Oystercrawl – Shuck LDN

2015/08/img_0164-0.jpg

Life in London has been interesting for many reasons, as a foodie one of these has been the sheer amount that goes on. From roof top bars and clubs, to the Dalston Street Feast and Brixton Market the variety is petty incredible. The key being, with so many people in the city even the most niche pop-up in the right location has a great chance of success.

Recently I made a new friend called Kate…say hello Kate….imagine a North Eastern American saying in a Boston accent. Anyway. We share a love of the sea, or rather a love of the tasty things that come out of the sea, lobster, prawns, clams…..and of course oysters. It occurred to us in a moment of clarity/awesomeness/inspiration that seeking out the cities various oysters spots would make for a fun monthly adventure. Why this hasn’t occurred to me previously I don’t know, but there you have it, Oystercrawl (trademark pending) was born.

This very week we started our adventures in the shadows of the world famous Borough Market. In amongst the stalls, bars and restaurants a new popup has emerged, Shuck @shuckldn. Specialising I’m erm…..we’ll Oysters and as the sign puts it beer and booze.

To start off we thought it best to have a half dozen natural oysters (£1.50 p/o) with just lemon juice to season these sea sensations. They didn’t disappoint, a gentle brine with a sweet flavour these were stunningly fresh and delicious. They eeeeeerrm didn’t last long. Washed down with some on tap prosecco we were off to a great start.

The oyster menu didn’t stop at just natural they also offered for an extra 50p, Mexican, Thai and Moroccan as well as Blown. Well initially we asked for 2 of each of the international flavours, sadly they didn’t have thai so Blown made it’s way into our order. Told to sit and that the oysters would be brought over, we relaxed with another glass of fizz (why wouldn’t you), Kate then noticed that the flame aspect of the Blown was well rather spectacular, as an industrial blow torch is used to in essence to smoke the oysters. When the arrived we weren’t disappointed.

2015/08/img_0163.jpg

Starting with the Mexican, lovely flavour of chilli complimented the oysters beautifully, bizarrely not overpowering and somehow increasing the flavour of the brine in the oyster…..impressive. Our least favourite although we did still really like it was the Moroccan, the sumac and celery salt confused the palate a little, and though tasty the blend of flavours wasn’t quite as seamless. The champion oyster turned out to be the one we were at first most hesitant about….the flamed. In using three torch they had without cooking the oyster added an incredible smoked flavour, that with a sliver of pickled ginger added rather blew the mind. Pretentious of me to say that? Well yes, but come on I’m writing a blog about oysters so that ship has pretty much sailed.

In the end a winning start to our oyster adventure. Cannot wait to continue.

A visit to Shuck comes highly JD Recommended.

Advertisements

Dining on Top of Europe

20130918-190453.jpg

On a recent holiday to Chamonix I was lucky enough to go up the Aiguille du Midi cable car. This the highest cable car in the world takes you from the warm summer climate of the valley to the snowy tops of the mountains.

20130918-190904.jpg

In this fantastic setting tucked away is the almost as stunning little bistro. Seating no more than 20 people getting a table is tricky but worth waiting for.

20130918-191105.jpg

For my starter I has escargot in a morel and fois gras fricassee sauce. Indulgent, rich and oh so good. As classically French as you could ask for the dish was well balanced and beautifully presented. Delicious.

20130918-191316.jpg

For my main I had a very rustic veal chop covered as many things are here in raclette cheese. Not the most sophisticated dish but it was superb. To my surprise the light rose veal stood up well to the cheese and went together beautifully. With some veg the portion was massive and satisfying.

20130918-191517.jpg

The setting…..the meal…….the wine…….the company and the service made for a memorable afternoon!

20130918-191631.jpg

The Pantry is Full and Worth a Visit

20130801-233147.jpg

The Pantry is one of the latest additions to the Stockbridge culinary scene, and what a time it is for the area. Recently voted the 3rd coolest place to live in the UK the area is alive with some of the trendiest and most relaxed eateries in the city. The Pantry falls into this category for sure.

From the menu you see above the keep it small, seasonal and achievable. You won’t see 30 items here just a great combination of fresh and local produce.

20130801-233952.jpg

For starters my dining chum and I both opted for the crab & smoked salmon gazpacho! What a great dish, fresh gazpacho with fresh crab and a light smokey salmon all come together to create a great summer dish. The seasoning was spot on, just can’t fault it.

20130801-234350.jpg

For main I had the hogget with mash, seasonal greens and sauce vierge. Seasoned pink lamb, smooth mash, capers, lemon…..mint…… YUMM!!! Really it’s as tasty as it looks. The lamb was so tender, again for what is a very modest place this was an accomplished dish and is the kind of food you want to demolish!

20130801-234726.jpg

My dining chum had squid stuffed with rice, I only tried a little but again very tasty.

For desert I think made a mistake…. I had the cheese and it was very tasty as cheese goes but check this out……

20130801-234909.jpg

Rhuuuuubarb, pannacotta wow!! Looked great, tasted great, could have been a desert in a much fancier much more expensive restaurant. These guys are really working hard and it’s paying off.

To get a 3 course meal for £30 in Stockbridge is always a win in my book! It’s BYOB and topping it off with a bottle from Australia’s coolest wine makers Some Young Punks made for a great night.

The Pantry – Highly Jd Recommended!!!

20130801-235300.jpg

Shebeen – The Home of Meat

20130716-070403.jpg

For some time now the name Shebeen has been bouncing around the city as the spiritual home of carnivores! A place where meat is the main event.

Under the banner of being a South African restaurant the guys here have built up a reputation for serving up big plates of well cooked, well seasoned meat. It’s a reputation which is very well deserved!

On reading the menu you quickly get a sense that this unapologetic reverence for beef had been taken to new levels.

20130716-071331.jpg

On the starters you’ll find samosas filled with either beef or veg, ‘mini’ boerewors with they homemade tomato relish, frikadelle – a meatball stuffed with various things including cheese and a number of the other main courses in start portions! I opted for the calamari however, crunchy, soft and delicious with a lovely dipping sauce!

20130716-071704.jpg

If it was hard to choose a starter selecting a main was well nigh impossible, steaks of varying sizes, traditional South African dishes and some straight up meat challenges! Amongst these challenges you will find the Jo Burger, 1.2kg of beef or a custom baked bun WOW!! This would have to wait for a another day however, I was after some steak!

20130716-071746.jpg

My friend Scott went for the Lion ribeye you see up on the board, that was sensational, cooked to a beautiful rare the flavour was superb! I went surf and turf, rare steak and prawns covered in garlic and chilli with double cooked fries!! This lead to coining of the phrase #meatgasm!

20130716-072006.jpg

What really stands out for me in Shebeen is the care they give to the meat! From doing their butchery, to their seasonings, to the way in which they perfectly rest the meat before serving. These guys are the kings of grilled meat as far as I am concerned!

20130716-072247.jpg

To top it all off the service and the welcome you receive is first class! The chefs are all more than happy to chat steak and the front of house staff are welcoming, funny and efficient! They really do have it all!

Shebeen comes highly JD Recommended!

Glasgow’s Lunchtime Surprise

20130628-072339.jpg

As an office drone during the working week there is very rarely ever the opportunity to get my foodie hat on.

Lunch times tended to involve the inevitable trip to Pret, Philpotts or one of the many supermarkets around the finance district.

20130628-072724.jpg

Then one happy day as I hunted for an RBS branch I stumbled across Riverhill. What I found what a coffee shop with the most fantastic array of salads, sandwiches and deli items all prepared fresh daily!

20130628-072924.jpg

One of the first things that made me go oooooh was the Puddledub sausage rolls which they make themselves using Puddledub originals, possibly the finest sausage in the land.

On a daily basis they serve two fresh made salads, two soups and their collection of rolls and wraps, some are staples to the menu some are specials!

Favourites with me have been the chicken schwarma wrap, the new wild boar baguette and basically any of their salads which even the biggest carnivore will have to admit is damn tasty!

To add to this they have a great selection of cakes and sweet items that really whet the appetite, top for me is the polenta cake.

20130628-073640.jpg

With great coffee and fantastic staff it’s easy to see why this place has become the Glasgow food scenes lunch stop of choice!

Riverhill Coffee Cafe comes Highly Jd Recommend!

Mark Greenaway – New Beginnings

After the much publicised closure of Mark Greenaways restaurant at Piccardy Place we always waited with baited breath to find out where he was heading to. From his words at the Foodies Christmas Fair to his updates on twitter he was giving nothing away. So clandestine was this becoming that a head chef from another restaurants comment on twitter that he looked forward to having Mark as a neighbour lead to the rumour he was off to the Royal Mile. Then, just two weeks ago, he announced his new location as 67 North Castle Street the site of a former Italian Restaurant and once upon a time an RBS branch.

I was delighted to have a reason for booking for opening weekend, as Stephs parents are in town for their birthday weekend and we couldn't think of anywhere we would rather take them. So roughly 3 minutes after the announcement of the new restaurant was made I had my reservation request sent. Roll on two weeks and last night was the night I've been waiting for, all the more eagerly after such positive comments from those who attended the launch party and Yelpers Jackie.G and Claire.L who were there for opening night.

The first thing that strikes you upon entering in that all of the staff have stayed with Mark, infact he confirmed later he didn't lose any of his staff despite being closed for 7 weeks. Once seated you soon see that Mark and his team have been able to recreate the wonderful ambiance they had at Piccardy Place. To the menu and from the à la carte it was good to see he has kept the favourites while also introducing something new to lift the menu further.

Once we had ordered, the sommelier Loic who we have gotten to know was kind enough to show us his new wine vault, with this having been an RBS the original vault in the basement remains. Given how little time they have has to prepare its amazing how much they have achieved. The wood work and the style they have given this room is really impressive. Loic explained that they intend to further develop the vault and diners will be able to select their wines with an illustrated world map on the wall providing further details. Loic will also be on hand advising and giving diners tasting samples of suggested pairing wines.

As soon as we sat down we were presented with our amuse bouchée, as espuma of shallots. Can't say much about this other than it was delicious. Slight sweetness with earthy undertones it was a great way to start our meal.

For my starter I chose the pave of pigs cheek, served with warm apple jelly, apple purée a flavoured meringue, the pave is wrapped in beetroot carpaccio. This is a dish which has gone through a few developments since I first had it at the Great British Menu party and its only gotten better. The balance of the deep flavour of the cheek with apple and beetroot is superb. It's a dish I would happily order again and again.

For my main I went for the tasting of lamb. Succulent tender lamb, deep jus, aromatic rosemary, buttery mash and earthy brussel sprouts…….delicious! The lamb came three ways, a loin chop, a piece of filet and some leg. The flavour of the lamb was just incredible, the seasoning brought out the taste as much as any producer could hope for.

To finish I decided to revisit a favourite of mine the broken citrus taste. This dish simply put is a work of art in appearance and just as tasty. The zing of the parfait is beautifully matched by the coconut, watermelon cubes clean the palate and the pistachio purée adds another dimension when combined. After dinner Loic was also kind enough to take me back to the vault and give me a sample of the most incredible muscat I have ever tasted, larger quantities will be required when my dry January has finished.

All in all the meal was superb, Stephs parents were delighted and then even more so when they had a good ten minute chat with the man himself Mr Greenaway. Mark is such a friendly guy and willingness to chat to customers at the end of a service does him great credit. With the excitement that has surrounded this opening I can say the product more than lives up the hype. Undoubtedly they have a lot of work to do but with Marks inventive cooking and the team he has around him I am confident this new venture will be a massive success.

Restaurant Mark Greenaway comes highly JD Recommended!

 

Bon Appetit!

Edinburgh is now blessed with bistros and restaurants providing the best in world cuisine, from Italian to Chinese, Kurdish to Mongolian we have it all. My favourite however still has to be French, from classic Escoffier to the more rustic I love the way in which they seem to be able to celebrate produce.

After a walk to the Castle Terrace Famers Market Steph and I decided that lunch out would be a nice reward for our newfound healthy lifestyle and gym going. In search of reasonably priced and yet reasonably healthy food we came across L'escagot Blanc. With 2 mains for £10.90 this was ideal for us.

Once you have a chance to sit down and take in your surroundings you are taken by the charming, rustic French decor. All of the staff are French and greet you in their mother tongue, something which I love. Steph pointed out the staff don't wear uniforms, something which we both agreed added a homely feel we loved.

To the food, after some deliberation I opted for the warm fish terrine and Steph the homemade rillette with gherkins. My terrine was fantastic, the flavour was very well measured and the texture soft. I can't say I have had many fish terrines in my life but this was certainly the best. It came with a crayfish sauce that set it off brilliantly. Stephs rillette was also lovely, but I was happy with my choice :). The rillette was served with a jar of gherkins so you could have as many as you would like or not as it were.

For our mains I chose the Lyon Saucisson with puy lentils and Steph had the Fish of the Day which was pike. My dish came to the table in a pot and was served by the waitress, great restaurant theatre. What made this even better was that there were seconds to be had in the pot.

 

As the manager said to us on the way out their food is what great French food is all about, simplicity and great flavour. The sausage and lentils went brilliantly together and the qaulity of the sausage was great. Just one of those dishes that make you go YUMMMM.

 

Stephs pike was equally impressive, so gently cooked the flavour was tremendous. Soft soft fish with a tomato sauce, it worked well. Again simple and delicious. There can't have been many more than five ingredients in either dish but both were so tasty.

In the end we were both delighted with the meal and for such a low price it was a very worth while venture. We will be back. A trips to L'escargot Blanc comes highly JD Recommended