Archive | Special RSS feed for this section

Bleecker Street Burger

31 Dec

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a Bleecker Street Burger a few times. At the formidable Truck Stop and at the incredible Kerb at Kings Cross. It’s been one of the few burgers, and there is now a heap to choose from, that not only incorporates fine ingredients and a solid statement, but tastes exceptional.

It is the only beef burger, this side of the Atlantic, I feel has the essence of one you would find on the other side. Fault America for many things, but the burger is not one of them. A finely tuned product that understands the ‘grab and go’ mentality, without sacrificing satisfaction. Americans understand that service is vital and that sometimes having a smile or a brief conversation of pleasantries during what would otherwise be a mundane, humdrum experience can lift a person’s spirits more than one cares to realise. It really is the small things and the care taken to gain eye contact, show an interest and most of all, smile, makes it an experience. And isn’t that what we set out for? It can’t just be about the food, or the social interaction. We have to know that the proprietor has set out to bring a little happiness into their customer’s life. That thought has truly been the one true ingredient in their process.

I recently ventured over to Harringay Market and as I hopped off the tube at 2:54 pm at Manor House, roughly a 20 minute walk to the market, knowing that it closed at 3 pm, taking a chance, I tweeted Bleecker Street the following:

‘@bleeckerburger @HarringayMarket we’re 5 mins away (cutting it fine) please please please please save us 2 burgers!!! Will love you forever!’

As we sprinted though the roads and alleyways, I frantically checked my phone, hoping for some clue into whether they had packed up and gone for the year…they replied:

‘@laymytable @HarringayMarket move your ass!’

With glee we turned the final corner to see the black truck, in all it’s beauty, waiting patiently for us. They happily served us and noted that we were the very last customers of 2013 for Bleecker Street Burger. An accolade I am extremely fond of.

I had a single and Aky a double, plus fries and a coke. After a sprint that I didn’t know I had in me, it was the ultimate prize. Speaking to the owner and her colleague about how Bleecker Burger began, it wasn’t surprising to learn that the owner was a New Yorker and therefore understood what it took to make a burger worthy of the New York tag. There’s no need for anymore description, it’s just that good.

Bleecker Street BurgerYou can have your amateur imitations, there are definitely plenty of them, there’s only one burger in Britain and that’s Bleecker Street Burger.

Love, your last customer of 2013.

Rate: 5

Bleecker Street Burger

http://bleeckerburger.co.uk/

Follow them on Twitter – @bleeckerburger
Bleecker St. Burger on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

The Cronut

9 Oct

It had to be done. A few months ago when this phenomenon hit the big time, I made a deal with myself (the best kind of deal, it’s always win win) that if I was going to try one of these bad boys (if?!) then it had to be The Cronut. The original, real one.

Maybe it’s just me, but I always believed if you were going to get something like memorabilia, then shouldn’t it be from the actual place? I remember the fashion in England when I was about 17, everyone started to wear New York Yankees baseball caps, from Topshop. Errrrm, no. I waited and waited until I got to go to NY and bought mine from an official New York Yankees shop selling the real deal.
‘Oh but some people aren’t able to go and get it from the real place,’ people might say.
‘Then I’m afraid you can’t have it,’ is what I say. You can’t have everything, otherwise everything would be everywhere and nowhere would be new or different. Oh I’ll just buy my boomerang souvenir from Australia in pound land.
Don’t get me started on Victoria Secret opening up over here…

I digress. Back to The Cronut. An irresistible hybrid of a classic doughnut and a croissant. The creator of this wildly imaginative design is Dominique Ansel. He owns a bakery in Soho in Manhattan, The Dominique Ansel Bakery.
Many have copied this, the world over, calling it The Dosant. Try as they may to have their own success with the copycat creation, Dominique comes out on top. Every morning the bakery makes around 300 Cronuts at $5 a piece. Customers begin to line up at around 5am and wait until the bakery opens at 8am. Everyday. Once they’re gone, they’re gone and tomorrow is a new day.

Aky went to New York a couple of weeks ago and what did I ask him to bring back for me? You guessed it. He got there early and queued for a notable period of time (don’t feel bad, he got one for himself too) and made it in when they were still in stock.

The flavour changes on a monthly basis, September was Fig Mascarpone, October is Apple Creme Fraiche. The Cronut has the outer crust of a freshly crisp, sugar covered doughnut, the layers and layers of pastry inside are like a croissant and reaching beyond what I had imagined, it was injected with jam and cream, sweet fig jam and mascarpone. It also has a hole in the middle and was topped with a sugar glaze and a slice of caramelised fig. The cream was so light, just enough to douse the pastry.

CronutsThis is how the bakery themselves describe the creation:

‘Taking 2 months and more than 10 recipes, Chef Dominique Ansel’s creation is not to be mistaken as simply croissant dough that has been fried. Made with a laminated dough which has been likened to a croissant (but uses a proprietary recipe), the Cronut is first proofed and then fried in grape seed oil at a specific temperature. Once cooked, each Cronutis flavored in three ways: 1. rolled in sugar; 2. filled with cream; and 3. topped with glaze. Cronuts are made fresh daily, and completely done in-house. The entire process takes up to 3 days.’

The moment Aky had dropped his bags at home he popped into see me at work and in all its glory, there it was. A Dominique Ansel Bakery Box with a lone Cronut inside.

As I took the first bite, I realised it was new tastes entering my sphere, I love it when this happens. It made me wish I had been there the first time they made one of these, what the look on their faces said when they took their first bite. Perhaps a good old Del Boy line, ‘We’re going to be millionaires.’

It was absolutely heavenly. An incredibly delicious treat that encompasses all the great traits of already mind-blowing sweet creations. It’s soft and buttery, the thin layer of sugar it’s wrapped in will lightly dust your mouth, but you won’t care because you’ll need to make sure no jam is lost to your jeans.

photo credit: Aky Bukhari

photo credit: Aky Bukhari

I don’t mind so much about trying the replicas now I’ve tasted the original. I now know what it should taste like and can compare it to the real deal. I’m incredibly lucky to have tried one.

Rate: 5

Dominique Ansel Bakery

189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson) New York, NY 10012

Tel:(212)219 2773

http://dominiqueansel.com/
Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon

Mumma’s Schnitzel

16 Sep

Oh Mumma! All summer I’ve been wanting to go to Street Feast and, cutting it fine, I went this past weekend for their final event. Set at Dalston Yard, it was an awesome scene,  with fire pits all around, keeping people warm on such a grey day.

sf
I saw some familiar places that I’d tried before; The Rib Man, Baba G’s, You Doughnut being a few. But this time, I had come for one main reason.

Mumma’s Schnitzel.

I’ve heard about it, read the menu, tried my best to attend other events, but somehow always missed the opportunity. I’d tweeted them a few times and with such a lovely response, direct from Mumma’s, I just knew they couldn’t be making anything less than good food.

I marched straight over and introduced myself as laymytable and with such a warm welcome, I was even more excited to try their burger. And what a whopper it was!
Chicken schnitzel, lettuce, vine tomato, Mumma’s mayo (pure genius), sweet chilli, an added extra of avocado, served in a toasted brioche bun. Does it get any better?

mumma's menuI was given a huge serving, could barely get my mouth round it (but I did) and in that first bite I knew it was something special. They’ve really honed in on the tastes and it’s exceptional.

The mayo is not as thick as most, which is refreshing, as its lighter, smooth and a little runny. It complements the chicken a whole lot better than if it had been thicker. It would have become dry if it had been. The mayo has a twinge of lemon, which of course is perfect as you’d normally squeeze a bit on schnitzel if you were serving it sans bun. It’s definitely the key ingredient. The sweet chilli was a very clever move, it adds just the right kind of sweet spice to the mix and again complements the dish incredibly.
The chicken itself was soft and tender in perfect, crispy breadcrumbs, that had been seasoned just right. They weren’t too salty or too bland, which is so often the case.
I grew up eating schnitzel pretty much every Sunday as my mum is Viennese. There weren’t roasts in our household very often and so this, to me, is such an iconic dish and seeing it made into a burger made me all the more intrigued.

schnitzel burgerThey had chosen the bun perfectly. Brioche is such a wonderful choice as it was soft enough to mould itself around the crunchy chicken and, without getting soggy, it absorbed enough of the sauces. The avocado – well that was just the cherry on top. Ripe and nutty, the perfect treat in this already beautiful burger.

schnitzel bite burgerThis is the best street food I’ve had and it’s also run by a really wonderful  couple, refreshingly kind and honest too.
Thank you for making my day!

From 7th October Mumma’s Schnitzel will be trading full-time in Manchester at Spinningfields. Catch them there and tuck into one of these beauties.

Rate:  5
http://www.mummaschnitzel.co.uk/

Dinner

9 Sep

dinner sign
What a special day this was. My incredible boyfriend surprised me on my birthday by taking me to Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner. It was truly incredible and I was in food heaven.

We were seated by the window overlooking the most glorious view of Hyde Park, with the sun beaming in the early evening.

To drink, I chose the limited edition ‘Kiss’ cocktail created by make-up extraordinaire Laura Mercier. Like sweet nectar, I savoured each and every sip because it was so heavenly. Baileys, strawberry and pomegranate blended together and served in a martini glass.

kissFor the starters I chose the Meat Fruit – mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread. This truly is a brilliantly innovative creation. The pâté is shaped and sealed with an orange gel like substance (but surprisingly ungelatinous) and made to look like a mandarin. I imagine this is an ode to The Mandarin Oriental where Dinner resides. Served with warm toast, this is one of those dishes that you have to try before you die. I practically wept after tasting the first mouthful as it was so delicious. I secretly licked my knife too. I clearly couldn’t let a single morsel go to waste. It is smooth and light and the taste is less iron-y than most pâté. It has to be eaten to truly experience the delight. In a word – heavenly.

pateAky chose the lobster & cucumber soup to start with. The salad was fresh as can be and flavored beautifully. The only thing I wasn’t quite as keen on with this dish was the cucumber soup that was poured over the salad, when they placed it down. I felt it affected the lobster taste too much, as opposed to simply complementing it. But come on…who am I to criticize Heston?

lobsterAky totally came up trumps on the main course. He ordered the winner, aka The Fillet Steak. Served with fries and mushroom ketchup. The steak was deliciously cooked. The knife slid through it like butter. Exceptionally seasoned and it cannot be faulted.

steak 1

steak 2The mushroom ketchup was amazing. It’s not often you experience a new taste altogether. It had the tang of normal ketchup, you could sense there was vinegar of some sort, but the mushroom emitted a softer taste, that married well with the sharpness of the vinegar.

mushroom ketchupI ordered the roasted sea bass and a side of mashed potatoes. The sea bass was rich and flaked easily. A beautifully cooked fish and the cockle ketchup was great, a sharp taste and interestingly tobiko style texture. The mashed potatoes were heavenly. They must have been blended for hours, as lumps were a distant memory to this bowl of goodness. I can only imagine how much butter was used.

mashBy this stage I was overwhelmingly full and had to ask the waiter for a short break before dessert. We had preordered this at the start of the meal. The one and only Tipsy Cake. Our waiter expressed that he always felt he must mention the tipsy cake to customers, as if they didn’t order it, in his opinion, their experience was incomplete. He was right. It was incredible.

tipsy cake

A buttery brioche cake with a crisp crust, baked in a thick metal pot, bursting to come out and alongside it, spit roasted pineapple. I’m not sure of exactly what had been incorporated into the brioche. I’m pretty sure there was cream, butter and a dash of alcohol, maybe rum or brandy. It was gooey, warm and tasted like magic. The pineapple was soft and light with an ever so slight smokey taste and had been doused in some kind of delicious marinade.

brioche

pineappleI was in awe of the flavours used throughout the meal. It really is exceptional to encounter new tastes and textures and be so appreciative of them. I am inspired by Heston’s creations and the delicate way he takes something ages old and turns it into something new. Truly a master of his craft.

Just when I thought my culinary affair with Heston was drawing to a close, the light singing of Happy Birthday started to grow in volume as the waiters placed down yet another creation. Birthday cake. Adorned with my name on the plate wishing me a Happy Birthday, I knew that this experience was unforgettably perfect.

A chocolate cake filled with popping candy and a lemon gel with a crispy base. Rich, indulgent and incredibly clever.

cake close up

birthday cakeThank you to my one and only Aky for understanding my love of food, for letting me eat whatever I want and for being so thoughtful and generous.

I can definitely tick this off my bucket list.

Winner Winner Heston’s Dinner.

Rate: 5

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA

020 7201 3833

http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Foodies Festival – Clapham Common June 7th – 9th 2013

8 Jun

Here are a few photos of the wonderful day we had today at The Foodies Festival on Clapham Common. If you can go tomorrow – GO! It’s loads of fun with lots of samples and a great variety of different foods and drink. Well known restaurants like Gaucho, Barbecoa, Street Kitchen & Pimms are there amongst many others! My favourite (photographed) was the pulled pork roll from Barbecoa. To have a look and see what’s on, go to http://foodiesfestival.com/event/london-clapham-common/

DSC05426DSC05425DSC05407DSC05401DSC05403DSC05404DSC05409DSC05410DSC05395DSC05411DSC05415DSC05420DSC05428DSC05447DSC05448Photo Credit – Aky Bukhari

Rate: 5

Clockjack Oven

3 May

Finally a place that just bloody get’s it! I did a little research into chicken restaurants as I have a boyfriend who can’t get enough of the stuff and after pondering the thought of yet another Nandos, I wanted to push the boat out just a tad and find somewhere that really specialised in good quality, free range chicken.

Clockjack Oven is a rotiserrie, however they don’t just serve it roasted, they provide other delights, bites, sandwiches, salads etc. When doing my research I tweeted the restaurant and the incredibly kind manager not only organised a birthday sweet treat for the boy (he went to Fortnum & Mason and found chocolate dipped coconut macaroons; his favourite!) but upon arrival greeted me like a long lost friend and we received the royal treatment throughout our visit, I couldn’t have been more grateful.

As we sat down, glasses of water were immediately placed on the table. I love this, it’s what everyone needs and a staple ritual in the US, I always wondered why the UK don’t want their diners hydrated. Further to that two glasses of Prosecco were also placed down, a wonderful surprise to begin the night.

We chose the Crispy Chicken Bites to start with; marinated in buttermilk, coated in seasoned gram flour and lightly fried. Accompanied by the BBQ sauce and the favourite of the night; the Ranch Sauce which was thick, cool and creamy. The bites are a bargain at £4.95 as you get a fair few. The coating has a delicious, peppery taste to it, not too strong, riddled with crispiness on the coating and the meat is so soft and tender you genuinely forget the last time you had chicken so good. The quality is ever present and it left us wanting more.

Crispy Chicken Bites

Bites & Dips

For the mains they offer the roast chicken in portions of 3 pieces, 4 or a whole chicken. We chose 3 each with sides of caeser salad and fries. A fine choice. The gloriously roasted bird was served in a shallow bowl and the 3 pieces separated nicely. They give you a portion from each part, the leg, wing and breast. The birds are all sitting perkily on their merry go round fire and the smell infusing the restaurant really is wonderful. Not so overwhelming and acutely different to the house on a Sunday before lunch, the cooking made the air sweet with the mild smoky smell and it is evident that the technique has most definitely been perfected. I haven’t tasted chicken like this before…roasted to perfection, the soft meat was delectable and the skin was light, the crisp being dusted with flakes of sea salt was just the most perfect touch. In a word: incredible.

Chicken

The salad tasted just like the caesar salads in America except the ingredients every bit fresher and more real, the crunch of the romaine was a welcome coldness to the bold warmth of the chicken. The fries were double cooked and beautifully fluffy.

Meal

We were so overwhelmed by the arrival of the dessert that we didn’t photograph it, we simply devoured it – but as I mentioned, this was a delicacy pre-arranged by the wonderful manager especially for us.

The service was impeccable and the atmosphere is second to none. I went to Banana Tree in Soho a few weeks back and I felt so wracked with anxiousness because of the bus-stop like queue piling in, the broken record music playing a decibel too loud to attempt enjoying their chewy ‘must have’ curry, (which I sent back) that it was anything but enjoyable. But this, got it just right. The lighting was ever so slightly dimmed, the music was audible of course, but remained in the background, as it should. The design of the restaurant is well thought out, modern and even a bar area for people wanting to enjoy a feast alone.

I love that it is free range, that they know what they are doing and that the flavours of each meal represent all tastes and that they really and truly understand that a beaming smile and attention to detail goes a long, long way. It’s the best dinner I’ve had in ages and I left feeling happy and full. Is there anything better?

You must go, take all your friends and if you think you’ve had chicken….you haven’t, until you’ve had a Clockjack Chicken. KFC and Nandos…you ain’t got nothing on Clockjack.

Rate: 5

Clockjack Oven

14 Denman Stret, Soho, London, W1D 7HJ

020 7287 5111

http://www.clockjackoven.com/
Clockjack Oven on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Panino Giusto

26 Apr

panino-giusto-20120509-115714

I had the good fortune to attend the launch party of the new Panino Giusto restaurant in The Royal Exchange Building. I knew to expect Italian food, but it wasn’t until I arrived that my ignorance surpassed and I was told that ‘panino’ is the singular term for ‘panini,’ which means all this time we’ve been saying it wrong…and actually asking for multiple panino. As I’ve said previously, when I reviewed the delectable Il Bambino; the British don’t understand panini, there is an instant stigma attached and you can thank the Caffe Neros and Costas for that. Rock solid bread that scrapes the roof of your mouth with a very resistable, processed slice of ham, some rubber posing as cheese and perhaps an off cut of an under ripe tomato, so that the food standards agency can classify it as a recognised savoury food.

I am for the revolution of changing this stigma as Panino Giusto has the most refreshing, beautifully formed and delicately prepared food I’ve had in England for a long, long time. We started off with a crisp prosecco, not too sweet and the perfect aperitif. The panini I had were the ‘Garibaldino,’ (Bresaola, Mozzarella, seasonal tomato, rocket, extra-virgin olive oil, black pepper) the accompaniments of oil and rocket and the incredibly sweet to perfection tomatoes were spot on. The meat sliced so utterly thin, it quite literally melts in your mouth and the bread, (oh the bread!) a slight crunch and effortless in it’s lightness, it had me craving the next dish. The following delight arrived, this time the ‘Tartufo’ (Parma Ham, Brie, seasonal tomato, rocket, Alba truffle oil). The Parma ham was stronger and saltier than the previous, in no way chewy, which is refreshing for Parma. The kicker with this one; the truffle oil. I mean real truffle oil. That garlicky influence overwhelmed my taste buds and when I thought it couldn’t get much better, the wine served with it (and I am not a wine drinker, but…when in Rome (or Naples for today)) was a sweet, thick, luxurious nectar; Infernot, Fattoria Cabanon, Lombardy, 2007/9.

Next came Mortadella with pistachio nuts, produced by the Veroni Brothers, which was was light and a nice contrast to the other hams as the nuttiness really blended well with the meat. Less salty than the others, but just as good. At this point I was bowled over by the bursts of new flavours, I had been dulled by the ‘same same’ nature of The British High Street restaurants. Then came the winner of the night. The chef, Alessandro Borghese announced it was his favourite. From Naples, with his own Sky 1 TV show and about to be a judge on the upcoming Junior Masterchef, ever the charming and lyrically sounding, I trusted his word. He was not wrong. Ridiculously thin slivers of Fassona roast beef from Piedmont lightly cooked around the edges and pink in the middle with an ambrosial lemon oil and cracked black pepper, roasted with rosemary and sage. The careful cooking process is evident and without a doubt, I have never tasted anything like it. I took a slice, then another, then another, as a joke Alessandro placed a whole plate of slices upon the table and it was polished of by me and my two fellow diners almost instantly. I’ve never had better.

roast beef

Slapping myself on the wrists for toying with the greedy notion that there might possibly be a sweet treat to follow, I was actually right! My mouth began to salivate when I heard music to my ears…’Tiramisu’…my ever faithful friend. It’s hard to go wrong with this and with the aforementioned savoury delights, this couldn’t have possibly been a disappointment. I already have a firm favourite when it comes to Tiramisu, at my darling place in NY, and when I tasted this one it was so different, it was hard to compare – but one thing’s for sure, they are definitely on a par. This was so light, the cream was like air. The incredibly professional and charming waitress said there was a trick and that was that the eggs and the mascarpone must be whisked together for no less than 7 minutes. Along with the mystical, air like quality, the taste was not too bold, it was subtle and easy to have more. It didn’t make you bloat or feel guilty, it was too elegant for that. It didn’t need to be apologetic and you didn’t feel sorry.

Tiramisu

The last surprise of the night was a very rich espresso twinned with a little gift box, Il Giustino. Inside was a miniature chocolate coated ice cream in a cone. You are supposed to dip and swirl the ice cream inside the espresso where it will ever so slightly melt the chocolate, making this whole experience complete.

Ice cream

The restaurant itself is sleek and modern and with no traffic nearby, its peaceful and wonderful. They have a takeaway menu and I suggest you get some panini (yes, multiple) as this is not to be missed!

Rate: 5

Panino Giusto

1-3 Royal Exchange Building, Bank, London, EC3V 3LR

Panino Giusto on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

%d bloggers like this: