The Ivy Chelsea...

Sunday was as much of a treat for the eyes as it was our hungry tummies...Bradley Cooper was feasting away outside after his day at Wimbledon finals - swoon!

The Ivy is the newest hotspot to hit Chelsea and as one can imagine the team behind the establishment (Caprice holdings) haven't scrimped on the décor budget. It's utterly stunning, both inside and out. 

We met with two of our friends A and K for a late Sunday lunch and even at this time the place was buzzing with people sat at the bar seating and tables filling nicely. The Caprice holding still to this day seem to have somewhat of a 'Midas touch' when it comes to knowing what their clientèle want. 

In true British Summer fashion we were treated to a decent downpour all day therefore the only available outside seating which was undercover was sadly, taken. We were therefore seated just inside of the windows whereby we could peer out longingly into their wonderful, and rather vast (for Chelsea) garden...

Our waiter came over, took a drinks order, and explained some of the 'new menu' highlights which, almost all of us round the table honoured his suggestions. To be quite honest, the whole menu reads blooming well and everything sounded right up my street so, it was no easy feat to decide...

Finally settling after a good glass of fizz our starters arrived:

Crispy prawns with wasabi for the boys, of which I had a good helping of these and personally I didn't really taste the prawns, or the wasabi for that matter. But I can tell you that the coating was crisp, dry and actually delicious. 

Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio with spiced avocado, lime, crème fraîche and coriander shoots for us girls. Unpretentious, fresh and delicious. 

Mains were a variety round the table...however in hunger haste I didn't photograph the others food.

I devoured the most delicious chicken milanese. Coated in brioche and topped with a soft runny egg and shaved black truffle. The most simple of things was transformed into a decadent, rich and thoroughly enjoyable Sunday evening supper. 

Puddings again, were a range around the table K had the (now infamous) chocolate bomb - my picture made it look awful but, Google it and you'll see how incredible it looks!

Mr D had the lemon meringue baked Alaska which I had a mouthful (or two of) and it was wickedly good...

A and I went for (poorly photographed) The Ivy classic, frozen berries and white chocolate sauce, a dish I regularly recreate at home but never quite get the sauce as good as it is here. Sweet, sour, hot, cold... perfect!

£50pp including a pre dinner drink and a decent bottle of plonk... a wonderful room (although some service blips - we found the staff a little 'upperty'!) and on this visit totally delicious food. I can't wait to head back...

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Roka - Charlotte Street

I am aware I am fast becomming a bit of a sushi/Japanese adict. But, my cousin is moving Up North, away from London, away from the hustle and bustle, away from us (sob) and one of his main loves... excellent sushi!

Due to his parting we went out for a final feasting of raw goodness at Roka which, coincidently, was one of the first places we went to when I moved down. 

A rather gorgeous summers evening meant the stylishly designed, open kitchen restaurant was flooded with light and felt rather LA-esque. So, naturally, ordered a couple of refreshing cocktails to kick off the evening with. Originally seated at one of their tables we asked if the bar seating was available (my favourite way of dining when in two's) and perched ourselves on the corner of the rather sexy knotted wooden counter.

The staff at Roka are charming and both the food and booze is presented beautifully. We started with one of Roka's newbies 'Rock Shrimp sashimi' which was delicious, incredibly sweet and super tender...

...and a plate of crunchy spicy tuna maki. 

We then went full steam ahead into the main menu. A refreshing, zingy yellowtail sashimi doused in a truffled yuzu dressing - Heavenly!

Seaweed and grilled bamboo salad in a sweet honey dressing. 

Of course, a helping of deliciously silken black cod had to be ordered and Roka's version has a wonderfully charred skin and served with a good 'snazzy chef's spurge' of sweet miso sauce. 

Scallops from the robata served with a wasabi and shiso cream were actually, sadly, really over cooked which we did mention to our waitress and in a flash we were sent out a second helping, correctly cooked and totally delicious. 

Next up a beef fillet, with chilli, garlic and spring onion. Sliced thinly and cooked perfectly rosy pink inside.

One of my favourite Japanese dishes is Miso aubergine and Roka's version didn't disappoint grilled with a sticky, sweet mirin marinade.

Roka was always a distant fond memory. It's incredible to see that still, 6 years on, it is exactly the same high standard with a superb atmosphere and cocktails to die for. Staff here are friendly without being overbearing and I certainly won't be leaving it another half a dozen years till my next visit.

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Nibbles at Soif - Battersea Rise

Soif is one of those wonderfully, relaxed places we tend to head to un-planned. Last week saw some beautiful British summer evenings and therefore meant a spontaneous drink in the sun on Soif's terrace.

Their menu changes daily, depending on supplies, and thus meaning we never tire of eating here and the food is really fresh. The menu is perfect for sharing, never seems to falter and heavenly when sat outside with the sun on your face and a glass of rose in hand... 

We weren't hugely hungry and therefore just decided on a couple of their starters to share between the two of us. Beginning with some deliciously buttery bread, gooey pork croquettes (shown above) and soppressata piccante (a spiced Italian Salame).

Our 'bigger' plates for the evening were:

Asparagus, goat's curd and Nduja. The curd was creamy with a mild tang to it and went well with the perfectly cooked 'Al Dente' asparagus and the warmth of spice through the nduja sausage. 

Garlic and Chilli prawns were huge and much so one was pinched and eaten before my camera got to it.

Burrata, tomatoes, shallots and anchovy. Burrata being one of my ultimate favourite starters didn't disappoint and the creamy, rich cheese was complimented by the salty fish and an incredibly fresh, simple tomato salad - de-LISH!!

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Kouzu - Chef's table

Last night I was treated to what can only be described as one hell of a meal... My absolute favourite sushi restaurant Kouzu has opened its chef's table or 'secret dining room' downstairs in the basement and it isn't short of a wonder. 

Kicking off with a Japanese influenced Martini upstairs at the sexy lit up bar, we were then led through Kouzu's calming kitchen to a glass door towards the back of the room (it does, however, have its own entrance to the left of the main door). Seven seats were positioned around a 'U' shaped table with what I think was one way glass so that we could watch everything being cooked right in front of us.

After a short while the Head Chef Kyoichi Kai (of Zuma background, and simply the most charming man) presented us with our first dish 'crab tartar'. 

Wonderfully sweet Canadian king crab was served with a celeriac
remoulade, orange and wasabi sauce giving a warming kick to the dish. 

Next up had mixed thoughts around the whole table. I for one, enjoyed the contrast of the sharp blue cheese, foie gras and sweet Teriyaki sauce which I was slightly shocked about... usually, I cannot stand blue cheese. But it worked, cutting through the sweetness, it was on occasion a little over powering for the delicate foie gras however still thoroughly enjoyable and such a treat!

Delicious prawns were heavily smoked and wonderfully garlicky, served with a chilli sauce. 

Following the above was our first of the meat dishes. A rare beef tataki marinated in a punchy oriental sauce, micro herbs, a swish of horseradish and crunchy garlic chips - what's not to love?!

Yellowtail, truffle, creamy avocado and grapefruit - fresh, zingy, delicious!

Three ('or four') types of seaweed were served as the prettiest of salads and had different elements of texture and flavours. 

Followed by the most incredibly fresh sushi selection consisting of tuna and yellowtail sashimi and flame licked tuna and salmon nigiri then, my all time favourite.. their insane scallop nigiri…

Next up was the ever-so-popular 'Miso black cod' which was as good as I remember the last time I visited Kouzu, back in January. Served with an orange and tomato salsa... buttery and melt-in-your-mouth goodness! I could eat plates full of the stuff, as I'm sure would most people.

Now... for something I wasn't imagining I would get to taste on such an already triumphant and spoiling menu...Wagyu beef, hands down one the of the most orgasmic mouthfuls I've had in a long time. So rich, so tender and just so good! It was served with a ponzu sauce which certainly wasn't needed as the beef spoke for itself.

Pudding arrived and was reminiscent of 'iced gems' and a complete flavour experience. Strawberry, mango, orange, raspberry, yuzu and macha green tea ice cream 'cake'. Simply stunning and was actually incredibly light considering all the flavours, thus showing great skill from the pastry chef. 

Kouzu became, from first visit, my all time favourite sushi restaurant in London which is now going to be exceptionally hard to beat. The chef's table, whereby the menu will change at least every three months, was an incredible experience that only excelled Kouzu further up in my restaurant 'must go to' list. Exquisite dishes and exceptional service all within a stunning venue. If you haven't been yet, go and please treat that special someone they will thank you later...

N.B. I dined as a guest of Kouzu.

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Jamie's Italian, Piccadilly

I have been meaning to try one of Jamie's Italian Resto's for a long old time since a friend of mine claimed 'it was some of the best pasta (he'd) eaten'. Being a bit of a pasta snob (DeCecco for everyday, Giuseppe Cocco for posh - trust me, it makes a difference) this claim stuck and therefore when I was invited down to try one on my doorstop for lunch I jumped at the chance...

Taking Miss R as a birthday celebration it was luckily one of those gloriously balmy summer days and we were able to sit outside (they have a fabulous terrace). Quickly ordering two of their blush rose we settled into the menu and found it rather hard to choose... 

Starters however were an easy choice and made to share so we dived in with...

Chilli squid, garlic lemon mayo... battered to perfection with a perfectly crisp, dry coating. For £6 this was a rather generous portion and totally delicious when dipped into the punchy lemon mayo.

Crab arancini, was well executed however, did lack slightly in crab flavouring and was slightly small on the portion size. But it had a good crisp coating and that heavenly gooey risotto inside...

Mains were a hard choice between their classic Italian grilled meats and fish, healthy sounding salads and the 'raved about' pasta.

I opted for the latter especially as two of my favourite dishes are on there... prawn linguine and crab spaghetti with chilli. The crab won my vote and I certainly wasn't disappointed. A wonderful light tomato sauce coated every strand which gave a perfect hit of chilli and a salty caper/anchovy punch. There was an abundant amount of crab meat (both white and brown) therefore well worth the £13.50 price tag... The pasta itself held a good bite to it and again, well cooked! I was pleasantly surprised.

My lunch date went for the salmon salad... which again was rather generous in size and very pretty but, lacked a little on salmon portion and therefore slightly disappointing.

Would I re-visit - yes...but not instantly, Jamie's is easy, affordable and quick. It caters well for the local business minded people as well as an abundance of tourists. I was pleasantly surprised by most of our meal, the menus read well and the staff all wonderfully friendly. Thank you!

Jamie's can be found at the following link

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