Visiting North Road Again

I was really impressed by North Road last time that I felt that I had to go ahead, but this time do the full tasting menu. My sister accompanied me on this journey, appropriate since we ate at Noma last time and Danish fondness of foraging was not a foreign concept.


We started with an espuma – a light crisp mouthful delicately dotted with some tangy, herby sauce.


As well as a smoked quails egg and potato delicately nestled amongst the brush that I assume was a source of the smoke. Both were strongly infused (something I love) with that smokey flavour.


We then had the two types of butter. Sweet and salty. I have to say that the brown butter really grew on me this time, and although I’m hadn’t expected to enjoy the sweet butter on bread, was surprised how much I enjoyed it the second time around.


Here’s our bread basket filled with tiny pieces of bread.


Our first dish was a light crab with cucumber. I think we were both surprised at how the strength of the crab flavour really shone through despite being cold. The cucumber also really went well to balance out the dish, bringing a cool clean flavour.


Our next dish, served warm and continuing the seafood theme, was a generous piece of lobster. I can’t really remember the other components (seeing as it was a couple of months ago) but yummy and delicious!


The yogurt dish, next, pleased my sister the least but I found it a good palette cleanser and refreshing.


The next dish was a real winner both in flavour and in appearance, being a jersey royale dish served with lovage. It looked and tasted just like a little garden (in a good way). It’s funny because in most places potatoes don’t really taste like potatoes – just a bit more like starch and fortunately these ones did. Nestled amongst some “fake soil” this was a real delight to consume.


Our next dish was a lamb dish served with fresh flowers and other components I can’t quite remember.


This was labelled as “stone and hay” but basically was a clever piece of hay ice cream wrapped in a covering that was a clever mouthful.


Our main tasting menu finished with an amazing plate of Kentish strawberries in several forms including marshmallow, sorbet, cream log and fresh as well. Lovely, light and full of flavour.


Though full, we were then bombarded with the petite fours – a tiny rose marshmallow, some bark with sweet dollops, a small shortbread sandwich and a clever take on the fløderboller (or chocolate covered marshmallow).


A lovely dinner and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to do again.
Name: North Road
Location: 69-73 St John St, EC1M 4AN

Clerkenwell’s The Green

One of the great things about Clerkenwell is the number of quality places to eat out are. There are almost too many but this is a good problem to have. My flat mate had planned to have a Sunday lunch at St John’s but the big turnout forced him to pick an alternative venue, The Green that we’ve been to a number of times.

The restaurant wasn’t particularly busy so we had the entire top floor to ourselves where we indulged in many drinks and a sunday roast as the glorious March sun streamed in through the walls. We had quite a good choice of things to choose from the sunday roast including the rare roast beef (above), roast chicken (below), some lamb and pork although I didn’t catch any of the photos.

Of course a Sunday roast is incomplete with the traditional Yorkshire Puddings, and these were excellent – light, crispy and massively blown up. They obviously had the right technique for making them and I’m impressed they managed to pump out so many all being wonderful as well. The gravy was pretty good too.

Plenty of sides came along including brussel sprouts, turnips, carrots, beetroot and roast potatoes. I prefer my roast potatoes cooked with goose fat and I suspect they cooked theirs with olive oil or something as they turned out a bit more waxy than crisp on the edges.

Almost everyone ordered the hazelnut brownie with a salted caramel ice cream for dessert where they ended up running short.

I’ve eaten at The Green before and their food is consistently good and the bar reasonably spacious unless it’s a Friday pub evening. Try not to tell too many people okay.

Name: The Green
Found at: 29 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU

British Recipe: Scones

I recently held a British themed party where I prepared a number of well known British bites. One of them had to be the scone, a classic that appears at any high tea event. There are dozens of recipes on the net, but I settled on this one provided by the Guardian (but minus the cream).


  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 level teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml cold milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl
  3. Cut the butter into the flour, and then, using your fingertips to rub in any lumps
  4. Beat the eggs and combine with the milk in a separate bowl/cup
  5. Make a well into the flour and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, cutting the wet ingredients into the dry with the knife until it comes together. Mix it together until it just forms together.
  6. Turn onto a floured board and then roll it out until it’s about 2cm thick
  7. Cut round discs and place onto a tray. Brush the top with some milk, or milk combined with egg. Combine any left over dough together, roll out again and then keep cutting until you have nothing left.
  8. Place into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack or eat immediately with clotted cream and jam

The key to a perfect scone
The whole point of rubbing the butter into the flour is to avoid developing gluten in the scones. The light, crumbly texture of a well made scone is the result of the butter coating each bit of flour, unlike bread (high in gluten) where the flour is attached to eat other. You can alternatively use a food processor to combine it but that might require more cleanup. Similarly, when the wet ingredients are added, we want to avoid mixing it/kneading it too much for the very same reasons.

Some scone recipes call for adding cream + milk instead of cream. I’ve never tried it but apparently it develops a much richer flavour.

You also don’t really want to roll out the dough any less than 2cm as your scone won’t rise and it will be hard cut into half and have anything decent to hold onto. Avoid using out of date baking powder as it makes a big difference to the rise as well.

Launceston Place

One of the places I’ve been meaning to go to for a long time is Launceston Place. Though never been awarded a michelin star, this place is one of those ones foodies rave about and can’t believe has missed out on any awards. Located in the a very neighbourhood-ly part of the city just a short walk away from High Street Kensington you walk into a lobby and are immediately greeted by staff who take your coats.

They do a really great value three course lunch for £22, but even the tasting menu of six courses at £60 is very reasonably priced when you look at what other people are charging these days. We opted for the latter, having a bit more time on a Saturday for a leisurely lunch.

At the table they presented some home made crisps that had been delicately dusted with a spicy mix and tied together with some of their own ribboning. Wonderful presentation and something very nice to snack on while deciding on what to eat.

The picture of the dining room. Dark wood panels, lots of bright light and high ceilings makes the place feel very spacious. The tables aren’t crammed right next to each other and a very comfortable distance apart.

Homemade sourdough bread – super crispy on the outside with that chewy interior and served with some wonderfully creamy butter lightly salted. It also came (slightly hidden in the picture) with some picked onions but wasn’t a big fan of them. They didn’t have a problem replacing the bread the first time, leaving it there throughout the meal and even asking if we wanted it replaced a third time (but really I had nibbled on far too much bread already!)

An amuse bouche to clean the palette walnut mousse, apple sorbet. A great combination with the mousse adding a richness to the dish as the sorbet works to prepare your mouth and start the appetite.

The dish was smoked pigeon served atop some onions and oats mixed with some whisky. The pigeon was surprisingly soft and very well cooked and the whisky flavour not too strong in the oats.

A beautifully seared scallop with some sauce and fresh herbs. Whatever it was, it didn’t really last long. The scallop was meaty, perfectly cooked and seriously big. Mmmm. I would have liked another one of these.

My favourite dish of the day. Here we ahve a truffled poached egg with a toasted sourdough and a trail of mushroom sauce. So. Full. Of. Umami… More bread but the crispness of the sourdough worked well to add texture to a dish made of otherwise soft ingredients.

This was the fish dish that I found slightly overseasoned (tends to be a European kitchen thing) but the fish was a very generous portion and perfectly cooked, full of moisture and flavour. A great variety of greens as well.

This was a dish made up crispy pork and pork loin. Unfortunately I found the “crispy” element a bit lacking and found a rather chewy, fatty piece of skin that I didn’t really start or finish. The pork meat underneath the skin was very well cooked and appropriately served with some stewed apples. The pork loin was just as well perfectly cooked. Pink but still juicy.

Our dessert course actually started with another cleanser, in the form of a lemon posset cream. Super thick, yet very creamy and amazingly strong lemon flavour. Yum.

Strangely enough I’ve never had a souffle let alone a chocolate one before. I can’t really judge whether or not this was a good quality one. It certainly remained high and fresh and had a very light, chocolatey texture. It tasted a lot more eggy than I imagined it would, probably because I’m more familiar with a chiffon style cake than a souffle but a surprisingly great first one. In the background you can see there a jar of whisky (Lamphroaig) that was amazingly smoky and peaty. It worked well with the chocolate.

As if that wasn’t enough, to finish off with our tea and coffee, little madeleines and vanilla cream.

Service overall was very good, although we noticed our waiters slightly nervous, coming across as slightly under confident in presenting their dishes. I’m not really sure why because they all stood out with quality ingredients, great composition and in general, amazing flavours. I’ll definitely be coming back here sometime.

Name: Launceston Place
Found at: 1A Launceston Place, W8 5RL, London

Dinner at The Garrison

Before heading over to the Tower of London for the Ceremony of the Keys, we headed over to The Garrison in Bermondsey to enjoy a meal. I’d never been to this area and was surprised at how many up and coming restaurants and interesting bars and pubs littered the area.

It definitely pays to reserve a table in advance at this particular gastropub. A number of times we saw a party of two being turned away when arriving, only being told that the entire restaurant was booked out for the night. The tiny space is made the most of, although thankfully the tables are arranged in such a way you’re still sitting closer to your dining companions than those at the table next to you.

I started with the scrambled eggs and mushrooms although it wasn’t as tasty as I thought it would be. The soft egg was really well done but the “toasted” sourdough really should have more crispy to offset the soft flavours.

On a vegetarian day, I went for the mushroom stroganoff that was piled on a huge amount of mash. The “stroganoff” could have done with a bit more mushroom and more sauce but it was still very flavoursome.

It didn’t come with any sides, so went for the pear, rocket and hazelnut salad to have some greens.

I finished off the meal with a very nice lime cheesecake that was perfectly offset with the swirls of raspberries floating around.

Not a cheap meal, but overall a great atmosphere and pretty good food.

Name: The Garrison
Found at: 99 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3XB

The Modern Pantry Visits Meza

I’m very behind the times on this particular post. As you can tell from the photo below, the date of this is well out of date. In fact, it’s so late that someone else is already cooking at Meza. Fortunately we were able to get a booking for The Modern Pantry on a Saturday night there. Not only is a crazy busy place normally, but the restaurant is also very popular so combine the two and you get some good things happening.

Of course they do their normal menu, but the best value part of this short-lived pop up is the tasting menu that lets you explore a vastly unusual yet excellently delivered set of ingredients.

As you can see, we arrived quite early for our booking. We were far away enough from the bar (this is a good thing) as it started to get extremely busy later on as people arrived just for drinks, and we didn’t exactly feel like putting on a show for people just by sitting on one of the edge tables. Not our sort of thing.

At the time, the New Zealand earthquake had occurred so it was nice to see them collecting money for them, instead of the usual charity places like this might give to. It’s great they had a little placard describing where the money was going as well.

As I mentioned earlier, it started getting much busier, and they even had a DJ set up not far from the other bar (pictured below).

You’ll have to forgive the lack of detail in these posts. I am writing this almost two or three months later and I neglected to take a very good shot of the menu. These were the beetroot fritters. I remember it being mixed with some Indian-style spices and a refreshing topping of yogurt on top. Hot and cold and a great way to start.

Next up, a fresh Ceviche of sorts. Strong yuzu flavours (my favourite citrus fruit) bringing its gloriously sharp zing to the dish. I remember this having little bits of roe on top, although I remember not really enjoying the texture mixed up with all the others. It would have been perfect without this additionally decadent ingredient.

If you dine at their real restaurant, you must have this dish, a self preserved prawn omelette with spicy chilli paste. Not as large as their normal portion (it was a tasting menu of course) but just as addictive.

Next up, some snails although I can’t really remember how they served it. Not particularly offensive, nor memorable.

They soon delivered the roast pollock with a lot of accompanying seafood, some greens and strongly flavoured chorizo.

Next came the pork belly with sweet potato mash, a little bit of a disappointment to be honest. Not only was the piece rather tough and chewy, they managed to sear the top of the skin to crisp (almost burn!) but the rest stayed fatty. Probably the least impressive of the evening .

Finally on to dessert. A perfect finish with a cinder toffee affogato, sweet smoky, and the perfect hot cold sensations of mixing liquid and cream.

They almost forgot to serve the chocolate truffles although we probably didn’t need much more food at this point.

A really great dining experience and from memory, pretty good value for this many courses at just over £60 without drinks. I love the food they serve at the Modern Pantry and although not all the dishes excelled, many of them did and the experience was worth the wait.

Fox and Anchor

Firstly, I can’t believe that I haven’t written about this place before. It’s one of my favourite gastropubs and it gets many rave reviews from other bloggers. I love the fact that it’s slightly hidden away, although enough people seem to know about it that it’s continually busy throughout the week. They have awesome ales, offer fresh British oysters (what pub often serves that!), and a hearty menu for all.

For this latest occasion (yes, I have been many times), I was meeting a good friend, Stace (pictured above) who I’ve known for many years but who lives in far north Scotland these days. This means that I don’t get to see her, and her husband, Wes that often. Sometimes she comes down to London for work, and it so happened I also was in London for the three days that overlapped with her last week in London (she’s expecting a baby soon). How serendipitous!

Anyway, back to the food. Stace ordered the mutton shanks (a strange, but just as delicious choice) that came with a good assortment of freshly shucked peas and beans.

Debating about the wonderful burger and the tempting hickory smoked ribs, I asked what our waitress recommended and it turned out to be the latter. What arrived was a generous serving of gorgeously smoked and tender ribs where the meat pulled away from the bone with minimal fuss. It came with some fresh sweet corn, coleslaw and some fat fries that weren’t as good as I’ve had there before. Knowing my dish was going to come without any greens, I ordered a fresh side salad that proved the perfect accompaniment.

We considered some dessert, but both of the main meals defeated us. My choice would have been the eton mess.

Describing the Fox and Anchor as having plenty of character would be an understatement. On a good day, you can find some proper metallic tankards to drink some local British ale, and find little enclaves in the back such as the Foxes Lare.

Although I chose to share this with the world, this place is really too good to spread the word too loudly.

Name: The Fox and Anchor
Found at: 115 Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6AA

Duke of Wellington

With Frankie visiting in town, and Luca returning from out of town, I suggested we try somewhere different other than our usual Marylebone haunt, The Providores. I searched my list and suggested we try the gastro pub, The Duke of Wellington.

Things looked good with a very busy pub downstairs and a small dining room upstairs. Interesting memorabilia, almost slightly tacky, line the walls catching my eye as we head towards our table, beers in hand. It’s not a very large dining room and like most London institutes, fairly tightly cramped together. Here’s the menu, full of interesting things divided into the usual three sections.

The dining room definitely brings a more formal environment to your typical gastropub. White table clothed dining, oh my!

Here was someone’s starter, the Goats Cheese Salad. It disappeared rapidly and not because it was for a lack of cheese I’m betting.

Unable to make the effort at home, I’m tempted by the crab bisque, strong flavours distilled into the soup. Perfect to balance out the chilly winds outside.

Frankie and Toni got drawn in by the burger with pulled pork. It’s an impressive assemblage, although like the GBK chain, almost entirely impossible to eat without a knife and a fork. The lack of any chips leftover also meant they were pretty good.

Luca was a little bit less impressed by his steak sandwich although it looked pretty impressive to me.

Going for a richer, smaller option, I go for the unusual truffled artichoke layered lasagne served with some red cabbage on the side. Though the portion size looks small, the big flavours and rich creamy bechamel easily make up for it.

Unable to resist pudding, a couple of us went for the sticky toffee pudding served with banana ice cream. It was huge and definitely a showstopper for the evening.

Just a cool doorhandle on the way out.

And the gang, Frankie, Toni and Luca outside responding to my paparazzi camera flashes.

With wine, the total evening came to about £45 a head.

Name: The Duke of Wellington
Found at: 94a Crawford Street, Marylebone, W1H 2HQ, London

Tom Aikens Take Two

One of the problems about not writing up a food entry at a complicated tasting course is that you start to forget all of the various elements. Last year, I got another voucher to eat at Tom Aikens at almost a 40%. Given they had a special Christmas menu on as well, it was definitely worthwhile. This was my second visit to Tom Aikens (first review here), and the service and food still consistently as good. The descriptions are going to brief and this post is more of a reminder as to what I ate there than anything.

Here’s the first bread I ate, an onion bread of sorts.

An amuse bouche including a mushroom/truffle soup, cheese bite and a dish that was sort sort of jelly (that I can’t remember now).

Look at all that bread! This is exactly what I referred to when I talked about American restaurants didn’t seem to care so much about their bread. This is definitely a bit of overkill though.

I think the next dish was aubergine and foie gras. Can’t really remember this one either.

And a more seasonal addition, pickled reindeer with various beetroots and leaves. Poor rudolph!

Followed up by some roast squab. I’m glad to remember that this squab wasn’t very chewy and was extremely easy to cut and eat. Tasty too.

Next up. Desserts! First, this raspberry concoction including a fizzy raspbery sorbet and raspberry filled white chocolate “cigar” as they called it.

Finally the other seasonal touch, the pumkin dessert that served it four fives ways (pumpkin pie, ice cream, cream, cake and truffle). A pretty subtle flavour that works well.

Of course, they finish off with their wide selection of freshly baked madelines

And their just as diverse selection of chocolates (petite fours)

Another fantastic meal at Tom Aikens.

Name: Tom Aikens
Found at: 43 Elystan Street, London SW3 3NT

Hawksmoor Covent Garden

Any good foodie will know about Hawksmoor. Apparently it and Goodman’s are the biggest contenders for great steak restaurants in London. Don’t get go near any of those Aberdeen Angus Steakhouses, and don’t get me started on the terrible value of the Gaucho chain.

The good Italian family and I (in the role of honorary family member) arranged for a Christmas gathering at the second and newest location of Hawksmoor in Covent Garden. As much as they call themselves on the seven dials, it really doesn’t qualify. I looked forward to the evening since I’d heard so much about it and I’ve always enjoyed my steaks when dining at their Commercial Street location even despite the infamy of their Kim Chi Burger.

With a booking a 9pm, we decided to meet a little bit earlier. Unbeknownst to many people this location actually has a reasonably sized bar where you can even book a table to dine on. The bar was certainly busy when I sat down just after 7pm. Every table seemed busy though cleared down as the night went on. Their cocktail list seemed pretty exhaustive with plenty of inventive drinks and many pages to flip through.

Sitting in the bar area, everything is table service though unfortunately it took me about twenty minutes before I managed to order my first drink. A shame considering I sat in front of the maitre de with numerous waiters zooming between the bar and the dining room (pictured above in a poor iPhone-quality photo). On the plus side, I tweeted about it to the @HawksmoorLondon twitter who pleasingly responded (more on that later).

Our time for dinner finally arrived and quite famished from the waiting happily ordered after perusing the menu. Toni got the 6 Cumbrae Oysters (£10) (pictured above) whilst both Luca and I choose the ribs (pictured below). I’m happy to report the soft succulent flesh of the pig remained juicy and tender with plenty of flavour from the sauce covered around it. Don’t expect an American-style BBQ ribs – on the menu, they’re called Tamworth Belly Ribs (£9) so they are a bit more fatty than expected. It’s all worth it for the flavour though. Though happy with that dish, if I returned I’d try the Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint & Caper Salad £10) since I read many reviews.

Three of us decided to share one of the 900gram porterhouse steaks since we wanted something more juicy, although Marco decided to go solo on his 300g fillet (£30). Ordering it for medium-rare, we expected pink, juicy slices served on the tiny skillets. Unfortunately what arrived was a much more medium to well done steak. We noticed it only after grabbing a small slice and went to tell our waiter about the terrible fate this Ginger Pig-sourced piece found. We flagged the maitre de with our waiter nowhere to be seen, and with a single look, agreed with our observation before immediately sending back for another one. The second time around, we got a much better looking piece of meat, although they kindly let us keep the previous one. I forgot to take any pictures of this in action.

Fortunately all of the sides lived up to my expectations including this deliciously soft and creamy Mac and Cheese (£4) that arrives in its own little cast iron pot.

The beef dripping chips (£4), though really, really bad for you tasted amazing. Nice, crisp and full of flavour.

A couple of us also went for dessert. Here’s my decadent cornflake mini-sundae (£4) that worked to finish me off for the evening.

We finished off the evening with a round of whiskey (mmm, smoky Laphroaig £10.50) and an espresso (£3). The maitre de delivered the drinks and told us he would get them on the house apologising for the meal stuff up and the twenty minute wait earlier in the evening. Well done on Will from Hawksmoor for sending someone across.

Unfortunately the third strike arrived when we hit our bill and I scanned it to make sure it looked correct and found two desserts added that we never really had. Even though it didn’t have a huge impact to our bill because of the amount of food and drink we had, I found it particularly annoying to notice these two items slip in. Pointing it out to our waiter, he apologised acknowledging those dishes were for the table next to us.

I really wanted to love my Hawksmoor experience. I wanted great food, great service (which the 12.5% really did not warrant that night) with great ambiance yet they faltered a few too many times. Customer service did well to make up for a number of misgivings yet it concerns me that restaurants of such fame have these fundamental problems. Oh, and did I mention it’s not on the Seven Dials as much as they claim all over their website, it’s down Langely Street near the famous Pineapple Dance Studios.

Name: Hawksmoor Covent Garden
Found at: 11 Langley St, London, WC2H 9JG