Gnocchi - Bon Vivant

Bon Vivant

5th October 2016 6pm

Dark woods and candlelit tables in a French bistro style, Bon Vivant is a popular venue, demonstrated by the number of people in on an early Wednesday evening. The Bon Vivant has a selection of bites (3 make up a starter size dish but useful if you just want a mouthful or two instead of a full starter), starters, mains and desserts. I went for three bites; black haggis, crispy squid and crab cocktail, followed by venison. My dining companion went for the chorizo in cider from the starters (a choice I had been eyeing up myself) followed by gnocchi. We also opted for some garlic chips on the side to share.

When the first course arrived, it was nice to see that my bites were all presented on one plate. All the bites were very cute. I first went for the squid. This was really good, not chewy but full of flavour. The accompanying squid ink aioli had a sweetness to it which elevated the bite. I then moved onto the crab cocktail. The crab was light and fluffy, topped with some crunchy olive crumb. Underneath was a soft avocado mousse. I often find avocado bland but not in this. Finally I ate the black haggis, which was topped with apple, raisin and pickled cauliflower. This was delicious. The toppings cut through the richness of the haggis, which made it feel surprisingly light. On the other side of the table I still managed to be jealous of the little cup of chorizo. There was a really generous portion of the chorizo, sliced up. Two chunky pieces of garlic bread were also deemed wonderful. The only downside was that the cup the chorizo was placed in limited dunking options for the bread in the cider/chorizo juices.

Whilst waiting for the mains, we did have to chase a glass of wine we ordered but the staff were highly apologetic and fixed it immediately. The level of customers in the place meant that this was easily forgiven. The mains followed soon after and both looked stunning. The venison was divine. The meat was cooked perfectly and was soft and full of depth of flavour. The accompanying celeriac puree, along with the chanterelle mushrooms and blackberries really set the dish off. I don’t think I have had a better venison dish. Truly exquisite. My friend was also raving about her gnocchi. The taste was excellent, particularly in the sauce, with pesto and truffle. The broccoli was cooked well and complimented the rest of the dish. We both loved the garlic chips. I love garlic and these chips certainly embraced the flavour. Powerful but yummy.

We had a look at the dessert menu and we were pleased to see not only were there ice cream and sorbet options for those who have already stuffed their faces, there were also small options of both, allowing for just one scoop – perfect for us. I went for rhubarb sorbet and my friend when for raspberry ice cream. These were both lovely and had good strength of flavour. They also came with a biscuit which was tasty.

We loved our time at Bon Vivant and both went home very happy.

Food – 9.5/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere- 9/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 36.5/40

Would I eat here again? You won’t be able to stop me!

Cost  – £64 for two sets of three courses and a glass of wine

Maison Bleue

24th September 2015 6pm

Bedouin feast - Maison Bleue

Bedouin feast – Maison Bleue

Earlier in the year I went to the relaunch of Maison Bleue and wrote a mini review. Five months later, I have finally had time to go back and try the bedouin feast they offer and write a proper, full review. The feast must be booked at least 24 hours in advance as the meat is slow cooked. We were welcomed by friendly staff and offered a seat whilst we waited for our table to be prepared (as we had arrived a little early). We were offered drinks and a short while later we were taken to our table, on the first floor of the restaurant. The restaurant still had a great feel about it, even without the PR buzz. Our table looked out onto Victoria Street, which was a nice bonus. We were offered the choice of ordering additional starters but we decided just to wait for the feast to arrive. Luckily the staff did say the feast was large. Bread and dipping oil was placed on the table for us to eat whilst we waited.

Salad - Maison Bleue

Salad – Maison Bleue

There were four of us for the feast but as the food came out, it became apparent that there was enough food for at least six. One platter was full of lamb which was served on a bed of salad and chillis. The chef prepared some off the bone and some on, which is handy if you have someone in the group who struggles with bones in meat. That being said, the meat fell off the bone with a gentle nudge of a spoon. A further tray covered in a variety of salads including onions and lentils was also brought (and we had to get an extra table to keep it on as we couldn’t keep both platters on our table). We also got some fruity cous cous and a couple of dishes of sauce. The lamb was juicy and delicious. The salad was fresh, mixed and complimented the meat. The sauce was perfect, full of good fragrant flavours without being hot, which enabled all palates to enjoy the same sauce. All four of us enjoyed the meal. Sadly we couldn’t finish the food but the staff were kind enough to wrap up the leftovers for or us to take away. We got to enjoy the meal for a second day at work for lunch.

Maison Bleue

Maison Bleue

The bedouin feast is a good idea if there is a group of you and you all like the same food. Otherwise, the menu looks like it offers a good range of other dishes which don’t need pre-ordering, which I am sure we will go back to try at some point.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 34/40

Cost £135 for 4 x Bedouin feast, 2 glasses of wine and a vodka and lemonade

Maison Bleue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe St Honore

19th July 2015 – 12.30pm

Cafe St Honore

Cafe St Honore

This place had been on my wish list for a while. The cafe has a great reputation so I was looking forward to trying it. We booked on this deal using Bookatable which offered a three course meal for £19.50 which also included a glass of wine. This menu changes daily so there is no guarantee fussy eaters will find something they like! Entering the restaurant it certainly had a very quaint French feel about it and felt incredibly welcoming. I really did feel as if I had been transported to a little Parisian café. Once seated, we then set about looking at the menu. The set menu doesn’t have many options; two per course but the main menu also had a nice range should you want to choose from that. Funnily enough the three of us all opted for the same options of the pork rillette for the starter, battered coley and chips for main and then we opted for the crème fraiche mousse with a compote of blackcurrants and redcurrants for dessert.

Pork rillette - Cafe St Honore

Pork rillette – Cafe St Honore

Bread was already laid out on the table, as was a carafe of water. The butter was soft enough to spread on the bread. I did feel the bread was a touch dry but had an amazing flavour, particularly in the crust. After a short wait the first course arrived and surprisingly it was rather large. The pork arrived in a big slice with an accompanying salad, lardy cake (fruity bread) and red onion jam which was hidden under the salad. Whilst large, the combination worked beautifully. The pork was not too dry and broke easily, the lardy cake had nice fruit pieces in it and was lightly spiced. The red onion jam was sublime and really set the dish off. We were all very happy.

Coley - Cafe St Honore

Coley – Cafe St Honore

We were all already feeling quite full after the starter so it was a good job we had a little break before the main arrived. When it did, again the portion size was very generous, particularly considering the price we were paying. Each plate had two smallish pieces of coley which were lightly battered but managed to have incredible flavour. I note from their menu that the Secret Herb Garden had provided something towards the batter, which might explain it. There will also a small gathering of rustic chips and were too filling for me but still nice. They also came pre-salted. Again there was a nice accompanying salad. The best bit on the plate was a home-made tartare sauce which was chunky, flavoursome, and creamy. If I wasn’t so full I would’ve slathered everything in it. Again my dining companions felt the same way but we all struggled to finish the dish as we were getting so full.

Creme fraiche mousse - Cafe St Honore

Creme fraiche mousse – Cafe St Honore

Saying that we were full, nothing was going to stop us from trying dessert. There was a sweet option and the cheese option and again we all went for the sweet option which was a crème fraiche mousse accompanied by a berry compote. Perhaps not so surprisingly we managed to finish these as it slid down the sides. The berries were zingy, fresh and full of flavour and the mousse was light and creamy and not to sharp. It felt a bit like a lighter version of a panacotta.

Service albeit a touch slow was friendly and helpful, so much so that they added one of the extra glasses of wine to the deal as I had not had a glass myself (and had been offered a soft drink as an alternative).Cafe St Honore is a lovely little place, evoking a Parisian atmosphere. I am looking forward to coming back here again to try the main menu.

Food – 8/10

Service – 8/10

Atmosphere- 8/10

Value 9/10

Overall – 33/40

Cost – £63 for 3 three course meals and wine from the classics menu plus one further glass of wine.

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Galvin Brasserie De Luxe


2nd July 2015 – 6.45pm

Galvin Brasserie De Luxe Galvin Brasserie De Luxe

I made an impromptu visit here with a friend that I had not seen for almost ten years. After coming here a few times (including their massive Sunday lunch), I knew this was a safe bet for great food. There is a good range of food on offer on the menu and covers a range of prices. The restaurant has a very French feel, with a central bar area that shows off some of the seafood. My friend put the helpful waitress through her paces, not only asking for recommendations on which cut of steak is best to have rare but also about types of wines that would meet her preferences. Once advice was sought, we ordered. I went for steak tartare maison (no surprise) followed by lemon sole with a side of Chantenay carrots. My dining companion chose the crab tagliatelle followed by a sirloin steak, a side of fries and a peppercorn sauce. Bread was brought to the table which was tasty and the butter soft enough to spread. The wine was brought in a delicate carafe. The eye to detail is high here, as when my friend went to the toilet, she dropped her napkin and picked it up and placed it back on the table. A waiter noticed this and discretely took the napkin and replaced it with a fresh one.

Steak tartare and crab tagliatelle - Galvin Steak tartare and crab tagliatelle – Galvin

When the starters arrived, I knew I would be happy with the steak tartare as I have had it here before and it didn’t disappoint. I still maintain that this is the best tartare I’ve eaten in the capital. It was fresh and zingy, with the ingredients cut finely rather than coarsely to provide subtlety. The egg was incredibly creamy and bound the meat together well. The toast was not overdone and held well against the meat. On the other side of the table, the crab tagliatelle was being enjoyed. It is unusual to see crab with tagliatelle rather than linguine. She said that there was a gentle level of aniseed running through the dish.

Lemon sole and sirloin steak - Galvin Lemon sole and sirloin steak – Galvin

I had been advised by the waitress upon ordering that the lemon sole was served on the bone. I don’t mind this too much with fish where it slides off the bone such as this one. The fish was quite large and covered in capers and lemon. Luckily I like capers quite a bit but it might have been a bit much for some diners. I did find the fish a touch overdone but only a little. The capers added a nice dimension, not just to the fish but to the accompanying crushed potatoes. The lemon wasn’t intrusive but brought the best out of the fish. That side of carrots were lovely and buttery but were perhaps too much for me to eat on my own. My friend’s steak was cooked as requested and seemed to be enjoyed. Again, the side of fries was quite large for one but she had a good go at demolishing them.

Although our intention was to also have dessert, we just couldn’t manage it. Desserts I’ve had here before have also been tasty. Overall, Galvin offers a high standard of dining in a relaxed setting.

Food – 8/10

Service – 10/10

Atmosphere – 9/10

Value – 8/10

Overall – 35/40

Cost – £95 for two starters, two mains, two sides and a glass of wine