Tuesday, 27 May 2014

THE PALOMAR RESTAURANT

The Palomar is a newly opened Jeruselam-themed restaurant located on Rupert Street, just off the bottom of Shaftesbury Avenue.
I don't think I've ever had food from Jeruselam, so I was intrigued to get a taste of what this place had to offer.
After failing to get a reservation during the soft launch, I tried my luck to get a space at the kitchen bar which operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Dining at the bar is after all the way to get the 'full experience'. Thankfully it wasn't too busy on that Thursday evening as I perched myself at the bar in between two other couples.
There are pros and cons to solo dining - the most significant con being that my orders would be limited to how much food my lone stomach could consume!

I ordered their signature cocktail, the Palomar, to start with whilst I had a quick look at the menu.

 



| Palomar |
- Blanco tequila, pink grapefruit, lime juice, agave syrup, Bittermens grapefruit bitters, topped with soda water, served long over ice -

Considering that it's their signature cocktail, they could have probably work more a bit on presentation...and maybe used a bit less ice.

 



 


I ordered a couple of dishes from the 'Raw Bar' category to start with. The Fricassee was tasty, and the bun was quite light and thankfully not as oily as I was expecting. Maybe slightly too dry on it's own, but I had the spring salad which was refreshing and help to balance it out. As I still had some stomach space to spare, I ordered an additional polenta dish that was recommended by one of the chefs. Served warm in a glass jar, I was advised to count to 10 before opening the lid and breathed in the lovely aroma of the truffle oil.

| Spring Salad |
- Fresh fennel, asparagus, cucumber, kohirabi, sunflower & poppy seeds, feta vinaigrette -

 

| Gilted sea bream Fricassee |
- Tunisian fried bun with gilted sea bream, cured lemon, potato, capers & quail's egg -


| Polenta Jerusalem style |
- Asparagus, mushroom ragout, parmesan & truffle oil -

 

As much as I wanted to order two desserts, my tummy decided otherwise and I settled for the Malabi. Smooth and creamy, and I especially liked the little crunchy coconut meringue bits - my favourite dish of the evening.


| Malabi |
- Rose-scented milk pudding, raspberry cream, coconut meringue pistachio crunch, fresh raspberries & candied rose petals -

 


 

Service was pretty standard at the beginning, but then it became a bit chaotic as the evening went on - the case of one person attempting to do multiple tasks at the same time...
But I'll give them the benefit of doubt that it was after all their soft launch period.
Overall, not a bad time during my short visit, although I wasn't 'blown away' by the food - I also did have a little sneak peak at other people's orders. A lot of toasting and cheering from the kitchen staff, my ears were probably left buzzing from all the 'Yes Chef!' shouting from the exuberant staff...
A convenient, central location, that I would be happy to go back to (although not in haste) and try some of the other dishes to settle my curiosity.

Address: 34 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DN
Opening hours: 18:00-01:00 (Mon - Sat)

The Cheekster, signing out x


Square Meal

Monday, 26 May 2014

BEAST, 3 CHAPEL PLACE W1G 0BG

Opened in early May in Marylebone by Goodman, Beast is London's latest and most exclusive King Crab and Steak restaurant, with a fixed price menu concept  (£75 per head).
 It has been a while since I have sat down to a good steak dinner, and the thought of eating King Crab as well just added on to the excitement.

Mr F was running slightly late, so I grabbed myself an Old Fashioned whilst waiting at the bar. 




When Mr F arrived, we were both then led into the dining area, where there were two huge medieval-style communal dining tables. We were sat close to another larger group, but far away enough for us to have a bit of privacy. Thankfully the space on the other side and opposite us was unoccupied during our time there, which avoided the awkwardness of facing another couple...

On our plates was laid a napkin and a bib to be tied around your collar should you potentially be at risk of causing absolute carnage whilst wrestling the King Crab...
Or if you're generally a messy eater...or would like to take a Beast selfie! - an urge that I strongly resisted.


 

As a starter, we were served a huge quarter of a parmesan cheese wheel - obviously we weren't expected to finish the entire chunk, unless of course you're a massive cheese lover...
We were also served some other antipasti consisting of olives, onions, gherkins and artichokes.

 

 

When we had finished having our share of the starters, we enviously eyed the mains being served to the other guests, my hungry eyes lighting up with excitement each time a waiter walked out with food from the kitchen.
The steak was cooked medium rare, and was really juicy and tender. I attempted to tackle the bone but it was too much effort so I handed it over to Mr F - some things are best left to a man...
The sides were thankfully not too heavy or carb-loaded - a leafy mixed salad bowl and some tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinegar.


 



The steak was so good that we even requested an extra helping later on...


Our King Crab was served a few minutes after the steak arrived. Sourced from the Arctic Circle, the King Crab is apparently four to five times the price of a good lobster - I definitely made sure that I got every last bit of meat left in those shells into my mouth. The meat was really fresh with a nice subtle hint of sweetness - largest crab that I've had so far.
On the side, we had more vegetables - fennel, asparagus, beetroot and potatoes.

 




Our lovely waitress, Charlotte, let us have a little break for our tummies to settle from all that rich food before bringing us our desserts.
There were two dessert options on offer, so we ordered one of each to share. The pannacotta was deliciously smooth and creamy, topped with tiny bits of meringue and some strawberries on the side.
The deconstructed cheesecake was nice and extremely rich - Mr F found it tiny bit too sweet, but it was fine with me, considering that I love sweet desserts. By this time our stomachs were pretty much close to their maximum limits.

 



Overall a satisfying meal and experience - great food and attentive service. With the high quality of food and drinks, you should of course also expect to pay at least £100 per head - much more if you love to indulge in alcohol. 
Another option to consider next time you're looking for a place to indulge or treat yourself.

Address: 3 Chapel Place, London W1G 0BG
Tel. No.: 0207 495 1816
Opening hours: 17:30-22:00 (Mon,Wed,Sat) ; 12:00-14:30 & 17:30-22:00 (Thur,Fri)

Drats, I forgot to take a picture with Misha the Bear...

The Cheekster, signing out x

Square Meal

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

THE BACKBENCH #2, KOYA

After a really enjoyable experience at the first BackBench last month, there was no doubt that I was just as excited, if not more, to grab a place at the second one.

The BackBench concept enables Chef Junya to experiment further with his dishes to bring a Koya-style tasting menu. Limited to only five spaces per seating, the experience is much more intimate and personal, giving the opportunity for interaction and being able to observe the different dishes being prepared in front of us.
The use of freshly picked seasonal ingredients means that the menu is always different, with dishes being subject to change, even on the night before, depending on what ingredients Chef Junya has been able to obtain.


Like the previous one, the menu consisted of 10 different courses. This time I had some company so we both went for the sake flight, consisting of four 180mL glasses (£68). 
The selection of sake was sourced from The Natural Organic Japanese Brewery "Terada Honke", which has brewed sake for more than 300 years in Kozaki. Utilizing the Kimoto method, the sake is naturally brewed using organic rice, with the help of yeasts and various microorganisms involved in sake making.

| Wild Pea Shoots, Horseradish & Yoghurt Miso | 

This first course was a really tactile dish, which we were advised to eat with our bare hands. The wild pea shoots were freshly foraged the day before and went perfectly with the dip.

This came paired with Terada Honke Gonin Musume ("Five Daughters") Unfiltered Sake.



| Fresh Yuba, Amalfi Lemon & Wild Rose |

 Yuba, also known as "beancurd sheet", is a true delicacy made from soya beans. Freshly made in the kitchen just before being served, it was silky smooth with a lovely melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Fresh citrus flavours from the lemon and slight sour taste from the vinegar.

| Seaweed Salt Roasted Jersey Royals & Miso Soup | 

I remember this dish well from the first BackBench! 
Jersey Royals are most plentiful and flavoursome from April to June, with its peak production in May - their season is so short that it makes sense to enjoy them while available. 
Most farmers still use natural seaweed fertiliser, also known as "Vraic", which provides the soil with nutrients and helps stop pest infestation.

The potatoes were baked in rock salt and seaweed from Scotland - delicious sweet and nutty flavours, and a warm and comforting bowl of miso soup to accompany it.

This course was paired with Terada Honke "Katori 90" Junmai Kimoto Muroka. For this sake, the rice is only polished for 90%, which results in a strong rice-y taste.




| Kombu Cured Turbot, Cucumber & Shungiku Flower |

My first time trying turbot as a sashimi dish, which had quite a chewy texture, accompanied with the fresh flavours of the cucumber and slight peppery taste from the Shungiku ("Spring Chrysanthemum") flower.


| White Asparagus Tempura & Nettle Salt |

Grown underground using the process of etiolation, the white asparagus variety has a slightly milder flavour and is more tender than green asparagus.
Crispy light batter, and great with the finely ground nettle salt.

| Seabass, Cockles & Sea Kale Tops |

The seabass was grilled perfectly and the soup was light yet appetizing. I don't often see cockles on menus, and to be honest I've never actually dared to try them back home in Malaysia where seafood is in abundance. However, I did surprisingly loved the Scottish cockles which were very fresh and clean.
Topped with lusciously green fresh sea kale that were just picked the day before, another seasonal ingredient.

This was paired with Terada Honke Gonin Musume Junmai - slightly stronger flavours than the first one.


| Grilled Duck, Burdock Miso & Sansho |

A generous amount of deliciously tender and slightly rare grilled duck meat shared between the two of us. Each mouthful was an explosion of juicy goodness (some bits slightly fattier than others) which went well with the sweetness of the burdock miso.

This course was paired with Terada Honke Kaikoshu, our final sake pairing - the colour and flavour much deeper and stronger than the earlier ones. 




| Asparagus, Pickled Egg & Garden Herbs Udon |

 And of course there was their famous handmade udon noodles, topped with an oozy pickled egg and asparagus and garden herbs (mint, chives, parsley).


| Cherry Blossom Pickled Turnip |

Pickled overnight, this was a tasty palate cleanser just before dessert. 

| Elderflower & Sakekasu Ice Cream |

An interesting flavour choice, using the lees left over from sake production. Subtle rice and sake notes with a refreshing light finish.


Another fantastic meal at The BackBench, which will definitely be one of my regular spots in the months to come.
To read my previous post on the first BackBench, click here.
The next date has not been announced yet, but will surely be something to look forward to.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Square Meal