Brasserie Chavot - fantastic all-rounder

Borrowed from the times website...

French brasseries recently have been opening their doors in London like an advent calender in December. Brasserie Chavot is the latest 'buzz' in the restaurant world due to its owner Eric Chavot being a) actually French and b) hailed as the 'best in London' by many. As a previous 2 Michelin star winner at The Capital (they lost the starts when he left...) his restaurant comes with high expectations, and last night Mr D and I got to sample what all the fuss is about. 

In a fantastic location, smack bang in the middle of Conduit Street, you enter a beautifully opulent and grand room we were seated at out banquet table and ordered a glass of the Pink English sparkling wine - delicious! 

The room is impressive, not OTT at all, beautiful Mosaic floor, which plays a part to the design of the menu and business cards. Then centrally, there are several statement chandeliers, around 50 or so tables and moody lighting, thus making the room out to be far more of a special dining experience than that of Zedel and Balthazar's vast cavernous rooms. 

The wine menu serves up perfectly priced carafe's of wine, and as this was a Wednesday we ordered a red to sip with our meal which was ample for an evening when one doesn't want to enforce a hangover!

We had an appetiser of the 5J pure Ibérico de Bellota ham (no photo) as recommended by our (very) attentive waitress. Which came with a lovely tomato and basil 'topping' to create your own bruschetta on perfectly charred bread. This was a great start to the meal and a good nibble to have whilst we had the task of what we were going to choose. 

Mr D ordered to start, the Snails bourguignon, meatball and potato espuma. Underneath possibly the smoothest potato purée I have ever come across, was a deliciously sweet and thick tomato sauce filled with numerous tiny meatballs and succulent snails. Their signarture dish and one I don't think Mr D was disappointed with. 

My starter was a special of the day, Scallops with asparagus. This was small but superb, I am not 100% sure what was on top of my scallops but they tasted like very small lardons and went well with the whole meal giving it a good 'crunch factor'. 

Next up, mains:

After toying with the menu and 2 items in particular I settled for the 'filet de Canette a l'orange, caramelised endives' (my other option was the prawns with chickpeas and chorizo). A sweet orangy syrup and carrot puree off set the succulent duckling and the endives giving a bitter kick, so rounding off the plate perfectly. Definitely in need of some sides though which we, of course, ordered...

 Mr D went for the Rump of Oisin venison, honey glazed root vegetable. This was incredible the venison cooked perfectly set upon a good hearty broth like sauce and spring root vegetables. 

As sides we ordered some (very good) chips, enough for 2 people FYI, and some yummy garlicky beans... 

Date night treat - Baba au rhum with creme fraiche Chantilly. OH-MY-GOD good, well worth the extra calories and big enough to share (as we did)... The yellow ribbons are in fact paper thin slices of fresh pineapple. The cake, soaked in sticky, sweet rum syrup and was still a perfectly light fluffy sponge - it literally took me back to the original rum cake from The Cayman Islands we had at Christmas(thank you Miss Cook), I just wish I was on that hot little Island! The light-as-air Chantilly cream was a lovely addition to an already perfect pud - a definite to try. 

Contrary to many posts we experienced fantastic service, however this may be due to the fact that we were there for a 6:30 seating (I LOVE an early supper,) so therefore the restaurant wasn't in 'full swing'. I highly recommend going around 7:30 as the atmosphere goes up a notch and the lights get dimmed - ooooohhh. 

A great parent place for those whom have out-of-towners like me. Great food, fabby venue and excellent location. 

Brasserie Chavot, 41 Conduit St  London W1S 2YF - 020 7183 6425

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Two sets of my nearest and dearest have been wanting to try this Pimlico institution (founded in 1982) for a while and so I booked a table of six for last Friday evening. 

Mr D and I have been before and therefore fully expecting the feast ahead I starved over lunch, dolled myself up and popped into The orange for a pre-drink and catch up. 

Hunan is famed for not having a menu and therefore diners simply tell them what they don't like and how spicy they want their food... from then on it's up to the family run restaurant to entertain. 14+ courses (circa £40) of Taiwanese tapas-sized portions then start their parade onto the table. Any of the dishes you are more than welcome to ask for more and there are options of extra courses should you wish - Seabass or King Crab served with noodles, at an extra £9 per person and also crispy duck pancakes at an extra £6 per person.

Hunan pride themselves on reasonable wines of which the 6 of us tucked well into during our 3.5 hour meal. I didn't take pictures of all dishes for fear of interrupting flowing conversations and nor did I therefore take my SLR as that would be slightly OTT when out for dinner with friends... 

And so it begins... 

First up was their famous signature dish of pork, mushroom and ginger broth. Delicious.

2nd minced chicken lettuce wrap - one of my faves, I love this dish. 

Crispy tofu. None of us could quite believe this was tofu due to not being fans we all enjoyed this dish as it was so unexpectedly crunchy and tasty. 

Pork won ton. 

Crispy chilli, garlic beans. An all round winner throughout the table especially with Miss R. Perfect light batter and delicious spice kick. 

Spiced Jelly fish and shredded chicken salad. Not entirely sure of the jelly fish consistency but it was nice to try something unusual.

Fried crispy Tilapia in a sauce I do not remember, but it was sweet and sticky of which we all enjoyed. (no photo taken)

Salt and pepper lamb breast in ginger and garlic (again no photo taken) this was one of Mr G's faves throughout the night. Similar to dry fried spare ribs in salt and pepper - moreish! 

Spinach dumpling wrapped in prawn, ginger, soy and spring onion dressing. A pretty and delicious dish.

'Hunan' style prawn and chicken baked dumpling. A delicate 'prawn toast' which was Mr D's favourite and also another all rounder for the whole table.

Scallop and Cucumber somehow the scallop taste was lost within this so not one of my top dishes. 

Pork with ginger and morning glory. The first of the 'mains' super delicious and I wish we'd asked for more - next time!

Next we had 'beef tongue in a spicy sauce'. Not one of Miss R's faves but Mr F and I were in huge favour of this and pleased we didn't opt out of the offal option at the beginning of the meal. (no picture as this wasn't hugely 'pretty' to look at but very tasty!)

We then decided to have the three extra charge dishes the first being crispy duck pancakes 1-2 per person. At an extra £4 (?!) this was a nice addition and always a winner wherever you are. 

Lobster with hand pulled noodles. This was outstanding and my absolute stand out dish of the evening. Served in a thick oyster sauce the hand pulled noodles was of perfect consistency and the lobster was superb. For an added £9 per person this is definitely worth it. 

Seabass was our final main dish... we asked for some more of their fantastic noodles to accompany this and it was well worth it. Steamed seabass in delicious soy, spring onion and garlic sauce. 

photo taken/borrowed from
Pudding was the final dish to our meal this consisted of a mixture of fried bananas and apples with Vanilla ice cream. I'm never entirely sure whether this is a Western addition to the Eastern cuisine and not being a fan of cooked fruit (I know I'm missing out on crumbles etc) I ate the toffee outer and left the fruit (mum - I did try it, I promise!). But everyone gobbled this up before we left. 

Overall? A fantastic meal shared with some great friends. Delicious and decently priced wine (we had a great white Sancerre), with innovative, scrumptious and enjoyable food, once again.  

51 Pimlico Rd  London, Greater London SW1W 8NE

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Dabbous picture
Way back in July 2012 we managed to get 'the restaurant booking' of the year for Dabbous in... May 2013. I am told now it's just as hard unless you're extremely stubborn, happy to eat at 6:30 or  possibly The Duchess of Devonshire... Oliver Dabbous has been talked about over the past year as being Britain's 'next BIG thing' and our experience last night concluded just that. 

We arrived a little early, and therefore were able to head down to 'Oscar's bar' under the restaurant which serves up some mean cocktails and super looking snacks. I settled for a 'Sloe Gin Punch', home made Sloe Gin and grapefruit juice is teamed with ginger ale and fresh fruits, mint and cucumber. This was really refreshing and many of the waitresses favourites. Mr D chose their Cider cocktail which was a 'Dutch Breakfast', Bols Genever, tonka bean spirit, lemon and orange marmalade which is shaken and finished with Wyld Wood Cider. This was another winner and came with a small piece of dried wood which as you drank you got a 'barky' smell - very clever. 

Seated upstairs the restaurant is quite industrial and there's not a huge amount of tables. As we were a 6:30 booking we were off by 8:30 but this gave us plenty of time to enjoy the food at a decent pace. 

The waiter informed us that the set menu at £56 per person for 7 courses was the better value, they recommend 5-7 dishes off the A la Carte per person, as the dishes are small. In hind sight, yes, it does look good value, however when one would rather an extra starter or main over puddings this wasn't for us. Also, a couple of the courses we didn't want and opted instead to have 3 of the larger dishes whereas on the set menu you only got to sample one. 

The bread arrived in a brown paper bag which, upon opening produced the most intense fresh bread smell and my tummy grumbled. This was served with the softest churned butter we have ever had (massive box ticked here).

Mr D decided we'd order as we go along and see how we felt after 3 courses and potentially order more should we wish. We therefore ordered 6 dishes which came out in 2's as courses...

First up, The coddled free range egg with smoked butter and mushrooms. This being 'Chef Dabbous' signature dish, was outstanding and looked brilliant being served back into the shell and on a bed of hay. This is possibly the best scrambled egg you will ever taste in your life - fact! 

Our other starter was, mixed alliums in a chilled pine infusion. Alliums being two very pretty onions perched in the middle of the dish surrounded by a bright green spotted clear broth. A really fresh, pretty and light dish. 

Once these were polished off our fish 'mid course' arrived. King crab with warm garlic buttermilk and hispi cabbage. Generous portions of crab in a delectably moreish buttery sauce, this was my second favourite of the evening and Mr D's numero uno. 

Along with the crab came one of the larger dishes, poached cod with palourde clams, artichokes, basil and mustard. Perfectly cooked all round and great combinations. 

Barbecued Iberico pork, savoury almond praline, radishes and crushed green apple was next up. This was my favourite dish of the whole evening. A faultlessly charred meaty pork was literally insane. I could have ordered 3 courses of just this and left happy... the sweet, sticky praline was like a posh satay sauce to accompany the hunk of meat - I wish I could have licked my plate!

Barbecued grain-fed beef short rib with mustard, molasses & dill pickle concluded our meaty mains. This was another delicious dish succulent beef in a sweet sauce, the pickle perfectly cut through the richness of this dish. 

We caved, and had pudding which was Warm buckwheat waffle, smoked fudge sauce and sour cream. The sweet waffle was perfect, the sauce was disgustingly addictive, not overpowering in smokiness in any way and I ended up pouring the rest of the sauce onto my spoon and eating it on its own - amazing. 

As a pallet cleanser we had the 'iced lovage' fresh, zingy and tasty. I sadly didn't ask what it was exactly, but it's a bright green granita. But... on Sunday we popped down to the local market and on the herb plant stall was in fact 'Lovage' in plant form. So it's a type of herb...

Overall... don't be fooled by the reasonably looking prices on-lineshould you only have 2/3 courses you'd leave feeling hungry, hence our bill creeping past the £100 mark on an evening where we were 'just going to a quick treat'. But it's well worth it. Innovative ingredients and flavours make this a seriously delicious and well worthy trip should you be able to get on the wait list!

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Greek inspired quick summer supper...

As the sun is (finally) out I fancied a summer food fuelled supper at home with the doors flung open and a light breeze through the house. 

Lamb usually springs (see what I did there) to mind once the weather heats up and therefore this Nigel Slater dish with my greek-esque side salad is perfect. It also only takes about 30mins from prep to mouth.

Serves 2

6-8 lamb cutlets
1/2 x block of good quality feta
decent olive oil
I lemon juice
small handful of FRESH Oregano and Thyme leaves only
Salt and Pepper for seasoning

1 x large courgette - sliced into strips with a peeler
2 x small tomatoes quartered
1 large red pepper
6 tbsp olive oil
1 x small red onion sliced finely
Small handful of fresh coriander chopped finely
1 Lemon, Zest and juice
1 tbsp clear runny honey
1 Garlic clove crushed
salt and pepper for seasoning

Pre heat your grill on high.

Meanwhile put a pan onto the hob, lightly drizzle in some olive oil. When hot fry the courgette slices until charring. Set aside.

Cut the pepper into quarters and grill until blackened. Once done, place into a food bag and leave to cool down 

Whilst cooling make the vinaigrette's for the two dishes. 

Mix together all the olive oil, coriander, roasted cumin, lemon juice and zest, honey and garlic. Whisk it well so that it combines and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the lamb, take the Oregano and thyme leaves place into a bowl and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Crumble in half the feta and the lemon juice and season to taste.

Set aside both sauces till later. 

By now the peppers should be cool enough. Peel off the skins and slice them into strips. Mix into a large salad bowl with the courgette strips, tomatoes and onion.

Heat a pan until hot. Season with salt and pepper and brush lightly each cutlet with olive oil or goose fat in my case. Do NOT oil the pan!

Cook for about 7 minutes on each side for pink depending on size (mine were quite thick cutlets and this cooks them nicely pink) or until crisp.

Place cutlets onto a serving plate and spoon over the feta dressing whilst still hot. 

Take the courgette salad and mix in the vinaigrette well and toss together to coat all of the vegetables. 

A really refreshing and easy supper for an evening like tonight - enjoy! 

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