Pearl Liang: Take-away next time, please

Pearl Liang: Take-away next time, please

The regeneration of Paddington Basin in the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable, both in terms of newly developed office and residential space as well as multifarious eating options. By day, it is buzzing; on a Friday night, however, it was almost eerily quiet, particularly once the post-work drinking crowd had dissipated. We discovered this to our cost when we ended up being the last customers to leave Pearl Liang …

Berenjak: Pretty perfect Persian

Berenjak: Pretty perfect Persian

There is a shrewdness behind the whole Berenjak concept, from the siting of the venue through to the vibe and the food. Diners are told to expect a combination of ‘home-style’ cooking combined with a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ kebab experience; something for everyone, especially in Soho. While the mains at Berenjak are indeed centred around the grilling of meat, what you get here is about as far removed from a drunken post-pub snack as possible.

Donostia: Welcome home

Donostia: Welcome home

Visitors to the Basque region of Spain will see large adverts at the airports welcoming them to “the home of Spanish food.” This is not a bold claim, given that the city of San Sebastián has more Michelin stars per square metre than any other in the world. London may be some 1300km away from Spain’s culinary capital, but diners need not travel that far to experience some of the best food from the region. Donostia (what the locals call San Sebastián) is a 40-cover venue located in Marylebone’s restaurant quarter and provides an exceptionally good introduction to Basque cooking

The Orangery at Rockliffe Hall: Make the trip

The Orangery at Rockliffe Hall: Make the trip

Luxury breaks in fine English country hotels don’t come much better than the experience provided by Rockliffe Hall. While the original buildings date from the 18th Century, the offering throughout is distinctly modern including three different and all very good restaurants in which to eat. The high point, where my comrade and I enjoyed full tasting menus that would easily rival Michelin-starred venues throughout the UK, was the Orangery. ..

Barrafina: The trouble with tapas (yet again)

Barrafina: The trouble with tapas (yet again)

The Spaniards were well ahead of almost every other nation when it came to the concept of ‘sharing plates.’ The term tapas is indeed as ineluctably associated with the country as bull fighting or Sangria. Nowadays, bull fighting is, of course, considered distinctly cruel and unnecessary, and the same could arguably be said of the pairing of orange juice with red wine. Yet tapas lives on. And rightly so. Small dishes mean diners have the opportunity to sample a wide range of offerings and see the full extent of a chef’s talents. However, where are those talented chefs? Not in London. I have yet to sample tapas anywhere across the capital that comes close to what might be consistently available in even the most humble of Spanish establishments. Barrafina did little to change my impression

Patri: Home run

Patri: Home run

Passion and execution are two things that diners expect when eating out. Both were in spades at Patri, a small Indian restaurant located on a Hammersmith side street. Similar to the approach pursued by better-known Indian establishments such as Dishoom and Darjeeling Express, Puneet and his team at Patri are seeking to bring their home-based experiences of Indian cooking to the broader world.

Navadhanya: A top Indian restaurant in Edinburgh

Navadhanya: A top Indian restaurant in Edinburgh

Regular readers of the Blog will know that Gourmand Gunno can often be found in Indian restaurants. However, with a choice of some 150 such dining establishments in Edinburgh (a city with which Gunno is not at all familiar), how to choose? Luckily, fellow food Blogger Adele (aka ‘Tartan Spoon’) suggested a trip to Navadhanya. ..

The Kitchin: From nature to plate

The Kitchin: From nature to plate

Many restaurants may claim that they operate a nature to plate philosophy, but few do it with as much passion and commitment as the Kitchin. Based on a recent visit, the Kitchin fully deserves its Michelin star, which it has held since 2007. Located in the redeveloped Leith waterfront area, just on the edge of Edinburgh, the venue both looks and feels distinctly modern but still manages successfully to show reverence for the past.

Farzi Café: Head fake

Farzi Café: Head fake

‘No,’ was what I wanted to scream straight out when first I learned about Farzi Café. Everything about it struck me as wrong or offensive. The restaurant is subtitled as being a ‘modern spice bistro’ (what is that supposed to mean?), it is backed by ‘the Czar of Indian Cuisine’ (per the details on its website) and I learned through the Internet that farzi means ‘fake’ in Urdu. Add into this that London’s newest batch of Indian openings have all met with mixed reviews, and my expectations were certainly low heading to Farzi Café. The good news, however, was that they were comfortably surpassed…

Harry’s Bar: La dolce vita, London style

Harry’s Bar: La dolce vita, London style

Say Harry’s Bar to most foodies or well-travelled tourists and the immediate response would be ‘Venice.’ Such is its fame that the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs declared the Venetian venue a national landmark in 2001. Part of going to Venice is saying you’ve been there, but now you don’t even need to. For a pleasingly authentic experience with significantly fewer tourists and a much more reasonably priced menu, central London now has an outpost of Harry’s.

Kanishka: Give it a year…

Kanishka: Give it a year…

Restaurants come and go in London, with around half shutting within a year of opening. I fear Kanishka may well fall into this category. Maybe I was negatively prejudiced towards the venue, having never rated chef Atul Kochhhar’s previous Benares venture, but I have no specific desire to return to Kanishka. The décor felt brash, the vibe wrong, and the food not quite good enough to justify the inflated price tags.

The Clove Club: Brilliant, but not the best

The Clove Club: Brilliant, but not the best

It is hard not to pre-judge the Clove Club. The venue is the highest ranked British restaurant in the annual San Pelligrino top-50 list. Maybe as a result of its fame, it is necessary to reserve a table for a weekend evening three months in advance and – in a first for this country – pay for it all upfront. Against this background, I seriously expect to be wowed. What my comrade and I learned, however…

Freak Scene: Freakin’ good

Freak Scene: Freakin’ good

If you were a chef, what would be your dream? A fair guess might be that once you had a built a cult following, open your own place on your own terms: an intimate venue, decorated just the way you would like it, with your own tunes playing on the sound system. One iteration of this vision can be found at Scott Hallsworth’s Freak Scene in Soho…

Tayyabs: Old school rules

Tayyabs: Old school rules

Any restaurant that not only opened in 1972 but has expanded its premises since then must clearly be doing something right. That there are often customers queuing (an hour’s wait is apparently not abnormal) is further testament to Tayyabs. Based on our recent week night visit – which fortuitously did not involve any queuing – the reason is very apparent. It has nothing to do with the insalubrious venue/ décor, and everything to do with the food: which was top-quality and delivered at compelling prices

Sketch: Top of its league

Sketch: Top of its league

The title says it all. Sketch may have been open since 2003 but it deservedly remains one of the best fine dining locations in London, its two Michelin stars thoroughly merited. A meal in its Lecture Room & Library was my culinary highlight of 2018, and a return visit there on a recent Saturday night reinforced how Sketch could also be in contention for the 2019 award.

Dinings: Dine out on this

Dinings: Dine out on this

Blink and you might miss it. Dinings is located in a tiny Georgian townhouse on an obscure side street in Marylebone. Spacious, the venue is not. Rather, it is distinctly cramped and bereft of decoration, but the food is so supremely good that it is well worth a visit…

The Wallace Restaurant: Artful

The Wallace Restaurant: Artful

Walk two blocks north of Bond Street underground station and you will encounter one of London’s best-kept artistic secrets – the Wallace Collection. Located on Manchester Square, it houses an extensive collection of fine and decorative arts, and is free for anyone to visit. If this were not reason enough to visit, then the restaurant too is worth checking out…

Ma Goa: Indian meets hipster, in Putney

Ma Goa: Indian meets hipster, in Putney

Four years is a culinary lifetime, particularly in London, but I have always retained fond memories for Ma Goa, a Putney-located Indian restaurant. Finding myself in the area on a recent weekend, the opportunity to return seemed too good to pass up. In summary, the restaurant has had a make-over, but the food remains as differentiated as before.