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.

 

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.

The deliciously different taste of Taiwan at Xu

Xu in London’s Chinatown

I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere in recent days – there’s been a lot going on! I’ve been travelling to new lands and enjoying new food so there’s plenty of interesting stuff to come. Starting off with a Taiwanese experience – right here in London. Love that you can travel the world without leaving our great capital.

Xu (pronounced Shu) is wonderfully welcoming with warm wooden panelling, wooden ceiling fans, a marble bar and booths with plush leather seats to sink into. It oozes style and luxury, the perfect setting to absorb some Taiwanese culture and cuisine.

The menu is absorbing. I love ordering dishes when you really don’t know what to expect – despite detailed answers to any queries from the waiter. First up a selection of bak kwa, served intriguingly like an offering of After Eight Mints. Bak Kwa is the Taiwanese name for jerky and today there were three types – 40-day aged beef, spicy pork and lamb jerky – served with a selection of shallot and sichuan relish and pickles.

As a person of Southern-African descent, I love biltong and jerky’s of the same family. These little meaty morsels were beautifully flavoursome and the Asian accompaniments definitely added that little bit extra. Full marks for inventiveness.

The jerky in its box with tasty accompaniments

Xu: jerky

Close up on the meaty treats

From the Mian Shi section we went for the Beef pancake. A shredded short rib and bone marrow combo is served in the bone with pickles, spring  onion, potato crumb and of course pancakes on the side. Sort of like a beef version of crispy duck pancakes with more exotic extras! Delicious.

Xu: beef pancake

The beef comes shredded and stuffed into a marrowbone

And then it’s time to assemble your pancake. Love the whole ceremony of this and the result was scrumptious.

Xu: beef pancake

Creating the perfect pancake

It seemed appropriate to try a dish from the Classics section so we went for the Shou Pa Chicken. Described as marinated chicken with drippings, ginger and spring onion, white pepper and chicken skin dip, this is on of the most chicken-y chicken dishes I’ve had in a very long time. The intensity of flavour was fabulous. Real comfort food with a tasty brothy sauce.

Xu: Shou Pa Chicken

A bowl of chicken packed with flavour

Xu: menu

The stylish mix of dark wood and crisp linen

Xu is the sort of place I can see myself whiling away many hours in. The bar area looked very inviting, and I feel there are more dishes that need to be tried. And those cocktails…

Today’s price point

We paid £32.50 for our three dishes which was ample for lunch.

Wine starts from £28 a bottle (both white and red).

There’s a great range of exotic cocktails from £9.

Xu is at 30 Rupert Street, Soho, Chinatown, London W1

Talli Joe for tasty Indian tapas

Talli Joe in Shaftesbury Avenue

Today I’m heading for Talli Joe on what I think of as the border between Soho and Covent Garden. The buzzing street called Shaftesbury Avenue. What a good place to be to try some Indian food with a difference.

The restaurant describes itself as serving Indian half plates and full drinks. It’s a stylish, modern little eatery with an intriguing menu. This one took a lot of perusing – thank goodness for the half plates idea, it gave us the chance to try more of the exciting options.

I love Indian food which means I’ve eaten it all over the world (though I haven’t been to India yet – must be remedied). Today’s interestingly different menu meant time to experiment and explore new flavours and dishes.

What’s on the menu

Lentils are usually beautifully done in Indian cuisine so the Moon daal Pahari seemed like a good place to start. The lentil fritters (described at Delhi’s favourite) came with grated radish and green chilli chutney. Flavoursome and crispy with the raw veg adding freshness and the chutney bringing a real chilli bite. A stunning vegetarian dish.

Talli Joe: lentil fritters

Lentil fritters nestle under freshly grated veg

The Kohapuri Chop is a tenderly tasty tandoori lamb chop served with a potato salad with mustard dressing.

Talli Joe: Tandoori lamb

Succulent lamb and a mustardy salad

Because they sounded so good, today we seemed to order more vegetarian dishes than usual. And the good news is that the Halve ki Mutter Kachori tasted even better than it sounded. Soft bread parcels were stuffed with a spicy pea mix and served in a butternut and potato curry.

Talli Joe: Pea and butternut

Pea-stuffed bread and a rich butternut sauce

Now this is an exciting and unusual dish. The Parsee Venison Keema Ghotala offered a richly satisfying spicy venison mince which was served with an organic egg yolk, lightly toasted sweet-flavoured bread and a side of pao (a chopped chilli and onion mix). We mixed the egg through the mince, making for an almost creamy delicacy and spread it liberally on the bread. Wow! The chefs here have certainly mastered those complex spice balances that make for the very best Indian cuisine. Every dish popped with a delightful roundness of flavours.

Talli Joe: Venison mince

A magnificent mix of spices for a fabulous mince

Talli Joe: Venison mince

Close up on the mince and yellow yolk

The Bohri Chicken was cooked with a combination of masalas and served with a pretty fenugreek flatbread. Another perfect spice blend for the melt-in-the-mouth drumsticks. Love a good Indian flatbread –  and doesn’t this look lovely with its herby greens and seeds.

Talli Joe: Bohri chicken

Spicy chicken drumsticks with fenugreek flatbread

Time for dessert – and fabulous dessert, too. The berry malai was a warm, creamy bowl of baked yogurt topped with fabulously zesty seasonal berries.

Talli Joe: baked yogurt

Sweet creaminess combined with great berry flavours

I love a bit of rose flavouring so couldn’t resist the rose-flavoured ice cream. A little glass of perfect pinkness with flavours that danced on my tongue. The perfect refreshing finish to a wonderful lunch.

Talli Joe: rose ice cream

Two tasty puds made for the perfect ending

Today’s price point

Our seven dishes cost £38.75 – really great value for delicious food.

Wine starts from £21 a bottle and there’s a good selection of spirits and cocktails.

Talli Joe is at 152-154 Shaftesbury Avenue.

Download the CAKE up and get £5 free

I used my CAKE app to book and pay at Talli Joe. A really simple and quick way to eat out in London – yes there’s an app for it. CAKE has a wide range of restaurants on its books and you can also earn credit when you eat out with plenty of chances to get a percentage of the cost of your dinner back.

Download the CAKE app now at thecakeapp.com and quote the referral code EATINGCG to get £5 credit for free and start exploring London’s wonderful restaurantland.

 

The food of modern-day Jerusalem at The Palomar

Today I’m in the middle of all the action in Soho and I’m also being transported somewhere way more exotic. The choice in London’s restaurantland is mind-boggling and we’re heading for The Palomar to sample what they describe as the food of modern-day Jerusalem.

It’s a small restaurant with a sixteen-seater bar up front for walk-ins and a 40-seater space at the back with banquette seating and light flooding in through the large skylight.

Having never visited Jerusalem, I had no idea what to expect. On perusal of the menu I also spotted a lot of North African, Turkish and even Spanish influences. And all the dishes are designed for sharing, my favourite way to eat.

The menu is divided into unusually titled sections. First up, Rip and Dip. The Kubaneh is a little loaf of Yemeni pot bread which is served with tahini and velvet tomatoes. The perfect description for a wonderful dip – tomatoes with the texture of velvet. The warm, soft bread was tipped out of its little pan onto the board in front of us and easy to tear into bite-size morsels by hand. From this section we also ordered the burnt courgette tzatziki, mint, garlic, sumac, olive oil, lemon and almonds, a beautifully zesty combo.

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The freshest of bread ready for some dipping

Next up time for some Raw, Cured, Chopped. A delectable selection of fish and meat choices.

The beef tataki came Damaskus Gate style on a miniature piece of crispy Jerusalem bagel with tahini and spicy tomato to lift it. Lovely tender beef with subtle spicy undertones.

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A colourful plate of tastiness

On to Stove, Josper, Plancha (loving these exotic sections).

The Shakshukit is described as deconstructed kebab with minced beef and lamb, yogurt tahini, cured lemon and harissa. A pan of delightfully spiced mince drizzled with a tasty choice of sauces.

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A mince dish to inspire

And then there’s the Bit on the Side – never has a vegetable section sounded so tempting. The polenta Jerusalem style was served with asparagus, mushroom ragout, parmesan and truffle oil. Aromas of truffle drifted upwards from the wonderfully soft and creamy polenta. A truly stunning dish that you simply have to order.

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Truffly polenta to dream about

I loved The Palomar. The menu is certainly unique and I’d happily try everything on it. The service is warm and welcoming and it has a cosy, intimate feel. If you’re sitting at the bar you’ll have a great view of all the kitchen activity – and there’s a lot of magical dishes coming out of that kitchen.

Today’s price point

Lunch for two cost £42.80

A bottle of French Rose was £26

The Palomar is at 34 Rupert Street, W1. Piccadilly Circus is the closest tube station.

Fabulous flavours from the grill at Ember Yard

Ember Yard is the fourth restaurant in the Salt Yard group. Everything on the menu is cooked on a custom-built, bespoke Basque-style grill (hence the embers) and dishes have both Spanish and Italian influences, particularly from the Basque Country and Tuscany.

I discovered afterwards that the head chef, Jacques Fourie, is South African which kind of makes sense with the SA passion for braaing (barbecuing). But these are no basic barbecue dishes, they really are something special. And as well as grilled delights you’ll find great charcuterie and cheeses from both countries.

The thinly sliced carpaccio-style tuna was beautifully tender and topped with a zesty oniony marinade.

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The freshest of flavoursome tuna

And then for a real vegetable revelation. Cauliflower coated with harissa, honey and oregano and wood-roasted. Never has cauliflower tasted so good or looked so beautiful.

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Cauliflower in shades of red topped with fresh oregano

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Another view of the delectable cauliflower

And here’s another masterpiece – chargrilled Iberia Presa with whipped jamon butter. Presa is a special flavourful, melt-in-the-mouth cut of pork that comes from the free range acorn-fed Iberia pigs indigenous to Spain. It’s pork like no other pork and the butter is something incredible.

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A simple pork dish to marvel at

The crisp, Iberico pork fat chips are served with chorizo ketchup.

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Chunky chips that are fluffy inside

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Chorizo ketchup is so good

If we could all cook like this over fire, all ovens should be abandoned at once. Seriously.

Today’s price point

Our four dishes cost £31.50.

Our bottle of Rose cost £30.

Ember Yard is at 60 Berwick Street, Soho

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