Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Nostalgic Return to Villandry

Back when Amelia, Alisha and I worked together in Chiswick our favourite restaurant to visit for lunch or for a bottle of wine after work was Villandry. Our chosen branch in Chiswick has now closed...sad face...but a new Villandry has opened in St James! Yay!! 

And with a voucher from Zomato burning a hole in my pocket, I knew the perfect people to take along with me for a trip down memory lane at our (kind of) old haunt.

The restaurant interior was actually very different to our old Chiswick favourite, which was quite a simple cafe style restaurant with a takeaway bakery selling artisan loaves and cakes. 

Villandry St James was much grander with red leather banquettes, a high ceiling and two distinct dining areas. Don't be put off by the fact it looks rather empty, I was there very early, and by 7.30 the place was packed out giving it a lively and vibrant atmosphere. 

And when the A-team are together we always celebrate!

Browsing the modern European menu we decided to share a trio of starters. 

A raw baby vegetable platter with delicious dips including tapenade, artichoke puree and beetroot hummus.

Salt and pepper squid was perfectly crunchy and well-seasoned, accompanied by tartar sauce.

And a perennial fave of mine...salmon tartare. Yes...salmon again.... 

Alisha chose monkfish served with leeks, chorizo, courgette and carrot. She enjoyed the robust flavours of the fish that she'd never tried before but with the abundant amount of carrot on the plate she struggled to get through it all! 

Amelia and I both chose sea bass with artichokes, quail eggs, sundried tomatoes, broad beans, green beans and olives. Everything on the plate was beautifully cooked and the dish combined some of my favourite foods. My only issue was that it was slightly lukewarm and some of the ingredients were cold which made a bit of an odd contrast. 

One thing Villandry certainly does well is desserts: 

Our platter of miniatures contained a raspberry macaron, creme brulee, pineapple carpaccio, mini rhum baba and a chocolate square. My favourite was, of course, the macaron! 

And ever since that famous M & S advert who can a resist and melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant served with delicious vanilla ice cream! 

The girls and loved the new Villandry and it certainly lived up to our old favourite but with added glamour! 

Do you have a favourite after work restaurant? 

Thank you to Zomato for contributing to the cost of the meal

Villandry St James 
2 Waterloo Place

020 7930 3305

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Friday, 17 October 2014

My own personal food heaven at Salmontini

Ask me what's my favourite food and I'll give you one answer: salmon.

I loved it in every form: smoked salmon, grilled salmon, salmon gravlax, salmon sashimi, salmon sushi, even tinned salmon.

In fact when / if I go to heaven there will be a whole restaurant dedicated to salmon in all its forms...

And then as if someone read my mind...I heard a new salmon restaurant called Salmontini (originally started in the Middle East) was launching. And it was opening in Belgravia...which is basically where I live. Clearly the food gods were smiling on me :)

I followed their progress on social media eagerly awaiting the opening, and booked a table for two on the official opening day. My blogger buddy Catherine attended a preview just before the official launch and whetted my appetite with her fabulous photos.

And when the day dawned I headed on down to the restaurant's Pont Street location with a very excited spring in my step.

I've recently been on a bit of a mission to tell you about the restaurants that my local area of SW1 has to offer and it's great to add a new one to my list that has so far included No.11 Pimlico Road, UNI, Olivomare, Petrus and Ametsa with Arzak Instruction.

And here's my smiling companion, fellow luxury lifestyle blogger, Caroline from Cocktails and Caroline

A love of food often goes hand and hand with an interest in nutrition and I have been following Caroline's healthy lifestyle change with interest. She's been following a ketosis diet, which involves eating a limited amount of carbohydrates, but lots of healthy fats and protein. By eating like this the body is trained to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates so that you lose weight. Caroline was the perfect partner for this lunch as salmon really is a super food for this find of diet being both high in protein and healthy fats. Though I don't follow a ketosis diet, I often snack on salmon as I find it a great filler for the afternoon slump!

Caroline recently started up a new Instagram account to record her progress on the diet which includes lots of mouth watering meals, many of which have smoked salmon as the main protein. You can follow her progress on her @ketocaz and also get lots of ideas of what to eat on a low carb diet. She's certainly looking fab, losing inches and has amazing skin. 

Caroline informed me champagne is actually low in carbs, how fortunate! So we ordered a bottle to accompany our salmon feast. 

As I'm not on a low carb diet... I helped myself to my other favourite food while we checked out the menu. 

The menu really lived up to my expectations, highlighting salmon in all it's forms... there was also a whole sashimi and sushi menu and regular readers will know that's my favourite cuisine. Obviously a menu including so many favourites made it difficult to choose but fortunately Caroline was up for sharing. 

I'd already decided that I was going to stick to only eating salmon as that was the speciality. To be honest with you, this is something I regularly do anyway and I often get slightly strange looks when I order salmon for starter and for main course. But this has got nothing on my rather eccentric father who once ordered chicken soup for starter, main AND dessert. But there are plenty of other options, fish alternatives such as sea bass and black cod and also a selection of meat and grills. 

Our choices were: 

Crispy salmon salad which had a delicious crunch of rice crispies on top. 

Salmon tartare, was deliciously spicy with a fresh grapefruit accompaniment. 

And a mix of salmon and yellowtail sashimi was gorgeous and fresh. Everything was so perfectly light but I loved the silky, almost creamy taste of salmon. I used the thesaurus to think of a better word to describe it than 'fatty' which doesn't sound pleasant but neither does 'lardy', 'oily' 'lardaeous' or 'blubbery'. Anyway, you get the was fatty in a good way.

Here I am, the cat who got the cream...surrounded by all my favourite foods. 

And for main course...

Salmon stuffed with ricotta and served with chive sauce was perfect for Caroline's ketogenic diet. 

And for me? Clearly only one thing would do...

The waiter could sense my indecision as everything looked so good and he suggested I had a split portion of sushi so that I could try two different types. The classic spicy salmon roll was perfect, of course. My other choice was a little risky: the volcano roll contained apple, mango, cucumber and spicy mixed fish. I usually don't like mixing fruit with savoury but this was totally fantastic and I loved the crunch of the apple against the soft fish. I really was in my own personal food heaven...

...and it was great to share with a fellow foodie. 

As you can tell I totally loved Salmontini and there were absolutely no disappointments for a salmon connoisseur such as myself ;). Trust me, I will be back...I plan to try the whole menu. 

What's your personal foodie heaven? 

Salmontini Le Resto
1 Pont Street 

020 7118 1999

Find the menu on Zomato
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