Monday, April 11, 2016

What's New: London Restos: Kitty Fisher's; Gymkhana; Berber and Q; The Grain Store; Lurra; Chiltern Firehouse.

As I have said in previous posts, some of the most creative and interesting cuisine is being made in London as of the moment. Nothing "fancy", but interesting, great, sophisticated or simple comfort food.

Kitty Fisher's 

Kitty Fisher's is a charming, warm (if you can imagine a basement resto warm), comfortable resto, where it is not only easy to hear your conversation, but others as well, feeling completely comfortable with the sound ambiance.

And, if one reads the food media, which I do from time to time to get ideas for when I travel. It is funny that so many London food editors and reviewers write such bitchy, gossipy, self entitled, who/what personality/star is in the restaurant and I come from modest circumstances shit, in their reviews about Kitty Fisher's. They seem to completely miss the point about the wonderful food!!

Below is an aspect of the ambiance, located beside my table, which I suspect is an original part of the building wall.

Bread toasted on the grill, barely brushed with oil and served with onion ash sprinkled on whipped butter.

Whipped cod's roe on fennel-buttered, fire-grilled toast, topped with micro greens.

Marinated and cured fresh anchovies on fire grilled toast.

Succulent, very tender, Intensely rich and flavourful, ox cheek with treviso tardivo, celeriac puree and spring onion. This ox cheek may be the best version or at least on par with the best version I may have tasted anywhere.

Perfectly cooked, remarkably fresh, Cornish turbot with wild garlic, Italian coco bianco beans, apple and clams. What a complementary, rich combination of flavours!

The accompaniment for the beef, crispy skinned pink fir potatoes, onions, pickled walnuts, spinach, grainy mustard and Tunworth cheese. The dish in itself is terrific, but, my readers know how I feel with the combination of cheese and meat. The fat is redundant and the flavour conflicts with the flavour of good beef. But, if cheese was to work with this dish, this one was quite appropriate and the veggies were beautifully caramelized.

The Galician beef, presentation.

My plate. Look how juicy the beef looks without juice being added. The slices were removed from the assembled steak and plated. This Galician beef was 10 years old when slaughtered. The flavour was intensely rich with the wood flavours of the oven really coming through in a most pleasing manner. Beef Boy's rating for taste; texture; juiciness: 9/6/8. The texture was slightly chewy. But, a great steak overall.

Rhubarb blood orange crumble with clotted cream ice cream. The flavours of the seared rhubarb made in the wood burning oven were a very pleasing flavour complement.

The food here is the epitome of comfort food. This will be a regular.

Friends of Indian descent have told me that this is their go to place outside of india, for the best Indian cuisine. They were not wrong!

Venison keem naan, naan stuffed with venison accompanied by cucumber and cumin raita.

Gol guppas, Gymkhana's very sophisticated version of a street snack, filled with potato and sprouting moong, accompanied by a mildly spicy liquid water which is poured into the shell. The shell must be eaten whole, rather than bitten, to avoid liquid spilling all over.

Punjabi samosa filled with potato and peas, with imli saunth chutney (tamarind based with ginger and cumin).

Chettinad duck accompanied by coconut chutney. 

Lift off the dosa "hat" and behold the duck, which can be spooned into pieces of the dosa. very good dish.

Malai morrels, achar (pickles) and chopped truffle. 

Dal (lentils) maharani. This was a delicious dish with a creamy texture.

Vanghi bhat, eggplant chutney, pickles. I loved this dish made with baby eggplants.

Aloo anardana, potatoes with pomegranate seeds and chopped scallions. 

The dal, potatoes and eggplant, plated. 

Saffron and carrot halwa with candied walnuts. Indian version of "carrot cake" and was better, having a sweet, slightly savory flavour!

Pistachio burfi, a dense sweet milk based confection.

Berber and Q

Berber and Q is kind of a hole in the wall Mediterranean style grill resto, with very good dishes if you like the style of this region (I do). It takes no reservations.

Urfa roasted squash, green harissa, yogurt and walnut.

Spring fattoush, a wonderful salad with fava beans, cabbage, pomegranate seeds, grapefruit sections, chopped tomatos and herbs.

Char grilled hispi cabbage, harissa creme fraiche and preserved lemon.

The meats and some veggies I ordered were kind of dropped together on this serving tray, along with fire grilled mildly hot peppers, grilled tomato, mildly spicy roasted peppers with eggplant stew, house made sucuk sausages, grilled young lamb kofta kabob, chopped dill and parsley, pitas, flavoured salt and some pickle.

The Grain Store
The Grain Store is the brain child of Michelin starred chef, Bruno Loubet, famed from his time at Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons.

The food here is very good, but, on the oily side when the excess oil adds nothing to the eating experience.

Onion bread accompanied by house made creme fraiche butter. The bread is nicely crusty and the onion flavour pleasantly quite prominent.

Spring green soup composed of peas, asparagus, green beans and wild garlic. Note the excessive oil on the top of the soup, which I felt added nothing to the flavour experience which was truly quite wonderful. However, the excess oil adversely affected my total experience. 

"Chili con veggie"  accompanied by mixed rice and sour cream, was very good, but, for me, the sour cream did not add a positive aspect to the experience.

The chili. 

The wonderful ginger infused seaweed and vegetable dashi with shiitake mushrooms, spinach, scallions, sesame seeds, wakame, gluten free pasta and citrus miso.

Just to make myself clear, would I return for lunch.....yes!


Lurra is another London resto that has adopted Spanish Galician beef as an important component of their menu.

The quality of Galician beef is featured above. Galician beef is a unique selection from Spain. Cows are not slaughtered until after their milking life is over, roughly from age 9 to about age 17. These cows are treated like pets and have a very calm upbringing and feeding in pastures. North american beef is typically slaughtered 18 months to 2 years. At its best, Galician beef is nicely marbled compared to other forms of European beef and has a very rich, beefy flavour because of the age of the cows when slaughtered. For me, when at it's best, this beef is my gold standard for a beef experience. But the Galician beef experience can be inconsistent and in is fact highly variable.

Sour dough bread accompanied by bone marrow from Galician beef. I would have to say that the rich flavour, firm texture and minimally oily aspect of this marrow, make this my gold standard for a great bone marrow experience. 

Zucchini flower stuffed with cod brandada, accompanied by a mini zucchini. 

One of my most favourite things to eat in Basque country Spain, enjoyed at almost every meal, are kokotxas, in this case above, hake with a pil pil sauce. Kokotxas, a piece of the fish found at the underside of the jaw, are sweet and meaty.

The beef being dry aged (but not dry aged for long periods, such as in North America).

The presentation of the Galician beef, "abbreviated", because before I took this picture, I was so excited that I took a few pieces. So I reassembled it.

A selection of slices of the beef, perfectly cooked. Beef boy grading was not as good as the Kitty Fisher's experience: taste 8 1/2; texture 5 (quite chewy); juiciness 7 1/2. The flavour was rich and beefy.

Terrific grilled sweet red peppers, possibly Spanish pequillo, with garlic. A great accompaniment. 

French fries with smoked paprika and aioli. Wonderful flavour, crispy as they should be and good complement for the beef.

Chiltern Firehouse

I regret that I forgot my camera. Iphone 6 is not comparable for picture quality and did not do justice to this terrific meal. Each dish was quite remarkable. 

Celeriac ribbons, milk, crumbs and apple.

Carrot blunts, puree of carrot with smoked yogurt and coriander.

Fried chicken accompanied by smokey bacon ranch dip. The fried chicken was perfectly crispy and not greasy at all.

Hay-roasted pigeon, corn bread, walnut mole and yogurt.

Galician octopus, eggplant puree, shimeji mushrooms  and daikon radish.

Salmon tartar, salmon roe, crispy salmon skin, rhubarb jam, sea vegetables. 

The wood fired grill. 

Aged Galician beef filet, mushroom caramel, toasts and roasted onions. 

Welsh lamb, pommes boulanger, violet artichoke. 

Wood fire grilled sprouting broccoli with romesco sauce and almonds.

Monkfish cooked over pine with fennel miso and puffed barley. 

Key lime pie: lime curd, rye biscuit and mascarpone. 

Chocolate frangipane with almond milk, praline and caramel.

Rhubarb granite with vanilla custard and milk crumbs. 

Grilled St Jude cheese wrapped in wild garlic with toasted sourdough and mulled raisins.

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