What a wonderful night it was in London. What better way to spend my evening than at one of Russell Norman's newest ventures; Polpetto. This restaurant like Polpo operates with a similar concept of the Venetian bacaro. The plates are quite small which allows for a lot of experimentation and sharing.

Please note that Russell has continued his policy of no-reservations for dinner so beware of long lines. Fortunately, I was eating alone so I could get a spot quickly. The restaurant is located in central Soho down the road from Yautcha on Berwick Street. I entered and sat at a small table where I was served a glass of water before being directed to a spot at the bar.

The restaurant is very dim and the ceilings are noticeably low. You can see all the cracks in the wall and the little imperfections in the furniture. The ambience here was crying out authentic-grunge which I quite liked. Even the crowds made you feel like you were in the 'in' place; a few artists, hipsters and intellectuals here and there.

I stared at the menu for quite a while and decided upon three dishes. The clams with linguine came first. This dish had a very simple beauty in its presentation and that manifested in its flavour. There was this oily broth had the perfect balance between saltiness and acidity as the flavour continuously buffered between these extremes. The clams were also delicious and were nicely infused with the essence of the peppers. This was a thoroughly enjoyable light dish.

Next thing that came up were the mussels. This was the first time I ate mussels fried; I'm so used to picking them from their shells. I kept on thinking "where's the tartare sauce?!" and then I realised that the baby tomatoes did the job of of providing the necessary citrusness. The dish was a really a nice teaser for what came next. 

The pork belly with artichoke followed suit. This was amazing. First, it looked absolutely brilliant. Second, it made my tongue rejoice. Surprisingly, the pork belly wasn't the main star of the show; for me, it was the artichoke purée! It exhibited this mild sweetness and smokiness that I couldn't get enough of! It did the job of enhancing the meat it sat next to. The pork was good but I thought it was quite dry. I guess the parsley sauce at the bottom of the plate gave the pork belly the moisture it needed. Also, the artichoke crisps added some crunch to the dish which is always excellent. Overall, the dish won me over with its sophistication of flavour and variance in texture. Bravo! 

I finished my meal with the chocolate flan. No surprise, the flan was very rich and and had great depth in flavour thanks to the dark chocolate. The cool crème fraîche did a good job of offering some occasional relief from the overwhelming chocolaty goodness. I was told to try the maple tart but I didn't. Comment below to tell me how it was if you tried it!

So guys.... COME TO POLPETTO. It really is that simple. The chefs here have an eye for flavour combinations and aesthetic which I always admire. Let's not forget the distinct atmosphere which only enhances one's experiences with great food. The service is excellent as well; I had quite the lengthy chat with one of the waitresses which is always great. 

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For the short period of time that I was in London, I had to tick the box for 'tasty comfort food' and I was optimistic that Chop Shop would be my safe bet. I had never heard much about Chop Shop but after reading the London Eater's review, I was convinced I needed to come here.

I made the reservation on a Tuesday evening so I wasn't optimistic for a bustling crowd to create a lovely atmosphere. I was right about my prediction concerning the crowds but not the atmosphere. The restaurant actually oozes its ambience from its decor; it had that classic run-down spuntino-esque vibe with dim blue lighting that puts one in a mellow mood.

FK was joining me once again and we decided to share the crispy wings (£6) as a starter. Basically, they were a good set of wings and I don't have anything bad to say about them. They were so good we ordered two portions (and also because there weren't enough wings per portion).

For mains, I decided to go for the rosemary brushed beef rib chop (£26) with a side of creamed spinach (£4). It was presented quite well and it tasted fantastic. It was tender and juicy due to the marbled fat. Also, there was an earthy flavour brought about by the rosemary. The creamed spinach was excellent; it had a smooth consistency that went really well with the steak. Sidenote: FK had a side of onion rings which comes as a massive stack for only £3!

To finish off my meal, I had the butterscotch custard (£5). It wasn't what I expected but it a provided a nice sweet ending to the experience. Only problem was that it was slightly too rich and there wasn't enough variance in texture to counter the creaminess. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend this spot. If you like simple comfort food inspired by the U.S, this place is for you. The meats are high quality, the cocktails are interesting and the ambience is very mellow. Also, the staff are very friendly and are in no rush to get you out of the door even if it's 30 minutes past closing time! Check it out and have a great time.

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Fischer's is the newest addition to the list of Corbin & King restaurants which has been conceptualised as a Viennese cafe providing schnitzels and other continental European treats. It kind of echoes vibes of my experience at the Delaunay. Also, the restaurant opened in the buzzing neighbourhood of Marleybone which seems to be the 'in' food scene in London at the moment.

The atmosphere is what you would expect of any Corbin&King restaurant; themes of elegance, antiquity, European-ness topped up with dashes of posh here and there. This ambience was given off by the dark-glimming wood panels, dim lighting, vintage paintings/posters and other things of the sort. What I like about the restaurant is that it has captured the up-market vibe but has also managed to fuse it with a sense of comfort.

Ms.EQP (equally quirky person) was once again joining me and when we finally settled in, we decided to start with the Käsespätzle (£4.75) which is a sort of gourmet mac 'n' cheese. It was very rich and delicious; well balanced in terms of saltiness. However, it was too heavy for a starter.

For mains, I ordered the lamb goulash (£18). The sauce was quite average but the lamb was very tender and tasty. The lamb was nicely complemented by the sweet roast peppers as well as the creme fraiche which added a nice dosage of cool dairy goodness. Overall, it was very soothing. 

Ms.EQP ordered the small wiener (veal) schnitzel (£11) which tasted average at first but became better with every other bite. It was placed on a rich indulgent sauce which was quite earthy. 

On the service side, I was not happy at all. The waiter was 1) very arrogant and snooty 2) lacked the ability to pay attention and 3) took ages to get the bill and card-reader. So basically, he failed on all fronts.

On the whole, the food is decent but not amazing, the ambience is great and the service needs a lot of work. I'm going to be honest; you're not really missing much if you don't come here.... you probably will have more fun at the Wolseley.

Fischer's on Urbanspoon

For about two years I kept saying  "Oh I really want to try out that Balthazar place". I call this phenomenon 'foodie inertia' and loads of London foodies suffer from it due to the overwhelming amount of choice that London's food scene has to offer. Well I put my foot down and finally decided to make a reservation there for Sunday brunch a few weeks ago. 

It was a nice sunny day (as sunny as London can get in  March)  so I thought the ambience here would suit the weather. It embodies a very snazzy and place-to-be atmosphere with the high ceilings, brass railings and the lively crowd. Also, the restaurant is right opposite the Covent Garden market which situates it in a rather buzzing space.

The menu adopts the classic french brasserie layout and I thought I would start with the garlic prawns (£10). It had a very moreish sauce and the prawns were very delicious. Then again, I think anything garlicky is delicious.

After much deliberation, I decided to go with the lobster spaghetti as my entrée. I wasn't too impressed with it. It was more acidic than it needed to be and it tasted too similar to the flavour of my starter. It was an 'okay' execution of lobster spaghetti. At least the portion was large. On the other hand, it was quite a disappointment for £26.

I finished my meal with the New York pancakes (£8). I hate to be petty but the presentation was painfully basic and uninspiring. Flavour-wise, the pancakes were too thick and had an odd flavour I couldn't quite put my finger on. I don't like to use the mundane term 'okay' but that's the best word I can use to describe this dessert. 

Overall, it seems like this restuarant is all hype without the flavour, evident by the overpriced dishes. It's another classic case of 'decent but not amazing'. In general, it's a "can't go bad" sort of place if you just want a reliably decent Sunday brunch.

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

Do any of you remember Burger and Lobster? If you do, do you remember the amazing lobster rolls they did? If you do remember those tasty lobster rolls, I guess you'll be excited to find out that the owners of this famous franchise have opened up a little restuarant dedicated to just serving different kinds of lobster rolls. It's a foodie's dream, a lobster roll deli! *What an idea*

I had anticipated the opening of this restuarant for a while so it was amongst the few restuarants I visited whilst I was in London. Ironically, I was flying out of London that day so I was in a bit of a rush. After getting through the human traffic on Oxford street, I found my way to the offshoot, calmer street which was fortunately opposite Selfridges (hence the tittle of this blog post). 

Anyway, I was in luck because the restaurant took on a fast-food dynamic; I ordered my food at the counter and it arrived at the receiving end quite quickly . The restaurant is also self-service so you won't be spoiled here with chatty staff. If I remember correctly, I ordered the Samurai Lobster roll with a side of lobster bisque.

The lobster roll was much better than the one I had at Burger & Lobster. It was richer, tastier and even spicier. I loved the brioche bun but it can make the hands quite greasy. The filling also had the perfect amount of mayonnaise and was at the perfect chilled temperature. Only problem I had was that it could get quite messy eating it. 

The lobster bisque was light, delicate and full of flavour. I liked the variety of texture brought on by little bits of lobster. 

Overall, I would say given the restaurant's light and affordable meals as well as it's ideal location; it makes for the perfect shopping break destination. It's definitely worth a try!

Smack Lobster on Urbanspoon

So I'm trying something new this time. Instead of writing extensively about all the dishes, I'm just going to post the pictures of my experience there. I'll comment briefly at the end. Please note that this is an occasional thing; I'm still going to be writing other full reviews.

A fantastic culinary experience at this two-star Michelin restaurant. Some dishes pushed my ability to appreciate certain flavours and the presentation was all-round stunning. A very expensive meal (£100) but nearly worth every penny.

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Hey there! I knows it's been the longest time since I last posted a review; I've been out of town for the past few months. Anyway, what's important is that I'm back in London for a bit so what follows is a few restaurant reviews! Be on the look out for two more reviews.

Before I left London for a few months, Barrafina had long been on my list. I had heard amazing things about the top-quality tapas from other bloggers so I knew that when I was back in London, Barrafina would be the first place to visit.

After visiting the Christmas markets in South Bank with my equally quirky companion, I headed back to Soho with great haste in order to get there early.  You may be thinking, "why would I want to get to a restaurant early?" One possibility is that I may be rushing to attend some event. The other possibility is the combination of a no-reservation policy and a small seating capacity. In this case, I would reason towards the latter possibility.

After arriving in Soho, it took a while for me to locate the restuarant due to the inconspicuous external design but Google maps soon aided my direction *thanks Google*. 

Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing I had in mind was to join the queue. Luckily, we were allowed to queue inside which protected us from the harsh winter weather outside. However, if you're one of those strange people who enjoy eating in the cold, you can opt to do so. The waiting time for eating outside is basically non-existent so good for you!

For the rest of us warm-blooded folk, it took about 2 hours to get a seat! One thing that kept me going was the amazing food being served to the seated customers. My theory is that the chefs work extra hard on presentation to incentivise customers to wait longer. On the other hand, this theory isn't without fault as I recall rejoicing when a party of 4 left the queue. It was like playing a game of Last Man Standing. If you wish, you can have a glass of wine or a small appetiser while waiting in the long line to sustain yourself. 

After reflecting on my years of life, our seats were finally ready! Honestly, all I was looking forward to doing at that point was sitting down.

Now... Food time! Upon glancing at the menu, I noticed that it was divided into seven sections: Cara Para, Cold Meats, Tortilla, Seafood, Meats, Vegetables and Desserts. Ms. EQP (equally quirky person) and I tried to cover most sections of the menu but we failed because the best dishes were basically contained within three sections. The very friendly and helpful waitress recommended her favourite dishes which we ordered but, with caution. 

The first thing that arrived was the octopus with capers. I didn't even want to eat it at first; it looked too beautiful. The glistening surface, the colour, the juiciness. All these observations materialised in my mouth. What a wonderful dish! I think to summarise the experience, I can call it 'texture heaven'.

Next thing that came along was the ham croquetas. This was just a pleasant starter. It wasn't anything particularly special but I enjoyed it. I think the contrast between the rich filling and the cruchy exterior made it slightly memorable. Also, the dish acted as nice buffer before the next dish came along. 

Next in line was the courgette flower. It was basically a courgette flower deep-fried and stuffed with cheese. The bold presentation is hard to forget. I enjoyed this light and simple dish. It literally disappeared so quickly. I liked the nice hint of sweeteness from the honey at the end. I usually don't try vegetable dishes because I fear they lack the powerful flavours and textures carried by the meats but my experience with this particular dish was contrary to my expectations.

Although I had just enjoyed a good vegetable course, this didn't mean I wasn't still anxiously waiting to try more meat! My carnivorous instincts soon kicked in as I salivated heavily at the look of the Wild Sea Bass that awaited my demolition. I wasn't disappointed; it was cooked to tender perfection. This dish was offered as a special so unfortunately, I don't think I'm gonna be trying this again anytime soon. On the positive side: the textures were engineered beautifully, the crispy skin nicely contrasted the tender flesh and the artichoke purée added an extra layer of richness to the entire dish. There was some olive oil splattered in some areas of the plate which combined all the different elements of the dish wonderfully. Ladies and gentlemen, you know what's coming next. Yes... The foodgasm - the climax of the dining experience. I just closed my eyes and embraced it. 

Oh... But I wasn't done yet. I still had more meat dishes ahead of me. The Morcilla Iberica with quail eggs followed. This was such a colourful dish! It made me happy just looking at it. It was different to other dishes in the sense that there were more earthy and bold tones. It was also really delicate and rich. While I really enjoyed it, it wasn't something I could have too much of. Usually after one has a foodgasm, there is a decline in one's culinary pleasure. However, this wasn't true for Barrafina! I felt like I was still on a climb towards another climax. What was awaiting me?

The final meat dish landed before us, the Pluma Iberica with confit potatoes. Those potatoes were amazing! They were full of flavour and had the perfect thickness. The pork was delicious too. It was complemented by the hint of sweeteness from the plum tomato. The oil really does add a difference; it tied all the elements of the dish together. I think I'm going to call it the gastronomic glue. The chefs here add oil to eveything; I belive it makes all the dishes reach a higher level of culinary excellence. The Pluma Iberica made for a softer climax. It sounds like a disappointment but this is the first time I've had more than one foodgasm in one dining experience so I'm very impressed.

The dessert was amazing too. I had the traditional Spanish crema catalana. Three words: simple, pleasant and gingery. It was not too dense so had the right amount of richness which is a balance that is rarely achieved. 

I have been amazed by Barrafina. Similar to my experience at the Social Eating House, Barrafina executes the finest consistency in the quality of its dishes. What sets it apart for me was how impressive all of the dishes were! Truly amazing flavours and textures. What I also love is that it isn't too pricey. The bill came down to a reasonable £45.

It's an experience in its own right: the intimate ambience, the chatty chefs and the very friendly staff. Whenever I'm in London, I will definitely be coming back here. The only problem is the long queue but it's worth the wait! Lastly, I must say that the recently awarded Michelin star is well-deserved. 

Barrafina on Urbanspoon

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