Saturday, 13 August 2016

BOCCONCINO, MAYFAIR

 Located on Berkeley Street, this chic Mayfair Italian restaurant is another (not-so) little gem that I recently had the pleasure of discovering.
Stepping through the main entrance, Bocconcino is actually much larger than it appears to be from the outside. Spread across two floors, there is a livelier dining/bar area downstairs, and the more intimate room at the end of the corridor where we were shown to our table. 
They are known to serve both classic and modern Italian cuisine using only the freshest of ingredients, served alongside a wide selection of exclusively Italian wines.
I had a sneaky peak of their menu on their website before my visit, so I knew that I was in for a treat that evening ... 




The starters all sounded really good, but we managed to narrow them down to a few that were recommended to us by our waitress. The first one that caught my eye was the scallops, which were juicy and nicely seared, served with a creamy cauliflower purée and bottarga (a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe) - a strong start to the meal.
We also had the classic favourite of deep fried calamari, coated in a light, crisp batter and served with tartare sauce.
We didn't miss out on the Andria burrata, a buttery, creamy fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, with a side of smoky aubergine and pesto - definitely one for the cheese lovers. The focaccia al rosmarino was super thin and crispy, and dangerously easy to snack on ...





Torn between the pan-fried dover sole and the pasta dishes, I eventually settled for the linguini with Scottish lobster and cherry tomatoes. The pasta was cooked al dente which is how I like it, mixed in the delicious tomato-based sauce with generous chunks of lobster - a dish that definitely did not disappoint.
WK ordered the Veal Milanese, another dish that had caught my attention, and we were both seriously overwhelmed by the size of it (!) 
That must have been the biggest portion of Veal Milanese that I have seen, it was a struggle to finish it, even between the both of us. Juicy, tender meat coated in a crunchy golden crust - if you love your meat, then this might the ideal choice for you.









By this point of the meal, as much as I love my desserts, I was happy to share one (!) dessert between the two of us. We went for the classic tiramisu which had a light and fluffy texture, with lovely hints of coffee and cocoa. We were however later coaxed into ordering the profiteroles with Chantilly cream and hot chocolate sauce, which is one of their signature desserts - we gave in rather easily (how could I say no to more dessert?), which was a satisfying end to our meal.





It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to dine at Bocconcino's, and I would recommend a visit if you're looking for somewhere to experience and taste some proper hearty Italian food - do remember to go hungry, as you may have noticed that their portions are rather generous (!). I didn't get to try their wood-fired pizzas, but from what I've heard and seen, they sure sounded/looked good, especially the Pizza con il tartufo with black truffle oil ...

The Cheekster, signing out x


The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

THE SUMMER EDITION BRUNCH AT CAFE ROUGE

Cafe Rouge has been an all-time favourite since my university days, and I recently had the pleasure of trying out their new summer brunch menu, The Edition, at the lovely Hays Galleria, ideally situated on the bank of the River Thames. 
 
The sun seemed to be playing hide-and-seek with the clouds that day, but at least the temperature was quite mild, and perfect for some al fresco dining on their outdoor terrace.
I was shown to our table where a there laid a red rose with my name attached to it - sadly not from a secret admirer (!), but a charming touch nonetheless.
A glass of delicious Rouge Mimosa swiftly made its way to my table, followed by my usual flat white, which was pretty as a picture. 






There was a tempting selection of sweet and savoury options to choose from.
We started with a couple of their classic pastries: a warm croissant and pain au chocolat, both served in cute wooden boxes. 
This was followed by my favourite order of Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, whilst WK had the toasted sourdough topped with smoked salmon and avocado, with an added poached egg. Everybody loves a bit of yolk action in the morning ...
I also couldn't miss out trying their fluffy buttermilk pancakes, with bacon, banana and maple syrup.










They also have a refreshing selection of cocktails, and I finished off with a glass of Fizz La Poire, which was a delicate blend of Absolut Pears vodka, cloudy apple juice, elderflower and lemonade - also available as a Sharing Cocktail Cooler (serves 3-4)
 
The breakfast/brunch menu is available from Monday to Friday until 12noon and Saturday to Sunday until 1pm.
I would definitely be tempted to return - I've currently got my eye on the French Toast Croissant with walnut praline, crème fraiche and honey, or the Granola Brulee.
So many choices, so little time (and tummy space) ...
 
Check out their website for further details, and you can also read about my previous visit to the Cafe Rouge in Kew Bridge here.

The Cheekster, signing out x

The meal was complimentary, but views remain my own. 

Monday, 8 August 2016

BACCHUS ON A KNIFE EDGE SUPPERCLUB AT ANDAZ STUDIO

First and foremost, SORRY that I have been putting off this write-up for a while ... procrastination and all that ... plus the fact that I was dreading looking through my very yellow-tinge blurry photos...
I do apologize in advance for my lack of photography skills and if I happen to have taken any unflattering shots of anyone, I swear that they were unintentional.

I always try my best to avoid the rush hour office crowd, but duty calls and after much swerving around throngs of suited men with their man-bags, I eventually made it unscathed to the Andaz Studio, a rather impressive-looking private dining room.
It has been just over a year since I attended the last Chablis event at The Chancery, where I may have had a few too many glasses beyond my usual limit - but it was an enjoyable evening, which is what was most important.

I am unfortunately (still) very bad at remembering names and details of wines (alongside my poor note-taking during dinner - food distracts me too much), but thankfully I have the ever-reliable Mr Blyde who is like a walking wine-encyclopedia.

We began with an aperitif of 'Pas Si Petit' Petit Chablis 2014 from La Chablisienne, a quality-orientated cooperative that represents a quarter of the region's vines. We sipped on this whilst nibbling on Scandinavian-inspired canapes by Martina and Magdelena of NORDISH - refreshing and light slices of cucumber filled with crab and avocado salad, as well as miniature Norwegian fishcakes and remoulade.






 We then proceeded to seating ourselves at the table where we enjoyed starters by Hana of Pickled Plates - a summer vegetable salad with roasted radishes with brown butter dressing, pan-fried whiting and tempura samphire. The whiting was cooked well with a delicate, firm flesh, and I loved the tempura samphire with its light and crisp batter.
This was paired with Alain Geoffroy's 2014, a richer Chablis from a family business estate that was established since 1850.



For our main course, we were well-fed by Rosie of A Little Lusciousness - each of us served a generous cut of soy and miso-glazed pork chop on the bone with spring onion rice, and a Japanese raw slaw dressed in rice vinegar and chilli dressing. The meat was tender and well-marinated, and I liked the slaw which complemented the dish.
This was paired nicely with Julien Brocard's La Boissoneuse 2014, made from biodynamically grown grapes.



And finally it was time for dessert, but alas, no sweet dessert was to be seen on the menu (blasphemy!) - Douglas murmured a small apology. But there was cheese, A LOT of cheese. I thankfully am also rather partial towards cheese, so that was able to satiate my appetite for the moment. For my sweet cravings, I already had my freezer well-stocked with mini magnums - I always remember to top-up my emergency supplies. 
A platter of cheese with mini flags (England vs. France) were served alongside older and more powerful wines from Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites.

Stichleton from Nottinghamshire vs. Bleu d'Auvergne
Baron Bigod from Bungay vs. Camembert from Normandy
Montgomery Cheddar from North Cadbury, Somerset vs. Comte

And of course there was plenty more wine to be poured from communal buckets ...

 Domaine William Fevre, Vaulorent, Premier Cru 2012
Jean Paul et Benoit Valmur Grand Cru 2012
Clotilde Davenne Les Preuses Grand Cru 2008
Domaine Laroche Les Blanchots Grand Cru 2007  



And now for some random action/candid shots from the evening ...






'Twas a lovely evening to be re-acquainted with Chablis - I still have my little rock (fossil?) key-chain hiding somewhere in my bedroom. Maybe under the bed where there still lie the bottles of Chablis from the previous event.
I'm not quite sure how well they age, but I guess I'll take my chances (!)

Currently lacking a bit of inspiration for creative writing, but I did consider finger-painting a wine-inspired art piece ...
Due to other commitments at present, I shall have to put that in my pending folder for now. Watch this space x 

The Cheekster, signing out x