Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews – New Chapter

The question that every restaurateur is asked in the first 5 minutes of conversation is always what is new & where would you go to eat.

Pushed on by so many friends who were ever so keen to get an unbiased review and to always have the latest openings in their back pocket saw me write over 75 reviews covering over a hundred restaurants & bars.

As culture & the need for faster communication takes over it is time to stop the review blogs and simply capture eatery highlights on twitter.

So the last review is written and gastronomic haunts will now be ‘tweeted’ ~ simply follow if you wish.

Jason

The Restaurant at The Royal Academy of Arts

Seasoned restaurateur Oliver Payton with whom I spent a few drunken nights a couple of decades ago opens a new restaurant at the Royal Academy.

To eat next to a bust of Winston Churchill and other eclectic museum pieces made for a theatrical lunch albeit there were so many tables packed in such a small place it really was like being in the theatre and was a olympiad to get to your table and took even greater agility to get out of this eatery.

I had the polenta with girolles (one of my favourite mushrooms) that was absolutely flowing with lovely flavours but was sadly the consistency of soup that made it almost impossible to eat with my fork!

The strudel interpretation was a rectangular block of puff pastry covering lightly spiced and undercooked apples.

The saving grace was the fabulously smooth and stylish service and its unique venue.


Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BD

Sushi Ga Ga

Visited this restaurant in Chinatown (Soho) and was pleasantly surprised.

The decor is quintessentially ” Japanese school girl rock fan club” but it did have some very comfortable group tables sunk in to the floor.

I recommend the modern twist to Sushi in the form of the dragon roll that combined creamy avocado & prawn flavours that was delicious.

Sushi chefs cut their trade in front of you and the waitresses were very attentative.

A fun alternative to typical chinese restaurants along Lisle Street.

Sushi Ga Ga
16, Lisle Street,
London, WC2H 7EB
0207 287 6606

The Goring

The most read part of my website is the restaurant reviews. It all stems from the key question to most restaurateurs as to ‘where is best place to eat’ I guess its been asked so many times that that is the reason our high street bookshelves have volumes of review guides and you can’t pick up a weekend paper without a flood of well versed quips on latest eateries.

I’m not competing with the culinary literary story tellers merely responding with a frank & simplistic impression of places that I have been to.

The Goring is one place that I have been several times and love the quirky quintessentially British approach to everything. One dinner I had George Goring to my right and Michel Bourdin to my left and a host of industry legends as part of a craft guild of chefs chit chat and what has never changed is the unwavering standards, upkeep and honest food.

This occasion was some great pals from the wine world where the Tokaji dry Furmint actually paired well with the scottish haddock that was marinated with horseradish and herbs. The classic beef Wellington was matched with a Bourgeil le haut de la butte 2006 that was surprisingly old for that region yet had superb freshness and green notes that caressed the red wine sauce. The pear & almond tart had a brief affair with a Jurancon Uroulat before hitting the english cheeseboard.

This family owned hotel [one hundred years – one family] has so much character from the concierge to the overspill guests from the palace where the fabulous architecture reflects from their shoes.

Want to impress guests from across the pond, or anyone who appreciates good simple flavours with impeccable service with theatrical colonial influences then this is the place to book.

http://www.thegoring.com

Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley

A great treat was to eat at the Chef’s table set opposite the ‘pass’ in the two michelin starred kitchen at The Berkeley Hotel in Mayfair. The poacher turned gamekeeper experience was richly rewarding and the kitchen brigade were on their best behaviour! Standards were very high and we loved that each chef from the relevant section in the kitchen came over and explained each dish. Attention to detail was impressive and needless to say this modern approach to French cooking was not lost.
Marcus introduced himself and then his brigade set about our eight course dinner.

Cauliflower soup, Cheddar cheese foam, Parmesan breadsticks
~
Foie gras, apple, celery, prune, walnut
~
Orkney scallops, split peas, ginger,
sea cabbage, sea purslane
~
Quail, egg, bacon, tomato
~
Dorset turbot, onions, mushrooms, pappardelle, chickweed
~
Cumbrian lamb, salt-baked hay celeriac and roasted purée,
Hispi cabbage, brown butter, capers, olives
~
Apple tarte Tatin, vanilla ice cream
~
Custard tart, blackberries,
milk and blackberry ice cream

Having had the menu in advance I was allowed to indulge myself & choose the wines and I was very impressed by the sommeliers cool encouragement and openness. Here is what I went for …..

Louis Roederer, Brut Premier, Champagne,
France, N.V.
~
Riesling Andlau “Au dessus de la loi”, Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss,
Alsace, France, 2007
~
Condrieu “La Petite Côte”, Domaine Yves Cuilleron,
Rhone Valley, France, 2008
~
Chassagne-Montrachet, Pillot, France, 2005
~
Faugères, “Jadis”, Domaine Leon Barral,
Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 2007
~
Helmut Lang, Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Illmitz,
Austria, 1998
~
Cline, Late Harvest Mourvèdre, Sonoma,
North America, 2006
~
Vosne Romanée, Domaine Forey,
Burgundy, France, 2005

It was an amazing evening, with great company, sublime service that was both friendly and genuine and a true culinary treat.

www.the-berkeley.co.uk/marcus_wareing.aspx

Roux at Parliament Square

This is a group that just gets it right every time. Superb location in Westminster just a stones throw from Big Ben. The restaurant is part of the building of the Royal Institute of Surveyors but has a separate ‘off street’ entrance on the corner of Parliament Square and Great George Street .

Service, as you may expect was polite, smooth, swift, friendly and at the risk of adding more adjectives just perfect.

All dishes had right balance of flavours using traditional techniques of French cooking that respect the ingredients.

There was a sense of pride, as I worked with Roux for several years, that everything was ‘as it should be’; incredulous that it was a couple of decades ago that I was on their stove but their respect for ingredients has followed me throughout my career.

I had vegetarian options throughout and was not at all disappointed as each was impeccably turned out with lovely aromas, good presentation and full on taste.

I won’t talk about the dishes – find out for yourself…..

Roux at Parliament Square
RICS,
Parliament Square
London
SW1P 3AD
United Kingdom

Jamies Italian

A fair mid market Italian chain with better than average service.

There were some nice design elements and a good looking team and food was pleasant and simple.

Not a scratch on Kitchen Italia just along the arcade but trendy and reasonably priced.

I do love what Jamie stands up for and this has some essence of his upbringing at River Cafe with a nicely balanced menu.

So whereas I wouldn’t travel miles to get to this restaurant I would happily pop back in if passing.

An if you need an excuse to go shopping……………

Westfield Shopping Centre
Unit 1078
Ariel Way
W12 7GB
0208 090 9070
www.jamiesitalian.com

A round up of great (& not so great) restaurants:

Of the restaurants where I haven’t written a review [as I have been too busy!] I must commend the Cinnamon Club in Westminster for its modern Indian, great wine list and smooth service, Corrigans in Mayfair for its balance of flavours and good ingredients and Le Gavroche for its impeccable standards and pedigree and for the memories of me cleaning the ovens after service!

Other stars would be Zuma for its decor and thrilling theatrical cooking and some of the best Japanese cooking in town and Chez Bruce for its charming quintessentially French experience

The not so great would be Gordon Ramsey’s York & Albany for mediocre food, incredibly slow service and for most of the service team not really having a clue what is going on and for the swift communication freeze at the stroke of 11 when they decided it was obviously time for everyone to go home. Incredible indeed for just under £100 a head.

www.cinnamonclub.com
www.corrigansmayfair.com
www.le-gavroche.co.uk
www.zumarestaurant.com
www.chezbruce.co.uk
/www.gordonramsay.com/yorkandalbany

Pizza Express

Pizza Express
New Concept Store

I am unashamedly a fan of their thin crust pizza which would stand its ground in the streets of Rome.

This new concept store has a few fun design elements that are worth a view if the menu isn’t quintessentially where it has been. Design however is a long way from the 2 am champagne drinking sessions with Peter Boizet in Soho that I was occasionally known to partake in a couple of decades ago…

I love the counter seating in front of the pizza throwing chefs although you would feel out of place if you were older than eight. The circular booths are very much for adults though and the top glows red when you press the big button in the middle of the table to unsubtly hint you need more pinot grigio or gelati.

Service was funky (in their own style) but that didn’t stop us waiting 10 minutes to take an order or 20 to get our bill but that extra half hour had us soaking up the atmosphere and playing with the sunk in olive oil and pepper mill.

Opposite the cinema;
Lion House, Red Lion Street,
Richmond, TW9 1RE
0208-874-2779

Chiquito

We were indisputably the thinnest people in the bar which is not always the case but in this Mexican bar & grill in south of England the punters just love this food!

Ironic to do a review but key to my promise of simply recommending places to eat for my friends this was in fact actually rather fun!

Food was the usual stuff you would find from a large frozen delivery vehicle but generous portions and cooked with incredible efficiency and consistency.

Typical party food started our fayre and the nachos were devilishly moreish. The fajitas were predictable yet pretty good and gave us a break from the deep fat fryer.

Service was as over the top as TGI Fridays when it started and I noted a genuine care from its people.

Pretty reasonable drinks with £6.60 for 2 Coronas at bar and £1.95 for a coke.
Mojito you could drink all night at £4.40 a go.
Main courses around £14, Starters £4-6 so overall good value for money.

Believe it or not but book – we waited almost an hour for a table and we turned up around 6.30 ……. punters kept rolling in all night with party drinkers waiting at the bar as excited to see us ask for the bill as vultures spotting a limping emu.

Occasionally it is about not being a food snob and enjoy a good night of people watching and high energy entertainment.

www.chiquito.co.uk
Unit 4, Crawley Leisure Park,
London Road, Crawley, RH10 8LR