2 November 2014

Cambio De Tercio

Cambio De Tercio is seen by many to be one of the best Spanish restaurants in London and after seeing my fellow bloggers rave on about a couple of dishes I pushed this to the top of my to do list with a leisurely Saturday lunch.

Although I believe tasting menus are available in the evenings, at the weekend lunch a choice of a la carte or weekend lunch menus were available. We went for a couple of tapas dishes and a main course, and could mix and match from a selection of traditional tapas, chefs special dishes and main courses. The chefs dishes and mains show influence from modern Spanish cookery and the latest in food wizardry. We started with some bread, a basket of somewhat uninspiring rolls, but these came with the type of olive oil that reminds you that you aren't making enough effort to source olive oil for home, with a bright green colour and incredible fruity, fragrant flavour.

First up, one of the dishes we travelled across London for. Eight hour tomatoes are cooked for the aforementioned 8 hours in oloroso sherry and served with basil caviar and goats cheese. The tomatoes were stunning, textured almost liked figs, sweet, moist, packed full of flavour and well matched with the heady basil and tangy cheese. This is the type of dish that justifies why I go out hunting for good meals, I've never had anything like it before and I know this will be one of the vegetable dishes that I use to benchmark future meals. My wife pronounced this as one of the best things she has had, that is, until the next tapas dish came out.

The "New" Patatas Bravas are Cambio De Tercios take on patatas bravas and are basically, crispy potato cylinders filled with spicy tomato sauce and aioli but are so perfectly balanced, and each element so perfectly cooked that they resemble manna from heaven, a mouthful of pleasure eliciting a chuckle of joy and a smile.  Very little could top those tomatoes, but these were a strong competition.

I nabbed a couple of the incredible potatoes but also had a dish of my own, cuttlefish meatballs in squid ink sauce. Four generous size balls covered in a black sauce that defied my phone cameras ability to balance light, with a single tentacle and some pumpkin puree. The cuttlefish and squid ink came through really well, with huge depth of flavour that matched the gorgeous smell of the dish as it was presented. I might have liked a touch more puree as it really added a lovely touch of sweetness and extra dimension.

The mains continued with the quality, my main, an oxtail dish presented a new way of enjoying one of my regular Sunday casseroles, oxtail in red wine. This dish just took the humble cut to stratospheric height with a sweet, sticky, unctuous sauce packed full of flavour, like they had an entire bottle of wine distilled into each bite. With this, a fruit I've not even thought would go with beef, with an apple sauce and tangy, crunchy chips of green apple providing much needed balance to the fatty richness of the oxtail. The other element really stood out too, whilst I've had foams galore, the lemon thyme "air" was unusual in having a really strong, also perfumed herbal flavour and stayed a stiff and airy foam right until the last bites of the meat. I used it like a three dimensional dip, just coating the meat in thin layer of foam. The side of mash wasn't what I expected, textured almost like a thick sauce than mash, but utterly delicious and a lovely foil to the other elements on the plate.

My wife had an excellent bombas rice casserole, a rice dish using a rarer version of the Spanish rice varieties. This dish was not quite as wet as risotto and somewhat like a paella and came with some very well cooked vegetables, including enoki mushroom's that my wife isnt normally too keen on, but were polished off rather quickly due to being so fine.

Desserts were equally as good, my wife's white chocolate ganache, passion fruit, pistachios, and ginger ice cream a great combination, whilst I had a dessert that showed some real technical brilliance, a frozen mojito inside a blown caramel ball, resting on a bed of rum jelly. I really enjoyed this fun dish, where you had to smash the ball and mix everything in the bowl up to experience all the mojito flavours, and was a delicious as it was clever and hard to make. Top marks to the kitchen for this.

We finished with some petit four and coffee, the bill coming to £157, below what I would normally pay for food of this quality, and indeed, quantity. We left happy and sated and it reignited my passion for dining out. I see why Cambio De Tercio is so popular, and why its nearby sister restaurants and bars have a good reputation, and I can only recommend you give it a try, if only just to eat some tomatoes and potatoes.

8 hour tomatoes.

"New" patatas bravas.

Cuttlefish meatballs in squid ink sauce.

Oxtail. Apple.

Olive oil mash.

Bombas rice casserole and vegetables.

White chocolate ganache.

Crispy Cuban mojito in blown caramel ball before,

and after.

Petit four.

Cambio De Tercio

Cambio de Tercio on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

4 October 2014

Return to Midsummer House

During July we treated my mum and my stepdad to a lunch at Midsummer House, and I feel I've neglected my duty to report back on such a memorable meal.

We went for the  seven course menu, with a vegetarian version for my wife, and gluten free for my mum. We started with a fabulous range of canapes out in the garden, and on an absolute scorcher of a day. In particular I remember a truffle eclair which just has to grace my list of favourite things ever, simply awesome.

The barbecued beetroot this time included nitrogen frozen goats cheese, hard, angular looking bricks that melted in your mouth, a wonderful technical element that didn't take anything away from the excellent cheese. A stunning quail dish included hay smoked crispy quails eggs and a finger of toast, puree and grapes, with special gluten free bread for my mum. I was also delighted to try a scallop and apple dish I've seen in other reviews, and it was beyond my expectations, a perfect dish.

My wifes vegetarian menu included some memorable dishes, a crispy coated poached egg on a bed of brilliant green pea puree, peas, and girolles, and a dish of smoked roscoff onion filled with a grain risotto that arrived under a dome of smoke.

The meal ended with similar desserts to our previous visit, with the strawberry dish being accompanied by a strawberry soup concentrated by running it through a centrifuge. We finished with a generous range of chocolates, as well as maraschino cherries for my mum, and those gorgeous bottereaux for the rest of us, hollow diamond shaped pastries dipped in calvados cream and apple puree the thought of which still puts a smile on my face today. Oh, and I mustn't forget the visit from Clifford the English Bulldog, a fine chap indeed.

This was a very special day, indeed my mum saying was the best she has ever had. From the first to last bite, everything was nearly perfect.

The house.

Tomato sorbet.

Liver parfait cigar, tartare of fish on fish skin crisp.

See that eclair in the middle? One of the nicest things you'll ever eat.

Crab amuse. My wife had a tomato gazpacho instead.

Beetroot, goats cheese.

Quail, grapes, shallot puree

Hay smoked crispy quails eggs.


Crispy hens egg, peas, girolles. Vegetarian food doesn't come much better than this.

These came first.

And were grated on the scallop and apple dish.

The smoked roscoff onion arrived under a dome filled with smoke.

Lamb, tomato, old Yorke cheese.

On a hot day, the nitrogen frozen shards of blueberry in this lemon posset were just what I needed.

Strawberry dessert.

The ladies also received a box of chocolates to take home. The chocolate on the far right was filled with pistachio puree and the best of them all. Easily the match of any of the famous chocolatiers.

I could murder a plate of these right now.

Midsummer House

24 August 2014

Return to Royal China Canary Wharf

Today we enjoyed a dim sum lunch at Royal China Canary Wharf. I've been meaning to take my wife for dim sum for a long time now, and a trip to Greenwich saw an excellent excuse to take a short detour to Royal China.

We chose a range of dim sum dishes, a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian, all were excellent. My wife had steamed vegetarian dumplings and a fabulous vegetable cheung fun, and we shared some vegetable crispy noodles and the best spicy salt crispy tofu I've ever had, each one fried to perfection.  I tried some roast pork puffs, pastry up there with the best I've had in Michelin starred restaurants, some awesome crispy yam and meat paste nest like things, scallop dumplings, lush with scallop and crunchy water chestnuts, and a selection of their superb cheung fun.

The Royal China chain count as some of the best Chinese restaurants in London, queues were evident at 3pm on a Sunday at our one, and I know the rest are incredibly popular. You certainly couldn't go wrong with a visit.

Roast pork puffs, fried yam paste dumplings.

Vegetable cheung fun.

Vegetables and crispy noodles.

Royal China cheung fun.

The last two dumplings.

Royal China

Return to Grain Store

My wife and I had to go to St Pancras, so we had a good excuse to return to Grain Store, where we were lucky enough to get a walk-in.

The food and drink was outstanding, with many new dishes and drinks on the menu. Special mention has to go to the excellent range of soft and alcoholic drinks, with some really unusual cocktails and top quality juices on offer. My wife started with a Fellini, an apple, fennel and prosecco cocktail that was absolutely delicious. I love the style of the food at Grain Store with a focus on vegetables, a menu inspired from cultures around the world. This is one place I would love to live near enough to visit regularly, definitely one of the best of the newer restaurants in London.

Salted watermelon, borage flowers, pink grapefruit, curry oil, crab mayonnaise.

Sweet potato waffle, raw and cooked vegetables.

Grilled Lebanese cucumbers, pickled tomatoes, duck pastilla.

Grilled aubergine, rice, cucumber raitha.

Coconut, kaffir lime, green tapioca, sweet potato, banana leather.

Jurancon Moelleux 2007, Domaine de Souch.

Grain Store

C&R Cafe

C&R Cafe is a Malaysian cafe, located in a small alleyway in Chinatown.  It has a good reputation with the Malay expat community, and a number were present, drinking Milo gives it away.

I had Nasi Lemak, a dish of coconut rice, chicken curry with accompaniments of sambal belacan, cucumber, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), peanuts and acar. Sambal belecan is a kind of paste with chillis and belacan, (pronounced bla-chan) the famous fermented shrimp paste of Malaysia and is a fiery, blow your head off type taste explosion that is best considered an acquired taste. Even though I'm half Malay, I'm not that good with chillis and could only handle this in pinprick amounts mixed with the rest of the food. The acar pickle was lovely, with large chunks of pineapple helping to wash away some of the fiery heat of the meal.

My wife had a beancurd and rice dish, with another chili hot sauce. We both had satay on the side,  chicken satay for me and a fried beancurd satay for my wife. These were pretty good, the chicken crisp and sweet on the outside, but soft and juicy inside. The beancurd satay were excellent, crisp throughout and to quote my wife; "like air", perfect with the robust peanut sauce. We also had some roti canai, the fried bread that is dipped in curry sauce. This was ok, albeit quite greasy compared with others I've had.

Nasi Lemak

Beancurd and rice

Chicken Satay

Beancurd Satay

Roti Canai

C&R Cafe

C & R Cafe on Urbanspoon

Galvin La Chapelle III

We returned to Galvin La Chapelle for Sunday lunch, which rolls in at a rather tasty £29.99 for 3 courses, excellent value considering it has a star, top end service and a gorgeous dining room.

The meal was as good as ever, with a fantastic summer truffle bouillon to go with my guinea fowl and vegetables being the highlight of my meal. Another dish of note was my wifes cucumber soup with horseradish cream, a perfect summer starter.

The bread has really improved too, the crust on my white sourdough kept me returning for more.

Mackerel, pink grapefruit, fennel

Cucumber soup, horseradish cream

Guinea fowl, vegetables, gnocchi, summer truffle bouillon

Risotto, girolles, sage

Tarte tatin