Saturday, 28 August 2010

An extended 'About Me'

I didn't like my current about me section so I temporarily deleted it, I will be posting another one eventually.

What you need to know for now though is that I love good food, and have done from a young age. I was surrounded by food growing up as I worked in a series of my family's fish and chip shops and restaurants, so I guess that passion was transferred to me. For now, I'm a casual food blogger, posting the occasional recipe that I enjoy and restaurant reviews that have been memorable. I will never write a bad review on my blog, this is not what colourful foodie is about, I only like to write about good food. My reviews can be found on urbanspoon.

I tend to eat out with and cook for (and with!) my boyfriend, Tom. He has been a great influence in my passion for food (I was so so picky before we got together!) so I think he deserves a mention!

Please feel free to make comments, whether they are compliments or critisisms! I would love to see if my recipes and reviews have been helpful!

If you would like to contact me my e-mail is

Maria x

Like the sun setting over the Spanish coast. A look at L Restaurant, Kensington.

In the heart of Kensington, L Restaurant stands out from their many competitors with its contemporary Spanish theme. Set over two floors, including a main dining area and a slim mezzanine area overlooking the diners on ground level it is a sleek but open feel. The decor is warm and somewhat romantic, with domineering red complimenting wooden framed mirrors on one wall which contrasts with the warm sandy wall on the other side. In addition, candlelight floods the room making it an ideal setting for a date. I came to L Restaurant with my boyfriend’s family, due to its prestigious location and availability on my tastelondon card. We were all impressed with the atmosphere and the friendly but not pushy service. We settled on a bottle of Spanish white wine for before ordering our starters. The wine list was comprehensive and ranges in price starting from £14 while the priciest bottle is a French red at £90.
My starter of scallop risotto was a heavy start to the dinner, perhaps a little more glutinous than I had expected and to my disappointment, featured merely one scallop finely chopped. The flavour of the scallop came through on the occasional bite while the dish was dominated by the Sobrasada paste, a Majorcan specialty made out of red sausage and paprika. A manchego cheese crisp decorated the dish nicely as well as giving it another level. It almost seasoned the dish with its subtle piquant crispiness, a delight in terms of texture and flavour. The others settled on crispy goats cheese with a red pepper and pine nut salad. It wasn’t until a later look at the menu that they realised their goats cheese came with an unimpressive side of lettuce garnish- no peppers or pine nuts to be seen.
 The main course was the star for me, a succulent duck breast on a bed of spinach served beautifully in a circle around a whole poached pear. The pear was poached in a deep red wine and gave the dish a dramatic look, as well as taste. The spinach was wilted to perfection and cut through the rich pear to balance the intense flavours. The duck was cooked to my liking, pink on the inside, crisp on the outside and almost melted in my mouth. We chose a dry red wine which went very well with my main. Portion size was fair and left me with just enough room to sample dessert. I could not resist trying the chocolate fondant which was served with pineapple sorbet in a brandy snap basket. An odd combination but a mouth watering one, the fondant was decent but the highlight was the sorbet. It was a refreshing end to a heavy meal, at the risk of sounding cliché I must add that the sweet tanginess of it almost transported me to a tropical island and with the decor reminding me of the sun setting over the Spanish coast- it was a nice touch. If only the menu separated the two elements of the dish altogether.

On top of the A La Carte menu, L restaurant offers a tapas menu with plenty to choose from. The evening was a pleasant one and I would happily recommend a visit to L restaurant in Kensington but perhaps choose a more balanced menu than I did!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Three indulgent visits to the Chancery.

As a certain New York Times food critic once said, you cannot recommend a restaurant having only visited once. So after visiting the Chancery for the 3rd delicious time in 12 months, I would now be more than proud to recommend the place to all London foodies out there. I was introduced to the Chancery via the tastelondon (now tastecard) website during a trial membership. I sought after what would be a celebratory dinner for my boyfriend and I, having survived our first year of university and finished our dreaded exams. Chancery lane is home to my university’s main library so I knew the area and the sophistication it has to offer. To me, the service is one of the most important aspects of a restaurant experience and the waiters at the Chancery lived up to my expectations! They are courteous but not overly formal, they take your coats and let you taste the wine before you commit to it, and once you do, they make sure your glass is always full. Even the chefs go that extra mile, by bringing out a mouth-watering complimentary selection of bread and butter as well as amuse bouches before the starter and dessert. The decor is simple but elegant, and not at all stuffy, with some interesting art displayed against the back wall. The main dining area is on the ground floor while the bar and a couple more tables are in the basement. I have never had the misfortune of dining in the basement as it does seem somewhat dark and lacks atmosphere, as well as its proximity to the bathroom being off-putting. Don’t be put off though as the food more than makes up for that one tiny drawback. Although the memory of my first visit is a bit hazy, which I put down to how long ago it was and not the wine (ok maybe the wine had a little to do with it) but I remember the rib-eye steak being tender and flavoursome, the cheesecake sweet and delicate and even the amuse bouche of gazpacho had me longing for more, with the flavours of good quality tomatoes and peppers playing off each other to create a refreshing start to the meal. My second visit had me ordering a game and wild mushroom terrine for starters, a combination of flavours which I initially questioned but luckily it worked very well. The wild mushroom side was subtle and not at all overpowering as wild mushrooms generally dominate a dish. My only criticism is that there was not enough toasted bread on the side but the rest of the portion size was fantastic value for money. The amuse bouche was a cauliflower soup, what a pleasant and creamy concoction with the perfect amount of seasoning, something I now crave on a rainy day. Unfortunately, the amuse bouches never seem to make it to the menu as an orderable dish and change very frequently (which just goes to show how inventive the chef is) so my tastebuds may never be graced with that smooth deliciousness again!
The main course of my choice was a tender breast of duck, served on a bed of buckwheat noodles and topped with a hearty broth. The overall dish had an Asian tone, but not the type you would expect from your local Chinese. The whole thing was a play on the senses. The broth was fragrant, while the presentation of the dish was playful; the juxtaposition of the dark buckwheat with the pink duck breast was an exciting twist. My desert was a delight. I ordered the chocolate fondant which came with prune ice cream and baileys mousse. I wondered whether the whole combination would be too rich after such a meal, but I simply could not resist. What a great choice I made, as the fondant was oozing and rich and not a spongy mess you often get in bad establishments and supermarkets. The baileys mousse on the side made me want to lick the plate but the prune ice cream I could have done without, the dish already had enough going for it.
As for my last visit, it was just as impressive. My starter of a crab and avocado tien was refreshing and light and my fillet steak on a bed of even more beef, this time braised, spinach and mash with various other accompaniments was so rich I did not have space for dessert. It was another beautifully indulgent dish but left me feeling guilty for leaving such quality produce, there was just too much. I came with my boyfriend, whose appetite is slightly larger than my own and he had a trio of pork tasting. He is still raving about it, who could have thought you could do so many different things with pork! I took a cheeky forkful of his dessert, a mocha parfait with deep-fried ice cream (seriously) and all I can say is- I wish my main course was smaller so I could have space for some myself.

The Chancery has so much to offer. Perhaps a little too much, where portion size is concerned. I don’t normally complain about that aspect but I can’t help but feel cheated out of a delicious dessert! I will keep coming back to the Chancery just to see what the chef can come up with next- the menu changes very regularly and there is always something new and exciting that boggles the taste buds.

My fillet of beef

Trio of Pork Tasting (see what I mean about portion size?!)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Blogging plans...

Just incase anyone has ventured this deep into cyberspace, or somehow read my mind, I would like to inform you that this is a very new blog and I will be adding to it and improving it very shortly! I'm currently experimenting with this whole blogging thing and hope to start writing away shortly. Should you be so unobservant as to wonder what my blog is about, I plan to write all about the world of food. This includes my personal recipes, restaurant reviews (mainly London!) as well as other food related miscellany.