Chef’s Warehouse in Beau Constantia

Tapas for 2 at Chef’s Warehouse, Beau Constantia 

I’m back! Finally! Apologies for deserting Eating Covent Garden for so long – I have been travelling the world, like really travelling the world! Since my last post in December I have spent time on four continents (two for the first time) and I have so much to share with you all. So watch this space.

I’m starting with my latest restaurant discovery in the stunning Constantia winelands in Cape Town. Yes, I’m back in Cape Town, hooray, and straight into one of the country’s top restaurants.

Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia opened a couple of years back and was voted the fourth best restaurant in South Africa in the Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards 2017. There are myriad great restaurants in this foodie country so that’s quite an accolade for such a youngster.

It sits at the top of the Constantia Valley with views over vines and forests towards the ocean. This makes the parking lot seem a little perilous, particularly for the vertiginous – make sure you’re steady on those heels if you’re thinking of wearing them. The restaurant is a modern, glass-sided construction which certainly makes the most of the views.

What’s on the menu

As soon as we were seated with a glass of their lovely Pas De Nom MCC bubbles (the perfect way to start any lunch), my dreaded menu indecision loomed large! Until I spotted the magic words Tapas for 2. No choices to be made here, it’s eight dishes to share. Makes life easy.

Dishes arrive in groups of two or three in three batches – I guess you could call it three courses. We started with a triple-plate sensation. The coal-seared tuna came with warm black bean and walnut salsa and a fresh apple and ginger relish, on a plate with a visually confusing foam design. There is no foam with this dish – it’s the plate!

Beau Constantia: tuna

Coal-seared tuna served with crunchy black bean and walnut salsa

My favourite of the first trio was the line fish sashimi. A beautiful curry-based concoction with the freshest of yellowtail, Cape Malay pickle, bbq garlic emulsion and fried batter. Seems like the perfect mix of flavours and textures.

Beau Constantia: sashimi

Fresh line fish sashimi with spicy flavours

The Vietnamese BBQ beef came with herbs, toasted rice and a zesty Vietnamese dressing. Love those fresh, clean flavours and the herby crunch.

Beau Constantia: Vietnamese beef

Rare, herby Vietnamese-style beef

After a short break the next duo was delivered. Described as Beau tomato bruschetta, smoked, pickled and grilled, a bowl of tomatoes done three different ways was topped with garlicky, thin slices of toasted bruschetta. I love a tomato – pretty much any tomato – and these were in a league of their own.

Beau Constantia: tomato

A tomato extravaganza in a cup

And then the ultimately indulgent dish. Parmesan and smoked butter risotto with red onion bordelais and fried Swiss chard, all topped with a delicately creamy, cleverly crafted gouda flower. I love the creaminess and softness of a good risotto but always balk at eating a full portion – it’s just a bit rich and filling for me. What joy to share a small portion of this deliciousness between two. And never has gouda tasted so good. Needless to say we both wished for a bigger portion once we’d cleaned the pan. Probably the nicest risotto I’ve ever tasted.

Beau Constantia: risotto

Luscious parmesan and smoked butter risotto

The final tasty trio

So how could it get any better? Well, there were still another trio of masterpieces to come. The slow roasted pork belly was served with  an apricot and miso tart, cashew nut milk and garlic and thyme oil. The tastiest of pork that fell apart at the touch of a fork and was topped with the crispiest of crackling matched wonderfully with the creamy cashew nut milk (there’s a first for me). And the light and crumbly miso tart, topped with firm, tart cooked apricots was the ideal accompaniment.

Beau Constantia: Pork belly

Delightful pork belly with flavours of apricots, miso and cashew

Firm, flaky hake came with a delicate yet intense parmesan and anchovy puree and was topped with paprika and lemon cream. The dainty fried polenta cubes, salty capers and crunchy spring onion completed another masterful dish.

Beau Constantia: Hake

Lemony hake teamed with parmesan, polenta, paprika and anchovy puree

And finally it was time for some lovely lamb. The adobo rubbed, slow-cooked rib came with red onion, heirloom tomato pickle, burnt butter and mixed pepper jus. Tender richness to savour.

Beau Constantia: lamb

Adobo rubbed slow-cooked lamb rib

I’ve fallen in love with Beau Constantia. How can you not with a view like this? And all that great food – light, fresh and cleverly balanced – and all looking so beautiful – like the greens and blues of the outlook across the valley.

Today’s price point

Tapas for 2 comes in at R700 (about £41 at today’s exchange rate).

That’s for both of you, not each.

A bottle of their delicious Rose was R180 (just over £10 at today’s exchange rate).

Find out more at beauconstantia.com

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

Great Italian on the river at CottoCrudo in Prague

Dining alfresco at CottoCrudo

It’s a cold, dank day in London so I’m transporting myself back to a warm August evening in Prague when we dined on the terrace of CottoCrudo. How I love a bit of al fresco dining.

CottoCrudo is in the rather swanky Four Seasons Hotel and the terrace overlooks the Vltava River. The extensive menu offers a range of Italian and Mediterranean-style dishes. Executive Chef Leonardo Di Clemente comes from an Italian farming family and his philosophy is to mix what he describes as “Mamma-style cuisine” with current culinary trends.

CottoCrudo literally means Cooked Raw and this is how the menu divides. The crudo section encompasses a set of mouthwatering raw fish dishes that it’s impossible to resist. All beautifully presented using the freshest of fresh produce. The most perfect start to a summer night’s dining.

What’s on the menu

Oysters were served with mango, cucumber and yuzu soya sauce. Fresh, zesty and gloriously tasting of the sea.

CottoCrudo: oysters

Luscious oysters with a zesty sauce

My tuna spaghetti was marinated with orange emulsion. Thin, spaghetti-shaped pieces of fish that melted in my mouth, made all the more tender by the fabulous citrussy marinade.

CottoCrudo: tuna

A glass full of delightful tuna spaghetti

Raw salmon was served with miso vinaigrette, frisbee salad and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

CottoCrudo: salmon

Delicate Asian-flavoured salmon

The richest of seared tuna carpaccio was served with Genova-style salad and smoked quail’s egg.

CottoCrudo: tuna carpaccio

A colourful collection of tasty morsels

For my second course I chose from the antipasti section. Described as Onsen poached egg with soft potato cream, porcini mushrooms and black truffle, it was hard to picture but I loved the sound of all the ingredients. And boy was I right. What a wonderful dish of softness and flavours.

In case you’re wondering an Onsen is a hot geothermal spring in Japan which is the perfect temperature for making slow-cooked, soft eggs left in the water for several hours. The principle has been transported to the kitchen where eggs are cooked at a low, controlled temperature for 45 to 90 minutes. Love a bit of science in my dinner!

Both this and the tuna spaghetti I had are CottoCrudo Signature dishes which I wasn’t even aware of when I ordered – well, they certainly were spectacular.

Truffly potato cream, egg and mushroom – a phenomenal dish

Saffron risotto was served with roasted seabags, buffalo mozzarella and green pea puree. The sweetness of the fish was perfect with the creaminess of the cheese and risotto. A classic Italian dish given a little bit extra.

CottoCrudo: risotto

Roasted seabass nestles on the saffron risotto

There seem to be a lot of truffles around in the Prague summer – good news for us all. This beautifully meaty dish of milk-fed veal tenderloin was served with foie gras, black truffle and mushroom puree.

CottoCrudo: Veal

Delicate veal with the earthy flavours of truffle and mushroom

CottoCrudo: petit fours

A tray of delicate petit fours to finish with

And here’s the wonderful red-rooftop view across the river.

CottoCrudo: terrace

Looking across the river to Prague Castle

CottoCrudo is certainly a glamorous place to dine. The food is excellent, the service impeccable and the attention to detail impressive. And the intimate little terrace does have great views.

Today’s price point

Being in the Four Seasons you’d expect prices to be on the steep side at CottoCrudo, but the food was actually pretty good value. Starters began at 220CZK (Czech Koruna) – about £7.50 and mains from 620CZK – around £21.

The extensive wine list was however rather on the expensive side with local wine going for around £40 a bottle and everything else for significantly more. We went Czech and weren’t disappointed.

CottoCrudo is in the Four Seasons Hotel at Veleslavinova 2a/1098, Praha I, Czech Republic.

Read more about what to do in the beautiful city of Prague by clicking here

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