Friday, December 14, 2007

Bistro Ari & David

Bistro Ari & David

Tasting Menu

Christmas 2007

Exmouth Market

Waterloos & Champagne

Hapsburg Beet & Date Caviar

Thoroddsson-caught Salmon w/Horseradish Cream

Coquilles St Jacques Nobu Style

Marrow & Herb Salad on Toast

Shroom Stroganoff

Fancy Cream of Corn, Burnt Nut Oil
Foie Gras Bonbon
Helix Pomatia Mar & Montunya

Home-made Fontina & Porcini Cappelletti, Sirloin Brodo

Ice-Cold Cavaillon Carpaccio

Pepper-Crusted Black Cod with Teriyaki Reduction
18 hour Beef with 2 Anti-Cuchos

Salade Exotique Redux

Bruno's Surprise

Roasted Vanilla-Infused Pineapple, Citrus Mascarpone

Stilton & Port

Coffee Fresh Mint Tea



Will post the recipes over the next few days.

Stewed Pork Shoulder

This is a great favourite of mine that I’ve been making for many years but I’ve long since forgotten where it came from. It may have been experimentation but I rather suspect it came from reading an old Raymond Olivier cookbook as there was I period when I cocked almost exclusively from his magnum opus. That was also when I really learned to cook meat. Unfortunately the only copy of that cookbook I’ve ever had access to is my sister’s. A few years ago I search high and low in Parisian bookstores for a copy but none was to be found.

The basic idea behind this recipe is a one pot meal whereby all the ingredients slowly simmer together until they have achieved a sort of balanced taste whereby everything taste similarly but has very different texture. You will also get a sauce that is the most extraordinary concentrations of taste.

Ingredients (for four people):

  1. 1 ½ Kg boned pork shoulder;
  2. 1 Kg pork bones preferable from the shoulder but any decent butcher will have other bones to share. It is important that the bones not be too big otherwise they won’t fit in your roasting pot;
  3. 4 – 8 whole turnips clean, cut of the ends otherwise leave whole;
  4. 3 large carrots pealed and cut into 4 cm pieces;
  5. a bunch each rosemary & thyme;
  6. 1 bouquet garnie;
  7. A couple of bay leaves;
  8. 6 large cloves roughly sliced garlic;
  9. 1 large red onion sliced into thick disks;
  10. 1 litre good quality chicken or vegetable stock;
  11. 125 ml (normal wine glass) red wine vinegar, or a mix of red wine and some other vinegar. The other night I used vinegar made from a mixture of red berries that worked extremely well. Red wine also works but you will need a larger quantity to get the right amount of acidity. Don’t use balsamic as it completely changes the nature of the sauce;
  12. 30 ml dark soy sauce;
  13. Olive oil and a tablespoon of butter;
  14. Salt and black pepper to taste.

Make about 12 deep incisions (at least half way through) into the pork shoulder and stuff with about half the sliced garlic and as much rosemary and thyme as will fit in there. In a very hot stewing pot brown the pork shoulder on all sides remove from the pot.

Lower the heat to medium and add about a tablespoon of olive oil, the onion and garlic and fry until the onion is soft. Add in the vegetables and butter fry until slightly caramelized. This step is not really all that important but it does make the veggies a little bit more interesting.

Add back the shoulder with the fat and skin facing upwards. Arrange the bones around the shoulder add in the bay leaves and bouquet garnie before pouring over the vinegar and boiling off the alcohol. Add in the stock, soy and season to taste.

Turn up the heat and when boiling transfer to a 160 degrees oven (set at under over). Leave in there for 4 hours. You can shorten the cooking time by raising the temperature but as the sauce will evaporate faster you will need more liquid.

Not harmed by adding olives particularly large black ones.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Green Tea Purée

Green Pea Purée is basically mushy peas with pretensions but one of those dishes that are extremely simple yet versatile. I do manage to introduce some complexity but not all that much.


o 500 grams fresh shelled or frozen peas, thawed and drained;

o 3 leeks roughly chopped (white and light green parts only);

o 2 roughly sliced shallots;

o 2 chopped garlic cloves;

o 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon (or herb of your choice);

o Olive oil and/or butter;

o 250 ml good quality vegetable broth;

o 250 greek style yogurt;

o Salt & reshly ground pepper to taste;

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron pan and sweat the leeks, shallots and garlic until transparent. Add most of the herbs, salt and pepper and cook another 30 seconds or so.

Add the peas and stock and bring to boil let simmer until the liquid has reduced by about a third. Take the peas off the heat and let cool until lukewarm, purée in a blender. Add remaining herbs.

Just before serving reheat the purée and add about half the yogurt. Taste the purée and add more yogurt until you have achieved the desired thickness. You could use crème frais instead of the yogurt and butter instead of the olive oil but I find the at you get very little additional taste for the extra calories.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fettuccine with mushrooms emulsified butter & lemon sauce


  1. 150 grams of fettuccine
  2. 50 grams shiitake thinly sliced
  3. 50 grams field mushrooms thinly sliced
  4. 50 grams ( or any other type of mushroom you happen to have including dried mushrooms in which case keep some of the liquid from reconstituting the dried mushrooms and add a little to the pasta sauce)
  5. 100g unsalted butter
  6. 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  7. 2 tbsp of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  8. 2 tbsp of thyme
  9. 1 tiny pinch of dried chilli
  10. half a lemon

In half of the butter cook all the mushrooms and garlic until ready or about 10 minutes. When two minutes remain the parsley, thyme, chilli, the juice of the lemon, some of the dried mushroom liquid and the rest of the butter. Whisk the butter into the sauce so that it emulsifies, season with salt and pepper.

As you where cooking the mushrooms you should have been cooking the pasta in salted boiling water. Take the pasta out of the water and dry it when it is still quite firm then toss it in the mushroom sauce. Some parmesan on top and serve.

My Perfect Mashed Potato

Making mash begins with selecting the right potatoes, boiling them correctly, mashing and then adding a source of fat and liquid. Everything else is flavoring.

The potato should be as starchy as possible and in the UK that usually means King Edward potatoes. Sometimes you can get Yukon gold and Russets but I don’t think they are grown in the UK. Second choices are Maris Piper and a potato called Desiree that I almost never see in the shops. According to the British Potato Council the King Edward is a 6 on a 10 scale in starchiness and the other two are a five. Presumably, 10 is pure starch and not quite achievable. Your baking potato would be about a 3 on the same scale according to the potato experts at the council.

I steam the potatoes as that yields tender and dry potatoes which extremely important. If too much of the starchy boiling water comes along with the potatoes the mash becomes too liquid and the glue like quality that mash sometimes has can also be caused for by the water. If you boil the potatoes in salty water start with hot water and after the potatoes are done but them back into the pot over low heat to dry off. Whichever method you use the most important point is to cook the potatoes to a point where they are tender but not falling apart. Never undercook the potatoes as they will become gummy when you mash them.

Ideally you should mash the potatoes immediately after cooking them as they are more want to go lumpy if you allow them to go cold. I prefer my mash quite rustic and grainy rather than the very smooth mash one usually gets in restaurants. This does not imply my mash is not smooth as I often push it through a sieve to get a finer texture. I however, never use a mixer or a blender for mashing although that is very much an accepted professional method. I always use the kind of specialised whisk that kitchen stores sell and quite possibly call a potato masher. The important tip about using the masher is to only use an up and down motion. If you make a circular motion you will pull out/extend the potato and get the glue like quality I mentioned above.

The next step is to add the fat, i.e. oil, milk cream and/or butter. All typical classical recipes call for milk or cream and butter I however have always preferred olive oil to milk or cream. Using cream make the mash fluffy and mousseline, which works in conjunction with some food such as pork neck and lobster. Milk will make for a less creamy but still rich, if less so, mash that is good with most food (certainly poultry and fish) but in my humble opinion not tasty enough to cope with a steak or game. That being said even when I use mostly olive oil I do add a little bit of milk.

The quantity to use varies a bit according to what the ultimate use of the mash will be and also how starchy the potatoes are which can vary depending on the time of year. Storage also matters as if the storage temperature is too hot sugar will convert to starch. You consequently need to heat more milk or oil than you expect to need and add it as needed. I use a rule of thump that you need 25% of the volume of the potato as milk/oil and about 100 grams butter per kilo of potato.

Whatever the source of the fat it has to be hot before use so scald the milk, and heat the butter and oil until warm but not boiling. You can add the butter at anytime so I tend to heat it with the oil. Make sure the potatoes are smooth before adding any liquid as you will not be able to get the lumps out afterwards.

You can season the mash at any time although I tend not to leave it too late as once you have mashed the potatoes you do not want to be turning them over to get the seasoning in. Nutmeg is a classic addition to mash and supposedly it removes the taste of storage that potatoes can have at the end of winter. I’m not a fan. Salt and white pepper are a must – always white pepper as black looks odd and is too strong. To this you can add almost anything. Truffles, boiled vegetables, mustard etc it all depends on what you will be eating with the mash.

Keep in mind that if you leave mash to sit the starch will cause it to become blander. So if you are not using the mash immediately make it tastier than you want it to be when served.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Menu 22 September 2007

  • Citrus Tiger Shrimp in Jar;
  • Bacon-wrapped Monkfish with Caper & Cornichon Mayo;
  • Home-made Tortelle stuffed with Fontina with Stewed Portobello Mushrooms and Reef Reduction;
  • Roasted Haunch of Roebuck Bourguignon style with Roast Garlic Mash and Green Pea Puree;
  • Cheese.

The Shrimp in Jar dish is my attempt at replicating something I had at Jade at 36 in Shanghai. Basically, Tiger Shrimp, Yuzu juice, orange juice, lemongrass and a pinch of salt and pepper in a firmly closed Kilner jar covered in boiling water for 45 minutes. This allows the shrimp to steam while releasing its own juices and absorbing the combination of herbs and citrus juices. 45 minutes also is a very long cooking time for shrimp as you would expect it to go chewy. This method however, has the classic stewing effect in that the shrimp basically goes through the chewy stage and becomes moist and tender again.

The Yuzu juice was my addition as at Jade they only use orange juice and I wonder if it made a difference as recipe although very, very good was not as earth-shattering as I remember it from the restaurant. I served the Shrimp with white rice that I flavoured slightly with Old Bay Seasoning so that we would have something to carry the juices. The combination of Old Bay and the citrus juices turned out to be perfect.

The monkfish was prepared by my friend David and I’ll post it if he can be persuaded to yield the recipe.

Both of the dishes above where served with a Pouilly Fuisse...

The Fontina stuffed Tortelle is made using what for me has become the classic method, namely I talk David into making it for me. What he does though is make your basic homemade tortelle i.e. bigish pasta parcels, filled with fontina cheese and black pepper. Portobello mushroom (they where actually a replacement for the black truffle shavings we did not have) where stewed with salt and pepper for an hour in a 180 degrees hot oven. They where then sliced thinly and added on top of the tortelle.

My contribution to the tortelle was the beef reduction. This was quite a fancy sauce as I bought two fairly decent steaks (about 250 grams total) from the Ginger Pig and fried them up before boiling the hell out of them. In with the steaks I put about 400 ml of water, 4 largish leaves of sage, a couple of carrots, an onion, a garlic clove, celery stick and salt and pepper. I then let the mix simmer until the water was reduced by 2/3rd and the taste was quite strong. At this point I put the reduction through a sieve to get rid of the vegetables and steaks.

I thickened the sauce with a large spoonful of the potato mash below. The final step is to reheat the sauce just before serving on the tortelle and melting about 30 – 40 grams of grated Fontina in the sauce.

Served with the rather excellent Barolo that Toby brought and we had intended to drink with the Roebuck!

The Roasted Haunch of Roebuck Bourguignon style with Mash and Green Pea Puree was a bit of an invention although none of the actual preparations are new in any way. Essentially, I wanted the taste of beef bourguignon without having to stew the venison which would have been a bit of a sacrilege. Given that my supply chain of Roebuck involves sending James to Scotland too shoot the things I am not going to waste it by stewing it. The alternative to stewing is to have the bourguignon taste in the sauce and, as I had it, in the potato mash.

To roast the Haunch of Roebuck I start by inserting a pairing knife into the large muscles on the haunch and pushing quartered cloves of garlic down the hole. It is very tempting to push some source of fat (butter or bacon come to mind) after the garlic but I resisted. Finally, season the haunch with salt, pepper and olive oil and let stand for at least an hour.

You then sear the meat on a very hot stewing pan for 3 – 4 minutes a side. It is very important to add oil to the pan before the meat as roebuck is so completely devoid of any fat that it won’t sear properly. Just before finishing the searing process I like to flambé the haunch in brandy. This is not strictly speaking necessary and actually adds more to the sauce than the taste of the meat but it sure is fun. When the alcohol has burned off the brandy add about 300 ml of red wine, a few sprigs of rosemary and roast for about 12 minutes per kilo of meat. When ready allow the haunch to settle for about 10 min before serving. Keep the red wine sauce.

The sauce has three basic components, a broth made from bones and meat of the roebuck, the sauce that comes of the haunch as it roasts and lardoons, shallots and spring onion that have been separately fried in butter. I made the broth by boiling the lower part of the haunch (roasted before use), some meat cuttings, carrots, onions, celery, bouquet garni and water. As the most important of these three is the broth it is imperative not to let David reduce it to nothing. This unfortunately is what I did so I had super concentrated meat broth but no volume. Luckily, there was enough of the red wine broth of the haunch to make up a sauce when I combined the two.

The final step in making the sauce is to fry lardoons (200gr), spring onion (full bunch cut into 2 cm pieces), and roughly chopped shallot (2 big ones) in butter at low heat. It is best to start with the bacon at higher temperature then lower the heat after a couple of minutes before adding the onions. When the onions are soft and yellowish transfer them along with the lardoons to the sauce but make sure to retain the remaining butter/fat in the pan.

Potato mash, I’m actually going to write up separately how I made that as I, being the geek that I am, conducted extensive research into how to make the perfect mash. So this post starts with the assumption that I’ve already got a large bowl of potato mash sitting next to the stove.

To roast the garlic I chopped three garlic cloves and a large shallot finely and put them in an oven proof ceramic jar with white wine, butter, salt and white ground pepper. I used about a table spoon of butter and enough white wine to cover everything or about 50 ml. Then I covered the jar with aluminium foil and roasted it for an hour in a 180 degrees oven. This produces a paste that you fold into the mashed potatoes.

The final step just before serving is to add the enough of the potato mash to the pan where you fried the lardoons and just swish it around until it’s absorbed all the remaining butter and fat. I never said this was health food!

The last bit of the Roebuck recipe was to make the Green Pea Puree which is essentially just posh mushy peas. I’ve made the recipe sufficiently complex to warrant a post by itself which I’ll post shortly.

Cheese was Anneau de Vic Bihl an un-pasteurised goat cheese from Arcachon in Aquitaine) & Saint Nectaire a Cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne. Both excellent and bought at the Fromagerie in Marylebone.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Friðrik V

Kaupvangsstræti 6
600 Akureyri
+354 461 5775

I vent hiking in Northern Iceland and used the opportunity to visit that most rare of things and exiting restaurant in Iceland outside Reykjavik. Fridrik V (the name not to honour some long dead Danish king, the owner’s name is simply Fridrik Valur) is actually some years old but has recently moved to an extremely smartly renovated former industrial building. I’m not sure but I believe it was an industrial meat processor of some sort.

Fridrik V is a pretty classic brasserie but very much with an Icelandic twist. So Icelandic ingredients feature very prominently and get used in innovative ways. I wanted to have their five course tasting menu but as we only managed to show up at 21.30 and it takes at least 3 hours to serve we decided to go a la carte. We had:

  1. Local lobster cooked in five different ways – this consisted of five lobster tails each cooked differently. The Icelandic lobster is properly known as Norway Lobster and it very much different from other lobster. It is the size of a large langoustine but tastes like a very tasty lobster and apparently it is of the same genus as regular lobster. There was lobster stewed in a cream sauce (very dull), lobster in teriyaki sauce (good, not great), grilled lobster with potato mash (very good, add some truffle to the mash and this would be great), and two other versions that I’ve forgotten;
  2. Carpaccio of beef with lemon oil and local cheese – ok. Reasonably good beef prepared properly;
  3. Lamb cooked in two ways served with Icelandic cabbage and wild thyme – The cabbage kind of disappeared but the wild thyme is the perfect partner for Iceland lamb that is just the most perfect ingredient. This is was lamb chops cooked perfectly and an absolutely perfect dish;
  4. Farmhouse ice cream from Holtsel in Eyjafjörður with fruits… locally made Italian Gelato… very good;
  5. KEA skyr a´la FRIÐRIK V - This dish was a real success. Icelandic skyr is a dairy product that resembles Greek yogurt or fromage blanc, it is however not the same. It is very versatile produce but rarely used as anything other than breakfast food. Fridrik however has worked out a method of using it as an absolutely brilliant dessert. The skyr was served as skyr brule (as in crème brule a really fantastic dish) skyramisu (as in tiramisu, this was also fantastic. Skyr is much more sour than the cream that would normally be used but I do not like tiramisu because its too rich), stirred skyr (skyr and local cream, this is a classic Icelandic dish and very good) … two short… do not remember.

A fantastic addition to the Icelandic restaurant flora.

Menu Saturday 11 August 2007

  1. Brandade aux Mojo Rojo
  2. Tiger Prawn Risotto
  3. Pan Fried & Lemmon marinated Cod with Asparagus and Coriander Mousse
  4. Mixed Berries with Mint and Sweet Wine

The Brandade is exactly as per the recipe of Mai 29 ’07 and the Mojo Rojo as per this recipe. Still tastes great. Served with Pinot Gricio from Alte Aldice that was a little bit overpowered but worked fine although the salt cod is strong enough that you could drink red.

The risotto was an experiment with a new method of getting the most out of ingredients. Normally I would make the stock for the risotto by boiling vegetables (carrot, onion, celery heart) and/or fish for a very long time before throwing them away but this time I used a food processor to pulp all the ingredients. I also pre-boiled the tiger prawns (3 per person) in the stock before removing the heads and completely bashing those in a mortar. I added bashed in prawn heads to the stock before involving the food processor.

This method produces a very rich and thick stock and this carries through to the risotto. I prepared the risotto in normal manner but poured the stock in through a sieve pressing down on the vegetable/prawn pulp to extract the maximum amount of stock goodness. Cooking the risotto takes about 20 minutes and just before serving I fried the now cold prawn tails in butter before serving with the risotto.

This produced one very fine risotto!

As the theme of the evening was fish I wanted to continue with something light and fishy for main course. I’ve not made cod for a long time and wanted to try my hand at pan frying it until the skin is crisp. The idea for the coriander mousse essentially came from the Dubai Restaurant Pisces where I had Pan roasted scallop with Lobster sausage and white aspargus tarragon emulsion. I figured that if I made mousse instead of emulsion and used the much less overpowering coriander for the tarragon I would have something that would perfectly complement the cod. I’m afraid this was not one of my most successful dishes.

The mix was very tasty but I could not get the mousse to set so in the end it resembled an emulsion more than a mousse. It was very runny but my guest at least all though it was very tasty. An very unmemorable dish however, but one I plan to perfect.

The desert was a much better story. Again the idea was to serve something light and summery. All I did was mash up mint leaves in the mortar and mix it up with Australian sweet white wine whose name I forget. I then marinated mixed summer berries in the resulting mixture for about 2 hrs. Served with whipped Mascarpone – perfection.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Czech and Slovak Club

(Officially Czechoslovak National House)
74 west end lane
West Hampstead
London NW6 2LX
+44 (0) 207 372 1193

One of the many things I love about London is the historical oddities that you find around town. Some are relics of empire or war and some are just there because there is an individualistic and oftentimes eccentric nation living here. The Czech and Slovak Club is definitely one of those oddities.

Apparently, it was founded as some sort of social/drinking club for Czech legionaries/mercenaries/free Czechs during WWII up in Holborn but moved to West Hampstead 1946. The move was cause by some ban on drinking beer that apparently existed in Holborn in 1946. Can’t imagine such a thing. When the legionnaires bought the club house they had the financial support of the former Czech president Benes (he put up £3000 a bucketload in those days) and his former bodyguard is still living in the club and works the bar at 90 years old.

The Club has survived WWII and Communism and is still cheerfully serving great Czeck beer and food to the local community of Czecks and Slovaks. I used to live no more than 500 meters away but only managed to visit after I moved away from West Hampstead. The bar is well worth visiting by itself as it has the best Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar on draft in London but the restaurant is really a unique thing.

Basically, the Czech and Slovak Club restaurant serves traditional central European cuisine that is heavy on the meat, sauerkraut and dumplings. So rollmops, pickled sausage and potato and bacon pancake for starters would be typical. Fried goose liver with onion & bread is simply brilliant. It is not foie gras but it is heartstoppingly rich and on the basis that you only live once I would make a special trip to risk my life with that one.

Main course include meatloaf, pork, beaf, duck, boar all roasted, fried, boiled and invariably served with sauerkraut or dumplings or preferably both. To ensure no one leaves without receiving their full complement of calories they then cover everything in a cream sauce. Some choice examples include:

  • Beef goulash & dumplings (beef cooked with onion and spiced with red paprika and marjoram)
  • Szegediner goulash & dumplings (pork cooked with sauerkraut and double cream, spiced with red paprika)
  • Roasted beef tenderloin in blended cream and vegetable sauce & dumplings
  • Roasted duck (leg) with sauerkraut & dumplings
  • Roasted wild boar in cream sauce & side dish
  • Stuffed breaded Wild boar with pork belly bacon, onion and garlic & side dish

Now these menu selections may sound terribly heavy but rest assured that the Czech and Slovak Club restaurant also serves vegetarian dishes. My favourite would be the ever so healthy “Langoš” that they describe as “deep fried dough topped with mayonnaise, grated cheddar, garlic and ketchup”.

I can for obvious reasons not eat at the club every night as I simply would not survive but I do think that for an occasional bout of excess they serve terribly good food. The menu descriptions also do not quite carry just how uncompromisingly they use cream and butter and other traditional ingredients.

For example, the wild boar in cream sauce and side dish (the only appropriate side dish being dumplings) is not just covered in cream sauce; it is covered in a carbonara style cream sauce. So cream, cheese and egg but dipping the dumplings in there is just perfect. The meat also was the kind you only get from someone who really understands about wild game. Strong tasting yet tender and cooked to perfection with just the right amount of pink.

We also had the other wild boar dish last time. It really consists of a large slice of belly bacon and fried onion between two large slices of wild boar covered in some think dough and deep-fried. It was extremely satisfying in a very overpowering kind of way.

We finished with a house speciality that really is uncompromising namely the “Apricot dumplings topped with butter, cinnamon icing sugar and whipped cream”. If there is such a thing as politically incorrect food this is it. The bloke who wrote “eat what you like and die like a man” would really approve. Now, a dumpling is water and flour mixed together and dumped in hot water to cook. Basically a vehicle for the tasty fat on your plate to travel to your mouth. So not dangerous at all as such.

What this dish consist of however, is a dumpling that’s been formed around an apricot. So far so good. They then glace it with cinnamon flavoured sugar, dump it on a deep dish and cover both the dumpling and dish with clarified butter. To finish off; a few large dollops of whipped cream. This really should not be as good as it is but I have to admit I love it.

The Czech and Slovak Club is a total anachronism in today’s health conscious world but I absolutely love the fact that they’ve survived to this day. It is also great value for money which is another aspect that you rarely encounter in London anymore.

Friday, July 27, 2007

La Petite Maison

54 Brook’s Mews,
Mayfair W1K 4EG
(27 July 2007)

This is an offshoot of a famous Nice restaurant that I’ve been to a couple of times in the past that just opened in London. Actually, I went there convinced it was an offshoot of a Brussels restaurant but it pretty quickly dawned on me that this had to be a Provencal restaurant. The space used to belong to a rather dreary Italian restaurant that managed the feet of being massively expensive without having anything worthwhile on the menu but stuffy staff aplenty.

I went without a reservation figuring that since it the place is new it would not be full. This being London, however, I could not have been more wrong. The place was absolutely full and buzzing with activity. We however, did get seated pretty quickly by the lovely Tamara the PR for the restaurant. We must have been looking particularly prosperous because she told us that she looks after VIP’s and should I need a table in the future I should call her.

The Restaurant is in an odd shaped corner space that actually works rather well for a restaurant because you walk in and the whole space opens up in front of you at a 90 degrees angle rather than at 180 degrees as is more normal. The dining room is also rather large and bright, painted cream coloured with very elaborate flower arrangements providing colour. All in all they have very successfully created a very Nicois feel to the place.

The concept of the place is European food served Asian style i.e. many small and large dishes to share. The food also ranges from very simple (fave beans and pecorino) to the opulent such as the blackleg chicken with fresh braised foie gras. There is also a satisfyingly large selection of dishes.

We had only three courses, namely:

  1. Salad of broad beans (fave beans in French), basically broad beans, olive oil, salt, pepper and slices of pecorino. Works beautifully;
  2. Baked Aubergine, shrimp and melted cheese: I don’t generally hold with cheese and seafood but I found this too intriguing not to try. It really works extremely well delicate flavours that are not at all drowned by the cheese as I had feared;
  3. Blackleg chicken with fresh braised foie gras. I could not resist this dish even though it takes an hour to get it to your table, (I think they managed in 45 min but can’t be sure as I was not paying attention). Blackleg chicken is a French type of free range chicken that is let grow quite large and is exceptionally tasty. They marinate it in lemon before braising it for and hour in a heavy oven pan. That’s it, served with fried foie gras and Pommes Dauphinoises it really is to die for. The quantity was rather more than the two of us could handle as it could easily have fed four as long as none of them is my nephew.

I’ll be going back for dishes like: pissaladiere (caramelized onion tart topped with anchovies); Nicoise salad; sweet peppers in olive oil; stuffed Mediterranean vegetables; deep-fried baby squid; deep-fried courgette flowers, sage, with anchovies and onions; and warm prawns with olive oil, Carpaccio of Scallops… And they also have macaroni with summer truffles… actually I may have to go back tonight for that!

The best thing though, they serve Chateaux Rasque – La piece nouble! My absolute favourite Cote de Provence that I have every time I go to Bruno’s in Lorgue. You normally can’t find this wine outside of France or really outside of Provence but they have it in Mayfair!

To top everything off the service is also great provided by mostly young French people. How come that when you get good service in London it is always provided by French people.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


3115 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica CA 90405
(23 July 2007)

I was in California for business travelling with some real wine buffs who insisted we go to Valentino’s not for the food but for the wine list. They where rights of course as the wine list is not so much a list as a book. The restaurant has over 200,000 bottles in its cellar and when they drop the wine list in your lap it is quite intimidating. If they have a wine, they also have all notable vintages of that wine, so it is not enough to know the producer you need to know the vintage. Similarly, if they have the region they have all the notable producers… I just found this confusing.

In the end I settled for a Hofstatter, Pinot Nero Riserva S.Urbano 2000 from Alte Adige and a Voerzio Barolo Cerequio 1996. Choose both because they where pretty reasonable value for money (in a pricey list) and because I know the producers. I hate taking pot shots on wine when I’m with business associates.

The food was pretty decent too! I had summer truffle risotto that was as good as any I’ve ever had. Actually, it was amongst the best I’ve had to be fair. I also had a steak, fillet mignon, with a Balsamic reduction sauce. The beef was really good and perfectly prepared but the sauce was a real disappointment that ruined the whole dish for me. Basically, balsamic vinegar is a very popular ingredient that people tend to use in inappropriate ways.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

AA137 London - LA (21-07-2007) Bus Class

Chateau Lynch-Moussas 2000 - Although this is one of the original 1855 chateaux it is an extremely unremarkable vine not bad though.

Smoked Sesame Salmon and Cucumber Roll "accented" by a Thai sweet Chili Sauce - cringeworthy that's how bad that was;
Salad of fresh seasonal greens and assorted fresh veggies olive oil and balsamic vinegar - very good;
Grilled Chicken Wrapped in Bacon - This really is the kind of rubbish that airlines used to serve in the '80. At least it was edible even if extremely uninteresting.
For snacks they served a pizza that was quite good but PIZZA. This is business class, my company paid something like $10k for the ticket and they serve PIZZA
Inferior seats, inferior food and battleaxes as stewardesses. As bad as I feared.

Sent from my Blackberry Mobile

Friday, July 20, 2007

Le Garcon Chinois

Hengshan Lu, Lane 9, no. 3

This is the first Spanish – Vietnamese restaurant I’ve ever been too, or heard of for that matter. It is in an old, impossible to find, mansion in an alleyway off Hengshan Lu in the French Concession. You have to walk down the long alleyway that really does not fell like you should be there. The building, however, is absolutely charming and the white tablecloth service, wood panelling and low candlelight give a real sense of an old colonial lifestyle. There is also a really intimate bar that was full of punters on the night I went. All in all the atmosphere is what makes this place because the food really is nothing to write home about! The Tapas was ok, really suffered for some rather mediocre ingredients and the rest was good but not special.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Jade on 36

Pudon Shangri-La
Level 36, tower 2,
33 Fu Cheng Lu,
Pudong, Shanghai 200120

I had never heard of Paul Pairet the chef of Jade on 36 but apparently I should have. He’s not only been making waves for over 20 years in Hong Kong, Sidney, Paris and Istanbul he’s almost as good as Heston at the Fat Duck. This is “Cuisine Moleculaire” at its best and not only my best meal in Shanghai it is one of the best meals ever.

It also does not harm at all that the meal is eaten in the splendid surroundings of the 36th floor of the Shangri-La hotel. Very futuristic design (by a certain Adam D. Tihany who apparently I should have heard of) and stunning views over the city of tomorrow as the Shanghaiese like to refer to their city.

We went for the full experience by taking the biggest menu and the Chef’s recommended manner of experiencing his food. The range of food, however, is such that you’d need to several visits and similar sized menus to have sampled Mr. Pairet’s full repertoire.

Jade XL Menu

Tuna & Yellowtail
Dandelion Sashimi

Good start but not very memorable;

Foie Gras
Passion-Choco Foie Gras Opera

This dish really set the bar for the rest of the menu to beat. Really counterintuitive but basically the classic opera cake (chocolate, chocolate ganace, coffee foam and almond pastry) with the chocolate replaced by foie gras except for a layer of cocoa powder over passion fruit gel. Served with toasted brioche, simply sensational.

Truffle Burnt Soup Bread

Toasted whole wheat bread poached in soup Meuniere covered with Chinese black truffle, truffle oil and meunier foam. With burnt bread butter what ever that is. Good fun very unusual taste.

Duck a l’Orange Sunny Side Up
Lemmon & Coconut Roast Duck

This dish is almost ridiculously funny. Basically, roast duck served with an “egg” where the egg white is made of coconut foam and yoke is made of orange juice for an egg sunny side up. They add asparagus, fava beans and green pea purée for a perfect breakfast!

Jumbo Shrimp
Jumbo Shrimp Citrus Jar

Jumbo Shrimp stewed in a kilner jar with its own juices, lemongrass and orange juice for about 45 minutes. Supposedly, this is the chef’s most famous and oldest creation and it has been celebrated in loads of publications. I can see why, this is the kind of dish that you just don’t want to finish, it is that good.

Black Cod
Black Cod Hong Kong

Not the classic black cod of Nobu fame rather a steamed affair in a kind of sous vide type technique. The cod is put into a heat-proof bag with what they call Cantonese-style soy sauce, orange and butter. This soy is made of soy, sesame oil, star anise and truffle oil; not sure how Cantonese that is but no complaints as it was very good. I feel a little churlish to say this but this dish that was merely good, hardly up to the standards of the rest of the fare.

Beef Short Rib
Rib Teriyaki

Beef rib cut right back so that about 10 cm of meat remain in the middle with the rest of the rib totally clean. Braised for twelve hours, lacquered with a teriyaki glaze, served with fried garlic, truffle mash and orange reduction. There really is no way of explaining just how good that was. My mouth still waters at the thought.

Lemon & Lemon Tart

Candy a whole lemon, remove the pulp and replace with lemon sorbet, lemon curd and vanilla Chantilly serve with lemon sablee. This was definitely another oh my god moment.

Mango, Liquorice, Dill

Mango, some sort of liquorice gel, syrupy dill… very good mango but with everything else I needed to remember this one is a little vague.

Brandy & Cigars because in Communist China they don’t have fascist rules forbidding private landlords from allowing their guest to smoke.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

BA168 Shanghai - London 17-07-07 Club Class

Pouilly-Fume les Pierres Blanches 2005, Domiane Masson-Blondelet
Very good crisp chardonay I don't know the Domaine but I love the appelation.
Chateau Arnauld 2004, Cru Bourgeois Haut Medoc.
Nothing wrong with this Haut Medoc, deep red mostly Merlot with some Cap Franc and Petit Verdot mixed in if memory serves but BA was serving it too cold.

This is a twelve hour daytime flight so we had two meals. For lunch I had:

Hot Smoked salmon, with cucumber salad and wasabi dressing
This was very good, and at the right temperature for once. The trick with hot smoking fatty fish like salmon is not to overdo it which makes the fish salty. This one was perfectly smoked and the wasabi and cucumber combination was just the right kind of light touch that was needed.

Mark Edwards' halibut in black bean sauce, bock choy and egg fried rice
(Mark Edwards is part of the BA culinary council and the say he's "specialist on Asian inspired cuisine, London")
Basically slices of fish in some sort of fairly heavy dough fried and reheated until you just could not decide wich was worse the oilyness of the dough or the dead dryness of the fish. I find the pride that BA attaches to its Culinary Council very ironic considering the utter crap they produce.

I never take the dessert on BA as I've never had anything resembling eatable desserts with the airline.

For what BA calls a Light Meal I had:

Parma Ham, grilled goat's cheese and basil salad

Basically a very good idea for an airline dish. Get the logistics right and this is very easy to handle dish that copes well with waiting while refridgerated. BA however was quite cabable of turning this into a disaster. The parma ham should have been thin slices of reasonable quality but where instead slabs of some horrid cheap ham. You really had to work at chewing this stuff and any pensioners with fake teeth could have forgotten about it. The goat's cheese did not look grilled it looked and tasted like it had been caught in a fire. The final insult; the basil salad was three completely vilted leaves of basil!

Sweet & Sour Pork with shiitake mushrooms and steamed rice
This dish was so unspeakably bad that only comparison with school food or possibly '80's vintage Russian airline food would capture how dreadful it was. Even the rice was uneatable.

Selection of fruit
At last one thing they got right

Sent from my Blackberry Mobile

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ZEN Restaurant

House 2
South Block Xintiandi Lane
123 Xinye Lu (by Madang Lu)

Very little to report. Xintiandi is a kind of amusement park for urban tourism where a couple of block of houses build to resemble "old" Shanghai. Old Shanghai of course never looked this good but the place is actually very nice despite looking like it could be anywhere in the world. Basically, row upon row of restaurants from around the world, cafes, bars and loads of shops.

Zen was the type of Chinese that you can find in most European cities now a days. Basic Chinese food interspersed with a few new ideas and a cool sparse interior. Food was mostly very unmemorable although we did have a very good Crispy soft shell crab with peppercorn salt. Main was a steamed grouper with garlic and ginger that was good but not memorable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lost Heaven

38 Gao You Road
Shanghai, China,

For dinner last night we went to this Yunnan restaurant which appears to be primarily attended by expats as there where very few locals around. That said the place was quite smart and service was pretty good too. Lost Heaven specialises in the food of the peoples living along the ancient Tea Horses Trail (Cha Ma Gu Dao) or so they claim themselves. My understanding is that this trade route ran through Yunnan up into the mountains to Tibet, Burma, Laos and Vietnam. Consequently, the food is a mixture of Burmese, Yunnan, Vietnamese and minority cuisine from groups with names like Dai, Bai and Miao.

If you know Burmese cuisine much of the offering will infact appear extremely familiar with a few new things thrown in. In any case we had:

  1. Mandalay fish cakes with a sweet and soure type sauce, OK, let down by the strong taste of the local water i.e. you could taste the clorine;
  2. Prawn Cakes with Salty egg yolk and Yunnan ham. This turned out to be a prawn toast with a topping of extremely salty egg of some sort and a dried local ham. Extremely good.
  3. Burmese Curry vegetables – good, not much more to be said about it thoug;
  4. Ancient Road Sausages – this was a type of dried pork sausage fried up on oil. Extremely tasty competes favourably with any dried sausage I've tried;
  5. Dai style fish with ginger – a great dish. Basically some dished local fish stewed in a ginger curry.

We had Italian Pinot Grigio with the meal with was perfect even if I doubt the Dai & Bai villagers have ever herd of it!

Monday, July 09, 2007

M on the Bund

7/F, No. 5 The Bund (at Guangdong Lu)
Shanghai 200002 China

One of my goals in visiting Shanghai is to eat in Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant 3 on the Bund. So I made reservations for 21.00hrs Sunday night for me and my friend Per. There was just one problem the actual entrance is on Guang Dong Lu on the corner with the Bund and naturally that was too difficult for me.

We walked down from the Westin Hotel along the West side of Guang Dong Lu until we came to what looked exactly like the entrance for a top class restaurant. I was a little confused but it looked exactly like what I was expecting i.e. grand old building with different restaurants on each floor. So I asked the doorman if this was where Jean-Georges was, to which he responded "yes it's on the 7th floor".

Which is how I found myself eating at M on the Bund which as you will notice is not the same as Jean-Georges Vongerichten! I can be such a clueless idiot sometimes. I even had a very good opportunity to rectify the situation when they did not in fact have a reservation for us but before my feeling of unease got critical the Maitre D took the situation in hand and declared it was probably just language difficulty and found us a seat.

Jean-Georges by the way is on the East site of Guang Dong Lu roughly 10 meters away from the entrance to M.

Now this was not necessarily a total disaster as I was very much aware that M on the Bund was a highly rated restaurant (yes another reason why I really should have caught on) so I actually wanted to go there. The experience was mixed however. Service was pretty good although I had the feeling they where hurrying us along. The setting, atop an old art deco building with a unobstructed view of the futuristic Pudong skyline, was magnificent. The food however was uneven. We ordered:

  1. Pan-fried foie gras with pomegranate molasses and dressed cress, served with toasted brioche on the side for Rnb 138.00 (£9 or so);
  2. Mandarin beluga caviar on a warm crepe Parmentier, which we like best, or with Melba toast and crème fraiche Rnb198.00 (£13);
  3. And both of us had for main what they call "Our famous salt encased slowly baked selected leg of lamb, newly partnered for Spring with a warm salad of asparagus, morels, and roasted roots, dressed with lemon, parsley and capers" for Rnb218.00 (£14.5);
  4. Om Ali - Egyptian filo pastries filled with fruits and nuts, served with spiced cream and spiced ice-cream for Rnb 78.00 (£5);
  5. 'Tarte Tatin' - Bernard's adaptation of the French sisters's tart, topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream for Rnb 86.00 (£6);

The foie gras was OK. It was somewhat undercooked and the pomegranate was way to strong for the taste of the liver. The dressed cress went some way towards making up for the pomegranate but overall this dish was a disappointment.

I have no idea what Mandarin Beluga Caviar is but NOT beluga caviar comes to mind. Whatever it is, it is barely better than lump fish roe but I suppose the price should have warned me off. However the rest of the dish in no way made up for the quality of the caviar. The crepe Parmentier was quite good but three time thicker than it needed to be and therefore the dominating taste. The crème fraiche was tasty but very liquid; this is not a good thing for cream to be eaten with caviar. Overall, a complete failure of a dish.

The lamb was the highlight of the meal. Perfectly cooked, perfectly matched with all the sides and quite deserving of whatever fame it has garnered. This really is a dish that could carry a restaurant by itself. Quite heavy for the temperature outside but what the heck.

Om Ali – totally nondescript, not bad but I really can't muster any enthusiasm for this dish. I did not taste the Tart Tatin but Per liked it. I was very sceptical at the speed with which it appeared however. I recon the only way to get a Tart Tatin to the table in the time they did is to nuke it which is really not kosher for a restaurant like this.

We had some pretty good wines with dinner, we started with a perfectly good Vouvrey Sec for around Rnb600 (£40) and a Pinot Noir, Domaine Drouhin, Oregon 2002, at Rnb1200 (£80) with the lamb. Oregon pinots are impossible to get outside the US and always overpriced when you do find them but I could not resist this one as I have found memories of it at a dinner in Seattle with Boeing. It is 14% but has the body of a 11% wine which gives it a unique bouquet that is perfect with a stewed meat like the salt encase lamb.

I guess I'll be going to Jean-Georges later!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Shanghai Day 3

The culinary experience in Shanghai so far is mixed but I'm having fun with it partially because I keep having language related incidents.

The first day I stepped into a local eatery chosen at random where they had English language menus but the staff did not speak any English. This resulted in me ordering two soups (won ton and a bamboo sprout and roast duck noodle soup) which was already funny. What was even funnier though was the fact that both soups came in portions that where apparently intended to feed a family of twelve. I must have looked hilarious sitting there fat and happy with enough food in front of me to feed a small village. In any case the won tons where very good but the broth they came in hardly tasted of anything. The duck soup was inedible. I remember meat soups from my childhood that where terrifyingly bad due to having been made from extremely fatty lamb. There would be a layer of fat floating on top of the soup and lamb fat was all it tasted of. This duck soup was exactly like that except that apparently they had let the duck go rancid first for added effect.

The evening was much better as I went with two friends to a Vietnamese restaurant called Foreign Culture Club (889, Julu Lu/By Changshu Lu. Bldg.11-12) that was quite an experience both because the food was great but also because of the surroundings. The FCC is located in an old colonial mansion in the French Concession. The restaurant has a patisserie, a med restaurant, and a H2O bar (servers bottled water from all around the world) and a modern Vietnamese which is where I ate. The food was modern versions of classic Vietnamese food so beef in tomato curry was served on a baguette not with rice which worked a treat. Other great dishes included Grilled Eggplant with Scallion Oil and Soy Sauce a very light and tasty dish and superb light cold egg rolls.

For lunch on Friday I had a noodle soup in a hole in the wall where no one spoke any English. It was the sort of place where pointing did not help as the menu (on the wall only) was in Chinese but I was saved by a patron who while he did not speak English did understand basics such as soup and noodle and pork. That is also exactly what I had a pretty thin soup with loads of noodle and nondescript pork.

Dinner on Friday was quite an adventure as I was out drinking cocktails and me and my allegedly Chinese speaking friend did not start looking for restaurants until late. So late in fact that most restaurants had closed in the neighbourhood we where in. As a consequence we ended up in a Xinxhuan restaurant that most definitely does not cater to tourists as they had no English speaking staff and the menus where in Chinese. Per ordered fried shrimp, stir fried beef and rice in his Chinese. I term his command of the Chinese language alleged because what we got was frog legs, some completely unrecognisable meat (most definitely not beef of any quality I've encountered before) and fried Chinese broccoli. Both the meat and frogs where in great big heaps with about equal quantity diced fried chilly. We where hungry so we ate all of it and apart from the morning after effects of all the chilli the food was not bad at all.

Saturday, I had lunch at the Westin hotel, where I'm staying, at a restaurant called EEST that offers Thai, Japanese and Cantonese food all in one neat package. They hype themselves as Shanghai's best Asian restaurant and have gotten some pretty good reviews. My experience suggest that they owe more to their corporate background that any desire to gain Michelin stars. I had tempura prawns, grilled miso blackened cod and vegetable fried rice of which the rice was the best dish. The prawns would have been good because they where using very light batter where it not for the old oil that they where using. Anyone who's ever tasted fish and chips in a chippy that does not get the need to change the frying oil regularly will know the taste.

The only problem with the cod was that it was neither grilled cod nor blackened cod. It was somewhere in between and it did not work either way. Rice was good though!

Dinner Saturday, anther Xinxhuan but this time apart from ordering way too much food we had a pretty good experience. The highlight was deep fried mutton with vinegar dipping sauce very unusual but quite good. Again loads of chilly.

Friday, July 06, 2007

BA 169 London – Shanghai, Fist Class (04-07-07)

Sancerre Edmond 2003, Alphonse Mellot

A very fine Sancerre, very dry yet still fruity.

Chablis Grand Cru Bougros, Cote Bouguerots, 2004, Domaine William Fevre,

Good call to start with the Sancerre as this was a much bigger wine, very dry and crisp. You don't really go wrong with a Chablish Grand Cru.

Chateau Beychevelle 1996, Grand Cru Classe Saint-Julien,

I am a huge fan of Chateau Beychevelle and 1996 was one of their best years. BA must have bought a huge proportion of the production though as they are serving it everywhere. Saint-Julien is, as the smallest of the Medoc wines, a bit of a boutique appellation but produces great full bodied and very high tannin wine. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 20% and Cabernet Franc 10% if memory serves. Full marks to BA for this wine.

Shaun Hill's Loch Fyne, Smoked Salmon Tartare
(Owner – Chef at The Glasshouse, Worcester, England)

This was barely edible due to being barely above freezing. I have no idea what it is with BA they assemble a very grandly named BA Culinary Council stuffed with some of the great and good of the industry but they can not get a basic logistic like serving the food at the correct temperature right. I've had frozen salads and cold steak on BA flights. I don't think the idea of a cold salmon tartare was necessarily a bad idea and the sour cream dressing was not bad at all, but no good frozen.

Catch of the day – pan fried bream with colcannon mash, broccoli, and turned carrots.

The bream and the mash very quite good but the veggies where just overcooked veggies that added nothing. Actually, given how piss poor the logistics where on the salad I am impressed with the fish.

BA really needs to update its first class offering. The seats or pods are still amongst the best in the industry and the service is impeccable but the rest of the product is way behind. The wine is only ok, the food is substandard and the IFE is two generations behind even the business class offering of most major airlines (ok not US Airlines, who appear to have given up competing at the top of the market). The new Club Class IFE is a generation behind but in First they offer a tiny screen, nothing on demand and quite frankly most of the time it is broken anyway. This is at a price that is just about the highest in the industry.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Moscow Restaurants

My brother is going to Moscow and called to get restaurant recommendations. In the two years I spent going back and forth to Moscow I ate in a lot of very good restaurants and every time I go there I discover new great places. The scene really is exploding as if people are trying to make up for 70 years of communist drabness and dreadful food.

Below are a few of my favorites:

1 Red Square
(Russian/Czarist recreation)

This restaurant on top of the Natural History Museum is worthwhile for the view alone. North side of the Red Square over to the Kremlin and St Basil’s, not bad at all. I’ve been there a number of times and particularly like the Milk-fed veal with fried chanterelles and the Pork brisket. They also make something called a koulebiaka which is sturgeon blended with rice, cream, and spices, baked in a flaky pastry. Quite an astonishing dish.

Cafe Pushkin
(Russian/Czarist recreation)
26a Tverskoi Bulvar

I love Café Pushkin it is almost certainly my favourite in Moscow. It is the sort of pretentious, pointless place that only Moscow does well. Supposedly the restaurant is a recreation of what dinner was like at the Czarist court in the 18th century. Sure if really large sideburns where a dominant feature. Pushkin is a bit of an amusement park but the food is very good and so is the service. It is also open 24 hours a day so you can show up there at 4 in the morning and have pirozhki with some seriously scary types. I prefer the café downstairs to the formal dining rooms upstairs and if the whether is cooperating then the roof top garden is great.

Café Pushkin is a good place to have caviar and blinis, the fish soup ukha and grilled sturgeon. Anything vaguely gameish such as smoked quail and tongue and onion is done to perfection. I once had something that they called filorett or something to that effect which was meat, eggplant and tomato gratinated with cheese and very yummy.

Drink vodka, they have a very impressive selection.


Moscow is full of very good Georgian restaurants but I particularly like Genatsvale. It is load, big and very original. Veal shashlick, hachapuri (a pie filled with salted cheese), harcho (a goulash like beef stew) and anything that they roast or fry and cover in sauce is good. Last time I went they way load speakers going that where very unpleasant but they atmosphere is great non the less with huge tables full of very drunk parties doing endless toasts.

Noah's Ark
Maly Ivanovsky per. 7-9/1

This place is a bit like Café Pushkin in that it is an attempt at creating some vision of a past that never existed. A really palatial place in a sort of faux antiquity style. Food does not disappoint, however. I don’t really know Armenian cuisine well enough to know the names of stuff but shashliks, tolma in grape leaves, mutton kebabs are the sort of thing you would expect.

16 Sadovaya-Samotechnaya street

It may appear a bit pointless to seek out Italian restaurants in Moscow but they actually have some of the Italians I’ve visited. My absolute favourite is Cheese. I find the décor irresistibly funny – the ground floor is decorated to resemble the inside of a cheese – and they do some of the best simple pasta I’ve had. Last time I started with a truffle pasta, which to be fair was very expensive, that had more truffle in it than I’ve ever seen in one dish. The pasta itself was fresh and had only just been made. The only other ingredient was butter... I also had a rather large and perfectly cooked veal chop.

Cantinetta Antinori
20 Denezhny Pereulok

I think this place belongs to the same restaurateur as Cheese but unlike Cheese it is done in a very elegant and unpretentious manner. I particularly like the very intimate upstairs dining room. Everything really is very good at this restaurant although I particularly remember the octopus in red vine sauce.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Verre Dubai

Hilton Hotel Dubai Creek,
(17 June 2007)

This is Gordon Ramsay’s effort in Dubai. I vent there with business partners for Sunday dinner. I found the setting in a glass box on the mezz floor of the Hilton Dubai Creek a bit cold but at least the food and service where pure Ramsay.

I had:

  • Yellow fin tuna two ways – marinated then seared and carpaccio with pickled white radish, soy dressing: no complaint here. While this was not exactly an inspired dish it was very good and since I knew the main course would be heavy a liked the lightness of touch that went into preparing it.
  • Slow cooked pork belly, creamed Puy lentils, black pudding and pan-fried foie gras with braising jus: I have no idea what the foie gras was doing there other than justify the price but the rest was magnificent. It really is difficult to mess up slow cooked pork belly but this one was particularly good and the puy lentils and black pudding worked a treat.

Basically, another great Ramsay restaurant.