Bocca di Lupo - already wanting to go back

Last night was a much needed catch up with one of my uni girls. Bocca di Lupo, which has been high up on my 'must go' list for quite some time, was booked and I was pleased to note my dining companion was dying to go also...

We were seated to the back of the restaurant at its cosy bench seats and it's apparent that everyone here is thoroughly enjoying their meals.. the atmosphere is vibrant and full of energy. 

Settling on a lovely bottle of vino we chomped through wonderful house made bread with an incredibly punchy (in a good way) olive oil, those fabulously big green nocellara olives and ummmed and ahh'd at the delicious sounding menu, thus meaning, it's a tricky one to choose from!

Most of the dishes are available in a 'small' or 'large' portion. Wanting to try as much of the menu as possible we decided to go for all small plates and basically leave our starters in our waitresses hands asking her to order for us from the 'fritti' menu and then also a plate of Crudità di mare - raw red prawns, scallops and tuna tartare which arrived looking fantastic and tasted like heaven...

From the fritti menu our waitress chose an excellent selection...

Sage leaves filled with anchovies (£1.50 each) I could have had a bowl full of these...

Buffalo mozzerella bocconcini - delish

Baccala - home salted cod, a very posh 'fish and chip shop' fish (yum)

and, Olive stuffed with minced pork and veal - absolutely awesome flavours!

All of the above was pretty sensational and I couldn't have picked better myself. Highlights were the sage leaves and the crudita (the raw prawn in particular).

Onto our mains which again, we asked the staff to help with choosing as it was proving near impossible for us to decide what to have.

Pappardelle with hare was an excellent pasta dish, the ribbons of dough perfectly cooked and a decent thickness. The ragu was seriously tender and had a great depth of flavour.

Foie Gras sausage was a decadent as it sounds. Served with a rich pearl barley and cep risotto.

Roasted pumpkin with sage and parmesan was as good as it looks. A seriously tasty side dish dressed and (I think) roasted in a rich balsamic vinegar.

Romanesco broccoli, boiled with oil and parsley was our choice for a 'bit of green' another winner. 

I don't think I could have eaten a better meal to compete with my high expectations...everything from the restaurant to the last mouthful exceeded. It's a fantastic date place, an even better group place and I simply cannot wait to visit again...

Address: 12 Archer St, London W1D 7BB

Prices:£50pp incl. wine

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Villandry - (another) wonderful French-med mix

Villandry St James' is just a mere 20 steps from my office front door. Perfect for a spot of lunch and even better when I can meet my Mr D there for an hour's quick feasting...

Sitting beautifully at the bottom of Waterloo Place, the moment you walk in you're transported across the channel and into a high end French brasserie.

To the left, there's an informal Cafe and on the right a more formal dining area which is where we were seated. Wonderful staff greeted us promptly and sat us in one of their banquettes.

The menu reads very well (a mix of different Mediterranean dishes) and I wanted everything I read. Crab salads, ceviche, salmon..the list goes on. Mr D and I both went for squid in two different ways. 

His, salt and pepper with tartar sauce...

Mine, spices with fresh chillies and a wonderful harissa mayo. mmmmmm...

Both dishes were excellently done, so much so that the salt and pepper was one of the best variations we both have had recently. Light, crisp and just the right amount.  

Seemingly my mind was not after a light lunch today I chose the Saffron risotto with scallops and a side of Aspen fries to share with Mr D...

Risotto was cooked al dente (perfect) and was wonderfully rich and flavoursome with the added parsley and chives. Three plump and juicy scallops finished the dish off leaving me thoroughly happy with my choice.

The fries were crisp and yet fluffy within.... tossed generously with truffle oil (but not over powering) and finished off with a grating of parmesan - yum!!! I think I had my fair share of these and literally could not stop eating even though incredibly full... super scrummy!

Mr D opted for the Fresh Taglitelle with Wild Mushrooms and jus. I has a good mouthful of this and it was delicious. Super garlic-y it really showcased how a few simple ingredients, executed well, can make a really wonderful and pleasing dish. 

Villandry is a perfect lunch spot for us working souls, it's even better (I think) for anyone wanting to get out of the hellish hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus as it's a lovely, tranquil setting in a very pretty spot of London, that you may not venture towards.

A: 12 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AU (There are other locations)
T: 020 3544 0682

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Roux at the Landau

So, my (soon to be) brother-in-law is a dab hand with food. He works at Albert and Michel Roux's 'Roux at the Landau' which is nestled in a beautiful dining room at the infamous Langham Hotel, Mr D and I popped in to see him last night for a date night to FINALLY celebrate our home!

Although this will be somewhat of a biased review, I, much like his mum, think's he is the bees knees as a chef and for a big guy Jamie, Head chef Chris King, Oli and the rest of the kitchen cook some of the most de-licious, refined food and delicately plate up their labours looking as pretty as a picture. 

The Landau dining room is stunning, vast and grand. If you get there early, in fact, I INSIST you do. Head to the world famous Artesian Bar in the hotel, even at 6pm on a Wednesday the room was flying high with atmosphere and happy customers. The mixologists there are simply mesmerising and the way they serve up their cocktails is both innovative and just beautiful. On this occasion however, I had a very simple, but refreshing, prosecco.

The entrance to the restaurant is quite dramatic. A hallway showcasing some of the most exquisite wines they have to offer...

This is a restaurant for fine dining and you certainly feel special here. Intimate booths are cleverly positioned so that you feel completely on your own whilst wait staff quietly buzz around you. The restaurant is well known amongst critics for it's excellent service and you definitely notice this when dining at a Roux establishment.

Jamie kindly served up a mini tasting menu so we could taste as much of the kitchens fabulous skills as possible. Thus making this an even better blog as you lucky people get to see lots of the incredible food...

A fantastic selection of in house made bread is presented... I went for the white bread, fig roll.  

We kicked off our feast with scallop with raisins and capers. An incredibly plump, well cooked scallop went perfectly well with the sweet 'sauce' that accompanied. 

Foie gras on a savoury scone, cherries and a sweet jus. 

Mackerel for me, with beetroot and what I think were bits of fried Serrano ham - amazing

Guinea foul, truffle and boudin blanc for Mr D...

Followed by a rather scrumptious rabbit 'pie' for Mr D...

And a perfect Halibut and delicate hand made pasta 'bows' 

Pudding was next up (thankfully as I was near to popping!)

Refreshing panna cotta, as a palate cleanser for the two of us...

Followed by some breath taking(ly) beautiful desserts...

Caramel choux bun (I think!!)- one of those 'oh my god' moments with every mouthful, just incredible!

And the prettiest chocolate millefeuille - wow! Heaven on a plate... there's one thing they never fault on - their puds...

 Petite fours...

And finally... our night caps... (not needed as we paired wine with each course!!)

Although I may be biased, Roux at the Landau is so, SO special. We've enjoyed everyone of our meals there and it has (somehow!) managed to get better and better every time. 

The front of house team are so accommodating (Franco is wonderful!) and we cannot forget the kitchen never faltering to amaze us - thank you.

Cost: Minimum £70pp without pairing wines.
Add: 1 Portland Pl, London, UK 
Phone: (020) 7965 0165 reservations recommended.

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Flat Iron - steaks, well done!

So, Flat Iron is one of those places I walked past, saw the queue and jotted down on my list of 'go to' places to then find it always seemed to crop up in conversation, and my desire to go burnt stronger.

Us girls like a reason to celebrate and Miss K hadn't had her girls celebration yet for her engagement. So, Thursday last week we popped into Soho and knew exactly where to head. Arriving just in time for us to be able to pop our names on the door we grabbed the table buzzer and zoomed downstairs for 2-4-1 happy hour cocktails in their quaint little bar. 

Upstairs decor is relaxed and follows the trend of reclaimed and upcycled. We had what I thought was one of the nicer tables (due to it being round) for the four of us. My only gripe was that it was right by the loo. Which, when people are queuing behind you whilst eating it's ever so slightly cramped. 

 The menu is simple. For a steak restaurant one may expect a mixture of cuts etc. Well, here at Flat Iron they serve one type called, you guessed it 'The Flat Iron' recommended to be served med-rare for £10. On our visit they also had an onglet for £15 which I sampled below. 

Beef dripping popcorn was ever so scrummy. We ate the lot within seconds and were swiftly brought another. Which again disappeared within rapid time.

The two cuts on offer were sampled.

The Flat Iron by Miss E and Miss C and the onglet by your truly and Miss K. 

Flat Iron
Onglet or 'Hanger Steak'
My onglet was incredibly tender I don't think I really needed the gimmicky cleaver knives that were on the table, and had a wonderful butter-rich flavour to it. Cooked to perfection (rare) with a decent and not over-powered charring to it. I'm not the biggest fan of red meat but this may have converted me. 

I had mine with 'Fred's' sauce. Which was a tomato based chilli sauce.  Giving a decent kick to it it was enjoyable but, I have had better. 

Between the four of us we ordered all the sides....

A very, very good aubergine dish. Creamed spinach, extra salad which came with pecans and blue cheese and a yummy dressing and some expertly done chips - crispy on the outside and super fluffy within.

 There's only two puddings on the menu a chocolaty thing and this...mother of all simple, naughty, delicious puddings. Salted caramel mousse! OH-MY-DAYS...

We had two and I think I basically scraped the cup clean with my finger afterwards. It was amazing...really, light and fluffy but full of flavour. We were told to add more salt on top to being out the caramel more and it certainly did. 

Flat Iron may be one of my most enjoyable places I've been to recently of the 'no reservations' trend that has emerged which, (usually) infuriates me. That said, they do a mean steak, fantastic sides and a great drink menu. We came out spending approx £30 per person including service and (plenty of) booze - bargain!

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