Monday

Taking a break...

...to concentrate on more important things (mostly my wedding) other than feeding my tum! Thank you for all your support over the past 3 - YIKES! years... it's been a pleasure. 

Back soon... (hopefully!)

L xx
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Thursday

Bao - Soho steamed buns of deliciousness

Bao feels like a distant fond memory, I went here pre-Christmas. Eating (and drinking) a heck of a lot over the festive period it all sort of rolled into one huge feast - Thanks dad for the horrific port hangover. I didn't want to eat anything, or write anything up for that matter for a wee while. So, here I am writing up Soho's newbie and ever-so-popular 'Bao' after a 40 minute, nervous, 'will it be good enough for my dining companion after all this?!' wait in the dismal, December rain almost a month ago... 

Finally we made it through the door and were perched at the bar which, in my view are the best seats due to looking at the bar staff busying themselves and not a wall or, back out onto the street teasing the queue of people you managed to get in front of...
The menu is simple. Operating a tick box system which you can easily go over board on ordering and booze is again, kept simple. Very few wines, a couple of beers, cider and Sake... easy! A white and a beer for us then and we got on with ticking away most of the menu...
Scallop, yellow bean and garlic arrived first and was utterly incredible, sat in a puddle of garlicky yummyness and perfectly cooked. Thus meaning, I swiftly ordered more and sat waiting in anticipation until the new batch arrived. Along with these came sweet potato chips which a pickle ketchup which neither of us were too fussed about.

Taiwanese fried chicken... definitely get this over the Bao version. Crispy, spicy, delicious! 
Then arrived our first Bao bun The 'Classic'. Braised pork, Peanut powder, fermented greens and coriander. One bite and try to resist the immediate 'oh, my, god' that comes from within... it's so, so good!
Confit pork Bao, pork sauce, hot sauce and dried shallots. Just as good but, the above wins by a whisker.
We shared all of our dishes and the next one was pretty tricky to give up half of. Lamb shoulder Bao which has had numerous high praises from foodies. Incredibly juicy and smothered in a coriander sauce with a good amount of chilli kick. I defy anyone not to love it... 
 Calvolo nero, salted egg surprisingly moreish and irresistible. 
 Beef rump, white soy. 
Pig's blood cake, egg yolk... not for the squeamish but, if you love black pudding this dish is for you. Rich, meaty and made even more so by the soy cured, oh so oozy egg yolk you mix into it.
Our bill came to £78 for the two of us and we left completely and utterly full...So, was the wait worth it? Yes, join the ever growing, ever groaning queue it most definitely is...

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Bao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
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Monday

Viet Food - Wardour Street, Soho

Viet Food sticks out like a sore thumb...amongst the typical Soho Chinese restaurant frontage Viet Food is more stylised, more inviting and more...'restaurant-y'. It does however, still have the 'compulsory' open kitchen with a large window for passer's by to stare at the chefs beavering away at their delicious Vietnamese Street Food creations.

Four of us popped by on a Tuesday evening after securing a prized table (they have had a boom in bookings since a few well acclaimed foodies gave them the thumbs up!)... we were perched downstairs on the high table by the kitchen, I am told upstairs is where it's at but, we were perfectly happy especially with what was about to come.
The menu is largely made up of sharing dishes with a few 'Pho' and 'Bun' mains towards the back. After reading a few blogs we decided to opt for as many sharing dishes as possible and skip the slurping bowls... honestly it's the best way forward. Ordering two lots of their prawn crackers whilst we waited for the latecomer we covered our plates in their firey hot blow-your-head-off red sauce and also their milder, sharper green chilli sauce. 

Once ordered food came at a good pace. Lighter items first then moving onto more main style dishes. I asked for the waitresses help with flavourings and any recommendations and her suggestions were all wonderful.

Coconut calamari served with sweet and sour sauce were a perfect example of crisp coating and all of us thoroughly enjoying the added flavour of the coconut to make these a little different from the norm... we ordered two of these... The sweet and sour sauce in the tiny glass 'thimble' was a little pointless however.
A waitress suggestion of the Pomelo prawn salad was an excellent choice. Our prawns were big, fat and juicy. Perfectly cooked and the salad, a good citrus-y and sweet kick with crunchy textures went down a treat cutting through some of the heavier stickier dishes below. 
Lemongrass chicken wings - sticky, sweet and slightly spiced but, sadly, not hugely memorable...
Five spiced soft shelled crab had mixed reviews (mostly due to the fact there was FAR too much raw onion on the dish... overall however, a well executed light, crisp batter and the five spice (as with the calamari) gave a slight edge on this version over others...
Cha Cha Lot was another recommendation and turned out to be another winner... grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf, sweet, sticky and incredibly tasty. 
A favourite of mine and a must order whenever on a menu is fried green beans with shrimp sauce and minced beef (often with minced pork). This is a perfect combination of sweet and salt and perfect when the beans are kept al dente for a good bit of crunch. 
Lamb cutlets 'hanoi style' were cooked to perfection with succulent meat a sticky glaze and with an excellent amount of charring for added flavour.
Bacon wrapped ribs I wasn't so keen on and nor were my fellow companions due to them being slightly chewy and not hugely flavoursome. Yes, the bacon added another dimension and something different to the usual ribs. But, there's other tastier items on the menu I would rather have over these.
Vietnam free range chicken curry was a little too heavy for me and had a powdery texture and bitterness to it - possibly too much curry powder? Not a dish I would pounce on again in comparison to others above and a shame to end on a slightly low point. We had this with their beef fried rice (not pictured) which was delicious... 
A great addition to the China Town tourist masses. Some lows but, many dishes with outweigh these. So, book ahead and definitely go with a gaggle of hungry friends... 

A: 34-36 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6QT
T: 020 7494 4555

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Vietfood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday

Brasserie Gustave


Nestled at the top end of Sydney Street, Chelsea is a space that seemingly has had more change of ownerships than I have had of hot dinners...

However one may just be staying put. Brasserie Gustave has been open a year and a half which we are told by the charming bar tender downstairs whilst sipping on cocktails and eating freshly made canapés... in this time we learnt about the Head Chef, Laurence Glayzer and his background - coming from the three starred Georges Blanc and the two starred L'esperance... so, high expectations.
Salmon and caviar, terrine and cheese sticks
Upstairs is fronted by the rather wonderful and engaging Richard Weiss whom, personally, made this evening all the better for us. His enthusiastic energy is infectious and he has a way to make you basically agree with whatever he is offering - trust me, it's all good!

We settled in and allowed for said Richard to choose our wines to match our chosen courses and started with a Pinot blanc from Alsace.. the rest I can't tell you about but all were quaffable!

Mr D ordered their (now) infamous snails and went for the 12 (also available as 6) thus meaning I got to taste a couple of these. Swimming in garlic and parsley, then topped with a tiny freshly fried croûton, a lardon and a pastry 'snail'. They were the best we have both ever eaten and so it would be a sacrilege to not order these when visiting Gustave.
Starter pour moi was the foie gras pressed terrine served simply with a wonderful, fig and port chutney and toast. Plentiful, delicious and completely spoiling.
A fresh glass meant the arrival of our mains was imminent. The mains are hefty on the red meat side of things (would you expect any different?!) and thus pleased the man greatly! I settled with a 'country style' sounding simple Confit de Canard dish served with choucroute (French sauerkraut) a bit like a huntsman's broth - simple flavours, clean tasting and heart warming. It was exactly that. 
Mr D chose the steak served 'saignant' and with a flambéed (at your table) cognac and pepper sauce.
Puddings were a mean feat to squeeze in however, our arms were twisted with a rich and creamy crème brûlée, which came solo and simple. And, what can only be described as an 'orgasmic', very chocolate-y, very gooey, chocolate fondant.

Gustave - we will be visiting again. I hope with a huge group to add to the wonderful, local atmosphere it gave last Friday evening...the kitchen serves up wonderful French food which does a great job - filling the enormous gaping hole that the well-loved Racine has left behind...magnifique!

Disclosure - we were invited to review

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Brasserie Gustave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
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Monday

Petersham Nurseries - just...stunning!

The rather wonderful Petersham Nurseries has been on my hit list for as long as I remember however never quite finding the time to book or, for that matter, get in! I had put it in the back of my mind to try next summer.
Luckily for me my Maid of Honour blocked out a Sunday and managed to bag two spots in the main restaurant. After a browse through the stunning shop and totalling up that I probably spent around £10k in around 5 seconds on gorgeous pieces of furniture (in my head) it was time for lunch.
Both cafe and restaurant are housed in beautiful Victorian glasshouses and are completely full to the ceiling of flora and fauna - it is a rather magical place to be, especially this time of year where twinkling Christmas lights are entwined throughout the climbing plants and branches. 
The simple menu has around 6 starters and the same for mains. All seasonal, all local sustainable ingredients and all incredibly tempting. The emphasis here is showing the ingredients off in the best possible way. Many dishes have only 3 or 4 elements to them. It's simple cooking at Michelin standards and completely my kind of food...colourful, fresh and the type of food which makes you content with each mouthful...

Starter of Burrata, Autumn pumpkins, hazelnuts, cavolo nero tips, oregano and chilli. Dressed simply in olive oil - delicious. 



With the cold Autumnal air outside there was one thing on the menu I knew would warm me right up 'Fish stew'. Abundant with clams, red mullet, mussels and garlic bruschetta. Served with a good dollop of a punchy Aioli it really hit the spot and was a wonderful bowl full of goodness.
I absolutely loved it here and left with a beaming smile and a warm feeling of content. A really special little place where you can leave your London head behind and completely immerse yourself into a totally different world. Go early doors, have a good old romantic wander down the river, take in the cold crisp air and work up a good appetite. A place never to be missed and one that is now firmly at the top of my favourites list - Miss G thank you. xx

W: http://petershamnurseries.com/eat/cafe/about
A: Petersham Rd, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AB
T: 020 8940 5230

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Petersham Nurseries Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
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