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Artichoke Basilles

[Translate] Bigger is not always better. Except when it is. And when it comes to near-mythical dough bombs slathered in artichoke dip and then passed off in the guise of pizza… well, you can probably guess. Welcome to the second coming of Artichoke Basilles, the sliver of a pizza shop on 14th Street,...

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Les Deux Salons

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 02-11-2010


Finally making a commitment can bring wonderful things…usually followed by mediocre things, then an expensive divorce, a fling with a waitress, and a failure to learn your lesson about commitment. Finally going monogamous with French grub, the man behind Les Deux Salons.

Soft opening today, Deux is the third joint from Will “Not That One” Smith, whose prior chow-houses, Arbutus & Wild Honey, have both won Michelin stars for their European belly-fillers; this latest venture’s got a strictly old-school Parisian vibe, filled with mosaic flooring, oversized tarnished mirrors, and bentwood chairs — though if it causes that much agony, why don’t they just redesign the chair? Inspired by classic brasserie fare, the menu starts with small-scale tongue-pleasers like red mullet soup w/ green olive tapenade, tarte lyonnaise (bacon/onion/cheese) w/ organic salmon, and a hearty, slow-cooked pork belly “petit salé”, meaning “little salt” (thank God! Angelina’s doing her own version of the Young Bond series!). Moving up to the bigger grub, there’s roast halibut with razor clams, ravioli of rose veal w/ goats curd & cavolo nero, and even a bacon & Herefordshire snail pie, too much of which will make you feel…sluggish.

As with the other venues, there’ll be a slightly more affordable plat du jour, and all of the world-spanning vinos will be avail by the carafe — keeping you from having to make a commitment to a whole bottle, then trying to give the waitress your tip.

42-44 William IV Street, London WC2N 4DE

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Mino Kitchen

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 29-10-2010


Moving from town to big city is crucial if you ever want to make it on a grander stage, unless the town is Brighton, and Hove handily does all the work for you. making the move to a bigger city, Mino Kitchen.

Still in “trial opening”, the Brighton-based Japanese eatery’s Holborn second coming is a double-decker space arboreally appointed with wood walls & floors, a huge knotted-oak countertop fronting an open-flame charcoal grill, and even an actual tree. The chef personally heads to Smithfield/Billingsgate daily to procure foodstuffs for sushi/sashimi (yellowtail, scallop, sea urchin, sweet prawn…), plus bamboo-skewered robata like bacon-wrapped Ekoni ‘shrooms, minced beef w/ veggies, and chicken skin, a move Colonel Sanders would call “cutting out the middleman”. Lunch bentos — size-upgraded for dinner plates — are all grilled before your eyes, and pull in the likes of Scottish sirloin, teriyaki salmon fillets, sea bass grilled with olive oil, and garlic-chilli-soy “super tender” pork belly — if you’re going to share a prison cell with a pork belly, you definitely want it to be this one.

The bar’s got a wide variety of eastern liver-punishment: cocktails are coming, but for now there’s beer, wine, sake, chilled Shoshu (“Japanese vodka” distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, or yuzu) and “Umeshi” plum wine — which whether you live in a town, a city, or a…townty, should be just the thing to Brighton your day.

266-267 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EE +44 207 242 4350

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Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 28-10-2010


An elegant Central Asian bar & resto whose cushioned boozing area boasts finely crafted chess sets and whose five private rooms all rock plasmas, Samarqand’s Genghis-pleasing fare is all made using “ancient recipes and techniques” (bread from a traditional clay oven, etc). Feast on the likes of Besh Barmak (handmade pasta sheets boiled in meat broth, with salt beef & black peppered shallots), then wash it down with cocktails like the vodka/ ginger/ orange/ lemon/ rosemary/ sea-buckthorn Trans Siberian Express — which may think it’s the world’s longest train journey, but only because it hasn’t made the acquaintance of “planned engineering works”.

18 Thayer Street, London W1U 3JY +44 207 935 9393

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Herman ze German

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 20-10-2010


The pope has left. Fashion Week is over. And summer came and went in a single day (better late than never). Now that the traffic jams and models are gone, you’ve got time to hoof it to Herman ze German in Charing Cross.

Opening Monday, the German sausage joint from Florian Frey and partner Azadeh Falakshahi has upgraded from a popular stall on the festival circuit to a small takeout space with a counter to stand at. On the menu: leberkase, a flat meatloaf-looking breakfast sausage, as well as German breads, buns and pastries. For lunch, dinner and after-hours (till 1 a.m.) sink your teeth into beef chilli and pork sausages in fresh crusty buns with fat-free (really) French fries. Move over fry-up, currywurst — chopped sausage in a curry and tomato gravy — is our new hangover food.

The meat comes from small farms in the Black Forest, and unlike their fried English cousins, the 27-centimetre wieners are boiled and then grilled. There’s even a basin by the door to wash your hands before you start. Healthy, organized fast food: did you really expect anything less?

19 Villier Street, London WC2N 6NE

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Eight Over Eight

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 19-10-2010


There’s nothing more glorious than a phoenix rising from the ashes, triumphantly proclaiming “After my time in the void, I’m back, and totally ready to work with Russell Crowe again!”. For a resto literally rising from those ashes, make your way to Eight Over Eight.

Resurrected a year after burning to a crisp, this beloved pan-Asian resto has reemerged with fashionably dark decor dominated by a wall-spanning painting of imperfect red & black circles, a newly expanded private diner, and a reinvigorated menu so addictive it should eventually turn you into the same. The feasting kicks off with generously portioned dim sum like lobster & lemongrass dumplings, Cantonese fried beef & fois gow gee, and five spice “baby chicken” — as opposed to “spring chicken”, because once you leave China you’re pretty much done with doublespeak. Gluttonous geography then moves on to Japanese asparagus & enoki (long stemmed mushrooms) dragon rolls, Thai-style duck & aubergine red curry, and, heading farther afield, a tomahawk steak in Peruvian antichuchos — a garlic, cumin, and aji chilli marinade that feels the pro-chuchos are ruining the country with their borderline socialist economic policies. And chuchos.

A few old faves have stayed on the menu, including the celebrated chilli salt squid (wrapped in Chinese newspaper), crispy pork belly w/ black vinegar, and the black pepper rib rack — so despite being a little long in the beard, all of them can happily say “I’m Still Here”.

392 Kings Road, London SW3 5UZ +44 207 349 9934

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The Portman

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 13-10-2010


A business doesn’t need to alienate patrons to evolve — after all, that Kentucky creationist museum brought in modern interactive displays without driving away their lifeblood, the stupid. Taking the pub in an inclusive new direction, The Portman, just opened in Marlyebone.

Portman’s the latest in owner Barnaby Meredith’s “new pub” troika, which all seek to elevate the traditional boozer while not being as unapproachable as many gastros; downstairs sees a well-lit, distinctly old-fashioned blue-carpeted wooden bar, while the upstairs serves upgraded but still familiar fare surrounded by pictures of Paddington from back when it was just a vast empty space, or possibly last week. Eschewing bottled micro-brews, alcohol sees 10 pub-friendly draughts (Pride, Old Peculiar, Aspells cider…), while the gastro-style vinos (including a half dozen chilled reds) are offset by TBC cocktails, likely martinis, whiskey sours, and Long Islands, the result of a bartender taking the nickname “Strong Island” too literally. The seasonally-changing Brit menu (much of it coming from their own game farm in Northamptonshire) moves from starters like slow roast pork belly (w/ fois, caramelized apples & mustard jus) to bigger stuff like blackberry jus’d partridge and linguini with roast cod, cockles, crab & caviar, for when a “c food” joke is more appropriate than the “see” version.

For less formal face-stuffing, there’s also a downstairs casual bites menu, e.g., a rib-eye & horseradish sandwich, venison carpaccio, braised oxtail parpadelle, and beer-battered pollack & chips, an evolution of the traditional dish that won’t alienate you, because it’s drowned in that which makes you stupid.

51 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 7PP

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Bar Battu

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 09-10-2010


Now open in Bank, this two-story wine bar & bistro is cellaring over 100 mostly French biodynamic vinos, and bloating you with charcuterie like rabbit rillettes and Ventreche (“French pancetta”), plus bigger stuff like braised ox cheek with parsnips mash and roast cod with salsify (a carrot-like root vegetable) and Dorset clam broth — if you had that accent, you’d clam up too.

48 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7AY +44 207 036 6100

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Oyster bar at Le Café Anglais

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 07-10-2010


The art deco Anglo-French resto has been fully refurbed with an expanded dining area where an enormous chandelier lords over a zinc-topped raw bar surrounded by red leather chairs, in which you’ll lounge while assaulting a daily-changing menu featuring the likes of Maldon/ Carlingford/ Kumamoto Rocks oysters, London-smoked salmon, and fresh lobster rolls, which have been pretty scarce since casting ended for Finding Nemo.

8 Porchester Gardens, London W2 4DB +44 (0) 207 221 1415

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Hel Yes

Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 04-10-2010


We know what you’re thinking: Finnish food sounds about as appealing as 24 hours of darkness. But Hel Yes, the pop-up restaurant opening tomorrow in Islington, has given us five new reasons to love (or at least try) Nordic cuisine.

1. Chef Antto Melasniemi’s traditional dishes include a Karelian pot (pork, beef and lamb stew), Archipelago bread, cinnamon buns with whipped raspberry pudding and liquorice crème brulee.

2. The open-plan kitchen displays the catch of the day, as well as locally foraged vegetables and herbs such as wood sorrel, chickweed, polypody root and Finnish lingonberries.

3. The bar (open till 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday) serves local beers and spirits, including cinnamon and Fisherman’s Friend-flavoured vodkas.

4. Design junkies will love the industrial space furnished with work by established Finnish designers, including Linda Bergroth’s tables made from discarded Aspen trees, 403 chairs by renowned architect Alvar Aalto in limited-edition colours, tents and beds draped with shawls, and textiles from the Klaus Haapaniemi collection.

5. Three courses for brunch, lunch and dinner cost just £25. The menu changes daily, so keep going back before 3 October to sample something new.

Londonewcastle Depot, 1-3 Wenlock Road, London N1 7SL +44 (0) 7505 998053

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Posted by Burak Ipekci | Posted in Food, London | Posted on 29-09-2010


When you have a newborn you want to devote all your time to it, but neglecting your other children might cause them to hate you, sending them down a dark spiral of depression, alcoholism, and becoming the President of the United States. Tending to their baby without shafting their firstborn, the couple behind Morito.

After years spent putting off a second spot for fear they’d lose track of their first, the husband/wife behind Moro have finally opened a sequel right next door, a white-walled rustic tapas room festively pizazzed with a bright orange bar, where they can “come in to cook every day” instead of just hoping the nanny doesn’t shake it till it gets a concussion. Inspired by Spain with a touch of Damascus, the menu kicks off with grilled “plancha” dishes such as a cumin/paprika lamb chop and finely sliced Octopus Salpicon, as well as “montaditos” like the lomo/jamon/green pepper Serrano (montaditos means “open sandwich”, so don’t be surprised if it tells you it wasn’t ready when it lost its virginity). Meanwhile, the fried-mini section stars flavoursome salt cod croquettes (soaked overnight before being poached in milk), while the slow-cooked banner waves over the likes of “chicarones de Cadiz”, a traditional Andalucian dish made from crackling — just like pork scratchings, except you won’t have to kill someone if you don’t get another pint of the wife beater immediately.

Not-meat runs from a mechouia grilled vegetable salad to “patatas mojo”, whose new potatoes are grown on the side of an actual Canary Islands volcano, boiled in seawater, and covered in a garlic/paprika sauce called “mojo” — or brash self-confidence, too much of which can turn a world leader into a real pa-prick.

32 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE

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