40 Maltby Street 

40 Maltby Street business card

I’ve been a lover of Maltby Street for quite some time now; it’s a weekend food market which has real charm and character. There’s a good reason to pay the area a visit on weekday evenings too however and it goes by the name of 40 Maltby Street.

Outside

Predominantly the company is a wine supplier but they’ve since turned the front of their warehouse, under a railway arch, into a cute little restaurant. As they don’t take bookings we turned up on a Thursday evening and there was only space for us to perch on stool at a make-shift table on the entrance mat. It wasn’t the least bit comfortable but the food was so good I would have gladly eaten it in a portaloo.

Inside

To start, crispy flower sprouts and yoghurt (£7.50) seemed a little expensive but then again they were bloomin tasty. A more tangier replacement for the yoghurt would have suited the deep fried sprouts (a hybrid of kale and brussel sprouts) a little better though.

Flower sprouts

Brown shrimp, raw kohlrabi and chervil (£7.50) would have only been bettered by the addition of more of those lovely little shrimp. They brought such flavour to the rather simple tasting kohlrabi, we just wanted more of them.

Brown shrimp

Pork and prune pie (£7) was a thick slab of cold pork pie which was simply excellent. The quality of the pork was sublime. Egg mayonnaise (£5) was a classic flavour combination yet presented in a way I’ve not seen before. It even gave Zédel’s (and we all know how much I love theirs) a run for its money.

Pork and prune pie

Egg mayo

Warm roast lamb, anchovy, Jerusalem artichoke and mint (£15) was a brilliant plate of food. The little artichoke crisps added texture against the soft, succulent lamb.

Roast lamb

The best was yet to come however; beef cheek vol-au-vent, salsify and horseradish (£11). Big, bold, hearty and utterly sexy, but enough about me, this beef cheek encased in the most crumbly and buttery pastry ever shall go down as one of my favourite dishes of all time.

Beef cheek

For dessert, we opted for the apple batter pudding with Jersey cream (£6), which was good, and the brown sugar meringue, rhubarb and blood orange (£6), which was phenomenal. A chewy meringue with both cream and ice cream along with blood orange and rhubarb to add some sharpness; utter bliss.

Apple

Meringue

It was really hard not to fall in love with 40 Maltby Street. Not only was the food a little bit outstanding but the service was really sweet and charming too. If you haven’t been yet, then you really should be asking yourself why not.

9/10

40 Maltby Street on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Kouzu, Victoria

Kouzu business card

Kouzu is a swanky Japanese restaurant in Victoria which is housed in a grade-ll listed mansion from the 1850’s. As you might expect from such a restaurant in such a location, it ain’t a cheap affair, but the food was really rather good.

Outside

Inside

We started with the beef fillet tataki (£17.50) which was thin strips of lightly seared beef, delicately flavoured with a light soy sauce and topped with a julienne salad. Prawn tempura salad with a spicy mayonnaise (£14) could have had a slightly braver spiciness about it but the prawns were exquisitely cooked; soft flesh with a glorious crunch.

Beef fillet tataki

Prawn tempura

Sushi-wise, we went for the o-toro aburi nigiri (£9.50 per piece) which is the belly of the tuna, which is super fatty. It had been scorched on top giving it a lovely smokiness which was most pleasant. The spicy California roll (£8.50) which was filled with crab, avocado and tobikko (flying fish roe) really was top notch sushi.

Sushi

Lamb chops with a spicy miso paste (£12) didn’t need the accompanying halved shallot with the skin still on, or even the courgettes and tomatoes for that matter, they were so bloody good they could have proudly sat on that plate alone. Soft, squidgy meat with fat that melted on your tongue – simply wonderful.

Lamb chops

Roasted black cod (£28) could have done with a crisper skin but it did at least have such a moreish flavour that I wolfed the lot. The cod was soft and flakey and totally delicious.

Black cod

The presentation of the desserts had a touch of the P&O Aurora about them. The dark chocolate mousse with an apricot brandy sauce (£10.50) was accompanied by the most exquisite hazelnut ice cream. Hoji tea creme caramel (£7.50) hadn’t quite set properly meaning it was a bit liquidy, but the flavour was spot on.

Desserts

For the most part, the food at Kouzu was cracking. The only thing that let the whole experience down was the service, which was certainly very sweet and attentive, but it lacked someone really taking charge of the room. If they had that side of things sorted, it would be a nice little spot.

7/10

I dined as a guest of the restaurant

Kouzu on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Pedler, Peckham Rye

Pedler business card

I have to be honest with you, Peckham is not somewhere I often frequent but as a friend recently moved near the area, what better chance to explore I thought. After a quick check on Twitter, as Peckham Bazaar was closed, the next best option seemed to be Pedler in (is it in or on?) Peckham Rye.

Outside

It’s a cute little place both on the inside and out. Lots of miss-matched furniture and bits and bobs everywhere gave the feeling of being in a trendy furniture shop. The music playlist was particularly noteworthy – they were banging out some serious tunes. Along with some super friendly staff, it had the potential to be the perfect lunch, but the food fell a bit flat which was a shame.

Inside

The menu reads very well indeed, but it didn’t quite deliver. I opted for the turkey schnitzel (£11) which was gigantic. The breadcrumb coating was crisp but the turkey was dry and stringy round the edges. The shroom gravy was surprisingly flavourless and it was just a bit grey and watery. A side of chips (£4) were the type you’d buy in frozen and dunk in the fryer.

Schnitzel

Chips

The beef burger (£12) was a little too big, it was near enough the size of a bowling ball. It was therefore very crumbly and the centre had more a steak tartare texture; a thinner patty would have been far more evenly cooked. Totally edible mind, just not perfect.

Beef burger

If Pedler was in Soho say, I don’t think it would last five minutes. Quite simply the food isn’t as tasty as the menu promises. But out in the sticks, in Peckham, it made for some light relief. And it was really reasonably priced too. That giant schnitzel (which was so big I couldn’t finish it) was only 11 quid, which is great value. I’ve been to worse places, but I’ve certainly been to heaps that are better.

5/10

Pedler on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

The Ledbury, Notting Hill

The Ledbury business card

The Ledbury is a two Michelin restaurant by Australian born Brett Graham. It’s been a while since we’ve had a bit of fine dining pomp (my favourite of all food to be honest) so we booked ourselves in for a Saturday lunch. Getting a table is still quite hard work FYI.

Outside

The dining room was elegantly simple but beautiful; it was understated yet with all the glamour you might hope for. The place was packed too giving it a real buzzy (and often deafeningly loud) atmosphere.

Three menus were available; an eight course tasting menu at £115, the a la carte at £85 or the four course set lunch priced at £50 per person. We opted for the latter.

To start, a selection of lovely little nibbly bits; sunflower crisps with artichoke, a foie gras jelly which had a meringue-like exterior, Montiack dumplings and a small mound of white beetroot that encased the most glorious smoked eel. Very nice indeed.

Sunflower crisps

Dumplings

Smoked eel

Bread was a bit plain Jane for me. If you’re going to offer just one type of bread then it should be perfect, here the crust was a bit overdone giving it a burnt flavour.

Bread

Our first course was asparagus, warm pheasant egg, wild garlic and truffle and it was absolutely divine. The white asparagus had an almost meaty flavour, like it had been poached for hours in something intensely wonderful. The mini fried egg was covered in a thin sheet of jelly which offered the merest hint of truffle; the balance of flavours was unlike any I’ve had before.

Asparagus

Hand dived scallops were plump and juicy and filled with tiny sheets of nori (seaweed), adding to the seafood aroma. Teeny tiny little Jersey royals were seasoned and cooked perfectly. It really was a phenomenal dish.

Scallops

The Herdwick lamb was a generous portion to say the least, with more than enough meat to keep me busy. The dollop of ewe’s milk had an interesting and unusual taste as it wasn’t as sour as I expected. The morels were totally grit free (hoorah!) which is something you might expect from such a high end gaff but more often than not I always find gritty mushrooms.

Lamb

A little pre-dessert of rhubarb jelly and custard hit my sweet spot big time. Dessert was Richmond Park honey, buffalo milk, vanilla and thyme, the latter being a super strong element to the dish. I love herby puddings, if the balance between sweet and savoury is spot on, then it makes for a really intriguing mouthful. That was certainty the case here.

Rhubarb and jelly

Richmond Park honey

The only thing that slightly let the whole thing down was the service. Other than a lovely chap whom we recognised from Kitchen Table and Fera, the rest seemed a little disinterested – like they were going through the motions. At times we felt a little unloved, and in a two michelin star restaurant you’d hope to feel quite the opposite.

Either way, I can honestly say that meal gave me some of the tastiest food I’ve eaten in a long time. And that was just the set lunch menu, imagine the full tasting menu. Cor blimey.

9/10

The Ledbury on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Shackfuyu, Soho 

Shackfuyu business card

Shackfuyu is Ross Shonhan’s latest venture (he also owns Bone Daddies and Flesh and Buns) and it’s based on the end of Old Compton Street in Soho near La Bodega Negra and Bar Termini.

Outside

It’s housed in a former Italian restaurant where the original pizza oven is still in the front, which is quite unusual for a Japanese restaurant. It’s a far bigger area than you might expect too, with a simple, stripped back vibe to it all.

The menu was short and sweet. Korean fried wings (£5.90) were beastly in size and the flavour was utterly divine. Hand dived roast scallops (£7.50 each) came drenched in a fiery chilli miso butter which brought a tear to my eye in the very best way.

Wings

Scallop

A highlight was the prawn toast ‘masquerading as okonomiyaki’ (£5.20) (whatever that means I still don’t quite know) which was a crispy, prawny delight. USDA beef picanha (£12.50) was an interesting one; the beef had a firm texture and wasn’t quite as rare I’d usually like my meat but it had such incredible flavour that I couldn’t stop eating it.

Prawn toast

Beef

Less successful was the mentaiko mac and cheese with cock scratchings (£5.40 (the cock scratchings are trademarked don’t you know). There was a strange orange dollop on the top which added no flavour and a weird texture to the dish. The whole thing seemed to lack flavour.

Mac n cheese

The beef hot stone rice (£7.20) came served in a giant stone that kept its molton lava temperature throughout its time on our table – meaning the bits of rice on the bottom got nice and crispy. It was a hearty bowl of deliciousness.

Beef stone rice

For dessert, there was only one option. The kinako French toast (£6) would have been good enough on its own, but with the accompanying green tea soft serve ice cream, it took the whole thing up a gear. One of the tastiest puds I’ve had in ages.

French toast

Shackfuyu is supposed to be a temporary pop up but I reckon they’re onto a winner and if they can, they should definitely keep it there for longer. Soho is packed full to the rafters with great restaurants at the minute – and it looks like it just got another one.

9/10

Shackfuyu on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

The Manor, Clapham 

The Manor business card

This is Robin Gill’s second restaurant in Clapham (he also owns The Dairy) and with the recent announcement that he’s opening another one, 254 Paradise in Bethnal Green (on the same stretch as Mission), along with a deli next door to the Dairy, it’s set to be quite a year for him.

Outside

I love the Dairy, but whereas that has a dark, romantic, perfect-for-dinner vibe, the Manor is quite the opposite. Bright and airy would be an understatement. The open dessert bar at one end adds a touch of drama to proceedings with frequent puffs of dry ice wafting about. The toilets are quite…unusual to say the least! You’ll see what I mean.

Inside

The Manor toilets

During our lunchtime visit, two options were available; the a la carte and a seven-course tasting menu priced at £42 which is what we went for.

To start; homemade sourdough with savoury chicken butter, salumi and a South African cured meat (which was like a posh pepperami) called droe wors. The meat, as expected from a place that cures it all themselves, was delish. The bread at the Dairy was some of the best I’ve ever had, but on this occasion it was slightly over done giving it a really crumbly and slightly burnt exterior.

Bread

Meats

It was difficult not to fall in love with the rest. Plump Cornish cod cheeks and sour cream, wakame and rice cracker was a lovely blend of flavours. The same could be said for the cauliflower, grue de cocao, medjool dates and kefir. The balance between sweet and savoury being so very spot on.

Cod cheeks

Cauliflower

“Julie Girl” monkfish, roasted salsify and chanterelles saw perfectly cooked fish blend exquisitely with a sweet mushroom purée and thinly sliced raw mushrooms.

Monkfish

Hay smoked pigeon covered in fermented grains with parsnip and malt granola was a hearty plate of food. There was a thick, risotto-like concoction at the bottom which was insanely moreish. To run in from a rainy Winter’s day and eat a bowl of that would be pure heaven.

Pigeon

A slice of Tunworth, kombucha prunes and walnut toast (£4 extra) was a well considered blend of flavours – some serious thought had gone into what would compliment such a strong cheese best.

Tunworth cheese

Both desserts were great – mandarin, gingerbread and goat’s curd and Jerusalem artichoke with frozen crème fraiche and poached quince – but we kind of wish we’d ordered from the a la carte so we could sit at the dessert counter and watch the ice cream sundaes being made. It looked serious fun.

Mandarin

Jerusalem artichoke

I knew I was going to love The Manor before I even stepped through the door. There’s something about Gill’s food that is unlike anything you’ll find in restaurants right now. And then there’s the service; casual and friendly yet passionate and well informed. It all makes for such a great experience.

9/10

Manor on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Kurobuta, Chelsea 

Kurobuta business card

Kurobuta, which is the creation of chef and owner Scott Hallsworth, has become so popular that he’s moved his Chelsea outpost down the King’s Road to an even bigger site (he’s turning the old one into Joe’s Oriental Diner).

Outside

We rocked up on a Wednesday evening, having not booked and the place was rammed to the rafters. All they could offer us was to perch on the end of the large communal table in the private dining room which was far from ideal – sometimes a restaurant should just say no. The staff were so busy running around that they’d keep forgetting to come down to our dungeon and serve us (it really did feel like a dungeon). It was freezing cold too.

Inside

The menu was vast, to say the least. We started with some pork scratchings with a yuzu koshu dip (£4.50). I’m not sure I’ve ever had a successful pork scratching in a restaurant – they’re always so inedibly dry with little flavour – until now that is. These were gloriously chewy and almost sticky with a real smack of pig about them.

Pork scratchings

Squid kara-age (£8.50) looked like it had seen better days and the portion was a bit miserly, but the flavour was spot on. Proper crispy too.

Squid

I hate myself for ordering the wagyu beef sliders, as two of the things cost £19. That’s £9.50 for one mini burger! It wasn’t very nice either. The steamed buns weren’t the milky, soft, sumptuous pillows I’ve had before – these had a stale, crusty top. How can a steamed bun be crispy? The beef lacked flavour and was luke-warm. The grease-laden onion ring that topped it was not pleasant.

Wagyu beef sliders

The BBQ pork ribs (£14) were plentiful but they were let down by being cold. Then the sushi arrived which perked us up a bit. Spicy tuna maki rolled in tempura crunchies (don’t ask) (£8.50) and the shrimp tempura dragon maki (£11) were really very good.

Ribs

Tuna maki

Dragon maki

The free range chicken kushi-yaki (£9) was cut into chunks but it was like no-one had checked to see if the chunks were actually edible or not. A couple were just bits of pure bone and cartilage. The flavour was lovely though.

Chicken

We finished with pork belly in more of those crispy “steamed” buns (£13). Again, good flavour but not quite warm enough.

Pork belly

I imagine on a good day, sitting in the main dining room, Kurobuta is probably rather good. And it was heaving, so it must be doing something right. But for me, it just didn’t quite hit the spot.

4/10

Kurobuta on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 631 other followers