At 1:34, it’s like wo– what? ..but don’t cheat with fast forward. Watch your everyday girl being strangely seductive as she talks about her life. If she looks familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen Lizzie Caplan in mean girls, new girl or bachelorette(movie, not to be confused with the reality show) if not all three.
The weekend after my first London Foodie Trail, I did it again ! My parents were extremely keen you see, to try out as many restaurants as one’s stomach room would permit while visiting in February.
First stop – Yauatcha in Soho. It may be labelled as contemporary dim sum but the bustling that goes with having street food is not lost in the casual environment albeit under seemingly more hygienic circumstances. The tiny handles attached the baskets amused me. You don’t see that in Asia.. at least not where I come from. The whole experience is essentially dim sum served with class. It might have been purely psychological but I found the food to be less oily than usual. Certain things, in particular the siu mai, reminded me of Hakkasan and I suppose it wasn’t at all peculiar seeing that I later learned that Yauatcha was opened by Alan Yau, owner of Hakkasan. Both places serve delightful chinese food but if you’re a food picture-taking junkie like me, it’d probably be best to go with Yauatcha seeing that the latter supposedly doesn’t permit it. At least from the last I checked.
I wasn’t too impressed by the desserts, having ordered the Coffee Chocolate and Jasmine Honey but there were other choices I felt I probably should have made that looked more tempting. An assortment of handmade macarons can also be bought at the patisserie counter. All in all, I think I’d return just to try the other dessert but I am not so sure I would pay so much for a full meal seeing that you can get pretty good stuff from Chinatown(recommend: Golden Dragon) for 1/3 the price.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12pm-11:30pm; Sunday 12pm-10:30pm;
Patisserie Counter-12pm- 11pm
1 Michelin Star
Next on the agenda was Jersey Boys which was a string of old favourites from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. As soon as I got back, I had “Beggin’”, “My Eyes Adored You”, “Who Loves You” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” playing on loop.
After a simple breakfast of cheese and wholemeal bread at the apartment, we spent the earlier half of the afternoon at Portobello Market which was extremely crowded. However I did pick up some lovely earrings. Always a treat.
Second stop – Afternoon Tea at Sketch. Technically this was our third meal of the day, since we had jacket potatoes and salad at Portobello but minor details.
6.30pm – 2am (Mon-Sat)
6pm – 12am (Sun)
You’re greeted by a playground hopscotch design at the entrance of the two michelin star restaurant, which immediately sets the playful mood. There are a few rooms, each rather magical in its own way. We were seated in the Gallery, designed by Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed. To be honest, I was hoping for the Glade which was more of an enchanted forest-type setting but no great lost. The Gallery gave off a modern vibe, with wonderfully quirky chairs and brightly coloured shapes on the walls. At one point, snow was projected onto the walls, making it look like snow was really falling indoors, which only added to the experience. We each had an afternoon tea set, assorted finger sandwiches, sultana scones served with clotted cream and jam, as well as a selection of pastries and tea. It’s a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in London.
After tea and some window shopping at Liberty, it was time for the theatre again. This time at the Palladium. A Chorus Line, currently showing for a limited period, was clearly an old favourite based on the applause and cheers from the crowd. It’s a lot more of dance than songs, especially in comparison to Jersey Boys, but enjoyable. The cast reappearing at the end in identical gold tuxedos and what it represents was clever in its simplicity.
Third Stop-The Square
We opted for a la carte, having three course. It was mother’s pre-birthday celebration and my sister nominated it the best we’ve had out of the two weekends of good food. In particular, I liked how they did the foie gras as though placed in an ice-cream cone because you could lick and taste it in all it’s awesomeness, like savouring ice-cream. That was one of the appetizer and everything that followed was just – BAM ! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It’s not helping that it is also time that I make myself some dinner. I highly recommend the Lasagne of Dorset Crab with a Cappuccino
of Shellfish and Champagne Foam as a starter and Souffle for dessert but everything was so superb I don’t see how you can go wrong with anything else. A 3 course meal for £80 that taste this good is pretty damn worthwhile for special occasions.
Monday – Saturday Lunch: 12.00pm – 2.45pm
Monday – Thursday Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.00pm
Friday – Saturday Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Sunday Dinner: 6.30pm – 9.30pm.
Two Michelin Stars
First stop – Pekin duck at Mr Kwok’s in Chinatown. Girly catching up over pekin duck wraps. I love the whole ‘make your own’ wraps deal.. maybe I just like playing chef. The sweet and sour prawns weren’t great but left feeling stuffed and satisfied. It was Chinese New Year (mid February this year) so there was a Lion Dance performance right outside. Festive.
Second stop - Scones at Patisserie Valerie. Buttery scones that came with not too sweet clotted cream and an assortment of jams for you to choose from. I like having my options.
I then had about 2-3hours to make room in my stomach before the Parents arrived in London for dinner.
Third Stop – Pied a Terre on Charlotte Street, formerly awarded two michelin stars. It always seems to be quite a bit about the presentation. From the way they neatly place their butter to how they serve the appetizers. The ambience was a little more crammed than most fine dining places, dimly lit with a low ceiling, but as usual the waiters were really welcoming and to go with the theme, food was served on plates the shades of black and grey. We opted for the two course a la carte meal and the meal was complete with tiny complimentary dessert treats served on a platter. The dishes may not have been particularly innovative but the quality of food was impeccable.
Reservation made via: Toptable
Opening hours: Mon 18:00-22:45
Wed-Sun 12:00-14:45 , 18:30-22:45
The day after, we stopped by Russell and Bromley which looked like it had a pretty good shoe sale going on. So the pair I got wasn’t on sale but it’s probably one of my comfiest pair of shoes ever.. with heels too ! (future post). Harrods had pretty nice Chinese New Year decorations put up in spirit of the season. Particularly liked the lion with its mouth opening and closing and how they displayed the shoes !
Fourth Stop: (I’m skipping breakfast here but a croissant and cup of coffee at Pret a Manger and off we went) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited for this because I absolutely loved the dining experience at the Fat Duck. Of course this one is a lot more toned down so I expected to enjoy the food more and without a fixed menu, you get to explore your options, which also means potential revisits ;) The interior is very elegant and the menu is a bit of a History lesson which is interesting.
Reservation made via: Toptable (1 Michelin Star)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 12pm-2:30pm; 6:30pm-10:30pm
Meat Fruit (c.1500)
Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread
Arguably the most impressive dish. Playing with the idea of food as an optical illusion, it just goes to show that not everything is what it seems. The “mandarin” jelly skin itself is delicate, cut open to reveal a deliciously rich and indulgent foie gras.
Chicken oysters, salsify, marrow bone & horseradish cream
Savoury Porridge (c.1660)
Frog’s legs, smoked beetroot, garlic, parsley & fennel
A made dish of Parmesan (c.1661)
Quails egg, smoked cauliflower, horseradish & caraway
The standard vegetarian choice. At this point the waiter decided I must like my food cold as I was really more interested in photographing everything.
Cod in Cider (c.1940)
Chard & fired mussels
Takes about 45minutes to prepare so we placed two orders for the signature at the start of the meal. You can see the pineapples roasting in the kitchen, in fact I reckon it would be quite nice if you have just the right number of people to dine right by the glass, looking into the open kitchen. Needless to say, the delightfully cream-filled brioche soaked in alcohol was heavenly.
Complimentary toffee and biscuit to wrap up the meal because a biscuit does taste better when dunked or coated in chocolate.
I was lucky enough to dine there for a second time two weeks ago for a friend’s birthday celebration. We were given the secluded private dining room for 10 which provided a darker ambience than the more casual setting outside. Some adjustments were made to the sample menu due to my friend’s dietary preferences (he doesn’t like cheese which I find a bit difficult to comprehend) but it was excellent nonetheless. It was pretty amusing how everyone whipped out their phones/cameras to snap shots of the food each time a course is presented. An Asian dining experience is when everyone whips out their cameras/phones before touching any cutlery. That is, unless the cutlery is to be arranged for aesthetic purposes.
Roast Scallops (c. 1820)
Cucumber ketchup, roasted cucumber, bergamot & borage
- Rice & Flesh (c.1390)
- Saffron, calf tail & red wine
- Meat Fruit (c.1500)
- Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread
- Spiced Pigeon (c.1780)
- Ale & artichokes
- Tipsy Cake (c.1810)
- Spit roast pineapple
- Poached Rhubarb (c.1590)
- Rosehip jam, yogurt cream & rhubarb sorbet
- On a slightly random note: apparently ketchup is not always tomato red.
Just a couple of ideas for when the weather’s an unfortunate few degrees away from snowing in spring and you don’t want to leave the house:
1. Get on pinterest – Pin Boards of project ideas/baking recipes you would like to and will
not eventually try out attempt. It’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s easter break.. you have no plans.. you don’t want any plans, the timing couldn’t be better.
2. Have a movie marathon. Pop some popcorn in the oven, sit back, relax, or be like me and curl up in bed surrounded by packets of crisps (perks of having a bed to myself, check). My personal faves include Parent Trap, anything with Audrey Hepburn, When Harry Met Sally, Serendipity .. but there’s an endless amount of movies to see ;)
3. Actually attempt those kitchen recipes you’ve been bookmarking/pinning/earmarking. Suggestions? Make pancakes !
another idea that doesn’t require many ingredients (meaning you can probably just make use of what you already have in the kitchen, saving you an effort-required trip to the supermarket) -scones ! a friend swears that Patiserrie Valerie in London does the best buttery-scones ever, maybe you could try recreating your favourite scone recipe.
I got this “London Traffic Jam” bottle from ‘Absolutely Starving’, 51 Tooley Street, London Bridge. I’m a sucker for cute labels.
4. Make a cuppa hot chocolate, marshmallows ready for melting
5. You actually want to leave the house. Try out that cafe or restaurant you have been meaning to and catch up with a friend. Motivation to leave the house (and your heater) right there. Not to mention, the warm atmosphere in a cafe is pretty perfect shelter from the cold outside.
Write a letter, prepare to send off those postcards, make your own face mask, dye your hair, organize your closet (i tried and i’m not sure it made any difference), throw out those dead valentine’s day flowers (i procrastinate. i know, it’s disgusting), it’s cold outside and blue skies will come but meanwhile, as long as you’ve got good music you can dance to in your pjs, you’re good.
Gail’s Artisan Bakery
Having been there before, mom brought my sister and I for breakfast at the bloomsbury branch during december’s winter break. We were staying at St Gile’s which was really close by so it was probably only something like a 5minute walk. (conveniently pick out the most practical snood ever and warm leggings from muji along the way). In fact, we went twice – again in January when I had the best blueberry muffin. Slight exaggeration, I might have simply been subconsciously craving a blueberry muffin, but it was really really good. Fresh juice, a sandwich and a pastry, it’s like having breakfast in a bakery. I really wanted to try a cookie. Hopefully, next time.
I’ve always noticed the pretty display of cakes next door each time I stopped by to pick up red velvet cupcakes from hummingbird bakery along wardour street. Thanks to lil sis, I finally stepped foot inside the lovely cafe. The tiny cakes, each as pretty if not prettier than the next – needless to say, I was spoilt for choice. Finally settled on a green tea cheesecake. The adam scott lookalike in a suit whom we shared a table with (we had to share cause it was all packed) said he just had that and it was a good call. What can I say? In a cafe of adorable treats, I had no regrets. They’ve also got pretty interesting tea choices. Definately need to return for more.
So here I am, eating greasy Chinese spring rolls and badly made prawn crackers which I’ve figured my housemate ordered from the bad Chinese place again because the good one was closed. The weather forecast promised snow but boo, guess southampton’s too far south. So it’s just cold and I’m permanently huddled by my heater or under covers. Workload is still mountain high and echoing the words of Evie Wyld:
“I’D BE HAPPY IF I MANAGED TO GET MY ATTENTION SPAN BACK”.
Alas, no such luck. Maybe tomorrow (most overused phrased of the year thus far).
Instead, I’m typing up the story of how I lost my phone (in other words, editing the story I had been copying and pasting for people in facebook messages). So this took place at Mayfair’s Burger and Lobster. Everyone had been raving about this place either in person or via every social networking site possible. Figured it would be worth giving it a try. Was already given the heads up that it’d be packed so I tried to rush there with my mom and sis by about 5 30pm. Arriving at about ten to 6 o’clock, we were told we’d have to wait 30min for a table but we could eat at the bar. We figured we wouldn’t mind the bar. Oh and before I proceed, I’m not actually trying to blame the management here.. I suppose it’s not possible to know if there’s a crook admist although they could maybe have hired someone to monitor the cctv. They could probably afford it, seeing that business is evidently booming. Just me being slightly bitter. Anyway cutting to the chase, the guy next to me said I squirted lemon in his eye. Feeling quite surprised and rather bad, I apologized. For the next few minutes, he kept rubbing his eye as though he really was in such excruciating pain. I had my doubts that it was really that bad but I assumed he was just an odd character. Every now and then he’d say “I know it was an accident but owww…”, “you wouldn’t think it’s possible…” “is that crab and lobster?” .. Having heard quite enough, I refrained from looking in his direction and was generally preoccupied trying to take the perfect picture of the lobster roll with my cam. Constantly leaving phones on the table, one or two people have told me I deserve it. But c’mon.. seriously ? You’re gonna tell me I DESERVED getting stolen from? People should have morals. But fine, I did blame myself for being so careless. I’m always so distracted as it is that to be honest I don’t think he really had to try. Within 2 minutes after he left, I realized my phone was gone. Horror, frustration.. the moment of realization when you feel incredibly stupid. You hear stories about people losing their phones, especially in Europe, but I suppose I’ve always pictured it taking place on the streets. Needless to say I was quite the angry bitch that night. He probably slid it under the newspapers between us. I could have sworn they looked suspiciously closer to me than it did when the man first sat down asking if they were mine. Sneaky.
We tried two lobsters (grilled and steamed) and the lobster roll. The lobster roll triumphed. Each accompanied by a small bowl of salad and fries. Thought portion-wise it was just nice although such an early dinner meant we ended up having dessert at about 9pm.
Spent the day on snow and crashing into it. I can still feel my feet getting ready to plough, desperately hoping i’d actually stop. But for now, a quick glimpse of another fab meal from 2012′s easter :)
Pollen Street Social
A michelin star restaurant, the food reflects precisely just that but the atmosphere is casual and filled with chatter, mostly by people in business suits/rather smartly dressed. Polished and modern with lightbulbs as quite the statement decor, it’s not at all over the top deafeningly quiet, pretentious or stuffy. Decently priced (absolutely value for money, especially considering the food quality and i think there might have been a promotion at the time in april – check it out here on the menu), it’s pretty much where I dream of having client lunches for work someday. Or better yet, after work dinner and drinks with friends! There’s also a social bar before you enter the restaurant. Jason Atherton’s first solo venture post being Head Chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, Pollen Street was named London’s best new fine dining restaurant in the Time Out Eating & Drinking Awards 2011. Needless to say, it’s a tough beat.