Tuesday 27 September 2016

Elystan Street

Brand new chapter

Loin of lamb with pesto roasted aubergine, garlic purée,
green olives and balsamic vinegar

When Philip Howard decided to step down from double Michelin starred, The Square, and sold the restaurant with joint owner, Nigel Platts Martin, to the MARC corporation. He wasted no time to open another restaurant called Elystan Street in Chelsea, on the former site of Tom Aikens. After 25 years at The Square, I think Philip had indeed made a right decision to have a fresh start to focus on something else. I felt that even though the cooking and the hospitality at The Square was outstanding, it had become slightly dated and missing a spark. Philip described the cooking at Elystan Street as modern British in essence and ingredients lead, the menu is the usual a la carte format with mains costing around the £35 mark.


All about the lamb dishes

lamb chops, lemon, mint

Yosma is a brand new Turkish restaurant that has just recently launched on Baker Street. While it plays central stage to the classic Turkish grill dishes, it is far from your standard Turkish restaurant. It has a rather big menu containing both hot and cold meze, as well as dishes from using a clay oven. The restaurant itself is fairly big with a dark, modern feel to it. The space is spit into two part, with a main dining room on one side and a full cocktail bar on another. Guests are welcome to dine at the bar and the drink menu contain plenty of raki and raki based cocktail, Turkish's national spirit.

Monmouth Kitchen

Italian Peruvian combo

Lobster ceviche

Located on Seven Dial, Monmouth Kitchen is a newly opened restaurant inside the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel. It has somewhat an unusual theme, it is a tapas sharing concept restaurant which contain both Italian or Peruvian cuisine. Judging from the menu, the Italian side is fairly standard, with dishes such as pizza and pasta. The Peruvian is far more interesting, including plenty of ceviche dishes and skewers. For me it is a rather odd concept of serving two very difference style of cuisine in the same dining room, especially the Italian side of things are all about classic dishes while the Peruvian side focus on modern dishes.

Monday 12 September 2016


State of the art 

Azurmendi's greenhouse

A trip to Bilbao can not be complete without visiting the highly praised restaurant: Azurmendi. A fine dining restaurant with 3 Michelin Stars and awarded place no.16 from the World's 50 Best restaurant in the 2016 edition. The cooking is modern Basque in essence, with a touch of creativity and flair. The restaurant also has multiple gardens to grow its own produces as well as a vineyard. What is fun about Azurmendi is that guest won't be taken to the dining from the start, instead, they will be taken to the kitchen with canapes and welcome drink followed by a visit to its greenhouse to sample more snacks first.


Luxury fine dining, Basque style 


When I was doing my research on where to dine in Bilbao, Etxanobe really stood out for me, the 1 Michelin starred restaurant has a really impressive dining room, with a strong modern art influence as well as a lovely outdoor terrace which oversee the city. Located inside the Euskalduna Conference Centre, the cooking is a blend of traditional Basque cuisine with a creative and playful twist. Diners can choose between a la carte or the chef's tasting menu. The first thing I have noticed is the heat warming welcoming from the waiters on our arrival, from leading us to the table on the terrace followed by a greeting from chef- owner Fernando Canales, it all made us feel really special.


Prime ingredients tasting

Spider crab in corn stew

Mina is a Michelin starred restaurant located in the Old Town area of Bilbao, overlooking the river and the famous Ribera market. The restaurant has a rather modern charm with funky stairs leading to the main dining space. It has 8 counter seating facing the kitchen which is great if you want to engage with the chefs and wanting to find out more about their creation. The cooking is very modern and use very high quality ingredients from local regions. The restaurant only offers tasting menu so unless you are open to try new and experimental things, Mina might not be ideal for you.

La Viña del Ensanche

Top notch Basque cuisine 

Joselito Iberian Cured Ham with tomato,
virgin olive oil and oven baked ciabatta

La Viña del Ensanche, a traditional Spanish restaurant in the heart of Bilbao downtown. It was highly recommended by a close friend who had just recently came back from Bilbao and judging from all the positive online reviews, it does seem like a place that was well worth a visit. The restaurant had two dining space, a casual pintxos bar with tavern seating in one end and a much more formal and classy dinning room on the other end. The menu was large, with traditional pintxos, tapas, tasting menu, as well as a a gastronomic menu.  

El Globo

Bilbao's classic

Grilled prawns

If your research online where is the best place to eat at an affordable price 
in Bilbao, you will most likely to see El Globo high on the list. With countless awards, El Globo is considered one of the finest pintxos bars in Bilbao. Located in the city centre, the bar has a small dining room as well as an outside space with a full table service. The menu contain a selection of pintxos as well as larger dishes which are ideal for sharing. This is also ideal for a quick lunch with a strong list of sandwiches and salads. 

Gure Toki

Modern basque cuisine

Gure Toki

Gure Toki is located right in the heart of the Plaza Nueva in the Old Town area of Bilbao. This modern pintxos bar has been given a high level of recommendation and praises since it was relaunched in 2015. The best thing about this pintxo bar was that the dishes on the menu were cooked to order (you could still order pre-made pintxo by the bar), also the cooking definitely had a modern factor, with things such as tempura and curry being used in its dishes. 

El Huevo Frito

High standard pintxos

El Huevo Frito

While on my trip to Bilbao, on my must do list, of course, was to try out some of the hottest pintxos bars. You can hardly find any pintxos bars in London and usually they lack quality, so I was really excited to finally to get a chance to try the real deal. El Huevo Frito was right in the heart of the city centre, a tiny bar specialising in egg based pintxos. Even during midday early hours, it was filled with locals, surrounded buzzing atmosphere whilst many other places nearby were half empty, which indicated it was a quality place.

Saturday 10 September 2016


Great British tasting

Isle of Wight tomatoes

I always keep an close eye with new launches from chefs that have had an extensive experience from top restaurants. Anglo is a modern British restaurant by Mark Jarvis, who has an impressive CV working across at places such as Texture and Zuma. So I was really eager to try his cooking at this restaurant in Farringdon. Anglo so far has been a success, scoring some very positive reviews from the media which gave me extra motivation to visit. Anglo only offer a price fixed tasting menu in the evening, so if tasting menu isn't your cup of tea, go for lunch when you can pick from a normal a la carte menu.

Monday 5 September 2016

Eneko at One Aldwych

Basque cooking in London


Iberico ham, suckling pig, crispy pork jowl

When I heard Eneko was launching in London, I was really excited. No less because it is from the same team behind the much celebrated 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Spain: Azurmendi. I have just returned from a very special meal at Azurmendi, it was truly incredible but Eneko was a completely difference beast, from the concept, style of cooking to the decor. It was just not comparable. The menu was a la carte format with a far more traditional approach. The style of cooking was Basque in principal, with a twist of modern element in the mix. The restaurant itself was located inside the 5 star hotel, One Aldwych. the funky decor actually reminded me of the famous art museum Guggenheim in Bilbao.


Modern Uzbeki cuisine 

Hand-made puff pastry parcels filled with beef & lamb
and beef & lamb manti

Smarkand is a brand new restaurant just opened in Fitzrovia, located on the former site of the Spanish restaurant Fino. Smarkand is all about cuisine from the nation of Uzbekistan. While I have no knowledge of Uzbeki food, I am pretty sure the cooking has been given a western refinement to make it more palatable for the locals. The menu is fairly long with a large choice of starter dishes. Smarkand has an impressive vodka list with some rare brands, which you normally could only find in special retails. I am an admirer of the decor, it is dark and exotic with a touch a modern edge.

Ormer Mayfair

Modern British fine dining

Jersey lobster ravioli, crab and tomato bisque, shallot

London just can't get enough of new restaurant openings, but that usually fall into the casual  or concept dining restaurants. Ormer Mayfair is riding against the trend, a fine dining restaurant inside the Flemings hotel. Headed up by Shaun Rankin, a talented chef which has a Michelin star at his Jersey restaurant, offering modern British cuisine. Like most fine dining restaurant, the menu offers the usual a la carte choices as well as a tasting menu at £75 per person. This kind of pricing would fall into a 1 Michelin Star territory so my expectation was high. But given the chef's background and merit, I was fairly confident the kitchen could deliver the goods, instead of turning Ormer into just another over priced restaurant inside a posh hotel. 


Work of art

Front of Greenhouse

Greenhouse is a two Michelin starred Michelin restaurant in Mayfair, the cooking is modern French while maintain a touch of classic glamour and sophistication. It has been over two years since I last eaten there, with a half day off from work, I figured it would be a good idea to try out its set lunch menu as the restaurant does not offer the good value £40 menu at weekends. I was also interested to see how the restaurant has progressed as I am a big fan of chef Amraud Bignon's presentation with his dishes, for me, I think Greenhouse has, by far the best food plating in London, every single dish are presented like artwork.

Sagardi London

Basque BBQ

Grill kitchen

Located in Shoreditch, Sagardi is a Spanish restaurant specialising in Basque cuisine. It is already a successful business back in Spain and now it aims to expand in the UK market. Basque cooking is one of the finest cuisines in the world so I was very excited to dine at Sagardi after seeing the restaurant claim that they import their ingredients from the Basque region daily. On arrival, I was already impressed with the open grilling kitchen and butcher session, this shows the restaurant takes their Basque style grill meat seriously.

Gauthier Soho

Taking to the next level

Barbary Duck Classic “Canard aux Cerises”
Dried & Fresh Cherries, Rainbow Chard Confit Duck Leg & Duck Jus

This is my 5th visit to the much celebrated Gauthier restaurant in Soho. This popular restaurant is one of my personal favourite when I want to seek a high end French restaurant without needing to sell my house. It has a really good value lunch menu at £25 as well as a long tasting menu which is perfect for any serious fine dining lovers, a long menu containing up to 8 courses, based on in season prime ingredients. One really cool thing about this restaurant is its decor, it is spread across 3 floors inside an attached building, inside it has a really cosy feeling and it is almost like dining at someone else's home.

Sunday 4 September 2016

Old Pulteney Whisky

Whisky and food matching

These days, consumer's knowledge in whisky is not what it is used to be, people generally have a much greater understanding and seek finer quality whiskies, comparing to 10-15 years ago. But if you are new to whisky, you might find it challenging due to the taste and the "Granddad" images that whisky has. Old Pulteney Whisky however has came up with a great idea that was both fun and engaging, which I am sure would get people excited even if they are not whisky drinkers. They have teamed up with chef Aiden Byrne at his restaurant, Manchester House, and created a special whisky and food pairing event. Aiden had created a selection of bespoke canapes to match 3 of Old Pulteney's offering. Aiden is well renowned for his creative modern fine dining and I was really interested to see what he had in store for the event.