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Christmas menu Gourmet Burger Kitchen Battersea
Dec 24th, 2009 by Olivier

Gourmet Burger Kitchen
44 Northcote Road, Battersea
London SW11 1NZ

GBK Battersea

The Christmas menu at GBK

Cute Santa Kiwi at the bottom right

After spending a few hours at Wandworth Common taking photos of Egyptian geese we were starting to get cold and a burger sounded nice so we went to GBK where they had a Christmas menu including an interesting venison burger. I had to try it :-)

We ordered one Christmas menu (with cajun chicken pieces, the venison burger, the portion of fries and the Christmas mince pie – £10.95) and a Kiwiburger (£8.15) with a side garlic mayo (£1.55). As drinks we had a Macs Gold beer and a glass of redberry smoothie (£2.95). 

Cajun chicken pieces

Cajun chicken pieces

Venison burger

Kiwiburger

Good fries

Christmas mince pie

The chicken cajun pieces were great: hot, tasty and crispy. The sour cream and sweet chilli dip was also excellent. Probably not healthy but I am into anything with cream and butter… The venison burger was not good. First, it was not very warm and the spiced redcurrant and crumberry sauce was somewhat weird. It looked like a kind of gelatine on top of the burger. The kiwiburger was much better but here also it could have been warmer. The fries were quite hot and nice. The garlic mayo was not up to the one we used to have during our previous visits. It was less garlicky and on the bitter side. The mince pie was minuscule but very good. It wasn’t too sweet, probably partially because it was that small ;-)

Cost and conclusion: it was £27. It was a little disappointing this time compared to our previous experiences there. Hopefully it was just an accident! The service was friendly as usual.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tokiya Japanese restaurant Clapham Junction London
Dec 22nd, 2009 by Olivier

Japanese restaurant sushi bar Tokiya
74 Battersea Rise
London SW11 1EH

Tokiya

Tokiya is one of my favourite restaurants in London. The food has always been excellent, its atmoshere is relaxed and it is truly an authentic Japanese restaurant: the chef has over 30 years of experience as a Sushi chef and he was trained in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

We ordered the agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu with tempura sauce – £3.80),  the Prawn tempura roll (5 pieces of deep fried prawn tempura with mayonnaise – £5.00), the nabeyaki udon (white udon noodle with deep fried tempura on pot – £12.00) and the Tokiya special dinner box (assorted sushi, sashimi,spinach sesame,salmon teriyaki,chicken katsu, dobin mushi – £28).

Agedashi tofu

Agedashi tofu

Prawn tempura roll

Prawn tempura roll

The agedashi tofu was its usual high standard, with a lightly crispy outside and firm inner. The prawn tempura roll was also excellent. Tokiya is one of the few Japanese restaurants in London that cooks the prawn tempura fresh in order to make your sushi – nothing is pre-prepared here!  The end result is wonderfully fresh and flavoursome.

Tokiya Special Dinner Box

Tokiya Special Dinner Box

In details

In details

In details

The Tokiya Special Dinner Box is the most expensive of their set meal costing £28 which might appear expensive considering the location of the restaurant not far from Clapham Junction train station but actually you do get quite a lot for your money, and the quality was high. The assorted sushi and sashimi were very fresh and great. The salmon teriyaki was perfectly cooked and not overdone with teriyaki sauce as it happens often in “fake” Japanese restaurants, the chicken katsu was very nice too, crispy and light as made with real Japanese bread crumbs (panko). Really a nice set meal. I would gladly take it again despite the too large amount of food (even for me, and I am not a small eater).

The dobin mushi soup coming with the Dinner Box

Another view

Another view

The dobin mushi is a soup with mushroom, fish cake, spring onion and prawns as you can see on the photos above. It is part of that huge dinner box. It was delicious and very welcome with this icy forecast.

Nabeyaki Udon

The nabeyaki udon arrived steaming hot. This dish is fantastic for winter evenings and, thanks to the hot metal pot it arrives in, stays piping hot right to the finish. Along with tempura shrimps & vegetables, this dish has an egg poaching away inside it, which lets you choose how much to let it cook before eating.

The dessert

The dessert

Cost and conclusion: it was £53 with no “optional service charge” added to the bill which is nice and unusual in London. The service was nice, the meal excellent so a very good value for money. Certainly my favourite Japanese restaurant in London! Highly recommended.

Tokiya Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Saki II Japanese restaurant South Kensington London
Dec 18th, 2009 by Olivier

Saki II Japanese restaurant
53 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington
London, SW7 3JS

Japanese restaurant Saki II

Saki II

Saki II

It was so windy and icy that we needed to stop and eat despite it being a very early time for dinner (it was about 6pm!). The closest restaurant around was the Japanese restaurant Saki II. That’s how we discovered it.

It is not very large inside, the decoration is sober with some frames explaining the different sorts of sushi on the wall. The tables are long canteen style so you will be probably sharing your table when it gets busy. We were the only people when we arrived.

We ordered the Age Dashi Tofu (deep fried tofu – £3), the Chicken Karaagi set (chicken marinated in soya sauce served with Miso soup, rice,salad, pickles and dessert – £7.80) and the Surf & Turf  set (beef teriyaki and prawn tempura served with Miso soup, rice, salad, pickles and dessert – £14.80). As drinks we had a Kirin beer and a green tea.

Surf & Turf  set

Surf & Turf set

Beef teriyaki and prawn tempura

Beef teriyaki and prawn tempura

The beef teriyaki was good but on the small side. The prawn tempura were not good as they were undercooked unfortunately. Some of the prawns were a little on the raw side. As pickles it was a few slices of carrots and cucumber… I had expected “real” Japanese pickles instead.

Age dashi tofu

Age dashi tofu

The age dashi tofu was decent, if a little lacking in flavour. There isn’t a great deal more that can be said about this dish, as it was generally inoffensive but equally uninspiring. 

Chicken kara age set

Chicken kara age set

The same cannot be said for the chicken kara age set, which was plain nasty. I have never had such a variation – the chicken (of which the portion was thankfully very small) was liberally coated in a dry, almost powdery batter that had the most peculiar and not very pleasant flavour. It was also very salty, suggesting it had been marinated in a very cheap soy sauce. This is a dish that should be moist and tender, made with decent sized bits of thigh meat. But it certainly wasn’t the case at Saki, where the chicken was difficult to spot inside the strange textured batter, and even more difficult to taste. Really, the strangest and nastiest variation I think I can recall ever having. The rest of the set wasn’t too good either – from a plain and uninspriring salad (bits of lettuce with a sprinkling of grated carrot a small slice of tomato on top), a small portion of non-sticky rice, and a few little sticks of vegetables, it really wasn’t a great meal and certainly not authentic japanese. The miso soup and orange were OK – but hardly enough to turn the overall meal around.

Cost and conclusion: it was £33.60 service charge included.  It was “Japanese” food but it really did not feel authentic. I am not lucky lately trying new restaurants in London!  It is like playing Russian roulette but with more than one chamber loaded. There is another “Japanese” restaurant also around South Kensington called Little Japan that I also do not recommend. If you are into Japanese food, I recommend Tokiya but it is near Clapham Junction. In the South Kensington area, the only restaurant I know and like is the French restaurant “La Bouchée” across the road.

Saki II on Urbanspoon

Italian restaurant Carluccio’s Covent Garden, London
Dec 17th, 2009 by Olivier

Carluccio’s
Garrick Street, Covent Garden
London WC2E 9BH

Carluccio’s Covent Garden

I had been to Carluccios once previously. Although that was a couple of years ago, my recollection is that this restaurant did quite good pasta. On this occassion though, it was for an office Christmas lunch, so my expectations weren’t high.

From a limited menu (that we had to pre-select from) I chose a vegetarian platter as starter, Bistecca di Bue con Patate for the main course, and Pasticcio di Cioccolato as dessert.

Great vegetarian platter

Great vegetarian platter

Bistecca di Bue con Patate

Bistecca di Bue con Patate

The starter was really quite good, with very nice fresh foccacio bread and a variety of peppers, olives and mozarella. Unfortunately, the main course wasn’t so good. The steak was a very thin cut and rather fatty, overcooked and very tough. I abandoned it after just a couple of bites. It came with a sort of creamy tomato sauce that would have been better with pasta, but definitely did not improve the steak.

Pasticcio di Cioccolato

Pasticcio di Cioccolato

Dessert was a chocolate bread pudding. It was a welcome relief after the steak, but actually also not very good. It was cold and rather soggy.

Overall, it was a disppointing meal, with only the starter worth eating. Christmas set menus for office parties are notoriously poor, and this one was no exception. It doesn’t make me inclined to try this restaurant again.

Carluccio's Covent Garden on Urbanspoon

Bellevue Rendez-Vous restaurant, Wandsworth Common, London
Dec 16th, 2009 by Olivier

Bellevue Rendez-vous
218 Trinity Road, Wandsworth Common
SW17 7HP London

Bellevue Rendez-Vous

Bellevue Rendez-vous is my favourite local restaurant as I live just a few minutes walk away.  It is located in front of Wandsworth Common which is a great place if you are into “urban wildlife” photography (parakeets, many kinds of ducks, geese, coots, swans, herons and foxes in the evening) like me.

As starters we ordered the assiette de charcuterie (£6.50) and the scallops with open ravioles and mushroom sauce (£8.50).
As main courses we had the Mallard duck with artichoke mash and salsifi (£16) and a Venison fillet with pumpkin mash (was normally celeriac mash) and cep mushroom (£19). The desserts were a cooked pear with red wine (£5.50) and a chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream (£6.50). The drinks were a glass of Pinot noir (£5.50) and half a litre of Badoit water (£2).

Scallops

Scallops

The scallops were very nicely cooked, as is the usual experience at this restaurant. On this occassion, they came served in a creamy mushroom sauce that was a very nice accompaniment. A very pleasant dish that I would not hesitate to take again.

Assiette de charcuterie

Assiette de charcuterie

The assiette de charcuterie was good, with some rillette, salami, ham and the cornichons to counter balance the taste. A good way to start dinner.

The main courses

The main courses

The duck

The duck

The mallard duck was the breast and a confit thigh, served with artichoke mash was excellent. The duck was beautifully cooked, just pink in the middle as requested, nicely tender and full of flavour. The mash and the parsnip strips it was served with were an excellent accompaniment that kept the meal nice and light. I could only have wished it was larger and would certainly order this meal again. The best duck I’ve had in a restaurant in the UK for quite some time.

Venison fillet

Venison fillet

The venison fillet was a little on the small side but tender and good with an excellent sauce. The taste of the venison was not overpowering as it can happen sometimes with that type of meat.

The desserts

The desserts

Cooked pear with red wine

Cooked pear with red wine

The cooked pear was very small, with an icecream on top of it. The taste of the wine was light but I did not find it mixed well with the icecream.

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant

And it is indeed fondant (melting)

And it is indeed fondant (melting)

The chocolate fondant was up to its usual standard – with a lightly crispy outside and liquid centre. What I especially like here is that it is not too sweet, which is always a risk with chocolate. A nice end to the meal.

Cost and conclusion: it was £69.50 and they do not add automatically the service charge which is welcome, and rare in London. A good dinner, as usual should I add! The only problem I have is the menu that does not change often so as a local restaurant for me this is a little annoying but for anyone else, do not hesitate to go there! For more reviews about this restaurant, please visit the page listing restaurants in alphabetical order.

Bellevue Rendez-vous on Urbanspoon


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