Friday, 15 October 2010

Buen Ayre

Having dined at A La Cruz a few weeks back, I was keen to try John Rattagan's other, more established eatery Buen Ayre. One evening after work we ventured East, met Patrick and Grace and settled in for a meaty treat.

We opted for the Choripán con morrones y chimichurri to start, kind of like hotdogs, we split 2 between the 4 of us. Nice home made sausages, good bread and a slice of piquillo pepper thrown in for colour and sweetness. The accompanying chimmichurri sauce was a tasty addition.

For main course we had the Parrillada Deluxe. A Parrillada is a table top grill upon which was served a selection of Argentine sirloin and rib-eye steaks, pork sausages, morcilla and provolone cheese. I'm always a bit wary of sharing platters, fearing I'll not be sufficiently sated but this really was more than enough meat for all of us. Despite not being a huge fan of black pudding, even I must say the morcilla was excellent. The cheese is an interesting idea, obviously it melts on the hot plate, it does seem like a slightly odd addition but what's not to like about melted cheese?

Side orders of chips and a green salad were sound though I severely burnt my mouth on the former. Service was very pleasant and even on a Tuesday evening the atmosphere was vibrant and the restaurant full.

With a couple of bottles of red this all came to a reasonable £35 a head. I'd have to say I still prefer the meat at Goodman though, it my preferred venue in London when it comes to steak though I will undoubtedly revisit Buen Ayre, that morcilla in particular begs my return.

Buen Ayre
50 Broadway Market


Buen Ayre on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Oktoberfest at Beglo

Resigning myself to not visiting Munich for the annual beer festival this year was tough but made that little bit easier by an invite to preview the Oktoberfest menu at Belgo Centraal. It's a curious concept given that Belgo is a Belgian beer house specialising in moules frites but I was willing to keep an open mind and see whether what they had to offer was anything like the real thing.

The dinner was held in the far corner of the Covent Garden restaurant, in a cavernous nook of the main room, very snug if somewhat chilly. The food was served between 2 with a beer to accompany each course. Starters were ginger and parsnip soup, duck terrine and classic moules marinières. All very good and served alongside some dark moist rye bread.

Main courses were beef carbonnade, mushroom bouchée and moules portugaises. The standout dish for me was the mussels, served in a rich paprika and chorizo sauce with basil and new potatoes. The shellfish being the speciality of the house this was no surprise, but I was too full from all the beer to even eat many of them. My fellow diners seemed to feel the same way with much of the final dish remaining unfinished. Perhaps they were just saving room for dessert, again 3 of those to sample.

Of the poached pear, Belgian waffle and Belgian chocolate pudding I preferred the latter, more of a fondant with an oozing centre served with fresh cream, the traditional Belgian dishes were definitely the stars of the evening.

To my disbelief, I am a convert to pleasures of fruit beer, having previously found it sickly and bloating, I was most impressed with the Floris apple beer, served with the poached pear and lemon sorbet, and also the raspberry beer I was served as a welcome.

This menu is available each Wednesday throughout October, 3 courses with 3 specially paired beers for £33. A right bargain but really not a patch on the real thing though this is billed as a celebration of Oktoberfest rather than an attempt to emulate the Bavarian festival. The atmosphere is recreated with long communal dining and tables offering the chance to meet other beer enthusiasts. Quote 'Wednesday Night Pilgrimage' when booking.

I dined as a guest of Belgo Centraal.

Belgo Centraal
50 Earlham St
Covent Garden

Belgo Centraal on Urbanspoon

Monday, 4 October 2010

Boo in Germany - Dallmayr

In the centre of Munich stands the grand delicatessen Dallmayr. I'd liken it to London's Harrods food halls, but it's much more welcoming and accessible, more like Fortnum & Mason perhaps, yet it's grander and less stuffy.

The Munich institution has been in existence since the late 1700's and through it's various incarnations has served the people of the city and beyond with fine food and refreshments. There's a 2* Michelin restaurant, a coffee house and they also pioneered the use of vending machines throughout Bavaria in the 1960's. During my last trip I dined at the Lukullus Bar situated amongst the hub-bub of the shop floor. Service is swift as there are a limited number of tables though we were seated within 10 minutes. Impressive that all tables were full on a Monday lunchtime.

We were on holiday so as a treat we ordered the half lobster with seafood sauce, half a dozen rock oysters and a couple of glasses of prosecco. We were given a selection of bread, rye and sourdough, both excellent, and a small layered bread and cheese sandwich, for want of an accurate description. It was malty and creamy, very moorish and the prefect start.

The oysters were split between us and served 3 per plate with lemon. We were slightly miffed to not have the option of chopped shallots in red wine vinegar as is often served with them but have since learned that this was originally only presented as a palate cleanser to be eaten with bread between molluscs. When considering the swift turnover of tables here the presentation is acceptable (i.e. no bed of ice), there's little time to linger, it seems to be a quick refuel type venue though this does seems slightly at odds with the epicurean ethos of the place.

Anyhow, the oysters were excellent, we had 2 Australian and 1 French each. The French fine de Claire's again stood out in terms of depth of flavour.

To finish our lunch we had the half lobster, served cold, in the shell with seafood sauce presented prettily in an oyster shell. There's little to dislike about the acclaimed crustacean but this particular beast was served slightly too cold for my liking. The sauce was your typical prawn cocktail marie rose concoction, I favoured the simplicity of a squeeze of lemon over the sweet claw and tail meat.

With all that bread we were surprisingly full and head out into the rain for a spot of shopping impressed, as always, with the first class service offered at Dallmayr. Great shellfish and prosecco at a fraction of the prices in London, about €50.