Bentley’s, Mayfair

Lunch with a favourite client today, we’ve decided to go outside and have seafood and pretend we’re on holiday… we headed over to Bentley’s, which has some of the best seafood in Mayfair (along with Scott’s), and a terrace to die for.

Ivo went the simple route and ordered the fish and chips… big, lightly battered pieces of fish with a few fries and some mushy peas… it looked delicious, especially with all the lemon and tartar sauce he smothered on.

IMG_5061

We each had a bit of wine as well… and some greens on the side, which were steamed, then finished off in butter… the peas and runner beans were crunchy, and the courgette and squash was well seasoned.

On the side, you can also see my unfinished bread, which went very well with the seaweed butter that they served us…

IMG_5063

I went for the sushi bowl, which seemed a bit odd for a regular British seafood restaurant, but I’m so glad that I did… sashimi-grade salmon, tuna, lobster, scallops, yellow-fin tuna and oysters, all served with some pickled radish, ginnger and cucumber, and some wasabi and soy sauce on the side… with some sticky rice in the middle… this was a real treat.

The fish and shellfish was all very fresh and all very tasty (unlike some, where you can’t actually taste the fish!) and the sides made for a good balance with the raw fish… this was the perfect, light meal.

IMG_5062

Not to mention that the rest of the menu looks delicious, from the dressed crab to all sorts of seafood platters to the fresh fish… I’ll be back soon to take advantage of this terrace again!

Advertisements

Gazele, Mayfair

Gazele is a new restaurant in Mayfair that I’ve been wanting to try since it opened up a few months ago. Armed with an adventurous friend visiting from New York, I headed over to give it a try.

And it’s an interesting place. The decoration is quite swish, with lots of bright pops of colour, fur, gold, and marble. When we got there, it was empty, but by the time we left, a few tables were occupied… maybe 20%.

The menu is divided into small bites, appetizers, main dishes and desserts, all meant to be shared, and all described by several ingredients (and nothing else), so it’s tough to get an idea of exactly what to expect on your plate. And they’re all quite small! So we picked the suggested 4-5 per person, and off we went!

I didn’t get to take pictures of all of the food, so let me go through my favourite dishes…

The three best dishes we had were a vegetarian dish, a seafood dish, and a meat dish… so there’s something for everyone!

My favourite dish was the Parmesan foam topped with leaves and anchovy bones. The Parmesan foam was light but tangy and flavourful, topped with delicate herbs of all kinds, including chervril that gave it an especially light taste… Then, the anchovy… tiny fish skeletons, which looked quite aggressive (though, also delicate, matching with the foam and herb vibe) but gave a light, subtle and briny taste that complemented the Parmesan quite well.

Secondly, I loved the squid… very lightly cooked and served in ribbons, it was mixed in with girolle mushrooms and “jowl,” which was essentially pieces of jamon Iberico… once again, this was a great combination, as the squid acted like a pasta, bound together with the meaty ham and sprinkled with the woodsy mushroom… I had to make an effort to share this with Omar, as I could have easily gobbled it down in a few bites! (see the squid with girolles below on the left – on the right is the turbot, wrapped in herbs, which was good, but just not as outstanding as the few others I mentioned)/

Finally, the presa, the Iberican pork, came out seared on the sides, perfectly medium rare inside and sprinkled with bits of salt… it was sitting on a bed of carrot sauce and carrots… I thought that they did a nice job of cutting the rich flavour of the pork, which might have otherwise been overwhelming, but together they were perfect. This pork reminds me of the one at Barrafina that is just as tender and well-cooked…

The desserts were also good, imaginative and tasty, but it was really these three dishes that stood out for me. I would come back to try them again, this time focusing on the best-tasting dishes!

One +, Chinatown

A new place to try in Chinatown, with all sorts of wonderful-looking Sichuwan dishes like boiled fish in chilis… but you really need a group for those kinds of dishes, as you want to try several ones and each dish is quite large…

So we went for simple. Smacked cucumbers in a Sichuwan chili sauce… healthy but tangy!

And vermicelli noodles with egg, sprouts and scallions. The noodle are springy and the egg, quite tasty in the soy sauce mix… with the sprouts giving just enough crunch to counter the spring in the noodles and the squishy scrambled egg..

While it hit the spot, I don’t think that the noodle dish really demonstrated the best of One +’s cuisine… we’ll have to come back to try some of the more regional dishes!

Laxeiro, Columbia Road

A little staycation in London for the weekend, we checked into a hotel in Shoreditch to switch things up a bit… which ended up being perfect timing with the 32-35 average heat during the day…

For lunch, we headed over to Columbia Road and to a Spanish place that we had been to for my birthday a few years before…

This time, we had the lunch special, which is two tapas and a drink for £14. Andre ordered the grilled sardines and the beetroot salad, with a glass of cava (not included) on the side.

The sardines were big and juicy, with a nice relish on top of them…

IMG_4882

The beetroot salad with peppered with lots of red onion, a light goat’s cheese, and a sherry vinegar that made everything slightly sweet…. it was a nice combination, with the sweet beetroot, the earthy goat’s cheese, and the sharp onions. This was my favourite dish.

IMG_4883

I went for the Pisto Manchego, a mix of aubergines, courgettes, peppers, and tomato, all topped with a fried egg. This was quite good, as the vegetables had all simmered together for a while, and the softly fried egg on the top was delicious when broken and mixed in the with the veg.

IMG_4884

We also got a plain tortilla which was spot on, gooey in the middle and well-cooked outside… I polished this off with a glass of Riojan white (included in the lunch menu). A healthy, quick lunch on the terrace overlooking the pedestrian street, this place never fails to please!

PEARL Hackney Wick

A Friday afternoon and I’d taken off to grab lunch with Andre in East London… I’d booked Cornerstone, a new restaurant with Cornish vibes that looks absolutely delicious…. and when we got there, it was closed! Checking the reservation, I saw that I had booked for the next week… damn.

So, we went across the road to the cafe nearby and decided to have lunch there instead. The options on the menu are simple, with lots of egg dishes, a few salads, and a few burgers.

I went for the haloumi and falafel salad, which was quite substantial, served with roasted aubergine, tomato, and big, leafy greens. The falafel wasn’t overfried, and the haloumi was generous.. it was a big dish! Topped with drizzles of a tahini-based sauce, I enjoyed this salad quite a bit (if not as much as I would have, a lunch at Cornerstone!)

IMG_4856

Andre got an omelette with tomatoes and mushrooms, with some salad on the side… it was HUGE.

While we waited for our food to come out, we started to play chess… then, overwhelmed by the idea of how long the game could take, abandoned it pretty soon after the food came!

IMG_4858

Chez Hortense, Cap Ferret, France

In Cap Ferret for a birthday weekend, and after some crazy traveling plans and rearranging of flights, rental cars and trains, we made it for the birthday on Saturday night! As we had missed Friday night, we missed the dinner at Chez Hortense, so decided to check it out for lunch on Sunday.

Situated on the bay, with a view of the Dune du Pilat across the bay, Chez Hortense is very low-key, all wooden tables and painted in dark green, but it’s the place to be for seafood on a Sunday at lunchtime!

We had plans to meet friends there for lunch, walked in… and saw everyone else that had been at the party on Saturday night! Great minds think alike!

So while people order all sorts of beautiful seafood and fish at Chez Hortense, the real specialty is the mussels. So, we ordered mussels and fries for three, and Jean had the turbot (which was also very good).

The mussels show up and look like they’re topped wtih shallots, garlic, and something a bit meaty tasting, but I couldn’t put my finger exactly on what. It turns out that they’re cooked with Bayonne ham, sausage meat, breadcrumbs, parsley and white wine, along with that garlic and shallots!

And oh, wow, what a taste. See that mound of mussels on the table? When it showed up, I didn’t think it would be enough for three people… turns out we ate about half of it, as it’s quite a generous portion.

We left Cap Ferret that evening with me dreaming of the mussels at Chez Hortense… I can’t wait to go back! A little aperitf at one of the mussel shacks, then biking over to Chez Hortense… the summer holiday dream!

Chickpea – Lebanese Street Food, New Cross, London

A spontaneous weekend away, we decided to head to the beach! Driving through London to get to the M2, we were starving by the time we got to New Cross and realised we had at least another hour before we got to Whitstable… so we stopped at a Lebanese place for some sandwiches.

I ordered us two shish taouk pitas… grilled chicken wraps with onions and spices, and waited for them to be done. And waited. And waited. Overall, they took about 15 minutes, which I found long, given how quickly every other customer was coming in and out of the shop, but when they were done, it was worth the wait.

A large wrap filled with crispy red onions, a delicious, creamier than most, curried and spicy sauce surrounding the chicken… and the chicken itself? Delicious. Moist, large pieces of chicken that had been perfectly grilled. Usually in Lebanese restaurants (to make a huge generalisation), the grilled chicken is overcooked and dry. This was so delightful. This made for the perfect meal for our hungry stomachs, as we continued on towards the beach.