The Long Table by Bootstrap Company/The Loft Project

Puff balls cooking at The Long Table

Despite flying in from New Delhi just hours earlier, I found myself waiting in the hour-long queue for The Long Table last night. The pop up night market is a collaboration between Bootstrap Company and The Loft Project and will be running for another three weeks at Abbot Street in Dalston.

Bootstrap Company organised a series of bar, music and cinema focused events in the East End of London this summer, including the Dalston Roof Park. The Loft Project, the brainchild of Nuno Mendes, is all about the food. So when the two came together, it was really a mini festival.

Based around two tented rows of candle-lit long tables were stalls from the likes of Hawksmoor, Moro, London Fields Brewery and The Loft Project. Great food and drinks were served up while a live band serenaded the guests with polite melody. But after a couple of hours, dressing warm and huddling around sporadic fires were just not enough to stay toasted – it was time to head down to 69 Colebrooke Row for a swift rhubarb gimlet.

Here are a selection of images from last night:

London Malmaison Christmas Celebration Menu dinner

Menu from dinner at Malmaison, London, to sample their Christmas Celebration Menu available from 7th December until 24th December (this is a reduced sample version, more options are available on the full menu):

Vichyssoise with smoked haddock

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Goats cheese and caramelised onion tart

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Parfait of chicken livers with toasted brioche and grape chutney

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Char-grilled dry aged rib eye steak “Borderlaise”

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Fillet Loch Duart salmon with beetroot and butternut squash

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Pumpkin and parmesan ravioli with sage and toasted pine nuts

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Classic Christmas pudding with brandy cream

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Yule log with chocolate genoise sponge, Valhrona chocolate ganache and chantilly cream

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Selection of artisan cheese served with biscuits and chutney

 

Patara, Greek Street, Review

Inside Patara, Greek Street, London

Expectations:
Thai restaurant Patara is full of Eastern promises. With four venues around London and more across the globe, it certainly has a good reputation and we were expecting a good feed. Food made with fresh ingredients and plenty of lemongrass and galangal was definitely top of that list, along with excellent service. Thais are known for their polite hospitality after all.

Experience:
Oysters were in season so a selection of their finest Maldon rocks was an obvious starter. The raw huîtres arrived perfectly shucked and ready to be doused with a refreshing mint, coriander and lemongrass liquor or, if you prefer, lemon or Thai vinaigrette. Their tender soda-battered counterparts have a more spicy edge with an accompaniment of chilli dip. Of course we couldn’t neglect their signature dish miang guaytiew either, which was a delicate selection of rice paper rolls with prawn, crabmeat and five spiced duck.

For main, a grilled rack of lamb with sweet rice rolls and grilled black cod with ginger and pickled yellow bean sauce were richly accompanied by broccoli spears, pak choy leaves and shiitake mushrooms. It was a small banquet but a very healthy spread. From the selection of mostly European wines, we chose the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domain du Grand Tinel 2006 to wash it all down but their cocktails are equally excellent.

And there’s nothing quite like pulling out all the stops for the final course with floral additions to both the crêpe pollamai and the tart sangkaya. Under the spot lighting, we weren’t sure whether it was the desserts or the flowers that looked more delicious. So we had both.

Evaluation:
Patara offered a pleasing supper but we were also surprised by the modernity of their menu. The meticulous presentation of the dishes demonstrated a very Western approach but some things, like bowed greeting from the staff, was undeniably Thai. Go and expect to be sumptuously fed, even late at night.

 

(First seen on Blue Tomato)

Terroirs wine bar Review

5 William IV Street, London WC2N 4DW www.terroirswinebar.com

Terroirs wine bar menuTerroirs is the sort of place that you’re warned away from if someone you know despises natural wines. That’s the only sort of wine it serves you see. The determined deterrence is not necessarily because the wine is bad but rather, it’s out of principle and perhaps ignorance. The truth of it is that wine, whether natural or not, can be good or bad. Terroirs, equally, offered a sizeable selection of wines, some of which shone brilliantly whilst others were much less impressive.

Having recently returned from a wine trip to Georgia, the cradle of wine, and in particular, natural wines, I’ve found myself gaining an affinity for this contentious product. Listening to the likes of Alice Feiring and Isabelle Legeron talk about their love of natural wines, how of the hundreds of thousands of wines they have tasted during their careers, the natural ones were the most vibrant and limitless, I couldn’t help but be impressed by their enthusiasm.

While it’s true that a natural wine will never stand the test of ageing because of the ultra-low levels of preservatives present, it is also true that the minimal chemical intervention helps the characteristics of the grape, the terroir, the weather and numerous other contributing factors in the wine making process to develop in the final wine. There’s a market for fine vintages with complex characteristics but there’s also a market for wines for drinking right now, which equally deserves to be something other than bland and homogeneous. And that is what the appreciation for natural wines is largely about, and perhaps Terroirs too.

Back to the restaurant – it’s more of a wine establishment than a restaurant really but a fellow journalist with a love of natural wines suggested it for dinner. Partly owned by Les Caves de Pyrène, the biggest importer of natural wines to the UK, Terroirs always gave me the impression that it was just a wine bar. While there is a bar in the restaurant to lean to with your drink and bar snack, they also have space on three levels for diners who are looking for something a bit more substantial.

A bit more is probably the operative phrase here though – the food is more or less a side serving to the wine with majority of the menu made up of cheeses, charcuterie and small plates. The food was good though. Really good. And seasonal too.

Dining with a reasonable appetite, we opted for a serving of pumpkin, chestnut and parmesan soup each plus duck rillette and pigs trotters with celeriac remoulade to share. The pumpkin soup was lusciously smooth, richly creamy and well contrasted with the nutty, sweet crumble of the chestnut. Pigs trotters, perhaps a little too rich as the last thing to arrive, made for sumptuous comfort eating. The thing that really excited, though, was the duck rillette. Intensely flavoured and well textured, it wholly satisfied the game rillette craving which I’ve been harbouring for some two weeks.

The wines we sipped as we supped was a selection of white and sparkling, all available by the glass. The 2009 Thierry Germain Bulles de Roches Saumur Brut was a particular favourite while the 2010 Cascna degli Ulivi Bellotti Bianco didn’t fare so well. The other two wines, 2010 Domaine du Moulin Pet Nat Bulles Rosé and 2010 Bodegas Ameztoi Txacoli de Guetaria, lied somewhere in the middle of the two, towards the positive. There it was, the good and not so good of natural wines.

With talk of wines, food and juxtapositions of the two, we could have happily stayed and indulged in our romantically framed window seats for a few more glasses. But with a running tab of some £60 and adventures with a travelling bar planned, it was time to pay up. Besides, the elegant service allowed a young night of interesting landscapes to navigate for a pair of girls in the most fabulous of heels.