Sunday, 30 March 2014

CAFE MURANO, 33 ST JAMES'S STREET, LONDON SW1A 1HD

This weekend we indulged in some rustic Northern Italian food at Cafe Murano - sister restaurant to Michelin-starred Murano, and opened by chef Angela Hartnett in November 2013.

We were one of the first guests to arrive for the evening - 5.30pm being the only time available to book as we just made a last minute decision to reserve the night before.
The place had a calm and welcoming feel to it, with warm shades of brown leather sofas and dark timber tables. Passing by the elegant marble-topped bar, we were shown to our table in a nice quiet corner at the back of the room.

 


 

Whilst waiting for our orders to arrive, we were served some focaccia and olive oil dip. The olive oil was really fragrant, my dining partner was happily dipping her finger in it to get more of its oily goodness.


Dining early has its perks, as all our orders were served promptly and simultaneously, both of us eagerly waiting with knife and fork ready in hand.

| Warm octopus, chickpeas & pesto |

This was probably my favourite dish of the evening - the octopus was deliciously tender and full of flavour. 


| Morels, pumpkin, speck & wild garlic gnocchi |

A recommendation made by our lovely waitress that didn't disappoint us - the gnocchi had a soft and fluffy texture with nice smoky flavours from the morels. 

 

| Rabbit & courgette risotto |

Well cooked to a creamy consistency. I do love rabbit, but honestly I still wouldn't be able to distinguish the difference between chicken and rabbit meat if I was ever put to a taste test...


| Lamb T-bone, aubergine, tomato & green olive |

Tasty and well marinated, although I would have maybe preferred it to be slightly more rare and pink.

 


| Tiramisu |

Going for one of my favourite classic dessert choices.

 

| Pannacotta, rhubarb |

Smooth and creamy pannacotta, topped with sweet and crunchy caramelised nuts. The rhubarb was just slightly too sour for me.



Overall, we had a very pleasant evening - simple and comforting food, and warm and attentive service.


Address: 33 St James's Street, London SW1A 1HD
Tel. No.: 020 3371 5559
Opening hours: 12:00-15:00 ; 17:30-23:00 (Mon - Sat)

The Cheekster, signing out x

Square Meal

Sunday, 23 March 2014

BARNYARD, 18 CHARLOTTE STREET, LONDON W1T 2LY

My list of restaurants to try seems to be getting longer each time, even more so now that I am trying to dedicate more time to my dancing - trying to 'keep the balance'.
I was however quite excited to try out Barnyard, the latest venture from Ollie Dabbous.
I haven't actually gotten round to dining at Dabbous, probably because I've heard that I would have to wait months just to get a reservation. 
I can be a very patient person. Just not when I'm hungry.

Making our way there on a Saturday evening, we were lucky enough to get a table immediately - it was right by the entrance, but we weren't too fussed. 
Hunger takes priority over anything else.
The table was kind of shaky though, I'm surprised no one bothered to fix it with at least a wedge of paper.


 


We ordered a couple of shandies, and a selection of dishes from each category to share.

| Country House Shandy |
- Elderflower, Lemon, Ginger Ale, Bourbon, Goose Island IPA -

 

| Crispy Chicken Wings with Smoked Paprika, Garlic & Lemon |

This was the first dish to arrive, and both of us who were starving by then didn't hesitate to dig in with our fingers - after I had hastily taken a picture of it, of course.
Our fingers were burning from the heat, but I think our hunger needs blocked out the sensation.
Well marinated, and I loved the spicy kick to it.


| Roast Suckling Pig with Celeriac & Caraway |

The meat was quite tender and the crackling was really nice and crunchy. I also liked the little pot of celeriac and caraway.


| Corn on the Cob with Salted Butter & Meadowsweet |

Not quite the easiest dish to share, but we took turns and I happily nibbled away (like a bunny) on my half of the corn cob.
Not too dry, and I tried to get as much of the tasty melted butter at the bottom of the bowl.


| Cauliflower Cheese |

One of my favourite sides on any menu - creamy and comforting.

 

| Mince & Dumpling |

Nice flavours, although it would have been nice if the dumpling was slightly larger as there was quite a lot of mince and sauce.


| Homemade Sausage Roll with Piccalilli |

After eying the scrumptious looking sausage roll ordered by the neighbouring table (because that's what we do), we gave in to temptation and ordered one for ourselves to share.
And we didn't regret it - nice and flaky pastry, and overall a tasty sausage roll.

.

| Charred Broccoli Vinaigrette |


| Apple & Cloudberry Crumble with Clotted Cream |

We only ordered ONE dessert to share (crazy, I know) - we did initially contemplate ordering the waffle, but it looked a bit dry at the next table.
I enjoyed the crumble very much, but wasn't quite a fan of having it with clotted cream. A nice warm jug of custard to drown it drizzle it with would have been perfect!

 

| Popcorn Shake with Bourbon |

We also made a last minute decision to order a shake to share - because who doesn't love milkshakes...
I would maybe try ordering one without the alcohol next time, as the bourbon had overwhelmed the popcorn flavour.


On the whole, I enjoyed dining at Barnyard and would happily visit again at a less busier time. There's a nice selection of food and drinks and prices are pretty good compared to other places that I've been to.
Maybe even start looking out for table cancellations for Dabbous on Twitter, which unfortunately usually occurs when I'm working.
Who knows, I might get lucky.

Address: 18 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY
Tel. No.: 020 7580 3842
Opening hours: 12:00-00:00 (Mon - Sat) ; 12:00-16:00 (Sun)

The Cheekster, signing out x

Square Meal

CHINAHOUSE, PENANG

I've been here once last year, and remembered their delicious looking array of cakes that they had, so I was definitely due for a visit back here.
ChinaHouse is a traditional compound of 3 heritage buildings, linked by an open air courtyard and converted into 14 spaces comprising shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and live music and bakery. 
We entered from the Beach Street entrance, into Kopi C Espresso Cafe & Bar, to get our coffee and cake fix.

 


My favourite part of ChinaHouse is obviously the bakery table, that has 30 different cakes daily (!), all of which are made on the premises.

 


 

I had a hot chocolate (because the Chinese doctor said that I should avoid coffee due to my cough, apparently) whilst mum had her usual latte. We also ordered a tiramisu cake and a carrot cake slice to share - really nice and moist.


 




 


 


 



The Canteen, right at the other end of the building, is a hipster bar with live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

 

There's quite a lot going on here, so it's definitely worth looking around. I've only ever had a quick dinner, and a cake and coffee break here, but am curious to check out what else it has to offer on my next visit.

Address: 153 & 155 Beach Street and 183B Victoria Street, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Tel. No.: +604 263 7299
Opening hours: 09:00-00:00 (Sun - Thurs) ; 09:00-01:00 (Fri - Sat)

The Cheekster, signing out x




THE MUGSHOT CAFE, PENANG

After having a satisfying dim sum brunch with mum and dad, we went to have a coffee at The Mugshot Cafe on Chulia Street.
It is housed in a narrow heritage shop house, formerly a budget hotel.

 

They have a basic menu consisting of a yoghurt with a variety of toppings, drinks, and bagel muffins with different fillings, for which they source their baked goods from the Rainforest bakery next door.


 


 


We sat in the bright courtyard, on chairs that resembled the ones we used to have in our classrooms in primary school. I remember those days when we used to get into class early just so that we could swap our chairs for the sturdier and less rickety ones (!)

Mum and dad had a latte whilst I had a mocha. Somehow I don't think that they have quite mastered coffee art here yet...

 


The sound of their homemade yoghurt with jackfruit and gula melaka intrigued me, so I ordered one to share with mum. Mum wasn't quite a fan of it. I quite liked it - or that may be because I only had half of my sense of taste functioning... 
Something different with a bit of local flavour.
It came served in a cute glass jar - decent portion size and pretty filling, but then again, we did pay RM10 for this...

 

Mum had the bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon whilst dad had the turkey ham and cranberry sauce filling.
I had a cheeky nibble of their bagels which were pretty good.




 



 


They had some props by the side that I played around with - mum and dad 'directing' me around whilst they helped to take some shots for me!



And here's dad looking happy on his foldable bicycle!



Overall, it had a really cosy and rustic feel to it, with decent food - great if you're looking for somewhere to chill out and have a light snack.

Address: 302 Chulia Street, 10200 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Tel. No.: +604 405 6276
Opening hours: 08:00 - 21:00

The Cheekster, signing out x