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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

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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
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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
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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
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Jackson + Rye

7 Jan

We’ve been over this. Time and time again. The New York movement is upon us. Some of them work, some of them don’t. So, I read a great deal about the opening of Jackson + Rye and wanting to wait until the soft launch had passed and all the Christmas cheer, I held off. It is marketed as a New York brunch establishment. Of course most, if not all, New York brunch restaurants are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner also. This is no exception. But what it really stands for is the brunch. Much like Mogador, Extra Virgin & Cornelia, to name but a few in Manhattan, its strengths lie in that delightful time between breakfast and lunch.frontIn prime position on Wardour Street just passed Old Compton, lies the very thoughtfully designed Jackson + Rye. It looks like an East Village brunch spot, slow-moving ceiling fans and everything. We were greeted immediately and seated by the window. The place was packed, this being the first Sunday of the new year, I was quite surprised.

Having mentioned ‘The Nudge’ when the reservation was made, both me and my guest were given a free cocktail of our choice. You can use this offer until the end of January, as a heads up! I chose the Breakfast Sour – Buffalo Trace, lemon, egg white, apricot preserve, peach bitters. It arrived adorned with giant ice cubes in a no fuss, short tumbler. It was an interesting taste, a heavy tone of whiskey and a sharp bitterness to it. The whiskey hue smoothed this, but all in all it was too strong for me. Perhaps it’s old-fashioned of me, but cocktails that can be had with the first meal of the day shouldn’t be the same as the one you would choose last thing at night.

cocktailWe chose a dish each and one to share. There was just such an abundance of choice, we didn’t want to miss out. I went for the ‘Anglers’ (scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, country-style potatoes, grilled toast). The scrambled eggs were cooked to perfection with a creamy texture involving the yolk not quite hardened. Heavenly. The salmon was of very good quality and thinly sliced. The potatoes looked a little dry, but upon sampling them, they were nothing of the sort. They were seasoned excellently and combined with caramelised onions, a sprinkling of spring onions and a fluffy interior, they really completed the dish. It was not served with grilled toast as mentioned, but thick sliced rye bread. I tried this, but the potatoes gave me the carb infusion needed, so I didn’t feel the bread was really vital to the dish. All in all this was a perfect blend for brunch. anglersNext up was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. This says it comes with avocado and chipotle mayonnaise. The latter is true but there was no avocado in this burger, but a slaw instead. Served on a soft brioche bun it came open, I presume so you could add the chipotle mayo freely. chickenThe chicken was unbelievable! I know that must sound like an abrupt statement, but the slight crunch of the batter was bliss, followed by, quite possibly, the softest chicken I’ve had since visiting New Orleans. And let me tell you, it’s pretty daring to mention the deep south when talking about fried chicken. The brioche was a great choice and always a favourite when it comes to a chicken burger, it sweetens the dish and the softness of the bread works well when moulding around the awkward shape of the chicken. The slaw counterbalanced the brioche as it gave a splash of savoury to the burger. The chipotle added some spice and the end result was a pretty perfect burger. burger

Accompanying the burger we opted for some shoestring fries. I love the really skinny ones, because you can take a good fingerful all in one go. These were well seasoned, both fluffy and crispy and let’s just say chips off someone else’s plate don’t count towards calorie intake…ahem. friesThe sharing dish was The Buttermilk Pancakes. This was accompanied by ricotta and maple syrup. I haven’t yet tasted pancakes like they do in New York, I’m not sure I ever will, but let me tell you these were very, very good. I mean really delicious. The pancakes were exceptional, warm, fluffy and perfectly cooked. The cream was beyond amazing. It had a slight sourness to it, but this was balanced out by the syrup and the pancake. I wolfed it down so quickly, I could have ordered a second round. Seriously exquisite food. pancakesThis is the sort of place you want to catch up with friends at. A place full of bustle and warmth. The service is really good. Everyone was attentive and helpful and actually looked as though they wanted to be there. The food is cheap and of excellent quality and above all, taste. I will be going back every chance I get. Anything to stop the withdrawal of eating at an actual New York brunch restaurant. Until then…

Jackson + Rye

Rate 4.8

56 Wardour Street, London, W1D 4JG

0207 437 8338

www.jacksonrye.com/
Jackson & Rye on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Boopshi’s

28 Nov

I had been hearing a bubbling on the foodie scene with talk of Boopshi’s on the horizon. The appeal was definitely hitting home for me. In more ways than one. The main features are schnitzel & spritz. At first I thought it was more of a gimmick, like with bubbledogs (to which I wasn’t a fan) but delving deeper I learnt it was so much more. It’s Austrian fare and not only have they taken the very best it has to offer, but they have honed the recipes exceptionally.

I’m half Austrian and with a Viennese mother I grew up eating schnitzel, potato salad, poppy-seed cake and the like. It was standard for me, like roasts for true Brits. My sister’s wedding cake was Sachertorte, from Hotel Sacher, in a plethora of sizes and so I feel whilst I am suitably familiar with Austrian food, I also have very high standards. Aky came with me and although he has tried all of these things, he hasn’t grown up on it and so it was interesting to have a view on the food from someone who is, let’s say, unbiased.

To drink, I had a glass of their Prosecco (on tap) Terra Serana Doc, 150ml. It was a little dry for me, but never the less a bit of fizz to start the night always makes it feel a little more special. We also ordered an Almdudler. This is a soft drink made from mountain herbs. I can only describe it as a bit like ginger ale and lemonade, but actually unique in its own way. It was my mum’s go to soft drink as a kid and seeing it on the menu makes me laugh as I remember her and my aunt singing the jingle from the advert like they’re school children. It never fails to make me smile.

spritzalmWe looked over the menu and decided to go with what it said on the tin. Schnitzel. We both chose the chicken. And to accompany this we went for potato salad, frites & house salad. There’s quite a lot to choose from, but they’ve broken it down in a really simple way. menuThe chicken arrived and just like in Austria, it was flattened out and was the size of a pancake, it looked incredible. Golden and thin, with a big wedge of lemon on top. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and it didn’t disappoint. It had enough salt and the chicken was soft. The bread crumb coating covered the chicken well, with nothing falling apart. It was very authentic. I have to say my Mum’s is better…but that’s a good thing. Aky thought it was divine, which it was. The squeeze of lemon gave it just the burst it needed too. downloadThe potato salad was interesting, not what I’m accustomed to. It was combined with pickled sliced onion, capers and dill, dressed lightly. I really enjoyed it, it was sweet, but with a hint of the sour from the onions. My only criticism would be to peel and slice the potatoes as my Mutti would have done. It then absorbs more of the dressing that way and is easier to eat. potato saladThe fries were incredible, soft with a little bit of crisp and had just the right amount of oil and seasoning. Unbelievably addictive and appealing. Who doesn’t love chicken and chips? friesThe house salad was a real corker. Mixed leaves with sunblush tomatoes, sliced fig and pumpkin seed in a raspberry dressing. It’s making my mouth water just writing about it. It was refreshing and sweet, but not too much and oh so colourful! A light addition to an otherwise carb-fuelled meal. saladThe dishes all combined were just fantastic. There is a use of flavours more bold than most and the heartfelt authenticity is really apparent on the whole. Whilst I know my opinion is biased, I do realise just how good this place is. They’ve gone for a minimalistic feel with the decor, but it makes it less stuffy and more inviting to know that simplicity was all they needed, because the food is the true focus. mealI took a brief trip downstairs and the arrangement of the seating is fantastic, like a proper hideaway, a great place for cocktails and a few plates. The bathrooms are like an underground cave, with low curved ceilings…one pointer, they need a mirror in the ladies!

We chose to share a dessert and let me tell you, it was pretty damn hard narrowing it down to just one. We ended up going with Oma’s Apple Strudel. If the boys are naming it after their own Grandmother’s, then this had to be the real deal. This was quite possibly the best dessert I’ve had in London. The filo was wafer thin, the seasoning acutely perfect and the apple sweet, but with just the right amount of tartness. It was epic. Absolutely out of this world. I’ll be bringing my mother and I know it will cause nostalgia.strudelI really loved it, and you all know I don’t give comments like that lightly. I think there’s room for a little improvement, but these boys have done their family proud.  I’ll be back to sample the wurst as the aroma coming from the diners next to us was almost too much. I’d love to see creamed spinach added to the menu…in which case a mirror will most definitely be needed in the bathrooms!

Rate: 4.8

Boopshi’s

31 Windmill Street, London, W1T 2JN

07549 625 984

http://boopshis.com/

Follow them on Twitter @boopshis
Boopshis on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Hoi Polloi

27 Nov

An exciting new venture from the team behind Bistroteque and Shrimpy’s comes The Ace Hotel‘s restaurant – Hoi Polloi. This was my second time over to 100 Shoreditch High Street. The first time I worked my way down the list of cocktails, I managed six. That’s half the list! They’re really good, different, but not too weird. One of my favourites has to be the Meshigener Palone – Absolut, almond & vanilla jam, pomegranate (pictured). It initiates itself with a smooth valour but then as you swallow, the tight spark of the lemon gives a slight burn. It’s sharp, but really good.

cocktailThe feel of the place is quite unique. It’s a low-lit, Art-Deco, late 50’s, spacious floor. Booths are the feature for tables and high ceilings exude a feeling of wealth. It feels like a flashback to a real Mad-Men haunt. The newspapers as the menus, therefore, really add a wonderful touch, making it feel more of an experience, rather than just dinner.
menuWhilst the decor is from a different time, the waiters are in a uniform that boasts a skater jumper and casual trousers, I presume to remind you that whilst you feel like you’ve been transported to yesteryear, you are still in East London. It’s a lovely twist bringing in the modern and intertwining it with the old. The hosts however are in keeping with the decor. Exceptionally smart and prim.

As we were being seated we were immediately asked if we would like water; still, sparkling or tap. Ah, well that’s refreshing, to be offered tap as opposed to the pushy up sell. Delightful. And no glimmer of dissatisfaction on my choice of tap either. When choosing drinks we put in an order of Chickpea fritters with tarragon yoghurt. I had tried them before on my cocktail tasting adventure and they were fabulous. Disguised as a fat chip, they are fluffy inside, with a thin crisp coating. The taste is mild and surprisingly unlike hummus. The dip is a smooth and irresistible treat. A must try!

chickpeaBread and butter was brought over as we were perusing the paper; a mixture of types, but all in all it was only ok, not incredible. breadFor starters we chose to share the Crab salad with radish & toast. A great beginner. The toast was thin and crisp, like Melba. The crab was especially fresh, ever so lightly seasoned. Alongside it was a whipped fish cream that pumped up the flavour well and could be easily used as the base for the little open sandwich. What was described as just ‘radish’ in the description, was actually a small salad including cucumber, with a delightful sweet pickle dressing that gave the boost of flavour to the dish that it needed.crab saladFor the main course we chose the Skirt Steak with onion fritter & dripping chips and the Hoi Polloi hamburger that was also accompanied by dripping chips. The former was my least favourite dish of the night. The steak was cooked medium, and whilst it did have a strong smokey barbecue taste, which I think was a little too strong, the meat was a little chewy and not that full of flavour. A little disappointing. The onion fritter was a welcome delight. Sweet onion jam encased in a crispy breadcrumb batter.
skirt steakThe burger really was the winner of the night. The bread was how you would imagine a Big Mac if it had been made with high quality flour, egg and sesame. It was soft, a little sweet but not glistening with grease, it was magnificent. The meat was a good blend, not overly seasoned or lined with onion and crumbs but a good solid hunk of meat, equally not that greasy, but juicy of course. The salad inside the burger was effortlessly dressed and because all the ingredients were such thin slivers they molded themselves into the burger discreetly giving a deliciously refreshing balance to the dish. The mayonnaise, which at first I thought was garlicky, was actually truffle. It was incredible, I mean really amazing. It totally sealed the burger and made it complete. Easily the best choice of main. burgerburger 2The chips were fluffy, decadent and had a meaty twist, they were after all dripping chips. Honestly I barely managed half of them, not for lack of desire, more for the lining of my waist! And I needed to keep room for dessert…chips 2chipsWe were recommended the Chocolate Cambridgeshire cream for dessert by our waiter. I’m always a fan of a light nod in the right direction by the staff. Not only does it show that the staff know the menu well, but it also helps when there are a few choices. We followed his suggestion and it definitely did not disappoint. The cream was a rich, thick mousse that sliced like a cool butter. It has to be a sharing dish, as to polish this off would not only be a feat, but also very greedy! It was accompanied by some hazelnut ice-cream that tasted very home-made. A little crumbly and grainy, but despite texture, a nice taste. There was also some crushed hazelnut and what looked like green olive oil, but didn’t taste of anything. I’m not sure what that was. It seemed that if you were to pile these ingredients together you would result in a very exclusive cousin of a Ferrero Rocher. Needless to say it was pretty damn good. chocolate creamDespite the elite look of the place, the service and the atmosphere is relaxed and effortless. There isn’t any pretence or elitist attitude at all. It was kind and ever so professional. One of the hosts came to check on us near the end to get feedback, she took things on board and gracefully accepted the praise. It seemed like she genuinely cared too. Go and experience it for yourself and you’ll feel anything but Hoi Polloi.

Rate 4.5

Hoi Polloi

100 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JQ

020 8880 6100

Follow them on Twitter @WeAreHoiPolloi

http://hoi-polloi.co.uk/

Hoi Polloi at The Ace Hotel on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

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