Saturday 15 August 2020

Helene Darroze at The Connaught

Taste of summer

XXL Scottish scallop, spices, carrot, citrus

2020 has been a crazy year so far, who would have expected a virus that would cause such damage across the world? The UK restaurant trade has been badly hit, with restaurants closing down left and right. My no1, aka The Ledbury has sadly called it a day, along with the fantastic Greenhouse in Mayfair. I am really sad indeed. I have picked the 2 Michelin starred Helene Darroze at The Connaught (HD) as my first restaurant to visit in the post lockdown world, just in time to take advantage of the VAT cut and gosh, I need a proper fine dining treat after more than 3 months of cooking at home. To adapt to Covid 19, HD has reduced to serving only a tasting menu, using a selection of prime summer ingredients. It was my 8th visit to HD but I know it will be nothing like before with social distancing in mind.

Le Gavroche

Classic fine dining temple

Seared Scallop, Fresh Peas, Parma Ham & Kampot Pepper Foam

Lockdown has been a nightmare for me, suddenly, going out to a restaurant is mission impossible for more than 3 months. As someone who treats dining out as a hobby, it was a hard time indeed. At the start of July, restaurants started to reopening but there were many that shut down for good. At the high end, Michelin starred Greenhouse, The Ledbury, Texture, and Umu are no more, this is painful especially I rate Greenhouse and The Ledbury as the finest restaurants in the capital. I returned to Le Gavroche as a celebration of getting to eat out again and I wonder how many more restaurants might not be around this time next year with the second wave of COVID 19 is just a matter of when. At Le Gavroche, there were fewer tables with some plastic screen installed for social distancing reason, with all staff wearing a mask.

The Five Fields

Cozy and elegant Britsih fine dining 

Roe Deer, Courgette and Blueberry

The COVID 19 shitstorm has really impacted the restaurant industry, as many restaurants are still shut and some have already closed for good, I know that I better pay a visit to some of my favorite restaurants in London as I might not have a chance in the near future. The Five Fields is high on my to return list. The 1 Michelin starred restaurant championed British ingredients and present it in a really beautiful and refined way. I have eaten there two times before and I always feel it is one of the prime candidates to be promoted to 2 stars level. For my 3rd visit, the restaurant removed a la carte and reduced to only serving a single tasting menu, just like many other fine dining restaurants across London.


Basque-style BBQ 

Velvet Crab

I love BBQ, especially BBQing a fine cut of meat or top-grade seafood, it is hard to beat. Unfortunately, not many London restaurants have mastered such techniques, but Brat is one of the few places that fit the bill. The restaurant champions open fires cooking with fine quality meat, as well as fresh wild seafood sourced from around the UK, its whole BBQ turbot has become somewhat legendary and has become an iconic dish from Brat. Less than a year since launched back in 2018, it gained a Michelin star. I have eaten there in the past, while I think is a great fuss-free BBQ restaurant, I don't think it quite reaches that Michelin star standard. Anyway, after lifting of lockdown, I miss eating seafood so I went back to Brat to sample some of its new dishes.


Spanish tapas temple in Soho

Deep fry red mullet

Barrafina has come a long way, what started off as a trendy tapas joint in Soho has now become what many would consider being the best tapas bar in the UK, gaining a Michelin star along the way and getting a table could be a mission even on a Monday night. It is extremely popular that help it turned into a mini restaurant chain empire, with sites spreading across in London. Covid 19 impacted the whole restaurant trade in 2020 which forced many walk-in restaurants switched up to allow booking in advance to help with the government's track and chance policy. Secure a slot at the time I desire is now a reality, as I always wanted to return after I had a remarkable meal there 6 years ago.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

Proper Cantonese fine dining

Peking duck

Imperial Treasure London is the first outpost of the international Imperial Treasure restaurant group in Europe. The group is renowned for its fine dining Cantonese cuisine, and its Peking duck is considered to be one of the finest in the world. I have eaten at Imperial Treasure London a few times already in the past and while they do charge a premium, they do offer proper traditional Cantonese cuisine. Many Chinese restaurants in the UK adapt their offering to make it less 'authentic' in order to make it more appealing to the locals, so I do respect Imperial Treasure sticking to its gun. On the back of Covid 19, I know I need to support the Chinese restaurant community and I picked Imperial Treasure to be my first post-Covild 19 Chinese restaurants as I do miss its legendary Peking duck.