Outlaw at The Capital – 1 Michelin Star

January 2017

Chef: Tom Brown/ Nathan Outlaw

Not far from Hyde Park and just round the corner from Harrods nestles The Capital Hotel. The hotel itself is nice enough, if a little dated. I would say I prefer the decor of the bar to that of the restaurant.

We opted for the set lunch menu and I started with cured salmon. The salmon was beautiful in colour and the fish itself was good however but I didn’t feel that the yogurt dressing which it was served with complimented the fish (just my personal taste?) I was also disappointed that I could not detect the whisky notes on the salmon as mentioned on the menu.

Mr M chose lamb strumpet to start which he very much enjoyed and which I was also impressed with. The strumpet was served with ‘Preserved Herring & Mint’ a flavour combination which I was surprised to find was delicious with the soft lamb.

My main, the hake, was also delicious. The roast chicken and mushroom dressing was another revelation – I had not expected roast chicken to compliment hake so perfectly. I was equally impressed when I tried Mr M’s blade of beef which was soft and succulent.

For dessert I couldn’t resist the treacle tart which was also very nice.

The service was pleasant although not faultless (they forgot to bring water to the table when requested) and when fellow diners were seated next to us mid-meal we felt the tables were a little too close together.

Overall I enjoyed lunch at The Capital and I think it was a steal at just £33 a head. As a fish lover I always enjoy a menu where fish is king and of course the fish was all well cooked.

In summary this is a great place to visit for lunch particularly if you are a lover of fish. What I really enjoyed here were the surprising flavour combinations (excluding yogurt with salmon). It is always pleasing to try new flavour combinations that work so perfectly; the chef is clearly very skilled. I would definitely recommend a visit and at such a good price I can’t see why you wouldn’t.

Rating 7.5/10

The Ledbury – 2 Michelin Stars

January 2017

Chef: Brett Graham

The Ledbury is quite simply the best restaurant I have been to. Better even than the 3 Michelin Starred restaurants I have visited. Admittedly Restaurant Gordon Ramsey was difficult to beat, but having considered this at length I have decided that it has now been knocked of its number one spot. Sorry Gordon.

The building is light and airy and makes for a lovely lunch setting although no doubt it is just as nice for dinner. The staff who were excellent were attentive but not over bearing. For perhaps the first time the maître d actually seemed to understand my husband’s aversion to the taste of diary products and catered for us perfectly.

We tried the lunch menu and the food was simply spectacular. This is beautiful food and what makes this the best of restaurants is that the food, which is stunning in presentation, really does taste as good as it looks. All four courses were interesting and well put-together and preserved the excellent taste which can sometimes be lost in the pursuit of art-like presentation.

The highlight of the food was definitely the Chinese water deer; eaten with the smoked bone marrow it was served with was spectacular and at least equal to the deer served at Paris House (1 Michelin Starred restaurant situated in Woburn deer park, reviewed January 2013).

Not only was the food faultless the wine was excellent too. We had wine paired to our lunch and felt that the sommelier was impressive and knowledgeable and that every wine was well chosen. I particularly enjoyed the sweet wine served with my dessert – delicious.

In summary I think I can be very concise in my summing up: you have to go here.

Rating 10/10

Alimentum (Cambridge)- 1 Michelin Star

December 2016

Chef: Mark Poynton

Situated slightly out of Cambridge city centre is the one Michelin starred Alimentum which we visited on New Year’s Eve. The menu was a ten-course taster and of course we had wine paired.

We arrived slightly early and there was definite tension amongst the staff, a distinctly stressed atmosphere. No doubt an event such as this is highly stressful for the staff involved but it should not be so perceptible to the guests.

The restaurant was fully open and the area which is usually reserved for private dining was open. To my delight we were given the table with a window into the kitchen and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the preparations.

We were impressed by the food which was in main delicious. Some highlights which are worthy of note were the raw and cured scallop, the surprising Lancashire bomb soup, the  gin and tonic palette cleanser and the coffee and passion-fruit dessert. The restaurant was providing a huge number of identical covers simultaneously but the kitchen appeared to cope very well.

As well as enjoying the food we were also impressed by the wine. We didn’t dislike any of the wines and some were particularly good. Our favourite was a red Maury Grenat dessert wine which I must have again. The waiting staff were generous with the wine, not that I really needed more than a small glass of each of the nine wines which were paired!

One unfortunate negative regarding the kitchen-view table is witnessing some finger-licking whilst plating the dessert courses from one or two apparently junior chefs. No doubt this goes on in many a restaurant but it is best unseen by the clientele!

In summary we enjoyed New Years at Alimentum and I would recommend it if you are in the Cambridge area as the food and wine were both very good. Generally the service was good but our initial reception was off putting and I would have rather not seen the finger-licking in the kitchen! 

Rating 8/10

 

 

Opus (Vienna) – 1 Michelin Star

December 2016

Chef: Stefan Speiser

On a recent visit to Vienna (a beautiful city well worth visiting) we chose Opus, at The Hotel Imperial, for dinner.

I think the hotel is lovely grand and luxurious – a great setting for the restaurant. The restaurant itself was perfect and had a calm, elegant atmosphere which I enjoyed.

We chose the five course Opus menu which was excellent. I would describe the majority of the courses as simply (and perfectly) cooked meat or fish but all served with an incredible sauce. By the end of the meal we had privately dubbed the chef: ‘king of the sauces’ because there was an amazing amount of flavour in each and every one. Delightful.

Nearly every course also incorporated some sort of pickled vegetables but of course this isn’t the ‘beetroot in vinegar’ sort of pickled veg which Britons might now be imagining with a grimace. This is delightedly refreshing and varied pickled vegetables which complimented the dishes well.

We chose to have wines paired to each course and were delighted to learn that each wine was Austrian and many were from nearby vineyards. The wines themselves were very enjoyable and a great match for the food.

Another memorable element of the dinner was the butter served with the bread which took the form of a butter candle, lit at the table and which then resulted in warm butter soaking into the fresh herbs waiting the base of the candle-holder. Incorporated with warm bread this was a heavenly start to the meal.

In summary I think this is a great place. If you are in Vienna this is, without doubt, worth a visit. 

Rating 9/10

Murano- 1 Michelin Star

December 2016

Chef: Angela Hartnett

I was excited when Mr M organised dinner at Murano recently. I love Italian food (who doesn’t?) and there are so many Italian restaurants around but the majority of the Michelin starred restaurants I have eaten in have been French. Angela Hartnett worked with Gordon Ramsey but her influences are mainly Italian as a result of her Italian heritage.

I think the restaurant, in Mayfair, has a lovely understated elegance and I liked the setting immediately.

I also appreciated the menu format which is grouped into five sections of four dishes. Diners can then chose between two and five courses. The sections are not headed up as starters, mains etc and so diners can chose a variety of dishes from which ever section they choose. One of my companions wanted two course form one section, no problem. I liked this relaxed inspired way of looking at the menu.

From the a la carte we chose four courses which were all very nice. The pasta was of course perfect and I also enjoyed the rabbit and partridge. My companions all praised their choices too. I feel that this is comfort food, as Italian food so often is, but this is far superior to most other Italain food I have had.

In summary I very much enjoyed visiting Murrano…high quality, skillfully prepared comfort food.  Although I was not blown away by our meal but it was certainly very enjoyable.

Rating 8.5/10

 

Helene Darroze at The Connaught – 2 Michelin Stars

November 2016

Chef: Helene Darroze
I was excited to visit Helen Darroze at the Connaught as it was on my list of restaurants to be visited before the end of 2016. I may as well tell you now that my excitement mainly stemmed from the menu design not the actual menu (I hadn’t looked at that before arriving). If you don’t already know, the menu takes the form of a solitaire board with marbles including a key word corresponding to each dish. The diner them selects whichever marbles they wish including them on the solitaire board to choose their meal. Original and quirky; I had to see if the food was just as interesting.

I like The Connaught as a hotel; I think it is luxurious but relaxed and I enjoy being in the restaurant which is calm and understated. I also enjoy being in the bar (do leave time for a pre-dinner French 75 assuming you like gin and Champagne, which of course you do). Despite telling the bar staff about our reservation for dinner when we arrived we were not told our table was ready meaning we were late to enter the restaurant. The maitre d and other restaurant showed no sign of annoyance however and were perfect in their greeting.

The menu is actually given on a menu card and then, as explained, you indicate the dishes you wish to have using your personal solitaire board. Diners can choose five, seven or nine courses. I chose five because I know that I can’t move after many more courses than that and I wanted to have a cheese course in addition to the main menu. I was glad I did because the food was copious. A fantastic ham slicer is wheeled around the restaurant and before the meal ham is freshly sliced and served with fresh bread. This was delicious and I was immediately pleased with my decision to choose only five courses seeing as I had now eaten, in effect, a lovely pre-dinner ham sandwich (even when very hungry I don’t normally do that). This was followed my more food in the form of an amuse bouche before our selected courses were presented.
The food was all very good indeed. I particularly enjoyed the cep and snail lasagne and the fish was also excellent. Our choices also included the pigeon (a dish for two sharing) which was good but not the highlight of the meal as we had anticipated. I enjoyed my additional cheese course although personally I do prefer to be served from the cheese trolley rather than to be simply presented with a plate cheese .
We chose to have wines paired with our dinner and all the wines were very good and the sommelier knowledgable. All the staff in the restaurant are in fact impeccable.
By the end of the meal we were definitely replete. I couldn’t possibly have eaten anymore and left several of the petit fours. If you know someone who appreciates good food but who moans they leave good restaurants hungry this is the place to take them to fill them up!

In summary this is a very nice restaurant in a very nice hotel. It isn’t my favourite but it is certainly deserving of its two Michelin stars and well worth a visit even if only to play solitaire.

Rating 9/10

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