Sunday, 13 June 2021

The Ritz

Classy French fine dining

Bresse Duck

While the UK was still on lockdown, I was asking myself which restaurant is on my 'must return list'. Sadly The Ledbury and Greenhouse are now no more, and Kitchen Table is still shut at the time of writing. So The Ritz was one of the few left at the fine dining level. I had a great memory from my first visit last year, the tasting menu was truly outstanding and I always wanted to try chef John William's more traditional dishes from the ALC menu, especially its legendary table side dishes 'Art de la table'. That was enough for me to justify a return visit. Of course, The Ritz's dining room is grand and classy with state-of-the-art service attached to it, which is another plus to the restaurant.


Casual fine dining star experience

Honey-glazed Sladesdown duck. Young turnips, black cardamom & lemon

Portland is part of a collection of British restaurants under the Wood Head Group, which also owns the much-celebrated Quality Chop House. I first encountered Portland when it was newly launched back in 2015, and I was really impressed. While it was in a casual, informal setting, the food quality was at fine dining level and it soon gained a Michelin star. 6 years later, I returned to Portland, many things have changed. The then head chef who won the Michelin star has left. Social distancing measure means fewer tables and there now is a tasting menu at £75, and that is what I opted for. Given ALC cost £65, it just seems like a no-brainer to add a few more dosh to have the complete Portland dining experience.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Bocca di Lupo

The hallmark of fine quality Italian cooking

Grilled langoustines

Booca Di Lupo has long been a popular Italian restaurant in Soho, a hit for the locals and I recalled every time when I walked past Archer Street, the restaurant is always packed. To secure a table for a weekend dinner slot, you will need to book weeks in advance, if not months. Covid came along and it seems that didn't impact much to Bocca di Lupo as far as booking once lock down was over, thanks to its strong loyal customers base it has built up over the year. This is not a typical Italian restaurant, with a big selection of regional dishes in mostly small pates format, almost like tapas style so you most likely need to order 3 - 4 dishes per person, depending on how hungry you are.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

Duck to the future

Peking duck

Without a doubt, feasting on fine dining quality Chinese food was high on my agenda when lockdown is finally over. For sure, you can get takeaway from many Chinese outlets but is just not the same as dining in, and some dishes lose the quality and essence after traveling, such as Peking duck and dim sum. The Peking duck at Imperial Treasure is some of the finest you can get in London. As far as traditional Cantonese cooking, not many other Chinese restaurants can rival its standard (and price!). For my 6th visit to the venue, I pre-ordered a whole duck, along with a selection of dishes from the ALC menu.

Gold Mine

Roasted duck temple

Steamed chicken with spring onion & soy

Gold Mine has somewhat gained a reputation of serving the best traditional Cantonese roasted duck in London. The classic Chinese restaurant in Bayswater is loved by the local Chinese communities for its old-school Cantonese cuisine, things that you are unlikely to find in your local Chinese takeaways, such as salted fish & pork cooked in a clay pot and lamb stew with tofu sheets. The restaurant was doing a decent trade over lockdown, especially with its infamous roasted duck, but for me, many Chinese dishes lose their quality after traveling so I always prefer to dine in.

Mandarin Kitchen

Chinese seafood veteran

Stir fry lobster Cantonese style

Bayswater has always been considered the second Chinatown within London, housed many great Chinese restaurants. Since the Covid-19 impact, it forced the iconic Royal China group to close down its Bayswater operation, a sad moment as its Bayswater joint is its very first restaurant. Just opposite it, is Mandarin Kitchen, another household name among the local Chinese communities. I personally think it is the best Chinese restaurant in Bayswater and I have been there a few times in the past. The family-run business is known for its seafood dishes done in the classical Cantonese cooking manner, especially with its braised lobster noodles, which have become its signature offering and now has become the must-order dish on the menu.