Michael Moore, London [Restaurant Review]

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

Highly recommended by a friend, the Suckling Pig, we were quite eager to make a reservation at Michael Moore’s especially when there was an offer for £45 for a 7 course dinner tasting menu with wine pairing (Mon - Wed only. £75 other days.). Located on the slightly less busy parts of London in Marylebone, parking was surprisingly easy to find on this occasion and the front of the restaurant was inviting with a full glass wall facing the street to invite in more of the ever dwindling sunlight.


Michael Moore

The restaurant was fairly empty at 7pm on our arrival and remained quite empty the whole night, the sommelier saying that most of their regular diners are away in July/August and their business usually drops then. Nevertheless, the wife and me were quite happy, except that the table seemed remarkably tiny. I admit I’m near 6 foot tall and slightly larger than average size/height but I felt like I didn’t have a lot of space to manoeuvre myself about.


Michael Moore restaurant

Upon confirming our order of tasting menu with accompanying wine, some bread came along shortly. There were three choices – white, rye and cheese. The cheese version was very aromatic and quite rich in cheesey flavour, considering it looked identical to the white bread to me.


Michael Moore tasting menu


Michael Moore bread

The
amuse bouche turned out to be black sushi rice with salmon and wasabi cream. While beautifully presented, I felt the rice was chewier than expected and probably undercooked. I’m not 100% sure as to the flavourings used in the rice but it overpowered the salmon. The wasabi cream however was a shock to the system (in a good way); although it looked quite demure, it was nearly as strong as fresh wasabi but sweetened a little to give it more body.


Michael Moore rice


Michael Moore rice salmon

The first wine to appear was a white
Chardonnay: very light and quite dry, probably the best way to start the first of five glasses to come that night. Accompanying it was celeriac cream with truffle oil. I admit that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this, but I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality and taste. Lured by the truffle aroma, the soup was actually well seasoned, incredibly creamy and lacked any taste of celery which the PigPig detests. The little slice of parmesan crisp provided even more competition for the tastebuds and the choice of pea shoots (I think it was pea shoots, I’m not the best identifier of green stuff in dishes) was well thought of as the taste could cut through the richness of the soup.


Michael Moore soup

A glass of
Riesling from Germany came next; still quite light but noticeably with more body than the first white, again I think it matched quite well as the next dish was more intense in flavour. The whiskey gravadlax with vanilla scallops was a real treat on the eyes. For a quick explanation, gravadlax is a Scandinavian dish whereby raw salmon is cured with salt, sugar and dill giving it a taste and texture similar to smoked salmon (but without the smokiness). Although I felt the gravadlax was too salty here, the scallops were incredible; fresh, perfectly cooked, very tender. The natural sweetness of the seafood was further enhanced by a sweet salad dressing.


Michael Moore scallop

I have to admit I didn’t taste much champagne in the
champagne sorbet. It was reasonably effective as a palate cleanser even though it wasn’t sour.


Michael Moore sorbet

Continuing the spectrum, a glass of
rose was provided for the next dish. To me, the honey tilapia with fava beans was the outstanding dish of the day. The tilapia on its own was very good to eat; fresh, succulent, cooked quite simply really with just some honey glaze to sweeten the meat. However, the fava beans in ginger sauce (I didn’t really taste the ginger, but the waitress said it was ginger sauce) were so delicious I could have just eaten a whole plate of it and left the restaurant happy. The menu did say that it was wasabi cream but I can only assume that the chef changed his mind; I’m quite glad he did as I really enjoyed this dish.


Michael Moore fish

A red
Argentinian malbec accompanied the red meat for today; although very smoky on its own, it tasted better with some red meat to keep it company and when allowed to breathe a little. I had actually eaten a slice of the lamb cutlet before the waiter arrived again with a little jug of gravy; a shame as the lamb itself was seasoned very plainly, just salt and pepper, and it needed the gravy to make the meat more interesting.


Michael Moore meat dish


Michael Moore lamb sauce


Michael Moore lamb

The
crispy belly pork with plum sauce looked a little dry to my eyes and it proved to be the case, a shame as the Suckling Pig was raving about it for at least 37 days after he ate here. I do have to admit though that the skin was very crispy and the dish would have been a lot better if the meat was juicier and more tender.


Michael Moore pork belly

Unfortunately, it was soon time for dessert. Fortunately, the
chocolate avalanche looked absolutely amazing, even more so after the waiter poured some milk chocolate over the dark chocolate cone. It proved a little tricky to eat though as the chocolate cone was quite thick and hard to crack open, even though it had a hollow surprise of ice cream (I can’t put my finger on exactly what flavour it was). The vanilla ice cream (presumably home made) was creamy and had generous flecks of vanilla beans, always a good sign.


Michael Moore dessert


Michael Moore chocolate

The sommelier did explain more about the dessert wine, but he had quite a thick French accent so I couldn’t make it out; I suspect it was plum wine and it tasted quite nice, not overly sweet like how some dessert wines can taste like cough syrups.

The
petit fours in the end turned out to be a little chocolate truffle which was quite nice, but I would have liked more.


Michael Moore petit four

Admittedly, there weren’t a lot of other diners that night, but the service was very good and attentive throughout the night. Although one of the waiters was obviously new at it, he would offer to refer the question to someone else and I would get my answer in the end. Also, Michael Moore, the head chef comes around to have a chat with the diners and is generally quite a charming fellow. I pointed out he should be upgraded from Michelin recommended to starred but he disagreed and said he preferred not to be starred, as he likes the situation as it is now with less demands and pressure and ultimately a more informal dining situation.

Altogether, the bill for the tasting menu with accompanying wine cost us £40 each (it’s supposed to be £45 but the waiter still charged us £40 despite me trying to correct him).

Food - 7.0
Service - 8.0
Atmosphere - 7.0
Value - 7.5


Although reviews online were generally quite good, Michael Moore’s is fairly low-key in terms of the publicity and general media coverage. I entered the restaurant not expecting much, but being very pleasantly surprised at the overall quality. I would heartily recommend this restaurant to other diners around London who are looking for good modern European food.

Would I eat here again? Ah well apparently Michael Moore’s tasting menu is changing 10 days from when I ate (27th July) and changes every two months or so. Anyway yes I’m quite looking forward to going back again with a new menu to sample.

Michael Moore
19 Blandford St
Marylebone, W1U 8
Tel: +44(0)20 7224 1898
Official website

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The Ultimate Comfort Food - Minced Meat & Baked Beans with Rice & A Sunny Side Up!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

This is my current new found comfort food. I couldn't get the idea of minced meat and baked beans combo out of my mind ever since I saw it somewhere (sorry I forgot which blog) awhile ago. I decided to give it a try one day and WOW it's super tasty and so satisfying! I would highly suggest that you serve this with a sunny side up. The oozing yolk just makes everything better - agree?


Minced beef and baked beans 1


Ingredients: serves 3

  • 1 large onion - diced
  • 1 can baked beans
  • 500g minced meat ( I used beef)
Seasonings:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Sriracha
  • Oyster sauce
  • Pepper

Directions:

  • Saute onions until soft.
  • Add minced meat, stir fry until cooked and dry.
  • Mix in baked beans.
  • Add seasonings to taste.
  • Serve immediately with rice and a sunny side up egg!



Minced beef and baked beans 2
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Matcha Green Tea Ice-Cream

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Custard-based? No. Churner? No. Stirring as it's freezing? No. Smooth and creamy? YES! The wild boar actually complained that it was too creamy for green tea ice-cream. Can you believe it? Men..hard to please =P


Matcha green tea ice-cream 1

Anyway, I love green tea ice-cream and I like it creamy, just like Häagen-Dazs'! Some of the green tea ice-cream I had were powdery. I wonder why. But this method, even without vigorous stirring, yields extremely smooth and creamy ice-cream. Glad to have found this method because having to keep stirring vigorously while it's freezing is quite a PITA - too much work and patience needed. This recipe is definitely a keeper and I can't wait to whip up more and experiment with other flavours!

Matcha green tea ice-cream 4
Ingredients:
Adapted from Eat the right stuff

  • 1 1/4 cup evaporated milk - chilled
  • 1 cup (or less) sweetened condensed milk - chilled
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream - chilled
  • 2 1/2 tbs matcha powder

Directions:

  • Using an electric whisk, whisk evaporated milk until thickened.
  • Fold into condensed milk.
  • Whisk together heavy cream and matcha powder until thickened.
  • Fold heavy cream into evaporated milk/ condensed milk mixture (1/3 at a time).
  • Freeze.

Comments:

  • Make sure that the evaporated milk is well chilled before whisking, if not it won't thicken.
  • I would suggest using less condensed milk - about 1/4 cup or even 1/3 cup less than what I've used here as it's a bit too sweet.

I am entering this to the Ice Cream Social event hosted by Tracey of Tangled Noodle, Scott of Scotty Snacks and Jennifer of Savor the Thyme.


Matcha green tea ice-cream 5
Drizzle some evaporated milk on top and enjoy!


Matcha on Foodista
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Great Queen Street, London [Restaurant Review]

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

A revolution in British cooking happened in 1991 with the first gastropub in London and ever since then, more and more pubs have closed up shop temporarily for a few months only to reopen, rebranded as a gastropub. No wonder too, as they’re making money hand over fist with more diners demanding higher quality food. Even Gordon Ramsay’s getting into it when he opened The Narrow but that’s not today’s topic; no today, we talk about Great Queen Street.


Great Queen Street London 11

Sister restaurant to award winning gastropub Anchor & Hope in Waterloo (I forgot which award, but I know they won something), Great Queen Street can be found in a more central Holborn area opposite the Freemason’s Hall, so finding a parking spot can be slightly tricky. We made a reservation for 8pm and despite turning up 30 minutes late (I hate the game of Finding Parking in London), they still kept our table on a busy Saturday night (it was a full house).


Great Queen Street London 03


Great Queen Street London 02

After being seated, a waiter gave us each a menu, printed on seemingly disposable A4 paper as the menu changes too regularly to use a proper fixed menu. There is still a specials board though, which we made all our choices from. The regular menu had a selection of standard British cuisine, but in true gastropub sense, refined slightly using quality ingredients.


Great Queen Street London 01

To be completely honest though, the menu doesn’t explain a whole lot about the dish, more a list of the major ingredients than the elaborate descriptive prose so loved by Michelin starred restaurants. This (somewhat excessive some might feel) simplicity is a byproduct from Fergus Henderson, founder of St John’s restaurant in London. This “simplicity” theme is recurrent not only in the cooking style, but also in the décor; the furniture and cutlery is more utilitarian than designer beauty.


Great Queen Street London 04

One of the two starters chosen was risotto with English truffles, try finding that in your local boozer. The risotto was perfectly cooked al dente with generous portions of cheese. The truffles added a touch of luxury to the dish, but to be honest it didn’t make a large impression to an already very good dish.


Great Queen Street London 05

The other starter we had was a rillette of pork, which the waiter explained as being similar to a coarse pate. To my disappointment, the rillette didn’t have any liver in it, but it was nevertheless still filled to the brim with pork essence and was set brilliantly with either the gherkins or piccalilli. I felt that the toasted bread given was sliced too thickly and toasted too much and became too hard, but it was a minor complaint.


Great Queen Street London 06

We were famished at the time of ordering, so we actually ordered more than the amount recommended, despite the gentle admonishments by the waiter. Between the three of us, we had a wild seabass which could feed two or three people according to the waiter, depending on how hungry we were, as well as a venison pot which could also feed two people. So technically, we ordered for five, setting up a quite enjoyable task to finish all the food.

Starting with the wild seabass, it satisfied the most important criterion of seafood, that being its freshness. With such quality seafood, nothing too extravagant needs to be done, just a generous sprinkling of salt on the skin and a stuffing of lemon and fennel provided some aroma. A drizzling of extra virgin olive oil on the rocket salad, artichokes and skinned plum tomatoes on the side was sufficient. All in all, a simple dish but well executed.


Great Queen Street London 07

A pot of venison and mushrooms was stewed until the meat was so tender a geriatrician who lost her dentures could still enjoy this dish. Although this dish was not to my liking as I prefer my stews heartier with more substance to the sauce, the two ladies accompanying me absolutely loved it.


Great Queen Street London 08

Even after the two monster sized mains, the PigPig was determined to prove that women has a separate stomach for desserts. I chose a Pimms and lemon sorbet float, which proved quite a good one on a humid summer’s day. Additions of diced strawberries and cucumber added an interesting texture to the float, which weren’t out of place either.


Great Queen Street London 10

The choice of Muscat caramel cream was an inspired one by my wife and I would have been willing to finish it promptly if not for my stomach reaching nearly maximum capacity. Ridiculously rich and creamy, the caramel provided a nice smoky foil to the sweetness of the cream.


Great Queen Street London 12

All good restaurants try to use seasonal ingredients and an example of this is the custard tart with gooseberries. The custard tart was milky rich and the gooseberries were sweetened slightly to help its natural tartness.


Great Queen Street London 09

The winelist was influenced heavily by the French, with about half the reds coming from them. To compromise between the venison and fish, a choice of a Bergerac rose at £29 was quite good, with the rose being quite light and refreshing with just enough body to satisfy me.

Altogether, the bill came to £45 per person including service charge which wasn’t included in the bill and left to the discretion of the diner.

Food - 7.0
Service - 6.0
Atmosphere - 6.0
Value - 5.0


The food in general was brilliant with very little to complain about. Shying away from French elaboration and sticking to simple dishes done properly while tossing out plate presentation out the window, this restaurant has found a gameplan, stuck to it and excelled. My only complaint is that some of the more interesting mains require two or more people to share, all well and good for the restaurant, but difficult for diners in small-ish groups.

Would I eat here again? The next time I need to entertain friends from outside the island to show them how good British cuisine can be.

Great Queen Street
Covent Garden
32 Great Queen St
Covent Garden, WC2B 5AA
Tel: +44(0)20 7242 0622

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Salmon Cakes

Thursday, 23 July 2009

After last month's daring cooks challenge, I am left with lots of leftover powders. It's a shame to throw them all away after all the 'hard work', so I've been trying to incorporate them into my recent dishes. The onion/caper powder is particularly versatile as it is salty - I use it as a salt substitute in pastas, stews, casseroles...Here is a very simple dish seasoned with the onion/ caper powder. And I served it with some home-made sambal belacan!


salmon cakes (2)


Ingredients: 6 fish cakes

  • 1 can (418g) skinless & boneless salmon
  • 1 handful coriander - finely chopped
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves - finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp onion/ caper powder (optional)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
For coating:

  • 1 egg - beaten
  • about 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

  • Mix together salmon, coriander, kaffir lime leaves, egg, onion/caper powder and panko.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide salmon mixture into 6 equal portions and shape them.
  • To coat, place beaten egg and panko on 2 separate plates.
  • One by one, dip the salmon cakes in beaten egg, shake off excess egg then coat the cakes with panko. Shake off excess panko.
  • Heat up a bit of oil in a pan.
  • Fry the salmon cakes until golden brown (about 2 mins each side).



salmon cakes
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Prague - Hotel Angelo & More Food!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

I swear this is my last post on Prague. I wanted to leave this out but I couldn't because the hotel we stayed at was just amazing. The hotel is located near the historical part of Prague (about 20 mins walk) or just minutes by tram. It is very modern with very friendly and helpful staffs, very clean room/ bathroom (very important to me), comfortable bed...


prague hotel angelo 21


prague hotel angelo 05


prague hotel angelo 20

We stayed on the executive Floor with free coffee/ tea machine and computers to use.

prague hotel angelo 04

Our room

prague hotel angelo 01

Welcome drinks and snacks

prague hotel angelo 02


prague hotel angelo 03

The breakfast was amazing.

prague hotel angelo 06


prague hotel angelo 07


prague hotel angelo 09


prague hotel angelo 08

More food!

prague hotel angelo 10

What we ate

prague hotel angelo 11


prague hotel angelo 12


prague hotel angelo 14


prague hotel angelo 13

Bacon and nutella...yum yum!

prague hotel angelo 16

Cakes for breakfast?

prague hotel angelo 15


prague hotel angelo 19

A weird fruit (kiwano) I found in Tesco, Prague. Tasted like slimy cucumber.

prague hotel angelo 17


prague hotel angelo 18




Hotel Angelo
Radlicka street 1g, Prague 5
Official website

View pictures of the beautiful Prague ---> Here

Food & Drinks we had in Prague ---> Here


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