Thursday, 21 May 2015

L'Autre Pied, London

Any emails from Groupon that I receive with food offers are usually condemned to the trash bin immediately, however its not often you find a Michelin starred deal for a 7 course tasting menu for £31. Hence I snapped up the deal for L'Autre Pied, sister restaurant of Pied à Terre, who both hold 1 Michelin star with L'Autre Pied based in Marylebone which makes the deal more remarkable.
Amuse bouche - Avocado mousse
Salad of radishes with black quinoa, crème fraiche, fennel, dill and lime
Celeriac 'linguini' with black garlic, onion and parsley
Poached cod with brassicas and ruby grapefruit
Fallow deer with beetroot, cocoa and peanut
Coconut cream
Heritage carrots with banana and passion fruit

The interior is relaxed but rather weary looking. I like the fact that there is no tablecloth in sight, ideal for a casual lunch. The usual price of the tasting menu is £62 and the pre discount service charge is levied on top. 

As expected with a 1 Michelin starred restaurant, the execution and cooking of the dishes was faultless. The key standout dishes were the celeriac linguini and carrot cake dessert. Some good ideas for the other dishes but slightly missing the wow factor. However at this price it was certainly value for money.

L'Autre Pied on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Freemasons, Wiswell

Freemasons at Wiswell is the no.1 ranked pub in the Good Food Guide's Top 50 UK pubs 2015. It is also ranked 41st in the Top 50 Good Food Guide. The surrounding area is a haven for good food in the North West with the likes of Northcote and Parkers Arms for company.

The pub is set in the quiet village of Wiswell and parking can be found along the tight roads outside residential houses. The food was presented exquisitely with well matched flavours and excellent cooking. We can see why the venue has amassed such accolades and the pictures below speak for themselves.

Soup - English Asparagus and Lancashire Cheese, Truffled Cheese Hot Dog (£8.95)
Jersey Royals - Cooked in Bacon Dashi, Morel Mushrooms, Crispy Hen’s Egg, Iberico Ham (£11.95)
Herdwick Lamb - Roast Loin and Breast, Ewes Milk and Black Olive, Wild Garlic, Roast Cevennes Onion, Haggis Shepherd’s Pie (£24.95)
XL Diver Scallop - Roast and Tartare, Sweet Potato and Granny Smith Apple, Pork Nuggets, Xo Sauce (£24.95)
Michel Cluizel Chocolate - Single Estate, Vanilla and Pedro Ximenez Caramel Poached Pineapple, Rum, Raisin and Passion Fruit, Brown Butter Ice Cream (£9.95)
Souffle - Passion Fruit with its own Ice Cream, Hot Chocolate Sauce (£11.95)

Freemasons at Wiswell on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Friday, 8 May 2015

Dishoom (kings Cross), London

The Kings Cross restaurant is the newest of the Dishoom mini London empire. Opened last November it occupies a large Victorian warehouse spread over three floors. It is styled with a throwback to Bombay complete with a huge railway style clock.
Each Dishoom site has a special and for Kings Cross it’s the Nalli Nihari - described as a robust lamb-on-the-bone stew with generous spice, for strength and protection against faintness of heart. Served with sesame onion seed naan and added bheja (lamb brain) this was certainly packed full of flavour and is probably my favourite curry to date.
Bheja (lamb brain)
Chicken berry Britannia biryani – sealed and slow-cooked, this layered and aromatic dish was simply sensational. If the Nihari was my favourite curry to date this is certainly my number one biryani. The spices were simply spot on and the texture of the rice and chicken just right finished off with sweet pieces of cranberry. Simply put it was superb and ideal for mopping up the last of the nihari curry. 
Masala prawns – simple and charred slightly at the edges, overshadowed by the previous two dishes but did the job.
Gunpowder potatoes – skin on potatoes with butter, crushed aromatic seeds and green herbs.
All the above washed down with the obligatory spicy house chai along with a selection of fresh juices. Its a common trend that style is usually accomplished with substance being sacrificed, but not here, the food is certainly the star.
Dishoom King's Cross on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

On The Bab (Covent Garden), London

Having visited the original On The Bab on Old Street on its opening night I was keen to visit its new Covent Garden site which opened last month. On The Bab serves modern Korean dishes along with a mix of classic dishes in a modern open kitchen environment with K-Pop tunes providing a chilled out backdrop.

The menu is split between nibbles, small dishes, Korean fired chicken, rice and bun dishes and traditional dishes. In the nibbles sections are bar snacks and its take on a muffin, which is a food trend from South Korea. It comes in a choice of fillings, kimchi & cheese or quail egg & bacon, we opted for the former.
Yangyum chicken better known as Korean fired chicken comes a small medium or large sizes and with a choice of flavours. The classic sweet spicy is very moreish and goes perfect with ice cold beer. 
The garlic mayo and seasoned spring onion flavours are also very good but the sweet spicy has the edge.
The small dishes section contains dumpling and salad dishes. A noodle salad with bulgogi beef is refreshing and light.
Seaweed salad with sweet spicy dressing has a kick from the chilli seeds and is served in a jar.
The classic bulgogi beef bibimbab is served in a metal bowl, note a stone bowl is only used if described as a dolsot bibimbab.
More interesting is another Korean food trend being a Korean style burrito with spicy pork. Essentially a sushi roll but very enjoyable.
From the traditional dishes section we tried a baek ban, which is a single tray with a choice of meat served with rice, salad and kimchi. Our choice was the spicy pork which was very additive with the kimchi and rice.
Soondubu Jjigae is a spicy tofu & seafood stew with free range egg. This was a warming dish together with plain boiled rice with the right level of heat and variety of seafood including squid, mussels and shrimps.
Possibly my favourite thing about the new On The Bab is the large pitchers of Somaek beer which are served in large iced tubes and dispensed at the table at your own leisure. On The Bab has truly whetted our appetite for our upcoming visit to Seoul in December.

On the Bab on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Bao, London

2015 is proving to be a hot year for Asian cuisine in the capital, already we have seen a host of new openings including Engawa (Kobe beef imported from Japan), Bo Drake and Jin Juu modern Korean inspired dishes), On The Bab (adding a Covent Garden site to its popular Old Street based Korean restaurant), Duck and Rice (a Chinese gastropub by Alan Yau), amongst others. The most exciting for us however is Bao, serving up sumptuous Taiwanese street food whom we have followed religiously in their street stall guise at various locations over the last few years including Kerb, Netil Market and Feast.

With the cult following and ever growing queues the next logical step was to find a site to set up a permanent restaurant. With the backing of the Sethi family (the guys behind Gymkhana and Trishna) the restaurant opened early April on Lexington Street in the London food mecca that is Soho.
The Bao brand is simple and effectively marketable with its minimal and clean design. The interior keeps to this approach with clean wood panels and detailing. It would not be a surprise to see the brand expanding into a mini empire and beyond, however I’m not sure if the passion of the founders Er Chen Chang, Shing Tat Chung and Wai-Ting could be conveyed without being diluted with new sites as they are the life and soul of the business. This is evident by the interaction we see amongst the diners and founders who are genuine in their gratitude for the support which I would guess would be from people like ourselves who have followed Bao around the street food scene.

Onto the food, the new and larger self-marking menu which is very competitively priced with dishes ranging from £1.50-£6 begins with the small eats section. Introducing some classic Taiwanese street food with Baos own inventive twists among their own creations. From this section we tried the following:
Scallop, yellow bean garlic, simply served in the shell and finished by gulping down the remaining sauce. 
Beef soup, braised daikon, a deep beefy soup, would be ideal during Winter.
Aubergine with wanton crisps, this packed some chilli heat.
Pig blood cake with an oozing egg yolk to create a velvety black pudding like dish.
Trotter nuggets served with coriander paste. Packed with rich pork pieces and a light batter.
40 day rump cap, aged white soy sauce - the soy brings the rump alive which has a bit of chew due to the cut.
Guinea fowl Chi Shiang rice, just when you think things can’t get any better this little bowl of plump rice with well-cooked moist shredded Guinea fowl pieces with an egg yolk which oozes and adds richness to a very delightful and rounded dish. For the peckish ones this will certainly be a pleasing course following the parade of baos and other small plates.

The next section of the menu focuses on the gua bao variations. Headed by the classic bao which has been on the menu from day one and how it all started.
Classic bao - still the top bao in my opinion, the sauce of the the braised pork is what makes it for me topped with the perfect match in coriander and peanut powder.
Confit pork bao - a new creation with satisfying slabs of pork belly topped with fried shallots. Maybe lacking a little bit of sauce, this with a little of the classic bao sauce would be heaven.
Lamb shoulder bao - superb with a slight hint of heat in the sauce.
Fried Horlicks ice cream bao - the only dessert on the menu but I don't think anything else could top this!
Peanut milk - there has clearly been some thought on the drinks front along with the innovation of the food menu, a cool milk with a hint of peanut.
Along with a selection of teas the foam topped iced tea was refreshing, different and unique.

Any regular readers of our blog (not sure if any exist!) will have noticed the short hiatus from January. Work and other commitments have come first but hopefully normal service will be resumed especially as the blog backlog has reached epic proportions. Bao was so good and lived up to its crazily high expectations we had set for it, so much so that it made me get back into the blogging mood.

Bao on Urbanspoon

Square Meal