Thursday, 18 April 2013

Tayyabs, Whitechapel

The first rule about Tayyabs is : You do not go wearing your best outfits. You will come out smelling like you just had a one week no holds barred rendezvous with the sexiest grilled meat in the world.

The second rule about Tayyabs is : You do not go alone. You will be tempted to over ordered and therefore you need the extra mouth to eat it all. 

Third rule about Tayyabs : You better be prepare to join the queue and wait (even with reservations). It is ridiculously busy and from what I've heard, it will always be busy and at 10pm on that Sunday night, it was still packed. 

Fourth rule: Bring your own booze, no alcohol license. Beers and wine are welcome. 

Fifth rule : Go easy on the layering. This place is hot, in  more ways than one. 

Sixth rule: Lamb chops. Enough said. 

Seventh rule: Use your fingers, lick if you have to. You will want to. 

And the eight and final rule: You've got to eat here.

Once you've memorised the rules above, then you may let go all your inhibition and proceed to one of the oldest and quite remarkable fine East End institution - Tayyabs

It is not easy to find as it is located in a back street in Whitechapel but to seek out this cheap eat reaturant is most definitely worth it. This restaurant has existed for years and has been churning out well conceived and authentic Punjabi offerings and all at an reasonable price, part of the reason why it is immensely popular.

The Paneer Tikka were enriched with spices and flavour and if not for my own aversion to their texture, would have happily lap up the lot.

Huge parcel of meat-filled samosas went down a treat. Spicy, meaty and moist, packed full of Lamby goodness and I wished we had ordered the vegetables ones as well. Next time!

The Tayyabs mixed grill hot plate consisted a selction of theior in house grilled meat.  Chicken Tikka, these were smothered with lots of smokey paprika and garlickiness but were unfortunately a tad dry. The Seekh kebab were both moist and richly spiced with a nice welcoming punchy kick in the background. Their signature grilled lamb chops were a sizzling triumph and worthy of their accolades. The meat tasted like they have been marinated within an inch of their lives and each bite full was filled with spicy aroma, both tender and juicy. The only way to tackle them was to gnawed every bits of flavoursome meat straight off the bone using your hands as the only respectable cutlery of choice. Lick your fingers clean if you wish, I did, just so I don't waste any of the delectable meat juice to some unnecessary serviette. We also had a couple of Naan bread to accompany the meal and these came piping hot and were buttery and fluffy.

The chef's daily special Chicken Biryani were sold out and we tried the Haleem  instead. These were unanimously not too well received. The slow cooked lamb and lentil stew has the consistency of a thickened glue and not that palatable at all. Our only token vegetable dish to counter these meat feast was the Karahi Bhindi. And this was sublime. Perfectly cooked okra with still a bite coated in a rich chilli and cumin sauce, absolutely delicious.

The only real disappointment for me was the pudding. But that was down to personal taste. The Rasmalai were these light, crumbly doughy ball, floating in a clotted cream, cardomon and pistachios. I enjoyed the sauce, just not too keen on the floating cotton-ball like floating dough.

For under £20 each, these were fantastic value and in terms of flavours were right up there with some of the more refine and Michelin-starred chasing offerings but without the delicacy and intricate presentation and of course, premium prices. The restaurant is at times more like a noisy, buzzing market place, but don't let that put you off. Come here with a group friends or bring along your family and you will certainly be treated to some delicious food at an affordable price. Next visit for me, it will be their dry meat dishes and of course, more of those tender Lamb Chops.

Tayyabs on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Trishna, London

Indian cuisine has a bad reputation in Britain, a direct result of its own success. The popularity of bad Indian takeaways means that the perception of Indian food to most is only limited to a korma, vindaloo or the ever popular tikka marsala. However, it is a joy to discover that there is much more to this than the mediocre greasy and dried pieces of curry drenched meat. And to banish all this misguided perception is Trishna. 

I first heard of Trishna while dining next door in Roganic. A couple of diners came in hoping for a table were sadly turned away but not before they were kindly directed to Trishna by the restaurant manager of Roganic who was singing praises of their food. This has not gone unnoticed and I swiftly added this onto my ever growing must-go list. And then, upon hearing that they were awarded a Michelin star last September, gave me that little added nudge to bump them up the list. 

The menu consisted of the five and seven course tasting menu, rather reasonably priced at £40 and £55 with optional wine pairing and a la carte. Although the tasting menu looked tempting, my dining companion and I decided to go for the a la carte menu instead. No sooner after the orders were taken, we were presented with some complimentary poppadoms, neatly folded into quarters nested in a straw basket and two options of chutney. The sweet mango was lovely but the spicy tomato was fantastically balanced with tanginess, sweetness and fieriness of equal measures. 

The Quail pepper fry was aromatic and had a strong whiff of warm spices. The abundance of pepper gave it a tantalising kick which perks up the tastebud and made me wanting more. This was seriously good. I would happily have a big plate of this with a giant glass of ice water on the side to calm the heat. Potato chat too had a great mixture of texture and a well balance of spices. Much more reserved compared to the quail but just as delicious. Well, from what meagre portion that I got to taste, as my dining companion enjoyed this so much that it was all gone before I had a chance to dive in for a second spoonful. 

QUAIL PEPPER FRY [keralen spices, black pepper, curry leaf] £7

POTATO CHAT [chickpeas, tamarind, sweet yoghurt, shallots, chilli] £6.25

Both the Malwani Jhinga curry and the South Indian Coast lamb curry were mildly spiced but still had that well balanced flavours that distinguished this from your usual curry house. The Naan bread baskets came with three delicious flavours, great accompaniment to mop up the creamy curry sauce. The basmati rice too, were light and fluffy and cooked to perfection. The okra were beautifully cooked and still have that lovely crunch. The grated coconut added a sweet juicy texture to the dish.

MALWANI JHINGA CURRY [prawns, malwani spices, coconut] £15
SOUTH INDIAN COAST LAMB CURRY [curry leaf, coastal spices, coconut] £18.75

OKRA [coconut, fennel seed, fenugreek seed] £7

The chocolate mousse and the Peshawari samosa puddings rounded off the fantastic meal beautifully. The chocolate mousse were rich but light, barred the useless smudge on the plate, I have nothing to complain about.  The latter, were simply outstanding. The tiny grated coconut filled samosas were still warm and crispy from the fryer. The cooling lychee ice cream provided a fragrant and interesting contrast. A jolly good pudding that was.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE [pista-cashew chikki, peanut jaggery Ice cream] £7.75

PESHAWARI SAMOSA [coconut, mango, almond, lychee ice cream] £7.50

On a whole, the amiable and attentive service made the whole evening very enjoyable. The meal too exceeded my expectations. The food were well executed and all spices in each dishes were pronounced which showed the masterful restraint of the chef. This is a fine Indian establishment and is well worthy of its Michelin star. Will I return? A resounding yes!

Trishna on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sunny Linguine with Slow Roasted Baby Tomatoes, Garlic and Pecorino

Sunny days always makes me want to delve in to a bowlful of well ripen tomatoes. Their bright cheerful appearance and the burst of sweet juiciness within just makes me think of being away by some hot Mediterranean sea. And when they are slow roasted, their flavours intensified which makes them simply irresistible. And there's no better way to marry these flavoursome rubies than with their perfect partner, the fragrant basil leaves.

There is something really soothing about pasta with a simple tomato sauce. Although the famous Bolognese ragu are great example but for something lighter and summery, these roasted tomatoes are  the way to go. I would normally use ripen vine-on cherry/baby tomatoes from a good farmer's market for this as they tend to possess great flavours but don't worry if you can't get hold of them.  The beauty of slow roasting them is that it will turn even humdrum supermarket tomatoes and transform them  culinary jewels. If you are using large tomatoes, just cut them into small wedges and they will be just as good.

If you are not in the mood for pasta, you can always pair them, once cooled, with your favourite choice of salad leaves. Use the delicious residue oil as a wonderful dressing. Squeeze over some lemon juice and top with Pecorino or Parmesan shavings,

As you delve into these, you can't help but have a smile on your face knowing that summer is finally within reach. Not long to go but for now, this summer on a plate will do, don't you think?

Ingredients (Serves 2)

500g baby/cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
175-200g linguine
a large handful of fresh basil
good quality extra-virgin olive oil
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese , to serve


Preheat the oven to 120ºC.

Cut the tomatoes in half and lay them on a baking tray, cut side up. Dot slivers of garlic on top of the tomatoes and drizzle over literally with some olive oil to coat the tomato halves. Season with salt and black pepper and roast in the oven for anything between 2-3 hours, until the tomatoes lost most of it moisture and shrivelled in sizes.

Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the linguine according to the instructions on the package until al dente so that it's still firm to the bite. 

Turn off the heat. Drain the linguine in a colander and return to the pan. Stir in the tomatoes and tear in some basil leaves (same some for garnish) and extra-virgin olive oil. Toss to mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves immediately with lots of freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Chinese Wild Garlic Pancakes with Gochujang Dipping Sauce (New-Style Cong You Bing 蔥油餅)

Spring, a season everyone looks forward to every year. Months of cold miserable dark days and wintry snow gives way to some bring sunny rays and longer days. If we can just tear ourselves away from the potential April shower for a moment and just look on the bright side. Spring brings forth hopes and multitude of possibilities - walk in the park, strolling along River Thames and stunning blossoms. But for me, nothing excites me more than the promise of a couple of months of one of my greatest indulgences around this time of the year - wild garlic also know as ramsons, ramps etc.

Unlike their distant cousin whose characteristic potent odour that is so strong that consuming them before date night almost certainly makes you a one date wonder. If smells could kill, your breath will be the ultimate weapon. Wild garlic has a similar but milder aroma compared to the normal garlic. However, eating them before going on your date is still at your own peril.

I love wild garlic and I like to make full use of them as much as I can whenever they are around. They are excellent to zing up a normal aioli, turning them into fine accompaniment to some roasted English asparagus, another Spring's favourite. They are also really good as a simple pasta sauce (see my linguine with wild garlic and lemon) and when cooked, their pungent aroma mellowed slightly. And I've also made a simple stuffing for some deep-fried tempura flowering courgettes with great success.

As I'm not a seasoned forager and have absolutely no idea where to begin looking for this wildly available nature's treats in the woods, I therefore had to resort to buying them from the farmer's market.  I've used up half of them to make my clams, chorizo and beans brothy dish the other day so I thought I will be frugal and used up the rest to make a Chinese classic spring onion pancakes. This northern China's speciality have been give a modern twist by replacing the spring onion with the garlicky greens and I have also made a piquant and sweet Gochujang dipping sauce to go with it. And I tell you what, they are superb and very moreish. Very good indeed.

My plan is to be able to sniff these out in the wilderness myself some day. Do drop me a line if you have any suggestion or tips on where is the best place to start here in London. Who knows, my next post featuring any wild garlic might just be a foraged acquisition. Fingers crossed.

Ingredients (makes 16)

250g plain flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp groundnut or sunflower oil
200ml boiling water
4 tbsp roasted sesame oil
50g wild garlic, finely chopped
groundnut or sunflower oil, for frying

For the Gochujang dipping sauce:
4 tbsp gochujang (korean chilli paste)
3 tbsp cider vinegar or rice vinegar
1 tsp sweet mirin
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds


To make the Gochujang dipping sauce, mix the gochujang, cider vinegar, mirin and sugar to combine and topped with the sesame seeds. Set aside.

Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and water and mix well using a wooden spoon or spatula to a soft sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured working surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it start to get to sticky. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and rest for 20 minutes.

Lightly dust the working surface with more flour and roll the dough into a long sausage shape and cut with a knife to divide into 16 pieces. 

Place a piece of the dough cut side down and roll it out to a rough 10 cm circle with a rolling pin. Brush the surface liberally with sesame oil and scatter over the chopped wild garlic. Start rolling the dough to form a sausage, pinch both ends to sealed in the wild garlic and sesame oil. Lightly flatten the roll and then roll it up again from one end like a snail. Press lightly to sealed the end.  Set aside while you repeat with the rest. Cover with a clean kitchen towel again and rest for another 20 minutes.

Place each roll flat on a lightly floured work surface and press down with the palm of you hand to flatten and roll to a 10 cm circle with a rolling pin. Transfer to a clean plate and repeat with the rest of the rolls. Stack each pancakes between sheets of baking paper to stop them from sticking. 

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and brush with some groundnut or sunflower oil. Add 2-3 pancakes at a time. Fry for 2-3 minutes before turning and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain on some kitchen paper. Keep warm in a low oven while you repeat with the rest of the pancakes. These are best serve immediately straight from the pan with the Gochujang dipping sauce. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

My Easy Chocolate Fondant with Spiced Orange Sauce

Chocolate fondant is one of those pudding that seems to install fears into everyone's mind at the sheer thought of attempting to make it. It is not the easiest pudding to prepare. To achieve a moist outer cake layer with that signature gooey centre relies heavily on military precision timing. And if you are preparing other dishes at the same time, this can sometimes seemed impossible. But let me tell you a secret. It is actually not that hard. If you plan wisely and give yourself ample of time to prep the cake mix in advance, then all that requires is for you to pop these ramekins of chocolate heaven into the oven, timer on and just wait for the alarm to go off. In about no time at all, you be able to served up these beauties to your awaiting dining guests. Be prepare, as the initial gasps and commotion as you walk into the room will soon turn into a sea of silence, followed by the sound of Ooo-ing and Mmm-ing as they cut the fondant open with a spoon, unleashing river of melted chocolate flowing out of the moist, tender cake.

This is the same recipe that I have been using for years and is the absolute foolproof method. The double coating of butter on the ramekins might seems excessive but this really does help to ensure the fondant rises evenly. The dusting of cocoa powder too, ensure that the fondant doesn't stick to the sides. This is also perfect to prep days in advance and then freeze for times when you have a sudden urge for a pudding or when you know you deserve a little treat.

Here, I've served the fondant with my spiced orange sauce which as most will know, orange and chocolate are a perfect match. However, I have also added an unexpected twist to this - Ginger. The zingy ginger works beautifully with the rich fondant. So good, I had two of these in one go and they were delicious. Go on, treat yourself!

For the Spiced orange sauce:


250ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
40g caster sugar


Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce has reduced by half and turn syrupy, about 30-40 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside. This can be store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

Serve warm.

For the Chocolate fondant :

Ingredients (makes 4)

25g melted butter, for bushing the ramekins
cocoa powder, for dusting
100g good quality dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa, chopped into small pieces
100g butter, room temperature
100g caster sugar
2 medium free-range eggs plus 2 yolk
100g flour
Good quality vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche, to serve
Icing sugar, for dusting


Prepare the moulds. Brush the melted butter all over the inside of the ramekins and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill. Brush more butter over the now chilled butter, then add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the ramekins. Tip the ramekins so that the powder completely coats the butter and pour away any excess cocoa. This help to prevent the fondant from sticking to the side and thereby rise evenly.

Slowly melt the chocolate and the butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, careful not to let the base of the bowl touches the water. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale. To test, the mixture should be thick enough for the whisk to leave a trail or it should coat the back of a spoon. Pour in the now cooled melted chocolate and butter a third at a time and gently fold in with a spatula.  Sift in the flour and once again, gently fold the mixture until everything is well combined to form a loose cake batter. 

Divide the fondant mixture evenly between the ramekins and chill . The fondant can now be chill for at least 20 minutes until needed, or even frozen for up to a month.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Place the fondant on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of the ramekins. If cook from frozen, add another 3-4 minutes to the cooking time. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 1 minutes before turning out.

Serves immediately with a dust of icing sugar and some vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche, drizzled with warm spiced orange sauce.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Clams, Chorizo, Wild Garlic and Cannellini Beans with Soda Bread

A cold is very hard to shake off. Since Easter, I've had the dreaded cold bug which seems to have stolen away my taste buds completely.  Everything I put into my mouth just taste like.....well nothing. I have not been making any effort to cook for almost a week and with all these constant on/off flurries of snow, I really craves for a decent plate of summery food that exudes a feeling of sunshine. 

Sometimes, that perfect dish need no more than five ingredients. It doesn't have to take forever to prepare and it doesn't requires you to slave over a hot stove, sweating away. All it takes is top quality ingredients. Once you have those at hand, everything else will follows.

Take this simple dish for example. The main ingredients are some beautiful fresh Parlourde clams I got from Borough market. A good quality cured spicy chorizo along with tin cannellini beans. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using tin beans, especially when you lead a busy working and social life and all you really after is to have minimum fuss for that easy quick supper. A good bottle of white wine is also crucial for this. A glug for the pan and a well deserved glug for the cook. Amen! Now the fifth element to this is something that I rate very highly, even when compared to that glass of wine at hand, if that's even possible. Glug! Glug! 

The almighty wild garlic - a whiff of it announces the arrival of early spring and is something that I always look forward to every year. So it comes with no surprise that I would use this in every dish I can. So be warn, it will make frequent appearances over the next couple of months.

The finished dish, with sweet, salty clams bathed in a red smokey broth and hints of delicate garlic aroma is refreshing and is as summery as it comes. And the good news is.... even I can taste this! I'm on the mend. Hurrah!

Ingredients (Serves 2)

800g clams
1 tbsp olive oil
150g chorizo, cut into thin 5mm rounds
2 galic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
125ml white wine
400g tin cannellini beans
50g wild garlic
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Wash and soak the clams in plenty of cold water. Change the water a couple of times to get rid of any grit or sand. 

Heat the olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat and gently fry the chorizo slices for 2 minutes. They will release some of their oil during cooking which will add flavours to the dish. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Drain the clams and add to the cooking chorizo, along with the wine. Place the lid on and cook the clams for 3-4 minutes. Add the beans and wild garlic and cook for another 1 minute until the beans are heated through and the wild garlic have slightly wilted. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat and discard any unopened clams.

Ladle into individual serving bowls and serve immediately with lots of crusty bread to mop up all the juices. See my soda bread recipe below.

My Easy Soda Bread

To go with this dish, I have made a very easy soda bread which although took a while to bake in the oven, in reality, takes no time to prepare at all. The missing yeast meant that that it eliminated the much dreaded proving process, which, lets be honest, can takes a long time. All that is required was to mix all the ingredients together and pop straight into the oven. The bicarbonate of soda within will do all the magic and give you a lovely, well-risen bread that is perfect for any quick supper. 


225g strong brown wholemeal flour
225g strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 heaped tsp salt
1 heaped tbsp bicarbonate of soda
400ml buttermilk


Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the buttermilk slowly while working the mixture to form a soft but not sticky dough. You might not need to use all of the buttermilk.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly, to shape it into a round dough. The bicarbonate soda start working the very minute it is mixed with the buttermilk so the kneading should not take more than 1 minute. Transfer onto a lightly floured baking tray and with a sharp knife, mark a deep cross before baking in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 200ºC and bake for another 25-30 minutes until the bread is done. To teat, turn the bread over and tap on the base, it should sound hollow. Transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.

Friday, 5 April 2013

A Light Lunch ? - My Giant Harissa Lamb Pasty

I know what you are thinking right now. Are those really tiny hands or it that a really big pasty? Yes, it is huge so okay, you can stop staring at that now. And moving swiftly on....

So the day after Easter, I decided to make pasty for lunch. Everyone loves a good pasty. Its like a portable pie with comforting filling encased in a shortcrust pastry, ready to be eaten anytime, anywhere, hot or cold. A traditional Cornish pasty contain beef, potatoes, swede and onion but I've decided to be frugal and make good use of my leftover lamb from my Easter Sunday roast instead.  

To give it just that little bit of oomph and bring the meat back to life, I have gone slightly non-traditional with the seasoning. I added some Harissa paste -  a North African spice paste made using chillies and a variety of spices and herbs - which will add a wonderful spicy edge to the cooked meat and transform these baked parcels into something special. 

As you can see from the photo, I managed to do just that. These special giant pasties will definitely stand head and shoulder above any bog standard pasty around, literally. Being the muddlehead that I am, I had unwittingly mistaken a 30 cm pan lid for 20 cm and used that as my cutting template instead. After folding and crimping the pasties, I then realised the ginormity of these pasties. So what was initially intended as a light lunch turned out to be a full blown meal in a crust. Not that I was complaining. I do love pasty after all.

(make 2 giant or 3 medium pasties)

150g leftover lamb or any roast meat, cut into bite size
1 whole leek, white part only, cut into roughly same size as the meat
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
1 small swede, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
1 tbsp harissa paste (see recipe below or shop-bought. My favourite is Belazu's rose harissa)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten with a drop of milk

For the pastry:
225g plain flour, plush more for dusting
small pinch of salt
150g chilled cold butter, cut into cubes
1 medium free-range egg
2-3 tbsp cold water

For the Harissa paste:
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 garlic cloves, peeled
5 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, drained
a small handful of fresh mint, finely chopped, including the stems
a small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped, including the stems
120ml olive oil
sea salt, to taste


To make the Harissa paste, blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until you have a smooth paste. Season to taste and stored in an airtight container if not using immediately. They should keep for anything between 1-2 weeks in refrigerator.

To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large cold mixing bowl and rub in the cold butter cubes until you get a crumb-like texture. Add the egg and bring the mixture together into a dough, slowly adding a tablespoon of water at a time . You might not need all the water. Wrap with cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

In a large bowl, mix the lamb, leek, onion, potatoes, swede and the Harissa. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thickness. For giant pasty, cut two 30cm  circles or three 20cm for the regular ones. Divide the fillings between the pastry, leaving space around the edges. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and fold one end of the circle over to form a half moon shape. Press on the edges to seal and crimp as you would do with a cornish pasty. Brush the pasties with more beaten egg.
Note: Alternatively, press along the edges of the pasty with the back of a fork to form corrugated surface which will do the trick of sealing the pasty.

Transfer the pasties onto a baking tray pre-lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven to 180ºC and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hedone, Chiswick

Very rarely I stumbled on a restaurant that filled me with admiration before I have even patron the venue. From the moment I've heard of Hedone, I was intrigued to learn that Mikael Jonsson, the chef who runs it, was formerly a keen food blogger gallantly decided to take his passion that step further and open a restaurant. By sourcing the best produce and giving them the minimum fuss, he has managed to served up superb dishes that accolade rave reviews from bloggers and critics and was awarded a Michelin star in September 2012, no mean feat considering only after a year of service. So finally I decided pay this restaurant in Chiswick a visit earlier this year.

Opted for the Carte Blanche or Chef's recommendation with wine pairing, my fellow diners and I sat back and wait. A trio of canapé opened the show. Foie gras sandwiched between thin crispy rye crisp, raspberry jam disc on parmesan biscuits and smoked haddock on a thin cracker. Each were morsel-size perfection, and a great start to tantalise the taste buds with.

Poached oyster, so fresh that it felt like it's just been caught straight of the sea, shuck and presented before us. The light poaching rid the usual sliminess and resulted in a cleaner mouthfeel. With the sweet, crisp Granny Smith apple foam that blanketed the oyster as it glided into the mouth, quite possible the best way of eating an oyster I've ever encountered. Best dish of the day for me.

Poached Oyster, Granny Smith foam :

Truffle curd with truffle cream and shavings :

A dish of soft truffle curd/broth, topped with more truffle shaving quickly followed. The flavour was so intensely rich and flavoursome that it was cleaned up in no time with me desperately scraping the side of the empty dish with the tiny spoon hoping for more.

The appearance of  British asparagus was a surprise, as in early March, it was way ahead of its season. According to Mikael, this was the first early batch, due to the short spell of mild weather earlier in the year. The mixture of raw and barely cooked spears were absolutely tasty and the addition of the truffle sauce made them even more so.

Asparagus and Truffle : 

Another standout dish was the turbot, sea fresh and meaty and perfectly cooked. The accompanying frothy broth was gutsy and flavoursome. The ravioli too, were another delightful treat to graze my palate, intense and  cheesy parmesan filling burst into my mouth as I bit into the thin sheets of pasta.

Devon Turbot :

Parmesan Ravioli with Truffle Shavings:

Juicy pink duck with the earthy offal sauce were very rich and packed full of flavours. Trio of pickled, roasted and puree beetroots paired with this dish like a dream. The tangy pickling root veg cut through the richness and the subtle sweetness from the roasted beetroot contributed welcome addition flavours.

Salt marsh lamb, again serve pink and almost baaing (which is my personal preference). The sauce were a bit on the thin side but the hidden flavours and the moistness of the meat itself more than made up for this. The quality of the meat itself was impeccable. As much as I loved the charred endives and smoked aubergine puree, the lamb was the undeniable the star of the show.

Duck, beetroot, offal sauce : 

Salt marsh lamb, baby aubergine, endive, smoked aubergine puree : 

On the recommendation of the chef himself, we went for an additional course. The Aged Black Angus beef, beautifully cook with ruby-red middle, melt in the mouth and taste just as it should, beefy. Along with accompaniment of sweet caramelised shallots and carrot and rich jus made me glad we went for this. Despite the marvellous duck and lamb, this was by far the best meat dish on the day and I could understand why Mikael was eager to showcase this.

55-60 Days Aged Black Angus Beef with Caramalised Shallots and Ramson sauce:

Lemon variations with Lemon Sorbet : 

The lemon and marjoram jelly and meringue slice were truly delicious and the zingy lemon sorbet, so light and refreshing that it acted more like a mid-course palate cleanser than a pudding.

The puddings that followed were all superb. The Rhubarb floating island was perhaps the only dish that I wasn't keen on. Not that there were anything wrong with it, but on a whole it was the weakest pudding out of the lot. Chocolate ganache pot on the other hand was truly delicious. Light and rich in equal measures and top with a layer of sharp, fruity raspberry powder. This was so good.

Millefeuille with caramel ice cream :

Rhubarb and Floating Meringue : 

Pineapple, Chantily cream and Sorbet :

Chocolate ganache with raspberry powder and vanilla ice cream : 

Petits Fours :

The petits fours rounded off the series of excellent meal perfectly. Throughout the meal, the service was amiable. The knowledgeable sommelier introduced each pairing wine with such fine details and nothing disappointed. By no mean of exaggeration that I would boldly say that this was one of the best meal that I ever had. And what filled me with glee as I am writing this is that I will be going back soon. So should you.

Lunch : 3 courses £35 , Tasting menu £55 (optional wine pairing £59), Carte Blanche £85
Dinner : 3 courses £47, Tasting menu £65 (optional wine pairing £59), Carte Blanche £95

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Square Meal


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