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    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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  • Mise en Place

    Specialist recruiter to the Catering and Hospitality Industry. Our values: Professionalism, Integrity, Flexibility, Partnership

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Archive for the ‘restaurant reviews’ Category

Eat my Words – Phil Howard

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

This week we introduce another of Britain’s accomplished chefs, Phil Howard co-owner of Michelin Star awarded The Square Restaurant. Phil has achieved great highs in his career and also some lows, some of which he shares below…

Phil, you’re one of Britian’s most accomplished chefs, awarded two Michelin Stars at The Square Restaurant which you co-own and named as the Chef’s Chef of the Year at the National Restaurant Awards last year. These are major accomplishments, where to from here? What direction are you planning to take your career and expertise in the next few years?

In the pursuit of all round fulfilment it is important to achieve in all areas of life and going forward I intend to try and simplify my professional life, to enable me to maintain focus on The Square and to commit any free time to the enjoyment of my family and my interests outside work. I am absolutely determined to keep The Square relevant in the fast changing eating scene in London and this will be my professional challenge over the next few years.

phil_1Working with other chefs, what would be the best tip you’ve received? Who did you enjoy working with the most?

The appreciation of harmony of flavour is perhaps the most important thing I have learnt as it is this, more than anything else that ensures my cooking delivers pleasure. My three experiences prior to The Square were all equally enjoyable and inspiring – albeit for differing reasons.

You’ve had your fair share of challenging times in your life, addressing a drug addiction while running your business at The Square back in the early 90′s. Out of adversity there can be people or moments that one remembers as turning points or learnings. What was a significant learning or turning point that you think has helped you changed your perception and have regularly referred to in order to achieve the success you have now?

Good question! Insuring return business is the key to any successful restaurant and in terms of cooking my partner Nigel helped me to get over my youthful cheffiness and see that honest cooking is the surest route to wonderful food. And wonderful food brings back customers. There is also no shadow of doubt that overcoming drug addiction was instrumental to my growth as a human being and this, above all else has enabled me to stay balanced and grounded through the ups and downs of life.

Where was the last place you ate out and what did you have?

Dabbous – tasting menu and it was a phenomenal display of contemporary cooking.

What is your favourite Local Restaurant?

River Café – it is my local anyway.

Which dish to you have most fun making?

Sunday roast

Which chefs do you most admire and who would you like to work with in the future?

Brett at The Ledbury, Rob Weston at La Trompette, Simon Rogan, Ollie Dabbous – they are all at the top of their game. I hugely admire David Mulcahy and Steve Munckley for their commitment to the profession in general. They give back so generously.

Without giving away any trade secrets, is there a simple recipe that you would like to share with our readers? 

Certainly not!  Two books published in the last year – they are all in those!

We thank Phil for sharing a little about his life and love of food with our readers. For those who would love to learn some of Phil’s recipes, you can follow him on Twitter at @philiphoward8, and buy his books:

Many thanks Phil and we look forward to hearing more about your achievements in the near future!

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What does Food and Data have in common?

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

This week we look at Menu Spring, who provides an amazing service to Restaurateurs and the public alike by providing a comprehensive list of thousands of restaurants where you can explore their menus, as well as rate their food. As Ali Meruani of Menu Spring explains, they have created a wonderful match of food and data.

What was your main motivation for starting up Menu Spring

MenuSpring was started with the idea of bringing restaurants, consumers and publishers together. When I moved to London I felt the current website did not do restaurants in London justice. There are far more restaurants in London than those covered by these websites and I wanted to make it easier for these amazing small restaurants to be discovered and get the word out.

You say on your website that you are not a Social Media site or a menu aggregator, what would be the best description of your services?

At our core we are data Company that is passionate about food, it is what we do with that data, that’s what makes us amazing. MenuSpring helps restaurants get the word out, while helping users find the perfect meal every time.

You give reviews on practically any food location or restaurant from the humble hole in the wall to lavish top tier restaurants, what has been the most memorable review and why?

We cover all restaurants in London but the site itself site does not do any reviews. We actually do not allow any of our users to write reviews. As a user you can rate a restaurant and like a dish, our focus through and through has been on food.

Is there a particular menu that seems to hit all the right spots with your subscribers?

With such a huge database, we have over half a million dishes in our system, it is hard to pick out one menu that we say hits the spot.

What would be a common theme amongst your subscribers with regards to the positive attributes of your services?

Our subscriber look at us to provide them with the most amount of information about the restaurant in the shortest amount of time possible. We want to be able to tell you more about a restaurant in 1 min that will take you 30 mins on any other site.

What’s the most bizarre restaurant/food location to visit?

In terms of the experience I would have to say Khyber Pass. It is a tiny little restaurant with only 9 dishes on the menu, you sit on the floor and have your food. It is a hike to get to, so the overall experience is worth it. It reminds me of being at a dhaba (roadside restaurant) in Pakistan.

In terms of bizarre locations I would have to pick places from my travels, sadly I have not been to any bizarre food location in London yet. But if someone is willing to share a secret location I will be more than willing to check it out.

Thanks to  Ali for sharing information about their services which provides a great benefit to all foodies! If you want to check out their site go to www.menuspring.com or follow them via Twitter @MenuSpring

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Eat My Words – Sat Bains

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

This week we are delighted to chat to the talented and much loved Chef Sat Bains. His book ‘Too many Chiefs, only one Indian’ has been named ‘Best In The World’ at this years Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. We’re not surprised! If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do, you’re missing out!

Restaurant Sat Bains based in Nottingham not only has a main dining room but you can enjoy a Chefs table  in an anteroom off the main restaurant kitchen which seats from 4-6 people. It’s totally exclusive with a door that slides open into the kitchen where you’re served by Sat or the chefs themselves. It’s very interactive and great fun. Then there’s the Kitchen Table which is in a private building across the courtyard from the main dining room with private access from the car park if you want, it seats 4-6 and for this you have your own dedicated chef cook your dishes in front of you. That way you can see each component ingredient being cooked and how they plate the food too. Finally there’s the Kitchen Bench which is brand new and bang slap in the restaurant kitchen’s new Pastry section, it seats up to 4 people and gives you a full on view of how a professional kitchen at 2 star level works. Head to the website to make your booking, order Sat’s book and enjoy everything Sat Bains! Follow Sat on Twitter!

Here’s what he shared with us…

What’s been the best thing to come out of the launch of your book? How will this affect your cooking?

Getting our restaurants philosophies and DNA on paper, and of course winning Best designed cookbook in the World wasn’t bad either…. It was a brilliant journey working with brilliant people like Anthony from Face Publications, the designers for the book. John from Darkwater did the photography and the results say it all.

Many chefs look up to you as their Chief! Who’s YOUR top faves and what have they taught you?

I love what Heston has achieved through perseverance and determination to create one of the best restaurants in the world. Ferran Adria for his pure Genius, I was very lucky to eat there twice at Elbulli. These were life changing experiences and what he and the team at Elbulli have shown is possible is incredible. Its such a shame that more chefs didn’t get his message, to create means not to copy. He’s probably the most copied chef in Modern History.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to become a chef?

Give yourself a 10 year plan and stick to it, assess it every year to see if you’re on track and if not, do something about it. Don’t just sit on your a*#e waiting for something to happen, it f*@$#!g won’t!!!!

Whats your favourite thing to cook? Favourite thing to eat if someone else cooks and who would you want to cook?

I love cooking meat and game when in season, and I love eating vegetables as I think they are actually harder to get right. My favourite thing for someone to cook, or prepare for me even is Sashimi by a Japanese Master. I was very lucky to have this in Chiba last year and it was a masterclass of simplicity, craft and respect of the ingredients.

What food, if any, would you like to try but haven’t got around to yet?

Vietnamese

Where was your last dining out experience? How was it?

Le Manoir, last week, very good!

What’s the plan – where do you go from here?

I try every single day to be a little better, to push my team a little further on their paths to fulfil their potential.  To extract a little more flavour from every single ingredient that comes into the restaurant and to be more in tune with my surroundings. To create a World Class Restaurant where you can only ever taste a dish we have created here in Nottingham, and to relish this brilliant journey of Gastronomy I have found myself on…….as I feel very privileged indeed.

Thanks Sat!

Posted By Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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Eat My Words – Dan Catford

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

We have been joined this week by highly creative and passionate Head Chef at  The Lamb at Angmering Dan Catford. You can follow what Dan gets up to on his blog that includes many scrumptious treats for your eyes and mouth.  Keep a look out for him being featured over at Visionary Dining in the coming weeks. You can find  him on Twitter

What made you want to be a chef and what’s your favourite thing about what you are doing now ?

I always had a love for food. My earliest memory would be standing on a stool helping my nan peel roasted peppers for a party my family where having. My passion for food then grew and thought the most natural path for my career would be to become a chef.
My favourite part about the job, especially at The Lamb at Angmering, is being able to have a free reign of the kitchen. Being able to put dishes on that I like and that I can tweak and play with to get a great menu. I love the buzz of a Saturday night service when your full and that first check comes on , it’s like going into battle !

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far and what do you have in the pipeline?

My biggest achievement so far would be getting this head chef job so early into my career at the lamb ! I have a few things in the pipeline that I hope to achieve though one being getting a rosette for the lamb and second hoping to start up my own venture one day starting off with my pop up restaurants around Sussex and surrounding areas cooking modern British food in a relaxed atmosphere. I also have a photo and video shoot with visionary dining.com which I am very much looking forward too.

Which chefs inspired you growing up?

My biggest influence in my career would probably be my executive chef from bailiffs court hotel, Martin Hadden. Martin taught me everything and suppose could say made me the chef I am today. But other chefs that inspire me now are Tom Kerridge, Tom Aikens, Paul Ainsworth, Heston Blumenthal, Simon Rogan and Ernst Van Zyl

Where was your last dining out experience? How was it?

My last dining experience was at a local Tex Mex restaurant called limings which was not great at all to be honest ! Starters were good but mains where poor and not value for money

What’s your favourite local restaurant and favourite meal?

My favourite local restaurant for everyday meal would be a little Thai restaurant called Lemongrass who make a damn good massaman curry ! For a special occasion I love the pass at South Lodge Hotel. The food I had there last time I went was easily best meal I’ve had. Matt Gillan is a great chef and rightly deserves his star and four rosettes.
My favourite meal, although I spend my time cooking fine dining food with the best ingredients, would have to be chicken enchiladas, nachos and guacamole.

Who inspires you now and who would you really like to work with?

Everything inspires me from my wife to be, to my great sous chef Richard Cook, to seasonal produce, the great chefs I’ve already mentioned and the world around me. I’d really like to work with Tom Kerridge as he is an amazing chef, to have two Michelin stars for a pub is outstanding and would love to learn from someone that skilled, plus he looks like a good guy to work with.

Best piece of advice to someone wanting to be a chef?

Be passionate, listen to everything you hear in a kitchen whether it’s the head chef telling you, or a kitchen porter, you can learn from everyone. Be patient too, you do not leave college and instantly walk into a kitchen as a sous chef on good money. It’s a bloody hard job but if your passionate and dedicated it all pays off eventually !

Favourite thing to cook? Favourite thing to eat if someone else cooks and who would you want to cook it?

My favourite thing to cook is probably a really nice fresh piece of fish. Nothing better than crispy skin and flaky juicy flesh. My favourite thing to eat is either;- my fiancée  Shelley’s spaghetti bolognaise or my mum’s roast dinner. It’s heard everywhere around the world but you can not beat your mums cooking

Thanks Dan!

Posted By Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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Eat My Words – Ben Mulock

Monday, February 18th, 2013

We have been joined today by the talented Ben Mulock – Sous Chef at the Opera Tavern situated in Catherine Street, London. Ben caught our attention tweeting about Bikes for Boobies, cycling London to Paris in aid of Breast Cancer…with pink hair. Here he tells us more…

You can taste Ben’s cooking  at  Opera Tavern . Follow Ben on Twitter to keep updated on his training. If you would like to sponsor Ben and donate to a worthy cause, please visit his Just Giving page.

How did you get involved? Who are you doing it with and what will you be eating during your training?

While I’m training it’s a lot of protein and plenty of fluids –  lots of grilled chicken with lots of veggies. On the nights before training rides I’m demolishing big bowls of pasta and big hearty stews. I wanted to raise money for breast cancer care because unfortunately, a number of friends and family have been affected by breast cancer and the charity does great work in supporting people. The trip is organised by @skylineoverseas and I’m doing it with people from all backgrounds who are raising money for various charities.

What are your cooking plans for the future? Anyone you’d really like to work with?

I think my plans for the immediate future are getting my own  restaurant and exploring a slightly different concept style to that which I am working in now. I love tapas and this is service style which I believe I  am likely to continue for the rest of my career.  I would quite like to work with Adam Perry Lang, I’ve always enjoyed his style.

Last restaurant you ate at that you really enjoyed? Where? Why?

That would have to be Zoilo by Diego Jacquet. It’s an Argentinian small plate restaurant really close to Selfridges. I really love Diegos approach to food, every single plate was perfectly balanced.

Which Chef have you enjoyed working with the most? Best advice?

There’s two really, I got a great lot of discipline  and work ethic installed in me whilst working under Ian Rhodes at Le  Talbooth when I was a Comi which I think has kept me pushing while working  in the industry. And secondly Ben Tish the Chef Director of Salt Yard Group for giving me the freedom as a sous working with Jamie Thickett to develop my own style of food and plating. And the best advice I was ever given was go with your gut and Always work with people that will push you.

Chefs most admired growing up? Now?

I always admired Pierre Koffmann’s style and honesty holds true and to this day I remember the first time he came to Opera Tavern with Richard Vines and I got to shake his hand. I also have huge respect for Jason Atherton, not only is Pollen Street Social one of my favourite places, the food and atmosphere he creates there for me are truly excellent.

Favourite local restaurant and meal?

I love the Begging Bowl on Bellenden Road, Peckham.  It’s all good and very simply presented.

Best piece of advice that you’d give someone wanting to be a chef?

Keep at it! It takes years of graft but I can think of no other job that could give me the same level of satisfaction.

Favourite thing to cook?

I really enjoy working with all the different cuts of iberico pork, braising collar is currently my favourite. I really enjoy a good braise, slow cooked shoulder of lamb with cavelo Nero and truffle mash would make me a very happy bunny!

Favourite thing to eat if someone else cooks and who would you want to cook?

I really enjoy a good roast especially if its cooked by friends on a Sunday after work, nothing can beat that!

Where would you like to go locally to eat in the future but just haven’t had the time?

I haven’t been to the Delauney yet which is really local to work and I really should get myself down there!

Thanks Ben and GOOD LUCK!
Photo courtesy of Paul Wynch Furness

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Eat My Words – Tom Kerridge

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

In this week’s edition of Eat My Words we have the lovely Tom Kerridge. Tom is Chef and owner of The Hand and Flowers situated in the beautiful town of Marlow, the first Pub to ever achieve Two Michelin stars. We’ve just seen him in BBC’s Food, here’s what he has to share. You can go and enjoy Toms cooking at The Hand and Flowers and follow Tom on Twitter @ChefTomKerridge

You’re known for being a dedicated Chef and an all round nice guy. Do you feel like your cooking has changed since you received your second Michelin star? What do you consider your biggest achievement in your cooking career?

If anything our cooking has become simpler and is very product focused and letting the ingredients and simplicity speak for itself. The biggest achievement is, without a shadow of a doubt, is achieving the first 2 Michelin stars for a pub in the world.

You’ve worked with some high profile chefs – who gave you the best tip and what was it? Who did you enjoy working with the most?

The best tip I received from any chef was when I first started cooking was from a college teacher, who said respect the ingredients, and the ingredients will respect you back. I massively enjoyed my time working for Stephen Bull under head chef Jon Bentham in the centre of London, just off Leicester Square, in a basement kitchen for 3 years. Play hard, work hard, and didn’t see day light for the winter months.

We just saw you on BBC Food, what was your time like behind the scenes? What did you enjoy the most? Any juicy goss?

Behind the scenes was a very family based atmosphere with lots of people who had worked together before. Working with Michel Roux Jnr was a massive honour, as he is a hugely respected and massively influential chef on the British food scene. No juicy gossip I’m afraid, everyone was highly professional and very friendly.

After your tv debut at an early age – would you consider having your own cooking show?

Would love to do more TV, the parallels between tv and catering are really similar. Long hours, low pay but full of highly passionate and motivated people.

Where was the last place you ate out and what did you have?

Claude Bosi’s new pub, the Malthouse tavern in Fulham. There was a big table of us and we ate the whole menu, particular favourite was bavette based in hay. Michelin star in the making!

What is your favourite Local Restaurant?

Sunday lunch, the Royal Oak in Paley Street. Best Sunday lunch around. Or mid-week, the Hind’s Head in Bray for a brilliant steak.

Which dish to you have most fun making?

I love cooking absolutely anything to do with meat. Thoroughly enjoyed my time as a sauce chef over the years, its the most exciting, dramatic, hardcore section in a kitchen.

Which dish do you enjoy as long as someone else prepares? Who would you want to cook for you?

Really love a Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. A food hero of mine, who unfortunately is long gone, is the great French gastronom Fernand Point

Which chefs do you most admire and who would you like to work with in the future?

There are a huge amount of chefs that are cooking today that really are world class, Sat Bains, Claude Bosi, Simon Rogan, Daniel Clifford, Nathan Outlaw to name a few. I have done some work with Sat and Claude and to be honest, working with those guys is always a great laugh and great food.

Thanks Tom!
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Must Read London Food Bloggers

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Mise En Place loves reading all of the local food bloggers from around this great city, here are some of our favourites:

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Eat Like A Girl

Eat Like a Girl is on a lot of peoples favourite food blogs lists (not just London lists) . The Irish Ex-Pat writes brilliantly and not only about restaurants but food and travel as well. Checkout her latest article on Jamon Iberico Ham, very interesting indeed! You can find her @eatlikeagirl

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Food Stories

Helen Graves writes from and about South East  London, in particular, Peckham. Peckham you say, why would I want to read about Peckham?!!? The amazing FOOD that’s why and also how Helen words her adventures and recipes. there are also great photos here that leave you salivating.. We have discovered some amazing Jerk spots through this blog, well worth a read for something a bit left of centre (central!) Find Helen on twitter @FoodStories

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Hollow Legs

Lizzie from Hollow Legs pens some fantastic recipes and also scours the streets of London looking for new and exciting eateries. You can find her on Twitter as well at @hollowlegs

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Cheese and Biscuits

Chris from Cheese and Biscuits is another South London local, hailing from the Battersea area. His culinary adventures arent confined to that side of the Thames though. He roams around London with a great palate and razor sharp pen (keyboard) critiquing some of the lesser known eateries. You can follow him on Twitter @chrispople

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A Rather Unusual Chinaman

Here you will find a collection of food articles/reviews from London and also further afield. As the title would suggest a lot of the food is Asian based but there is a huge library of reviews/articles on here, ordered by price which is very handy. Also checkout the Maps section to find something close to you. You can follow A Rather Unusual Chinaman on twitter @tehbus

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A Facade Of Niceness

This is an interesting little blog. As Carlos puts it “A BLOG BORNE OF A CUTTING REMARK TO THE RUSSIAN AND A PROPENSITY FOR RAGING RANTS ON RESTAURANTS. She does rant every now and then in a very entertaining way, plus you will find a bunch of yummy recipes too!

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Posted by Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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Sarges Delicatessen New York – Review

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

For the next few weeks Mise En Place will be running the blog out of  New York. One of the staples of the New York culinary scene is  the Jewish delicatessen, something not to be missed.

As with anything food related there is a huge debate on which deli is the best in NY, who serves the best pastrami, best roast beef, best cheese cake etc etc. Katz’s deli of when Harry met Sally fame is often hailed as the best in NY and it is very good. The problem is that it is a nightmare to get a table with people (tourists) often lining up around the block to get a taste of the pastrami on rye and the infamous orgasm scene. For 100% Kosher 2nd Ave deli is high on the list aswell, although not located on 2nd ave (now on 33rd and 3rd) but I have yet to try what they have to offer.

For me though there is only one place to get my heart achingly (clenchingly) good Pastrami fix and that is Sarges Deli on 3rd ave. This old school deli has been kicken since 1960 with the original owners great grandchild now running things. You cannot expect too much pomp or flair from such a deli. The decor probably hasn’t change since 1966 and some of the staff may well have been there that long too! You enter by the take away counter where you can get sandwiches, soups, steaks and noshes to go 24 hours a day 365 days a year. If you are going to takeaway make sure you tip the guy making your sandwich to ensure you get an even more ridiculous amount of amazing meat on your rye!

Inside it is you typical NY diner layout with booths and corny posters. Yesterday when we went we were served by the owners wife who must be pushing 90 but going on 22 with amazing NY humor. She brought us a massive bowl of pickles, colselaw, crackers and handed over the HUGE menus. I think the menus are the thing I like most about NY delis and diners. No where in the UK could you find such an enomous and eclectic selection of dishes. I won’t go into detail of the shear amount on offer at Sarges but you can have a look here at the menu yourself. Regardless of the amazing Jewish and NY staples on offer I come to Sarges for one thing, Pastrami!

I love all forms of deli meats, but Pastrami has to be my favorite (with corned beef a close second). Sarges is the only deli (to my knowledge) in NY that cures it’s own brisket and prepares on site. The results are amazing and for $13 a sandwich I suppose you would want them to be. Considering you pay almost $10 for a roll from pret with around 100 grams of meat in it it though these 500 grams of top quality pastrami monsters aren’t all that bad value. The meat is cut super thin and juicy, served on Rye bread (which never tastes as good as it does in NY) with a healthy dose of spicy mustard. You can get endless mixes of fillings, the tongue is supposed to be incredible but for me it’s all about the Pastrami! We got the lunch special this time around which included a Matzo ball soup which was Ok as well but the sandwhiches are the star here!

I will be back again on this trip to NY as I have just heard that the cheesecake there is one of the best in NY and with an ex-pastry chef fiancee who makes the best cheesecake I’v ever tried I am keen to see how it stands up!

You can find Sarges at

548 3rd Ave, New York 1001 (Btwn 36th & 37th St)
Phone: (212) 679-0442
http://www.sargesdeli.com/
Open 24/7 365 days a year (as only could be found in NY)

Review by Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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Toms Kitchen – Somerset House Review

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Last week my Fiancée and I were shouted dinner by some old friends (to celebrate our engagement). They had asked us to pick the restaurant and we had given them a few (wallet friendly) choices. They decided that we were selling ourselves short and booked us at Tom Aikens Kitchen at Somerset House. Aikens empire is rapidly expanding out from his two starred self titled eatery in Chelsea and I was excited to finally get a chance to try some of his cuisine.

Initially we had planned to sit outside at the ‘Terrace’ thinking it had the same menu at the ‘Kitchen’. It doesn’t though, the outdoors menu consists of grazing food (shared platters) and burgers. So we luckily secured a table at a booth inside. The restaurant’s decor and layout is nothing spectacular, it is split over three long rooms and has a mish mash of styles. The booth we were in however, was comfortable.

We were waiting for my Fiancée, who managed to get lost (it is fairly difficult to find the restaurant, you need to walk all the way through Somerset House’s courtyard) we ordered some Martini’s which were very well made and a great start to the evening. Once she finally found us we were all starving and knew exactly what we wanted. I ordered the Baked Scallops, Garlic, Lemon and Thyme Butter (£12.50), my Fiancée got the Pan Fried Foie Gras, Clarence Court duck egg, Ventreche bacon (£15.90) and the rest of our table ordered the Spicy Crab Cake With Tomato Salsa (£8.50).  The fois was the star of the starters by a long shot, a fantastic combo of pan seared fois gras,  fried quails egg and panchetta, a delightful and decadent play on bacon and eggs.  It was absolutely delicious (I wanted more than two mouthfulls), but could be a little greasy if you don’t like that (we do!). My scallops were OK, served in the shell with a garlicky butter infused with Thyme. The Scallops were well cooked but could have done with a bit more of a sear, I love seeing a deep caramelization on scallops. I didn’t try the crab cakes but once everyone had tried the fois we all wanted to re-order!

The mains at Toms Kitchen are quite simple, rustic fair. With choices of line caught cod and chips, a selection of steaks, shepherds pie and bangers and mash. My eye however was firmly set on one of Mr Aiken signature dishes the Organic 7 Hour Confit Lamb (for 2) Balsamic Onions and Mash (£22.50 per person) which I decided to share with one of our hosts. My Fiancée opted for the Roast Brill, Braised Endive, Orange (£20.00). Aiken’s makes a lot of noise about only sourcing seasonal, local fish from reputable sources so she was interested to sample this Scottish delicacy. We also ordered a bottle of 2005 SixFootSix Shiraz, Geelong, Australia (£29.00). The service throughout our meal was fairly poor, with a young, inexperienced waiter who didn’t know the menu very well. He actually brought us the wrong bottle of wine (a South African) nobody noticed but me though and I decided not to say anything as it tasted fine. The lamb arrived in a large cooking dish with two large scoops of mash. The lamb itself was very tender, falling of the bone with lovely sweet roasted onions and a to-die-for sauce. The mash could have been creamier but was perfect to soak up the lamb. Even for two people the serving was massive, almost enough for three hungry people! My fiancées brill was a very rich fish dish and went well with the orange, but was a little on the sweet side. The endives (chicory) added a smokiness but the dish could have done with some more acidity.

After all that lamb I was not going to order desert but our (American) host insisted we all share a Baked Alaska!!! After a wait of ten minutes our waiter returned to tell us something about the pastry chef not being able to complete the alaska? We weren’t really sure what we had said but our alaska was not coming, to be honest I wasn’t that dissapointed!

Overall we ate well at  Toms Kitchen at Somerset House, the service wasn’t amazing but I think this was more the case of being unlucky with the waiter on the day. I wouldn’t go back to order burgers or fish and chips  but the fois and pancetta and amazing lamb definitely make it worth a visit.

7/10

Review by Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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Mien Tay Battersea Review

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Mien Tay is packed pretty much every night of the week. That’s saying something for a restaurant that only accepts cash, has rushed, bordering on rude service, no PR or meal deals and that sits on a high street notorious for its terrible eateries. So why the crowds? The Food!

Mien Tay Battersea is the offshoot of the equally successful Vietnamese restaurant of the same name in Shoreditch. They serve down to earth, traditional South West Vietnamese food and they do it well. We have eaten there on several occasions now and every time the food has been delicious. The first time I was slightly late for a 7:30 booking and the manager was not happy at all, threatening to kick my Fiancé out if I didn’t show soon. You would think after such an abrupt beginning we would harbour ill will, but once the Fried Crispy Sea Bream with Lemongrass & Chilli arrived all was forgotten. The bream comes whole, covered in spring onions, coriander, lemongrass and chilli and every mouthful is exciting, even the bones are worth chewing on.

The menu at Mien Tay is long, with a great selection of starters, Pho and Bun (noodle soups), seafood, pork, chicken, beef, duck, goat and even frogs and eel. The most talked about starter here is the quail. We have had it on every occasion and its worth going back for alone. £6 gets you get a whole spatchcocked bird chargrilled with honey, garlic and spices. The flavour of the garlic and spices permeates the whole bird and you find yourself cleaning the bones and eyeing off any left on your dining companions plate! I highly recommend getting one all to yourself, far too good to share. It’s served (as are most dishes here) with a dressing of sliced chillies, coriander and some pickled vegetables which work well with the flavour of the bird.

On our most recent trip we decided to try a selection of starters and ordered the quail, Mien Tay Spicy Soft Shell Crab, Prawn Fresh Roll and the Salt and Pepper Squid. The rolls were  expertly made with a vibrant filling of fresh coriander thin noodles and juicy prawns. They were served with a delicious (on its own) satay sauce but we would have preferred a fresher, more vibrant accompaniment, maybe with some spice.

Soft shell crab is one of my Fiancé’s favourites and Mien Tay do a very good version, coated in a heavy, spicy batter you get some really large crabs for the price. The standout (after the quail) for me though is the squid. Every Asian restaurant in London does a Salt and Pepper squid and 90% of the time it is tough and chewy with not enough salt or pepper. Mien Tay’s batter is light and grease free with a huge kick of seasoning. It also comes dressed with punchy slices of chilli and a small pile of mixed salt and pepper which adds even more kick to the flavour.

Even after several visits we have yet to break the surface of the extensive menu. The Pho is supposed to be amazing and at £6 a bowl, great value. AA Gill from the Sunday Times called it ‘possibly the best in the UK’ which is high praise indeed. Dinner for two here with a few beers or a bottle of wine (the wine list is very well priced and has been matched to the dishes) usually comes in at under £40, which is incredible. The whole fried Bream for £9 (up from less than £8 a year ago) could sell for double and would still be well worth it, actually this applies to most of the menu.

We will be back very soon even if it’s just for the quail!

Mien Tay is located at 180 Lavender Hill Battersea, up until very recently they had BYO although I’m not sure if that still applies with the new wine men in place now. They also only take cash so come equipped to save the embarrassment of having to run down the street to the ATM (which I have done 3 times now!)

Reviewed by Mise En Place Hospitality Recruitment

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