Review: Alyn Williams at the Westbury

6 Oct

The Meat: Alyn Williams at the Westbury is one of those restaurants that has been on my list of restaurants to go to for two years but I hadn’t quite gotten around to. I’m glad I finally did. After five years as head chef of two-Michellin starred Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, Alyn Williams started his own restaurant at the Westbury in 2011 to rave reviews.  This was soon followed by a Michelin star and a National Chef of the Year award. In comparison to Marcus Waering at the Berkeley, which focuses on great traditional cooking, the menu here is subtle, light, fresh and inventive. The tasting menu is one of the best I have tried this year. The ambience is an extension of the Westbury, which I must say that I find slightly dated. The noise levels can also be uncomfortably low (so much so that we had to uncharacteristically ask for some background music when we first got to the Wine Room) but a few courses in everyone loosens up with all that good food and wine

Perfect for: Tasting menu, special occasions, private dining

Who to take: Partner, foodie, friends

Cuisine: Modern European

Price: £90 for a seven-course tasting menu with drinks and service

Area: Mayfair

The verdict: 5*

Other’s verdict: Toptable – 4.5/5; Andy Hayler – 16/20

Personal favourite: All of it

Where to sit: The Wine Room (it’s much nicer than the main restaurant area)

Reservations: Yes

Website: http://www.alynwilliams.com/

Address: Alyn Williams at the Westbury, 37 Conduit Street, London W1S 2YF

Telephone: +44 (0)207 183 6426

We ordered: 

Crab, miso, pepper dulse and tomato

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Orkney scallop, cucumber, muscatel and scallop broth

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Burrata, Iberico ham, watermelon and cobnuts

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Cod, squash, maple, bacon and leeks

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Salisbury venison, pear, chestnut and mostarda 

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Devon ruby red sirloin and cheek, turnips and croutons

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Selection of cheese

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Cornish cheesecake, persimmon and ginger ale

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Caramelised white chocolate and passion fruit

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Alyn Williams at The Westbury on Urbanspoon

Review: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

30 Sep

The Meat: Heston Blumenthal’s first London outpost, Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental is modelled on the concept of reviving British gastronomy. The kitchen is headed by the Executive chef for the Fat Duck group, Ashley Palmer-Watts and produces many dishes originating from the 15th to 18th century. In its short two-year history, the restaurant has already been awarded two Michelin stars and has made it on the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list. Even with all the hype, Dinner does not disappoint. The food is terrific – it’s both exciting and delectable. The only slight negative was the rather drab interiors. On the night I went, I wouldn’t have pegged the service to be on par with a two Michelin starred restaurant but it was definitely satisfactory

Perfect for: A special occasion

Who to take: Partner/Foodies

Cuisine: British

Price: £120 with drinks and service

Area: Knightsbridge

The verdict: 4.5*

Other’s verdict: Time Out – 4*, Toptable 4.5/5, The Telegraph 9/10

Personal favourite: Meat Fruit – the specialty starter at the restaurant is worth having as your starter, main and dessert

Where to sit: By the windows

Reservations: Weeks in advance

Website: http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/

Address: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7201 3833

We ordered: 

Meat Fruit – Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread

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Black Foot Pork Chop – Spelt, ham hock, turnip & Robert sauce

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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

Review: Social Eating House

28 Jun

The Meat: Jason Atherton’s newest venture on Poland Street, Social Eating House, opened shortly after Little Social (the bistro alternative to his flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social). It joins the ranks of other ‘casual’ fine dining eateries that have recently opened in London. The décor is very NYC – wooden candle-lit tables, velvet curtains, chesterfield sofas, unpainted walls and a few hipsters thrown in to balance the generally moneyed crowd. The service is sporadic and slightly off key but it’s still early days. Don’t let any of that distract you though – it’s one of the better meals I’ve had recently. The food is spot on and the cocktails inventive. I would recommend all of the five dishes I tried.

Perfect for: Date night/A night out

Who to take: Partner/Friends

Cuisine: Modern European

Price: £60 with drinks and service

Area: Soho

The verdict: 4*

Other’s verdict: Time Out – 5*, The Telegraph – 2.5*, Toptable – 4.1/5

Personal favourite:  Confit lamb neck fillet, sheep’s ricotta potato, garlic and parsley

Where to sit: No preference

Reservations: Currently booking out a week or so in advance, it’s probably best to turn up late on a weekday or make reservations well in advance

Website: http://www.socialeatinghouse.com

Address: 58 Poland Street, Mayfair, London W1F 7NR

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7993 3251

We ordered: 

Duck “smoked ham, egg and chips”

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Wild mushrooms on toast, from a bag, cep purée

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Flamed côte de porc, beetroot, white polenta, spring onion, savory

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Confit lamb neck fillet, sheep’s ricotta potato, garlic and parsley

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Milk chocolate mousse, hazelnut ice-cream, chocolate éclair

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The Social Eating House on Urbanspoon

Review: HKK

29 Apr

The Meat: The newest installment from the Hakkasan group, HKK opened its doors earlier this year next to Chrysan (the new Kaiseki Japenese venture by the group which shut down earlier this month). It is headed by Chef Tong Chee Hwee, the head chef at the original Hakkasan. HKK offers ‘bespoke Cantonese fine dining’ through its fifteen course tasting menu – the only menu on offer at dinner. I can’t say the meal started off quite on the right foot after I found some Cellophane in my first course. After some very low apologetic bows, things considerably improved. The menu is a dining experience with the requisite pomp and ceremony, and, as the waiter aptly put it, a commitment. As with any tasting menu, there are some dishes that are exceptional, some that are good and some that were just average. However, the exceptional dishes and the experience itself (putting aside the slightly bland decor) makes this the perfect restaurant for a celebratory dinner

Perfect for: A special occasion

Who to take:  Partner/colleagues with a business account

Cuisine:  Cantonese fine dining

Price: £95 for the fifteen course tasting menu. £130 per head with drinks and service. They do a cheaper eight course lunch menu at £48 but my guess is that would be quite a light lunch

Area: City

The verdict: 4*

Other’s verdict: Time Out – 4*; The Telegraph – 4*; The Independent – 7/10; Toptable – 4.6/5

Personal favourite: The roasted Peking duck was the best I have ever tried anywhere 

Where to sit: No preferences

Reservations: Yes

Website: http://hkklondon.com/

Address: Broadgate West, 88 Worship Street, London EC2A 2BE

Telephone: +44 (0)20 3535 1888

We ordered: 

Four treasure Iberico ham wrap

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20yrs Gu-yue-long-shan drunken chicken

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Lychee wood roasted Peking duck

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Dim sum trilogy

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Gai-lan, shemeji mushroom and lily bulb in XO sauce

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Wok-fried lobster with pan-mee

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Fillet of monkfish, Louise Roederer sauce

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Toban of homemade pumpkin tofu

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Jasmine tea-smoked Wagyu beef

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Steamed razor clam with chilli, mui-choi glutinous rice

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Pineapple fritter, salted lime jelly, vanilla ice cream

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Selection of petit fours

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HKK on Urbanspoon

 

Review: Tonkotsu

13 Mar

The Meat: With the recent surge of Ramen bars in London, the owners of Tsuru Sushi & Katsu opened Tonkotsu earlier last year on Dean Street. The menu is simple – three choices of Ramen (and one for the vegetarians), Gyoza and sides. But what the menu lacks in size, is comfortably made up for in quality. The noodles are made fresh at the restaurant (potentially, the first in London) and are very well balanced. The stock is rich, flavoursome and hits the spot perfectly on a winter’s day. All in all, there’s just a hearty, wholesome quality about the meal that transports you to a little Ramen bar in Asia. (Even if the ambiance is quite quintessentially Soho.)

Perfect for: A cold day

Who to take: Friends

Cuisine: Japanese - Ramen

Price: £20 with a drink

Area: Soho

The verdict: 4*

Other’s verdict: Time Out – 4*; Zagat – 19/30; Urbanspoon – 70%

Personal favourite:  Tonkotsu

Where to sit: Not up against the wall. Preferably upstairs.

Reservations: No reservations policy. It’s currently quite busy so you need to be prepared to queue.

Website: http://www.tonkotsu.co.uk

Address: 63 Dean Street, London W1D 4QG

Telephone: +44 (0)2074370071

We ordered: 

Tonkotsu – Rich, sea salt-based pork stock and thin noodles topped with slices of melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, half a seasoned soft-boiled egg, menma, bean sprouts and spring onions

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Soho Ramen – Salt base, pork and chicken stock with medium think noodles topped with smoked haddock, pak choi, half an egg, menma and pspring onion

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Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon

Review: Lucky Chip (Slider Bar) vs. The Player

2 Dec

The Meat: Opened in July 2011 selling out of a trailer in E8, expanded in to the The Seabright Arms in Bethnal Green in February 2012 and now occupies a permanent (most likely) residency at the Player in Soho. The menu has a choice of around 10 sliders, American for small burgers, including staples such as the Royale with Cheese as well as more inspired choices like the El Chappo (aged beef patty, smoked bacon, roasted jalapenos, blue cheese & aioli). You get to choose any combination of two for £10 or three for £14 if you’re really hungry. The burgers are amongst the best I have ever had anywhere – they aren’t particularly classic but they are juice-drippingly delicious. I’ve been at least 10-15 times since I first went and the embarrassing bit it is that wasn’t more than 2-3 months ago. The cocktails are great too as the Player is a Rushmore group (Milk & Honey, Danger of Death …) bar. I’d especially recommend the sharing cocktails section, even if you don’t really want to share it. The only negative is the terribly slow service. However, this seems to progressively be getting better.

Perfect for: Dinner & drinks to start your night (note that the burgers are quite messy though)

Who to take: Friends

Cuisine: Burgers

Price: £20 with a drink

Area: Soho

The verdict: 4* (The only reason it doesn’t get a 5* is the service)

Other’s verdict: Time Out – 4*; Evening Standard – 7.5

Personal favourite:  El Chappo & Pulled Pork

Where to sit: The booths at the back

Reservations: Only for groups 6+ and Rushmore members. Be prepared to wait on Thursday-Saturday night

Website: http://sliderbar.co.uk/

Address: 8 Broadwick Street, Soho, London W1F 8HN

Telephone: 020 7065 6841

We ordered: 

El Chappo – Aged beef patty, smoked bacon, roasted jalapenos, blue cheese & aioli

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Pulled Pork – Pulled pork, coleslaw, pickles

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The Apocalypso

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Slider Bar on Urbanspoon

Review: Lima

21 Nov


The Meat: 
London has been experiencing a surge of Peruvian restaurants of late. After a somewhat depressing meal at Ceviche, Lima was a welcome find. Opened by Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez (Central in Lima) in June this year, this is the best Peruvian food I have had. That isn’t necessarily saying very much though as I’m quite inexperienced when it comes to Peruvian cuisine. We went for lunch and the restaurant felt light and airy due to the skylight. The food was particularly colourful but very tasty, the lamb having been cooked perfectly so that it falls apart in your mouth. I did however think that some of the ingredients on the menu are made to sound a bit more exotic than they really are. Having said that, I have already been back twice since my first visit and plan on doing so again in the near future.

Perfect for: Weekend lunch

Who to take: Anyone who enjoys South American cuisine

Cuisine: Peruvian

Price: The set menu for lunch/pre-theatre menu is exceptionally good value at 3 courses for £20. With drinks and service, you are probably looking at £30-40 per person on the set menu. The à la carte menu seemed considerably more expensive.

Area: Fitzrovia

The verdict: 4*

Other’s verdict: Toptable – 3.9; Time Out – 4*; The Telegraph – 3.5*

Personal favourite: Braised lamb shoulder, creamed lime and yellow potato, ghoa cress

Where to sit: Corner sofa table

Reservations: Yes

Website: http://www.limalondon.com/

Address: 31 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1JH

Telephone: +44 (0)203 002 2640

We ordered: 
Sea bass causa with yellow potato puree, crushed avocados, red shiso
Scallop tiradito, yellow aji amarillo emulsion, umami salt, cassava powder
Duck magret crudo, algarrobo tree honey, queso fresco, red shiso
Hake and kholrabi, capers, maca root and piquillo compote
Braised lamb shoulder, creamed lime and yellow potato, ghoa cress
Dulce de leche ice cream, beetroot crust, chancaca honey

Lima on Urbanspoon

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