August; the Gourmet Month

It’s been a while since my last post, but things have been busy and lots of exciting and interesting things going on! Although I’ve been back at work a month now since my holiday, the last 6 weeks have been foodie, winey, and very much enjoyable.

At the end of July, I went back to Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green, last visited in March of this year. Just like it’s sister restaurants The Manor and The Dairy in Clapham, this restaurant continues to impress with its combinations of simple seasonal ingredients with traditional techniques and modern presentation. Outstanding dishes as always, the highlight this time round being the ‘Norfolk Quail with borlotti beans, apricots and almonds

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Quail, Borlotti, Apricots, Almonds at Paradise Garage, Bethnal Green

The first of August was a visit to The Orrery in Marylebone, one restaurant that was earmarked on my ‘must-visit’ list of 2016. And it was outstanding. An aperitif on arrival was a brilliant take on a Negroni but with whisky, possibly the best cocktail I’ve had this year, and very apt considering my imminent flight to Scotland the next morning. The food was also some of the best I’ve had in London, with the main course of Cod Fillet with Pork Belly, totally memorable.

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Cod with Pork Belly at The Orrery, Maryleborne

By lunchtime the next day, I was in my favourite city in the UK, Edinburgh. As is customary, lunch was Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, in a small pub on Grassmarket. It wasn’t going to win any Michelin stars but my god it went down well. I love eating authentic food in a traditional environment, and it doesn’t get much better than eating Haggis just below the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Another notable place in Edinburgh worth mentioning, is BrewLab Coffee, a speciality coffee bar. Over several visits, I have began to adopt here as my regular and for what it does, is outstanding.

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Haggis, Neeps and Tatties in Edinburgh

The next few days in Scotland were spent further North, in the Speyside area, home of course to many a distillery, and of many a family holiday. Sometimes the best food/dining experiences are the more surreal, and a dinner of Fish and Chips from the local chippie, washed down with a bottle of Pol Roger Champagne, with my parents and girlfriend, was the perfect meal for that moment, and I would go back to that like a shot.

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Fish and Chips from Portknockie Fish and Chip Shop, accompanied by Pol Roger Champagne

Within 5 days of arriving in Scotland I was on the move again, with 4 days down in Nice in South of France in the calendar. Being on the French Riviera, it was inevitable that a week of gluttony was on the cards. The first morning was a classic continental breakfast of pastries, coffee and fresh orange juice, and lunch on the beach was a simple but classic Steak Tartare with “Frites”- great, and very classic. In the evenings I rediscovered my appreciation of Provencal Rose (definitely one of the greatest drinks ever invented), and a day in the luxury of Cannes, surrounded by million-pound yachts, and equally worthy people, saw lunch of Provencal Prawns with rice and sea herbs, and a classic Crepes with Grand Marnier to round off the indulgence.

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Prawns with Sea Vegetables, Cannes

Inevitably of course I had to come back home, back to London and get back to work. Since then dining opportunities have been minimal, but a couple do stand out. The Rabbit in Chelsea, part of the Gladwin Brothers group, demonstrated clever uses of seasonal ingredients with very stylish presentation; the Chorizo, Kale and Labneh dish is simply brilliant. Last weekend I was down in Bristol visiting The Ox, Clifton – part of an incredible group that owns one other restaurant and two bars in Bristol; here I experienced the best Sunday Roast Beef I’ve had in a restaurant, and matched with impeccable service too. Well worth a visit.

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Chorizo, Kale and Labneh at The Rabbit, Chelsea

The next few months promise to be busy with work, but I have a few plans and ideas in the works. Sunday I am visiting one of the classic, old-school London restaurants which I am very much looking forward to, and then the week after I am heading to Switzerland for a couple of days. I have also booked an exciting restaurant for November, of which I’ve heard some great reviews, and I’m hugely looking forward to a treat then.

Reviews to follow…