kitchen. Chef-owner Brett Graham has been maintaining the restaurant level at such a high standard for many years now, it has held 2 Michelin stars for 9 years and without a doubt, it will keep its 2 stars for the 2010 guide. For lunch, it offers a no choice 4-course set menu, as well as an a la carte and tasting menu. The beauty about The Ledbury is that the cost of the menu covers the service charge so actually, it is one of the cheapest 2 Michelin star restaurants in London.

Duck and Rice

Chinese weekend brunch


Sha Cha lobster clay pot

This is my fifth visit to Duck and Rice, the Chinese pub in Soho is one of my personal flavourite place for a comforting Chinese meal experience. Chinese food and beer is such a beautiful match and I am wondering why not more places offer such a combination. In the weekend, Duck and Rice offer a brunch menu, with a wide selection of dim sum and some classic Cantonese and street food items. The benefit of being a pub, it also has a great range of beers, cocktails, wines, as well as Chinese teas, which make Duck and Rice one of the most unique pub and restaurants in London.

Duddell's London

Cantonese feasting


Peking duck

Haven eaten at Duddell's five times, I have slowly managing to eat through the whole menu. The Cantonese fine dining restaurant has a slick interior design inside a former church, and it's contemporary Chinese cooking are some of the finest you can find in London. For my sixth visit, head chef Chris Tan has provided a special menu for my table, offering some classic Cantonese dishes with a touch of his personal adaptation, based on a recent trip to Hong Kong. Classic Cantonese cooking, but done in a refined manner, is not easy to find in London so I was really excited about what chef Chris has got in store.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Arros QD

Spanish gourmet rice in London


Smoke ‘dashi’ eel, katsuobushi, white sesame seeds, black garlic aioli
& Wood pigeon breast, wild mushrooms, rosemary, porcini aioli


Spanish cuisine is easily my flavourite European cuisine, fresh taste, great ingredients, and simplicity: are everything that top Spanish food is all about. When top Spanish chef, Quique Dacosta decided to launch a paella focus restaurant in London, I was buzzing with joy. Quique is regarded as one of the modern great Spanish chefs, with his restaurant near Valencia has 3 Michelin stars. At the same time, it is never easy for a Spanish chef to get it right in the UK. Ametsa and Street XO are two perfect examples, opened by other famous Spanish chefs but failed to win over the locals. Would Arros QD suffer similar faith? The hero items on the menu are its traditional Spanish rice, cooked over a wood fire. 

Mere

Contemporary French dining at Fitzrovia


Cornish Cod, Pan Roasted, Artichoke, Confit Fennel, Olives, Dulse Aioli Sauce

Mere, the fine dining restaurant by wife and husband team Monica Galetti and David Galetti, has been recently voted to be one of the top UK restaurants by the National Restaurant Awards. Monica was the sous chef at double Michelin starred Le Gavroche and one of the judges in the popular TV show Masterchef Professional. Mere is located in Fitzrovia, a place that is already packed with excellent high-end restaurants such as Kitchen Table and Pied a Terre. Mere positioned itself as a modern restaurant of mixing French cooking with South Pacific essences. It offers a short a la carte menu with less than 20 dishes to pick from, along with a 6-course tasting menu.

Caractère

Italian and French flair in Notting Hill



Seared mackerel, roasted gem, beetroot, parsley

Operated by the husband and wife team Emily Roux and Diego Ferrari, Caractere is a new restaurant that champions modern European cuisine, in the mood of French and Italian influences. Diego was the head chef at the legendary 2 Michelin starred Le Gavroche and Emily is the daughter of the chef-owner Michel Roux. So clearly they know a thing or 2 in how to run top restaurants. The restaurant has gathered some very positive media reviews since launching back in 2018, with a menu that has about 16 dishes on offer per day, using prime British ingredients from across the UK, such as Cornish fish and Lake District lamb.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Moncks of Dover Street

Mayfair brasserie


Raw loin of tuna, watercress puree, black sesame

Moncks of Dover Street, a brand new brasserie launched by the same team behind Park Chinois, is an all-day French dining affair. Menu-wise, it has nothing related to Park Chinois at all, for all-day dining, it has a selection of classic brasserie items, such as steak and bourguignon. On top of that, it has some international dishes such as truffle mac & cheese and roasted leg of lamb with spiced couscous. Without a doubt, the price is Mayfair level, with a main of sloe costing almost £40 a plate. The deco is wonderful, it has a classic luxury feel to it, without being over the top, with a blend of light blue and wood colours in the mixed. 

Jidori

Yakitori in Covent Garden


Tsukune: Minced chicken and egg yolk


When you think of Japanese food, you most likely will think of sushi and ramen right away, but there are so much more than that. Yakitori is a type of Japanese grilled style of cooking, using a range of sauces such as soy sauce and teriyaki sauce for marinating meats or vegetables. Yakitori is a popular choice to pair with beer and sake back in Japan. Located in Covent Garden, Jidori is a Yakitori specialist by Brett Redman, who is also the founder of the brilliant British restaurant Elliot. The menu has a selection of Japanese small eats, ranging from raw seafood to comfort food such as fried chicken, or with an injection of an Asian twist. The main event is the yakitori skewers, with a heavy focus in the chicken.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

£100 duck meal


Signature Peking Duck


When Imperial Treasure was first launched in late 2018, it was one of the most anticipated openings in London, as the restaurant group itself is a big deal back in the Far East, with over 20 fine dining restaurants, and some has gathered Michelin stars status. The London site has since gathered mixed reviews from the UK media, some label it as overpriced and soulless, while some has rated it as one of the best Chinese restaurants in London. I have eaten at Imperial Treasure already once and was not overly impressed with the cooking, 6 months later, with an updated menu and time to settle down, I was hoping for improvement.

China Tang London

Comfort Chinese food at its best



Pumpkin rice

Located inside the luxury 5 stars Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair, China Tang is a classic Chinese restaurant, headed up by the talented head chef Fong. If you are looking for stunning presentations or creative concepts in Chinese cuisine, this is not the place to you. China Tang is all about good old fashioned Cantonese food, with a few regional classics along the way, such as Peaking duck and braised tofu. I have been to China Tang more than 7 times now and slowly managed to try most of its dishes from its a la carte menu. However, chef Fong provides seasonal special every once a while so I got the chance to try some exciting new dishes for my 8th visit.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Park Chinois

Traditional Chinese banquet in style


Eight treasures duck


Chinese banquet is all about feasting, when family or old friends getting together to have a long-lasting dinner, usually with at least 10 courses of dishes to ensure a memorable evening. I have yet to have a proper Chinese banquet experience in the UK, as it usually contains difficult dishes from a technique's point of view and required long hours of preparation. However, if one UK Chinese restaurant can pull it off, it has to be Park Chinois. The luxury fine dining Chinese restaurant has fast become my personal favorite of mine, thanks to its uses of top-grade ingredients with a team of top chefs. For my sixth time at Park Chinois, I opted for a banquet style menu, prepared specially by the kitchen. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Ledbury

Still the champ



Lobster, shitake, asparagus

For the regular readers of my blog, I am sure you are aware The Ledbury is my no1 restaurant in London for a fine dining occasion. There is just something special about this place that no other restaurants can match in London. The service is world class for a start, as is the quality of the cooking, which has a perfect balance of creativity, elegance, and taste. Chef-owner Brett Graham has maintained the high standard for over 10 years now and is rare to see a restaurant to be at the top of the game for so many years. For my 12th visit, I opted for the tasting menu, as usual, knowing that I will be in for something really special.

Friday, 14 June 2019

212

Umami whirlpool in Amsterdam


Apple, ginger, walnut, salted caramel


Restaurant 212 is perhaps one of the trendiest restaurants in Amsterdam right now. Launched in 2018 by chef duo Richard van Oostenbrugge and Thomas Groot who was the dream team behind the then double Michelin starred Bord'Eau. 212 has no formal sitting in the restaurant, instead, it has an open kitchen, surrounded by a bar counter sitting space. The theme is similar in the mood of Kitchen Table and Atelier Joel Robuchon in London. 1 year later, the restaurant has become one of the hottest restaurants in Amsterdam and landed itself a Michelin star along the way. 212 has a tasting menu, as well as a short a la carte menu for those people who wish for only a few dishes with limited time.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Alyn Williams at the Westbury

Top notch modern European fine dining


Devonshire duck


To keep heading back to the same restaurant, I would say the restaurant has to be great value for money, and service has to be top notch too, especially for fine dining level. I only have such loyalty for a few restaurants in London, and Alyn Williams at the Westbury is one of them. The Michelin starred fine dining restaurant is slowly becoming a favorite of mine, I really enjoy the modern, light and fresh approach in its modern Europen/ French take on fine dining. Below are some of the highlights from my sixth and seventh visits.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Lyle's

Modern seasonal British flair


Brill, swiss chard, gooseberry


I have been to Lyle's when it was very launched back in 2015. I got to say, the experience was rather underwhelming, while the food was pretty decent, it was really nothing special. I was really puzzling while it gained so much positive media attention, as well as landing a Michelin star and entered into the World's 50 Best restaurant list, ahead of venues such as The Ledbury and Midsummer House. 4 years later to 2019, I have returned for a lunch occasion, and wonder how much it has changed. Surely, with all of the high praises from both consumers and trade professionals, they are doing something right.

Duddells' London

Smart modern Chinese dining joint in London Bridge


 
Abalone rice with shimeji mushroom and asparagus

Located in the busy district of London Bridge, just a few yards from the station, Duddells is one of the many Chinese restaurants in London, but one that has a well-regarded reputation. Whenever you search online to look for top-class Chinese restaurant in London, the chance is that Duddell's would be one of the first to be recommended. The cuisine is based on Cantonese style, with a few modern and western element in the mixed, all using premium ingredients. This is my fifth visit to the restaurant, as I kept heading back, slowly working my way to try out all the dishes from its menu. For this time, I picked a few dim sum as starters, followed by a selection of dishes from its a la carte menu to sharing with the table.

Casa do Frango

Regional Portuguese cuisine in London Bridge


Half chicken with lemon and garlic

Apart from a few vegan friends, I have yet to find someone who is not a fan of Nando's. The chicken chain is decent value for money and has done a great job in making piri piri chicken such an iconic dish in the UK. You might wonder, what would be the upgrade of Nando's infamous piri piri chicken, and I have found the answer in Casa do Frango, an Algarvian casual restaurant in London Bridge, serving regional Portuguese food. The menu is simple, you have the house special chicken cooked on an open fire, as well as a range of sharing dishes, tapas style. Portuguese cuisine is such a beautiful but underrated cuisine in the UK and I was excited to see what Casa do Frango is capable of.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Il Convivio Troiani

Playful fine dining in Rome


Octopus with apples and raspberries

There are plenty of fine dining restaurants around Rome, so it was difficult for me to pick one for dinner out of the pool. After some researches online, Il Convivio Troiani was the one that really caught my attention. The restaurant is located inside the city center, on the edge of River Tiber. Il Convivio Troiani by 3 brothers was launched back in 1988 so you might think such an old restaurant means the food is traditional and old fashioned, however, the contrast could not be greater. The restaurant is known for its playful, edgy fine dining and has earned a Michelin star. For my visit, I opted for the tasting menu to fully experience what the restaurant is capable of.

Acquolina

Seafood specialist in Rome


Amberjack, lamb, asparagus

I am a seafood addict, so when I have discovered there is a fine dining restaurant specializing in seafood when I was planning my trip to Rome, it was high on my to visit list. Acquolina is a 1 Michelin star, fine dining restaurant that headed up by a chef with big reputation, in the name of Angelo Troiani, who is also the chef-owner of another highly well regarded 1 Michelin starred restaurant Il Convivio, which is not too far from Acquolina. The setting of Acquolina is very contemporary, with plenty of space between each table, with artwork in the theme of sea creatures. What got me really interested in the menu is that the kitchen seems to enjoy mixing seafood and meat together, which is both ambitious and daring.

Enoteca La Torre

Roman fine dining in an elegant setting 


Red tuna, estragon, sour cream and fermented roots


Out of all the 1 Michelin star restaurants in Rome, Enoteca La Torre is perhaps the one with the most elegant, beautiful and romantic dining room. Located in the Northern part of the capital, Enoteca La Torre is what glamour fine dining is all about, headed up by chef Domenico Stile, the food offering is contemporary, sophisticated with stunning presentation.  To finish off my Rome trip with a bang, I opted for the tasting menu "A journey with eyes closed", which is a 7-course menu selected by the chef, mostly taken from its a la carte menu. I always feel tasting menu usually is better value for money than a la carte anyway, as you get to try more dishes at a cost of 10- 20 more euro.

Armando al Pantheon

Classic Roman cuisine


Spaghetti, alla grioia


Armando al Pantheon is perhaps really high on the to visit list for many people when they travel to Rome, highly recommended on many leading travel sites, from Time Out to Eater. The restaurant is renown for its traditional Roman cuisine, in a simple, casual setting. Located next to the Rome landmark Pantheon, the menu format is your classic Italian 4 course affair, starting from a selection of starters, to pasta and mains, before finishing with dessert. Most dish cost around 10 - 20 Euro mark, along with a strong wine list that almost entirely based on Italian wines.

Friday, 24 May 2019

La Bottega del Buon Caffè

Top quality refined Tuscan cuisine in Florence


Risotto creamed with 36 months aged parmesan cheese, fennels cream, burnt leek, radishes


Located not far from the Florence city center, overlooking river Arno, is the Michelin starred La Bottega del Buon Caffè, many rated as one of the very best restaurants Florence has to offer. The stylish restaurant has its own farm in Tuscany, supplying fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit to its kitchen. The restaurant cooking concept is local Tuscan in essence, and use prime ingredients depending on the season. At weekday lunchtime, the restaurant offers an 80 Euro lunch menu, this might sound expensive at first, but all the dishes are actually taken from its tasting menu, to ensure the quality of the dishes is just as good as in dinner service. 

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Borgo San Jacopo

Innovative Italian fine dining in Florence


Red salad quinoa, cauliflower, beetroot, sprouts, lovage mayo


On my trip to Florence, sampling local fine dining cuisine is on top of my agenda. After all, classic, casual Tuscan cuisine is already amazing, I was wondering if a fine dining treatment can take it to another level? Does fancy, innovative cooking techniques, combining with prime ingredients really make an impact? To put it to the test, I visited Borgo San Jacopo, a 1 Michelin starred hotel restaurant in the heart of Florence. Headed up by Peter Brunel, the chef is renown for his forward-thinking, outside of the box ideas to create dishes that are unusual, creative, while staying true to the Italian root. 

La Leggenda dei Frati

Tuscan style elegant fine dining 


 Snapper, broccoli, capers


To round off my Florence trip in style, I opted for fine dining, Tuscan style Italian fine dining experience. I was looking for a restaurant that has a good view, classy decor with fine food, and it appears La Leggenda dei Frati fits all of my needs, the Michelin starred restaurant is located on a small hill just outside of the Florence city center, overlooking the beautiful Piazzale Michelangelo site. The restaurant has no more than 10 tables within 2 dining area, all the tables are well spread out with plenty of space. The menu is modern Tuscan style, using mostly local ingredients. To fully experience what the restaurant is capable of, I opted for its 9-course tasting menu.

Ora d'Aria

Casual fine dining in Florence


Roasted pigeon leg and breast, apple butter, honey


From my holiday experience in Florence, besides all of the tourist trap restaurants around the city, the restaurant quality in the city is generally really high, no matter if it is a rustic classic Tuscan restaurant or a fine dining joint. However, it appears all of the high-end restaurants are very formal in the city, with the exception of Ora d'Aria. 
Chef-owner Marco Stabile's restaurant is located in the heart of the city, with a casual, relaxing dining room overlooking the kitchen. For lunch hours, a great value for money, 5-course menu is also on the offer for 35 Euro per person, and that is what I opted for, with an extra a la carte dish.

Monday, 20 May 2019

La Buchetta

Fine quality Tuscan cuisine 


Grilled beef fillet with fresh truffle


Located in the city center of Florence, La Buchetta is an iconic Tuscan restaurant that is extremely popular. Unlike many other Italian restaurants nearby, La Buchetta offers both a classic and creative menu. The classic side of things is your traditional Tuscan cuisine, while the creative menu is mostly modern Italian flair with some unusual twist, such as using vodka in a steak and using blue cheese in a pasta. Meat is a big deal in La Buchetta, with 8 main courses are steak based, out of 15 choices. To fully experience what the restaurant is capable of, I opted for both classic and creative dishes from its menu.

Vini e Vecchi Sapori

Florence's local charm


Steak with cheese and rocket


Located in the heart of Florence, Vini e Vecchi Sapori is perhaps one of the most loved restaurants in the city. Popular to both the locals and tourists, the restaurant is extremely popular so booking is essential, but what is so special about this restaurant? Judging from the menu, it is mostly classic Tuscan cuisine, using local ingredients. What really got me knowing it is truly an authentic restaurant is the fact that is stated it offers no pizza, no takeaway, and cappuccino, a far cry from your tourist trap across the city.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Trattoria Mario

Tuscan steak house in Florence


Bistecca alla Fiorentina steak


Trattoria Mario, the family-run steak focus restaurant in Florence is considered to be one of the hottest dining spots for any real foodies and meat lovers. Renown for its legendary bistecca alla Fiorentina steak, the giant T bone steak that Florence is so famous for. Opening for lunch only with a no booking policy, this restaurant would get packed out within minutes as soon as it opens its door at noon. Trattoria Mario offers a small selection of pasta dishes, with a wide range of steak cuts, and that is what most people are here.

Hostaria il Desco

Charming Tuscan restaurant in Florence


Baked rack of lamb with truffle

In the busy Florence city center, Hostaria il Desco is hidden on a narrow street on Via delle Terme, not too far away from Ponte Vecchio. Unlike many other local Tuscan restaurants nearby, Hostaria il Desco has a rather unusual decor, it has a very cozy and charming feel to it, with a romantic and elegant touch. The meal is classic Tuscan, with plenty of pasta dishes. The restaurant has been around since 1954, and it has been providing good old fashioned Tuscan cuisine ever since. When a restaurant has been around for so long and still trading, it must be doing something right.