Afternoon Tea at Sosharu

Afternoon tea in London is big business. The Ritz Hotel serves up to 400 every day and menus start at £54 (£30 for children) and to be honest it doesn’t get much better than this provided you can afford it. All the big Plazas with doormen in tails follow suit.

For a restaurant to serve afternoon tea is quite unusual. You have just finished serving lunch, kitchen is getting cleaned down, staff on a break, restaurant is being laid up for the evening service and those couple of hours are a vital respite between shows for all departments. Last thing you need is a coach load of people coming in for cake. Specialised service, extra pressure on the kitchen, very labour intensive pastry items that have to be just right, increased wastage, staff costs etc etc.

So why has Sosharu, a Japanese Restaurant in Farringdon, part of the Jason Atherton group, started serving tea. Well I was lucky enough to be invited to try it at an event hosted by Mash Purveyors and Weiss Chocolate. Regular readers will know that Mash always lay on a great spread and today was no exception with David Swain and Alex Jazevica both indahouse.

At 4.00pm on a Monday the restaurant is buzzing there are many familiar faces here, top chefs from the London restaurant scene, several pastry chefs checking things out, restaurateurs, foodies, the blogger elite. Head Chef Alex Craciun  and pastry chef Emily Argent are somewhere in the background working their socks off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table lay up was simple, classy and straight Sosharu. We started with Tuna Temaki, tartare of tuna, Tobiko (flying fish roe/not easy to harvest) on a Nori/Wakami/Tapioca (I,m guessing here) cracker basket thing ….bloody delicious total cucumber sandwich wipeout. Then Monaka, Foie Gras, Muscatel Grapes (Mash at their best) Weiss praline powder all contained in an air dried biscuit sandwich thing that defies description so I had to have a look inside before taking a bite.

Sweet things started with Melon Nigiri, watermelon like you have never tasted, clean, minimal sugar, flavour that lingers and shouts WATERMELON. I asked Emily  the Pastry Chef what was in it but she wouldn’t even hint at what she done to the watermelon.

Photo courtesy of the lovely lady I sat next to from Pure Waffle in Kensington

Next was a Strawberry and Green Tea Roll. Matcha Tea Roll with iced strawberry and Weiss white chocolate. We finished with Chocolate and Sesame Praline Dome. Skill, art, precision and taste, light meltinthemouth stuff that really showed off the quality of the Weiss Li Chu Vietnamese chocolate.

 

 

 

At £28 a go Sosharu Menu  is affordable luxury, innovative, and quite simply delicious. The range of teas is also a welcome change from Assam and Earl Grey (both of which I love) I tried Sencha Asamushi. As someone who has spent their entire life in the kitchen and have had the good fortune to work with some exceptional chefs some might say I have become very particular about what I eat….fussy….yes…..hard to please…..maybe.

I was blown away…get down there.

Big thank you to Mash for inviting me, Weiss for their amazing chocolate and party bag and Sosharu for deciding to up the game on that great British institution afternoon tea.

Sprig-A Vegan-Friendly Vegetarian Pop Up

sprig-platform1Sprig is a vegan friendly vegetarian pop up created by ex Dinner at Heston and Chiltern Firehouse chef Peter Pickering.

Soundbites was lucky enough to catch up with Peter during his latest event at the Brockley Mess, sample some dishes and also help out in the kitchen.

Peter’s cooking is light, respectful, informed and delicious. Vegetables are treated with the respect and care normally associated with fancy cuts of meat and fish, attention to detail and a passion for flavour are apparent in every mouthful.

sprig-snacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click Here to listen to the #soundbites interview with Peter. Also available onitunes, Android, Soundcloud

To find out more visit the Sprig website  or get tickets for his next pop up Click here

Move Over Maschler

Influential big name journalists dominate the Sunday supplements and PR companies whoooooosh them through to the best tables, chefs tasting menu, house cocktails and pre desserts doing what ever it takes to ensure a good review.

Top of the pile, and quite rightly so, is Fay Maschler, who reviewed me at Keats in Hampstead in 1984 and is still working hard today. Marina O’Loughlin, Jay Rayner, Giles Coren and A.A Gill all carry plenty of clout and just like Anton Ego imagescan make or break a restaurant with a sweep of their pen. Superfast broadband and social media have opened the doors to anyone with Wifi and a side order of savvy to have a go and the information superhighway is now clogged with bloggers and vloggers keen to get a piece of the action. Look a little deeper and there are plenty of enthusiastic and capable wannabe journalists and bloggers clawing their way to the top.

3 already having an impact are:

Cuisine Genie/Michel Roux Jnr

 

Cuisine Genie- A chef by trade (Dairy Clapham) and a writer by compulsion. The Genie has a regular column in the Evening Standard , writes a blog and recently interviewed Michel Roux Jnr for the Independent

(photo courtesy of Sky Moore Clube) 

She has hands on industry experience and understands food as both a crazy Irish chef and hungry diner. She cooks and writes with pluck and lashings of blarney. She’s great for neighbourhood joints rather than the Ritz or Sexy Fish and her lunch box recipes are pretty much on the money. Until the Genie is being whoooooshed to the very best tables you can catch up on all her work at http://www.cuisinegenie.ie or follow her Twitter @cuisine_genie

Clerkenwell boy

 

Clerkenwell Boy aka Tim is a very busy  thirtysomething Australian foodie eating all over town and best known for his image led campaign.

https://instagram.com/ClerkenwellBoyEC1/ Photos show it as it is and you usually only get a couple of lines of text but that doesn’t put people off and he boasts 117,000 followers on Instagram. He is very up to date with all the new openings so must already enjoy a certain Whoooosh factor to get a table. Regular columns in Time Out, Evening Standard, Guardian Food, Observer Magazine means he is already quietly reaching for the stars.

Who is Clerkenwell Boy? Find out here http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/sep/13/who-is-clerkenwell-boy-london-foodie-superhero

Most comprehensive and professional is Kang Leongs London Eater. Kang LeongThis is a full on and very impressive restaurant blog, high quality photos and full descriptions including prices, he makes you want to follow him about. He has eaten just about everywhere and his site is really easy to navigate and fun too. He must spend all his time eating out and typing up reviews. Better than Time Out restaurant guide and the A.A.  to boot http://londoneater.com/

 

Love your old cook books

A friend recently leant me a couple of old cookery books she picked up rummaging second hand shops in Kennington Sarf London. She is one of those annoying people who seem to be just browsing but always comes away with something rare or special.

There are no glossy pictures in these books, in fact no pictures at all, no oven temperature charts, conversion tables, trendy chapter headings or suggested Spotify playlists. These books score zero on the coffee table scale and yet I found myself reading both of them from cover to cover and then started digging out a few I had on the shelf at home.

The first was Arabella Boxer’s Book of English Cookery (1991)…not that long ago…. Arabella BoxerThrough reminiscences of her childhood she charts the changing trends and fads in town and country dining between the wars. Big yawn, not for a minute.

The world of the professional chef had already been permanently changed with the publishing of Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire in 1903, over 5000 recipes and still in use today, although every restaurant kitchen had a copy this was not for dinner party cooks or hostesses. Boxer pays tribute to the society darlings, Nancy Astor, Jessica Mitford “it took the butler 6 minutes to walk from the kitchen to the dining room at Chatsworth” then comes Boulestin and many more leading on to Constance Spry (1942) and Elizabeth David (1950) and they pave the way for Robert Carrier, Jane Grigson, our Delia, and the road to Saturday Kitchen and home cooking as we know it today.

Her recipes are scattered with anecdotes and lots of name-dropping, but it’s soooooo readable. Potted shrimp sandwiches, Yeah, “I remember these from Goodwood races”, the picnic section closes with a recipe for sloe gin. Look a little deeper and there’s water biscuits here too.

The second book was Countryman’s Cooking by W.M.W Fowler (1965).

Countryman's CookingWhat a guy, totally outspoken, views on everything, not a trained chef or cook opens with “This book is written for men. Men who, through choice or circumstance, live on their own, so that they can give a small dinner party and at the same time remain on speaking terms with their friends”

He goes on to totally equip your bachelor kitchen including how many butchers hooks you will need (6 by the way), gives no-nonsense easy to follow instruction on butchery, the preparation and cooking of furred and feathered game, hunting, shooting, fishing and lots more. He doesn’t do desserts, probably just as well, and closes with a full page of instructions for perfect Brussels Sprouts; the back cover has his recipe for beer and a great quote “my weak will is one of my most prized possessions”.

Having read these very quickly I found myself sorting through the shelves at home, so pleased to find my grandmothers cook book Olio Cookbook (1918) Olio Cookbookwith a forward to mothers and housekeepers, tips on everything, vegetarian recipes, how to harden a newly enamelled bath, oxtail jelly, pickled lemons

931 Cucumber should always be sliced first from the thick end……we know now.

Not a book, a DIY manual for life. There is nothing the modern housewife/househusband can’t make or fix armed with a copy of this!

And saving the best till last…when learning my trade cooking in Paris in 1981 I was asked to make a Foie Gras Terrine  for a friend to take to the family celebrations for St Sylvestre. He thanked me with a copy of Le Nouveau Cuisinier Royal & Bourgois (1720) by Paul Prudhome. Prudhome

 

Written in old French and sometimes quite difficult to read these guys were cooking everything we have today Crayfish & Asparagus, Ris de Veau aux Truffes and Partridge with Morel mushrooms and Cognac.

 

 

These books are real gems and we have all got them at home, have a look on your bookshelves, the boxes in the loft, ask your Nan!

So what’s changed?……Take a short trip in the time machine…….you wake up to Heston’s Snail Porridge and deep fried Mars bars. How do they do that?

Modern cookbooks look great, lots of arty photos, you flip through, maybe try a couple of recipes, but why are they always just a bit too complicated and it never looks anything like the illustration, so it goes back on the coffee table….yeah I’ve got the new Jamiepollenstebulifrenchlaundry cookbook…its great.

Nice quote from Prue Leith recently “Clever Chefs? They’ve lost the plot”

Post script.  Most of the things I grumble about have got nothing to do with chefs. I have spent my entire life in the kitchen and have been very fortunate to meet and work with the most amazing, dedicated, talented and lovely people on the planet. They work stupid hours in bloody hot kitchens creating absolutely delicious food that some  moron  covers in ketchup and then slags off on Tripadvisor….. Its marketing, publishers, sales, branding, image rights, Tah dah and all that chews me off. I think I’ll stop there!

A Grand Day Out-Mash ‘N Secretts

Few large companies manage to stay in touch with their grass roots customer base. The bigger they become the more corporate the management and the less personal the service with little or no interaction with their most valuable asset……..their customers. Newsletters and  Nectar cards just don’t bridge the gap.

What a great surprise then to be invited to “A Grand Day Out” by Mash Purveyors.

This family run business that is now a household name in every professional kitchen in London has just moved to a new multimillion pound state of the art site near Wembley Stadium. Mash HQ

From humble beginnings peddling spuds in Spitalfields market in the early 1800’s

Early Mash

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mash is now one of the most respected suppliers to the restaurant trade in the capital working with the most demanding and difficult clientele…professional chefs……but they haven’t lost touch with their customers and continue to show just how important we are.

Monday morning then 9.00am and 60 chefs from all over London arrived at Mash HQ to be greeted with a Champagne breakfast, croissants, delicious cherries, smoked salmon sliders and much more. After breakfast (sorry no photos, haven’t mastered holding a champagne glass, smoked salmon and an iphone yet!!) we were ushered onto  luxury coaches and taken to another family run business with a special history Secretts Farm in Milford near Godalming.

Here we were welcomed by the family, refreshed with cold drinks and then treated to a brilliant tour of the farm. Secretts grow a huge range of products, both avant garde and heritage, for cooks and chefs throughout the south. Our tour guide was Greg Secrett, Greg Secrett4th generation,  enthusiastic, knowledgeable, entertaining and informative, he clearly wasn’t reading a script and lives and breaths the family business passing on his love of the land and produce to his audience. We saw salsify flowers, red mustard frills, land cress, heritage beetroot, rainbow chard, strawberries, red currants, composting, potting, pruning and of course some weeding too.

Nothing is held in stock and every item is picked to order, not an easy job as Mash send down a lorry to collect orders for London’s top restaurants everyday at noon. The same traditional family values are fundamental to both businesses which is probably why they work so well together. After the tour, more hospitality as we were treated to a wonderful hog roast, cold beers and  strawberries from the farm (too busy eating to take any photos). The day finishes with a return trip to London and a tour of the new Mash HQ. This huge state of the art facility has packing rooms, cold storage, ripening rooms, foraging tables, drying rooms (wild mushrooms), preparation tables etc. The size of the investment and attention to detail is staggering.

Needless to say all the lucky chefs who attended the day were blown away by the people they met, the good old fashioned hospitality, care and generosity of the invitation. We were all inspired by the passion for the land and farming and by the range of produce available for our kitchens. Every chef went away happy, feeling valued, and motivated……what a shame the banking industry can’t learn from this.

So thank you Mash and thank you Secretts and please put me down for next year!

 

 

Mash….Food of the Gods.

As Head Chef of one of London’s most fashionable fine dining restaurants in the early 1980’s I was a regular visitor to Covent Garden Market buying the best fruit and vegetables for my kitchen. In those days the most exotic veg on the market was Mangetout and the trending salad leaves Lollo Rosso. The market was a busy wholesale environment, loading, unloading, buying, selling, haggling, lots of swearing …………..and the market café ……always full.

Barrow BoyAll that has changed, the old buyers walk busy with boxes of produce and barrow boys is long gone. Supermarkets now account for a huge proportion of the fruit and veg sales in the country and have their own, packing and processing plants, lots of the produce, though pretty to look at, lacks flavour, supermarket fruit never ripens it just goes off!……

Lets do Supermarkets another time…..

Sounds a bit bleak ……but all is not lost and the lucky chefs cooking today have a fantastic choice of produce to use on their menus. New… Exotic …Heritage… Wild… .Foraged….Forced…Flown in…..that they can Vac Pac ….Dehydrate …..Gel …..Evaporate ….Slow Cook …..Compress and Ferment.

A new breed of supplier has had to evolve to cater for this.

MashStanding head and shoulders above the rest is Mash Purveyors a family business established by Joseph Mash in the 1820’s.

This is still a family business and the team at Mash have a tireless energy and passion for their trade. They are working closely with growers from all over the world to develop, import and promote this produce. They are a thoroughly modern company but with traditional core values, strong on customer service, emphatic about food provenance and so passionate about quality. From this, and not overnight, they have created their own unique niche market. Others will follow suit and copy for sure but Mash are now champions of every Michelin star kitchen in the capital and thoroughly deserved.

David SwainEarlier this week I was fortunate to spend a totally inspirational morning with one of the company directors David Swain tasting produce, learning about out how they source, stock and deliver the fantastic array of ingredients they now have on offer. David is so passionate and committed and knowledgeable it was a pleasure to just walk alongside him as we toured the storeroom.

Any chef short of ideas or inspiration should just spend 20 minutes here to be completely blown away. In the old days veg was an accompaniment to meat and usually shared the plate with a potato. Chefs today have out of this world produce to choose from. I saw Calcot onions from Tarragona, Butterfly Sorrel flowers, delicious Apple Blossom, Sea Fennel, 3 Cornered Wild Garlic, (60Kg foraged each week)

Fiddleback Ferns, Forced Sea Kale, Friseline, Oca Tubers, Skirret, Finger Limes from Australia, Sea Beet, the most delicious Muscatel Grapes, was like eating wine, new season Gariguette Strawberries, perfectly graded Leeks, Goldrush Apples, Olroyds Rhubarb (2 grades) Israeli Etrog and superb Black Truffles

The customer base at Mash includes all the top London restaurants, these chefs are at the peak of their careers, they are incredibly demanding, standards are exceptionally high and they do not tolerate second rate produce or sloppy service. Mash are delivering a unique product in this very challenging environment and raising the bar every day.

I was Gobsmacked…………….

 

 

 

Robert Parker Wine Advocate….A Matter of Taste…

Saatchi GalleryAlthough recently retired Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate self appointed wine guru lives on and had a showcase tasting at London Saatchi Gallery on Saturday. With over 600 wines and 900 visitors this was a major tasting event the entry qualifications were simple, all wines boasted a minimum of 90 Parker points.

Quite a show. The entire catalogue was available online so before visiting I shortlisted a selection of wines to taste. On arrival registration was all very quick , quite how the cloakroom attendant managed is a mystery, but navigating the catalogue and tables not so simple. Finding wines in the list when you were at a table or the location specific wines from the list proved quite difficult. This made it more and more complicated to create your own tasting notes on wines and after a while I left the catalogue, browsed wines freely and kept my own notes. This did result in me missing wines I had preselected for tasting notably the excellent Gonzales Byass range from Spain and the whole of Alsace!!!

CatalogueAll the wines were of an exceptional standard though the allocation of Parker points became a major subject for discussion. I tasted a Viognier from Australia (93) that was fresh, full of fruit, clearly Viognier but rather 2 dimensional with no subtleties or prospect to evolve followed by Jaboulet Condrieu 2012 (91) that was rich, complex, oaky, seductive and magnificent, I know which I prefer.

In general the old world exhibitors were showing older vintages, Gassin 2005, La Fleur de Petrus 2009, La Lagune 2004 and the New World the current release, nearly all the Aussie reds were 2012. The effect of bottle age was very clear. Having said that the best part of the day for me was definitely the Penfold table. 11 wines, some older vintages and a very knowledgeable team. Not having tasted Grange before they took me through a tutored introduction to Penfolds tasting 5 wines from the table starting with Bin 28, through Bin 389 and RWT and finishing with Grange 2009 (97). Thank you to Rohan Anderson for your time and attention especially with 900 other people queuing up for a slurp.

Next-door was Wynns Riddock also a strong table with Messenger 2010 (92)the clear winner. Other Aussie that showed well were Torbreck Descendant 2010 (96) and Run Rig (100)…Where do you go after that?

Other wines I really enjoyed were Elio Grasso Barolo (95), Harlan Estate Red (98+), Kistler Pinot Noir (90) and Shafer Stags Leap 2002 (100). From France La Lagune 2004 (90) in Jereboam, La Fleur Petrus 2009 (97), Jaboulet Pape de Terre 2010 (94), Remoissenet Mersault Blagny 2012 (91), were all excellent, some stunning Tokay Essencia 2007 (99) just released and still without a label and my personal favourite from the day Nicolas Catena Zapata 2004 (98+).

There were disappointments too, wines I had enjoyed in years past that I was keen to catch up with. Quinta de la Rosa 2012 (92) was one….. it just seemed flat and dull. I am sure if I was enjoying supper with friends this wine would have been delicious, Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante Allouette 2013 (93)  and Pichon Longueville 2005 (94) also had a bad day.Pichon Longueville 2005

Maybe these wines were just overshadowed by the sheer weight of quality on offer…. who knows …..we were certainly by-passing so many outstanding wines …..but there just wasn’t time to taste everything.

Another major plus was the ambience. 900 people all swirling, sniffing and spitting out on 3 floors can be quite intimidating and previous experience of large trade tastings has not always been positive, they can be over crowded, quite aggressive, making the wines difficult to enjoy. This wasn’t like that at all ….a good mix of people, all interested in wine, yes a few big names from the trade were there of course but there seemed to be plenty of time to talk to growers and other tasters. I was lucky enough to spend time with Laura Catena, Emma Cullen, Elio Grasso and others ..thank you all for your time.

Retail merchants were also on duty notable Yapp Brothers, Farr Vintners, Liberty and Justerini & Brooks. In addition to the fantastic selection of wines there were also tutored master classes available covering Consummate Chardonnay, Dominus Estate, Chapoutier and Penfolds plus others but these were all extra…and we didn’t really need them……there was so much choice.

All in all a fabulous day with outstanding wines and the opportunity to talk to growers and listen to them describing their work and wines with such passion.

Finally a massive thank you to brother Matthew for getting me a ticket…

 

C is for Curry

The British public has an insatiable appetite for curry  even though for many of us the local Chicken Tikka Masala is little more than pink slop hiding a few bits of chicken (if you are lucky).

Suffer no more!

There is a growing band of fabulous restaurants serving delicious, innovative and authentic regional Indian cuisine often pioneered by inspirational chefs or restaurateurs who are setting a new benchmark for the genre. These are not new boys on the block but dedicated professionals working tirelessly to  raise the bar and deliver their dream.

To kick off here are 4 wonderful restaurants, leaders in their field and all well worth a special visit.

 

1.Chilli Pickle-Brighton Chilli Pickle Cartoon

The Chilli Pickle , now in its 9th year, is a unique venue created and run by Dawn & Alun Sperring, reflecting and inspired by years of travel throughout the Indian sub continent. Serving an ever evolving menu of regional dishes gleaned from regular trips to India The Chilli Pickle serves street food, Thali and railway trays, Nepalese Momo, Goan Red Bream , Dosa and Tandoori dishes. The vibe is canteen rather than fine dining  but that is not reflected in the quality of the food. Chilli Pickle  has held 2AA rosettes every year since 2009, voted in the top 100 restaurants in the UK every year since 2011, Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2010 and much more. Alun oversees a multicultural kitchen with chefs from all regions. Presentation is simple and colourful, flavours authentic rooted firmly in the culture of and heritage of the continent. This restaurant is always busy and is active in the Brighton street scene, if you can’t get a table then order a take away as they offer a fabulous home delivery service.

When to go: Great place for a Christmas Party or drop in street food

What to eat: Chefs set price Christmas menu

17 Jubilee St, Brighton, BN1 1GE

Tel: 01273 900383

http://thechillipickle.com/restaurant/

 

2. The Purple Poppadom, Cardiff

The Purple Poppadom is the multi award winning nouvelle Indian cuisine creation of the most respected master chef Anand George.Anand George Originally from Kerala Anand’s culinary heritage and passion for excellence are evident in everything he does. Metropolitan in style this chic restaurant serves cutting edge Indian cuisine. Culinary perfection, innovative presentation, intense flavours and professional restaurant service all add to make The Purple Poppadom a very special venue.

A couple of dishes from the current menu;

Nandu Trio £9.50-Crispy soft shell crab dusted with curry leaves and garlic | Nandu Pillow – a spiced cake of crab encased in crispy breadcrumb | Warm salad of crab claw meat and sweetcorn, with turmeric and coconut

Nawabi Chicken £16.95-Chicken breast marinated with cardamom and mace cooked in tandoor, pickled chicken legs, sautéed turnip, black cabbage and quail’s egg

There is lots of choice, chefs tasting menu, a set menu for Christmas parties and a take away service; sides include Aloo, Paneer and Dal + excellent breads.

Anand also runs a cookery school, operates pop up events and hosts regular fundraising evenings for both local and national charities.

When to go: Special night out

What to eat: Choose from the New Seasons menu available with wine pairings

Upper Floor, 185a Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff, CF11 9AJ Tel: 029 2022 0026 

http://purplepoppadom.com/

 

3. Hazara, Belsize Park

hazara restaurant

Taj Banwait created Hazara out of a boarded up old corner shop in Belsize  Village. His hard work, dedication and commitment has been rewarded as he now has one of the finest Indian restaurants in North London. Heading up the kitchen is Shatrughan Rathore, formerly of Quilon. The menu takes the best from all over India and features dishes from the Punjab, Goa, Kashmir, Mumbai, Bengal and beyond. Excellent attention to detail is the standard here with skilled spice blending and delicate cooking.  The menu has lots of dishes you just don’t see elsewhere;

Samudri Sangam (Tamil Nadu) Ginger, Tamarind, Crispy Squid Rings And Sesame Seeds, Curry Leaves, Green Chilli And Yoghurt Tossed Shrimps, 

Methi Gota (Gujrati) Gram Flour And Fresh Fenugreek Dumpling

Machi Ka Sula (Rajasthan) Home Smoked Monkfish Marinated In Yoghurt, Onion, Clove, Cardamom And Carom Seeds

There is an excellent selection of vegetarian dishes and also maincourse sharing boards. Taj has put together a well chosen wine list, cocktails and Lassi as well as top notch bar snacks. Hazara also caters for private parties and home dining/take away service with its own online app.

hazara lifestyle

When to go: Supper mid week when you don’t feel like cooking

What to eat: Bar snacks, sharing boards

 

44 Belsize Lane, London, NW3 5AR

Tel: 0207 4331147

http://hazararestaurant.com/index.php

 

4. Itihaas-Birmingham

Raj Rana

Widely recognised as the pioneer of exquisite Indian cuisine in the Midlands Itihaas is the creation of restaurateur & entrepreneur Raj Rana.

 

This is a large venue with 5* dining on 2 floors.The  stunning restaurant blends contemporary and traditional. No expense has been spared and Itihaas has been awarded numerous accolades for its food, service and decor.  Downstairs, the luxurious Maharaja Suite  seats 60, and the Tiffin Room, the ultimate private dining for up to12 has its own  bar, library and butler! Food is 5* and service regal, this is simply one of the best Indian dining experiences available. Menus embrace dishes from the Maharajas, Moguls, British Raj and modern Hindustan. Sharing starters, dishes from Indo China, Chaat & Dosa, great seafood and breads all prepared with skill and passion.

Itihaas also has a fabulous Brasserie in Selfridges in Birmingham and caters for outside events. Raj is also a tireless fundraiser for local and national charities making Itihaas a cornerstone of the community.Itihaas-Brasseries-selfridges

When to go: Dinner any time or when shopping in town

What to eat: Anything that takes your fancy, it is all delicious

18 Fleet St, Birmingham, B3 1JL

Tel:  0121 212 3383

http://www.itihaas.co.uk/

 

 

Kouzu, Japanese Fine Dining Belgravia

kouzutreeYears in the development and 12 months of building work turning a Grade 2 listed building in Belgravia into a flagship fine dining 良い食事 Japanese restaurant. Kouzu is now open for business.

Nestled behind Eaton Square, across from the historic Goring Hotel Kouzu provides an exquisite dining experience on 3 floors including a floating mezzanine1st floor restaurant and live sushi bar, ground floor Manhattan style bar and restaurant and secret kitchen chefs table in the basement. Décor by Jasmine Gokmen is stunning, understated, great attention to detail with fabrics sourced direct from Japan, the lobby is dominated by a fabulous chandelier made from hand made cocoons, the restaurant logo is a butterfly, space is simple, altruistic, modern but with respect for the culture and traditions it embraces.

The kitchen is run by one of the grand masters of Japanese cuisine, コック長 Kyoichi Kai

kyoichi Kai

His career spans Nobu, Zuma London, Kiku Paris and the Arts Club. He has created menus that combine the heritage of Japan with cutting edge contemporary dining. Flavours are intense, presentation stunning; quality of ingredients is paramount. His kitchen team includes some of London’s most talented and celebrated Japanese chefs.

寿司The live Sushi bar showcases Nigiri, Makimon, New Stream Sashimi and much more. We dined on Sliced yellow tail, shiso, myoga, ginger, spring onion, ponzu truffle dressing, Charcaol Tataki Tori, Sliced with yuzu kosho, pickled courgette and a stunning Roasted Black cod with miso ,fennel & celery salad

The menu also includes Tempura dishes, Tukune, Beef and Lamb from the chargrill, chefs Omakase menu and plenty more. There is also a great snack menu with Chicken Wing Ice Temperature and Kushiage (little skewers of grilled meat and fish)

The high standards in the kitchen are mirrored in the restaurant, service is immaculate, friendly and professional. Yasuhiro Komatsu of Chisou takes the helm as General Manager and Kenichi Kakita runs the restaurants. The Manhattan style bar features great cocktails, an impressive collection of Single Malts, Gins, Vodkas, Shouchu and of course sake.

Kouzu-restaurant

Kouzu has set a new benchmark for informal and highly creative Japanese dining in London.

 

 

 

When to go: Chill with drinks & Sushi straight after work

What to eat: Black Cod, Awesome Nibbles or Chefs Omakase menu

21 Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W  0JW

Tel: 0207 7307043

http://kouzu.co.uk/

 

 

The Dairy, Clapham

Wild FlowersLunch on Saturday at the Dairy in Clapham was quite simply one of the most beautiful meals this year. Simple decor, delicate food, pure flavours, no fuss and attentive service from staff who are in control and confident. Everything here is understated and appears casual but with excellent attention to detail, lovely wild flowers, proper ice cubes, heavy stoneware, linen napkins, exquisit food; they know they are good but are not rubbing your nose in it. The skill base and passion in the kitchen is evident in every mouthful, these chefs are quite simply “bloody awesome” and leading the way, chefs all over town will be copying these guys trying to catch up.

We hadn’t booked, sat near the window on lab stools and a lovely table crafted from reclaimed timber. The menu has lots of choice and includes a 4 course set lunch at £25 (Great value) and an evening 7 course tasting menu for £45 that can be served with a flight of wines. Advised by our waitress we picked a selection of dishes; you start with a complimentary canape, ours was Pumpkin and Roquefort……delicious ……this really set the tone for what was to follow…….. outstanding homemade malted sourdough is served warm with whipped butter ( smoked bone marrow I think).

We chose Squid with Grapefruit, Tartare of Hare with Salsify, Beetroot with Goats Curd and Bantam Egg with Wild Mushrooms and charred Celery. The raw hare was just sublime, like nothing I had eaten before, real gamey flavour, soft texture and although the portions are all starter size, very nourishing. The Beetroot and Goats Curd so delicate, every mouthful special, no evidence of any seasoning but perfectly balanced.  We finished with a Salted Caramel, Cacoa and Malted Barley Ice-Cream, superb quality dark chocolate, and super light ice-cream. Coffee was also excellent and came some lovely little petit fours served in an old tin. The Dairy has an interesting drinks list, beers from Brixton and Bermondsey, wines by the gass start at £5.50 and the full list has got lots of choice, mainly old world with a strong selection from Italy. We left having shared 5 small dishes but were perfectly sated and very happy, the whole place puts a smile on your face. Our bill was £46, very good value for money…..will be going back very soon!

Robin Gill, the chef, and his wife Sarah should be very proud of what they have created, an exceptional dining experience with fabulous, innovative food, a tangible comfort factor and no nonsense. They are opening a Deli next door in the new Year and a second restaurant, The Manor (with Dean Parker heading up the kitchen) a few streets away  very soon. They currently grow quite a lot for the restaurant on their roof garden  and also keep bees, producing their own honey.

The Dairy

When to go: Every time you are in Clapham.

What to eat: Tasting menu

15 The Pavement, SW4 0HY

Tel:  020 7622 4165

http://www.the-dairy.co.uk/