Terroirs Wine Bar

Address: 5 William IV St, London WC2N 4DN
Bookings: No booking
Day: Tuesday
Meal: Dinner
Price: ££
Rating: 7/10

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 20.13.19Terroirs is a restaurant and wine bar on William IV Street, a stone’s throw from the National Gallery. We were there on Tuesday night, as part of a week-long extravaganza of joyous treats in honour of my partner in culinary crime’s birthday (exactly which birthday shall go unspecified).

It was a clement evening, warm for the season and without a raindrop in sight. It felt as if most of London was out and about, beginning to warm up for Christmas. Terroirs itself was packed to the rafters. Coming in through the doors I scanned the restaurant nervously – my week of joyous treats had not extended to actually making a reservation anywhere, and for an awful moment I suspected that we were about to be turned back into the night by a pitiless French waitress.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 20.12.36But then I spied it: one, lonely, unoccupied table, beckoning us on. And thank goodness. Because Terroirs is not a place you want to be turned away from. Crouched over our small wooden table, bathed in the contented babble that is the auditory hallmark of satisfied diners, we ate very well.

First to land at the table was a pork and pistachio terrine. As soon as I saw it I knew it would be delicious. It had that crumbling, thick appearance, that compactness, that reddish brown complexion, that marks out all great terrines. It tasted inexpressibly earthy; I could almost see the pig, snuffling on a farm somewhere in rural France, fattening himself for our table on a cold, crisp morning. I can only thank him… he did not snuffle in vain.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 20.12.04We had a decent beef tartare with lemon and rosemary, although ever since we ate steak tartare at Otto’s it has been the fate of all other tartare to exist in its shade. I have never before or since tasted one so sharp, so rich, so sweet, and that of Terroir’s, try as it might, fell short of this elevated benchmark.

A fresh, nicely seasoned bowl tomatoes with oregano tided us over until the final stage of the meal: a quartet of cheeses, and a Scottish onglet with braised peppers and salsa verde. The cheeses were a delight; a smooth, soft Gouda and a blue veined French cheese were particular favourites.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 20.12.21The steak was a good one, rich, blood red and tender. But by then I was nearly spent, my appetite dulled by the excellent small plates we had already eaten.

We wandered home along the Strand, our bellies full, the city buzzing around us, the lights of Theatreland twinkling, another happy birthday in the books.


The Northall Corinthia

Address: Corinthia, 10a Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5AE
Bookings: Booked through Bookatable on a set menu £45 bottomless champagne
Day: Friday
Meal: Dinner
Price: ££
Rating: 6/10

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 17.49.10The Northall restaurant is situated in the impressive and imposing Corinthia Hotel, on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall Place. Many are the evenings back in my student days when I wandered past the building on the way to some insalubrious watering hole around Leicester Square, and wondered about the grand things that doubtless took place within its walls.

Having now eaten there for a friend’s birthday, I can confirm that the cooking and serving of nice food is not one of those things. If the restaurant has a defence, it might be that we had selected to eat off its set-menu, and so perhaps the kitchen was teeming with delicious dishes that we simply didn’t have access to. But I doubt it. And besides, a set menu should be a discount on the price, not the quality, of a restaurant’s food.

Compounding this, the set menu we actually received upon arrival was materially different to that which had been advertised online: the steak we had been promised had vanished, and been replaced by a piece of chicken. When we asked the waiter if we could substitute the chicken for a steak, we were told that we could, but only if we paid an additional £18, which is the basically the full-price of a steak. The economics of this suggestion was not appealing, so chicken it was.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 17.48.50We were not particularly varied in our orders. If memory serves me right, each person at the table ordered smoked salmon to start with, and chicken to follow. The smoked salmon was decent enough, if a little thin and insipid. It was accompanied by a small bread roll, which looked for all the world like a burnt potato. It made a sad companion for the flamboyantly coloured salmon.

The chicken breast was tolerable, but absolutely miniscule, and wouldn’t have provided enough calories to satisfy a dieting mouse. It was also rubbed in some sort of curry paste, and as I have mentioned on more than one occasion, spice of any sort is my partner in culinary crime’s kryptonite. With a tear in her eye and a rumble in her stomach, she pushed the meagre morsel of chicken away from her.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 17.48.31After finishing with a fruit and meringue dessert, we were presented with a pretty hefty bill. All in all, I was disappointed with Northall; it promised so much from the outside. Afterwards we walked up Northumberland Avenue towards the Hippodrome Casino, where a more transparent sort of rip-off takes place.


Iberica

Address: 89 Turnmill St, London EC1M 5QU
Bookings: Walk in
Day: Tuesday
Meal: Dinner
Price: ££
Rating: 6.5/10

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 19.29.52Farringdon is one of London’s neglected food neighbourhoods, somewhat overshadowed by adjacent Clerkenwell, and entirely drowned out by the clamour around Soho’s ever evolving warren of innovative, exciting places to eat. But Farringdon is littered with a good batch of restaurants that can hold their own: St JOHN, Comptoir Gascon, Polpo, Sosharu and Foxlow spring to mind. And I can now add Iberica to the list.

Iberica fails the very first test of the arch food snob, its success having seen it evolve into a chain restaurant, and not even a chain with the decency to restrict itself to London! Led by chef Nacho Manzano, it has ventured outside the capital and now has outlets in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow. But if the food is nice, then why hold an owner’s ambition against him?

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 19.29.36And the food is pretty good here. We started off with a charcuterie and cheese board, a trio of hams opulent in their redness and rich in their flavour, paired nicely with some goat’s and cow’s cheeses. Croquetas with Serrano ham were warm little golden nuggets of flavour, moist and light as a cloud. The fact that they were served in an uneven number almost drove an irreparable rift between my partner in culinary crime and I, but in an act of chivalry (and also afraid of losing a finger), I allowed her the extra croqueta.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 19.28.59A pair of miniature pork burgers with Pippara peppers were a delight to eat, sharp and flavoursome.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 19.28.39The low point of the meal was some asparagus on toast with cheese, which even a heavily touched up photograph can’t make look particularly appetising. The toast was bland and soggy, the cheese flavourless, and the runty little stalks of asparagus were pitiful even to look at. I ate them just to put them out of their misery.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 19.30.16A dessert of churros was wickedly nice, buttery, crisped on the outside, soft on the inside, caked in sugar. The only drawback was that the rich dark chocolate was literally scolding hot, as I discovered when I dripped some on my forearm as I manoeuvred a churro towards my mouth. I spent the rest of the dinner periodically dabbing at my arm with an ice cube.

Anyway, put your food snobbery aside and visit Iberica. Perhaps even the Glasgow branch.


Temper City

Address: 30 Throgmorton St, 2 Angel Court, London EC2R 7HJ
Bookings: Curry, quiz and fizz booked through design my night.
Day: Saturday
Meal: Brunch – £39 bottomless prosecco for 2 hours, 3 courses and a quiz
Price: £
Rating: 6/10

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Saturday lunchtime found my partner in culinary crime (PICC) and I sat in the City outlet of the open-pit BBQ restaurant Temper. We were there to eat curry, drink ludicrous quantities of prosecco, and partake in a 1980s themed quiz.

Half an hour earlier, we had also been in Temper’s Soho branch, having been somewhat misdirected by my PICC’s socially challenged sister. Discovering the error, and desperate to arrive before the 2pm bell rang on the start of the quiz and the first prosecco cork was popped, we leapt onto the Central Line and dashed to Bank Station, from where we ran the rest of the way as fast as my PICC’s heels permitted.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 19.53.40The quiz had a solid turnout. I would guess about 20 teams gathered to take part, and our collective appetites were whetted by the announcement of various prizes, including gin tasting and an all-expenses paid dinner at the restaurant itself.

I have to say at this point that the quiz and the liberally distributed prosecco (eventually the waitress stopped bothering to walk round and top us up, instead just dumping a full bottle on our table), were the highlights of the afternoon, the food itself being a little disappointing.

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The selection of starters, consisting of mutton rolls, crab bites and squid and samphire pakora, were nice enough. As on so many previous occasions, I benefited from the fact that my PICC has taste-buds that flee in terror at the slightest sign of spice, and so I was able to hoover up most of her plate as she cooled her singed tongue in a glass of prosecco.

We had three options for a main course: chicken curry, fish head curry, and a katsu egg curry. Between us, we ticked off each of these, and no one was particularly complimentary about what they ate. One of our number had to send back his fish head curry because it was colder than Siberia, whilst my chicken curry had cubes of chicken so pale and so perfect in their geometry that it was hard to believe they hadn’t been processed on an assembly-line far away from any BBQ pit.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 19.53.25This is a shame, because I have heard people of good standing raving about Temper and its full-blooded cooking, and I am sure they are entirely correct, but that was not what was brought out for the afternoon quiz.

Speaking of the quiz, we put up a valiant effort, given that none of us was particularly sentient in the 1980s, and some of us weren’t even born then. We finished bang in the middle of the pack, and staggered out prize-less, but with our heads held high. We went in the direction of The Ned, where more prosecco was drunk, which was anything but free, but that’s another story. If anyone knows of a 90s quiz, drop us a line. Until then, Beat It.


Kimchee

Address: 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6EA
Bookings: Walked in
Day: Saturday
Meal: Dinner
Price: ££
Rating: 5/10

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 17.24.07I have on many an occasion seen long lines of Koreans shivering in the cold outside Kimchee, on High Holborn. I have just as often been told that the best barometer for the quality of an Asian restaurant is its popularity with the relevant local Asian community. Putting these two elements together, I decided this weekend to pay the place a visit, accompanied, of course, by my partner in culinary crime (PICC).

Normally, a restaurant review focuses mainly on the food eaten, interspersed with a comment or two on the physical appearance of the premises, with perhaps a nod to the service received. But in Kimchee, the staff warrant more than simply an off-hand comment. They were most fascinating thing about the place.

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First, let me dispense with the food. It was mediocre. Not offensive. Not memorable. I ate my way through some mildly pleasant beef bulgogi, marinated in a ginger and soy sauce, whilst my PICC ate a chopped-up rib-eye steak. Speaking slowly and clearly, she asked that the steak be medium-rare, but fifteen minutes later it arrived looking like it had been barbecued by Steve Irwin. Whatever morsel of flavour had ever resided in the poor beast had been thoroughly cooked out of it, leaving something chewy and flavourless.

Our vegetable dumplings were tasty, piping hot and retained some structure, unlike the gelatinous, watery dumplings I’ve had the misfortune to encounter at other Korean restaurants. All in all, the food was okay, perhaps worth crossing the road for if your stomach is already rumbling, but certainly not worth queuing for on a bleak winter’s evening, no matter how many Korean diners appear to think otherwise.

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 17.21.52Unless, of course, you go there to marvel at the bizarre behaviour of waiters and waitresses. We were seated a yard or two away from a large bin at the mouth of the kitchen, and on at least three occasions staff members lobbed food and other waste cleared from the tables at the bin, as if they were playing a game of basketball, and on each occasion, they missed the target with at least some of what was thrown, and then walked away as if nothing had happened.

Over the course of the meal, a small mound of detritus accumulated at the foot of the bin. A pair of used chopsticks which missed their target so severely that they then bounced back onto the floor of the dining area itself, were kicked around by waiters as they loafed around taking orders. The poor little sticks must have been booted a dozen times. I was almost moved to pick the things up and bin them myself, but was worried the staff would accuse me of interrupting their game of football.

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 17.21.30It wasn’t that the staff were rude when taking our orders. They smiled. They grinned. It was more that they simply had no notion of restaurant – or indeed human-  etiquette. From where had these bizarre specimens been recruited? Perhaps in an attempt to push down staff costs the owners had raided a mental asylum. At least they looked to be enjoying themselves. More than we were, in any case.


M Restaurant

Address: 2-3 Threadneedle St, London EC2R 8AY
Bookings: Booked through Bookatable – 4 courses and free-flowing Prosecco for £36.50
Day: Friday
Meal: Dinner
Price: ££
Rating: 7/10

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Friday night saw us dining in the City for a special occasion. It was none other than my partner in culinary crime (PICC)’s mother’s birthday, and thus an event worth celebrating in considerable style.

We went to M, a restaurant opened by Martin Williams, the former managing director of Gaucho, and a man who knows his way around a slab of steak. Several were ordered to the table, and although I did not partake of them myself, I have it on the authority of my PICC’s Dad (himself a chef of much skill and experience) that the meat was subtle and tender, its only flaw being that there was not more of it. This opinion was endorsed by the birthday girl herself, as well my PICC, both seasoned carnivores.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 19.03.52With a holiday in the Mauritius looming, I am attempting to shed half a stone, and so I reluctantly shunned any red-meat, restricting myself to a beetroot risotto, which had a good consistency, the rice properly softened whilst retaining the slightest of crunches.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 19.04.07Having said that, I have always believed that a meal entirely without meat is a meal wasted, and so I did also order up a plate of buttermilk fried chicken as an entrée, probably cancelling out any modest health benefits conferred by the risotto. It is nearly impossible to make fried chicken anything other than delicious (KFC has been trying unsuccessfully for almost 100 years), and I tore through it like a wildfire.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 19.04.27The side orders were less appealing. Several of us made the mistake of ordering buttered mushrooms. If it had been a blind-tasting, I would have guessed that I was eating a particularly bland piece of cardboard. In a desperate attempt to wring some flavour from these lifeless fungi, I salted them so heavily that they probably had the sodium content of the Dead Sea, but it was all in the vain.

The restaurant itself is enormous, and populated mainly by City types, by which I mean men in suits and women who only emerge in the City after darkness settles, and totter around in precipitously high-heels whilst drinking copious volumes of prosecco.

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 19.03.01The bathrooms contained Japanese toilets with heated seats and complicated waterworks, the slightest movement in their vicinity prompting spouts of water to shoot in all directions. Walking into the bathroom I was accosted by a band of drunken Australians who were mesmerised by these contraptions, and begged me to try them out.

All in all, M is a good restaurant for anyone in the City looking for a red-blooded dinner in a lively, energised environment. Or a homesick Japanese tourist. Half the experience of dining is the company you’re keeping, and mine couldn’t have been better.


Sosharu

Address:  64 Turnmill St, London EC1M 5RR
Bookings: Booked through Bookatable – 6 dishes and a glass of wine for £33.50
Day: Tuesday
Meal:  Dinner
Price: ££
Rating: 7.5/10

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 18.35.01Sosharu is restaurant mogul Jason Atherton’s Japanese offering in London. It has received something of a mixed reception since opening in March 2016, a feeling that yet another restaurant in London (his 7th), in yet another cuisine, might be a gastronomic bridge too far.

But I have always liked it. It occupies a slightly precarious place at the very foot of our top 10 London restaurants list. It is always on the cusp of eviction in favour of a slightly bolder, more gripping number, but then salvages itself at the last moment with an interesting twist on something Japanese.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 18.34.41The restaurant itself is a big space opposite Farringdon station, the lights dimmed low, large wooden screens dividing the tables, and soothing, ambient music playing in the background, giving the restaurant the look and feel of a luxury oriental massage parlour or spa.

Thoughts of shiatsu massage and aromatic exfoliators are chased away by the arrival at the table of a pair of open temaki sushi, one tuna and the other salmon, a small bottle of lightly spiced mayonnaise sat between them. The temaki are cupped in toasted nori, and the effect is delightful, each bite cool and crispy, little sushi sandwiches which can be wolfed down in a couple of bites.

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Lined up on the side were six immaculate little sashimi pieces, some salmon, some sea bream, the others perhaps sea bass, the waiter’s heavily accented diction leaving me uncertain, but suffice to say it was something from the sea. These were a little limp and unloved, and slipped regretfully down the throat, the flavour washed rapidly away with a swig of diet coke.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 18.35.19We then shared a delicious, sprightly salad, which had been thoroughly doused in a sweet vinegar dressing which we both loved. The salad was littered with tiny little crisped grains of rice, which tasted for all the world like little pieces of popcorn, and worked well against the soft sheets of lettuce and chunks of refreshing pear and apple.

As if the restaurant was intentionally alternating the good and the bad, they then dumped a pair of pallid little chicken gyozas on the table, hidden away in a wooden bowl, the waiter escaping to the kitchen before we could lift the lid to reveal the disappointing contents within. The gyoza were watery, the skin soft and translucent, providing a glimpse at the soggy contents within.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 18.34.16In fairness, I should at this point note that we were eating the heavily discounted Bookatable set menu, and so may well have been receiving the runts rather than the highlights of the kitchen, but nevertheless, we are good people, and deserved better than those two gyoza.

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Finally, we were presented with a pot of steaming rice, a slow-cooked egg whipped-in, and chunks of soft, golden yakitori chicken on the side. This was delicious, warm and nourishing, heat and flavour radiating from the stone bowl that sat in between us. My partner in culinary crime grasped the ladle with the clenched fist of a woman with a purpose, and dug into the rice with gusto.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 18.34.27It was a strong finish to a roller-coaster of a meal. Yet again, Sosharu had ridden to the very edge of being cast out forever from Life at the End of a Fork’s exclusive list of finest London restaurants, only to redeem itself at the 11th hour. It is safe. For now…


El Pastor

Address:  6-7A Stoney St, London SE1 9AA
Bookings: no booking
Day: Tuesday
Meal:  Dinner
Price: £
Rating: 5.5/10

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.52.56I once had delicious Mexican food as a child. Once. Every other Mexican restaurant since has been a disappointment. In vain I have searched for the perfect taco, the delectable burrito, the delightful quesadilla. Instead, I have had to sift through endless portions of wet, greasy, rubber-cheesed stodge from Wahaca and Chilangos. Even La Bodega Negra, the popular Mexican restaurant in Soho, left me unmoved. 

So, when I heard that the owners of Barafina, one of my favourite restaurants in all of London, had opened a Mexican restaurant in Borough Market, I gathered up my partner in culinary crime and headed straight for it, feeling sure that the long voyage in search of great Mexican food was finally at an end… it is not.

As with Barafina, El Pastor cannot be booked ahead of time. Despite it being early-ish, and mid-week, all of the main tables were already occupied when we arrived, and so we were seated on some stools at a little table by the door. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.52.03These stools felt as if they had been designed by an ergonomic genius to be maximumly uncomfortable. They were also so ridiculously high that I felt myself suffering from vertigo as I sat perched on one, sipping a pineapple juice as I tried desperately not to look down. The problem was compounded by the fact that one of the stool’s legs was shorter than the other, so that each time I shifted my weight the whole thing rocked violently, threatening to send me hurtling down to the floor below.

We ordered up a batch of tacos, half of them chicken and the other half marinated pork shoulder. My partner in culinary crime took a bite of the chicken taco before recoiling in horror, the spicy heat of the thing turning her mouth into an inferno, and sending her diving onto the nearby bowl of guacamole in desperate search of some sort of coolant. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.52.25This guacamole was, incidentally, the best thing about the restaurant; thick and full-bodied, infused with lime and viscerally fresh, we made our way through 2 bowls, dipping tortilla chips compulsively into the green paste. 

Next to arrive at the table was a greasy little cheese quesadilla. It sat small and plaintive on the plate, a bit of cheese oozing unappealingly out of the corner. The tortilla casing was utterly flavourless, and we ended up prising it off to eat the moderately nice cheese inside.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.54.23Lastly, we ate a tuna tostada, sprinkled with lime and sesame seeds. This was nice enough, but by then it was far too late to salvage El Pastor. 

So the search goes on. Did I merely dream it, all those years ago as a child? Is there no such thing as excellent Mexican food? Or are we just looking in the wrong places? To all our loyal readers, point us in the right direction, show us the way to El Dorado.


The Three Horseshoes

Address: Dyehouse Rd, Godalming GU8 6QD
Bookings: no booking
Day: Saturday
Meal: lunch
Price: £
Rating: 6.5/10

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 19.44.56Eating in a provincial English pub can be a harrowing experience. Soggy chips. Gristle burgers. Battered cod where you eat through the batter only to discover there is no fish inside. Beer sodden carpets. Jingling quiz machines with Noel Edmonds winking at you on loop. All of these things will be familiar to anyone ever caught in a village pub at lunchtime.

But that only makes the experience of blundering across an excellent pub meal all the more special when it does happen. This weekend marked just such an occasion.

My partner in culinary crime and I had escaped London for the weekend and were driving through the quaint villages of southwest Surrey, when we came across the Three Horseshoes, a picture postcard pub in the leafy village of Thursley. A glorious beer garden at the back overlooked rolling, ploughed fields, trees studding the horizon and little cottages peaking cheerfully out from the foliage.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 19.44.15With the sky threatening to deluge us with rain, we decided to part with the idyllic view and make our way inside, to be seated in one of the pub’s many little nooks.

We started off with a whole baked camembert to share, which came with half a dozen warm, garlic-infused breadsticks covered in sea salt. Never has a wheel of cheese been devoured more quickly. Each of us grabbed a breadstick and began scooping away at the delightfully soft, warm, melting cheese, a perfect starter for a cold, wet day. With the gooey interior eaten, my partner in culinary crime proceeded to devour the cheese rind until there was no trace a camembert had ever even been there.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 19.44.37For my main course, I ordered up a pub classic: gammon with egg and chips. The gammon was slightly sweet, cut thin, whilst the eggs where soft, the yolk ready to burst. My partner in culinary crime ordered a roast duck on a bed of bubble and squeak, which although not Comptoir Gascon standard, was certainly more than edible. Everything can be washed down with local beer from the Hogs Back brewery.

So, we learnt a valuable lesson: good food doesn’t end at Woking, and the country is indeed studded with little culinary gems, pubs nestled in picturesque valleys or hidden behind small country vicarages, with neglected geniuses labouring away in the kitchens. But you have to be prepared to hunt them down… and you may have to sift through a lot of empty batter on the way!

 


Envy – Amsterdam

Address: Prinsengracht 381I, 1016 HL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Bookings: booking
Day: Saturday
Meal: dinner
Price: ££
Rating: 7/10

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 18.59.31Life at the End of a Fork has once again stretched its wings, this time finding itself in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is ridiculously easy to get to from London: we had barely taken our seats on our EasyJet flight at Southend-on-Sea – surrounded by utterly inebriated stag-parties dribbling on themselves and irritating the air hostesses – before we were being told to fasten our seatbelts for the descent. From the reception of my office in London to the door of my hotel room in Amsterdam, barely 4-hours elapsed.

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 18.52.54Now, Amsterdam is not considered a centre of gastronomic excellence, but being food hounds we made it our business to try and sniff out whatever gems did exist. On Saturday night, we found ourselves in Envy, a long, dimly-lit restaurant that fronts out onto one of Amsterdam’s many canals. A small, eclectic menu consisted of tapas, our waitress advising 4 dishes per head. This seemed daunting, but we never need much encouragement to over-order, and so started demanding most of the things on the menu and she scribbled furiously to keep-up.

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 18.53.07First to land on the table was a petite little steak tartare, with bell pepper and zucchini artfully arranged across the top of it. It was sharp and fresh, but it was impossible to eat this little purple disc of raw beef without having flashbacks to the full-bodied, ragingly flavoursome steak tartare we have had so many times at Otto’s, in Holborn. Otto’s has effectively ruined steak tartare by making lesser variants pale in comparison, a point my partner in culinary crime made as she mournfully ate her way through this lesser substitute.

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Next, we had a tomato, peach and pesto concoction, with shards of lime meringue on the side. It was inventive and delicious, the meringue a perfect scoop for the cool, succulent tomatoes and sweet slices of peach. This dish was partnered with a sort of egg soup. The egg, our waitress proudly informed us, had been cooked at exactly 62 degrees, before having artichoke and garlic added to it. The result was fantastic, as lovely to look at as it was to gulp by the spoonful.

Throughout the dinner there was an inventiveness and a panache to the cooking that I had to admire. The flavour pairings were unusual; the food looked bold; the kitchen throbbed with youth and energy. Sometimes they fell short: if I never again have a slimy nugget of foie gras wrapped inside a ball of white chocolate then I certainly won’t complain. Their lobster with mushroom, asparagus and citrus sauce was small, insubstantial and rubbery.

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 18.58.35But I was never bored during the meal, and not only because of the sparkling conversation of my partner in culinary crime! I knew that whatever came out of the kitchen would be different, well-thought through. We finished with a plate of soft cheeses, 3 Dutch and 1 Belgian, 1 from a goat, 1 from a sheep and 2 from a cow. They lay in ascending order of flavour. Each was delicious, a credit to their respective countries and animals.

So, next time a long weekend beckons and you feel like stretching your wings, consider Amsterdam, and drop into this bold little hub of cooking.