Posts tagged restaurant reviews
Posts tagged restaurant reviews
Just a quick post about an amazing cafe on Northcote Road in Clapham Junction, Brew, because you all deserve to know it exists.
Good brunch cafes are few and far between over here, especially right in the heart of London. It’s strange, because if the long line of people waiting for tables outside Brew Cafe is anything to go by, it’s clear they’re well-sought after.
When we turned up at 11am on a Sunday and joined the queue of 10+ people standing outside Brew and waiting for a table, we expected to be there a while. And we were willing to wait. A friend had recommended (or raved about) this cafe a while back and I’d been determined to try it.
But we weren’t waiting long - within 20 minutes we were seated by a fantastic waiter who’d kept us to date with table availability and dealt amicably with a few angry customers who were unhappy about having to wait in a line (#gosomewhereelse).
Now, before we go any further I should mention that my tick list for a good cafe is not short. Some may say my expectations are high, but I call them valid. I expect free range eggs and meat, organic ingredients if possible but very high quality at the least, and as locally-sourced as you can possibly get (hint: look for cafes and restaurants whose menus change seasonally). I look for well-thought out menus that chefs can deliver in a reasonable time, even when a cafe is at full capacity. I expect eggs to be perfectly cooked (#ifyoucan’tcookeggsdon’townacafe), innovative but simple flavour combinations, good service and of course great coffee. One thing I will not miss about London is the screaming jugs of frothed milk that are pocked with air bubbles and are roughly splashed into a cup in badly-made-cappuccino fashion (#learnhowtomakeaflatwhite).
More often than not, I leave cafes disappointed.
Brew was not one of them.
Both Si and I ordered pan fried field mushrooms with aged balsamic & pesto with a side of poached eggs. They were absolutely flawless. The eggs were perfectly poached and the mushrooms were rich and creamy.
Our dining partners both ordered the turkish pide melt with ham, gruyere, vine tomato, poached eggs and pesto - for which I was meet with wide-eyes and enthusiastic nods when I asked how they were.
We each had smoothies to go with our mains and they fell nothing short of what you’d expect in a good, freshly-made smoothie. Although, if I’m honest with you, I was much more tempted by their range of milkshakes - Oreo, Malteser, Crunchie… (#notbeforebreakfast my mother always said).
The coffee was fantastically made and equally well presented and it left me wired enough to know I’d had a decent hit of caffeine.
The service was good, and intentionally fast to keep up with the demand for tables, which meant we didn’t wait long for drinks or food. However, I couldn’t help but feel we were expected to eat and leave as quickly as possible. If I’d had another 15-20 minutes for my food to settle I perhaps would have ordered a second coffee and one of their delicious sounding treats - we were drooling over their peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I can’t blame them for being popular, but perhaps they should consider opening a second cafe - a shorter waiting time and a more relaxed atmosphere would definitely tempt me back more often.
The bill came to around £60 for four people: 4 breakfasts, 4 coffees and 3 smoothies.
Overall a fantastic brunch experience, and I highly recommended a visit to Brew.
Because of its Kiwi connections, Suze in Mayfair had, understandably, been on my list of London restaurants to try.
The owners, Tom and Susan Glynn, both hail from New Zealand and have previously been awarded “New Zealanders of the Year” for their promotion of NZ food and wine products in the UK.
So, to celebrate the arrival of some Kiwi friends in London we booked a table for the four of us on a sunny Wednesday night.
We arrived at the surprisingly quiet restaurant at 6pm and were promptly shown to a table on the second floor. We were the only ones seated upstairs, and remained so for the entire night. I concede that it was a Wednesday night, but for a brilliant summer’s day in the heart of Mayfair, I expected the place to be brimming with suits - or at least steadily busy.
Our drink orders were taken. Simon ordered a Mac’s Gold and was thoroughly disappointed when told they’d run out. His second option was a Steinlager Pure. Without a chance to look at the menu, I simply asked for a house white wine, a Sav. Unfortunately an error on their website has prevented me from downloading the wine list so I cannot tell you exactly what I had.
The restaurant tagline is “taste sensations from Australasia”, and the menu did deliver on that front. With options of New Zealand Green Shell Mussels, Chilli and Yogurt Marinated New Zealand Lamb Kebabs and Grilled Australian Rib Eye Steak, I was impressed.
Simon, predictably, ordered the mussels and hand cut chips. They were big NZ-sized whoppers, the kind I’ve really missed since being over here, and came in a bowl of Noilly Prat, shallot and double cream sauce with parsley. The sauce was a lot thicker and creamier than you’ll find in most European mussel dishes over here, and was incredibly rich and tasty. A lot less salty than many of the mussels in broth type dishes that appear on most European menus.
I went for the small Seafood platter with NZ Manuka Smoked Fresh Salmon, NZ Green Shell Mussels, Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid and Marinated Prawns, which was an absolute steal at just £8.50. Upon ordering I asked if the platter came with bread and I was told “No” and then very quickly told “actually, yes you’ll get bread with it”. I assume our waitress was referring to the table bread that came out at the start, as that is all we received. However, the seafood was absolutely delicious and the particular stand out of the platter was the squid, which came sprinkled with slices of sharp, fresh red chillies and green onion.
One of our dining partners also ordered a seafood platter in the large size (£12.95 - not much bigger than the £8.50 and not as good value), and the other ordered the Open Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich on Toasted Baguette with Brie and Beetroot Chutney. All went down well, until halfway through the chicken sandwich we discovered the meat was raw. Not just a little bit pink… not just a wee bit undercooked… completely raw. The worst dining faux pas imaginable. To avoid the risk of salmonella I don’t order chicken dishes at cheap pubs and the like, but it should not be a concern at an award-winning restaurant in Mayfair. I was quite embarrassed - I was the one who’d suggested the restaurant, raved about its high standards, and ultimately made the booking for the four of us.
We called the waitress over to our table whose response was “oh no, I’ll talk to the chef”. A few minutes later she returned to tell us a new dish would be out shortly, and that our guest was welcome to a free dessert.
Understandably put off by the raw chicken, our friend didn’t touch the second meal and none of us were particularly interested in dessert.
Our table was cleared and we requested the bill, which came without a charge for the chicken meal. The very least they could do after such a dining disaster.
In summary, apart from the raw chicken, the rest of our food was good. Selling out of options on the drink menu was disappointing, but forgivable. The service was… just service, really. There was nothing more to it; we were given water, our orders were taken, our food was delivered. It could have been improved with an apology for the raw chicken.
Sorry Suze in Mayfair, but I won’t go back, and I won’t be at all surprised if our friends don’t.
I look back at previous blog posts and think “man, I talk about the weather a lot”, and then I vow not to do it in the next one.
But I always end up back there again. Like, right now.
I blame England. It’s all everyone talks about over here (it’s even a key feature in Olympic opening ceremonies!).
But I think the reason why we reference it so much here is because it’s such an enigma.
For example, we set out for beautiful beach-side Cornwall for August Bank Holiday weekend in summer (I bet you’ve got a really nice summer holiday picture in your head right now), and we end up with rain (…and that picture’s gone). ALL weekend rain. And wind. And cold.
But it’s okay, because it gave us an excuse to make it another food-oriented holiday, with plenty of time spent in pubs and cafes. My favourite. Definitely worth a mention is the Yacht Inn in Penzance for its incredibly fresh seafood and Rhubarb’s Cafe in St Ives for pretty much everything on their menu, but especially the portobello mushrooms stuffed with feta and sundried tomatoes.
A group of us went down together and stayed at a friend’s house in Penzance, and as per usual I arrived armed with treats. I went a step further this time and created my own original cupcake flavour.
How it came about is that I have a bit of a fascination with salted caramel at the moment (mostly in the form of macaroons) and because I had some uneaten pears sitting in the fruit basket. From there I adapted Hummingbird Bakery’s red velvet cake to make a vanilla velvet cake and voila: Honeyed Pear Velvet Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting.
The recipe is all yours.
They take a bit of fiddling round but I can assure you, they’re well worth the effort.
Makes around 16 cupcakes.
Vanilla Velvet Cupcakes:
- 120g unsalted butter, softened
-300g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 320g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 240ml buttermilk
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the Honeyed Pears:
- 3 pears
- 20g unsalted butter
- 60g runny honey
- 40g caster sugar
Salted Caramel Frosting:
(If you’re not keen on “salted caramel”, opt for plain old caramel by using unsalted butter and cutting out the added salt).
- 125g white caster sugar
- 80ml double cream
-1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 160g salted butter, softened
- 200g icing sugar
Make the honeyed pears first. Peel and core the fruit and cut into small, bite sized pieces. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and melt over a low heat. Add the pears and cook until the fruit is soft and golden, and it has soaked up all of the syrup. Cool completely - you can put them in the fridge while you make your cupcake batter.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift the flour and salt together in another bowl. Add 1/3 of the flour/salt and 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix thoroughly. Repeat 2 more times. In another bowl, stir the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda together to cause its reaction. Once settled add it to the cake butter, mixing well. Lastly, gently fold in your honeyed pears.
Spoon the batter into cupcake cases - filling them 2/3rds of the way to the top. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes.
Make the frosting. Heat the caster sugar and four tablespoons of water in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and cook the caramel for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat immediately and stir in the cream. Allow to cool completely.
Cream the butter and icing sugar together for at least 5 minutes, then beat in the caramel. When combined pipe or spread the icing over the cup cakes. I used a palette knife for mine.
It was perhaps unwise on my part to make a dinner reservation for The Honours for our very first night in Edinburgh. It tainted the remainder of the trip, because nothing else could possibly compare.
It was certainly one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had.
I usually choose to dine at places with a low-key ambience and I rarely opt for anything in the realm of fine dining, but The Honours offers the best of both worlds.
Opened only last year by Michelin chef Martin Wishart, his aim was to provide “just the right balance of ambience, design and style”. And it does. They’ve skipped the pretentious white tablecloths in favour of clean wooden tables in this beautiful and relaxed French brasserie style restaurant. The menu, a collaboration between Wishart and The Honours head chef Paul Tamburrini is a mix of traditional French cuisine with the flavours of the Scottish market and you’ll be tempted by dishes such as Confit Duck Leg with Orange and Lemon Sole Veronique with Sauteed Spinach.
The highly professional service we received from our waitress, and most memorably the restaurant manager Steven Spear, was immaculate. The staff treated us no differently than if we’d walked in jingling a Mercedes Benz key chain and holding a Chanel handbag. And call me old fashioned, but that’s just how customer service should be.
The restaurant was fully booked, but there were no issues when we asked to be relocated to a window table. Both our wine and water glasses did not fall below the halfway line all night. We were given sound advice on the different dishes and the expert knowledge and recommendations swayed us on our main choices, and gratefully so. And finally, when we asked for directions to the cocktail bar we had planned to visit after dinner we were given accurate directions in both verbal and written form, and a recommendation for another bar that Spear thought we might like.
We weren’t overly hungry, so for starters we shared Potato Gnocchi which came smothered in a brown butter and sage sauce and topped with grated parmesan. We picked a hint of orange in the sauce, which gave the deliciously rich sauce a lovely sweetness.
For the mains I had the Sauteed Fillets of John Dory with leeks and mussels in a sauternes sauce. I’m fussy when it comes to fish - if it’s less than fresh then I won’t like it, and if it’s even slightly overcooked then I won’t like it either. This was neither of those. Both the John Dory and the mussels were so fresh and so perfectly cooked that they melted in my mouth. Our waitress suggested we get a side of fries, for dipping in the leftover curry sauce and I’m glad we did - not a drop of its creamy goodness deserved to be wasted.
Simon chose the Rabbit à la Moutarde after originally being drawn to a steak. Their steaks, I am told, are from the award-winning supplier Donald Russell. This is what we stock our own home freezer with so I can vouch for the quality. But the rabbit was just a good a choice. The intense flavours of the creamy mustard sauce worked well with the tender meat and thick cut sauteed potatoes.
I had an inkling for a refreshing but sweet white wine to compliment my seafood main and Si wasn’t bothered. We considered the £29 German bottle of Riesling but in the end we settled on the Pinot Gris from Argentina which was just £16 for the bottle and which promised “bright citrus and green apple flavours”.
For dessert we shared the very decadent Honours Sundae with toffee and caramel icecream, pecan mousse, crunchy honeycomb, and rich caramelised banana hiding beneath it all.
The bill came to just £70 total. Yes, we shared the starter and dessert but with the mains averaging mid-teens dining at The Honours is an absolute steal. I recommend booking well in advance, especially during the Fringe Festival month, as this place is very popular.
The Honours is named after the Scottish Crown Jewels (the crown, sceptre and sword which are housed in the Edinburgh Castle and is well worth a visit on its own to read about the jewels’ incredible history), and rightly so. It was simply nothing less than you’d expect from a top restaurant in a global city - it is an asset to Edinburgh.
Many of you food blog readers (I’m one myself) must often wonder why there are so many positive reviews of “great” and “fantastic”, even “the best ever” restaurants out there.
Surely not all restaurants are all of the above?
In truth, they’re not. But, I love food and I generally don’t part with my money in exchange for terrible food. I do my research first, I read other blogs and I look up restaurant ratings before I bother to invest time, effort and money into a night that revolves around eating their food.
Through both careful planning, and sometimes luck, I’ve managed to choose wisely so far and have never had to post a negative restaurant experience on here before.
Don’t get me wrong… I do eat at chains like Pizza Express and ASK Italian (don’t shoot, I surrender!) when in a large group/on a budget/in an area that I’m unfamiliar with, I just don’t bother reviewing them. We all know what they’re like - it’s like Starbucks; you search for them in a time of need, when you’re looking for consistency and familiarity and trying your very hardest to avoid salmonella.
I should get to the point of this blog post already, and the point is that I ate at a really, really terrible restaurant recently.
It’s called Mythopolis and it’s on 227 City Road in Islington. I really wish I’d taken photos of the food, to really drum the message home, but I hadn’t taken my camera with me (because I hadn’t planned to review it).
Si and I had both planned to be out and about in London this week at expos and work meetings and what not and decided we’d skip the hassle of dinner making for one of the nights. We’d found a Groupon deal (strike one) for a meze of Greek dishes plus a glass of wine each for £12 and figured we’d just do it, without bothering to do our research (strike two) or even look up their menu (strike three - okay so maybe we SORT OF deserved it).
The presentation of the food was poor, the service was poor and the quality of the food was even worse.
We were not asked once throughout the meal how it was, or if we would like anything else. I’d been waiting for their (their being our multiple waitresses throughout the night) attention so I could ask for some water (no, they never offered us any throughout the entire meal) and so I could order another glass of wine (lost profit for them).
I couldn’t figure out who worked there and who was a customer, as they were all dressed in slippers and hoodies, were changing their clothes behind the back counter, were sitting at the tables eating food and rolling cigarettes, and disappearing outside the front of restaurant to smoke and talk.
The meat was extremely dry - I took two bites of a pork shish kebab and didn’t bother eating the rest. Other dishes were not quite right and had very strange flavours - especially the mushrooms which were drenched in a cold, unthickened “cream sauce”.
But, worst of all was the long, curly, black hair in my Greek salad - which already looked vile enough as everything was swimming in a pool of grated feta juices and olive oil.
After we finished eating (actually, it was more like looking at the plates on our table, bravely tasting a few of them, and deciding they were best made for the bin) I had to ask them to take our plates away - after a long period of us sitting there with dirty plates covering our table.
It was interesting to read online that someone else with a Groupon voucher received dessert, because we did not get any. It was also interesting that the “12 meze” count included the three dips that came with the pita breads. That can really only be classified as one dish, and definitely not four.
We couldn’t have got out of there quicker and I will definitely never go back. If you’re considering going there, please reconsider. It was a miserable 2 hours of my time that I will never get back.
Okay rant over, phew! :)
Much love xx
When we booked our flights to Stockholm we envisioned a warm and summery June weekend with delicious food and good company.
Au contraire, mother nature didn’t have the same idea in mind. We flew in at 6:30pm on Saturday night and, along with the other few hundred passengers on the plane, we displayed shock and horror when the pilot announced it was a mere six degrees outside. "Six? No! Surely not in summer… Maybe he said 16?"
Six degrees it was. And not only was it six degrees, it was also windy and raining. Just all round miserable. Our plans of cruising around the Stockholm archipelago on a sunny top deck of a boat were replaced by the reality of us huddling inside a boat cabin in scarves and jackets and bravely racing out onto the deck when we spotted something worthy of a photo.
But, as the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad, and we were lucky to have both superb food and great company.
I’d been looking forward to seeing one of my newly engaged Kiwi friends who’d followed her Swedish boyfriend home more than two years ago. They kindly offered us their lounge for the weekend, Tara greeted us with baked goods in the form of traditional Swedish saffron buns, and Chris charmed us with his cocktail making skills.
They were also in charge of the dinner reservations. Rolfs Kök, booked out even on a Sunday night, was clearly a popular restaurant and by the end of the night we could see why.
For starters we tucked into freshly baked bread rolls and a platter of cured meats and while Si went with the adventurous and sophisticated option of Red wine braised cheeks of ox with truffle for the main I very quickly settled on the fish ragout with shrimps, clams, cream and aioli after spying it at the table next to ours.
Both dishes were superb and the ox cheek was one of the most stunning dishes I have ever tried - the meat melts in your mouth and the rich dark sauce complimented it well. I had major food envy after stealing a bite from Si’s plate.
Now, it’s worthy to note that Stockholm is an expensive place, especially when it comes to dining out, so our 1,400 Krona bill for the table was actually very reasonable - particularly for such a high quality experience.
Also worthy of a quick mention is Köttbaren, which happens to be right across the road from Rolfs Kök. It’s a meat bar - doubling as a butchery and as a bar/restaurant.
We arrived for an impromptu meal late on Saturday night and expectantly had to wait twenty minutes or so for a free table in the busy restaurant. I was more than happy to sip on my drink and browse the shelves of delicious looking meats, sauces and spice mixes that were on display. If it weren’t for the hassle of customs I would have bought a whole trolley of things, including their homemade caesar salad dressing and truffle oil.
I also killed a bit of time staring at the blackboard menu trying to make up my mind. Everything sounded delicious -bolognese, roast beef and potato salad, pulled beef burger…
I finally decided to try the BBQ Pork sandwich, as pork isn’t something we often eat in our house and I’m a huge fan of BBQ flavours. I couldn’t fault it - the meat was tender, the sauce was rich, and the serving was huge. Si had the Oxchili & salsa fresca which had a good kick of spice and came with a basket of fresh bread for dipping. The prices were decent at Köttbaren - with the meals averaging around £15.
I’d heard Jamie Oliver sing praises about Swedish food in his “Jamie Does” series and I’m pleased I got to try it for myself. The restaurants we visited were definitely world class and produced some of the best dishes I’ve eaten in the year and a half that I’ve been living on this side of the world.
The city is magic with the beautiful scenery of the archipelago and the medieval old town - Gamla Stan. This part of Sweden is the most touristy, but also had some of the best cafes. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of coffee in Stockholm and I particularly loved the cardamom rolls sold in many of the city’s bakeries.
Even the bad weather couldn’t sabotage our trip in the end and all in all our experience of Sweden was fantastic - filled with delicious food that I’ll be craving for a long time to come.
- 3x 250g bags of gummy lollies (snakes, bears, cola bottles, etc. I used Haribo Star Mix)
- 1 litre of vodka
Put all lollies into a large bowl with one third of the vodka. Leave it in the fridge for two nights. Take it out of the fridge and give it a good stir to separate any that have stuck together. Add another third of the vodka and leave it in the fridge for two more nights. Take it out of the fridge and stir. Repeat one more time with the remaining third of the vodka.
At the end of the six days the gummy lollies should have soaked up the vodka completely.
Perfect for house parties - especially hen or stag nights.
Winston Churchill loved his food (one of many vices), and he once famously rejected a dessert saying “this pudding has no theme.”
I refuse to cast the same dire fate on you and instead I’ll give you a pudding with multiple themes.
It all started with a trip to Berlin where I met a very charming struesel at a bakery near our hotel. I haven’t been able to erase it from my mind since and haven’t been able to hunt down anything similar in London, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and make something similar at home.
It was shortly after this that I discovered the Whittaker’s recipe competiton on Facebook and wanted to come up with something a little bit creative and original.
After giving it some thought, my third and final inspiration came from the fact that I really love brownie and Si really loves cheesecake and from all of this, a dessert collaboration was born.
Let me introduce you to: Fudge brownie with a caramel cheesecake layer and stuesel topping. It’s a very long name, so if you can come up with something a little bit more clever than I’d love to hear your suggestions. Please leave me a comment below.
Here’s the recipe debut! I hope you’ll make it, try it and enjoy eating it, at least in Churchill’s honour.
For the Brownie:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa (preferably dutched but normal is fine)
- 200g butter
- 1 and 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 330g Whittaker’s Dark Block Chocolate (or any other good quality dark chocolate if you don’t live in New Zealand)
For the cheesecake filling:
- 300g cream cheese
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- Half a can of Nestle Caramel Condensed Milk (This is optional, if you’d like to give the cheesecake a caramel flavour)
For the chocolate streusel topping:
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 140g butter, softened
- 2 and 1/3 cups of flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa (preferably dutched, but normal is fine)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
(NB: This makes quite a lot of streusel so I used approx one third of it to sprinkle over the top of the cheesecake brownie and then froze the rest to use another time - it could be used a cheesecake base.)
Grease the sides and bottom of a large baking dish (I used a lasagna sized dish).
Melt butter and sugar in a pot over low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.
Take off the heat, add chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.
Add egg and vanilla and stir until well combined.
Sift in flour and cocoa. Mix well, until fully combined.
Pour mix into your baking dish and set aside.
Next, make your cheesecake layer by using an electric mixer/beater to combine all of the ingredients together in one large bowl.
Carefully pour the mixture over the top of your brownie.
Now is the time to preheat oven to 180.
Next, make your struesel topping.
Put all of the ingredients, except the egg, into a large bowl and use your hands to combine until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add the egg and use your hands again to combine. The dough will come together to form larger crumbs, that look like those in the picture below.
Sprinkle these crumbs evenly over the top of your cheesecake layer in the baking dish.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven at 180 for 40 minutes. Insert a knife to check that it comes out clean - both the brownie and cheesecake layers should be cooked. If they’re not, increase the cooking time, inserting a knife to check the progress every five minutes.
Remove the brownie from the oven and allow to cool on the bench. Once it has cooled you can cover and store in the fridge. This is best after it has been in the fridge for a few hours and the cheesecake is completely cooled.
Before we start, I’ll give myself a slap on the hand for a eating at a Greek restaurant while holidaying in Ireland.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way I’d like to tell you about a really great Greek restaurant in Ireland. In Dublin, to be exact.
However, I will quickly add that we’d set off with full intentions of eating a traditional Irish meal at the Porterhouse Pub in Temple Bar, but it was 8pm on a Friday night in the busiest area of Dublin… As you can imagine, there were no seats and it was packed full of very loud and very merry Irish men. After a full day of sight seeing we decided we’d put our riverdancing skills (hah!) aside for a few hours and instead sit down and unwind with a quiet and relaxing meal.
We wandered the streets looking for inspiration and browsing menus and it wasn’t long before we were greeted by the friendly owner of Corfu, who was standing outside his restaurant on Parliament Street encouraging us to come inside.
Now, I usually don’t allow myself be swayed by people who stand outside their restaurants to lure hungry diners in - we get enough of that on Brick Lane and in China Town in London that I’ve become immune to it - but the owner did offer us a great bargain of €15 each for 3 courses and a glass of wine. And we were tired, hungry and had no idea where we were going or what we were looking for. So we gave in and followed our new friend inside, which immediately felt more like his own home than a restaurant.
For starters, I had a Greek salad which was bursting (so much so that I couldn’t finish it in fear of ruining my main) with all the usual things you’d find in a traditional Greek salad - olives, feta, red onion etc. I'll admit that I wasn't expecting the food to be spectacular, due to the low price, so I was particularly pleased to discover that each vegetable tasted as as if it had been picked fresh that morning. There's nothing worse than a pre-made salad of soggy, wilted lettuce, and thankfully this was far from it.
For my main I went for the chicken breast in a creamy mushroom sauce and swapped the rice for a bowl of chunky chips (hey, don’t judge me - I was on holiday) which the chef was more than happy to oblige me. It’s a simple, common dish but the chicken was nicely cooked and the sauce was rich and creamy. I’d love to know exactly what went into it, because I’ve had cravings for it ever since!
And while the rest of my table ordered icecream for dessert I went for the homemade profiteroles with chocolate mousse. I didn’t have enough room in me to finish them, but they were just as delicious as the first two courses, with roasted nuts and a scoop of vanilla icecream.
The owner who’d lured us in at the beginning was our waiter for the night and he was particularly interested in hearing about our travels, telling us about his family in Greece and asking us how we were enjoying our food. If you’re on a date, or a romantic night out, I could see how this attentiveness could be a bit intrusive but we were on holiday and in high spirits and were more than happy to chat with him. It was actually nice to come across a restaurant owner and his chefs who are passionate about food, people and what they do.
After clearing our dessert plates he offered us a round of Ouzo shots on the house, and then another for the road. We accepted and left full, happy and a little more merry.
We enjoyed our weekend in Dublin, but it’s something we’ll probably never do again - at least not for a very long time. So, it’s a shame that I’ll probably never visit Corfu in Temple Bar again. If I lived in Dublin, I’d definitely be a regular. Instead, I’ll just have to live vicariously through all of you… do go check it out x
I seem to have some kind of photography dyslexia (…photogslexia?) which is quite an embarrassment considering I grew up in the same household as my talented stepfather Tony Carter.
Somehow, I’ve managed to get away with it for the most of my life, but as you all know I’m now a food blogger and bad photos are sacrilegious in the food blogging world. So I decided that one of my resolutions for 2012 would be: Learn to take better photos for my blog. I desperately needed help with this, and if it wasn’t for the fact that there is currently 11682 miles between us, I would’ve leaned on my stepfather for advice.
So, it was perhaps without coincidence that I stumbled across the Great British Chefs Food Photography Workshop event at Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea, only a few weeks into January.
The name of chef Tom Aikens rang a bell, but due to being new to London and all, it is regrettable that I’d never heard of his prestigious restaurant Tom’s Kitchen. As the saying goes, better late than never, and I’m glad the discovery finally came about. If you’ve also been kept in the dark until now then I’m pleased to be the one to bring this restaurant to your attention.
As part of the event we were treated to an array of delicious nibbles and menu samples, including salads, profiteroles and mini burgers. Sometime in the near future I’ll go back as a paying customer for a proper sit down meal, which will be followed with a full blog review for your reading pleasure. But in the meantime, take my word for it and go for a visit as soon as you can.
The event started with a quick visit from Tom Aikens, decked out in full chef uniform and clearly mid-shift, and from there we were taken under the wings of Great British Chefs CEO Ollie Lloyd and of course food photographer David Griffen. Their advice was intelligent but unpretentious and all three of them were ultra cool people to hang out with.
If I’m truly honest, I was going along for the food and the opportunity to meet Tom, as much as I was going along for the photography workshop. I was unsure exactly how much I would learn in that respect, in the sense that you can’t teach a fish to climb a tree, or however that saying goes. But David is smart, and obviously persistent, and in the evidence of before and after shots, here’s the magic he worked on me:
It was an absolute privilege to take part in the workshop and I look forward to becoming more involved in the GBC community and attending more of their events in the future. If you’re interested too, you can check out their website or Facebook page.