Classic brasserie fare at Jackson & Rye

Jackson & Rye in Wardour Street is one of those places that instantly feels comforting. I do love a classic brasserie/bar and that’s exactly what you’re getting here. With tables laid around a central bar the restaurant advertises New York-inspired food with lots of Parisian influence. See what I mean, a typical brasserie.

As well as old favourites like sole meuniere, mushroom risotto and bavette steak, there’s also a selection of delicious salads and a good range of other steaks – as you’d expect.

The starters all sounded amazing. “I could eat everything on here,” I said to my dining companion, – don’t you love that? They sounded so good in fact that we decided to share a selection so we  almost did taste everything.

First up a tasty morsel from the “For the Table” section. The brisket croquettes were served with horseradish, creme fraiche and pickled red cabbage. Beautifully rich, saucy meat encased in crispiness and perfect with the horseradish dip.

Jackson & Rye: Croquettes

Deliciously rich croquettes ready for dipping

The seared beef carpaccio was served with walnut and celery salsa, garlic aioli and shaved Parmesan. Do love a plate of carpaccio and this was a particularly good mix of flavours and textures.

Jackson & Rye: Carpaccio

Carpaccio in shades of pink and green

The salt and pepper squid was served with crispy vermicelli noodles and their house sesame and lime dressing.Jackson & Rye: calamari

Tender squid and a delightful dipping sauce

A creamy ball of burrata came with a smoky tomato relish and walnut gremolata. Perfect fresh burrata with a bit of zest and crunch in the sauce.

Jackson & Rye: Burrata

Creamy burrata and a zesty sauce

Crunchy skewered chorizo prawns came with a mango and chilli mayo. Plump prawns with a delightfully crisp coating.

Jackson & Rye: prawns

Crunchy, tasty skewered prawns

Jackson & Rye is the sort of place I can imagine become a regular haunt. I mean, how tempting does this bar look? Book me in!

Jackson & Rye: bar

The temptingly welcome central bar

Today’s price point

Five sharing plates which was plenty for two people cost £36.70.

Wine starts from £16.50 a bottle (white, rose and red).

Jackson & Rye is at 56 Wardour Street.

There are also branches in The City, Chiswick, Richmond, Kingston and Guildford.

 

Tempting takeaways at Chamberlain’s of London

Today we’re heading into the City of London (London’s financial district)  for a tasty takeaway. Chamberlain’s of London is in lovely Leadenhall Market, one of the oldest markets in London dating from the 14th century. It was originally a meat, game and poultry market and stands on what was the centre of Roman London.

The ornate green, maroon and cream roof structure was designed in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones who was also the architect of Billingsgate and Smithfields Market. It’s a unique and pleasant space, and one that I had shockingly never visited until today’s visit. Love that there’s always somewhere undiscovered to explore in London. The market is home to a range of pubs, shops and restaurants.

I did think it looked vaguely familiar despite having never been there – and then I read it was used to represent the part of London near the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. That would be why, I have seen that move more times than I’d care to admit.

Chamberlain’s of London’s four-generation family fish business started with William Stedman in 1940. He was a porter in Billingsgate market. The restaurant was opened in 2001 and the takeaway fish shop is their latest addition. The fresh cod and haddock is UK-fished (often from Peterhead in Scotland)  and comes via Billingsgate just down the road.

What’s on the menu

The menu is simple with a choice of cod and a couple of specials daily (today plaice and haddock). And then there’s all the usual extras like mushy peas, home-made tartare sauce, ketchup and vinegar and home-pickled gherkins, shallots and eggs.

You can taste that these are all made with love – and they lift the classic fish and chips, making it an even better eating experience. I love mushy peas and these were clearly made from scratch and were topped with a drizzle of mint sauce – lovely.

The home-made vinegar was distilled from beer and had a delightful sweetness and zing. And the pickles were…well, pickley. I introduced my dining companion Jules to pickled eggs for the first time and she liked them! It’s been a while since I tasted one and I can’t say I was looking forward to the experience – remembering my last encounter as not great – but I was pleasantly surprised.

The cod was particularly tasty, beautifully plump, juicy flakes in a light and crisp batter. And all the extras added up to a highly enjoyable experience.

Chamberlains: Cod

The plump piece of cod with lemon and tartar

Chamberlains: Chips

Piping hot crispy chips

Chamberlains: pickles and sauces

The array of homemade pickles and sauces

Chamberlains: cod close

Close up on the cod

Chamberlains: entrance

The welcoming entrance to the takeaway

Chamberlains: takeaways

The fish boxed up for takeaway

Chamberlain's: menu

What’s on the menu

Today’s price point

A substantial portion of cod and chips with three pickles, mushy peas, ketchup and tartare sauce will cost you £13.80.

There’s a lovely seating area outside the shop under the protective roof the Leadenhall Market.

Chamberlain’s of London is at 23-25 Leadenhall Market, London EC3V 1LR.

Breakfast delights at La Bottega di Finestra in Prague

La Bottega di Finestra

Today we’re in Prague tucking into an energy-building brekkie before embarking on a walking tour of the city.

La Bottega is a  contemporary bistro and Italian deli with a dining area at the front where they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tasty goodies on shelves and in cases surround you: bread and authentic Italian pastries baked fresh daily, home made pasta and desserts and chocolates.

At the back of the shop you’ll find fresh meat and veg daily, a fabulous array of salami, ham and cheese. And an impressive wine selection.

The breakfast menu offers old favourites and some different dishes, too. Starting with an Italian-style omelette with Fontina cheese, served with crispy bacon.

La Bottega di Finestra: omelette

Cheese omelette and crispy bacon

I went for the delightful-sounding three minute eggs in the glass with clarified butter and chives. Sort of like buttery boiled eggs without the shell – a perfect light breakfast treat.

La Bottega di Finestra: eggs in a glass

Delicate and buttery: eggs in a glass

Scrambled eggs came wrapped in marinated salmon. A classic.

La Bottega di Finestra: scrambled egg

Classic scrambled egg and smoked salmon

Or for a healthier option how about the banana omelette served with fresh fruit and greek yogurt. Novel idea!

La Bottega di Finestra: Banana omelette

An omelette of banana with fruit and yogurt

The coffee is fantastic here. Fresh and professionally made and presented. There’s also a lovely range of fresh juices – I had beetroot – sorry for not taking a picture of it. It was tasty and beautifully pink.

La Bottega di Finestra: cappuccino

Cappuccino that looks and tastes wonderful

Fresh loaves of bread are displayed on the counter to tempt you.

La Bottega di Finestra: bread

Bread is freshly baked daily

There’s a also a range of salads waiting for the lunch-time rush.

La Bottega di Finestra: salads

An array of freshly made salads

And of course traditional Italian sweetness.

La Bottega di Finestra: cakes

Tempting sweet treats in many colours

The interior is bright and contemporary with plenty of space for viewing the displays of wonderful offer and floor-to-ceiling windows giving you a great outdoor perspective, too.

La Bottega di Finestra: interior

The stylish interior lined with goodies

We liked Bottega di Finestra so much that we went back the next day. Its excellent food, friendly welcoming service and mouth-watering deli displays made it too good to resist.

Today’s price point

La Bottega is great value.

Breakfast dishes ranged from around £4-£7. A latte cost just over £2.

La Bottega di Finestra is at Platnerska 11, 11000 Praha 1

The tastiest lunchtime treat at the fabulous Frog

Frog by Adam Handling

Today I’m taking you to Covent Garden – it seems like it’s been a while. And we’re eating at a fantastic new opening – Frog by Adam Handling. Adam is a young British chef who started his culinary career at 16 in Scotland and worked all over the UK before opening the first Frog in London’s Spitalfields in 2016. And now he’s opened his flagship restaurant in Covent Garden’s Southampton Street. It’s a bright and stylish contemporary space with an open kitchen so you can check out all the chefs in action.

Adam has a distinctive cooking style and the menu takes a bit of explaining. Some of the dishes sound a bit on the strange side and you’re not sure quite what you’re going to be getting. Turns out to be a great surprise – I loved his food, eating here is a real flavour adventure.

Adam also prides himself on sustainability and many of the seasonal ingredients you’re going to eat are grown at the restaurant’s farm in West Sussex.

Frog is a great name for a restaurant – and of course there had to be frogs legs on the menu. Frogs legs popcorn to be exact, served with garlic and sour cream in beautiful  heavy stone bowls. A wonderfully delicate dish with the addition of a colourful dip. The bowls kind of made me feel like I was eating with The Flintstones! In a good way of course.

Frog: frogs legs

The daintiest of frogs legs

Cheese and truffle doughnuts were served under a blanket of finely grated parmesan. How I love that cheese and truffle mix, and these were the king of doughnuts that delightfully melted in the mouth.

Frog: cheese and truffle doughnuts

The sublime combination of truffle and cheese

And this was the dish of the day for me. Simply listed on the menu as seaweed, beef and anchovy it was sort of like a steak tartare on crispy seaweed with amazing hints of the saltiness of the anchovies. Sublime.

Frog: Seaweed, beef and anchovy

An amazingly exotic concoction

After our three courses we were presented with a surprise from the chef: his chicken butter. Oh my goodness who’d have thought chicken butter could be such a delight. It was served topped with bits of crunchy chicken skin and with a basket of fresh bread for spreading on. You can buy this taste sensation to take away but I had to resist or I think I’d be eating chicken butter for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Frog: Chicken butter

The most unexpectedly delicious thing I’ve tasted this year

The mackerel was served with BBQ potato and yogurt- and a splash of herbs, flowers and sauces for a truly beautiful-looking dish.

Frog: Mackerel

A beautiful plate of mackerel

The Iberico pork was served with cauliflower and kimchi. I love a piece of Iberico pork and this was the absolute best of it, with the perfect balance of flavours and textures.

Frog: Iberico pork

Iberico pork bursting with flavour

And here’s a shot of the stylish interior looking towards the open kitchen.

Frog: interior

The stylish restaurant looks into the open kitchen

I loved Frog and think I should make it my quest to return and try everything on the inventively delicious menu.

Today’s price point

Our five dishes cost £53.

There’s a comprehensive wine list and white starts at £21, red at £24 and rose at £42.

There’s also a selection of sake (from £9 for 175ml) and cocktails (from £12).

Frog is at 34-35 Southampton Street, Covent Garden WC2

Terasa u Zlate Studne: fabulous food overlooking the rooftops of Prague

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog front recently. I’ve been on my travels again and had family to stay, too, so I’ve had a wonderful time showing them around London – one of my absolute favourite things.

Well I’m back on the blog at last and today I’m taking you to a fabulous restaurant in beautiful Prague. Terasa u Zlate Studne is set on high just below the majestic Prague Castle, the stylish eatery is on the fourth floor of the Golden Well Hotel with a terrace looking over the characteristic red rooftops of Prague. Lunchtime spots really don’t get more perfect – it’s the sort of place where the happiness washes over you before you even sit at your beautifully laid table.

On the menu

And then there’s the food. The menu is so exciting to read and when the dishes arrive, they look like works of art. And they taste even better than they look. Seriously. I started with traditional Prague ham served with fine horseradish mousse and beetroot slices. Never has a plate of ham looked so exotic. The tasty little chunks of meat were perfectly matched with the crunch of the beetroot and radish and the bite of the horseradish.

Teresa u Zlate Studne

A beautiful plate of local ham

The scallop ceviche was served atop marinated cucumber with peach curb, peaches and a dollop of black caviar assetra. The freshest of fish that melted in the mouth, rounded off with tasty peach flavours and a salty caviar touch.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Freshly sweet scallops with juicy fruit and salty caviar

The salad nicoise was made with yellow fin Ahi tuna slices and served with juicy black olives, boiled egg, tomato, crisp lettuce and roasted La Ratte potatoes. A classic salad transformed into a magical plate.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Tuna nicoise that’s as pretty as a picture

The rich redness of the carpaccio came with creamy foam from ricotta cheese, spring vegetables and lime cucumber jelly.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Carpaccio: Vivid, rich and beautifully presented

Duck liver terrine of foie gras was served with wonderfully luscious smoked duck breast, marinated chanterelles and wild berries curd. A real indulgent dish served beautifully displayed…again.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Foie Gras and Brioche – a match made in heaven

Tartar from milk-fed veal was stuffed with goat cheese and accompanied with wild caper and sundried Sicilian tomatoes and a glass egg yolk. A riot of colours and flavours.

Terasa u Zlate Studne

Tastily tender veal tartar

The best array of starters I’ve seen for a very long time – everyone was totally delighted with their choices. And boy were we excited to tuck into our mains.

The signature meal was too good to resist. A generous portion of Royal steak from Argentinian breed Angus was served topped with foie gras, asparagus and baby vegetables on a bed of velvety potato puree with truffles from Piemonte and a Baron Philippe de Rothschild Sauternes Sauce. Wow what a treat – beautifully truffle-y and satisfyingly rich.

Terasa U Zlate Studne

The luxuriously indulgent signature meal

The earthy wild mushroom risotto was a satisfyingly creamy dish.

Terasa

Classically creamy mushroom risotto

I ordered my main course off the starters section as it sounded too good to resist – and what a good decision it turned out to be. The trio of tuna came beautifully presented in six different sections, just to make it easy to know what goes with what. The tartar was topped with a poached quail egg and served with cress, the stunning tataki with white radish and the skewer with teriyaki sauce and pungent wasabi. This could be my favourite dish of the year, which is saying something – I’ve sample plenty!

 

Teresa u Zlate Studne

Spectacular tuna in three forms

And here’s the terrace overlooking the red rooves of Prague. A nicer spot for lunch is hard to find.

Today’s price point

Terasa u Zlate Studne is not the place for a cheap lunch, but it’s certainly good value as the cuisine is fabulous. We paid £390 for a lunch for six which included pre-lunch drinks, two courses and two bottles of wine. Of that the Signature Meal cost £47. A real treat to have.

Terasa u Zlate Studne is at U Zlate Studne 166/4, 11800, Prague, Czech Republic.

Flavour Bastard in Soho for something completely different

Flavour Bastard – now there’s a memorable name for a restaurant. When I recommended some new openings for a night out with friends I think they chose this one purely on the name alone!

A quick perusal of their website also added intrigue when I read their statement. “Take vibrant flavours from around the world, remove rules and traditions, add a bit of mischief and creativity and you have Flavour Bastard – a story of flavours running away from home.”

I like the idea of flavours running away from home, but with no rules or traditions and some mischief added in it all was starting to sound a little chaotic. And the menu certainly makes for interesting reading. Each dish is an adventure and you really don’t know what to expect until the plate is placed in front of you.

This is not always a good thing, though I’m happy to report it works at Flavour Bastard. We had plates of food that seemed to be a mix of many different cuisines that looked and tasted delightful.

Like these doughnuts from the Tiny Plate section (it’s all meant to be food to share), made with white lentils, chorizo and pecorino. Have you ever? Best doughnuts I’ve ever had and don’t they look stunning?

Flavour Bastard: doughnuts

My favourite doughnuts ever

The next section is entitled Small plates – though don’t be alarmed, they aren’t that small. This amazing concoction is smoked goat, pomegranate and frankincense with orange and tarragon. Almost sounds like something from another solar system! I’m quite partial to a bit of goat, though have never had the smoked sort before. It was lovely – very tender and, well, smokey.

Flavour Bastard: smoked goat

Smoked goat with exotic fruity flavours

Egg-related dishes pop up on many menus these days and I’m always surprised at what people combine with the humble egg with amazing results. Today our duck egg was served with triple cauliflower and pickled watermelon. As I recently discovered on my visit to Poland you can pretty much pickle anything – and pickled watermelon is surprisingly good.

Flavour Bastard: duck egg

Duck egg with a cauliflower and watermelon extravaganza

I’ve been having a bit of a mussel run at the moment – sometimes I just feel like them more than others – and today’s were Caribbean-style with jerk spices, rum and scotch bonnet. You see, I told you there were flavours from all over the world to look forward to. The broth was light and spicy, perfect with the sweet plump mussels.

Flavour Bastard: mussels

Mussels with a flavour of the Caribbean

So we’ve enjoyed doughnuts like you’ve never seem before…how about some unique popcorn. This is a dish of roast sweet potato, fennel, yogurt, sunflower seeds and chilli popcorn. Who’d have thought of putting all those ingredients together? It worked – and created a pleasant mix of tastes and textures.

Flavour Bastard: Chilli popcorn

Chilli popcorn adds bite to sweet potato

And now time for dessert. First up the Flavour Bastard version of that Spanish staple – Churros. I’ve eaten my share of these in markets in Spain and today’s offering came with some spectacular rose petal ice cream.

Flavour Bastard: Churros

Churros with incredible ice cream

Then there’s the Mayan-spiced milk chocolate and brownie mousse served with lavender ice cream. I must admit to a growing love for spiced or herby ice creams. This is a seriously rich desert made for true chocolate lovers.

Flavour Bastard: Brownies

The most chocolatey of brownies

This is one chef with some serious imagination. He’s called Pratap Chahal and has previously been at Chez Bruce, Cinnamon Club and Claridges. I reckon there’s a lot of experimenting going on in that kitchen! It’s the sort of restaurant where I’d recommend you hold onto a menu so you can double check your dishes when they arrive – to help place all those ingredients – some of which have probably never been mixed before. I  know that some people find this annoying, today I found it fascinating because, somehow, the combinations worked. Flavour Bastard is certainly memorable – and that’s not just the name.

Flavour Bastard: Room

Start the evening pondering the menu with a glass of sparkling

Today’s price point

The food at Flavour Bastard is very reasonably priced.

We paid £44.50 for our seven dishes, which were plenty for three ladies.

There’s a comprehensive and highly international wine list with reds and whites starting from £20.

Flavour Bastard is at 63-64 Frith Street, Soho, W1.