Hakkasan (Mayfair), London – Don’t Get The Appeal

Hakkasan
17 Bruton Street,
London W1J 6QB
Tel. 020 7907 1888

Food type: Chinese

Nearest tube: Bond Street

Website: Hakkasan

It has been 7 years since I last visited Hakkasan. Back then, the restaurant was still owned by Alan Yau and the had not been a massive proliferation of branches all over the world. I did not really enjoy my first time at Hakkasan, where we tried their dim sum menu. The food, for me was what I would consider ‘gwei lo Chinese’ – what white people think Chinese food should be. Nothing I would consider authentic, and nothing I would be able to find in Hong Kong/ China. Anyhow, the resident gwei lo in the house aka my wife was keen to try the restaurant and with a newly opened branch in Mayfair, just a few doors away from the Square, I booked us in for a Sunday night dinner.

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Table Setting

The new branch has a similar vibe as the original located at Hanway Place. The decor, dark with lamps hanging from the ceiling providing lighting for each table. This is definitely a place for the young and hip with upbeat music piped in the background. The menu prices are, well, impressive. You are greeted with a front page of supreme special dishes at supremely special prices. Peking duck with Qiandiao caviar (we will get back to this in a bit) is a bargain £218. You get the option to upgrade to Beluga caviar for another £65 (so £280). Braised abalone (10 head) with sea cucumber is a mere £350. Just for comparison purpose, I paid £250 for 10 head abalone when I dined at 3* Lung King Heen in Hong Kong which is not the cheapest city in the world. There are a couple of tasting menus (called signature menus) available here. However, since we were dining as a couple, the only one available to us was their prestige menu which was priced at £128 (with a glass of Louis Roderer champagne) which was what we went for.  Continue reading

The Clove Club, London – Lots of Positives

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the Clove Club
Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street, London
EC1V 9LT
Tel. 020 7729 6496

Food type: Modern British

Nearest tube: Old Street

Website: the Clove Club

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Restaurant Entrance

At my recent lunch at Bonhams with Kang, he mentioned about his recent meal at Clove Club and how the kitchen were doing some amazing things. He is of course a very knowledgeable and well-travelled foodie, so when he speaks you have to listen. Booking a table here is tricky, given its pre-paid ticketing system. Depending on what time you choose to dine, you may have to pay up front for your table – up to £95 pp for the prime dining hours. As I was on my annual leave, we decided to pop in for a mid-week lunch and opting for an early 12pm table, meant that we did not have to pay anything up front.

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Menu

The restaurant is located in Shoreditch Town Hall. As you walk in, you are greeted by various charcuteries being cured. There is a small bar area where you can opt for bar snacks or even their tasting menu as well as the main dining room featuring an open kitchen. The dining room has a very relaxed feel to it with wooden floors, an absence of table cloths and soft blue cushioned seats. For lunch, there is a no frills a la carte menu (items individually priced, an average 3 course meal will cost £35, with canapés costing extra) as well as two tasting menus of different lengths (£65 for 5 courses, £95 for 9 courses). We naturally went for the extended tasting menu.

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Pied à Terre, London – Stability

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Pied à Terre
34 Charlotte Street
London W1T 2NH
Tel. 020 76361178

Food type: French

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road

Website: Pied-à-Terre

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Table Setting

Andy McFadden has now taken over the kitchens of Pied a Terre for almost a year now. My meal back in January was very good and I was very keen to see what his cooking was like having had more time to settle into the kitchen and getting his team up to speed with his style of cooking. I so happen to be in London for another medical update course and decided to pop in for a ‘quick’ lunch. Julien and Matthieu were around today and as usual offered to organise some food for me to go with the wine I wanted to drink. The dining room was pretty packed during lunch which can only be a good sign given how many top Michelin starred restaurants around the area are struggling to attract customers in despite the cheap lunch menu.

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The Anchor, Ripley – Little Pub Gem

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The Anchor
High Street
Ripley
GU23 6AE
Tel. 01483 211 866

Food type: British Gastropub

Nearest tube: –

Website: The Anchor

The Anchor is a village pub located in the little village of Ripley and the building itself has been around the 16th century where it was used as an almshouse. The pub became a known as a watering hole in the 1800s where it was popular with cyclist passing through the village. In 2014, the pub was taken over by Steve Drake, who also runs the excellent Drake’s Restaurant in the same village. I have been a follower of Steve’s cooking at Drakes since I moved to Surrey. Steve has solid classical training and won the Roux Scholarship but his cooking at Drake’s has plenty of modernistic touches. The day to day cooking at the Anchor is by Mike Wall-Palmer who was Steve’s right hand man at Drakes.

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Menus

We visited the pub for a weekday lunch where they were half full. The menu consists of the usual a la carte with starters £8 – £9.50, mains £14 – £25 and desserts £6-7. In addition to that, on Sundays, roast is served with all the trimmings. There was also a bar snacks menu and unlike many gastropubs I have visited, the selection here is pretty lengthy with 11 small bites available, priced  between £2 – £4.50. At lunch there is a cheap lunch menu £15 for 2 courses or £19 for 3 courses. Excellent value if I may say so myself. Browsing through the menu, some of the dishes involve pared down versions of the ones served at Drake’s. Take for example a dish of sea bream with escabeche and crispy parsnips, which is similar to the Turbot dish I had on my last visit to Drake’s. This is unsurprising, since Steve oversees the menu construction at Anchor.

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Murano, London – Revisited

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Murano
20 Queen Street
Mayfair London
W1J 5PP
Tel. 020 7495 1127

Food type: Italian

Nearest tube: Green Park

Website: Murano

We recently dropped by Murano for a casual Friday lunch. Despite being plenty of options for high-end Italian dining in London, Murano is our go-to place for Italian food as it is my wife’s favourite. I think the term ‘Italian inspired’ would probably be more accurate, as Angela Hartnett also draws from her French training with Ramsay to include techniques and dishes which are more likely to be seen in a French restaurant. In saying that though, in recent months, I have noted that the cooking is heading back towards its Italian roots with less French inspired elements on the menu.

San Daniele Ham with Melon, Bread Basket

San Daniele Ham, Melon; Bread Basket

Now despite being lunch, we both came completely starving and hence opted for the full 5 course menu from the a la carte. The menu format has not changed from when we last visited – you can build your own tasting menu if you wish from the extensive a la carte menu or stick to a brief 3 course menu if you so please. While browsing the menu, we were brought some excellent San Daniele ham which I understand is cured in-house to go with some in season and very sweet melon. A bread basket soon followed and the focaccia is as good as from the last time.

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