This is the last of my London posts, then normal local commentary will resume. I ate at some fantastic restaurants in London on my recent trip there, but it can be difficult to pick suitable places to eat, especially if you are travelling and dining solo. The service you experience will differ greatly based on how wait staff view solo diners.
One of the outstanding meals was at the tiny 10 Cases bistrot in Covent garden, which has been positively reviewed. The smoked pork belly (below) served on the night I was there was served with sugar peas, and I enjoyed a glass of barbera d’Asti and another of a South African cabernet franc, then a lemon tart and a glass of saurternes. I don’t like the £1.50 cover charge in the £47 bill (service not included) and £6 tip, but it was good value as the food and service were excellent.
Medlar in Chelsea is another restaurant worth visiting for indulgence. I was seduced by the crab raviolo with prawn, leek and cream sauce, pork chop and cheek with celeriac mash, pesto and crackling and pear tart ( from the top down). The interior featured green leather booth seats and other green flourishes that continued to the immaculate bathrooms where the white tiles were surrounded by green grouting.
At The Grain Store in Edinburgh I was completely sedated by food: Scottish west coat lobster tagliatelle with glass of Picpoul de Pinet, pithivier and seared saddle of wild hare with glass of rioja, hazlenut cake with honeycomb icecream and glass of French dessert wine (I’ve forgotten what it was). Sadly it was too dark inside to make taking photos worthwhile.
A Dubh Prais, also in Edinburgh, I loved the Inverawe smoked meat platter (ham, venison and duck), then roast venison (below) served on a port, thyme and red wine sauce and topped with a guinea fowl fritter (more of a crumbed breast fillet) and a half bottle of 2009 Chateuneuf du Pape.
The only meal that disappointed me was at Cinnamon Kitchen, the sibling of the Cinnamon Club that I so enjoyed last time I was there. While the food was brilliant the service was mediocre. The partridge breast entree was delicious (below).
The waiter didn’t seem to know the menu, and gave me a steak knife to eat my caramelised ox cheek with date and apricot sauce with (below). I could only interpret that as some sarcastic insult to the chef, but it was so tender I could have eaten it with a spoon.
I was not told it came with a substantial serve of vegetables, including potatoes and silverbeet, so I also ordered a side of green vegetables. I expect more informed service from a restaurant of this sophistication. I also had to ask for bill twice like at the terrible Cay Tre. That’s not good enough for a £52 dinner. No tip for you.
Things have changed noticeably in the London restaurant scene in 18 months. While there are still great value set price menus available, especially for lunch, the options are fewer and they seem less connected to the a la carte menu.
I saved the best for last – a few hours at the V&A and lunch at Kitchen W8, which I also loved last time I was in London. Forget lunch set menus – it was my last day and I wanted the finest food and wine available to humanity.
So I ordered roast guinea fowl with crushed Jerusalem artichoke, chestnuts, mousserons and pickled pear, with a 250ml caraffe of French chardonnay (the other choice was ironically Yarra Valley), a side of healthy broccoli, then ginger and rosemary financier with quince compote and two flavoured creams, plus a glass of their best Hungarian tokaji. £75 inc service, and totally worth it…