Dehesa, Ganton Street, W1F

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During the warmer months (how optimistic!) we at London’s Dinest love to dine al fresco, sharing a few dishes over some lovely wine. Last night we were able to do all three at Dehesa in Carnaby Street.

Having visited Dehesa’s Sister restaurant, Salt Yard, we were expecting great things. One key point to mention about all the restaurants in this group (Opera Tavern is another) is that we can actually reserve a table. A rareity these days in London.

Upon arrival we were given a table inside the small restaurant, but after asking if we could sit outside instead, they quickly cleared a table for us with no issues.

The menu is divided into 6 sections. Bar Snack, Charcuterie, Cheese boards, Meats, Fish and Vegetables. We settled on ordering a couple of dishes from each section to get a wide variety of flavours.

To start with we opted for the Guindilla Peppers, Chargrilled Bread with Alioli and a Spanish cheese board. Yes we are aware that normally a cheese board would be towards the end of the meal, but we decided to mix things up!

All three came within moments of each other and we have to say that the cheese board really was excellent. Three Spanish cheeses accompanied by pickles and crisp bread had just the right balance of flavours. The flatbread was warm and fresh and it worked well with the cheese and peppers!

To follow we selected the Black Ink Risotto with Chili Scallops and Smoked Cod Roe, Grilled Chorizo with Fresh Pea Purée and Crispy Red Onions, Grilled Beef Bavette with Cherry Tomato & Green Bean Salad, Sautéed Girolles with Fried Free Range Egg, Grilled Flat bread & Herb Infused Olive Oil and finally the Gnochetti Sardi with Datterini Tomato, Courgette, Grilled Artichoke & Mascarpone.

One thing we love about tapas dining is that dishes come as and when they are ready, giving you enough time in between to enjoy little morsels at a time. First came the Ink Risotto. It was cooked well and the scallops that accompanied it were the right consistency, not too chewy but also not over done and tough! The Girolles with Duck egg and Flatbread was really well cooked and the herb oil had a brilliant aroma about it. The dish would even work well as a breakfast option! The stars of the evening were the Chorizo and the Beef. Both were cooked well and the pea puree with the Chorizo was excellent. It cooled down the spice of the sausage without overpowering us. The beef was really tender, melted in our mouths. We will be back for this dish alone!

Dehesa ticked all the boxes last night. Good food, good wine and above all great for sitting outside on a warmer summer evening!

Dehesa
25 Ganton Street, W1F 9BP

Jackson & Rye, Wardour Street, W1D

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Another weekend and another brunch ticked off the list! On what must have been the hottest weekend of the year so far we decided to start it right, and what better way to do this than by having a delicious brunch!

We decided upon Jackson & Rye and called up to reserve a table. The cheery person at the other end took our booking no questions asked and off we went. We know they’re busy so it was great to get a booking. They do leave a few tables free for walk-ins so you’re welcome to try your luck.

Upon arrival we were quickly greeted by the friendly Maitre’D who showed us to our table. The menus were already waiting for us which helps quite a lot!

When we think of brunch we automatically think of bellinis. J & R have a couple on the menu and we settled for the white peach option. These were really tasty and set off our day on the right track. You can’t go wrong with champagne and fruit!

For food, we started by sharing their Buttermilk pancakes with banana cream & maple syrup and Jalapeno corn bread with sour cream & laced with spring onions. Both were delicious. The pancakes were as they should be – light, fluffy and springy to the touch. The accompanying banana cream was moreish and worked really well. It was the first time any of us had tried it and we have to say its definitely something we are going to look out for on brunch menus again. The corn bread was hot, spicy and melted in your mouth. It was a nice counterpart to the pancakes and again is something you rarely see on menus but always want more of.

These were followed by eggs for everyone. Miss Herbie went for the Gardener’s (Fried eggs, spinach, country style potatoes, grilled toast) but swapped the fried for poached and asked for hollandaise on the side which they happily accommodated.(Always a winner with us for sure!) Other options included the Farmer’s (Fried eggs, slab bacon, fried potatoes, herbed sausage patty, grilled toast) and Angler’s (Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, country style potatoes, grilled toast). Everything was great! Eggs were cooked to perfection, the accompanying potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and a great alternative to hash browns. The sausage patty was a star on the plate. Succulent and rich with flavour and it had us longing for more.

Overall a great brunch with brilliant service. If its for a quick bite or a long boozy get together with friends, this place is definitely worth checking out if you are out and about in Soho.

Jackson & Rye
56 Wardour Street, W1D 4JG

House of Ho, Old Compton Street, W1D

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Vietnamese food is one of our favourites at London’s Dinest but it’s rare that we get a chance to have it. This meant our trip to House of Ho came with added excitement. After having a few drinks after work on a Friday (a staple of any Londoner), we made our way down to Old Compton Street to sample Bobby Chinn’s newest venture. Being a TV celebrity second to being an excellent chef; this is third restaurant and the first outside of Vietnam.

Upon entering, the place has a vibrant feel and it was buzzing inside. This the kind of place we like to eat and while a table was prepared for us we chose some cocktails. The Saigon Sour and the Flying Shiso Martini were chosen along with a couple of the only beer in the place, the Saigon. Both cocktails were potent yet excellent and we loved the Vietnamese twist they’d put on the drinks.

Once we were sat and looking at the menu you can see that House of Ho isn’t strictly Vietnamese but more of a fusion with very heavy Vietnamese influences. Our first choice of dish shows this perfectly: Seafood Ceviche. We decided on picking a variety of dishes rather than going for starters etc and this is welcomed in such a place. Along with the ceviche we had Smokey Chili Glazed Chicken Wings, Squab Breast in a Herbal Medicinal Broth (mainly because we hadn’t sampled squab before), Apple Smoked Pork Belly, Braised Cabbage & Poached Egg (pictured) and Lemongrass Chicken in Caramel Sauce.

The seafood ceviche was fantastic, it wasn’t too dissimilar from what we had at Chotto Matte recently and that’s a good thing! Fresh and tangy and something we could eat over and over. It’s tough to share such a great dish between four people so bear that in mind. The wings were very tasty, not the best wings we’ve ever had but that’s not the point here as there are BBQ places for that! Extremely tender and a chilli kick that works and if only there were more on the plate. The squab was interesting and anyone who doesn’t like game-y flavours should steer clear. It’s a heavy meat that was cooked very well and tasted great with the broth; the flavour pairings are top notch! The pork belly was one of the favourite dishes and was soft with a crispy shell. The cabbage was excellent and the poach egg topped off a great dish. Lemongrass chicken is another dish we hadn’t sampled before and on paper it would seem strange. However the caramel sauce with the chicken that had strong hints of lemongrass was fantastic. Lick your plate clean fantastic!

We didn’t get a chance to try the desserts, much to the disappointment of our waiter however this was due to the excessive consumption of the excellent cocktails. House of Ho is a great place to eat for dinner or something pre-theatre. Prices aren’t excessive and Bobby Chinn is on to a winner here. We’ll be back soon!

House of Ho
57-59 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 6HP

Hawksmoor, Air Street, W1J

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Hawksmoor’s newest branch came to Air Street not that long ago and being that it’s our favourite steakhouse in London it wasn’t long before we took a trip down there to see if it could get any better.

If you Google ‘Best steak in London’ you’ll find that Hawksmoor is right up there with its contemporaries. The Seven Dials branch has been the stand-out performer between all of their branches and we were excited for Air Street. Mainly because it’s not far from our favourite haunt (Soho) and also that the venue is fantastic. The front of house is based downstairs and once you climb the spiral staircase you’re engulfed in a heavily mahogany space buzzing with diners. The dining room is large and we thought it may be tough to find a table however we were shown to one right away.

This branch of Hawksmoor has taken on a lot of seafood dishes to complement the excellent steak and this has come through a partnership with Mitch Tonks; “the chef/owner of one of the best seafood restaurants in the country” as quoted on their website. The seafood, along with their steak is cooked over real charcoal to seal in that flavour that you crave. With our love of both of these foods, we could tell before we ate that this was going to become our favourite branch.

The waiter, who we must say was excellent, provided us with a large wine menu and helped us get to choosing a Domaine Coudoulet, Syrah 2012. It’s easy to spend quite a lot on wine here when a) it’s this good and b) there’s that much choice so come thirsty! To start we had Elberry cove mussels with bay & chilli and Brixham crab on toast with mayonnaise. Both excellent in terms of how fresh the seafood was and second to the flavour. The mussels came in a bucket with this fragrant broth (cold but this is the best word for it) and it got to a point where we were fighting over the last one. The crab on toast was so fresh and flavoursome it could be had as a brunch item were it larger.

Now on to the reason we are here, steak. If you’ve not been to Hawksmoor before, you can look at the menu and decide that you want a fillet steak or a rib-eye but that’s not what you really want. To have the best that they serve, and because it’s our favourite, we would recommend the chateaubriand. This is served per 100g and your waiter will tell you what cuts they have in the kitchen. The same concept goes for porterhouse, T-bone and their bone-in prime rib. That’s not to say you can’t go for their pre-sized steak cuts, but if you’re here you may as well do it right! Our waiter let us know that they had a 550g piece of chateaubriand which was perfect for two and then it was on to the sides. With a plethora of options, we chose: Lobster Mac & Cheese, Triple cooked chips and Spring greens. These along with peppercorn sauce finished off our main course selection.

The steak comes, pre cut and cooked to perfection. Hawksmoor develop a flavour with their meat that we think is unrivalled. It’s so ultimately moreish that we do wish there was a 700g cut in the kitchen! Medium rare is how we like steak to be served and this was on point and had just the right amount of pink. The lobster mac and cheese was a revelation. We wish there was a few more lobster pieces but it is a side dish and coupled with the lobster bisque that came with it, this could be a main dish in any southern food restaurant. The infamous triple cooked chips are just fantastic and the spring greens were crunchy and fresh.

At this point we were very full considering how much we just ate but then a great menu was placed in front of us. On it read: ‘Puddings, Cheese & After Dinner Drinks’. Our favourite things all on one menu! We ended up going for their signature dish of Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tart and we have to say, if we weren’t so full from main course, this would have got devoured within minutes. Salted caramel is a guilty pleasure at London’s Dinest and this tart was delicious.

Hawksmoor’s Air Street branch is only going to get busier so would recommend a reservation if possible. However don’t let that put you off walking in and getting a table as the art deco dining space is so vast, there should be a table free. Try and check out their wine club on Mondays as well as some of the best roast dinner to be had on a Sunday.

There is no other restaurant in London that combines steak of this calibre that is matched with an equally excellent wine list and it is why Hawksmoor is the best steak in London.

Hawksmoor
5a Air Street, London, W1J 0AD

Kopapa, Monmouth Street, WC2H

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Sundays are meant for a handful of things: lie-ins, afternoon movies and, our favourite, BRUNCH.

Having heard so many great things about Kopapa, we finally made a reservation and headed on down. We arrived about 10 minutes late but that wasn’t an issue with the friendly Kopapa staff, who immediately sat us down at the next available table. Though boy was it busy. Groups of people were waiting hoping to nab the next no-show!

Once seated and after several minutes of staring at what our fellow diners were eating and drinking, we made our decision. We chose the infamous Turkish Eggs (2 poached eggs with whipped yoghurt, hot chilli butter & 2 slices of toast), Chorizo Hash (with 2 fried eggs, rocket, Sriracha chilli sauce & crispy shallots) and the French Toast (Spiced banana, grilled bacon, orange blossom labne, tamarind raisin relish & orange vanilla syrup). We had all been looking forward to this for some time and we weren’t disappointed!

The Turkish eggs, a bowl of two perfectly formed poached eggs sitting on a bed of whipped yoghurt and drizzled with a hot chilli butter, was served with some warm fresh sourdough toast. We were all sceptical about the yoghurt and how it would work with the eggs – our advice, don’t question it. It worked! The eggs were cooked excellently with the yolk still runny but the white holding it altogether. The chilli butter was the right level of heat to match the cool yoghurt and gave the dish the punch it needed. The Chorizo hash was as it should be, Smokey potatoes with a hot kick balanced well with two runny yolk fried eggs. The potatoes were crisp enough to hold the eggs but soft to bite against the spicy chorizo. We all followed this with a round of coffees and a dessert to share. The Kopapa Blend coffee is roasted for them exclusively by Monmouth Coffee Company in Bermondsey, and it sure is excellent!

Dessert was a Peanut butter parfait with Original Beans, 75% Piura Criollo chocolate delice, salted caramel sauce & chocolate crumble and it was heaven on a plate! The delice was superb, and the agreed favourite element to the dessert.

Overall, we are glad we finally made it Kopapa. Busy it may be, but it is definitely worth the wait. We will surely be back again for those Turkish eggs!

Kopapa, 32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HA

Trishna, Blandford Street, W1U

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There are two ways to do a curry in our eyes; Fine dining or conveniently messy! We took a trip to the Michelin starred Trishna to have an Indian fine dining experience we can’t speak highly enough of.

Set in Marylebone which, in our eyes, is getting more and popular for all sorts of restaurants and bars. This is probably due to it being set away from the busier parts of London in Baker Street and Oxford Street, it’s quiet with its village feel but busy enough to feel like a quieter street in Soho. When you take the jump to a restaurant with a Michelin star, everything changes. The front of house is astute and the service impeccable.

Upon taking our seats we were introduced to our waitress by the Maître’D who was excellent throughout. We had some poppadums with some excellent chutneys to compliment. These weren’t your usual chutneys either, they had a sweetness and spice we have yet to experience elsewhere. There are wines to suit all tastes here and it’s easy to get carried away. However we picked a red wine that would complement our dishes accordingly and it was delicious. Our favourite part of Trishna is that at no point did anyone have an empty glass. The attention to detail was just great!

Starters of Kolhapuri Jheenga (shrimps, ginger, smoked chilli chutney), Hariyali Bream (green chilli, coriander, tandoor smoked tomato kachumber), Paneer Tikka (fenugreek leaf, corn & green mango chat) and their famous Lamb Chops (Kashmiri chilli, ginger, kasundi mooli) arrived and each were exquisite. Trishna serves up some of the best Indian seafood in London and the way they flavour match (everything in brackets) was amazing on the palette. It wasn’t a case of each dish getting better and better either as there was a distinct bar set here and we were waiting for something to come in below it!

Mains came shortly after and consisted of: Kerala Jheenga Curry (Keralan spices, tiger prawns, drumstick), Guinea Fowl Tikka (masoor lentils, star anise, fennel), Hyderabadi Daal (masoor-toor-channa lentils, mustard, curry leaf) and Coastal Bhindi (fennel seed, fenugreek seed). These were all accompanied by a naan bread basket, basmati rice and another famous dish; duck keema naan. It’s the way that this isn’t your traditional Indian restaurant in terms of the meat and fishes used which sets Trishna apart. We loved the Kerala Jheenga curry with the plump tiger prawns and the Guinea Fowl Tikka was so tender that we wished there was more. The vegetarian dishes were delightful and the duck keema naan was a pure winner!

There wasn’t a lot of room for dessert for obvious reasons but the Chocolate Chikki Cake (pista-cashew chikki, peanut jaggery ice cream) that we did have was excellent. Moist and heavenly chocolate cake with pistachio and accompanied with peanut jaggery ice cream just works, it really does.

Trishna will hit your wallet harder than usual restaurants we tend to go to and for good reason. Come for something special but for a pre-night out dinner we’d recommend getting the early evening menu; you won’t be disappointed. Michelin starred dining with excellent sea food in impeccable Indian flavours.

Trishna
15 -17 Blandford Street, Marylebone Village, W1U 3DG

Pix-Bar, Bateman Street, W1D

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What’s the difference between tapas and pintxos I hear you say? Well we head to Pix in Soho to find out.

We have heard of this little bar for some time now and at London’s Dinest we always like to try new things. So last night we gave Pix in Soho a try. Now Pintxos from the outset may look like tapas, but there is a difference. The difference comes in the form of an important cocktail stick.

Pintxos comes from the spanish word ‘pincho’ which itself comes from the verb ‘pinchar’, which means ‘to pierce’. Traditionally pintxos would be little morsels of food pierced to bread with a cocktail stick. However the cuisine has evolved over the years and bread is being used less and less as part of the traditional pintxos.

Pix is definitely up there with this movement. With choices like salt cod fritters and Aubergine dip, there is a diverse range of dishes to suit all.

We were sat on one of the many long, tall benches and were explained that we should just rock up to the buffet style counter and pick as many dishes as we want. We then keep the cocktail stick and at the end they count them up to see how much has been eaten. A pretty cool concept but also dangerously easy to lose track of how much you have eaten!

There’s a variety of hot and cold pinxtos to choose from and we made a point of trying all of them! Highlights included the Four cheese fritters, Salted Cod Croquetas and the Chilli Chicken Kebab. Every single dish was great in flavour and were all little surprises on their own.

If you are looking for a casual place to chill out with great food and lovely wine, then Pix is your place. We wouldn’t suggest it for larger groups though, it can get quite cramped!

Pix-Bar
16 Bateman Street
London
W1D 3AH