StreetXO

Meal courtesy of StreetXO

Eaten and written by @onehungryasian

David Munoz – owner of 3 Michelin stars for DiverXO in Madrid, has brought its little sibling StreetXO to London. With the original branch in Madrid established and much praised since 2012, this has been long awaited after its arrival in London was announced way back in 2014.
FILE1526With a selection of dishes taking us through their menu and featuring some of their classics, things kicked off with some of the cocktails. From one featuring cotton candy to another being served in a wine glass as large as a fishbowl (literally, it was bigger than my head!) – it sets the tone for a dining experience unlike any other.

My cocktail featured jasmine, coconut shrub, lime, ginger and violet candy nectar. Where the description sounds like it could be overwhelming, the final experience of it wasn’t. The flavours work well together with nothing quite overpowering the others, and drinking from the large bowl wasn’t just for style – by doing so I was forced to stick my head in the bowl, muffling my other senses apart from smell and taste. A great start to my meal, though other cocktails weren’t quite as well thought out: a cocktail being served in a large replica of a heart; another in a strange boat and one simply in a glass with no props.

The food kicked off spectacularly, with their signature dish of Pekinese dumplings served with strawberry glaze, a fried pigs ear, gherkin and more sauce drizlzed on top. It is served on paper (of course…), with chefs liberally spraying and splattering strawberry sauce all over it to create a serving plate that’s part art, and part utterly delicious dumplings. It’s an extremely messy dish, with diners encouraged to grab a dumpling in their hands and wipe it across the paper to soak up as much sauce as possible. And it’s absolutely worth it!
FILE1563
Next up was their “club sandwich” – featuring suckling pig, ricotta chilli mayonnaise, and then a quails egg placed on top. Again, messy eating leads the way with instructions to flip the quails egg yolk down into the bun, then eat. The bun is so light and fluffy it almost disintegrates under the weight of the ingredients and by merely being picked up. Again – bold flavours in careful balance make this a brilliant follow up to the dumplings.
FILE1532
This was followed up by one of my favourite dishes of the evening. Hot smoked scallops with citrus ponzu, coconut-kaffir lime and apple blossom, that is testament to the skills of the chefs here. Huge flavours to play with here that could easily have led to one overpowering the others, but end up in perfect balance that made this dish outstanding. This works again with the next dish, Carabineros in a tom yum soup which was superb (a “simple” recipe the chef told us, and then took 5 minutes to explain how to make it)
Unfortunately, such careful handling of flavours doesn’t seem to be at play across the whole menu. Lamb shank in a tamarind glaze was dull and almost cliché in its presentation; a papaya salad with seafood, while fresh, was lacking in flavour and spark when sat next to the scallops and prawns; the Korean lasagne had far too much going on in one mouthful and was overwhelmingly sweet; and the Carbonara XO didn’t feel like one coherent dish, with fantastic wild boar feeling like an afterthought to udon noodles and olives. More a stir fry than a carbonara I thought, and disappointing in comparison to either classic dishes.
FILE1573
Things improved with the new dessert menu, with various flavours of ice cream being served up in polystyrene boxes, with lids being lifted to carefully placed additions littering the surface like pieces of art. All of them were great, with the strawberry flavour in particular being a favourite of mine.
Overall, the experience here was a very mixed bag. The dishes are works of art, with silence inducing plating that stuns and wows diners. The flavours are there to back it up, largely, but at times it feels as if style is prioritised over substance on both the food and cocktails.
The last few dishes I ate weren’t necessarily bad or poorly cooked. Perhaps the bar had been set so high with the first dishes that I was bound to find some disappointing flavours in the menu? However, on telling the chef our thoughts he discussed how flavours can either complement, or contrast each other much like wine. I totally agree, except as with all things, finding the perfect balance is crucial, and is something lacking from some of the dishes.
FILE1532It could have been very easy to have a poor or disappointing meal here, especially at the price point they charge. On average, dishes are around £14 to £18, and will generally consist of 4 bites before they’re finished. Dishes are certainly filling given the rich flavours they play with here – but a few unfortunately ordered dishes and it could easily turn a night of excitement into disappointment.
I would definitely come back again, even if it was just for the dumplings, scallops and club sandwich. They’re also looking to run a lunch menu, with a choice of 4 dishes of 6 for £25 – well worth the money for the overall experience and a chance to try some incredible looking and tasting, food! Tip – sit at the counter to get a full view of the chefs plating up and cooking the food!

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.

qp-ldn-mayfair
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.

qp-ldn-mayfair-3qp-ldn-mayfair-4
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.

qp-ldn-mayfair-6
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.

qp-ldn-mayfair-7
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.

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:

bernardis-london-10-of-34
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.

bernardis-london-4-of-34
Grilled tiger prawns, garlic, parsley and peperoncino

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

bernardis-london-9-of-34
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.

bernardis-london-14-of-34
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.

bernardis-london-17-of-34
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.

bernardis-london-22-of-34
Lamb rump, braised shoulder, bagna cauda and queen kale
bernardis-london-25-of-34
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.

bernardis-london-29-of-34
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.

bernardis-london-28-of-34
Enter a caption
bernardis-london-33-of-34
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!
IMG_6264IMG_6274
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.
IMG_6293
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!).
IMG_6287IMG_6275
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!
IMG_6294
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: £££

Aubaine UK

Meal courtesy of Aubaine

Attended and written by Daisy, @petitediningroom and published by Steph

History and background:

Aubaine is a classic, elegant Parisian salon with a relaxed ambience. A chic contemporary French restaurant, boulangerie and patisserie serving simple, classic dishes with 9 branches in London and 2 branches in Dubai, whereby most are located in the central and the southwest. It is a perfect dining place for date nights and celebratory events.

Superb food, urban yet rustic interiors and personable service give Aubaine an air of relaxed sophistication and an aura of chic

The meal:

Offering the Summer en Provence set menu, the executive chef created 3 courses of traditional Provencal dishes for us to experience the taste of south France.

Aubaine (1 of 12)

Goat cheese, pepper puree, basil, cherry tomatoes with edible flowers to kick off the starters. It’s a refreshing salad with a kick, mainly from the pepper puree. Light and appealing for the taste buds.

Aubaine (2 of 12)Bayonne ham, kidney beans, Marconi, pesto soup

There is a strong pesto flavour, which can get slightly heavy for the starters so I would suggest to get something lighter for mains if you choose this dish.

La petite bouillabaisse

It is a traditional Provencal fish stew with sea bass, red mullet, mussels, squid and potatoes. This is one of my favourite French cuisine dishes. A beautiful dish, not the best I have had, but it is amazing for this price.

Aubaine (12 of 12)Roasted corn fed chicken breast with green olives and rosemary, toasted fregola

Chicken was juicy and moist. First time tried the fregola and it went very well with the dish.

Aubaine (8 of 12)Aubaine (7 of 12)

White chocolate fraisier

A twist of the classic fraisier, combining the white chocolate into the crème patisserie with fresh strawberries,topped with an olive oil glaze and with a soaked syrup sponge.

Personally, I prefer the classic Fraisier, which is light and fresh. I was surprised that the olive oil glaze goes really well the cake. I would recommend this for people who have a heavy sweet tooth.

Raspberry tart

This is not on the menu, a classic raspberry tart, filled with almond paste and crème patisserie. The acidity of fresh raspberries on top balanced out the sweetness of the tart and cream.

I would recommend to try their lavender cocktails, we went for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc , sweet and fruity , goes well with our dishes. Crisp and refreshing, perfect for the current summer weather!

Service: Amazing service, special thanks for the manger. Very welcoming, helpful with the food and wine choice, friendly staff.

We went to the branch in Dover street, slightly quieter than those one on the main street i.e. Selfridges. A great location for a date night. The 2-course meal for £15.50, 3 course meal for £19.50.

Available from now to 30th Aug.

Square Meal

Ametza with Arzak Instruction

Ametsa (4 of 20)
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
History and Background:

1 Michelin star 

Some of the critics’ anticipated openings of 2013. Opened by Elena Arzak, deemed to be the Best Female Chef in 2012, the restaurant is located on the ground floor of The Halkin Hotel, just off Hyde Park Tube Station specialising in Basque Spanish food.  Arrival was to a rather bland and soulless room lined up with square tables and plain white walls, but upon looking up at the ceiling, you will find 7000 glass test tubes filled with cumin and spices. Rather impressive. Sitting down can be rather daunting as I watched half a dozen pair of eyes seep into me as I take my seat… guess this is what happens when you’re their first customer of the day..

The meal:

We got a set deal for lunch here for just £27, a deal which I believe they still have at the moment. Tasting menus can be up to £145 and if ordering from the A La Carte expect it to be well over £50. So I do recommend the set lunch if you are to visit!

Ametsa (5 of 20)
Amuse bouche to start off with. I want their slanted glass tube!
Ametsa (6 of 20)
Chipirones en su Tinta (Black Ink Squid)
Ametsa (7 of 20)
Jamon Iberico sobre Almohadas de Pan con Tomate
Ametsa (8 of 20)
Iberico Ham over Bread Pillow
Ametsa (9 of 20)
Pimientos de Piquillo Confitados (Confit Piquillo Peppers)
I have been meaning to give this a second visit when I can, some of their other dishes are equally as exquisite. Colours as well as the plating are done really well here, the food of course, is good too.

Ametsa (10 of 20)
Bacalao Empedrado
Ametsa (11 of 20)
Rocky Cod
Ametsa (12 of 20)
Jarrete de Ternera con Cerveza, Cebolla y su Hueso
Ametsa (13 of 20)
Beef Shin with the Bone, Onion and Beer
Ametsa (14 of 20)
This was my main, and boy was it good! Meat soft to the bone, with the sauce making it really succulent
Ametsa (16 of 20)
Torrija de Mango y Coco
Ametsa (17 of 20)
French Toast with Mango and Coconut
Ametsa (18 of 20)
Clove Custard, Toasted Milk and Pineapple Ice Cream
Ametsa (19 of 20)
Petite Fours
Service: 12.5% service charge

Bits and bobs:

  • Their dishes are known for the visual appeal and exquisitivity, they have desserts that change colour amongst other things, so maybe check your Instagram feed before going!
  • Cloakroom service available

Price: ££ (only because I got the set deal for £27)

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

texture *

Rest assure you that I do not dine Michelin restaurants on a frequent basis…

History and background:

Set up in 2007 in an exquisite Georgian building a few blocks away the bustling streets of Mayfair lay texture. One that offers European food with Scandinavian and Nordic influences, it’s fair to say that it’s a cuisine rarely seen in London. Simplicity does the trick for its interior décor, neutral and pastel colours that flourish the walls, accompanied by eye-catching modern art. The dining room brims with elegance. Not the biggest of restaurants, but size doesn’t mean everything; this place was proved popular by the abundant amount of corporate professionals with large disposable incomes.

The meal: 

The regular tasting menu is a perfect platform to expose Sverrrison’s creativity.  £79 for 6 courses. More like 8 though.

Appetiser: cod skin

This dish really took me by surprise. It’s such a curious looking dish and a very clever way to capture the diner’s attention. Served with two dips, the flaky cod skins were flavourful and crispy. Very poppadom like. Or similar to crispy seaweed. Or to a more British comparison, potato chips.

Sourdough bread with Icelandic Black Lava Salt and Olive Oil

Another appetizer…or is it?  warm and freshly baked sourdough bread supplemented with black salt, and olive oil. Yummy. I always tell myself not to eat too much bread otherwise I would be too full to eat the actual meal… but my stomach doesn’t listen

The true appetizer: pumpkin soup

Iron bark pumpkin, soup, hazelnuts. It was lukewarm, but was a great starter to the meal, cleverly warming up our taste buds before the next course. There was a hint of sweetness yet a subtle mild taste of hazelnuts that were infused into the soup.

DSC07553
Winter Vegetables

A fitting theme given the weather right now, winter vegetables! Consisted of chervil root, celeriac, pickled trompette, vegetable nage. You can taste so many different things here. Soupy – given the complementing sauce that emanated from the root vegetables, sweet but also savoury, I devoured it.

Anjou Pigeon. *that claw*

Chargrilled Anjou quail with shallot, sweetcorn puree, red wine essence and bacon popcorn. Yes, bacon popcorn!!! Tender, succulent, but the size of the portion leaves you wanting more.

I repeat… THAT CLAW
The fourth course: Cornish Monkfish

Another rather soupy dish, but cleverly fitted in between two meat dishes. Consisted of shellfish, fregola, pickled vegetables and herbs. The flavours are very clean-cut, lots of different aftertastes and essences, many of which I just couldn’t figure out.

The fifth course, the most distinctive out of the mains
Elwy Valley Fallow Venison

This is what I call precision cooking. Consists of red cabbage, brussel sprouts, bacon, chocolate sauce. Yeah, you heard right, it was exactly that combination. Venison loin, soft juicy and tender. Red cabbage and brussel sprouts made it bitter and sour. Bacon, slightly salty but subtle. Chocolate sauce, a sweet tangy flavour. There were parts that I liked and parts I didn’t. I credit the originality so far in this tasting menu, being able to cover a breadth of flavours, but at times, too many constituents, too many flavours!

The pre-desserts:

Really need to applaud texture with its creativity. Very clever
The pre-dessert, granita with Icelandic skyr

Sometimes simplicity is key, all you need here after 5 courses is something refreshing. Flavoured, sugary ice with Icelandic skyr (type of soft cheese that tastes like yoghurt). This cleverly refreshes your taste buds and rinses out all that you’ve eaten before. Getting you prepped and ready for the finale.

texture restaurant
I liked it so much I’ve included three photos of it. Hehe.
Coconut
Coconut

Grace, Cheukie and I collectively adored this dish. The champion of all courses tonight. Nutty, warm sponge cake with a crispy clean topping. Rich, melty-ish chocolate stabbed with a cute breaded flake and coconut bits sprinkled all over… heaven. Different textures, different flavours, it was warm, it was cold, it was everything.

Chocolate, ice cream and yoghurt
Scandinavian porn. Sorry – Scandinavian FOOD porn

So we thought we were finished, no we were wrong. Petite fours below:

Pretty little island
Capturing everyone’s attention, even Cheukie’s
A picture from every angle… my friends have such patience.

Macaroons. Dark chocolate truffles. Meringues. Warm madeleines, crispy on the outside and sweet on the inside…

Service: Not intrusive. Friendly. Attentive. They did discover that I was a blogger though, and made me feel very welcome, giving me a signed Tasting Menu too… Nevertheless, top notch service is what you expect at a Mayfair, Michelin starred restaurant.

Bits and bobs:

  • Semi-open kitchen
  • Prestigious “New Restaurant of the Year” from the Independent in 2010
  • Xavier Rousset was the youngest Master Sommelier in the world at 23
  • Has award winning wine credentials, extensive variety offering 110 different champagnes
  • The restaurants 28°-50° are subsequently owned the owners of texture

Price: ££££

Texture on Urbanspoon

Square Meal