Reviews: Jay Rayner visits ‘one of the loveliest new spaces’ in London and Giles Coren enjoys challenging cooking at Zheng Chelsea

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garden cafe“One of the loveliest new spaces to open in the capital in a long while, and boasts food to match,” writes Jay Rayner in the Observer, reviewing the Garden Café at London’s Garden Museum.

I am drawn instead to grilled onions with nduja, the soft Calabrian salami, which is as much chilli flake as salty pig. These are two ingredients that have been crying out for each other’s company. The soft, sweet caramel tones of the blackened onions are given heft and power by the nduja. Deep, rust-coloured oniony oil pools on the plate, demanding a moment’s bread dredging. It’s the good kind of brown food. It’s an extremely compelling moment for £7. For a pound more, there is chargrilled quail, desperate to be taken in hand. On the side, there’s a crimson dollop of beetroot borani. The beetroot is roughly puréed with yogurt, walnuts and garlic. The colours are violent. The two flavours make their own case for themselves.

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#GOATOBER 2017 to celebrate goat meat at events around the UK

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Temper

Kicking off in October, Goatober is a month-long celebration of billy goat meat.

During the month, restaurants around the UK will be putting a goat dish on their menus and urging diners to try the under-used meat.

The original Goatober was launched in America in 2010 and was the brainchild of Heritage Radio Network executive director, Erin Fairbanks, and renowned New York cheesemonger, Anne Saxelby.

Ethical meat champion and producer James Whetlor from Cabrito Goat Meat launched Gotatober in the UK 2016 at ETM’s restaurant the Jugged Hare in Barbican. It saw over 40 restaurants take part and raised £6,300 for charity Action Against Hunger.

This year the launch event will be hosted at the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel on Finsbury Square.

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Giles Coren didn’t enjoy his meal at Xu while Michael Deacon felt uncomfortable at Red Rooster

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Xu London

Giles Coren of the Times is eager to see the latest creation from the teams behind Bao and JKS Restaurants at Xu in London W1 but can’t overlook some dishes that just aren’t to his taste.

Xu is one of the hottest openings of the summer, a proper book-a-table-and-sit-down restaurant at last from the visionary Taiwanese family who brought us Bao and Bao Fitzrovia, the latter of which, I have said before, serves unquestionably the tastiest food in London.

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Reviews: Grace Dent finds Dinings SW3 a bit fishy while Lisa Hilton thinks there isn’t much point in reviewing the food at Isabel

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diningslondon

Grace Dent of the Evening Standard finds the Japanese cuisine at Dinings SW3 in London’s Knightsbridge a bit fishy.

It was nearly deserted when we arrived at 7pm. The bar was empty, a few guests were downstairs and there were none upstairs. This didn’t prevent the staff from interrupting us during our aperitif twice, looming to chivvy us to the table. ‘It’s a table-turning thing,’ one of them said, sweeping their hand at a big empty room.

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What’s on: A Wimbledon Summer in London

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It’s that time of year again. The sun in shining, the birds are singing and the trains are sweltering. This summer, the Wimbledon tournament takes place between 3 – 16 July with its ball boys, smashes, and strawberries and cream.

If you can’t make it to a match, then check out the list below for this year’s culinary highlights.

Fred Perry - GNH BarGreat Northern Hotel

At the Great Northern hotel in St Pancras, the GNH Bar will be serving Fred Perry cocktails to order. The eponymous British tennis legend’s drink mixes gin, strawberry and elderflower, and lemon and basil with vanilla, with a dash of pepper cream to serve. Available throughout the tournament for £9, it’s ace.

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Reviews: Grace Dent recommends loose trousers to eat at Red Rooster while Lisa Markwell is disappointed by the Hind’s Head

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Red RoosterGrace Dent of the Evening Standard visits Red Rooster in Shoreditch and thinks it’s no wonder Barack Obama is a fan.

The menu features stuff that sings to me, like meatballs with bone marrow dumplings and lingonberry, shrimp ’n’ grits and chicken ’n’ waffles. Not tight-skirt dining. A menu that needs fabric with a bit of give. I like the basement setting, the ballsy decor, the promise of live soul, dub and gospel music and the fact Samuelsson is bringing all this Ethiopian, Swedish, African-American Manhattan influence to a thoroughfare beside the Old Blue Last in EC2.

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OnBlackheath festival chef line-up revealed

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JohnLewis_Saturday_053

OnBlackheath – a two-day festival held in Blackheath, London, has released the line-up for its chef demonstration stage between Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September.

Curated by Masterchef finalist chef Tony Rodd, the line-up includes: Jane Devonshire, winner of MasterChef 2016; Gary Maclean, winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2016; and Michael Bremner, head chef at Brighton’s 64 Degrees restaurant.

The John Lewis Food Village will also host street food, pop-up restaurants and a Meantime Craft Brewery Bar.

The food will be complimented by live music from Travis; Metronomy; De La Soul; Kate Tempest; Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club; the Libertines; Seasick Steve,; Jake Bugg; KT Tunstall and Fun Lovin’ Criminals.

Chef’s demonstration stage full line-up

Saturday:

  • 1pm – Jane Devonshire – MasterChef winner 2016
  • 2pm – Gary Maclean – MasterChef: The Professionals winner 2016
  • 3pm – Adam Simmonds – the Test Kitchen, Great British Menu winner 2014
  • 4pm – Tony Rodd – MasterChef finalist 2015
  • 5pm – Dave Mothersill – the Salt Room

Sunday:

  • 12pm – Guy Awford – Hand Made Food, the Guildford Arms
  • 1pm – Saliha Mahmood Ahmed – MasterChef winner 2017
  • 2pm – Mark Stinchcombe – MasterChef: The Professionals winner 2015
  • 3pm – Michael Bremner – 64 Degrees, Great British Menu
  • 4pm – Emma Spitzer – Author or Fress, MasterChef finalist 2015
  • 5pm – Laura Petersen – the Coal Shed, the Salt Room

OnBlackheath is a festival launched in partnership with John Lewis. Festival tickets for under 12s are currently free until Friday 30 June 2017. Day tickets are priced at £49.50 with weekend tickets selling at £90 (plus booking fees). Tickets can be purchased in person at Blackheath Concert Hall or online via SeeTickets.com, Ticketmaster.co.uk, Songkick.com, Gigantic.com, Stargreen.com, AXS.com and Twickets.live.

Hospitality tickets are offered for the first time this year, costing £100 a day or £175 for the weekend. Hospitality tickets include access to the guest area, a guest festival laminate, drinks tokens and a dedicated guest entrance.

Chinese Food Festival 2016 kicks off in London’s Potters Fields Park >>

Andrew Fairlie, Tom Brown and Robert Thompson to feature in Eat Jersey Food Festival 2016 line-up >>

Josh Eggleton to headline Weston-Super-Mare Food Festival >>

Hyper Japan food festival to take over Tobacco Dock

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HJF16_JamesHo_image00633(9P9A6823)London’s Urban Food Fest has announced details for its Hyper Japan food festival, which will take place from 14 – 16 July at Tobacco Dock.

Hyper Japan aims to celebrate Japanese culture through food, drink and entertainment. Food exhibitors include: Sticky Bundits; Peko Peko; On Café; Kitchoan; the Wagashi Japanese Bakery; the Tsujiri Matcha House; Miso Hungry; the Sake Experience; and Sam Sake.

Sticky Bundits will be serving sushi burgers – a healthier alternative to traditional burgers, with buns made of rice.

For a traditional taste of Asia, Peko Peko offers street-food dishes such as: chilli chicken, Takoyaki (Octopus dumplings), Korokke (Japanese-style croquettes), Ebi Fry (battered and fried shrimp) and gyoza.

On Café offers traditional Chinese dim sum alongside french patisserie such as macarons the infamous Baoger – a bao and burger hybrid.

Kitchoan offer healthy, natural, Japanese confectionary called Wagashi, which combines red kidney beans, sweet potato, rice, sesame and agar-agar.

The Wagashi Japanese Bakery will be offering Dorayaki (filled pancakes) in traditional Japanese flavours, such as sweet bean paste, chestnut, matcha mascapone and sesame cream. The bakery will also be serving ice cream in classic oriental flavours, such as wasabi, golden chestnut, black sesame, roasted green tea, cinnamon and almond.

Matcha tea fans are urged to visit the Tsujiri Matcha House, a producer of 155 types of Matcha from Kyoto.

The Instagram-friendly bubble waffles will be available from Miso Hungry.

Drinks stands offering traditional sake include the Sake Experience, which will give visitors the chance to sample a variety of sake brands. Fruity sparkling Mio Sake is available at the MIO Station, while specialist sake distributors Sam Sake will be serving up craft sake.

General entry tickets for Friday and pre-2.30pm on Saturday are £15, tickets for post 2.30pm on Saturday and all day Sunday are £17, and a three-day pass for the full weekend costs £43. Buy tickets here: hyperjapan.co.uk.

Chinese Food Festival 2016 kicks off in London’s Potters Fields Park >>

Andrew Fairlie, Tom Brown and Robert Thompson to feature in Eat Jersey Food Festival 2016 line-up >>

Josh Eggleton to headline Weston-Super-Mare Food Festival >>

Reviews: Grace Dent finds ‘one of 2017’s greatest dinners’ while Marina O’Loughlin had an an uncomfortable meal in Glasgow

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Westerns Laundry

“I can state plainly that this was one of 2017’s greatest dinners” says Grace Dent of the Evening Standard about Westerns Laundry, Holloway.

What Westerns Laundry is in truth is pure joy. A spacious, industrial yet warmly elegant room, hiding behind birch trees on a residential strip in N5.

It was a balmy Friday, the room was open-fronted and the service warm. The kitchen buzzed with bright young chefs and the blackboard menu spoke of lobster fideuà, cockles with fennel tops, sardines, Marie Rose langoustines and chargrilled leeks. It’s one of those places I felt instantly at home, shoes dispatched under the table, hair down and a glass of Veneto Frizzante Garg’n’Go in hand. I’m not a holistic, bio-wine, grit in the glass evangelist by any shout, but I’m willing to sample anything offered to me with enthusiasm.

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Reviews: You’d have to pitchfork Marina O’Loughlin to get her near Stoke House again; while Fay Maschler reckons Xu is set to be a hit

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Stoke-House

You’d have to pitchfork the Guardian’s Marina O’Loughlin to get here near Stoke House, the new restaurant from Will Ricker in London Victoria, again.

“An updated rework of the great British carvery” is what we’re promised from [Stoke House] owner Will Ricker (E&O and other noughties pseudo-Asian sleb magnets), and – with the exception of a heavy emphasis on the smoker and some imaginative and rather delicious salads (sweet potato with chilli; a butch red cabbage coleslaw; fat Israeli-style couscous with roast veg) – the, uh, joys of a British carvery are what we get. The short ribs are fibrous and taste of yesterday’s roast dinner, despite a modish flourish of pickled red onion and chilli; the chicken is cotton-woolly with no sign of the promised embrace of smoke; “smoked” cauliflower cheese, too (“bit on the side”: how very Travelodge), served in a dinky copper saucepan and pleasingly cheesy, is unsmoky.

Salmon comes as pallid, morose and wanly pink as an unwilling bridesmaid.
The music is deafening, the place full to the rafters: my hell doesn’t seem to be other people’s. The menu makes a song and dance about being “pocket-friendly”, but we manage, with two cocktails each, no wine and no dessert, to ramp up more than a ton of a bill. The staff are lovely despite it being open from breakfast to fall-down; the cocktails are decent. Ach, who am I kidding? To get me near the place again, I’d need to be pitchforked.

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