Having spent the past 18 months or so being confined to quarters, it all changed this last week. We seemed to have dined out on a more or less continuous basis. And not just a trip to the local hangout ( some have closed anyway) but to some really good places. Himself said, there goes our dining budget for the next 6 months !
We started off at a Mexican restaurant, here in Marylebone. Mexican food often gets a bad rap, because the average person associates it with TexMex, which it certainly is not. TexMex obviously has its roots deep in Mexican cuisine, and in the UK we have our own version of Tex Mex in a chain called Wahaca. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Wahaca, and the founder fell in love with Mexican food, but eldest daughter who lived in Mexico City for 5 years would probably dispute its authenticity.
Our visit to KOL was superb ( except maybe the ££££) the basic menu of 6 courses was not over the top expensive, it was just the add ons or more likely the Mescal which Himself and son-in-law drank. ( they could have had the Mescal pairing, but did not!)
Fermented beetroot, arbol chilli and mezcal broth
Enoki and Cornish crab chalupa, pistachio, fermented gooseberries
Squid, cashew mole, cauliflower, beach herbs
Lobster, smoked chilli, cucumber limes
MOLE (supplement course)
Purple carrot cecina, fermented blackcurrant truffle – black +£25 white +£65
Chalk stream trout, pasilla Oaxaca, courgette, berries, pine
Served with condiments and fresh tortillas to share for the table
Carnitas – Confit pork cheek, cabbage leaves,
gooseberry and pear salsa, black beans
Sunflower seed ice cream, flowers, mezcal cajeta
Pulpo – Whole grilled octopus, bone marrow, potato, seaweed macha
Drinks pairing 55.
Mezcal pairing 85
This wonderful meal was quickly followed by another in Nottingham ! Nottingham is the home of Sat Bains ( Satwant Bains, whose parents were Sikhs who had recently migrated to the UK)
He has won two Michelin Stars with his restaurant RSB which is housed in an old farm house on the edge of a small industrial estate on the outskirts of Nottingham. On our first visit several years ago we did wonder where we were going, but after eating at the chefs table in the kitchen we have rated the whole thing highly. It has 8 rooms and although obviously not necessary to stay over, if dining at night it is well worthwhile as the breakfast is equally good as the dinner. More recently one of his chefs won the Master Chefs the professionals and his during the pandemic, he teamed up with his mother to cook Vegan Indian takeaways !
And if you decided to visit, be it for lunch or an overnighter, take the train! ( travelling from London that is!)
And finally, we ate at Din Tai Fung in Covent Garden London. Din Tai Fung, was started in Taiwan, where we ate many years ago, not realising that it was iconic. Fast forward to 2017 and whilst in Hong Kong I discovered that there was a branch, which indeed held a Michelin star. It is absolutely nothing to look at and is more like a cafeteria, but the dumplings are what makes it extra special. Indeed I was so impressed that on a more recent visit ( pre-pandemic) to Hong Kong I dragged himself along . Since back in London we sampled the establishment in Covent Garden, maybe a little smarter in appearance but food equally good. And so it was that we went there again, this time for our grandson, who had just turned 14. The highlights of his day was a visit to Daunts books to order his years supply of books ( his annual present from us), a visit to Foyles bookshop and then to Din Tai Fung, where he took charge of ordering as he is very much a fan of Dim Sum, and noodles.
It is the dumplings that are the best, the xiaolongbao that are the piece de resistance. Delicate with 18 folds and in fact there seems to be an army of cooks making them.