London – 4/8/17 – Bao, Zetter Townhouse, Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs

Bao
Upon the recommendation of a trusted friend I decided at the last minute to scrap my original lunch plan and check out Bao.  I did have to wait in line (to be found across the street from the entrance) but it moved quickly.  A solid tasty stop although not the best buns I have had.  Service is extremely fast so if you don’t have to wait in line you can be in and out in under 30 min.

house pickles
Taiwanese fried chicken, hot sauce
baos – lamb shoulder and classic


Zetter Townhouse
Once again I was the only person at a bar mid afternoon in London.  Loved the space and this drink was perfectly refreshing for the warm day.

Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs
It always seems to be the most difficult to write about the places I love. If I lived in London I would quickly become a regular.  Yes the food is all fantastic with so many local ingredients and great accompanying stories.  But KT excels at hospitality as well and the overall experience is so lovely that I will probably never go to London again without dining here.  So many restaurants track a guest’s past reservations and various other details but never seem to do anything with the information.  It so easy to just acknowledge that a guest has dined with you before and welcome them back (and bonus points for remembering the time frame).  The crispy chicken skin was as delicious as I remembered (although I had a fix at at collaboration dinner not terribly long ago) as was the sloe gin.
 
raw hand dived scallop, ponzu, pickled seaweed

raw grey mullet, buttered miso infused with Meyer lemon, turnip, confit Meyer lemon skins, turnip tops, sliced fresh apple

crispy chicken skin, rosemary mascarpone, bacon jam

parkerhouse rolls, smoked and cured cod’s roe, dehydrated grated scallop roe, brown butter, fresh lemon zest


raw kale, sour cream and anchovy dressing, Meyer lemon puree, toasted sourdough breadcrumbs

steamed Cornish brill, roasted cauliflower florets, cauliflower puree and pickled cauliflower couscous, diced apple, mango puree, toasted peanuts, coriander stem, house made yoghurt, Moilee sauce, house made Goan curry powder

skate cooked in garlic cream, black garlic puree, wild garlic (wilted fresh, sauce, pickled stems, flowers)

in house made gnocchi, 36 month aged parmesan sauce, roasted chestnuts, perigord black truffle

24 hour cooked lamb belly, fresh mint sauce, English asparagus, Scottish morels, lemon thyme, lamb sauce

Saint Duthac blue cheese, crab-apple and rosehip jelly, caraway and fennel cracker

beetroot and brambly apple marmalade, sour cream ice cream, woodruff infused beetroot sauce, woodruff granite

rhubarb, hibiscus poached Yorkshire forced grown rhubarb, charred black pepper meringue, milk ice cream, poaching syrup

parsnip treacle tart, natural creme fraiche

caramel ‘ice cream cookie sandwich’

house made sloe gin

London – 4/7/17 – Kricket, the Connaught Bar & Kitty Fisher’s

Kricket
I absolutely loved this casual and stylish Indian spot in Soho.   I was afraid there would be a line but arrived at opening and had no issues.  The counter is definitely the place to sit as I ordered more food after seeing what was being plated for others that looked fantastic.

Lasooni scallop, goan sausage, poha, seaweed

kid goat raan

pumpkin, makhani sauce, fresh paneer, hazelnut crumble

Connaught Bar
At least I had a lot of luck with hotel bars on this trip.  Connaught Bar is absolutely gorgeous and somehow I was the only person there mid-afternoon.  I will be back for sure.

Kitty Fisher’s
Evidently Kitty Fisher’s was quite difficult to get into when it first opened but somehow seems to have slipped under the radar of most of my American friends.  The space is incredibly comfortable and felt like it had been around for years.  Very elevated ‘pub’ food and really a perfect low key evening.

perfect lady – gin, creme de peach, lemon & egg white

whipped cod’s roe on toast

leeks, smoked hollandaise, crispy chicken skin & hazelnuts

mackerel, heritage carrot, radish, piccalilli

London – 4/6/17 – Hoppers, American Bar, the Gibson, and Street XO

Hoppers
I generally quite detest the possibility of waiting in a line to get into a restaurant but will make somewhat of an exception if it suits my schedule to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to opening and be guaranteed the first seating.  Most often this rules the spot out entirely but I am glad that I made the effort for Hoppers as soon as my flight landed.  I have been missing out having never before tried a hopper – the Sri Lankan crepe of sorts made with a batter of fermented rice and coconut (enhanced further by an egg fried into the bottom).  This will be at the top of my to-do list for my next trip to London. Delicious all around.

arrack attacked – arrack, lime, bitters, house ginger beer
hot butter devilled shrimps

egg hopper and lamb kari

American Bar at the Savoy
I wish I could remember what was in it, but months later of course I cannot.  However this was the best cocktail I had on this particular trip made by an absolutely lovely bartender.  American Bar ranked #2 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2016 and is certainly worth a visit.

The Gibson
Unfortunately all ‘best’ lists end up filled with those places that deserve to be on the list and those that shouldn’t be there in any rational world.  Somehow the Gibson ranks #6 on the same World’s Best Bars 0f 2016 list.  Perhaps I would have fared better if I had kept to a classic Gibson.  I think the photos pretty much speak for themselves as the fairly out-of-control garnishes completely destroyed the drinks as they fell in and changed the flavor and became a soggy mess.  I did love the candy but it would have been better on the side!


garnishes

Street XO
I didn’t intend to plan such a theatrical evening but somehow it worked out that way. Everything about Street XO is a bit over-the-top from the uniforms to the plating. So much so that I almost expected to hate it but thought the flavors were quite good, even the unexpected combinations. I was seated overlooking the kitchen which is always the best spot. However the exhaust system was completely terrible (I’m not sure if this was the normal state or it was broken) and my eyes were burning and my clothing and hair reeked when I left. Nobody wants to add drycleaning to the dinner bill. It was fairly intolerable yet I did order an extra dish and suffered it out because I was enjoying the food so much.

grilled squid with green papaya, sour & spicy hibiscus dressing, peanuts, fine herbs and lime pesto with a shot of Thai Rebujito

Galician grilled octopus, tomatillo and green apple mole with creamy yuzu potato bonbons

Pekinese dumplings, strawberry hoisin, Ali-oli and pickles

London – 5/29/16 – Pidgin, Happiness Forgets, Nightjar and Chiltern Firehouse

Pidgin
It is difficult to find places in London, as in most European cities, open on a Sunday.  So in a way I ended up at Pidgin by default but I am so glad that I did.  Somewhat tucked out of the way in a residential neighborhood yet a very quick trip on the commuter rail line.  Great service and an unexpectedly fantastic and refined menu.  And how have I never had brown butter butter until now???
 
G&T – ELLC Batch No. 1 gin, Pidgin tonic, grapefruit, black pepper



Broad bean – goat curd, chilli crisp, grapefruit, lardo


 Mussels – fries, brewer’s yeast, hops, fennel, sea vegetables 

Chicken – miso, asparagus, burnt bread sauce, radish

 Sweet cicely – strawberries, pine nut, sorrel

Happiness Forgets
I tried to come here my last trip in London but later in the evening it becomes very crowded.  Early evening is the best time to come for a completely different neighborhood bar vibe but with drinks better than at any neighborhood bar. 
 

Nightjar
I finally planned far enough ahead to make a reservation at Nightjar.  A very cool space and drink menu.  The reservation came with a time limit but when I was seated I was told that I could stay significantly longer before the next reservation.  Unfortunately I planned dinner based on the originally quoted time.  And while I certainly had time for at least two drinks my server disappeared.
 
Charlie Chaplin

Chiltern Firehouse
I liked Chiltern Firehouse much more than I was expecting mainly because places better known for celebrity clientele than a celebrity chef are typically mediocre. I wasn’t seated at the chef’s counter as requested but a corner of the regular bar which was actually fine. Service started out incredibly attentive but toward the tail end of dinner I sat without a drink for at least 30 minutes and despite my best efforts could not even make eye contact with a server to order another.  The snacks were extremely tasty and it was a nice touch that they were brought out on the house for myself and for a couple beside me who were waiting at the bar for a while past their reservation time.  I loved the smoky tartare, a twist that I’m surprised I haven’t seen before.  Unfortunately I don’t remember what the desserts were but they were light and perfect for spring.  Being made to exit out a back door into an alley was incredibly strange and inconvenient especially as I was in a hotel and my Uber was in front.  Although perhaps I was supposed to feel like a celebrity!
 
Red Riding Crop – gin, Poire Williams, Pimms, cider, pink pepper & rosemary reduction

 Mackerel tartare, squid ink cracker

Carrot blunts – smoked yoghurt, coriander

Steak tartare – pine nuts, chipotle & firehouse hot sauce

Maple glazed salmon – lovage, barbecued kohlrabi