Dinner at The Delauney

Trying to catch up with Luca to hear how his trip to China went, we agreed to meet for dinner on the Bank Holiday at The Delauney. I was intriguied to see how the dinner service would compare to my only experiences there for breakfast. Firstly, service is impeccable.

Delauney Bread

I don’t remember if there was a cover charge or whether or not we were charged for the bottled fizzy water (which was just refilled again and again) but we did get some very well executed bread and butter on the table. The ala carte menu appears very confused and out of place with their posh decore. Although appropriately matching their “Austrian-ness” there are schnitzels and wieners on the menu (including one served on a hot dog bun), but then you have a number of English dishes and general European ones as well.

Chicken Soup

Wanting something warm to drink, I opted for the chicken noodle soup above (£6.95). The stock was clear, full of flavour although the noodles were a bit more like the stuff you’d expect in a cup-of-soup rather than something like that. Although delicious, found this to be one of their more pricy dishes.


For my main, I opted for the Kedgeree as I’d never had it before. What arrived was a bowl of soup in a rich curry sauce. Throughout it, laid hidden, were chunks of flaked smoked haddock and topped with a perfectly poached egg that burst with yolk on cutting through. A rich, delicious and decadent dish worth the £12 price.

White Asparagus

I also ordered the white asparagus (£10.50) as a side because I knew that it was in season, and they are really delicious when fresh. The asparagus came “Rhein-Pfalz” which arrived heavily dressed in a sauce coating with lots of capers, vinegar and other ingredients. Yum.


Luca ordered a beautifully cooked and extremely well presented plate of fish. I think it was the Sea Trout with samphire, peas, broad beans and soft herbs (£18.25) that was apparently very tasty as well. I know that samphire is delicious and is the perfect accompaniment for an animal from the sea.

Rodney Roast

My former flatmate Tom received an unusual present for his 30th birthday. A whole pig. Yup. The entire animal that probably weighed in at about 90kg at slaughter. He arranged a weekend ages back when “Rodney” arrived at his parents place but even with all of his family and friends in attendance, a lot of “Rodney” went to his neighbours and his parent’s freezer.

Tom arranged for a weekend roast to continue eating a part of Rodney and he had a lot of us around, on a beautifully sunny day that involved drinking some tasty home made cider, plenty of Pimms and lots of other delicious food.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves because the food was so beautiful.

Spring Menu at Morgan M

During the Easter weekend, I managed to get a small part of the vegetarian crew back together again to enjoy the delights of the very reasonable Morgan M. This place is amazing value and I have no idea how they do tasting menus for so cheap.

We went for the spring “From the Garden” tasting menu. Five courses for only £48. Yes, you still have to pay service, and yes the drinks are extra on top of that. For the quality of the food though, it’s still great value.

Here’s our menu details but I won’t bother trying to write about each dish beacuse each was really great, and was focused on chatting and catching up with everyone that I didn’t really have a chance to take any notes.

Mojette Bean Soup, Carrot, Basil Leaf, Parsley Oil

Early spring salad of artichoke soubise, broad bean and confit tomato, pine nuts and lambs lettuce

Canneloni of “Paris” mushroom julienne, Parsley root Purêe and Broth

Beetroot Glazed with balsamic vinegar, goat’s cheese and pine nuts biscuit

Rhubarb Confit, Pain de Genoa, Rhubarb and Jurançon Ice-cream strawberry coulis

I’m glad to see that they were very busy on a Saturday evening. Much busier than when I went here last time on a Monday evening.

Hawksmoor Air Street

Out of the great steak places in London, Hawksmoor is one of those that are consistently good and although, not cheap, is great value for the quality of the food and the service you get. We had a dinner booking at Hawksmoor Air Street, one of the latest expansions of the steak restaurant located near the bottom of Piccadilly. It’s outfitted with a larger number of booths, polished floors and significantly more suited customers to go along with it all. I can only imagine their city outlet would compete with them on this. Nevertheless the food did not disappoint as you can see in the photos below.

Name: Hawksmoor Air Street
Website: http://thehawksmoor.com/airstreet
Found at: 5a Air St London W1J 0AD

The Secrets to Perfect Pork Belly

There are a lot of techniques that make a pork belly successful. I recently cooked with for dinner with some friends and, I think, it turned out pretty well:

The result

In order to make a good roast pork belly, you want to ensure the meat is soft. That means slow cooking the meat for a long time. However, you also want a crisp skin. A crisp skin only works with a high temperature, but you have to balance out both of these aspects. Here are a couple of principles worth noting after doing some reading on the internet:

  • Dry the skin – There are many different ways of drying the skin. Scoring the skin helps more heat get in, and more fat to escape, leading to crisper skin. Salt naturally draws out moisture and will help. Some argue that oil is not needed. I tried a little bit figuring at high temperatures, it’s slightly like frying. Pouring freshly boiled water onto the skin “shocks” and helps draw out more moisture, if you then follow it up by leaving it in the fridge uncovered for a while.
  • Roast the skin at high temperature – I cooked the pork belly at high heat to start off with to start the skin drying out. I protected the rest of the meat from the heat by putting foil around everything but the skin. I then dropped the temperature, and then towards the end, raised it again.

Here’s a picture of the pork belly, skin sliced, having been drenched with boiling water and then rubbed with salt and left in the fridge to uncover. Before putting into the oven, I patted it down with kitchen paper, added more salt and a little bit of oil before putting it into a hot oven.

Pork Belly Resting in Fridge

Serve with some roasted vegetables and greens!

Roasted Vegetables

Hawksmoor Guildhall

I think I may have eaten at all the Hawksmoor locations now, after having dinner with my sister at the Hawksmoor City branch. Also open for breakfast and suprisingly close to where I live, it’s a tempting offer since it’s only about a ten or fifteen minute walk. I’d really have to do something to both work up an appetite for the meat-heavy plate and also do something to work it all off.

I agreed that I’d meet my sister for dinner after going to the gym, knowing how rich and decadent the Hawksmoor meals could be and how I can’t really stop myself from ordering. It’s one of the most consistently great places I trust for a good steak even if it’s sometimes hard to get a booking.

On a Friday night, the Hawksmoor Guildhall branch was buzzing. It was one of those strange days where it was raining particularly heavy outside. I’m glad I was able to leave my soaking wet umbrella upstairs in the cloakroom before descending downstairs. I’m met by I’m guessing the head maitre-de who was fantastically friendly, striking up a conversation instead of simply leading me to my table.

Fortunately I booked and I didn’t have to wait for my table, with my sister joining about five minutes later. The classic Hawksmoor elements are there. A warming bar for those waiting for tables or who failed to reserve a table. Dark wooden tables, an underground cavern feel and the buzzing nature of a busy steakhouse.

One thing that stood out for me in this particular Hawksmoor location (and it wasn’t just me as my sister commented on it too) was how extremely noisy it was. We fortunately had a table against the wall at the back of the dining room, with a wide view of the entire restuarant. However, maybe it’s a city thing, particularly on a Friday when too many city workers had already had a few and there were notably a lot more shrieks and group “chants” than I’ve ever heard anywhere. It made me feel like I was attending a football match than I was dinner.

Like most of the Hawksmoor restaurants, their waiters and waitresses are friendly. We had a particularly warm Spanish (I think) waitress who took care of us for the evening. She refilled our tap water without hesitation, and observed when the bread that I ordered hadn’t arrived when the appetiser we ordered had, asked if we still wanted it.

We went a bit lighter on ordering, sharing a starter (the Tamworth Belly ribs are to die for and significantly larger than normal portion), skipping dessert and just opting for a good steak with some nice sides Perfectly cooked medium-rare steak arrived for me and went down a treat with the umami-rich mushrooms, creamed spinach and the wonderfully executed fries. No disappointments there.

My sister asked if she could order something off the bar menu, and not feeling like a steak opted for the beef brisket sandwich served in a toasted brioche bun with bone marrow sauce. Considering how rich, tasty and large it was, it is a really good deal for the price we paid.

Pear Crumble

Although apple crumble is probably one of the most well known “crumble” desserts, the concept translates very well to other fruits similar to it. Plum, rhubarb, cherry are all good types, but my favourite is the pear crumble. Crumbles are great for a proper winter dessert, and I love the contrast of hot and cold elements when you combine it with custard that has been sitting in the fridge or a plain vanilla ice cream. Even a hot custard works just as well with these sorts of puddings.

There are plenty of variations worth trying including stewing the fruit beforehand to produce a crumble with more sauce, or try cloves *and* cinnamon for a very festive treat. Here’s the recipe that I have used for a crumble pretty reliably:

Ingredients for the base

  • 6 pears (for four people) – Find good cooking pears if you want more texture
  • 20g brown sugar

Ingredients for the topping

  • 100g butter
  • 100g flour
  • 3 tablespoons oats
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 30g brown sugar


  • Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Or cut the butter into the flour with a knife. It should look a little like breadcrumbs afterwards.
  • Mix in the oats, cinnamon and brown sugar. The oats give the crumble more texture. Try Demerara sugar for some more bite.
  • Peel, core, and slice the pears into fan-like fingers. Arrange in layers until you at least cover the bottom of the dish you are using
  • Sprinkle the 20g of brown sugar on top (not too much otherwise it’ll be too sweet)
  • Cover the pears with the crumble topping and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180oC until it’s brown
  • Serve with your choice of accompaniment. Serves four people.

And now in pictures:

Measure out the butter.


Add the flour in.


With some cinammon.


Now with a knife, cut the butter into the flour, or rub it in with your fingertips. Your goal is to coat the butter with flour and minimise the amount of gluten.


Now add the brown sugar.

Brown Sugar

And muesli. Mix together, and top your cut up fruit.


After baking, enjoy the result. Serve with custard. I prefer the hot-cold contrast and decadence to have crumble served with ice cream.

Pear Crumble Result

Breakfasting at The Delaunay

One of the very well praised restaurants to have popped up in central London is The Delaunay. It’s a European cafe/restaurant located just off the side of the strand. The cafe portion is unmissable with large windows viewing into a very grand reception, whilst the entrance to the restaurant is slightly inset from some formidable gates.


As a meeting breakfast place, I find this to be a good option because it opens at 7am. Most other places in central London open at 8am, and if you happen to be working in the area that is fine, but hard if you need to further your journey. It’s easy to meet for an hour meeting and then be on your way for a normal day.

Everything engraved with a D

Operated by the same people behind The Wolseley and Brasserie Zedel one expects the service and the food to be up to high standards. And it is.


Although we weren’t asked for our coats to be taken, the restaurant has plenty of space and numerous coat stands near most of the tables. We were seated promptly and then asked if wanted some drinks. Juices are reasonable, although I found the £4.50 they charge slightly excessive. Stick with the Americano for the same price, but greater quantities.

Pancakes with Blueberries

Whilst we talk about price. Many of dishes are extremely reasonable. Porridge for £4.75 (yes, it is a restaurant), plain pancakes £6.75, or with bacon £9.50 or blueberries (pictured above) for £9.75. Perhaps you just want some muesli for £4.25. All amazingly great value considering the atmosphere and the execution (three pancakes is plenty!).

Single Benedict

At the other extreme, you do pay dearly if you want any of the benedict/florentine/arlington eggs. £7.25 for the cheapest (single), or up to £17 for two. Yes, it’s quality, but it’s terrible dear. Having said that, service was very prompt, the atmosphere extremely grand and a wonderful place to have an early breakfast during the week. Note that the place fills up with suits by about 8am, so it’s definitely the in-place to have some business meetings. I prefer just the leisurely breakfast there.

Name: The Delaunay
Website: www.thedelaunay.com
Found at: 55 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BB

Michelin Starred Food at Morgan M

I have been wanting to eat at Morgan M for some time. The chef is well known for previously running a Michelin-starred restaurant and their clean, French approach was now available just down the road on the hidden side of Smithfields market. I met Luca here for a way to catch up – we both enjoy our food and always tempted to try something new.

Morgan M Menu

Unlike several other restaurants it the area, Morgan M was surprisingly open on a Monday evening. We totally won out by being able to enjoy the food, although the area is quiet on a Monday evening and we didn’t see the restaurant have any other guests the rest of the evening. It’s definitely not a reflection of the food, or the decore – both being very good and also reasonably priced.

Restaurant Interior

We both decided quickly – the seasonally changing menu six course tasting menu is a steal at £52 (obviously more with accompanying wine), and you even get to choose between two alternatives in some of the courses. The bread was fantastic – even that had a choice of two and was obviously fresh out of the oven, slightly warm and a superb crust.


Our first course, cream of turnip and white truffle, glazed button onions definitely set the tone for the entire menu. A warm appetiser, made from in-season ingredients helped to fight against the cold outside and ready our appetites. Though not a big bowl, it’s size did not reflect upon the massive flavours contained in each mouthful.

Turnip soup

We diverged at the next dish, Luca opting for the ravioli of snails in Chablis, garlic froth, red wine jus

Snail Ravioli

I wanted to order the crayfish and lobster cannelloni with tarragon, Jerusalem Artichoke Soubise, Shellfish Cappuccino . Although dangerously looking like something you wouldn’t normally see at the dinner table, the cannelloni was divine. Each mouthful burst with the taste of the sea and the last bite wanting for me. Generous with the amount of crayfish and lobster, I have no idea how they make their money with this dish on the menu (I hope they do make money so I can go back and try some others)


Our next dish was a Seared fillet of John Dory, carrot and ginger risotto, lemon and saffron broth. The piece of fish was large – much more than what I expected to have from a tasting menu and cooked well with its skin crisp but still full of moist flesh. The clever ginger and carrot dish helped lighten up the risotto, and my worries for an excessive, overpowering taste were fortunately not met.

John Dory

We both ordered the same dish out of the next selection. Slow cooked boar, celeriac purée, braised root vegetables, sauce civet. It wasn’t the strongest tasting boar that I’ve had (a good thing) but the meat was tender and fell apart easily and was exactly what I wanted to eat as a main dish on a cold winter day. The braised root vegetables, though cooked still had some bite and the celeriac purée really brought the whole dish together.

Wild boar

A short intercourse of dessert was a light vanilla rice pudding, orange tuille and was strangely the star of the evening. The flavours really burst out of this simple dish and the rice pudding cleverly made light by turning it into a type of ice-cream (it’s going to win my heart over). Combined with the crunch of the well executed tuille it had a contrast of textures that made consuming it a pleasure.

Vanilla rice pudding

We split at the other dessert course as well. Luca ordering the orange segment salad marinated with Campari, pain de gêne, grand manier ice-cream. It looked really good though I didn’t taste it.

Orange segment salad

Even though I am not the biggest souffle fan, I still ordered the blueberry and pistachio souffle, blueberry sorbet and pistachio creme anglaise. An impressive, light souffle arrived and a little bit of table-side dining when the waiter struck the souffle lightly (it remained fluffy) before pouring in the pistachio creme anglaise. Though skeptical, the flavours worked wonderfully. I should really have had no doubt.


A really wonderful evening with hospital service, amazing food and good surrounds. Go now, support it’s business and enjoy the great valued-meal there.

Name: Morgan M
Found at: 50 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9EJ
Website: http://www.morganm.com/

A Sketch Gallery Experience

Although I have drunk a number of times at the very ritzy, interesting Sketch bar, I’m yet to eat there. The gallery restaurant sits in between the main foyer and the egg-shaped cocktail room (you need to visit the toilets for an interesting alien-like experience) and this is where we ate. There’s is a good reason I haven’t eaten at Sketch as well – because all of the art-themed decore and beautiful surroundings, the unique and its in-the-heart-of-Mayfair location definitely reflects in the prices you pay for the food and drink.

I believe the Sketch Gallery restaurant is the more casual of the two dining locations. The other being a more upmarket restaurant that holds a Michelin star although I don’t really know if it is more formal or fancy. I’m just guessing.

What’s fascinating about the Gallery restaurant is how everything is totally unique – and it’s the interesting attention to detail to ensure that nothing is repeated. The theme goes right all the way through, and I can appreciate the effort. Cutlery, drinking vessels, tables, chairs, all of them completely different. Even the salt and pepper shakers at each table are different.

You could argue this makes replacing broken or missing items much easier, but each item is still pretty high quality. Anyway, on to the food. Bread and butter doesn’t come for free, but at least it was pretty good quality. It really should at £4.

We started with two different dishes. I tried the Chantilly Lace: black rice, basmati rice, lobster bisque, red pepper, horseradish cream (£13). The allure of a good lobster bisque is something I can’t really resist and it was very well executed as well. I did find the double rice combination a bit strange, and would have preferred more bisque and less rice. Still very good.

The other starter was the Foie gras terrine, girolles in vinegar, cranberry chutney, quince paste and pistachio (£24).

The Poached, roasted and lacquered pork belly, crunchy red cabbage, salad was actually reasonable at £20, although I only had a small taste. The pork belly was tender, not too fatty and still full of flavour.

I had ordered the Roast wild venison saddle, and lemon purée, quince paste, shoulder of venison stew, Jerusalem artichokes (£30) and boy was it good. The venison stew was probably the best part of the entire dish although the venison saddle was cooked extremely well (rare!) and still very tender. I just love anything that is so soft, full of flavour and the stew was the perfect vehicle to carry all the other flavours.

We opted to try a couple of sides as well. The strangely sounding (and just as strangely tasting) gnocchi with green curry sauce (£5) and a stack of onion rings (£4) very well executed. Each ring perfectly crisp and a decent sized onion strip inside.

Although none of the desserts really jumped out at me, I figured I wouldn’t be back for a very long time, so it was worth trying something. Just like the main menu, it took me a while deliberating over the crazy choices. They all sounded so complicated and the result sounded quite confusing. In the end we asked for a couple of recommendations and ordered them. The one that I didn’t order, the Sketch Chocolat – Salted butter caramel, sacher sponge cake, guanaja chocolate mousse, orange ice cream. (£10) was probably the best. The orange ice cream by itself was one of the best parts.

I didn’t really want to order the same although that one appealed the most. Instead, I had the Cheese cake – Elderflower sponge cake, cheesecake cream, ‘bono’ shortbread, candied lemon, pear sorbet (£8.5), a lighter and more delicate dessert that was completely the opposite of what you think of when you are ordering a real cheesecake. It was still a very pleasing dessert, though not the best I’ve ever had.

Sketch Gallery is definitely best reserved for one of those special occasions. The price definitely adds up for the meal and that’s not even including the drinks that would add significantly more if you want to try all their amazing cocktails. Still, it was a great experience and I think that’s what they are all about.

Name: Sketch Gallery Restaurant
Found at: 9 conduit street, London W1S 2XG
Website: http://sketch.uk.com/