Tag Archives: veal

Rotorino, Dalston

I’ve always liked Stevie Parle’s face. He looks like one of the good guys; someone who enjoys life and isn’t afraid to show it. You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this – even I am a bit – but I truly believe people’s personalities are reflected in their work. So, how could sunny, optimistic looking Stevie do any wrong?

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Because of Stevie’s face, The Dock Kitchen has been on my restaurant bucket list for the past few years. It’s still on there today, but at least I can now say I’ve eaten at his new, slightly cheaper restaurant Rotorino, which opened a couple of months ago on Kingsland Road.

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A diamond in the ‘no longer rough’ Dalston, Rotorino is made up of a large rectangular dining room that’s blue, brown and white all over, filled with wooden tables, black plastic chairs, a row of booths down one side and bright, loud patterns.

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I was right about the face; Stevie’s food is lovely. Inspired by gorgeous Italian cuisine, the menu is split into First, Second and Third courses, followed by the all important ‘Sweet’.

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We shared courses, which covered off refreshing Watermelon & Tomato Salad with chilli, mint and ricotta (£6), Buffalo Mozzarella with smashed broad beans, mint and a giant, claw like pod  (£6.50) and lightly battered Mixed Small Fish & Squid with Monk’s Beard and grease cutting fried lemon (£6). Nothing blew me away, but at the same time, not a crumb was left on the pretty, rustic plates.

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Second was a small bowl of Pistachio Casarecce (£7.50) and Sausage Gnochetti Sardi (£8). I often find restaurant pasta boring, but this was not the case here. The first creatively combined crushed pistachio, basil, garlic and olive oil (YUM), whilst the latter delightfully combined slow-cooked sausage, red wine, chilli and breadcrumbs.

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For Third, we shared Sasso Chicken (£14.50) and Pork & Veal Meatballs (£9.50) from the ‘stove’, with a side of Chickpeas topped with fried breadcrumbs (who could resist!).

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The meatballs were tasty enough and my favourite part of the bird was the juice drenched bread that sat beneath it. But it was the chickpeas that stole the show – so simple, they reminded me how satisfying vegetarian living can be.

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I must pause to tell you that there were three, not two of us at this dinner. I wouldn’t want you trying to tackle this much food, believing they’ll be room for pudding – something that should never be missed.

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It was L’s birthday, so a candle topped Chocolate Cake (£5) was quietly ordered on a trip to the bathroom. It was divine – chocolate, honeycomb, pistachio and soured cream should get engaged, married and live happily ever after.

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Stevie did me proud, just like I knew he would. I enjoyed each and every dish, although some stood out more than others. The restaurant was buzzing and will now be my little oasis of calm (and tasty food) in bustling Dalston. I’m giving Rotorino a LLE Rating of 8/10.

Rotorino, 434 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA

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Typing Room, Bethnal Green

In April, Lee Westcott must have been the most stressed chef in London. He not only opened a restaurant under the watchful eye of Jason Atherton, he boldly filled Nuno Mendes’ shoes after the master chef packed up Viajante for The Chiltern Firehouse – a place so annoyingly popular, you’re unlikely to find it here.

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Fortunately for Lee, stress levels diminished as the reviews came in. Faye Maschler called it a ‘triumph’ and I, for all it’s worth, struggled to find fault with much other than the price (a drunken look of shock swept across our faces when we got the bill).

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We entered Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel and took a right into the Peg & the Patriot. Here we had an obligatory aperitif (we make our own rules), before moving across the hall for dinner. As we walked into the dining room, we were struck by the attentiveness of the many, many waiters, along with the decor, which was fresh, modern and streamlined, dotted with quirky artwork and vases of wild flowers.

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The menu had – thank goodness – ignored the stale ‘sharing’ trend, instead adopting a traditional three course approach, or a six course tasting menu for £55. Over complimentary brioche smothered in chicken skin butter, we decided to start with a £5 ‘snack’ – Cumin Lovoche, Crab, Sweetcorn & Curried Egg.

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Then, ‘To Begin’, we had Mackerel (£10), Langoustine (£15) and Veal Sweetbread (£15). The Mackerel was lovely and light, served raw with a fresh medley of passion fruit, burnt cucumber and radish. The rich, soft Sweetbread was richer, but balanced by a summery bed of crunchy raw pea, white asparagus and buttermilk.

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The Langoustine was my favourite of the three. Fat and juicy, the shellfish paired wonderfully with carrot, coriander and nutty pistachio. That said, even with my cold, I knew each dish needed a touch more seasoning.

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‘To Follow’ we were all about the meat. Pink, succulent lamb (£24) came with aromatic accompaniments of smoked aubergine, wild garlic, creamy yoghurt and sweet onion, reminding me of one of my favourite Ottolenghi creations.

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Pigeon (£26) was smoked in pine (something I probably wouldn’t have realised if it weren’t for the waiter) and the Suckling Pork Belly (£22) didn’t last long on the plate – crisp on top (good) and served with a sweet combination of peach, mustard and lettuce (better).

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‘Treats’ were a must, so we ordered three between three (you do the maths). Counting down, Green Tea with Yoghurt & Sesame (£8) came in third; the flavours were unique, but I always crave chocolate. Strawberry, pistachio & white chocolate (£9) was up next – an intensely fruity dish, it was like summer in a bowl.

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But the winner had to be Chocolate, Amaretto & Almond (£9), which won over our hearts and stomachs with its multiple textures and delightful flavours.

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I really enjoyed Typing Room and would certainly recommend it – just watch the price as it’ll creep up on you like the Candyman. I hope Lee Westcott has received a well deserved pat on the back from Jason, but either way, I’m giving his restaurant a LLE Rating of 8.5/10.

Typing Room, Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF

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

Pied Nus on Urbanspoon

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

Pizza East, Portobello

I’d always liked the thought of Pizza East – a reasonably priced pizzeria that isn’t as ordinary as Pizza Express, but equally isn’t as random as Fire and Stone (cauliflower on Pizza, really?!). So, when I heard Shoreditch House had opened its second restaurant in Portobello, I made sure my next date with the Boyfriend was there.

I liked Pizza East instantly. Partly because I felt reassured that the restaurant seemed to be serving dinner to everyone on the Portobello Road (perhaps the calm before Carnival the next day), but I also loved the ‘fake’ rustic interior (I’m fairly certain parts of the cladded ceiling was stuck on).

You can’t book a table, but as I was told on the phone, it didn’t take long until we were seated and ordering two carafes of wine – always solves the problem when the Boyfriend wants red and I want white.

The wine arrived quickly with two small tumblers (a bit of a trend at the moment?), along with our menus.  Feeling hungry, we feasted our eyes over the options that ranged from pizza and salads, to meat and fish dishes, which clearly impressed us as we almost over ordered.

We couldn’t resist the starters, so decided to share the courgette and aubergine fritti, which came with homemade aioli. We thought the fritti would be similar to the courgette fries in Byron Burger, so were a little surprised to see the large, clumsy chunks of vegetables in front of us.  They were a little greasy and the aioli wasn’t really needed, but they satisfied our hunger and we finished feeling relieved that we hadn’t each had a plate as the portion was far too big for one person.

When picking our main courses, the Boyfriend’s eyes instantly landed on the pork belly, but he settled on the veal meatball pizza (it sounded a little ‘Fire and Stone’ for my liking).  Unfortunately for him, this ‘signature’ pizza was more like an open top pie that desperately needed gravy to moisten it, so he finished with plenty still left on his plate and a disappointed feeling in his stomach.

I was a little more traditional in my choice, going for pizza with a prosciutto, artichoke (I can’t get enough of them at the moment) and basil topping. I’m glad I went with this as it may not have been the best pizza in the world, but it’s flavours were enjoyable even though it was covered in what looked like regular ham rather than the prosciutto it promised.

The best thing about our meal was the pudding – salted chocolate caramel tart. If you like Lindt sea salt chocolate then this is the dessert for you. The salt married the smooth chocolate and sweet caramel perfectly, so my only regret was sharing it.

I think the Boyfriend was put off by his strangely dry and disappointing pizza, but I would still go back to Pizza East for the atmosphere, price and amazing chocolate tart.

Pizza East Portobello, 310 Portobello Road, London W10 5TA