Friday, October 30, 2009

A Man Who Brunches - New York

Back in London, we can always rely on the good old English full breakfast. Sausages, bacon, beans, mushrooms, hash browns, toast and lashings of butter all washed down with a mug of builders finest. Over in New York, they turn their noses up at such delights and instead opt for Brunch. Eaten slightly later (normally between 11 and 1), we are talking pancakes, thin strips of streaky bacon, eggs any and every way, all washed down with as much filter coffee as is humanly possible. No nonsense.

I love the English attitude to breakfast, but the New Yorker's have managed to reinvent it all on their own. In the few days that I have here, I managed to fit in three different outings for brunch:

'Wichcraft:


Wichcraft is essentially a chain of upmarket sandwich shops scattered across New York. Created by the same man who runs the chain of Craft restaurants, a fine pedigree in itself, the order of the day is sandwiches with a bit more thought and execution than your everyday Pret. They serve mainly to a lunch crowd but have a range of sandwiches to cater for the brunch crowd. I went for what was called "Fried Eggs" which contained bacon and Gorgonzola alongside the aforementioned eggs. I even picked up a slight warming chilli kick, a nice if unexpected touch. All washed down with a decent coffee, a great little place to drop by if you're on the go and in need of nourishment.

'Wichcraft @ Flatiron (Website) - 11 East 20th street @ Broadway, New York

'wichcraft on Urbanspoon


Clinton Street Baking Company:


When asking for New York dining recommendations, one place that is never far from most peoples thoughts is the Clinton Street Baking company. Located on the Lower East side, it's not exactly near all the other local tourist haunts but is certainly worth the detour. Famous for their pancakes, unless you arrive the minute they open, you are in for a wait. I was there around half ten and was told a 45 minute wait would ensue. 10 minutes later, wave upon wave bustled their way through the front door, only to be told they would have to brave the elements once again as the wait had now increased to an hour and a half.

Where all the action happens

Inside, it's tiny. People are seated wherever there is space, be it near to the coffee machine, at the window or in the actual "dining room". Even so, the atmosphere is jovial and the service efficient and with a smile. I think the promise of a good feed helps, but I happily passed the time with a coffee and stared into the kitchen, mesmerised as the brigade of chefs produced dish after yummy looking dish.

French Brioche Toast

Eventually, it was my turn and I took my seat at the "bar" and ordered. I went for the French Toast Brioche with Pecan and Caramelised bananas, and as if that wasn't enough, I ordered a side of smoked bacon. I know I should have got the pancakes but enough has been said about them and I wanted to try something different. And the french toast was fantastic. Delicate brioche dipped in egg and fried, the toast still moist and soft but certainly not soggy. The caramelised bananas added a nice sweetness and the pecans crunch. Bacon was crisp, smoky and not greasy, a winning combination.

Mmm....bacon

Clinton Street Bakery certainly had a lot to live up to, and even with a 45 minute wait, I actually enjoyed every minute of it. If anything, the wait just built up my hunger and I demolished my food the minute it arrived. Worth the trek and don't be surprised if you're there a while.

Clinton Street Baking Company and Restaurant (Website) - 4 Clinton Street (btw. East Houston & Stanton), New York

Clinton St. Baking Company on Urbanspoon


Spoon:


Conveniently located on the ground floor of where I was staying, Spoon is a relative new comer to the Brunch stakes. Originally opened as a catering outfit, it serves coffee and sandwiches during the week and opens its doors to the Brunch crowd at the weekends.

Family friendly, a rarity in New York it seems, it was packed to the gills with well behaved and well dressed young children. I went with my cousin and her one and a bit year old who proceeded to cause a ruckus, throwing veggies heavenwards whenever possible, only to generate coo's of forgiveness from the adults around her just by pulling adorable faces.

The brunch menu is limited but irresistible. I wanted to eat everything. Pancakes were on there as standard, in both blueberry and chocolate versions, but I wanted something more savoury and went for the baked eggs.

Baked eggs

This was like baked eggs deluxe. Alongside the two baked eggs was sausage meat, spinach, mushrooms, they even managed to pack a hash brown in there. It was topped off with a Parmesan crust and was a very hearty brunch. Lucky that, as it was the only thing I ate before I boarded my flight back to blighty.

A fitting end to a rather OTT feasting trip. Rumour has it that Lucy Liu is a local and often comes to Spoon for brunch. I didn't spot her this time, but the next time I am back in New York, I may well be camped in Spoon on the look out.

Spoon (Website) - 17 West 20th Street
(between 5th & 6th avenues), New York

Spoon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Blaggers Banquet - November 15th 2009

in aid of


Just a quick post to let you all know of an exciting event that the blogging community are organising.

On the 15th November, the food and drink blogging community are taking over the Hawksmoor on Commercial Street for the inaugral Blaggers' Banquet. This is an event where 50(ish) food and drink bloggers pool resources and rely upon their finely honed blagging skills to organise a 50 cover four course meal with a charity auction, all in aid of Action against Hunger.

There will be bloggers sourcing, bloggers cooking and bloggers taking care of you throughout the evening. And at the end of it all, you can tell us exactly what you think of us. In fact, we may even let you take pictures of the food ;)

If you would like to come, there will be a dedicated site created shortly and all the details of the event (ticketing and otherwise) can be found there. Will link to it as soon as I have it.

More importantly, if you would like to help at all, be it by donating some food we can cook or a prize that we could auction, please email me at tehbus@googlemail.com. All donations are welcome, although it will be up the organisers to sort out what they need.

For other details, check out Eatlikeagirl's, the Wine Sleuth and Ginandcrumpet's posts!

Many thanks in advance and here's to a successful night!

Addendum, people I have blagged stuff from so far and have offered to help in some way (THANK YOU!):











Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WMPC: Mum's Chicken Rice (a recipe!)

Mum's Chicken Rice

Where's my Pork Chop? Sorry Danny, but you're not going to get it off me.

Not so long ago I attended a very interesting meeting of food bloggers discussing PR engagement. After this contretemps, we all congregated to the pub and socialised over a few bevvies. I got talking to the Food Urchin and he explained to me a little project of getting bloggers to cook him a meal every week. A few beers later, I had agreed to participate.

I love cooking, but it scares me. I am far too critical of my own food and care far too much what people think. What the hell had I let myself in for?

Anyway, in my minor panic and long deliberations about what I wanted to cook, I decided to resort to a dish I had never cooked before but I knew was delicious, my mothers chicken rice. I never really use measurements, but I have tried to provide them where I can. I mostly cook to taste.

Mum's Chicken Rice (enough for two)

The main ingredients

2 x Chicken thighs (deboned and cut into chunks)
2 x Chicken drumsticks
200g Jasmine rice
A handful of chestnut and shittake mushrooms (sliced)
100ml of dark soy, light soy and oyster sauce
1 chilli
A "thumb" of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
Chicken stock for the rice
Sesame oil and spring onions (optional)
White pepper

1. Mix the light and dark soy with the oyster sauce in a mixing bowl, add the chicken, season with white pepper and then leave to marinade.

2. Chop the ginger into fine pieces and crush and chop the garlic. Wash and then dry the rice so most of the starch is removed. Fry the garlic and ginger gently so the flavour is released and then add the rice and cook for a minute so the flavour is combined with the uncooked rice.

3. You can transfer the rice into a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook in 2/3rds stock, 1/3rd water. Keep an eye on the rice, it needs to cook halfway.

4. Whilst the rice starts to cook, remove the chicken thigh pieces from the marinade and stir fry on a high heat. Once sealed, reduce the heat, add the mushrooms and chilli and continue to cook. Add the marinade and some stock until a gravy is formed. Corn starch can be used to thicken.

The Halfway point

5. Once the chicken is cooked, add the chicken and gravy to the half cooked rice and continue to cook the rice until it is light and fluffy.

6. Whilst the rice is finishing cooking, fry the drumsticks so the skin crisps up. When the rice is done, serve up together with some finely chopped spring onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Fingers crossed, this recipe turns out to be as good for you as it has been for me over the many years that my mum has cooked it. Bon appetit!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vamos a Iberica (an invite), Great Portland Street

Picture the scene. I'm sitting in a pub in deepest darkest Soho. I have just been served a strange foreign beer by a heavily tattooed woman, decorated with a variety of adornments pierced through her nose, ears, lip and any other appendage which dares hang loose from her body. Just when I think the evening couldn't get any stranger, I meet a mysterious Spaniard who is experiencing "troubles". Of what nature, your guess is as good as mine. As usual, in any awkward conversation, I try to bring it back to my comfort zone. So I attempt to pester him about food to get his mind off whatever is bothering him. Eventually he reveals that Iberica is his favourite restaurant before descending into the dark fug which is beginning to form around him. I get away before I get drawn into this ever evolving downward spiral.

So, a couple months down the line, I received an email from Urbanspoon asking me if I want to give Iberica a go. Fate? Probably not, but I'm going to go anyway. If any of you don't know what Urbanspoon are, they are essentially a place to find somewhere to eat, with reviews supplied by the public to help make up their minds. I contribute to Urbanspoon and they post my reviews and send me readers. I scratch your back and you scratch mine.

Iberica is located at the upper end of Great Portland Street and is a formidable space. It's massive windows and numerous light fixtures lend to a lofty and bright dining room. Inside, it is broken up into various sectors, with a generous bar area, surrounding tables, a dedicated dining area towards the back and newly opened fine dining restaurant upstairs (called Caleya).

We sat down and had a chat with Marco, one of the joint owners. Here he regaled a few stories about how the restaurant came to be, and of the effort that he had gone to ensure that Iberica was Spanish through and through. This included the tiles in the bathroom to the lampshades, designed by a Spanish lampshade designer! When it comes to the food, not everything can be sourced from Spain. Where it was too difficult or cost ineffective, they try to find alternative local sources. This ranges from the Galician chicken (which are allowed to roam wild to create a more muscular meat, almost resembling red meat) which they convinced a British farmer to start breeding for them, to the Hake, which comes from Dorset but is swapped with the Spanish fishermen out on the seas.

Trio of Ham - Extremadura, Guijuelo and Huelva

We were ravenous by now, so started with the trio of Iberican ham with a glass of Tio Pepe sherry to accompany it. Smooth, with the nutty flavour running through the fat only found due to the pigs diet of acorns. Expertly sliced into thin slices, this didn't last long but was a noble prelude to the meal. The sherry was dry and intensely woody, nice, but I think I still need a bit of convincing to convert to a sherry drinker.

Ham Croquetes
Fried fresh squid with "alioli"
"Broken" Eggs with Panadera potato and Chorizo

As soon as we had consumed the ham, our next trio of dishes arrived. The ham croquettes were luxuriously viscous, studded with ham and covered in fine breadcrumbs. I have no idea how they got them onto the plate in one piece, they were so fragile. Calamari were accurate with a light batter and a gum sucking dollop of alioli to help it down. The "broken eggs" with chorizo was probably the most interesting dish. The chorizo appears lightly fried with the panadera potatoes, their oil staining the potatoes a slight crimson, and finished off with an egg mixed in. A really hearty dish, although the level of salt had me reaching for the water more than once.

Monkfish parcels with lemon
Black rice with cuttlefish, prawns and alioli
Beef Spare Rib "Churrasco" with rosemary and garlic
(I realise that the quality of the pictures deteriorate somewhat during the night. This may have been due to the fading light, or the increased consumption of wine)

Onto the larger dishes. Here we had monkfish parcels, squid ink cooked rice, and a churrasco (rib of beef). We hadn't actually wanted monkfish, but the hake had proven to be rather popular and had been sold out. The monkfish was incredibly meaty, and just needed a squeeze of lemon to bring out all its flavour. I have never had anything with squid ink before, but its use in cooking the rice adds a hint of the sea, whilst giving the rice a creamy texture. Thrown in a few prawns and few pieces of the aforementioned squid and you have an extremely tasty dish. However, be warned. It is incredibly heavy, I was struggling after a few mouthfuls. Last but not least, the churrasco, a steal at £8.95. By this stage, we were beaten, destroyed by the multitude of courses before us, but I had a mouthful for the cause and I can certainly vouch for the beef. Cooked for 2 days, its tender and moist, infused with the flavours of rosemary and garlic.

I can see where the mysterious Spaniard was coming from. He may be a troubled young man but he certainly knows the food of his homeland. Iberica is a great restaurant selling fantastic tasty food. It may be a little out of the way, but it was packed to the gills. I think that probably tells it's own story.

Iberica (website) - 195 Great Portland Street, W1W 5PS

Iberica on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kiasu, proper Straits food - Bayswater

Menu

Kiasu has quite a following in London. Located in the secondary Chinatown that is Bayswater, it differentiates itself from its popular neighbours (Goldmine and Four Seasons are a few doors down one way, whilst Royal China and Mandarin Kitchen can be found down the other) by selling Straits food. Originating out of Malaysia and Singapore, many of its dishes are based on hawker stall classics, where they often sell for no more than about a pound a dish. The prices are clearly not comparable here in London, but even so, each main comes to easily under a tenner.

To give this place the once over, I brought two of the harshest critics of Straits cuisine I know, my parents. Both born and bred in Kuala Lumpur and brought up on char kway teow, prawn mee and nasi lemak, who better to judge whether the food was decent and, most importantly, faithful to true Straits food cuisine.

Chicken Satay
Roti Paratha

We started with some chicken satay and a rothi paratha, two staple roadside dishes. The satay were quite poor. Four paltry skewers of chicken, with inadequate spicing and a poor sauce. All the traditional accompaniments were there (such as onion, cucumber and pressed rice) but it felt like it had just come out of a packet. The roti, on the other hand, were very good. Crisp and compact, with a good homemade hot curry. Simple but nice.

Ko Lo Mee

For my main, I ordered Ko Lo Mee. In truth, I didn't really know what I was ordering, I was actually expecting something slightly different. The char siu (barbecued pork) and won ton soup were there as expected (both of a high standard), but instead of the dry egg noodles with dark soy I was expecting, I got a claggy mess of overdone egg noodles steeped in a sweet chilli sauce, seemingly straight out of a bottle. It was horrible. I tried to eat this and failed.

Char Kway Teow

My parents mains were much more successful. My dads Char Kway Teow (essentially fried noodles) was superb. What's in it? There are probably too many bits and bobs to list them all here but my favourite bits were the generous amounts of Chinese sausage and the little nuggets of fried pork fat interspersed within the noodles, releasing individual explosions of flavour. If I had to fault it, the noodles were slightly greasy but that would be my only criticism.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

My mum went for another straits classic, Hainanese chicken rice, and this was probably as good as you are going to get in central London. The rice was delicately flavoured with ginger and cooked in the chicken stock, with a light chicken broth on the side. The soya chicken itself was moist and was bursting with flavour, no mean feat considering the hard time chicken often gets for being a quite "generic" meat.

I am torn by Kiasu. Some of the food was sublime whilst some of it was a horror show. And the service, don't even get me started on that. It was slow and we had to ask them for various missing dishes, numerous times. I know it was busy but that shouldn't be an excuse.

"Kiasu" can be loosely translated as the fear of losing. I still think it has a long way to go to truly rule supreme in the London straits food standing. There are many pretenders to the crown including Rasa Sayang, Satay house and the newer chain, Jom Makan, to name just a few. I don't think it is quite "losing" but it has some way to go before it wins.

Kiasu (website) - 48 Queensway, W2 3RY

Kiasu on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 19, 2009

Meat sweats at 32 Great Queen Street, Holborn


Sometimes the urge to eat beef just takes you. This week, I had one of those moments, where the caveman instinct to consume unhealthy amounts of red meat consumes you, I had to find me a steak. I didn't want to go anywhere I had already been so Gaucho, Sophies and Hawksmoor were off the menu. I desperately wanted to try out Goodman, the new kid on the block, but it appeared that I wasn't the only one and failed to get a reservation. Other options were Buen Ayre (in Broadway Market, too far away) and Black and Blue (alongside a suggestion of Angus Steakhouse, you know who you are) but when I heard that Great Queen Street did a Rib of Beef for 2, I was sold.

Great Queen Street is located on the premises of one of my old haunts, back in the day when I used to work in Holborn. Formerly the Rampage, much has changed. Gone are the TV's and the ghastly wall paintings to be replaced by simple and functional wooden furniture. The ambiance is buzzing and the room is filled with 30 somethings as opposed to the 20 year olds who used to come here for for their post work pint. Sister restaurant to the Anchor and Hope on the Cut, this has one major advantage. Here you can actually book a table.

I ordered a pint of "The Usual" (yes, that really is the name of their ale) and sat down to decide what to eat. The menu is simple and straightforward, showcasing good British produce. The friendly and young waitress expertly reeled off a list of highly appetising daily specials, I think even the fussiest of eaters will be catered for in one way or another. The choice of mains had long been decided, but what else were we going to have?


Globe Artichoke and Vinaigrette - A single cooked globe artichoke is, in my eyes, a thing of beauty. Cooked simply and served with a tangy and sharp vinaigrette, we dove in and started tearing away at the leaves, dipping then stripping the parsimonious "flesh" at the bottom of each leaf, before we finally arrived at the plentiful bounty that is the heart. A really satisfying experience on so many levels.


Pork and Game Terrine with Gooseberry Chutney - A lovely rustic slab studded with pistachio nuts. Served with a really good sourdough and unsalted butter, the terrine was slightly dry, but it was full of meaty chunks with the distinct hammy pieces of pork standing out. The gooseberry chutney, sweet and deliciously sour was the perfect match for the rich and smooth terrine.



Hereford Beef Rib for 2 with Chips and Bearnaise - And here it is, the main event and the reason we came here in the first place. And I am glad to say, I wasn't let down. At £46 for two, this is easily the most expensive thing on the menu but was a thing of beauty. The beef arrived in rare slabs with an actual rib on the side. It was probably a little too rare for me but not so much that I was put off. The meat itself had generous slivers of fat, leaching flavour into the beef and was well seasoned with a healthy char. Slightly chewy, each mouthful was juicy and delicious. The accompanying Bearnaise was a worthy sidekick, smooth with a sharp tarragon tang. Chips, so often a letdown, were also highly accomplished. Soft fluffy clouds of potato encased in a crisp golden shell.

After that mountain of meat, we were all stuffed to the gills. However, my eyes are bigger than my stomach and the urge for something sweet meant that I ended up ordering a scoop of espresso and milk ice cream. Good strong coffee flavour with a sweetness from the milk aspect of the ice-cream. A nice punctuation to a highly fulfilling meal.

When they closed down the Rampage, myself and many of my old workmates were disappointed. After all, one of our old haunts was now out of commission. However, this is definitely a case of an ugly caterpillar blooming into a vibrant butterfly. The Rampage used to serve perfectly decent Thai food, but what we have now is top notch British food, in a comfortable and buzzy environment. I can't wait to come back, this may yet become my local once again.

P.S. In case you were wondering, I haven't become an amazing photographer overnight. My feeble point and click couldn't handle the "ambient lighting" so I stole some off @foodbymark. Check out the rest of his pics here.

32 Great Queen Street, Holborn, WC2B 5AA

Great Queen Street on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 16, 2009

Silk Road, A taste of Xinjiang in Camberwell

Outside

Who knew Camberwell was such a melting pot of global culture. Today's visit was inspired by a write up in Gin and Crumpets and an endorsement by none other than Jay Rayner, Observer food critic (and my personal food hero).

Silk Road is a Chinese restaurant located in the heart of Camberwell, but it probably isn't like most Chinese restaurant's that you may have visited before. Serving the cuisine of Xinjiang, a northern province of China bordering Mongolia and Kazakhstan, it's residents are mostly Muslim and the menu is dominated by noodles and broths with a spicy kick, with a few pork dishes to keep the locals happy.

Inside

I have walked past this place many times and never thought to venture in. Unassuming in appearance, it has endured various transformations over the years but always with a simple bright communal dining space. So, it was about time I tried it.

Lamb Skewers
Lamb Skewers - The best lamb (in my eyes) comes from Tayyabs in the form of their charcoal spiced lamb chops. This may seem like quite a statement, but if you haven't been before, go and give them a go yourself and make your own opinion. When I can't go to Tayyabs for my lamb fix, I'm going to start coming here. Skewers of tender spiced lamb interspersed with nuggets of lamb fat. Make sure you eat these when still hot, otherwise the tender chunks of fat turn into unappetising rubbery grease balls.

Beef and Onion fried dumplings
Beef and Onion fried dumplings - 10 of these for £3? Seriously? Steamed and then fried on one side, nice dumplings, but insane value.

Special lamb noodles
Special Lamb Noodles - Not exactly sure what makes these qualify as special but the homemade noodles were thick and immersed in a tomato based sauce, packed with greens and steeped in chilli. Small slices of tender lamb turned a good dish into a great dish. A good hearty meal with a slurp!

Home style chinese greens
Home style Chinese greens - After all that meat, we needed some sort of veg to balance it out. Simple stir fried greens in soy and garlic. Simple and actually very good. The greens had been cooked quickly so it had plenty of bite but long enough so it retained some of the flavour of the sauce.

Silk Road, what a find. Simple, tasty food, served at an unbelievable price. I think you would struggle to spend more than ten pounds a head. Well worth a trip down to Camberwell, but I secretly hope you don't bother. Its a great neighbourhood restaurant and it would be lovely if it stayed that way.

Silk Road - 49 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pierre Koffmann, Restaurant on the Roof

Pierre Koffmann on the Roof

Pierre Koffmann, a legend. Head chef of La Tante Claire, amongst others, he reigned supreme in London's culinary heyday, gaining a coveted three Michelin stars alongside his contemporaries of Michel Roux and Marco Pierre White. It has been quite some time since Pierre has actually been behind the stoves, but for a limited time only, to tie in with the London Restaurant Festival, he opens Pierre Koffmann on the Roof. Located on the roof of Selfridges, it's a "pop-up" like no other. With stunning views and a dedicated lift taking you up all the way, its quite an experience from beginning to end.

The lift

Locating the lift itself was quite a mission, but after careful text and tweet coordination, my group congregated on Chanel and there was the lift. Guarded by a woman who had the air of an angel bereft of her wings, it really was a case of "if your name's not down, you're not coming in". Luckily mine was so up we went. Stepping out of the lift, the ethereal theme continued. Bright white lights, lace patterning, simple but elegant wall decorations. We were greeted by name, the staff seemingly telepathically informed that we would be arriving and were shown to our seats.

Inside

The restaurant itself is housed in what can only be described as a "fancy marquee". We were slap bang in the middle of the room, perfectly seated to take in the hustle and bustle of all that was going on around us. I really thought the setting was elegant and not overly fussy with nice touches (such as the antlers for chandeliers and bowler hat light fixings). It was hard to imagine that this was not a permanent structure although the vibrating floors were a constant reminder that this was not the case.

Pigs Head with celeriac remoulade

Cocktails and wine ordered, we were sent an amuse bouche, a few slivers of pigs head meat, adorned with truffles, sitting atop a mound of celeriac remoulade. Very simple but highly enjoyable. I really don't understand the addition of truffles sometimes and the few slivers here didn't really add too much. The salty pigs head had a light herb dressing and was perfectly complemented by the creamy remoulade.

Each day, one of Koffmanns old proteges are invited to cook alongside him. The list is quite phenomenal, including the likes of Guy Chavot (The Capital), Tom Aikens, Tom Kitchin, Helena Puolakka (Skylon) and on this occasion, Bruno Loubet. I hadn't heard of him before but with a little research, I discovered that he is an extremely highly regarded chef back in Australia where his restaurant Baguette holds a coveted Michelin star in Brisbane. Fine dining all the way from Oz. The menu is varied and every dish reads so well that the words are enough to start making you salivate. Amongst the standard dishes, the guest chef adds his own and it was with one of these dishes that I decided to start the meal.

Langoustine Bisque and herb creme chantilly

Langoustine Bisque with a herb creme chantilly - Simple and elegant, the smell was intoxicating. Dining with keen photographers, it took every ounce of my patience not to dive straight in. A simple quinelle of the herb chantilly was slowly melting its way through the bisque. Once I was finally allowed a sip, the deep concentrated seafood flavours danced over every millimetre of my mouth. Not as sweet as lobster but every ounce as satisfying, the bisque really benefited from the herb cream, mellowing out the extremely savoury flavour. The herbs were an excellent addition, adding another dimension to the overall taste. Coriander microshoots? Not sure, but it helped bring a bit of pepperiness to the overall dish. An amazing start to the meal.

Challans duck and Salsify

Challans Duck and Salsify - I'm a sucker for duck, I simply love it. After the noble pig, the duck is next in line. Here, we were given a few slices of tender perfectly cooked breast in a light jus, with a confit of the leg for company. Alongside, a baton of salsify and some mixed vegetables. The slices of breast were so tender and pink, and the leg meat just fell apart with tasty morsels of duck skin. No fireworks here but why mess with great tasting products, this duck had not died in vain. Tasty but extremely straight forward.

Pistachio souffle with Pistachio ice cream

Pistachio souffle with pistachio ice cream - I think my favourite thing in the entire world has to be pistachio ice-cream. I love it. Ask my friends, and that is all I ever go on about and it just isn't that easily found in the UK. So the minute I saw this at the top of the menu, I closed it. My mind was made up. When it arrived, it had majestically risen, a sizable collar having formed above the ramekin. I wanted to stop the waiter from plunging the ice cream deep into the heart of the souffle, but I thought I better stick to convention and let him do it, after all, it looked like he was enjoying himself. The whole thing was so light, it was like eating beautiful pistachio flavoured clouds. I handed spoonfuls of this round to my dining partners and two of them choked on it, not expecting its consistency being closer to mist than that of mousse. Personally, I think it was just an excuse to have another taste.

My meal was fantastic, start to end. I know that some people had not enjoyed the food as much as I did, but I think that is down to the choices and personal tastes. For example, I tried the famous pigs trotter and was totally non-plussed whereas I know some people were bowled over by it. Other standouts for me were the Royale de Lievre (hare) and the pressed leek with langoustine.

One of the hot topics of conversation regarding this pop up was whether it warranted the price tag? After all, £75 for 3 courses is a lot of anybodies money. I think what you have to appreciate here is that you are not just paying for the food but for the occasion. Yes it has its failings. The service was patchy although always friendly and eager to please and the food was delightful but hardly warranted such a steep price tag. But here you're paying for the chance to sample Pierre Koffmanns cooking again, for the chance to experience the food of a "guest" chef and for an amazing view over London from the roof of one of the worlds oldest and most recognised department stores. The dining room was truly buzzing, packed with minor celebs of the food world and bloggers galore. What you are paying for here is the package, the food is just one component.

Claire

During the meal, Pierre's partner Claire was doing an excellent job at front of house, chatting to everyone and making sure they were happy. She remarked how Pierre was so surprised to see such a young crowd, and how he had fully expected the room to be full of his old customers. Although there was a good mix of younger and older in the room, Pierre Koffmanns reputation precedes him, hence the draw of the younger generation of food lovers, myself included.

I scarcely remember enjoying myself so much in any restaurant. If it were to remain open, I would certainly like to go back, just not at those prices. But I am proud to say I was part of this event and had a cracking good time to boot.

Pierre Koffmann, Restaurant on the roof (website) - Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB


Pierre Koffmann - Restaurant on the Roof on Urbanspoon

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