Sunday 15 November 2015

The Seafood Bar Spui, Amsterdam

The Seafood Bar has two branches in Amsterdam, we visited the newer Spui branch on a chilly Sunday night. It was near capacity and to our horror I had my dates mixed up and actually reserved a table for the previous night, the host however assured it was fine and they had a table free luckily. The Spui restaurant is huge and split on three levels in a long dining room elevated in the middle and gain towards the back. There is a seafood bar along the side followed by the open kitchen, just walking to the table is a treat as you can eye up your favourite crustacean and fish before being seated.
Selection of oysters - Fines de Normandie no 3, Spéciales Tsarskaya no 3
Fruit de Mer mixed grill - lobster, salmon, prawns, squid, mussels
Fruits de Mer - a mountain of langoustines, lobster, crab salad, king crab legs, razor clams, winkles, clams, mussels, oysters, king prawns
The two tiered seafood feast in all its glory!

I don't ever recall being stuffed to the absolute brim so much that I couldn't finish a seafood meal before, but it happened here as we had to leave some salad and mussels. The sheer mountain of seafood was too much but very good value for money. The whole meal including drinks and service charge came to 120 Euros which is great value compared to anywhere in the UK. The pick of the seafood had to be the mixed grill platter and the crab salad from the cold fruit de mer, but overall it rivalled any other seafood platter that we have tried anywhere. A must visit for seafood lovers in Amsterdam.

Friday 13 November 2015

Rijks, Amsterdam

On a recent weekend trip to Amsterdam we visited Rijks restaurant for lunch after a whistlestop tour around the Van Gogh museum. We didn't anticipate the large queues at ten in the morning but ended up on time for our reservation. As we trawled through the menu we were presented with some stunning amuse bouches. A cream of oyster, radish and champagne foam which packed bags of flavour and a deep fried leaf. We noted that there were deep fried leaves on every vacant table and were tempted to eat them as well! The menu features a small plate concept with a few larger plates.

Roasted langoustine tail, curry cream, trout eggs, linseed, quinoa - a food bloggers / instagrammars heaven, each dish was very photogenic and the curry cream on the bed of quinoa worked very well with the langoustine.
Gasconne veal shank, crème of foie, apricot, crispy buckwheat
Bbq sweet cornchickenparfait, crispy chicken wing, dried onion - this was Mrs Noms favourite dish as she is a big fan of corn
Roasted beef tenderloin tartare, chopped egg, tarragon, spinach - the title baffled us as the beef found in the onion cups were three quarters cooked. Not sure if thats how it was supposed to be served but the tartare name was a bit odd and resulted in it being the least successful dish of the meal.

Duck, germule, lingonberry, Dutch plum sauce - this dish would have been exceptional if the duck was cooked less, it proved to be tough and not in the slightest pink.

We enjoyed lunch at Rijks, on the main the food was at a high level. It was noted that as lunch service picked up we began to find flaws in the dishes as well as in the speed of service, this meant we skipped dessert in order to make use of the last of our time in Amsterdam. 

Friday 30 October 2015

Nahm, Bangkok

A quick recap of our meal at Nahm, Bangkok, number 1 in the 2014 San Pellogrino Asia's 50 Best restaurants list.

Refreshing drinks by the pool prior to dinner at Nahm
Ma hor - minced pork, chicken and prawns with palm sugar on fresh Thai pineapple
Pork and lobster with shredded ginger and Thai citron on betal leaves
Blue swimmer crabs, peanuts and pickled garlic on rice cakes
Chiang Mai larp of guinea fowl
Prawns and coconut wafers with pickled ginger
Tom Yumtini
King fish salad with pomelo, lemongrass and lime
Clear soup of roast duck with thai basil and young coconut
Hot and sour soup of chicken, prawns and wild mushrooms
Preserved shrimp and crab simmered in coconut cream with deep fried prawns and vegetables
Aromatic curry of prawns with cucumber served with pickle vegetables
Stir-fried wagyu beef with charred onions, oyster sauce and thai basil
Unripe green mango served with salt, chilli and sugar
Pandanus noodles with black sticky rice, water chestnuts, tapioca and coconut cream
Fruit platter
Birthday coconut cake

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Old Pulteney whisky and food pairing

We were recently invited by the lovely folk at Old Pulteney to a whisky and food pairing night at Jenny's Bar in Liverpool. The Wick based distillery has formed a partnership with chef Aiden Byrne (Manchester House and Church Green) to provide a series of innovative whisky and food pairings with a variety of single malt whiskies. 

The night was hosted by whisky guru Andy Gemmell providing the lowdown on the whiskies and Aiden Byrne explaining the insight to the food pairings.
Pigeon ballotine, caramelised palm sugar and sea salt on ginger bread
12 year old
Cured snapper, orange blossom water, dried rose, salmon caviar
17 year old
Plum, chicken liver parfait, tobacco and chocolate
21 year old
Lobster, smoked apple puree and rosemary, cannelloni

As we worked our way through the pairings it is true that whiskies are better as they age, I like to think that about myself as well! The favourite of the night was the 17 year old single malt which was a smooth sweet easy drinking whisky. The 21 year old single malt was also great but more of a celebration whisky with heavier smokiness and a spicy finish.

It was obvious that a lot of thought had been placed into the food pairings by Aiden Byrne. The pigeon ballotine was a stunner as was the chicken liver parfait, plum and chocolate.

Don't miss your chance to try the pairings at the Liverpool Food & Drink Festival this weekend 19th-20th September at Sefton Park.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Burnt Truffle, Heswall

The sister restaurant to Sticky Walnut has arrived in Heswall. Followers of Sticky will be accustomed to Chef-Proprietor, Gary Ushers hilarious Twitter antics. Burnt Truffle follows with a similar menu to the mothership.

During a lunchtime visit we tried:

Cured salmon, gazpacho, avocado, broad beans, pickled cucumber
Chicken & pigs head terrine, apple puree and deep fried pickles
Stonebass, charred sweetcorn, lemon couscous, tempura courgette and tartare sauce
Jacobs ladder beef rib, truffle chips, onion puree, watercress - to use an old cliche, simply melt in the mouth, and at £9 a bloody steal!
Banana parfait, chocolate and peanut brittle, caramel ice cream
Raspberry frangipane tart, creme fraiche sorbet 

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and with the menu very keenly priced it is accessible to all.

Burnt Truffle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday 28 August 2015

Grilla, Liverpool

Grilla is a Scandinavian / Mediterranean grill restaurant on Hardman Street. Having had some bad press recently with a zero hygiene score due to paperwork issues it was reopened with 5 stars. This didn't deter us and we wanted to take advantage of the Monday night deal of 30% of the signature Mix Grilla platter. The customer areas were clean and modern.
With the main event turning out to be monstrous I think we made the worst choice of starters possible in terms of size in garlic bread with cheese and grilled halloumi cheese!
'Mix Grilla' for 2 - variety of meats including lamb and pork on the spit and chicken, roast potatoes, yogurt lemon mint dip, chips and salad. There is certainly a lot of meat for your money, although with it being a Monday night it was quiet which led to the meat being quite dry as we suspect it had been cooking for a while and become tough to eat as it cooled down. The lamb chops were easily the standout of the meats. The tables are on the small side and the platter virtually takes up the whole table so that other dishes had to be perched on a side table.
After being defeated by the meat board we were presented with a small brownie dessert to finish, complimentary to every table as far as we could tell. Although the food didn't wow us, the grilled meats would be ideal with a little less cooking. With 30% off the Mix Grilla on Mondays our bill for two come to just under £30 which is good value for money for the quantity of food.

Click to add a blog post for Grilla on Zomato

Monday 10 August 2015

Gaggan, Bangkok

Before we booked our plane tickets to Bangkok I made sure I secured tables at both Nahm and Gaggan. Nahm being the former number 1 restaurant in the San Pellogrino Asia's Top 50 restaurants list before being toppled by Gaggan in the current list. Luckily for us I had reserved a table at Gaggan before the 2015 list was announced.

My first awareness of chef-proprietor Gaggan Anand was during Obsession 2015 at Northcote where he was a featured chef during one of the nights of the illustrious parade of worldwide chefs. The style of Gaggan exudes influences of chefs time at el Bulli with molecular gastronomy playing a heavy part in the menu along with more traditional Indian cooking methods. It was this mix of modern and old school take on Indian fine dining or progressive Indian as termed by Chef which peaked our interest as our experience of Indian food involved hearty, homely large sharing dishes. Perfect for families and satisfying meals but we wanted to explore the other end of the spectrum and to experience how humble Indian food could be elevated to another level.

At the time of our visit a choice of three set menus were available with varying lengths. We were allowed to pick different menus which we found refreshing as we have different appetites and could experience more dishes. A multitude of influences from Japan, Portugal, Spain and France amongst others play a part in the menu, the presentation of the dishes was exquisite and certainly opened our eyes as to how beautiful Indian food could be presented given a little imagination. The meal began with a fast and furious selection of street eat bites before leading into the main dishes. 

Burnt mango panna
Yoghurt explosion
Edible plastic spiced nuts
Chocolate panu puri
Potato a-some-crispy and liquid
Bengali mustard and noori pakoda
Papadam and tomato chutney
Keema pao
Explosion - Golgappa: herb injection, cumin potato and yoghurt
Alchemist cake - Dhokla: lentil flour cake with curry leaves, mustard, chutney and coconut ice cream
Say cheese - hot souffle of 4 cheeses and crispy rice cereals, green chilly oil
Sandwich - foiegras mousse, onion water baguette, onion chutney and hazelnut candy
Down to Earth - summer vegetables, asparagus, morels, mushrooms, artichokes with a 62C egg yolk and truffle chili air
Charcoal - no description was given when the dome was lifted to reveal the charcoal. We were left to guest the ingredients and were later informed that it contained dehydrated vegetables for the black crust and stuffed with spiced sea bass paste.
Treasure shells - Norwegian diver scallop, coriander herb oil gel, young coconut curry
Portuguese connection - Joselito Iberian pork belly stir-fired with vindaloo curry and sweet potato. This was one of the standout dishes of the night.
Fusion called confusion - white asparagus, yuzu chutney, chili miso curry, false green beans, sesame miso chips
Best memory - lamb chops sous-vide, grilled and finihsed with almond saffron oil
Land of Lungi - Atlantic lobster cooked in chameen style, malabari coconut curry
River king - fresh water prawns grilled in tandoor with a curry leaf infusion and mango chutney
Angry bird - slow cooked country Thai chicken in a spiced Chettinad style curry
Made in Japan - matcha tea cake, mascarpone cream, vanilla salt and fresh wasabi
Poor mans porridge - firni-jasmine ice cream, pistachio crisps, rose room freshener
Magnum - inspired by the famous ice cream
Petit fours - Turkish delight, lemon sour gel and crispy chocolate