Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Brat, Shoreditch, London restaurant review


More and more I feel like an adopted Welshman.

I cheer for Wales when the rugby is on (although I only really care about Newcastle United).

I’m learning beginners’ Welsh (for the second time).

And I love calling Cardiff home (but I’m still a Geordie).

So, when I heard that one of London’s hottest chefs was a Welshman, I ‘needed’ to eat his food asap.

 
Shoreditch’s Brat is owned by the Anglesey born chef Tomos Parry.

With a CV which includes pot washing at Beaumaris’s Ye Olde Bulls Head and training under Grady Atkins at Cardiff’s Le Gallois, Parry worked at London’s River Cafe (amongst other places in the capital) before becoming head chef of the critically acclaimed Kitty Fisher’s.

Brat opened in March 2018 and Parry picked up a Michelin star just seven months later.

The restaurant’s food is inspired by Basque wood-fired grills like Elkano in Getaria where first rate ingredients are treated simply. Instead of Spanish produce however, Brat champions Cornish and Welsh ingredients.

Brat’s menu consisted entirely of dishes we wanted to eat. There was a challenging decision making process as we decided between the turbot (after which the restaurant is named) and other mains like Herdwick mutton, beef chop and lemon sole. 


To start, a pillowy, almost neapolitan pizza style flat bread (£5.50) was topped with a good drizzle of olive oil and a trio of beguilingly savoury anchovies. 


The creamiest of egg mayos (£5) was served on top of wafer thin charred toast. Seasoning came in the form of salty bottarga. But, I think it could have done with a few more slices of the delicious cured fish roe as the egg tasted under-seasoned in the mouthfuls without it.


Young leeks (£8) weren't the sweetest but they were deliciously smokey and paired with a delicately creamy fresh cheese and textural contrast in the form of toasted crumbs. 


A bowl of wild mushrooms (£8) in a mushroom broth had a brilliant savoury intensity with the luxury levels dialled up by a runny egg yolk. But, a few of the 'shrooms were overly singed giving them a bitter note and bobbing pieces of barley had too much bite. 


We then waited a over an hour for our main courses. Our friendly server apologised a matter of moments before our food finally put in an appearance.

Roast duck (£19) was brilliant. Breast, with well rendered fat and crisp skin, and gorgeously unctuous leg meat were bathed in a light cooking liquor with a hint of spice. Accompanying roasted beetroot, onions and mushrooms had a lovely complexity of flavour. 

 
A whole John Dory (£19) was well-flavoured but it arrived tepid so was sent back and returned warmed up and a touch dry as a result. It’s a shame as this was the focal point of the meal. 

 
A side of charred and blistered tender smoked potatoes (£4.50) were seriously addictive. 


Whilst a generous winter green salad (£3) of bitter leaves was a lovely foil for all that richness. 


Cheesecake (£6) inspired by San Sebastian’s La Vina was almost as good as the original. Fluffy, burnished, creamy, twanged with citrus and delicately smokey, it was a great pudding. 


So too was a ludicrously wobbly, egg rich caramel cream (£5) topped with bitter caramel. 


Overall, our meal at Brat was delicious. Their confidently simple, flavour-packed food is right up my street.

But, a frustratingly long wait for a disappointing main course slightly sullied our experience. For that reason, I recommend Brat with reservations.

The Details:

Address - Brat, First floor, 4 Redchurch St, E1 6JL
Web - https://www.bratrestaurant.com/

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Greek Spot, Cardiff restaurant review


January is a funny old month.

Many people seem to have a post-Christmas hangover and are avoiding booze, hunks of fatty meat, bricks of cheese and tubs of chocolate i.e. the foundation blocks of my diet.

So, whilst Mrs G is currently showing restraint, I’m constantly suggesting we go out for dinner and offering her a beer. Of course, this is all in the name of supporting local independent businesses at a quiet time of year.

On Saturday lunchtime, Mrs G finally caved in and agreed to go out for some grilled meat and salad.


The Greek Spot recently arrived on Whitchurch Road and it takes the number of Hellenic restaurants on the strip of Whitchurch Road, Crwys Road and City Road up to five (including the soon to open SouvLike).

A cafe-restaurant hybrid, the Greek Spot has a bright family friendly vibe. I’d be equally comfortable there munching on a light lunch or a hearty dinner washed down with a handful of bottles of Mythos.

The menu incorporates all of the Greek essentials including dolmades, meat balls, beef stifado, moussaka and homemade pies.

We kicked off with a bunch of mezze which were undoubtedly the high point of the meal.

Courgette fritters (£4) were properly crisp golden disks filled with a light and soft courgette mash seasoned with small bits of feta, chive and onion. They were a tiny bit on the greasy side but it was a lovely dish 


Little cheese pies were also top drawer (£4.30). Crisp filo triangles were loaded with an ooze of chive studded melted feta. 


A Greek salad (£6) was fresh and plentiful. It was topped with a brick of oregano scattered feta. 

 
The highlight of a generous mix of dips (£6) was tangy feta-laced and deceptively well-spiced tirokafteri. Enjoyably pink taramasalata and lightly smoked aubergine studded melintzanosalata were also good.


Mains didn’t hit the same level as starters but they were still enjoyable.

A pair of chicken souvlaki (£9) were brilliantly juicy but a little lacking on the seasoning front - a hit of herb or lemon juice wouldn’t have gone amiss. Accompaniments of bronzed hand-cut chips, fresh salad and dill-twanged tzatziki all hit the mark. 


A chicken gyros psomaki (£5) was described as made with “special bread” which actually turned out to be run of the mill hot baguette. 


This was still a tasty sandwich filled with crisp yet slightly dry chicken shavings which were lubricated by soft grilled halloumi, tzatziki and salad. 


Our friendly waiter, who had given us a beginners’ Greek lesson during the meal, brought a complimentary bowl of sweet and sour cherries to accompany the bill.


We had a very tasty lunch at The Greek Spot. I’d gladly return for a tableful of great value mezze.

The Details:

Address - The Greek Spot, 138 Whitchurch Rd, Cardiff CF14 3LZ
Web - https://www.facebook.com/The-Greek-Spot-Cardiff-Ltd-408495939687635/
Telephone - 029 2065 4007




Sunday, 6 January 2019

Route, Newcastle Quayside restaurant review


Route on Newcastle’s Quayside is one hell of a good restaurant.

In fact, it’s one of the best meals I ate in 2018.

 
All the signs were there that it was going to be good - from their Michelin Bib Gourmand and the Noble Rot posters adorning the wall to the creative list of wines by the glass and menu of well-priced seasonal small plates.

We gave the wine list a good workout. Highlights included stone fruit laden Sepp Gruner Veltliner, apple twanged Mád Dry Furmint and a cider-like skin contact orange wine. 

 
Everything we ate was delicious, different and exciting.

First rate savoury monegasque anchovies (£4) were drizzled with sherry vinegar. 


Dark crusted and soft crumbed black treacle bread (£2) was smeared with cleverly complex nutty brown butter. 


Salty, smoky whipped cod's roe (£5) sat on top of cubes of cleansing cucumber and was accompanied by a nice selection of crackers. 

 
A snack of brussels sprout fritters (£4.75) could have converted even the most vicious brassica basher. The nutty, slightly bitter sprouts were coated in golden batter and served with a beguiling spicy and smoky harissa mayo. 


A boulder of creamy buratta (£8.50) was paired with the crunch of spiced hazelnuts and seriously intense radicchio leaves poached in red wine. Everything was delicious in combination but the leaves were too potent on their own. 


Spreadably soft and savoury boudin noir (£8.50) was topped with melted cheddar and accompanied by sweet caramelised onions and the richness penetrating fiery hit of 'nduja. It would have been even better with some croutons or toast to provide textural contrast. 


A huge tranche of ray wing (£13.50) was soft and sweet of flesh. It was served with beurre noisette, meaty shrimp, briny capers, sweet raisins and wilted spinach. 


Crisp skinned pieces of meaty bream (£9) and slices of tender salsify were served in a duck liver veloute sauce of such brilliant lightness, savouriness and creaminess that it will live long in the memory. 


A gorgeously plump and caramelised hand dived scallop (£13) was accompanied by fatty smoked eel, sweet and acidic apple sauce, sweet baked onions, and soft and crisp pieces of jerusalem artichoke.


Desserts maintained the exceptionally high standard.

A selection of pristine Neal's Yard Dairy cheeses (£10) included Cropwell Bishop blue stilton, soft Winslade and nutty Lincolnshire Poacher. 

 
A dainty white chocolate panna cotta (£6.50) was uber creamy and wobbly. Cleansing poached pear, a thin layer of pear jelly and the lift of mint were cracking accompaniments. 


Creamy rice pudding (£6.50) was topped with spiced ginger biscuit crumb and a sweet and slightly tart plum compote. 


We had a superb meal at Route. If you like first class wine and food in an informal setting then I seriously recommend a visit.

The Details:

Address - Route, 35 Side, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3JE
Web - https://routenewcastle.co.uk/
Telephone - 0191 222 0973

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Quo Vadis, Soho, London restaurant review



The signature dish.

It draws in the crowds but I wonder if it gets a bit boring hammering out the same plate time and time again?

Take for example the soufflé Suissesse at Le Gavroche, the bone marrow and parsley salad at St John or the beef shin papardelle at Trullo.

Quo Vadis is the home to another of the UK’s most iconic signature dishes - the smoked eel sandwich.


Quo Vadis is a private members club and restaurant in Soho. Headed up by the charismatic Jeremy Lee, the place oozes class. The menu comprises of seasonal British dishes like braised pork cheeks with prunes and red wine (£19.50) or wild duck with damson and elderberry (£10).

Fresh bread was served with thick creamy butter. It was nice and moist but it could have been a touch more robust of crust


To start, I ordered the aforementioned smoked eel sandwich (£9.50). It more than lived up to its reputation. Two dainty slices of buttery toast were stuffed with warm smokey eel pieces, bracing horseradish cream and piquant dijon mustard. Alongside the horseradish and mustard, the punch of pickled onions balanced beautifully the richness of the fish.


Mrs G started with a fragrant salad (£12.50) of tender squid pieces, bitter leaves of puntarelle, citrusy bergamot and briny capers. It received a big thumbs up.

The most apt word to describe my main course is handsome. A bronzed edifice of suet crust (£17.50) was filled with tender shreds of chicken and rabbit, al dente carrots and salty bacon bathed in a well-seasoned gravy.

A minor quibble but it would have been nice if the sauce was a bit thicker to provide a more suitable dip for the bowl of buttery mash and any stray nuggets of pastry.


Anyone with a penchant for haute Nandos should head to Quo Vadis and order their baked marinated coquelet (£18.50). A gorgeously golden bird with tender flesh and crisp skin was coated in a punchy herb marinade.


It was accompanied by a dollop of breath-threateningly good aioli and rustling bronze chips.


Desserts kept up the high standard.

A lovely selection of British cheese (£9.50) saw nutty and savoury Montgomery cheddar and mild and creamy Sparkenhoe Blue joined by quince jelly, fresh grapes and oatcakes.


Exemplary profiteroles (£9) saw a trio of crisp and light choux buns stuffed with smooth ice cream and liberally drenched in rich chocolate sauce.


We had a delicious meal at Quo Vadis. If you’re looking for refined comfort food in the middle of London then I’d recommend it.

The Details:

Address -
Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3LL
Web - https://www.quovadissoho.co.uk/
Telephone - 020 7437 9585