Friday, 2 October 2015

#WineGrapeChallenge 2: Pedro Ximenez

It would be wrong of me not to dedicated my grape post for this week to Pedro Ximenez considering I've been exploring the wilds of its home, Andalucia. PX is most commonly known as by far the darkest and most syrupy of dessert wines; often cited as a rare match for chocolate dishes or good mainly for pouring on ice cream (although the latter might be a British thing). This is doubtless delicious but feels like what can be a bit of a waste of a better PX. It is true that many of the cheaper versions of PX served up in the UK are of the throat-itchingly cloying variety- lacking in acidity and essentially like attempting to drink liquidised raisins but a good PX can be a thing of beauty- balanced and mellow. If you are interested in how the sweet versions are made Bodegas Robles have a very good pictorial overview here

Monday, 3 August 2015

#WineGrapeChallenge 1: Nosiola

Entry number 1 of what I hope will be 1386.. The beginning of the Jancis 'Wine Grapes' Challenge. If you missed how it began the take a look here.

I promised that I wouldn't start this challenge with something run of the mill and pedestrian. I therefore hope you agree that a dry Nosiola from Trentino fits the bill nicely. Never heard of Nosiola? Nor me......

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Another weekend and another Paris trip. Its too temptingly easy isn't it when you can hop on a train early in the morning, have a snooze then wake up in Paris. Only problem with such an early start is the rumbly tummy you have by the time you arrive but then Paris is full of solutions to that particular predicament. 

I had been intrigued by Benoit for a while so slipped a late lunch into the itinerary. Every Parisian lunch should begin with Champagne, there ought to be some kind of law in my opinion. This particular Champagne was Alain Ducasse's house champagne.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Starting the #WineGrapeChallenge

1386 different grape varieties. In a possibly ill-advised moment of insouciance I agreed to a challenge as something of a now very belated New year's resolution. To find and drink wines made from each and every one of the grapes featured in Jancis Robinson's bible of oenology; "Wine Grapes". A fit of bravado committed me to the project when the lady herself confirmed via Twitter that she didn't think anyone else had done it before. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Rex & Mariano

I remember when this place was a Vodka Revolution bar stuck down a grotty side street in Soho whose raison d'être was little more than for the drunken amorous encounters of late night revellers or an apparent double purpose as an emergency loo. Nothing good has ever happened in a Revolution bar. I recall it to be a dark, gloomy cavern offering dubiously flavoured vodkas by the stick. You would frankly have had to have paid me an awful lot of money to be found there. Scratch that, I just wouldn't. So, one rainy Saturday night I find my phone directing me down a dark alley with a little trepidation.

Times change and so does Soho thankfully.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Dip & Flip

Another day, another burger joint. Yawn. As soon as I saw the crazy moustachioed hipster man on BBC's The Restaurant Man last year introducing Southampton to the delights of drippy burgers in squishy brioche buns in a room of exposed brick walls it finally felt as though the burger's moment in the sun must be done. 

So it was with some surprise and a little burger fatigue that Dip & Flip popped up in Clapham Junction a while back now and, whilst conforming to some of the burger stereotypes- those brick walls and the no reservations policy being just two- the food is rather good. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Wokit, Borough Market

I made a decision a while ago that I was going to be less negative on this website. Despite people clearly preferring reading an article when I get the semantic daggers out (the website stats are testament to this), the places I am writing about are the result of someone's hard work, hopes and dreams and who I am I to trample all over that? It was all going so well until I had the misfortune to need a quick supper in Borough one Saturday late afternoon.

Everyone knows that Borough Market is home to some of the best food that London has to offer right? Especially tourists who flock there in huge numbers expecting everything to match up to scenes from Bridget Jones' Diary or the Trip Advisor reviews - I particularly loved a recent one penned by Ted in California who proclaimed it "without a doubt the best market in Great Britain" - granted it's good but I do question how many others Ted might have visited to make such a sweeping statement.

Friday, 8 May 2015


There are some people who exude money. I don't mean it literally of course, no one has pound coins popping out from behind their ears magician style it was more that the other diners seemed very expensive. The whole experience felt very expensive. I'm sure that you know what I mean? Even before I arrived I felt slightly inadequate just trying to find the restaurant. Address: 34, Grosvenor Square. Except there isn't a 34 Grosvenor Square on Grosvenor Square.  We drove around at least twice looking at numbers and found nothing. It started to seem like an insider joke - if you can't find the secret door you can't come in. The cab driver suggested that maybe it was actually IN the neighbouring US Embassy but even I knew that was a silly idea, imagine the security clearance needed just to get supper. Finally in desperation- and now five minutes late for the reservation- I called the restaurant; the entrance is actually around 100m down South Audley Street - as I would have known if I'd checked their website to be fair. 

This may all say more about my navigational skills and powers of observation than the place itself but it wasn't the most auspicious start to the outing. Neither was fighting my way up the steps through a cloud of smoke past leggy, sleek, thoroughbred racehorses in skyscraper red soled Louboutins suppressing their appetites with cigarettes  as I trotted up like a Shetland pony.  

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Brasserie Lipp

Waking up on a Sunday to a gloriously sunny (and unseasonably warm) Paris morning and it would be churlish to do anything other than go for a long stroll through the streets of the Left Bank. Meandering up to the Musée Rodin to do a bit of 'thinking' followed by a roam along Rue du Bac gazing into the windows of all those wonderful patisseries

Several hours and a labyrinth of St Germain streets later and we had built up quite an appetite which brought us to the door of Paris institution Brasserie Lipp.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Publicis Drugstore; Paris

As the song says; "I love Paris in the springtime, I love Paris in the fall, I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles, I love Paris in the summer; when it sizzles....." So when don't I love Paris? I don't love Paris when it is Fashion Week and bars and galleries are blocked up with androgynous, black clad giraffes, eyes cold with a combination of hunger, cocaine and sheer ambivalence. I also don't love Paris when I catch a stinking cold from a man behind me on the Eurostar who spent the journey over snorting like a pig. 

So there I am slumped in bed on Saturday morning when I had planned on being up with the oiseaux meandering my way round a marché aux puces in Montreuil. Still, even in the depths of a cold there can be glimmers of gastronomic pleasure to be found. I had the most fantastic supper in bed the night before due entirely to the cold and I bought it all from a corner shop. No, really, the best corner shop I've ever encountered: Publicis Drugstore.

At first glance the back entrance to Publicis Drugstore looks like most late night corner shops; plastified sandwiches, microwave meals, rows of Coke and Evian and a small baked goods area. Its only when you look more closely that you see the croissants are all by Alain Ducasse, the patisserie from Philippe Conticini's Patisserie des Reves range or from Dalloyau. Petrossian has a small counter of caviar and smoked salmon. Around the corner is a Pierre Herme macaron counter. Dinner for me was a truffle risotto from Maison de la Truffe. At 16 euros probably the most expensive microwave meal ever but by God was it worth it. Rich and creamy with a powerful truffle aroma filling the store as it cooked. It feels utterly wrong to be praising a microwave meal but it was truly very, very right indeed. A dessert of a tarte tatin from Patisserie des Reves and two vanilla macarons completed the meal. 

Continue further into its depths and there is a bookshop with some great food and art coffee table type books as well as international magazines. A beauty area stocked with top brands is next to wines and cigars as well as counters of the sort of expensive fripperies and pretty things that everyone wants but nobody needs. Its like a mini late night shopping heaven and if I hadn't been such a red eyed sniffing mess there's a significant chance that my bank balance would have been further damaged.

If you're not looking to hide in your sick bed like me there are plenty of restaurant options on site. In the basement is a 2 michelin starred branch of Joel Robuchon as well as a see and be seen brasserie on the ground floor looking out onto the Champs Elysee. A steakhouse rounds off the restaurants.

In goods news for my cold it also has a 24 hour pharmacy. Possibly one of the most useful shops in the whole of Paris. We even went back a few days later post cold on the way back to the Eurostar and stocked up on all our favourite brand foodie souvenirs in one place, perfect.

So if you're ever looking for an out of hours macaron fix, the ingredients for breakfast in bed or some late night drink you know where to go. Oh and whilst you're enjoying your treats, visit their website, there's an awesome playlist on it.

Publicis Drugstore
133 Avenue des Champs Élysées, 75008 Paris, France

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Taillevent, Paris

A few nights ago I saw heaven. Heaven is located in 6th arrondissement of Paris.

Taillevent is a bastion of classic French cuisine having been named after the nickname of 14th century chef Guillaume Tirel who created one of the first ever cookery books at the behest of his patron, King Charles V. You surely can't get any more French than that? It first opened its doors in a flush of post war Parisian pride in 1946. Three venues later and an ascendancy from a first star in 1948 through to a third in 1973 gave it a fixed place in the Paris gastronomic firmament.

Current chef, Alain Soliveres, has been in place since 2002. Taillevent's stellar domination took a dent in 2007 when their third star was removed by Michelin. It hasn't come back since - it being notoriously difficult to recover a star once its gone - but the meal I was served was an equal to any three star meal I have had anywhere around the world. 

The start wasn't quite so heavenly admittedly. I arrived early (my bad) and was consequently the first person in the silent restaurant. Three dark-suited waiters peered curiously at me - I think a woman dining on her own might still be an oddity-  and much whispering ensued before a wine list was produced. I buried my head deep inside the list (easy to do, its massive) to hide, cheeks burning. After working through Burgundy and Loire by way of Bordeaux and Champagne I paused and looked up. Three waiters had amoebically morphed into eight, stood in a row, staring at me. My head went back down and I blurted out an order of a glass of house champagne to keep the hovering waiter at bay.

Taillevent have in excess of 50 own labelled wines all sourced from big names in the French wine world. Their house champagne is by Deutz whilst Bordeaux names include the Chateaux of Rauzan-Segla, Phelan Segur and Haut Bailly. Things became more relaxed once accompanied by the gentle fizz of a glass of Deutz- nothing unusual- crisp with a little yeast and a general crowd pleaser as you would expect from a house champagne. 

Few things in life can appear more deceptively simple but be more delicious than a good gougere. Perfect round pillows of cheesy air that deflate on your tongue into a soft savoury goo. These were made from comte and I ate more than my fair share (I think they felt bad after the initial cold staring incident and gave me a massive plate).

An amuse bouche of a langoustine encased in filo pastry in a sweet and sour sauce might possibly be likened in theory to a riff on a Waitrose Christmas canapé classic but was on a whole different level and disappeared in a flash. A crab terrine was amongst the prettiest dishes I've ever been served although the person charged with slicing the radishes, fanning them then squeezing those tiny blobs of green herb pesto around each plate must have the patience of a saint. Pulling it apart felt like an act of sacrilege but the flavour was worth it. Intense crab bound in a soft creamy sauce, cut through and contrasted by the lightly pickled radish and pesto. Why add too many ingredients when the base is as perfect as this?

Paris wouldn't be Paris without frog's legs.This version was served with a spelt risotto and brown butter. I'm not sure that I've ever found a great deal of flavour in the frog's leg itself - its one of those meats that falls into the cliché of "tastes like chicken" - but rich butter and translucent wafers of fried garlic gave it enough flavour that the frog might be lacking to a non-comprehending 'rosbif'.

A rather large slab of pan fried foie gras with reinette apples and muscat grapes came next. Of course I ate the whole lot but in all honesty both my rapidly furring arteries and I could probably have done with half as much. A weak complaint though as it was properly caramelised to a crisp on the outside but with a warm, wobbly and gelatinous interior. No graininess or slight bitter favour as you occasionally get from less superior foie gras. Skinned sweet little explosions of grape and soft apples were ideal (although I'm feeling for the chap peeling the grapes- here's hoping it wasn't the same one who had to finely slice and layer all those radishes in the crab dish). The sauce was a masterpiece. Deeply savoury to balance out those sweet apples and grapes and reduced down to a small sticky puddle.

Ordering wine on your own can be a bit of a minefield in my experience as you are either limited to whatever is on offer by the glass or you have to order by the whole bottle and either be plastered or limited to one wine throughout the meal. For the most part (and yes I know there are exceptions) restaurants in the UK are not great at offering a good selection of half bottles. This is something that French restaurants excel at. A half bottle of 2000 Sociando Mallet set me back about 60 euros which, whilst pricey, is comparable to half the price of a full bottle. The 2000 is drinking perfectly right now, slowly gaining some more secondary flavours of cigar and smoke to complement an intense black fruit on both nose and palate. 

A pigeon pithivier seems to be something of a traditional dish at Taillevent and was cooked very rare with a mixture of winter mushrooms encased in a pretty puff pastry parcel. Sauces are all sensational at Taillevent and this one was no exception. Rich and cooked down to its very essence of red wine and game juices- clearly the work of several hours. From my perspective though, completely superfluous salad leaves! 

Any self-respecting French restaurant excels at cheese and Taillevent is no exception. You will never find a perfect triangular chunk of underripe brie served here alongside celery and a grape. Oozing cheese as far as the eye can see...

A truffled Brillat Savarin invoked the equivalent of a food orgasm with very developed St Felicien and Epoisses taking me into multiple O territory. Having stratospherically exceeded my recommended intake of both cholesterol and salt on one plate it seemed like the sensible thing to do to proceed straight to dessert. When you're in heaven no one's counting right?

Dessert wouldn't be complete without a decent wine to go with it and the claret was long gone with the cheese. A glass of Huet Moelleux Clos de Bourg 2003 can never be a bad thing. Its honey and sweet apricot fruit matched brilliantly with a pineapple and lemongrass sorbet and coconut cream parfait confection but less well with a dark and cloying Nyangbo chocolate mousse. It was filled with a vanilla ganache similar to the one found in Laduree vanilla macarons that I have never managed to replicate. I can only think that it involves an obscene amount of butter.

Petits fours included an utterly beautiful, light as a feather orange blossom marshmallow, the smallest vanilla macaron I have ever seen and a chocolate truffle. Enough, I'm done. Except I'm not as a bottle of house cognac and a glass appears on the table and is left for me to help myself. 

It's entirely likely that the cognac bottle is strategically in place just in time to properly anaethetise you prior to receiving the bill. There is no other way of putting it, its very expensive. A 330 euros kind of expensive in fact (although granted I had good wine). This is a long, long way from being a cheap meal by anyone's standards. By Parisian standards though it is positively good value for a 2 star tasting menu with wine. If someone told you than evening in your particular version of heaven would cost 330 euros who could say no? There is a cheaper way of doing things though; lunch is available for 108 Euros for 4 courses including drinks which sounds eminently more reasonable.

To round my personal heaven off in style I went for a quick gander at the wine cellar deep beneath the kitchens. 'Cellar' in the singular is a misnomer for they have five onsite cellars as well as various others around Paris. The five in the building are divided between Burgundy red, Bordeaux red, white, spirits and sparkling and locked behing steel doors by giant keys. The floors of all them are covered in gravel and pebbles to help moderate humidity and to absorb movement (the building is close to a Metro line). It was like being a child in a sweet shop. Incredible bottle after bottle was pulled out; 1894 Lafite, 1919 Haut Brion, 1909 Yquem, they just kept coming shown off by a head sommelier with such obvious pride in his babies. They threatened to lock me in there then looked slightly alarmed when I agreed. If there is ever a threat of zombie invasion or nuclear destruction I know where I will be hot footing it to. 

When I'm visiting a restaurant like Taillevent I tend to opt for a tasting menu just to make sure that I get to try as many different dishes as possible, this does mean that I miss out on the beauty of the a la carte dishes. The table next to me went a la carte and the presentation was incredible - gold leaf a go-go and ornate decorations of pastry, vegetable or chocolate depending on the dish. Traditional dishes such as crepes suzette are cooked and served with a flourish of purple flame at the table side. A la carte is a stratospherically expensive way to dine though so this may remain a spectator sport for me. 

Highlights I just can't pick one, it was all incredible from start to finish.

Would I go again? Were I a resident of Paris with unlimited means and complete disregard for my waistline I dare say I would become a regular. In fact I would probably have my own banquette. As it is I can only hope that one day I might go back.

Summary Classic French food cooked superlatively well. Yes, its starchy and extremely old school but its hard to beat for a sense of occasion. An experience that almost felt religious with Taillevent as the temple.

15 Rue Lamennais, 75008 Paris, France
+33 1 44 95 15 01


Friday, 10 April 2015


If you've read this blog for a while you may know how rare it is that I am unstintingly positive about anywhere - what can I say, I'm a discerning (*picky/fussy call it what you will) kinda gal. That said, one of the few places I adored without limitation last year was Flesh & Buns. I was therefore pretty excited when I heard about Flesh & Buns owner Bone Daddies opening a pop up place on Old Compton Street.

The term "pop up" has a rather ambigous meaning these days. When the term first, well- popped up, it meant somewhere opening for just a few days or weeks. Then the phrase became a bit overused so when Jamie Oliver announced his "pop up" Jamie's Diner in Piccadilly Circus - still marketing itself as "for a limited time only'- eyes rolled, especially when it was uncovered that the lease was for a minimum of three years so hardly what most people consider "pop up".  In the case of 14a Old Compton Street it seems that the lease is for an initial year so its not yet a permanent fixture but also isn't going to be one of those places that by the time I've pulled my finger out and written about it you can't go because its already upped sticks and left. Due to its not-sure-if-its-permanent status its also not had a high gloss makeover so is charmingly rustic with the previous inhabitant's brick pizza oven still very much mid restaurant (and in use). Its is suited to casual dining with your mates rather than first date territory but none the poorer for it. It also gets pretty smoky in there from the oven so don't be going on to anywhere you need to smell nice.

I'm still allergic to queuing so we had planned afternoon tea at Dean Street Townhouse for a lazy Sunday afternoon but when our table still wasnt ready 15 minutes after the booked time I went in search of Shackfuyu. Its one thing to queue when its 'no reservations' but quite another level of annoyance again to queue when you had bothered to book. Back to Shackfuyu... Not a single person queuing and a haven of peace and calm inside with a lovely warm smiley welcome- job done!

Drinks are served pre-mixed in little potion bottles and, feeling a little delicate after a big night out, I went for a "California Dreaming" apparently a mix of cranberry, lychee and lime. I say 'apparently' because  the lime was dominant and the lychee almost indiscernable. It was still tasty but the bottles are pretty tiny so I'd stick to the label soft drinks like Fevertree ginger beer. The boozy cocktails sound rather delicious though so Id be tempted on a less tender day. Its also worth mentioning the comparatively large downstairs bar that you can have a beer or two in whilst you wait for a table on those evenings when queues inevitably grow. Better than trailing down the street in the rain...

"Prawn toast masquerading as okonomiyaki" was just that; a circular slab of minced prawn fried patty but topped with spring onion, creamy sauce and the faintest whisps of bonito flakes that fluttered and danced in the air just like Hiroshima's favourite snack. This was nothing like your stereotypical Chinese takeway prawn toast though. No fried bread and not overly greasy; a soft, well seasoned prawn filling and the lightest of coatings.

My highlight beyond compare was the beef picanha with kimchee tare butter. Or an alternative description would be just really tender, rare beef slices dripping in savoury salty butter. Let's go with that. As with Jinjuu, the meat is listed in the dish description as being USDA. Yes, I know its good meat, my mouth told me that, but its a long way to bring cow when we have very good ones here too thank you very much.

Its apparently almost illegal to go to any Asian fusion type place in Soho at the moment and not order Korean fried chicken so we jumped on board. Sticky enough to require copious finger licking with sharp tang that gives way to a blast of chilli and spice- they are not for the faint hearted.  Being brutal, the wings aren't quite as good as those at Jinjuu (mainly down to their incredible sauce) but they are still delicious so I certainly wouldn't hold back on ordering them again. The Mentaiko Mac & Cheese got full marks for quality of sauce- thick and creamy- but I'm not sure about the mentaiko ball served on top. It was suggested that we stir it into the sauce but having tasted a small mouthful of cold pollock roe we decided to go more traditional and keep fish and cheese well apart.

Scallop with chilli miso butter might sound pricey in the singular at £8 but our portion contained two scallops and a plump roe so kept me happy if not my scales. Swimming in a deeply savoury butter (albeit with less chilli then the name might suggest), the molten pool gave way to a springy but delicate opalescent flesh. 

The hot stone rice comes in a big cast iron bowl with gome tare, chilli and beef along with various veggies like shredded carrot and roast sweetcorn. It is then mixed together at the table so that the heat of the bowl cooks the egg through the rice. Don't just take my word for it though, my first attempt at a gif below will hopefully prove it.


Kinako french toast with matcha Mr Whippy is the only dessert on the menu and has been a much instagrammed and talked about dish. I think its worth all the praise it gets. Although firm on the outside, the caramelised, kinako-covered crust gives way to a sweet, soft inner. L wasn't so sure about the ice cream but I know that the not-quite-sweet and a bit powdery flavour of matcha can be an acquired taste.

Would I go again: Yes definitely. Lovely staff, no queue on a Sunday afternoon and not too spendy (sub £30 a head although no booze)

Highlight: Its between the French toast and the beef. I can't decide. Am I allowed one sweet and one savoury highlight? Oh, I make the rules here so yes! Have both.

In summary: Another Eastern fusion riff on the Bone Daddies/ Flesh & Buns concept but so nice and different enough that you don't care.


Old Compton Street, Soho, London. W1D 4TJ
020 7734 7492

Shackfuyu on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


I love how the restaurant world evolves so quickly in London. A few years ago options  for Korean restaurants would have been limited to the occasional local place run by Koreans for other Koreans with any public comment on their cuisine likely to involve manifestly unfair references to eating dog. I'm not a fan of the proliferation of start-of-the-year "food trends for 2015" articles littering the internet but you have to admit that a lot of them have hit the nail on the head with a nod to the continued explosion of last year's Korean theme.

Granted, a lot of focus has been on fried chicken and kimchi pickled vegetables but Jinjuu is so much more than that.  Billed as a Korean fusion restaurant and also described as being home to a 'celebrity chef' I have to admit I wondered what I was letting myself in for. Fusion can be very hit and miss and quite frequently restaurants that rely on PR about "celebrity chefs" focus on that fact because the food ain't up to much. In this case I was very wrong.

The stairwell downstairs

Chef Judy Joo is not someone I was previously familiar with but I like her story, as a desk chained lawyer it inspires me. Starting out as an engineer before becoming a Morgan Stanley trader, sensibly she quit to work at Saveur magazine and become classically trained. A move back to London lead to her working for Gordon Ramsay and for Time Out before involvement with the restaurant at the Playboy Club which, bar various Iron Chef interludes, brings us right up to the present. 

A UK tv show "Korean food made simple" is imminent on the Food Network so if Ms Joo is not yet a household name its likely she soon will be. If she can show me how to make food half as good as what I ate on my first visit to Jinjuu I will be watching.....
The interior is classy, the bar upstairs is dark and sleek perfect for dalliances in dark corners over cocktails whereas the restaurant area downstairs has booths and tables all with a view of the kitchen where flames leap from hissing hot woks. In summary a hybrid of Hakkasan meets Flesh & Buns. 

Posters of androgynous K-pop pretties adorn the walls of the loos with a matching soundtrack to accompany ablutions. That and a door covered in Korean Spam adverts because... well just because I guess.

Although Judy Joo is the name in all the press releases (and by all accounts is presently qite hands on in the kitchen - she was there when we ate) the man with his hands firmly on the tiller is Head Chef Andrew Hales who's background includes stints with the Rouxs and the Pont de la Tour before a role as head cheef at the Playboy Club which last placing all three keys chefs have in common.

Enough about the facilities though and onto the food. Edamame were perhaps the most perfect specimens I've ever tried. Covered in a dusting of spices (some kind of fish sauce and garlic definitely featured in the mix) they were both fiery and juicy in equal measure and infinitely munchable whilst poring over the menu. The portion is also enormous and most of them came home in a tub and were just as good cold in front of the tv later on.

The menu is divided between small plates known as "Anju" designed as snacks to accompany drinks and larger main courses. You could order a small plate or two each before a main or pile in and all share a selection. 

Sae-woo pops (£7.50) are deep-fried minced prawn balls on a stick with a fiery gojuchang mayonnaise to dip. They come to the table piping hot with a crisp shell on the outside giving way to a springy prawn rich filling. If your visit is anything like mine you will be hard pushed to see a single table not adorned with a sputnik of sticks bearing these treats.

Mandoo steamed beef and pork dumplings were good, packed with meat although the skins were not quite as thin and were a little tougher than a good dim sum.

Fried chicken sliders were just ridiculously delicious. Fried flavoursome thigh chicken meat is tender and juicy with an explosively crispy coating. Sweet, sticky gojuchang red sauce and black soy with mayo all keep it moist and put you in peril of a drizzle down your chin. A mini brioche bun is almost into perfection territory; scratch that- it is perfect! I even ate the lettuce because pulling it out would have risked losing some of that precious sauce and that's saying something.

After the sliders it was impossible not to try a portion of the fried chicken. A choice of either thigh or wing makes up the options.  For larger groups you can plump for an entire chicken deep fried whole. The sauce served with the fried chicken is little short of the crack of the sauce world. I kept finding myself pouring more and more on my plate and frankly only just stopped short of needing physical restraint from pouring it onto a spoon and lapping it up like a pussy cat. 

The highest praise possible is that both of us simultaneously developed criminal tendancies and contemplated snaffling it away in our handbags.  A plate of radish cubes with black sesame seeds act as an effective palate cleanser after all that grease. 

A main course of glazed short rib beef was served the traditional way in cubes with lettuce leaves to heap with meat, kimchi, spiced radish and toasted seaweed. More of that sauce might have made its way into the parcels too. Alongside the beef are chargrilled vegetables and garlic chips which add another flavour and texture dimension.

The only thing that made me sad was that it was USDA beef; we have very good cows in the UK you know Judy!

Whilst the wine list isn't bad, it also didnt thrill me so I'd recommend cocktails as the way to go, especially as all the staff seem very empassioned by them! I tried a Lychee Lover; lychee liqueur, champagne   - possibly the prettiest smelling cocktail you could ever try, almost wearable as a perfume. Gun Bae!

My pictures do not do the desserts justice. Quite often in Asian restaurants desserts are very much an afterthought but here they are just as perfect as the savoury food. Not surprising as the restaurant has a dedicated patisserie chef in the form of Jaime Garbutt who has just as impressive a pedigree as the other chefs having worked in various classic restaurants of the non-Asian variety such as Petrus and Ottolenghi. Its fair to say that they aren't Asian desserts but desserts with an Asian twist. 

A yuzu pudding cake was served with sesame tuile biscuit and coconut ice cream. Yuzu is apparently called Yuja in Korea but its the same delicious citrus flavour (I always think its somewhere between lime and grapefruit). The sesame tuile was quite strongly flavoured though so a little more yuzu would be great.

The  next dessert was essentially a very fancy version of a Snickers bar. A heavy, creamy peanut parfait is served alongside an oddly (but not unpleasantly) chewy doughnut thing filled with sweet sesame and salted caramel. A rich, thick chocolate ganache and lashings of crunched caramel crumbs balance it all out texture wise.  


15 Kingly Street, London. W1B 5PS
0208 1818887

Would I go again? In a flash! I tried booking for 4 days later but they were already full. In good news though apparently they are soon to introduce lunchtime take away so we can keep getting a fix of that food without going through reservation hell. 

Highlight: Fried chicken & its sauce and edamame

Summary: Proper Korean meets Soho cool but you for once you can book!

8/10  Would have been 9 but I'm taking a mark off for the annoying habit of the card machine asking you to add a gratuity when service has already been included. Its a pet hate and I've mentioned it before but it feels a little grabby and deceptive. That's my only negative. 

Jinjuu on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Monday, 5 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions. Hint; they involve a lot of wine.......

Like most people I always sit and think about some well meaning resolutions at the beginning of each new year. Sure, do more exercise, use my juicer more and eat five a day inevitably feature in there somewhere but they aren't very interesting or original are they?
Sat back at work on the first Monday of the year overlooking a grey and dreary West London flyover I've realised that what is needed is more fun so this year I'm adding a few wine based resolutions to the fray. None of them are vital to life, health or general well-being but the first three might just get me through the last one still vaguely sane. Here goes......
1) Blasting Through Bordeaux
I'm  setting myself a challenge to try a first wine from one of each of every of the Cru Classé chateaux of Bordeaux. Couple of caveats attached to this one. Its quite possible that this might take longer than a year just to ensure I'm not declared bankrupt before the end of 2015. Also, I may have to cheat and do some of them retrospectively- I can't imagine many Mouton Rothschild opportunities popping up any time soon.
2) Ringing in the Changes
It doesn't matter whether its a lesser known grape or a wine from an unusual country but there has to be something completely new each month so expect Juhfark from Azerbaijan or some such curiosity. I'm quite conscious that this could result in drinking some truly horrible concoctions but this will surely be tempered by the Bordeaux deliciousness above? I am distinctly tempted to try and find one wine made from every one of the 1368 grapes covered in Jancis Robinson's gargantuan tome "Wine Grapes" so consider that one as a quasi resolution for now - I don't want to bite off more than I can chew/ swallow.

The Mighty Juhfark grape.  Image:  Budai Zoltan Wikipedia Commons
3) Visiting More Wine Regions
Despite being essentially food and wine obsessed, the majority of my "big" holidays seem to result in me being bereft of decent wine for extended periods of time; the Arctic, Namibia and Sri Lanka being cases in point. 2015 is hereby decreed to be the year of the wine based minibreak. Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Priorat and many others in between; I'm coming to get you!
Hospices de Beaune, Burgundy. Photo: Stefan Bauer, (wikimedia Commons)

4) Getting the Diploma Done
After getting WSET 3 out of the way in 2014 I had mulled it over and decided to take a break from studying in 2015 rather than plunging straight into the diploma. Cue a long break over Christmas and the realisation that I'm never going to get less busy so maybe I should bite the bullet. To cut to the chase I'm signing up to start the distance learning version of the course. Two years of study, swilling, spitting (occasionally swallowing!) scribbling and sweating ahead of me but I think it will be worth it.
If I'm going to be doing this via distance learning then I'm going to need as much support and advice as possible from all you clever clogs' out there who have already completed it or who are undertaking it too as well as lots of tasting opportunities. Consider this a plea for any help and advice!
There. Its all down in writing now so I can't escape. If anyone fancies joining in on any of the above escapades let me know.......
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