Favourite Tables

Tag: London 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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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.

 

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A little bit of Morocco in East London

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Many thanks to the guys over @DesignMyNight for sharing this. An amazing Moroccan Medina style bar and restaurant has been opened on a Rooftop in East London. Situated at 1-5 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3JX with Old Street being the nearest Tube Station.

Venue: @_QueenOfHoxton

Enjoy…..

 

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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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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.

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Typing Room

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A great Menu inspired by Lee Westcott with perfectly matched wines from sommelier Fred Marti together with excellent service this was indeed a fantastic dining experience.

 

A lovely friendly welcome and a nice glass of champagne while we looked at the menu and as in previous visits we chose the Tasting Menu but this time we also chose to have matching drinks I say drinks because it was a mixture of wine & saki .

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After having some delightful snacks came the first highlight the fantastic IPA Sourdough bread with Marmite butter I’ll just say it’s amazing. Then came the first course of Dorset Char an absolute delight this was followed by the signature Cauliflower dish it’s just unbelievable what you can do with this vegetable.

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This was followed by the highlight of th e Menu of Cod , calpots , chicken & black garlic such a fantastic dish next was the main course of Pork Collar , hospital cabbage & baked apple simply delicious. We then went for the cheese course it was a lovely selection of cheese which was matched with a Plum Saki .

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Finally dessert of Sheeps yoghurt, apple & dill which finished a truly great meal. All the staff were very friendly & professional making our lunch very memorable & already thinking of returning very soon.

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I do like the open kitchen and it’s amazing that despite so much going on to produce amazing food the kitchen was so quiet. I would definitely recommend a visit if you like modern food cooked to perfection & some great wine & service

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A Chefs Table feature on the family run Haywards

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Jahdre Hayward was born in Bermuda, at 15 he moved to the United States to live with his aunt and uncle while he studied culinary arts in Tampa Florida. When his studies were complete he moved to the UK and gained a commis job at The Savoy Hotel, London under Anton Edelmann, where he progressed quickly up the rankings to Chef de Partie. Jahdre`s employment in London and the Home Counties also includes Hanbury Manor, Rules Restaurant, the Oxo Tower, Novelli in the City and The Ritz.

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Amanda Hayward was born and brought up in Essex and lived in the family owned traditional 17th century free house the Forest Gate Inn which is situated on the outskirts of Epping Forest and the charming market town of Epping.  Amanda knew from an early age she was interested in cooking and after leaving school she took a place at Westminster College and trained to be a chef. She has gained experience in many fine restaurants in London and abroad including Simpsons on the Strand, London Capital Club, and then started her own catering company.

Jahdre met Amanda when they both worked at The London Capital Club. They travelled to Australia in 2003 and Jahdre worked briefly at Guillaume at Bennelong, Sydney Opera House whilst experiencing life in Australia. They returned to London for 3 years before migrating to Australia and settling in Melbourne. Jahdre worked as a sous chef at The National Gallery then moved on to become head chef at the Melbourne Wine Room followed by The Millswyn Restaurant. Amanda whilst in Melbourne went from being a chef to a waiter and after working at Grossi Florentino`s and Maze by Gordon Ramsey went on to work at Circa, The Prince and became assistant restaurant manager of the two hat restaurant.

After five and a half years in Melbourne and gaining Australian citizenship, Jahdre and Amanda decided to return to the UK to oversee the development of Haywards in the grounds of the family owned pub the Forest Gate Inn.

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The restaurant was converted from an old coach house, stable and skittle alley. Amanda and Jahdre oversaw the whole process to create their dream restaurant, sympathetically restoring the buildings and retaining many original features. Haywards opened in May 2013 and has gone from strength to strength and both Amanda and Jahdre are passionate about continuous development and progression for the business. The Haywards kitchen garden is thriving and the restaurant has been working with a local bee keeper to keep some bee colonies and produce their own honey.

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With Jadhre’s global background, our questions were many.  Here are some of them:

Influences – now and then?

“My grandmother, with her love of food and family, was really inspiring and I used to love to watch her in the kitchen.  The chef who has really influenced me is Brett Graham at The Ledbury.  His passion for the industry and for sourcing quality local produce is something that we have adopted at Haywards.  He is also passionate about his customers and our many conversations have influenced decisions we have made”

What are your views on the difference between Australian and British restaurant industries? 

“There are quite a lot of differences between restaurants and food styles.  All are positive differences, and in terms of gaining experience and developing my career, I feel very privileged to have worked in many great restaurants in both locations.   Australian restaurants are often slightly Asian inflenced and there are many different products available and not so much emphasis on the seasons. Due to the warmer climates across the country there is more produce available year round.  There is also access to beautiful and more unusual fresh fish such as snapper, barramundi (similar to sea bass and delicious!) and yabbies, which I love.  However, here in the UK I really enjoy the fact that our native produce is seasonal and we can change our menus accordingly.  We also have fantastic, quality British produce and our scallops are amazing!”

If you were not a chef – where would you be now? 

“My career path was destined to been an aircraft mechanic but whilst studying, I took a part time job in a kitchen and my fate was sealed!”

Are there restaurants you would like to go to? 

“If I am lucky enough to travel to the Far East again, I would love to dine at Sukiabashi Jiro, a three Michelin starred sushi restaurant in Japan.  Another three Michelin starred restaurant is Michel Bras in France which is also high on my list.

Haywards Honey – what is your favourite honey dish? 

“We have a beautiful dish on our menu described as Honey, Dill, Almond.  It is a honey parfait garnished with honeycomb, bee pollen and dill ice cream”

A chef to work with – past or present? 

“I would love to work alongside Michael Caines.  I have dined at Gidleigh Park twice and really admire him for his determination, drive and skill” I saw that his latest venue Lympstone Manor is featured on favourite tables so I will be booking dinner there soon.

Finally – where are your favourite tables? 

One of my favourite tables has to be The Ledbury in Notting Hill.  Always an amazing experience and I love everything about this restaurant.

I also think The Artichoke in Amersham is a fantastic restaurant.   They are gaining a lot of recognition but deserve more!

Finally, I celebrated my birthday just before Christmas at the Bildeston Crown in Suffolk.  We had a wonderful stay and a really great meal in their restaurant so I am sure that they will go on to achieve great things.

 

 


 

 

 

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The Palomar

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Had been meaning to visit The Palomar restaurant for a while now to try a new type of cuisine from the heart of Jerusalem and I have to say I’m very glad to have done so.

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It’s a small but very friendly place as you walk in they have a walk in service where you can sit at the counter and watch the chefs work but we were lead through to the dining area at the back which was very nice & cozy. Our waitress Olge was excellent asking us if we’d been before then took us through the menu advising us of how many courses from each section we should order.

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We started with the Rip & Dip section where we had the most amazing Bread & dips along with Fish Falafel. We then had the special of the day which was a lovely dish that included White Crab Meat just stunning then onto the larger of the sharing menu dishes to which we had the amazing Octo-Hummus and the fantastic Jerusalem Mix with a side order of Josperised Aubergine plus a Fattoush Salad.

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All the dishes have this delicate charcoal,nutty and slightly creamy texture but taste delicious Now on to my favourite course of any meal Dessert and we weren’t let down in anyway we decided to go for the sharing dessert called a Jerusalem Mess which was fantastic but me being me I couldn’t settle for that and when I saw they had a Chocolate Fondue with Peanut Brittle I couldn’t resist and I’m so glad I didn’t it was gorgeous.

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Definitely looking forward to returning soon and I would highly recommend this restaurant