The River Cottage Canteen, Bristol

Any trip to Bristol is a good trip to me, and on a recent jaunt to visit my friend she introduced me to the River Cottage Canteen, part of the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall empire.

Now I like a bit of Hugh, a little bit of me wants to live at River Cottage, spend my day making bread and cooking fabulous food grown on my land, but then I suddenly remember I do not like gardening and I get bored easily so me and the countryside only ever have a short romance. Hugh in the city is just what I need.

In this relaxed and open plan restaurant you are greeted by cheerful staff who make you instantly relaxed. Set out on two levels we sat within view of the almost now traditional open kitchen. The restaurant was busy but in this bright and breezy open plan converted 19th Century church it never felt crowded.

River Cottage CanteenRiver Cottage CanteenThe menu is of course seasonal and simple. Not over loaded with too many options but enough that if you came regularly you wouldn’t get bored.

The delightful menu at the River Cottage Canteen in Bristol

The delightful menu at the River Cottage Canteen in Bristol

The menu is set up as small plates and big plates. Small plates are a great size to share. We went with the Merguza sausage and fava bean houmous and the Slow Cooked cauliflower with cumin, yoghurt , almonds and flat bread. They were just the right size before tucking into our bigger plate of pork shin ragu with Orecchiette pasta. I would have prefered the ragu if the pork was smaller as the chunks were quite big and a tad on the dry side but the sauce was bursting with flavour and the wild garlic was so good. Of course after all this there was still room for desert – chocolate torte!

Merguza sausage and fava bean houmous

Merguza sausage and fava bean houmous

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

Bursting with flavour, Pork shin ragu

Bursting with flavour, Pork shin ragu

Chocolate torte with ice cream and caramel

Chocolate torte with ice cream and caramel

This was a lovely meal. It felt home cooked, it was warming and filling. If you find yourself in Bristol or at one of their other venues then dive on in to River Cottage Canteen for their relaxed and friendly menu.

Enjoy! xx

(ps. since writing this I have been back again- different menu but just as lovely!)

The Secret Garden

Now I think it’s fair to say from previous posts I am a fan of the lovely chef Jimmy Garcia and his wonderful food. His new summer pop up launched a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to snag a table on opening night (hectic days has caused a delay to this being posted!). Called the Secret Garden, it leads your imagination to think of all things summer, and even though it was raining the night we went, I do believe the restaurant exudes summer!

The Secret Garden

Buzzing the bell to get in you make your way up stairs through the vines, candles are lit and you are on an outside terrace. As you make your way inside and are greeted by the front of house you are not quite sure what to expect as the diners are behind a set of double doors. Walking in you are greeted by quite a dark room, lit with candles, the floor covered in grass ( the fake kind, don’t worry ladies no mud to be had in this garden), vines and flowers hanging from the ceiling and there in the middle in all its grandeur a beautiful wooden tree. Its like the kind of garden everyone wants, low maintenance, no bugs or mud and it has a bar in it!

The centre of attention, the grand tree of the Secret Garden

The centre of attention, the grand tree of the Secret Garden

Sitting at a table by the bar, long grass created a bit of a divider from the bar area which was a nice touch, we had a view of the whole place. It was busy, and tables continued to empty and fill throughout the evening even though we didn’t sit until 9pm proving the popularity of this pop up chef.

Now the menu has changed a bit since we first went, the indoor BBQs have unfortunately gone and the menu is now a standard Starter, Main and Dessert using the dishes that made up the small plates element of the original menu. Do not let this put you off because we had the small plates (which are now bigger plates) and they were great. The menu like with Jimmy’s other pop ups are seasonal, using as much local produce from small producers as possible and of course his dad’s Spanish chorizo. The meat on the menu is varied using a range of game and fish such as pigeon, rabbit, Guinea fowl and sea bass, which adds a varied depth to the menu and when paired with ‘garden’ inspired foods you have delicious plates.

‘Run Rabbit’ Wild Rabbit Loin, Pickled Baby Veg, Rabbit Veloute, Rabbit Pop Corn

‘Run Rabbit’ Wild Rabbit Loin, Pickled Baby Veg, Rabbit Veloute, Rabbit Pop Corn

'Porky Beans' Belly, Smoked Eel Beignet, Fava and Bacon Beans, Carrot Puree

‘Porky Beans’ Belly, Smoked Eel Beignet, Fava and Bacon Beans, Carrot Puree

Papa G’s Chorizo, Guineafowl ballotine, Chorizo and Parmesan risotto, skin shard, cherry tomatoes and Spinach

Papa G’s Chorizo, Guineafowl ballotine, Chorizo and Parmesan risotto, skin shard, cherry tomatoes and Spinach

Seared Sea Bass, Deep Fried Oyster, Radish, Squid Ink Aioli, Chardonnay Foam

Seared Sea Bass, Deep Fried Oyster, Radish,
Squid Ink Aioli, Chardonnay Foam

As always presentation is faultless. The plates are delicate and beautiful even though some are carrying these hearty and robust meats on them. My favourites were the ‘Run Rabbit’ rabbit ballotine and the Chorizo and Guinea fowl, both hearty, delicate and busting with flavour.

If you have room for dessert then go for it. The Edible Garden is lovely and chocolate heaven while the Ice Cream Factory allows you to fill your face with sugary goodness and throw caution to the wind for any future dental visits!

This is definitely a must try so if you can get yourself a reservation do, as this is great food in a cleverly put together theme.

Berlin: New Food Discoveries

Having the luck of being to Berlin many a time now I have started to branch out and explore the food scene of this great city much more. As much as I love Bratwurst mit Brot as a lunch time stop there has to be more to Berlin than sausage. This trip I ended up having the least German food of any of my trips to this fabulous city but it just shows the diversity that Berlin has, that like London you can find any cuisine, fun restaurants and great people watching.

First stop on the trip The Bird. Now this restaurant come recommended by my sisters friend. I am always one to check out a new burger place especially as Berlin does them so well.  We headed out to the Kreuzberg branch ( they have two one in Kreuzberg and one in Prenzlauer Berg ). As it was a Friday night the place was packed and from recommendation we booked a table and glad we did because walking in and getting a table would have meant a long wait or no table at all. Turning up 10 minutes early we waited at the bar and all the staff here spoke English and seemed to prefer to communicate in English rather than my terrible German. So beers in and our table was ready. The list of burgers is vast, and there is really something for everyone. They also offer a range of steaks that come all the way from the US of A!

One of the longest burger lists I have ever seen

One of the longest burger lists I have ever seen

Having wandered through the restaurant to get to the table I saw the burgers and they looked good, so was excited to get one ordered. However, this is where the issues started. We ended up having one of the weirdest experiences of bad customer service I have ever had in a restaurant. We were ignored, then inundated with apologies, food didn’t turn up, and then we were asked to vacate our table before our allotted 2 hours was up ( you are told on booking you have the reservation for 2 hours!). I would like to say it was because it was busy, but this is the kind of restaurant that is always this busy so therefore should know what they are doing. Thank goodness the food was good because otherwise we maybe wouldn’t have seen the funny side of how terrible the service was.  The burger, 250g of premium German beef, was great, the meat juicy and full of flavour . Cooked to order and served in what looked like an English muffin it was piled high with toppings.This was an outrageously big meal but good as a rare occasion. The fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but were huge in number. The size of the meal was like you were in the States. The second beer may have been a mistake, not enough room in the old stomach.

The monsterous burger and fries at the Bird

The monstrous burger and fries at the Bird

Cheesecake, not the best, not the worst

Cheesecake, not the best, not the worst

However, as good as food is I would be dubious to return as I cannot bear paying my hard earned money on bad service!  This was a good burger, but there are burgers just as good in Berlin, such as the one at White Trash, so with bad service marking it down I am not sure about returning any time soon. Maybe I will try the other location before closing my door to The Bird altogether, we will see.

The second discovery was a much more peaceful affair. We discovered a little bit of Californian Mexican at Delores. This burrito restaurant with its neon sign, brightly decorated inside and music beckons you in from the cold winters eve. It’s counter service and it’s small inside but do not be put off by this because it’s fairly quick turn around, so loiter for a few minutes I am sure someone will have left. So with a table secured it was time to decide, burrito, quessadila, taco or bowl! Loving the simplicity and pleasure of a burrito I had to go all carb, choosing from a selection of meat fillings you place your order ( nachos on the side with a range of dips of course obligatory) at the counter and you are given your number so when its ready you just come back. This is great as it means the staff have time to prepare the food properly rather than the conveyor belt style you get in the UK and can sip your beer at a table. The staff were all rather chirpy which was a nice change to the evening before staff.

Dolores

The bright and welcoming decore of Dolores

The bright and welcoming decore of Dolores

The burritos turned up and they were fine, mighty fine. Big and bulging with their range of fillings. The nachos fresh and crispy and the guacamole was big and chunky, none of this smooth stuff you get from supermarkets, this bad boy was made by hand. Everything in the burrito tasted fresh and had flavour and the difference between the chain burrito places that are popping up all over the place.

Nachos!

Nachos!

The monster burrito

The monster burrito

Now I know burritos are not everyone’s cup of tea and certainly not the meal you think of when you go to Berlin, but as someone who goes at least once a year it’s all about discovering these hidden gems and avoiding the tourist traps.  It’s the perfect stopping point after a busy day sightseeing and being on your feet all day. It’s also the perfect location ( just behind Alexanderplatz) for a lunch stop. This place had a constant stream of people coming and going the whole time we were there. Gosh if you lived near by it could be dangerous.

The final find, was a meat haven. I love meat, and am always on the hunt for a new spin on meat. I have now found a new favourite, a new meat paradise and it is called Chicago Williams! It’s hard not to fall in love with this place straight away, as you walk in from the street you are beckoned to the bar area and offered a small cup of soup – perfect when its freezing outside, and the spicy corn chowder hit the spot. The guys working there were so friendly and explained how it all worked, the different things on the menu, instantly feeling like you have been coming here for years. The menu is easy, its meat, it’s all on one big black board and you order up at the bar.

Nothing beats a cup of welcome soup

Nothing beats a cup of welcome soup

Nice Wall Art

Nice Wall Art

Inside my new meat haven

Inside my new meat haven

What’s also great about CW is that it pairs great American BBQ with a great array of German beers, one of which they brew themselves. These are guys passionate about meat and beer – amazing!! And whats more they are happy to talk you through the beer selection so you find the right one.

Back to the meat, this is all about the meat now, its easy, your order your BBQ meat, be it ribs, pulled pork, sausage, brisket or chicken, then you order your sides. The mash was so creamy, and the beans full of flavour, I would recommend them both. There are the options of sandwiches or full on meat platters so you get a bit of everything to try. I went crazy and ordered the lady like ribs and I am glad I did. The BBQ glaze was brilliant, sticky, sweet and full of tang. The meat was tender and just fell off the bone, this was not a meal you had to work at. With everything turning up on a big plastic tray you could have through yourself at a BBQ joint in the deep south. I couldn’t fault this meal. It was everything it said on the tin, relaxed American BBQ with great German beers. This is somewhere I will keep going back to, because it was great good, great service and so relaxed!

No mess plastic tray ribs - dig in!!

No mess plastic tray ribs – dig in!!

Cheesecake with a frozen shot!

Cheesecake with a frozen shot!

This was a trip of many new discoveries and a couple that will be regular haunts. Berlin has so many great restaurants to try so do not get bogged down thinking you have to eat sausage and schnitzel every night. Do as the Berliners do and dive on into their great restaurant scene.

Chef Particulier Supper Club

It’s a cold Friday night in Stockwell and I am sitting in the basement flat of a gorgeous Georgian town house off the main road running through Stockwell. Why am I here you ask? But for the first supper club of Janos Balint, aka Chef Particulier!

I came to know about Janos and his supper club through my colleague Naomi who is the other half to the lovely Jimmy Garcia and Janos has worked for him. I love the random connections you end up making in London! Anyway, I was told that Janos was doing his first supper club so I felt like I should go along, try it out and support him in his efforts. So here we were in a rather spartan but toasty warm basement flat, 4 tables set for six people apiece and starving.

The Fabulous Menu

The Fabulous Menu

The kitchen team were hard at work when we appeared and being prompt we were some of the first people there. Supper Clubs are always interesting as you never quite know who you are going to be sitting at a table with. It was a mixed crowd. Friends of Janos’, friends of friends, employers and friends of employers. As we sat down, a quick welcome speech from Janos and the wine bottles opened, the very relaxed evening commenced.

The menu for the evening was

A Trip of Canapés

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Mackerel Three Ways

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Seasonal Vegetable Shooter

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Pheasant Salmi with Celeriac Gratin and Roasted Plums

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Citrus Sorbet

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Apple terrine served with Caramel and Chantilly Cream

The food itself was delicious. I was personally intrigued by the mackerel as its one of my favourite things and always interested to see what people do with it. The mackerel came in tartar form, as a pate and escabeche. All three were beautiful. I do not normally like tartar but with the Asian twist it was light and full of flavour and I inhaled it!. After a short breather we were served shots of vegetable soup. Always novel!

Mackerel Three Ways

Mackerel Three Ways

The main course is what we were all waiting for, pheasant severed with celeriac gratin and roasted plums. The pheasant was beautiful, moist and full of flavour. It was very well cooked. I would have liked my gratin with a bit more sauce to it but that’s just me being greedy and wanting yummy cream. The gratin itself was lovely, the celeriac perfectly thin and seasoned well.

Pheasant!!

Pheasant!!

Post pheasant and starting to feel rather full came our pallet cleansing citrus sorbet. Light and refreshing it was what was just needed. Having eaten pretty much everything that was put in front of me I was going to struggle with fitting desert in, but I would try. Now I am not the world biggest fan of cooked apple but I did quite enjoy the apple terrine. I like the idea of the apple terrine but both me and my friend agreed we would have preferred it warm rather than cold. The caramel and cream complimented it very well though.

Desert!

Desert!

Overall this was a great dinner by Janos and I am very excited that it will be just the first of many. In fact the second one was a couple of weekends ago but I couldn’t attend. Fingers crossed that the next one falls on an empty date in my diary.

Janos is one to watch, he is all about seasonal food that tastes great. His love of food comes from growing up in a three generation household in a small Hungarian village. His grandmother seems to be the inspiration when you talk to him, her cooking of traditional dishes, simple and seasonable using ingredients from their garden ( including the chickens and rabbits they kept). Janos’ cooking goes back to simplicity, using what is available and seasonal and not trying to use a ridiculous number of ingredients. I like this, its home cooking but with a touch of elegance. I look forward to seeing how these supper clubs develop as the seasons change!

If you like good food and random company then keep an eye out for Chef Particulier’s next supper club as I know it will be good!

The Lodge

The wood paneling, the antlers on the wall, warm blankets and a steaming bowl of fondu! I could be in the Alps, but alas I am not, I am in the heart of Balham and at the latest pop up from Jimmy Garcia, The Lodge.

The Alpine lodge theme runs through not only the decor but also the menu which is filled with fondu, hot cocktails and wild meat mains. All of which makes you long for the snow.

Feeling the Alpine spirit at the Lodge

Feeling the Alpine spirit at the Lodge

The Lodge

As with Jimmy’s other pop ups, this is a relaxed affair. With communal tables and a couple of smaller ones this is the place to go with friends, grab a couple of bottles of wine or a round of mulled cider from the drinks menu and then settle down for a natter over delicious fondu. Outside you can sit under big toasty blankets and heaters and really get into the Alpine swing of things by having the chill on your cheeks.

The fondu is the star of the show, made with Coolea and Ogleshield Somerset provided by Neals Yard Dairy and blended with white wine and kirsch, it sits proud in the middle of the table surrounded by potatoes, bread and salads. We of course had to have the delicious charcuterie served on slate to go with our cheese, because what meal is complete without charcuterie!

An Alpine spread of glorius fondu

An Alpine spread of glorius fondu

I very much recommend you get yourself down to the Lodge and get your urban apres ski on as it won’t be around forever! This is the ideal place to meet up with friends as the winter draws in either for dinner or sunday lunch ( the venison looks divine!).

Bobo Social

Now London isn’t short of Burger joints, they are popping up all over the place either as restaurants, street food vendors or pop up restaurants. The burger phenomenon is well and truly upon us and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

Of course I am not going to argue with this because I love a good burger, a big old patty of high quality flavoursome meat, gooey cheese and amazing topping choices. I admit it, I have a burger problem! This is only aided by the opening of new burger restaurants. So on hearing about BOBO social, offering lux burgers then I of course had to try it out.

BOBO social sells itself as offering a new dining experience. In their own words “Take a seat and relax, pop the champagne,enjoy an innovative small plate of deliciousness, a succulent burger made with fresh British ingredients, indulge yourself with a decadent dessert cocktail and laugh among friends… after all, what’s the rush?”

Now I agree with their statement in the most part, but not so much whats the rush! I booked a table for Saturday night at 7.30 because I thought, its Saturday night in London on Charlotte Street it will be busy, plus I had somewhere I needed to be at around 9pm. The restaurant located in a converted house is on split layers, the entrance being on one along with the kitchen and then as you head towards the back you drop a level. There was a group in the back room but out front there was no one else. In the bright white restaurant it was empty. We were seated at a table near the door and kitchen and the staff we instantaneously cheerful and friendly. We decided to order cocktails to start, thinking they would turn up quickly ( seen as there was no one else around) and could sip them while we decided on food, alas we were wrong. After 10 minutes we had to ask where they were and then only one turned up. You don’t offer a long cocktail list and sell yourself as a place for burgers and cocktails if you cannot whip them up quickly, how long would we have had to have waited if the restaurant was busy? Eventually we had to remind the waitress we were waiting on a drink. Then throughout the meal we were constantly asked if everything was ok, and once we had finished our food we kept being asked if we wanted desert even though we had told them we need some time to let our food settle. There was no point rushing us we had half a bottle of bubbles to finish! It all just seemed rather odd, that even when the place got busier ( about 8.15) it almost seemed like they had nothing to do but ask us if we were ok or needed anything else. It felt like we were being rushed but by the nicest people. I know they hadn’t been open very long and maybe the staff were just getting to know their roles but asking once if fine, but continuous ‘ is everything ok?’ is a bit annoying.
Inside BOBO Social

Inside BOBO Social

We may have had to wait a while but the cocktail was good - gummy bear included

We may have had to wait a while but the cocktail was good – gummy bear included

Sigh! Enough about my moan about the weird interrogation by the staff, what about the food?!
They sell themselves as the place for experimental burgers, unique flavours and quality British produce. The food, it didn’t disappoint. Seen as the restaurant was so quiet our burgers turned up incredibly quickly, so quickly we hadn’t even finished our cocktails.Served on mismatched china plates and the fries in china cups it was an odd mix of china in a sleek modern environment.
We ordered the Peanut Butter and the Capsicum and split them. The Peanut Butter does what it says on the tin, it’s a succulent beef burger topped with monterary jack cheese and maple cured bacon and yes peanut butter. I couldn’t help but be intrigued, but by George it worked. The salty sticky peanut butter with the bacon and the meat, it just worked. I thought maybe the peanut butter might over power the flavour of the meat but it didn’t.
The Capsicum was a beef and chorizo patty, topped with Manchego, tomato and chilli salsa and jalapeno chillies. There was some chilli in the meat as well. This was a very nice burger, I am not sure how much chorizo I got through the beef but there was a slight heat from the chilli which was delicious.
The Peanut Butter burger

The Peanut Butter burger

The Capsicum Burger

The Capsicum Burger

Both burgers were delicious, the meat full of flavour and the toppings paired well. I liked that the burgers were a little different. The menu itself is short with only 6 burgers on offer plus their weekly experimental burger ( one created by guests visiting on a monday night at their experimental burger night), even the veggie option sounds tempting. The sides were fairly standard, I liked that they offered sweet potato fries but not sure about serving them in a tea-cup…. maybe I need time to adjust to this new way of serving chips!
Now usually after a burger I cannot physically fit in any dessert but seen as we had half a bottle of bubbles to finish and were not in a rush, after an appropriate amount of time to let the burger settle itself we dived into Dark and Milk chocolate salted caramel mouse. It came served in a small kilner jar. The mouse wasn’t light and fluffy but thick, solid and like a beautiful smooth truffle. It was sickly sweet but the salted caramel that ran through it cut through this and made a wonderfully delicious dessert.
the fabulous chocolate and salted caramel mousse

the fabulous chocolate and salted caramel mousse

Overall I very much enjoyed the food and would go back as the burgers were good, I would also be interested to see how busy it gets on a week night and whether the service has gotten better. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t terrible service but just needed work.
If you are looking for a burger that is a little different to the run of the mill in settings that mix minimalist modern with vintage china then this is the place….. plus the cocktails aren’t bad either!
Enjoy xx

Lunch at the Gherkin

“The Gherkin is opening its restaurant to none members in August” “What?!  Yes, yes we need to go! ” Yes that was my reaction to hearing that the Gherkin was celebrating its 10th Birthday by opening its members only restaurant right at the very top of the building for the month of August to us lowly folk! Firstly I couldn’t believe the Gherkin was only 10 years old, it feels like its been there forever, it’s so iconic in the London skyline. But 10 years old it is. The iconic building designed by Sir Norman Foster which was opened in 2004 is 180m tall and from the top offers spectacular views of London. The opportunity to get in the Gherkin, and enjoy the views over food could not be passed up.

There she is!

There she is!

The restaurant itself is owned by Searcy’s and is a private members club so normally you cannot get up there if you are just ordinary folk. The top floor is the dome of the Gherkin and is usually a bar / restaurant, the floor below is the proper restaurant. We ate in the dome which was amazing!

Dining in the dome of the Gherkin

Dining in the dome of the Gherkin

Approaching the Gherkin, as you get closer and closer and you realise just what a beautiful building it is, the glass shimmering in the sunlight. I should mention at this point we ate at the Gherkin the day storms were hitting London. Thanks to the tail end weather of a hurricane London was being hit by freak rain. This only added to the atmosphere in the restaurant. So as we reached the base of the tower, a question was raised, where is the entrance in this circular building! As we walked around the circular base we finally found the entrance and were met with a crazy amount of security. ID, check. Through the X-ray machine and metal detector, check. Accompanied in the lift by security, check. As we finally reached what we thought was the top and the restaurant entrance we checked out coats and were ushered to another lift – we are going higher! So level 39 here we come. The staff were incredibly polite, and as we stepped out of the lift at level 39 we were told we were dining on the top floor, level 40 – excited we were. Up a few stairs and you enter the dome of the Gherkin, the very top, a room made of glass. Outside you are surrounded by the London skyline, simply stunning, and luckily the rain was still at bay. The menu was simple, three choices on each course. To start I went with the Serrano Ham Eggs Benedict. It was a great choice, although it did fill me up as it was a little large for a starter. For Main, Poussin, fondant, leek ash and saffron sauce. The Poussin was beautifully cooked. The desert, something light, lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. Again it was very nice. The tart was fresh and zingy, but the pastry was a little hard but I survived. Overall the food was very nice, however, it wasn’t a meal that would blow you away. Would I go back….  I am not sure. The main reason for going is that you are in the Gherkin and you are dining with amazing views, but for food like this you could go to a number of other places in London that do the same thing at the same level or better for the price.

Serrano Ham Eggs Benedict

Serrano Ham Eggs Benedict

Poussin, fondant, leek ash and saffron sauce

Lemon Tart with raspberry sorbet

Lemon Tart with raspberry sorbet

The views of course did not disappoint. As I mentioned there was freak rain going on throughout the day. As we ate desert we watched a storm move over London from West to East, the dark grey sky getting closer and closer until all of a sudden we were in the of it and the heavens opened around us and then as quickly as it came the rain was gone and blue sky followed. Sitting in a glass room with a storm around us was simply fantastic!

Views from the top - hello shard!

Views from the top – hello shard!

Views from the top

Views from the top

The Storm is coming!

The Storm is coming!

I am glad that we got the chance to go up to the top of the Gherkin, it was I think a once in a life time thing…. unless of course I come across a handsome gentleman that has a membership! I love going to the top of London and looking out upon this fabulous city, so much below, the history and the architecture. If you ever get the chance to go to level 39 and 40 of the Gherkin do it – standing in that circular glass room is a fabulous experience.

Brasserie Chavot

I first came across Eric Chavot on a saturday morning while sitting in my parents kitchen. He was one of the chefs on Saturday Kitchen and instantly impressed. He was your typical no-nonsense French chef, he was funny and was wearing a flat cap! At this point both me and my sister turned to each other and said, we have to go to his restaurant.

Now Chavot is relatively unknown when it comes to Celebrity Chefs, he is very low-key and gained a Michelin star when working at the Capital but left there in 2009 to work with Pierre Koffman at a pop up at Selfridges. In 2013 the eponymous Brasserie Chavot was launched on Conduit Street and is part of the Westbury Hotel.

It took us almost a year to get ourselves sorted but eventually a table was booked at Brasserie Chavot, for my birthday no less, and on a hot summer Tuesday evening we headed to Brasserie Chavot.

Now of course building something up in your head can end up disappointing, but thank goodness this didn’t. From the moment you step inside you are greeted with excellent service, the staff were friendly and welcoming and completely attentive the entire evening. You couldnt fault the staff and their impeccable service at all. The treat was that Eric Chavot was actually cooking in his own kitchen! He wandered out occasionally to say hello to the odd customer.

The food, the main star of any restaurant, was fantastic. Beautifully presented and full of flavour. To start we went with soft shell crab which had been deep fried and served simply with aioli, and chacuterie. The soft shell crab was light and not in the least bit greasy. The batter had flavour but didn’t overpower the crab. The chacuterie was beautiful presented and each meat on the board offered something different.

soft shell crab and aioli

soft shell crab and aioli

Chacuterie

Chacuterie

To follow I went with the canette aux cerises et macaroni. A succulent duck breast perfectly cooked, in a sweet yet slightly sour cherry sauce with a decadent truffle laced macaroni and cheese. My sister went with roasted cod with peas a la francaise, which was just the perfect summer dish. A thick piece of cod on a bed of peas, bacon and vegetables in a creamy sauce. Both dishes were the perfect size, bursting with flavour and colour and presented elegantly.

canette aux cerises et macaroni

canette aux cerises et macaroni

roasted cod with peas a la francaise

roasted cod with peas a la francaise

To finish I went oh so traditionally french and had a rich and sugary creme brulee, which was lovely and my sister had the desert of the day, a peach parfait with sorbet.

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Peach Parfait

Peach Parfait

Throughout the whole meal you just couldn’t fault a thing, well other than how much we had just eaten…. but it was so good! The atmosphere, thanks to the delightful French waiters and food, made it feel like you could have been in a beautiful Parisian brasserie and not a 5 minute walk from Regent Street. I think Brasserie Chavot has quickly gone straight into the top of the my favourite restaurants, it can jostle for first place with Le Gavroche! I would certainly return here without a second thought.

Jimmy’s Underground Pop Up Restaurant

Jimmy’s passion and excitement for his food is infectious as he explains the evenings menu. The food is locally sourced as much as possible and carefully considered. From the rabbit that was shot by his friend to the chorizo from his grandmothers village in Spain, it all gives such a personal touch that I think is sometimes forgotten in many restaurants today.

The pop up is located beneath Dvine wines in Clapham North, which is a great place to grab a bottle of wine. There was the choice of matching wines to each course for £15 but we decided to just grab bubbles.

Down the stairs you are whisked away to Jimmy’s Underground pop up. There are two tables of 8 and one of 10. If your party doesn’t fill a table then it all gets a bit communal so get to know your neighbours it makes for a much more fun evening.

In the intimate setting you are never far from the food!

In the intimate setting you are never far from the food!

The food itself was delicious, everything was brilliantly cooked, full of flavour and beautifully presented. The evening started with a trio of canapés, two were presented on slate and the chicken lollipops in a jar – very fun! For starter and main you get a choice, I went for the Duck and Orange Salad, which was a mince duck ball breaded and fried ( a touch of foie gras in the middle) with duck skin and fresh orange. It was light and fresh and just the right amount to get you salivating.

Duck and Orange Salad

Duck and Orange Salad

In between starter and main comes the surprise course, this was one of my favourite things, rabbit ragu! This rabbit ragu however had a Spanish twist with chorizo in it. It was lovely ( not sure it was as good as mine – sorry!) and I liked the idea of adding chorizo, something I will try next time I make my ragu. The main course was what we were all waiting for – Old Gloucester Pork and Apples- pork loin, crispy bacon and pork belly served with apple puree and fondant potatoes. Pork belly is one of my favourite things and when served with two other types of pork – divine!

Wild Rabbit Ragu

Wild Rabbit Ragu

Gloucester Old Spot Pork and Apples

Gloucester Old Spot Pork and Apples

Now desert…… what can I say it was like a girls dream desert! Chocolate brownie, nutella ice-cream, shortbread and raspberry coulis – yum!! The brownie was delicious and I am determined to get the recipe, it was rich, dense and not too sickly, perfect!!

Desert!! Nutella Ice Cream and Chocolate Brownie!

Desert!! Nutella Ice Cream and Chocolate Brownie!

Overall this was a fabulous introduction to Jimmy’s cooking skills, especially as I had heard so much about them from his girlfriend! We all enjoyed the evening immensely and all said we would go back. This of course isn’t Jimmy’s only venture, he has a pop up in Brixton on a Tuesday and also does catering for weddings – he is one busy chap! Next on the list is heading over to his Tuesday night in Brixton, and I really should squeeze in a night at his Burger and Bordeaux before he disappears to France for the winter.

I would recommend a trip to Jimmy’s Underground Pop up to everyone, as it is great, fresh food with little fuss and if you live in SW London then its just around the corner!

Sinabro

As I walk to work everyday across Clapham Common and down Battersea Rise its hard not to look in all the shop windows that I pass, it allows your mind to wander and get ready for the day ahead, however one day not so long ago I noticed a new restaurant was opening, Sinabro. Then a couple of days ago my colleague walked past and said it looked like it was open, oh the excitement, somewhere new to try!

So like eager children we got on the internet and pulled up the website, a soft launch today and tomorrow – half price, well that is just an offer we couldn’t refuse. So a table was booked for a thursday lunch time and we patiently waited.

The freshly painted blue front is instantly welcoming, as you step inside its simple decor, with light and airy colours used to create the illusion of space. There is no getting around it, this is a small restaurant of only 30 covers. There are two tables in the window and then a bar that overlooks the kitchen and round the back there are a handful of other tables, which in an evening if looking for a touch of romance it would be perfect as its quiet. We were instantly greeted by Sujin Lee the manager and chef who is also partner to Yoann Chevet the head chef and owner (both their CVs are detailed on their website which is an interesting touch but emphasise how much they want people to know their background and food pedigree). It was quiet but it was lunchtime and they have only been open for a day so its to be expected.

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

the small tables nestled at the back of the restaurant

the small tables nestled at the back of the restaurant

We were seated at the bar and had prime seats to see everything that was happening in the small but proficiently organised kitchen. The menu is short and simple and with a kitchen the size they have anything more would be overly ambitious. With a choice of three for Entrée, Main and Desert it doesn’t take long to decide what to have. Its a nice change to go into a restaurant and not be faced with a ridiculous number of choices and then be faced with food envy when someone elses plate arrives – I like this simple menu, may it spread to other establishments!

A lovely glass of Prosecco

A lovely glass of Prosecco

Vichyssoise amuse bouche

Vichyssoise amuse bouche

Naomi, my lovely colleague, went with entrée and main while I, having an enormous sweet tooth, went for main and desert. Her entrée was Mackerel, Beetroot and Spinach – mackerel filet on a bed of wilted spinach with beetroot puree. It was simply but elegantly presented and tasted lovely. Unexciting we both went for the same main dish of Risotto, Green Vegetables and Parmesan. The risotto was beautifully cooked, creamy and not too rich. The saltiness of the parmesan created a slight edge to the fresh asparagus and broad beans, I couldn’t find a fault with it.

Mackrel, Spinach, Beetroot

Mackerel, Spinach, Beetroot

Risotto, Green Vegetables, Parmesan - delectable!

Risotto, Green Vegetables, Parmesan – delectable!

Desert of course is the real test, my favourite thing. Overlooking the kitchen meant I got to see the whole dish get put together. Crisp short bread topped with piped creme patissiere, artfully positioned strawberries and sweet strawberry ice cream. To top it all off chewy meringue sticks. This was a beautiful looking desert, all the flavours and textures worked together, it was summer on a plate.

Strawberry, shortbread, meringue - perfect!

Strawberry, shortbread, meringue – perfect!

I couldn’t fault the food it was all delightful and I would go straight back to try the other menu items. I am, however, not sure I would want to sit at the bar again, being so close to the kitchen does mean you can feel the heat from the oven and on a warm summers day it’s not the best seat in the house. The restaurant is small and they have gone for optimising space which is great, other people may enjoy being able to see into the kitchen and seeing these chefs at work and not bother about the heat, but for me I think I will ask for a table next time.

Overall this was a great introduction to a new Clapham Junction restaurant and one that I know I will go back to. Speaking to Sujin you can feel their enthusiasm and their drive to do well, and I really hope that they do well as the food was fabulous, simple and flavourful, Yoann has really bought a little bit of French fine dining to the area.