QP LDN

Meal courtesy of QP LDN

Written by Vicky Dalton Banks

QP LDN resides on Dover Street in the heart of Mayfair and is under the creative direction of Italian Michelin-starred chef Antonio Mellino and with his two sons Raffaele and Fabrizio, stays true to its roots in authentic Amalfi coast inspired cooking. Antonio is considered to be a master in pasta making, and his freshly made then dried pastas continue to be made on premises by the QP LDN kitchen staff.

qp-ldn-mayfair-2After ordering an Aperol Spritz and once settled I noticed that 7pm on a Tuesday is clearly not the time to dine here – the rather sleek looking restaurant was quite empty. Though with the right level of music playing it didn’t feel it and as it got later into the night the tables did start filling up around us.

January will never be a detox month for me. It’s already bleak enough, so when the aperitivo and bread arrived I dived straight in! I enjoyed the ricotta filled bites and arancini, and the focaccia was especially good.

The Food

The menu at QP LDN is very fish heavy, and after asking the friendly waiter what he would recommend we decided to throw in two meat dishes for balance.

To start we ordered the beef carpaccio with rocket. The beef was beautifully sliced and the rocket nice and peppery but the addition of artichoke did not work for me. It was quite overpowering and some bits tough meaning I ended up just putting the salad to one side so I could enjoy the beef.

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If there is tuna tartare on the menu, pretty much 99.9% of the time I will order it. And after all the heavy food over Christmas we agreed pretty instantly this was going to be ordered! The waiter highly recommended the salmon tartare too, so they very kindly provided us with two half portions so we could try both.

The yellowfin tuna tartare came served on cubed avocado – not groundbreaking but done very well it was delicious nonetheless. But the real star was the salmon – I’m so glad we were told to try this! I think it’s always a great idea to ask for advice on what to order from the menu as a dish you may have discarded may be the best thing you order.

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The smoked marinated salmon tartare was served on a sliced apple and cucumber salad with nuts and yoghurt sauce. This is a dish I will most definitely be trying to recreate at home. The textures worked so well and the fruit and yoghurt created such a refreshing taste. A really lovely dish.

We couldn’t dine in an Italian restaurant and not order at least one pasta dish! We liked the look of the fresh crab and cherry tomato spaghetti but were told we should try their signature dish of linguine with fired zucchini and parmesan. Knowing there was no way we could consume two pasta dishes they offered to do what they did with our starters and brought us two mini portions.

qp-ldn-mayfair-5I enjoyed the light fresh tomato sauce with the crab, it was lovely and sweet and worked well. The linguine was a little too salty for me, I love zucchini in pasta but I couldn’t have eaten a full portion of this.

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It was okay though because the next dish to arrive was the perfectly cooked lamb. The rack of lamb was served with a parsnip puree and braised red cabbage. What could have been a heavy dish felt well portioned and balanced. I was surprised to see red cabbage on an Italian menu but I liked the dish.

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The evening definitely finished on a high. The warm orange tart with bitter chocolate ice cream was a hug on a plate and ever-so-perfect for a cold January evening. The warm orange almost like custard was smooth and rich. It’s not as if the chocolate and caramel mousse wasn’t rich, but it felt light with the different layers, more like a mousse cake. The tart passion fruit sorbet was the ideal partner. We enjoyed our final course with a glass of Leone de Castris Moscato from Puglia which was a lovely way to end the meal

The Verdict

Overall I liked our meal at QP LDN, but for me, it didn’t blow me away. I very much enjoyed the beginning and ending but the middle felt like it was missing its sparkle. I did enjoy the crab pasta dish but the signature dish was a little too salty and although the lamb was cooked to perfection, it just didn’t seem to stand out.

It is not cheap to dine at QP LDN and so I think they need to refine their dishes. I definitely think ordering fish is the way to go as this seems to be their speciality. The staff were super attentive and friendly and there is some beautiful artwork on display around the Italian restaurant so it’s definitely not a bad place to dine in Mayfair.

Amici Miei

Meal courtesy of Amici Miei

Written by me!

Arrived to a nice surprise on a road which consists mainly of Vietnamese restaurants, conned by many as the ‘pho mile’, Amici Miei is situated just at the bottom of this road offering Italian cuisine.img_0001

Amici Miei, which translates to ‘my friends’, have been around for years offering regional dishes with fresh and seasonal ingredients.

Classic italian dining ususally consists of 4 courses and by no means was this any different from Amici Miei, an extensive menu, more so on the pizza and pasta side offering classic and also unique flavours such as carbonara pizza and calzone.

We arrived at 7pm and by 8pm the entire place was full, with waiters amongst the hustle and bustle and aromatic pizzas coming straight out from the wood fire ovens. Definitely a local favourite.

Of course, we had to try one of their pizzas which have been acclaimed by many as different from your typical sourdough pizza. The dough goes through a 72 hour slow rise process and you do really taste the difference when eaten.

NOTE:

There is 30% off your bill all day every Monday!

img_0008I saw burrata on the menu and had to order! Also recommended by the waitress I found the burrata (with heritage tomatoes) to be one of the freshest I’ve had. A pretty big portion too and definitely one for sharing. Also from the antipasti we had the Carpaccio di Polpo. This was octopus carpaccio, fennel and soft potato. The carpaccio was sliced slightly too thin but otherwise complemented the soft potatoes well.

From the pasta dishes we chose the ravioli (small) which consisted of burrata, king prawns sauced in cherry tomato, basic and garlic. Big ravioli with generous burrata filling and the prawns are wrapped in whole, the dough itself was boiled just right.
You can’t leave Amici Miei without trying the pizzas of course, so we opted for the healthier topping, mortadella. Mozzarella with a tomato base, mortadella ham and puntarelle. First time trying puntarelle which is an Italian green, light and refreshing. The toppings we chose ewere light enough to enable us to taste more of the ham and sourdough base.

img_0011img_0014Last but not least comes dessert, we had a stab at seadas di ricotta. An interesting sweet ending, warm puff pastry filled with ricotta, cinnamon and lemon zest served with honey. Not too sweet and not too heavy. The honey and lemon zest slightly masked the ricotta (but ricotta doesn’t hold too much flavour anyway). Unfortunately I wasn’t a big fan of the traditional tiramisu and could have had more coffee flavour to it, the cream was also too rich and dense for my liking.

Overall a great place for a catch up and great pasta and pizza selection. A definite recommend especially if you’re in the area.

Cafe Monico

Meal courtesy of Cafe Monico
Visited and reviewed by Vicky
cafe-monico-soho-2Cafe Monico is part of the Soho House Group so you know it’s going to be a polished affair. And it was.
We were shown to our table on the mezzanine floor right by the window so we could watch the buses and tourists go by on one side and on the other we could see the enormous and stunning chandelier leading your eye down to the central bar on the ground floor.
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There is white linen on the tables, green leather chairs, good music playing, nice staff and a wonderful atmosphere. It feels like a wonderfully stylish place to brunch.
The Food
This European brasserie serves French-Italian dishes from breakfast through to dinner, seven days a week. Inspired by the original Cafe Monico, established nearby in 1877, the menu consists of shellfish, pastas, salumi, grilled meats and fish.  We were dining from the Sunday Brunch menu.
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There are of course the standard brunch items on the menu at Cafe Monico – croissants, eggs, french toast and fruit – but I like having the option of having a heartier brunch every now and then. And this menu is great for that.
Whilst we perused the menu we enjoyed a glass of prosecco and snacked on the bread and gorgeous salted butter. We ended up with a very seafood-centric order!
To start we ordered the cured salmon and cucumber and a portion of calamari friti with aioli. I couldn’t believe the size of the portion of salmon that arrived. Thick slices of fish partnered with sweet pickled cucumber was a lovely way to start the meal.
The batter surrounding the calamari was light and crisp and who doesn’t like a whole pot of aioli to dunk it in!
I usually ask the waiter what they recommend when I dine somewhere new, and this occasion was no different. Our friendly waiter was happy to help and talked us through all his favourite dishes! He pretty much professed his undying love for the crab ravioli so we knew we had to order it.
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These perfectly cooked parcels of pasta were stuffed full of delicate crab meat and dressed simply with butter, black pepper and chives. The flavour in these ravioli was just remarkable, I’ve been thinking of them ever since!
The veal milanese was also a recommendation and it was very good too. I drenched the crispy breadcrumbed veal in lemon juice. I find it so moreish!
To finish we ordered dessert that we really didn’t have the space for! The apple crumble coup was fine, though too rich for me with the whipped cream. The absolute winner was the scoop of mandarin sorbet! A beautiful palette cleanser and just such a sweet flavour.
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The Verdict
The menu is not ground breaking, but does it always have to be? I can’t even find the right words to describe the incredible flavour packed into the crab ravioli and the mandarin sorbet was utterly delicious!
There is a great atmosphere in here. That kind of atmosphere that you can’t put your finger on what makes it a nice place to dine but it just is.
I am going to have to come back, just to try the Sunday roast – we saw a few come out and they look pretty epic. They serve yorkshires almost as big as your head, always a good sign.

Fetta Di Casa

Meal courtesy of Fetta Di Casa

Written and attended by Ed @onehungryasian

dsc_4307Family style dining, great food and everyone getting to know one another over a small and intimate dinner. This is proper nostalgia, memories of being back at home with the family, and remembering that often, the food comes 2nd to the people you’re sharing it with. Thankfully, Fetta di Casa compromises on neither at their monthly supper club events.

We were invited to their Christmas dinner, taking place at Kastner & Ovens in Covent Garden where they transform the deli by day, into a supper club on Saturdays.

dsc_4311Proceedings kick off with a non-alcholic aperitif, either a negroni like bitter drink or a sweeter fruity version, both excellent and a great way to get started with your meal. Focaccia are brought out next on platters, with 3 versions that all delighted guests before the first course, a selection of starters are brought out to tables.

dsc_4313Pancetta wrapped chestnuts, ham and fruits, blue cheese and walnut pastries, mushroom and smoked salmon all make an appearance that had guests fervently discussing which were their favourites and asking for recipes from the chef.

dsc_4332The menu does change month to month as it stays seasonal, and nothing shouts Winter more than a huge tray of lasagne, with slightly crispy edges and cheese oozing from the sides. Hands down, one of the best lasagne I’ve ever had. Rich, packed with a deep flavour from the beef and a surprisingly light béchamel all combined into 6 layers of lasagne heaven. Seriously good.

And if that wasn’t enough, up next was a hazelnut tiramisu that demanded me to eat it completely despite being stuffed, then followed by panettone with a marsala spiked zabaglione!

dsc_4341And finally, to cap it all off, homemade limoncello and grappa for the table to spread and pass along. Impossible I think, for anyone to say they weren’t properly fed and watered at this event!

There’s still one December supperclub left on the 17th of December, and would be a perfect way for you to spend your evening with friends, or arrive and make new ones!

See their website for tickets: http://www.fettadicasa.co.uk/

Bernardi’s London

Meal courtesy of Bernardi’s

bernardis-london-1-of-34Bernardi’s is relative newcomer to the London restaurant scene having established itself in September 2015 by the Bernardi brothers. At the heart of Mayfair, affluent locals flock together to catch up over the week with glasses of prosecco and fine wine without having to travel too far.

Spacious leather seating, a simplistic yet stylish interior and the availability of dining al-fresco.

The meal:

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Crispy potato, scamorza and rosemary pizzette

This must be one of the best inventions ever.

Crispy potato bits on top of pizza? Carb on carb are what Italians are best at! A great sharing starter but be conscious that this might fill you up to quick. The rosemary gave great fragrance to the pizzette.

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Grilled tiger prawns, garlic, parsley and peperoncino

Nick had this as his starter and I cheekily took a piece. Soft and well grilled.

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Burratina, roasted beetroot and basil

At the moment I currently have a thing about burratas. I love them, anything burrata related I will order. The beetroot and basil complemented the burrata, which was really fresh and cool. This was just as good as the burratas I had at Pulia. At Bernardi’s for £9.50 this is well worth the value compared to some of its competitors. If you’re a cheese person like me, then I would recommend having a try at this and let me know what you think.

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Alba truffle fettuccine

We ordered this as the first course, as suggested by their lovely staff, Italians like to dine big. Four courses is the norm!

At £21 this is rather steep given the size of the portion, but alba truffles are expensive to source and also expensive to serve, so in reality the price tag is no surprise. This was a good dish but not spectacular. Autumn truffles are now in season so there will be much to compare this month.

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Guinea Fowl, parmesan polenta, wild mushrooms and marsala

Nick had this for his main. I quite liked it, the aroma was strong from the wild mushrooms, the parmesan polenta was a nice addition. It had the milky taste but not quite as dense as mashed potato so this was a clever pairing. The guinea fowl, tender and well cooked.

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Lamb rump, braised shoulder, bagna cauda and queen kale
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Fine plating from the staff at Bernardi’s. Food is a thing of beauty…

The lamb rump was tender and a lot of meat is actually given for such a fine course. The kale balanced the strong flavour of the sauces which can be slightly overpowering after the first couple of bites. The lamb itself was fragrant and I particularly loved the more crispier parts, the edges are best.

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Fig mille-fueille with walnut ice-cream

Fine visuals, with the plating done well. The figs were fresh and the pastry was crisp, it made a light dessert along with nutty crunch from the walnut ice-cream, this made a nice ending to the meal.

All in all, the menu is generic and you will find many of your standard Italian traditional courses on there which are visually well presented. The food is good, not impressive and doesn’t stand out, but it is good.

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Berry Panna-cotta with honeycomb

Service: Staff were delightful and I was always met with smiles!

The price: £££

Square Meal

Bocconcino

Meal courtesy of Bocconcino

Attended and written by Vicky Dalton-Banks, published by Steph

History and Background: 
Bocconcino is a chic Italian restaurant in the heart of Mayfair. Located on Berkeley Street, in what looks like a small spot from the outside houses a large, spacious restaurant inside. I have a real love for Italian food and I love this little corner of Mayfair so I was definitely looking forward to see what Bocconcino had to offer.
Obviously I’d had a sneak peek at the menu before arriving and I was very happy to see so many fish options.
On arrival we were led through the restaurant, deciding to dine in the room at the back where there are some cosy booths with skylights above. These are great seats to people watch from!
The Meal
Whilst we got comfy in our little booth and started to peruse the menu the sommelier arrived with two chilled glasses of Prosecco, the perfect Italian aperitif.
We sipped on our bubbles trying to narrow down our choices for dinner. The menu at Bocconcino is rather vast and it all sounded delicious! The menu is split into Antipasti, Primi piatti, Pizza, Salads, Secondi dalla cusina, from the wood oven and desserts.
I love pizza, but I felt this restaurant had more to offer so these were quickly taken off the list of options. We decided to share our starters meaning we could try more, always the best plan!
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Having eaten some great tuna and octopus whilst in Barcelona we opted to try some other dishes. The scallops served with a cauliflower purée and bottarga was the perfect start to our meal. These delicate, juicy scallops tasted beautifully sweet against the earthy puree and salty bottarga (salted, cured fish roe).
The other dish we ordered to start was a gamble and unfortunately it didn’t really pay off. We ordered the thinly sliced veal with tuna sauce because we were intrigued… The veal had a lovely delicate flavour but the tuna sauce – which really did taste like liquidised tuna mayo – completely overpowered the veal. I didn’t dislike the dish, it just didn’t quite work in my opinion.
But it was soon forgotten when our main courses arrived!
D ordered the monkfish with cannellini beans and clams, and although he thought it could have had more flavour I really liked this dish. There was almost a light broth the beans came in which was delicate in flavour and let the monkfish shine – it’s a meaty fish but the dish was kept fresh and light.
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However, I do think I ordered the absolute winner of the night. If you dine at Bocconcino and do not order the lobster linguine you are crazy!
The wonderful al-dente linguine with large pieces of Scottish lobster and cherry tomato had such a deep, rich flavour. I could have licked the plate clean it was that good! The sommelier also paired the dish with a lovely rose wine (sadly I forgot to note down the name!).
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Having enjoyed too much of the bread at the beginning of the meal (when will I learn) and a lovely large bowl of pasta I was feeling quite full. However I really do believe I have a separate stomach for sweet treats as I always seem to find space…
I kept it classic and ordered the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream. I find many restaurants now serve this rich, luxurious dessert in massive portions whereby at the end you almost feel sick. But at Bocconcino they keep it petite and perfectly formed. I didn’t get a photo of the oozy centre because I gobbled it up too fast so you’ll just have to believe me!
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D ordered another classic, the apple tart with vanilla ice cream. This was also a great choice. Who doesn’t love sweet, sticky apples and buttery pastry!?
The Service: You can enjoy the buzzier dinning area just below street level or take a table in the more intimate dinning room towards the back. The staff are knowledgable and friendly too.
Overall: Bocconcino serves great Italian food; the menu is a mix of classic dishes and more modern flavours, which I love. It is definitely not cheap, but you are in Mayfair… The food though is fresh and delicious and they serve very generous portions too, which the husband loved.
Bocconcino is a great spot for dinner in Mayfair. This is luxury dining where the food, prices and location match.
The Price: £££

Zizzi

Meal courtesy of Zizzi’s 

Written by Verna, published by Steph

If you live in the UK and you haven’t heard of Zizzi, then you should get outta here!

I must admit, I did not have a great last encounter. However, that was almost 4 years ago, and when I looked at their menu online I decided to put everything aside and trot along to the O2 Centre, in Finchley Road, London, for another attempt at trying to rekindle my relationship with Zizzi.

The menu had a fresh look, clear layout, with the summer menu catching my eye

What I wanted to try out at Zizzi were some of their “healthier” options. For I am a health fanatic and eating out sometimes bothers me with the unknown calorie content and undisclosed nutritional information. Though things are different at Zizzi, there were several options that were tailor to people like me, and they were under 600 calories. *GASP*

Hence, after managing to convince my friends of my idea to try the low calorie dishes, we decided to first treat ourselves to a platter of starters, with some cocktails of course.

 

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From the above, you can see how photogenic the Cicchetti Sharing Board is. There were various pieces of squid, mussels, chicken skewers, arancini balls, olives and bread with three dips. Our cocktails were also lovely, we ordered a coconut water (not featured), a Peach Melba Fizz and a Pink Gin & Tonic. I particularly liked the Pink G&T – it tasted refreshing and also ridiculously photogenic!

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We shortly moved to the mains with healthy dishes however, I was already pretty full from just the sharing board. There was a King Prawn Linguini, a Seabass Cartoccio and a summer special Pollo Fresca Salad.

Zizzi is doing an increasingly good job of making their food look presentable and appetizing. I loved how the seabass was served, in the parchment paper on a wooden chopping board. The rustic look was right up my streett!3

Taste wise, it was actually better than my expectations, since they were pretty low for the number of calories they served. I was secretly expecting bland tasting food, but actually everything was seasoned well, the fish was tender, prawns not overcooked, and the salad was also a hit with my friends, and we soon polished off the three dishes in no time.

On top of that, the service we received was adequate albeit a little slow. There were occasions where we had to make extra effort to attract a waiters’ attention. 

With fifteen different food offerings available at the O2 Centre, Finchley Road, you’re spoilt for choice! If you don’t fancy dining at the delicious Zizzi’s you can choose from restaurants such as, Wagamama, Byron Burger, Tortellini Cup or Yo Sushi!