Favourite Tables

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The Five Fields

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This was a long overdue return to The Five Fields but I have to say it was definitely worth the wait as it turned out to be a truly fabulous evening. We’ve been here twice before but the last time was over two and a half years ago and I can honestly say it won’t be anywhere near as long before we’re back again.

Set just off the Kings Road and only a short walk from Sloane Square tube station is where you’ll find the restaurant. As you enter the restaurant you immediately get a lovely homely feeling along with a warm and very friendly greeting. As you look into the dining area you see the tables down each side are set out for couples where each person faces inwards. There are larger tables down the centre plus upstairs is a Private Dining Room.

Once seated we were treated to a delightful glass of Welsh Sparkling Rose from the Ancre Hill Estates. We also enjoyed some amazing snacks while we looked at the menu. On this occasion, we decided to opt for the eight-course Tasting Menu. It was then time to meet the wonderful sommelier Anna who it was a pleasure to chat to throughout the evening. Regarding our choice of wine, we said that we would like to just have a bottle than the matched wine option to which Anna recommended a fabulous Riesling Trocken from Germany which was an absolute delight and really matched each course nicely.

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Now onto the food itself and we started with a stunning Scallop with Tomatillo & Lime this was followed by a heavenly Lobster with Fennel & Lardo. These dishes were brought to us by our Spanish waitress Lourdes who was so friendly and professional and truly added to our magical evening The next two courses were equally fantastic.

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The first being an amazing Beef Tartare with Mushroom followed by a simply stunning Foie Gras with a Beetroot Brioche & Blackberries Before we got to the main course we had the pleasure of a beautiful Turbot dish which came with Seaweed & Garlic So now it was time for the mains to which there was a choice of two. One being Roe Deer served with Courgette & Potato and the other was Grouse which came with Pumpkin & Girolles. We decided to have one dish each and can honestly say they were both worthy of being the highlight dish of the evening as they were just amazing Before dessert we decided to opt for a cheese course which apart from one French cheese the rest were British & Irish. The cheese was nicely presented to us by our delightful waitress Lourdes.

 

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We then had a pre-dessert which was a fabulous Melon with Hazelnut & Orange. This led us into our last course a delightful dessert of Honey, Lemon & Tarragon and the Sweet Wine chosen by Anna a Vouvray from the Loire Valley matched the dessert beautifully. This brought an end to an outstanding evening where the food, wine and service were of the highest order and will definitely go down as one of the highlights of the year.

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Therefore I would highly recommend that you put a visit to this restaurant very close to the top of your list and as I said at the beginning it certainly won’t be very long before I return

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We meet with Alex Boyd Executive Head Chef at Caxton Grill for Chef’s Table

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Alex Boyd

 

Alex Boyd grow up in Aldershot and then at the age of 18 moved to London. For two years prior to moving Alex travelled to Westminster College to study for a Professional Chefs Diploma having decided at the age of 12 that a chef is what he wanted to be.

In his second year at college, one of the work placements he attended was at Scotts of Mayfair. Two months in, Alex was offered a position in the kitchen. Not wishing to give up his college position he studied and had the theory in the mornings and worked the late shift at Scotts in the evening, gaining invaluable experience and as he says “best thing I ever did” As a commis Alex worked on all stations and was always asking questions.

His culinary CV continued with time working for Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire. The “very tough environment” of a Michelin kitchen under Chef Koffman instilling lessons that remain with him today. His career includes working at the Montcalm Hotel, where he progressed from Chef de Partie to Senior Sous Chef in just three months and the Bluebird Restaurant, Chelsea. He was then involved in the launch of the V Restaurant & Bar in Hong Kong, where he spent three years learning new skills and experimenting with a variety of local ingredients. Alex then returned to London to join L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, another two Michelin starred restaurant, before his appointment as Head of Catering at the Lawn Tennis Association. Here he spent six years before leaving for a senior role as Executive Head Chef at The Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London.

 

He is now Executive Head Chef at the St. Ermin’s Hotel and for the Caxton Grill. We chatted to him in the Private Dining room of the Caxton Grill. That morning Alex had already been busy up in the Roof Kitchen Garden on top of the hotel checking on the 350,000 Buckfast honey bees that produce the St. Ermin’s Hotel’s own honey and the homegrown fruits and vegetables utilised in his inspired new afternoon tea and Caxton menus.

 


 

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

A: Racing Driver – I could have been the next Lewis Hamilton…

Karting

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

A:  Alinea in Chicago. I think Grant Achatz is just amazing he is so far ahead of other restauranteurs. So innovative in the plating and the way desserts are served direct on to the tables, definitely somewhere I want to visit.

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Also, I have to say I really want to get to the Fat Duck, not managed that yet

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Q: 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

A: Its a very interesting topic of conversation. Because you’ve got the customer and you’ve got a chef, and a chef will work hard because for him it’s a status symbol it’s recognition of hours and hours of hard work, pushing the limits, maintaining consistency and training his brigade to put out what you need them to put out. It’s a huge amount of work. From a customers point of view, I think people look to it as a certain standard of food. They like to go, certainly in London, to place they hear about, oh did you know this place has a star, or that place has a star. It can really help business and I think it almost puts you on the map especially in a city where there are lots of great restaurants getting that star elevates you to another status. So, I do think they’re important and I do think the industry needs them it’s almost like getting a BAFTA or an Oscar.

 

 

Q: What do you think about negative reviews?

A: You have to be aware of them but take them with a pinch of salt. I mean it depends if there are constantly negative reviews about a place, that’s telling you something. But if you’ve got a hundred reviews and two of them are negative so the majority of customers are happy, then that’s a good place. I think you need to look at reviews as a bigger picture rather than reacting to one person’s comments. All of the online services like TripAdvisor make it so easy for people to be negative in fact they almost encourage it.  We get it here, but I would personally much rather a customer speak to us at the time and we can sort out the issue and hopefully end up with a happy customer.

Q: Having spent some time in Hong Kong do you use any of the techniques or ingredients from the in your cooking/kitchen now?

A: I would say I’m a lot more comfortable working with asian spices etc. But Chinese cooking is so different to how we cook in the UK. Caxton’s menu is modern British so it would not be appropriate to bring too many Chinese influences into the kitchen, but I do have the techniques if required. There is one dish I would like to maybe try on the menu. I had it a couple of times whilst in Hong Kong, it’s called Scallops baked in Crab Milk. It’s almost like a very light crab mouse with the scallops baked through it. Like a savoury blancmange but full of flavour. I’m trying to emulate it but not totally successfully yet.

 

Q: What are your personal favourite dishes that are currently on the Caxton menus: A) to cook and B) to eat

A: To eat it would be one of the starters. Beef Carpaccio its done with Basil Dressing, smoked almonds and parmesan. We use fillet of beef from a farm we work closely with, in Sussex. It is incredible beef and which we dress with pickled shallot rings, basil leaves and little parmesan croquettes.

Caxton Beef (1)

To prepare would be a salmon dish. We cure the salmon for an hour and then sous vide at 42 degrees to get a really soft melting piece of salmon. Served with Horseradish Cream, Pickled Cucumber and a smoked salmon foam.

Alex Boyd

 

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

A: oh wow… anyone? Then It would have to be Anton Mosimann he’s an inventor of modern gastronomy, nouvelle cuisine. He was right at the forefront of that and an incredibly knowledgeable chef. I’ve heard he has thousands and thousands of cookbooks, a room full of them apparently and that he is a real gentleman. That would be an incredible opportunity.

 

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

 

Eleven Madison Park

Last year In April I had the chance to visit again 11 Madison Park in New York. The night we were there was the day it was announced they had won the Best Restaurant in the world. Everything about this restaurant is amazing. I would suggest to anyone going there to try the Baked Sweet Potato because whats put in front of you looks just like a piece of baked potato, but when you taste it it’s simply an incredible depth of flavour and texture.

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Website – https://www.elevenmadisonpark.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElevenMadisonPark/

 

Kitchen W8

I used to live just down the road from here and my wife and I started going when they first opened. Phil Howard is behind the concept and it recently got its first Star. Right from the beginning, you could see that they just wanted to serve really great food

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Website – https://www.kitchenw8.com/

Twitter – @KitchenW8

 

 

 

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At the Chef’s Table – Jeremy Villanueva, Head Chef, Romulo Café London

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Romulo Café London, on High Street Kensington W8, has had remarkable success since opening just over two years ago. It’s now considered the  ‘go-to’ restaurant for fine Filipino cuisine in London. The recent appointment of Jeremy Villanueva as Head Chef has led to a new menu and even greater attention. Like owner Rowena Romulo, Jeremy is on a mission to make fine Filipino food as popular as other Asian cuisines.

Our Chef’s Table team thought we should get to know Jeremy a little better…

 

 


 

CT:  Who influenced you in the past? Who influences you now?

 

JV: Two chefs stand out in my past. One is Richard Blades, who was Executive Chef at Simpsons-in-the-Strand when I joined as a commis straight out of catering college (Blackpool and the Fylde). He had a very well thought out style of management, and a logical approach to his staff. He was a good people manager, and chefs who are good with their people can get a lot out of them. Richard also used to be the Head Chef at the Atlantic Bar and Grill at the height of its fame.

The other is Michel Roux Jr, another great people manager. He had a healthy respect for the traditions and the legacy of his father and uncles. The Rouxs were always firm but they treated their people well. I trained with him at Le Gavroche before going to the Waldorf Club.

Today there is no particular person who influences me, but it’s more the innovations I see in Filipino food right now. Filipino food has evolved so now we look at the food beyond its utilitarian value – as a means of sustenance. Filipino food is as much food for the senses, not just the belly.

 

CT: What would be your last dish (to eat) ‘the death row question’.

JV: A version of Poulet de Bresse. It would be cooked free-range chicken done in the ‘inasal’ style of Bacolod, the capital of the province of Negros Occidental in the Philippines. It would be cooked over Bincho Tan, charcoal from Japan, with a side salad of Cos lettuce, radish and ramsons. I’d wash it down with a glass of fresh calamansi (Philippine lime) juice.

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CT: If you were not a chef, what could you have become?

JV: To be honest, I would never have considered being anything else but a chef. I decided at 18, and that was it. I’m interested in electronics, but it’s not something I would see myself doing as a job. Once I started to cook, I never looked left or right. I always enjoyed being in the kitchen when I was young. For fun, my uncles used to make pizzas and several kinds of pasta. My family has always been into food.

 

CT: Which restaurant would you like to go to (eat at)? (that you have NOT had the opportunity to visit)

Chef Monica Galetti’s Mere in Charlotte Street. I would tell her, ‘Congratulations, well done.’ I worked with her in Le Gavroche.

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CT: Which are the next ‘new’ ingredients’?

‘Ube’, which is purple yam, and ‘Langka’, or jackfruit. I don’t know of anyone else who uses ube as much as Filipinos do, apart from people in Fiji or Guam. The Filipino community in Hawaii love ube cheesecake. But generally, the purple colour seems to be catching! Langka is the new pork for vegans, meaty and flavourful and very versatile. It can be eaten green or ripe. It can be sweet or savoury. That leaves a lot of scope for chefs. I actually saw fresh langka being sold in Peckham.

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Young Jackfruit and Coconut Stew (1)

 

CT: What is the one piece of equipment you could not do without?

JV: Our Rational oven.

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CT: What is your favourite dish in which you use produce from your most local supplier?

JV: The supplier is obviously not based in London where we are, but my favourite dish is Dingley Dell Pork Adobo. The produce is highly sustainable, and we source it from the only RSPCA accredited suppliers of pork. They create a really good grade of pork, the best quality. Today it’s not so much about the seasoning that creates flavour, although it does, so much depends on the quality of the meat, the primary product.

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CT: If you could invite any chef, past or present, to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?

JV: Fernand Point. He was the chef patron of La Pyramidein Vienne, France. His book, ‘Ma Gastronomie’ is one of the first books I read by a known chef. I was fascinated by what he said. One of his signature dishes was a chicken with crayfish. He was of the old school. He still influences the mentality of many kitchens. Many of his quotes endure and continue to guide chefs today, such as ‘Success is the sum of a lot of small things done correctly’ and ‘I’m not hard to please; I’m content with the very best’. Chef Fernand is someone I can imagine cooking with, in the evening, champagne in hand, listening to his musings.

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

 

Le Gavroche. It’s the traditional service as much as the cuisine. It’s a complete experience. Their service is intuitive. They take care not to make you feel uncomfortable.

Website –  http://www.le-gavroche.co.uk/

Twitter – @legavroche_

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Social Eating House. I like the Blind Pig bar. It’s innovative and exciting. I went to catering school with Chef Paul Hood. If I am not mistaken, I think that out of the 30 of us who went to catering school together, we are the only ones still cooking.

Website – http://www.socialeatinghouse.com/

Twitter – @Socialeathouse

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CT: Finally Is there a message you would like to convey about Filipino food and Romulo Cafe?

 

JV: People should come in and see that ours is not the same as Vietnamese food or Thai.  Filipino food tends to get lumped with other Southeast Asian foods. But ours is different. Even the influences we get from other culinary traditions we have made our own. So our Pollo Relleno is not a lesser version of what they have in Spain. It stands by itself, as do our Callos or Paella. Our Pancit Guisado is not Chow Mein. It is a Filipino dish, and not an interpretation of something else. It has its own terroir.

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At the Chef’s Table with Daniel Kent of Wiltons

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Daniel joined Wiltons in 2011, having previously worked at some of London’s finest restaurants such as Le Café Anglais, Skylon and The Wolseley. He initially went to university with the idea that he would become a Restaurant Manager. However, upon graduating, he fell in love with cooking, having been previously inspired by the many Sunday lunches at his aunt’s house where she would put on a feast of local Yorkshire produce and sherry-laced trifle! He has a firm belief that use of great ingredients and an exceptional team behind him is the perfect recipe for a world-class establishment.  He has enjoyed re-introducing many of Wiltons classic dishes as well as showcasing many of his own creations.


 

 

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

Daniel: A cep risotto, it’s a classic but I absolutely love this dish.

Cep_risotto

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

Daniel: I loved History at school and I had a brilliant teacher who really got me interested in it and I think it made me want to be a History teacher.  But then came the part-time job in the kitchen and I got the hospitality bug.

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

Daniel: Faviken in Sweden, the whole experience is so far away from what we do here it really appeals to me.

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Question: What do you think about negative reviews?

Daniel: I hate them! We have let the guest down, but you have to look at them and understand where we let them down, was it the cooking, the ambience or not understanding why they were visiting our restaurant and in turn, how do we make them feel comfortable as our guests. We have to make the reviews a tool to understand how we can improve.  We have a policy of not questioning the guest if they have made the wrong choice of wine or dish and we will go some way to replacing it if they let us know during the meal we are more than happy to correct it there and then.

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Question: If you received a call from The White House to say the President was in town and wanted a British Dinner Menu at Wiltons what would you feature?

Daniel:  We know now that President Trump is in love with American Food but I think we would have to bring him back to his ancestral roots with some amazing Scottish salmon and the amazing products we have in the United Kingdom,  be that the beef we use to make the consommé or the oysters that are paired with it.  I’m sure he has a sweet tooth as well so he won’t go wrong with our formidable Summer pudding…

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River Yealm oysters with jellied beef consommé and horseradish

Steamed Wild salmon with asparagus and watercress

Summer pudding the best of British products.

 

Question: What is your favourite dish on the current Wiltons menu/s that you re-introduced from the long history of the restaurant?

Daniel: The Cropwell Bishop twice baked soufflé is the dish that I reintroduced as it was on the menu in the past as a Souffle Monico and it is a dish that has really found a following with our regulars. We even put it on our private dining room menu as people have asked for it several times… I think it’s the balance of the cheeses we use the texture of the soufflé that seems to have the guests wanting more and even asking for the recipe!

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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?

Daniel: I would love to cook with Thomas Keller as I think he has a level of perfection that is inspiring and I love his use of using producers who are driven in their fields. I would love to talk to him about how he has trained so many talented chefs through his kitchens and how he uses his “on the pass moments” that he posts on Instagram to inspire his team and of course how I can replicate the infamous oyster and caviar dish.

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

 

Restaurant (1): J Sheekey’s it’s a little dinner treat for me and the wife before the theatre and I love that it gets me brownie points for the intimate and romantic feel of it.  @JSheekeyRest

 

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Restaurant (2): Noble Rot, I just love Lamb Conduit Street and how this restaurant has found its place here, brilliant food and wine, the table just by the fireplace in Winter is brilliant. @noblerotbar

 

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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.