Archive for the ‘London & Beyond (UK)’ Category

Was a trio of salads from Ottolenghi, all the way from London!

Favourite roasted aubergine is a MUST, this time it’s prepared with sorrel yogurt, pecans and radishes. Roasted sweet potato may not be butternut squash, but hey, I’m easy when it comes to Ottolenghi. Still very delicious coated with peanut satay sauce, chilli and coriander. And that unappetising looking glob at the back? That happens to be my all-time love, hummus with butterbeans, roasted red peppers and harissa oil.

Total damage for the above: £24. Or $46. Expensive, yes. Worth it? Absolutely!

Craving satisfied now. Missing shall continue.


Thanks, dear batchgirl, for making the trip there specially and taking such great care of this box of “atas veggie”!! Muackz.

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Ottolenghi, my darling

I’m missing you very very very much today! 😦

63 Ledbury Road

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I’m afraid that I’ve become a most unadventurous foodie in London. All my meals are happily settled at Ottolenghi, which IMO dishes out the most amazing un-sissy-like salads and too-gorgeous-to-be-eaten pastries I’ve ever had.

And so, I’ve stopped exploring London’s dining scene.

Until a couple of weeks ago. When I knew that Pollen Street Social was going to open in Singapore soon, I made an impromptu reservation at chef-proprietor Jason Atherton’s flagship restaurant in London.

2nd July 2012, table for one, lunch at 2pm.

From the moment I stepped into the tastefully done and elegant restaurant, I was in good hands. In fact, I haven’t experienced such wonderful service in a long long while. A slightly dog-eared menu was immediately retrieved back when the waiter was handing it to me; my pot of hot water was replaced by a fresh one not long after I placed my order (though I barely touched it); every dish was described in detail rather than a mere curt “here’s the starter”; owner Jason Atherton personally pulled back the table for me to slide into my seat comfortably when he noticed I was back from the washroom… Little gestures like these go a long way, kudos to the service team!

Now, to the food. Within 6 months of opening, Pollen Street Social was awarded a coveted Michelin star by the 2012 Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland. Easy to understand why, as I literally wiped the plates clean, course after course. Starter of slow cooked egg was paired with an intriguing smattering of curry puffed rice; main of cod was fresh enough, though it lacked the melt-in-the-mouth oomph factor; and dessert, wow, the best out of the lot, a clever deconstruction of the classic black forest cake that’s simply brilliant~

End of the day, the bill came up to a very affordable sum of £31 (approximately S$62), after a discretionary 12.5% service charge. For a Michelin-starred meal, it’s truly a bargain!

That’s the beauty of dining in London.

And guess what? My Pollen Street Social experience didn’t end here.. Check back for Part 2! : )

8 Pollen Street, London

Salt cod brandade, Sicilian green olives, dark sourdough bread

Slow cooked egg, home smoked Scottish haddock, curry puffed rice, parsley veloute

Haven’t seen such a vivid orange yolk in a long time!

Roasted cod, cockle vinaigrette, cooked and raw young leeks

Passion fruit foam, pineapple granita

Chocolate “black forest” fondant, praline, liqueur sponge, cherry sorbet

Green tea macaron, freeze-dried raspberries coated with white chocolate, hazelnut milk praline

Almond financiers

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The eve of New Year’s eve, we had an impromptu dinner at Arbutus, a one Michelin star restaurant in Soho, before watching Ghost the musical (please watch it if you have a chance!! It’s darn good). I say impromptu cuz I was actually looking for Gaby’s Deli but tsk, I saved the wrong map in my phone.

So Arbutus it was!

Like us, most of the diners were there for the pre-theatre meal which is extremely affordable, considering that this is a one star restaurant. A 3-course dinner worked out to be approximately £22 after tax and an optional 12.5% service charge. Tell me, where to find that in Singapore?!

There’s 3 choices for each course and what we chose, we liked. While there’s nothing mindblowing, everything was competently cooked and we really couldn’t be greedy and ask for more, haha.

63-64 Frith Street, London

Salad of winter leaves, Sicilian clementines, goat’s cheese vinaigrette.

Risotto of wild mushrooms, parmesan.

Cornish silver mullet, wilted greens with tomato and chilli.

Lamb shoulder kofte, spinach, chickpeas, yoghurt.

Poached pears, sweet spiced ice cream.

Soft meringue, custard, pralines.

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Peyton and Byrne.. Another lovely bakery found in London!

Conveniently located near King’s Cross station, we came here for a light morning tea before boarding the train to Cambridge.

Unit 11, The Undercroft, St. Pancras International

Their signature fig rolls are already in my to-eat list from the moment I stepped in!

Apple and blackberry cake, anyone?

Or how about these cute little individual sponge cakes?

Our unanimous favourite: the traditional Victoria Sponge! Really gorgeous, so light and moist!

As you can probably guess from its name, this is named after Queen Victoria, who loved having this for her afternoon tea. I don’t think you can find this English classic in Singapore~

Welsh honey + brown sugar + lots of luscious fig filling = deliciously gooey fig rolls, yummy!

Bakewell tart, one of Britain’s famous teatime treats that can be traced back to medieval times. Soft frangipane layered with 60% fruit raspberry jam and sprinkled with almonds.

Poppy seed cake.. Triple layered sponge, homemade lemon curd centre, citrus fondant topping.

Lemon zing cake, as good as it looks above (4th pic)! So tangy that it’s not hard to believe that it’s made from fresh whole lemon.

Ok, tried and tested. This is the place to go for a taste of true British baking!

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London: Cocomaya

Tea time was to be at Cocomaya, a charming little bakery that’s close to the bustling Oxford Street where we did our shopping. I find it interesting that like Ottolenghi, the baked goods at Cocomaya are displayed in such an openly tempting fashion; it’s so out there, unlike in Singapore, where cakes and pastries are kept safely within the confines of display cases, which in a way, seem to be more restrained.

12 Connaught Street, Marylebone

Coincidentally, the chocolatier at the Cocomaya chocolate shop next door was having tea with her friend at the communal table where we were seated and it turned out that she’s a Singaporean! I guess it takes a Singaporean to recognise another Singaporean, haha. Anyway, since an insider knows best, we asked her for recommendations~

My favourite was the beautiful lemon pound cake! Moist with a lovely lemony tang, it’s the perfect tea time material. Then there was the pear tart, which was not half bad either, with a shortbread-like buttery crust and sweet soft pear.

The almond croissant didn’t make much of an impression though. There’s nothing wrong with it but compared to the lemon cake and pear tart, this just seems so pedestrian~ Nevertheless, it looks pretty good, right? 🙂

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No, this ain’t the famed Bill’s in Sydney. This is Brighton’s Bill’s, a successful deli-cum-café that originated from Lewes, East Sussex. There’s another branch in Reading, and this outlet in Covent Garden is the first in London~!

I came across Bill’s while reading Time Out’s feature on “London’s Best Breakfasts”. It sounds like a promising place so off we went for breakfast at Bill’s! Stepping in, I knew I was going to love the place. The decor is fantastic, all vibrant colours with floor to ceiling shelves of bottles, cans and jars (like an old-fashioned grocer!), and an atmosphere so laid-back and relaxed that it’s certainly no hardship to spend an entire day here.

28 St Martin’s Courtyard (off Long Acre or St Martin’s Lane)

Breakfast is served till midday and on the menu are classics like Eggs Benedict/Royale/Florentine, scrambled egg on toast etc. Definitely go for Bill’s Breakfast (below) if you are hankering for a hearty English fry-up of sausage, fried eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon and toast~

Me, I went for the interesting vegetarian version, a gorgeous plateful of of crisp toast topped with hummus and tomatoes on one side, guacamole and mushrooms on the other, complete with two wobbly poached eggs and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.

Totally ❤ my breakkie lots! There’s nothing better than perfectly poached eggs to start the day, you know. The sight of cheery runny yolk just somehow makes the day seem brighter, haha. 

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My plate of three salads and a main from Ottolenghi was still as colourful as before, so bright and cheery that it made me happy just looking at it! I had the salmon, aubergine and butternut squash again, prepared in a different style this time round. Everything was lipsmackingly good and flavourful as usual, though I wish I didn’t pick the oddly sourish tabouleh since it wasn’t as refreshing as expected.

Clockwise from top left:

Teriyaki grilled salmon with chilli, red onion, lime, coriander, pineapple and papaya salsa;

Roasted butternut squash with burnt butter, cardamon yogurt, chilli and spicy pumpkin seeds;

Roasted aubergine with tahini yogurt, almond and panko crust, garlic and basil;

Pearl barley tabouleh with red onion, celery, lemon, sumac and rocket.

And of course, I wouldn’t dream of leaving without any dessert! Last time it was a most wonderfully perfect passion fruit meringue tart; this time it’s gotta be the flourless lemon polenta cake which I’ve been eyeing for so long.

A gorgeous looking cake, isn’t it? I love how lemony, crumbly and moist this is, and the generous bits of crushed pistachios in it enhance the texture tenfold!

And this is such a healthy treat! Lemon (the poster child of Vitamin C), polenta (lots of fibre), and pistachios (good fats for you), jam-packed in a lovely package. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? 😉

13 Motcomb Street, Belgravia

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£1,995 worth of eggs, flour and sugar, that’s how high a price this monster princess of a cake fetches in Harrods. And that’s in pounds, which translates to about S$4,035! *gasp*

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My jaw dropped when I saw the price tag of this princess castle cake at Harrods in London.

Can you guess how much it costs??

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