Searcys at The Gherkin

Every now and then Bookatable have a deal that I'm drawn towards... two weeks ago their star deal was for Searcys which, I had never heard of. What drew me to Searcys restaurant was that it is within The Gherkin, 40 floors up and therefore ticking off another of my high rise dining experiences looking over our beautiful city. 

The deal was 3 courses and a glass of bubbly for £45... not bad. But, what makes this extra special is that this dining experience has a rather fun bar above based on a Moroccan Souk which is only open for a limited time to celebrate The Gherkins 10th year (has it REALLY been that long!!). So, extra special. 

With the Moroccan theme in mind you can opt for a 'Taste of Morocco' tasting menu fr an extra £10pp on arrival or, afternoon tea which is only available to book in advance...

On this gloomy rather grey weather summers evening we were ushered through security quickly and zoomed up the 39 flights to be greeted by friendly faces and shown to our table right on the edge showing beautiful birds eye views below our feet and they immediately poured our glass of crisp, dry champers... 

The menu for our 3 courses was far more extensive than other offers I have come across. Six starters and six mains including interesting vegetarian options which is sometimes a rarity. All the meat and fish dishes all sounded delicious making it ever so slightly hard to choose from. 

Some warm bread with churned, salted butter arrived and was so comforting I ate it in quick succession. 

Wait service here is super attentive without them getting in the way... staff were friendly, informative and didn't intrude on our meal. The room was almost full at 7pm on a Tuesday which made for a wonderful atmosphere and is, of course, flooded with light being surrounded 360 degrees by glass and not a single building gets in eyes way... it's quite stunning. 

Once ordered our starters came in good time. 

Pickled Beetroot was my choice and came with whipped Vulscombe goat's cheese, basil, apple and vanilla. It looked as good as a Michelin starred dish and was a real treat to eat. I didn't taste much of the vanilla but, every other flavour shone through. 

Mr D's starter was a confit of duck roulade, white peach, candied walnut and rocket... 

Of the mains (and I wish one of us went for the Moroccan lamb as it looked delicious) I went for Butter roasted monkfish, heritage purple carrot, crisp bone marrow and bacon foam. My fish was exquistely cooked, one of the best monkfish dishes I've eaten - it could be to do with the 10,000grams of butter which went into the dish succulent and tender a real winner. The bone marrow was a little over-crisp for my liking but all other aspects of the dish worked perfectly. 

The better half opted for pork tenderloin, broccoli and navet (a Moroccan nod - it means turnip) and leeks. Sadly the pork was completely overcook, so much so it look a little sad on the plate and we were surprised it even got past the pass. But, the accompanying sauce was worthy of a mention as were the perfectly cooked al dente leeks.

Mr D's pudding, for me, was the stand out dish for the evening. Looks wise, it was incredibly pretty...taste wise completely delicious. Opalyse (an exceptionally good Parisian white chocolate) cremeux, charred lemon, lemon rose sorbet. It has every aspect you would want in a dish both sweet and sour flavourings and a mix of different textures - divine. 

I rather boringly went for the cheese trolley for an extra £5 supplement from a selection of about 15 cheeses they asked what I liked flavour wise and gave me a good selection of hard, soft, goats and smoked. 

Searcys is a lovely restaurant with just a few tweeks here and there the food could be top notch. If, like me, you're sucker for a romantic high rise supper (and also a bargain) it's a must - hit it before it vanishes....

Bookatable's deal link HERE
Searcys website HERE

A: 30 St Mary Axe, off Leadenhall Street, London,EC3A 8EP
Tube: Bank

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Cambio de Tercio

I adore tapas and how it creates table conversation through sharing food, discussing flavours with your companions and all cooing over the dishes at the same time. It's perfect for large groups, romantic for two and a decadent treat for one... Cambio de Tercio in South Ken has been my families 'go to' for (I think) over 20 years. It's still owned by the same lovely faces and still has a wonderful cosy 'unique' atmosphere even after expansion into several other branches. 

The Old Brompton Rd houses four of them and there's another in Fulham. In a word it's DELICIOUS and has never faltered on any of my visits. 

Last week my parents came down to celebrate my little bro turning 25... Tube strikes thus meant we needed to eat near their hotel and there's simply no point in us trying anywhere new when Cambio de Tercio is on the hotel's doorstep.

We arrived, ordered Aperol Spritz and Sherries (they specialise in the liquor) and got stuck into their mouthwatering menu. The other restaurants are solely 'tapas style' but, Cambio de Tercio's menu has tapas style starters and also a mains section. Putting my brother and I in charge of choosing the tapas (always dangerous if you ask me!) whilst Dad ordered a plate of the delicious acorn fed Iberico ham to munch on whilst we decided. 

Our tapas feast went as follows:

8 hr roasted Tomatoes in sherry and served with basil caviar and potato cubes

Foie Gras 'from the tree' a wonderful mind boggling Heston-esque apple jelly covered foie gras pate and poached pear.
Incredibly lightly fried squid, lemon aioli.

Their version of 'patatas bravas' - so SO good and an absolute must when here.

and finally their infamous Iberico ham croquettes... crisp outer shell and a creamy oozy delicious inside - what's not to love?!

Mains were as epic as the starter for us all...

My Dad and brother went for the Cambio classic of Crispy roasted suckling pig from Salamanca, pickled kumquat, caramelised shallots, roast parsnip... I had a mouthful of this and it is rather incredible, crispy skin and succulent meat - heaven.

Mum - Flame grilled pluma iberica (the finest cut from acorn feed pork) pineapple, lime puree. This was, sadly, not to mum's taste as it was very sweet but the meat had a wonderful flavour. 

I went for one of their fish dishes... Red mullet roasted with cauliflower, nameko mushrooms and in a rich mullet jus. 

Puddings were a necessity with it being the bro's birthday and he already has his eyes set on their 'egg and chips'. Mandarin egg yolk which oozed as it should. Mango as the chips and strawberry sauce as the ketchup (which has ketchup consistency). Mr brother loved it.

 A terrible photo of the egg yolk... 

4hr baked vanilla custard was also shared amongst us all and was utterly delicious. 

Another playful way of presenting food came with our rather delicious 'petite fours' chocolate truffles on dry ice...

Innovative, playful and still managing a good nod to Spain's traditional dishes - Superb as ever and a definite must go.

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Kurobuta - Chelsea

A couple of weeks ago Mr D and I found ourselves with a long and lazy weekend ahead of us... this usually then means a good day of grub followed by a spontaneous pub session with friends. On this particular weekend there happened to be hardly anyone in town so, we meandered as us 30 year old folk do, across the river to the haven that is... Peter Jones and a wander down the Kings Road. 

Kurobuta has now moved venue since my last visit a year ago (link) and I was somewhat saddened to see the rustic 'pop up' décor has now been replaced with slightly strange, haphazard and to be frank...a little bit odd. But, I'm here for the food and those delicious boozy cocktails. 

Our waitress was a charming American girl whom enthusiastically took us through her favourites and recommendations and then, quite literally, skipped off to get our drinks order and came back at lightening speed. 

Having been before there were a few 'must haves' that I ordered without looking at the menu and already knowing he was a little peckish ordered the Crunchy Rice Senbei Crisps with Avocado-Jalapeno Dip for a nibble whilst we decided on our feast...

Once ordered the dishes came at a decent pace and thankfully not all at once... first up was a punchy yellowtail Sashimi with Kizami Wasabi Salsa and Yuzu-Soy. Quite a generous portion for £13 and wonderfully fresh.

Next up was a favourite of mine when at Kurobuta... their version of Baby Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Mayo and Warm Ponzu Dipping Sauces. Served with fried rice cracker 'spaghetti'.

BBQ Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with Spicy Peanut Soy an absolute must have when visiting here... pillow-soft buns, wrapped round juicy perfectly cooked meat. Smother it in the sweet, sticky, salty peanut sauce and you have heaven in a mouthful.

BBQ Kurobuta Pork Ribs with Honey-Soy-Ginger Glaze were pre braised, then grilled, sadly let the meal down. A little too dry and the sauce was barely noticeable....

Kurobuta has changed ever so slightly since its previous home which is a shame as its lost a little of the charm which I so loved before. That said, however, it wouldn't stop me going back for more of those delicious buns and wonderous cocktails...

Address: 312 King's Rd, London SW3 5UH

Open today · 6:00 – 10:30 p.m.

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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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