Restaurant Review – L’Escargot – Greek St Soho – London

L’Escargot – Greek St Soho – London

It was Pete’s and my 25th anniversary on the 10th of October. Wow! Yes Wow!

So we decided to go out to dinner to L’Escargot on Greek St in Soho London. This restaurant is owned by Marco Pierre White. I’ve always wanted to dine there as I’ve walked past it for years.

The restaurant inside was beautiful. The soft lighting helped a lot.

The service was very friendly, attentive and informative.

The food was lovely from my part, but poor Pete didn’t really much enjoy his main meal. You’ll see below just what we mean.

For entrée Pete had his usual ½ dozen oysters and I had Beetroot Ravioli with goats curd.

For main I had Black Sea bass with some greens and potatoes Dauphinoise. It was very tasty.

Poor Pete chose the Tempura Dover sole.  I wouldn’t have called it a tempura which is meant to be a light and fluffy batter; it was more like a ‘fish and chips’ type of batter. Thick and stodgy.

Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy it at all. What a shame.

We shared a Tarte Tatin with Pear Sorbet for dessert. The waitress brought out our dessert with ‘Happy Anniversary’ written on the plate.

 

We then received a plate of chocolate petit fours. These were devoured.

All up it was a lovely evening but I must admit I’ve had a lot better, which is a shame as I was expecting a wow factor which I didn’t get.

Would I go again…. Sadly probably no.

Please excuse these photos, their taken from my iphone…..

GORDON RAMSAY’S ‘Pétrus’ Restaurant – Knightsbridge, London

It was my birthday not long ago, and Pete surprised me with a lovely dinner out at Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Pétrus’ Restaurant in Knightsbridge, London. What an experience! It was fine dining thru and thru.

The service was very friendly and professional, the atmosphere elegant and cosy.  To quote them ‘The modern, light interiors of Pétrus have been designed by the acclaimed Russell Sage Studio, who have used a gentle palette of oyster, soft silver and copper tints, as well as dashes of the famous Pétrus claret red throughout the room.

Tucked away in an elegant corner of Knightsbridge, Pétrus can be found amidst one of London’s most fashionable and prestigious shopping districts.

Just a small walk away from the iconic shopping hub, with department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols, or the tranquil setting and beautiful vistas of Hyde Park, the location is one of London’s exclusive areas.’

And it was an exquisitely beautiful area. Hidden in the backstreets of Knightsbridge.

We were spoilt rotten with all the complimentary in-between dishes that kept on coming out.

First we had a small dish of aperitifs.  From memory I had goats cheese wrapped in filo, although it tasted as if the goats cheese was mixed with something divine tasting, it may have been hazelnuts….. and Pete had foie gras with quince jelly in a small sandwich. I’m making it sound worse than what it actually was. Check out the pictures. Excuse the quality of the pictures, as I was using my iphone, and night shots are not one of the iphones best qualities. And as you can see, my dietary requirements went right out the window! I suffered for it most of the night. But it was my birthday, and the food was too delicious to say no!

After the aperitifs, I had a gazpacho soup and Pete had Pork in a tart shell with some white sauce, his face was in pure ecstasy whilst eating this.

A basket of warm bread accompanied by Cornish butter was also served.

Next came our entrees. I had Pan-fried fillet of red mullet with coriander gnocchi and a lemongrass sauce which the waiter drizzled over just after he’d served it. Pete had Pan-fried sea scallops with cauliflower, anchovy and caper, lemon beurre noisette. Nothing short of delicious.

After entree’s was main’s. I had a Lasagna with asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli, chestnut mushrooms and parmesan sauce. There with fluffy cream foam circled around it. Then the waiter poured the parmesan cream over it. Pete had the Pan-fried fillet of sea bass with a poached oyster, cucumber and beuree blanc. Accompanied with the main dishes were two side dishes of vegetables. String beans and Potatoes dauphonaise. What taste explosions!

Next on the complimentary list was mini passion fruit ice cream cornetto’s. I think I went to heaven…… Then a round silver dish with a lid was placed in the centre of the table, with smoke coming out of the open ends. When the waiter lifted the lid it was basically cold smoke that streamed out of this dish to surprise us with 4 round white chocolate covered balls that were filled with white subtle alcoholic ice-cream. My god, could it get any better than this!

We thought dessert was next but they surprised me with a small macaroon birthday cake with one candle sitting on top. 3 waiters came over and discreetly sang happy birthday.  Even Pete was surprised at this!

Dessert came next, a chocolate sphere which when served the waiter poured hot chocolate sauce on top which caused the chocolate sphere to collapse inwards and become a gooey chocolate pudding mixed in with the honeycomb and vanilla ice cream that was underneath.

The bowl was scraped clean.

We never had to pick up a bottle and fill up our glass not once.

They organised a cab for us and on the way out, gave me a small box with a chocolate cake sitting inside.

Boy did we feel spoilt!

Would i go again, you better believe it I most definitely would!

Please excuse these hideous excuse for pictures. The iphone is clearly not up to evening shots.

GORDON RAMSAY’S Pétrus
1 Kinnerton Street
Knightsbridge
London
SW1X 8EA

http://www.gordonramsay.com/petrus/ambience/

Ottelenghi Restaurant – Angel Islington, London

Pete and I went to Ottelenghi not so long ago. It was a very special occasion and I couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate than Ottelenghi in Angel Islington, London.

As you walk into Ottelenghi your instantly aware of all the food and amazing colours on display. You can purchase food for take away, or simply choose from the open buffet what you’d like to eat.

We shared a few dishes. They recommend 2-3 per person. Here’s what we chose:-

Roasted aubergine with lemon, yoghurt, pickled courgette, spring onion, parsley and chilli

Roasted heritage carrots and peas,coriander and cumin seeds, pea shoots with orange and star anise reduction

Braised octopus and Sea bass with red pepper sauce, douce olives, preserved lemon, mustard seeds and herb salsa

Seared scallops with juniper and celeriac mash, pickled cucumber and walnut salad and crispy pancetta

We also shared an amazing Gluten-free Almond and Orange cake for dessert. Delicious!

There’s one really long table that goes right down the centre of the restaurant and a few 2 seaters on the side. The atmosphere was lovely and service was attentive.

Check out the food pictures below and salivate!

 

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/

Ottelenghi – Islington

287 Upper Street, London, N1 2TZ

 

 

Marylebone Farmers Markets – London

Marylebone Farmers Market

Marylebone farmers market occurs every Sunday in Marylebone just behind Waitrose.  It’s an organic market and opens at 10am till 2pm.

Most of my veggie shopping is done here on Sunday mornings.

They have a huge variety of stalls, ranging from Gluten-free cakes,  artisan breads, flowers, honey, honey candles, fresh eggs including these amazing baby blue Shropshire eggs, fish, meat, poultry and of course fruit and veg. There’s plenty other stalls that sell things like freshly made pasta, freshly made soups, pesto and pasta sauces etc etc etc

I love going to these markets on Sunday mornings, there’s nothing like walking the streets of London on a Sunday morning, especially when it’s sunny and the birds are out chirping away.

Marylebone is a quaint little inner London village. Shops and restaurants are a tad on the pricey side but the pubs are great!

 

The Sherlock Holmes Museum – 221B Baker St, London

 

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is on 221B Baker St, London. There’s a gift shop on the ground floor that’s free to enter where you can buy the most wonderful things like little musical boxes that your wind up and a musical song is played.  Tea kettles in the most oddest shapes such as a toilet or typewriter!  Wall clocks made out of plates or Sherlock Holms wall key holders.  You can purchase books, book marks, jewelry,  the famous Sherlock Holms caps, pipes, pens in the shape of syringes and your typical mugs and let’s not forget the gorgeous Sherlock Holms teddy bears! And so much more!

The gift shop is also where you purchase your tickets to enter the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It’s only £6pp. Well worth the visit. Only a certain amount of people are allowed to enter at one time. The museum is the house where ‘Sherlock Holmes’ the book series was written. It covers three floors. Everything inside is as it was back in the day. You get a feel of how it was back then, how they lived, what they used, what they wore. The atmosphere is as you would expect it to be. Everything has been left as is, from the time Sherlock Holmes was written all those years ago.

‘Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson lived at 221b Baker Street between 1881-1904, according to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The famous 1st floor study overlooking Baker Street is still faithfully maintained as it was kept in Victorian Times. The house was built in 1815 and is listed by the Government to protect its architectural and cultural heritage. It is an open museum dedicated to the life and times of Sherlock Holmes, and the interior has been faithfully maintained for posterity exactly as described in the published stories.’

You definitely get a sense of history. I took plenty of pictures as there were so much amazing things to take.

http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/home.htm

 

NOPI Restaurant – SOHO, London (Part of the Ottolenghi Restaurants)

Last Saturday night a group of us dined at NOPI. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this wonderful restaurant, it’s part of the Ottolenghi restaurants.  I had to book two months in advance to get a table and it was well worth it. My FODMAP Diet was thrown out for the night. I paid for it dearly for a few days after…. But it was well worth the pain!

My experience at NOPI was a mouth watering taste explosion! Ottolenghi did not disappoint in the slightest. It definitely lived up to my expectations. The service was exceptional. Friendly, attentive and knowledgeable.

Presentation spot on, atmosphere demure, private with soft lighting. The only thing that was a bit unnerving was the toilets. As soon as you walked in -  wall & ceiling was covered in mirrors. I felt like I was in a fun park. What was that all about?

Other than that , here’s a paragraph from the NOPI website that pretty much sums up what it’s all about:-

‘NOPI is a brasserie with a twist: serving dishes to share with robust, sunny flavours, typically from the Middle-east and Asia. NOPI is open all day, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and pre-theatre menus. The design is formal on the ground floor, with a lot of marble and brass, whilst the basement has long canteen tables looking into the open kitchen. NOPI is the brainchild of the team behind Ottolenghi and carries on its ethos of quality, innovation, freshness and abundance.’

NOPI in SOHO London is slightly different to its other sister restaurants as it recommends taster dishes to share as your main meals. It does have a selection of main dishes but its quiet limited. 4 to be precise. They recommend you have approx 3 taster dishes per person. So this is what we ordered. I’ve taken a picture of all the dishes.

DISHES TO SHARE

Heirloom tomatoes, wasabi mascarpone, hazelnuts

Roasted aubergines, black garlic, harissa, pine nuts

French beans, mange tout, peas, mustard seed dressing

Courgette and manouri fritters, lime yoghurt

Five spice tofu, tomato & cardamom passata, braised aubergine

Spiced gurnard wrapped in banana leaf, pineapple sambal

Wild sea bream, smoked labneh, preserved lemon

Confit pressed duck, burnt miso butterscotch, pickled mixed mushrooms

Organic red quinoa and watercress salad

2 friends had two main dishes:-

Smoked ricotta rotolo, wild garlic, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds

Cornish lemon sole, burnt butter, nori and ginger

DESSERT DISHES TO SHARE

Chocolate & almond cake, apricot kernel cream

Farro pudding, orange blossom, sesame brittle

Apricot and pandan financiers, coconut passion fruit cream

 

Strawberry mess, strawberry sorbet, meringue, sumac, rose syrup

 Please excuse some of the pictures, as they were taken with my iphone and their not the best quality.

Would I go back again, yes and no. Yes because it was so delicious, no because it was so damn expensive! A taster dish which is the size of a tapas dish was anywhere between £9 – £12.

I would however go back to its sister restaurants, where there is more of a main dish selection and they are of a more reasonable price. A typical main course costs around £11.

 http://www.nopi-restaurant.com/

 

Cookies and Scream – Camden, London

During my lunch break, I thought I’d take a break from constantly going to InSpiral for lunch (even though I love the food there).  Since it was sunny I took this opportunity to take a stroll thru Camden’s famous markets and see if anything caught my eye. But honestly I just wanted to walk in the sun for a while and amuse myself at the same time, when I literally turned around a corner and stumbled onto ‘Cookies & Scream’. A Gluten-free and Vegan café/bakery of sort. Not the sort of bakery that bake bread, but the sort that bakes sweets……. cookies to be exact. They probably do other things like coffee and smoothies, but the cookies caught my eye. Gluten-Free and Vegan! I was impressed.

I eagerly bought a cookie called ‘Choc chip nutter’ which consisted of Tapioca flour, Buckwheat flour and I think from memory Rice flour. Or something along those lines. In any case, these beauties (or so I thought) were right down my alley. So I enthusiastically (as you do when looking and smelling at freshly baked goods) bought one! Other than the fact it was made from all these wonderful flours, it also had chocolate chips and hazelnuts in it and you had the option of having it served to you warm, which I did!

As you could imagine I couldn’t wait to get back to my desk and slowly devour this cookie. The aroma was killing me! I was salivating in anticipation.

What a HUGE disappointment it was when I took the first bite.  Not that it wasn’t scrumptious. It was! It was just coated and jam packed with sugar! And I don’t eat sugar!  I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. It serves me right that in my greedy eagerness I forgot to tick off the mental box in my head:– vegan (diary-free), gluten-free and refined sugar-free.

Other than this major set back for me, if you don’t care about sugar in your sweets, I mean a hell of a lot sugar, then ‘Cookies & Scream’ is a great place to try.

I will go back however and see if they do any sugar-free options. If they do,  I’ll tell you all about it.

You can find ‘Cookies & Scream’ in Camden markets just next to the lock. Sorry I don’t have the exact address.

The Riding House Café, Fitzrovia, London

Riding House Café, is not really a café at all but an upmarket chic restaurant. Noisy and bustling. Far too many staff and not enough attentiveness.  Service overall is inconsistent, reserved and unfriendly at the best of times. There are so many staff that they forget the simplest of things. Like sugar with your coffee if it’s not on the table. Repeating an order when placing it on the table….. the special kind of order that is, like ‘weak soya latte’, non-diary dishes etc.  Not coming to your table and making sure everything is ok, or too many different waiters coming to your table and asking if everything is ok. There is no visible organization or structure to the service side at all. I’ve never seen a supervisor, manager or matre’d take charge, direct staff or even make an appearance. If there’s one there, they do a good job of camouflaging themselves. And I’ve made it a point to look around and observe the staff and service every time I go there. I’m never impressed with the service.

Although I do love the waiters uniforms. Now Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay should take a look at these uniforms. Professional, savvy and clean cut. Oh what a design! Must have been designed by the same people who designed the restaurant. They know style when they see it. The places oozes with it. The only uniforms which just don’t fit in at all are the hostess’s uniforms. Obviously these aren’t uniforms at all but their own clothes. And some are tacky to say the least. A shame really, spoils the whole effect.

Peter and I have been there quite a few times and you may be asking what on earth makes us keep going back, well besides the fact that most times we wait at least 15min for a coffee, its damn good coffee! Silky, creamy and smooth although unfortunately not always hot … .sometimes it comes out luke warm so back it goes to get re-done.

We love going to Riding House Café because the atmosphere is quiet amazing. Beautiful décor, soothing colours, spectacular attention to detail in the interior design department. A pleasure to sit in there and look around, taking it all in and just relaxing.

The kitchen is slightly exposed, a very very long reclaimed wooden table is in the centre of the restaurant. Lounge chairs on one end of the restaurant next to the frosted glass windows and another room where you can dine more formally on the other end of the restaurant. Wood mounted panels, turquoise leather seats with brass buttons are in the bar area and bright red leather seats in the dining room area. Simple yet stunning. Complimentary water is served in bubble shaped turquoise drinking glasses as soon as you sit down  Whoever designed this restaurant did an excellent job! I want to take their services and do up my next pad!

The bar at the back is long, sauvé and chic. You have the choice to eat at the bar if you so desire and watch the bar waiters shake & make their drinks or in the evenings a chef making some cold seafood dishes. Quite interesting and entertaining.

Now for the food. Well the food is definitely not a disappointment. The breakfast part at least. We usually do Sunday morning breakfast but have been known to do spot walk in’s for dinner.  Breakfast is fresh, wholesome and delicious. I usually have poached eggs on thick wholemeal toast. The egg yolks are runny and perfectly cooked. Pete normally has the ‘Orkney bacon sandwich’ -  bacon, avocado & tomato in thick white, soughdour  bread which looks like it was made in-house. Even though its white bread and I normally don’t eat white bread I had to have a taste and boy this bread was out of this world. Probably the best sandwich bread that I’ve ever tasted. Suffice to say, this beauty is Pete’s Achilles heel. The combination suites him to a tea.

For dinner I’ve had the ‘Smoked Haddock Kedgeree’ and Pete had the ‘Oysters’ for entrée and ‘Cheese Burger’ for main. Unfortunately my Kedgeree was far too salty, what a disappointment. I was drinking water all night just to rehydrate myself and Pete enjoyed both his dishes although nothing memorable on his part. So overall dinner wasn’t a success but breakfast has always been a success, except for the service that is….

Would I keep on going back? Yes, I would but not as eagerly and certainly not as regularly as I used to. The service has put me off that much and dinner was a disappointment. What a shame as I would have been one of their biggest regulars.

I thought I should add, that I went once again on Sunday with an Aunt from Greece and Pete. Amazingly for the first time, service was spot on. Attentive, professional and on time. I had a weak soya decaf, mmmm deliciously creamy and Pete and his aunt had the Pancakes with Clotted cream & Maple syrup. His aunty claimed that they have to have been the best pancakes she’s ever had. And she’s definitely had a few in her life… especially coming from Greece where they love their pancakes. I’m happy Riding House Cafe has left this lovely memory for her. Here’s a picture of the pancakes.

The Riding House Café

43-51 Great Titchfield St

Fitzrovia

London

W1W 7PQ

www.ridinghousecafe.co.uk

Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany – Regents Park, London

We dined out at the York and Albany a few nights ago. This is one of Gordon Ramsay’s many restaurants in London.  It’s pretty much a pub conversion with lovely rooms if you’d like to stay overnight. The front façade is gorgeous and continues as you walk in. Wood, leather and high ceilings. You can’t go much wrong here. The dining area upstairs even though sterile and slim lined is quiet noisy when full. The chatter and noise bounces off the walls making it difficult to hear the person you’re with, which is a shame.

Downstairs has a few hidden rooms for private functions. I think I’d rather have sat downstairs after going to visit the ladies room. It seems less noisy and more cosier. Perhaps next time… if there is a next time…

My partner Peter and I both chose the Sea bream dish as a main described on the menu as ‘Sea bream, Jerusalem artichokes, red wine salsify, chanterelles’.  I’m a huge fish eater, so I usually order fish or a vegetarian dish when I go out.

From this description I was expecting a whole Sea bream. Wouldn’t you? What we got was half a fillet on some vegetables clearly hidden under this one piece of fillet. Where was the other half of the fish? The menu clearly states ‘Sea bream’ not half a fillet! Since I couldn’t’ have anything diary, they replaced the Jerusalem artichoke with 1 Tbs of wilted spinach, a few sticks of beetroot along with approx 5 chanterelles with the red wine salsify. As you can see I was quiet disappointed. I expected a bit more.

On the upside, the fish was cooked to perfection as were the tiny amounts of vegetables and the sauce was delicious.

Presentation was not very appetizing or pleasing to the eye at all. When it came to the table my first thought was ‘where’s the rest of my dish? This looks like left over ingredients?’ Thankfully it tasted better than it looked. But honestly everywhere else I go they manage to serve me the whole fish or both sides of the fish fillet for around the same price. Why can Gordon Ramsay get away with serving half a fish for the same price as a normal no-name restaurant? Because he can, that’s why. People will go where there is a name to the restaurant and a celebrity attached to it. The fact that Gordon Ramsay is a celebrity chef will have no one questioning his portion sizes. Maybe we should. I was appalled.

I was terribly disappointed in my dish. For £17.50 I at least expected a whole fish and a few more vegetables.

Service was good, although the uniforms are to be desired. Cheap and tacky.

Would I go to this restaurant again? No, not for dinner. Perhaps to the bar for drinks or for a work lunch if I was invited and didn’t have to pay myself, as I work quiet close. But it wouldn’t be a place I’d recommend which is a shame as I usually enjoy Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. This is the second time I’d been to the York & Albany and both times I left disappointed. I’d be silly to go for a third hoping for a change as that will clearly not happen.

I’ve got only one thing to say to you Gordon, shame on you for skimping on the ingredients and for mis-leading the diners with your menu descriptions.

Please excuse my photos, they were taken with my iphone, and it was quiet dark.

York & Albany – Regents Park

http://www.gordonramsay.com/yorkandalbany

127-129 Parkway

London

NW1 7PS

 

 

The Engineer Pub – Primrose Hill, London

Last Sunday’s weather here in London was glorious! We had amazing weather for March, 20 degrees Celsius! First day this year where it truly felt like Summer was on its way. How did Pete and I spend it? By going to a beer garden that’s how. They way most Londoner’s do on a lovely sunny day.

The Engineer is a lovely pub. The atmosphere is more gastro pub than your merger typical pub. It has dining areas scattered and hidden all over the place, around the corner, thru doorways and upstairs. There is also a lovely private dining room upstairs with bright sunlight coming thru the large sash windows. If your having a small party, I’d recommend this place. They also have a large beer garden out back which we found out fills up quite quickly so you need to make reservations for that area. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get a seat in the beer garden, but we did get a booth of sort in the bar area right next to the large windows. The wooden booth we sat on looked like a reclaimed church pew that they’d lined with leather soft padding. Quite Comfortable.

Pete is a beer drinker and he expressed that he’d never heard of any of the beers they had on offer, so was happy to try anything. Suffice to say, he enjoyed what he got. We had roasted almonds as nibbles, which was quiet unusual to your normal bar mixed nut selection. Some were dry roasted others were spiced dry roasted. Some peeled others not. All up, a lovely bar snack.

Pete ordered the burger for lunch which came with Stilton cheese, gherkins and mustard. Unfortunately he felt that the combination was too strong and didn’t work. May have been best to have changed the cheese to something less pungent, less strong, as three strong flavours together in a burger overpowered it all. Which was unfortunate as the meat patty on its own apparently was delicious. The bread bun wasn’t anything to write home about at all. The chips were cooked to perfection and presentation was excellent.

I had a poached egg on broccolini with a side order of steamed Kale. Delicious! The poached egg was runny and the meal was very tasty.  Presentation excellent!

Would I come back again. You bet cha! We just wouldn’t order the burger again.

I’ve also posted some photos around Primrose Hill as well as the famous view of London from Primrose Hill.

The Engineer – Primrose Hill

65 Gloucester Avenue

London

NW1 8JH

http://theengineerprimrosehill.co.uk/