Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Decade Challenge - The Food

Happy New Year! The last few days have been ones of excess for many, but for me, it's been very chill and one of reflection. Instead of being out drinking and celebrating exuberantly, I ushered 2020 in on my sofa with a home cooked meal, cuddled up to my girlfriend. What a difference a decade makes.

On a real nostalgia trip, I started to trawl through photos from the last 10 years, and I tell you, what a journey. I started this blog in earnest at the start of the last decade, and nearly 6 years after the last post, I thought I would put together a few posts on some of my food and travel related thoughts. So here it is, a brand-new post for 2020, jam-packed with a number of reflections from the last decade and kicking off with my favourite restaurants.

All the way back in 2011, I was introduced to Roganic, a "pop up" (where the concept was just starting to take flight) that was meant to last two years. I'd learnt about Simon Rogan and L'Enclume through various blogs and tv shows and was thrilled that I wouldn't have to travel all the way to the Lake District just to sample his food. I loved his approach of combining British ingredients with Science and thankfully, the end product is more often than not, pure delight. From the moment I crossed the threshold on that first visit to Roganic, I was so well looked after and to this day, I am still friends with some of the staff who took such good care of me and my friends.

The years moved on and after multiple visits (and chefs), the pop-up finally closed it's doors. During that time, Fera opened (and closed) in the hallowed halls of Claridges and I finally did make that trip up to the Mothership in the Lake District, and boy did it live up to expectations. L'Enclume and it's restaurant family have always been the epitome of British fine dining for me, and I am so glad that Roganic has found a new permanent home just a few doors down from it's original site.

L'Enclume - Cavendish St, Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6QA
Roganic - 5-7 Blandford St, Marylebone, London W1U 3DB

As much as I enjoy fine dining, nothing satisfies me more than settling into a country pub, friends all around and hunkered down for the evening to come. The Sportsman may not be your average pub, but still ticks all the boxes for me. From the minute you arrive at the relatively remote pub in Seasalter, you can sidle up to the bar for that first drink, you never feel anything but comfortable. What follows out of the kitchen is a flow of local delights, changing with the seasons, fresh and full of flavour. The lunches are long and luxurious. It has provided so many fond memories over the years, not just for me but also for my family and friends, and introduced me to a new found love of fresh fish and seafood.

I now try and make at least an annual pilgrimage to the Kent coastline, but with Noble Rot now open in town (led by the same Chefs as the Sportsman), it at least means I can get my fix a little more frequently.

The Sportsman - Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP
Noble Rot - 51 Lambs Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB

One thing links both of these places together for me, and that is comfort and consistency. You're never truly going to enjoy yourself if you don't feel comfortable, and nothing is going to keep you coming back if it's not consistent. Timely as it may be, I noticed this little Twitter thread from Will @ Hawksmoor, extolling the virtues of consistency:

There are few restaurateurs I admire more than Will and Huw, and what they have done with the Hawksmoors is down to their hard work and ambition. And for this, Hawksmoor rounds off my list of favourite restaurants. I have spent far too many hours across all its restaurants, from drinking in their bar, to lounging in their restaurants eating the finest steak (although it can be argued that their sides are really where it's at). Not one regret, simply the best.

The Hawksmoor - All over the place

So, well, that sums up my first post in about 5 years, and I tell you, it's a lot harder than I remember. Expect another instalment soon(ish).

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cafe Murano, Mayfair

Mother's Day lunch at Cafe Murano with the family. 

Smokehouse, Islington


A first visit to Smokehouse. A catch up with some of oldest friends in the world. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Peckham Bazaar and Kimchinary [CLOSED]

Truffle hunting in Alba

It's been a little while since I booted Blogger up and got anything down on e-paper. I can't lie, the time away from the blog has been refreshing and I've spent a lot of it visiting other places including Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and a great trip out to Italy, taking in Alba and Florence. Travelling aside, I've also begun to enjoy eating out again, which was a great relief. London is full of great restaurants and dining experiences but sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with the choice and mostly, the expectation and fear of wasting my hard earned cash. One thing I've started to learn is if you look hard enough for it, the next great eat is just around the corner.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Clove Club - The end product

The Clove Club

I've been thinking of how to open this post about The Clove Club. About how it all started 3 years ago with three very talented chefs, and how I've intently followed their progress through a variety of popups that they have done. It would be an understatement to say that I've been a fan of their work. I feel a little sad that there is just Isaac McHale left of the original three Young Turks, but thankfully the food is as great as ever. Partnering up with co-collaborators of their stint at the Ten Bells, the Clove Club was born.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Those American Burgers - Five Guys and Shake Shack

Right, I know everyone is bored of talk about burgers. Hell, I know that I am. But the truth is, I was just a little bit excited when I heard Five Guys and Shake Shack were both London bound. Two American heavy weights, ready to duke it out on the streets of Covent Garden, one I had heard little of, the other, responsible for one of my food eureka moments. It was going to be pretty interesting how these emotions translated into foodie fact.

My very own Five Guys hat. Scant reward for rude staff and a ridiculous queuing system.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bird of Smithfield abridged and in pictures

Bird of Smithfield

Move over "Dude Food", Modern British seems to be taking over the London restaurant landscape. With a glut of chefs seemingly moving on from the old school British institutions such as the Ivy and St John, we see them trying to reinvent themselves and embrace what they love most. This can only be a good thing. At Bird, an ex Soho House alumni, expect the best of British produce updated in it's elegant upstairs dining room.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Salon - A truly British affair


One of my favourite places in London is the Granville arcade, better known as Brixton Market, leading into the hotbed of great little food restaurants, Brixton Village. I have spent many hours wandering these hallways trying bites of food at the many food stalls lining the arcade, generally getting lost in the feeding frenzy as others swarm around you with similar ideas. This group of restaurateurs continues to grow, and one of the newer additions is Salon, a small dining room located above Cannon & Cannon (a British deli) cooking up food with a very fresh and mostly British focus.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Food and Tech - Playing with the Nokia at the Social Eating House

Social Eating House

When it comes to keeping me happy, I'm pretty easy. Throw me some gadgets, feed me some food and I'm as happy as a pig in muck. When the PR for Windows Phone came knocking asking if I wanted to play with their new phone and eat at the not-yet-open Social Eating House, I jumped at the chance. I've been on iPhone since the beginning but have been seriously been considering a move away to the newer, more innovative platforms. As for Social Eating House, it's basically yet another brasserie with a British twist, but it is the newest opening from Jason Atherton so always worth checking out.