Friday, January 28, 2011

roasted Red-legged Partridge

They say you can find anything in Harrods and it's true. We managed to take a stroll in the Food Hall after a crazy morning in the store and found these unusual birds. They came oven-ready with bacon. I think we over-cooked ours a little as our oven is super hot. It's meat is richer and gamier than chicken, somewhat similar to pheasant. A good change to roasting chicken and I like the one-bird-a-person size.

La Brasserie

Our hotel was walking distant to La Brasserie, and as my friend recommended the place, we decided we would go try it out. We were happy with what we saw as soon as we walked in: unpretentious decor and people, happy customers and old wait staff. It's my theory that a place is all about food when they are not afraid to use old wait staff.
Perhaps we were hungry, we wolfed down the delicious bread and olives before our appetizers got there. My husband's duck pate with red onion marmalade (7.90). He didn't say much about it but didn't complain.
My escargots in garlic and parsley butter (9.80). Loved the sauce. I had to ask for extra bread to soak it all up.
Entrecote grillee (19.20). Somehow the guy sitting next to us had a much bigger steak than what we had. Maybe it was luck of the draw. It was juicy but a little small. It came with a side order of fries.
Steak tartare (19.90). It was probably the best steak tartare I ever had. It was smack full of seasonings: mustard, pepper and a good helping of Worcestershire sauce. The chopped onions, pickles and capers made it all very exciting for the tongue. I would fly back there right now to have this dish!
I don't remember what my husband had for dessert but he certainly finished his in record speed.
My creme brulee was excellent too.
La Brasserie
272 Brompton Rd., London. SW3 2AW. Tel: +44 (0)207 581-3089

Fifth Floor Restaurant

After a crazy morning of shopping in Harvey Nichols we were way too tired to go anywhere to eat. Our attempts to grab a quick snack failed as both Wagamama and Yo! Sushi were packed we settled for the Fifth Restaurant on the fifth floor (with very low expectations to be very honest).

Maybe we were hungry, we found the pumpkin soup deliciously sweet and creamy. We wanted more!
Since we were not sure of the food quality we ordered from the cheaper market menu. My husband was pleasantly surprised that his eggs benedict on toasted brioche was cooked to perfection.
My elderflower marinated salmon, fennel and apple salad. The dressing was zingy and refreshing and certainly went well with the salmon. I did not think much of the fennel salad: it was basically shredded fennel and not much else.
Ballotine of turkey, brussels sprouts, apricot stuffing, gravy. There is nothing not to like on this plate. Turkey was moist and juicy, stuffing with sausage and apricot was delicious with a nice sweet undertone, and I was told the gravy was out of this world. Even the sprouts tasted good - it must be good!
Pan fried sea bream, mussel and saffron orzo pasta. Although the fish was fresh and of very good quality but the real surprise was definitely on the pasta. Cooked like risotto with all the rich flavours it was a lot less heavy in texture. It was a perfect compliment to the fish.
We wished we had time for dessert but Prada was waiting!

Market menu two courses 19.50; three courses 24.50.
Regular lunch menu two courses 35; three course 40.

We had to wait a relatively long time for our food to arrive (and the place wasn't that busy as it was almost 3pm). As annoyed as we were the food more than made up for it. I was so glad Yo! and Wagamama were full.

5/F Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ. Tel: 020 7235-5250

Bob's lamb salad

Our housekeeper's signature dish. One of my favourites! I tried roasting sweet potatoes at home but it did not turn out like his.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mr. Willis

Perhaps it was my high expectations which made me more disappointed at the end, but our second visit to Mr. Willis was very underwhelming compared to our first.

Smoked salmon bruschetta (RMB72). Very ordinary. Even I could make it look more appetitzing at home.
Fish tartare (RMB68). It was so bland could not tell what fish or seasoning were used.
Beef cheek (RMB148). It was the special of the day and while the dish was pleasing enough to the taste buds where were the side dishes? I know increasingly restaurants are making side dishes extra dishes to order. Well give your customers some warnings if you are going to do that.
Snapper (RMB145). It did come with vegetables and I was grateful as the fish was so fishy I had a hard time eating it. I was close to sending it back but decided we would just quickly finish off and make our exit.
Dinner for two with a bottle of Australian wine came to RMB883. Cheap but we did not enjoy our meal at all.

Mr. Willis
3/F, 195 Anfu Rd. (nr. Wulumuqi Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 5404-0200

Shinmachi 新町

Shinmachi is cute. I could see why it's the talk of the town and that the place was packed out for lunch on a weekday.
Now the food. Set lunches were between RMB80 to RMB100. Reasonable enough. Quality wise everything was fresh enough, but it had that supermarket sushi taste - or should I say the lack of taste. Somehow all the fish tasted the same - cold and plasticky - like cheap sushi.
I guess I shouldn't complain as the restaurant could easily charge more, like many of the others in the area.
Part of the set.

Lunch for two came to just under RMB300. It filled the hole.
Shinmachi 新町
159 Madang Rd. (nr. Tai Cang Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 3366-1281


Our first visit to Pelham's at the hyped Waldorf Astoria in Shanghai. We were greeted with some foamy soup.
I would never have guessed that this was actually caesar salad (RMB128). It came with bacon foam and it's probably the fussiest dish we ever came across.
My crab cake was fresh and sweet and I was grateful that there was no foam on my plate.
Wagyu strip with chick peas, red swiss chard and chimichurri (RMB388). It is a signature dish for the restaurant but my friend C thought it was average.
The taste was good for my steak and it was juicy, but it was a little too fatty for me.
At least C enjoyed her chocolate cake.
My s'more, graham cracker ice cream on a chocolate brownie, passionfruit marshmallow (RMB78) was not as spectacular as it sounded. Loved the moist and warm brownie though.
Our petits fours.
Waldorf Astoria, club lobby level, 2 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Rd.(nr. Guang Dong Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 6322-9988

Sir Elly's Restaurant

Set lunch at Sir Elly's. To start we had farm egg, smoked with maple dressing and turnips; cappuccino soup, foie gras, five spices; baby greens, long beans, crab, tomato confit; hamachi, vanilla and Meyer lemon dressing, mango chutney. Our favourite was the soup. We both skipped the egg as it was a little worrying to be eating raw eggs. We also wished the fish could be a little bigger as they were way too small to make an impression on my taste buds.
The egg seemed to have unusually thick shell?
There were four main courses to choose from: pigeon, beef cheeks, scallops, and mushroom risotto. I opted for the beef and loved it. Beef was slow-cooked till it's extremely tender; served with sesame, leeks, ginger chili oil, espelette coulis. I liked the mild chili sauce with the juicy beef but I didn't understand the stack of rather dry leeks at the back. It didn't feel related to the dish.
Mushroom risotto, morel, golden thread. I have been told golden thread mushrooms grow from insects? Confirmation anyone?
Desserts from left: "apple" vanilla brule, hawthorn compote, sea salt caramel, green apple sorbet; "Madeleine" warm, stuffed with honey; "strawberry" Indian strawberry lassi. We didn't think much of the desserts, which was a little disappointing.
Sir Elly's Restaurant
13/F, Peninsula Shanghai, 32 The Bund, Shanghai. Tel: 2327-6756

Hanagatami Japanese Restaurant

Another day, another Japanese meal thanks to L, who is a Japanese food fan.
Chirashi set (RMB240). It is normally on the dinner menu but the waitress was happy enough to make it a lunch set. While the fish didn't look as fresh as the ones we had in Benkay it was not bad.

My sashimi set (RMB200).
Both set came with soba, salad, miso, and rice on the side.
Dessert was some kind of fruit which we didn't eat. Overall I thought the quality was above average but the price tags were there to match too.
Hanagatami Japanese Restaurant
2/F, The Portman Ritz Carlton, 1376 Nanjing Rd. West (nr. XiKang Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 6279-8888 Ext5898

Benkay Japanese Restaurant

Our salads which came with our set lunches.
My sashimi tempura una set (RMB160). Pricey for Shanghai standards but quality was good.
Chirasi gozen set (RMB145). Plenty of fresh fish although our request for not wanting shrimps had to be repeated twice at the end.
The special dessert plate which came with the ladies afternoon promotion. There was unlimited flow of tea or coffee as well.

We went back for another visit a few days later.
I was pretty disappointed with my sashimi gozen (RMB170). It is more expensive than the sashimi tempura una set and yet the quantity of fish I got was only slightly more.
It was pretty pathetic and I mentioned it to the waitress. She was pretty indifferent and said since all their fish comes from Japan you get less. I didn't see the logic there and secretly decided that I would avoid this place if possible.
Gone was the special dessert platter too. We were a little disappointed at our meal to say the least.
Benkay Japanese Restaurant
3/F, Hotel Nikko Shanghai, 488 Yan An Rd. West (nr.Zhen Nin Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 3211-9999