Favourite Tables

London

Francos

At the Chef’s Table with Stefano Turconi of Franco’s

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Stefano joined Franco’s as a senior chef de partie two years after the restaurant’s initial re-design in 2005.  After successfully working in all the sections of the kitchen, he was soon promoted to the position of senior sous chef.  Two years later when the previous head chef resigned, it was an easy decision to promote Stefano to Head Chef Stefano continues to inspire and delight with new dishes on a daily basis.  Although from the north of Italy, Stefano has a passion for many of the ingredients from central and southern regions.  With Stefano’s thoughtful guidance, Franco’s continues to focus on ensuring the consistency and quality of all the products we serve.

 


 

Question: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

Stefano: Pizza with spicy Calabrian sausage

Calabrian sausage pizza

Calabrian sausage pizza

Question: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

Stefano: I would love to try Osteria Francescana – Massimo Bottura’s 3 Michelin Star restaurant in Modena, voted best world restaurant 2016/18

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Question: How important is a Michelin star? a chef in France, who has 3 Michelin stars, recently asked that they are removed because of the pressure – your thoughts

Stefano: Michelin star it is the very top of the game, but not the most important thing in hospitality, you can have a successful restaurant even without it.

 

Question: What’s the most overused word on restaurant menus’ today

Stefano: These days you can always see in most menu the word’s healthy and light

 

 

Question: If you received a call from Buckingham Palace asking you to create a Dinner Menu with dishes or ingredients from your home region in Italy what would you feature?

Stefano: If I needed to choose ingredients or dishes from Lombardy, It would have to be some risotto some gorgonzola cheese and a pudding made of panettone.

Risotto with Gorgonzola

Risotto with Gorgonzola

Classic Panettone

Classic Panettone

Question: What is your favourite dish on the current Franco’s menu/s in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

Stefano: Cornish hake with fennel black olives and saffron

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Question: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

Stefano: Definitely Nico Ladenis OR Marco Pierre White two of the best chefs ever

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My Favourite Tables– Two restaurants I have visited and why?

 

Restaurant (1): Locanda Locatelli: simply the best and most original Italian restaurant in London

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Restaurant (2): Chez Bruce: a very interesting style of food, using various worldwide ingredients

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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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At the Chef’s Table – Jesse Dunford Wood

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Jesse’s food is firmly based in Britain, although his experiences cooking very international and contemporary food with superstar chefs – in Chicago with the late Charlie Trotter, and in Sydney with Mark Best have also been strong influences.

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An apprenticeship with Michael Caines (2**) and also time spent with British chefs Rowley Leigh and Mark Hix culminated in opening the National Dining Rooms at the National Gallery in 2006. Together with restaurateur Oliver Peyton, now a TV authority on ‘Great British Menu’, they won the Best British restaurant from Time Out for original and interesting food.

 

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In April 2010, he relaunched the Mall Tavern in trendy Notting Hill Gate, cooking colourful and delicious British seasonal food, later winning the Rising Star Award by the Tatler Restaurant Guide. It was voted 20th best Gastro Pub in Great Britain from the trade magazine The Morning Advertiser.

In May 2013 Jesse opened PARLOUR in NW10, Kensal Green, an all-day bar and dining room, the next stage in an exciting career. Also included in the best 50 Gastro Pubs every year since opening, and winning BEST BREAKFAST in London from the Evening Standard.

Away from the restaurants and pubs, TV appearances include the BBC’s ‘Masterchef’, ‘Market Kitchen’ and ‘The Truth About Food’, and a regular contributor to various cookbooks and magazines, including the brilliant FORAGER handbook by Miles Irving.
2016 has seen lots of menu development work with both British Airways and United Airlines for European and Transatlantic Business and First Class Cabins.
2017 sees the publication of his first Cook Book ‘MODERN BRITISH FOOD’ with Absolute Press cookery publishing house. Exciting Times!

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Q: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

A: Macaroni Cheese with Smoked Bacon & a Crunchy Cheesy Top, great comfort food before I get my head chopped off.

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Q: Before you chose to be a chef did you have another career in mind?

A: I was going to be a Doctor, then I got my science GCSE grades, and they weren’t good enough, so I decided on Photography, but I got distracted by cooking dinner parties and thought that a much better idea, so I got a job in a restaurant washing dishes in Edinburgh, and that was me hooked.

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Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

A: Love to go to the new NOMA, progressive and at the forefront of Modern Food, and also Alain Ducasse in Monaco, the ultimate in Luxury.

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Q: What is set to be the next ‘new’ ingredient? And which in particular interests you.

A: I think Choux pastry is currently staking it’s claim, with Profiteroles, Eclairs and even churros style deep-fried versions all over the place at the moment, sweet and savoury. To keep up with the kids, we do amazing duck liver profiteroles here, which are to die for. Ask my wife, most of the reason my wife married me.

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Q: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/restaurant food, what would they be?

A: This is a performance-based industry, and we have to produce, day in and day out, relentlessly for breakfast lunch and dinner. If we give you one bad performance, please give us another chance, it was most probably one bad night.

Everyone has a bad day once in a while no?

 

Q: If you received a call from Buckingham Palace asking you to create a Dinner Menu from your book Modern British Food what would you feature?

A: Those Duck Liver Profiteroles, followed by Smoked Salmon that we smoke here on site with our famous Soda Bread. We do an epic Roast Dinner, with all the trimmings and lastly our Toasted Marshmallow Wagon Wheel is a classic here at Parlour and fit for a King, and a Queen too…

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Q: What is your favourite dish on the current Parlour menu/s in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

A: Not foraged, but very personal to me is the Lop Eared Pig, which we receive as a whole beast from a favourite supplier Mary Holbrook in Somerset. We do lots of amazing things with, using the trotters and tail. And all the bits in-between.

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She also provides us with Goats’ cheese, which she is quite famous for, her Tymsboro’ and also a few baby suckling kids in the Spring.

What a treat.

Q: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

A: Love to work with Escoffier in his prime and see how hard REAL chefs used to work. He set the standard for many of the things we do here today in the modern kitchen. Genius and visionary, back when we are basically cooking food over burning wood still.

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My Favourite Tables – Restaurants I have visited several times and why?

Restaurant (1):  Perilla Dining in Newington Green, is progressive, energetic, simply set up and exceeds expectations. A chef’s chef doing creative modern food in a simple surrounding.

 

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Restaurant (2):  Ida Restaurant in Kilburn Lane, 5 mins walk from my own place Parlour. Owned and run by wife & husband, helped by their kids and also somewhere building a reputation on a meagre budget. Lovely Italian food, in a rustic homemade setting.

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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

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

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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Kricket

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Had the most amazing mind blowing meal last night.

 

Indian tapas…… every single dish was full of taste and flavour… a taste sensation.  Beautifully presented and served.

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Staff were very friendly and informative about the dishes.  Understood what we liked and advised accordingly.  I could not pick out a favourite dish, but “must try” are the Fried Chicken, the Bhel puri, raw mango, tamarind, sev, yogurt, Butter garlic crab, seaweed papad and the samphire pakoras, date & tamarind chutney, chilli garlic mayonnaise.

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Very reasonable prices and a lovely vibrant restaurant. Felt very at home and comfortable, could have stayed all evening.