Tag Archives: scallops

STK, Westminster

I rarely crave meat, but when I do, only the best will suffice. I was having a ‘carnivore moment’ just as an invite to dinner at American steakhouse STK arrived in my inbox. My foodie fairy godmother was working her magic once again.

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The dinner had a name and that name was RED on RED. Three courses of red meat paired beautifully with glass after glass of glorious Penfolds – one of the best things to come out of Australia, along with Macadamia nuts, Tim Tams and Liam Hemsworth (I’m a bit of a Hunger Games fan).

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We sat in the private dining room, entertained by Head Chef Barry Vera, who enthusiastically introduced us to each dish as they arrived. For him, it was a real treat to experiment ‘off menu’. We also heard from the charming Penfolds Ambassador, who explained why the wine tasted so darn good, especially when savoured with a spoonfuls of the yummy food in front of us.

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The three meat courses were outstandingly good. Steak tartare was topped with a  pretty poached quails egg and caviar. It was drunk with a 2009 Pinot Noir that had notes of dried fruit, adding an extra layer to the delicate meat.

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Next was a gorgeous Japanese Wagyu Ceviche with poached pear puree and large slices of truffle. This was followed by the most substantial of our dishes – USDA sirloin with smoked bone marrow, crispy parsley and caramelised garlic.

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STK is the only place in London to use this cut of prime beef. Take it from me, this steak didn’t need chips, mac ‘n’ cheese or any other steakhouse side to beef it up. It was fantastic on its own.

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Before dessert, a plate of creamy Cornish Yarg, salt bread and cherries were served. It was Vera’s take on a Black Forest Gateaux and one I enjoyed very much (even if my stomach screamed ‘please Sarah, no more!’).

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But I didn’t listen to my stomach and instead ate Head Pastry Chef Sarah Barber’s fabulous Chocolates BFG and ‘Sweet Treats’, whilst sipping sweet Penfolds Grandfather Fortified wine. I was in heaven and nothing was going to take that away from me.

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Now I realise I was getting special treatment that night, so I’ll briefly tell you what STK is like outside the realms of our private room. It’s boisterous, fun and – from what I’ve heard – allows dancing on the tables if the mood takes you there.

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As for the food? Well Vera’s daily menu doesn’t disappoint. Even if you don’t feel like a heavy steak, you can take it from me that the fish dishes are delicious. Scallops were delicately cooked to perfection and Coconut Fried Halibut melted in the mouth.

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The Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese is also worth a try, as are the Wild Mushrooms with Truffle. But I will leave you with this – don’t take anyone hard of hearing. The music is LOUD, which is brilliant for a night out with friends, but inappropriate for dinner with the grandparents.

STK London Steakhouse, ME London, 336-337 The Strand London, WC2R 1HA 

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FISHBone, Kensington

A pop up has its uses. It can create buzz around an existing restaurant, or ‘test the waters’ for something new.

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FISHBone sits in the former camp. It’s an offshoot of fish brasserie Kensington Place, right by Notting Hill station. The concept is a ‘seafood spin on the gourmet fast-food trend’, so being a fish fiend, was right up my street. Continue reading…

FISHBone, Kensington Place Restaurant, 201 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LX

Pieds Nus, Marylebone

Quick! Pieds Nus is open for business, serving some of the most innovative food you’ll find in London. The problem? It’s a pop-up, so won’t be there for long.

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For the time being, you’ll find it next door to Big Sister restaurant, L’Autre Pied. Inside, it’s small and simple, with rustic white walls and exposed bulbs hovering above each wooden table.

Michelin restaurateur David Moore outside Pieds Nus

Pieds Nus is the brainchild of Michelin restauranteur David Moore, run by Head Chef Ed Dutton from Tom Aikens in Chelsea. The concept is ‘little or no cooking’ – ‘barefoot’ dishes that deliver fresh and simple combinations with intense flavours. An ambitious idea…good thing it worked.

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We started with a basket filled with gorgeously warm bread – Bacon & Onion Brioche, Black Onion Seed Flat Bread and a soft Milk Loaf, served with a tiny bowl of hummus (£4.50). That, and a wooden block draped with melt in the mouth Paleta Iberica (£10.95) and a couple of Pieds Nus Cosmopolitans (£7.50).

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The dishes that followed were made to be shared. But rather than arriving all at once, were enjoyed one by one so each got the attention it deserved.

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Salt Baked Jerusalem Artichoke with Wild Mushrooms and Sea Purslane was a delight, combing sweetness with a touch of sour (£7.50), but the Slow Cooked Duck Egg with Potato and Belper Knolle was the star of the vegetable dishes (£6.50). An egg was hidden in a heap of finely grated potato and cheese. Once mixed, we were left with a  creamy, subtly flavoured paste that focussed wholeheartedly on the egg.

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Next up was Scallop Ceviche (£12.50). Our noses were filled with a fresh aroma from the fish, cucumber and fennel, which only enhanced our experience eating the light, pretty dish. 42˚ Confit Salmon was heavier, but no less sublime with its intense crunchy cauliflower and sharp pink grapefruit (£8.50).

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From the meat section, we chose the aromatic 60˚ Gressingham Duck Breast (£11.50), the clean Rose Veal Tartare with generous truffle shavings (£12.95) and the 98˚ 12 Hour Slow Cooked Pig Belly (£11.45). Each dish showcased the chefs’ attention to detail and skill. I loved the Pig Belly and its perfect crackling. Couldn’t have been better.

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We finished with Banana Financier with Maple Syrup & Banana Ice Cream (£6.50) and the Chocolate, Chestnut Frangipane & Caramel Ice Cream (£8,95). It was the perfect end to pretty damn perfect meal.

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The food, the service and wonderful wine list makes me sad to say goodbye to Pieds Nus. Perhaps it’ll pop up elsewhere, but for now, I feel lucky to have been and give it a LLE Rating of 9/10.

Pied Nus, 19 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 3DH

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MEWS of Mayfair

Lancashire Court is one of central London’s best-kept secrets. Made up of narrow walkways, bustling restaurants and plenty of outside seating, it feels miles away from nearby Regent Street, New Bond Street and the hell that is Oxford Street.

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One of the courtyard’s restaurants is Mews of Mayfair, founded by London entrepreneur James Robson back in 2006. Split across four floors, the 18th Century building combines a lounge, cocktail bar, brasserie and the chef’s dining room. And it’s in the brasserie, where we lay our scene. Read more…

MEWS of Mayfair, 10 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street, London W1S 1EY

The Bull Inn, Stanford Dingley

The Bull Inn is a great country pub. It has a great pub name, serves great pub food and has great pub owners. This greatness made us book it for dinner the day after Boxing Day – aka the day before the Grandparents flew back to Jersey.

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We had pre-booked a large round table in the corner of the room, but before we headed towards it, sat at the bar for a festive mulled wine. The menu was packed with 14 starters, nine mains and six sides. From this, I chose – with difficulty – Pan Fried Scallops with Pea Puree & Black Pudding to start (£10), followed by Whole Roast Cornish Sole for main (£20).

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Before I get onto the scallops, I’d like to mention the bread – something I rarely do unless it’s exceedingly good…or particularly bad. Sadly for The Bull, this bread was bad. I couldn’t even spread the butter without it disintegrating into a million crumbs. It was stale, end of story.

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The scallops were large and nicely cooked, but the whole dish had received a far too generous helping of salt, which the black pudding had absorbed on a grand scale. A real shame as it was so close to perfect.

The mains fared much better. I loved my Sole, which was massive and came with a surprise coating of generous pieces of crab meat and lobster. It came with a large portion of delicious, triple cooked chunky chips and the chef’s salad. I devoured the chips, ignored the salad and instead, tucked into Mum’s Seasonal Veg, which weirdly turned out to be a lovely bowl of steamed spinach (£3).

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For my already full stomach, pudding could only be ice cream – two scoops of Rum & Raisin and one of Mint Choc Chip. Each scoop was creamy and refreshingly cold. Just as ice cream should be.

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Despite its greatness, The Bull Inn made a few, avoidable mistakes when we visited on that dark December night. Please don’t let that put you off though, I’ve been before and always enjoyed it, so give it a well deserved LLE Rating of 7/10.

The Bull Inn, Stanford Dingley, Nr. Reading, Berkshire, RG7 6LS

The Crab at Chieveley, Nr. Newbury

This little gem in the middle of the Berkshire countryside was always going to be a hit with me. Why? Well it has the word ‘crab’ in its title.

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The restaurant is housed in a large, picturesque cottage you’d want to call ‘home’. The interior is typically rural, but a ceiling covered in nets and shells gives a touch of the seaside.

The menu is dominated by seafood, making my choice particularly difficult – how do you choose between Stuffed Baby Squid, Butter Poached Lobster and Pan Seared King Scallops to start? I ended up going with the waiter’s suggestion and eagerly awaited my scallops (£8.95).

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Each white, glistening scallop was just cooked through, exactly as it should be. They shared their plate with a couple of flavour enhancing clams, some crunchy, pickled baby carrots and a few shoots of samphire. It almost looked too good to eat. Almost…

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For main, the Monkfish Wellington won me over with its accompanying spinach puree, cubes of Kohl Rabi and a coating of smoked monkfish liver jus (£22). I was impressed by the tenderness of the meat as a golden pastry case can be drying. It was certainly one of the tastiest fish dishes I’d enjoyed in a long time.

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Next to me, Dad was hoping for a man-sized portion of Scallops (£21.95), but alas, the waiter produced one of The Crab’s few meat dishes – English Lamb Rack with a Dijon & Herb Crumb and Baked Moussaka (£23.50). He couldn’t deny its flavour or presentation, but the mistake left a bad taste in his mouth.

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Pudding was too tempting to refuse, so we shared an Assiette of Desserts between two (£14). Each long white plate displayed everything from creamy panacotta and a hunk of homemade honeycomb, to a ‘texture of chocolate’, lemon tart and poached baby pear. It was no more expensive than ordering a pudding each, so I’d heartily recommend this dream dessert.

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There’s so much more seafood to be had at The Crab at Chieveley, so I’ll definitely be back. My only criticisms are Dad’s main course mistake and the waiter’s slowness when filling up our wine (if you’re going to position it far from the table, keep an eye on everyone’s glasses!). And so, I’m giving The Crab a LLE Rating of 8/10.

The Crab at Cheiveley, Wantage Road, Newbury, RG20 8UE 

Garnier, Earl’s Court

In February, Balthazar opened with a bang audible from the Eiffel Tower. The younger sister of New York’s glitterati hangout had Londoners battling for reservations like teenage wannabes.

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Now the hype’s died down, we can move our attention to London’s more discrete French offerings. One such restaurant is Garnier – a French brasserie that tiptoed into Earl’s Court last summer.

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Located a stone’s throw away from the station, it’s owned by well-known restaurateurs Didier and Eric Garnier. The brothers have had their fingers in many pies over the years, including the St Quentin’s Group in Knightsbridge, Le Colombier in Chelsea Square and Racine on the Brompton Road. Read more…

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Garnier,  314 Earl’s Court Rd, London SW5 9BQ