Wednesday, 17 December 2014

SilverSpoon Takes A Bite Out of the Big Apple: Hakkasan, New York

Do you remember your first proper date with the person that you eventually fell in love with, and maybe even married?

There are lots of restaurants in London that we love. But, there will always be one place that's incredibly special to Mr Silver and I.


Let's go back a step...Do you remember the day that you left you home for that date?

As you got ready to to leave, taking extra care with your appearance, your heart thumping in your chest...so nervous, yet so excited. 

The feeling of anticipation...


Could he be the one? Is this finally IT....

Mr Silver and I had this experience at Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant, Hakkasan in Mayfair, a restaurant that we loved so much that we've returned to it many times with friends and loved ones. And when we came to New York it seemed only natural that we would visit the Stateside branch of this restaurant that was so special to us. 


As I walked down the corridor of the sexy interior of Hakkasan, New York I was reminded of that day at the London restaurant. On that day I didn't take much notice of the sleek dark wood, funky marble motifs and cool blue lighting, I was thinking about the person I was about to meet. But this time I could fully appreciate how fab the interior was.


Especially the long blue bar, clearly the ideal place to start of your perfect date night. 

On that first date in London it was this face that I was so excited to see. Who knew how the night would turn out, what we would talk about, eat and drink...


Well... now nearly four years later Mr Silver and I are pretty / very used to going out for meals together. 

I bet you and your other half can look at a menu and guess what the other one will order? 
You always know your favourite things to share...
And I always know what I will coerce Mr S into sharing with me....

The interior actually belies the time of day, it was lunch time and a very cold rainy day in New York. Mr S and I had walked to Hakkasan from our hotel. It wasn't far but we'd fought through crowds of tourists, tangled umbrellas and huge puddles to get there...so needless to say we were very happy to arrive and order cocktails. 


Mr Silver chose a Temple of Heaven, containing rum, ginger, lychee juice and passion fruit juice.


I chose a Strawberry and Ginger Bellini. Not only were both drinks totally gorgeous to look at, they were absolutely delicious. I don't like over sweet cocktails but both of these struck the perfect balance of sweetness with a touch of tartness. Perhaps some of the best cocktails I've ever had...

We both love dim sum and we'll always have the dim sum mixed platter at the London Hakkasan. In New York there is a whole menu dedicated to dim sum, drawing inspiration from London's sister restaurant Yauatcha


We chose prawn and chive...


....and har gau (pork and prawn) for our steamed dim sum. I thing I love about dim sum is it's actually fairly light in calories but you really feel like you're having a treat as you wrap your chopsticks around their fat and glossy exteriors. 

Our very helpful and knowledgeable waitress suggested the crispy beancurd prawn cheung fun which we'd never tried before. 


I ended up loving this...a steamed rice roll, with a hot layer of crispy fried bean curd stuffed with juicy and perfectly cooked prawns. It was a little on the heavy side so I'd suggest sharing this with a group of people so you try one or two pieces. 

Another cocktail? Well, when pretending to be on a first date, a bit of dutch courage is needed. 


For the next round, our choice of fresh fruit flavouring was switched around. I loved my bellini, so I went ahead and tried the passion fruit version. I urged Mr S to try the Strawberry and Basil Martini containing white balsamic vingar and Thai basil leaves. It just sounded so interesting; and it looked and tasted gorgeous. 

I could have stuck with ordering dim sum and little sharing bits but Mr S needed feeding more so we ordered two light(ish) main courses.


A nice and spicy wok fried seafood dish containing prawns, squid and white fish. 


And a soft shell crab. 

Soft shell crab is one of my favourite dishes and I absolutely adore the London version. When I started eating the dish I enjoyed it but the NY crab is made with buttermilk and I soon found it too sweet and greasy to continue eating. While I'm not saying I didn't like it, I found it a lot heavier than the London version and struggled to eat more of it. 

As you can imagine we were pretty full...but then the chef sent over these: 


A beautiful chocolate cake that was like a creamy macaron topped with popcorn and crispies.


And this. 

Which has gone down in history as simply the best dessert ever. If you told me a pumpkin pie would be my favourite ever dessert, I wouldn't believe you. I've tried pumpkin pie before and I find it too sickly sweet. 

But this.

Was perfect. I love the way that, as with the cocktails...the sweetness is balanced by a tart flavour. Creamy, luscious, chocolatey and biscuity...it was a dessert of pure perfection. 


And with all that indulgence, we bought back some balance. 

Doesn't green tea burn calories or something? 

I always say a fantastic experience isn't just about the great food and atmosphere in a restaurant; it's the feelings and the special memories that experience evokes. And I could happily return day after day to that first time Mr S and shared a basket of dim sum at Hakkasan. 

Thanks for the memories, Hakkasan, New York. 

Hakkasan, New York
311 West 43rd Street
New York
NY 10036

Our meal at Hakkasan, New York was complimentary, but I think you tell that I like it just a bit. 

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Soho Lunch Club: Food Critics at Brasserie Zedel

As our family has grown with additional husbands, boyfriends and children, eating out as a family has got more and more expensive. In fact, my dad complains that when we all eat out together it costs him approximately the price of an iPad.

'And if we eat at one of your fancy places, it costs two iPads and I'm still hungry.'

So for our family meal, on the occasion of my Dad's birthday, I chose Brasserie Zedel, a restaurant that's renowned for it's value for money. I'd eaten there before and enjoyed it, so it was time to take the entire SilverSpoon family out for perhaps the price of half an iPad. Also it's owned by Corbin and King, co-owners of some of London's most-loved restaurants, The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Colbert, so you can't really go wrong...or can you?



Starting at with a dramatic entrance, Mr S and I made our way down several flights of stairs. The place is absolutely huge as it also encompasses a ground floor cafe, a bar and a cabaret venue.

 Brasserie Zedel itself is a vast basement restaurant, that imitates a glamorous Parisian brasserie. 


With it's high ceiling gold accents and marble columns, the restaurant strives for opulence, but the contrast with inexpensive looking wood and paper table clothes means the gold leaf looks a little like a cheap facade and the whole effect is rather garish. 

Hmm...I hadn't quite remembered it being like this. 


But with lots of people, bustling staff and a piano plinking in the background, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. We were offered the menu in French or English, and all plumped for the version in our mother tongue. 

With seven of us there for lunch, my dad was relieved to see the surprisingly reasonable prices and we all went ahead and ordered from the menu of Gallic cuisine.  


My sister and I ordered the tuna nicoise salad. 

And now a disclaimer:

I'm not a food critic, here to give a scathing rant about vile food and poor service. I am a luxury lifestyle blogger who aims to bring you pretty things and positivity, in fact I wasn't even sure whether or not to write this blog post, but some of my more negative reviews have been appreciated, and as everyone else enjoyed their food I thought I'd still write about. 

Just look at my salad, I received overcooked eggs, rock hard potatoes, one rather droopy anchovy and tuna still in the same shape as it was in the can. Actually, it was edible, just not particularly enjoyable. 



Everyone else around the table had soup, either fish or French onion and the rest my family murmured their appreciation for their starters. Ok...it's just me then! 


My main course was sea bream with provencal tomatoes on a bed of cabbage. Once again, a rather tasteless piece of overcooked fish. Also edible (after a strong dose of salt) but not enjoyable...I got about half way through it before giving up. My mum chose the same dish and agreed with me. 


However, my sister enjoyed her lemon sole which was nicely crisped on the outside. 


Her boyfriend loved his chopped steak, though I thought the salad looked suspiciously out of a bag. 


My dad had a chicken stew...


...and Mr S, the lamb special. Everyone was happy with their meal, but they are not foodies, and personally I didn't think any of the choices looked particularly appealing. There wasn't much on the menu for my little nephew but he's pretty happy with a plate of chips and salad and his iPad to play with. 

I voiced my opinions to the table. To which they responded:
'Well, it's not expensive, and you get what you pay for' 

Actually I disagree...there's no excuse for an overcooked egg for example. And a few weeks ago Mr S and I had an absolutely fab lunch at the French bistro, Blanchette, which was excellent value. 

Brasserie Zedel somewhat redeemed themselves with desserts. I was worried my photos of all looked pretty dismal (and to be fair on the restaurant, the rather yellowish lighting hasn't helped) so I persuaded Mr S that we needed to order the profiteroles for the good of the blog!


As is often the case, chocolate saved the day.

But it was Grandad's birthday treat that really made us smile...


....however, made Dad's smile was even bigger when he saw the final bill ;) 

So there you go, I hope you enjoyed my slightly scathing review, do you think I could be the next Jay Rayner?
Well...with better hair obviously ;) 

Brasserie Zedel 
20 Sherwood Street
London
W1F 7ED
020 7734 4888

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