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December, 2011

  1. Burger Monday #2

    December 29, 2011 by Dini

    Goodman’s London Burger Monday

    31st May 2011

    This was my second Burger Monday, the first one was catered by the Young Turks, so I knew the routine and to keep an empty stomach, ready and waiting for the readies. John led the Team from Goodman’s and they really made the night special. There were flourishes such as a creating bespoke menu and giving all a printed placemat reminder.  I loved this, as not only was it a momento of my evening, it also displayed the recipes for all the burger components: The bun, burger patty and ‘special’ sauce. If you want the recipes, sorry I’m not going to giveaway Goodman’s secrets, you just had to be there on the night!

    For starters, we were served up with a monster Caeser Salad, this was merely a pre-cursor to set off the proceedings. Whole anchovies and wafer shavings of Parmesan were laiden on the thickly dressed leaves. Delicious and scoffed in a couple of minutes.

    The main event arrived, it was a tall order (literally), like was a burger taking on a club sandwich in height. The sourdough brioche was soft and sweet, aptly so to mop up the oozing meat juices combining with the ‘special’ sauce, that were in freeflow as you bit into the burger.

    The Goodman's Burger

    The Goodman's Burger

    Daniel (pictured in the red shirt) always strides through the restaurant, like an expectant father, asking diners how it was and did they enjoy it. I’m sure he pretty much has a 99% satisfaction rate on burgers… I’ll leave the odd 1% for the odd ‘grumpy’ diner. This burger again with the meat provided by the Goodman’s supplier and now Burger Monday favourite, O’Shea’s of Knightsbridge. The patty was a combination of chuck, rib eye, sirloin and short-rib, a real mix of cuts from each end of the £ scale, creating a taste revelation.

    The dessert, taken from Goodman’s own menu, was their Sundae. A layered concoction with ice cream, brownie squares, plenty of whipped cream, choolate and caramel sauces. It was more heavenly with every decadent spoonful and definately straight to the hips. It was a rich and sumptuos end to a great evening of dining. Goodman’s may have Mayfair routes, but definately know how to knock a humble greasy spoon into shape.

    You might ask, why do successful chefs and restaurants (such as Goodmans and Opera Tavern) take part in such events? I think it’s about them hosting informal events, outside of their own premises and being able to try out and create different menu’s. It’s also about widening their reach. They are embracing avid foodies, who share their experiences with others and thereby hopefully create positive word of mouth for the restaurant.

     

    If you’re a Burger fan or creator… join in with the fun:

    Burger Monday website: http://youngandfoodish.com/
    Goodmans London website: http://www.goodmanrestaurants.com/
     
    Edible Experiences

  2. Burger Monday #1

    December 29, 2011 by Dini

    Young Turks' Burgers

    Young Turks’ Burger Monday

    25th January 2011

    Burger Monday is the quest to find perfect burgers. It’s where burger-lovers congregate in social spaces (online or at pop-ups) to live, breathe and be in awe of guests chefs that take the reigns, all under the expert hand of Daniel Young (@youngandfoodish).  The Young Turks are young, talented chefs, often mentioned in ‘ones to watch’ and London ‘food scene’ trend reports. Donning their chefs whites for this inaugural event, we were fortunate enough to have the full collective of: James Lowe, Isaac McHale and Ben Greeno, putting their spin on the humble burger.

    I loved the fact that Burger Monday attendees started pre-event chat on facebook and twitter… deliberating and mostly salivating. In addition, we were teased and toiled with by Daniel, posting up pre-event videos and dry-run pictures. Here’s a video of James Lowe selecting the ‘beef’ at O’Shea’s (Knightsbridge) for the event…

    Burger Monday takes a ‘greasy spoon’ cafe (Andrews) by day and converts it into a twitter foodie hotbed of burger lovers by night (well the designated and usually ‘sold-out’ in minutes nights). I like this, burgers are a comfort eating action, something you can be at ease in doing, not something for a fine-dining environment per se.

    The menu is simple, 3 courses, you eat with companions you may have booked with, otherwise if a singleton, you’ll be seated with other food lovers who’ll soon welcome you into the Burger fold.

    I have to admit the starter of Smoked Salmon and the dessert of Affogato, although executed perfectly and were delicious, were superfluous to the main event, of the ‘Burger’. As per the video, James Lowe opted for high fat content meat. The cut being: private reserve 100% Perthshire Black Angus Beef, the patty result was a succulent texture but retaining it’s moisture. The chips were fried in beef dripping, I can tell you I had to fight my dining companion for them and especially the crispy bits at the bottom of the dish (way better then Heston’s triple fried chips). I could have easily eaten two dishes to myself, but alas we were sharing a dish between two (this was probably good, to save my cholesterol level).

    I have now become quite a fan and follower of Burger Monday, it’s a great group of ‘Burger Lovers’ who share a passion and talk and meet frequently. I’ve since been too a couple more and you genuinely do meet regulars that you’ll recognise and feel like you are part of a special night. This was probably my favourite event, it being the first one and of my attendance, however the Goodman’s night, comes a close second. I hasten to add, that now even with multiple sittings in an evening, I am never able to book speedily enough to grab a seat. Such is the popularity of these events, that the recent Opera Tavern one, sold out in 6 minutes! I’ll persist to book in a timely fashion, as these nights are truly worth it.

     

    If you’re a Burger fan or creator… join in with the fun:

    Burger Monday website: http://youngandfoodish.com/
    Young Turks website: http://youngturks.co/

     

     


    Edible Experiences


  3. Workshop’s ‘Cult of Done’

    December 28, 2011 by Dini

    'Cult of Done'

    Clerkenwell Antipodean Oasis

    23rd December 2011

    It was Christmas Eve’s eve and what more could a girl want, than a big cup of freshly roasted coffee, namely the ‘ Cult of Done’, but I’ll get to that later. I felt like a treat and I knew Workshop (Formerly known as St. Ali’s) was the place, as I had a sneaky breakfast with the Boss, the week before.  Hailing from Melbourne (Australia), where the St. Ali’s crew have their first outlet, they have brought their love of great coffee and great antipodean ethos to the heart of Clerkenwell (London).

    The decor is relaxed, downstairs with communal tables and a large island bar, which you can prop yourself at and while away the day with a decent cuppa. There are two things of beauty here, the roasting machine, which has an active daily grind and a beautiful living wall. I was really pleased to see the plants thriving on the wall, with such vibrance after seven months. I’ve seen other examples all around the world and they don’t cut the mustard after just a few months.  Upstairs, is a bookable space for larger groups or initimate tables. It’s here that you stumble across their teal coloured, skull wallpaper (a cross between a 1970’s Indian restaurant flock paper and a Damian Hirst exclusive). Not sure where St. Ali’s got theirs, but I did find some online, to take a peek here.

    On my 2nd visit, I dined with a friend… as a Burger fiend I opted for the Workshop (St. Ali) special, named ‘Dexter’. Served ‘medium-rare’ to my pleasure this was a tall cheeseburger with Comté cheese and a Pain de Mie bun. The bun glistened and was a sweet contrast that mopped up juices from the burger. There was a little overkill on the red onion, a little was good for crunch, but I had enough rings to win a hula hoop contest. The Ratte potatoes, were roasted to perfection, with crisp skins and a fluffy centre. My dining companion, opted for a far healthier option, fearing what she had ahead with Christmas meals. Healthy it may have been, but it was a seductively looking and tasting salad, with figs and Bresaola salad dressed with sprinklings of hazelnut dukkah.

    Now onto the business of Coffee… ‘Cult of Done’ is Workshop’s (St. Ali’s) ‘manifesto’ of striving to create the perfect coffee, of that moment (evolving with bean and seasonal variations). I had the pleasure of sampling this, in their Latte (on my 1st visit) it was a 50:50 mix of Hebazu (Costa Rica) and Acatenango (Guatemala). It was quite a medium rich affair, but I guess I ‘chickened’ out by opting for a Latte. Espresso’s scare me somewhat, one day when I grow up, I’m sure I’ll learn how to drink coffee ‘properly’. Accompanying my Latte, was a delicious breakfast dish of banana bread with a mascarpone laced with ‘Cult of Done’ espresso.  It was a sticky and moist mess with rich textures of smooth mascarpone and crunchy sprinkled nuts. This was disguised as a sumptuos dessert, I came to the conclusion that if this was breakfast, it was ‘Breakfast of Queens’!

    Until Workshop (St. Ali’s) popped up, my favourite Clerkenwell brekkie spot was The Modern Pantry and for coffee, a trip down Leather Lane to Prufock. Workshop (St. Ali’s) won’t necessarily usurp my trade from them, as all have their own brilliant traits and showcase each owners quest or ‘manifesto’ for a quality offering, but it does give a girl a wonderful choice, to pick from.

    Please note: St Ali’s changed their name to Workshop in April 2012 and are now open evenings

     
    Workshop (St. Ali’s), 27 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RN
    Website: http://stali.co.uk/

    St Ali on Urbanspoon

     
    Workshop Coffee Co on Urbanspoon


  4. City Caphe & L’Amant Dining Supper Club

    December 26, 2011 by Dini

    Not your typical Caphe…

    5th November 2011

    Any Londoner in search of a decent daytime Vietnamese lunch, may have already stumbled upon the delights of City Caphe and Banhmi11 (L’Amant Dining). Each operator specialising in delicious banh-mi’s, summer rolls and pho.  So, it was my delight to find out, that they were joining forces to create a supper club,  located in City Caphe’s premises. I’ve recently been opting for attending these supper-club evenings as it’s a great way of sampling new cusines, meeting new people and at an affordable cost, for so many dishes. On this occassion, the cost was £35 and BYO, for 8 courses, a bargain and not a surprise to see the two inaugural dates sell-out speedily!

     

    Menu

    ***

    Green mango, pomelo and sun-dried squid salad

    (Fresh citrusy notes, with great textural crunch of the squid)

    ***

    Pan-fried scallops on lotus root chips

    (Juicy scallops, serenaded by spring onions and crispy chips)

    ***

    Prawn banh xeo

    (One of my all time favourites, it’s the addition of the fresh herbs, that gives this omlette like dish real depth. Every mouthful exacted juicyness from  the plump prawns and beanshoots)

    ***

    Fish Q roll

    (Thankfully not a DIY roll, which never ends prettily for me, for spillage, but a dainty fish roll, readily spliced)

    ***

    Ban rieu crab noodle soup

    (A spicy pork broth, with nuggets of crab and tofu. This was slurp-tastic, although I had to fight against the dreaded coriander, in the herb mix)

    ***

    Oven baked sardine in lotus leaf

    (The sardine was of course riddled with bones, but because it had been beautifully baked, was easy to flake away the fillets, however the candlelight, didn’t help this process much)

    ***

    Home made ice cream (choice of Durian or Fig & Honey)

    (I’m not a fan of durian perhaps an oversight on my side as it’s actually a delicacy in Asia. However, having encountered this beast of a fruit in Malaysia, even the mere smell, makes my stomach turn. I opted for the ‘safer’ option, which was rich and creamy, I ate this first for fear of it melting away)

    ***

    Che troi nuoc mung bean dumplings in ginger syrup

    (I then tucked into the hot option, a gooey dumpling, with a heady ginger syrup, that had a real kick)

    ***

     My thanks for great hospitality provided by Julie & Team (from City Caphe) & Van, Anh & Team (from L’Amant Dining/Banhmi11), it was a perfect evening of fun, meeting new food-lovers and great Vietnamese ‘eats’. This event was a celebration of Vietnamese dishes, I enjoyed seeing some classics given a modern twist.  Having travelled around Vietnam, I loved re-visiting the freshness and vibrancy of the cuisine and am pleased that there is now more than just the Kingland Road for getting my Vietnamese fixes.

     
    If you’d like to check out either of my hosts’ eateries or events then click on the links below:
    Banhmi11 (www.banhmi11.com) and City Caphe (http://www.citycaphe.com/)

     

     

     
     

     


    Edible Experiences


  5. Hedone…Gastrophile’s Chiswick Delight

    December 24, 2011 by Dini

    Slow cooked hen egg, apricot, Scottish girolles

    Great ethos, but not for me…

    17th September 2011

    It seems that Hedone, based in the heart of surburban Chiswick, has had quite a love affair with critics, bloggers and gastrophiles. I stayed away intially as:

     1) Chiswick is quite a trek

    2) It looked on the pricey side and

    3) I really wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea

    After some coercion I accompanied two of my ‘twitter’ food-loving friends to deepest, darkest Chiswick. I knew from reveiws, that Mikael Jonsson (Previous Blogger , now Restaurateur/Chef) used and sourced amazing produce and his execution was simple, allowing his ingredients to be the star. Not my cup of tea, as I’m not one for surprises, I like to know what I’m going to eat and what it consists of. Call me boring, but I am a little fussy and having the quirk of wanting to order what I want to eat, hence I rarely opt for ‘surprise’ tasting menus. A lack of a menu on the website, knowing that the Restaurants change menu based on produce availability (which I appreciate and herald as a great trait) and then cryptic descriptions made me twitchy… Alas, I’m trying in vain to be more ‘adventurous’, try more styles of cuisine, ingredients and so this was the perfect opportunity to embrace this.

    I’ll hold my hand up, I was late majorly late (by an hour). I apologised profusely to my dining cohorts and to the waiting staff. I’m sure neither were pleased, as this delayed service somewhat, it was quiet that Saturday and by the time we had finished, I’m sure service had meant to have been over.

    ***

    The Highlights:

    • True to form, the fresh, seasonal ingredients sung out loud, like Julie Andrews on the top of the Alps, in the Sound of Music
    • There were unique and original combinations that danced beautifully on the plate
    • I liked the fact, there were polar taste combinations, such as sweet and salty, testing my palate

    ***

    The Low Points:

    • I felt my sea-bass dish was partially under-cooked… this was declined by Chef, not even addressed by the Waiting staff until I asked and not replaced or taken off the bill… (Big disappointment!)
    • The waiting staff on the note above as well as when we asked questions, were pretty off-hand and elusive like they didn’t want to undo the cryptic menu descriptors
    • The decor wasn’t to my taste, bizzare ceiling print, with fish grafitti. My cohorts loved it, it was minimalist, but this is a small point, as for me, it’s the food that should take centre-stage

    ***

    One major advantage of dining with food-loving friends, is that you can all take the opportunity to order different things and then share/sample dishes between you. This is exactly what we did. We dined on the 3 courses for £30, as we were already late to start. I’m not sure if the Gougeres mentioned on the menu were given to my friends, whilst they were waiting for me, a mystery somewhat like this restaurant for me.

    Hedone has just won The National Restaurant Award’s ‘One to Watch’ (2011) and in 2012 they are looking to expand with a Wine bar, so I’m sure they will be lauded with more accolades. I value their ethos and I can understand why it ticks so many of diners’ boxes, but the brusque service and contrived taste combinations are a step too far for me.

     
    Hedone: 301-303 Chiswick High Road, W4 4HH 
    Telephone: 020 8747 0377
    Website: http://www.hedonerestaurant.com/Home.html

    Hedone on Urbanspoon


  6. +65 Singaporean Supper Club

    December 23, 2011 by Dini

    Mountain of Chilli Crabs

    Seafood Feast, starring: Chilli Crab

    16th October 2011

    This Singaporean seafood odessy was hosted by PlusSixFive’s Host – Goz. He shared his cooking duties with: Malaysian co-horts Yolanda and Sharif (Wild Serai) and Singaporean, WenLin (Edible Experiences).

    I had tried for a while to go to a PlusSixFive Singaporean supper club, however with a lot of these supper clubs, space is a premium (as held in the hosts’ homes), they always sell-out very quickly. I had also heard various friends’ accounts from their experiences and was keen to book. When I saw that Goz was having a sea-food night with chilli-crab, I instantly booked and succeeded in getting a prized seat.

    I’ve been to Singapore twice and extravagantly dined out on all manners of cuisine, from hawker fayre to fine-dining. What I really enjoy about Singaporean food, is that it’s a bubbling mish-mash of ethnic cuisines coming together. Therein, it’s quite fitting that this meal was a combination of the best of Malay and Singaporean dishes.

    Goz’s apartment in the heart of Angel, was beautifully colourful and showcased some awesome art. I loved the fact he had commissioned a board (pictured) for his Supper Club, in prime location of the dining room. He also had his monitor on, with a +65 screensaver and his twitter feed running, all reminders of the fact this was a social media saavy host, who used the medium to invite and engage with food-lovers.

    ***

    Starter:

    Pork Belly Satay

    I’m so glad that this was pork for a change, rather than the usual chicken. A sticky peanut satay enveloped the pork belly strips, served with cleansing cucumber and red onion.

    ***

    Fish Course:

    Chef’s Surprise Scallop

    Not quite sure what the surprise was, thankfully it was delicious. A fiery butter sauce, with crispy curry leaves, chilli and garlic, drizzled over the scallop and coral.

    ***

    Mains:

    Sambal Prawns

    This was an old family recipe of Yolanda’s using Petai (stinky beans) and Belachan (shrimp paste from Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia). The sauce was sticky and fiery hot, which is the best combination for prawns. This was a dish that went pretty quickly as you can see from the empty plate.

    Stir-fried “Lala”

    Thankfully, a milder dish where the ‘LaLa’ (the Malay term for mussels), was cooked in a yellow bean, garlic, ginger and Chinese rice wine broth. I used the broth from this to sprinkle over my rice, as it was cooling compared to the other prawn/crab.

    Kang Kong Sambal

    This was another soothing dish of stir-fried morning glory, with garlic, chilli and belachan, I especially love the irony taste of these greens.

    Chilli Crab – (The Main Event)

    Almost like the curried style I am used to in Sri-Lankan cooking, in fact I believe they were Sri Lankan crabs used. I was glad that it was this style of dish and not the black pepper crab method I’d tried in Singapore. That indeed is hot, but doesn’t have the variety of spices and flavour that are used in this method. This was finger- licking food at it’s best. Thankfully, copious amounts of wet wipes were on hand. Nut-crackers were doled out but, the best way to get in there, was with fingers and sucking the blighters claws off!

    ***

    Desserts:

    Chendol

    I loved the fact that Goz got us involved, helping to shave the ice, with his cool ice-shaving gadget. I’ve seen larger versions of this at Dishoom, for when they make their Gola Ices. The dish was shaved coconut milk ice with gula melaka (palm sugar), green noodle pieces and sweet red beans. It was simple and extinguished the fire in my mouth from the red-hot mains. I’m showing myself to be a feeble diner (as a Sri Lankan, I’m bowing my head in shame).

    Kueh Ubi Bingka and Kueh Lapis

    Goz got out a huge Japanese knife, this worried me, I thought someone had refused to pay…

    Thankfully, this wasn’t the case and he then started to carve the Kueh Lapis, this was fascinating to watch with the intricate layers being spliced.  These were tapioca and coconut milk based cakey sweets. The colourful one is poured in layers, the vibrant colours achieved through natural flavourings (green from pandan). Served up with rich coffee, these were a sweet digestif, quite rich, but I still managed to gobble a few.

    ***

     

    That was that, I had contentedly eaten so much, that I practically needed to be rolled out. Unfortunately, I had to be snappy so that I could run and catch the last tube home. I can’t recommend this supper club enough, for £40 (BYO), you are fed more than handsomely and welcomed with such care and attention. I attended alone, but was tended to by the hosts and met some great food loving attendees that night, who were very inclusive. This dinner not only transported me back to great memories of my food adventures in Singapore, but reassured me that I could find authentic dishes here in London too, thanks to Goz, Yolanda & WenLin.

     
    To book onto one of Goz’s supperclubs or to find out more click below:
    +(65) / plusixfive A Singaporean Supperclub in London and
    Wild Serai – For Malaysian Supperclub and Recipe suggestions
     
     


    Edible Experiences


  7. Riding House Cafe – Christmas 2011

    December 21, 2011 by Dini

    Missing a Sugar Plum Fairy…

    20th December 2011

    Having been won over by my first visit to Riding House Cafe, back in July 2011, I was really looking forward to my work’s Xmas dinner there. I’ll hold my hand up here, this was a treat of ‘the Boss’, but just for your info, this Xmas Feast was £38 per head + drinks. Lots of fun and frivolity was had, with the Company and on the ‘Secret Santa’ front.  The restaurant was decked out in lots of festive touches, tastefully done and I didn’t expect anything less.

    On arrival, (we were a little late and two diners down, guiltily we had only notified them of one of the cancellations). Riding House like other busy Brasseries have a two-hour table turnaround, we were on the later 9pm slot. Our table had not been laid and so we waited at the buzzing bar. It was pretty much a full-house, which is expected for a slick central London operation such as the Cafe, the week before Christmas.

    I did expect there to be some Christmas frivolities to be on the table, crackers, hats, something to take home. Afterall this was a Christmas booking, perhaps we should have brought our own? as this may have been too classy a joint to provide such things… Anyhow, our Team bought fun and merriment to the table, perhaps aided by the assistance of wine. Dining in Riding House style, we had sharing platters laiden with beautifully presented food. I’m sure the table groaned, from the spread it was carrying and possibly our bad jokes!

    ***

    Starters:

    Beetroot carpaccio, sheeps ricotta & basil cress

    One of the stand out stars from my last visit, I was exceptionally happy to re-visit the taste combination. Creamy rich ricotta, such a bold colour contrast against the slivers of beetroot carpaccio. With the textural addition of pumpkin seeds and basil cress, this dish truly sings.

    Rare venison, Salsa cruda & celeriac salad

    The vensison held it’s own against the boldly dresses salad. I found the dressing quite acrid, perhaps a little too much balsamic? The presentation was dainty and the reds of the meat and tomatoes quite festive.

    Smoked mackerel with baby beetroot salad and horseradish

    I hasten to add, I completely neglected this dish. Horseradish is not my favourite, but as a classic combination, I’m sure the others enjoyed it.

    ***

    Mains:

    Slow roasted pork shoulder

    Great crackling, the pork was tender and falling easily enough to serve. There were some juices on the pork platter, but I always like a good gravy. There was an apple chutney, which went half way to add moisture and flavour, but a gravy would have been lovely with the mash and veg.

    Hake fillet with Salsa verde

    Beautifully filleted and prepared, the fish flaked so easily with a fork. The Salsa verde zingy and a fresh contrast as a mains dish against the fatty and rich pork.

    Macaroni & Gorgonzola gratin

    This was a lovely combination. Usually I’m not a fan of Gorgonzola (probably beacuse in it’s uncooked state it has the scent of smelly socks). This gratin with oodles of creamy sauce and a crunchy crust enticed me into a second portion.

    Roasted Chantenay carrots & parsnips

    Glistening with butter, being roasted, it really brought out the sweetness of the veg. We had a meagre portion of parnips though, which is shame, as it’s my favourite.

    Curly kale

    These still had a bite, gladly not limp or bland thanks to the chilli and garlic it was stir-fried with.

    Mashed Potatoes

    Heavenly and smooth. I’m sure copious amounts of butter and cream were the culprits, probably in equal measure to poatoes, totally sinful.

    ***

    Desserts:

    Spiced Gingerbread with ice-cream, butterscotch sauce and poached pears

    This was dry, not even the vanilla ice-cream drizzled in butterscotch with pears poached in ginger syrup could resuscitate it. If only there had been a Sugar Plum Fairy in the house, (a girl after my own dolce-heart), she could have sprinkled some fairy dust and revived some of the dishes.

    Yule Log

    This was probably the best of the desserts, which doesn’t say much as I’d never ordinarily pick it. I really do see it as a Christmas tea-time treat, not a serious dessert. I’d be as bold as to say, it’s a glorified swiss roll…  To it’s merit Riding House’s version had a silky chocolate ganache with a kirsch laced filling.

    Christmas Trifle

    This was pretty woeful, not even the Grand Marnier could save this. Pre-pared some time earlier, all the layers had set quite stiffly. There was no oozing custard or sponge fingers. The mandarin layer was dreadful, the fruit were sour as limes, soa fright with every bursting biteful. Call me a traditionalist but I like my layers, sherried fruit, I am however happy to lose the 100’s & 1000’s (too garish for me). This version was garnished with blackberries and chocolate sprinkles, more tasteful in decoration, just a shame on the actual ‘taste’.

    ***

    Tea

    Oh dear, to end the night, I decided upon a clensing pot of Early Grey. It simply wasn’t to be. Yes their delightful crockery and sweet milk bottle put a smile on my face, but was swiftly wiped off by the stewed tea presented to me. My neighbouring Director, had the same with her Green tea, nothing worse than a strong, over-stewed cuppa. On that note, I had had enough, but a waiter decided to literally topple a whole pot of cream down my colleagues back and coat. The waiter mumbled an apology, attempted to wipe some of the cream and then scampered off into the kitchen. My Director wasn’t having any of this and called a Manager over. The Manager then spent another five minutes trying to clean the now cream-caked cardigan and jacket, the cream puddle remained on the chair and floor. We left paying our bill and with the Manager offering to reimburse for cleaning of the items. Had we not complained, this would not have been offered… this was wrong, perhaps the waiter was sheepish, but he should have recognised his mistake and offered good customer service.

    ***

    Alas, I fear that they may have suffered from the commonal problem of mass-catering for group bookings. In my opinion, standards slipped, dishes may have  been pre-prepared and perhaps there is complacency in thinking that standards can be comprised as Xmas diners may be ‘under the influence’? I’m being a ‘Scrooge’, I usually forgive most things, but when my desserts are lack-lustre and trifled with (excuse the pun), I’m always disappointed. Ba Humbug, I’ll need to forgive Riding House because in my heart I know what they’re capable of, so I’ll blank out this occassion and keep my fingers crossed for my next visit in 2012.

    What was my ‘Secret Santa’ gift you ask?… I was a ‘good’ girl and I happily recieved a Liberty printed notepad and a Clarins hand cream.

    Riding House Cafe, 43-51 Great Titchfield St, London, W1W 7PQ 
    Website: http://www.ridinghousecafe.co.uk/

  8. Someone order an Iberico Pork Foie Gras Burger?

    December 19, 2011 by Dini

    Iberico Pork Foie Gras Burger

    Covent Garden’s Love-in…Opera Tavern

    Numerous visits in 2011

     As one of my stand out dishes of 2011, Opera Tavern’s Mini Foie Gras & Iberico Pork burger furiously holds it weight against it’s beefy couterparts. Served with a spicy-sweet Guindilla pepper garnish, this balances the rich, silkiness of the foie gras and Manchego cheese strewn on the Iberico pork. It is utter deliciousness and always executed to perfection, on my numerous visits there (some especially for it – heaven knows what it does to my cholestorel level!)

    A Tapas restaurant, specialising and showcasing the best of Italian and Spanish regional dishes and produce, Opera Tavern has thrown the gauntlet down in London and fitted in nicely with it’s sister outlets’ (Dehesa & Salt Yard) ethos of great food.

    One of my favourite tipples there, that I whole-heartedly recommend is the Vina Gravonia, Crianza 2001 (a White Rioja) at £10 a glass is an indulgence, but when you’re dining out on silky foie gras and burgeoning stuffed courgette flowers, why not? Also take time to peruse their spirits list, Simon Mullins (Owner) has a penchant for Whisky (not in line with the concept- but who cares) and you’ll find some great Blends and Distillers Editions c/o Millroys of Soho.

    Other notable dishes include their Italian Scotch eggs, with a dreamy runny yolk. I also enjoyed the steak with marrow, which added a moist sumptuous to the tender meat. If I had one criticism, it would be to query why so many of the dishes come with aioli, a little overkill for me (but delicious even so).

    Their admiration of ‘pork’  follows through to the fixtures and fittings in the restaurant…the bronzed trotters for door handles and the jamon beer taps. I find sitting downstairs on the bar stools is the best spot ‘in the house’. Here you can easily while away hours, waitching them carve jamon and offer you cheeky tipples, to wet the appetite.

    As you can see, I’m a massive fan. The execution is perfect, attentive, knowledgeable service with a smile and the dishes are simply delicious.

     
    Opera Tavern, 23 Catherine St,  WC2B 5JS
    Website: http://www.operatavern.co.uk/

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