Browsing Tag

fish and chips

London, Restaurants

The Grill On The Market – West Smithfield, London

Smithfield Market is one of my favourite foodie areas in London, as it has a real  ’old world’ atmosphere with its cobbled streets and Victorian architecture.  I’ve had some great dinners in this neighbourhood, so expectations are always high when trying a new grill restaurant.

The Grill on the Market overlooks West Smithfield and is much larger than it appear from outside, with a large yet homely bar, two dining rooms and a private dining space.  Formerly the Smithfield Bar & Grill, it is now part of the Blackhouse group, which also has branches in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Cheshire.

When we arrived, the place was already buzzing and filled with the mouth-watering aromas of grilled meat.  We were sat in an curved leather booth, which made it much more intimate and cosy than a regular face-to-face table.

The restaurant was very festive, with elegant garlands and baubles adorning the walls and live music from an excellent jazz pianist, singing a mix of swinging Christmas songs and old classics.  It really added to the warm atmosphere and I would love to see more live jazz in London restaurants…if it’s done well.

I started with the Baby Scallop, Garlic and Bacon Salad (£6.50).  The baby scallops were plump, soft and perfectly bite-size.  The mixed leaves with a garlic, herb and olive oil dressing and thin matchsticks of crispy bacon went perfectly with the scallops.  It was a light and tasty dish – perfect before an indulgent steak.

Steven went for the Salt and Pepper Chicken kebabs (£6.75).  The chicken was tender and well-marinated and came with a sweet chili ginger dipping sauce, topped with fresh chili and spring onions.

The cocktail list at The Grill on the Market is a tempting mix of classics with a twist and the restaurant’s own inventive concoctions.  My Ginger Sidecar (£7.50) – Martell VS, King’s Ginger Liqueur, Ginger puree, sweetened lemon juice and Bittertruth orange flower water – was absolutely delicious.  It was sweet, aromatic and packed full of potent ginger.

Steven ordered a Smoky Old Fashioned (£7.50) – Woodford Reserve, maple syrup, oak smoke and an ice ball.  The cocktail was served in a glass bottle filled with smoke and our waiter advised to swirl the liquid around the bottle for an extra smoky taste.  It tasted oaky, smooth, slightly sweet and was very easy to drink.

For the main course, it had to be the Fillet Steak (200g) (£22.50) with a skewer of garlic prawns (£6).  My medium-cooked steak was thick, tender, succulent and full of juice.  The garlic prawns were so fresh with a subtle garlic taste.  They went so well together, that regular steak will just never be the same.

The large portion of triple-cooked skin-on chips were perfectly cooked and the Béarnaise sauce was creamy, buttery and indulgent.  I couldn’t finish the entire bowl of chips, so I’d recommend sharing, if you both order steak.

Steven’s Traditional Fish and Chips (£13.50) was exceptionally good.  The two fillets of cod were fresh, succulent and covered in a crisp, golden batter that wasn’t too oily or heavy.  The smashed minted peas were more interesting than regular mushy peas and other extras were a tangy tartar sauce and a tiny jar of pickled onions.

My Red Velvet Cake with kumquat clotted cream (£5.95) was disappointing, as the flavours didn’t stand out after two courses including lots of garlic, however the texture was pleasant.  Unfortunately the cake had absorbed the aromas of the savory food in the kitchen, so it didn’t taste quite as it should.

I had serious envy of Steven’s Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream (£6), which was the best that a pudding can be.  It was light and spongy with tiny flecks of oats and a scrumptious, buttery toffee sauce – not at all stodgy or overly sweet.

We finished with another round of floral, fragrant coctkails.  My Mint and Violet Crush (£7) – Bacardi Superior, Briottet Violett, mint, sugar syrup and fresh lime juice topped with lemonade – tasted like a Parma Violet Mojito.  It was delicately perfumed and the floral aromas perfectly complimented the citrus zing of the lime.

Steven’s Rosewater Collins (£7) – Bacardi Superior, Briottet Rose, sweetened lemon juice, Bittertruth Rose flower water and soda – was just as refreshing, with lots of lemon and a pretty pink colour.  Both drinks would be particularly cooling and delicious in the summer.

The Grill on the Market is perfect for a fun, relaxed, unashamedly carnivorous evening, with friendly service in a comfortable setting.  It’s one of those places that you go with friends, family or your partner and while the steak with all the extras can push the main meal towards the £30 mark, the burgers and fish and chips are more affordable yet substantial options.

For more information and booking, visit: www.blackhouse.uk.com

Chérie City was a guest of The Grill on the Market

Photos by Chérie City and The Grill on the Market

The Grill on the Market on Urbanspoon

Hotels, Hotels - Design, Newcastle

Warehouse Luxury at Hotel du Vin Newcastle

Far from an identi-kit, faceless chain of hotels, Hotel du Vin residences always occupy buildings with an interesting history.

With its ship-building legacy, Newcastle Quayside has a maze of intriguing warehouse buildings, and Hotel du Vin occupies one the most enviable spots in the former Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company, overlooking the river at Newcastle’s artistic quarter, Ouseburn.

A boutique bolthole just ten minutes from the centre of Newcastle, Hotel du Vin Newcastle offers just 42 individually-designed bedrooms, all paying homage to different fine wines.

I took my mum to stay for one night when I came up to Newcastle for a visit.  There’s something rather decadent about a hotel stay in your hometown.

Our room was huge and designed in a contemporary country style with a colour palette of slate grey, beige and chartreuse with touches of dark wood.

The sleigh beds were firm but comfortable and were covered with sumptuous Egyptian linen and fluffy pillows.

I loved the free-standing bath in the room, which was perfectly placed for watching the flat screen TV…well, why not?!

As if the room wasn’t spacious enough already, we had a delightful balcony to enjoy a bit of sun.  In the summer months, I imagine this to be one of the best places in Newcastle to sit and soak up the sun in peace with a glass of wine.

It’s all about the small touches with Hotel du Vin and sister hotel group Malmaison.  The mini-bars are always stocked with ridiculously tempting gourmet treats and our hot drinks tray came with a selection of refined Taylors of Harrogate teas and half bags of fresh cafetiere coffee.

The bathroom was beautifully-designed and filled with full-size Arran Aromatics products made specially for Hotel du Vin, which you’re encouraged to take home.

By this point, I was starting to see more than a few similarities between Hotel du Vin Newcastle and The Fox & Anchor trad-luxe B&B in Clerkenwell.  It was rather puzzling until I found out that Fox & Anchor is an individual, more intimate project by Hotel du Vin, which they don’t publicise.

After an afternoon of shopping and a quick rest, we went down to the Bistro du Vin for a long, relaxed dinner.

We both started with the French Onion Soup, which was full of flavoursome caramelised onions and topped with a large bread crouton and loaded with melted Gruyère cheese.  It came piping hot in a quaint ceramic oven bowl and there was plenty to get through.

Mum then went for the Fish and Chips, which came with a chunky tartare sauce, mushy peas and golden hand-made chips served in a brass cone.

The batter was crisp and well-season and the chips brought back childhood memories of the chips that my grandmother used to make (yes, I pinched a few from the cone).

I ordered Toulouse Sausages with Mash, Caramelised Onions and a Red Wine Jus.  They looked delicious but they were just a bit too pink inside, so our waitress happily sent them back for some more charring.

Perhaps it was my fault for choosing Toulouse sausages, but the whole dish just felt overly salty.  Next time, I would definitely go for the Fish and Chips or the famous Hotel du Vin Burger.

Feeling a bit full after two course, wine and artisan breads, we went for a refreshing sorbet.  I chose one scoop of blackcurrant and another of peach and mum went for two scoops of mango sorbet.

I’d never usually give up a gooey chocolate dessert for anything iced, but the Hotel du Vin sorbets are so fresh and home-made that they were a real treat.

Close to our table was the Laroche tasting room, where you can sample Hotel du Vin’s extensive collection of wines.  We went for a bottle of house red wine, but there is an excellent choice of wines for experts.

After our meal, we relaxed in the bar, although if you’re still up for more wine adventures, the Bubble Bar serves Champagne into the early hours.

A cool feature at Hotel du Vin is the outdoor Cigar Shack in the courtyard. It’s an intimate walk-in humidor where you can try fine cigars or sit and smoke in style with a glass of wine in front of the fire.  Although Newcastle folk have no problems with the cold (the sterotypes really are true), smokers get their own special den and I was tempted to come and join them!

After a peaceful night’s sleep, much helped by the wine, we came downstair to breakfast at the Bistro.

The Continental Buffet offered a good range of cereal, pastries, fruits, yogurt, flapjack, cakes, bread and juices.

We ordered a pot of coffee and Eggs Benedict from the hot menu, which came piled high on a sliced muffin – delicious!

We then reluctantly tore ourselves from the room and went back home feeling refreshed and cared for during our Newcastle staycation.

My only criticism would be that there weren’t any plugs close to a mirror, which made it impossible to style my hair properly (anyone with curly hair will understand).  Internet charges at hotels are also a constant gripe for me, however Hotel du Vin does offer 30 minutes for free for quick email check-ups.

Hotel du Vin Newcastle feels like a relaxing retreat in the city and is perfect for a weekend get-away.  The infamous nightlife of the Quayside is just a short walk away, but with the in-room bathtub, private balcony and bottles of wine, you might not want to leave your room at all!

Double rooms start from £120.  Stay Sunday from only £10 when you spend £75 in the bistro or bar.  For more info and booking, visit: www.hotelduvin.com

Chérie City was a guest of Hotel du Vin Newcastle.

London, Restaurants

A Birthday Dinner at Bistrotheque

Bistrotheque has been on my ‘to do list’ since moving to London three years ago.  I’ve had light meals and coffees from their pop-up restaurants at London Fashion Week, Zoo Art Fair and other ‘happenings’ but despite living just up the road, a visit has just never materialised…until last night!

I went with my Parisian pals during a birthday weekend stay in London, so I was after somewhere impressive but informal, where we could catch up properly over some good food and wine.

Bistrotheque is tucked away in a warehouse in Bethnal Green, parallel to Vyner Street’s industrial unit art galleries.  You wouldn’t know it was there until you see a glimmer of light and activity and a couple of tables and chairs in a tiny courtyard.

Going up the concrete stairs reminded me of being back at Glasgow School of Art on a messy Thursday night and coincidentally we were greeted by a very dapper Scottish maitre d’.

Bistrotheque is noisy, busy and a bit too warm but all of these things make it fun!

Our waitress was so warm and smiley and really looked after us, making sure our glasses were topped up.  She immediately offered us a jug of iced water and brought a basket of fresh roughly sliced sourdough bread with butter.

The wine list is interesting and well-selected, offering mostly French, Spanish and Italian wines, with the odd Argentinian and Australian bottle.

As it was a Frenchie evening, we went for a bottle of Vincent Bouquet 2009 Merlot, which was fruity, rounded and easy to drink.

Being a particularly nosy bunch, we did a little pass the parcel of each other’s food, so we could all try it out.

The fish and chips (£12.50) were exceptional – crispy golden, seasoned batter and super fresh fish.  My fork didn’t reach far enough to scoop up some pea purée or tartare sauce, but on all accounts, they were also delicious.

My half roast chicken with garlic and rocket (£14.50) was so tender and tasty and the caramelised garlic cloves really added to the flavours.  It only comes with a handful of rocket and could’ve done with fries as part of the dish – I had to order them as a side.

The birthday girl’s grilled guinea fowl (£18.50) was the poshest meal on the table.  The guinea fowl was succulent and juicy and came with a celeriac dauphinoise, mushroom, fig and devil on horseback.

She loved the guinea fowl but had no idea what the ‘devil on horseback’ was. It took some googling today to identify said accompaniment.

To finish it all off, we ordered the white chocolate cheesecake with griottines in Kirsch and three spoons.  This was absolute heaven – creamy, dense and smooth with a gritty biscuit base.

The only thing was, we all started coughing from the extra fine cocoa powder laden on top.  We found it pretty hilarious and laughed about it all evening…cheesecake with a kick!

The sign of a really great restaurant is if you’re dying to go again the very next day!  I’m already planning next week’s brunch…

The bill came to around £87 with wine and service for 3 people.  As this was £29 per person, next time I would arrive earlier and book the pre-cabaret 3 course dinner and show for £31.

Bistrotheque on Urbanspoon

London, Restaurants

Pay What You Want at The Fish Place, Battersea

The Fish Place in Battersea was one of my favourite new restaurants of 2010 and for one week in January,  you can try their indulgent 3-course menu at a price that suits you!

As a special New Year gift, diners can pay whatever they choose for their meal, from 1p upwards!  Guests will be presented with a menu without any prices and can choose a starter, main and dessert.

The delectable menu includes their highly-esteemed fish and chips, a pot au feu of seafood and creamy Dorset crab ravioli.  Make sure you leave room for dessert, they really are a treat!

As an added bonus, at the end of the week the diner who has paid closest to The Fish Place’s prices will win a free meal!

With such exquisite food and superior service, The Fish Place is perfect for when you’re celebrating or are out to impress – so to be able to choose your own price is an absolute godsend for foodies.

If you still need convincing or want a blow by blow account of a meal there, read Chérie City’s review of The Fish Place just after the opening – I can’t recommend it enough!

Be sure to book ahead, as this limited offer is sure to be snapped up quicker than you can say Bouillabaisse!

Terms & Conditions

·         Wine, beer, tea, coffee and all other beverages will be charged at normal prices

·         Available from January 25th to 30th, 2011

·         Available for lunch and dinner: Lunch: Tuesday to Sunday 12 – 3pm; Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 7 – 11pm

·         A 12.5% service charge of the amount chosen to be paid will be added

·         Reservations are required via www.thefishplace.co.uk or 020 7095 0410