Sunday, 15 May 2022

Ristorante Lorelei

Stunning classy seaside restaurant


Raw scampi, with ricotta cheese, garden peas and black truffle

Located within a 5 stars hotel of the same name, Lorelei is without a doubt one of the restaurants with the most amazing seaside view. Just on the edge of the ever-busy Sorrento city center, the Michelin starred fine dining restaurant overlooks the sea with Capri island on the left, and the bay of Naples on the right. For sure ask for a table at its terrace space for that stunning view. On the menu, there are 4 tasting menus to pick from, from its signature fish menu, market menu, and vegetable menu to a blind tasting one. Given the seaside location and seafood is such an essential part of Sorrento's cuisine, I opted for the signature menu.

Il Buco

Sorrento's iconic fine dining restaurant  


Steamed lobster on cauliflower cream and saffron chips


When I was running my research on finding where to eat in Sorrento, pretty much every website I came across recommended Il Buco. The 1 Michelin starred restaurant is overseen by Peppe Aversa for over 25 years and is somewhat one of the most iconic restaurants in Sorrento, with its modern local Italian cuisine. The restaurant is located in the heart of the city center within a former church, stretching 3 levels. There are about 20 dishes from its a la carte menu, or you can go for either its fish or land tasting menu, which are smaller dishes taken from its a la carte. For my visit, I opted for the fish tasting menu.

L'Antica Trattoria

 Traditional trattoria house in Sorrento


Octopus with light orange mashed potatoes, green beans


Located in the heart of Sorrento's old town, L'Antica Trattoria is perhaps the most famous authentic restaurant along with O'Parrucchiano La Favorita (which has a stunning fruit and flowers garden). The traditional trattoria is full of oldies charm, with its vintage open-top decor that is packed with paintings, flowers, and plants. Dining inside felt less like dining at a restaurant, but rather in a royal garden instead (all the staff is also well dressed, formal style). The cooking is traditional, with the menu in the classic Italian format of starter, pasta, main, and dessert.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Bagni Delfino

 Sorrento's seafood joint


Bread and snacks

Sorrento's Marina Grande is perhaps the most beautiful part of the city, a seaside bay overlooking the gulf of Naples, which is without a doubt an amazing sea view. However, given the popularity of Marina Grande, it is packed with 'tourist trap' restaurants where they will serve you meatballs and plenty of 'American Italian food'. Bagni Delfino I would rate it as a more authentic one among a sea of restaurants, is pretty hidden as is tucked right at the end of the beach, with a strong focus on seafood. What set this place apart is that it is actually built on top of the sea and it has its own water tank for keeping fresh seafood.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

The Ledbury

 As good as ever


Grilled 10 years old oyster with caviar 


The Ledbury is my no1 choice for fine dining in London, and I am pretty sure in the 2023 Michelin Guide, it will regain its 2 Michelin star status. No doubt this is a restaurant that doesn't rest on past success, as chef-owner Brett kept on pushing and he has developed some really interesting things while in lockdown, with an in-house mushrooms aging device, as well as working with farmers directly on animals development. For my 17th visit, I opted for the long-tasting menu as usual. 

Monday, 2 May 2022

The Glasshouse Kew

The ideal neighborhood restaurant


Veal, tuna, capers and asparagus

When I used to work at Hammersmith, the classy neighborhood restaurant La Trompette is perhaps the finest restaurant in the area. Since I moved to East London, heading west is not really high on my agenda, but that changed when I decided to take a day out to visit Kew Garden, heading back to La Trompette was on my mind. Then I discovered its sister restaurant Glasshouse is actually located right by the Kew Garden tube station, and I noticed the menu format and price is in fact the same as La Trompette, so the visit to Kew Garden was perfect for me to try out the 1 starred Glasshouse.

Lyle's

Modern international cuisine 



Raw Scallop, Pink Grapefruit & Smoked Roe

10 years ago, people would associate fine dining/ Michelin restaurants to be something formal, for a special occasion, or only for the elites. It is amazing to see how things have developed over the years and now there are plenty of 'casual fine dining' venues popping up that has done a great job to make top-level cooking to be more accessible and less formal. Without a doubt, Lyle's is a perfect example, the 1-star venue kept things simple, with an Ikea feel dining room and an open kitchen, with no dress code enforcement. All the dishes use no more than 5 ingredients and have no fancy presentation but do deliver in great taste.

Hutong

 Dim sum in the sky


Sweet eel dumplings


Hutong at The Shard has to be one of the most specular dining experiences London has to offer, the elegant ancient royal Chinese-themed decor, along with a stunning view of the city with high-end Chinese food is what Hutong is all about. I first encountered Hutong 4 years ago and I found the cooking was pretty standard, but it was from a set lunch which I am fully aware a restaurant's set lunch vs its main offering can have a great contrast in quality. Therefore, I headed to Hutong one more time to go for a full-on dim sum experience.

China Tang

 Great traditional Cantonese cuisine 


Truffle and mushrooms tofu

China Tang at the Dorchester is my to go choice whenever I seek a traditional fine Cantonese experience. Headed up by head chef Fong, his menu is all about classic dishes that you would find in The Southern China region, using top-quality ingredients. With no gimmicks or no fancy presentations, China Tang has managed to create a group of loyal customers and it is able to pack out even a Monday evening. For my latest visit, I opted for a selection of seasonal dim sum and its classic from its a la carte menu.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine London

Traditional Cantonese, refined style


Cantonese roasted duck

For overseas restaurant brands entering the UK market, one of the biggest questions is always going to be, do I adapt my offering to suit the local taste, or do I stay true to my core and offer what has worked in my local market? I recalled when Imperial Treasure first opened in the UK, the menu was more or less the same compared to what they got in Asia. The traditional Cantonese style and Peking duck are what they are known for, the dim sum here doesn't look a great deal different from what you can find in Chinatown at half the price. What set them apart is their taste, and that matters to its main target audience, which is the Asian community in the UK.

Friday, 1 April 2022

The Ledbury

The peak of London fine dining


Lobster, caviar and cauliflower


I can believe this is my 16th visit to The Ledbury, the fine dining restaurant has had a makeover since relaunched back in early 2022. 
One thing I really enjoy about the place is that, unlike many other fine dining restaurants, it doesn't care much for unusual or wacky concepts, and is all about prime ingredients, cooking to perfection with smart flavours combination. This means I can revisit often when I am in search of great tasting food, with a regularly changing menu. Places like Dinner by Heston, with a menu largely remain the same for over 5 years, not somewhere I would head back in a hurry.

Zuberoa

 Old school Basque fine dining charm


Smoked mackerel, anchovies and olives

On my latest trip to San Sebastian, I went with a dining theme in mind as everything I booked, are traditional venues that offer classic cooking without much creativity or gimmicks. Classic is classic for a reason after all. Located just outside of San Sebastian, Zuberoa is a traditional Basque restaurant within a little town called Oiartzun, which is about 20 mins ride if you take a taxi from San Sebastian's old town. The Arbelaiz family has turned this rustic and charming Michelin starred restaurant into a dining destination, routed deep in classical Basque-style cuisine, using the finest ingredients from around the Basque region.

Saltxipi

 Basque old school griller 


1.1kg turbot


Back in 2021, I somehow managed to be able to secure a table at the infamous Elkano and I was fallen in love with the simplicity of open fire grilling using the freshest seafood. Therefore, on a recent trip to San Sebastian, Saltxipi is the perfect type of restaurant to visit. Located on the east side of the city, by the doorstep of the way of St James trail, Saltxipi is an old-school traditional Basque griller (opened back in 1985) that sources local seafood and simply cooked on an open fire. 

Bar Nestor

Legendary for a reason


Tortilla


Whenever I make a trip to San Sebastian, a meal at Bar Nestor is always on the agenda. I have been there 5 times now, the little bar inside the Old Town is not like your typical pintxo bar. They only do a few things but do them exceptionally well, they have the legendary tortilla which there are only 16 portions per service, many would rate it the best tortilla you can find in the world. Besides tortilla, tomatoes, peppers, and rib steak are on the menu, the perfect package for a casual yet flavoursome meal.

Casa Julián

 Txuleta kingdom


Casa Julián


Casa Julian is a little family fun steak restaurant in the Southern part of the Basque Country in Spain. There are plenty of amazing steak restaurants within San Sebastian so to travel an extra mile out of town, it has to be a very special reason for me. Located in a small town called Tolosa, which takes 40 mins train ride from San Sebastian, Casa Julian is highly regarded as one of the finest steak houses in the world. The restaurant sources old-aged dairy cows from the region, before slow grilling using its in-house bespoke device. Unlike the high heat blasting method which most places would cook steak normally.

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Disfrutar

The perfect balance of creativity and taste


Coca pizza with truffle


Disfrutar has not been on my to-visit list since it launched back in 2014. It is now the highest in demand fine dining restaurant in Barcelona, booking a table is not easy unless you plan well in advance. It is currently a 2 stars Michelin restaurant and ranked no4 in the latest World 50 Best guide, many consider it to be the next restaurant to award the prestigious 3 Michelin stars in Spain. Disfrutar offers 2 choices of the tasting menu with both showcased over 20 dishes. The classic menu has a range of iconic dishes from the early days while the festival menu is its 'current' menu, showcasing the best peak ingredients and the restaurant's latest concepts. I opted for the festival menu as I am interested to see what the chefs are trying to do aim toward the 3 stars level.

Alkimia

Quirky Catalan gastronomy


Peas with baby octopus


Alkimia by chef Jordi Vilà has been around for a while in Barcelona since 2002. He has relocated the restaurant back in 2016 with a new concept in mind, with an avant-garde approach both in its cooking and decor. The restaurant is split into two spaces, with a small dining room that has only 6 tables facing an open kitchen for fining dining and serves only a tasting menu, which landed itself a Michelin star, and a more casual space at the back that serve sharing dishes in a la carte format. I have booked in for the 12-course tasting menu experience, interested to see what Jordi is capable of as he is a highly regarded chef in Barcelona.

Bar Canete

A winning modern Tapas bar


Grilled red prawns


Without a doubt, a trip to Barcelona cant be complete without a tapas experience, having eaten a good number of classic, traditional tapas bars in the past, I was searching for a modern venue that has a bit of creative input while mixing in international flavours. Located near the popular tourist hotspot La Rambla, Bar Canete is a highly popular tapa bar for both the locals as well as travelers. it is a very lively place with an open kitchen, where diners can pick to sit by the bar or opt for a more traditional table setting. The menu is big, what caught my eyes is that the chef likes to mix fish and meat ingredients into the same dish, which is somewhat unusual.

Paco Meralgo

Lively Catalan seafood bar


Open prawn omelet


The Catalan region has a stunning seacoast facing the Mediterranean Sea, and its Costa Brava seafront is responsible for some of the finest seafood you can get. Much of the seafood you can find in Barcelona would come from the Med and when seafood is fresh, usually the best method to enjoy is the simple, classic way, and that is what Paco Meralgo is all about. The seafood tapas bar serves a wide range of seafood dishes, usually in either raw form, grilled, or deep-fried. All the seating are bar stalls style and the best place to sit is without a doubt the bar counter facing the opening kitchen where you can see the chefs in action.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

The Ledbury

Good to be back



Egg, truffle, pig trotter

When The Ledbury decided to shut down back in 2020 due to Covid, it was a sad moment for me as I personally feel it is the best fine dining restaurant London has on offer. There is a reason when I first discovered it back in 2012, I became a super fan and managed to visit there every once or twice each year. 10 years later, after 14 visits, I was overwhelmed with joy that chef-owner Brett has decided to reopen the restaurant with an interior makeover. He has also got his core front-of-house team back in town so it was just like the old days. It only offers a tasting menu and I was really excited to see what will The Ledbury be serving in its new form.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Park Chinois

 Sweet 16


Duck de Chine


To celebrate Chinese New Year, a Chinese banquet-style feast with a large group of friends is a must, and it was easy for me to pick Park Chinois as the ideal venue for such an occasion. The upmarket,  modern Chinese restaurant is a favorite joint for me whenever I seek somewhere special. The cooking level is at the highest standard and easily is the best Chinese restaurant in London. Since the turn of the year, the chef team has added some new dishes so Chinese New Year was the perfect occasion to try out some of the new dishes, as well visiting some classics.

Quality Chop House

The real meat champion


Pork head and walnut mayo

For those who have been following my blog, a meal inside the Quality Chop House's private room is something I have been doing every once in a while whenever I am able to gather a group of meat lovers. The Quality Chop House is my no1 steaks and chops restaurant in London. I enjoy the vibe, the cooking, and the chef has done a good job sourcing really fine quality meat cut from across the UK. The private room is a great space for a mini gathering when you have the room all to yourself and at a cost of £65 for food. The set menu offers a range of sharing starters, followed by a meaty main course and dessert.

New Fortune Cookie

Old school Cantonese joint


Stir fry ginger and spring onions lobster with noodles


Queensway London is my secret location for affordable and quality Chinese food, while Chinatown is great and you are flooded with so many choices, I personally found the Cantonese restaurants in Queensway are a touch better and cheaper at the same time! The most affordable joint there is without a doubt New Fortune Cookie, and the restaurant is all about traditional Cantonese dishes, it has a special 'Chinese menu' that contain dishes more catered for the local Chinese as it contains dishes that some locals might find it a bit too much, such as roasted pigeon and pig intestine.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Singapore Garden

Singaporean classic


Black pepper butter crab

I have eaten at many Chinese restaurants in London, but I am keen to explore other South East Asian food, yet I was struggling to find what is considered to be an authentic  Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant. Iconic dishes such as black pepper crab and chicken rice are just some of those dishes I really missed since these dishes are not as widely available in the UK compared to Chinese food. I came across Singapore Garden after being recommended by a local Malaysian chef, so I had high hopes that it will turn out to be a spectacular discovery.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

The Harwood Arms

 The peak of gastropub?


Berkswell Cheese Tart Celeriac and Thyme


Owned by Brett Graham who also runs the much celebrated The Ledbury, The Harwood Arms is the only Michelin starred pub in London, headed up by Jake who was the head chef at The Ledbury. The pub has taken full advantage of Brett's farm network and wild game experience, working with the finest meat you are able to find in the UK, all cooked in a very refined British manner. It offers a 3-course set menu with 5 choices on each course, changing daily depending on the ingredients are available to the chefs. 

Brat

Basque-style fire cooking


Velvet Crab Soup


I really enjoy the open-fire cooking style of the Basque country in Northern Spain, but with Covid around and not easy to travel these days, Brat in Shoreditch is a good alternative. Chef-owner Tom Parry's cooking at Brat is inspired by Elkano, a legendary seafood restaurant with a Michelin star to its name, as well as within the World 50 best's list. The menu at Brat is simple, with a selection of Basque-style dishes such as hake kokotxas and grilled turbot, with many dishes cooked on an open fire. This is actually my 3rd visit, the menu stayed more or less the same since launched, but sadly getting more expensive with the impact of Brexit which drove up the labor and ingredients cost.

Bocca di Lupo

Regional Italian cooking expert 


Pappardelle with beef stracotto ragu
 

Since launched back in 2008, Bocca di Lupo has become an extremely popular, hard-to-book restaurant in London. While there are many Italian restaurants in the capital, Booca di Lupo stood tall and to these days, it is still a hot in-demand venue that is not easy to secure a table. The restaurant offers a range of small to large plates of traditional Italian dishes from different regions of Italy, well ahead of its time before small plates become a trend. It also has a range of dishes using animal off-cuts such as trips and pig foot, very rustic indeed.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Michelin

A list of Michelin starred restaurants I have covered in my blog. By no means, Michelin is the perfect restaurant guide, but still, a decent source when it comes to searching for top-level dining experience and a guide that is respected by top chefs around the world. 




* Rating as of 2022 guide

UK

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester***

Angler* (1sit visit)

Angler* (2nd visit)

A Wong*

Behind*

Barrafina* (1st)

Barrafina* (2nd)

Brat* (1st)

Brat* (2nd)

Brat* (3rd)

Core** (1st visit)

Core** (2nd visit)

Core*** (3rd visit)


Claude Bosi at Bibendum** (2nd visit)


Celeste* (3rd visit)




Dinner by Heston Blumenthal** (2nd)

Elystan Street*

Galvin La Chapelle(1st visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(2nd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(3rd visit)

Galvin La Chapelle(4th visit)


Harwood Arms* (2nd visit)

Harwood Arms* (3rd visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (3rd visit)


Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (4th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (5th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (6th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught** (7th visit)

Helene Darroze at the Connaught*** (8th visit)

Hakkasan* (1st visit)

Hakkasan* (2nd visit)

Hide*

Kitchen Table* (1st visit)

Kitchen Table** (2nd visit)

Kitchen Table** (3rd visit)

Kitchen Table** (4th visit)

Kitchen W8(2nd visit)

Kai Mayfair* 1st visit)

Kai Mayfair* (2nd visit)

La Dame de Pic* (1st visit)

La Dame de Pic* (2nd visit)


La Dame de Pic** (3rd visit)

La Trompette*


Le Gavroche** (1st)

Le Gavroche** (2nd)

Le Gavroche** (3rd)

Le Gavroche** (4th)

Lyle's* (1st)

Lyle's* (2nd)

Lyle's* (3rd)

Lyle's* (4th)

Le Champignon Sauvage*

Murano* (2nd visit)

Midsummer House**

Marcus * (2nd visit)

Marcus * (3rd visit)

Marcus * (4th visit)




Pollen Street Social* (5th visit)

Portland* (1st visit)

Portland* (2nd visit)

Seven Park Place* (1st visit)

Seven Park Place* (2nd visit)

Sketch (1st visit)**

Sketch (2nd visit)***
 
Story*

St John*

The Clove Club* (1st visit)

The Clove Club* (2nd visit)

The Clove Club* (3rd visit)

The Clove Club** (4th visit)




The Five Fields* (3rd visit)

The Coach Marlow*

The Hind Heads*

Waterside Inn*** (2nd visit)

Sabor* (1st visit)

Sabor* (2nd visit)

Sabor* (3rd visit)

Sabor* (4th visit)

Sabor* (5th visit)






Hall of fame

The Ledbury** (2nd visit)

The Ledbury** (3rd visit)

The Ledbury** (4th visit)

The Ledbury** (5th visit)

The Ledbury** (6th visit)

The Ledbury** (7th visit)

The Ledbury** (8th visit)

The Ledbury** (9th visit)

The Ledbury** (10th visit)

The Ledbury** (11th visit)

The Ledbury** (12th visit)

The Ledbury** (13th visit)

The Ledbury** (14th visit)

The Ledbury (15th visit)

The Ledbury (16th visit)

The Ledbury (17th visit)

Greenhouse** (2nd visit)

Greenhouse** (3rd visit)

Greenhouse** (4th visit)


Spain

Azurmendi***

Akelare***