Archive for July, 2010

Jamie’s Italian, Canary Wharf

Monday, July 5th, 2010

The Nked Chef’s empire just keeps on growing.  I don’t know how this guy runs restaurants across the world, trains up new chefs, runs a charity, writes cookbooks, goes on roadtrips for TV documentaries and be a dad to three kids!  You’d think that one of these would have to suffer, but so far I think the man has done some great delegation whilst still retaining the quality of his brand.  My first experience of Jme’s restaurants was Jamie’s Italian, newly opened at the financial hub of London in Canary Wharf.  It has a no bookings policy, but at 7pm on a Sunday night, we had no issues getting a table.

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The room’s focal point is the antipasti bar, where the platters of cured meats are shaved to order and ornately presented on beautiful platters.  The produce is hung from the ceiling, and the platters are served on wooden boards, balanced on cans of chopped tomatoes from Italy – a cute touch.

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Whole legs of proscuitto hang invitingly from the ceiling.

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The fresh made pasta is put out to display, with the pastas occupying one third of the menu.

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The dining room is very Jamie too, an eclectic mix of old style furniure (pardon me but I talk food, not furniture :) ) and more akin to a diner than a fine dining experience. Simple but tasty goes hand in hand with the no-nonsense approach to furnishings.

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The kitchen is also open plan for all to see and to give you a sneak peek of the menu before you committ! And boy are there choices galore. (more…)

High Tea at the Dorchester

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

England is the home of high tea – dainty sandwiches, scones and clotted cream and bite sized desserts served on a tiered tea stand.  There are many versions of how high tea came to be.  But a popular version is that one of the ladies in waiting to Queen Victoria was peckish in the afternoon and asked for sandwiches, cake and tea to be brought to her, in ths 17th century as dinner wasn’t served until late.  It certainly isn’t a surprise that it caught on as a trend for her and still continues to be up until its recent popularity worldwide now, not just in England.  In London, ‘the’ place to have it is the Dorchester apparently, in fancy Park Lane.  A beautiful grand hotel with doormen and waiters in coat tails.  You could easily imagine ladies in hooped skirts and hats taking tea in the same place many years ago! 

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The tea is taken in the Promenade lounge in the hotel.  As we went during the week of the Chelsea Flower show, the tea cost £50 per person plus 12.5% service charge, instead of the usual £35.  Effectively A$100.  So expensive :(   Well if they say that that’s where it is, better try it.  I actually don’t know what the extra £15 gets you and it seemed quite like a standard high tea.  If you took the special flower high tea for another £11, you got to take home a small pot plant of flowers as well as a more expensive type of champagne.  Standard high tea for me! 

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I’m not a drinker, so I contemplated substituting the champagne for a softie. But looking at the menu, the champers itself was £15!  It was actually very fruity and sweet and bubbly still, unlike some other venues that have pre-opened bottles without the fizz.   

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I was so ecstatic when the waiters asked if we had any allergies or dislikes.  I actually don’t eat mayonnaise, and the evil white sauce is found in sandwiches the world round, as if there wasn’t such a thing as a sandwich (or sushi in fact!) that could survive without it!  The chefs obliged without any complaint and made them without the sauce for me! And made them vegan for my friend too.  The bread was made fresh and was obviously made in house.  There was a standard cucumber sandwich on caraway seed scented bread, caponata/roast veg on pumpkin bread.  My favourite was the chicken on basil bread, and there was also smoked salmon.  Something I wasn’t accustomed to was the fact that we were asked if we wanted seconds!  Free refills – awesome!  We had both fasted in order to come so we relished another serve of each.

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We were served a pre-dessert then, a white peach jelly with jasmine tea foam.  Wow, the peach was the perfect mix of sweetness with a hint of tartness, and it complemented the jasmine tea foam perfectly.  The foam’s tea flavour was so intense without being overpowering, and the texture – so silky!

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I haven’t actually had clotted cream before, in Australia we often just get double cream or whipped cream.  On the table I actually thought it was butter – wow, now I know why they call it clotted cream – artery clogging perhaps??  We also had some really runny not set strawberry jam (more akin to syrup) and some blueberry jam which was better.

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