Author: Lorraine Marion

Gazelle, Mayfair

Gazelle

MAYFAIR

Sept 08, 2018

I had never really thought about the fact that ‘all that glitters is not gold’ can apply to eating out, until today. Located on Albemarle Street in Mayfair, the location, décor, presentation and the food at Gazelle would suggest gold, but my view is that it was definitely just glitter.

Modern European cuisine served on small plates, we took guidance from the waiter on the number of dishes to order between two. We ordered ten dishes plus bread, and I left the restaurant peckish and disappointed. So much so that I refused to order dessert, through fear of being further disappointed, leaving the restaurant with £70 less in my pocket than when I entered. Fortunately I bagged a 30% discount off the bill due to the Code App, which is an amazing app which offers restaurant discounts for those of us who work within the hospitality industry. On the topic of price, the price of food only ever becomes an issue, when the service, and quality (I include tastiness within this) fall short, as lets face in dining in Mayfair rarely comes at a small price. I ended up going to another restaurant for dessert and drinks, which fortunately turned my evening around.

The number of covers on the 1st floor, I estimate to be no more than 30-40, the restaurant was at 50% capacity on a Wednesday night. It is for this reason it was to my surprise that the service fell flat. Several waiters asking the same questions, within seconds of one another (offering water, readiness to order, am I ok), throughout the evening, contributed to what felt like being harassed whilst being starved.

We ordered Cucumber, Coconut and Oscietra Caviar (priced at £14), Cherry Tomatoes, Summer Berries and Long Pepper (priced at £9), Squid, Sandlewood Cured Jowl, Girolles (priced at £9), Leek Hearts, Chicken Vinaigrette (priced at £8.50), Turbot and Sea Herbs (priced at £15.50 ), Monkfish, Burnt Seed & Pistachio Sauce (priced at £15), Mushroom, Pine Nut, Wild Garlic (priced at £9.50), Crispy pigtails with Jerusalem artichoke (priced at £15), Presa, Salted Carrot Puree (priced at £16), and lastly the Beef Juniper, Salted Plum (priced at £19).

  • Cucumber coconut oscietra caviar

    £14.00

  • Cherry Tomatoes, Summer Berries, Long Pepper

    £9.00

  • Squid, Sandlewood Cured Jowl, Girolles

    £9.00

  • Leek Hearts, Chicken Vinaigrette

    £8.50

  • Turbot, Sea Herbs

    £15.50

  • Monkfish, Burnt Seed & Pistachio Sauce

    £15.00

  • Mushroom, Pine Nut, Wild Garlic

    £9.50

  • Crispy pigtails with Jerusalem artichoke

    £15.00

  • Presa, Salted Carrot Puree

    £16.00

  • Beef, Juniper, Salted Plum

    £19.00

To reiterate the restaurant interiors were beautiful, as was the food, but the only dish that stirred any strong emotion was the Beef, Juniper, Salted Plum, it was simple, and cooked to perfection. In summary the food at Gazelle was not bad, it just was not good, the quality of ingredients were top notch, though the dishes reminded me of what background music in a restaurant should be, and did not feel like the main event.

  • Food

    5/10
  • Vibes

    5/10
  • Service

    5/10
  • Price

    4/10
  • Overall

    5/10

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Scarlet Green, Soho

Scarlet Green

SOHO

Aug 31, 2018

I love google, I love the ease of typing in the name of a restaurant and being inundated with opinions, reviews and pictures. When quickly glimpsing google, what you are not always able to tell is the profile of the users leaving the reviews ( I’m sure you could with some time spent), and so upon googling Scarlet Green Soho, I was met with reviews which all exceeded 4 out of 5. Being a relatively new opening, there were not hundreds of reviews, but there were enough for me to give it a try.

Upon approach to the restaurant, I loved the pop of pink on the signage and on the art displayed within the restaurant. The restaurant I can only describe as a causal and cool, brunch spot, where you could catch up with friends, whilst eating a fairly guilt free brunch or lunch.

Daisy green, the company owning Scarlett green describes itself as providing a “unique, uplifting Australian experience”. I couldn’t help but notice that 95% of the diners were between the ages of 20-30, and I felt like the old lady in the club…not that I cared, just an observation.

As someone who has a daily battle with staying fit through exercise, versus my love for good food, I was excited to explore the aussie way to brunch. In my bid to taste as much of the menu as I could, I ordered much as would fit on the table!

We ordered the Broccoli & corn fritters, avocado, poached eggs, chilli pesto (priced at £12.40), Spicy tuna tostadas (priced at £2.80 each), Halloumi fries, pomegranate dressing (priced at £7.80), Seabass ceviche, avocado, tigers milk, crunchy corn (priced at £9.80), and Famous chicken parmigiana (priced at £16).
  • Broccoli & corn fritters, avocado, poached egg, chilli pesto

    £12.40

  • Halloumi Fries, pomegranate yoghurt

    £7.80

  • Famous chicken parmigiana

    £16.00

A dessert was so not necessary ,but curiosity got the better of me, and I ordered the two most indulgent desserts that I could find on the menu. The chocolate vegan cake (priced at £6) and the Melbourne mars bar cheesecake ball (priced at £8.60)

Vegan chocolate cake and Melbourne mars bar cheesecake ball

£6.00 & £8.60

Whist all of the dishes aesthetically looked pleasing, vibrant and colourful, they fell short on taste, and flat on flavour. I almost felt like this restaurant is designed for millennials, the food is presented picture perfect for social media, but I unfortunately did not enjoy a single dish. The Chicken Parmigiana was over cooked, to the point of the chicken being very dry, the fritters tasted of unseasoned vegetables, and the tuna tostadas were underwhelming, and overpriced, at £2.80 for one.

The service was also really poor, from a mistaken drinks order, to having no stock of another, the waiting staff were constantly needing to be prompted for something, including the bill.

All in all, I walked away from Scarlett Green feeling very underwhelmed, and wanting my money back!

  • Food

    4/10
  • Vibes

    6/10
  • Service

    4/10
  • Price

    5/10
  • Overall

    4/10

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Ola Porto!

Ola Porto!

PORTUGAL

Jul 07, 2018
This was a long weekend away, with a few firsts. My very first solo weekend away, and my first time in Portugal. The right decision on all counts, as Porto is friendly, safe for solo female travellers, easy to navigate (with the help of google maps and uber!), and has plenty to do…..and more importantly to eat and drink. My only culinary expectations were to have amazing port, and my expectations were surpassed as I not only had amazing port, I enjoyed phenomenal wine, delicious traditional food, and dipped my toe into Porto fine dining too.

Porto is aesthetically charming, buildings packed in close proximity, it is colourful, ceramic and coastal.

My first stop was Quinta Do Castro, which is vineyard located on the Douro River. Epic views of the acres of vineyards, and unusually placed swimming pool overlooking the river. To my surprise, they actually produce more wine than Port, and the factory, and cellar tours were followed by a wine tasting, and hearty three course lunch. Some of this vineyards largest export markets are Switzerland, and Germany, but I do not recall seeing much Portuguese wines heavily featuring within restaurants within the UK, that is not to say they do not feature. The producer explained that the UK is a growth market for Portuguese wine exports, and one with great opportunity due to the the volumes of wines that Brits consume. My visit was a full day trip, with a 90 minute train journey to/from the centre, and so with 3 hours of travel, and a lot of food and drink, I concluded day one with a early night.

  • Douro River

  • Wine Cellar at Quinta Do Castro

My favourite places to travel, are those rich in culture, and tradition and so organised by a company called Taste of Porto, I arranged to do a “vintage food tour”, which was 3.5 hours wandering the streets of Porto, and trying all of the traditional foods of Porto. Firm favourites included Loja das Conservas (House of Canned Foods), where they had every fish type imaginable and seasoned in a variety of ways. I also learnt that Porto is one of the largest exporters of canned fish into the UK market, producing on behalf of big brands such as John West.

Loja das Conservas (House of Canned Foods)


Next on the trip was a place called Mercearia do Bolhao, where I enjoyed a few different dishes, my favourite being a hearty bread with smoked ham and sausage through it called Folar de Murca.

Folar de Murca

My favourite and most ‘familiar’ dish on this food tour was at a restaurant called Tacso. A dish called Patanisca de Bacalhau, which is codfish deep fried in egg, flour, parsley and onion, was near identical in both taste and looks to one of my favourite Jamaican snacks Saltfish fritters. Portuguese migrants went to Jamaica back in the 1400s, and as a result Jamaican cuisine takes influence in a couple of dishes.

Patanisca de Bacalhau

The perfect end to the vintage food tour was of course tasting the cities most obvious and popular export, Port. The port was delicious, but ended up being a lowlight because the food was just so good. The number of restaurant stops totalled 7, and by the end of it, I was bursting by the seams. A food tour is a really hassle free way for a solo traveller, or even a group to be guided throughout the centre of porto, tasting the traditional foods at a really reasonable price.

Port
Porto is a great walking city (wear flat shoes though, it is very hilly), and the best way to do this was by being shown the sites of the city, by the locals. A company called Porto Walkers, arrange for free of charge city tour lasting over 2 hours, taking you through the history and key landmarks of the city. Ceramics have heavy feature on many building, churches and restaurants.
On my final day in Porto, still having almost half of my trip spending money (it is really cheap to eat in Porto), combined with the heavens opening up, I decided to treat myself to a Porto Michelin star experience. Having been so impressed by all the food and drink consumed so far, I figured, it would be worth its while, and I was right. I contacted several restaurants on the morning of the booking (to my surprise such a small city hade several one Michelin star restaurants), and managed to book a table at Antiqvvm. Opting for the tasting menu (of course), each dish presented like a work of art, with views and service to match. An absolutely perfect way to end a spectacular city break, and food tour in Porto.
When travelling on a short weekend break , you have to accept that you simply will not see it all. The part of Porto that I will definitely be returning for to explore the coast. Porto, you were amazing, I will be back! x

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