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

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!

Temper City, London City

I had a meeting in the City on a rainy Friday, and as I waited in the meeting room for my 11am to show up, I looked outside and saw Temper restaurant.. and thought that I might stop there for a quick lunch after my meeting!

I have been wanting to go to the original Temper in Soho since it opened, as the barbecue menu sounds delicious. As I walked in and sat at the bar, I had the whole kitchen in front of me, including lots of meat hanging over a fire… and a guy preparing a large chicken skewer….

The City version has a lunch special, a £15 thali platter of either mushroom, cod, beef, or chicken, accompanied with a paneer masala, a fluffy paratha, pickles, a black quinoa salad (with onion and juicy beetroot), a yogurt and tamarind sauce, a Temper mix (which I could have started off with, but ended up not eating at all… basically a spice and crunchies mix), and soms spiced, fried potato sticks, all accompanying my fried Szechuan chicken (that was sitting on a coarse green curry).

Here you can see the little dishes (from the top, the quinoa salad, pickles, Temper mix, and yogurt/tamarind sauce). The paneer masala was to die for, rich and creamy with a little more spice than you would expect. Once I had the few pieces of paneer in it, I slurped the rest up with the paratha… and when I’d finished the paratha, I finished the rest with my fingers. It was that good. The quinoa salad was also surprisingly nice, especially topped with some yogurt, the sweet beetroot gave a nice contrast to the crunchy black quinoa.

I was a bit mixed about the fried chicken… the inside was super moist and tasty, but the outside… what I thought was the chicken skin (and kept expecting to taste some skin flavour) was actually just a batter… while it was crunchy, it didn’t have much taste, which I found disappointing… but was happy to dunk the whole thing in the yogurt/tamarind sauce to give it flavour instead.

Overall, a great thali meal… I would like to come back again and try a few more of their lunch options, but also get a few people together for dinner to try and share many different dishes… this is definitely a place that I need to go back and try again!

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!

Old Town 97, Chinatown

The weather’s been pretty crappy, rainy and cold the past few days, which is a real change from the 30 degree, sunny weather we’ve had for most of the summer. It almost feels good for a few days, until you’re sick of having wet feet…

One of these days, I headed down to Chinatown for a bowl of noodle soup to warm me up. Seeing the roast duck and char siu hanging in the window, I walked into Old Town 97 to have a bowl there.

The place is quite simple, not very decorated, and the staff is quite busy, so it took me a good ten minutes to order. Then much longer to get my food.

But when the soup came, it really hit the spot. The duck was good, large pieces with a good amount of fatty duck skin and not much bone (my pet peeve is ordering roast duck, and being given the scraggly pieces with lots of bone and not much meat, what’s the point!?!) – but the real winner of the soup was the noodles; soft, springy and almost fluffy, these were the lightest noodles I’ve had in a while, all while not being mushy or breaking apart. I usually notice bad noodles, but never good ones, and these ones were really that good.

At £7.50, this was a perfect lunch break that warmed me up, and the noodles brought that extra little bit more that will make me come back here for noodle soup again.

Kiln, Soho

I finally had some time to steal away and grab lunch at Kiln, which received an award for best restaurant in the UK this year! On a Monday in August, I came and sat at the bar with no wait… they even put me at the kitchen table to watch the prepping!

The restaurant is called Kiln, as most of the cooking is done on grills, either through a big industrial grill (left side), or in smaller pots filled with charcoal, that are topped with a wok. The food mostly has a nice grilled, blistered taste to it that adds a smokiness to the flavour!

As I was on my own, I didn’t get to order everything that I would have otherwise… so I started with a skewer, then got one curry with some rice and veggies on the side.

The skewer that the waitress suggested was the lamb skewer wtih cumin… it was juicy, with bits of fat still on the meat, and with a very cumin-like taste, but also something slightly spicier that reminded me of Sichuan pepper (it tingled in my mouth)… it was much more subtle than just a cumin taste. I finished this in about two seconds!

Then, the rest of the meal. The brill in sour turmeric curry was to die for… briny and, well, sour tasting, it had a good punch of tangyness. To the point that I wanted to keep drinking the sauce. The brill was lightly fried, which helped it to not get too sogy in the curry, and there was also a vegetable that I think might have been gourd inside too… whatever it was, it was light and crunchy.

Served with some Jasmine brown rice and greens on the side, this was the perfect amount of food.

A side note about the greens, that were special in themselves… they were stir-fried in a sweet sauce that caramelised the greens sligthly. Mixed in were some yellow beans, which I love, that gave a soft texture next to the almost crunchy greens… these would have been a good meal on their own with the rice!

So there we go. That’s all I had. I wanted to try everything on the menu, but it’ll have to wait until next time!

Shuang Shuang, Soho

A while ago, I saw that a new hot pot place was opening in Chinatown, and took note, but it was only recently that I actually made my way there. Shuang Shuang’s claim to fame is that not only is it a hot pot restaurant, but it also has a conveyor belt… so you can choose your hot pot ingredients! Genius.

Everyone gets their own individual hot pot station, with the pot, a dipper, dish, spoon and a sieve spoon to catch your cooked food.

Shuang Shuang has a Market Lunch Special for £10.5, where you get to choose three green or white dishes, one black dish (intended to be noodles, but they also have a few other black dishes floating around), a side dip, and broth.

I went for the original broth, the Black Bird broth which is a chicken broth that’s especially fragrant, with jujubes floating in it… and the House Sauce, wihch has a blend of sesame butter, red beancurd paste, and a dab of chili oil… the chili oil wasn’t very apparent, and the sauce tasted much more creamy, and less spicy than I wanted… so I added a good extra dash of sesame oil to it!

So, here’s what I tried out. Lots of greens (cabbage, boy choy), some tofu, and some slices of beef… all which came under the green and black dishes (there are other coloured dishes which are more… in the end, you pay per dish, so you can have as little or as much as you want).

I was impressed with the beef slices, doused in the creamy, spicy dip… and the tofu was delicious once it had soaked in the hot pot broth for a while… also dipped in the sauce!

Now, I’ve been back again, so I’ve been here twice at this point, and both times, took the Market Special and ended up getting two extra dishes of food to feel full.

This is a perfect place for lunch, where you can come with someone else but choose exactly what you want to eat – and, healthier than other Chinese dishes with sauces or noodles, you’re cooking you lunch in a hot broth and adding a bit of sauce at the end if you want… an easy, interactive and heatlhy lunch!