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    There's been a little buzz in recent months about the Goodman Group's newest Soho baby, Rex and Mariano. Being a bit of a fish addict, this was one restaurant I was particularly excited about going to. 

    Rex, of The Chelsea Fishmonger, knows his cod from his coley and therefore is one of the brains behind the glorious produce. Mariano, is the beauty behind the wonderous wine-on-tap bar towards the back of the restaurant... which, seemingly are rather reasonably priced decent wines - I say, with a slightly banging head this morning! 

    The restaurant is cavernous: bar seating, table seating and snuggly banquettes are grouped around large stylish wash basins and sit in front of a buzzy open plan kitchen where bells chime when dishes are ready. 

    We were seated by the oyster shuck bar and presented with two menu's, one paper, one I-pad version (where you place your order) and warned that once sent to the kitchen the food is pretty rapid. So, order it in stages - they weren't wrong! Our drinks came at record speed once tapped 'send' so, we decided there and then to order once we'd finished our dish(es) in order to not be in and out in under 30 minutes!

    Everything, I mean EVERYTHING here is fish and either cheviche, tartar, carpaccio or very simply cooked (on the plancha). Therefore, if your dining companion ain't a fan - don't go. Unless, they're happy with a whole cauliflower, which does look delicious!

    Encouraged by a few people to order the bread simply 'to mop up the juices' was first on the iPad shopping list (served with a delicious tuna paste) coupled with a huge plate of frito misto covered in a spicy 'Old Bay' seasoning and served simply with lemon and mayo. It was seriously satisfying for those deep fried food lovers amongst us and a great mix of different fish and shellfish. 

    We then used the powers of the Ipad to set about our own dining pace... 

    Sea bass ceviche with coriander, tigers milk, yuzu and sharp red onion. Nice big chunks of lightly cured, incredibly fresh fish doused in a plate lick-able punchy dressing - what's not to love?

    and a simple, refreshing, tuna carpaccio serviced with tomato, parsley, olive oil and lemon plus a good lashing of salt. 

    Clams in the classic, white wine and garlic were flavoursome and an incredibly decent amount for only £7 - how do they do it?!

    The infamous raw red Sicilian prawns were so juicy and sweet I could have eaten dozens of the things (luckily these weren't the man's favourite so I, more or less, had the whole lot!). Just make sure you, do as the Italians do and suck the juicy goodness out of the heads...

    To keep the man happy I then quickly ordered one final dish of Sicilian striped prawns in lemon, a lot of chilli and olive oil. These are big (n.b.the photo does not do the size justice), juicy beasts and well worth an order! Especially when you've succumbed to a portion of carbs to mop up the rather gorgeous liquid on the plate. 

    Rex and Mariano is a really easy hang out. All dishes are ridiculously reasonably priced for exceptionally fresh seafood... A thoroughly enjoyable evening and one place I would like to think I'll be visiting often, just remember to leave your carnivorous friend behind... 

    Square Meal

    Rex & Mariano on Urbanspoon

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  • 06/02/15--05:47: The Coat and Badge - Putney
  • Taken from the website
    Back in the day when I was living in Parson's Green The Coat and Badge was our staple weekend hangout due to it's rather glorious sun drenched beer garden... one of the best I know of. Now, sadly it seems a million miles away (well, in London terms!) and I haven't been there in a year or so - sob!

    The other evening I met up with my brother as I was invited down to try their new summer menu, which is full of pub classics, as well as a few lighter bites and a couple of daily specials. 

    The Coat and Badge is of the Geronimo Inn family (always pretty much reliable winners, in my eyes) whom are spreading their wings all over London. Each of their pubs is totally individual they state on the website that, 'they are not a chain' and it's clear that the staff enjoy working for a 'family run' business. 

    We settled in at the back of the dining room ordered drinks (mine a rather huge blush rose!) and decided on our feast...

    Starters (which were HUGE in size!) came in good timing - not too fast, not too slow and both delicious:

    My brother opted for the shredded lamb salad served with beetroot, yoghurt and pickled cucumber. 

    Yours truly had the sweet potato falafel, giant cous cous and a tzatziki dressing. Crisp outer coating on the falafel, nicely spiced, fluffy sweet potato on the inside and they kept the cous cous simple, delish. 

    Mains again arrived in good time and I was seriously impressed with my fish, which was a special that day. North Atlantic Char (from the salmon family but, much less pink and has a far more delicate flavour). Perfectly cooked, adding brilliantly crispy skin and flaky flesh. Served with a small watercress salad and an enormous amount of buttery pesto new potatoes.

    Master W had the Ham, truffle egg and home made chips, which, went down a treat. (apologies for not the most flattering of food pics..)

    Feeling a little stuffed for a Tuesday evening we bypassed pudding and instead gossiped the evening away in their wonderfully relaxed surroundings. Thank you Coat and Badge we will be returning soon... Putney punters - Enjoy... just make sure you prepare yourself for the extra large portions!! 

    Square Meal

    Coat and Badge on Urbanspoon

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  • 06/12/15--03:55: Jamie's Italian, Piccadilly

  • I have been meaning to try one of Jamie's Italian Resto's for a long old time since a friend of mine claimed 'it was some of the best pasta (he'd) eaten'. Being a bit of a pasta snob (DeCecco for everyday, Giuseppe Cocco for posh - trust me, it makes a difference) this claim stuck and therefore when I was invited down to try one on my doorstop for lunch I jumped at the chance...

    Taking Miss R as a birthday celebration it was luckily one of those gloriously balmy summer days and we were able to sit outside (they have a fabulous terrace). Quickly ordering two of their blush rose we settled into the menu and found it rather hard to choose... 

    Starters however were an easy choice and made to share so we dived in with...

    Chilli squid, garlic lemon mayo... battered to perfection with a perfectly crisp coating. For £6 this was a rather generous portion and totally delicious when dipped into the punchy lemon mayo.

    Crab arancini, which was well executed however did lack slightly in crab flavouring. But it had a good crisp coating and that heavenly gooey risotto inside...

    Mains were a hard choice between their classic Italian grilled meats and fish, healthy sounding salads and the 'raved about' pasta.

    I opted for the latter especially as two of my favourite dishes are on there... prawn linguine and crab spaghetti with chilli. The crab won my vote and I certainly wasn't disappointed. A wonderful light tomato sauce coated every strand which gave a perfect hit of chilli and a salty caper/anchovy punch. There was an abundant amount of crab meat apparent (both white and brown) which was well worth the £13.50 price tag... The pasta itself held a good bite to it and again, well cooked! I was pleasantly surprised.

    My lunch date went for the salmon salad... which again was rather generous in size and very pretty but, lacked a little on salmon portion. However, taste wise it went down extremely well.

    Would I re-visit - yes... Jamie's is easy, affordable and quick. It caters well for the local business minded people as well as an abundance of tourists. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole meal, the ingredients were top notch, the food tasty and the staff all wonderfully friendly. Thank you!

    Square Meal

    Click to add a blog post for Jamie's Italian on Zomato 

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  • 06/17/15--13:40: Kouzu - Chef's table

  • Last night I was treated to what can only be described as one hell of a meal... My absolute favourite sushi restaurant Kouzu has opened its chef's table or 'secret dining room' downstairs in the basement and it isn't short of a wonder. 

    Kicking off with a Japanese influenced Martini upstairs at the sexy lit up bar, we were then led through Kouzu's calming kitchen to a glass door towards the back of the room (it does, however, have its own entrance to the left of the main door). Seven seats were positioned around a 'U' shaped table with what I think was one way glass so that we could watch everything being cooked right in front of us.

    After a short while the Head Chef Kyoichi Kai (of Zuma background, and simply the most charming man) presented us with our first dish 'crab tartar'. 

    Wonderfully sweet Canadian king crab was served with a celeriac
    remoulade, orange and wasabi sauce giving a warming kick to the dish. 

    Next up had mixed thoughts around the whole table. I for one, enjoyed the contrast of the sharp blue cheese, foie gras and sweet Teriyaki sauce which I was slightly shocked about... usually, I cannot stand blue cheese. But it worked, cutting through the sweetness, it was on occasion a little over powering for the delicate foie gras however still thoroughly enjoyable and such a treat!

    Delicious prawns were heavily smoked and wonderfully garlicky, served with a chilli sauce. 

    Following the above was our first of the meat dishes. A rare beef tataki marinated in a punchy oriental sauce, micro herbs, a swish of horseradish and crunchy garlic chips - what's not to love?!

    Yellowtail, truffle, creamy avocado and grapefruit - fresh, zingy, delicious!

    Three ('or four') types of seaweed were served as the prettiest of salads and had different elements of texture and flavours. 

    Followed by the most incredibly fresh sushi selection consisting of tuna and yellowtail sashimi and flame licked tuna and salmon nigiri then, my all time favourite.. their insane scallop nigiri…

    Next up was the ever-so-popular 'Miso black cod' which was as good as I remember the last time I visited Kouzu, back in January. Served with an orange and tomato salsa... buttery and melt-in-your-mouth goodness! I could eat plates full of the stuff, as I'm sure would most people.

    Now... for something I wasn't imagining I would get to taste on such an already triumphant and spoiling menu...Wagyu beef, hands down one the of the most orgasmic mouthfuls I've had in a long time. So rich, so tender and just so good! It was served with a ponzu sauce which certainly wasn't needed as the beef spoke for itself.

    Pudding arrived and was reminiscent of 'iced gems' and a complete flavour experience. Strawberry, mango, orange, raspberry, yuzu and macha green tea ice cream 'cake'. Simply stunning and was actually incredibly light considering all the flavours, thus showing great skill from the pastry chef. 

    Kouzu became, from first visit, my all time favourite sushi restaurant in London which is now going to be exceptionally hard to beat. The chef's table, whereby the menu will change at least every three months, was an incredible experience that only excelled Kouzu further up in my restaurant 'must go to' list. Exquisite dishes and exceptional service all within a stunning venue. If you haven't been yet, go and please treat that special someone they will thank you later...

    N.B. I dined as a guest of Kouzu.

    Click to add a blog post for Kouzu on Zomato 

    Square Meal

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    Soif is one of those wonderfully, relaxed places we tend to head to un-planned. Last week saw some beautiful British summer evenings and therefore meant a spontaneous drink in the sun on Soif's terrace.

    Their menu changes daily, depending on supplies, and thus meaning we never tire of eating here and the food is really fresh. The menu is perfect for sharing, never seems to falter and heavenly when sat outside with the sun on your face and a glass on rose in hand... 

    We weren't hugely hungry and therefore just decided on a couple of their starters to share between the two of us. Beginning with some deliciously buttery bread, gooey pork croquettes (shown above) and soppressata piccante (a spiced Italian Salame).

    Our 'bigger' plates for the evening were:

    Asparagus, goat's curd and Nduja. The curd was creamy with a mild tang to it and went well with the perfectly cooked 'Al Dente' asparagus and the warmth of spice through the nduja sausage. 

    Garlic and Chilli prawns were huge and much so one was pinched and eaten before my camera got to it.

    Burrata, tomatoes, shallots and anchovy. Burrata being one of my ultimate favourite starters didn't disappoint and the creamy, rich cheese was complimented by the salty fish and an incredibly fresh, simple tomato salad - de-LISH!!

    Square Meal

    Click to add a blog post for Soif on Zomato 

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  • 07/03/15--03:11: Roka - Charlotte Street

  • I am aware I am fast becomming a bit of a sushi/Japanese adict. But, my cousin is moving Up North, away from London, away from the hustle and bustle, away from us (sob) and one of his main loves... excellent sushi!

    Due to his parting we went out for a final feasting of raw goodness at Roka which, coincidently, was one of the first places we went to when I moved down. 

    A rather gorgeous summers evening meant the stylishly designed, open kitchen restaurant was flooded with light and felt rather LA-esque. So, naturally, ordered a couple of refreshing cocktails to kick off the evening with. Originally seated at one of their tables we asked if the bar seating was available (my favourite way of dining when in two's) and perched ourselves on the corner of the rather sexy knotted wooden counter.

    The staff at Roka are charming and both the food and booze is presented beautifully. We started with one of Roka's newbies 'Rock Shrimp sashimi' which was delicious, incredibly sweet and super tender...

    ...and a plate of crunchy spicy tuna maki. 

    We then went full steam ahead into the main menu. A refreshing, zingy yellowtail sashimi doused in a truffled yuzu dressing - Heavenly!

    Seaweed and grilled bamboo salad in a sweet honey dressing. 

    Of course, a helping of deliciously silken black cod had to be ordered and Roka's version has a wonderfully charred skin and served with a good 'snazzy chef's spurge' of sweet miso sauce. 

    Scallops from the robata served with a wasabi and shiso cream were actually, sadly, really over cooked which we did mention to our waitress and in a flash we were sent out a second helping, correctly cooked and totally delicious. 

    Next up a beef fillet, with chilli, garlic and spring onion. Sliced thinly and cooked perfectly rosy pink inside.

    One of my favourite Japanese dishes is Miso aubergine and Roka's version didn't disappoint grilled with a sticky, sweet mirin marinade.

    Roka was always a distant fond memory. It's incredible to see that still, 6 years on, it is exactly the same high standard with a superb atmosphere and cocktails to die for. Staff here are friendly without being overbearing and I certainly won't be leaving it another half a dozen years till my next visit.

    Square Meal

    Click to add a blog post for Roka on Zomato 

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  • 07/20/15--04:42: The Ivy Chelsea...
  • Sunday was as much of a treat for the eyes as it was our hungry tummies...Bradley Cooper was feasting away outside after his day at Wimbledon finals - swoon!

    The Ivy is the newest hotspot to hit Chelsea and as one can imagine the team behind the establishment (Caprice holdings) haven't scrimped on the décor budget. It's utterly stunning, both inside and out. 

    We met with two of our friends A and K for a late Sunday lunch and even at this time the place was buzzing with people sat at the bar seating and tables filling nicely. The Caprice holding still to this day seem to have somewhat of a 'Midas touch' when it comes to knowing what their clientèle want. 

    In true British Summer fashion we were treated to a decent downpour all day therefore the only available outside seating which was undercover was sadly, taken. We were therefore seated just inside of the windows whereby we could peer out longingly into their wonderful, and rather vast (for Chelsea) garden...

    Our waiter came over, took a drinks order, and explained some of the 'new menu' highlights which, almost all of us round the table honoured his suggestions. To be quite honest, the whole menu reads blooming well and everything sounded right up my street so, it was no easy feat to decide...

    Finally settling after a good glass of fizz our starters arrived:

    Crispy prawns with wasabi for the boys, of which I had a good helping of these and personally I didn't really taste the prawns, or the wasabi for that matter. But I can tell you that the coating was crisp, dry and actually delicious. 

    Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio with spiced avocado, lime, crème fraîche and coriander shoots for us girls. Unpretentious, fresh and delicious. 

    Mains were a variety round the table...however in hunger haste I didn't photograph the others food.

    I devoured the most delicious chicken milanese. Coated in brioche and topped with a soft runny egg and shaved black truffle. The most simple of things was transformed into a decadent, rich and thoroughly enjoyable Sunday evening supper. 

    Puddings again, were a range around the table K had the, now infamous, chocolate bomb - my picture made it look awful but, Google it and you'll see how incredible it looks!

    Mr D had the lemon meringue baked Alaska which I had a mouthful (or two of) and it was wickedly good...

    A and I went for (poorly photographed) The Ivy classic, frozen berries and white chocolate sauce, a dish I regularly recreate at home but never quite get the sauce as good as it is here. Sweet, sour, hot, cold... perfect!

    £50pp including a pre dinner drink and a decent bottle of plonk... a wonderful room (although some service blips - we found the staff a little 'upperty'!) and on this visit totally delicious food. I can't wait to head back...

    Square Meal

    Click to add a blog post for The Ivy Chelsea Garden on Zomato

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  • 08/04/15--05:48: Kurobuta - Chelsea
  • A couple of weeks ago Mr D and I found ourselves with a long and lazy weekend ahead of us... this usually then means a good day of grub followed by a spontaneous pub session with friends. On this particular weekend there happened to be hardly anyone in town so, we meandered as us 30 year old folk do, across the river to the haven that is... Peter Jones and a wander down the Kings Road. 

    Kurobuta has now moved venue since my last visit a year ago (link) and I was somewhat saddened to see the rustic 'pop up' décor has now been replaced with slightly strange, haphazard and to be frank...a little bit odd. But, I'm here for the food and those delicious boozy cocktails. 

    Our waitress was a charming American girl whom enthusiastically took us through her favourites and recommendations and then, quite literally, skipped off to get our drinks order and came back at lightening speed. 

    Having been before there were a few 'must haves' that I ordered without looking at the menu and already knowing he was a little peckish ordered the Crunchy Rice Senbei Crisps with Avocado-Jalapeno Dip for a nibble whilst we decided on our feast...

    Once ordered the dishes came at a decent pace and thankfully not all at once... first up was a punchy yellowtail Sashimi with Kizami Wasabi Salsa and Yuzu-Soy. Quite a generous portion for £13 and wonderfully fresh.

    Next up was a favourite of mine when at Kurobuta... their version of Baby Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Mayo and Warm Ponzu Dipping Sauces. Served with fried rice cracker 'spaghetti'.

    BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy an absolute must have when visiting here... pillow-soft buns, wrapped round juicy perfectly cooked meat. Smother it in the sweet, sticky, salty peanut sauce and you have heaven in a mouthful.

    BBQ Kurobuta Pork Ribs with Honey-Soy-Ginger Glaze were pre braised, then grilled, sadly let the meal down. A little too dry and the sauce was barely noticeable....

    Kurobuta has changed ever so slightly since its previous home which is a shame as its lost a little of the charm which I so loved before. That said, however, it wouldn't stop me going back for more of those delicious buns and wonderous cocktails...

    Address: 312 King's Rd, London SW3 5UH

    Open today · 6:00 – 10:30 p.m.

    Square Meal

    Click to add a blog post for Kurobuta on Zomato 

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  • 08/13/15--03:36: Cambio de Tercio
  • I adore tapas and how it creates table conversation through sharing food, discussing flavours with your companions all cooing over the dishes at the same time. It's perfect for large groups, romantic for two and a decadent treat for one... Cambio de Tercio in South Ken has been my families 'go to' for (I think) over 20 years. It's still owned by the same lovely faces and still has a wonderful cosy 'unique' atmosphere even after expansion into several other branches. 

    The Old Brompton Rd houses four of them and there's another in Fulham. In a word it's DELICIOUS and has never faltered on any of my visits. 

    Last week my parents came down to celebrate my little bro turning 25... Tube strikes thus meant we needed to eat near their hotel and there's simply no point in us trying anywhere new when Cambio de Tercio is on the hotel's doorstep.

    We arrived, ordered Aperol Spritz and Sherries (they specialise in the liquor) and got stuck into their mouthwatering menu. The other restaurants are solely 'tapas style' but, Cambio de Tercio's menu has tapas style starters and also a mains section. Putting my brother and I in charge of choosing the tapas (always dangerous if you ask me!) whilst Dad ordered a plate of the delicious acorn fed Iberico ham to munch on whilst we decided. 

    Our tapas feast went as follows:

    8 hr roasted Tomatoes in sherry and served with basil caviar and potato cubes

    Foie Gras 'from the tree' a wonderful mind boggling Heston-esque apple jelly covered foie gras pate and poached pear.
    Incredibly lightly fried squid, lemon aioli.

    Their version of 'patatas bravas' - so SO good and an absolute must when here.

    and finally their infamous Iberico ham croquettes... crisp outer shell and a creamy oozy delicious inside - what's not to love?!

    Mains were as epic as the starter for us all...

    My Dad and brother went for the Cambio classic of Crispy roasted suckling pig from Salamanca, pickled kumquat, caramelised shallots, roast parsnip... I had a mouthful of this and it is rather incredible, crispy skin and succulent meat - heaven.

    Mum - Flame grilled pluma iberica (the finest cut from acorn feed pork) pineapple, lime puree. This was, sadly, not to mum's taste as it was very sweet but the meat had a wonderful flavour. 

    I went for one of their fish dishes... Red mullet roasted with cauliflower, nameko mushrooms and in a rich mullet jus. 

    Puddings were a necessity with it being the bro's birthday and he already has his eyes set on their 'egg and chips'. Mandarin egg yolk which oozed as it should. Mango as the chips and strawberry sauce as the ketchup (which has ketchup consistency). Mr brother loved it.

     A terrible photo of the egg yolk... 

    4hr baked vanilla custard was also shared amongst us all and was utterly delicious. 

    Another playful way of presenting food came with our rather delicious 'petite fours' chocolate truffles on dry ice...

    Innovative, playful and still managing a good nod to Spain's traditional dishes - Superb as ever and a definite must go.

    Square Meal

    Click to add a blog post for Cambio De Tercio on Zomato 

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  • 08/20/15--04:05: Searcys at The Gherkin

  • Every now and then Bookatable have a deal that I'm drawn too... two weeks ago their star deal was for Searcys which I had actually never heard of. What drew me to it was that it was in The Gherkin 40 floors up and therefore ticking off another of my high rise dining experiences looking over our beautiful city. 

    The deal was 3 courses and a glass of bubbly for £45... not bad. But, what makes this extra special is that this dining experience has a rather fun bar above based on a Moroccan Souk which is only open for a limited time to celebrate The Gherkins 10th year (has it REALLY been that long!!). So, extra special. 

    With the Moroccan theme in mind you can opt for a 'Taste of Morocco' tasting menu fr an extra £10pp on arrival or, afternoon tea which is only available to book in advance...

    On this gloomy rather grey weather summers evening we were ushered through security quickly and zoomed up the 39 flights to be greeted by friendly faces and shown to our table right on the edge showing beautiful birds eye views below our feet and they immediately poured our glass of crisp, dry champers... 

    The menu for our 3 courses was far more extensive than other offers I have come across. Six starters and six mains including interesting vegetarian options which is sometimes a rarity. All the meat and fish dishes all sounded delicious making it ever so slightly hard to choose from. 

    Some warm bread with churned, salted butter arrived and was so comforting I ate it in quick succession. 

    Wait service here is super attentive without them getting in the way... staff were friendly, informative and didn't intrude on our meal. The room was almost full at 7pm on a Tuesday which made for a wonderful atmosphere and is, of course, flooded with light being surrounded 360 degrees by glass and not a single building gets in eyes way... it's quite stunning. 

    Once ordered our starters came in good time. 

    Pickled Beetroot was my choice and came with whipped Vulscombe goat's cheese, basil, apple and vanilla. It looked as good as a Michelin starred dish and was a real treat to eat. I didn't taste much of the vanilla but, every other flavour shone through. 

    Mr D's starter was a confit of duck roulade, white peach, candied walnut and rocket... 

    Of the mains (and I wish one of us went for the Moroccan lamb as it looked delicious) I went for Butter roasted monkfish, heritage purple carrot, crisp bone marrow and bacon foam. My fish was exquistely cooked, one of the best monkfish dishes I've eaten - it could be to do with the 10,000grams of butter which went into the dish succulent and tender a real winner. The bone marrow was a little over-crisp for my liking but all other aspects of the dish worked perfectly. 

    The better half opted for pork tenderloin, broccoli and navet (a Moroccan nod - it means turnip) and leeks. Sadly the pork was completely overcook, so much so it look a little sad on the plate and we were surprised it even got past the pass. But, the accompanying sauce was worthy of a mention as were the perfectly cooked al dente leeks.

    Mr D's pudding, for me, was the stand out dish for the evening. Looks wise, it was incredibly pretty...taste wise completely delicious. Opalyse (an exceptionally good Parisian white chocolate) cremeux, charred lemon, lemon rose sorbet. It has every aspect you would want in a dish both sweet and sour flavourings and a mix of different textures - divine. 

    I rather boringly went for the cheese trolley for an extra £5 supplement from a selection of about 15 cheeses they asked what I liked flavour wise and gave me a good selection of hard, soft, goats and smoked. 

    Searcys is a lovely restaurant with just a few tweeks here and there the food could be top notch. If, like me, you're sucker for a romantic high rise supper (and also a bargain) it's a must - hit it before it vanishes....

    Bookatable's deal like HERE
    Searcys website HERE

    A: 30 St Mary Axe, off Leadenhall Street, London,EC3A 8EP
    Tube: Bank

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    Above The Clapham North is a little space which is let out to a few pop ups every now and then. More recently the 'pop up king' has brought his experience to Clapham and a bunch of us South of the River folk went there last night...

    The restaurant is a little... odd. But, pop-ups have to work with what they have...the central focus point is a huge fake tree which hangs (it needs more oomph!) above a canteen like dining space of around 12 or so tables mostly seating couples - of which, almost every couple had their mobile phones out, talk to each other, please!! 

    The menu read well, four delicious sounding starters, and the same for mains. All focussing on the 'BEST of British produce' and the wine is extensive enough to have a couple of decent bottles of each and be happy...

    Our menu choices were followed by some excellent warm bread and salted butter. It then went slightly pear shaped from here on in...

    Sadly, our first complaint went in after waiting almost an hour after ordering our starter... Nothing was rectified. Instead we found ourselves somewhat ignored, no apology and just a passing of excuses. I appreciate that waitresses get the brunt of complaints which isn't easy as I worked at a Gastro pub, in Devon, for two summers.

    Our waitress told us the reason being was due to other tables arriving an hour late. So, we were being penalised for arriving on time?! 

    Eventually our starters did get 'plonked down' and every single one was sublime, all was forgotten and thoroughly enjoyed...

    A couple of us had boudin blanc (my picture is embarrassingly bad!!) this was served with a BBQ corn puree, crisp black pudding cubes and cauliflower florets. Oddly, there seemed to be some white meat (possibly quail?!) on the plate which wasn't accounted for on the menu. But, it was all completely delicious. 

    Crottin goats cheese, balsamic vinegar, candied walnuts and baby beetroot was chosen by Mrs SB and tuna tartare for a few others. Both got rather large thumbs up.

    Sadly, our small table of 6 seemed to be pushed further down the line. At ten past ten (2.5hrs after being seated) when our mains still hadn't arrived we had to ask where it was... 'It's on the pass' - (a restaurant favourite reply of mine) and then saw said 'pass food' go to another table... So, we waited... 

    The manager came over and finally apologised for the exceptionally slow service but said it was due to us having both a starter and a main. Is that not expected in a restaurant?!

    Another reason followed...'the whole restaurants dishes were being cooked in batches. First the lamb, then the hake etc etc...' that just doesn't make sense to me. But hey ho, our dishes arrived and again, all totally delicious...

    My hake in a tasty seaweed and sea vegetable broth was beautiful, light and warming. The fish cooked perfectly, with flaky iridescent flesh and a good crisp skin. 

    LJ's Roasted wood pigeon, butternut squash, girolles, braised potato, Fat Hen (?!) and blackberry jus. The potato 'gratin' was sadly, undercooked. Yet, every other element was triumph.

    The previous mentioned 'sitting on the pass' rang alarm bells when Mrs BL's English lamb rump, olive oil mash, artichokes, samphire, peas and aubergines arrived with a rather 'crusty' looking sauce on the side from sitting under the heat lamp. However, I was assured that is was another winner...

    We had a final apology and the booze wiped off the bill due to it being too late (10:40pm) for us all to warrant a free pudding (thank you). And we left somewhat baffled and slightly deflated...

    I honestly, hardly ever complain in restaurants as I appreciate how much effort and time is consumed into running one. I SO wanted to love this place in every possible way but, it simply didn't happen. It's an incredible shame as the kitchen shows a huge amount of talent if you love your food go, just be prepared for an exceptionally odd roller coaster of an evening.

    Website: HERE 

    Address: 409 Clapham Rd, London SW9 9BT

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  • 09/02/15--04:22: Koji - Parsons Green
  • The infamous Mio Tai on the New Kings Rd has had a total change over and is now a swanky Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar which, quite frankly, looks exactly the same but with an added sushi bar, new menu's and a new name...Koji. 

    One balmy Saturday evening before heading to a birthday in Putney Mr D and I popped in for a bite and to check out what was once our 'go to' cheer up place if I ever got a parking ticket (that happens far too regularly!). I have often wondered whilst living in Parsons Green why there has never been a sushi bar due to an abundance of the yummy mummy types and health concious it seemed to make sense... Mio Tai's owners have obviously seen the light... 

    We started with a bowl of garlic and salted edamame, served warm and slightly spiced, whilst sipping on non alcoholic cocktails and Japanese beer...

    Once ordered, our food then came out staggered and every one presented beautifully.

    First up was a gloriously fresh sashimi salad with allium dressing.

    Then my favourite and one that was regularly ordered at the previous establishment...wild pink prawn tempura with creamy togarashi sauce. Crisp, golden batter encased perfectly cooked prawns. These were tossed in a creamy spiced sour mayo-like sauce. So delicious. I could have ordered plates and plates of the stuff. 

    Salmon egg Nigiri - never differs from restaurant to restaurant. But my absolute favourite nigiri to order!

    Miso aubergine... salty, sticky, sweet and utterly delicious. This dish alone could turn me into a vegetarian any day...

    Tuna and avocado maki is as good as one would imagine an ex-Nobu chef's sushi to be...pretty much perfection and liberal on the gorgeously fresh tuna. 

    Soft shelled crab maki was filled generously with crispy fried crab in a wonderfully light batter and again, a great version of a sushi classic. 

    Duck with wasabi dressing and vegetables was a highlight for Mr D however, there was something about the accompanying sauce that my taste buds weren't keen on (Mr D loved it). The duck however, was cooked perfectly pink with a crisp skin and the julienne vegetables underneath were cooked al-dente and cut through the sweet fat of the meat. 

    Passion fruit creme brulee was certainly not needed but we were pleased to find that it was one of the lightest, tastiest creme brulee's we've both eaten in a long time. 

    I love the new concept however, I do miss the old 'bar snacks' especially the ribs which were just, to die for... 

    A must for dates, birthdays and any special occasion. Or, just do what we do and pop in for some killer cocktails, served in chic surroundings and a nibble of beautiful food. 

    Address: 58 New King's Rd, London SW6 4LS

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    You Me Sushi rang me up and asked if I would like to try some of their menu knowing full well how much of a killer sushi eater I am this could only go one of two ways...

    I have had excellent and also terrible delivery sushi and Japanese food. One causing two whole days in bed and others just utterly disappointing. Not only that, it is certainly a 'treat meal'. One I often get when home alone as a treat 'pour moi'...

    You Me Sushi have a vast menu covering all sorts of sushi and some regular Japanese main dishes. We decided to try an array of the whole menu (the little piggy's we are) so's to get a good idea of what they have on offer... 

    We weren't disappointed with our rather large feast for two...

    I ordered for Mr D their sweet, sticky chicken teriyaki which was absolutely superb. The chicken was tender and not dry in the slightest. Served on perfectly cooked rice and a smattering of crunchy veg and pickles.

    The You Me Sushi Super box, consisting of California Uramaki, Salmon Nigiri, Salmon Sashimi, Salmon and Avocado Temaki seemed excellent value and too good to miss. The salmon and crab tasted really fresh and the sushi rice was perfect in both consistency and temperature (which so many get wrong). All ingredients were plentiful and well worth the £8. 

    Much like my review at Koji last week I can't not order the Salmon Roe Gunkan...

    Another slightly dull photo but one not to miss for those non-fish lovers amongst us is the duck hand roll. Filled with crispy duck, cucumber, spring onion, rice and then doused in hoi sin sauce. A glorified 'duck pancake' - if you will. 

    You can order by phone or online Here,they're based in several North of the River locations.

    Order and enjoy a night in with your feet up, a glass of crisp vino, good conversation and something decent on the box.

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  • 09/15/15--02:43: My Venice...part 1
  • 29 was a good year for me, one of unforgettable memories and a lot of fun...I was creeping up to my 30th with slight dread. A bucket list trip was booked to lighten the blow and Venice has been a place high up on Mr D and I's 'must do' for a good few years.

    We landed early Thursday morning to gorgeous sunny skies and that lovely September heat us Londoners seem to have forgotten we usually have. Zooming from the water taxi station up the Grand Canal we were greeted by our Air B and B host and taken to our rather plush NYC loft style apartment with an unrivalled view of the canal and Gondolas literally passing by our kitchen window...

    If you're a fan of tapas style food or love the Polpo chain then do as the locals do eating little and often throughout the day for very little money...I did A LOT of research beforehand...
    Day one saw us getting our bearings. Our flat was conveniently located off a very quiet street near the hideously heaving Piazza San Marco which meant we were incredibly central but, there's next to nothing of decent eateries nearby.
    Up at the crack of dawn meant our tummies were rumbling by 11am walking over the Rialto Bridge (hellishly busy) we stopped off at Al Merca (above pics and below) where locals grab a quick bite of a small sandwich stuffed with delicious meat, fish or cheese for around €1-3 and my first Aperol Spritz of the day. Two bites and a glass for two came to just under €10...

    All' Arco (which is infamous for Cicchetti) is about a 3 min walk from the above. A mixed plate of their delicious goodies, the baccala which is a creamed salt cod, a Venetian delicacy, here is a must. Hams and cheeses are served on top of thinly sliced crisp bread. A beer, more Spritz and a plate of six cicchetti and some octopus came in at €12. Be warned however, it is popular and therefore expect to queue for lunch and stand to eat (there are no tables which you'll find is very common).

    Next stop was some much needed sweetener after all the savoury and Gelateria Nico serves up some of the best Italian gelato on the island and this was indeed an incredible example of delicious pistachio ice cream (€2) with a view to match...
    After a good wander and finding ourselves at Galleria Accademia it was time for home and a power nap before supper. Post-work and pre-prandial Venetians head out for Spritz, good wine and cicchetti (naturally, we did just this). Osteria alla ciurma which again is close to the most of the above was a favourite of ours the place has a wonderful atmosphere and Marco the owner is incredibly accommodating and his calamari and the rest of his snacks or, 'my babies' as he calls them are a must! 

    Supper was booked through our host as we wanted somewhere close by on the first evening and she picked a pretty local restaurant right by us, in a quiet back street where was ate stuffed courgette flowers, vongole, cuttle fish on polenta (common in Venice) and a delicious rare tuna dish... all so simple yet incredibly tasty and indeed very, very fresh.  It seemingly catered well for overseas visitors but at the same time was packed with Italians which, without recommendation I probably wouldn't have visited but, it was just what we needed - easy, close and welcoming! 
    End of a wonderful and looonnnggg day 1... Venice you've captured my heart in 12 hours but, there's more to follow... 

    Websites/links for the above:

    Al Merca - HERE
    All Arco - HERE
    Gelateria Nico - HERE
    Osteria Alla Cuirma - HERE
    Da Mario Alla Fava - HERE and WEBSITE

    Lastly... A few do's and dont's that I wish I had known or, were good advice given to me pre-trip...

    Venice do's:

    - pack REALLY comfortable shoes...girls leave the heels at home,you won't wear them - we were averaging 10-14k a day!
    - bring cash (a lot of places don't take cards)
    - buy mosquito repellent (I learnt the hard way!)
    - have will get lost! But, embrace it. Put the map down and enjoy wandering off the beaten track, you'll find some hidden gems.
    - speak to friends for recommendations. We ate in some incredible places that you wouldn't necessarily get to experience otherwise.
    - cicchetti and prosecco 'extra' is a must and acceptable from 10/11am - perfect!!
    - guide book - Time Out was by far the one we found to be the most helpful and most 'us' as far as places recommended. 

    Venice dont's:

    - eat breakfast!! As Russell Norman says, 'in Venice, breakfast is for whimps...' Instead, work up an appetite walking around and pop into enotecas and Osterias for nibbles en route to places. 
    - head to top attractions early in the morning (they don't open usually before 10).
    - eat early - there's not a lot going on past 10/11pm apart from restaurants.
    - expect good pizza (it's Venetian food here and Pizza is only here for tourists!) a good point well made by many when researching and one to abide by...

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  • 09/22/15--07:40: My Venice...part two
  • Brace yourself for a long one... Venice is one of those places you get lost in days are long and you find yourself incredibly two saw us (me) up at the crack of dawn through sheer excitement of my actual birthday finally coming round (I'm still a child at heart). Grumbles and a 'go back to bed' eventually were pushed aside and we were up and out into the gorgeous Venetian sun at the beautiful Piazza San Marco. Huge queues were already forming to head into the Basilica so we decided to go up the Campanile where you will have the most stunning view over Venice's terracotta roofs and the busy canal.
    Afterwards we meandered along the canal past the Ponte dei Sospiri (the bridge of sighs) which is where prisoners were taken from the dungeons, across the bridge, to the courtroom to be sentenced to death. It is therefore said that they let out big sighs as they took their last look at beautiful Venice... Make sure the moment you see a break in the crowds to nestle through otherwise you'll miss the opportunity for a decent snap.

    We then made our way towards the hub of Venice, the Rialto market where restaurateurs and locals gather to buy what they wish to serve that day to their guests. In 2011 there was a threat from the Venetian city officals to close it to make way for more cruise ships this was overthrown by locals, thankfully, and now the gold winged Lion of St Mark holding a tablet guards the area Stating 'Rialto No Se Toca' (don't mess with the Rialto). The fish here is some of the freshest I have ever seen and the market kept exceptionally clean - i.e. not in the slightest bit smelly!

    More meandering towards lunch and more exploring down tiny back alleys and within what felt like our own personal city... no tourists, completely tranquil and utterly peaceful - heavenly... 
    We ended up doing a full 360 and came to what is known as a bit of a Venetian legendary pit stop 'Cantina do Mori' 5 minutes from the Rialto and is thought to be the oldest Bacari in Venice. It is packed at peak times with a lively atmosphere, lowly lit, has huge copper polenta pans hanging from the ceiling and a bar full of wonderful wines, sandwiches and snacks... what's not to love? 6 Cicchetti and a glass each was astonishingly around the €9! This quickly became a twice daily pit stop over the next few days...

    Here we tasted delicious artichoke hearts socked in olive oil, veal arancini, prawn and courgette cicchetti, salt cod cicchetti and a simple aubergine and sun dried tomato 'on a stick'...all absolutely divine, especially washed down with a 'prosecco extra' and all under €3 each. 
    Meandering round and past a highly recommended restaurant 'Osteria Enoteca ai Artisti' which was sadly fully booked and came across a charming rustic restaurant that seated probably no more than 14 at a push called Al Vecio Marangon which served up a daily changing menu full of fresh seafood and pastas, Mr D's sea food pasta and my octopus salad went down exceptionally well. 

    Round the corner from here is the Gallerie dell'Academia which is well worth a visit to lose yourself for a couple of hours, see some stunning Venetian paintings, some familiar household names and walk off the previous lunch as the place is VAST. 
    Home, snooze and out early doors to head to the infamous Harry's Bar 'the home of (eye-wateringly expensive) delicious Bellini's' which were created in 1948...the likes of Hemmingway, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles have signed the guest book, some several times. The old school charm is quite unexpected for me, it is a Venice must (even if an expensive must).  

    After Harry's called for a couple of birthday Spritz's (naturally) before heading towards supper at Alle Testiere which is now firmly within my top ten best meals ever. Set in a gorgeous (tiny) room with an open kitchen and tables so close we were sat almost on top of the people next to us (apologies if you're reading this Georgia). It's wonderful, unassuming and served up incredible wines, mind blowing simple seafood dishes, faultless service and endless amount of limoncello 'for the birthday girl'... bliss... 

    The wine cellar stocks some impressive names we asked our charming waiter to suggest something local '(he) loved' and a brought over a sulphite free wine which was around the €40 mark...
    We then feasted and shared starters of simple garlic and parsley razor clams (a must when here) one which I was reluctant to share...cooked to perfection, sweet, garlicy and covered in a really gorgeous olive oil - save your bread and mop the sauce up, you'll regret it if you don't!
    A huge plates of mussels...

    We decided on a secondi middle course and had to have a plate of the raved about home made pasta dishes. We (of course) chose the vongole with chilli and garlic...divine, full of these tiny sweet Caparosoli clams which are local to Venice...

    And finally the most incredible plate of mixed grilled fish (for two, my portion below) prawns, baby octopus, bream, monkfish... it goes on. The menu changes here daily as they get whatever is freshest that morning from the market. I loved this dish, the simplicity of it was well and truly delicious!
    (Another) glass of wine was ordered followed by a 'sod it let's have the whole bottle' due to it being incredibly drinkable and slipping down rather too well whilst we finished an incredibly light hazelnut semifreddo pudding. An evening to put on my 'incredible memories' list and one to highly recommend to you all... 

    Restaurants visited:

    Alle Testiere - MUST book!

    Address: Calle del Mondo Novo, 5801, 30122 Venezia, Italy
    Cantina Do Mori - no bookings - no tables!
    1. Address: Sestiere San Polo, 429, 30125 Venezia, Italy

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  • 09/25/15--07:42: Blanchette - Soho
  • It was way back on Bank holiday Monday evening when I finally managed to catch up with two of my lovelies whom were proving hard to pin down. Exhausted of all my ideas I asked F to book and Blanchette in Soho was her (excellent) choice, a place on my hit list to tick off!

    We arrived at the cutesy French bistro just after 6:30pm to find it already pretty full and dimly lit by candle light, hence my photos being rather terrible! Immediately ordering some ginger ales after our boozy weekends and settled into choosing our sharing plates and nibbles. 

    We practically wanted everything and 2-3 plates per person, as suggested, is just right. 

    Order the Cheese beignets the minute you sit down! Served with onion confit these little morsels are like savoury doughnuts. Incredibly light, irresistibly tasty I could have had bowls of them.

    Once ordered, food started to arrive sharpish and the waitress staggered our order with the lighter of the plates coming out first... 
    A refreshing green bean salad with Comte cheese, shallots and walnut dressing - one I would eat over and over again. It had crunch, sourness and a good amount of sweetness, one to recreate at home. Savour some of this to have with the meatier dishes to come... 
    Rare grilled tuna, avocado, orange and endive salad. Not a huge fan of the accompanying 'bits' it was all too many sweet flavours for me. Still, the tuna was cooked to a perfect pink. 
    Grilled duck breast with peach and beetroot remoularde was served very rare and sadly I found it just 'ok'. The duck sadly, seemed tough and stringy. 
    Grilled pork belly with Palourde clams, Brittany sea blades and vermouth was perfectly cooked with a crisp crackling, decent charring and incredibly juicy meat.
    Braised lamb shoulder with anchovy, rosemary and soubise (onion) sauce was my favourite of the evening. Tender succulent lamb sat atop generous amount of plate lickable soubise - what's not to love?
    Sea bass with crab bisque, peas and samphire. Was another exceptionally good dish. That crab bisque was packed with shellfish yumminess so much so, we found ourselves mopping it up with everything else on our table. The fish cooked with a brilliantly crisp skin and flaky flesh. 
    Courgette and aubergine tart with goats cheese and basil. Not the prettiest to picture - in fact half this meal looks dismal but,this was utterly more-ish and they managed to keep the pastry crunch-crisp even with such an array of vegetables piled on top- bravo!
    Puddings were a little of a mixed bag we shared two between the three of us. Passion fruit vacherin was full of that irresistible sourness you can't get enough of. Whilst the hot chocolate fondant, sadly, was a little dry. 
    If you want a little bit of French romance without the heavy French food then Blanchette is your ideal place to cosy up and have some grub... a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

    Square Meal

    Bistro Blanchette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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  • 10/02/15--09:19: Boqueria
  • I have driven past Boqueria countless times and said 'I love tapas, can we go' to Mr D until I was blue in the face. Finally an evening of catching up with the wonderful Johnson's and Holdstock brothers meant sharing food was ideal so, I booked the Acre Lane eatery and we went full force into the menu... 

    Starting with two mixed platters of their selection of cured meats...
    A Spanish classic - Pan con tomate, crisp bread with chopped tomato, garlic and olive oil
    I went rogue and ordered an 'un-discussed dish' which proved to be a winner... Paprika octopus served on potatoes. 
    One that photographs a little like dogs dinner but, tasted the complete opposite was the spinach with cheese, raisins and pine nuts - we ordered a second of these it was that good! 
    The have a huge board towards the back of the restaurant showcasing daily specials I jumped at one which (luckily) proved to be a favourite amongst us all. Aubergine chips with honey. Insanely hot but once cooled these were one of my favourites. Coated in polenta then fried until golden these were incredibly crisp and totally irresistible. 
    'Albondigas' or meatballs to us English folk are always done exceptionally well in Spain and Boqueria's were pretty much a triumph amongst the boys. A mixture of pork, beef and chicken they were incredibly succulent and tasty. Served in a rich tomato sauce - de-lish.
    A staple order when on any menu for Mr D and I and therefore had to be tried and tested was the calamari. Their version did not disappoint... served with a punchy ali-oli and a good ol' slice of lemon - simple - perfect!
    Patatas bravas had pretty mixed views amongst the eight of us. The potatoes were crisp (tick) the sauce spicy (tick) but, it wasn't as tomato heavy as we would have liked or, in that matter thought it should have been traditionally. It was more of a thin mayo consistency, perfectly nice just not what any of us were expecting.
    Onto some slightly main style dishes and the last few of our meal...seabass with wheat risotto on parmesan and scallop cream was utterly delicious although I didn't feel like it was in anyway particularly 'Spanish'.
    Pork shoulder in garlic and cumin, 'pont-neuf' chips (why would you have French style chips in a Spanish restaurant?!) and goat's cheese sauce was just 'ok'. 
    A star of the meal however came in last with the suckling pig served with sweet potato chips. apple sauce and a lemon sorbet. Usually despising the mix of freezing cold with warm food this actually worked really quite well. The suckling pig was sweet and cooked till perfectly tender and coupled with crisp crackling - di-vine!

    There's actually a couple of locations Brixton market, Battersea and Acre Lane. All serving up the same menu's with the exception of their blackboard specials. If you love tapas or, having a night out with friends there is nothing better than sharing plates of wonderful food, delicious wine and good company. Boqueria ticks all the boxes with a wonderful atmosphere to match. 

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    Boqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Boqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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    Taken from Sindhu's website
    It actually does feel like forever since i've written up a post... we have anew member of our little family and thus meaning I would rather stay in and cook than go out and miss evening snuggles on my sofa with this guy... who could resist this face...
    We escaped one Sunday and popped out to Marlow which happens to be one of my favourite places outside of London. It's beautifully quaint and, perched aside the river are houses I dream of living in with a beautiful wooden boat to pootle on the water... one day!

    Atul Kochhar's Sindhu is perched right on the river bank with windows spanning the length of the restaurant for us visitors to really gain advantage of their enviable location. The restaurant is light and airy, tables spaced out well and wonderfully attentive staff float around unnoticed.
    Taken from Sindhu's website
    We saw that a few tables next to us were taking advantage of the set menu so, for ease, we did just that and also had the flight of wines (although I was designated driver). On the driving note they do the most delicious curry or lime leaf Non-Alcoholic Martini. 

    Upon arrival poppdums and three types of pickle arrived beetroot, mango chutney and a spicy tomato.
    An amuse bouche arrived which was a tiny samosa.  Filled with flavour and nicely crisp. 
    Roasted Sweet Potato, King Edward Potato, Sweet Yoghurt and Chutney. Hands down some of the best Indian spiced potatoes I have eaten. 

    Pan Seared Hand Dived Scallops with Textures of Cauliflower and a Tandoori Tiger Prawn. Cooked to absolute perfection with wonderfully aromatic flavourings it ended up being one of my favourite dishes throughout the meal. 

    Grilled Chicken Supreme with Ground Coriander and Lime Leaf. Simple flavour it wasn't by any means as 'wow-factor' as the pervious dish but, still a nice plate of food.

    Nimbu Paani Sorbet to cleanse the pallet (lime flavour)
    Tandoor Grilled Rack of Lamb is, in fact, one of their signature dishes and was outstanding. Perfectly pink and served with Chettinad Spices, Urulai Roast (spiced potatoes), Kachumbar (a onion, cucumber and tom salad). The lamb came in two parts and was also served as a curry with the sides (left dish two pics below). 

    Kathirikai Gotsu- Smoked Aubergine Mash with Mustard and Tomato (right dish) and a Dal Makhani (middle dish)- Slow cooked Black Lentil with Tomato and Fenugreek. Both could have been dishes on their own and scored highly. As side dishes they were exceptionally decadent and we polished off the lot (such fatties).
    Lemon Rice and pillow like fluffy Naan
    Chocolate Mousse and Passion Fruit came as the most decadent chocolate 'bomb' I have been served. Absolutely stunning and a wonderful way to finish off a rather spoiling Sunday lunch... (although totally stuffed!).

    I would thoroughly recommend making the trip out to Marlow to come here. We went on a Sunday and, although the restaurant was quiet, it was such an enjoyable afternoon. Delicious refined Indian food and incredibly spoiling.

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    Sindhu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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  • 10/30/15--08:33: Trinity (Upstairs)
  • Our fabulous local, Trinity has had a rather fabulous re-vamp and now us lucky locals have the opportunity of eating at two restaurants within the same building. What was a store cupboard now houses an excuse to eat here more regularly and also, as it happens rather reasonably! 

    We arrived to wondrous hello's from familiar staff faces and were zoomed upstairs past the now gorgeous open kitchened, white table cloths and into a gorgeous stripped back-to-basics dining room upstairs. 

    The small kitchen has a couple of chefs whom dish up the whole room. The menu changes daily and dishes come as and when they're ready and are made for sharing. Think of it as English tapas, if you will and suggest getting as many of the delicious dishes into your feast as possible. We were a foursome this evening so, did just that and went for the whole savoury menu... perfect!

    A night at Trinity cannot go amiss without sampling some of their decent wine. However, on this occasion we had been rightfully informed that their house is rather drinkable (correct!) and at £19 a bottle it's a bit of a steal! 

    We started with what can only be described as deep.fried.heaven...
    Veal bolognese fritter covered in parmesan - what's not to love?! Order two of these (if anything similar is on the menu) and enjoy every mouthful... I can promise you, you won't regret it.
    We then munched on crudite with a hefty smoked aubergine and riccota dip (delicious) a slight nod to the original Trinity whereby they always served similar with delicious warm bread - It was here that my love for a raddish, salt and butter blossomed.
    Char-grilled octopus and hummus - one of my favourites of the evening. Simple, perfectly cooked, tasty.
     Rabbit terrine, prunes, punterella (chicory) and mustard fruits.
    Pork belly, romanesco and cobnut with perfectly crisp pieces of crackling and wickedly sweet fat running through.
    The overall table winner of the whole evening was the saddle of hare, chestnut, truffle and drizzled in a gorgeous chestnut honey. The hare being only slightly touched on the griddle so's not to mess with the delicate meat and keeping it incredibly tender each mouthful had us all in complete silence through enjoyment. 

    Trinity upstairs will fast become one of my 'go to' locals for when cooking seems a chore... all of the above, two lots of booze and a couple more glasses came in at just over £30 a head - Bargain!!! It seats 18 so, be sure to book as this will some become a hot spot. Adam - it's brilliant!

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    Trinity Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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    You may remember a while back my girlfriends and I had a rather strange dinner at The Secret Garden (another pop up behind the mastermind of Jimmy Garcia). It was a little bit 50/50 and therefore I was ever so slightly dubious in going although, knowing full well the food was excellent the last time I had to go at it with a fresh mind... 

    Jimmy's Winter adventure which originated in Balham last year was such a hit he's re opened it in the same space and my god, it's a transformation. The room is wonderful - cosy, intimate and seats are covered in tartan fabric making it a full transportation to a snugly log cabin and all that's missing is a fire, cold toes and some snow...

    Taken from the Lodge website (I believe this is the Balham venue)
    Four of us went along last week on a balmy Thursday evening and the place was heaving...think similar apres ski atmosphere just without the red noses and frost bitten fingers to find people already hitting the bar area hard for a long evening ahead. 

    On receiving our menus we ordered the viognier and a couple of warm 'butter rums' topped with meringue (a must order) and settled in for the next couple of hours.
    Our starters arrived and were thoroughly enjoyed. All expertly cooked and devoured in seconds...

    A light dish of Scallop Carpaccio - ​Hand Dived Scallops, Pancetta, Melon and Pickled Cucumber. Refreshing with a good sweet and sour hit to it. 
    Vicars Game Wood Pigeon, Pear and Celeriac Remoulade and Chicory was my choice of starter and it was delicious, plentiful and much lighter than the picture suggests!
    The Gameboard was had across the whole table. An ENORMOUS combination of the English Countrysides favourite meats and birds - 

    Mini Venison Chateaubriand - was succulent and nicely charred (served pink) 
    Wild Boar Scotch Egg. My favourite on the whole board. Seasoned well and of course the make or break of this snack...a nice runny golden yolk... 
    Heather Stuffed Pigeon. Again, served perfectly pink with a crisp skin 
    Mini Game Burger cooked rare was juicy and flavoursome; and finally 
    Pigeon Bon Bon all served with crisp skinny fries and a dressed side Salad.

    Personally to get into the spirit of the place do what we did. Gather some food loving friends (it isn't for the light stomached!!). Order the main sharing board and eat till you can eat no more! Two types of fondue are also available (I am told these will always be here even with the menu changing often) as well as a charcuterie board...that's if you can move your eyes away from the four equally tempting main options. Great atmosphere, fab food, even better booze...a Winter Winner and a must book (it packs out quickly).


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    The rather wonderful Petersham Nurseries has been on my hit list for as long as I remember however never quite finding the time to book or, for that matter, get in! I had put it in the back of my mind to try next summer.

    Luckily for me my Maid of Honour blocked out a Sunday and managed to bag two spots in the main restaurant. After a browse through the stunning shop and totalling up that I probably spent around £10k in around 5 seconds on gorgeous pieces of furniture (in my head) it was time for lunch.
    Both cafe and restaurant are housed in beautiful Victorian glasshouses and are completely full to the ceiling of flora and fauna - it is a rather magical place to be, especially this time of year where twinkling Christmas lights are entwined throughout the climbing plants and branches. 
    The simple menu has around 6 starters and the same for mains. All seasonal, all local sustainable ingredients and all incredibly tempting. The emphasis here is showing the ingredients off in the best possible way. Many dishes have only 3 or 4 elements to them. It's simple cooking at Michelin standards and completely my kind of food...colourful, fresh and the type of food which makes you content with each mouthful...

    Starter of Burrata, Autumn pumpkins, hazelnuts, cavolo nero tips, oregano and chilli. Dressed simply in olive oil - delicious. 

    With the cold Autumnal air outside there was one thing on the menu I knew would warm me right up 'Fish stew'. Abundant with clams, red mullet, mussels and garlic bruschetta. Served with a good dollop of a punchy Aioli it really hit the spot and was a wonderful bowl full of goodness.
    I absolutely loved it here and left with a beaming smile and a warm feeling of content. A really special little place where you can leave your London head behind and completely immerse yourself into a totally different world. Go early doors, have a good old romantic wander down the river, take in the cold crisp air and work up a good appetite. A place never to be missed and one that is now firmly at the top of my favourites list - Miss G thank you. xx

    A: Petersham Rd, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AB
    T: 020 8940 5230

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    Petersham Nurseries Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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  • 12/08/15--09:27: Brasserie Gustave

  • Nestled at the top end of Sydney Street, Chelsea is a space that seemingly has had more change of ownerships than I have had of hot dinners...

    However one may just be staying put. Brasserie Gustave has been open a year and a half which we are told by the charming bar tender downstairs whilst sipping on cocktails and eating freshly made canapés... in this time we learnt about the Head Chef, Laurence Glayzer and his background - coming from the three starred Georges Blanc and the two starred L'esperance... so, high expectations.
    Salmon and caviar, terrine and cheese sticks
    Upstairs is fronted by the rather wonderful and engaging Richard Weiss whom, personally, made this evening all the better for us. His enthusiastic energy is infectious and he has a way to make you basically agree with whatever he is offering - trust me, it's all good!

    We settled in and allowed for said Richard to choose our wines to match our chosen courses and started with a Pinot blanc from Alsace.. the rest I can't tell you about but all were quaffable!

    Mr D ordered their (now) infamous snails and went for the 12 (also available as 6) thus meaning I got to taste a couple of these. Swimming in garlic and parsley, then topped with a tiny freshly fried croûton, a lardon and a pastry 'snail'. They were the best we have both ever eaten and so it would be a sacrilege to not order these when visiting Gustave.
    Starter pour moi was the foie gras pressed terrine served simply with a wonderful, fig and port chutney and toast. Plentiful, delicious and completely spoiling.
    A fresh glass meant the arrival of our mains was imminent. The mains are hefty on the red meat side of things (would you expect any different?!) and thus pleased the man greatly! I settled with a 'country style' sounding simple Confit de Canard dish served with choucroute (French sauerkraut) a bit like a huntsman's broth - simple flavours, clean tasting and heart warming. It was exactly that. 
    Mr D chose the steak served 'saignant' and with a flambéed (at your table) cognac and pepper sauce.
    Puddings were a mean feat to squeeze in however, our arms were twisted with a rich and creamy crème brûlée, which came solo and simple. And, what can only be described as an 'orgasmic', very chocolate-y, very gooey, chocolate fondant.

    Gustave - we will be visiting again. I hope with a huge group to add to the wonderful, local atmosphere it gave last Friday evening...the kitchen serves up wonderful French food which does a great job - filling the enormous gaping hole that the well-loved Racine has left behind...magnifique!

    Disclosure - we were invited to review

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    Brasserie Gustave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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    Viet Food sticks out like a sore thumb...amongst the typical Soho Chinese restaurant frontage Viet Food is more stylised, more inviting and more...'restaurant-y'. It does however, still have the 'compulsory' open kitchen with a large window for passer's by to stare at the chefs beavering away at their delicious Vietnamese Street Food creations.

    Four of us popped by on a Tuesday evening after securing a prized table (they have had a boom in bookings since a few well acclaimed foodies gave them the thumbs up!)... we were perched downstairs on the high table by the kitchen, I am told upstairs is where it's at but, we were perfectly happy especially with what was about to come.
    The menu is largely made up of sharing dishes with a few 'Pho' and 'Bun' mains towards the back. After reading a few blogs we decided to opt for as many sharing dishes as possible and skip the slurping bowls... honestly it's the best way forward. Ordering two lots of their prawn crackers whilst we waited for the latecomer we covered our plates in their firey hot blow-your-head-off red sauce and also their milder, sharper green chilli sauce. 

    Once ordered food came at a good pace. Lighter items first then moving onto more main style dishes. I asked for the waitresses help with flavourings and any recommendations and her suggestions were all wonderful.

    Coconut calamari served with sweet and sour sauce were a perfect example of crisp coating and thoroughly enjoying the added flavour to make these a little different from the norm... we ordered two of these...
    A waitress suggestion of the Pomelo prawn salad was an excellent choice. Our prawns were big, fat and juicy. Perfectly cooked and the salad, a good citrus-y and sweet kick with crunchy textures went down a treat cutting through some of the heavier stickier dishes below. 
    Lemongrass chicken wings - sticky, sweet and slightly spiced but, sadly, not hugely memorable...
    Five spiced soft shelled crab had mixed reviews (mostly due to the fact there was FAR too much raw onion on the dish... overall however, a well executed light, crisp batter and the five spice (as with the calamari) gave a slight edge on this version over others...
    Cha Cha Lot was another recommendation and turned out to be another winner... grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf, sweet, sticky and incredibly tasty. 
    A favourite of mine and a must order whenever on a menu is fried green beans with shrimp sauce and minced beef (often with minced pork). This is a perfect combination of sweet and salt and perfect when the beans are kept al dente for a good bit of crunch. 
    Lamb cutlets 'hanoi style' were cooked to perfection with succulent meat a sticky glaze and with an excellent amount of charring for added flavour.
    Bacon wrapped ribs I wasn't so keen on and nor were my fellow companions due to them being slightly chewy and not hugely flavoursome. Yes, the bacon added another dimension and something different to the usual ribs. But, there's other tastier items on the menu I would rather have over these.
    Vietnam free range chicken curry was a little too heavy for me and had a powdery texture and bitterness to it - possibly too much curry powder? Not a dish I would pounce on again in comparison to others above and a shame to end on a slightly low point. We had this with their beef fried rice (not pictured) which was delicious... 
    A great addition to the China Town tourist masses. Some lows but, many dishes with outweigh these. So, book ahead and definitely go with a gaggle of hungry friends... 

    A: 34-36 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6QT
    T: 020 7494 4555

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    Vietfood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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    Bao feels like a distant fond memory, I went here pre-Christmas. Eating (and drinking) a heck of a lot over the festive period it all sort of rolled into one huge feast - Thanks dad for the horrific port hangover. I didn't want to eat anything, or write anything up for that matter for a wee while. So, here I am writing up Soho's newbie and ever-so-popular 'Bao' after a 40 minute, nervous, 'will it be good enough for my dining companion after all this?!' wait in the dismal, December rain almost a month ago... 

    Finally we made it through the door and were perched at the bar which, in my view are the best seats due to looking at the bar staff busying themselves and not a wall or, back out onto the street teasing the queue of people you managed to get in front of...
    The menu is simple. Operating a tick box system which you can easily go over board on ordering and booze is again, kept simple. Very few wines, a couple of beers, cider and Sake... easy! A white and a beer for us then and we got on with ticking away most of the menu...
    Scallop, yellow bean and garlic arrived first and was utterly incredible, sat in a puddle of garlicky yummyness and perfectly cooked. Thus meaning, I swiftly ordered more and sat waiting in anticipation until the new batch arrived. Along with these came sweet potato chips which a pickle ketchup which neither of us were too fussed about.

    Taiwanese fried chicken... definitely get this over the Bao version. Crispy, spicy, delicious! 
    Then arrived our first Bao bun The 'Classic'. Braised pork, Peanut powder, fermented greens and coriander. One bite and try to resist the immediate 'oh, my, god' that comes from within... it's so, so good!
    Confit pork Bao, pork sauce, hot sauce and dried shallots. Just as good but, the above wins by a whisker.
    We shared all of our dishes and the next one was pretty tricky to give up half of. Lamb shoulder Bao which has had numerous high praises from foodies. Incredibly juicy and smothered in a coriander sauce with a good amount of chilli kick. I defy anyone not to love it... 
     Calvolo nero, salted egg surprisingly moreish and irresistible. 
     Beef rump, white soy. 
    Pig's blood cake, egg yolk... not for the squeamish but, if you love black pudding this dish is for you. Rich, meaty and made even more so by the soy cured, oh so oozy egg yolk you mix into it.
    Our bill came to £78 for the two of us and we left completely and utterly full...So, was the wait worth it? Yes, join the ever growing, ever groaning queue it most definitely is...

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    Bao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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  • 01/25/16--09:28: Taking a break...
  • concentrate on more important things (mostly my wedding) other than feeding my tum! Thank you for all your support over the past 3 - YIKES! years... it's been a pleasure. 

    Back soon... (hopefully!)

    L xx