Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe - 25 April 2007

Gosh it's been a while since our last BWL afternoon. In fact this is only the second to feature on this blog. We did actually go to Brian Turner's at the Millennium Hotel before this blog started, and that was *excellent* let me tell you. The Boxwood had a lot to beat.

So, this restaurant is joined to the Berkeley Hotel, in a rather natty location in Knightsbridge by Hyde Park. It's smart, but it's downstairs, so you don't get natural light for the majority of the tables. However the decor is very well done - tasteful bold dark wood, leather, cactusy table decs, well chosen silverware. Extremely well trained staff (ten points for them) who were unobtrusive but there immediately you needed them.
We were a little early so had a quick snifter at the bar, which gave us time to check out the place, including the facilities. As Magoo says, they are always a giveaway of a place and these were splendid. *:)

Right, I suppose we should discuss the food. Starters were fresh asparagus with peas and broad beans for Magoo, and queenie scallops for me. Mum grows asparagus in the garden so I know when it's fresh, and this stuff was absolutely excellent - sweet and tender. My scallops ranked a 9 on the toe-curlingly good scale - in their shells on a cast iron dish of pressed sea salt, under the grill with a cheesy sauce, with little slivers of apple to give it sweetness and freshness... Mmm mmm.
Mains - Dedham Vale beef was 'top dollar' (I quote), tender and succulent, and roast suckling pig, two golden slices with perfect crackling, was scrumptious (although the grain mustard sauce was poss a little salty for me). We loved the entry in the bill for mine (excerpt below):

Yes I am that greedy guts.

Pudding... oh, pudding. Magoo had vanilla and gingerbread cheesecake, I went for the chocolate fondue. Cheesecake light and fluffy but bijou portions, fondue was a little cauldron of dark melted chocolate sauce. Oh yes, all for me. With marshmallows and fruit and biscotti to dunk in it. Oh for a larger stomach.

So, all in all an excellent lunch, well done Gordon and all involved. Great flavours, extremely well planned restaurant (down to the enth degree - just watch them change a table cloth!), relaxed atmosphere, great location to wander out for a post-prandial around the Serpentine.

9/10 Well worth a booking.

(But I'm going to give the Millennium a 9.2)


Two G&Ts in the bar

Baked queenie scallops with sea urchin butter, bittercress and apple
Special asparagus, garden peas and broad beans

Roasted loin of suckling pig with garlic roasted potatoes and grain mustard sauce
Red wine braised shoulder of Dedham Vale beef with mashed potato, roasted carrots and baby spinach
Green beans with walnuts
Australian red - Heartland (can't remember the grape but it was great - cherry fruity and oaky at the same time)

Vanilla and gingerbread cheesecake with berries
Valrhona hot chocolate fondue, marshmallows, biscotti and bananas
Tea - English Breakfast and Jasmine Green
£161 inc service

Boxwood Cafe
The Berkeley, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL
Tel: 020 7235 1010

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hamilton's, Leadenhall Market - 20 April 2007

We were escorting Lloyd for a pre-marathon carbo-loading pasta-fest. Well that was our excuse anyway. Hamilton's is split in half - posh and expensive upstairs and cheaper and cheerfull-er downstairs. Linen napkins vs lino tablecloths. You get the idea. So, being a quick lunch, we were downstairs, of course.

We shared lovely light crispy pizza-based garlic and tomato bread for starter, with two Pimms and a still water (can you guess who had the water?). Then three dishes of pasta: canneloni, penne with salmon and pappadelle with chicken and mushrooms, all delicious.

This all came to £51 inc service.

7/10 - delicious food, good value, needs some redecoration downstairs and less dictatorial waitresses. Upstairs I'd rate 7.2/10 - ace food, better service, but rather cramped and could do with a more exciting wine list.

28 Leadenhall MarketLondonEC3V 1LR

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tas, Borough High Street - 10 Feb 07

A large group of us went to Tas for a late lunch / early dinner following visiting Vinopolis (which I would definitely recommend, either as a fun drinking sesh with friends or for an Improving Viticultural Experience if you actually want to take time and read and listen and learn stuff about wine, gin, beer, absinthe and whisky).

Anyway, the food in Tas is Turkish and was great - very fresh, good portions, good variety, lots of vegetarian options. To make life easier for groups there are set starters - hummus, falafels, tabulleh, yoghurt with garlicky broad beans and so on, and then you pick a main. Tas Special was good tender lamb, several mixed grills got good reviews, someone had a mountain of calamari which was excellent. Service was great, we had several waiters looking after us and they were friendly and speedy. The Turkish house wine was unexpectedly pretty good, although having come from Vinopolis we were all rather more critical than usual! And it was good value too - £24 each was pretty good considering the amount we drank.

Well worth a try. 7/10

72 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1XF
Tel: 020 7403 7200 or 020 7403 7277