Thursday 14 July 2022

The Ledbury

The daddy of London fine dining 

Pyrenean Milk Fed Lamb Caramelised Cream, Wild Garlic, and Morel

Since The Ledbury reopened in February, I was in super hyped mode and ended up booking a few times spreading across 6 months. Just in case it will be a mission to book a table as pre covid, it is one of the hardest to book restaurants in London. Since the reopening, I have eaten there 3 times already and I would say it will be super easy for the restaurant to retain 2 stars come 2023. One thing that makes The Ledbury stand apart is its service level and the length that chef-owner Brett would go to source the finest local ingredients, with its own farm nursing local Iberican pork and deers.

Aulis London

 Dinner for 8, Rogan's style 

Carrot dumpling with tarragon and pickled onions

I always enjoy tasting menu format in a counter dining space when you are able to engage with the chefs, so Aulis is just the kind of restaurant I just know it is my cup of tea. On top of that, it is a concept by Simon Rogan, and I have been to all of his other London restaurants Roganic and Fera (sadly both are now closed, both top-level restaurants),  so I had high expectations of Aulis. Given it only has 8 seats per day, it is a mission to book a table, and you likely need to book 4 months ahead to secure a seat with a prepayment policy too.

Noble Palace

Secret Chinese fine dining palace

Peking duck

Noble Palace has to be one of the lowest profile opening in London in recent history, with not much press coverage or dining reviews since it was launched in June 2022. The restaurant hasn't even got a website or newsletter, just a low-key Instagram page that is hardly active. You don't even know what you will be eating as there is no menu around online. We know that it is a fine-dining Chinese restaurant, with a real focus on Cantonese and Jing cuisine, and that fancy car likes to park at the front of the venue, but that's about it, with a sense of unknown behind it.

La Trompette

Chiswick classic

Beets, artichoke, summer leaves

9 years later, I returned to La Trompette once again, I rarely travel to west London but it was always on the back of my mind to one day head back to La Trompette. Located in Chiswick, the French-themed neighbourhood restaurant is sister restaurant to The Glasshouse in Kew Garden, another excellent venue that I have visited lately. The cooking style of La Trompette is based on classic French cuisine with a light modern European touch, nothing too creative or experimental. The 3-course menu format is the same as lunch and dinner, but lunch at a lower price so you will always get better value for money if you come for lunch.

Sunday 10 July 2022

Lasarte Barcelona

The peak of fine dining in Barcelona?

Scarlet shrimp soup, tomato, celery and green apple

Barcelona is packed with many great restaurants, from budget tapas, seafood joints to high-end venues. I have visited Barcelona 6 times but still, there are so many places to discover, so returning to the same place has little reason for me... unless it is exceptional to the level that I would rate it as the very best you can find in Spain. Back in 2013, I dined at Lasarte (by the legend Martin Berasategui) and it opened up my eyes to how amazing fine dining can be in Spain. 9 years later, I am back once again. The chef and management team more or less stayed the same, with the restaurant having a massive revamp, with a much larger space with a much higher ceiling and a bigger kitchen. It also gained a 3rd Michelin star.

Koy Shunka Baecelona

The height of Japanese cuisine in Europe?

Canapes of mackerel, monkfish skin, dashi

Caelis Barcelona

Outstanding fine dining, open kitchen style

Lobster royale with caviar

Located inside the 5 stars Hotel Ohla Barcelona, Caelis is a fine dining restaurant by French chef Romain Fornell. What set this place apart is its slick open kitchen where you can book its counter dining space, watching the chefs at work. If you are not a fan of the counter setting, that is no issue as the Calis also offers traditional dining table space too. It is a tasting menu only venue, with the longer 'Celebration' menu containing 18 dishes using the finest ingredients from the Catalan region. 

Dos Pebrots Barcelona

Historial Mediterranean taste

Cured anchovies 2 ways, 2 years and 48 hours

9 years ago, when I visited Barcelona for the first time, I experience fusion cuisine at Dos Palillos by Albert Raurich. The concept was totally new to me and it really open up my mind to how when using western concepts and fine local ingredients, then applying Asian flavours (when done right), it can turn into something truly interesting and great. Its chef-owner, Albert Raurich has since launched Dos Pebrots, a totally different concept, revisiting the past to recreate classic Mediterranean flavours, just sounds like what is Heston doing with his Dinner by Heston restaurant back in London.

Mediamanga Barcelona

Modern casual vibe, traditional taste

Creamy rice with Palamòs prawns

Somewhat a strange name, Mediamanga is a modern Spanish restaurant located in the heart of Barcelona. The restaurant labels its concept based on traditional Mediterranean flavours, but with a modern playful touch, using the best it can get from all the Catalan markets. Unlike many other edgy gastro bars/restaurants in the city, Mediamanga doesn't do tasting menu format, with a short a la carte menu spit into snacks, starters, and mains. This is especially good if you are looking for something light or have limited time, so this place makes a great lunch spot.