Cabane Mont Fort, Verbier

Our third day of skiing, it’s just Andre and I as we stayed the Sunday night, and we find ourselves at the Cabane Mont Fort, which we had been to last year and I loved!

So, back we came… Unlike many of the other restaurants in Verbier, Cabane Mont Fort is in between a canteen and regular waiter-service restaurant. You go up to the order window and order whatever you’d like… and they give you a ticket to hand in after your main meal if you want dessert or a coffee (so that you don’t have to queue up at the order window and pay again!)

Andre went for the croute – with tons of cheese, some lardons, cornichons and baby pickled onions, and an egg on top. Apparently it tasted just ok!

I went for the veal sausage, which was exactly as expected, and pretty good with the light salad on the side…

And then, for dessert, they have all sorts of berry tartes… we went for the raspberry, which had a nice filling and fruit, but for me, it was the pastry crust that really did it… crusty and firm, not at all soggy…

And the view didn’t suck either…


Le Mouton Noir, Verbier

The next day, we had another beautiful day of spring-like weather and blue skies… and decided to sit outside again (seriously, in January, how lucky are we?!)

Today, we were looking at the sled dogs (mostly huskies!) in the pen near the restaurant and thinking about going sledding one day…

The menu at Le Mouton Noir isn’t very large, and it more high end than your typical mountain food…. though as we didn’t want a steak or veal, we went for the lower-end options…

I went for the chicken burger, which was served with goat cheese and a honey mustard sauce. Lightly fried, it crunched nicely and the mix of the goat cheese and honey mustard was really good. The fries were also very good, mushy inside and very fried (tasted like they have been fried a few times) on the outside… this surprisingly ended up being quite a good dish!

Andre had the croute with ham, cheese and an egg. It was good, but not amazing… the cheese had managed to congeal on top of the bread without really mixing in, so it just tasted like toast with congealed cheese on top. Meh.

After a little sit in the sun to digest, we were off to ski again!

Carrefour, Verbier, Switzerland

A ski weekend with good friends out in Verbier… the January weather felt like we were in March or April, and we were blessed with sun every day! So, as you do, we sat out on a terrace at Carrefour.

As you can see, everyone had the same genius idea as us..

We all went for the healthy-ish option, a salad… with lardons and cheese ­čÖé The salad was fresh (and real salad leaves, not this iceberg or romaine that you can hardly taste!) with tomatoes, olives, cucumber, egg, and carrot… very nice topped with chunks of cheese, some sliced Parmesan, and those delicious, crispy lardons! But the best part? The dressing. There were two dressings on the table, a regular, creamy vinaigrette and its sister, which came stuffed with herbs. I went for the herb version, and it made a real difference!

Overall, a healthy(ish) lunch with good company and some sunshine, what more could we want?!

Xu, Soho

A few months ago, a new restaurant opened in Chinatown, this time a tea parlour that serves Taiwanese fare in a 1920’s glamorous setting!

The tea list consists of two cold and nine hot teas, with flavour descriptions such as having a slight taste of “yams.” They served the tea in a ceramic cup, already brewed, but also bring you a small teapot with tea inside (empty) and a large carafe of hot water, so that you can reserve yourself tea (I had another four servings… and it didn’t seem like it made even a dent in the water!)

I have to say, the lady that was my waitress was fantastic. The menu is large and quite ecclectic, with small bites, dumplings and different types of animal jerkies to start. She did an excellent job of navigating me through the menu, giving suggestions and making sure I didn’t over-order!

She suggested I try both the eel with tomato and the whipped cod roe on prawn toast to start, as those were her favourites (and two starters are good for one person).

I went for the tomato with smoked eel, which was incredible. Funnily enough, while I like eel, what was really good here was the tomato, apparently it comes from France and is much more flavourful… either way, the taste of that sweet tomato in the chili oil was such a treat! The texture of the eel was also good, but I didn’t find it especially noticeable next to the tomato.

Then, I went for the Xian Bing dumplings, pork dumplings pan-fried and served with a vinegar and chili oil. The waitress warned me that they are made with a tiny bit of broth, so to be careful when i bit into them… which I did tentatively… and they still squirted, a lot!┬áThe second dumpling squirted halfway across the room… oops. But the taste of the dumplings was good, pork with a bit of spring onion and coriander, with a nice pan-fried taste of the pancake outside.

Finally, the main course, the crab. She warned me that this would be spicy, but I found it mild after the chili oil in the tomato and eel dish…

The chilli egg-drop crab was something else… white and brown crabmeat in the shell, served with salmon roe, egg drop sauce, red chili, fermented shrimp, and garlic, the sauce was as delicious as the crab was, having a thick, but almost tomatoey consistency.

The waitress had recommended the white rice with this dish (and I listened, instead of ordering the mushroom glutinous rice), and she was right, there was no need for a flavourful rice with this dish, but more of a base or palate on which to eat these tasty bits.. Yum.

What a good lunch.. I’ll be back soon to try some of the other dishes on the menu, all of those smaller dishes but also the char shui pork and shou pa chicken!

Brawn, Bethnal Green

Last night, I had an appointment in Shoreditch, so figured it would be fun to stick around and have dinner nearby… since we almost never make it over there otherwise. I booked Brawn on Columbia Road, a restaurant that I had been wanting to go to for years, and just never made it to… and was SO excited that tonight was the night!

And wow, did it meet expectations. We started with two appetisers, the radishes with smoked cod’s roe (basically, taramasalata), the dip which was creamy and briny and very good…

We also ordered the rabbit terrine, which was one of the best terrines I’ve ever had. It was the perfect combination of being full of taste and still moist.┬áSuch delicious pate!

As a main, Andre got the pappardellle with beef shin ragu. I had a bit and it was quite good, as you could really taste the meat well over the freshly-made pasta.I went for the pink fur potato ravioli, stuffed with cheese and topped with another cheese (melted taleggio) that was delicious… and scattered with chanterelle mushrooms. So, the mushrooms were fine, but I didn’t find that they had tons of taste (more texture, really),┬ábut tasted very good with the ravioli and grated cheese on top!

The cheese inside the ravioli may have also been taleggio, but didn’t taste of very much, whereas the taleggio on top was dreamy… seriously, taking a bite of the ravioli with and without the taleggio topping were like tasting two different dishes!

After this, we shared the chocolate, olive oil and salt, which was just that, a chocolate mousse topped with a little olive oil (very strong and a nice complement to the chocolate, giving it a different aftertaste) and salt on the top… a simple but genius combination!

So, after all these years, what did I think? I’ll be back in a heartbeat, especially with all of the good-looking dishes that were coming out of the kitchen and that we hadn’t gotten to try yet!

Ella Canta, Mayfair

A girl’s night in early December, before the Christmas season properly kicked off… My friend Sara had been wanting to try Ella Canta, the Mexican restaurant that had recently opened in the Intercontinental Hotel by Martha Ortiz (better known for her restaurant Dulce Patria in Mexico City, which Sara had recently also been to and had an amazing experience). I am never one to say no to modern Mexican food, and expectations were high, so we tried it out!

After a margarita at the bar, we ordered a few appetisers to start… the guacamole, which was topped with ricotta and pomegranate (good, and we gobbled it up in about two seconds!) and the salmon tostadas, crispy chips topped with salmon escabeche, avocado, and a chipotle sauce. The tostadas were good, but a tiny morsel each… it would have been nice if they were slightly more substantial!

Next appetiser that came was the ceviche, which was also good but also small… sea bass ceviche topped with mango and a sangrita sorbet, it was called a vampire ceviche on the menu due to its colour!

They also kept bringing chips and salsas, both a red one and a green tomatillo one… we had about five of these, as both salsas were so good!

After this, the main dishes… Cindy had ordered the carnitas, whereas I ordered the cochinita al pibil. When our dishes arrived, we were sure that they switched them…

This was Cindy’s carnitas, which we both expected to be in shredded pieces… her pork was slow-cooked but not in pieces… served with an arbol chili sauce and a salad. I had a little taste and can attest that it was very good and very tender!

My cochinita pibil looked more like what I would have expected the carnitas to look like… as my pork was shredded… cooked in a delicious sauce with an anchiote paste on the side (the rust coloured sauce) and served with a black bean tortilla and black bean salad and some pickled onion, my dish was a good combinations of flavours!

Sara went for the soft-shell crab, served on a guajillo hummus and pineapple puree. I tasted a bit of her crab, that also was layered with tomatillos and radish, and it was much lighter and flakier than most soft shell crabs you get (that can sometimes be VERY fried). Yum!

Finally, it was dessert time, and we had a little room left, so we decided to share the cheesecake. It tasted like a US cheesecake, only more dense… we gobbled this up in seconds!

So what was the overall thought on Ella Canta? Everything tasted good, but not much was ground-breaking or amazing… it was “just” posh Mexican food. After Sara’s visit to Dulce Patria, we were expecting a bit more zing… and left dinner satisfied but not excited.

Green Pepper Cafe, Varkala Beach, India

On Sundays, the cafe at Soul & Surf is closed, so we had to branch out (gasp) and go somewhere else for lunch. As we didn’t want to walk all the way to the North Cliff, where most of the restaurants are, we walked over to the Green Pepper Cafe near us. They have their own cliff views of the water…

Neither of us were super hungry, we ordered light… and got some vegetable pakoras and cauliflower pakoras… crunchy and┬áslightly doughy on the outside, these were a treat!