Susy Harper, London

Now that I’m done posting about all the London food fun I want to highlight one of my favorite shops there. I’ve briefly mentioned it here:(https://gigglinggourmand.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/london-islington/), but that doesn’t do it justice.  Susy Harper is a tiny shop tucked in Camden Passage in Islington. All of the clothing is made by hand using beautiful fabric and all at US contemporary clothing prices. Don’t get me wrong, I love many contemporary brands, but I’ll take handmade over made in China any day! The only down side is that they don’t participate in the VAT back scheme so if you decide to have it shipped to the US you might end up paying double tax. All the more reason to take a trip to London to go shopping! Some of my favorites:

http://www.susyharper.co.uk/shop/4580170263/AudC-%C2%A3%CC%B65%CC%B64%CC%B60%CC%B6/6831257

http://www.susyharper.co.uk/shop/4580170263/Flamenco-Skirt/6828615

http://www.susyharper.co.uk/shop/4580170263/ARBD-%C2%A3%CC%B62%CC%B66%CC%B65%CC%B6/6827042

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Saving the Best for Last, Kitchen Table London

Kitchen Table is the dream child of Chef James Knappett who worked his way up through the ranks at places like Per Se and Noma. It’s a dark space set up like a bar around an open kitchen (much like Momofuku Ko, but bigger). Watching the action makes for a pretty entertaining meal.

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Especially when the chef is skewering and grilling venison hearts right in getting of you (they were delicious by the way, not at all gamey, but meaty in the best possible way).

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Lately I haven’t really had much use for tasting menus. Even when they are good, I’m too full at the end and there are at least a few dishes that I really would have happily done without. Not so at Kitchen Table. There were even a few dishes that I would have happily eaten seconds of (ok honestly, thirds – chicken skin with mascarpone and bacon jam anybody?!). Anyway, it turned out to be the best tasting menu I’ve had in eons. Too bad for me that if have to fly to London to get it again.
The menu here is pretty darn vague so everything is a bit of a surprise.

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Some of the more outstanding surprises included:

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Sweet raw shrimp on toast with some insanely rich brown butter.

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That afore mentioned chicken skin.

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Smooth whipped cod with fried bread.

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A tiny little beef sandwich with horse radish.

20140118-110510.jpg and some beautiful castlerosso cheese with honey and raw mushrooms.
The evening didn’t lack adventure either. No fewer than half the restaurants we at at in London had warnings to look out for shot in the game. And the Bob finally bit into some in his pheasant.

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Bubbledogs, London

The best meal we ate in London last time we were there was at Kitchen Table (a small bar behind Bubbledogs).  As a matter of fact it was the best tasting menu I’ve had in years. But more on that later.  This post is about the charming restaurant behind which that culinary excellence takes place. Sandia Chang who is married to James Knappett the chef at kitchen table is from CA, adorable, and introducing the English to just about the most all-American food ever, the hot dog. Oh and she’s pairing it with grower champagnes. She’s so enchanting, in fact, that even after we ate the gazillion courses at Kitchen Table we just had to try one of her creations. It was fabulous. Another place that I really, really wish had been around a few years ago.  I would have been a regular for sure.  We tried the Cesar which paired fresh, crunchy baby gem lettuce with really crispy chicken skin. All on top of a hot dog. Random. But really pretty much the best idea ever.   And as Chang points out to everybody who admires the Ferran Adria autograph on the wall, he came for her hot dogs, not the tasting menu!

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Duck and Waffle, the Best View in London

The Bob and I sometimes have a hard time fitting any new places in to our London trips. There are just too many old favorites to visit. But we were glad we managed to stop in at the Duck and Waffle (and I’m seriously disappointed that it didn’t exist when I worked across the street – especially since it’s open 24 hours). The food was very good, but really it was the atmosphere, the bar, and the view that rounded out the experience.

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We started with BBQ pigs ears which were perfectly crispy and came in this adorable bag. I think maybe some more spice in the BBQ seasoning would have helped to cut the fat, but I still ate most of the bag!
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photo 3Raw Scottish scallops were another hit, fresh and sweet, though the black truffle got a bit lost.

photo 2The Bob was more of a fan than I was of the ox cheek doughnut and the lobster creme brulee both of which found too rich (though the quality of the lobster was excellent).

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My favorite dish was roasted octopus with lemon and potatoes and chorizo.  Spicy, and almost smoky, but with enough acid to cut the fat from the chorizo.

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We didn’t try any mains, but I think the most alluring option here is to enjoy some small bites, a few very clever cocktails, and that incredible view.

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I’m higher than the gherkin!

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The Green Man & French Horn

I love seeing shows.  Pretty much anywhere, but especially in London. Like in many other cities, there’s dearth of good restaurants near the theater district.  Enter the Greenman and French Horn, a delightfully cozy new English pub with a French twist.photo

The food was delicious, it’s open late and you can stroll right over after a show (make reservations though).  The service was a little “French” but actually warmed up considerably as the evening wore on.

We started with some excellent bread and refreshing, crunchy, vivid pink radishes with creamy butter and fleur de sel. The radishes were almost sweeter than they were peppery.

photo 1Then we moved on to a dressed crab and some langoustines.  Both were sweet and fresh, though that late at night we were almost too tired to work as hard as we needed to to get all of the crab meat.

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Luckily the crunchy pork belly that followed was much easier to eat.  It was accompanied by bitter endive with a mustardy dressing which served as an excellent compliment to the unctuous pork.

photo 2We finished with the poach pear with salted caramel and a fig tart.  The bob loved the caramel (as does just about everybody who tries it judging from reviews). I though the tart was not-too-sweet, moist, and cake-y and set of perfectly by the small dish of creme fraiche that accompanied it.

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I think this is going to me my new post theater go-to in London.  Now I just need to get myself back there ASAP.

 

 

Pheasant in London, Pheasant at Home

Every time we are in London the Bob and I eat at St. John.  It’s so good that no matter how many new places we try it always has to stay on the list.  This last time we tried roasted Pheasant with sunchokes. It was pretty amazing. The skin and the meat weren’t at all gamey, but it brought a much richer flavor than other poultry I’ve eaten. photo 1

We also had lentils with the smoothest goats curd and tender kale.

photo 2And a quince trifle topped with freshly whipped cream and almonds.  I had never tried fresh quince and it tasted much sweeter and more delicate that I’d imagined.

photo 4So this weekend when I saw Pheasant, even though we were still recovering from a thanksgiving turkey I had to give it a try.  My version wasn’t as good as St. John (no shocker there) but it was still delicious.  The coated the meat in butter, stuffed the cavity with lemons and herbs and roasted it much like I would a chicken (using some apple and onion wedges to keep the smaller bird upright in the pan).  I thought the meat almost tasted like it had gravy on it even though it was dry, and oh that crispy skin …

photo 2 photo 3I served it with some purple potatoes and Brussels sprouts roasted in duck fat, that just never really goes wrong. photo 1