Favourite Tables

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Cornerstone_main

Cornerstone

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On hearing that Chef Tom Brown was looking for a venue to set up his own restaurant I was very excited to find out where that would be. Then when we heard that it would be in Hackney Wick I was at first a bit surprised but secondly very happy as it wasn’t too far away. In fact, it’s in a great location just one stop from Stratford in an area that is quickly being redeveloped which should be great for the restaurant.

Being very keen to visit knowing his background as Head Chef for Nathan Outlaw and also seeing him on Great British Menu we decided last Saturday to do just that. We got on a train at Romford then just 20 minutes later we’re walking out of Hackney Wick station where you immediately see all the redevelopment taking place. Then just a very short walk from the station you arrive at Cornerstone which is set in a quirky little area.

As you enter the restaurant there’s a nice relaxed & casual atmosphere. We were greeted by one of the staff who all were very friendly throughout our visit. We started with a drink at the bar and it was from there you got a great view of the big open kitchen in front of you with the tables set out at the front and down each side of the kitchen. We were then seated at the side in fact right where Tom was himself which was great and gave you an insight into seeing a chef run his restaurant close up.

We were then given the menu and as we expected it was mainly fish, in fact, nine of the twelve courses which are all sharing plates. Our waiter went through the menu options to help us decide but we just looked at him and said can we have everything which seemed to please him so that’s exactly what we did.

We started with some Sourdough Toast & Coral Butter before enjoying a fabulous Pickled Oysters with celery, horseradish & dill we then enjoyed some delightful Raw Hand Dived Scallops with Tomato before a stunning Cured Monkfish with grape, almond & sherry vinegar. The next course was a fantastic Mackerel Pate with seaweed, cucumber & homemade Rye Bread. This was then followed by a beautiful Asparagus dish with smoked cod’s roe.

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We then had an amazing Lamb Shoulder Kiev with anchovy, pea & mint before enjoying a fantastic Potted Shrimp Crumpet with kohlrabi, gherkin & parsley. The final four courses were some of the best fish dishes you could wish to try and we started with an amazing piece of Plaice with lobster, paprika & courgette. Followed by a fabulous Roast Pollock & Cafe de Paris hollandaise. We then had the most fantastic Cider Braised Cuttlefish with lentil, apple & spring onion dressing, before our last dish a stunning Ray Wing with a spiced aubergine purée, basil & ginger.

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Well it has to be said each and every dish was amazing We chose a lovely bottle of organic wine the Macabeo 2017 with its fruity aromas of apricot, Pear & citrus fruits with floral notes that seemed to compliment the dishes quite nicely It was then time for Cheese & desserts as we jokingly said to the waiter that we were going to have everything. There was a nice selection of five kinds of cheese which came with a delicious Saint Kew Chutney & Sourdough Crackers. Before moving onto desserts which were also heavenly and literally an excellent way to finish. The first being a Cornish Burnt Cream with strawberry saffron & ginger. The second was a Chocolate Mousse with raspberry & pistachio bringing to an end a simply amazing lunch.

After finishing with a coffee it was time to head home but not before having a nice little chat with Tom who came across as a really nice person. He also asked us which was our favourite dish which was the hardest question of the day as they were all a delight and we couldn’t reply with just one. This was definitely some of the best fish courses I’ve had the pleasure of tasting and I’m already looking forward to a return visit. So with the food being amazing the staff so friendly and a nice atmosphere I would highly recommend paying a visit to this restaurant I honestly believe you will not be disappointed

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Haywards Restaurant

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There are many reasons why I’m a frequent diner at Haywards but the main ones are:

1) the food is always amazing created by Chef Jahdre Hayward and his wonderful team

2) the wine which we often asked to be matched with each course is chosen superbly by Restaurant Manager Amanda Hayward

3) the service is very professional from the excellent young and friendly waiters/waitresses and it was a pleasure to have witnessed all three once again on Saturday of last week as we took friends to experience a Tasting Menu & Matched Wines evening.

On arrival, we were greeted so warmly before being shown to our table where we enjoyed a lovely cocktail while perusing the menu. It didn’t take us long to decide that we were all going to have the Tasting Menu. After enjoying some delightful snacks it was time for the first course a fabulous Chicken Leg & Sweetbread Ravioli with a Roast Chicken Consommé.

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Our second course was the Optional Extra Course of Scallop, Octopus, Red Pepper Purée & Chorizo Foam serves in the Scallop Shell. This led us onto the fantastic Mushroom Risotto topped with Black Truffle We then moved on to a beautiful fish course of a Fillet of Cod and a Brussels Sprout Purée before going on to the main course a Braised Short Rib of Beef with miso & aubergine purée which was equally as fantastic.

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Before moving onto to the desserts we all decided to have the additional cheese course as the restaurant has a wonderful selection of British & Irish Cheeses.

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Now it was time for dessert and another memorable dish a nice a light Chocolate & Hazelnut Mousse with an Orange Sorbet & Yoghurt Foam we then received a lovely surprise as the Chef sent us out an extra dessert a stunning Apple Crumble Soufflé & Cinnamon Ice Cream which brought us to an end of a very memorable evening.

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I would really like to Thank all of the team at Haywards for such a fantastic evening. To Jahdre for the amazing food, to Amanda & assistant Anne for the wine selection which included a delightful wine from a local supplier Parvills Farm in Epping and to the waitresses for exceptional service. This restaurant to me is the Best in Essex and the county really should be so proud of it and one that should definitely be placed on anyone’s places to dine lists

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A very Dog Friendly Brunch at Bellanger

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Set on the quiet pedestrian-only section of Islington Green, Bellanger a French style brasserie was a ideal location for our catch-up brunch with family and of course office dog Alfie.

It was Alfie who was first to receive a very warm welcome from General Manager, Scott Laurie and the front of house team. A simply beautiful restaurant with a warm atmosphere as soon as you walk in. Once we were shown to our table a bowl of water and a bone shaped hand-made biscuit appeared, for Alfie that is…

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Some warm bread, water and the Brunch menus followed. We were given a good amount of time to read the menus and make our selections.Very welcoming but discreet staff and a great menu

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Steak Tartare, Escargots à la Persillade and Salmon Rillettes with Toasted Sourdough were the Hors D’oeuvres chosen.( The pretty woman quote “slippery little suckers” was uttered)

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Mains of T-Bone Pork Chop with Sour Cherry Sauce, Confit Duck with Wild Mushrooms & Red Wine Jus, Grilled Plaice with Capers and Brown Butter Sauce and Choucroute à L’alsacienne (salted & smoked pork belly, ham hock, frankfurter, ham & garlic sausage and montbélier sausage, served on pickled cabbage)

 

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Four adults and a Cockapoo had a very pleasant afternoon brunch with a few glasses of Pommery Brut Royal NV and Fitou ‘Origines’ 2015, Bertrand-Bergé.

We would be delighted to recommend Bellanger and our only fault…they don’t have a Cambridge restaurant

 

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The Ritz Restaurant

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An absolutely stunning meal in what is a fantastic hotel is the only way to describe our recent dining experience. From the moment we arrived, we were amazed by the exquisite decor and the friendly and professional staff who looked after us and made us feel so welcome.

As you make your way down the beautiful corridor, passing where they serve afternoon tea, to the end where you are presented with a gorgeous view of the amazing dining room to where the fantastic experience begins as the waiters & sommelier take over and I have to say the service was of the highest order.

While we looked at the menu we enjoyed a lovely glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne. Our decision was to go for the Menu Surprise which was to be a Six Course Tasting Menu. Choosing not to have the Matched Wines we decided to select our own wines with the help and excellent advice from the sommelier.

So now we move onto the food to which under the inspiration of Chef John Williams was as amazing as the dining room itself. We started with some delightful snacks before moving onto our first course a fantastic Foie Gras dish with a slice of toasted brioche this was followed by a heavenly Langoustine course then it was a Celeriac dish which was prepared at the table.

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The sauce for the following Turbot fish course was also prepared in front of us at the table. Then the main dish, a truly outstanding Beef Wellington which was absolutely stunning & matched with a superb Barbera D’Alba red wine.

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Our next course was cheese but with a difference, a delightful Goats Cheese twill with pear before the main dessert a Chocolate mousse with a chestnut purée and topped with Meringue Straws. With our coffee, we were served delicious petit fours to finish our amazing lunch.

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Definitely, an experience not to be forgotten and one we will remember for a long time. This is certainly a restaurant I would highly recommend as I would this magnificent hotel, where the attention you get even before you enter the dining room is hospitality at its finest. It wouldn’t be a hard decision to return again soon.

 

cover image by Moritz Schmittat https://schmittat.uk

Core by Clare Smyth

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When I heard the news that Clare Smyth was going to open her own restaurant my excitement on waiting for this to happen was very high having tasted her food at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey and also that she had Rob Rose as her Restaurant Director you just knew this was going to be a fantastic dining experience. So when the day came that you could book I couldn’t wait and yesterday we went and believe me it was just the amazing experience that I thought it would be.


Set in a lovely location on Kensington Park Road a short walk from Notting Hill Station. As you enter the warm and friendly greeting that you receive is delightful and makes you feel very relaxed straight away. We decided to enjoy two excellent cocktails before lunch in the bar where the staff were very engaging. We had the Milk Punch and a specially made cocktail consisting of White & Dark Rum and Mandarin. Then came a wonderful surprise as we were being shown to a table, that we thought would be in the restaurant itself instead we were seated at the Chefs Table from where you see into the open kitchen and see everything happening before your very eyes and yes it was amazing to see.

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So now we are greeted by Restaurant Manager Davide and the friendliness & professionalism continued as we were given a nice complimentary glass of Sparkling Wine while we looked at the menu. We decided to have the Tasting Menu this which started with a fantastic selection of snacks that included Gougeres, Duck Wings and Jellied Eel. This led to our first course and what a way to start with a stunning Isle of Mull Scallop full of amazing flavours of the sea this was followed by the Charlotte Potato with herring & trout roe to be followed by a delightful Skate with shrimps & brown butter. With the experience already living up to the expectations, we then moved on to the fantastic Lamb Braised Carrot with sheep’s milk yoghurt plus delightful dumplings before the highlight of the menu a stunning Roast Grouse with red cabbage & bell heather just heavenly.

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All of the courses were matched superbly by a fantastic selection of wines chosen by the excellent Sommelier.

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Now onto the desserts with a nice & light Cherry Bakewell dish before a sublime Pear and Verbena with Poire Williams sorbet then while enjoying ”this dessert out came an extra and it was amazing, a glorious Pain Perdu with figs, honey & verjus matched again with a superb Sweet Wine this rounded off a truly outstanding dining experience.

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I have to say that every expectation was met with the food & service being 1st class. I really can’t see it being long before the awards start rolling in with Clare at the helm and her excellent Head Chef Jonny Bone who it was a delight to have met and a great team behind her you can only see this restaurant rise to the top. So yes I would highly recommend a visit, I for one will definitely be returning soon.

 

Cover image by Moritz Schmittat https://schmittat.uk

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Crockers Chefs Table

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If you’re looking for a different kind of dining experience then ”this could be the place for you. The clue is in the name of the restaurant seating a maximum of 10 around the chef’s table so that you can watch the chef prepare the food right in front of you and also engage in conversation with the chef Scott Barnard & owner Luke Garnsworthy and also with the other guests. On this occasion, there was just the two of us but believe me that didn’t take away anything from a fantastic Tasting Menu Lunch where the food was amazing and matched with a great choice of wines. We started with a lovely selection of snacks before we tried the fantastic Tring Brewery Bread & Marmite Butter.

Then a nice refreshing Sardine & Tomato course this was followed by an Aerated Pea & Broad Bean Soup before a delightful Plaice course with a fricassee of Lobster & Cauliflower.  Then came the main a fantastic Rump of Lamb a Caesar Dressing & Baby Gem Lettuce. The next course was cheese but not what you think as it was a Lancashire Bomb cheese and homemade Piccalilli served on a cracker and it was amazing.

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Then followed a refreshing pre dessert before yes dessert itself a Chocolate & Tonia Bean Cremeaux, Kirsch parfait , poached cherries & almonds this brought to end a great lunch which I would highly recommend whether you’re a couple a small group plus the fact that the menu is changed every month which also makes it ideal if you decide to become a regular customer which I myself could quite easily become

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Medlar

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I have to say visiting this restaurant was a truly delightful experience with great food good wine and a very friendly atmosphere. Had heard about this place a couple of years ago decided to keep my eye on it and liked everything I was hearing so yesterday to the Kings Road Chelsea we went . The restaurant is situated about half way between Fulham Broadway & Sloane Square and has a real local feel. A nice friendly greeting on arrival then shown to our table to enjoy a lovely G&T to which they have a good selection while we looked at the menu.. A very appetising Lunch menu with a good choice of starters , mains and desserts . We decided to have the Mackerel Tartare & the Wood Pigeon Boudin & both were very delicious indeed then on to the mains which were the Suckling Pig Loinwith Glazed Cheek which was amazing & the Boudin of Corn Fed Chicken and also fantastic these courses were superbly matched with great wine chosen by the sommelier. So next we’re the desserts a Strawberry & Prosecco Jelly a delightful light dessert & the Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramel which was heaven as was the Sweet Wine to match . To finish was some delightful Petit Fours to go with our nice selection of teas. So glad to have finally visited and will definitely return and would also highly recommend that if your in the area to pop you will not be disappointed

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Oklava – ” I definitely can’t wait to return”

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The easiest way to start is review is to say that this is one of the best Turkish meal I’ve ever eaten, the flavours of each course were amazing.

This little restaurant set in the streets of Shoreditch was a real delight with a fantastic menu created by chef Selin Kiazim. When we looked at the menu, believe me, we just wanted to try everything but in the end, we went with the recommendations of our excellent & friendly waitress and so glad we did as they were fantastic choices. They also have a great selection of wine and most also seem to be by the glass

 

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They also have a great selection of wine and most also seem to be by the glass as well plus a great Izmir Beer.

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The restaurant has an opened kitchen so you can smell the amazing flavours before they reach the table. Well, I suppose I better get to the food which started with a delicious Baharat Spiced Bread & Date Butter before the amazing Pastirma Sausage & Grilled Hellim, this was followed by a stunning Flatbread which included Octopus, Ricotta & Caper Leaves then a fantastic Aubergine dish.

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I then came to the mains, Crispy Pomegranate Glazed Lamb & Seftali Kebab just food heaven. Do remember to leave room for dessert as you won’t want to miss out on these. One was a Kinefe a Crispy Kadayif & Cheese Pastry & the other a stunning Chocolate! Prune & Cardamom Delice matched with a delightful Turkish dessert wine. I definitely can’t wait to return and I would highly recommend a visit as the food, service and general friendliness of the place makes it a real pleasure.

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Rubino Kitchen

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Rubino Kitchen is a lovely little restaurant set in a lodge on a farm in Maldon , Essex and a real credit to the county as this small team under the guidance of Head Chef Rob produces some great and interesting dishes from using great local produce.

 

It’s a small restaurant but has a great friendly feel from the moment you arrive until you leave . So onto the evening itself they have a good menu where you can choose from 1 to 5 courses which can come as a starter or main or as we did we went for the Tasting Menu so that we could try every course.

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We started with a nice and refreshing White Grape Gazpacho which was delicious before moving on to what was my favourite course the Haddock Scotch Egg with peas , raisin & curried puffed rice it was heaven. Then a Beef Carpaccio delightful followed by a Sweetcorn Risotto which came with Balsamic Vinegar interesting but it worked then to balance the Menu we had a lovely Cod with Octopus Caponata it was beautiful.

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Now onto the main course of Braised Lamb Tortellini & Smoked Aubergine Purée with Gem Lettuce & Beans a great hearty course to finish well almost because there’s always time for Desserts, yes Desserts .

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There were three on offer so of course we had to try them all the first being a Blackcurrant Panna Cotta with Honeycomb which I got to eat myself as my wife decided to have some Gorgonzola Cheese & Crackers. Next was Mille Feuille and to finish a Baked Alaska with Lemon Ice Cream nicely made by Dana .

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I have to say it was a really pleasant evening good food and very friendly service so look forward to returning soon 

4 Randall & Aubin Exterior (Night)

Randall and Aubin – Soho

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Randall and Aubin – Soho: This is by far my favourite restaurant. I first stumbled upon R&A in 2001 after leaving a disappointing West End show. I try and go back every time we visit London. The restaurant is a relaxed informal place with an energetic vibe. The staff are amazing; very attentive without being intrusive. Great menu. Lots of fish but also lots of other choices.

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There is a great Fruits de Mer showpiece dish to share. The wine is excellent and well chosen. My favourite thing about this restaurant is being seated at bench tables with other diners who you inevitably end up talking with and having a great time. I always leave R&A really happy (and probably a little drunk) after having a great dining experience. I’ve eaten here about a dozen times now over 16 years and every time the service, food and atmosphere are outstanding.

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