Tag Archives: sea bream

Brasserie Zedel, Piccadilly

Since it opened last summer, I’ve been to Brasserie Zedel four times – twice with friends, once with a client and once with the lovely co-owner Jeremy King.


Three simple things keep me coming back – the price, the food and the wonderful building. This is a brasserie where you can enjoy delicious French cuisine in a large, shiny 1930’s dining room at prices usually reserved for Côte or Cafe Rouge. C’est magnifique!


The dining room seats 220, some bookings, some walk ins. Each time it’s crammed with loud, excitable Londoners trying to be heard above the next table. The menu is equally big, split into two set meals (Prix Fixe and Formule), the Plats du Jour, Entrees, Choucroute, Poissons, Viandes, Legumes, Fromages and Patisseries et Desserts.


My favourite Entrees are the deliciously simple Oeufs Dur Mayonnaise (£3.75) and Filet de Hareng with Pommes à l’Huile (£4.95) – a yummy herring dish popular in French bistros.


I’ve watched my friends devour Choucroute Zedel (£14.95) and Bœuf Bourguignon (£9.95) with gusto, whilst I tuck into something from the selection of Poissons – most commonly Carrelet Meunière (whole pan fried plaice at £15.25) and aromatic Filet de Dauradeaux Fenouils  (grilled sea bream with fennel, orange & thyme – £14.75).


I’m also a big fan of the sides – in particular the fresh Salade Verte (£2.75), the rich Epinards à la Crème (£3.25), and the real, golden Pomme Frites (£2.95) – but have only managed one pudding. On that special occasion I chose well, savouring every mouthful of the Mousse au Chocolat (£6.75) and wondering why on earth I should share my decadent dessert (the menu suggests you enjoy it ‘a partager’ – I disagree).

Brasserie Zedel has become my ‘go-to’ restaurant when I’m after a special meal minus the hefty price tag. It’s perfect for most occasions, except when entertaining someone that dislikes French food (if that happens, ask yourself ‘why am I aquatinted with this person?’). Par conséquent, Brasserie Zedel gets a bien mérité LLE Rating of 8 / 10.

Brasserie Zedel, 20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED

Brasserie Zedel on Urbanspoon

Zenkichi, Brooklyn, NYC

By our ninth day in America, my stomach had grown accustomed to super sized portions, so an eight course Omakase Tasting Menu at Zenkichi felt like a walk in Central Park.


Zenkichi is a modern Japanese brasserie in Brooklyn, perfect for first dates and  romantic meals. Its extraordinary layout couldn’t be more intimate, made up of private, warmly lit wooden booths hidden by bamboo blinds. It’s a popular style in Tokyo, where the owner calls home.


At $65 a head, the seasonal tasting menu is changed every five weeks, filled with popular Tokyo dishes. Sake is the drink of choice and there’s an a la carte menu for those not wanting to go the whole ‘tasting’ hog.


Our first course was a traditional Miso Soup, filled with fried tofu and scallions. Well made Miso always takes me by surprise. I don’t understand how something can taste amazing and also be good for you.


Next up was a beautiful ‘chilled plate’ of Sashimi, Sea Bream Sunomono and Tamago Tofu Shrimp Anake.


The sashimi melted in the mouth, making me wish for more. The sea bream came marinated in the most wonderfully sweet plum-shino vinegar sauce, and the chilled egg custard tofu was brought to life by a yuzu pepper shrimp broth.


The Zenkichi Salad of homemade tofu, baby greens and yuba arrived next, coated in a sesame dressing. I was wowed by its simple, yet powerful flavours – this was a dish to replicate at home.


The meal continued with perfectly cooked Late Spring Tempura of Mongo Iha squid, inen beans and corn, along with Saikyo Miso Cod. I could write an entire post about the cod. It was heavenly – soft like butter, succulent and sweet, it now takes centre stage on my list of desert island foods.


I was so blown away by the cod, it was hard to concentrate on the rest of the meal.   Takiawase and Filet Mignon Tataki Donburi were both delicious, but hard to remember after the best dish of the evening.


We decided to order three of the four desserts – Mineoka Tofu, Frozen Black Sesame Mousse and Walnut Chocolate Pudding.


The chef clearly gave as much attention to dessert as he’d given the rest of the meal. Each pudding was as individual as the main courses, with creamy and light Mineoka Tofu topping the bill (a surprise for me).


If I ever go back to Zenkichi, I’ll probably choose a la carte. That’s not to say my American sized stomach can’t handle eight courses, but in an ideal world, I’d be eating Black Miso Cod for starter, main and dessert.

Zenkichi, 77 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Sushi by Mr Kazuomi Ota, Divertimenti, Marylebone

I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi and now I dream of sushi. I don’t dream of making sushi – although I’d like to try – I dream of eating sushi. Ideally the best in the world.


Because of this, I found myself eating sushi at an event at Divertimenti last week, hosted by Japanese chef Mr Kazuomi Ota and KAI – a premium range of high-performance knives inspired by the art of Samurai sword forging (fancy eh?).


Sipping on Moet, I watched Mr Kazuomi expertly make us heavenly sushi. I didn’t want to disturb a master at work, but managed to sneak in a few questions between rice steaming and salmon cutting.


Mr Kazuomi is the Head Chef of the Hi Hotel in Nice. He’s been making sushi for 15 years, three of which were spent perfecting sushi rice – something every novice has to go through. He also had to earn the right to use a knife, knocking off yet another year. Becoming a sushi chef ain’t easy, as you can tell.


Mr Kazuomi’s sushi melted in the mouth. This wasn’t just down to his skills, but also the freshness of the fish, how the fish was cut and the quality of the knife used (KAI Shun knives are made with 32 layered stainless damask steel, giving them unrivaled sharpness).


To make the California Roll, you need to think in layers. Mr Kazuomi’s version started with a sheet of Nori (paper like, toasted seaweed) placed on a bamboo mat wrapped in cling film. He squished half a centimetre of sushi rice on top, before sprinkling toasted sesame seeds all over. You can also use risotto rice as the consistency is similar.


A thin sliver of salmon was placed down the middle of the rice, along with slices of avocado and cucumber. The bamboo mat then rolled everything together, before it was cut into mouth size portions and eaten by me.

My next treat will be Sushi Tetsu this summer (if I can reserve one of the seven seats). Until then, I’ll be practicing my California Roll with my new KAI knife, so watch this space…

Five things to do in Margate

Margate is a typical English seaside town – bustling in summer, quiet in winter. Margate is also one of the world’s top ten must-see destinations. Don’t believe me? Ask The Guardian.


For that reason, we decided to spend last weekend in Margate to ‘get away from it all’. ‘It all’ being three, torturous, post Christmas days back at work.

So if you’re planning a beach holiday during these chilly months, my round-up below might make you choose Margate over Mauritius. The sensible option in these tough economic times.

1. Eat dinner at The Ambrette


The Ambrette shouldn’t be judged by its cover. Its country pub exterior, no frills interior and ridiculously reasonable pricing paves the way for beautiful Michelin rated Indian food. Basically, it’s the Cinnamon Kitchen without the fuss.

For £40 a head we ate like kings, enjoying dishes that ranged from scallops, soft shell crab, sea-bream kedgeree and chocolate samosas, to complimentary spicy potato balls, orange granita with popping candy and an aromatic mushroom soup. That, and two bottles of very palatable house white.

The food was inventive and interesting. Each mouthful started with one flavour and ended with another – something that is only accomplished by a very clever chef.

2. Visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery 


Overlooking the sea, this gallery is part of a major regeneration project for Margate, inspired by JMW Turner. Its mirrored exterior reflects the colours of the day, appearing particularly dramatic in winter. Inside it’s full of clean, white rooms, filled with artwork that for us, was selected and painted by American figurative artist Alex Katz.

Painting of woman in red blouse against green hillside

3. Grab a sandwich at The Greedy Cow


Pastrami sandwiches, pulled pork buns, soups and cakes make up this cafe in the heart of the Old Town (the pretty part of Margate). The friendly staff, quick service and fresh food make The Greedy Cow a perfect place for a quick lunch.

4. Drink tea with The Mad Hatter


The Mad Hatter tea rooms are like an eccentric version of my grandparents house. The wallpaper, ceilings and carpets are highly patterned, there are black and white photographs all over the walls and trinkets sit on top of every piece of furniture.

The Mad Hatter himself greets every customer, suited and booted in a top hat, braces and well fitted flared trousers. He also makes the delicious cakes, which for us was a light, moist, jam and cream packed Victoria Sponge.


5. Visit the Shell Lady


Ann Carrington’s Shell Lady sits at the end of The Harbour Arm (a 19th century stone pier) overlooking the sea. It’s worth saying hello to her whilst you walk along the stretch of sandy beach. After all, she is the only shell lady to endure the winter – the other twelve, delicate figures prefer to wait until the warm summer months.