Thursday, 24 February 2011

Wright Bros (Soho)

I was so happy to hear that Wright Bros were opening in Soho, so convenient for me as I work there. Not that Borough is much of a trek, but I'm glad there's somewhere in the immediate area to become that go to place when all that will do is a shellfish supper. Such was my faith in these guys. I love the small original venue and it's rustic charm. I was hoping the bigger shiny new restaurant would retain much of this ethos and I first visited last week to find out.

I booked an 8pm table online weeks and weeks ago in early January. Having trouble locating the confirmation email last week I mailed the info address to confirm the booking. They denied all knowledge of it and said they could only offer a much earlier booking on a shared table. I declined. Then, on the day of my supposed booking, they called to confirm my online reservation. Having not made any other arrangements I played along.

We arrived about 20 minutes early and I mentioned the emailed denial of my booking which was brushed off as an easy mistake to make. We were told that our table was not ready (despite there being plenty of empty tables upstairs) then informed it would be too complicated for us to have a drink at another table whilst waiting for the bar seating to free up. So we trotted off to the pub next door for a half, returned at 8 to find the seats still not available. We were permitted to wait in the bar this time.

I'd forgotten just how much of a debacle this was. The seats became free about 20 minutes later and I'd pretty much forgotten about this until now. But it was all very unsatisfactory.

Of the food, the oyster selection, crab, smoked mackerel pâté, cheese and chocolate pot were all really very good. Though all I will remember of the evening is the reservation and seating shambles. I guess it's sort of still early days for this new venture but with the place far from full I fear how they might cope on busier days. I don't think I'll bother to find out.

Wright Bros (Soho)
13 Kingly St


Wright Brothers (Soho) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Gordon Ramsay at Claridges

A brilliant Christmas gift from my Mum and Auntie to my sister and I was Sunday lunch for 4 at Claridges. We finally made it last weekend on the day of the BAFTA awards, the atmosphere was suitably electric, not only did we have a lovely meal but we spotted Julianne Moore and Tom Ford in their finery heading off to the red carpet. The venue is uber glam.

Upon arrival, at 2:45, the dining room was heaving. We were seated, offered an aperitif and presented with a bewildering array of menus to choose from. 3 seemed overkill but actually meant that there was something to please each of us so we were glad of the choice. My sister can be a tad fussy with food, she's the first to admit and she was happy with the set Sunday menu which included a roast beef and yorkshire pudding main.

The room was smaller than I expected, but it's cosy. The winelist was concise and presented on an ipad. The service was mostly polite though we felt rushed towards the end of the meal.

Things started on a high point with a lovely butternut squash amuse with truffle oil. I expected it to be cold for some reason and remember being quite taken aback that it was hot. Cranny wasn't keen so I got 2 servings. Those black pieces just visible are mushroom pieces, I really liked this.

I chose from the a la carte menu, 3 courses for £70. To start I had the thai spiced lobster ravioli. Generous with the lobster, this dish was pretty to look at and the spice was pleasantly subtle. Other starters sampled were the Caesar salad, pork belly with crayfish bisque and rump of beef with root vegetable salad. All well received.

My main course was a slight disappointment in that I was the only person at our table to not get a gravy pouring from the waiters. My lamb suffered as a result, it was crying out for some moisture but it was all about the shepherds pie for me anyway, served as a side dish accompanying my lamb.

This was brilliantly smoky and much better than the Salt-baked Herdwick lamb loin. Other mains enjoyed were, of course, the Kid's roast beef, loin of venison and shoulder of rose veal. All with gravy.

There was some confusion when ordering dessert/cheese. My sister, opting for the 3 course Sunday lunch menu wanted cheese instead of dessert to be served when I had my cheese, after my dessert. A fairly simple request which flummoxed 3 waiters 1 after the other. In the end her cheese was served at the same time as our desserts and it seemed simpler to just go with it.

Anyway, the cheese was lovely, I do love cheese trolley time when eating out. Served with white grapes and a choice of biscuits or bread. Having seen images from other bloggers earlier meals here, I think the range of cheeses on offer here has diminished over the years, as have Ramsay's Michelin stars. One can never have too many cheeses.

A pre dessert of passionfruit mousse, sorbet and foam was excellent. The foam was very tart and the accompanying buttery pistachio biscuit was a perfect partner. I really wished this was bigger. My actual dessert was the orange and passionfruit pannacotta with cheesecake ice cream. The generous portion was a bit too much for me, I still had the cheese to contend with which had already been selected and plated. The pannacotta itself was wonderful, it's creamy consistency complemented by the crunch of the cheesecake chunks in the ice cream. My favourite of the 3 dishes I'd chosen.

Other desserts were banana and caramel soufflé and chocolate fondant. I enjoyed many parts of the meal but I see where there are areas for improvement in the plates offered up here. I am soon to try Royal Hospital Road and am keen to compare his 3* offerings to the food here at Claridges.

No doubt about it though, officially my best Christmas present!

55 Brook St


Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Water Poet

Pub lunch on a Sunday, the quest continues to find a decent roast in London. To be fair I've not tried that hard due to my, perhaps premature, conclusion that a really fine example in this city simply doesn't exist. I recall during my uni days having a great one somewhere in Southampton, but this being a little further than I'm currently willing to travel, Sunday lunch perfection continues to elude me.

A group of us sampled a selection of roasts at The Water Poet in Spitalfields last weekend, the beef, the pork and the lamb.

There was quite a long wait having arrived lateish for lunch, at around 2:30, though by the time we got to order (about an hour later) they'd not sold out of anything on the menu.

The high point of a roast dinner should not be the vegetables. The savoy cabbage and parsnips were great. The beef was cooked medium and was flavoursome but a bit too chewy. Roast potatoes were ok but they were stingy with the gravy. Service is very slow and a bit vacant. My yorkshire was more of a pancake than a pudding.

So, again I conclude that you can't beat a home cooked roast. Want bread sauce with your beef? Yorkshire pudding with your chicken? We do, so my friends and I have concluded we'll stick to Noy's kitchen on Sundays from now on. Should we visit again we'll probably stick to drinks and pool at The Water Poet, they've a nice covered outdoor area and multiple big screens for sports fans.

The Water Poet
9-11 Folgate St London
E1 6BX

The Water Poet on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Ten Ten Tei

I remember chuckling reading this post about Ten Ten Tei a while back, some things never change it seems and that pesky door is still traumatising diners. Being yelled at when you enter a restaurant isn't the best of starts but it is still chilly so we let it go!

Loved the food at Ten Ten Tei and will definitely be back. I had the soba tempura lunch which comes with a couple of maki rolls with avocado and some miso soup on the side. Unlimited green tea as is the custom in many non-chain sushi eateries, all this for less than £10. The revelation for me was the fried agedashi tofu, so silky and delicious, I was always a fan of tofu anyway but now I am officially in love with it.

The things that make Ten Ten Tei stand out for me are the quality of the added extras, the miso is amazing, the pickled ginger isn't hot pink in colour and the wasabi is properly nose tingling with only a minimal amount. Awesome.

The temaki were also of a high standard, fish so tender and vibrant in flavour, I've not been able to stop thinking about it since. My soba tempura was a pretty poor choice, tempura in soup will of course turn into a soggy mess and the stock was scaldingly hot. Luckily my companion allowed me a few bites of his. Next visit I'd like to sit at the bar, and will likely order sashimi. Speaks volumes that I'm already counting down the hours until I'll be back at work in Soho.

Ten Ten Tei
56 Brewer Street

Ten Ten Tei on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Cuckoo Club

I was recently invited to attend a bloggers dinner at The Cuckoo Club to mark the launch of their new menu.

The dining room has a very glamorous feel to it, with moody purple lighting and opulent table dressing, not shown below.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. The standout dishes were the lighter options, tuna tartare and monkfish in potato broth, chef Chris Parker clearly catering for the calorie conscious clientele. Every dish on the menu is dairy free. The clear highlight of the evening for me were the fabulous cocktails. Upon arrival we were treated to any cocktail of our choice, I opted for a long gin based tipple with pink grapefruit. Jemma's cucumber selection was a revelation, so fresh and moreish, garnished with fresh dill. Almost visible in my picture was an impressive array of garnishes including countless fresh herbs, yellow cherry tomatoes, chillis, lemongrass and whole yellow peppers which acted as vessel for one of the selection on the menu. Very impressive. Unfortunately all my snaps of the food are practically unviewable due to the lighting.

The Cuckoo Club restaurant is open Wednesday to Saturday from 8pm and I'd recommend it to anybody interested in having a pre night out bite to eat, where the focus of the evening will be the booze. That said what's on offer here is certainly a cut above most club menus and full marks to The Cuckoo Club for paying attention to the food and making an attempt to appeal to the foodie as well as the party animal.

I dined as a guest of The Cuckoo Club and thanks to Sarah from LDR London for inviting me along.

The Cuckoo Club
Swallow Street

Cuckoo Club on Urbanspoon