Donostia

http://www.donostia.co.uk/

Scores: GFG 3/ H 3/ Z 24

Donostia serves Basque style cuisine from a modern restaurant in a pleasant ‘village style’ street a short walk from Marble Arch.  We ordered a selection of small dishes from different selections of the menu including one of the daily specials: squid a la plancha.  Everything here was good; the basic ingredients were obviously of sound quality including some very nice ham.

Pan con tomate (£3.60)

IMG_1724

Ibérico chorizo with piquillo pepper & watercress (£3.20)

IMG_1725

Mini Wagyu beef burger (£4.30)

IMG_1731

JABUGO: Cinco Jotas Jamón Ibérico de Bellota 3 years aged, hand carved (£19.8)

IMG_1727

BAKAILAO KOKOTXAK: Crispy fried cod cheeks with black squid ink aioli (£7.30)

IMG_1729

BIEIRA: Scallops with cauliflower purée (£8.60)

IMG_1734

Squid a la plancha

IMG_1728

Although it is different, I personally slightly preferred the food here to that received at Jose a couple of weeks before.  Here I thought some of the dishes stood out a little more and also the seasoning was a little better.  Unfortunately a friend was looking at the Scores on the Doors website the next day and proceeded to tell me that Donostia currently holds a 2, this has put me off making a further visit anytime soon…

 

Coya

http://www.coyarestaurant.com/restaurant-bar/restaurant.html

Scores: H 2/ Z 24

Coya is a Peruvian restaurant and club by the people behind Zuma, the restaurant occupies the lower ground floor of a building on Piccadilly.  At dinner it has a trends to have a lively atmosphere but during a Saturday lunchtime it was only about half full.  The menu contains a lot of dishes including a vast range of starters and we decided to share some of these rather than order mains as well.  Some of the dishes have Japanese and other Asia influences which adds variety.

Red prawn ceviche

IMG_1694

Yellowfin tuna tiraditos, ginger, fresh chilli salsa (£12)

IMG_1692

Sea bass ceviche, red onions, sweet potato, white corn (£8)

IMG_1693

Crispy prawns, aji limo (£10)

IMG_1698

Chicken wings, spiced salt, tamarind glaze (£4.50)

IMG_1701

Scallops with limo chilli crumbs, salsa criolla (£10)

IMG_1696

Chicken anticuchos, aji amarillo, garlic (£10) + beef anticuchos

IMG_1700

Everything was well cooked/ put together and it is hard to find again real faults except the bill can mount up fairly quickly.  At the same time there was nothing that blew me away.

 

 

 

Rivea

http://rivealondon.com/

NEW

Situated in the Bulgari hotel in Knightsbridge, Rivea is the London outpost of an Alain Ducasse place in San Tropez.  Despite the hotel sometimes jokingly being referred to as the Vulgari I found the décor of the basement dining room to be fairly tasteful.  The food, as you may expect, is Provencal style cuisine and it is served in a small plates (potential big bills) format.  We visited at lunch time and there is a good value lunch deal available: 2 starters, 1 larger plate, dessert, 1/2 bottle of water + tea or coffee for £35 per people.  What makes this particularly good is that you choose your dishes from the full dinner menu, not a restricted one, albeit a few of the dishes require a supplement to be paid.

These are some of the dishes I tried (dinner prices):

Marinated sea bream, citrus £8

IMG_1667

Gamberoni, delicate lobster “gelée” (lunch + £2) £11

IMG_1668

Sea bass, violon courgette and flowers £16

IMG_1671

Corn-fed chicken breast, macaroni au gratin £12

IMG_1672

Baked John Dory Riviera style £14

IMG_1675

Lemon shortbread, Limoncello sorbet £6
IMG_1677

The food here was very good, featuring well-cooked, good quality ingredients; even the chicken dish was full of flavour.  I would definitely come back although at dinner the bill is likely to ramp up quickly, especially if one gets involved in the wine list- during our lunch I sampled a £11 tiny glass of rose which was nice but I am pretty sure you could get a bottle of it for that price in a shop in France.

Rivea on Urbanspoon

Jose

http://www.josepizarro.com/restaurants/jose/

Scores: GFG 3/ Z 28/ H 1

I had never been to Jose before but I know it is highly regarded and I have also had a good meal in its sister restaurant Pizarro before.  We arrived late at just after 10 on a Saturday night and ended up standing at the counter.  As soon as a stool freed up elsewhere it was brought over and offered to my girlfriend which was considerate.

We had quite a few items, most of them fairly classic tapas including patatas bravas as well as some slightly different stuff including a sea bream dish.

Bread and tomato

IMG_1662

Jamón Ibérico

IMG_1664

Croquetas

IMG_1661

Jerusalem artichoke with pork

IMG_1665

Overall there was some very good tapas on display here, for example the croquetas were cooked to perfection.  However, although this is definitely some of the best Spanish food in London I did not find it mind blowing.  If I was in the area I would go again but there are places that are closer to me that do tapas at or not far from this level.

Ox (Belfast)

http://oxbelfast.com/

Scores: GFG 6

NEW

Belfast has been without a Michelin starred restaurant for a few years now and there appears to be a general trend for places to move slightly away from fine dining to more casual atmospheres and simpler food.  Ox may be trying to win a star back as it is a restaurant with a contemporary vibe but there the food is definitely modern fine dining.  Following a policy of some London places, on the weekend it offers tasting menus only.  These are also ‘blind’ which also leads them to try and push wine pairings; we turned these down and ordered a bottle of white and red instead.  Ox also had a very good gin list which helped start the evening nicely.  The menu is 5 courses and it costs a not unreasonable £45- we were served the following dishes:

Milk curd, radish, pea, verbena

IMG_1634

White asparagus, summer truffle, yolk, Iberico ham

IMG_1639

Scallop, brandade, tomato chutney

IMG_1640

Mourne lamb, spelt, crapaudine beetroot

IMG_1643

Polenta, mascarpone, honey, apricot, pecan

This was generally a very good meal and it had definitely the most innovative food I have had in Belfast in years.  There were a few slip ups though; some of the courses took a long time to arrive and although the service was friendly it was far from perfect.  Also the food was just not quite well-balanced enough, for example the first dish was just a touch too sharp and the asparagus and ham was too salty.

 

One Kensington

http://www.one-kensington.com/

NEW

One Kensington is a new brunch to dinner dining venue which replaces Zaika, a high end Indian, on High Street Ken.  It opened about 3 months ago and already has some serious competition as Pavilion, a not dissimilar place opened pretty soon after.  I am not too sure about now well designed the room here as the bar seems to take over quite a lot of the main dining space and thus is very imposing.

IMG_1624

Mackerel, crudités

IMG_1625

Lemon sole, olives, herbs

I had 2 courses from the set lunch menu (2 courses £20), the mackerel and the lemon sole, while others ordered from the a la carte which included a wide range of dishes including salads, pasta dishes, steaks and other mains.

Fiore salad rocket, seasonal leaves, vinaigrette

Fiore salad rocket, seasonal leaves, vinaigrette

As they were slightly late setting up our table they kindly gave us a dessert platter for free, which was a nice touch.  These were perhaps the stars of the show, the pastry chef here clearly knows want they are doing.

Dessert platter- part 1

Dessert platter- part 1

Dessert platter- part 2

Dessert platter- part 2

This meal was pretty average, although I would probably still go back as there is a lack of non-chain brassieres in the area.  I still thought Pavilion was better; however, its menu is more limited.

One Kensington on Urbanspoon

Nobu (Park Lane)

http://www.noburestaurants.com/london

Scores: 1 M*/ Scores: GFG 4/ Z 27/ H 2

I had not been a Nobu in about 18 months, which historically for me is a long time.  It was pretty good as always but still not up there with its glory days.  I have always enjoyed the more fusion dishes here much more than the straight Japanese food but now ‘Nikkei’ type food can be found many places in London

IMG_1613

Grilled Asparagus with Miso (13)

Lobster Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing (23.5)

Lobster Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing (23.5)

The classic Black Cod with Miso here is now £42- wow!