Tuesday, 28 April 2015

ADAM HANDLING AT CAXTON GRILL

When the brother and sister get together, there will always be good food involved. The big brother recently came into town, and knowing that he is a fan of the Masterchef series, I booked a table for dinner at Adam Handling at Caxton, well known as the runner-up in Masterchef: The Professionals 2013, who has also gained many awards since.



We both went for the tasting menu, which consisted of six courses priced at £70 per person.
To start off, we were served a loaf of warm sourdough bread. I usually try not to overdo it with the bread course at the beginning, but that chicken butter and duck liver parfait was just too good to let it go to waste. 

The doughnuts with dressed crab were tasty little mouthfuls albeit with a slightly denser texture then I was expecting. I would have gladly had a whole plate to myself. Astonishingly I haven't yet tried the ones at Chiltern Firehouse, that I have heard many rave about. If they taste as good as this, then I will be ordering a couple of portions for myself.
The beetroot snack were little delicate wafer rolls with a sweet and slightly sharp beetroot filling. It was really light and crisp, and dusted in a beetroot powder - probably best to protect your best white shirt with a napkin as it can get quite messy if you're not careful...
The chicken skin was very moreish, and a favourite for both of us.

Sour dough, chicken butter, duck liver parfait


Doughnuts, dressed crab

Beetroot, beetroot, and more beetroot

Chicken, skin, leg, yolk

The first course was the salmon, with pea, sweet and sour wasabi, apple and dill. A bit of molecular liquid nitrogen show as our server brought over a pot with frozen violas and poured the contents over our dishes. I do love tartare dishes, and did enjoy the lamb tartare, served with beets, fermented red pepper, chilli and sorrel. I just wished that there was more.
The chicken and lobster was served with a fragrant yellow curry and palm sugar sauce. The lobster was fresh with a nice, springy texture, and the chicken really tender. 
The ashed beef rump is apparently his signature dish, served with burnt artichokes and cabbage. A tender piece of beef with a lovely pink centre, and you could really taste the strong smokey flavours in it.





Lamb tartare

Chicken and lobster

Beef rump (ashed)

For dessert, we were first served the apple with cucumber and gin, which was very cooling and refreshing. A nice way to cleanse the palate after the rich courses that were had before. The second dessert was more sweet and indulgent - a yuzu-based dessert with milk, crumble and meringue.

Apple


Yuzu

At the end, we were served a tempting plate of chocolates that was swiftly devoured by the both of us.


 I thought that a smiley face was necessary to show my content and appreciation...


The restaurant itself was thankfully not too crowded on a Friday night, and service was generally pleasant. The menu is reasonably priced and the dishes were beautifully presented and satisfying.
I would be happy to return again to try out their a la carte menu, or their tasting menu again when it changes.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Caxton Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

BAO, SOHO

After the much anticipated wait, Bao has finally opened their Soho restaurant!
Like their streetfood stalls, they still serve their pillowy soft cloudy steamed buns but with a wider variety of fillings, and the addition of a range of Taiwanese small dishes.
I managed to pop in for lunch on their second day since opening, after scrolling through my Instagram feed the night before which was bombarded with endless drool-worthy photos.

I ordered the peanut milk, which came served with ice in a small glass - it was really tasty and refreshing, and I could have easily downed a couple more glasses.

Peanut Milk

Their menu is divided into three categories: 'Xiao Chi' ("small eats"), Bao, and Sides. 
The scallop was fresh with fragrant flavours from the yellow bean garlic. I find soup dishes very comforting, and I would highly recommend the beef soup, which seems to be a favourite amongst many who have tried it. The aubergine was really soft and smooth, and it was fun to eat it with the crispy pieces of wonton skin.  

Scallop, Yellow Bean Garlic

Beep Soup, Braised Daikon

Aubergine, Wonton Crisp

Aubergine, Wonton Crisp

I never used to like eating pig's blood, or rather I used to get quite queasy just by the thought of it. I remember those jelly-looking cubes that used to float around in my curry mee which I picked out and slid them into someone else's bowl. But I am now a more adventurous grown-up (or at least I think I am), and have learned to appreciate such delicacies. Their pig blood cake which many had raved about was actually really tasty. After watching multiple videos and 'before and after' shots of that gooey egg yolk, I finally tried it for myself. It had a pleasant texture, and it was really moreish - another favourite from the menu!
The trotter nuggets had a light and crisp golden coating with deliciously tender meat inside - so good that I had the whole dish to myself. 
The guinea fowl chi shiang rice was topped with a bright yellow egg yolk which was great to eat mixed together with the rice. 

Pig Blood Cake

Pig Blood Cake

Trotter Nuggets

Guinea Fowl Chi Shiang Rice

We ordered three different savoury baos - lamb shoulder, confit pork and the fried chicken. I have only ever had their classic bao from their market stall, so it was nice to try a few more variations, all of which I enjoyed. It was hard to choose, but my favourite amongst the three was probably the confit pork bao. I didn't try the daikon bao, but I heard that it actually taste much better than it sounds despite it being a vegetarian bao - definitely one for the list on my next visit.

Lamb Shoulder Bao

Confit Pork Bao

Fried Chicken Bao

And of course I couldn't pass out on dessert which was the Fried Horlicks Ice Cream. It was interesting to see Horlicks being used which was more of a childhood drink for me. It is however not the easiest thing to eat without getting your fingers smothered in melted ice cream...
At the end we washed it all down with some foam cold-pressed tea which was really refreshing.



The food has definitely lived up to the hype and it is of no surprise that there have been queues of people outside. I will probably have to pick a quiet weekday (if there is such a thing) to go back for more. Pig blood cake, beef soup and daikon bao...I'll be coming back for you.

The Cheekster, signing out x

Bao on Urbanspoon Click to add a blog post for Bao on Zomato Square Meal

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

ZOE'S GHANA KITCHEN, THE KING & CO.

I have never had Ghanaian food before, so I was intrigued to finally try Zoe's Ghana Kitchen, the latest in the series of kitchen takeovers at The King & Co.
 
A little bit about Zoe's Ghana Kitchen...

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is not just a ‘pop-up’ restaurant — it’s a food event: creating a look and feel from its Ghanaian roots that merges with a contemporary dining experience. 
Zoe’s journey began in the Hackney supper club scene before taking her modern homespun twist on classic Ghanaian flavours to pop-ups across London, Berlin and Russia. She has also showcased her critically acclaimed street food at prominent venues including Bestival, The Feast Collective at Camp Bestival and Diesel’s pop-up store on Regent’s Street.

And now onto the food...
There was a good selection of Ghanaian beers - I don't drink beer, but I could see that the majority of the rest round the table who drank did enjoy them.





We sampled some of the vegetarian options - my favourite was the okra tempura which was really tasty and more-ish, served with shito, a traditional ground prawn and chilli dip.
The cassava croquettes were also pretty good with a nice, crisp batter. Unfortunately I was not a fan of the spinach and agushi (ground melon seed) stew - probably one of those dishes that require an acquired taste!

Okra Tempura w/ Shito

Cassava Croquettes

Spinach and Agushi (ground melon seed stew)

We were also served some of the side dishes from the menu - plantain chips which I really liked, jollof rice, and a scotch bonnet and chunky heritage tomato salsa which had a nice spicy kick to it.

Kelewele Chunky Plantain Chips

Jollof Rice

Scotch Bonnet and Chunky Heritage Tomato Salsa

Next up were the mackerel fillets and the jollof chicken skewers - I particularly liked that dip that accompanied the chicken skewers. The pork belly was juicy and tender, and there were some delicious chunks of sweet plantain.

Mackerel Fillets in Chilli Lemon & Garlic

Jollof Chicken Skewers

Pork Belly w/ Sweet Plantain Jus

And my favourite dish of the evening, as I'm sure the majority would agree as well, was Zoe's Signature peanut butter stew with mutton. I LOVE peanut butter, and have had plenty of peanut butter desserts, but never in a savoury dish. The stew was really smooth and thick, and the mutton was really tender. 
A must-order dish! - unless you have a peanut allergy...
 
Maybe peanut butter is more versatile than I thought it was. 
Like sambal, that goes with everything. I love sambal, mmm...

Zoe's Signature Peanut Butter Stew w/ Mutton

And to finish off, we had the Chin Chin Banofee Pie, made with Chin Chin which is a popular West African snack food.


For those of you visiting on the weekend, Zoe will be offering a range of hearty brunch dishes like spiced black eyed beans with fried eggs, sweet plantain pancakes, and a signature ZGK breakfast burrito; alongside a lunch “Chop” bar menu that gives the opportunity to sample a selection of Ghanaian classics in a single platter. 
Zoe’s unique Sunday roasts are also not to be missed, such as tender Lamb Palaver (a five hour slow cooked hoggat shoulder with baby spinach and ground melon seed stew).

Get yourself down there whilst you can to try this contemporary twist on traditional Ghanaian flavours.

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen’s residency at The King & Co will run from Monday 30th March until Sunday 31st May 2015, during the following kitchen hours:

Monday - Friday: 17.00–22.00
Saturday: 12.00–22.00
Sunday: 12.00–20.00
To book a table or reserve an area, please email hello@thekingandco.uk


Address:The King & Co
100 Clapham Park Road
London
SW4 7BZ


"It's Ghana Be Tasty!"

The Cheekster, signing out x