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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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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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

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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The Lodge - Jimmy's Pop up in Clapham

You may remember a while back my girlfriends and I had a rather strange dinner at The Secret Garden (another pop up behind the mastermind of Jimmy Garcia). It was a little bit 50/50 and therefore I was ever so slightly dubious in going although, knowing full well the food was excellent the last time I had to go at it with a fresh mind... 

Jimmy's Winter adventure which originated in Balham last year was such a hit he's re opened it in the same space and my god, it's a transformation. The room is wonderful - cosy, intimate and seats are covered in tartan fabric making it a full transportation to a snugly log cabin and all that's missing is a fire, cold toes and some snow...
Taken from the Lodge website (I believe this is the Balham venue)
Four of us went along last week on a balmy Thursday evening and the place was heaving...think similar apres ski atmosphere just without the red noses and frost bitten fingers to find people already hitting the bar area hard for a long evening ahead. 

On receiving our menus we ordered the viognier and a couple of warm 'butter rums' topped with meringue (a must order) and settled in for the next couple of hours.
Our starters arrived and were thoroughly enjoyed. All expertly cooked and devoured in seconds...

A light dish of Scallop Carpaccio - ​Hand Dived Scallops, Pancetta, Melon and Pickled Cucumber. Refreshing with a good sweet and sour hit to it. 
Vicars Game Wood Pigeon, Pear and Celeriac Remoulade and Chicory was my choice of starter and it was delicious, plentiful and much lighter than the picture suggests!
The Gameboard was had across the whole table. An ENORMOUS combination of the English Countrysides favourite meats and birds - 

Mini Venison Chateaubriand - was succulent and nicely charred (served pink) 
Wild Boar Scotch Egg. My favourite on the whole board. Seasoned well and of course the make or break of this snack...a nice runny golden yolk... 
Heather Stuffed Pigeon. Again, served perfectly pink with a crisp skin 
Mini Game Burger cooked rare was juicy and flavoursome; and finally 
Pigeon Bon Bon all served with crisp skinny fries and a dressed side Salad.

Personally to get into the spirit of the place do what we did. Gather some food loving friends (it isn't for the light stomached!!). Order the main sharing board and eat till you can eat no more! Two types of fondue are also available (I am told these will always be here even with the menu changing often) as well as a charcuterie board...that's if you can move your eyes away from the four equally tempting main options. Great atmosphere, fab food, even better booze...a Winter Winner and a must book (it packs out quickly).


The Lodge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
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Trinity (Upstairs)

Our fabulous local, Trinity has had a rather fabulous re-vamp and now us lucky locals have the opportunity of eating at two restaurants within the same building. What was a store cupboard now houses an excuse to eat here more regularly and also, as it happens rather reasonably! 

We arrived to wondrous hello's from familiar staff faces and were zoomed upstairs past the now gorgeous open kitchened, white table cloths and into a gorgeous stripped back-to-basics dining room upstairs. 

The small kitchen has a couple of chefs whom dish up the whole room. The menu changes daily and dishes come as and when they're ready and are made for sharing. Think of it as English tapas, if you will and suggest getting as many of the delicious dishes into your feast as possible. We were a foursome this evening so, did just that and went for the whole savoury menu... perfect!

A night at Trinity cannot go amiss without sampling some of their decent wine. However, on this occasion we had been rightfully informed that their house is rather drinkable (correct!) and at £19 a bottle it's a bit of a steal! 

We started with what can only be described as deep.fried.heaven...
Veal bolognese fritter covered in parmesan - what's not to love?! Order two of these (if anything similar is on the menu) and enjoy every mouthful... I can promise you, you won't regret it.
We then munched on crudite with a hefty smoked aubergine and riccota dip (delicious) a slight nod to the original Trinity whereby they always served similar with delicious warm bread - It was here that my love for a raddish, salt and butter blossomed.
Char-grilled octopus and hummus - one of my favourites of the evening. Simple, perfectly cooked, tasty.
 Rabbit terrine, prunes, punterella (chicory) and mustard fruits.
Pork belly, romanesco and cobnut with perfectly crisp pieces of crackling and wickedly sweet fat running through.
The overall table winner of the whole evening was the saddle of hare, chestnut, truffle and drizzled in a gorgeous chestnut honey. The hare being only slightly touched on the griddle so's not to mess with the delicate meat and keeping it incredibly tender each mouthful had us all in complete silence through enjoyment. 

Trinity upstairs will fast become one of my 'go to' locals for when cooking seems a chore... all of the above, two lots of booze and a couple more glasses came in at just over £30 a head - Bargain!!! It seats 18 so, be sure to book as this will some become a hot spot. Adam - it's brilliant!

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Trinity Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Atul Kochhar's Sindhu in Marlow

Taken from Sindhu's website
It actually does feel like forever since i've written up a post... we have anew member of our little family and thus meaning I would rather stay in and cook than go out and miss evening snuggles on my sofa with this guy... who could resist this face...
We escaped one Sunday and popped out to Marlow which happens to be one of my favourite places outside of London. It's beautifully quaint and, perched aside the river are houses I dream of living in with a beautiful wooden boat to pootle on the water... one day!

Atul Kochhar's Sindhu is perched right on the river bank with windows spanning the length of the restaurant for us visitors to really gain advantage of their enviable location. The restaurant is light and airy, tables spaced out well and wonderfully attentive staff float around unnoticed.
Taken from Sindhu's website
We saw that a few tables next to us were taking advantage of the set menu so, for ease, we did just that and also had the flight of wines (although I was designated driver). On the driving note they do the most delicious curry or lime leaf Non-Alcoholic Martini. 

Upon arrival poppdums and three types of pickle arrived beetroot, mango chutney and a spicy tomato.
An amuse bouche arrived which was a tiny samosa.  Filled with flavour and nicely crisp. 
Roasted Sweet Potato, King Edward Potato, Sweet Yoghurt and Chutney. Hands down some of the best Indian spiced potatoes I have eaten. 

Pan Seared Hand Dived Scallops with Textures of Cauliflower and a Tandoori Tiger Prawn. Cooked to absolute perfection with wonderfully aromatic flavourings it ended up being one of my favourite dishes throughout the meal. 

Grilled Chicken Supreme with Ground Coriander and Lime Leaf. Simple flavour it wasn't by any means as 'wow-factor' as the pervious dish but, still a nice plate of food.

Nimbu Paani Sorbet to cleanse the pallet (lime flavour)
Tandoor Grilled Rack of Lamb is, in fact, one of their signature dishes and was outstanding. Perfectly pink and served with Chettinad Spices, Urulai Roast (spiced potatoes), Kachumbar (a onion, cucumber and tom salad). The lamb came in two parts and was also served as a curry with the sides (left dish two pics below). 

Kathirikai Gotsu- Smoked Aubergine Mash with Mustard and Tomato (right dish) and a Dal Makhani (middle dish)- Slow cooked Black Lentil with Tomato and Fenugreek. Both could have been dishes on their own and scored highly. As side dishes they were exceptionally decadent and we polished off the lot (such fatties).
Lemon Rice and pillow like fluffy Naan
Chocolate Mousse and Passion Fruit came as the most decadent chocolate 'bomb' I have been served. Absolutely stunning and a wonderful way to finish off a rather spoiling Sunday lunch... (although totally stuffed!).

I would thoroughly recommend making the trip out to Marlow to come here. We went on a Sunday and, although the restaurant was quiet, it was such an enjoyable afternoon. Delicious refined Indian food and incredibly spoiling.

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Sindhu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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