Hedone, London – Produce Driven

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Hedone
301-303 Chiswick High Road
London
W44HH
Tel. 020 8747 0377

Food type: Modern European

Nearest tube: Gunnersbury/ Chiswick Park

Website: Hedone

This is the first time I would be blogging about Hedone despite this being my third visit to the restaurant. In all honesty, I should be visiting more often given how good the cooking is here and how impressive the produce is on display. However, getting a table here is tricky, particularly after the dining room has undergone some renovation which resulted in a reduction in the number of seats in the restaurant which would allow them to deliver more complex dishes. The other problem is its location in Chiswick which is a bit of a pain to get to one way or another. Although I live in Surrey and it is a fairly short drive to get to the restaurant, I do like to have a drink with my meal.

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Pouillon Champagne

These days the restaurant does not have an ala carte menu. You simply choose between a shorter tasting menu (£85) or a longer carte blanche menu (£125). At lunch (only Fridays and Saturdays), the restaurant also offers a cheaper £45 lunch menu. Given that on this occasion, we were visiting the restaurant on the behest of my sister who had travelled from Singapore, it was a no brainer that we were going for the carte blanche menu which would allow Mikael to show off more of his cooking. As it would have it, Mikael’s sommelier had just left so he ended up looking after us with our wine that night.

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Umu, London – Umami

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Umu
14-16 Bruton Place,
Mayfair, London
W1J 6LX
Tel. 020 7499 8881

Food type: Japanese

Nearest tube: Bond Street

Website: Umu

Many apologies for the lack of posts. The last couple of weeks has been a complete whirlwind with my wedding and subsequent honeymoon. During this time, there has still been plenty of dining out and I will be writing about some of the more exciting (and less exciting) dining experiences of our trip in due course. However, for now, there are some back dated posts to get through in quick succession.

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Restaurant Entrance

Umu has been around in London for quite some time now. I have visited Umu once, back in 2009, where it held a single Michelin star. At that time it was one of three Japanese restaurants in London to be awarded a star (the other two being both branches of Nobu). My meal then was fine, but nothing spectacular. The kind of meal that you would happily pay for but forget 2 weeks later. Then in the most recent Michelin guide, Umu was upgraded to 2 stars. During this process, they have inherited a new head chef – Yoshinori Ishii, who has put a lot of effort into the sourcing of his produce, going to great lengths to teach Cornish fishermen the ikejime technique of handling fish. This intrigued me, as prior to this, most Japanese restaurants in London often source their fish from suppliers like Atari-ya, which is fine, but not great. So I was keen to see if the additional effort in sourcing would taste different.

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Trishna, London – Indian with Panache

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Trishna
15-17 Blandford Street
London W1U 3DG
Tel. 0207 935 5624

Food type: Indian

Nearest tube: Bond Street

Website: Trishna

Trishna is the big sister restaurant of Gymkhana, under the same ownership. While Gymkhana gets more of the plaudits these days, probably because of its location and trendier decor, Trishna draws in the Indian families. You know that an Indian restaurant is authentic when there are plenty of Indian families dining there. After all, you wouldn’t dine out at a restaurant which makes mediocre curries that your mom can make better at home. The slight difference with the two restaurants is that Gymkhana focuses more on meat and game, while Trishna specialises in seafood dishes.

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Restaurant

We visited for Sunday dinner, where the restaurant was packed and turning tables. There are a few menus on offer – a 5- and 7-course including meat and seafood, a 6-course seafood only menu and a 5- and 7-course vegetarian menu. Oh and there is also an a la carte menu which is what we opted for on our visit.

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the Araki, London – Classy Sushi

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the Araki
12 New Burlington Street,
London W1S 3BH
Tel. 0207 287 2481

Food type: Sushi

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus

Website: the Araki

There are very few restaurant openings in London which excite me. The restaurant trends seem to be gravitating towards casual/ small plates concept rather than serious high-end, haute cuisine. If a big name chef is involved in a restaurant’s opening, then this is usually with a more junior chef doing the cooking (e.g. Celeste) or simply on a consultancy base (e.g. Tokimeite). As such when I heard that Mitsuhiro Araki had decided to close his sushi-ya in Tokyo and open up in London I initially received it with plenty of scepticism. Would he be cooking here for a short period of time, train up a more junior chef before heading back to Japan? Nearly a year and half after opening, Araki-san is still in London, serving up his interpretation of Edo-mae sushi during every dinner service.

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Table Setting

The dining room is minimalistic with a 10-seat counter made from Hinoki wood. Each seat gives the diner an excellent view of Araki-san crafting his sushi with the aid of two helpers. As you would expect in Japan, there is a no choice ‘Omakase’ menu priced at £300 per head which includes a couple of starters and 12 pieces of sushi. Although some have claimed that this is the most expensive sushi in the world, 3* Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong (a branch of Sushi Yoshitake) charges HKD$3,500 (£320). Irregardless, a meal at the Araki is very pricey by English standards, with only the Fat Duck and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (Inspiration table) coming close. Whether this is value for money or not is dependent on how much you actually enjoy and appreciate sushi.

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Pétrus, London – Under The Radar

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Pétrus
1 Kinnerton Street,
Knightsbridge, London
SW1X 8EA
Tel. 0207 592 1609

Food type: Modern French

Nearest tube: Knightsbridge

Website: Pétrus

Pétrus is a restaurant under the Gordon Ramsay group but one which does not receive much in terms of publicity since its opening back in 2010. For those who have been around the London dining scene for a long time, you may remember that Pétrus was also the name of a restaurant located in the Berkeley Hotel, under one Marcus Wareing. After a much publicised spat and ‘divorce’, Wareing kept the original restaurant site, renamed it Restaurant Marcus Wareing (now simply Marcus) and Gordon kept the restaurant name Pétrus. Thus Pétrus in its current iteration was born. With its opening, Gordon had brought in his big guns, with Mark Askew (his then Group Executive Head Chef) and Sean Burbidge, tasked to ensure Michelin success. The restaurant went on to win a Michelin star in the next iteration of the guide, which it has kept ever since, but reviews on the internet, particularly from the blogging community have been ambivalent at best. The cooking these days is led by National Chef of the Year winner, Larry Jayasekara.

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Restaurant Exterior

The dining room here is modern and contemporary with a central circular glass-panelled wine cellar the show piece of the room. Although the wine cellar may look aesthetically pleasing, I am not so sure about its practicality in terms of the storage of the wine itself. The list contains plenty of high-end wines including, of course, a vertical of the eponymous wine and I suspect some of the more expensive wines are kept away so as not to risk it from any light oxidation. We visited for Saturday lunch, where along with the usual a la carte (£75 for 3 courses) and tasting menu (£95) was also a cheaper lunch menu (£37.50). We were hungry and thus opted for the tasting menu with an additional course from the a la carte.

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