Friday 31 December 2010

Oysters & pearls: Dish of the year at Per Se, New York (and a little rant about Blogger)

The finishing touches. Naturally, I don't have a photo of my dish of the year..

I had written a big, long blog post about my truly wondrous meal at Per Se in New York.

It was, of course, hilariously witty and insightful (there's a first time for everything), intelligently reflective about the year gone by and it waxed philosophical about the differences between London's restaurant scene compared to New York's (there are still 3 light years between them, although London's continues on its way up - bigtime). Then, Blogger wiped it last night. Completely. Aaarghhhh (*furiously whacks computer with big branch, Basil Fawlty style*)

So, TPG having gathered the weeping, raging mess from under the desk and poured gin and tonic into it, I'm back. Gingerly. With Per Se.

I'm not writing it all again. It's New Years Eve and I have a life to live - there's champagne to be drunk and I need to buy saucepans. Suffice to say, at Per Se, I had my most extraordinary, wonderful dish of the year - the oysters & pearls.

This is Thomas Keller's classic dish. It originated at his other 3 Michelin star restaurant, The French Laundry in California, and is bestowed upon every guest at Per Se in New York. It's a seductive, luscious treasure trove of a creamy "sabayon" of pearl tapioca (each grain perfectly firm and distinguishable), briny Island Creek oysters, salty Sterling white sturgeon caviar, egg yolks, cream, black pepper, creme fraiche, vermouth and shallots. It's head rollingly superb.

Like so many of the dishes we ate at Per Se that night, the oysters & pearls is stupendously memorable, and was a moment by moment delight to eat.

Oh yes, there was more. In true special occasion spirit, we gorged ourselves on the 9 course chef's tasting menu (alternatively, there's also a 9 course tasting of vegetables which was the basis for Frank Bruni of the New York Times endowing the place with 4 stars back in 2004 - that's some set of vegetables).

The amazing beef

There was a salad of Greenmarket broccoli with abalone mushrooms, sweet carrots, garden mint and bonito essence (Per Se takes vegetables to another level), there was a grilled fillet of Colombia River Sturgeon and there was a Nova Scotia Lobster poele. There was porchetta with swiss chard, pickled sweet peppers and caper brown butter, there was herb roasted Cavendish Farm's quail with sweet potatoes, cape cod cranberries, frisee and maple syrup. There was cheese and 2 desserts - golden pineapple sorbet and then a tropical tea assortment (which tasted better than it sounds, although desserts were not the highlight for me). But, oysters & pearls devoured, the other dish that I day dream about most is the Snake River Farm's "calotte de boeuf" with slow roasted young beets, Bartlett pears, pistachios and watercress - the meat so rich and succulent that you want to nuzzle up to it on the plate.

Service is faultless - friendly but with an eye to every detail. It is one of the other elements of the evening that affixes to your memory as part of the perfection and enhances the whole experience. The sommelier is fantastic - he listened to us and got it right every time. Even the mignardises at the end (tiny, bite sized chocolates, caramels, doughnuts, macarons) were in the "best ever" category, and we were given a package of truffle popcorn to take away and make at home. (It was delicious.)

All this, you enjoy while overlooking central park among only 16 well spaced, "romantically lit" (ie. check out my rubbish photos) tables.

If you are cynical about expensive fine dining, Per Se might not be for you - what I see as adventurous might irk some and it probably won't have the universal appeal that I think is a strength of Britain's equally expensive The Waterside Inn (review to follow). On the other hand, Per Se is opulent and luxurious but it doesn't suffer from stiff formality (hello Del Posto, if I can be bothered, I'll get to you later. Both these restaurants hold 4 stars, but are in completely different leagues in my book.)

Once you factor in drinks, the tasting menu at Per Se may cost you more than your flight to New York. It's the most expensive meal I've ever paid for (the most expensive meal I've ever not paid for was probably at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, and it wasn't perfect). So it might mean I'm putting off that home deposit for yet another year, but Per Se will dazzle you, it will pamper you, and you'll be day dreaming about it long after the cost is forgotten.

I agree with the New York Times - 4 stars.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Per Se, 10 Colombus Circle, Midtown West, New York, New York 10019

Per Se on Urbanspoon

Monday 27 December 2010

Little Dudley House, Dorking, Surrey

Little Dudley House in Dorking is a cosy yet sophisticated restaurant with food to match its warming ambience.

Originally built in 1733, the traditional stone building has been restored with a stylish mix of old and new - modern furnishings, heavy, oak beams and exposed brickwork. We attended an event, the Winter Food & Wine Showcase, arranged by the affable General Manager, Tony Austin, in Little Dudley House's Glass Room - a fine place for dining surrounded by expansive glass walls opening onto an outdoor area with views of the Surrey hills.

Little Dudley House holds a food and wine showcase at the start of each season to flaunt its changing seasonal menus. The evenings are well attended by a mix of loyal customers and some high profile food lovers around a large communal dining table. The meal is served in flights, comprising of 3 starters, 3 main courses and 2 desserts, all with carefully selected matching wines. Wine is clearly a passion here as much as the food, and the selections were excellent pairings for the winter fare we sampled.

Flight 1 - Appetisers

Plump, rope grown Scottish mussels in a fresh, zingy, lemongrass and chilli cream sauce paired well with the lively, citrus tones of a Kiki Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (New Zealand). A baked hens egg, luscious smoked haddock & cream with rye bread soldiers was served in a jar and matched with the full bodied Jordan Estate Chenin Blanc, 2008 (South Africa) and a wild mushroom soup spiked with brandy was served with the robust, fruity McHenry Honen, 3 Amigos Shiraz, Grenache Mataro 2007 (Australia) from the founder of big name wineries, Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle.
On the daily menu, these appetisers are generally priced at between £6-£9 each.

Flight 2 - Main courses

A lush, fulsome salmon and shellfish fishermen's pie and buttered greens were served with Casa Lopstolle Chardonnay, 2009 (Chile) - a well rounded, fruity wine with hints of oak. A game dish of pheasant breast, celeriac mash, smoked pancetta and chestnut mushroom sauce sounds unctuous but was less memorable - it was paired with the Pagliaia Chianti Classico, 2007 (Italy), a lovely, mellow mix of fruit and spice. A 28 day 7oz fillet steak with pepper sauce stood up well to my favourite wine, the big, silky, spicy Mr Smith Shiraz, McLaren Vale, 2008 (Australia). The quality of the steak was good, and cooked proficiently, although it wasn't quite warm enough by the time it reached us.

Main courses are generally priced at between £12-£19 each.

Flight 3 - Desserts

The tonka bean creme brulee had dainty vanilla and sweetly spicy notes, served with tropical fruits and the Australian staple sticky sweet wine, Noble One Botrytis Semillon de Bortoli (Australia).

Chocolate fondant with Horlicks ice cream, served with an "Angelus cocktail", a potent mix of Baileys and Frangelico. Desserts are £5.50 each.

Little Dudley House is an enjoyable place to feast on simple, hearty food handled adeptly. The wine list is absolutely terrific and the atmosphere is convivial and warm. If you find yourself in the area, I would certainly recommend it. Dorking is about 50 mins by train from London Waterloo (or slightly longer from London Victoria) and is minutes away from Denbies, the UK's largest vineyard.

A 3 course meal will cost around £25-£35 plus drinks and service.

Little Dudley House,77 South Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 2IU

Greedy Diva was a guest of Little Dudley House.

Thursday 23 December 2010

New York - Pullinos, Egg, Balthazar

With so many big lunches and dinners to squeeze in on our trips to New York, it's tempting to skimp on breakfast. But then sanity kicks in and we gorge ourselves anyway.

Eggs on cocotte at Pullinos

Pullinos - Nolita

Pullinos is a charismatic, bar-pizzeria-restaurant with a checkered floor, high ceilings and oodles of charm. It's widely reputed to be great for lunch and dinner (and the pizzas are apparently excellent). But TPG had a waffle here on his previous trip and I haven't stopped hearing about it since (he puts it in the "world's best waffle" league) - so we stopped by for brunch.

First in the door at Pullinos - TPG sleeps on the doorstep

And the waffle had just gone off the menu! Poor, crestfallen TPG. But not matter - the buttermilk pancake with huckleberries and ricotta is baked in a heavy skillet and is thick and fluffy, with good vanilla ice-cream ($11).

My eggs en cocotte with fettunta ($12) are to die for - a rich, creamy eggy joy with eggs, spinach, ham, fontina and thick, toasted bread for shovelling from skillet to mouth . And it might sound boring but the half grapefruit baked with muscovado sugar and mint is a fab little side. We had this at a couple places in New York (I'm yet to see it in London), but Pullinos does it best - and I love the way they segment it for you.

Pullinos, 282 Bowery, New York, Ph: 212 226 1966  
Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Egg - Brooklyn

Eggs Rothko - before the new camera

It's worth venturing over the bridge to Brooklyn every now and then to witness the flurry of edgy, new places that seem to be popping up each year. Despite its reputation as the up and coming destination for the New York cool kids, I'm still not completely sold on Brooklyn - so many skinny jeans, so much eyeliner (and that's just the men) - but it does have some gems.

Egg is one of them. It's open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner - and that doesn't stop a small waiting list forming for Sunday breakfast. It's worth it.

Never ending donuts

Egg has a small farm in Oak Hill, New York which provides a healthy growth environment for the plants which end up on your plate. Sit down and be greeted with a plate of fried donuts - which is constantly replenished as you continue to devour them. Be careful to save some room for the massive plates of food that are coming. My Eggs Rothko ($9) is an easy cooked egg inside - INSIDE - a slice of "Amy's brioche" and topped with a considerable amount of oozy Grafton cheddar. It's served with broiled tomatoes and a side of meat or seasonal vegetables - I go for Col. Bill Newsom's country ham, as well as a scone like "biscuit" served with fig jam. It's a heart attack on a plate and it's fabulous. TPG had the excellent steel-cut organic oatmeal with dried fruit, toasted almonds, brown sugar and cream ($7) - and another half grapefruit with muscovado sugar and mint.

There's a country ham biscuit (with fig jam, cheddar and grits), organic grits and eggs, biscuits and gravy, and duck leg seared with potatoes and green onions and served with eggs. This is unlike any breakfast you're likely to have in London right now. The coffee's not bad either - we had pots of it American style. I love Egg.

Egg, 135 North 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11211, Ph: 718 302 5151 
Egg on Urbanspoon

Balthazar - Soho

Well, of course Balthazar. For us, no trip to New York is complete without a visit to Keith McNally's beautiful, buzzy French bistro. I've written about Balthazar before. On this trip, we visited once for a takeway coffee and one of their miraculous donuts at the small, takeaway bakery and coffee shop next to the main restaurant, once to have a coffee with a friend in the fun bar area, and once for a leisurely croissant and coffee with the papers. I still haven't ever been for dinner despite raving on about the place for years.

Open early til late.

Balthazar, 80 Spring Street, Soho, New York, 10012, Ph: 212 965 1414
Balthazar on Urbanspoon

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Sunday 19 December 2010

New York: The Meatball Shop & other downtown bites

I've written about 3 great sandwiches from my recent trip to New York - but there's still much to tell. Today, it's all about some fun downtown establishments. Starting with The Meatball Shop:

The Meatball Shop - Lower East Side 

Choose your meatballs, choose your sauce and choose how it arrives in front of you. I take the classic, juicy beef meatballs smothered in spicy meat sauce, served simply and piping hot in a bowl with a slice of foccaccia for mopping it up. TPG goes for the meatball smash - 2 spicy pork meatballs on a brioche bun with spicy meat sauce, cheese and a side salad. Or there's a meatball hero (try beef, spicy pork, chicken, veggie or the daily special) served in a crusty baguette with cheese sauce. A range of sides include risotto, polenta, spaghetti or daily roast veggies.

Executive chef/co-owner Daniel Holzman trained for 4 years at super upmarket Le Bernadin, but is lighting up the happening Lower East Side with this simple but fantastic place that is what it says on the tin. It's a hit with all the hip and happening people that flock to the Lower East Side, an area heaving with similarly lively places to eat. Expect to work through quite a few drinks at the bar while you wait for a table - unless you arrive after 10.30pm (which we did, arriving late from our flight from London) by which time we only had to wait for the time it took to drink a beer. Pure gold.

The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton Street, Lower East Side, New York, (Ph: (212) 982 8895) - open noon til 2am/4am
The Meatball Shop on Urbanspoon

Fatty Crab - West Village 

I've reviewed it before, but when your feet are aching from pacing the cobbles of the Meatpacking District and the galleries of 21st Street, this is a great, casual little spot to refuel with some zingy, Malaysian inspired bowls of goodness. On my list to try (still) is Fatty Cue, the related Malaysian/BBQ joint which has opened in Brooklyn.

Fatty Crab, 643 Hudson Street, West Village, New York (Ph. 212 352 3592) (They also have a branch at 2170 Broadway on the Upper West Side).
Fatty Crab on Urbanspoon

Torrisi Italian Specialties - Little Italy/NoLita 

I've told my tale of 3 New York sandwiches already, but the chicken parmigiana schnitzel hero from Torrisi Italian Specialties deserves an honorable mention. There's minimal seating in this old fashioned, basic deli come restaurant, and many take away, but the big, juicy sandwiches are well worth the short wait. My chicken parma sandwich ($8) was crammed with large, succulent pieces of breaded chicken schnitz and a tasty tomato sauce. It's all so fresh and simple, so why is it so hard to find a sandwich this good?

The walk in only restaurant also has a daily changing, Italian family style dinner menu made from all American ingredients for around $50 per person - it allows for no substitutions (including for vegetarians or children) but sounds the goods to me.

Torrisi Italian Specialties, 250 Mulberry Street, NoLita, New York (Ph: (212) 695 0955)
Torrisi Italian Specialties on Urbanspoon

If I didn't despise the overused phrase "achingly hip" so much, I'd use it to describe the Stanton Social. A large dark, seductive room with a mix of tables and alluring, round booths is humming with a big, boisterous, Saturday night vibe from early til late. The menu bears an intriguing mix of modern sharing plates with a twist - like Kobe beef burger sliders, red snapper tacos, Thai spiced baby back ribs and butter poached lobster pizzetta. However, the execution had more misses than hits on our visit - French onion soup dumplings are cheese drenched soggy balls and the "chicken and waffles" (brick pressed chicken, aged cheddar waffle, corn pudding and balsamic spiked maple syrup) is interesting but doesn't really hit the mark.

A fun place for lively drinks and sharing plates, but the food doesn't live up to its promise. (This was confirmed by the experiences of our New York friends also). And hereby heed my very annoying website warning.

The Stanton Social Club, 99 Stanton Street, Lower East Side, New York, (Ph: (212) 995 0099)
Stanton Social on Urbanspoon

Momufuku Noodle Bar - East Village 

David Chang's casual noodle bar is definitely worth a visit. The momofuku ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and poached egg was good (perfectly cooked noodles, nice pork, subtle broth), but the ginger scallion noodles were fabulous - shiny, toothsome squiggles of joy, mixed with the delectable flavours of pickled shiitake mushrooms, cucumber and menma. The short menu is rammed with loads you'll want to try - steamed buns, roasted foie gras with almond, pear and smoked tea, smoked chicken wings with pickled chilli, garlic and scallions. The noodle bar is said to serve a fantastic fried chicken - call ahead to reserve it. The setting is quite spacious and modern, with blonde wood and long, communal tables. Momofuku Noodle Bar is good - one to go back to again and again.

Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 First Avenue (Between 10th and 11th), New York
Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Finally, Momofuku Milk Bar (207, 2nd Ave, East Village, New York) - I've mentioned it before. But now they have birthday cake truffles - cakey, doughey balls of rainbow cake crumble, sprinkles and vanilla frosting. They sound ridiculous. They taste amazing. I'm addicted. $3 for 3.

Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

For more on New York, see my earlier posts:
Still to come: More brunch spots and 2 nights of five star dining

Friday 17 December 2010

Greedy Diva's Top 10 Favourite Restaurants for 2010

It's that time of the year again. And while I find it hard to rank my favourite restaurants (comparing apples and oranges etc), here's the list I sent to Toptable regarding my top 10 London restaurants for 2010. Follow the link to see the lists of some other bloggers too.

Crab ravioli at The Fish Place,
December 2010

1. The Ledbury - Brilliant, original fare which is a joy to eat. The setting is airy and unpretentious, despite this being - deservedly - a 2 Michelin star restaurant. And you can even enjoy it over a reasonably priced set lunch. Young Australian chef, Brett Graham, gets a big thumbs up for my favourite restaurant in London.

2. Bocca di Lupo - Simple, Italian regional food, expertly done.  A great place to sit at the bar sipping a glass of wine and tucking into a great bowl of pasta, or schmooze around Italy via the menu, sharing small plates with a table full of friends. The setting may be stylish, but it's all about the food here for me.

3. Polpo/Polpetto - Since these related restaurants are both neighbours and both new (Polpo, the "Venetian style bacaro bar", opened in 2009 and the smaller Polpetto in 2010), I'm joining them together at number 3. Fun, buzzy but relaxed, each restaurant has its own unique personality and menu - but both offer a range of traditional Italian food on small plates at very reasonable prices.

4. Hawksmoor (Covent Garden and Shoreditch) - Some of the best steaks in London, with fabulous cocktails to match. The beef is all British and you will taste the quality and flavour in every cut. And don't get me started on the terrific Hawksmoor burger...

5. Vinoteca - An oldie but a goodie. Enjoy great food and wine in a casual, wine bar setting. Just eat, drink and be merry.

6. 32 Great Queen Street - Good quality, British gastropub style food in a casual atmosphere. Always great for an easy going lunch or a big, hearty dinner in a central location.

7. Cay Tre - My pick of the cheap eats - great Vietnamese food, with fresh, vibrant flavours. Enjoy a feast without breaking the bank.

8. Kikuchi - My favourite Japanese restaurant in London to date. It feels, looks and tastes like Tokyo, as Japanese businessmen enjoy sake and sushi in a relaxed, bustling, convivial atmosphere. Don't miss the nasu dengaku.

9. Bob Bob Ricard - Quirky, fun, great food and a well priced wine list. Not to mention that it's perfectly acceptable here to shoot a glass of vodka with every course. Anywhere that has a "push for champagne" button at each table is alright by me. Fabulous.

10. Bistrot Bruno Loubet - A lovely place to dine on some creative bistro food. Excellent French cooking with a bit of flair.

Onglet steak at 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen,
November 2010

Honorable mentions go to all those other favourites on my "Favourite London Restaurants" page as well as Gauthier Soho (mmm...that truffle risotto...) and 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen, which are both places I loved but have only managed to visit once. I also visited newbie The Fish Place in recent weeks, which was one of the best meals I've had this year, but it loses points for ambience until you all just take my word for it, schlep over to Battersea and fill up some tables.

It's been a great year of eating. With so many new restaurant openings this year, I still have many to try (Trullo, Zucca, Tinello, Brawn... the list goes on). Here's to enjoying that task in 2011.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Baking & Feasting in the Cotswolds: The Shipton Mill & The Bell pub

I have only tried making bread once before, and it ended in disaster - of the face-and-hair-covered-in-white-dust variety. I'm still cleaning up flour from under the fridge.

But I've been re-inspired after a trip last weekend to the Shipton Mill in Frampton on Severn, Gloucestershire in the Cotswolds. Our friends, Libby and Lawrence from the fantastic The Humble Kitchen supper club, found out about a FREE bread making course being run regularly at the mill. I can't recommend it enough. And I can't BELIEVE it's free.

From 9:30am-3.30pm on Sunday, we learned some of the science of breadmaking, then got our hands dirty in the kitchen making a rustic sourdough with feta and Provencale herbs, a beautiful, dusted white plaited loaf, pitas, a round seeded soda bread, shiny, iced chelsea buns (which were a hit in the office) and short pastry filled with strawberry jam. Not only were we given a box to carry home our wonderful smelling loot, but baker Clive Mellum gave us part of his white and rye "mother" starters to take home to feed and grow with our new found knowledge.

My Chelsea buns before baking...

... and after

It turns out that rolling and kneading is hungry work. The day includes lunch at the mill where you can taste and compare a range of delicious breads - filled pitas, sourdoughs, foccaccia with olive oil and sticky balsamic, and date and walnut bread for example, with cheeses and smoked salmon, and a range of other sides.

Lunch at the mill

Clive regularly gives up his time during the week and on some weekends to put on this fantastic course, which is sponsored by mill owner, John Lister. The course is fun, informal and you get plenty of personal attention since there's only up to about 6 people per day. Clive's passion is infectious - he also visits prisons and helps people in drug rehab to get them baking bread, and travels the world sharing baking tips and techniques with other bakers. You'll never want to buy supermarket bread again.

The quality of the flour is excellent (our Humble Kitchen friends use it regularly) and you can buy it on-line for delivery direct from the mill. The mill - which has been standing on the river bank for over 900 years - uses simple, traditional processes to ground organic and wholemeal grain, creating flours with a wholesome texture and flavour.

One of our fellow bakers with her loot to take home

While in the area, we had a top notch lunch at The Bell pub in Sapperton, which is well worth a visit.

The Bell, Sapperton

The pub is in a traditional old stone building with exposed brickwork and a cosy fireplace. My monkfish with spinach and hollandaise was cooked expertly, and came with some unbelievably good veggies (bright, snappy green snowpeas, carrot, parsnip and new potatoes).


Lib loved her wild sea bass with a vegetable medley and pesto and the boys' burgers were huge, with densely packed, flavoursome English Longhorn meat. The were served with oodles of chips - although they were apparently not as great as the beef dripping chips you get if you order the separate side dish. But happy, happy campers all round.

Boozey Christmas pudding

I finished with a gorgeous, boozey Christmas pud (although I wasn't a fan of the ultra sticky, sweet brandy butter) and TPG loved his banana Eton mess with ginger snaps. Mains are around £12-£15 each.

We stayed just down the road from the mill at The True Heart B&B run by Veronica Metcalfe. For £40 per person, we had a simple but fastidiously clean room - each has its own flat screen TV, tea, coffee and comfy bed. Veronica also puts on a fantastic breakfast - fruit salad, cereals, fresh OJ, tea, coffee, home made toast (Veronica has done the course at the mill too), home made jams and the full English - with terrific local eggs and sausage, bacon, tomato and mushroom. I've had my fair share of B&B horror stories, but for me Veronica was the perfect host, being friendly and there when we needed her, but she's not one to cramp your style if you don't want to discuss your life story over breakfast.

It took us under 2.5 hours to reach the Cotswolds by car from Kings Cross station (although it took an hour longer to return late on Sunday afternoon - but by then we had our baked goods for car snacks). I highly recommend the breadmaking course as a great excuse for a wintry weekend getaway. And try to spend an afternoon having a long lunch at The Bell in Sapperton - not to be confused with the far less gourmet pub by the same name in Frampton on Severn near the mill.

Happy baking!

You can contact the Shipton Mill at or telephone 01666 505050.

Monday 13 December 2010

The Fish Place, Battersea

Seared Devon scallops with pumpkin puree

The Fish Place opened about a month before I visited and there was only 1 other table occupied during our prime time Saturday night visit. Clearly the local Battersea residents have not yet caught on that there is extraordinary cooking going on in their own backyard.

The head chef previously worked at Michelin starred Roussillon. In every single plate, we found his food not only expertly cooked, but an absolute joy to eat. The freshness of the fish and quality of the ingredients were abundantly apparent from the outset - all seafood is sourced from British waters (there's Dorset crab and Cornish lobster) and is flown in fresh from local fishermen to the kitchen.

To start, an amuse bouche of prawn with potato in a lovely rich chicken stock. It sets the scene nicely for my Devon scallops, nicely seared and cooked to just right all the way through. They are nestled into a lovely, sweet pumpkin puree with deep fried sage and a subtle lemon beurre blanc. It's not a pairing I would normally rush towards, but the pumpkin adds a nice autumnal depth to the dish, which works nicely during this bitterly cold London week.

Dorset crab ravioli

TPG's Dorset crab ravioli are plump parcels of sweet crab pocketted in perfectly cooked pasta atop buttered Savoy cabbage with a shellfish and tarragon sauce. It's rich and rustic, and a dish that has you closing your eyes and dreaming that you're right by the coastline.

Wild sea bass

My wild sea bass is moist and juicy and again - by now it's no surprise - there's perfect execution in the pan frying of the fish. It comes with sauteed potatoes which are just right in firmness, baby spinach, black prawns and a creamy fish sauce. It battles with the crab ravioli as dish of the night.


TPG might disagree - he's a major fan of his excellent classic Marsellaise Boullabaisse, with steamed new potato and braised baby leeks. There's at least 3 large pieces of fish in there and to say it's a hearty feast is an understatement. The flavours are bold, fresh and satisfying.

After quite an intoxicating gin and tonic sorbet as a palate cleanser, I move on to the fabulous hot apple and cinnamon souffle. It's a billowing treasure of light, fluffy goodness. The cinnamon is slightly too powerful for me, but TPG loves it. As good as it is, I think I prefer TPG's caramelised pear cheesecake. The caramelised pear is a wonderful match for the creamy, biscuity cheesecake.

Apple & cinnamon souffle

Caramelised pear cheesecake

There are non-fish items on the menu, like Welsh lamb and Kent venison, but this is a place to eat good fish and lots of it.

The wine list deserves a mention - it's very reasonably priced, and there are around 20 wines by the glass for between £3.50-£7.50. When the Stonier Chardonnay (listed for £33) is not available, the sommelier does a great job of guiding us through some matching wines for each of our courses by the glass. We can both be control freaks with our wine, but thoroughly enjoy each of his choices.

There are some downsides - although none of them apply to the food. First, the location - it's a cold night so the streets are quite deserted around this part of Butler's Wharf next to the London Helipad, between a new hotel and residential complex. It's a deserted position and I'm not sure what the potential is for passing pedestrian traffic along the Thames.

Secondly, the ambience. The restaurant is still new and the restaurant was close to empty - which is a travesty for food and wine of this quality. Also, I'm not sold on the stark decor - lime green and cold, granite fittings. A few crisp, white tablecloths would go a long way to making things more comforting.

The set lunch menu is £15, while dinner menus are set at 2 courses for £37.50, 3 courses for £45 and 6 courses for £55. These are steep prices for a restaurant with limited custom, but the cooking is so accomplished (and it's so rare to find fresh fish and execution done so expertly in London) that we both agree it's well worth the price tag assuming you enjoy each other's company enough to get past the ambience void.

If enough of you take me up on my recommendation to go and eat there, you might even find yourself creating the atmosphere that this place deserves. I look forward to returning with a bunch of friends, who I know will appreciate the quality food and wine list, and will create the noise required to lift the roof as the kitchen deserves.

The Fish Place,Vicentia Court, Butler's Wharf, Bridges Court Road, Battersea, SW11 3GY (Tel: 020 7095 0410)

Greedy Diva was a guest of The Fish Place.

The Fish Place on Urbanspoon

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