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Cornerstone Hackney

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This was our fourth visit to Cornerstone so you might be wondering why we love it here so much. Well actually it’s very simple the fish dishes created by chef Tom Brown are amazing and the desserts by Kelly Cullen are delicious so when you match this along with the great friendly service the decision to keep coming back is very easy.

It was also, therefore, no surprise when they received yet another award meaning they are now the proud holders of 3 AA Rosettes. The surrounding area in Hackney Wick where the restaurant is situated is being developed all the time which surely can only benefit this place as well. It’s very easy to get to as its only a very short walk from the station and also close to the Olympic Village which in fact as it was a nice day is the route we took from Stratford. On our arrival we were given the usual friendly welcome just like our previous visits. Our table couldn’t have been better as it was right opposite the pass where Tom completes and makes sure each dish is perfect before it’s sent out. Our lunch started with a complimentary glass of bubbles courtesy of Tom. We were then given the menu which was full of fabulous new dishes to try as well as a couple of old favourites.

On our previous visits we’ve always ordered the entire menu so after deliberating if we could leave anything out only to remember how good they were before we decided to once again order everything. This decision brought a smile to the managers face as she remembered that we did this the last time.

We started with the most amazing Sourdough Toast with Netherend Farm Butter which was quickly followed by two selections of Oysters. The first is the original Pickled Oyster with Celery, Horseradish & Dill and the new Native Oyster with a Seaweed Hot Sauce.

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Once we finished the oysters we then ordered a fabulous bottle of Certosa an Italian Rose Wine from the Island of Capri which was a real delight and accompanied the remainder of the dishes nicely Next on the list was the first of stunning new dishes a fantastic Brill Tartare with Wild Garlic, Mushrooms & Egg Yolk. This was followed by Cured Gurnard with Grapes, Almonds & Sherry Vinegar. We finished this little section with a favourite the Mackerel Pate with Cider, Sea Purslane & heavenly Treacle Bread After enjoying a little break we were then treated to some fantastic St Austell Bay Mussels in a Cafe de Paris sauce just sublime especially when you come across a couple of beautiful Clams hidden at the bottom.

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Following this was another fabulous new dish of Fried Jerusalem Artichokes with Cod’s Roe & Hazelnuts before enjoying a couple of fabulous Hand Dived Scallops, Coral Butter & Lime a pure delight We then continued to another old favourite with a slight change the Potted Shrimp Crumpet now with Kohlrabi, Gherkins & Parsley but still amazing. This was followed by two more new dishes the first being a fabulous Roast Cornish Hake with Celeriac, Anchovy & Chilli. Then came the highlight of the day a truly stunning Whole Monkfish Tail with the famous Chicken Butter Sauce.

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If you come here even for just one dish then this is it.

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After enjoying the amazing dishes another rest was required. During this time manager then came over to ask if we’d like the cheese course or dessert. We looked at her and just smiled and she knew what was coming as we said you may now bring the rest. This is where the amazing Kelly Cullen takes over starting with a fabulous Cheese Course consisting of a Blue Cheese, Honey Cake, Figs & Walnuts a perfect combination. Now it was time for desserts and once again Kelly excelled herself with three absolute beauties. The first was a fantastic Sea Salt Praline Tart & Pecan simply amazing. The second was a stunning Pavlova with Rhubarb, Clotted Cream & Ginger. Then our last dessert was a fabulous Dark Chocolate Torte with Blood Orange & Creme Fraiche Ice Cream.

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We finished with a coffee and Petit Fours which brought to end another memorable lunch here at Cornerstone. Before we left it was nice to have a chat with Tom who really is such a nice person. I’d like to Thank Tom, Christian & Kelly for the amazing food plus thanks to the front of house team for their excellent service. Another plus is that the menu changes often which is great if you are local and are able to visit on a regular basis. So yes I would highly recommend a visit as you are really missing out if you haven’t been yet. I for one certainly won’t be leaving it too long before I return and try more of this restaurant’s amazing dishes 

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Frog Hoxton

The Frog Hoxton

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If I start by saying I’ve already booked in for a return visit then what’s to follow will not surprise you. This was an excellent lunch from start to finish combining stunning food & drink with fabulous service. We arrived at Liverpool Street station and decided to take the fifteen-minute stroll along Curtain Road then as you cross Old Street this will lead you straight to the restaurant.

The restaurant itself is set on a corner of Hoxton Square which is another area in Shoreditch that has been developed into a hip & trendy location. When we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted by restaurant manager/sommelier George who really looked after us throughout our visit. After a brief chat, he showed us to our table which was along by the window overlooking the square. Once seated we had a look around the restaurant which was actually very spacious. On the left as you enter is the long open kitchen then in front there are three rows of seats with an additional seating area at the opposite end where on the wall is some amazing artwork.

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There is also the addition of a bar area downstairs. We started with a drink from there extensive wine & beer list where they in fact have over two hundred beers so unless you have a favourite it’s best to ask George for some advice. It was then time to look at the menus which there was a choice of A La Carte or our choice the Tasting Menu which you can have matched wines or beers.

First up from the menu was some amazing snacks that were so delicious and just a fantastic way to start. One was a Heritage Carrot, Roasted Hazelnuts & Mint and the other was Trout, Buckwheat & Passion Fruit. Next to come was the Bread with the simply amazing Chicken Butter that was so good we were given some to bring home. This was accompanied by the Beef, Chilli & Lovage on a cracker with delightful Indian flavours.

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While enjoying your food you get to listen to some great tunes which I have heard people say can be quite loud but I can assure you that is not the case. What’s also good is that the chefs bring out each course themselves which is a really nice touch especially with it being an open kitchen giving you the opportunity to interact if you so wish. So on to our next dish and which in fact is Adam’s signature dish the Celeriac, Yolk, Apple, Dates & Truffle was an absolute delight.

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This was followed by a fabulous Mussel & Pumpkin Curry with Wild Rice very light and delicate but giving a nice warm feeling in the throat. Now it was time for our main course and there was no disappointment here either as we enjoyed a fabulous Duck, Rhubarb & Pistachio dish which was brought to us by head chef Jamie who it was great to meet and have a chat with.

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Before desserts, we were then treated to a heavenly Cheese Doughnut which George matched with a fabulous glass of Banyuls Dessert Wine. It was to die for as our waitress Tamsin who also a pleasure to meet and looked after us very well verified.

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Now it was time for desserts to which there were three to choose from. My wife chose the Blood Orange, Lemon Balm & Oats so it was only right that I chose the other two. One is the Chocolate Tofu, Coconut & Lime and the other a Caramelised White Chocolate, Buckwheat & Apple.

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All desserts were pure heaven and delightfully matched with fabulous sweet wines a Mount Horrocks Gordon Cut and a light Rude Mechanicals Frizzante To finish we enjoyed a coffee and a delightful Petit Four which brought to an end an outstanding lunch.

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I’m already looking forward to our return in April and I would highly recommend booking a table here. I’d like to say a Thank You to Jamie and his chefs for the amazing food and also to George, Tamsin and the team for taking care of us which really added to our lunch experience

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Haywards Restaurant – Epping

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For the last five years, I’ve been a frequent diner here at Haywards. This to me is an easy decision as for one it’s only half an hours drive away. The other reasons are is that the food is simply amazing which is matched by the fabulous service you receive from an excellent young team.

It’s not hard to see why this restaurant once again won Best Restaurant in Essex and now also has the well deserved honour of being a 2 AA Rosettes restaurant to which I’m sure in the future will increase. So as I said the food created by Chef Jahdre Hayward is fantastic and full of stunning flavours which without any doubt has been improving year by year. So what to expect in 2019 well if our first visit of this year is anything to go by then I would recommend booking a table now as you’ll be in for a treat. We arrived on Saturday for lunch and received our usual nice welcome before being shown to what I can now say is our regular table. While enjoying our pre-lunch drinks owner Amanda said that if it was ok with us Chef has created for us a Special Tasting Menu which would include all the new dishes.

A lunchtime Tasting Menu is something that they’re looking to introduce so please feel free to ask about its availability. Well, honestly how could we refuse so gladly accepted and couldn’t wait to see what he’d produced. We started first with some fabulous Granary Sourdough Bread before enjoying a Carrot & Ginger Veloute along with Paprika Crackers & Arancini Balls.

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Now it was time for our first course and wow it was outstanding a Foie Gras & Green Tea Ballotine with Salted Grapes & Pickled Apple a truly amazing way to begin. This was followed by a fantastic vegetarian dish a Roasted Cauliflower with Ricotta Dumplings, Capers, Pine Nuts & Raisins – just heaven.

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Now on to our next course and yes it was another dish full of flavour as we were treated to a Ham Hock Boudin, Jerusalem Artichoke Purée & Thyme Foam simply delicious. This heavenly dish led us on to our main course which consisted of a Pan Roasted Breast of Pheasant, Confit Leg & Caramelised Celeriac Purée with the added delight of Potato Dauphinois which is always amazing here.

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We now needed a short rest before moving on to desserts to which we were told there would be two. This was music to my ears as yes I love desserts. The first dessert was a divine Coconut Brûlée with Mango Sorbet & White Chocolate Aero. This was followed by a Pumpkin Tart with Nutmeg Ice Cream & Poached Clementines & Purée. We wondered if the Tart would be a bit savoury but it was nice & light and worked well with the nutmeg ice cream it was just delicious.

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We finished with a coffee and petit fours to bring to an end another fabulous lunch at Haywards and if this is what’s to come in 2019 then all diners are in for something special.

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I would highly recommend a visit so you can see for yourself why this restaurant gets the accolades it deserves. In Jahdre they have one of the best chefs around & under the guidance of Amanda & Anne the front of house team are so friendly and professional. So don’t delay and book a table today you will not be disappointed. I’ll probably be back in a couple of weeks for another fantastic visit 

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Lympstone

Chef’s Table talk with Chef Michael Caines MBE

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Chef Michael Caines grew up near Exeter where his parents, who were school teachers recognised his early interest in food and cooking and set him on his way to a culinary career. Following two years of catering college, an Exeter chef sent him to the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. He was then recommended to Raymond Blanc in Oxfordshire, for whom he had to do a three-day trial without pay. Three years later, Blanc arranged for him to cook at the Michelin three-star Cote d’Or in Burgundy. He cooked there for 15 months before moving to another three-star establishment, Restaurant Jamin, in Paris.

Michael’s career to date has been well documented, through to becoming Head Chef at Gidleigh Park Hotel in Devon.

Early In 2017, Michael opened Lympstone Manor, a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant set in Parkland overlooking the river Exe near Exmouth, Devon. He describes Lympstone as “the realisation of a dream, my vision of country house hospitality for the 21st Century”. This has been a very personal project for him and one that has seen him involved in every detail. From the first vines being planted to establish a vineyard in the estate to produce, in three years time, a house champagne-method sparkling wine.

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We asked Michael about his continued involvement in catering for the Williams Formula 1 team.

Q: You have spent a couple of seasons working with the Williams F1 team, in particular in Monaco… how much fun was that and what was Monaco in 2017 like?

A: Being anywhere with Williams F1 is amazing but Monaco is the best. This year I was able to cook on a yacht for Williams and go to their VIP party, along with attending events on the Financial Times yacht. I was also invited to Martini’s VIP party which was a brilliant evening. We have also just held a charity event with Williams here at the manor.

 

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Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you have not had opportunity to visit)

A: I would like to visit Japan, there are many restaurants there I would like to try in particular  Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo and Hujime in Osaka.

 

Q: Japanese cuisine sometimes includes ingredients we may not be familiar with, Is there a food you would not eat?

A: Bugs, or anything very obscure like a form of testicles or spiders.

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

A: I would make this the longest meal ever, most probably a tasting menu which included a seafood platter to start followed by roast chicken with a combination of summer fruits and sorbet to finish.

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

A: I view food like it is an elite sport, great food, and food wealth is what it’s about. Not about the expense but how well it is cooked and how good it is. There is plenty of places that have great food and are cheaper. It’s to do with the combination of flavours and spices.

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Q: What is your favourite dish at Lympstone Manor in which you use produce from your most local supplier?

A: There is a number at present, however Jacobs Lamb, boulangerie & confit shoulder, pea puree and tapenade jus, the lamb is from Powderham Castle, which we can see from our terrace.

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

A: Keith Floyd because he is a legend.

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Favourite Tables were delighted to include Lympstone Manor on our Unique Destinations pages and wondered what you would consider as your own favourite tables….

Firstly Zuma in London because of its fusion of Japanese cooking and Asian styled foods, and then  The Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Raymond Blanc – it is my favourite country house hotel, the food and experience is exceptional.

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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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Review of Berry’s Restaurant at Taplow House

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We had A really delightful evening meal set in the lovely Berry Restaurant at the Taplow Hotel. On arrival we were seated on the patio where we browsed the Menu, which is very English. Overlooking the lovely grounds of the Hotel while enjoying our Aperitif was a perfect start to our evening. When we moved into the restaurant it seems we were very warm welcomed by almost every member of staff and this level of personal service continued throughout the evening.

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We started with a fantastic Bread selection before our lovely starters of a Beef Tartare & Ham Hock Terrine. We then moved onto the mains which were Cod Fillet & Chips with Samphire and my lovely Lamb Loin with Boulangere Potatoes and amazing beer braised Shallots accompanied by a nice bottle of the Berri Estates House Wine .

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Then came desserts, a deconstructed Rhubarb Crumble & my Olive Oil Cake. We finished with coffee & Petit Fours in the lounge . I have to say the quality of the food was really good and the friendly service we received made for a lovely evening, as part of our overnight stay.

 

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Midsummer House

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Well what can I say other than this was a magical evening and emphasised the reason why Midsummer House is my favourite Michelin Star restaurant. Such a fantastic warm and friendly welcome on our arrival that made us feel right at home straight away.

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We were first served a lovely homemade Gin & Tonic which was lovely. We decided to have the 8 Course Tasting Menu to which we were asked if we’d like to see the Menu or be surprised we decided to be surprised. So firstly the Amuse Bouches were a delight before moving to the first course a Pumpkin Veloute then Braised Pork Knuckle & Raclette Cheese simply stunning followed by a fantastic Scallop dish

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Then came the signature course of Roast Quail with Shallot Purée & Sour Dough simply Devine then came a delightful Monkfish course then I have to say my favourite course which was Venison accompanied by amazing Venison sausage rolls

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Before Dessert we chose to have a Cheese course and they had the most wonderful Cheese trolley

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Now on to my favourite part of any meal Desserts and both were fantastic firstly the Aerated Pear with Blueberry then the Passion Fruit,Yoghurt Sorbet & Dark chocolate then when you think you can’t eat anymore outcome the treats some amazing Doughnuts and Chocolates.

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I would like to thank the Sommelier for a fantastic selection of matching wines that just went perfectly with every course also to every member of staff who’s service was exceptional. I hope that Midsummer House soon gets a third Michelin Star because based on this visit they certainly deserve them.

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Haywards

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Couldn’t think of a better way to end the year than visiting our favourite local restaurant Haywards. This was our 21st visit of the year and the food & service was consistently as good as always .

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If you like fine dining but don’t want to go into London then this is the place for you. The restaurant serves excellent European Cuisine and also has great Wines to match your food . The restaurant has a nice friendly atmosphere and is a great place for couples or groups and can host bigger parties in the Stable

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#epping #Essex #restaurant

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