Monday 30 September 2019

The Yeatman

The height of Portuguese cuisine 

Pigeon, foie gras, onion, artichoke

When you think of a restaurant with the perfect package, besides the food, the decor, the location, and the services also play a major factor. Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, where is famous for its port wine cellars, The Yeatman is a luxury 5 stars hotel, on top of a hill overlooking the beautiful River Duro and the city centre of Porto. Inside the hotel, it has one of the only five 2 Michelin starred restaurants in Portugal, with the same name. It is also part of Relais and Chateaux's rosters of hotel and restaurants, meaning it is considered a very special and prestige venue. Many travel websites rate The Yeatman as one of the very best restaurants in the country, offering creative, highly technical modern Portuguese cuisine. It offers a fixed tasting menu only, so if you are not a fan of such format, perhaps this is not the right place for you.

Casa de Chá da Boa Nova

Seafood marathon

Squid “Chanel”

Located from the outskirts of Porto, Casa de Chá da Boa Nova is a 1 Michelin starred restaurant that champions seafood cooking. Besides talking about the food, the first thing you would notice when you see the restaurant is that it is located by the ocean, with a stunning view, along with a beach and lighthouse not far away. Besides, the design of the restaurant is a work of art, very modern and stylish. The menu itself is pretty mad itself, no a la carte, just a long tasting menu that contains no meat, just seafood dishes one after another till you reach the desserts. This is perfect for me as I am a massive lover of all things fishy and Porto is considered a great place for seafood.

Taberna Dos Mercadores

A little Portuguese seafood heaven

Salt crusted seabass

When you think of Portuguese food, besides the legendary roasted pork and custard tart, seafood is another strong offering from the nation. Located in the heart of Porto, Taberna Dos Mercadores is a tiny independent seafood restaurant that has gained a reputation of cooking up some of the finest seafood dishes in the city. with less than 10 tables, and not a chance to get in unless you book well in advance, it was easily in my to-visit list when I took a trip to Porto. The menu is best for sharing, with a small selection fo tapa sized dishes, as well as some bigger dishes, such as the restaurant's signature salted codfish. 

Ostras & Coisas

Seafood and oyster bar in Porto

Fresh crab with brown meat and garlic bread

Checking out a seafood restaurant was high on my agenda when I was planning my Porto trip. However, from my research, it appears all the major and iconic seafood restaurants are located in Matosinhos, the westside of Porto which is by the ocean. As I was staying in central Porto, travelling is not really ideal for me so when I discovered there is a modern seafood bar in downtown Porto, especially specializing in fresh oysters, it was a no brainer for me to give it a go. Ostras & Coisas has a strong selection of seafood items on the menu, in fact, there are no vegetables or meat dishes on the menu. You can see the daily catches on the display counter at the front of the restaurant, it also has a few water tanks, filled up with fresh lobsters and crabs.

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.