Sunday 24 November 2019

The Grill at The Dorchester

New chapter

The Grill lobster thermidor tart

The Dorchester is blessed with a 3 Michelin stars restaurant in the name of Alan Ducasse and a popular Chinese restaurant China Tang. However, its less formal British restaurant, The Grill, somewhat is not much loved at all. Every time when I walk past it, it hardly has any customers, and I got to say, looking at the menu, it is dull and expensive. The hotel clearly is trying to inject life and excitement into The Grill, by appointing Tom Booton as its head chef, Tom is a serious talent with working experience from the like of Alyn Williams, L'Autre Pied and Hide. At the Grill, he has come up with a brand new menu with plenty of British classics, with modern refinement. 


Not Fat and not duck

Scallop, barbucine and sesame

When there is a new restaurant opening, one of the first thing I check is the CV of the chef behind it. Whoever is the PR agency behind Trivet, the new opening by Johnny Lake must be one of the easiest jobs as Johnny's record is seriously impressive. You might have encountered him on some of Heston Blumenthal's TV shows in the past, as Heston's right-hand man and the company's Executive Head Chef. I never got the chance to try out Fat Duck so it was a great opportunity for me to test out what Johnny's cooking is all about, with his very own restaurant that he has total control of it. Trivet is located in London Bridge, which lately has somewhat become a popular location for restaurant launches.

45 Jermyn St

Old school charm in the heart of London

Champagne Risotto, white truffle

Located just behind Fortnum and Mason in Mayfair, 45 Jermyn Street is an upmarket restaurant in the mood of a modern brasserie. The restaurant has a reputation for serving high-quality game dishes and in true Mayfair fashion: caviar. The menu is big, you have 15 choices for the main course alone. There are some old school classic dishes on the menu, as well as some international dishes. Seeing a menu that has both Mexican tacos and Beef Wellington at the same time is really puzzling for me, but I guess when you are located at one of the busiest tourist districts in London, you need to be mindful to have something for everyone. The big question for me was, can the kitchen pull it off.

Sunday 17 November 2019


Top Japanese pop up 

Miso tooth-fish

There are many top Japanese restaurants in London already, from Nobu, Zuma to Saka no Hana and Roka. But I just got to say they are far too expensive for what they are offering. I don't understand why a plate of grilled fish can cost more than £40, and a few pieces of sushi can cost more than £30, hence I rarely go for Japanese food when going out as it is hard to find a value for money joint. So when I discovered there is an informal but high-end Japanese pop up coming to town by Australian chef Shaun Presland, I had little interest. However, after checking the menu, it seems the quality of the ingredients that Shaun is using is really interesting, things that you won't see much elsewhere, such as kingfish and abalone.

Volta Do Mar

A Portuguese disaster in London

Ovos com tomate, Dorset crab

For some reason, there are not a great number of Portuguese cuisine themed restaurants in London. It has always been treated as the poor cousin of Spanish cuisine. After a few trips to Portugal, I discovered Portuguese cuisine can be just as delightful as its Spanish counterpart, especially in the seafood department. Whenever there is a new Portuguese opening, I take great interest, from Casa do Frango to Bar Duro in London Bridge. Therefore, the opening of Volta Do Mar is a big deal. It positions itself as a Portuguese restaurant with international influences thanks to Portgual's rich history in exploring the world in the past, from South America to West Africa and Southeast Asia. 

Lina Stores King's Cross

Classic Italian done well

Egg Yolk Tagliolini, Vacche Brune Parmigiano, Butter, Black Truffle

There are so many Italian restaurants in London, I have lost track of how many new opening in 2019 alone. One of the big trends in Italian food is the rise of pasta focus concept, all kicked off by Padella in London Bridge which now gained cult status. Lina Stores itself has a rich history, it started off life at a simple deli that sells imported sauces, ham and dry goods, before launching a pasta restaurant in 2018 nearby which became an instant hit. Clearly, everything is going well for Lina Stores, as it has just launched another restaurant in King Cross. The venue, as well as the menu, is much bigger than its Soho site. Besides pasta, it also offers a small selection of mains and a wider choice of antipasti. 

Sunday 10 November 2019


Star in the making

Welsh lamb, sweet pepper romesco, pickled walnut & black olive caramel

Located on the 7th floor of The Strafford Hotel, Allegra is a brand new fine-dining restaurant headed up by Patrick Powell, the former head chef of the much-celebrated Chiltern Firehouse, which was flooded by celebrities, foodies and star chasers. Allegra itself has a large menu, catering for breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as bar snacks, which is a massive demand to the kitchen team. For dinner, the menu format is fairly in line with most modern British restaurant. It offers an a la carte menu which also contains pre-starter snacks and side dishes. To fully sample what chef Patrick Powell is really capable of, I ordered 11 dishes from the a la carte menu and shared everything with my dining partners.



Celeriac, avocado, angelica seeds

When Dabbous was around, it was without a doubt, the hottest restaurant in London. The Michelin starred restaurant was highly praised by foodies and food critics. A table at Dabbous was so in demand that you would need to book 6 months in advance to have a chance to secure one. Fast forward to 2018, Dabbous is no more and the chef behind it has launched a new restaurant called Hide in Mayfair and it was awarded a Michelin star soon after it opened. Hide is not your usual restaurant, it has 3 floors with 2 restaurants that offer a completely different menu. The cooking style is modern European with a hint of Nordic feel to it. The top floor restaurant at Hide is considered the more formal part, with a short tasting menu costing over £100.

China Tang London

Classic revisits

1.5 kg Native lobster, ginger and noodles

There are only a handful of Chinese restaurants I would keep on returning in London as it is such a large city with so many choices. It is hard to find top quality authentic Chinese restaurants but China Tang totally fits the bill. The hotel restaurant inside the 5 stars Dorchester Hotel has been around for more than a decade, but it is still going strong. Every evening, no matter if it is a Monday night or weekend, the restaurant is flooded with diners from around the world. The cooking by Chef Tong is based on classic Cantonese cuisine, but leverage top-grade local ingredients, such as Scottish wagyu beef and Cornish sole. Every season Head Chef Fong would add a few specials dishes on top of the standard al carte menu. 

Park Chinois

Weekend Chinese lunch in style

Scampi Shumai, Har Gau and Summer and Black Truffle Cheung Fun

Park Chinois is easily my top Chinese restaurant in London for me whenever I seek a top-level Chinese dining experience. The Mayfair site offers Cantonese cuisine, with a range of European and regional Chinese influences. The restaurant has 2 floors, the top ground floor is a classy, stylish dining room called Salon de Chine, while the basement is more informal and has a club feel to it. The lunch and dinner menu is fairly similar, the main difference is that the dim sum choices are a lot bigger while at dinner time it has a larger a late carte menu. For my lunch, I went for the best of both worlds, selected a range of dim sum as a starter, before diving into some meat and seafood mains.