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February, 2011

  1. Meateasy – The Original

    February 28, 2011 by Dini

    Pop-Up Burger Dining – 25th Feb 2011

     

    For months prior to Meateasy’s opening and then afterward there was a lot of twitter buzz, proclamations were being made about it being ‘the best burger’ and experience in London. Alas, the guerrilla pop-up was located in New Cross, quite a trek and is a burger really that worthy? Brain child of Yianni Papoutsis, here’s the story –

     

    Another month went by and the surge of fandom had reached the mainstream with coverage in The Evening Standard and The Metro. So, I decided the pilgrimage had to be made. My fellow diners the @CriticalCouple had ‘reserved’ a table, thankfully meant that we could queue jump somewhat, I certainly didn’t fancy waiting two hours for any burger!

    On arrival there was a buzz of activity, very cool and already full to the rafters by 6pm. We had delicious cocktails (Mojito and a French Martini) by Soul Shakers, to quench our thirst and keep us amused during waiting. Every so often we’d hear a clanging, this was done when a donation was made to the new Meatwagon van fund (The old van was sadly stolen).

    To reduce waiting time there was a limit on food, so one could only order three items from the menu, so my friend and I opted for three different items each so we could share. I loved the chicken burger in particular, juicy and tender meat with a real crispy breadcrumb. The fudge brownie ice-cream sundae which I assume was one of the least ordered items (due to rationing and the burger being the main event), was a deliciously gooey triumph.

    One brave soul on our table @corkgourmetguy (Dave Ahern) ventured to take on the ‘Triple Chilli Challenge’. This was a timed record challenge of speed eating three different ‘chilli’ menu items, the fastest winner being entitled to queue jump, on visits thereafter. A lot of water and plenty of beer was consumed at any rate and I’m sure there was indigestion too.

    Since closing down the pop-up, the meat wagon has popped up at a Dalston Festival, a residency in Peckham-Rye,  the Soho Food Festival and Glastonbury. So, the work of dastardly thieves thankfully didn’t scupper the stellar work of the Meatwagon and Yianni’s latest venue is under the guise of @MeatLiquor nestling in Marylebone.

    Follow Yianni on twitter on @themeatwagonuk to keep up with his adventures…

    2013 Blog update: since my blog Yianni has opened up the following venues…

    MEATLiquor     74 Welbeck St, London W1G 0BA
    MEATMarket   The Deck, Jubilee Market Hall, Tavistock St, London, WC2E 8BE
    MEATMission   14-16 Hoxton Market, London, N1 6HG
     

  2. Heston Blumenthal’s ‘Dinner’

    February 21, 2011 by Dini

     Lunch at ‘Dinner’

    15th Feb 2011

     

    On the 1stof December 2010 when the reservation lines for Heston Blumenthal’s eagerly anticipated second restaurant opened, I was unfortunately sitting for my PostGrad Marketing exam. Thankfully, the prospect of not landing a prized table didn’t distract me and I happily passed and also managed to book a table for my Birthday. I went for lunch as I was conscious about fine dining pricing and yet thought of it as a first of many visits. Having never been to the Fat Duck (alas in Bray and never managing to master the reservations procedure), I was excited to celebrate and in between the weeks of opening to my visit, voraciously read every review and blog on it. Thereby, I knew the whole menu inside out before arrival. In some respects I regret this, as there were no surprises on the day and I knew exactly what was coming next. Amusingly enough, I also laughed at early diners mistaking the circa dating for calorie counts.

    I was graced by the lovely company of a fellow food-loving tweep @EmmaLDickinson. We shared all the selections: I opted for the set lunch and we both agreed on al-a carte dishes. As a birthday request I’d specifically asked to be seated by the windows, having an early slot, we were fortuitous to have good weather and a lovely seat.

    View of Hyde Park from 'Dinner'

    We met a couple of other twitter food lovers dining there and it was quite a sociable atmosphere. I realised later through reviews that within the first few months they weren’t turning tables, which is why we indulgently dined for five hours.

    Drinks:We started as we meant to go on with 2002 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Champagne (ok, we succumbed to good up selling).  To accompany our meal, we settled on a reasonably priced 2005 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino, which complimented our meaty selections.

     

    Starters: Dish 1: Meat Fruit (c.1500) beautifully presented on a wooden board and the creamiest liver parfait imaginable. After all the hoo-ha about it, it just had to be done, and the hype is definitely worth it, executed in such a fun manner.

    Meat Fruit

    Dish 2: Ragoo of pigs ears (c.1750) delicately soft with an anchovy seasoning. Dish 3:  Rice and Flesh (c.1390) rich and creamy rice, deeply infused with saffron and calf tail.

    Mains: Dish 4: Roast quail (c.1590) served with amazingly smoked parsnips and thyme type. Dish 5: Spiced pigeon (c.1780) with an ale sauce and melt in the mouth artichokes and pomme puree.

    Triple cooked fries

    Dish 6: Triple cooked fries, infamous from Heston’s early TV appearance and now pretty much common place, I had to try the ‘originals’. Crispy, yes but I’m going to be controversial by saying that the best I’ve had to date were by the Young Turks @BurgerMonday, crispy from beef dripping but soft and fluffy on the inside!

    Desserts: Dish 7: Brown bread ice cream (c.1830) with salted butter caramel yeast syrup, with textured sprinklings.

    Brown Bread Ice Cream

    Dish 8: Chocolate wine (c.1710) with a Millionaire tart, strangely enough the strange descriptor sums it up, taking a red wine and pouring chocolate into it, the tart densely chocolately.

    Tipsy Cake with spit roast pineapple

    Dish 9: Tipsy cake (c.1810) like a billowy brioche concoction lovingly ladled in rum nestled with deliciously spit roasted pineapple; there were just enough hints of caramelised goodness. Spit photo courtesy of @theskinnybib (thank you).

    Pineapples on spit roast

    Dish 10: A complimentary amuse-bouche with a ‘Happy Birthday’ iced note. This was a delectable White chocolate and Earl Grey ganache, with condensed milk sweetness, moped up with crunch caraway seeded biscuits. We were shown the English cheese board, but already full, politely declined and opted for a selection of teas. I now know that Henrietta Lovell (@raretealady) assists in their sourcing and the rose bud tea was especially fragrant and beautiful.

    Earl Grey & White Chocolate Ganache with Carraway seed biscuit

    After our meal we couldn’t resist taking a peek around the restaurant and had the chance to thank Ashley Palmer-Watts (Executive Chef) for a wonderful meal and when the bill came along, I discovered also a complimentary meal and Champagne. This was very kind and a lovely Birthday gesture, I don’t know if it was the norm or because I had been tweeting Ashley (@APWChef),  for months in advance of my visit regarding Dinner. Either way, I was grateful that my bill had been halved, I still wished to split the bill of my accompanying diner and after all we had shared everything!

    The tour consisted of a look at the Chef’s Table and the Private Dining area which housed the Liquid Nitrogen ice-cream trolley, a treat solely for private dining initially, but perhaps to be rolled out when the second machine arrived.

    Overall my experience was everything that I hoped for, great fun, delicious food and an experience. The service were extremely friendly, one might even say ‘bouncing’ with joy, perhaps first month keenness. Now I’ve had all the dishes I really wanted to try, I’m waiting for something new before I visit again, although if they did takeaways of the Meat Fruit, I’d be their No1 customer. Afternoon Tea was mooted for the Summer, however it seems due to their own success and scheduling of service, this now seems low on the radar. A shame I quite fancied Heston’s ‘Fishy Tea’ as seen on his C4 Feast series.

    Be aware of: The ‘ouch’ effect of the bill, wine and dishes do add up (especially the POA ones)

    If you’re lucky: You can sit in the outdoor terrace area, in the sunshine, with a view of Hyde Park

    Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
    Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
    66 Knightsbridge
    London, SW1X 7LA
    +44(0)20 7201 3833
    http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/
     
     

    Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

    contact me at: dinidolce@gmail.com


  3. Ms MarmiteLover’s Lunch

    February 16, 2011 by Dini

    Kerstin Roger’s @ ‘Mixed Grill’

    12th February 2011

     

    When booking for the inaugural Fire & Knives event – ‘Mixed Grill’, I saw the option to book in for a luncheon hosted by MsMarmiteLover  (Kerstin Rogers) and jumped at the chance. Her supper clubs, usually held at her Kilburn residence (which for an Eastender like myself, is too far a trek) and her making ES’ 1000 most influential in 2010, I knew this would be a hot ticket. Indeed it was, I dined with seventy other food-lovers and my table was a hot-bed with Richard Vines, Sudi Pigott, Hannah Norris and Maureen Mills at the helm.

    The table was dressed with cute mix and match china tea cups and candles. The placemats as per my photo, was a plug (and why not) to Kerstin’s upcoming first book ‘Supper Club’. Waitresses in cute French maid type outfits and Kerstin with her signature headpiece on show.

    Ms Marmite Lover

    Ms Marmite Lover - Kerstin Rogers

     

    Our starter was accompanied with a demo, with a difference. Our scallops for our soup were cooked on a massive salt slab and then sprinkled with vanilla salt to season. The sizzle on the salt slab, was enticing and it seemed to act just like a plancha. We were handed a plate of
    different salts to take a look at, the colour array and textures were impressive.

    Salt Plate

    Salt Plate

     

    My favourite, were the truffle salt used to season the roasted potatoes, they were magnificent.

     

    *****

    Starters:

    Cream of scallop soup

    *****

    Mains:

    Dressed whole salmon in aspic

    Pea shoots, radish, cucumber and blood orange salad

    Truffled potatoes

    *****

    Dessert:

    Almond Blancmange with rhubarb jelly

    Rhubarb syllabub

    Swan meringues with rose water, almonds and blackberries

    *****

    Digestifs:

    Italian cheese board supplied by The Deli Station

    White and Red wines by Ten Green Bottles

    Coffee from Douwe Egberts

    The drama of the whole salmon for mains and the swan meringues for dessert, were just right for such a large group. They were easy to share dishes, with someone acting as ‘Mother’ to spoon out portions. What I enjoyed about this meal was the chance to share good, simple food over a
    table with other food-lovers. It’s only afterwards that I discovered that Kerstin is actually a pescetarian, but I didn’t notice the omittance of meat, as there was so much else on offer and show.

    To find out more-  MsMarmiteLover’s Suppers’