Friday, 18 April 2014

Ember yard: Absolutely smoking

Ember Yard @SaltYardGroup
60-61 Berwick St, Soho

Combine great tapas of Spanish and Italian influence, insistence on great produce, throw in the latest trend du jour of smoking, add little seasoning, and you get Ember Yard, the latest opening from the dependable Salt Group. 
Since last year, Opera Tavern, has been one of my favourite eateries and places to take new people to London. It is one of the few places that does the superlative Ibérico pork meat rather than just the jamon, and sits nicely in the pricey but not extortionate value range. Ember Yard is another step up from this adding another layer, a smokey one at that, to an already successful formula.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Shoryu - Kingly court

London, Soho in particular, is awash of the heavenly scent of bone broth with several ramen bars opening within the last couple of years. Not long after Tonkotsu opened on Dean Street, Bone Daddies followed suit, with Shoryu Ramen hot on their noodle tail. Londoner's have clearly got a taste for what they like with these ramen bars. All are frequently packed to the rafters, and Shoryu have certainly capitalised on this trend opening their 4th restaurant, all within walking distance.  The latest Shoryu opening is in Kingly Court, a small court just off the fashion shopping hell/heaven (delete where applicable) of Carnaby street. Despite a seemingly small place they've managed it well fitting in 55 covers including a few seats at the open plan kitchen so you can be a chef voyeur as you eat. Thankfully, they've got several tables outside if you want to relax and enjoy your food minus the chaotic buzz inside.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Pieds nus

Pied Nus @_piedsnus
19 Blandford Street, W1

Pop ups in London have extended beyond that of street food merchants dipping their toes in bricks and mortar, now extending to fine dining joints. Pieds Nus have opened a short term residency in Marleybone only 3 doors down from it's owner's L'Autre Pied. It's a story of  'don't judge a book by it's cover' as the food is far more appealing than that of the restaurant front. Also, the concept of 'little or no cooking' is undermined by precise sous vide temperatures appearing on several of the dishes on the menu. To roll your eyes would be to your detriment though, as from the vegetarian starter to the dessert it is quality "michelin star standard" food, beautifully presented, at outstanding value. With just over a month left, (and 4 courses for £20) get yourself down before it closes...if not just for the cheesecake.

Monday, 9 December 2013

All I want for Christmas is some reindeer moss

A Work in Progress by Rene Redzepi

Bound together in 3 interdependent books, Rene Redzepi's latest creation A Work in progress, is the epitome of his creative process; thinking about what people have done for ages, and coming at it from a completely different angle. Stands to reason, the centrepiece of this collection is not the recipes, but the journal with his musings as he tries to breakdown the process of creativity.  At the time of writing Noma was No.1 restaurant in the world, so if this was still a work in progress, then what does the future hold for Rene?

Monday, 2 December 2013


301-303. Chiswick High Road. London. W4 4HH

It almost feels like I don't belong here at all. Tucked away in an inconspicuous corner of up-and-coming Chiswick, the sleek Scandinavian lines and open plan concept looks startlingly out of place amongst the local family Italian restaurants and chains. That's not to say it's an intimidating place once you get through the door. Despite the eye-catching plaudits from elsewhere (a rare 18/20 from Andy Hayler, number 70 on the world's best list and a Michelin star within a year of opening), the kitchen gives off a serene, aloof aura of calm from the moment the chefs started to filter in right up to their almost meditative wiping of the counter tops at the end of the service. We visited for lunch and went for the tasting menu, which incredibly changes weekly according to the high quality produce they receive.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dissenting academy, Newington Green

Dissenting Academy @DissentAcademy
92 Mildmay Park, Newington Green N1 4PR

What gives a place that 'revisit factor'? The food? Ambiance? Service? Value? Convenient location? Attractive staff?! Maybe it's a mix.
There are some restaurants that I return to more than others. recent, The Dissenting Academy has been one of those places that I've gone back to time and again the past couple of months. The 'Cornwall Project', supplier of all things Cornish to places like the Ledbury, Pollen St. Social & Pitt Cue amoungst others, has taken over the kitchen, so you know the produce is of the highest quality. The beef they bring from Philip Warren is outstanding, one of the reasons that roast forerib dish at Clove Club was one of the standout things I've eaten this year. What's not elite is the cost, with most dishes at usual pub prices.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Food outta London: Lisbon

Originally I planned on going to Lisbon as a mini incentive to get myself in gear to finish my PhD thesis. Such as life, I've just got busier and busier. Starting my own business (Gourmet Focus) maintaining a couple of blogs, while doing a thesis is apparently not great if you like spare time. All the same, 4 days in Lisbon with glorious sunshine, culture and food has put me in great mood for the final assault. It also included without doubt the best seafood experience I've ever had.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Obika mozzarella bar

Obika @ObikaUK
11-13 Charlotte Street, W1T 1 RH

In the ruins of La Pearla, a great tequila bar and old haunt of mine and Shahz's, another branch of Obika, an Italian mozzarella bar has gone up. Along with my lack of interest in chain places, it's safe to say I had a few reservations on Obika. It's not they are inherently bad, just the concentration of the business becomes more about margins than the food. It's good to have your preconceptions challenged though, and be reminded to keep an open mind.
I like Obika due to their uncompromising focus on quality of produce from artisan producers. It really pays off with great simple food. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Grill at The Dorchester

The Grill is unlike any restaurant I've been to with bizarre Scottish tartan and murals of men in kilts, it was like eating in a plush Scottish shortbread tin, thankfully though they were playing soft jazz and not bagpipes. I doubt there are even places on the Royal Mile with this much tartan. Upon walking in there is a hushed atmosphere such is the level of decorum and slightly older clientele.

So onto the food. We went for the tasting menu, but realistically it was just a chosen set of the best dishes from the á la carte menu. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Smokehouse, Islington

Smokehouse @SmokehouseN1
61-63 Canonbury Road, Islington N1 2DG

Not long after leaving the John Salt, Neil Rankin is back stoking the fire at a joint venture between the Pig & Butcher and himself. Rankin (also ex-Pitt Cue Co & Barbecoa) has a vast background in all things barbecue, and armed with his collection of Green Eggs, like something out of Game of Thrones, an offset smoker, and a robata grill they have put together a menu beyond just pulled pork and ribs. With covers for well over 50 this place has far more elbow space than other revered BBQ places like Pitt Cue...and a fair few more beers on the menu to say the least