SlowFoodKitchen was invited to review Patara Soho.
SlowFoodKitchen was invited to review Patara Soho.
A little corner of Park Lane has been revived with the transformation of the old International Casino into 45 Park Lane, a new luxury boutique hotel that is part of the Dorchester Collection. The hotel is a complete contrast to the Dorchester, it’s modern, contempary and has only 45 rooms. The site has been languishing and unloved for years in one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in London and nice to see that the Brunei Investment Agency has transformed this into a revenue generating asset.
The new 45 Park Lane Hotel is designed by Thierry Despont, with a lot of dark wood, subdued lighting and mirrored glass doors, positioning it for the business traveller. The stairs from the small lobby area leads to a stunning hotel bar, Bar 45. The bar in the centre of the long room delivers a large list of cocktails and wines and the bar food it sensational. For a hotel bar, it is sophisticated and stylish and it’s open to non residents up to 12.30.
On this visit, we sampled the superb Mini Kobe sliders which were perfect bite size pieces with multiple layers and some other small eats from the bar menu.
Adjourning downstairs to CUT, Wolfgang Puck’s first London outlet. CUT is his high end American Steakhouse brand with branches around the world. The entrance to CUT is visually impressive, double height ceilings, bespoke chandeliers, dark wood pannelling, soft lighting and hung with 16 Damien Hirsts from his Psalm series. (The largest number of Damien Hirst shown in public in one place). The lighting is romantically dim but the dining room is busy, quite loud and seemed filled with suits, probably hedgies from around Mayfair.
We kicked off with a quick tour of the kitchen where we were introduced to the star of the kitchen, the specially imported Texan wood fire grill that cooks at 650C. The steaks are cooked with a charred surface and pink in the middle.
The menu centres around the steaks, is mainly American with a touch of Asian flavours like Big Eye Tuna Tartar with Wasabi Aioli.
For starters, we were served the Roasted baby beets with Dorstone Goats Cheese, toasted pistachios, citrus, micro basil and mint (£11) and A Tasting of Salads’, one a light, fresh mix of apple, endive, dates and Montgomery Cheddar, spiced almonds. Sweet beets with sweet and tangy dressing. Delicious.
The Wine List at Cut
The wine list at CUT has the largest selection of American wines in the UK, expertly managed by the Sommelier, Vanessa Cinti who has just moved over here from another of Wolfgang Pucks establishments in the US. She chose some spectacular wines for our meal including a sensational Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (about £300) and is only available at CUT in the UK.
Choice of Steaks at CUT
As we awaited our main course, we feasted our eyes on the beautifully attired wait staff who were seen carrying around a plate of raw beef swaddled in white napkins to show the other tables. This is how you choose your meat here.
We were served the Tasting of New York Sirloin (£48) , with 3 cuts, the USDA Prime Black Angus, the Casterbridge Angus and the Australian Wagyu Black Angus. From the description, it was not really possible to guess what breed of cattle the meat is from as Angus is a generic American marketing name for beef and does not have anything to do with Aberdeen Angus at all.
Accompanying the steak were the outstanding Mac and Cheese and Creamed Spinach with egg which was prepared at the table. I would not normally order these side dishes with steak but they both worked really well with the steaks. The steaks varied in flavour with the Wagyu being the most tender and the USDA cut the most flavourful. Unfortunately the English steak lacked flavour and it seems the supplier was chosen out of a large selection as it was the closest in flavour to the US steaks and the UK grass fed beef was too gamey.
To round off the meal, we had the Banana Cream Pie with the intriguingly named 10 year old Chocolate Sauce. This prompted us to ask the waiter what this meant, old chocolate? The Ten Years actually refers to the Chocolate Sauce recipe that has taken 10 years to perfect. The second half of the pudding was a truly decadent Warm Chocolate Souffle with Gianduja Ice Cream served by our delightful waiter.
CUT is a great addition to the London Dining scene and will probably be a favorite with the US expats in town looking for a taste of home, albeit done in high style. In the first month of operation, it is already fully booked and I expect will continue in the same vein. Cut is a very well run machine (no opening snafus) , the staff are friendly and the service is impeccable and head chef David McIntyre leads the team is producing great dishes.
45 Park Lane is a stunning hotel and it feels cosy and inviting and not too impersonal. It is more like a little club than a hotel. Bar 45 would be a great venue for a quiet drink or a hot date as it is not very busy or noisy and CUT is well worth a second visit.
SlowFoodKitchen was a guest of 45 Park Lane and CUT
Nothing can beat a pub lunch on a Sunday, especially if it is from one of London’s top gastro pubs., The Sunday lunch is a quintessential British institution and as winter approaches, a nice pub with a fire place and a hot roast dinner is just the ticket. With some of the best restaurants in the world, London has a massive number of pubs to choose from. With so many aspiring chefs flocking to the capital, there are plenty of jobs for chefs who are looking to make their mark on the culinary world in the city. Some of these budding chefs have been making their mark on London’s pub food scene.
Gone are the days of the soggy sandwiches with plastic cheese and a bad ploughman’s with defrosted bread. So many London pubs now serve superb food and here are 5 favourites in London.
First up is the perennial favourite, The Ship in Wandsworth (South West London), located on the south side of Fulham. They have a massive dining room with a roaring wood fire in the winter and an outside kitchen serving barbecue favourites in the warmer months. To maximise their river location, they have a large sunny terrace overlooking the Thames. Food here is usually really good, except for a blip one time. Sunday lunches here are really popular, the servings are massive and they state quite clearly where the meat is sourced from which is a nice details for a pub. On a recent visit, we had the Roast Beef, nicely pink in the middle with a massive Yorkshire pudding and crispy roast potatoes. The service is friendly and on Sundays, the place turns into party central and seems to draw in a massive crowd. @shipwandsworth
Secondly, a new find in Richmond, The Shaftesbury Arms in Richmond (South West London). From the outside, it looks like a slightly faded pub of yesteryear but don’t overlook it. It is a Young’s establishment but has not had the beautification unlike of some other Young’s places in the area. The new restaurant kitchen is run by Lee Richardson who is a phenomenal cook and has a massive repertoire. On our recent visit on Sunday, she served up a brilliant clams and samphire dish followed by a massive roast beef with all the trimmings. Lee very kindly offered us an extra plate of roast pork to try and the meat was succulent and crackling was super crispy. All her meat is sourced from Macken Brothers in Turnham Green. Superb goose fat roast potatoes. For £15, you get a superb Sunday Roast with the pudding included. Great value. @ ShaftesburyKitc
Next, The Garrison, in the increasingly “too cool for school” Bermondsey near Tower Bridge (East London). This place is more restaurant than pub with prices a bit above average. This unusual building is crammed with knickknacks and the hodgepodge of furniture. They serve a mean Roast beef and the service is super friendly. A real local favourite and the atmosphere is always buzzing. www.thegarrison.co.uk
The fourth delicious offering is brought to you by Adam & Eve , just off Oxford Street (Central London) , an area that doesn’t have very many non chain eateries. The Sunday menu offers a couple of roasts and the Roast Rib of Beef was delivered in a good man sized serving. Service can be patchy when they are busy.
Last, but by no means least, the newly revamped Alexandra in Wimbledon (South West London). It is yet another Youngs’ pub that now offer great pub grub. This pub takes its food very seriously. Dave Ahern (@corkgourmetguy) is the new head chef and he has recently launched their new menu where the ham hock is outstanding. Sunday lunch here comes with home made Yorkshire pudding and gravy. Servings are hearty and the careful and cooking is creative. You can opt for one of their burgers instead of a roast which are equally good. @TheAlexSW19
There are so many more pubs to check out in London, but for now, these are the top picks. Please feel free to share your favourite pubs for Sunday lunch in the comments.
London is such a stunning city when seen from different vantage points. The view from the top of the Royal Festival Hall is particularly stunning as you can see all the famous landmarks of London along the river like the London Eye, the Houses of Parliamenet, Big Ben and St Pauls further down the river. We recently were invited an event by Magners Cider where they launched the ‘Bee Aid Campaign” held on The Deck overlooking the Thames.
For our close encounter with the bees, we all had to don the space like bee keeping suits, complete with mesh helmet to inspect the 2 hives that they have placed on the roof terrace.
Bee keeping is a totally human created pastime and involves creating a false environment for honeybees to survive and procreate. In the US, beekeeping is multi million dollar industry where hive owners are known to travel with massive trucks of hive, driving around the country providing pollinating services to farms.
About 1.5 m hives are shipped in to California each year to pollinate the almond trees as there are no natural pollinators. Hive owner can charge up to US$150 per hive for a 2 week service. In the UK, we don’t have similar practices although bee keepers are known to locate their hives within orchards or near farms with the suitable vegetation.
Cider brand Magners has launched its ‘Magners Bee Aid’ campaign to help save 1.5m urban bees in the UK and Ireland. In association with the British Beekeepers Association, they are working to save the 1.5 million bees in UK and Ireland. Magners allow local beekeepers in Clomell to keep their honeybees among the trees in the apple orchard to help pollinate the trees that produce the apples that goes into the cider. hey are highly aware of the importance of honeybees and is launching this campaign to get more people interested in Beekeeping.
Why are Bees important to the economy.
Bee pollination is essential in helping to pollinate crops that produce over 60% of food crops, that generate up £200m revenue for the UK economy of enhanced productivity. In Europe, it is €10bn and worldwide the number is a staggering $200bn. With the decline in bee population due to the recent diseases, the population of bees are slowly declining.
The British Beekeepers Association are trying to encourage more urbanites to take up beekeeping. In London alone, there are over 2,500 beehives and but the numbers have been slowly declining. All you need is about 2 square meters of clear space in your garden or roof top to put in a beehive. It must be easily accessible and preferably with a lot of flowers and bee friendly plants around. The BBKA holds beekeeping classes around the country and you can get details here.
After spending an afternoon learning about the cultivation of bees, I am totally enamoured with the idea. It is not very difficult to do, as all you need is a queen bee and some soldier bees to help her collect pollen and food and to fertilise the eggs. Once the hive is built, it is just a mtter of maintenance. It’s like having thousand of pets who also make you delicious honey.
Win a Beekeeping Scholarship
Magners has teamed up with the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations (FIBKA) to offer twenty-five Magners Facebook fans the chance to become fully-fledged urban beekeepers.
You can get involved and make a difference – for every action taken below Magners will make a donation that will save 50 honey bees:
More information on Beekeeping at British Beekeepers Association.
A few days ago, I was invited to the Google London HQ to sample some dishes from Ferran Adria’s new cookbook, The Family Meal. For a foodie is also a bit of a geek, this was heaven. Lunch was really chaotic as we were in one of their many staff canteens and had to join the massive queue for food. The Google Canteen was a really apt place for the lunch since the new cook book is derived from recipes from the El Bulli staff canteen.
A nice bonus after lunch, Niamh from @EatLikeAGirl and I had an exclusive interview with Ferran via his interpreter. He had been doing back to back talks and interviews for 15 hours a day for a few days and he was still very happy to chat to us about his book, why he wrote it, the future and what plans he had next. You can watch the interview below. (There is another version of this video with a different view on Niamh’s blog)
Google holds talks at their offices as part of their “Author At ” series and on this occassion they invited the esteemed chef to be their guest. The talk was open to Google employees and some invited guests and was held in yet another Google Canteen in another building.
Having Ferran speak at Google was a stroke of genius as the man is not only a very talented chef but he is a creative genius who has embraced technology and wants to explore ways to use technology to further experiment and push the boundaries with food.
There are several (quite shaky) videos of his talk and the first one is here:
In Part 2 of the videos, Ferran talks about the evolution of culinary creativity and how El Bulli encourages this and is responsible for up to 80% of creativity in the last year.
Book Review of The Family Meal by Ferran Adria
Firstly, this massive cookbook is not about molecular gastronomy and more about simple home cooking. Ferran despairs that even though there are more food programmes and food blogs now, there aren’t more people are not cooking at home. He wants to simplify cooking and to encourage more people to cook, so this book wil be a good guide to beginner cooks and advanced cooks will learn a few new tricks and recipes too.
The recipes in the book are the recipes that have been created and thoroughly tested in the El Bulli Kitchens for the daily staff meals for the 75 staff who worked there. The whole El Bulli team used to sit down for a family meal at 6pm every day and they spent as much time and effort in preparing this meal.
The team had produced detailed production sheets for each of the meals with a list of proven procedures that ensure that each meal is cooked in exactly the same way.
Included in The Family Meal cook book are a list of basic kitchen equipment you will need to a list of the basic ingredients that you should keep in your kitchen. Sections of the book cover “How to cook meat” to “How to cook eggs”. The rest if the book is organised into 31 three course menus with dishes that show culinary inspiration from not just Spanish but Italian, Japanese and other cuisines too.
All the recipes are aimed at the average person who make less than €1,500 a month. The claims are that each meal can be made in 45 minutes for less than €3 per head. I really like the fact that there are step by step pictures to accompany each recipe.
An average 3 course men look like this:
When we spoke to Ferran, he said that the recipes in this book has been written for 2 people up to 75 people as he wanted this to be easy for the people who will tend to buy a takeaway instead of cooking. He said that most cookbooks write recipes for 4 people but most average households have 2 people.
The book has step by step recipes on making simple sauces like tomato sauce, barbecue sauce to romesco sauce. It also has a very handy section on making stock, nice to see it including all the basics which are assumed knowledge in other cook books.
You might need a little bit of cooking experience for some of the recipes but most of them are quite easy to do without too many cheffy touches, no tricky molecular gastronomy cooking techniques required.
This book would be a great addition to anyone who likes to cook as a reference for making basic sauces to cooking the more adventurous recipes like the Watermolon with menthol sweets.
You can buy The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria on Amazon.
Claude Bosi of Hibiscus Interview and watch how he describes his dishes at The Cube
Ferran Adria Interview
How to Identify Grass Fed Beef
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