Jackson + Rye Chiswick

4 Jul

Following the success of the already heaving Soho branch, I ventured to the brand new Jackson + Rye on Chiswick High Road.
This was my first taste of dinner at J+R, so I was looking forward to seeing the new space and equally the vibe in the evening.
Chiswick High Road is wonderful and drenched in places to eat, it almost feels like you’re abroad when taking a wander on a summer night. The restaurant was packed when we arrived, the space being similar to the soho branch but slightly smaller. It has a great, buzzy feel to it and although busy, it’s really relaxing.

I went for the drink special – Strawberry Daiquiri. It had freshly crushed local strawberries and tasted incredible. Sweet and fresh, a perfect start to the evening. My guest went for the virgin Mojito. Not strictly on the menu, but definitely should be, the bartender has got some serious skills. The blend of mint and lime makes you feel like you’re on a health kick in Thailand. It’s definitely a thing of beauty.

download-2For starters we chose the Chopped Raw Tuna and the Sea Scallops. For me, starters are always the most exciting dish of the evening. I think that’s because you don’t really have them at home on a daily basis and also it’s when you’re most hungry so you appreciate the flavours more. download-3

download-5The tuna was fresh and utterly sublime. It had a kick of heat to its dressing and the consistency and taste were nothing short of perfection. It was presented beautifully and the taste of the fish was so representative.

download-4The scallops were a very good choice. They were pan-fried and doused in a creamy, buttery sauce with peas. The quality was clearly evident and they were cooked so lightly, just a dusting of bronze on the surface. It truly melted in your mouth and the sauce was the ultimate sidekick.

download-6For our main courses we chose the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a side of spiced sweet potato fries and the Ribeye Steak complete with béarnaise sauce and a side of fries.

download-8download-11I’ve had the chicken burger before but really wanted to see how it held its own without the brioche shoulder to lean on. This is a huge portion. Two massive beaten breast fillets coated in some seriously tasty batter. I honestly don’t know how the chicken is so, so soft. It’s beyond delicious and clearly the signature dish. When something simple is done to perfection there really isn’t anymore you could ask for.
The sweet potato fries were intoxicatingly good, a blend of spices marinated over them and fried with the fluff inside intact. With their garlic mayo the ‘pick, dip, munch’ ritual was in full swing.

download-9download-10The ribeye was very flavoursome, soft and grilled with a lovely smokey hue. It’s reasonably priced and the feeling is it’s above what you would expect for this pay scale.

download-12download-13Obviously having become incredibly full at this point, we decided to have a bit of a breather. Savouring this wonderful meal and acknowledging that this is one of the few places that isn’t a full-blown chain, serves great food at incredibly reasonable prices in a really awesome setting.

download-7After this reflection we decided to share the peanut butter cookies with milk ice cream and chocolate sauce. Ok so the milk ice cream is one of the most insanely delicious, palate cleansing, un-guilt-tripping desserts I’ve ever encountered and with the decadent chocolate sauce this really is a complete dish already. My one piece of criticism is the peanut butter cookies. They look fantastic and to taste have a little shortbread feel to them but the peanut taste wasn’t strong enough for me and they didn’t have that, for want of a better word, more-ish appeal to them.

download-14One thing I really have to comment upon is the service. We had the most attentive, positive and naturally accomplished waitress that I’ve had in a long while. Her name was Frankie. She knew her stuff and was excellent at recommending dishes, had clearly gained knowledge of all the dishes on offer. She was eloquent, well spoken and not only was spot on with her timings, but also never came across as invasive. She was charming and positive and honestly made the evening what it was. It’s rare to have such talent on the floor and she really is just that. All the staff came across as well-trained and well-managed and it’s a testament to management that this is so apparent.

I had a truly magical evening and it’s a place that serves well for all kinds of occasions. Thank you for coming to West London, we need more like you!

Rate 4.8

Jackson + Rye

217-221 Chiswick High Road, W4 2DW

020 8747 1156

http://www.jacksonrye.com/

Follow them on Twitter @JacksonRye

Recipe – Comfort Food Pasta

1 Jul

I’ve debated over and over what to call this dish and the reason I’ve gone with ‘Comfort Food Pasta’ is because it really is just that. It won’t make you feel guilty after as it’s not too indulgent, but it’s one of those heart warming dishes that really makes you feel that much better.

Ingredients (serves 2 people):

  • Olive Oil
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 3 x rashers smoked bacon
  • 2 x heaped tbsp of Light Philapdelphia
  • 2 or 3 x mushrooms
  • 1 x handful frozen peas
  • black pepper
  • 120g shell pasta
  • salt

And here is how you make it:

  • Heat a frying pan and pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil into it
  • On a separate hob heat some water in a saucepan and add a pinch of salt to the water
  • Chop the bacon into bite size pieces and add this to your heated pan, stir intermittently
  • Add your 120g of shell pasta into the boiling saucepan of water and leave for 10 minutes
  • Take a ladelful of the hot water and put into a small saucepan on a low heat and add the sliced mushrooms. Put a lid on this pan
  • Crush 2 cloves of garlic into the frying pan and mix with the bacon, let this fry for a couple of minutes
  • The mushrooms should be all cooked now, so pour the mushrooms and the water they have been cooking in, into the frying pan
  • Add 2 heaped tablespoons of Light Philadephia and mix until smooth
  • Throw in a handful of frozen peas and leave to simmer for a minute or so
  • Pop a pinch of black pepper in
  • Drain the cooked pasta and add to the frying pan, mix well so the pasta is completely incorporated
  • Serve and enjoy!

Comfort Food Pasta

Dozo Soho

17 Jun

Working in Soho I am spoilt for choice when it comes to food and with new places popping up so often there’s an abundance of restaurants to take your pick from. I’ve been burned before in getting too attached to places however, so I try to spread the love around. My lost loves include Mooli’s and Mangosteen. I literally cried when I realised they weren’t coming back.

After mixing it up and trying everywhere and anywhere, there is one place in particular that not only do I keep coming back to, but it actually gets me a bit excited because it really is a treasure trove. I love this place and its food is exquisite. It’s in the heart of Soho on Old Compton Street and although the tables are a little hard to sit at, the hollowed out ground that you have to crouch your way into, definitely not a good idea to wear a skirt to this establishment, it’s worth the unladylike wrench to get yourself in there.

I love that this place is packed with Japanese people, proving that if the cuisine’s own approve, then it really is the real thing, the service is simple, quick and a no fuss kind of approach. And the menu; well that is to die for.

I’ve ordered many things from here, but will give you a run down of a select few.

Salmon and Avocado Cut Roll is always a staple when I go to a sushi place, it’s the base of a good place. So much can go right and equally it can all go wrong. This however is spot on. The rice is soft and a touch warm. The avocado is ripe and unbelievably soft, it’s perfection. And the salmon is fresh and cut into a perfect, tender chunk.

The Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll. Beautifully presented, this has been rolled in crispy tempura flakes to give a dusting over the outside. The drizzle over the top is an incredibly delicious, spicy mayo that really sparks a contrast with the shredded cucumber in the roll. The tuna is succulent, the whole dish is well put together and has not only strong flavours but is a truly artistic design. more spicy tunaChilli Chicken Ramen. Holy crap this is good. I had previously been across to Bone Daddies that has all the culinary finesse of a 16 year old Saturday jobber at Burger King, but with a queue of hyped up trendy idiots out the door and down the stinky street. Let me tell you, scrap the bum numbing stools at Bone Daddies and try this ramen out for size as it is incredible. It’s spicy, it’s salty, it’s got all the ingredients you want and more. It’s comforting and yet also feels healthy. Incredible ramen and a portion to match.

ramenThe Volcano Maki – Eel, leeks, bonito flakes, eel sauce, avocado & mayonnaise. This is a little pricier at £15.80 but if I’m honest I would pay three times that just to lick the bowl. THIS IS IT. This is the dish you dream of, you think it doesn’t exist with most of the tasteless, nondescript dishes that are out there and then this comes along, swoops you off your feet, butters you up and makes you realise that actually nothing else matters more than the mouthful you are about to witness. Witness it you will, and savour it as you don’t get a taste like this often. Stacked up and presented like a sculpture comes this roll, smothered in a sauce that can only be made of magic as it tastes so good. The sauce is creamy, mayonnaise like, with a sweet soy drizzle and a smoky flair to it that becomes all-encompassing.

volcanoDozo has a second branch along Old Brompton Road which I’ve yet to visit, but will and if it’s anything like its Soho sister, I know I’ll be in for a treat. There’s very few sushi places that are worth going to in London…I say this because I’ve lived in New York and Sydney and my taste buds know the best there is. A food snob yes, but at least it makes me give the best recommendations.

Try Dozo and don’t leave without trying the Volcano Maki. That’s an order.

Rate: 5

Dozo – 32 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 4TP

Tel: 020 7434 3219

http://www.dozosushi.co.uk

Follow them on Twitter @DozoLondon
Dozo Soho on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Canela

2 Jun

Having limited my food intake recently because summer is coming and no one needs to see my bikini body as it stands, my dining out has taken a bit of a hit. However, I was lured out recently to the wonderful launch of the newly refurbished Portuguese restaurant, Canela.

Right on Seven Dials this superbly located restaurant is another Earlham Street classic. I had been, prior to the refurbishment, wonderful then, it’s even better now. The samples of food looked interesting and I adore trying new foods, you never know what you might discover and it’s always so lovely when you are pleasantly surprised.

The mix of delectable samples included my favourite, Bacalhau à Bras – traditional mix of salt cod, potatoes and eggs. This is the food equivalent of being scooped up by the one you love and given the biggest bear hug imaginable. It is comfort food of the highest form. Beautifully seasoned, soft potatoes with the saltiness of the ludicrously delicious cod shining through and the binding of the egg and flavour of onions making an undeniably perfect recipe. A far more distinguished dish, but similar in ways to home fries served in your favourite local diner in the US. This was an absolutely magical dish, so simple but so mouth-watering.

Salt CodThe Creamy Black Rice With Prawns dressed in olive oil and fresh herbs was a breath of fresh air. The rice wasn’t as sickly as risotto and not as boring as normal rice, it was definitely flavoured with a stock of sorts and the texture was creamy without being gloopy. The prawns were as fresh as can be and the pink of the prawn popped on top of the jet black of the rice making it a very beautiful dish. We sampled hams and cheeses, the Iberico ham being as heavenly as one can imagine after we had patiently waited, salivating as we watched it being carved in front of us.

download-3download-4We also sampled a traditional sausage that was very interesting. It is made with game and not pork and is not only a stronger taste from the meat as one would normally expect, but it is an acquired taste because of the herbs used. It is really flavoursome, but definitely one to eat in small morsels as it is very rich.

download-1We tried all three of the wines on offer, a red, white and a rosé. They were a welcome accompaniment to the food samples. They were very sweet wines, beautifully packaged and we had a lengthy conversation with the wonderful buyer of the wines and he explained his thoughts behind each of his choices. It was fascinating to learn the attention to detail when it came to not only the design on the bottle but the knowledge he had on each of the wines and why it was suited to Canela’s menu. The three on offer were (although they have many more on their menu):
Animus, Douro 2012 (red)
Arca Nova, Vinho Verde, 2013  (white)
Lagoalva Rosé, Alentejo, 2013 (rosé)

Being full to the brim having sampled so many delights, out came the one that blew me away. Simple Pastel de Nata (custard tarts) encased in a beautifully fine butter pastry that were warm and clearly fresh from the oven. Hundreds of bite size beauties just waiting to be eaten and as this was a cheat day, I ate a lot of them. And I mean a lot. I would have happily eaten the whole tray. I sometimes forget how it is the simple things that can be the most pleasurable. We often try to find something different or obscure, bordering on trendiness and forget that it is the basic, traditional recipes that have survived generations of families and thousands of restaurants that surpass everything. And this simple treasure really is just that.

downloadThe restaurant looks beautiful and is a wonderful place for a catch up with friends or a perfect date spot, try new foods that you most certainly won’t be disappointed by and feel the age-old recipes that have been handed down, all so that YOU could be lucky enough to try it.

Rate 4.8

Canela
33 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LS
020 7240 6926
http://www.canelacafe.com/
Follow them on Twitter – @CanelaWC2
Canela on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Kurobuta – Marble Arch

9 May

After my review of Kurobuta’s pop up in Chelsea, the management got in touch with me to explain a few things and to thank me for my review. I was really flattered that they had read my review and that they welcomed the feedback. I was kindly given the offer to come down to their permanent location in Marble Arch, when it opened, which it now has, and enjoy an evening on them.

I relished the opportunity to try more dishes and have a better view of their menu and of course to see the new space. Let me tell you it didn’t get voted top date spot by London Eating for nothing. It’s a vibrant, beautifully lit, fun and exciting restaurant. It has all the qualities and charm of a high-end location, but without any intimidation or stuffiness. The kitchen is open for all to see and the beautiful low hanging bulbs add an enchanting ambience to the place.

To begin with I chose ‘The Green Bastard’ as my cocktail. This was Hendrix gin, cucumber and Midori. It was refreshing and cool. A really summery, very drinkable drink.

download-5We sampled some wine called Gewürztraminer, which I’m told is going to be more mainstream in the next few years. It’s a different type of grape from the norm and strangely when you smell the wine, it isn’t that normal wine smell that so often puts me off, the aroma is that of elderflower. It tastes like elderflower cordial too. It’s light and sweet and vastly different from wine as you know it.

We ordered a selection of plates from most sections of the menu. A couple of my favourites from my previous visit were on there; the tuna sashimi pizza (still the winner for me) and the salmon and avocado gravadlax.

tuna pizzaalmon gravadlaxThe restaurant added in a few extras for us that we hadn’t chosen, the prawn tempura being one of them. This was incredible, it was hot and had a beautifully light batter with a prawn that was meaty and that actually tasted of something. The sauce was light, creamy and spicy and the rice noodles not only looked wonderful but with a little sauce doused on them they could be a contender for a low-fat snack. It was an effortlessly cool dish, executed so well in accordance to taste, presentation and quality.

download-6The Wagyu beef sliders were absolutely delicious, the one thing missing was a dash of sauce. It says that it comes with Umami mayo, but I didn’t detect this at all. It just needed a spicy mayo of some kind, under the patty, and it would have been perfect. I loved the crunchy onions inside, they were a real treat.

download-2The miso baby chicken was fantastically smoky with a sharp yuzu sauce, the chicken was very tender and it was topped with very finely sliced jalapeno that gave it a really tasty kick. A tiny criticism is I felt yuzu was over used a little, not just in this dish in proportion but its use across the menu in many dishes.

download-3The salmon sushi béarnaise was presented immaculately and the buttery béarnaise and crunchy fries on top were delicious, what I would have liked was something that added a bit of a tang to the dish to oppose the buttery salmon and béarnaise taste. Perhaps something simple like a sweet soy-glaze between the salmon and the rice.

download-8The flamed edamame were really good, but I think I would have preferred them to have been grilled in garlic oil instead of butter, it makes for a nicer partnership with the rock salt.

downloadI ordered the roasted scallops which I could just tell were going to be exceptional. They were heavenly! Cooked to smokey perfection it was a faultless dish. Melt in your mouth delicious and accompanied by mushrooms that bounced with flavour. This dish is a must!

download-1We chose the doughnuts for dessert. This was a collation of pistachio parfait topped with honey coated hazelnuts, Limoncello jelly, the chocolate and hazelnut filled mini doughnuts enrobed in green tea sugar and a couple of other little delights. The overall part of this that stood out was the parfait. It was very cool in temperature without being iced, its texture was smooth with little a little crunch of pistachio and the taste was to die for.

The doughnut wasn’t as good as I had hoped, the shell of the doughnut was thin and hard as opposed to that freshly baked, light fluffiness I’m so fond of. It tasted good, but the hazelnut chocolate filling wasn’t quite creamy enough.

download-4Overall this place is brilliant, it’s a really exciting restaurant, it doesn’t feel like you’re dining in London as I feel it’s unlike anything we have here. It’s reasonably priced and a great opportunity to sample new and authentic flavours.

Our waitress was wonderful, she knew her stuff inside out, she was unbelievably polished on knowing what dishes contained, what to recommend and she delivered everything in a charming, friendly and honest way. She made the evening what it was and not only did she engage with us, but she knew when to step away.

I’ll definitely be back, I have to work my way through the rest of the eclectic menu and order myself another tuna sashimi pizza…

Thank you so much to the Kurobuta team for your professional nature and for the ongoing support for laymytable. It means a great deal.

Rate: 4.4

Kurobuta – Marble Arch

20 Kendal St, London W2 2YE

0203 475 4158

http://kurobuta-london.com/marble-arch/

Follow them on Twitter @KurobutaLondon
Kurobuta on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Recipe – Spicy Asparagus & Tomato Spaghetti

8 May

After eating out a lot I tend to go through detox patches as I’m sure most of you do. I try to ease up on meat a lot of the time, maybe it’s because I’ll eat a lot of it in restaurants and maybe it’s because I have a really sensitive stomach. I therefore try to help myself by eating as much fresh food as I can and also making use of simple dishes. Nothing too complicated, something easy and delicious.

So here’s my recipe for spicy asparagus & tomato spaghetti. Enjoy!

Ingredients (this should serve two people):

  • 1 splash of garlic oil
  • 6-8 asparagus
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 x heaped tbsp of Light Philadelphia
  • 1/2 x small tin of tomato puree
  • 1/2 a hot chili
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 120g of wholemeal spaghetti

Method:

  • Put a pot of salted water onto the hob
  • Pop a small splash of garlic oil in a pan (I make my own my using a half plastic bottle of olive oil and getting a load of garlic bulbs from the local market, peel the cloves and pop in about twenty of them, leave it for a day or so and then it tastes perfect. Great for dipping bread too).
  • Chop the asparagus into inch long pieces and pop them into the hot pan. Let them sizzle for a couple of minutes until bright green.
  • Add in the cherry tomatoes and let them warm up until they start to burst.
  • As the cherry tomatoes are cooking, finely slice a hot half chili and add to the pan.
  • At this point you should put your spaghetti into the pot of boiling water.
  • Put a big heaped tablespoon of tomato puree, this should be about half a tin, into the pan along with the same of light Philadelphia and stir this in.
  • So it’s not too dry, add a cup of water to this and mix together, let it simmer so all the flavours combine.
  • Add a pinch of salt and black pepper.
  • When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and throw it into the pan and mix it all in together.
  • Serve in a bowl and drizzle with a little balsamic glaze and enjoy this spicy deliciousness!

asparagus spaghetti

The Jam Tree – Chelsea

29 Apr

My affair with The Jam Tree started a few years ago now. Lost for a vibrant pub to go to that had a little something extra to offer and an eclectic list of cocktails, I thankfully stumbled upon this gem. I only lived about ten minutes away and now I live about 30 seconds away. Proud to call it my local, it has come up trumps every time. I’ve booked it for my birthday the last two years running and spent many a day and night there. Having noted that they were expanding their already well facilitated bar with a new loft space, I was pleased to attend the launch last week.

The Jam Tree not only now boasts the loft space, but also a ground floor area filled with tables for eating and/or drinking and a lounge area to one side. There is also a beautiful beer garden, complete with an outside bar and a huge barbecue. The decking is multi-layered and it’s a great sun trap on a lazy summer afternoon. The food is fantastic and really has excelled over the years. I wasn’t so sure the first time I ate there, but it seems they ironed out a few creases in their cooking and now its truly on a roll.
My favourite is the ribs, they’re featured on the bbq menu and without a doubt they are the best ribs I’ve had in London, if not the world. I don’t ever say things like that lightly. The meat literally falls off the bone and is marinated in a smokey and sweet, delectable barbecue sauce. It’s absolutely incredible. The pulled pork burger is undeniably the firm favourite with most guests and it doesn’t disappoint. The meat is of excellent quality and the sauce, bun and fillings have been finely tuned to perfection. Not to mention the presentation, this is not your average pub food, it’s thought through and doesn’t just look good, it tastes damn good too.
ribspulled pork burgerNot only do they have a brunch session, with a Bloody Mary list as long as your arm, a welcome shake up to the Sunday Roast, which they also do, but they have a huge list of cocktails to keep you going. Keeping with the theme, you’ll notice that jam is included in a lot of their cocktails. It brings a concentrated flavour and a fresh approach to some tired drinks. Just a few of the beauties I tried were:
Gin ’n Juice – Bombay Sapphire gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Creme de Mure liqueur mixed with lime jam, lime juice and muddled with mint leaves and blueberries. This is a really refreshing and pretty cocktail. It’s elderflower and blueberry flavours are quite mild and so I feel it’s definitely a cocktail you could drink more and more of all evening.
download-3Coco Shake – Bacardi rum, Banana liqueur, lashings of double cream and a spoonful of apricot jam combined with a shot of espresso coffee and a generous helping of Nutella spread – Holy Moly is this incredible. If coffee shops caught onto this I would buy this all the time, not only would I be strongly caffeinated, but I’m pretty sure with the added splash of spirit I’d get through the working day a damn site better…it tastes like iced coffee with a hint of Nutella. I couldn’t taste the banana at all, but it didn’t matter, this one is definitely the winner.download-5
Confiture – Cariel Vanilla vodka shaken with raspberry jam, Chambord and pineapple juice. A sweet, jammy nectar of a drink, a little similar to a French Martini but a tad thicker. I think I could only manage one of these, as whilst it’s delicious, it’s a tad sickly, but if you’re going in for a treat then this is a really good one!
download-6Wham Bam – Cariel Vanilla vodka, Chambord and Passoa with raspberry jam and sour mix topped with popping candy. Passion Fruit tasting and the added surprise of popping candy. It really works. It’s a sharp taste with a hint of vanilla to smooth it and the popping candy is a bit of fun for good measure.
As you can determine by the nature of the drinks, there is a real energy about this place. The decor is fun and not too whacky, it exudes a bit of a vintage feel, with a fun throwback to the 80s with cassettes acting as wall paper in the bathrooms. Without bordering on the kitsch, it also appears professional and clean, which is something a lot of pubs with a vast turnover seem to neglect.
download-4The loft is really spacious with a gloriously high beamed peaked ceiling. It has a couple of nooks, including a long table that would be great for a Sunday lunch and it’s detailed with beautifully huge french windows. There are bathrooms upstairs as well as down, so thankfully no traipsing. You can see where a natural dance floor could appear on a more lively night and really it’s just a wonderful addition to an already thriving bar and restaurant.
download-7download-8download-9It seems I can’t rate this place enough, so I guess you’ll have to go and try it for yourself. You can always pop in on your way too, I’m certainly close enough.
Rate: 4.8
The Jam Tree – 541 Kings Road, London, SW6 2EB
020 3397 4422
Follow them on Twitter @The_Jam_Tree

The Jam Tree on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: