Sunday, May 31, 2009

Galvin Bistro De Luxe

Jeff and Chris Galvin opened Galvin Bistro de Luxe some four years ago and I have continued to frequent the establishment despite what I think was a fairly long period for the restaurant to find it's feet.

In early 2006 I remember having a very average Cassoulet , not a patch on Anchor & Hope or Le Vacherin.

I am happy that I have persisted, and now along with Racine and Le Vacherin this is one of the few places in London where you can get very well executed Bourgeois cooking. In fact it's probably the nearest you will get to Aux Lyonnais, Benoit or similar high end "Bistros" found in Paris.

Today Galvin's has a very smooth operation with an excellent front of house and kitchen brigade.

Yesterday my friend Charlie and I both long standing Chelsea supporters had a pre FA Cup Final early lunch which was really very very good.

I started with one of the house staples crab lasagne with a subtle Beurre Nantais sauce . A delicious Daube followed ,on a bed of artichoke risotto. The risotto was unfortunately probably not cooked to order and either cream or mascarpone added to it, a total no no in my book. Saying that the Daube was excellent. To finish off I had a fabulous Chocolate Fondant with orange sorbet.

Charlie was very pleased with his asparagus, poached egg with Hollandaise sauce, Tagine of Lamb and plate of cheese.

The baguette,Echiré butter and coffee were all excellent.

We drank a fine St Aubin followed by a remarkable 2005 Cornas that complimented both the Beef and Lamb.

One could argue that maybe the menu is a bit to eclectic and more French classics should feature but somehow the restaurant gets away with it !

With it's pleasant dinning room and fine service Galvin Bistro de Luxe is one of the restaurants I always enjoy returning to on a regular basis.

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Andrew Edmunds

What a great restaurant, the food is really very good and the wine list a real bargain.

I come here two or three times a year and always leave satified having eaten very well and consumed excellent wine at some of the lowest mark ups in London.

The menu changes daily and I guess can be described as pan european.

Dishes always seem to be prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients.

Amazed to see 1999 Ridge Montebello for under £100 in a restaurant as well as other great French and Italian wines that were either bought and cellared when released or the policy is retail like mark ups.

The main restaurant in the basement is rather dark and some would describe as romantic so not perfect for a business lunch unless you know your guest fairly well.

A good place to take a loved one for both lunch and dinner !

Fernandez and Wells is across the road so a good place to stop for a post meal coffee on your way to your next destination.

Andrew Edmunds on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lunch @home May 25th 2009

I picked up some hand carried 36 month old Parmigiano form Azienda Brugnoli in Vischetto (Makers of the World Champion Parmabio in 2006), Black Pig Salami and Culatello di Zibello this morning from a friend who returned from Parma last night.

Antipasti sorted and I used the Parmigiano on my primo of Steamed Evesham Asparagus , Tomatoes from Provence sprinkeld with Gold Label Balsamic vinegar and Seggiano 2008 harvest Virgin Olive Oil

Main course is my Italo/Greek fusion dish - a kind of "Giouvetsi" but dare I say better - using Jack O'Shea's Yorkshire Shoulder of Spring Lamb , Orchiette from Pulgia tossed in meat jus and San Marzano Tomato based sauce.

Cheese course - well when you have "King" as good as the Parmabio 36 month , one cheese is enough - matched the 1996 Barolo very well.

Desert - Mrs Gastro was in overdive today and she made an Apple and Blackberry Pie as well as a Victoria Sponge for the little Gastro bambinos. Both served with Jersey Double Cream as we are all watching our weight.


Terra Serena Prosecco - Gift
Corderro di Montezemolo Barolo Vigna Enrico V1 1996 - Last Drop Wines Ltd
Diamante d’Almerita 2005 from Tasca d’Almerita - Last Drop Wines Ltd.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


A really great establishment that hit the London restaurant scene in 1997.

Hats off to Sam and Sam Clark who have created an institution.

Serious research , great ingredients and fantastic food beautifully executed covering recipes from southern Spain to Syria via North Africa.

Moro is one of those restaurants I'm always happy to cross London for , it continues to innovate bringing food from nearly all the countries that touch the Mediteranean with an empasis on Southern Spain and North Africa.

I always like to start with a glass of Manzanilla with a couple of Tapas usually some Jamon and Pimiemtos de Padron and then chose from the daily changing menu that always has seasonal meat , fish and vegetables .

Many of the dishes are produced from the wood burning oven or the charcoal grill.

I look forward to another 12+ years of delightful food from this great restaurant.

Moro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fisher's for top Fish and Chips

It's so difficult to find good Fish and Chips in London in fact I struggle to name more than 4 places that are genuinely good.

The Rock and Sole Plaice and Sea Shell are really not very good any more.

This shop has been a chippy for over 30 years but about 8 years ago the Fisher twins took it over.

Fishers was sold about 18 months ago and the owner did not find suitable management to run it so standards went down.

The new owner has managed to bring Dan Fisher back who runs a tight ship and normal service has been resumed.

Currently I would rate the Cod and Chips here as being as good as anywhere in London.

The fish is always fresh and well sourced, cooked in good oils in a simple "Golden Sheaf" batter mixed with water. As Dan says he'd rather drink the beer.

The menu is extensive and fish is also available steamed and grilled for those who do not want to opt for classic English Fish and Chips.

The staff are very friendly and believe in getting to know their customers which probably explains why there are lots of loyal regulars who are not just local but are prepared to travel for good Fish and Chips.

Mrs Gastro and children visit every week en route to the scouts !

In fact Tom who runs the front of the very small sit down restaurant has the patience of a Saint. On a recent visit I watched him handle a very eccentric and drunk gentleman with wonderful tact and good humour.

Fisher's on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 22, 2009


I had a very pleasant lunch today as the guest of an old university chum who is doing very well in Broadcast Media.

Luciano is a joint venture between Sir Rocco Forte and Marco Pierre White located on the original site of Madame Prunier’s fish restaurant, one of London top restaurant destinations during the first half of the last century. Up to 2005 it was a very good if somewhat pricey Japanese retaurant called Suntory.

The restaurant is very spacious with a clubby feel that suits it's location in St James's .

The food is good and comaprable to Cecconi's just up the road and the wine list has some good selections of Italian wines but as to be expected in an area with astronomical rents , not many bargains.

I started with what was an over generous primo piato of Linguinni with a Rabbit Ragu and then decided to try the Costoletta Milanese served with rocket , finochio and cherry tomatoes in a light olive oil and lemon dressing.

The Linguinni was very good and beuatifully cooked whilst the Veal despite being a little burnt on one edge ( see picture) was well prepared witout the taste of overcooked butter that I sometimes find at Cecconi's.

The fried Zuchinni were very delicate and as good as L'Anima which is a tough act to follow.

One of my comapnions had a beautifully prepared calves liver with pancetta and sage served on mash. I tasted his starter of Pasta Fagioli ,a special of the day , and it was
really very well made.

We drank a very refreshing Gavi di Gavi Morgassi Superiore 2002 and Planeta (Sicilian) Merlot 2003. The latter seems much subtler than when I first tried it 5 years ago and was really very pleasnat indeed.

No room or time for puds and coffee.

Luciano on Urbanspoon

Ba Shan

Ba Shan is a sister restaurant to Bar Shu (across the street) and Baozi Inn .

The speciality here is xiao chi (small eats/dishes) from Sichuan, Hunan and Shaanxi and like the other restaurants in the group Fuschia Dunlop has acted as a consultant.

The restaurant is divided into several themed sections ranging from a snack seating one at the front to a wonderful shadow puppet theatre and farmers cottage.

My companion and I decided to more or less follow what Helen Yuet Ling Pang (World Foodie Guide, one of my favorite food bloggers in London) had the previous evening but added a few extras:

Five-spiced beef salad with coriander and garlic
Deep fried prawns with chilli sauce
jiamo with cumin-spiced beef
Jiamo with cumin - spiced chicken
Pork chaoshou with spiced soy sauce, chilli oil and garlic
Prawn & water chestnut dumplings served with vinegar
Chicken & shiitake mushroom dumplings served with spicy, garlicky sauce
Shaanxi noodles with pork, beancurd and hot and fragrant sizzling oil
Noodles with red-braised beef and carrot
Braised Aubergine
Dan Dan Noodles
Pot marked old woman’s beancurd

We drank a fairly average Pinot Grigio ,the wine list is very limited and badly chosen just like Bar Shu.

Everything was really delicious as is the food at Bar Shu (currently being refurbished after a kitchen fire).

The dishes that truly stood out for me were all the dumpling dishes (clearly home made) all of which had tremendous flavour and texture – all the ingredients blending in perfectly.

The small bite sized Jiamo were really fresh and satifying.

The Pot marked old woman’s beancurd was actually better that the one I had at Bar Shu and probably the best I have ever had outside China.

However I fund the noodle dishes a bit disappointing probably due to the lack of flavour in the soup This is where Hunan in Pimlico shines, Peng father and son make stocks that are second to none. Stocks in any cuisine are crucial and the more effort , care and attention is taken the better the dish be it a Rissotto , Blanquette de Veau , Avgolemono Soup or Laksa.

I look forward to working my way through the rest of the menu.

Ba Shan on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Food , Wine, Tea and Ale, 13th, 15th and 16th of MAY 2009

Having tasted a number of top 1999 Bordeaux over the past few months I decided to take one of my cases of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1999 out of bond and storage . Berry Brothers and Rudd promptly delivered it on Friday may 15th. I therefore bought some Black Angus Grass Fed Irish Côte de Bœuf form Jack O'Shea to have with the Pichon Lalande on Saturday.

On Friday evening we had some wonderful Scottish Sea Trout from The Chelsea Fishmonger, Rex Goldsmith which I simply roasted having covered with salt pepper and olive oil and stuffing some fresh thyme from Mrs. Gastro's allotment in the stomach of the fish. The fish was served on a bed of steamed East Sussex Asparagus sprinkled with my sauce Gastro - juice of two lemons, 1.5 tablespoons of Savora, 5 tablespoons of Seggiano Extra Virgin Oil and salt/pepper.

We drank an excellent 2006 Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Chaumées, 1er Cru, Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard - Berry Bros & Rudd

On Saturday I let the beef reach room temperature over four hours and then first pan fried the Côtes de Bœuf for about 6 minutes each side then adding salt and pepper before finishing them off in a very hot over for 8 minutes. The beef was served with Gratin Dauphinois and par steamed French Beans finished off sautéed with butter. The Pichon Lalande complimented beautifully both the beef and the Camembert from La Fromagerie that followed.

We ended the meal with some Strawberries and a delicious bottle of Diamante d’Almerita 2005 from Tasca d’Almerita in Sicily that I picked up from Last drop Wines - not as good as the Ben Rye Passito de Pantelaria I had last week but certainly a contender for my second favorite Italian desert wine!

After smoking a Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona Mrs Gastro and I had a delicious cup of Oolong Tea from the Rare Tea Company.

I had the pleasure of meeting @raretealady aka Henrietta Lovell on Wednesday at a wonderful event held at The Westbridge, Battersea hosted by @Charlie McVeigh and and organised BY @eatkikeagirl on behalf@ Catavino those passionate evangelists on skates for Iberian Wines (#LWFB London Food and Wine Bloggers) Charlie supplied the room and an inspired selection of cheeses and charcuterie and Salumi to compliment a selection of mainly Spanish and Portuguese wines . Star of the show for me was José Maria da Fonseca's Domini 2007 from Douro and a wonderful Tête de Moine Cheese (with correct cutter sourced by Charlie).

Henrietta is the Jancis Robinson of tea and I learned enough from her in 10 minutes to realise that one of the reasons I don’t drink tea very much is that both the quality and knowledge of how to prepare it in the UK is generally very poor. This is really astounding for a country that drinks so much tea but then again in line with both food and wine consumption!

Anyway you can buy tea from the Rare Tea Company online and in selected supermarkets including Waitrose.

The Westbridge is also an excellent establishment serving outstanding beers coupled with solid food and wine list. Charlie who these days is also a shareholder and executive in the excellent Le Café Anglais introduced me to a stellar beer called Wandle Ale produced a few hundred meters from both my home and The Westbridge at Samsbrook’s (micro) Brewery.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gordon Ramsay

For me this is still the best for this type of cuisine in London even if Mr Ramsey is never behind the stoves these days. Good luck to him he knows how to find nurture and develop great chefs and front of house staff.

With quality people with experience and knowledge like Mark Askew, Jean Claude Breton running the ship and the brilliant young Head Chef Calre Smyth this is one hell of a team.

Ramsey was a great Chef and is now a great restaurateur. I have eaten in many of his company's restaurants and pubs both in the UK and abroad and have always found high levels of quality and consistency at all levels be it pub or 3 Michelin stars.

I have been lucky enough over the years, to eat the food he cooked at Harvey’s , Aubergine as well as Royal Hospital Road.

Gordon may well be over exposed and a target for the Red Tops but those who understand food and price to quality ratios will always be satisfied.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Gordon once in a Sauna of all places in the old Champneys Piccadilly and found him to be an engaging, charming and knowledgeable man.

The sous vide beef cheek stew which he serves at his entry level eateries is actually quiet delicious and the fact it is prepared in a central kitchen in South London totally irrelevant.

Here at Royal Hospital Road you will find superbly executed dishes using outstanding and yes sometimes very expensive ingredients. The staffs are top-notch professionals from stoves to front of house and in this respect this is the benchmark for The Square Hibiscus and Pied a Terre.

Enough praise though in the world of 3 Michelin stars he has not managed in my humble opinion to reach the heights of MPW in his heyday (sad to see him promoting Knorr stock cubes now) Nico Ladenis or indeed Pierre Koffman's La Tante Claire on the same site. Anyway the aforementioned are enjoying a well-earned retirement.

Gordon Ramsay on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Dhabba - Glasgow

I spent 15 months going up to Glasgow on a a weekly basis and was lucky the firm I was consulting for had founders of Pakistani origin who generously fed the entire company of more than 250 people every Friday with amazing Punjabi food only surpassed in peoples homes or in Pakistan itself.

Glasgow was voted the Curry Capital of Britain in 2007 and so it is no suprise to find such a great restaurant here.

I was up in Glasgow at least 5 times a month for 15 months and always ensured I had a meal there when I could.

The Dhabba has tremendous well spiced food with many dishes not often found in the UK.
This is not the standard neo Bangladeshi cliché food that is so common in these Islands but an upmarket quality establishement with pan Indian dishes .

The breads are excellent and there are beatifully prepared Tikkas , Curries be thay meat , chicken , fish or vegetale/pulses.

If you are in town I strongly recommend The Dhabba as well as it's location - Merchant City.

Dhabba on Urbanspoon

The Wolseley

I’m a great admirer of Chris Corbin and Jeremy King and what they did particularly with Le Caprice and J Sheeky were textbook case studies in the London Restaurant market.

Their comeback to the capital probably post the end of a non compete period is another story.

The Wolseley on the other hand is probably closer in execution and positioning to another of their great success stories , The Ivy. The common theme here is that the food at both is no great shakes in fact for me the food at The Wolseley just does not cut it.

Hand on heart I cannot recommend anything on the menu and say it is good or even average be it the Salade Nicoise, Steak Tartare, Salt Beef, Hamburger, Weiner Schnitzel, Steak Frites or any of the deserts with the possible exception of the Banana Split.

If the food is not the basis of your decision-making when selecting a restaurant in this price bracket then you may find that you can have a pleasant evening in another David Collins Architects restoration.

The Wolseley on Urbanspoon


I have been going to Aubergine since Gordon Ramsey was the launch chef and have carried on since he famously "walked out" with the majority of his "loyal" staff and set up at Royal Hospital Road on his own in pretty quick time.

The restaurant continues to produce great French Cuisine backed up by a super wine list.

William Drabble has a talent for procuring excellent seasonal, mostly local ingredients and turning out exceptional French influenced food. May less talented chef's have received more than one Michelin Star !

Aubergine is great for a special occassion in the evening and still has one of the best (Michelin starred) bargain set lunches in London £ 29 for 3 courses or £34 for 3 courses and a half bottle of very well chosen house wine.

Aubergine on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Highlights from Dinner May 9th 2009 @ Home


Subterannean & Steph


Linguinni with Cornish Crab , Chilli ,Courgettes , Lemon and Parsley.
The Chelsea Fishmonger - Rex Goldsmith

Black Angus Sirlion (Tagliatta) with Rocket (Arugula) , Tomatoes lightly dressed in Olive Oil and lemon juice.
O'Shea's , Knightsbridge

Cheese - Pont L'Eveque , Old Momolette , Gorgonzola Dolce , Bannon and Sardinian Pecorino
La Fromagerie - Marylebone

Mrs Gastro's famous Chocolate Mousse made with Valrohana Grand Cru Guanaja 70% and Italian Organic Eggs .

Mumm Gordon Rouge NV Champagne - Oddbins
St Aubin 1er Cru ,2006, Les Charmois , Olivier Leflaive - Last Drop Wines Ltd
Guidoalberto 2002 Tenuta San Guido , Bolgheri - Last Drop Wines Ltd
Sassicaia 1999 Tenuta San Guido , Bolgheri - Harrods
Ben Rye 2007 , Passito di Pantelaria - Harrods

Château de Kefraya , Le Nectar de Kefraya - Gift

Friday, May 08, 2009

La Tupina

Jean Pierre Xiradakis should be awarded the Legion D'Honneur and tout de suite - his contribution to France and the world is far greater than Nicholas Sarkozy another Frenchman with some Greek blood.

Superb foie gras cooked many ways - Côte de boeuf grilled on an open fire and served with potatoes fried in goose fat - get the picture + superb wine list that suits all budgets with wonderful Bordeux fron exceptional cru bourgeois to the first growths.

The cooking of the French Sud Ouest is beautifully captured here and its worth flying to Bordeaux just to eat here !

Along with L'Ami Louis in Paris I dream of this place when I need a fix of this type of honest and hearty cuisine.
6 porte de la monnaie, 33800 Bordeaux
+33 5 56 91 56 37

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Enoteca Turi

Enoteca Turi as the name suggests is about the wine however the food should not be underestimated in fact I consider it to be one of the best Italian Restaurants in London along with Riva , L'Anima and Locanda Locatelli.

The wine list is superb with outstanding Brunellos , Super Tuscans and Barollo's as well as some gems (whites)from Alto Adige and Friulli.

The menu is on the small side as are the portions and most regions of Italy are well represented with the dishes always based on authentic fresh ingredients.

A dish of Papardelle with Duck Ragu that I have had here on many occasions will always remain in my gastro memory !

Guiseppe Turi and his family are a credit to their country showcasing quality food and offering a superb wine list.

Enoteca Turi on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hunan - Mr Peng is the Master

Mr Peng the Chef Patron is a genius who does not compromise on quality. He hails from Taiwan but has been taught to cook superior Pan Chinese cuisine with a focus on Taiwanese versions of the best from mainland China0 by a fellow gastro black belt.
Mr Peng has passed on his knowledge and skills to his son Michael and together with Mrs Peng they run a superb operation.
The food is superb and cooked with a light delicate touch despite the fact that Garlic , Ginger, Chilli and Corriander prevail.
There is a well chosen wine list to compliment the food - try the outstanding Feluga Pinot Grigio.
There are a couple of menus but just ignore them and put yourself in Mr Pengs good hands and he will just keep sending a barrage of small dishes.
Circa £35-£50 per head ex wine depending on how much and what you eat.
If you are looking for the standard Cantonese heavy MSG food with lots of rice and noodles stay clear of this place.

I have been coming here for over 17+ years and highlights include an 11 hour meal - lunch at 1pm blended into dinner and we left at midnight - I blame Dan P for this gastronomic encounter :-)

Hunan on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Square , London

Having eaten here several times I always leave asking myself if this is the best restaurant of its type in London and wondering why it remains stuck on two Michelin Stars.

It is easily an equal to Gordon Ramsey at Royal Hospital Road and in my view ahead of the tired Le Gavroche and the hard sell of Petrus (maybe no longer the case as Marcus Wareing). Therefore I feel that along with Pied a Terre , The Square is overdue for elevation to 3 stars.

On my most recent meal the Lasagne of Crab with Langoustine Cappucino and Basil followed by Ayreshire Aged Beef Fillet with croustiliant of Ox tongue , bone marrow , foie gras and girolles were stunng and beautifully executed.

The amuse "guelle" was an insense gaspacho with two miniscule fried kalamari on the side - certainly woke up my taste buds.

I had a wonderful desert Pavé of Chocolate with Griottines which description will not do it justice.

A half bottle of St Aubin followed by a 2002 Henri Boilott Volnay 1er Cru Les Cervets accompaied what was one of the best meals I have enjoyed in London for a long while.

The service was what you would expect of such a professional establishment.

My congratulations to Philip Howard and his front of house team - I hope they receive their just rewards in 2010.

6-10 Bruton Street, W1J 6PU
Tel: 020 7495 7100
Nearest tube: Green Park

Square on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 04, 2009

May Day Bank Holiday Lunch


Dressed Cornish Crab with Mayonaise and Hard Boiled Quails Eggs - from The Chelsea Fishmonger Rex Goldsmith

Roast Loin of Dorset Organic (Tamworth) Pork - from Jack O'Shea
Roast Carrots , Potatoes and Parsnips
Sauted Spinach with Pancetta

St Marcellin , Pont-l'Évêque - from La Fromagerie London - Parmabio 50 month Organic Parmigiano Reggiano from Fausto Brugnoli e Marina Carpanini hand carried from Vischeto , Parma.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble with Jersey Double Cream made by Mrs Gastro

Meursault, Les Charmes,2005, 1er Cru, Domaine Michel Bouzereau - Berry Brothers & Rudd

Coudoulet de Beaucastel Red , 2006 Cote du Rhone - Haynes Hanson & Clark
Chateau de Beaucastel 2004 Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage a Jacques Perrin - Gift

2006 Passito di Pantelleria DOC Ben Rye - Harrods