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101 Pimlico Road
101 Pimlico Road occupies the site of one of Chelsea's famous Italian restaurants, La Fontana and most recently Vivezza. La Fontana established in the 60's attracted a slighter older segment of the Chelsea set and was famous for it's seasonal truffle menus. It was therefore no surprise to spot one of London's Truffle purveyors, Alfredo pop in and have a chat with Keith Goddard the Head Chef at 101. In fact I actually smelt him before I saw him as, his leather "man bag" was full of Tuber's.

I first met Keith Goddard during his stint at O'Shea's Knightsbridge where he spent a year learning about top class meat from an 8th generation butcher and his father. When you consider how much poor quality meat is served in London restaurants of all types one can only hope other aspiring and even established chefs consider investing time and effort understanding key elements of their supply chain. It was actually at O'Shea's of all places that Keith produced simply the best Chocolate Brownie I have ever had.

Keith is still in his late twenties,and a graduate of The French Culinary Institute in New York. He has since developed his skills in a couple of start up restaurants in NYC then at Oliver Peyton's The Wallace and with Tom Aikens eponymous restaurant in Chelsea.

Will Guess who now owns and runs Rowley's in Jermyn Street (after taking over from his father) is the main investor and with Keith running the kitchen we have one of London's youngest teams to launch a new restaurant.

My original plan was to visit 101 with one of Keith's mentors but for various reasons this was not possible. The restaurant is still less than 3 months old and after some teething problems front of house the operation seems well set to support the beautifully executed food.

On my most recent visit with my wife for lunch we both had a really light and subtle confit of salmon served with a truffled egg.

My main of Battered Cod with truffle chips , spinach and lemon beurre blanc was a revelation. My wife adored her lobster and octopus salad made with the freshest leaves and herbs I have tasted for some time , in fact she was positively reluctant to let me taste.

Both deserts ; Crème Brulée with cinnamon shortbread and Chocolate Tart with peanut butter ice cream sprinkled with Maldon Salt were exemplary.

We drank a decent Pouilly Fume "Des Coques" 2007 .

My only quibble in fact is the wine list that though well chosen is rather limited in numbers and choice of wines but I'm assured this is a work in progress and a more extensive wine list is being developed.

101 Pimlico road is a welcome addition to both the area and the London restaurant scene .

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Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
London | French Restaurants
Still the current best for this type of cuisine even if Mr Ramsey is probably 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.

Ramsey was a great Chef and is now a great restaurateur !

Enough praise though in the world of 3 Michelin stars he has not manged in my humble opinion to reach the heights of MPW in his heyday ( sad to see him promoting Knorr stock cubes) Nico Ladenis or indeed Pierre Koffman's La Tante Claire in the same site.

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Best Restaurant and Chef in the UK
I have now eaten at The Kitchin four times , once in late 2007 , twice in 2008 and most recently on Thursday 19th of August 2010 , with my family (the pictures on this post are of what I ate on this day).

Every time with out exception I experienced world class cooking based on superbly sourced produce (most from Scotland's ample larder) coupled with first class service. All this in a relaxed , simple tastefully decorated restaurant.

Tom Kitchin is a great talent but he has also garnered a an impressive culinary education not only his many years with Pierre Koffman at Tante Claire , Royal Hospital Road ( he also returned to Tante Claire when it moved to the Berkeley ) but also Guy Savoy in Paris and Alain Ducasse's Louis XV in Monte Carlo.

I must have eaten Tom's cooking many times at Tante Claire and maybe even at Guy Savoy whilst he was there but at The Kitchin he is the man, and what a man , for me there is no better restaurant in the UK . I have not been as impressed with food in a restaurant in the British Isles since some of my early meals at Chez Nico , Tante Claire and the late Gunn Eriksen's, Altnaharrie Inn .

On this occasion it was a real pleasure to meet Tom for the first time and find a humble, charming individual who along with his brigade, produces perfectly executed and seasoned dishes.

My Tartare of wild Salmon from Usan, served with diced apple and a lemon creme fraiche was perfectly balanced and refreshing.

The whole grilled lobster from Newhaven cooked Thermidor style, served with buttered samphire, sea spinach and sauteed squid was really inspired with each ingredient perfectly seasoned and well - proportioned to create a superlative synthesis .

I finished a wonderful Rich Valrohna Manjari tart with Perthshire Rasberries which showed again that the brigade is strong in executing every course be it savoury or sweet.

The HERMITAGE 'CHANTE-ALOUETTE' 2006 from Chapoutier was sublime and served at the correct tempreture also worked well with my wife's Scallop starter and Turbot main.

The Kitchin’s sister restaurant Castle Terrace openeded on 14th July on Castle Terrace in central Edinburgh, with Chef and co patron Dominic Jack behind the stove. Edinburgh-born Dominic Jack who worked as a trainee with Tom at Gleneagles has followed a similar career path that has included L’Arpège and Taillevent in Paris. It seems that Tom Kitchin is expanding in a controlled and intelligent way too spending most of his time in the Kitchen !

I'm already planning a long week end in Edinburgh.

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Simply the Best
Dermot O'Shea is descended from eight generations of Irish butchers. In 1998, he and his sons and daughter opened a butcher's shop in Brussels, which quickly became one of the most popular amongst the cognoscenti in the city supplying a very demanding epicurean audience. In 2006 he and his two sons opened his second shop in Knightsbridge, London. Cathal now runs the Butcher concession in Selfridges Food Hall whilst Darragh runs the premium Knightbridge shop.

He sells high-quality meat, including an outstanding grass-fed, barley finished Black Angus beef from South West Ireland and Perthshire in Scotland that provides perfect conditions for this breed that produces not only excellent "prime" cuts like sirloin and fillet but superb Onglet, Bavette and stewing classics like Cheek and Shin.

Just looking at this fine Beef not only shows the marbling but that it has been hung from between 30 to 60 days .

The Knightsbridge store also has outstanding organic and free range pork (Landrace)from Childhay Manor (Dorset) as well as excellent British Lamb from Yorkshire, Shetland and Wales depending on the season.

The Rosé Veal is sublime (Irish) full flavoured unlike the majority of pale Dutch Veal mostly found in the better butchers in London. It is how Veal should be i.e. a young animal as opposed to the Dutch produce that is treated like a Guantanamo Bay prisoner.

The shop also produces excellent homemade pies, pasties, hams , gammon bacon and sausages. There is often a scrum at lunch for the famous homemade baguette sandwiches.

Darragh runs a very serious premium business focused on excellence in terms of selection, correctly hanging and maturing their meats as well as clearly identifying their provenance.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Dermott and Darragh and it's clear within minutes that they are true artisans and this is a business committed to promoting excellence in gastronomy. Seems like the O'Shea's not only know their meat but also are well traveled and understand how different nationalities cook theirs.

Unfortunately during these tough economic times many of our top London Butchers are lowering their standards by mixing up their offerings with inferior and cheaper meats with very dodgy provenance.

For me O'Shea is now the leader of the pack in London leaving Lidgates, Allen's of Mayfair, Harrods, and Ginger Pig etc behind. This has all been achieved in 3 years.

Until further notice I will single source all my meat from this establishment.

11 Montpelier St.
Tel: 0207 581 7771
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The boys are back
Lucio and Jimmy are back on the square with a new partner Paolo.

They had previously been across the road now a Dry Cleaners with a small deli cafe but now have created a Deli , Cafe and Tratoria that serves simple mainly southern Italian cuccina casalinga .

Even though Melanzana opened yesterday I was able to enjoy an excellent plate of pasta a la Norma (Rigatoni with aubergine , tomato and garlic sauce ith Sicilian Ricotta).

The daily changing menu is availble to eat in or take away.

The deli counter has a wide range of salumi , hams and cheeses and there is excellent bread and small selection of vegatables.

It's also great to be able to get a decent espresso as the other places on Battersea Square have coffee which frankly is as bad as their food.

Melanzana is a much needed addition to the Battersea Square area that is open for breakfast through to dinner .

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Rowley Leigh creates another classic !
Last week I had Lunch at Le Café Anglais and on leaving came to the same conclusion that I have had the two previous times I visited this restaurant. My conclusion was I really should eat here more often.

I have never met co owner and Chef Rowley Leigh apart from a brief exchange of pleasantries at Kensington Place some years ago but I am old enough to have eaten his food, in several of the restaurants he was involved in, including Le Gavroche Sloane Street, Le Poulbot, Kensington Place, probably, 192 on a week end night and maybe even a Hamburger at Joe Allen.

Rowley Leigh's food could be described as Franco Italian bistro/brassiere-influenced modern British cooking but this man of impeccable taste is far more open minded and Spain and Japan clearly figure in his gastronomic melting pot.

Leigh like Alistair Little and Simon Hopkinson always produced perfectly executed simple food made with excellent ingredients. What all three have in common along with another contemporary Sally Clarke is that despite the simplicity of a given dish you somehow felt the personality of the chef coming through. One also felt that these chefs developed strong views on food and a vision about how it should be cooked and presented.

Along with Bibendum I think the art deco Le Café Anglais has the most beautiful rooms in London. At lunch the huge windows overlooking Bayswater Road and Porchester Gardens flood the vast room with natural light even when the sun is not shinning which of course is more often than not.

Like the room (170 covers) the Menu is vast with Hors D’Oeuvres, Starters, Mains many side dishes and puddings. There is a daily Lunch Menu and for Dinner a daily roast ranging from Venison to Gloucester Old Spot Pork along with the permanent Rotisserie Classics (Chicken, Beef, Game and Lamb)

Probably because my mother hails from Bologna I have never resisted the Mortadella with Celeriac Remoulade (well sourced) and Parmesan Custard with Anchovy Toast (perfect) and on this occasion we also had Pike Boudain, a little bland for me however the explosion of controlled flavour from Mackerel Teriyaki certainly made up for that,

Both my companion and I love Roast Chicken choose the option to have just the leg with it's jus and some beautifully cooked Chanterelles. This is an absolute bargain at £4.50 for what I consider to be the best part of any chicken including the UK's best, Label Anglais favoured and championed by Rowley Leigh.

I finished my meal with well-made Peach Melba whilst my friend chose the Queen of Puddings that also got thumbs up.

The wine list well constructed with both Old and New World fairly represented (therefore no New World :-) ). We had a pretty decent chilled Chinon ( I failed to note the winemaker or year) which served it's purpose of more or less matching our eccentric choices of food.

The service on a fairly busy Lunch service was perfect from the moment I set foot in the restaurant to when I departed two and a half hours later.

In terms of large modern Brassiere style Restaurants in London I prefer Le Café Anglais to The Wolesley primarily because the food is better but also this well run operation has leveraged the space to create a very pleasant environment that is perfect for a business lunch, treating your elderly parent or dare I say a romantic dinner or hot date.

Having reflected on why I don't go more often it's probably because of the location and as most of my lunches are business related I become a prisoner of the City and West End. However to paraphrase the words of the most famous of all guides, Le Café Anglais is certainly worth a detour.

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Great French Inspired Bourgeois Cooking
Henry Harris is back as Chef Patron at Racine after a shortish stint as Executive Chef of the Soho House Group. I have eaten Henry's fine Bourgeois cooking for more years than I care to count going back to Hilare, Bibendum and 5h Floor at Harvey Nicholls.

It turns out that Henry also knows and worked with one of my best friends from University at The Old Ship in Brighton many moons ago. Strangely all this became apparent when Henry and I engaged on Twitter in a discussion on La Meranda in Nice.

Racine reminds me of several Paris restaurants that now fall into the category with a delightful room that has a wood floor, brown leather banquettes with mirrors above them and pale yellow walls.

Racine though is really about the food and as you can imagine when the Chef Patron has spent his formative years working with Simon Hopkinson you are most likely to be guaranteed well executed classic Bourgeois cooking.

John, Henry’s old colleague from Brighton and I had an exemplary lunch on Friday July 3rd 2009. The food and service was really top notch and as it turns out it was Henry’s last service before a well-earned holiday.

We were greeted by Henry who gave us some of his own home made delightful cured middle white proscuito .

I strated with Smoked duck, French bean and girolle salad which was really very good indeed. The beans were perfectly cooked “al dente” and the duck was succulent with the delightful small girolles complimenting the ensemble of ingredients.

John was delighted with his Lincolnshire smoked eel, salmon roe, watercress and horseradish salad.

To follow I had Filet au poivre made with a lovely piece of well hung Filet served with hand cut chips and simple mixed leaf salad. The sauce presumably made with a veal stock reduction was really delicious and worked well with the tenderest but not necessarily the most flavorful cut of beef.

John said his Breast of guinea fowl, peas, broad beans and tarragon was really outstanding.

We drank a half bottle of Gewurztraminer, Cote de Rouffach, Rene Mure and a chilled Brouilly, Chateau de la Perriere as well as “several” Marc’s de Bourgogne with our espressos; we were really to full to be tempted by the classic deserts or cheeses from La Fromagerie.

Racine is a delightful restaurant with excellent service providing very good and well executed Bourgeois cooking based on well selected ingredients from top suppliers.

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The Harwood Arms
London | Pubs
A new member of the elite of gastropubs
I have been to The Harwood Arms three times since it opened its doors in a little corner of gentrified Fulham between Seagrave Road and North End Road. After every meal I conclude that this extraordinary “gastro pub “ seems to get better.

The Harwood Arms is a joint venture between Brett Graham of the excellent Ledbury, Mike Robinson of the superb Pot Kiln in Berkshire and top publican Edwin Vaux .

The décor is classic fine gastropub with stripped woods, bare tables and pale pastel coloured walls. There are some points of difference namely the wonderful Sophie Conran crockery and rustic Hessian napkins.

Chef Stephen Williams is a true artist with fresh, seasonal British produce much of it from the same suppliers to the Pot Kiln. Stephen has worked not only at The Ledbury but also Coach & Horses and my favourite gastropub Anchor & Hope. At The Harwood Arms he has the opportunity to work with superb game, seafood and fruit and vegetables.

The cooking here is truly outstanding with very British, bar snacks, weekday and week end menus that usually include five starters, five man courses and five deserts supplemented by some blackboard specials.

My only real quibble is the very poorly selected wine list that has too many average New World wines and is generally unimaginative. Food this good deserves a much better wine list.

On Sunday 21st, Father’s Day whilst Mrs Gastro was completing the London to Brighton charity bike ride I took my mother and two sons for a late Sunday Lunch to The Harwood Arms.

The food was superb and we received excellent service from Charlotte Levi whilst Stephen and Alistair worked their magic in the kitchen.

We ate (* what I had):

To start

*Salad of Warwickshire Asparagus with roasted hazelnuts, radishes and salad cream.
Chilled courgette and basil soup with warm cheddar cheese straws.
Soft boiled pheasant eggs with field mushrooms and coarse celery salt.
Poached salmon with broken eggs, wild herbs and toast.

To follow

*Slow roast old spot pork belly with celeriac puree, marjoram and gooseberry chutney.
Braised shoulder of lamb with lovage, peas and grain mustard crumbs x2
Stuffed leg of chicken glazed in mead with pink fur apple potatoes, broad beans and bread sauce.
Crisp potatoes with garlic butter for the table.
To Finish

Bowl of warm lemon curd and sherbet doughnuts with whipped cream and heather honey
Rhubarb bakewell tart with vanilla ice cream
English strawberries with elderflower jelly and sour cream sorbet
Eaton Mess made with gooseberries and gooseberry jelly.

Everything was truly outstanding and beautifully presented and executed. Flavour combinations were subtle and worked very well and the quality of the ingredients was obvious.

I thought both the courgette soup and pheasant egg/field mushroom starters were outstanding as were the lamb and pork mains.

My Rhubarb bakewell tart even surpassed my (previous) favourite version at the Anchor and Hope and the homemade ice vanilla ice cream served with it was sublime. My seven-year-old son is still talking about his mini sherbet doughnuts 24 hours after the meal.

With starters and puds below £7 and main courses rarely above £16 The Harwood Arms is not only producing great food but amazing value too.

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had a very pleasant lunch yesterday 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.
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London | American Restaurants
Good Food and Value
Byron makes a good Hamburger despite the constraints of a 6oz patty. They have put considerable effort in sourcing good quality meat and mixing differnt cuts in the mince to achieve a tasty blend.

Byron should consider offering a choice with 8oz and 12oz for those who like me think when it comes to Hamburgers and Steaks mass and thickness is essential to achieve perfection.

The chips are ok but nothing special.

Togtether with Haché , Byron lead this segment of the market.
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