12.18.2013

THE APE & BIRD PUBLIC HOUSE

I was looking forward the opening of The Ape and Bird Public House, the new restaurant of Russell Norman, as I like Polpo restaurants, I thought I will like his new place. 
Unfortunately I was very disappointed by this new place, to me the place doesn't look like a proper real pub, you can't really stand near the bar in the main area as the counter is laid out for dining. The main door with the red curtain reminds me straight the style of most of Parisian bistrot-brasserie, some tables are very tiny, I am wondering how you can get your plate on it if you have lunch for two ! Our table was normal but still a bit too small to be comfortable.
Service was a bit slow.

We had some bread served while my friend and I were waiting. For sure it was the worst bread I ate since I moved to England ! Powdery and stale, it was the kind of bread you probably buy in a supermarket (regarding its quality) and taste like it has been drying for one day.
Bread & Butter

Probably the only dish I really enjoyed there, it was the pig trotter scotch egg, I was a bit disappointed they haven't been generous on the celeriac fries on my plate, yolk was perfect, a bit runny like it should be.
 Pig trotter scotch egg, celeriac fries

My friend had the salad, which was apparently fine but not exceptional.
 Chicory, apple & spiced walnut salad, blue cheese dressing 

For the price of sides I was expecting more of it. Truffled cheesy fries were not good, fries were dry and the truffled cheese on top has a very weird texture, not melted at all, and very dry too...
 Truffled cheesy fries

Fried sprouts were good but didn't really need the bacon, it just create too much confusion.
Brussel sprouts are an interestingly deep and flavorsome vegetable on their own and really didn't need the extra dimension of fatty meat.
 Fried sprouts, Old Ford & bacon

The burger arrived after a long wait, it was cold. The patty fell apart and the old thing just sort of crumbled in my hands. I though they put too much sauce in it, but well probably when the burger is hot it tastes different and better ! 
 Cheeseburger

I didn't get any chance with the pie either, the pie didn't really have solid pieces of chicken in as it was like pulled or minced chicken. The whole pie was dry too. 
 Chicken, leek & mushroom pie

The whole experience isn't what I was expecting, it is a very pricy 'pub', I won't probably go back there as it is a very bad value for quality/price. Food didn't have so much taste, everything was dry or cold.
When I think of a pub I think of very quick service, great comfort food and cheap or reasonable price. Ape and Bird was the opposite for me.
Russell Norman didn't charm me with this new place, I will continue to go to Polpo.

The Ape & Bird Public House
142 Shaftesbury Avenue
London WC2H 8HJ
Twitter: @Apeandbird
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11.22.2013

LE RELAIS DE VENISE & L'ENTRECOTE

Since I've lived in London I've always wanted to go to Le Relais de Venise here, as I used to go in their sister restaurant L'Entrecôte in Toulouse for many years.
The concept is easy, it is a no-choice menu composed by a salad starter followed by a 'Steak-Frites' served with a secret sauce made by Paul Gineste de Saurs.
If you are a regular client at L'Entrecôte, you must not leave the place without having two plates of fries with your meat and the famous and delicious chocolate profiteroles as a dessert or you are not a real customer.
The sauce is not totally a secret in France, only the quantity of each ingredients are the secret. The sauce is made with chicken liver, fresh thyme and flower of thyme, whipping cream, white mustard, butter, water, salt, and pepper.
I went there with my sister so we were both the best expert to analyze the difference between the UK version and The French version.


Arrival:
Good point for the English version, we only wait 3 minutes inside to get a table while in Toulouse (France) we would have wait probably 45 minutes or an hour to get a seat.
UK: 1 - France : 0


Starter : Salad
I always thought the seasoning is what makes a salad good or not. During my lunch at Relais de Venise my sister and I were both disappointed, the salad was over seasoned, there was too much salad sauce like if someone put a whole bottle in only one dish! I couldn't finish my dish. The only positive point was that they crushed the walnut which makes it more easy to eat that the French version, but it was not enough to make the UK dish win.
UK: 1 - France: 1

UK version: Relais de Venise
 
French version: L'Entrecôte

Main dish: Steak- Frites
For this dish we saw the difference from the beginning without having to try it.
About the steak, both restaurant have a good meat supplier, and know how to cook the beef as you wanted.
About the fries, they didn't look the same, I know what you will think they look better on UK version picture (at some point I never understand why the French one never look great on pictures), but trust me at the end the look doesn't count, they are better in France.
About the sauce, it is the same recipe in both place but apparently not the same measurements of ingredients. The textures are different, in France there is more depth while in the UK it is more one dimensional. In UK, they put more mustard than the French version.
UK:2 - France: 4

 UK version
UK version
French version
Presentation of the dish:
In Le Relais de Venise, they served your plate with the steak and some fries and then keep the second part of your meat somewhere hidden from your eyes, I finished my fries in my first dish and I was a bit sad to see that the waitress was not coming to ask me if I wanted more...I had to finish my meat without fries to see my second plate with more meat and fries coming.
In France they do exactly the same instead of the last part. When everyone is served on your table, they bring the rest of your meat to the table so you can serve yourself depending on the rhythm you are eating.  Also, the waitresses seem more professional, as they always have a discreet look to see if you need more fries on your plate and bring more to you.
Both restaurants use candle heaters to keep your meat warm, at least it is what I thought before my second plate of meat in Le Relais de Venise arrived cold... Someone must have used cheap candles from Primark under our dish or candles turn off and no one see it!!
UK: 2 - France : 5

French version
Dessert: Chocolate profiteroles
Nothing to say about chocolate profiteroles, they are both delicious in both restaurant. I am not a huge fan of dessert (as I don't wish to become obese) but the profiteroles in L'Entrecôte is the only pudding I eat all the time. So when I went to Le  Relais de Venise I had to try it. The presentation on the dish was better in UK.
UK: 3 - France: 5

 UK version
 
French version
Price:
In France the menu with chocolate profiteroles dessert without wine is 23.5€ (price included service and VAT) while in London it is £28.95 for the same thing but on top on that you have to add 10% of service charge.
UK: 3 - France: 6.



Result: 
Uk: 3 - France: 6
It is with no surprise that my sister and I agreed that the French version is better in many points that the English version!  But I have to say it was quite a delight to go to Le Relais de Venise as it costs less than buying a plane ticket to go back to France just to enjoy a steak-frites with the delicious fries.
I am back to France in December and it is with no surprise I will go back to L'Entrecôte very soon.

Credits: pictures of the French version were made by my brother-in-law Julien.

 Le Relais de Venise 
120 Marylebone Ln
London W1U 2QG
 
 L'Entrecôte
15 Boulevard de Strasbourg
 31000 Toulouse, France

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11.08.2013

STICKS'N'SUSHI

Yesterday I went to the soft opening of the new branch of Sticks'N'Sushi near Covent Garden on Henrietta Street. Sticks'N'Sushi officially open tomorrow.
The restaurant is decorated with modern furnitures, tables are covered by leather which gives a chic atmosphere, I was not convinced by their choice of  chair (one arm rest) , as everytime I tried to go out of my chair I was stuck inside.
The space is provided with a longitudinal stairway in bended steel connecting ground floor with the basement. In the basement you have some seats on the counter which surrounds the kitchen.
My friend and I had three courses each, a glass of wine and we shared a selection of desserts.
Our dinner starts with a classic miso soup served with tofu, spring onion & wakame seaweed for both of us. The soup was hot and had a lot of flavour.
As a second course my friend had tuna sashimi, according to him, it was a good quality tasting and the fish was not fat. I had black Alsaska roll, I was so happy to see for one time a roll with salmon, avocado and cream cheese in London, I never found some before last night and they are my favourite in France. They were better than the one in France thanks to the touch of tobiko on top of the rice.
As a third course we both shared two kind of Yakitori ( Buta Kushi Katsu & Yaki Hitsuji Chiizu), the panko breaded pork with wasabi caesar dressing was recommended by our waiter. Both yakitori were pretty good, as a goat cheese lover, I preferred the Yaki Hitsuji Chiizu.
We also shared a Yakiniku steak, this dish was pretty good, very tasty, but it was my deception of the night on the other side as the dish arrived a bit cold at our table, so it could have been better if we ate it hot.
To end our dinner we had a four tasters dessert, apparently it was according to the menu a  green tea ice cream (which taste more like a vanilla ice cream than green tea),  a delicious chocolate fondant with caramel and hazelnut brittle, a kind of chocolate truffle with sesame seeds and a tasty creme brulee (the creme brulee slightly failed the spoon cracking test).


Overall it was a nice experience, dishes were nicely presented, I will recommend this place for a special occasion. As it was a soft opening I presume the experience could be even better in the future. I think what is lacking in Covent Garden is a fun and special feeling pan-asian restaurant and Sticks'N'Sushi fills this gap perfectly.

We were invited to eat at Sticks'N'Sushi.
 Classic Miso Soup
 Sashimi Maguro , tuna served with supreme soy
 Black Alaska roll : salmon cream cheese & avocado, rolled in black tobiko
 Buta Kushi Katsu & Yaki Hitsuji Chiizu
 Panko breaded pork with wasabi caesar dressing
Goat cheese with dried ham

Rib Eye Steak marinated in Japonese barbecue sauce, topped with spring onion & sesame seeds, served with kimchee
Yakiniku steak

Four Tasters

Sticks'N'Sushi
11 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8PY
Twitter: @Sticknsushi_uk
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9.27.2013

28-50 MADDOX STREET

I went to the new restaurant 28°-50° Wine workshop on Maddox Street for lunch with a colleague.
This restaurant is run by the people who own Texture. The menu is simple and composed essentially with seafood and meat dishes (which is perfect because I like both !) 
The place is semi industrial, mainly decorated with wooden wine cases, I liked the main bar with their fresh seafood counter, it reminds me French seafood brasserie. 
From the beginning to the end of our lunch, service was perfect, they were very attentive and also very comprehensive when we asked them if you can have an extra table next to ours at the last minute for two more colleagues.  
For starters I had the baby beetroots salad which was a fresh delight and my friend had three lock fyne rock oysters.
For main course my friend opted for the US Rib eye, which was unfortunately a little bit more cooked than what he wanted. I had a half native lobster and it was perfect, I regretted I didn't choose the full one. We both ordered fries to compliment our mains. As a dessert I tried the cheese platter with a selection of three cheeses from "La Fromagerie", my favourite was the Fiori dei Langhe. My friend who prefers sweet dessert had a lemon tart and according to him, it was delicious.
All in all, food was good and service was perfect. A good restaurant to keep in mind !

Je suis allée au nouveau restaurant 28° -50° Wine workshop sur Maddox street pour un déjeuner avec un collègue.
Ce restaurant est dirigé par les mêmes personnes qui possèdent Texture. Le menu est simple et composé essentiellement de fruits de mer et de viandes (ce qui est parfait car j'aime les deux!) 
L'endroit est semi industriel, principalement décoré avec des caisses de vin en bois, j'ai aimé le bar principal avec le comptoir à fruits de mer, cela m'a rappell
é les brasseries française de fruits de mer. 
Du début jusqu'à la fin de notre déjeuner, le service a ét
é parfait, les serveuses étaient très attentifves et aussi très compréhensives quand nous leur avons demandé si nous pouvions avoir une table supplémentaire à la dernière minute pour deux autres collègues. 
En guise d'entr
ées, j'ai commandé la salade de betteraves, elle était parfaite et rafraichissante,  mon ami a choisi de commencer par trois huîtres.
Pour le plat principal mon ami a opté pour le Faux-filet, qui a été malheureusement un peu plus cuit que ce qu'il avait demand
é. J'ai mangé une moitié du homard, il était délicieux, j'ai regretté de ne pas avoir choisi le homard entier. Nous deux avons commandé des frites en accompagnements.
Comme dessert j'ai choisi leur plateau de fromage compos
é de trois sélection de fromages provenant de "La Fromagerie", mon préfér
é a été le Fiori dei Langhe. Mon ami qui préfère les dessert sucrés a choisi leur tarte de citron qui était selon lui très bonne.
Globalement, la nourriture était bonne et le service était parfait. Une adresse

à retenir!
Baby beetroots , goat's cheese curd, salad leaves
Betteraves, lait caillé de chèvre et salade
Loch fyne rock oysters
Huitres
US Rib eye grain fed, 28 days aged, béarnaise sauce.
Faux-filet avec une sauce béarnaise
Fries
Frites
Half native lobster, aïoli, garlic butter, salad leaves
Homard , aïoli, beurre à l'ail et salade
Cheese from "La Fromagerie" with sourdough bread : Fiori dei Langhe, Morbier and Comté
Fromages de "La Fromagerie" avec du pain de levain : Fiori dei Langhe, Morbier and Comté
Lemon tart
Tarte au citron
28°-50° Wine workshop & Kitchen
17-19 Maddox Street
London W1S 2QH
Twitter: @2850restaurant
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9.08.2013

DUCKSOUP

This week I went for my first lunch at Ducksoup with two friends, both of them have already been there before. The concept of Ducksoup is the same as a tapas restaurant, some dishes (Bar menu) are small portion and are ideal to share for starters, and others are more like a main course (Kitchen menu). 
What I like about this place is the decoration, it is quite simple but it is friendly, probably because all tables are near each other (it could something I wouldn't like if I was having a romantic dinner, but for lunch with my two friends it didn't bother me).
I like the menu which was hand-written (see picture below), it is original and they have a various choice of food: fish, vegetables, meat...
We decided to share everything so we ordered three dishes from the bar menu : grilled chicken wings, roast shallots and raw Jerusalem artichokes. Chicken required a little bit of salt and raw Jerusalem artichokes needed some olive oil but apart from that starters were good.
As main course we went for a chargrilled slip sole, lamb chops and braised rabbit leg. I didn't see the red dip coming on top of the slip sole was harissa, so I had a good surprise when I put in my mouth a piece of sole which I had generously spread with this dip which I thought was a thick coulis of tomatoes. I think the sole was better on his own without harissa or lemon. Nothing to say about lamb chops, it was excellent, perfectly cooked.
The dish I will probably remember all my life is the braised rabbit leg because it was the first time I ate rabbit, I have had several occasion to eat it previously but I have never tried because I respected the pact made when I was 8 years old with my sister to never eat rabbit because we had some as a domestic pet: Bunny and Merlin. 
She broke the pact two years ago once, so I thought why not trying too. 
I have to say I was impressed, rabbit taste pretty good, this dish was wonderful but then I felt very guilty (hate this feeling), I won't eat rabbit very often from now but it was a great experience, I will always remember my lunch at Ducksoup.  
Our lunch was £25 per head service included without wines, we though bread price is a bit expensive...£2 for two slices!

Cette semaine je suis allée déjeuner pour la première fois à Ducksoup avec deux amis, tout deux avaient déjà été là-bas auparavant. Le concept de Ducksoup est le même qu'un restaurant de tapas, certains plats (Bar menu) sont servis en petite portion et sont idéal pour être partager et d'autres sont plutôt un plat principal (Kitchen menu).
Ce que j'aime dans ce restaurant c'est la décoration, c'est simple mais c'est convivial probablement parce que toutes les tables sont très pr
ès les unes des autres (cela pourrait
être quelque chose qui me dérange si j'étais là pour un dîner romantique, mais pour un déjeuner avec deux amis cela ne m'a pas dérangé).
J'ai aim
é leur menu, du fait qu'il soit écrit à la main, c'est original et leur menu est très varié : légumes, poissons et viandes.

Nous avons décidé de partager tous nos plats, nous avons commandé trois plats de la carte du bar : des ailes de poulet grillées, des échalotes rôties et des Topinambours crus. Le poulet manquait de sel et les Topinambours crus d'une pointe d'huile d'olive, à part ces petits détails, les entrées étaient bonnes.
Pour les plats principaux nous avons commandé la sole grillée au feu de bois, des côtelettes d'agneau et une cuisse braisée de lapin. Je n'avais pas vu que la sauce rouge servie avec la sole était de la harissa, j'ai donc eut une bonne surprise quand j'ai mis dans ma bouche un morceau de sole que j'avais généreusement tartiné de sauce en pensant que c'était un coulis épais de tomates. Je pense que la sole était meilleure toute seule sans la harissa ou le citron. 
Rien à dire sur les côtelettes d'agneau, c'était excellent, elles étaient parfaitement cuites.
Le plat dont je me souviendrai probablement toute ma vie c'est la cuisse de lapin braisée car c'était la première fois que je mangeais du lapin, j'ai eu plusieurs fois l'occasion d'en manger précédemment mais je n'ai jamais essayé car je respectais la pacte fait avec ma soeur quand j'avais 8 ans de ne jamais manger de lapin car nous en avions comme animaux domestiques : Bunny et Merlin. 
Elle a rompu le pacte en goutant il y a deux ans une fois du lapin, j'ai donc pensé à essayer aussi de mon côté.
Je dois dire que j'ai été impressionné, le lapin c'est assez bon, ce plat était merveilleux mais  je me suis sentie très coupable ensuite, je ne mangerai pas souvent du lapin dans le futur car je déteste ce sentiment de culpabilité mais c'était une super expérience, je me rappellerai toujours de mon déjeuner à Ducksoup. 
Notre déjeuner a couté £25 par personne service inclus sans vin, nous avons trouvé que le prix du pain était un peu cher... £ 2 pour deux tranches!

Sourdough bread with unsalted butter
Pain au levain avec du beurre non salé
Pickles 
Cornichons
Grilled chicken wings, curry leaves, tahani yoghurt
Ailerons de poulet grille, feuilles de curry et sauce tahani au yaourt
Roast shallots, goat's curd, mint, toast 
Echalotes rôties, lait caillé de chèvre, menthe, toast
Raw Jerusalem artichokes, salted anchovies, herbs
Topinambour, anchois salé, herbes
Chargrilled slip sole, harissa, lemon
Sole grillée, harissa et citron
Lamb chops, lemon, salt
Côtelettes d'agneau, citron, sel
Braised rabbit leg, yellow courgettes, saffron 
Cuisse de lapin braisée, courgettes jaunes et sauce au safran
Wednesday, September 4th handwriting menu
Ducksoup
41 Dean Street
London W1D 4PY
Twitter: @Ducksoupsoho
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