[Cornwall, England] The View – For the Love of Scallops

14 06 2011

I love the waking to the sounds of seagulls and the distant baa-ing of sheep. Throw in the breathtaking coastal view and that’s more or less what I would call living the life. Located on the high cliffs of Whitsands Bay, The View provides just such the setting.

Though it’s slightly off the beaten track, distance and uhloo-ness has proven not to be an obstacle for The View, which has garnered quite a number of accolades over the past few years and sees a full house even on weekday dinners.

Highly recommended by the staff, 3 of us all had the Seared Scallops, Asparagus & Chorizo Cassoulet (8.50GBP) for starters. I’m a huge fan of scallops and I’m pleased to say that these were the best scallops I have ever had! Plump and sweet, the seasoning and searing were both executed perfectly. I was seriously contemplating having seconds at that time but decided against it in the end, and now I’m kind of regreting it 😦

Anyway, I have a question regarding scallops. You know the raw ones we see at buffet lines? There always seems to be the red/orange colour “stomach” attached to the white scallop, which is also attached to the cooked scallops as seen below. What portion of the scallop is that? Is it the roe or intestines or something? And why is it that its almost always removed when scallops are sold in markets? Anyone care to enlighten me?

I felt that the mains were much of a disappointment after the stellar appetizer. Of the 2 mains we tried, I preferred the Roast Turbot, Razor Clams, & Butter Samphire (19.50GBP), which was fresh but came across as slightly bland. The waiter was hyping up the Samphire and about how it’s a seasonal seaweed but it didn’t taste that awesome.


On the other hand, my Grilled Monkfish, Pickled Beetroot with Goat’s Cream Cheese (18.50GBP) was rather muscular and chewy. The pickled beetroot added an unpleasant aftertaste to the fish. Ironically, the side of grilled sweet potatoes that accompanied this dish was what shone for this dish.


The View’s signature dessert is the Hot Chocolate Mousse with Pistachio Ice Cream (6.50GBP). I think of it much like an oversized and slightly undercooked chocolate fondant, where the crisp outer layer is thinner than usual with an almost completely molten core. The Pistachio Ice Cream took a little getting used to but pulled through towards the end.

If possible, perhaps you might be better off asking for 3 scallop appetizers, no mains and 1 dessert as your meal. I’m sure you will have a blast!

Bon Appetit!

THE VIEW 

TRENINNOW CLIFF ROAD, MILLBROOK, CORNWALL, PL101JY

TEL: 01752822345





[Cornwall, England] The Seafood Restaurant – The Difference between UK, England & Britain

10 06 2011

When my friends asked me where I had traveled to for summer, I was in a bit of a predicament. I had spent a week in London and had taken a road trip 500km down south to the coastal region of Cornwall. As most people haven’t really heard of Cornwall, I’d normally just tell them I had travelled to UK but then I thought to myself, “What’s the difference between UK, England, Britain and Great Britain?”. Doesn’t it all mean the same thing?

Well apparently, it doesn’t…as I found out today.

England is a country, UK and Britain are a union of countries (eg European Union) and that’s why we don’t see UK or Britain as participants in the World Cup or Olympics. UK is a union of the 4 countries comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland whereas Britain aka Great Britain is a union of 3 countries comprising England, Scotland and Wales. Hope this clarifies a common misconception.

Anyway, one wouldn’t normally think of England as a place for surfing, wine tasting or doing a farm stay but all these activities can be accomplished in Cornwall. The seawater here is really clean, and just like in Porto, I found abalone growing rampant along the seashore (it’s the numerous white shells clinging to the rock in the picture).

Arriving at The Seafood Restaurant after a 500km drive from London, we were absolutely famished and we couldn’t wait to get our taste buds aroused by Rick Stein’s flagship restaurant.

The setting of the place is classy yet cosy. Food here doesn’t come cheap and a 3-course ala carte dinner would probably set you back 60-70GBP, excluding drinks. Yet despite such high barriers to entry, you’d be lucky to get a seat without making prior reservations, which goes to show the appeal and high standards that have been set through the 30 odd years that The Seafood Restaurant has been in operation.

This had to be our longest dinner ever, stretching almost 4 hours from 9pm to almost 12.30am, but I’d say it was worth the wait. CW had the 6-Course tasting menu while N and myself settled for ala carte. The staff tried to sync our starters and mains but I guess that meant N and myself had to wait slightly longer for our courses to be served together with CW’s. Didn’t try much of the tasting menu but I did take some pics.

Complimentary Bread, Olives and atas butter

Complimentary Salmon Cakes

A Salad of Octopus with Noodles, Shitake & Enoki Mushrooms, Ginger and Truffle Oil

Seared Hand-dived Scallop and Iberico Ham with Pimenton & Pardina Lentils

Grilled Padstow Lobster

Fillet of Sea Bass a la Plancha with Roasted Fennel Seeds and Sauce Vierge

Baked Cheesecake with Apricot Jelly & Fruit Salsa

Missing pictures from the tasting menu includes the “Crab, Ginger and Coriander Broth with Mussels” and “Petit Fours” because they weren’t very photogenic. At 67GBP, the tasting menu is rather pricey but CW seemed pleased with her meal and the Sea Bass was the best of its kind I have ever tasted.

The sommelier suggested a suitable light tasting white wine called Albarino Lager De Cervera to go with our seafood. Would definitely consider it again if I ever see it on a menu.

My starter of the Turbot fish and Scallops was served with a rich creamy sauce. Very appetizing and the scallop was nicely seared.

 

 

Ragout of Turbot & Scallops Vouvray and Basil

Nothing too exciting about the Halibut, especially after tasting the best Sea Bass in my life earlier.

Escalopes of Halibut with Dill, Carrots and Celery

Served with a side of crispy Naan, I was quite surprised how fatty the Monkfish tasted, and even more surprised that it went well with the Vindaloo. Would highly recommend this to people who can handle spice.

Monkfish Vindaloo

Another surprising development was the Dessert. I never expected such light tasting pastry. Normally, the caramelized pears or peaches tend to cause the pastry to turn soggy but it wasn’t the case for this Peach Tart Tatin, it was absolutely crisp with perfectly caramelized peaches. Truly perfect.

Peach Tart Tatin

Passing all 3 criteria of food, ambience and service standards, The Seafood Restaurant is indeed a place worth stopping by if you ever find yourself in Cornwall.

Bon Appetit!

THE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

RIVERSIDE, PADSTOW PL28 8BY, ENGLAND

TEL: 01841 532700

 





[London] Orrery – A Falling Star & the difference between Sparkling Wine, Prosecco and Champagne

26 05 2011

Everytime my brother has friends fly over to visit him in London, he never fails to bring them to Orrery, an ex-Michelin star French Restaurant. Similarly during my visit, he made a booking for one of their 3-Course Set Dinners via Toptable, priced at 28.50GBP.

We were first treated to a glass of Grand Cru, a type of French Wine. I’m a noob when it comes to wine and don’t know the difference between prosecco, sparkling wine or champagne. Well, I’m sure many that many of us are in similar predicaments so I shall quickly list out the main differences based on my inference of what all-knowing Google says.

Sparkling Wine is the generic term for all kinds of bubbly. Champagne and Prosecco are all subsets of Sparkling Wine. For Champagne, it must be made from mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that are grown in the region of Champagne, France while similarly for Prosecco, it must be produced in Prosecco, Italy with the grapes grown there. For simplicity’s sake, all other types of bubbly not produced in these regions will just be simply known as Sparkling Wine (I’m pretty sure there’s some other exceptions and subsets of Sparkling Wine apart from Champagne and Prosecco but those types of bubbly aren’t as well known by the layman). So apart from the region in which it is produced, both Prosecco and Champagne are also fermented using different methods, with Prosecco meant to be consumed young and fresh, taking only 4-6 weeks to produce a bottle while a bottle of Champagne typically takes up to a year on average to produce. Given the exclusivity of Champagne in terms of its production duration and area, it is usually popped only during special occasions while Prosecco is for day to day drinking. I guess this more or less sums up the differences between them. I’m sure this tidbit of information will be useful in helping you impress your friends the next time they ever decide to pop open a bottle of bubbly 😀

According to my brother, Orrery always serves a complimentary starter and pre-dessert. The hors d’oeuvres today was Tomato soup topped with Basil foam which I felt lacked synergy and was too tangy for my liking. Regardless, it was free.

Usually I prefer my foie gras unadulterated, pan-seared and lightly seasoned but a few recent encounters with its terrine/pate versions have left me thinking. Easily the best dish of the night, the Foie Gras Parfait here trumps over the one I had at Novus, with the caramelized apples doing well to contrast against the smooth appetizing parfait.

The Orrery Fish Cake with Tatare Sauce was a simple Fried Salmon Ball. It tastes fine but I was expecting something a little more sophisticated and elegant given the restaurant.

The Salmon Gravadlax with Beetroot & Coriander is something I’d normally avoid due to its simplicity in preparation but then again, it’s also something that hardly ever goes terribly wrong.

For my main, I ordered the Braised Shoulder of Lamb a la Bordelaise with Mashed Potatoes. By the mere fact that I can’t recall much of it ever since eating it last week, I dare say its forgettable, literally.

Given that Orrery specializes in French cuisine, I was quite surprised that a traditional French dish; Confit Duck Facon Grand Mere, Jus Gras, turned out rather soggy.

Even the safest of choices, the Cod Fillet with Potato Cresse & Mussel Veloute was underwhelming and rather petite in size.

The Roasted Sea Bass with Barigoule, Coriander & Citrus was probably the only decent main that evening, with some decent crackling of the fish skin.

For our complimentary pre-dessert, we were each given Rhubarb topped with Lemon Sorbet and Crumble.

For Dessert, most of us sticked to the popular Chocolate Fondant with Blood Orange Sorbet. I tried to capture a pic exhibiting the choc lava flow but given that the molten chocolate was far too little and way too dense, such a feat was impossible. We did enjoy the sorbet though it’s probably the fastest melting sorbet I have seen.

The Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream too fell short of expectations. Its saving grace was really the Ice Cream with its evident fragrant black specks of vanilla beans.

Complimentary chocolates to end off the meal.

While service and ambience are worthy of Michelin-class, I’m guessing Orrery was probably dropped from the “star-studded” list due to inconsistency in their food.

Bon Appetit!

Orrery

55-57 Marylebone High Street

City of London, London W1U 5RB, United Kingdom

020 7616 8000





[London] Rhodes W1 – A Modern Take on French

22 05 2011

I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to secure an online booking for lunch at Rhodes W1, especially when it was a 5-Course Spring Tasting Menu at just 25.50GBP. I can’t remember which website I used to make the reservation but I discovered that one of the more dominant reservations sites within the UK would be Toptable. It’s a restaruant booking website (very much like diningcity) which frequently offers diners specially priced set menus, and 50% off restaurant bill deals for diners who choose to make their reservations via toptable for selected restaurants. Why doesn’t Singapore have such a website?!

Awarded 1 Michelin star, Rhodes W1 came across to me as being excessively posh, with a chandelier overhanging each and every table and Molten Brown liquid soap & hand lotion and nicely folded cloth towels in the toilet! (and yes, in case you are wondering, I did what normal kiasu Singaporeans would do and spammed some hand lotion before leaving). Despite being labelled a contemporary French eatery, I believe that much of what Rhodes W1 conjures up derive influences from an eclectic mix of different cuisines.

I’m more of a focaccia person that a ciabatta.

Courgette (Zucchini) Mousse, Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Balsamic Jelly. I liked how the palate cleansing balsamic blended well with the creamy mousse.

Braised Octopus Carpaccio, Chorizo Croquette, Fennel and Lemon. Nothing mind-blowing about the octopus but I did like the Croquette which was well fried though I couldn’t really discern the taste of chorizo from the potato.

As G doesn’t take Octopus, the chef obligingly replaced it with a Pigeon Pate, which ironically I found more tasty and substantial.

I just had a Guinea Fowl Confit at Bistro Du Vinlast week which wasn’t exactly spectacular and concluded that Guinea Fowl is just a lesser poultry, short on taste and texture compared to duck or chicken. However I was proved wrong after tasting the Slowed Cooked Guinea Fowl, Baby Leeks, St George’s Mushrooms & Foie Gras Emulsion today. The cylindrical pieces of meat came from the breast and was stuffed with what I gathered was egg, sunflower seeds and some other ingredients. As for the rectangular piece, it consisted of the thigh portions. Both were succulent and juicy.

Pina Colada. Coconut mousse atop pineapple sorbet.

Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Ice Cream. A sweet ending to the stellar meal.

The bill arrived in an envelope labelled “The Damage”. Very cutesey…I like.

Bon Appetit!

Marble Arch
London W1H 7DL, United Kingdom
Tel: 020 7616 5930





[London] Arbutus – My First Michelin Experience

17 05 2011

I would think that more people would associate Michelin with being a restaurant appraiser rather than a tyre company. As history has it, the Michelin guide sprung forth as a guide to help drivers maintain their vehicles in addition to suggesting decent lodging and restaurants in France. Over the years, such Michelin guides have also been published for other major cities around the world, though sadly Singapore is not one of them. That is the reason why we don’t hear of Michelin star restaurants in Singapore and not because Singapore restaurants are not good enough as one might possibly think.

As at 1st February 2010, London has 2 Michelin 3-star restaurants, 7 2-star restaurants and 40 1-star restaurants, a large proportion of which serves French cuisine. As this was my first time trying out a Michelin starred restaurant, I was particularly excited.

Arbutus is a 1-star Michelin restaurant serving contemporary European cuisine. As far as I know, it’s also probably offers the most affordable 3-course set lunch amongst its London Michelin starred counterparts going at just 16.95GBP. Located in Soho, which is pretty much central London, it gets really packed during lunch so reservations are a must.

For the set lunch menu, diners are only given a choice between 2 items, for each of the courses.

Both G and myself had the Hand Chopped Scottish Beef Tartare and given its rarity in Singapore restaurants, this is possibly my first or second time having it. The green spices dotting the beef are capers, which are the green stuff you see in tartare sauce. It has a slightly briny pickled taste to it and helps to musk any odours of the raw beef, though there was none in this case.

Another uncommon item on Singapore menus, I took a strong fancy to the Slow Roast Rabbit, Aubergine (aka eggplant), Potato Gnocchi. The rabbit was served already debone which I’m very thankful for as it can get quite troublesome deboning it yourself. While it tastes much like chicken, I much prefer rabbit as it is typically more tender and flavourful when executed well, which in this case it was.

For Desserts, we both had the Vanilla Panna Cotta. It was very smooth and the black specks of fragrant vanilla beans were evident at the base of the glass bowl. However, personally I felt that this panna cotta was a little too mild and could afford to be made more richly.

Overall, I felt that Arbutus’s Michelin star is well deserved and one thing I really like about them is that they do not scrimp on the quantity nor quality, even for mere a set lunch.

Bon Appetit!

ARBUTUS

63 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 3JW

TEL: +44 20 7734 4545 (020 7734 4545 if you are using are calling from within UK)








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