The Ledbury – The best meal in London this time round!

The Ledbury

127 Ledbury Rd, London W11 2AQ, United Kingdom near Nottinghill Gate station

l1Indubitably the best meal in London for us this time round. Awarded with two Michelin stars, rated as one of the top 5 restaurants in London, it is no wonder that the seats are usually snatched up the moment the reservation dates are released for the next month. Booked a month in advance and we failed to secure a weekend table at The Ledbury (it is really that competitive), I actually felt lucky that a Friday lunch slot was available! Largely painted in white while the service crew are all clad in black, it does render a plush ambiance yet still a relaxing one as the restaurant is filled with banter and laughter from the fully filled tables.

IMG_9219And we started the set lunch (£50) with this refreshing glass of cucumber kiwi juice.

IMG_9222French being themselves, the teasers served before the actual set was quite sensational indeed. Seaweed crackers and meat jelly pastry served, we were particularly impressed by the latter as meat was tasted in that jelly while the savoury moussed pastry was filled with an intense roast flavour.

IMG_9223A slight Asian slant over here as this dumpling was served with sour plum sauce on top of it.

IMG_9227Crapaudine Beetroot – Smoked bone marrow, pickled rose and rhubarb. Kicking the meal off with the lighter but vibrant starter that is perfumed throughout with the therapeutic rhubarb fragrance and balanced off adequately with the heavier tasting bone marrow.

IMG_9228IMG_9229Not to worry as the bread isn’t a course in the menu but definitely deserves a mention here. Freshly baked to a beautiful crust yet still retaining the pillowy texture within, this is made even more exhilarating with light tasting goat milk butter and sea salt that renders a creamy delicious slather for that perfect bread.

IMG_9231Roast Cauliflower – Crab butter, Parmesan and Basil. You can feel the flavours building up already in the second course as this tasted intense. Umami savoured in the cheese slabs, they were thoroughly infused with crab roe fragrance while that yellow, creamy crab butter sauce was emanating a heavy crustacean flavour, all these giving a much fuller body to that crunchy cauliflower.

IMG_9232Red Ruby Beef – Short Rib, New Season Garlic, Celeriac and Brussel Tops. Impeccably braised beef over here that has all the essence locked tightly within already and finished off nicely with that bed of smooth mash underneath, you know the lady was floored from her repeated exclamations.

IMG_9234IMG_9236Chocolate and Mint with Madeleines. Dainty madeleines served warm, while the smooth minty ice cream makes a refreshing finish to the entire meal.

IMG_9238IMG_9239And with another Asian touch over here again, the petite fours were simply fabulous. Yuzu with caramel waffle roll while the huge favourite was the yuzu with white chocolate that is coated with crunchy crumbs. Substantial yuzu taste there that is rightly balanced off with their sweeter counterpart, we love.

l2And the hand shot I thought looks interesting with The Ledbury hook.

Yes, a marvelous lunch we had here definitely that was filled with quite a few surprises along the way. Not just serving the set lunch menu, you could also opt for the degustation one or customise your own set from the ala carte menu! My utmost favourite of all – that lovely crab dish there!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant 4.9/5

 

 

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Barrafina – waited for 1.5 hr for this restaurant of the year!

Barrafina

54 Frith St, London W1D 4SL, United Kingdom near Leicester Square Tube Station

b1Hola! Barrafina it is as the next foodie stop in London. Crowned as restaurant of the year by timeout (I think), they have definitely attracted a huge beeline even before 6pm, when it could still be teatime for many. We joined the queue at 6 and were told very passionately by the waitress that there is a 2h wait.

b3If food and friends are the reasons why I extended the trip in UK, then I just have to grit my teeth and wait. It was lucky for the foodie buddy and I as it turned out to be a 1h20min wait before we were seated right in front of the head chef himself. Big hugs to the buddy who waited with me despite it being his third time here. Boisterous, bustling, these are the usual characteristics that you would expect from a Spanish restaurant but holding that spirit up for the entire lunch or night, I salute them. So much energy and passion flowing through every service crew’s body and even the ushering waitress, she uses all her mighty strength when she wipes every single dirt off the bench, ensuring that it is squeaky clean before it is set for the next pair of customers.

IMG_9179So amazingly plump these fried squids are that they had the perfect springy consistency while the light fluffy batter didn’t grease things up. It was good but perhaps needed a few speckles of salt more.

IMG_9180Gambas al Ajillo – A Catalonia cuisine that is flavoured up beautifully by the stir fried garlic and chilli, that yields the perfect sauce nicely assimilated into those crunchy prawns there. The strength of the fire was controlled so well that the shells turned edible for me, oh that crisp in the shells! £8.

IMG_9185IMG_9186Looking like a pillow or hand rest, the classic tortilla is really one of the must-order. It has always been the case for me at every Spanish restaurant I go to but out of so many in Singapore, only Binomio manages to impress. The one here tasted largely different as within that fluffy skin, you have that vibrant, viscous stew with intercalating slices of potato. So delicious! £6.50.

IMG_9182IMG_9183Ham Croquetas. Bitty ham smothered by the thick, savoury cream and finally all presented in that rotund crispy ball. Barrafina’s way of perfecting it? That thin crispy skin that makes the delectable fillings even more substantial. £4.50.

IMG_9184Pollock a la Romana – Two slices of lightly fried fresh, plump pollock cut through by that lovely capsaicinated sauce! £7.80.

IMG_9188Chicken Thigh with Romesco Sauce. Precised, spot on, that crispy skin was actually quite unbelievable and definitely on point! And that romesco sauce gave the tender meat a fuller, extra nutty body! £7.80.

IMG_9189Iberican Pork Fillet – Just fragrantly seared on the outside, the inner chunk was actually quite raw. This really isn’t beef we thought but that taste was completed together with the tangy dark sauce, and we grew to love it as we slice through that reddish tender meat. £10.80.

And so that’s the entire Spanish night we had! It is pricey and portions aren’t huge, but everything is on point which makes you feel the £30 you spent per person isn’t that bad actually!

b2With that crazy buddy that evening! Still the same despite not meeting up for almost a decade!

Verdict: A good – excellent restaurant. 3.9/5

 

 

Flat Iron – a 200g steak at £10?!

Flat Iron

9 Denmark St, London WC2H 8LS, United Kingdom near Tottenham Court Road Station

f3The title says it all, doesn’t it! What else could beat a £10 flat iron steak in London when everything isn’t exactly cheap? But the caveat holds, as the sides, sauces and desserts could push your bill up to £20 eventually which was what we did. No regrets though as that steak was just beautifully done at Flat Iron. Infamous for their relentless long queues at the one near Oxford Circus, we decided to make our way down to the much quieter Tottenham Court Road branch that Sunday! Quality ensured, yet without the crowd, we had a great lunch!

IMG_9190IMG_9191Getting into that rustic, brick walled restaurant, and you realise it’s quite a hipster place actually. Laying on the table – Old fashioned mugs to fill your free popcorn appetiser which you munch on while waiting for the friend who is utterly late, a cute pepper grinder to spice up your beef, and that immensely cute chopper knife by the side (for what use I’m not so sure as the beef have been thinly sliced!). How creative could these cutlery get?

IMG_9195And there we go, the £10 steak we have all been waiting for. Devoid of fats, they were amazingly tender and juicy while beautifully grilled on the surface to yield a lightly charred fragrance.

IMG_9198While the Hong Kong buddy was satisfied without a sauce which I reckon could be eaten on its own, I preferred a traditional peppercorn one to cut through that meatiness. Very delicious, and with 4 other flavours to choose from, I will recommend the Bearnaise as that clarified-butter-emulsified-in-egg-yolk sauce sounds a decadent one to give it an extra umami body (Peppercorn was chosen as this was just one of the many less healthy restaurants intended). £1 for the sauce.

IMG_9196OK, I need my sides and there we got the Dripping Cooked Chips (No fries over here I’m afraid as this is British pride!) (£2.50) and Today’s Market Green (£2.50) – Poached broccoli salted lightly, this was cooked simply but tasted so fresh and crunchy. Delicious! And yes, we did end the meal with a rhubarb compote dessert that tasted so fresh and elegant!

f2 Not exactly a £10 restaurant, I was still satisfied even when the bill added up to about £20 each! Great service and food, how could we not recommend!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant 4.2/5 

Coriander Leaf – Trust the immaculate waitress there I say

Coriander Leaf

Chijmes near City Hall MRT

IMG_8567Located on the second floor of Chijmes, it might not be the most conspicuous location, but this chic – looking Coriander Leaf still receives a sizeable number of customers as we continue late into the night.

I always have my reservations for tapas in Singapore as they are always, like what the foreigners I met a couples of weeks ago describe as, anorexic portions served at an exorbitant price. Which truly enough is exemplified by Coriander Leaf to a certain extent. Food is decent, not bad and I say listen to the recommendations from this immaculately dressed lady there as she really knows what’s good. Menu broken into 5 different categories, from which we had 1 each.

IMG_8570Coriander salad with wood ear mushroom, chilli and barbecued baby squid. While I was hoping for a really refreshing mix, this looked and tasted more like a garnish than a wholesome salad, as it was lacking the fragrance that it really just needs. Tasting sour throughout without really much flavour, the pairing between the barbecue squid and coriander seem out of sync. $12. The other salads though, sound more appetising than this.

IMG_8573Charcoal grilled baby lamb chops with harrisa pepper paste, yoghurt, dried chilli paste and pickled onions. These were delish, the thick pepper and chilli paste overcoat that the smokey tender lamb chops had, lifted the savouriness of these smokey tender lamb chops. $29.

IMG_8576Before we forget the unassuming looking Naan, they paired really well with all our dishes. Very well balanced texture over here; stretchy and yet so fluffy. $3.

IMG_8578Samia’s signature frontier chicken, coriander seeds, chilli, yoghurt cream, mizuna and lemon. These coriander seeds tasted somewhat slightly similar to peppercorn and together with the yoghurt cream by the side, this dish felt interesting and szechuan / Indian influenced in flavour. $20.

IMG_8579Fried baby market fish, tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce, chilli padi. The best dish of the night, and one that isn’t anorexic without a heavy price tag. Super crispy fish lashed with the umami tasting fish sauce spiced up with the chilli padi, it was a overall familiar taste that excelled on the Asian tastebuds. $20.

IMG_8572Soft Shell crab, salted duck egg yolk sauce, curry leaves. This must sound like a must order for most I believe which indeed went well with us with its robust, thick creamy egg yolk sauce. $18.

IMG_8580White rabbit condensed milk ice cream, mango granita, leche flan, sweet potato, jack fruit, frosted flakes, shaved ice. The initial thought of forgoing desserts for another restaurant was reverted when we saw how beautiful and luscious they looked when served to other tables from afar. And the regret set in immediately after a spoonful. Really rough, bland unevenly shaved ice which felt more like ice cubes. The tastes of the many seemingly alluring ingredients unfortunately could not manage to reconcile with each other and it was quite a complicated mess. $16. I reckon the other desserts that go with a theme will be the safer options.

Definitely fusion-oriented, Coriander Leaf still remains a decent restaurant despite some of its misses in this dinner as they seem to have the potential. I reckon, go for the more familiar dishes that have a theme and leave the unexplored to the waitress to decide for you! Then again, service is pretty good while ambiance is definitely lovely for a slow, relaxing meal.

Verdict: A good restaurant.

Exciting culinary Creations at Ion Orchard – The restaurants to look out for!

Ion Orchard

Near Orchard MRT

culinary festWhat an exhilarating night to end the busy week with; a beautiful culinary fest organised by Ion Orchard, where 6 heavyweight restaurants were gathered to whip up their signatures, mostly only available in this gargantuan mall!

Saveur ArtIMG_8373

IMG_8376Sous vide Egg confit – so well prepared that the runny, luscious yolk looks ready to explode anytime. Emanating from the egg, you could get a distinctive whiff of the aromatic truffle aroma while the crunchy macadamia nuts perfected the overall texture! Delicious!

Nara ThaiIMG_8377Thai Otah with creamy coconut dip. This was decently good but just a tad salty to our liking.

MagosaburoIMG_8388

IMG_8391Kobe beef that melts in your mouth literally. Usually mistaken as just a figure of speech, we were told that the sashi fatty content of these well marbled meat actually starts to dissolve at low temperatures, thereby creating that magical ‘melting’ sensation. And its immensely fragrant flavour was contributed by the inosine (nucleoside) and oleic acids (fatty acid) abound.

The Marmalade PantryIMG_8387Halibut fish wrapped in razor thin bacon. The concept behind it; the immensenly fragrant pan fried bacon helps to lift the overall taste of the halibut fish, making it a slightly heavier tasting dish. Really fresh and chunky halibut within but I reckon the bacon renders it a little too salty.

IMG_8395Cha Ca La VongTurmeric catfish fish with dill! Popular traditional dish made posh I say, the clever use of colours over here definitely has injected vibrancy into this dish. Hailing from Hanoi, its apparent popularity could be realised from a street that was named after it. Grilled and pan fried with a generous serving of dill and spring onions, its savouriness is balanced off perfectly by the refreshing, zesty rice noodles hidden underneath!

Pu TienIMG_8400And our last dish of the night – Bee Hoon stir fried with Soy milk that hails from the Fujian region. Its method of cooking must have pricked the ears of the health-conscious. Though slightly lighter in tasting, the vermicelli tasted especially fine and uniformly fragrant and you know why when the chef constantly tosses the noodles with his chopsticks. Meticulous indeed!

Thank you ION Orchard for this wonderful night!