Archive

Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Mr Underhill’s, Ludlow, United Kingdom

In an ideal situation, I would have booked to dine and stay at Mr Underhill’s in Ludlow when I went there with Russell, Darcy and Bob. However, our visit coincided with the Ludlow Medieval fayre at the end of November – managing to secure a table was already a pure stroke of luck; but my fortune did not extend to getting the rooms. It appeared that all hotels in and around Ludlow were full also. So we ended up staying in Tenbury Wells – not ideal to find our way round this part of the country on a cold dark November evening with the GPS almost non-functional.

After getting a bit lost driving in Ludlow, we parked the car near the castle and then walked down to the restaurant. We got there just before 8pm, and were greeted warmly by Judy Bradley, and then led to the table straight away. The restaurant was buzzing – with no empty tables and everyone in good spirit.

To go with our aperitif (kir royale as usual), we were presented with a trio of olives (marinated, gougeres & flatbreads). There was only one set menu which was fine – Judy phoned me earlier in the day and checked if we would have any problems to the dishes (of course not!). We also asked for recommendation on the wine and Judy suggested half a bottle of albarino to start – it was a good choice.

The first course was a cone of marinated smoked salmon – the salmon was beautifully marinated and filled the whole cone. It was a very promising start to the meal.

The next course was white onion velouté with crispy shallot – the soup was full of onion flavour, and the sweetness and creaminess of the soup contrasted well with the texture of the shallot.

The third course was duck liver custard 2010 with sweetcorn cream and lemongrass glaze. Every mouthful of this made me want to eat more. The duck liver custard was already heavenly delicious on its own,, but it was elevated to a new level with the intense sweetness of the sweetcorn at the bottom of the little jar. It was an extraordinary dish. Bob, on his anti-plastic-straw campaign (yes, he hated plastic straws in drinks), said “you can put a plastic straw on it and I’d still like it”. Not that you could have enjoyed this with a straw anyway!

The fish course was hake on fondant tomato with chorizo & orange – the fish was very fresh and perfectly cooked, with a fine balance of tomatoes, chorizo (without going over the top with the quantity like some other places) and a fantastic orange sauce. At this point of the meal we enjoyed everything so much that we all agreed that we could have had a big plate of every dish on its own without any hesitation.

The meat course was slow roasted fillet of Mortimer Forest venison with venison jus, gin and orange vinaigrette, and girolles and baked potato mash. The venison was very tender, and went so well with the sauce that Darcy even forgot that the wine was there (now that’s a first!). The dish was not too heavy on the stomach either.

The pre-dessert was plum ‘sponge’ with star anise ice-cream – the “sponge” was a very refreshing plum granita. Overall a very pleasant taste.

For the desserts, we could choose from a menu of various dishes. Although Darcy was not a dessert fan, she went for the rhubarb crumble tart with clove ice-cream (and in her words, a dish “To Die For”!). Bob chose the sticky toffee pudding with creme fraiche ice-cream, which he claimed it to be “sticky toffeerific”

 

Russell went for the Highland parfait with flapjack wafer,  with Scottish oat praline, caramel and drambuie – he was disappointed with this one as he did not think it was anything special.

For me, being the adventurous one, I went for a dessert that was billed as “part savoury, part dessert” for those undecided: Oakly Park rarebit with anchovy sauce and delicate piccalilli. Interesting concept but it was definitely nowhere near a dessert. At best it could be classed as a cooked cheese course. 10/10 for the idea, but it’s not something I enjoyed that much.

We were one of the last customers to leave the restaurant, and before we left, we were given some shortbread biscuits to eat “on the road” – not that we needed them that evening, but it was something that we enjoyed the next day and reminded us of what an enjoyable meal it was. We agreed that it would be one of the restaurants we’d make a special effort to go back to.

Address: Dinham Weir, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1EH, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)1584 874431
Website: http://www.mr-underhills.co.uk/
Opening Hours: Dinner: Wednesday to Sunday arrival between 19:15-20:00

Food: 9/10
Ambience: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 18/20 [Based on visit in November 2010]

At Siam, London, United Kingdom

Originally I was meant to be going into Soho for a quick fix of my sushi craving on a weekday evening with Russell. Then we thought that since it’s early maybe we could get a table at Arbutus without reservation. But as we walked down Soho Square, he said “Oh there’s this new Thai restaurant on Frith Street, shall we go and have a look?” – so somehow a last-minute joint decision meant that we ended up at At Siam (@Siam)!

We were greeted by the staff as soon as we stepped through the door, even though the restaurant already had quite a few customers. The decor was less traditional Thai, but more modern design with a hint of Thai incorporated. The menu was not huge but there were more than enough dishes for us to exercise our brains in choosing.

Our starter was Ruam Mittr, an assorted selection of Thai appetisers with salad. I was surprised by the generous portion, with no less than 8 pieces of the corn fritters for a start – do they somehow know that I just love corn fritters? The yam spring rolls were interesting enough. The chicken satays did not have enough spices in the marinade, resulting in a more bland taste. The prawns and salad on the lettuce leaves tasted good and refreshing.

As soon as we finished the platter, we were presented with Yum Pu Nim Tod Krob, which was the battered soft shell crab with chilli jam and mixed vegetable salad. Maybe it would have worked better with the soft shell crab on top of the salad, with the chilli jam on the side, as the batter was rather soggy when we had it. Still, the salad was itself was good, with more unexpected ingredients like pear and pomegranates.

We had two main courses to share: Kae Padd Prik Thai Dum (stir-fried lamb with black peppers and Thai seasoning) and Gaeng Phed Ped Yang (roast duck red curry with lychees and pineapples). Both were nicely flavoured, without the spices being too over-powering. With the sticky rice to accompany these two dishes, there was no leftover.

 

On the whole this was a welcoming addition to the Thai restaurant brigade in Soho – I more or less gave up eating Thai food in Soho with the demise of Sri Siam and then Thai Pavilion quite a few years ago… But maybe now there’s one that I can go to again.

Address: 43 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SF, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7494 4511
Website: www.atsiam.co.uk

Opening Hours: Daily: 12.00pm to 3.00pm; 5.30pm to 11.00pm

Food: 7/10
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 14/20 [Based on visit in June 2011]

Northcote, Langho, United Kingdom

June 12, 2011 1 comment

After a whole day sightseeing around the Lake District and then a longer-than-expected drive on the motorway, I was looking forward to a quiet evening at Northcote, another stop on the gourmet trip in the north of England.

It was a cold and busy Friday evening, and the hotel was bustling. As usual, Darcy, Bob, Russell and I got to our drill of sipping champagne before dinner. With all the travelling during the day, we were quite hungry by the time we made our way to the dining room (despite having a large number of scones for cream tea at Sharrow Bay in Ullswater.

The amuse bouche was goat cheese mousse with beetroot ice-cream and rocket. It was a good balance of flavours in the goat cheese and beetroot, however there was probably a little too much goat cheese but not enough beetroot.

The first course was shavings of Radholme wild duckling, smoked foie gras snow, pomegranate, black pudding crumble and watercress. The toast that came with this dish was burnt and actually was a bit pointless (or did none of us get the concept?) – after all it’s not a parfait or terrine or foie gras. The foie gras snow was non-existent in taste – we would not know what the dusting was if it’s not explicitly mentioned on the menu. The duck slices had a delicious flavour but it was a little too cold. The pomegranite worked well and was bursting with flavour that complemented well with the duck. A few more salad leaves would also be more welcoming.


The second course was roast halibut, Shorrocks Lancashire cheese fondue, streaky bacon, tempura Ascroft’s cauliflower. it was a shame that the fish was way too overcooked, resulting in a rather dry texture – other than that, the tempura and bacon worked well with the fish.

The celeriac consommé (with partridge turnover and sage) had an intense sweet flavour, though this was somewhat spoilt by the soggy pastry on the partridge turnover. The partridge meat was a little dry also.

The main course  was butter puff pastry wrapped Cockerham goat, cultivated mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, savoy cabbage. This was a rather heavy dish: after the last course with the pastry, I thought it was a bit repetitive to have another dish with yet more pastry; and the goat meat and battered vegetables just added to the stodginess of this dish. We all felt rather unhealthy after this main course.

The dessert was quince, chestnut and praline trifle, with sky dancer beer choc ice. The choc ice was so cold and hard that I was worried about cutting into it and then part of it would fly off the wood block and hit someone like a bullet. The choc ice probably came straight out of the freezer and put onto the wood block and served straight away; but it could have been better if it’s left to warm up for a few minutes. I loved the trifle – the quince jelly would have been very bitter on its own but it worked wonders with the rest of the trifle, though I somehow missed any bits of praline that was supposed to be in it?!

The meal was somewhat disappointing – the dining room was a bit stuffy and noisy, and the meal was not as good as expected. Was it just below average because its a busy night? I wasn’t sure.

Address:  Northcote Road, Langho, Blackburn, Lancashire,  BB6 8BE, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)1254 240555
Website: http://www.northcote.com/
Opening Hours: Lunch: Monday to Saturday: 12:00 – 13:30, Sunday: 12:00-14:00 ; Dinner: Monday to Friday: 19:00-21:30, Saturday 18:30-22:00, Sunday 19:00-21:00

Food: 7/10
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Total: 13/20 [Based on visit in November 2010]