Jimmy Choo, the real life shoe designer ( not the high street brand, which went global under Tamara Mellon) the man originally behind the brand and his couture shoe company, has branched out into the restaurant business. Well, he is the man behind, Maximini, a Chinese restaurant in the Marble Arch area of West London. It is a relief to have something different from the Persian /Arabic restaurants in this neighbourhood, as this is where the inhabitants of many of the gulf states de-camp to in the height of the summer.
Surprisingly Jimmy Choo has labeled his restaurant Fine Chinese dining, he is from Malaysia, and his favourite local restaurnt is the Satay house, (Malaysian) which is near Paddington Station. We have not been to the Satay House for a long time now, but it is a bit of a hole in the wall type of restaurant, but full of Malays, which usually means that the food is good, and it is!
But back to Maximini, our dinner there on a warm summers evening, was very pleasant though we will not be rushing back. Trip Avisor says that although Maximini has only been opened a couple of years, it is in need of a face lift, but I can not comment, as we sat outside.
The Menu, is in fact a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cuisine, which is of course, Jimmy Choos heritage. We started with a Mixed Hot Platter, which consisted of Satay Chicken, Prawn toasts and Vegetarian Spring Rolls, all very good. We then chose, myself the Crispy Duck, ( Peking Duck) with spring onion and chinese pancake, Willowy Brunette chose the Sambal Prawns, and himself, the Malay Beef Curry. We also chose, stir fried Pak Choi, Penang noodles and stir fried Broccoli. The vegetables were absolutly delicious and plentiful, actually all of the food was delicious and no complaints there. However, the service certainly needs attention. My crispy duck arrived a good 10 minutes before the rest of the meal. Not good at all, but on re-thinking, we might try again, as the food was outstanding, and given that the Willowy Brunette, would not normally go to a restaurant that smacks of being chinese ( overcooked, precooked and MSG) but she enjoyed her dinner, it could be worth giving it a second chance.
During the summer months, dining heads towards the lazy side with BBQ being the name of the game, fish, kebabs, homemade hamburgers, steak or whatever takes our fancy. However, something needs to accompany the grill food, one of our favourites is grilled Baby Gem Lettuce, which is simple beyond belief.
Allo 1/2 a Baby Gem per person,trim the end off and discard some of the less desirable outer leaves,, run them under water and shake dry or pat on paper towel, smear with olive oil and some smashed garlic if desired. Place on a hot grill and grill for about three minutes before turning, turn and grill the second side. Of course do not over cook ( read Burn) and timing will depend upon the strength of your grill.
The other time that is really simplicity itself is what I call, grilled vegetable salad with couscous and Harissa.
Prepare a quantity of vegetables for grilling, include, red, green and yellow peppers, aubergine, courgettes, tomatoes cut into 1/4’s and red onions cut into thick slice’s . Grill on a BBQ ( can be done in. Grill pan on the stove top) when cooked ( do not overlook) put into a polythene bag to sweat, whilst cooking the remainder of the vegetables. Put all of the vegetables into bowl or box, pour over some salt and pepper and some olive oil and mix well. At this point the vegetables maybe left until ready to use or refrigerated until needed.
Take 8 oz of easy cook couscous, add a knob of butter and a pinch of salt. Pour over some boiling water, enough to cover plus an inch. Leave to stand until all the water has been absorbed, stir. Leave to one side to cool.
Make the Harissa dressing by mixing together, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons of ground cumin, 1/2 tube tomato paste, 1/2 can Harissa paste and 1/2 cup lemon juice.
Assemble when ready to eat, put the couscous in a bowel, add the grilled vegetables,top with assorted salad leaves and then dollops of the Harissa mix. Cut 4 Oz of Feta cheese into cubes, add this to the top of the salad. Toss altogether with small amount of vinaigrette and sprinkle over some white or black sesame seeds .