Farewell to Koffmann’s at The Berkeley

Closing at the end of the year, Pete and I were determined to make a last visit to Koffmann’s at The Berkeley. The restaurant is run by the hugely talented and celebrated Pierre Koffmann and we love the way he cooks.

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0048 Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0045

Amuse bouche of little soldiers of pissaladière – that lovely salty anchovy savouriness with sweet onions…

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0046

The bread basket is fresh and varied with sourdough, crusty white and brown rolls. My favourite was the laminated, rosemary-infused, enriched-dough pastry that was soft, crisp, flaky and rich.

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0050

Terrine of foie gras with brioche – rich, fully flavoured and perfect in texture.

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0052 Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0054

Herbed half a Scottish lobster – lots of sweet, perfectly cooked lobster meat in a herby butter with a creamy Béarnaise on the side.

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0057

Roasted duck breast in a spiced sauce – perfectly cooked and beautifully enhanced by the lovely sauce. Brussel sproutes, salsify and deep-fried kale alongside.

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0059

Tournedos Rossini – a large, perfectly cooked fillet of beef with foie gras, thickly sliced black truffles, sweet caramelised shallots and spinach in a rich and glossy sauce.

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0065 Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0067

One of Pierre’s signature dishes, the pistachio soufflé with pistachio ice cream. It looks large when served but is so light and aerated that it’s not a heave dessert.

Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0071 Farewell to Koffmann's Restaurant at The Berkeley (c) Kavita Favelle-0074

Caramel dome filled with a lightly textured but richly flavoured caramel mousse and chocolate crumble base.

If you can still get a table, Koffmann’s is well worth a visit before it closes its doors in a few days time.

Wishing Pierre and Claire Koffmann all the best for whatever is coming next.

Save

Save

Save

Jackson + Rye | American Dining in London

The first Jackson + Rye opened in Soho in 2013, a successful launch by Richard Caring, one of London’s best known restaurateurs. Sites in Chiswick and Richmond followed. The latest, near Bank station in the City, is the second new site after Kingston since the chain was purchased by Cote Restaurants in January this year.

Located in a large office building on Old Jewry, the space is absolutely huge with seating for 240 covers. It’s an attractive interior with high ceilings and the space is cleverly divided so that it seems more cosy than the size might suggest.

Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-175610 Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-175425
Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-175418 Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-175400

But be warned, the place is loud loud loud – during our visit early on a weekday evening only a handful of tables around us were taken but the sound level was high enough that it was a struggle to talk to each other across the table. The decibel level is not helped by the large and clearly popular bar area full of jovial city workers letting loose after work.

Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9729 Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9730

The drinks menu offers cocktails, wine, a few beers and an extensive selection of American bourbons and rye whiskeys.

My Winter Sloe cocktail (£7) was absolutely delicious, especially the three rather good cherries on top. A combination of sloe gin, peach schnapps lemon and peach bitters, the bartender accurately heeded my request to go easy on the bitters meaning it suited my tastes perfectly.

Pete enjoyed a bottle of Fordham Route 1 beer (£4.90), a session IPA. He found it pleasantly hoppy with a  gentle floral aroma – it was a light session beer with a soft sugary sweetness balanced by a lingering, slightly resinous bitterness.

Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9737 Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9741

To start we ordered one dish from the sharing snacks at the top of the menu and one from the ‘Appetizers’ [sic] section; the spelling and menu sections are unashamedly American.

We really loved the Corn Dogs (£4.95) – five fat smoky little frankfurters coated in a light corn batter and served with French’s mustard.

Our other starter, the Pulled Pork Cups (£6.25) were also good for sharing between two or four. Soft pulled pork was formed into cylinders before being breaded and fried. Served in little gem lettuce leaves with some pickled red cabbage and coriander, this was a tasty snack – all the better for allowing the pork to shine rather than smothering it in an overly sweet barbeque sauce.

Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9742

As a little interesting aside, you may have noticed that Americans use the word entrée to refer to the main dish, rather than to the starter, as is the case in France. I originally wondered if an early American menu writer looked in a French-English dictionary and didn’t realise that entre (which means ‘between’) is a completely different word to entrée (which means ‘entrance’ and is used to signify the start). But that’s not the case at all!

In fact, it’s all down to what the word entrée  originally meant and two different modern interpretations stemming from it.

In the mediaeval era, the word entrée in French referred to the entry of a grandly trumpeted parade of dishes from the kitchen into the dining hall. The entrée was usually a series of dishes which, after being walked around the entire hall, were served only to the top table of dignitaries. The entrée dishes preceded the service of one or more larger dishes to the rest of the dining hall, known then as the relevé, a term which is now obsolete in this context.

In modern French, from which modern British English takes its lead, entrée has come to mean the dish that starts the meal, a nod to the order of that parade of service. But in America, it is the type of dish typically served as a mediaeval entrée that governs the modern day usage – most of the entrée dishes were usually substantial meat courses, albeit succeeded by even heavier ones afterwards. The current American usage of entree as main meal stems from the notion of a generous meat-based course.

From the Jackson + Rye Entrée section, Pete chose the Buttermilk Fried Chicken (£11.95).

Coated with a wonderfully crisp and light batter, the chicken meat was soft and moist and with good flavour. The spicy coleslaw was light rather then overly rich and creamy, which worked well with the fried chicken, though it wasn’t very punchy on the spice. Also a good foil to the chicken were the very very delicious Cajun sweet potato fries – again, the Cajun spicing was in scant supply but the chips were perfectly cooked and very tasty.

Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9747 Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9751

I ordered from the Steak section, choosing a 300 gram New York Striploin described as New York’s favourite steak (£22.90).

I added both a patty of Smoked garlic butter (£1.95) and a pot of Smokey rye sauce (£1.95), plus a portion of Boston baked beans with bacon (£2.95).

The steak was cooked a little closer to medium than my requested medium rare but was decent enough in flavour and texture. I loved the smoky garlic butter but wished the steak had been hot enough when served to melt the butter, provided in a small metal condiments bowl on the side. The smokey rye sauce was disappointing, with no discernible taste of rye whisky. Indeed I queried whether I’d been accidentally served a peppercorn sauce in error but was told they were virtually the same. Confusing! As a peppercorn sauce, it was tasty enough.

Pete liked the Boston baked beans more than I did; I found the flavour of the sauce a little flat – the one I make to a Hugh F-W recipe is far better – and the bacon pieces were oddly dry and chewy.

Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9758 Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9757

While we’d enjoyed the starters and mains, we found the desserts very disappointing.

Although we didn’t expect a large portion of Apple beignets (£2.95) for the price, the metal bucket they were served in made the portion look miserly, hidden well below the rim of the bucket as you can see. More disappointingly, although the little doughnuts had a gorgeous colour on the outside, most of the dough inside was horribly undercooked – these were left uneaten.

Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9755 Jackson Rye Bank on Kavey Eats-9754

The Blueberry & Apple Cobbler (£6.50) also disappointed. Instead of a generous layer of fruit with a wonderful dumpling or batter topping, what was served was a lacklustre batter pudding with a measly amount of fruit within it. Indeed the very mild vanilla custard had more flavour than the pudding itself.

Pete’s taste buds were at least more than mollified by a glass of Dad’s Hat Port Finish (£8.0), an American rye. It had a rich dried fruit aroma with wonderful barrel wood notes. Stronger on the tongue than he expected, it had lots of cherries and other dark fruit, a rye sweetness, but with quite a sour edge in the finish.

For a group meal where noise is not a factor, this could be just the place. Certainly I rather like the idea of coming with a few friends and ordering nothing but snacks and starters, which were the strongest course of our meal. Mains we thought pretty decent on the whole but desserts were rather a big let down. For the pricing, that’s not quite good enough, despite being reasonable for the area and probably considered a bargain by much of its customer base.

 

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Jackson + Rye.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Wok & Roll At The School of Wok | Giveaway + Recipe

At the School of Wok you’ll not only learn to wok around the clock, you’ll become a bona fide wok star! Yes the puns come thick and fast but teaching is taken seriously, with a clear focus on students not only having fun (of which there is plenty) but also learning, learning, learning.

Over the last few years I’ve attended several classes at this excellent Asian-focused cookery school in central London and I’ve always come away with lots of new skills and the confidence to recreate what I’ve learned at home.

KFInstagramSchoolofWok

Tonight’s class was a special event to launch the School of Wok’s own range of woks and cooking utensils, available to purchase at the school as well as from a range of other stockists. The school was already selling a range of cookware related to the classes. However, always keen to improve every detail of what the school offers, Jeremy Pang (School of Wok’s charismatic founder), has been working with Dexam to perfect a branded range that performs to his exacting specifications.

Dexam is a family company celebrating its 60th anniversary next year. Founded by two brothers who travelled the world discovering and importing great products for the domestic kitchen, they have built a successful business selling all manner of kitchen and home goods from tools and utensils to cookware and tableware, not to mention accessories such as aprons, table linen and storage products.

The Dexam School of Wok range includes woks, steamers, cooking utensils as well as branded aprons and tea-towels.

Our session was based on the school’s popular Understanding The Wok class. As well as learning and practicing basic knife skills, we were taught how to stuff and fold Jao Zi (dumplings), and how to cook Egg Fried Rice and a delicious Stir Fried Sichuan Chicken. After a demonstration, each pair of students took to the wok – there is nothing like hands on experience to cement learning!

Jeremy advocates classic carbon steel woks over non-stick – though there are a few non-stick in the range for those who prefer them – and our class also included a tutorial on how to season and clean our woks to keep them in good condition.

WokInPackaging
WokRing

To celebrate the launch of the new range, I’m giving away one 13” School of Wok ‘Wok & Roll’ Round Bottom Wok and a Steel Wok Ring that makes it easier to balance your wok on your stove top.

Click here to read more and to enter the giveaway.

For those interested in the food, check out the School of Wok Stir Fried Sichuan Chicken recipe here.

Save

What Makes A Great Sunday Roast? | Sunday Dining at Hatchetts in Mayfair

A really good Sunday Roast is a very fine thing indeed. But how to define ‘really good’?

Perhaps surprisingly, the element that comes first for me is roast potatoes. Yep, spuds over meat (though that’s a very close second). Roasties that are beautifully fluffy inside but have a properly crunchy exterior (that doesn’t give up its crisp at the first sign of gravy or steam from the heat) are paramount!

The meat is still very important, and whether it’s beef, lamb, pork or chicken I look for plenty of flavour, tenderness and moistness. And there’s an extra thumbs up for restaurants that source British meat, of course.

Next, the gravy. It has to be generous on the plate (or a jug of extra on the side) and with bags of flavour that complements the meat and spuds.

Yorkshire puddings are a wondrous thing so anywhere that includes them with all roasts, not just with the beef, gets another extra thumbs up.

When it comes to the other vegetables, I’m a little more relaxed though not, of course, without opinions! I really dislike pickled or fermented cabbage – fine with big fat bratwurst but not with my Sunday roast, thanks… And peas, whilst usually a benign vegetable choice, have a habit of scattering all over the plate in a way I don’t think works with roast meat and gravy.

Give me savoy cabbage and carrots and I’m as happy as Larry. Add something special (such as a slice roasted squash) and it’s yet another extra thumbs up!

Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-122324 Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-122607

With a dearth of options in my local neighbourhood for a really great Sunday roast, I am more willing to travel further afield. A few weeks ago, Pete and I headed down to Hatchetts in Mayfair, which we visited for dinner shortly after they opened in July. Hatchetts have now introduced a Sunday roast to their offering and it’s a cracker.

Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9586 Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9591

Having had no breakfast, and with my belly rumbling, I accepted the offer of bread and ordered a starter, though we shared one between us to so as not to spoil our appetite for the roasts to come.

Smoked salmon (£9) dotted with dollops of caper and raisin puree was served with lightly toasted brown soda bread. The light smoke on the fish and sweet sharp puree mean we made very quick work of the dish.

Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9598 Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9596

Time for the roasts! I chose the Marinated leg of blackface lamb, spiced autumn squash, rosemary gravy and mint sauce (£18). I was not disappointed.

Two thick slices of beautifully flavoured and tender lamb with four perfect roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding, a pile of savoy cabbage, one medium carrot and two slices of (different) roasted squash. Oh and a generous lake of glossy and deeply flavoured gravy and some homemade mint sauce.

This really was a superb plate of food – one of the best roasts I’ve had for a long time. Very little I’d change – a touch less salt in the savoy cabbage and the carrot cooked more briefly to retain more bite and texture but those are minor niggles.

Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle- Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9593

Pete was just as happy with his Organic Sussex chicken breast, confit leg croquette, roast shallots, thyme gravy (£16.50). On his plate the slightly oversalted cabbage was balanced out by the sweetness of the roasted shallots. The chicken was full of flavour and beautifully cooked and the two leg meat croquettes provided an extra texture and taste. Yorkshire pudding comes with all roasts here, so he didn’t miss out on that either. And the spuds and gravy were, like mine, excellent.

Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9604 Hatchetts Sunday Roast on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9606

Being greedy bastards, and mostly because we’d spotted it when ordering our mains and couldn’t get it out of our minds, we ordered a Sticky toffee pudding, bourbon caramel, crème fraiche ice cream (£6) to share. This was bloody fantastic too! The pudding itself was moist and rich – featuring coca-cola soaked prunes we were told – and the caramel sauce providing a perfect balanced bitterness. We couldn’t detect the bourbon, nor much of a crème fraiche tang in the ice cream, but the dish was delicious as it was and we didn’t miss either.

The London pubs I’ve visited for a Sunday roast in the last year or two – and I mean the gastropub kind here, not your local Wetherspoon – price their roasts between £12 and £16, sometimes more. Taking that into account, I think the Hatchetts offering is well worth the extra two or three quid more and I’d absolutely recommend it.

At the moment the downstairs dining room lacks atmosphere – not enough locals have discovered just how good the food is. Sadly, it’s not a particularly attractive space either; very 1980s. A polished concrete floor and some fun wall art are the only concessions to the current decade. The more casual upstairs bar area is far more appealing, and benefits from natural light during the day too so I’d suggest asking for a table there instead if it’s not too busy.

If you are a fan of really excellent Sunday roasts, this is definitely one to add to your list.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Hatchetts Restaurant.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Kiri Restaurant | Mayfair’s New Japanese Izakaya

Izakayas are to Japan what the pub is to the UK.

An izakaya is a place for drinking and eating with friends, offering a great drinks list and plenty of small plate sharing dishes to pair with sake, beer or your tipple of choice.

Kiri Restaurant is the latest offering from Saga Japanese Restaurants, the group behind Chisou in Mayfair and Knightsbridge. Managing Director, David Leroy tells us how Kiri came about – several months ago, when it seemed likely that they would need to relocate Chisou Mayfair branch, they took on the old Gigi’s site on Woodstock Street in preparation for the move. When that turned out not to be the case, they decided to keep the new site and create something a little different to their Chisou offering.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle- Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-182809 Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-194822

In Chisou, they offer a fairly traditional Japanese restaurant experience. For Kiri, the group’s senior chefs put together a menu designed specifically to work with the drinks list; a more informal style of eating. The sake list features a range of bottles not available anywhere else in the UK and the drinks menu also includes a strong selection of umeshu and wine, plus a few Japanese beers, shochu and big brand spirits.

Like pubs here, izakayas in Japan run the gamut from cheap and cheerful to elegant and expensive. Kiri sits in the second category, though the prices are very fair for the quality of ingredients and cooking we experienced.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-183828 Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle- Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-193732

We tried three sakes through our meal.

The first was a punchy Fisherman junmai ginjo from Shiokawa Niigata that was full of fruit aroma, meaty umami, fresh green fruit but with a hint of sweetness. Recommended in the menu as a match for lighter dishes that would usually pair with white wine, we felt it would be a better substitute for red wine.

Likewise, its sister sake Cowboy Junmai Ginjo, which was suggested as an alternative for red wine drinkers, we found altogether lighter with clean pared back fruit notes, unripe pear, and less of an umami hit. We thought this one would be better as a substitute for white wine!

We also enjoyed a Red Label Junmai from Hakukko Hiroshima – a wonderful, easy-drinking sake with plenty of fruity aromas and the classic sake flavour profile.

I am a sucker for umeshu, and loved my glass of the Umeshu Gyokuro – an umeshu flavoured with green tea. It was super sweet, with little evidence of the green tea, but delicious nonetheless.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9515

I love the subtle flavours of Agedashi tofu (£5) and this was no exception. Large, superbly soft cubes of gently fried tofu were served in a rich vegetarian dashi broth made from mushrooms and seaweed. On top of the tofu were slices of slippery, meaty mushroom, fresh spring onion and a generous pile of nori.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9508

I’m not always a big one for salads but thought it wise to have some vegetables against all the fish and meat we ordered. The Kiri special salad (£6.50) was a superb choice, not only bright in colour but in flavours and textures too. The mix of tomatoes, beetroot, radish, broccoli and carrots in the house dressing worked beautifully, and we loved the crunch of the popped rice scattered over the top.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9506

Oh my goodness, it took all my will power not to immediately order a second Hotate to ebi no gratin (£9.50) – a creamy gratin of crab, scallop and prawns. Under a perfectly golden and crunchy crumb topping, the seafood was just cooked, allowing the flavours and texture of the fresh seafood to shine. Superb!

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9517

Small but perfectly formed, the Kunsei maguro tataki (£8) arrived in a gorgeous pottery bowl. Perfectly seared slices of apple smoked tuna were served with a sharp onion sauce. This ticked all the boxes, and was gone far too quickly.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9522 Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9524

Next came a dish just perfect for soaking up delicious sake or beer! Satsuma imo no croquettes (£7) (sweet potato croquettes) were served hot out of the fryer on a generous bed of wasabi mayo. Soft and fluffy without being a pappy puree, and wrapped in crisp panko breadcrumbs, I could eat these every day.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9533

The kitchen decided some rice would be in order, and sent out this extra dish of Kimchee cha-han (£5.80), kimchee fried rice with Japanese mushrooms and a fried quail egg. The rice was sticky, with just the right level of kimchee to provide flavour without overwhelming the light flavours of other dishes and the egg delivered a perfect yolk porn moment!

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9526 Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9529

Our waiter suggested Uzura-niku no norimaki age (£12) and we’re glad we tried it, though it was not one of our favourites of the meal. The cylinders of quail meat rolled in seaweed and breadcrumbs and deep fried had a fairly unexciting Western flavour profile, even with the faint hint of seaweed from the nori wrapping. The tonkatsu (brown) sauce was decent, though I found the pink peppercorns a little too powerful.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9535

What a fabulous rendition of Nasu dengaku (£5.50)! Instead of presenting a halved aubergine with glazed surface, we were served cubes of skin-on aubergine in a superbly rich, dark red miso sauce. The aubergine flesh was silky soft and the skin thin and crispy rather than the unpleasant chewiness I’ve sometimes encountered – this pleased me hugely as I love eating the skin.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9545

We decided to try two kushiyaki items, starting with the Getsuyo kushiyaki (£3.80 per skewer). These marinated rabbit skewers were cooked to perfection on the robata grill, with no chewiness or toughness that is so often the hallmark of grilled rabbit – there’s a good reason it’s so often stewed long and slow! These were as soft as chicken thigh, and with good flavour.

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9542

Another winner was the Wagyu kushiyaki (£7.50 per skewer). I’ve had wagyu a few times in London restaurants and whilst it’s usually been good, it’s rarely had this level of marbling and tenderness, resulting it that signature melt-in-the-mouth quality that I so love about wagyu. The beef was cut into thin strips that were neatly folded onto the skewer, before grilling and serving with a black pepper sauce and sansho. Utterly superb!

Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9548 Kiri Japanese Izakaya Restaurant on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9553

On the date of our visit, there wasn’t a dessert menu available and the only offerings were a chocolate mousse or ice cream (£3.90). (Talking to friends who visited the week after, I believe there are now several more desserts available).

Since the ice cream offered far more interesting than the chocolate mousse, we went for one scoop of each. Matcha had a smack-you-around-the-face flavour, and I loved that it had not been over sweetened – a winner for anyone who loves the rich and slightly bitter green tea as I do, but too much for Pete. Black sesame was also punchy in flavour, and benefited from an utterly smooth texture – I’ve had other black sesame ice creams that failed to overcome a grittiness from the ground sesame seeds so this was a lovely surprise. Last of the three was a really unusual white miso ice cream, a very strange flavour that is hard to describe – a little like buttermilk or funky milk, but not quite like either. A good trio of ice creams with strong flavours and great texture.

What impressed me most was the quality of ingredients and cooking – not one dish was disappointing; though we naturally loved some more than others we enjoyed everything we tried. I’m still dreaming about some of them a couple of weeks later!

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Kiri Restaurant.

Save

Save

Save

Save

108 Brasserie | Dishes for Two in Marylebone Village

It’s taken me the better part of a year to get to 108 Brasserie, a bright, modern brasserie hotel restaurant located in the heart of Marylebone village.

Since January I’ve been receiving emails detailing each Dish of the Month, a featured main course designed to share between two. So far I’ve missed Josper grilled, dry aged tomahawk steak for two, with crunchy beer battered onion rings, homemade black truffle chips and a warming bone marrow gravy; roasted whole turbot with trumpet mushrooms, baby onions, spinach gratin and potato mousseline; roast Rack of slow-cooked neck of Devon lamb with spring vegetables; pan fried John Dory, fennel, pink grapefruit and tarragon vinaigrette and September’s Balmoral Estate venison Wellington with Savoy cabbage.

Luckily, October’s Dish of the Month was just as appealing – Josper grilled dry-aged porterhouse, baked bone marrow, hand cut chips and Stilton butter. Yeah!

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-123334

I’m always a little nervous about hotel restaurants – some are soulless places with menus designed to meet expense-account expectations. But I needn’t have worried. The Marylebone has an excellent location, surrounded by specialist food shops, cafes and restaurants and a good balance of office space and residential, which means the restaurant is extremely handy for a wide range of customers.

Although when we arrived, only two other tables were taken, within an hour, the place was almost full – impressive for a Monday lunch. People watching – a favourite pastime – had me guessing about which tables were business meetings (definitely the three men in suits that were posturing wildly at each other), which were hotel guests (perhaps the family of three on holiday in London?), which were ladies who lunch (the group of five?) and which might be clandestine romances or other more interesting rendezvous!

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-123217 108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9288

Do not miss the home-made bread (£2.50) even if you’re not that hungry. Sourdough, Guinness brown bread and soda bread were all three very good but the Guinness brown bread was exceptional! Rich, treacly, moist with a deep flavour and just a touch of sweetness…

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9291

And the good news is that it featured again in both our starters. The portion of Argyllshire smoked salmon was huge, though we ordered the smaller size (£9)– you can also order a larger portion and add scrambled eggs or avocado if you fancy, to make a perfect lighter lunch dish.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9298

Like the smoked salmon, my Dorset crab on toast (£12) came on toasted Guinness brown bread and with half a lemon handily wrapped and tied into muslin so the pips didn’t fall into my food. The serving of fresh, sweet crabmeat was generous, and I liked the balance of the lightly dressed watercress leaves and apple.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9305 108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9301

On to the reason for our visit, October’s dish of the month. We ordered the Josper grilled dry-aged porterhouse, baked bone marrow, hand cut chips and Stilton butter (£65) to come medium rare, and it was cooked perfectly.

The dish was garnished with the Stilton butter (a really perfect addition to the beef), an additional jug of sauce – we chose Béarnaise – and baked breaded bone marrow, served in the half bone.

Also included is a bucket of fat golden chips – if you’re having starters and desserts, this will be more than enough, but if you’re just having mains, you may need an extra portion of chips – the same size bucket is also served to diners ordering a one-person meal such as the hamburger or rib eye steak. They’re decent too – crisp outside and fluffy within and wonderful dipped into the cheese butter and Béarnaise.

The beef, for those who like to know, is Scottish Aberdeen Angus dry-aged for 28 days and it was really very good. Great texture and flavour, excellently cooked; we enjoyed it enormously.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9307

I’ve been to more than one restaurant that excels at starters and mains but falls down on desserts. That’s definitely not the case at 108 Brasserie.

Lemon tart (£7) is a brasserie classic and this one was perfectly balanced between sweet and sharp and with that just-set texture to the filling that is so delightful to cut into.

108 Brasserie London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9316

My favourite was the brown bread ice cream with caramelised walnuts and honeycomb (£7). As you might already have guessed, the ice cream is made using that delicious home-made Guinness brown bread and that really lifts it into the exceptional category – the crumbs of brown bread retain a dense chewiness that gives it a more substantial mouth-feel than most ice creams. The caramelised walnuts are sweet but with a decent bitterness from caramel properly pushed to the edge – a much needed balance to the super sweet honeycomb. I rarely go for ice cream when there are options such as warm chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice cream or baked coconut rice pudding with mango and passion fruit but in this case, I absolutely could not have been happier!

The wine list includes several very reasonably priced bottles and the presence of the neighbouring 108 bar means a wide selection of cocktails are also available.

Having already had positive reports from several friends, I was confident we’d enjoy our meal at 108 and yet I was still surprised at how much we enjoyed it – the menu is full of exactly the kind of food we really love eating, and the prices seem very reasonable for the quality as well as the generosity of portions.

Also worth mentioning is the set lunch menu, an absolute steal at just £17 for two courses and £23 for three, with a choice of three dishes for each course and all of them ones I’d happily order.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of 108 Brasserie.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Sagardi | A Taste Of The Basque Country

Already well established in Spain and Latin America, Sagardi have now opened a restaurant in London serving their well-honed Basque country cooking. The restaurant group was founded by chef Iñaki Viñaspre and focuses on traditional food from the region, which he promotes in association with the Basque Tourism Agency. At the heart of the menu are Basque ingredients, flown in daily from San Sebastián, with a focus on grilled meats and fish and seasonal produce.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181256 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181648

The restaurant is in Shoreditch, about ten minutes walk east of Old Street tube station. Just inside the door is a butcher’s counter, where the chefs can cut and prepare the meat. To the opposite side is a generous bar, and then one passes by the open kitchen to reach the main seating area.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181631 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-181618
Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-184147 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9248

The interior is semi-industrial, with lots of bare concrete and exposed pipework but softened by lots of wood and leather; a kind of barnyard chic! I have no idea why there’s a vintage Basque fishing boat suspended to the ceiling – perhaps it represents the fish dishes on the menu? A large feature wine cabinet runs along the back wall.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9213

I struggle with the menu, partly because there are many things that tempt, but more because so many of the dishes I want to try are available only in large sharing portions which means we’re restricted to things that only both of us would enjoy. Steak, for example, is impossible to order unless at least two people want it for their main – they have no one-person cuts available. I’d really have liked to try the beef sweetbreads but again, the portion is a whole piece, listed as a main dish priced at £26 – I’d like to see it portioned so it could be enjoyed as a starter.

As we juggle through our choices for starters, our waitress tells us that all tables are being served a complimentary taste of the traditional pan-fried Orio txistorra – these thin little sausages are chorizo-like in flavour and a perfect taste-bomb to start with – so we are finally able to narrow our choices enough to pick two temptations.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9217

The charcoal-roasted Ibai pâté de Campagne (£12) is a really thick slice, served with a simple but delicious onion jam and some green leaves. I can’t detect any flavour notes from the charcoal roasting, but it’s a good, hearty pate. We enjoy it on excellent fresh sourdough bread (£2.50), served with the txistorra.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9218

I guess the assumption is that every starter is intended to be shared, rather than individual diners choosing different ones – The grilled morcilla from Biscay (£9) doesn’t come out until we’re just finishing up the pâté. In our case it’s not an issue but I often dine with fussy eaters who won’t eat half of what I fancy, so it might be helpful for the staff to ask whether starters are being shared or not, and have the kitchen time delivery accordingly.

It’s a really delicious black pudding, and I’m impressed by how thin the skin is compared to ones I’ve had before. If you’re a fan of morcilla, you need to try this!

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle- Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9224Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9229

I would have preferred to order two different mains and taste a wider range of the menu, but as the smallest cuts of beef are huge, we went for one steak instead; it’s such a core feature of the menu. Two different options for Txuletón (Basque beef) are offered – vaca (ex dairy cows) and buey (Galician ox). After our helpful waitress Silvia showed us the two smallest cuts (so I could get a mental picture of just how enormous they were), we picked the 900 gram vaca, a ribeye on the bone, priced at £7/ 100 grams.

Cooked simply on the grill, it’s served sliced off the bone and laid out on a large plate. Salted to bring out the flavour, it’s a beautiful piece of beef, with a rich beefy flavour.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9230 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9228

There are a few menu items that appear in more than one section of the menu – the slow-roasted Tolosa-style red piquillo peppers (£16) being listed as both a starter and a side dish. These were silky soft and absolutely delicious but seemed a small portion for the price tag. Our other side dish was more substantial – homemade Sagardi style potatoe wedges (£5) which are basically skin-on thick-cut chips.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9238 Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9239

I’m glad we decided to be a little greedy and squeezed in desserts!

This traditional Goxua sponge cake with chantilly cream (£7) is only for the sweet-toothed – a gorgeous sponge with a thick layer of cream, topped with a creamy custard and a cracking layer of bruléed sugar, it was super sweet, soft and very good.

Sagardi Restaurant London on Kavey Eats (c) Kavita Favelle-9247

Our second choice was another winner, though less of a hard hitter on the sugar front. Poached peaches in txakoli sparkling white wine syrup served with lemon verbena ice cream (£7) were a last taste of summer. Even with the ice cream, they were a much lighter choice. The chopped fruit was perfectly poached to retain its shape and yet be pleasingly soft all the way through; the syrup had a good balance between tartness and sweet and the wonderfully smooth lemon verbena ice cream was just the right partner for the peaches.

On the drinks front, I liked the list of sixteen gins offered for gin and tonic – and a choice of tonics too – and that my G&T was made freshly for me on a trolley pushed to our table. As I’d expected from the wine cabinets across the back wall, the wine list is extensive, with a strong selection from the Basque Country, and there are several Basque ciders as well – Sagardi is named for the term for the smell of apples when made into cider, after all. Several cocktails feature Txakoli firewater, with some classics cocktails also available. There are beers too – with a good range of styles offered rather than lager after lager.

Overall, we really enjoyed the meal and I’d certainly go back, though only with a group of at least four people.

You’ve already picked up on my frustration that the menu is designed for larger groups – even with two of us, the portion sizes were a challenge. Of course, I am certain this reflects the way people dine in the Basque Country; larger groups of family and friends can order lots of dishes to be shared family-style. For me, a little adjustment to better cater for those dining in ones, twos and threes would be a positive move – especially when it comes to the grilled meat dishes.

What I loved the most was the focus on fresh ingredients, cooked simply to let them shine. Everything we had was delicious.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Sagardi London.

Save

Save

Travel Quote Tuesday | Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine was a Christian bishop of the Hippo Regius, now known as Annaba in Algeria. He lived in the 4th and 5th centuries CE and his writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and philosophy.

As a book lover and a keen traveller, this quote resonates with me on multiple levels.

(c) Kavita Favelle - Saint Augustine - Greenwich

I took this photo on a day out in London with fellow amateur photographers. This colonnade is part of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London. I was mesmerised by the lines of light and shadow cast by the beautiful stone pillars.

More Kavey Eats Travel Quotes.

Save

You are welcome to save or share this via Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram provided you do not alter the image or crop out the attribution text.

The Ninth by Jun Tanaka

I like Jun Tanaka. I like his food, I like his approach and style of cooking, and on the occasions I’ve met him at a food event or cookery demonstration, I’ve liked his gentle and warm demeanour.

His latest restaurant has been on my To Eat list for several months.

Located on Charlotte Street in the heart of Fitzrovia – a neighbourhood full of restaurants, bars and food stores – this is The Ninth restaurant kitchen in which Tanaka has worked, giving rise to the minimalist name. The menu is all small plates, ideal for sharing but one or two dishes work equally well for a solo visit. The food is broadly French Mediterranean in style.

My visit coincided with one of the sunniest days of summer so the folding glass doors were pulled fully open to the breeze. Our table just inside the terrace afforded the perfect balance of blessed shade, fresh air and sunlight.

The Ninth London on Kavey Eats-124052 The Ninth London on Kavey Eats-8847

Crisp red mullet, pickled carrots, fennel and shallots: a beautifully cooked piece of fish in a light, crisp batter, balanced nicely by the light pickled vegetables.

The Ninth London on Kavey Eats-8848

Crisp lamb shoulder, tomato, watermelon and feta salad: I’ve come across watermelon and feta but wasn’t sure how well it would work with lamb shoulder and tomatoes, but of course it was excellent. Lovely crunch from little gem and cucumber and lots of flavour from softened red onions and a thick herby dressing.

The Ninth London on Kavey Eats-8853

Pan-fried herb gnocchi, girolles and peas: Wish this dish had been a little more generous as it was superbly good. Soft, light, gnocchi packed with herb flavour, perfect coated in the thick garlicky sauce. The addition of girolle mushrooms and fresh peas was just the right choice.

The Ninth London on Kavey Eats-8852

Salted beef cheeks, oxtail consomme, peas, broad beans and girolles: Another delicious dish, far more generous than the gnocchi so if you’re only ordering one or two, it may be worth asking staff about portion sizes. The salted ox cheek was soft, mildly salty, beefy and delicious with the vegetables of summer, shiny from the rich broth.

The Ninth London on Kavey Eats-8855

Sorbet: the flavours of the day were strawberry and coconut, both packing a punch and both silky smooth with not an ice crystal in sight. We loved the extra touch of serving these in a freezer-chilled cast-iron serving dish, which kept them cool while we ate. The strawberry had that wonderful flavour of fully ripened fresh berries. Likewise the coconut was impressively intense, the sweeter of the two flavours.

The set lunch menu here is an absolute steal with two plates priced at £17 and three at £21. My friend and I ordered four savoury dishes and shared a dessert, making our food bill just £38 plus service. For cooking of this calibre, that must surely be one of the best deals in London right now?

Save

Save

Save

Save

Gatti’s Italian Restaurant | City Point

Last week I was invited to a blogger dinner at Gatti’s, an Italian restaurant that’s recently moved to a new City Point location close to Moorgate station. The restaurant, which opened in Broadgate in 1989, is believed to have been named in honour of Luigi Gatti, a successful London front of house restaurant manager who was appointed by White Star Lines to run their exclusive Ritz Restaurant for first class passengers of the Titanic. Only 3 of nearly 70 staff working for the restaurant survived the sinking of the great ship.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-183336 Gattis London on Kavey Eats-190804 Gattis London on Kavey Eats-183556

Owner Jenny Carpenter took over the restaurant in 2013 but learned shortly afterwards that the building was earmarked for destruction. So she decided to move the restaurant to a new location just half a kilometer away, that move being completed earlier this year. In honour of the move, she has launched new and old set menus, one to celebrate the traditional classic dishes and the other to showcase more contemporary twists on Italian cuisine.

The restaurant has a partnership with Veuve Cliquot which features on both menus so we started the evening with a tasting of the famous champagne house’s new Veuve Cliquot Rich, a sweeter offering developed for use in cocktails. Most of my dining companions found it too sweet on its own but enjoyed it in cocktails. With my sweet tooth, I preferred it plain. That said I’d not pay the high price point for it myself.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-8821 Gattis London on Kavey Eats-193510

An amuse bouche of parmesan sabayon with black truffle and a parmesan shaving was a deliciously rich start to our meal and I appreciated having the fresh truffles shown to the table as we ate.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-8823

My friend and I split two starters so we didn’t have to choose between them. Grilled scallops, asparagus, ginger, garlic and fresh chilli dressing with crispy Parma ham was a large plate of three generously-sized fat scallops with the coral still attached – this makes me happy as it’s so rarely served and so full of flavour. The asparagus was a touch overcooked for me, very soft with no vegetable bite remaining. The dressing was delicious though the ginger rather subtle, and no sign of the chilli whatsoever; I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it worked well as it was.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-8826

Tempura di Mare was enormous for a starter, a dinner plate piled high with battered prawns, scampi and calamari. Served with a tartar sauce, I’m not sure why this was labelled tempura rather than fritto but it was a good dish, either way. My only complaint here was the inclusion of unshelled butterflied king prawns, the shells far too thick to be edible and quite a pain to extract from the batter and shell.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-203628 Gattis London on Kavey Eats-8828

A palate cleanser of lemon and prosseco sorbet was superb, well balanced between sweet and sharp, and a good antidote to the buttery dressing on the scallops and the tempura batter.

Linguine All’ Aragosta (linguine with lobster and fresh tomatoes) proved true to the pattern, an enormous serving – more pasta than we cook for two of us at home. Once again, a generous amount of lobster meat made this very classic dish feel rather decadent .

Other mains on the table included ravioli of confit duck leg and porcini mushrooms with grated foie gras – this was not a success with clumsily thick pasta and a dense and dry filling dominated by the porcini rather than the duck. Scottata di Tonno, a large fried tuna steak with sesame seeds and pistachio pesto looked wonderful, and perfectly cooked tuna too. The Scottish beef fillet was also cooked beautifully and the port wine reduction looked right up my street, though the person who ordered it found it a touch sweet.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-211138 Gattis London on Kavey Eats-211910

One of the things I really loved seeing was the Gatti’s old-fashioned meat trolley – with a different roast served every day, this is fabulously retro! We tried small tasters of the day’s roast beef and it was superb, very good flavour and cooked perfectly rare with an outrageously beefy gravy generously poured over the plate. However, my Yorkshire pudding was really overcooked; burnt rather than pleasantly browned. I left it uneaten.

Gattis London on Kavey Eats-8832 Gattis London on Kavey Eats-213311

We were given a taster of three desserts, though if I go again I’ll choose from the desserts trolley – a wonderful throwback to a bygone era. The passion fruit panna cotta was OK, a little too much gelatin gave it a hard and bouncy set rather than the lovely light wobble of a good example. Chocolate mousse was a disaster, the pleasant chocolate orange flavour altogether cancelled out by a very grainy texture – perhaps the chocolate seized or the eggs cooked and curdled – whatever caused it, it’s a shame the kitchen didn’t notice and make a fresh batch. Best of the three was the tiramisu, light, full of flavour and a satisfying finish.

Overall, Gatti’s is a mixed bag. Some superb dishes, made with good quality ingredients, cooked well and full of flavour. Others that missed the mark and let the side down. A generosity of spirit in the portions, including the more expensive ingredients such as truffle and lobster, certainly make for a feeling of goodwill and hospitality; this is echoed by enthusiastic kitchen and front of house teams. Value is very good, with both set menus priced at just £34.99 for three courses plus a glass of Veuve Cliquot champagne. This would be a fun place to come with a group, especially for fussy eaters – I think Italian is one of those cuisines that nearly everyone enjoys.

Kavey Eats dined as a guest of Gatti’s restaurant.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save