Monday

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 delicious...so 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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Wednesday

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.
pre-cooking

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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Friday

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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Tuesday

The Coat and Badge - Putney

Taken from the website
Back in the day when I was living in Parson's Green The Coat and Badge was our staple weekend hangout due to it's rather glorious sun drenched beer garden... one of the best I know of. Now, sadly it seems a million miles away (well, in London terms!) and I haven't been there in a year or so - sob!

The other evening I met up with my brother as I was invited down to try their new summer menu, which is full of pub classics, as well as a few lighter bites and a couple of daily specials. 



The Coat and Badge is of the Geronimo Inn family (always pretty much reliable winners, in my eyes) whom are spreading their wings all over London. Each of their pubs is totally individual they state on the website that, 'they are not a chain' and it's clear that the staff enjoy working for a 'family run' business. 

We settled in at the back of the dining room ordered drinks (mine a rather huge blush rose!) and decided on our feast...

Starters (which were HUGE in size!) came in good timing - not too fast, not too slow and both delicious:

My brother opted for the shredded lamb salad served with beetroot, yoghurt and pickled cucumber. 



Yours truly had the sweet potato falafel, giant cous cous and a tzatziki dressing. Crisp outer coating on the falafel, nicely spiced, fluffy sweet potato on the inside and they kept the cous cous simple, delish. 



Mains again arrived in good time and I was seriously impressed with my fish, which was a special that day. North Atlantic Char (from the salmon family but, much less pink and has a far more delicate flavour). Perfectly cooked, adding brilliantly crispy skin and flaky flesh. Served with a small watercress salad and an enormous amount of buttery pesto new potatoes.




Master W had the Ham, truffle egg and home made chips, which, went down a treat. (apologies for not the most flattering of food pics..)



Feeling a little stuffed for a Tuesday evening we bypassed pudding and instead gossiped the evening away in their wonderfully relaxed surroundings. Thank you Coat and Badge we will be returning soon... Putney punters - Enjoy... just make sure you prepare yourself for the extra large portions!! 

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Friday

Rex and Mariano - incredibly fresh fish


There's been a little buzz in recent months about the Goodman Group's newest Soho baby, Rex and Mariano. Being a bit of a fish addict, this was one restaurant I was particularly excited about going to. 

Rex, of The Chelsea Fishmonger, knows his cod from his coley and therefore is one of the brains behind the glorious produce. Mariano, is the beauty behind the wonderous wine-on-tap bar towards the back of the restaurant... which, seemingly are rather reasonably priced decent wines - I say, with a slightly banging head this morning! 

The restaurant is cavernous: bar seating, table seating and snuggly banquettes are grouped around large stylish wash basins and sit in front of a buzzy open plan kitchen where bells chime when dishes are ready. 

We were seated by the oyster shuck bar and presented with two menu's, one paper, one I-pad version (where you place your order) and warned that once sent to the kitchen the food is pretty rapid. So, order it in stages - they weren't wrong! Our drinks came at record speed once tapped 'send' so, we decided there and then to order once we'd finished our dish(es) in order to not be in and out in under 30 minutes!



Everything, I mean EVERYTHING at Rex and Mariano is fish and either cheviche, tartar, carpaccio or very simply cooked (on the plancha). Therefore, if your dining companion ain't a fan - don't go. Unless, they're happy with a whole cauliflower, which does look delicious!



Encouraged by a few people to order the bread simply 'to mop up the juices' was first on the iPad shopping list (served with a delicious tuna paste) coupled with a huge plate of frito misto covered in a spicy 'Old Bay' seasoning and served simply with lemon and mayo. It was seriously satisfying for those deep fried food lovers amongst us and a great mix of different fish and shellfish. 





We then used the powers of the Ipad to set about our own dining pace... 

Sea bass ceviche with coriander, tigers milk, yuzu and sharp red onion. Nice big chunks of lightly cured, incredibly fresh fish doused in a plate lick-able punchy dressing - what's not to love?



and a simple, refreshing, tuna carpaccio serviced with tomato, parsley, olive oil and lemon plus a good lashing of salt. 



Clams in the classic, white wine and garlic were flavoursome and an incredibly decent amount for only £7 - how do they do it?!



The infamous raw red Sicilian prawns were so juicy and sweet I could have eaten dozens of the things (luckily these weren't the man's favourite so I, more or less, had the whole lot!). Just make sure you, do as the Italians do and suck the juicy goodness out of the heads...




To keep the man happy I then quickly ordered one final dish of Sicilian striped prawns in lemon, a lot of chilli and olive oil. These are big (n.b.the photo does not do the size justice), juicy beasts and well worth an order! Especially when you've succumbed to a portion of carbs to mop up the rather gorgeous liquid on the plate. 


Rex and Mariano is a really easy hang out. All dishes are ridiculously reasonably priced for exceptionally fresh seafood... A thoroughly enjoyable evening and one place I would like to think I'll be visiting often, just remember to leave your carnivorous friend behind... 

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