Saturday, 30 November 2013

November Round Up

How is it December already?  Absolute madness.  November was a good eating month, my wallet and my waistband are really bearing the brunt of me trying to make the most of my few remaining months in London.

F.A.T Residency @ Sharps X Dunne Frankowski
That's a mouthful.  I'd read Lizzie's post about this place and immediately planned a trip.  Bel and I met for lunch, there was a dog roaming around, the smell of toasted cheese wafting about the place, we knew we'd love it.  We Both opted for the stilton and kimchi but everything on the menu appealed and is under a fiver, there's also a daily special, a hotdog and a french dip beef roll.  Loved it.  Will be back, it's so fun and the coffee's pretty great too.

Coal Vaults
This place has only just started opening for lunch, we were outnumber 3:1 by the staff and were the only diners in there for the hour, I didn't expect much but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the beef stew.  It's pretty good quality for £7.50 though a tad small, the accompanying garlic mash was excellent.  The lunch menu is very compact, a soup, a terrine, 2 sandwiches and this and slightly overboard on the garnish here guys, but I hope they do well, the service was really nice.

Drakes Tabanco
I went through a phase a while back of eating at Copita a lot, the people behind it have recently opened Drakes Tabanco, a sherry bar with large barrels of the stuff behind the front bar, on Windmill Street, just a few doors down from Dunne Frankowski @ Sharp's as it happens.  The food was great, there seemed to be a mix up with our booking so we ended up staying at the bar rather than eating in the small room at the back.  We shared the chacuterie board to start for £17.50, it was packed with meat and we had 2 lots of bread.  Highlight was the goose rillettes.  Best plate of the night goes to the pig cheeks with hazelnuts and mash (£15).  Such a lovely combo.  We also had the beef short rib with parsnip mash (£14).  We sampled a variety of sherries throughout the evening.  Nice little place.

I was a little disappointed with Foxlow to be honest.  Granted our booking was late, 9:30 (leaving plenty of time for a pre dinner stop off at Zetter) but the menu is pretty short and they had sold out of the thing I wanted to order, the Iberico pluma and also my 2nd choice bacon rib.  I was pretty annoyed.  I ended up going for the 200g deckle steak (£22), a cut I'd not heard of before, it's a part of the ribeye apparently.  It was very nice, but it wasn't what I wanted. 

I haven't mauled it pre photo, it came cut like this.  The peppercorn sauce was nice.  If you're going, have the 10 hour beef shortrib with kimchi (£16), it's incredible, Art ordered this and I have a stupid thing about not ordering the same main course as your fellow diners, I should have made an exception for this, it's really bloody amazing.   Special mention to my starter of crispy five pepper squid with lime (£7), it was excellent. 

Hannah, Sarah and I took advantage of the 50% off steak first birthday offer from Mash (Modern American Steakhouse) early in the month.  I had the American ribeye with peppercorn sauce and we had an impressive array of sides, fries, mac & cheese, creamed spinach and mushrooms.

We had 2 lots of a good nice baguette and a bottle of red, recommended to us by the waiter.  The room is absolutely enormous and it was heaving due to the offer being on for the week.  I prefer steak at Goodman and Hawksmoor but who can resist the lure of 50% off your meat?  We abandoned an idea to head to nearby Gelupo for pud as we couldn't find room.  Keep meaning to go there, perhaps for a hot chocolate....

Street Feast
Rounded the month off nicely with a trip to Street Feast at Hawker House.  I'd foolishly eaten a late lunch at MEATmarket so wasn't up to much, a few Street Feast Fizz's and some brilliant pasta from The Cooking Cooks and I was a goner.  Their fettuccine with white Bolognese was incredible as was the beetroot conchiglie in cheese sauce.  Mmmmm.  So so good.

Not the greatest picture I've ever taken, but there were mounds of Parmesan and excellent hand made pasta.  Loved it.  They're at Netil Market most Saturdays, check them out. 

F.A.T Residency @ Sharps X Dunne Frankowski
9 Windmill St

Coal Vaults
187b Wardour St

Coal Vaults on Urbanspoon

Drakes Tabanco
3 Windmill St

Drakes Tabanco on Urbanspoon

69 St Johns St

Foxlow on Urbanspoon

77 Brewer St

MASH on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


I had crazy high hopes for this meal at L'Enclume and it more than lived up to my hype.  Both the service and the food were perfect.  It may be a 5 hour drive away, but it's certainly worth the travel time.  I'll let the photos tell the story, we for £120 for the tasting menu and £60 for matching wines and it felt like a real special occasion meal and we had an amazing time.  Simon Rogan is providing the UK with some really exciting food.

 Oyster pebbles

 Radish and blackberry

 From left: Ragstone, malt and tarragon, Smoked eel and ham fat croquette
Artichoke crisp with white truffle

 Raw scallop with caviar

 Pigeon with offal ragout

Shrimp, brown bread and lettuce

 Cod 'yolk' (saffron jelly) with watercress, salt and vinegar

Bread rolls, with whipped butter and lard

 Dish of the meal beetroot broth with westcombe dumplings and shoots

 Valley venison, charcoal oil, mustard and fennel

Langoustine, parsnip, black pudding, hazelnut and cured yolk

 Potatoes in onion ashes, lovage and wood sorrel

Butter poached dover sole with cockles, leeks and nasturnium butter
Another favourite, dexter beef, marrow, cabbage, mushrooms, salsify, dittander

 Cartmel grapes, cobnuts, lemon verbena

 Milk skin, chesnut, truffle and burnt pear with beetroot

 Buttermilk custard with caramelized quince, rosehip, muscovado, honey oats

 Possibly the best dessert I've ever had: Meadowsweet, granny smith, sorrel and walnuts

 Celeriac, sweet cheese and woodruff ice creams

Douglas fir and apple juice to finish.

As I said, the best meal of the year so far.  We stayed in one of the rooms too, which was so grand, we breakfasted at Rogan & Co, boiled eggs and porridge for me, and yoghurt and scrambled eggs for Art.  The wines were all fantastic and included a Greek and German wine, no French wines which was an interesting change.  Rogan is the perfect person to take over at Claridges and I'm excited to see what's going to be on offer there next year.


L'Enclume on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 23 November 2013


A couple of weeks ago on a Friday Bel and I ate at Smokehouse.  It's a Noble Inn pub, so sister restaurant of The Pig & Butcher, amongst others.  I knew I'd like the place as they have enlisted the help of Neil Rankin in the kitchen.  Formerly of John Salt and Pitt Cue Co.

We had a table in the front bar which suited us.  Lighting looked a tad bright in the more formal dining room to the rear.

We started with a glass of Nyetimber classic curve (£7.75) and the amazing bread with salted butter.  Starters came quickly, crab on toast for me (£7).  At first glance I was disappointed with the lack of crab meat, but needed have worried as they slather on a crab reduction that makes each mouthful intensely crabby.  It was lovely, and more of that excellent sourdough.

Bel had the foie fras with apple pie and duck egg (£10) which was every bit as brilliant as it sounds.  Very good value with 2 large bits of foie.  The apple pie/egg yolk combo is a stroke of genius. 

On to mains, and we went with the recommendations of our waiter, the Shortrib bourguignon (£17.50) for me which was incredible.  Crispy little fried shallots rings sat on top of the tender beef surrounded by chanterelle mushrooms, crunchy bacon and the creamiest mash.

Bel's main is probably their signature dish, peppered ox-cheek with cauliflower cheese & gravy (£16.50).  We had a side of green salad (£6.50), made interesting by grilling the lettuce and serving it warm with roasted cherry tomatoes.  We were given an extra treat of Korean pulled pork (£6) which had a great kick to it.  Desserts sounded wonderful but we were beaten and not up to it.

The bar area has a warm and friendly atmosphere, plenty of people were there just for drinks and the selection of beers is quite impressive.  Service was great.  We had a bottle of white Rioja for £29 and spent some quality time with Stout, the dog of the day

This place is fairly near where I live, which makes me very happy, hope I'll have time to revisit in the next couple of months.

63—69 Canonbury Rd

Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Green Man & French Horn

Covent Garden's Green Man and French Horn opened around a year ago, and I've been meaning to eat there since, I often open with this sentiment, very dull but it's true.  When I worked in Covent Garden for 3 years I used to stand outside the pub opposite on St Martins Lane seeing the rundown empty looking pub across the road, never venturing inside.  The place has been transformed by the team behind Terroirs and Brawn.

Specializing in food and drink from the Loire river surrounds the natural wine list was slightly daunting for people like us, who know nothing but wish we did.  We went for a mid priced (under £30) red, we were disappointed to find it far colder than it should be, but happily drank it and said nothing.

Some lovely baguette arrived swiftly and was replenished throughout the evening.

The starters were the highlight of the meal, they were all absolutely brilliant, Art's pumpkin soup with chesnut and sage (£7) was perfect for such a blustery week (it was storm week).  I had the duck egg with anchovy soldiers (£4.50) which was amazing.

The yolk was perfectly dunkable and the anchovy butter was intensely fishy.  I LOVE a boiled egg, this is pretty much my perfect dish.  Adored it.

We shared a third starter because we couldn't resist the sound of the rillon with endive and mustard dressing (£9).  It's slow cooked cubed pork belly and the combination with the chicory and creamy mustardy sauce with chives was unbelievably good. 

The place was really busy, tables turned regularly and it seemed to be an eclectic bunch of people - tourists, families, couples, suits, us - it appeals to everyone it seems.  There's a great pre theatre offer of 2 courses for £8 or something ridiculous, available all day, until 5pm.  If I still worked in the area I'd be there for lunch all the time.

Onto mains, I had the civet of hare with wild mushrooms and parpadelle (£18).  The sauce was rich and porty, a civet is essentially a hare cut into bits, marinated and cooked slowly in a tall jug in a pan of water and served in a thick sauce.  Also known as jugged hare.  I was happy, the hare was a tad on the dry side which surprised me as it's cooked and served on the bone, but it's a lean meat. 

Shocker of the night was Art, fish hater, have the whole brill with beurre blanc (£22).  Very proud!

We really wanted the fig and almond tart but they'd sold out so we had the white chocolate mousse with Griottines (£6).  We weren't pleased.  The consistency was very un-mousslike and the cherries had an unpleasant aftertaste, they're mascerated in Kirsch.  It looked pretty though.

With the food starting off at such a high standard, we couldn't help but feel a little disappointed as the meal went on, but the early dishes were so great that I'd definitely come back for more.  With 4 months left in London it might not happen, but were I here for the long run, this would become a regular haunt.  Service was a little slow, we had long waits between each course and had to ask to order but they've nailed the important things.

Green Man & French Horn
54 St Martins Lane

Green Man & French Horn on Urbanspoon