Round Up: New Notting Hill Restaurants

It’s been a while since there were any restaurant openings in NH, but all of a sudden, a flurry of Notting Hill restaurants have opened their doors, from Michelin-star-ambitious restaurants to hip-Shoreditch competitors:


Core by Clare Smyth

Notting Hill still has an appetite for Michelin starred restaurants with the opening of Core by Clare Smyth, the ex-Gordon Ramsay chef who has accumulated 3 Michelin stars in the past and finally opened her own restaurant. Already booked months in advance, it already seems destined to be a star.


108 Garage

With its exposed brick and eccentric decor, this restaurant could easily have been in Shoreditch, but luckily it has arrived in Notting Hill with plenty of fanfare around its food. Opened by some interesting fellas, Luca Longobardi and Chris Denney, the story behind it is quite intriguing. Luca Longobardi’s life is interesting enough that he has written a book about it and found Chris Denney on Gumtree. The result: one excellent restaurant and a another one just opened, Southam Street.

Southam Street

The guys behind 108Garage are behind this barely opened restaurant that has already attracted half of the people I know the night I went there. On the ground floor, it’s a robata grill – the rump steak is excellent and worth going for alone, with exposed brick walls painted white and Danish inspired chairs. Upstairs is the sushi bar, that I heard is also good. The upstairs ‘member’s’ area is still not opened as they are waiting to receive their late night drinking license, but if all goes to plan, this could become a foodie destination.


The Italian Job

This is the third Italian Job by the guys who opened up the first one by raising £400K through Crowdfunder. Anything is possible these days, and here’s to prove that you just need passion and some tech savvy to open up your dream Italian brewery.



Uli is not technically new, but it has relocated from All Saint’s Road to the Notting Hill Gate area on Labdroke Road. They recently invited me to check it out and I especially liked the restaurant’s design and found the food quite good. For a local Asian in the neighborhood, Uli is a good choice.





Busy Mum’s Cookbook


I obviously chose the wrong blog – type to start: I should have started a recipe/food blog. Look at Deliciously Ella whose book shot up straight to the top of the Times Bestseller’s List and ‘Julie & Julia’ which was made into a film. And Jamie Oliver who is now richer than Gordon Ramsay and worth a quarter of a billion (£240 Million). Well, I missed my calling but truthfully, I am more of an ‘appreciator’ than a ‘creator’ when it comes to food. I know how to cook, but let’s face it, I’m no Masterchef.

Someone else who has made her career out of cookbooks is Annabel Karmel, whom I have interviewed in the past, and is out now with a new recipe book: Busy Mum’s Cookbook. It’s not ground-breaking, highly inventive recipes necessitating 300 ingredients, half you can’t pronounce, but it does offer quick and easy, healthy, tasty meals with ingredients you probably already have at home. One section has recipes requiring less than 6 ingredients and one section has 20 minute recipes. It’s all about keeping it simple. Which, as we know, is essential in a busy household.

Here are a few recipes I am keen to try:

Duck Stir Fry with Plum Sauce:

Prep: 8 mins

Cook: 12 minutes

-2 x 150 g skinless duck breasts, cut in strips
-4 tbsp plum sauce
-2 tbsp sunflower oil
-1 yellow pepper sliced
– 2 shallots sliced
-200 g button mushrooms
-250g snap peas
-2 bak choi
-2 tbsp soy sauce
-1 tsp grated fresh root ginger
– 1 tsp cornflour
– salt and pepper

Step One: Season the duck strips and coat them in 2 tablespoons of the plum sauce. Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or frying pan until hot and add the duck strips. Fry for 8-10 minutes until golden, then remove and set aside. Add the yellow pepper, shallot, mushrooms, sugar snap peas and pak choi leaves to the wok over a high heat and stir fry for a few minutes.

Step Two: Mix together the remaining plum sauce, soy sauce, ginger and cornflour. Pour the mixture in the wok and add the cooked duck. Toss over the heat for a minute or two until heated through and serve immediately.

Quinoa and Edamame Salad with Honey and Ginger Dressing

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 4 minutes


– 150 g quinoa
-1 caroot
-1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
-4 tbsp canned or frozen corn
-100g shelled edamame beans, cooked and refreshed under cold water
salt and black pepper
-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
– 4 tbsp olive oil
– tsp runny honey
-1/2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
Step One: Put the quinoa and 300 ml of water into a small saucepan. Cover, then bring to the boil. Stir and turn off the heat, then re-cover and set aside until all of the water has been absorbed. Season and leave to cool.
Step Two: Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl with the grated carrot, spring onions, corn and edamame beans.
Step Three: Combine all the ingredients of the dressing in a small bowl, then add to the salad and mix well before serving.
Apricot, Pecan, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10-12 minutes
-100g unsalted butter
-100g light soft brown sugar
-1 large egg
-150g porridge oats
-75g self raising flour, sifted
-a pinch of salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-50g dried apricots
-50 g raisins
-25g pecans
-100g dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
Step One: Preheat the oven 180C degrees, line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Step Two: Cream the butter with the sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, then add the egg and beat again. Fold in the remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
Step Three: Shape the cookie dough into 20 balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, well spaced apart, and press down slightly to flatten. Bake for 10 -12 minutes, until lightly golden but still slightly soft in the middle. Leave to cool on the sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Restaurant Review: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal


Dinner By Heston Blumenthal. Photo courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015. 

Dinner By Heston Blumenthal 

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

66 Knightsbridge 

London SW1x 7LA

Tel 02072013833


Food: 4.5 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Service: 4.25 stars

Design & Theatrics: 4.5 stars

Price/Value: 4.25 stars

Overall: 4.3 stars


The Kitchen, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Photo Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015. 


The main meal of the day, taken either around midday or in the evening.

A formal evening meal, typically one in honour of a person or event.

Dinner unfortunately has a lot to live up to: this year it was rated No. 7 Best Restaurant in the World, it has earned two Michelin stars, and was rated 3rd best restaurant in the UK 2015. I went to dinner at Dinner the other night (which, by the way, is really annoying to say), with very high expectations. It’s not the restaurant’s fault, but every critic and journalistic review about this restaurant just gushes about how wonderful it is, so I was feeling dubious about the whole experience. Nothing can live up to its reputation, surely. I remember going to my first Gordon Ramsay restaurant at Claridge’s probably 15 years ago and all I remember about it was that it was a terrible let-down. I don’t remember the food, not the room, not the atmosphere. Just that there was nothing memorable about the experience. So, going to another celebrity-chef restaurant full of accolades and applause left me a little lukewarm.


Chef preparing The Meat Fruit. Photo Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015. 

Heston is known for his chemical-food wizardry, creativity and innovation, which made the Fat Duck Best Restaurant in the World in 2005. I read that this restaurant was going to be a very different experience. Where the Fat Duck is an ‘experience’ of theatricality and surprise, Dinner was meant to be somewhere you would want to go back to over and over for a nice meal rather than a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The whole point of Dinner is to re-create old (ancient) British dishes in new, modern and creative ways. Having seen some of Heston’s magic tricks on TV, I was looking forward to some kind of experience (so many restaurants dish out the same dishes over and over that lack any creativity).


Dinner Menu. NHYM 2015. 

The menu, as described by Heston on his website is ‘inspired by historic British gastronomy’ with all dishes documented with the year of its origin. From the reviews I had read, there are some signature, ‘cult’ dishes that are a ‘must-try.’ And what’s the point in going to a restaurant without trying it’s world famous dishes. Some friends hadn’t been that impressed and I didn’t know if I was ever going to go to this restaurant again, so might as well try their ‘cult dishes’ or those that have been highly praised. So here’s what made the final list:

Starter: Meat Fruit (c.1500) Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread.


The Meat Fruit. Photo Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015. 

Neither myself nor Mr. X are particular fans of chicken liver parfait, but when in Rome… It is one of the ‘Cult Classics’ of this restaurant, so not to be missed. This dish is really a feast for the eyes. His Mandarin look-alike is really quite stunningly perfect as food-behaving-like-other-foods (and very appropriate eating it in the Mandarin Oriental). It is worth ordering just to see the mastery that comes with creating this dish. It is good, but it was never going to completely win us over in terms of taste. But even Mr. X was impressed by the artistry involved in creating the dish.

Frumenty (c.1390) Grilled Octopus, smoked sea broth, pickled dulse & lovage


Frumenty, photo courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2015. 

The grilled octopus was perfectly cooked and chargrilled, lifting the salty, sea flavours out of the octopus. The ‘lovage’ (some kind of plant) was interesting, but for me it was all about the octopus itself. I skipped the sea broth etc.. which left my palate as I wanted it. Personally, I didn’t need all the extra garnishes.

Roast Iberico Pork Chop (c.1820) Smoked hispi cabbage, confit onion, apple & mean, Robert sauce


The Pork Chop. Photo Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015. 

The pork chop was delicious. The quality of the meat immediately stood out. It was really tender and perfectly cooked and seasoned. Again, I didn’t need the added sauces etc… as I thought the meat to be perfect on its own. The smoked cabbage was a nice addition, but didn’t particularly need the confit onion, apple & mead.

Tipsy Cake (c.1810) Spit Roast Pineapple


The Tipsy Cake. Photo Courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015. 

The Tipsy Cake is another ‘Cult Classic,’ which I couldn’t resist ordering. It was served with spit roast pineapple, rendered sweet and salty on the spit. The doughy, sherry- soaked, sponge cake was full of sweet yet soft flavours, reminding me of my carefree childhood of devouring indulgent cakes in the backyard without the worries of muffin-tops and middle-aged-post-baby-fat.

Ice – Cream Machine


Ice Cream Machine, photo courtesy of the internet. NHYM 2015. 

We didn’t manage to try the ice-cream machine, but it looked really fun and gimmicky. Next time…


Unlike many two star Michelin restaurants, there weren’t amuses bouches and palate cleansers in between each dish, which was a pleasant surprise. This makes it easier to come for a quick meal rather than a 3-hour sit-down extravagance. The service was great in that the servers were brilliant, knowledgeable, helpful and enthusiastic. It did mean they were a bit slow at times, but it was made up by our waiter’s charm and expertise. The room is a bit bland, but it is a 5 star hotel so can’t digress too much from the mainstream to please a demanding and varied clientele.

Finally, the food is really, really well executed, researched and cooked. Some of the added flavours were not to my liking, but I just didn’t eat what I didn’t like. I am too old for feeling like I need to eat everything on my plate, even things I don’t like. I am pleased that this restaurant wasn’t a let-down. I would happily go back and have the exact same meal over and over again, which I think was Heston’s intention with this restaurant. Now that I’ve found a good formula of starter-main-dessert, I would find it hard to break away from it. The price is quite similar to very pricey restaurants in London: Chiltern Firehouse/Arts Club etc…so not a deterrent for superior cooking.

Hats off to Heston and his team, helmed by the chef Ashley Palmer-Watts who runs the kitchen. It’s a foodie destination with some theatrics, some excellent cooking, and some flaws, but overall, I was won over and have become a devotee of the Heston-Cult.


Chef preparing the Pineapple of the Tipsy Cake. Photo courtesy of the Internet. NHYM 2015. 




Dinner By Heston Blumenthal - Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Review: Little Social & Pollen Street Social Restaurants


Little Social Bar. All Photos in this Post courtesy of NHYM 2015. 

Little Social 

Tel 02078703730

5 Pollen Street, London W1s 1NE

Food: 4.25 stars

Atmosphere: 4.25 stars

Design: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Overall: 4 stars

As previously mentioned in my last post, it is ‘birthday month’ and I am featuring new restaurants that I have been meaning to go to but have never gotten around to. When it came to organising a birthday dinner for one of my oldest friends, literally almost 40 years of friendship and hateship, Little Social popped in my mind. For the uninitiated like myself, Little Social is one of the many restaurants sprouted by the chef extraordinaire, Jason Atherton. I am quite behind in the times, having not been to a single one of his restaurants apart from Maze. I mean where have I been? (Well, Chiltern Firehouse & West 36 have been keeping me quite busy). Perhaps it was because I really did not like Maze the time I went there, which he headed under Gordon Ramsay, which kept me away from JA for so long.


Little Social Staircase. NHYM 2015.

I had heard lots of good things about Pollen Street Social but decided against it, because I don’t really need another white-tablecloth-1-star-Michelin-too-many-ingredients-on-a-plate-lots-0f-sauces-restaurant experience. Yes, completely blasphemous, but my stomach can no longer handle foods that taste like something else they are supposed to taste like (i.e. ice-cream that tastes like pork belly anyone?) or having three main ingredients and twelve accompaniments on one plate. I wanted something more casual, and I felt that Little Social was a good place to re-start my Jason Atherton experience. (Social Eating House will be next on my list, but dining with a bunch of French people made me think that Little Social would make them feel right at home).


Little Social Poster 2015. 

Little Social is a French brasserie-style restaurant on a quiet Pollen Street, and across from its more famous sibling, Pollen Street Social. From the outside, you could think you were entering a casual bistro/brasserie in the Marais, but there is something about it that makes it much more glamorously sophisticated. There are the same old French posters you see everywhere, but it’s bar is very attractive, and the banquette dining is intimate for sinful conversations. The crowd is a mixed international crowd, you could hear some finance sharks, lots of French and German continentals, and a few foodies in the mix. But I am liking it so far.


Little Social Menu. NHYM 2015. 

The menu has lots of appetising starters and mains, with lots of mushroom dishes (tagliatelle & risotto) and grilled steaks. My friends ordered the steak tartare as starters, which is a bavette tartar, usually a lesser cut, therefore which you could overlook as being as good as it was. I ordered the roasted quail with confit leg, foie gras and cherries. Ok, so perhaps not as casual dining as I had anticipated, this is elegant food after all, and the combination of cherries and quail was really delicious.


Mushroom tagliatelle & Sirloin Steak. NHYM 2015. 

For our mains, my friends all opted for the mushroom tagliatelle and mushroom risotto while I stuck with what I do best; eat meat. I ordered the sirloin steak (since I had had a rib eye the night before). The Sirloin had been appropriately aged 28 days and was very good. We were very happy indeed with our food. Table talk consisted of what happened to transgenders’ sexual orientation after a sex change. For example, as a man who becomes a woman, do you still want a woman or do you start to like men? It then veered towards the late-in-life sexual discoveries, like that husband’s wife who left him for another woman (just like Ross’ first wife in friends who leaves him for another woman), or the father of a friend’s friend who left his wife for his driver. It takes all kinds of people to make this world interesting. We concluded that we were very happy for Bruce Jenner’s choices.


Crumble & Carrot Cake. NHYM 2015.

For dessert we shared a crumble and a light and fluffy carrot cake (not what you’d expect, I know), which were both yummy but the piece de resistance came later, when we went across the street to have a drink at Pollen Street Social. Pollen Street Social has a very large bar that you could go to, just for a drink, and not look like you are waiting to be seated. It is a bigger version of the Little Social bar, just a more elegant and refined version with sofas and seats you could sit on for hours. We ordered cocktails, which were summery and minty with a flower adornment, and with that came an assembly of desserts that made us regret even having ordered the previous dessert.


Pollen Street Social After-dinner Drinks & Dessert. NHYM 2015. 

There was a small chocolate mousse as an amuse bouche, an almond petit four to share and a white-chocolate ball on top of a cone looking like an ice-cream (like I said, foods looking/tasting like other foods). They were absolutely divine. I would come back just for the cocktails and desserts. This night was a perfect combination of casual, brasserie dining, followed by a gorgeous bar, cocktail and second desserts at Pollen Street Social. I may be won over by Jason Atherton after all. The design, food and atmosphere were spot on, but it was those cocktails and yes, that chocolate ball looking like an ice-cream, that really won me over.





Pollen Street Social Drinks Cart. NHYM 2015. 
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