The Ninth – 1 Michelin Star

March 2017

Chef: Jun Tanaka

I was intrigued to try this restaurant because the menu looked a little unusual and because I was amazed by the price of their set lunch at three plates for just £25.

The restaurant, an unassuming little place on Charlotte Street, is small and cafe-like. We were early for our reservation and initially sat at the bar for a drink. The general drinks menu is a little limited with nothing especially exciting but the wine menu is perfectly fine and we did enjoy the wine which we tried, particularly a very drinkable and affordable Beaujolais.

I do like the style of this restaurant which is informal and perfect for lunch. This isn’t a fine dining sort of place but it certainly has charm.

The restaurant describes its cuisine as ‘French Mediterranean sharing food’ but I think it is easier if I were to describe it as more akin to high quality tapas. Wanting to experience both menus we chose three dishes from the set lunch menu and then some further dishes from the main menu.

From the set menu we had king prawn macaroni, marinated mussels with chorizo, and chargrilled lamb, crisp breast and couscous salad. The mussels were nice but not exceptional. The other two dishes were however, very good. The prawn macaroni was wonderfully rich and flavoursome whilst the lamb was absolutely divine; some of the best I have had. I was amazed at the flavour of the crisp breast which worked perfectly with the rest of the lamb which was tender and succulent. The couscous was nice enough… as interesting as couscous ever is.

From the main menu we chose the freshly baked pitta, oxtail croquettes, crispy pigs trotter and the razor clam ceviche. All the dishes were good but the razor clam ceviche stood out, being very fresh and flavoursome, with perfectly balanced flavours. I also very much enjoyed the oxtail croquettes especially the wasabi green sauce which they were served with which complimented them so well.

All the dishes are designed for sharing and we enjoyed this style of eating as we frequently, half-surreptitiously, pass forkfuls of food to each other, even in the most formal of restaurants. This certainly makes for an enjoyable meal but it only suites a relaxed sort of meal probably only with fellow diners who you already know.

The service is fine but not exceptional (expect to pour your own water) and some of the restaurant looks a little tired.

In summary I do like this restaurant, and two of the dishes stood out as being exceptional. The restaurant does not feel like a Michelin starred restaurant so don’t expect fine dining but I would recommend it as a great value place to visit for lunch or an informal supper.

Rating: 7/10

Mere – Monica Galetti

March 2017

Chef: Monica Galetti

Monica Galleti’s long awaited restaurant, Mere, opened on Monday and as I was dining in town on Tuesday evening it was the obvious choice.

Situated on Charlotte Street the restaurant is larger than I expected with a bar on the ground floor and the restaurant at basement level. I enjoyed the blue velvet decor in the bar and of course had to try the Mere house cocktail which I enjoyed.

The restaurant feels very light and modern with lots of glass and some interesting art. We sat at the front of the restaurant which is the full height of the two floors.

To start we had an amuse bouche in which pear was the dominant element, it was a little sweet for me but not unpleasant.

I then chose the scollops which were delicious. The black curry they were served with had the perfect level of heat and I enjoyed the crispy rice sprinkled on top which added an interesting texture. Mr M choose the octopus which was flavoured with chorizo and was also delicious.

For my main I chose the beef and was not disappointed as it was excellent. The meat itself was faultless in quality and in the way it was cooked. The accompanying ox cheek, caramelised onion and little Yorkshire-pudding-like dumplings were great partners to the meat. One the best courses I have had this year (water-deer at The Ledbury is the other contender for top spot). Mr M chose squab which was also perfectly cooked and which he was very happy with.

Throughout the meal the service was excellent. We asked the sommelier for wine suggestions by the glass and the wines we tried were good although not outstanding. We did have a very nice post dinner sweet red wine.

We were very impressed with all the food we tried. There are clearly French, but also many other, influences in the food which makes a pleasant change from classic French. These diverse influences make for an interesting and rather eclectic mixture of flavours in the dishes.

In summary we had an excellent meal and the service was perfect. I would certainly recommend a visit and I’m sure it won’t be long before Mere has a Michelin star.

Rating: 9/10

Seven Park Place (St James Hotel) – 1 Michelin Star

March 2017

Chef: William Drabble

Tucked down a side street leading off Saint James’s Street is the St James Hotel where William Drabble’s Seven Park Place resides. The decor in the restaurant is rather quirky to my mind with a mixture of classic Art Deco and bold patterned wallpaper decorated by pictures. Elsewhere the hotel’s deeply coloured wood panelling makes it feel warm and cosy, not oppressive and dark.Some old London clubs retain an unpleasant antiquated atmosphere, but that is not so here.

To start I chose mackerel which was very good with a small amount of the accompanying pickle and crunchy croutons which added a welcome texture. The pickled vegetables certainly complimented the mackerel however the flavour was very strong and I didn’t need as much pickle as was served.

We paired wine and the white served with the mackerel was excellent. A lovely glass of Ortega from Biddenden Vineyards, Kent. I was very impressed by the flavour which was tropical and surprisingly powerful and was a good match for the highly flavoured dish.

For my main I chose skate. The dish was very classic: skate cooked in butter, with caters, spinach and crushed potatoes. It was delicious. Simple really can be delightful when cooked to perfection as this was. The wine, another white, this time French was also enjoyable.

Mr M chose ox cheek, which was served with heritage carrots. Again I would describe the dish as very classic in style and very well cooked. He too enjoyed the wine paired.

I declined dessert in preference for the cheese board and was not disappointed. The selection of cheeses (all English but very French in style) was interesting and varied. The five I chose were delicious and complimented well by the port recommended by the sommelier.

Overall our visit was very enjoyable. The hotel and restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and the service was of a very high standard. Seven Park Place has just nine tables which creates a very cosy, personal atmosphere and attentive staff.

In summary Seven Park Place is not the venue to discover a daring new flavour combination or something to challenge your gastronomic boundaries however this is the restaurant to enjoy some perfectly prepared classics and some more than decent wine which sometimes is exactly what is needed.

Rating 8/10

La Chapelle – 1 Michelin Star

January 2017
Chef: Chris and Jeff Galvin
This was my first visit to one of the Galvin brothers restaurants. The restaurant is lovely, I like the decor which is romantic despite the size of the restaurant which must be one of the largest Michelin starred restaurant I have been too. We decided to try the Menu du Chef having heard about how good value it is.

The menu is certainly inexpensive at £34.50 for three courses however the choices on offer did feel a little lacking; we felt the menu was just a selection of the cheapest dishes. To start we had soup which was very tasty including as it did some very nice mash potato at its centre. Sounds a bit strange but it was very good. For the main I considered the gnocchi or liver and bacon. I decided on the liver which was nice and was accompanied by more lovely, buttery mash potato.

The staff were very pleasant and we also enjoyed the wine which the sommelier suggested.

In summary the food was certainly very nice but I wouldn’t particularly recommend this menu; it did feel that we were having the cheap option. Instead I would suggest choosing from the a la carte. As the food and service were both good I look forward to visiting other Galvin brothers restaurants such as Galvin at Windows soon.

Rating: 7/10

Nobu (Berkeley Street)

November 2016

Chef: Mark Edwards

Situated opposite the Mayfair Hotel bar Nobo Berkeley Street is conveniently placed. I also like the decor here, particularly the bar area which is stunning.

The menu is extensive, with many interesting Japanese dishes, however being sushi fans we could not resist the sushi menu. We started with a selection of sashimi and then moved onto sushi, also trying the sea urchin (good taste, strange texture).

The fish was all very good but not outstanding. On another visit I would be interested to try some of the other Japanese dishes.

Unfortunately I don’t like Sake but if you do there is an interesting selection here which the staff are happy to let you sample before choosing. Our cocktails were so-so until Mr M’s final cocktail which was actually unpleasant. Perhaps more importantly the fact that he left it majority of it untouched seemed to go unnoticed by the staff.

In summary we had a pleasent lunch but I wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped. Based on our visit I don’t see them being re-awarded a Michelin star any time soon. Worth returning for dinner? Maybe but somehow I am not in a rush to return.

Rating 5.5/10

Wright Brothers (Spitalfields)

June 2016

Chef: Richard Kirkwood

In all honesty I was in two minds as to whether this restaurant warrants a review as part of this blog, it certainly isn’t fine dining however it is fairly famous so I decided that it does.

We visited at lunchtime for oysters and champagne. The restaurant has a varied menu including raw and cooked fish but it was the oysters we came for and so it was oysters we chose.

The restaurant offers eight varieties of oysters at varying prices and a rock oyster selection which allows you to try them all. This is a real treat for oyster lovers, which lucky the whole table was as we ordered two large platters and then a few more besides. We very much enjoyed all the oysters we tried and were impressed by the selection.

We did also choose a few ‘carbs’ to soak up the bubbles in the form of some potatoes and breads which were nice but I can’t comment on the rest of the menu.

In summary if you enjoy your oysters this is a great place to try different varieties side by side to really decide which you like best. If you don’t like oysters, well there are plenty of other dishes to try here and maybe this is the place to give them another try?

 

 

 

 

Lima – 1 Michelin Star

June 2016

Chef: Robert Ortiz

This was my first visit to a Peruvian restaurant so I was excited and intrigued to try both the cuisine and this Michelin starred restaurant.

The setting of the restaurant, decor and staff, is fairly informal with a cafe-style feel.

The menu included some interesting elements which I had not seen before although most of the fish and meat is familiar with the unfamiliar elements added as accompaniments. That being so I chose the cobra fish to start as I was keen to try something unusual which I enjoyed.

For the main I chose black cod and my companion chose the beef. These were both enjoyable and the presentation was good; the dishes are quite pretty here.

We enjoyed the wine, I was pleased to find some Peruvian wine on the wine list and of course we had to try some.

The food was certainly very nice and it was interesting to try something different however although I like this restaurant it does not feel like a Michelin starred restaurant. When compared to other restaurants with a single star I don’t feel that this place is quite of the same standard. The food although very good was not exceptional and we felt that perhaps there was a certain amount of novelty factor which had resulted in the restaurant being awarded this accolade. I strongly suspect that another restaurant of the same standard offering a more traditional cuisine would not have a Michelin star.

In summary this restaurant is certainly different and I don’t have any particular criticism of the food. If you are keen to try Peruvian cuisine this is definetly a good place to visit but otherwise I would suggest there are other, superior, restaurants nearby.

Rating: 5/10