The Clarendon Royal Hotel, Riverside Gourmet in Gravesend

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Invitation only! PR events, Non Michelin Restaurants, Uncategorized

Gravesend, Kent, home to a clock tower, Pocahontas statue, the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, New Tavern Fort and the Tilbury-Gravesend Ferry to name a few.  Gravesend is a river side town and has witnessed rejuvenation since the introduction of the High Speed 1 rail service.

Now Gravesend is not somewhere I would usually choose to eat out, to be honest I think my Gravesend eating experiences are limited to a sausage roll from Greggs after visiting Primark.
I received some Insta love from The Clarendon Royal Hotel.  I returned the love and had a look at their pictures.  Wow, really delicious looking food, I looked at their bio, located in Gravesend! No way!
The Clarendon Royal Hotel were reaching out to Kent based bloggers via Twitter to try out their restaurant and being a fifteen minute drive away from home I responded.  Me and hubby were booked in for dinner.
I drove to the venue which fortunately has its own car park.  We were warmly greeted and shown to our table.  The manager Stephen greeted us and told us all about the visions for the hotel and restaurant and raved about how talented and passionate his chef was.  We were impressed of his restaurant knowledge and felt confident the food would be of a ‘foodie’ standard.
We browsed the menus and chose our starters.
img_5182

Drinks. A delicious Virgin Mojito & Hop House 13

While we waited we wondered whether the food was going to be as good as it appeared on Instagram.  When the starters arrived I was pleased to see that they were photogenic but what did they taste like?  Bloody good!
img_5210

Ham Hock &Pig Cheek Terrine, Cauliflower Puree, Black Pudding Bonbon, Piccalilli, Popcorn Crackling

 

img_5211

Goats Cheese on Croute, Honey, Beetroot Puree, Pear Puree, Rosemary, Honeyed Walnuts, Frisee Leaf

 

I chose the Ham Hock, mainly because it was served with a black pudding Bonbon.  The Bonbon was as good as I hoped and I loved the popcorn crackling.   I was impressed that the piccalilli was homemade.  We also went for the recommended goats cheese on croute.  The flavours were great.  Beetroot and goats cheese is always a winning combination
My husband and I exchanged approving nods and smiles, so far we were really impressed with the food.
Next came the main courses of a twist on fish & chips and medallions of lamb rump.  Again, we were just so impressed by the standard of food. The portions are huge, much bigger than the usual London fine dining portions.
img_5213

Bawley Bay, Butter Poached Cod Fillet, Driftwood Chips, Gin Vinegar Batter Pebbles, Samphire, Clams, Mushy Pea & Cured Bacon, Pickled Cockles, Tartar Sauce

 

img_5212

Medallions of Lamb Rump, Puled Lamb Stack, Chorizo Dauphinoise, Pea & Mint Puree, Baby Carrots, Broad Beans, Petit Pois, Jus

 

The fish and chip dish was fantastic, such a clever and creative dish inspired by the river Thames which can be seen from our table.  As well as tasting amazing it was so beautifully presented.  I loved the crunch of the gin pebbles.  Such a fun plate of food and the flare and creativity of the chef really was showcased in this continuously evolving signature dish.
The Lamb was equally good, I liked the chorizo hidden between the layers of potato in the Dauphinoise.  The lamb portion was very generous and the Jus was gorgeous.
img_5214
The choice of desserts was hard to make.  I was torn between the cheesecake and fondant. Fondant won!  Hubby was torn between the soufflé and chocolate brownie, the brownie won for him.
img_5204
Both desserts were delicious.  We had been sharing each other’s plates but I begrudged sharing this one.  The molten chocolate lava was encased in a crisp shell and spilled out perfectly when broken open with the spoon.
img_5200

Black Forrest Fondant, Chocolate Fondant, Sour Cherries, Ice Cream

 

img_5201

Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla Ice Cream

 

We just had three amazing courses, over looking the Thames, a fifteen minute drive away from home, in Gravesend. It’s exciting to have experienced such high quality food made with love and passion so close to home.  As I mentioned earlier Gravesend is known for a lot of things but not its food scene,  but with the town slowly receiving a breath of new life through regeneration I’m excited for The Clarendon Royal Hotel Restaurant’s future and eagerly anticipate the tasting menu that will hopefully be launched in 2017.
Thank you to Stephen Ruffle for inviting my husband and I for dinner at The Clarendon Royal Hotel .

A disappointing wedding anniversary on the 52nd floor.  GONG Bar, Shangri-La

Afternoon Tea, Dining with the Husband

I received a virgin experience days voucher for The View from The Shard and Afternoon Tea at the 5* Luxury Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard for Two in the GONG Bar on the 52nd floor.
I used the voucher to celebrate my wedding anniversary.  

We arrived on the 52nd floor and were shown to our window seat. Great!………. Oh actually not so great…. Window seats are quite close together, as we were about to sit, the table next to us were dominating the air space with their conversation. I discreetly asked for a more private table but my request was denied. We sat and tolerated trying to talk over the next table for about 10 minutes but then my husband got up and asked to move.  

  
We actually got a better seat. Not right next to the window but a sofa against the wall with us both looking out onto the view.  
We were offered champagne but as we had a voucher we asked if there was a supplement we could pay to upgrade to the champagne afternoon tea. This was denied and instead we were offered the wine list. The difference between a champagne afternoon tea and a standard afternoon tea is £8 but the cheapest glass on the drinks menu is £19. We declined the champagne.  
The tea was served with pre packed sugars. I know this might come across a bit snobbish but sugar cubes in packets? I’ve never come across this before in a London afternoon tea. It would look more elegant loose out of the packet.  
We were given an amuse bouche of gazpacho and it was absolutely delicious! Lovely flavour and a lovely spicy heat. I couldn’t wait for the food now. So we waited. 

  
After getting quite fidgety through waiting we were presented our afternoon tea. We had checked the menu before coming and were expecting to be blown away.  

The sandwiches were cold, so I presume they were taken straight from the fridge. The beef sandwich had a thick layer of hard mustard butter which was not very pleasant.   

The rest of the sandwiches were really nice, especially the chicken. The truffle egg mayo was also really good. We did ask for another round of sandwiches but the temperature spoils the overall taste and texture. I really dislike fridge cold bread. Our hearts were beginning to sink. What a disappointment.  
Next we tucked into the scones. There were two fruit and two plain. My ‘fruit’ scone contained 2 pieces of fruit. My husband had no fruit in his. They were ok but lacked fruit.  

  
Before we moved onto the cakes I wanted another pot of tea. So I managed to get a staff members attention and ordered another pot of earl grey. I waited but it didn’t arrive. We were due up at the view so I didn’t bother to chase it up as we didn’t have time.  

We ate the desserts and I stole a cup of hubby’s tea.  

We were given an apple crumble and custard dessert in a shot glass, but had no cutlery. I ate mine with my dirty tea spoon but my husband refused to do that. He would have asked for a spoon but it was so hard to get anyone’s attention. We’re not used to such inattentive service.  

  
The cakes were nice especially the lemon meringue and the lovely little dessert in the shot glass. Which hubby through stubbornness didn’t sample.  

We got up to leave and got our coats. We told the staff member about the tea not arriving and she apologised.  

Whilst we were talking about our disappointment in the lift a different staff member interrupted us as he was concerned about our negative comments. He took my contact details and within a few hours I had an email with an apology and an offer of two complimentary glasses of champagne.  

I know I am a food snob and I am used to eating in Michelin star restaurants and I’m accustomed to incredible customer service. I had gone to The Gong Bar expecting high standards but unfortunately they were not met. I can’t say I would recommend this afternoon tea. The cocktails did look amazing and obviously the views are incredible, even on a rainy day, but in terms of value for money, well, I’ve been to quite a few afternoon teas in London which have cost similar amounts, and the food and service has been far more superior.  

I don’t believe in writing bad reviews but I feel really disappointed with my experience and it was done for my Wedding Anniversary, which wasn’t even acknowledged.  

I have been offered a drink as an apology which does soften the blow I just hope that I’m not disappointed again on my next visit.  

  

Food perfection at Brasserie Chavot

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

Brasserie Chavot offers a French inspired menu created using the finest produce from the British Isles and France.

The Parisian inspired dining room has white tablecloths, red banquettes, a beautiful mosaic tiled floor and extravagant chandeliers.

IMG_7657

Executive chef Eric Chavot is highly acclaimed and has worked with iconic chefs  including Pierre Koffmann and Raymond Blanc.  He opened this Michelin star Brasserie in 2013 and It’s conveniently located on Conduit Street, Mayfair, which is just off of Regent Street, perfect for a pre/post shopping spree slap up meal.

My husband and I were on a date night.  We had already decided what we were eating before we had even got to the restaurant.  Brasserie Chavot is famous for their soft shell crab.  I love soft shell crab too so there was no doubt I was going for this.  My husband and I always tend to order different dishes, I’m not sure why, I think we like to compete for food envy but my husband was already envious before we’d even ordered so he too went for this as a starter too.

IMG_7660
Deep-fried soft shell crab, whipped aioli
IMG_7662

So was it as anticipated? Omg yes! Deep fried Light crunchy batter on a succulent soft shelled crab served with gorgeous whipped aioli, the ultimate food porn, smartly served on a grease proof French newspaper, c’est magnifique!

For our main course we both chose the classic Brasserie dish of steak frites! Again my husband didn’t want to risk food envy, because If you’re ordering steak and chips from a Michelin star kitchen you know it’s gonna be très bien.

IMG_7663

The Beef ribeye comes with either a choice of echalotes (shallots) or bearnaise sauce, but we went for both.  The steak is also served with a side of watercress.  Pommes frites were ordered separately and we also ordered an additional mixed leaf salad.

IMG_7666
The steak was cooked to perfection, as expected gorgeously pink and tender.  I spread the softened shallots on top of the beef and dipped each cut into the bearnaise.  We were also  offered ketchup and mayonnaise, which I’m ashamed to say I used for my chips.  My husband is a condiment-a-holic he will literally have some sort of condiment with every meal eaten at home.  So to have all these lined up on the table was a real pleasure for him.

IMG_7664

The watercress side was coated  in a Roquefort blue Cheese dressing, it was so delicious.  The chips had been triple cooked so were soft inside but crisp and crunchy.  Quite honestly this was the best steak,  chips and salad I’ve ever had!

Although we were absolutely stuffed we still found room for a dessert.

Surprise surprise we actually ordered different desserts.  I went for the Chocolate and pistachio pot de crème.

IMG_7670

Hubby went for the Baba au rhum with creme Chantilly

IMG_7669

The desserts were very generously sized.  We were both very happy with our choices.  My husband’s dessert looked huge, but he had no problem scoffing it in about 10 seconds, I barley got a taste.  I savoured mine, and it was a delicious combination of smooth rich flavours and textures.  As my husband and I are used to having small tasting menu courses we were pleasantly surprised by how big the dishes were, although we were almost in a food coma we definitely felt satisfied like we’d eaten a good meal.

We headed off and thanked the staff for their great service, they were very engaging and really passionate about the food and their chef, we did ask to meet him but to our chef stalking disappointment he was not in. So walked our happy bellies to the train station whilst reminiscing about the amazing food we just ate.

Brasserie Chavot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Date night @ Rivea London

Dining with the Husband, Non Michelin Restaurants

During the summer holidays my husband and I have taken full advantage of date night opportunities whilst our children stay with their grandparents. We are very fortunate that my husband’s parents are our childcare, and we couldn’t wish for any better than that.

So anyway, my husband had booked us a table at Rivea London. Found in the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge.

IMG_7269

Rivea London offers French and Italian small plates.  Inspired by food markets in Italy and Provence.

The Executive Chef is Alexandre Nicolas, who spent more than 10 years under the tutelage of the incredible Alain Ducasse.  So expectations were very high!

Rivea’s menu expresses the Mediterranean’s fresh and healthy cuisine with a focus on vegetables and their diversity of flavours and textures.

My husband had booked through bookatable which currently has a star deal of 4 plates and a glass of wine for £35 per person.  This includes 2 starter plates, a main and a dessert. I know, what an absolute bargain bonanza!

We were shown downstairs into the restaurant and I immediately noticed the tasseled curtain which instantly reminded me of the curtained private dining area at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.  The wooden interior contributed to the good acoustics, the subtle piped in music created an atmosphere even though the dining room wasn’t very full.

IMG_7301

 

We were given our menus and asked our preference of wine for the included glass, as the deal was such a bargain we decided to purchase an additional glass.  The sommelier was happy to match a glass of white and red to pair with our food choices.

Whilst I was in the toilet a plate of dips and breadsticks was served and,  can you believe it, my husband tucked in before I came back! Oh the indignity! But look at these, they look amazing, they came with an index card like you’d get in a box of chocolates, impressive.

IMG_7266 IMG_7267

Plates are small and designed for sharing so we both ordered different dishes to get a wider choice.  To start we ordered

IMG_7328

Provence-style vegetable caponata

IMG_7275

Buffalo mozzarella, courgette and basil

IMG_7326

Garden pea soup, ewe’s curd

IMG_7277

Rivea salad wrapped in a socca

As mentioned before the emphasis is very much on vegetables.  The courgette and mozzarella looked beautiful.  The pea soup was also beautifully presented before the actual soup was poured onto the ewes curd.  The caponata was probably my favourite of the four.  A lovely combination of vegetables and flavours.   I really admired the actual dishes the food was served in, so pretty and I’m sure my mums got something similar in the cupboard from when I was a kid which she used to make up angel delight in!

For main I ordered the Corn-fed chicken breast, macaroni au gratin.

IMG_7283

I don’t often order chicken as I eat so much at home but I was intrigued by the macaroni au gratin.   Well, you could have knocked me down with a chicken feather! It was incredible.  I often make Mac cheese at home, which I think I make pretty well, but this was literally Mac cheese heaven! If only they did that as a dish I’d be all over it!

Hubby ordered Confit veal shank, Swiss chard and carrot.

IMG_7287

I had a small taste and it was good but nothing could compare to that gratin I was savouring.  Mmmmmmm, I’m actually salivating now!

Because my husband is used to spending a lot more on meals than the deal we were getting we decided to throw in two additional desserts and a cheese course.

IMG_7292

We had a small British cheese selection, to share which was good although slightly too cold, I would have preferred it at room temperature.

Now dessert time!!!! We were served two at a time.

Lemon shortbread, Limoncello sorbet

IMG_7295

Apricot and pistachio contemporary vacherin

IMG_7294

Then

Chocolate tart

IMG_7296

Tiramisù

IMG_7297

Desserts were fantastic.  All of them equally delicious.

So my verdict? Well firstly it’s incredible value.  But I think I had gone with the wrong expectations.  As I have been to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and his name is linked to this restaurant, I expected similar food, which is not what Rivea London is about.    It’s about basics and flavours.  I had gone expecting extravagance.  The food was still fantastic and I’m still raving about my main, and all of the desserts, but I was mistaken in thinking it would be the three Michelin star quality of the Dorchester.  But you cant get this incredible value there!

Click to add a blog post for Rivea London - Bulgari Hotel & Residences on Zomato

Tasty Tasting menu at Northbank 

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Non Michelin Restaurants

I was given the opportunity by squaremeal to write a blog post about Northbank. The prize included a cocktail on arrival, 6 course tasting menu and paired wines.  
Northbank opened in 2007 and offer modern Cornish influenced British cuisine. Ingredients are sourced from Falmouth and surrounding areas of Cornwall. And the daily delivered fresh fish is sourced off the Cornish coast.

Northbank is located near the Millennium bridge. I had walked from Victoria so was quite parched and welcomed my recommended cocktail of the week, an Amaretto Salisa. My husband had a Pear of the Caribbean. Both cocktails were absolutely delicious, they were so good they were gone in less than 60 seconds! Priced at £8.50 I think that’s very good value for such a great tasting drink. 

  
We were seated at a romantic table for two at the window. Northbank have a prime riverside location. From our table we had a great view of the South Bank, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, The Shard and Millennium Bridge. This side of the river definitely has the better view.  

  
I adore the wallpaper here, it’s a modern twist on the willow pattern (the old fashioned blue and white painted porcelain). The print is on the menu too. The green images remind me of the lyrics to Lily Allen’s song LDN.  

  
We were given bread and an amuse bouche of carrot, honey and ginger soup. The bread was freshly baked and so lovely and warm.  

   
 First course of the tasting menu was Devon red beef carpaccio with red wine braised octopus and sweet baby onions

  
Traditionally carpaccio is thinly sliced raw meat. This was a generous chunk. The braised octopus was beautifully soft and served as a whole tentacle. I love the way you can see each little sucker. Baby onions were spot on. It was a great modern twist on a surf and turf.  

Second course Pan fried Seabass with cockles, clams and seaweed crumb.  

  
The skin on the fish was incredible, perfectly crispy and crunchy I almost thought I was eating chicken skin. It was amazing! Seabass is one of my favourite fish as it’s not overly fishy. The addition of the cockles gave it the fishy kick, I must admit I sneaked these onto my husband’s plate as I’m still a bit fussy with seafood.  

Next up Confit rabbit, foie gras and chorizo terrine with fennel salad and vermouth cream. 

  
The terrine had a very meaty texture so the cream on the side made the texture smoother. The foie gras was quite subtle but the chorizo had a lovely tingly heat. This was a really good dish, it’s nice to see rabbit on a menu as its such a great ingredient but not seen that often.  

Next course was the Cornish catch of the day! Consisting of Sea trout and crab gnocchi.  

  
The fish again had a perfectly crispy skin. The gnocchi was delicious. The crab gave it such a lovely sweetness. Definitely a highlight of the meal.  

Roasted guinea fowl with smoked bacon, gem lettuce and broad beans was the next course.  

  
This dish tasted great and looked fantastic. The pink bacon and green lettuce look so good together on a plate. This was a great combination of flavours, colours and textures.  

Next desserts, there were two to choose from so we ordered one each.  

I had the Bakewell soufflé with cherry sorbet, hubby had the Perry jelly with summer fruits and elderflower ice cream.  

  
Perfect soufflé and a gorgeously cherrytastic sorbet. I loved this dessert. And after all that food it worked well as it was light and fresh. The jelly dessert was lovely too especially the accompanying ice cream.  

My husband and I declined coffee as we had a train to catch from Blackfriars, which is conveniently a five minute walk away.  

Our Northbank experience was fantastic. The staff are all so happy and enthusiastic which is reflected in the attentive service. Each of our courses was matched perfectly with wine. A wine paring is not offered with the tasting menu but can be arranged on request. I always go for this option as its a great way to try out new wines. The location is amazing, riverside in the city, what more could you ask for? On the opposite side of the river are the generic chain restaurants, I almost wanted to shout to their customers to cross the bridge for some decent food! 

  
Our tasting menu was priced at £55 per person. This is incredible value and the portions are huge compared to most tasting menus.  

I can’t recommend Northbank enough. Good value, great location, amazing food and attentive service. My husband and I were made to feel like VIPs.

Thank you to Square Meal and Northbank for the complimentary meal, this has no reflection on my option of the restaurant.  

Romantic meal with a view – Galvin at Windows

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

Galvin at Windows, situated on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane, was one of the first ‘posh’ restaurants my husband and I went to. Within our first year of getting together we went there to celebrate his birthday. We also spent our wedding night at the Hilton Park lane and although we didn’t dine at Galvin at Windows that night, they sent some of their marshmallows to our room, simply because we had mentioned how nice they were to the person who checked us in. As the restaurant is quite sentimental to us my husband surprised me and took me there for a date night.    As we were shown our seat, right next to the window, we were given postcards, which could be sent anywhere in the world courtesy of the restaurant. I wrote them out to my children, all the way in sunny Kent. The views are incredible, you can see for miles, from our table we overlooked Buckingham Palace. We were given an Amuse-bouche of crayfish and some freshly baked bread. The bread was delicious, still lovely and warm and the butter melted into it as I spread it on. My husband had purchased a voucher which entitled us to the Menu Prestige. The menu had a good variety, for starter I choose San Marzano tomato gazpacho, Sicilian red prawns, peach compote & basil and my husband, shockingly didn’t order the foie gras, went for the Scallops ceviche, Aquitaine caviar, pickled kohlrabi & sweet soy. My dish was really good, the gazpacho was so refreshing and the little tomatoes had so much flavour and were lovely and sweet. It looked pretty too. I had a little taste of hubby’s, that was pretty impressive too. Next up was the main course, now my husband and I very rarely order the same dish but I love lamb so I choose that, he would have ordered the beef I think if it were not for the supplement. There were additional sides too, at a cost, we didn’t order those.  Rump of lamb, slow cooked belly, devilled sweetbread, spring vegetables & spiced jus The mains were presented, the portions were huge! Sides were definitely not needed as the portion was more than adequate! The lamb was gorgeous so tender and soft, not at all chewy. The sweetbread, which I’m used to eating fried, wasn’t fried but still a nice addition. The slow cooked belly was melt in the mouth. The jus on the dish was incredible, it had a spicy cumin kick and worked so well with the lamb, I literally moped every drop up with the bread. Such a hearty flavoursome filling dish. I’m used to tasting menu portions so this left me felling very full! Dessert menus were given to us, great choice of desserts. I liked the sound of meringue and black pepper ice cream so opted for that. Hubby went for the chocolate dessert.  Dark chocolate Palet D’or, raspberries & white chocolate ice cream  Nougat parfait, caramelised banana, Muscovado meringues & black pepper ice cream Both desserts were presented beautifully! My was quite funky. The taste and texture was like a banoffe pie, and the crunch on top of the banana was pefect. My husband was very selfish with his and I barely had a taste. These were awesome desserts, a real treat. I loved having a full size dessert! Along with the bill came some chocolates and the amazing marshmallows. When my husband asked for the bill, there was a bit of confusion, the manager was very apologetic, he arranged drinks in the bar to make up for the mistake and amazingly we got to even walk through the kitchen out onto the balcony!!!! We had been quite privileged to this and this more than made up for the slight error.    So overall a great meal, the food is absolutely delicious and filling, I know some people complain about small portions in Michelin star restaurants, but it definitely isn’t the case here. My only negative of the meal is I personally feel the service could have been slightly more attentive, by that I don’t mean the service was bad, quite the contrary, I just would have liked more interaction. I would have liked a description of my food when the dishes were presented to the table. But this is a personal preference and something that I am accustomed to. I think Galvin at Windows is a great restaurant. The views are incredible, the food is amazing. I think it’s a great starter restaurant if you are new to fine dining and Michelin Star restaurants. You are made to feel welcome but not fussed over and it’s a perfect venue for a romantic date.

Click to add a blog post for Galvin at Windows - London Hilton on Park Lane Hotel on Zomato

Square Meal

GELINAZ! TAKES OVER THE WORLD.  The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle – July 9th 2015 at Hibiscus

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Pop Up Experience, Two Michelin Star

I was part of an exclusive event called the grand Gelinaz! Shuffle. Gelinaz! is a collective of some of the best chefs from around the world. And for one night only something incredible happened. From Japan to Chile, from Brazil to Slovenia, France, Turkey, Sweden, Thailand, Australia, UK, Italy, Peru, Spain, Canada, Belgium and Denmark and all throughout United States, 37 of the best chefs of the planet swapped restaurants! Our one off diner was being hosted in Hibiscus, London as Claude Bosi is one of the Gelinaz! Collective along with Massimo Bottura, Andoni Luis Adruiz, Rene Redzepi and Alain Ducasse to name but a few. So Claude Bosi had jetted off to a secret location and our guest chef was not to be revealed until we sat down on the night and opened the menu. We waited eagerly in the lounge area on arrival to Hibiscus. We were one of the first to arrive. As more guests arrived it was quite amusing to see how many people asked who the chef was tonight only to be told all will be revealed at 7!  
Twitter had been buzzing with #gelinazshuffle cryptic tweets were being posted to give clues as to which chef was where. A few clues had actually gave me an idea as to who would be cooking tonight. I had mentioned to my husband earlier that I thought it may be Sean Gray. Would I be right????
As we were first to arrive we were first to be lead into the dining room. We sat down and opened up the menu to reveal our chef…………… Sean Gray! I was right! Sean Gray is the Chef de Cuisine of Momofuku Ko. Ko is located in New York and boasts two michelin stars. I had guessed as there were a couple of crucial tweets which gave the game away! 
Once the dining room was full the meal kicked off. After some delicious snacks our first course was presented.  

  
Honeymoon melon, cherries, oregano, Alsace bacon. The flavour of the melon was so intense in this dish. Great start! 

  
Cornish mackerel, cucumber, new season almond. So it’s no secret I’m not a fan of mackerel. I did try a slice of the fish but I passed the rest over to hubby. I enjoyed all the other components and soaked up the cucumber with some bread.  

  
Hereford Snails, coco bean, lemon grass, coriander. This was my absolute favourite dish of the night. I’ve had snails a few times but never presented like this. I think the mention of snails is scary for most people, but trust me if your first taste of snails was served liked this you’d be an instant fan.   

  
Scottish Langoustine, cauliflower, Szechuan pepper. Langoustine is one of my favourite ingredients and this was perfect as anticipated.  

  
Wild turbot, tarragon, Jersey royals, carrots. The star of this dish was the potato. The tiny little spud had been smoked and was bursting with flavour. A surprisingly delicious addition to the plate.  

  
Milk fed veal, English mustard, girolles & wild chervil. Stunning course, the crispy BBQd fat on the side was delicious. 

  
Oakchurch Farm raspberry, basil, lime, Szechuan pepper. The pastry casing was perfectly crumbly. The cream filling was delicious with the raspberries and basil.  

  
English peas, shiso Meringue. I have never had peas as a dessert before so was really surprised by how lovely this dish was. Peas are sweet anyway so it kinda makes sense to use them as a dessert. They complimented the meringue beautifully and were a perfect finale to such an awesome meal.  

  
As we were savouring our last morsels Chef Sean Gray entered the dining room to an applause. He then made his way round to each table shaking each diners hand. My husband got his menu signed. The grand Gelinaz! Shuffle was such an amazing experience and what contributed to it being so amazing was the incredible service from the restaurant staff, especially from the sommelier. I look forward to future events and hopefully the Grand Gelinaz! shuffle 2016 

Club Gascon April 2015

Blog post by Restaurant, Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, One Michelin Star

I’m a big fan of Pascal Aussignac and Club Gascon, although this was actually my first visit to the restaurant. I’ve sampled their food at the Taste of London festivals and my Husband and I always said that we must visit the actual restaurant, imagine what the food would taste like from an actual plate in a dining room as opposed to a plastic dish in a park. So that’s exactly what we did and my husband booked us in for lunch on April fools day.
Club Gascon is home to Head Chef Pascal Aussignac and specialises in cuisine from the South-West of France. The food is made with imagination, passion and most importantly love!

We were the first to arrive for the lunch service, and no surprise we had decided on the tasting menu, as usual. Prior to our arrival I had tweeted my excitement at having lunch at Club Gascon so we were given a special treat, a tour of the kitchen before we began our meal. We got to meet Chef Pascal in his domain prepping the foie gras which we would be trying for dessert?!?!?

The kitchen was teeny tiny, it’s so impressive how relaxed the chefs are in such a tight space. I know in my tiny kitchen at home it’s complete chaos cooking for just four people. I sometimes feel like a bit of a wally going into their kitchen but my husband and I are geeks who like meeting our chef idols, ha! I’m sure they appreciate their ‘fans’ too.

We took our seats and kicked off our meal with a glass of bubbles.  We were also given gorgeous cheese sticks, bread and a small bowl containing a single ravioli in a beautiful coloured liquid.



First course was Catalane spring cress, sea urchin jus & charcoal shallots.


I really liked the presentation of this dish. I know sea urchin sounds a bit scary but they’re really not, they’re actually quite delicious.

Next up Landes white asparagus, black pudding emulsion, pork crackling.

This was one of my favourite courses. I love asparagus and it pairs so well with pork. I could not get enough of the black pudding emulsion. I asked for more bread so I could mop up every last drop.

Now for the most beautiful course of food which was Violet tea smoked seatrout, cardinale pulp, pickles, linen oil.

I’m finding seatrout appearing on menus a lot more recently. This dish was so artistic and pretty to look at, it was almost a shame to mess it up with my knife and fork.

For main course we had another stunningly presented dish of Roast guinea fowl, elderflower glazed chicory, mustard & wild garlic. It was delicious.

The dessert, Duck foie gras tagada, wafer & aromatic strawberries.

My brain didn’t understand the foie gras as a dessert but I could understand the concept as foie gras is very rich and creamy, obviously strawberries and cream is a classic combination. So I could understand why the components were put together but it wasn’t for me. I prefer a sickly sweet chocolate dessert. I did enjoy the fact that I had a sneak preview of this dish as we were informed that it would be one of the dishes presented at Taste of London.

At the end of the meal, to my gratification, we were presented with some chocolaty petit fours.


Such a lovely restaurant with such attentive service. We really were made to feel special. There were great wine choices to accompany our meal. Aside from the main courses all the other little bits were also delicious. Every plate had a contrast of beautiful colours, really artistic presentation. The plates of food are truly stunning and as well as tasting great they are beautiful to look at. My husband and I left very satisfied and feeling very spoilt.

  
  

Club Gascon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

VIP Treatment at The Square, Mayfair

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

My husband and I had the luxury of going out for dinner.  Our kids were staying at their grandparents for two nights over the half term so we decided to take full advantage of this and go to dinner after work.

My husband chose the two Michelin star restaurant The Square, Mayfair.  My husband and I are fans of the TV programme Great British Menu, it’s a cookery show in which Britain’s most incredible chefs compete against each other to cook in a themed banquet.  We had watched Phil Howard, chef and co owner of The Square, go from being a contestant to a judge.  So we were already fans of the Chef, and wanted to taste his food.
We arrived at The Square and were shown to our table.   The restaurant was far smaller than it looked from the outside and from what I had imagined.

We chose champagne as an apéritif and enjoyed some canapés.   There was foie gras in a cone, pork cheek and some (squid ink?) crackers.  I really need to start listening when they explain what’s been put on the table, but I’m so desperate to eat it!

IMG_4103
All the canapés were delicious but the pork cheek was an absolute show stopper! Wow! A tiny little morsel packed so much punch.  Amazing flavour.  The standard of canapés I’ve eaten lately is so high, it’s amazing how delicious just one purposely made mouthful of food can taste.  Hooray for canapés!

IMG_4104
So while sipping and nibbling and reading through the menus we decided to go for the tasting menu.  To be honest we always go for the tasting menus, because they showcase the best of what the restaurants have to offer.  We went for the paired wines too, we don’t know a great deal about wine, or pretend to, but an enjoyable part of our dining experience is engaging with the sommelier.  We like hearing the descriptions of where the wine has come from and what smells and tastes the sommelier suggests.

When asked if we were happy with the menu I expressed my dislike for Mackerel, unfortunately for me this was one of the first courses.  I cheekily suggested crab lasagne as a substitution.  Well if you don’t ask you don’t get!  Our server said he’d speak with the kitchen and see what he could do.

After a few moments we were given individual menus, to remind us of our dishes.  I took a sneak peak and to my delight my wish was their command, the makeral had disappeared and the crab lasagne had been added to my menu!

Our first courses arrived, for me smoked beetroot, and for my husband mackerel.  The sommelier brought out two separate wines.  As I had a different course in a different order to my husband this had been reflected in the wine pairings.

What a great start, cheese, pear and beetroot are always a winning combination I loved the smokiness too.

IMG_4105Salad of smoked white beetroot and salsify with organic curd, hazelnut praline, white balsamic and pear 

My next course for me was a signature dish of Dorset crab lasagne, my husband had the smoked beetroot.

IMG_4110Lasagne of Dorset crab with a cappuccino of shellfish and champagne foam

Oh My Goodness, this dish was sooooooo good!  The crab was layered in a tiny lasagne and foamy gorgeousness was poured over the top.  Although he would never admit it there was serious food envy going on.

My husband and I were both in receipt of the same dishes now and next up were langoustine tails.
One of my favourite foods is langoustine.  This dish was incredible as anticipated.  I loved the tiny little deep fried shallot rings delicately balanced on top. The langoustines were so plump and juicy and a lovely shaving of truffle just made it perfection.

IMG_4114Sauté of Scottish Langoustine tails with parmesan gnocchi and an emulsion of potato and truffle

The next course was chicken wings, and no they were absolutely not how I had envisaged.  The bone was removed and it had been stuffed and served on top of pasta.  I eat a lot of dry pasta at home, it’s very quick and easy when you have a family, so eating fresh pasta is a dream.  Another delicious dish, such a fantastic and diverse menu so far.

IMG_4118Stuffed and glazed black foot chicken wings with egg yolk Campanelle, chanterelles and cauliflower

Now I don’t usually get excited over a fish dish but this was beautiful perfectly flaky soft cod, I loved all the components and presentation.

IMG_4121Roast Cornish cod with celeriac milk, Savoy cabbage, salsify and roasting juices

Onto the main event, 55 day aged rare breed pork.  It was served pink!  I know some people would be alarmed by the colour.  It was perfectly fine.  I was taking about it when my husband had left the table and it was explained that some breeds of pork, the higher quality ones, are fine to eat pink as the pigs are feed on a special diets which make a huge difference to the meat.  I was never concerned, I trust the restaurant and will always eat the meat the way the chef recommends anyway.  It was really tender, the tea smoked sausage was lovely and the pork crackling was fantastic, great crunch.  Fabulous dish and a first for me eating pink pork, I didn’t hesitate for a second.

IMG_4127Roast 55 day aged rare breed pork with creamed potato, Tokyo turnips, tea smoked sausage, apple, earl grey and prune

As our plates were cleared we were offered a tour of the kitchen.  My husband and I are very passionate and love to engage with the staff, so we accepted.  Unfortunately Phil Howard was not in the kitchen that night, its amazing how small restaurant kitchens are and how cool and calm the staff appear.  We were then shown the wine cellar which was also really small but very well organised.  Truly fascinating!

When we arrived back to our table our cheese course was ready and waiting.  I like it when a actual cheese course is created, and it was quite simply a  piece of cheese and some chutney.  There was a cheese trolley, but my husband and I tend to get a bit greedy so we stuck to the menu.

This was served with port, I find this drink very strong, it’s not a drink I enjoy.  So the sommelier adjusted my wine pairings.  He made his own judgement and I really appreciated this.

IMG_4129Winter Beaufort with pickled walnut and honeycomb

The first of the desserts was a rhubarb and vanilla fool served with a tiny little warm doughnut on the side, which reminded me of being at the seaside and eating a bag of hot sugared doughnuts, obviously this one was a lot less greasy!

IMG_4132Yorkshire rhubarb and vanilla fool

Time for the ultimate dessert, souffle.  I do love a souffle and you have to admire restaurants who are confident enough to have these on their menu.  The chef had nailed the souffle, text book perfection.  Light and airy with a great crunch from the salted toffee.

IMG_4135Medjool date soufflé with salustiana orange ice cream and salted toffee 

We had our coffees and petit fours and thanked all the staff for their fantastic welcoming service, we had been made to feel like VIPs with such incredibly attentive service and food to match.

The Square Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The insanely amazing Sketch lecture room and library 

Dining with the Husband, Michelin Star Restaurant, Two Michelin Star

We pulled back the curtain stepped over the hopscotch and checked in at the front of house.  As we waited for someone to collect us I sat and admired the art.  This was the first time I had visited sketch its such a fascinating place with so much art to get lost in.  The red rope was pulled back and we were shown up stairs.  We passed the toilets, which I must say are by far the most glamorous toilets that I have ever seen! Wow! 

We climbed the stairs “have you been here before” “no”we replied then the  double doors swung open and an amazing world opened up in front of our eyes.  What an entrance! I almost expected to walk into moulin rouge.  It was like the moment Willy Wonka opened the door to his magical room where everything was edible.  

We were dining in the lecture room and library, the room is absolutely beautiful.  Gorgeous reds and golds with sunlight pouring in through the window.  We took our seats and I gazed around the room absorbing the beauty of it.  


My husband had spotted chef Pierre Gagnaire, he was sat behind a wall scribbling away.  Being that the world famous head chef was here today we were anticipating great things.  As the dinners began to fill the room the chef made his way to the kitchen.   

To start we had a glass of Sanger champagne and the trolley was parked behind me, great photo opp!


The canapés were presented, and actually took up the whole table!


A dirty martini, hummous, foie gras and chocolate, squid ink sticks in olive oil and cheesy bites ( I couldn’t remember all the correct descriptions).  We were really excited, these were just the canapés!


We were going to the theatre this afternoon so we ate from the a la carte menu as we knew we didn’t have time for a tasting menu.  

Onto the starters.  

I chose the langoustine addressed five ways and my husband choose a starter titled winter.

Winter 

Foie gras ice cream with tandoori Duck consommé and turnips

As weird as it may sound, probably not if you’re a foodie, foie gras ice cream works because of its creamy texture, another thing I have learnt about foie gras is that it works great with sweet dessert wines too.

Flash smoked root vegetable cocotte, red beetroot jus with walnut oil Jurusalem artichoke consommé with black winter truffle

This dish was presented to him in a huge cassoulet/ BBQ type pot, the lid was taken off and the smoke rose out, this wasn’t put on the table, the dishes were prepared on a trolley parked in front of our table.  In my opinion anything with truffle tastes amazing 

Marinated artichokes lardo di colonnata red cabbage cubes

Sea urchin royale grilled hand dived scallops

Langoustines 

Pan fried langoustines with terre de sienne green put lentils apple enoki mushrooms 

Langoustine mousse perfumed with manzanilla 

Langoustines marinated in a shell jus and grilled a la plancha crunchy daikon

Langoustines slightly smoked carpaccio olive oil redcurrant coriander beeHot langoustines consommé horseradish Chantilly

I loved the way this was presented a bottle of beer was opened and drizzled onto the carpaccio, a very pretty dish. 

Plate after plate after plate were placed onto the table.  There were so many plates of food that the starters were actual served in two halves, like a football match.  


I love langoustines so I was in my absolute element with all these dishes.  

My husband was pleased with his choice too, he loves anything with foie gras and is a big fan of scallops.  

The food was exciting and we felt like royalty at a banquet being presented with all these plates of delicious food.  

Between courses I wanted a toilet break.  I was more desperate to see the actual toilet rather than use it.  I opened the door and walked through a curtain of crystal beads.  


There was unusual carousel/music box type music playing, the room was black and spider webs were studded onto the walls in crystals.  The toilet roll was sat on a crystal swing.  

These toilets were insane! I think sketch is famous for it’s quirky toilets, ive seen so many pictures of the pod toilets, but these were something else!  I took a few pics then made my way back up to the table.  

For the main I chose suckling lamb, hubby chose organic pork.  

Chef had requested my husbands piece of pork was brought out for my husband to witness before it was carved, then it was taken back to the kitchen. 

Organic pork

Pan fried rack of pork with sage Red cabbage marmalade with prunes

Black pudding ravioli fondue of romain salad

Pigs ear celeriac salsify black garlic

Suckling lamb 

Piece of suckling lamb roasted then sliced with oregano Raw and braised endives tamarind jus

Organic spelt crispy lamb sweetbreads golden raisin saffron

Braised shoulder a l orientale with dates served chilled


The food was amazing, this is a two michelin star restaurant, which is very obvious but personally I think it deserves a third.  I’ve been to all the three stars in the UK and I think this is up there with them.  But hey I’m not an inspector, but what a cool job though! 

We unfortunately had to dash off so didn’t have time for desserts, we were devastated about this.  But the silver lining was we had the incredible honour and privilege of meeting chef Pierre Gagnaire.  He signed our menu and drew a smiley face sunshine, he also took us into the kitchen for a picture.  

What a lovely lovely man he is.  My husband and I have quite a collection of signed menus and chef pictures now, we’re a bit geeky, like autograph hunters.  

So we went to the theatre, the show was ok, although the theatrics in the restaurant were more impressive to be honest.  Coincidentally we saw Charlie and the chocolate factory.   It was meant to be a pre theatre meal before an amazing show but turned out to be an anticlimax due to the orgasmic experience at Sketch.  This restaurant has had such an impact on me I was desperate to return even before I had left.   I want to come back for a table full of desserts, explore all the other rooms and of course get a picture of the toilet pods.   I will be back….. Hopefully very soon! 
sketch Lecture Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato