Frescobaldi (9 of 12)

Meal courtesy of Frescobaldi

Event attended and written by blogger Vicky Dalton-Banks, published by Steph

History and Background

Ristorante Frescobaldi is the first UK restaurant from the famed Tuscan wine making family the Frescobaldi’s. One of Italy’s most celebrated wine dynasties dates back 700 years and 30 generations. Today the Frescobaldi family own 11 estates in Italy including 10 in Tuscany.

The restaurant holds Winemakers Dinners to introduce guests to wines from their Estates served alongside their Tuscan-inspired food. This particular evening showcased their Attems Estate, located in  the Collio district of Friuli. Head Chef Roberto Reatini created a special 4-course menu to complement the fine wines.

On arrival we were greeted with a lovely cold glass of Attems Friulano 2014, Collio d.o.c. Being a lovely warm summers evening we enjoyed our aperitif and canapés outside. I love London when you can do this! The little biters consisted of juicy melon and proscuitto, cool cucumber and little moreish mouthfuls of croquettes.

After catching up with some familiar faces we made our way into the restaurant. It is beautiful; walking in you feel like you are entering an elegant fairytale. Tables covered with crisp white linen, an almost tree trunk style beacon in the centre of the room with greenery and fairy lights filling the ceiling. It felt quite magical!

The meal:

The Winemakers Dinner comprised of 4 courses paired with Attems wines with a special guest red wine from Luce della Vite. Let’s begin!

Frescobaldi (7 of 12)

Our first course was sea bass carpaccio with cherries. This antipasti course was served with Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato 2014 and also a glass of Attems Sauvignon Blanc 2015. I love sea bass carpaccio and this did not disappoint! I really enjoyed the cherry, it added a nice tanginess to this fresh dish. To be honest I didn’t enjoy the Pinot Grigio to begin with but after tasting the food and taking another sip I really enjoyed it – it brings out the cherry and was clearly paired very well.

Frescobaldi (8 of 12)

Next we were served courgette ravioli with veal ragu and almonds. The rich veal worked very well with the smooth courgette. The crunchy almonds were a great addition too, adding a nice texture to the dish. The two wines with this course were a little weightier: Attems Cicinis 2013 and Attems Pinot Grigio 2014. Cicinis is one of their greatest wines, and I can see why, it was smooth and rounded and perfect for this course.

Frescobaldi (10 of 12)

The Secondi Piatti was a lamb rack with pea puree and dauphinoise potatoes. This was another beautiful dish! The lamb was full of flavour and ever so juicy. The earthiness of the pea cut through the richness of the dauphinoise and lamb. It was so good I even ate the last bits of meat straight off the bone! I think the wine made me do it… With this course we were served Luce 2012, Toscana ‘20th anniversary’. This medium bodied red had delicate hints of spicy clove and black pepper. It was rather aromatic and slightly smoky, a great match for this lamb dish.

Frescobaldi (12 of 12)

It was getting rather late but before I turned into a pumpkin, dessert was served. This semifreddo with melon was my least favourite dish of the night. I enjoyed the fresh melon and sorbet but the rest didn’t really do anything for me, though I was so full by this point I didn’t mind! I did however savour the wine served. To finish the Winemakers Dinner we were served a glass of Attems Picolit 2011. It was sweet and smooth and not sickly at all, it had a richness rather than a sweetness. Very good indeed. Apparently there are only a few hundred bottles of this made a year so I felt very lucky to be enjoying a glass of it!

The service: The service was attentive without being annoying, the staff were friendly and happy to help with any request. They also have very swish toilets – something I always notice!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Ristorante Frescobald from start to finish. There was a great atmosphere in the restaurant, maybe it was the wine or maybe everyone was content and full from all the delicious food, either way I think at £80 the Winemakers Dinner is great value.

The next Winemakers dinner will take place on October.

The price: £££

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Bangalore Express

B Express Interior 2
Credit: Bangalore Express

Meal courtesy of Bangalore Express

Blogger’s event attended by Shaneel P, edited and published by Steph

History and Background:

Bangalore Express City is located by Bank Station.  Although BEC has been present for a while now, they recently went under renovation to ensure the restaurant remained current and focuses on contemporary Indian cuisine. We were invited to an cocktail reception and subsequently a dinner.

The interior design and decor is rather confusing which made the dining experience a bit fuzzy, though BEC was going for a fine dining theme it was easy to see that it was more casual than formal.

Yogesh Datta acts as head chef and has previously trained under the Taj Group and Sheraton Hotels in India. His influence is still very much traditional Indian Cuisine, experimenting with innovation and new techniques.

The meal:

The menu was extensive but maybe too extensive, in which this opinion was mirrored by the other bloggers on the table. With so much depth on the menu, it was rather difficult to understand what to order.

B Express Food Pic 2
Credit: Bangalore Express

We ordered a few dishes from the menu, the first, chicken lollipop which was very nice and succulent. Great texture and lots of meat on the bone. Juicy with an Indian twist.

The Samosa Chaat, and the gravy on the Samosa was very enjoyable. It was seasoned with “Dallam” which made it a very interesting dish. The Samosa, however, did not stand out and is easily forgettable.

The Thali, was served with two small Naans, 1 butter chicken dish, 1 samosa, 1 cutlet, pappad, raita (yogurt), black dahl and rice. The samosa was the same as the samosa chaat so would advise you to order the thali only, than ordering both. The butter chicken was very fresh and the sauce was very rich. Unfortunately the cutlet was extremely oily which was the only negative to an otherwise great thali.

B Express Food Pic 1
Credit: Bangalore Express

Service: Overall, I could tell that they were understaffed as it took us over 3 hours to finish our meal. We had to leave slightly early at 11pm and they were still trying to get our dessert orders. Please note we sat for dinner at around 8.

Price: ££

40 Dean Street

History and background:

Courtesy of 40 Dean Street

Forty Dean Street is the pinnacle of affordable Italian cuisine in busy Soho.
Thursdays are like Fridays here. Eccentric, lively and its all about the hustle and bustle between dancing waiters and singing customers. If you want a fun, lively date night its here. Local and offering traditional Mediterranean food, 40 Dean Street is tucked away in Soho among the many restaurants in the area but one of Italian’s finest.
Offering set menus for 2 courses and also 3, affordable and portion of dishes are also quite generous too.
A great place for drinks with an extensive menu from wine to cocktails at your service.

The meal:

40 dean street (4 of 22)
Antipasto with Italian Cured Meats, Pickles, Buffalo Mozzarella & Chargrilled Artichokes £15.50

I think we all gawped once this was served out. I saw the parma ham and the salami and before I could take a snap, people had their fingers to it! A great selection of Italian cured meats which make a good sharing plate and at an incredible price too.

40 dean street (15 of 22)
Homemade Ravioli Filled with Fresh Lobster Meat in Bisque Sauce 14.90

This was one of the main attractions of the night, a generous filling with whole lobster bits mixed in with the ravioli too. We found a whole claw by the side. Lobster bisque wasn’t too strong and complimented the dish well. Maybe could have had more greens to it but overall a satisfying dish.

40 dean street (11 of 22)

Linguine Pasta with Fresh Seafood, Cherry Tomatoes & Brandy Sauce
The seafood spaghetti was certainly a photographer’s delight, again generous with the amount of seafood present in the dish and made us considerately full by the real mains!
40 dean street (19 of 22)
Honey & Rosemary Roasted Lamb Chops with Mustard Crushed Potatoes 12.90

Now these lamb chobs were some of the finest I’ve had. Succulent and juicy and cooked very well. Had this not been shared between the table I would have happily eaten all of it.

We ended with the dessert platter but not totally a fan of these, the panacotta was the star of the course, a jiggling delight but nothing impressive. No worry there, Soho has dessert bars and ice-cream hubs creeping up every corner. Overall, the quality and the prices of 40 Dean Street is right up there as a definite recommendation. Explore your taste-buds further and opt for a la carte, then opt for a Shackfuyu matcha ice-cream around the corner!

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Dessert platter!

Service: Very friendly and very welcoming. The staff dances whilst serving you!

Price: ££

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Cah Chi (Earlsfield)

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Cah Chi

Post written by Amy K, edited and published by Steph

Founded in 1993, Cah-chi is one of the oldest Korean restaurants in London, having moved from Swiss Cottage to more south of the river and into its Korea hub Raynes Park. With two branches, the one we visited in Earlsfield, Cah-chi considers itself as one of the most authentic Korean restaurants in town, a restaurant visited by many locals and Koreans alike.

Cahchi means ‘Magpie’ in Korean, which is considered a bird of good luck, connotating  ‘coming a new person or precious guests’.

Having not explored Earlsfield before, it was close to the train station and roughly 10 minutes from Waterloo. As you walk in, the decor was modern and the wooden furniture made the restaurant quite homely. It gave off a very clean feel in comparison to other places.  The manager was very friendly and showed us to our table. 

The meal:

Shortly after ordering our teas, we were served 9 side dishes. These included 3 different kinds of Kimchi, which were the original spicy picked chinese cabbage, cucumber and radish. We also had soy beans that were caramelised in soy sauce and sake, that were surprisingly really yummy and addictive. As these were small, our chopstick skills were put to the test! Other dishes included boiled egg in soy sauce that was really aromatic, and somewhat nostalgic, reminiscent of home cooking, and steamed vegetables. 

Next our starters arrived, and the “Haemul-pajeon” which was a seafood and spring onion pancake was nice and crispy with a good amount of both egg batter mixed with seafood and vegetables. This was served with soy sauce and rice vinegar dip.

Steph: I thought the Haemul Pajeon was slightly over fried – it was crispy but albeit a bit too oily for my liking.

The pork and vegetables was a safe choice as these were like small bites of goodness. The “Kkanpunggi” which is deep fried chicken in garlic and honey sauce came in bigger chunks compared to other korean restaurants, and was not too sweet.  the “Dak-koji” is also a very popular dish in Korea, of rice cake, fish cake and vegetables simmered in spicy sauce.  This also had some noodles within, but was quite a spicy dish. So I would recommend this if you like your spice.

Following came our main where we had the table BBQ that was set up by our waiter and cooked in front of us. We had Dolji Bulgogi – thinly sliced spicy pork and bulgogi – thinly sliced sirloin steak which was marinated in Cah chi sauce, also onions and mushrooms.  Both were flavoured very well and was even better when wrapped in lettuce, spring onions and umani soy bean paste. 

Another favourite was the dolsot-bimbimbap which consisted of rice, mixed vegetable, egg and strips of raw beef that are contained in a hot stone bowl.  We were asked how much hot sauce before the waiter mixed everything up whilst still cooking. 

The ‘Doinjan Jigae’ a rich soybean paste stew with tofu, seafood and vegetables. This lacked some flavour, as it wasn’t a strong soup, but had a lot of seafood condiments inside.

After having such a satisfying meal, we ordered ice cream to complete the dinner. however, only had room for ice cream so we ordered the black sesame, green tea and yuzu.

The price: ££

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The Cavendish

35 New Cavendish (8 of 12)
Credit: photos taken by Ed

Meal courtesy of 35 New Cavendish, JPR Media Group

Attended and written by Ed from @onehungryasian and reviewed by Steph

100 layer lasagna? 100 layer lasagna?! 100 layer lasagna! That’s pretty much how my reaction played out when I heard about chef Douglas Santi’s signature dish at 35 New Cavendish, where he’s recently taken over and brought his mix of quality Italian cooking with refined touches to the masses.

We were invited to a bloggers dinner to show off their new menu, featuring not only the 100 layer lasagne, but a whole host of luxurious and comforting food. Think lobster and avocado rolls, beef sliders with jalapeño mayonaise, prawns with quinoa and steak tartare.

35 New Cavendish (9 of 12)

‎Proceedings kicked off with a welcoming negroni and our first dish, mini lobster and avocado brioche buns. Absolutely beautiful to look at right? One thing’s for sure, chef Santi has an eye for beautiful plates! The lobster was fresh and succulent but lacked a little seasoning and the brioche was unfortunately dry. Still, they were a pleasure to eat and they disappeared fast. Hot on their heels were beef sliders with cheese and a jalapeño mayo, and these were perfect. Cooked with a special grill that sears them instantly (I didn’t get the name as I was stuffing my face), these burgers were right on the money! The jalapeño mayo was lost in the flavour of the beef sadly but this is just a minor fault.

35 New Cavendish (10 of 12)

The dishes that followed though were similar stories to the lobster roll. Great ideas, but would be even better with improvement. The croque monsieur was sadly not particularly flavoursome and the steak tartare needed a little more seasoning. The prawns and quinoa‎ didn’t quite seem so fresh and could use some more acidity. The tuna and avocado dish was a nice touch but the avocado overpowered the dish, tasting mostly of avocado. Again, meat took the crown with a ribeye steak as a standout dish with incredible depth of flavour. The triple cooked chips were overcooked and very crunchy.

35 New Cavendish (11 of 12)

And the 100 layer lasagna? Douglas Santi showcases this dish with a bit of a twist, a lasagne – instead of pasta sheets, he uses essentially, crepe, for layers. An innovative idea indeed, though the crepe came off  eggy and instead of making for a lighter lasagna texture, it had the opposite effect and turned it quite dense. Still though, the quality of the meat here shone through and the red Bolognese sauce was fantastic.

The mini desserts that finished off the meal were little parfaits and cheesecakes that catered for those with sweet taste-buds!

35 New Cavendish (12 of 12)

All in all, 35 New Cavendish has a solid menu that reads and looks like a dream. Steak, pasta, burgers and all the comforting foods that make you want to order everything at once. Big shout out for the meat, which was clearly of high quality, and was allowed to speak for itself in its burgers, steak and tartare. With a bit of fine tuning, great potential to what is a brilliant place for relaxation, drinks and catch-ups.

Price: ££

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Pulia (22 of 28)
Burrata with Figs and Figs Marmalade

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Pulia

Invitational bloggers brunch was a burrata sensation. An event pulled together by Sheepa from (Try count the number of times I mention ‘burrata’ in this post)

Before Pulia, I confess that I’ve never had a burrata. I knew it was some sort of cheese but that was it. After Pulia, I think I may have converted into a burrata obsessed cheese lover. 

The first outside of its Italian borders, Pulia focuses on regional italian food from Puglia the south of Italy. Situated on Stoney Street just by Borough Market, the area is no stranger to good food.

Burrata apparently, is one of Puglia’s most famous exports, something that Pulia is renowned in London for. We had the chance to see how burrata is made from a cheese specialist, Dominico.

The event:

Watching the Pulia team make burrata was certainly an eye opener, made fresh and ready, we tried burrata both cool and warm. An impressive display had me craving for more and we were so full!

Pulia (8 of 28)
Taralli and Olives

Pulia serves a wide variety of regional specialties and the deli style cafe is perfect for coffee catch ups and small eats. Croissants were delicate and flaky, complemented with capocollo and scamorza and the taralli bowl was particularly addictive

Pulia (9 of 28)
Salumi with focaccia and slow cooked cherry tomatoes

Pulia (14 of 28)The spinach and mozarella omelette made a nice snack too, if served as a warm version that would be even better!

Pulia (13 of 28)

Pulia (16 of 28)

Smoked Salmon with Scrambled eggs

This was good. Satisfactory but nothing particularly amazing, I love salmon though so I had more than my fair share of this…

Pulia (4 of 28)
Lemon custard
Pulia (28 of 28)

My greed for food continued as I was eyeing up the pasticiotti and lemon custard tart as it was served for desserts. Mandarin olive oil made a nice touch which is available for purchase already bottled up on Pulia’s shelves.

Definitely a place that I recommend for casual weekend or brunch dining. Prices are decent too.

Service: Friendly staff and very hospitable

Price: £

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

Chakra (Kensington)

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Chakra

Previous review of former Chakra found here.

Around the scene since 2011, Chakra opens up to the Indian restaurant scene to a whole new level of fine dine, with chandeliers, sleek presentation and a delicate interior. My previous visit to Chakra was a mixed one but a revamp and a relocation to Holland Street meant giving Chakra a second chance.

Highlights of regional specialties and traditional street food completes the Chakra experience. Indian cuisine in particular focuses on one important attribute, the flavour. This was the one thing I look to at Chakra was the essence of flavour.

I find that Chakra doesn’t focus so much on its authenticity but rather has a playful nature, streamlining modern influences into regional specialties.

Would like to note, the menu itself is priced at the high end, with up to £15 starters for a main, it would only appeal to certain gourmands and wealthy locals alike.

The meal:

Started off with appetisers and poppadoms. Poppadoms made mini-size, thicker and with more crunch. Mixed opinions on these as I would probably have much prefered the more traditional, thin spread, pancake-like pieces. Spice Crusted Tiger Shrimp, Fresh Ginger & Garlic Yoghurt £15.50 were meaty and succulent and the spice gave it an extra kick. The Crispy Avocado Spheres, Curry Leaves, Tamarind Chutney £10.50 were just as delicious. Hot, fried avocados are definitely not something I’ve had before and thoroughly enjoyed consuming these.

Betty had a taste of their signature cocktail, spicy and a strong kick with a hint of mint. A great refresher and a cooler.

Chakra (4 of 19)
Chicken grilled well and plated well
Chakra (11 of 19)
Clay oven cooked Black Code, Saffron, Samphire £19.95

Not going to deny, the black cod was cooked well, soft, tender and just slips on to your tongue. Black code in general is an expensive dish wherever you go, though the prices are still pretty steep at Chakra. The dishes here are innovative and unique but I also question the Indian cuisine element to these, most notably the fried avocado balls.

Chakra (14 of 19)
Blue Cheese Naan £2.95

The blue cheese naan caught my eye. Something different and again something innovative. Naan was soft and had a good balance of cheese.

Desserts became another round of pure visuals, a very modernised approach to Indian dining.

Chakra (16 of 19)
Hand modelled by Betty @bettypwang

Mixed opinions on the dessert. Absolutely love the design and the plating. Mango Kulfi, Fresh Mango, Mango Sauce £5.75 was again original and had a great novelty factor it. Gulab Jamun Caviar, Pistachio Toast Cardamom Creme £5.75 – I don’t usually like Gulab Jamun as I find it too sweet, but the “caviarversion of this meant that I was able to nibble on this and dip into fresh cream or serve it with biscuits. Great idea, great design. Unfortunately not a fan of the Chocolate Soil, Chakra, needs higher quality chocolates before serving these as found it to be sub-standard.

Overall a good meal in a nice location. Suitable for locals and those with a hefty wallet but not for those who are looking for an authentic curry house.

Price: £££

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