Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mien Tay

Hailing from Sydney, fresh, cheap, authentic (I'm always a little hesitant to use that word, as what actually constitutes authenticity?) Vietnamese cuisine is everywhere. Not so much in London. Thankfully, I'm now in the know that there is one in walking distance. Boom!
Again, I must attribute this find to the dashing foodie about town, Piers.

Mien Tay has a varied and lengthy menu, and choosing is tricky.
According to other published reviews, the quail is a must. We start with that and the chargrilled pork balls; cue the entry of what appears to be spam. Where are the balls? The waiter assures us that these are indeed the balls but that they just flatten them out... Well, they're not balls then, are they?! Once loaded with garnish and lots of chilli sauce they are fine but nothing special. Thankfully this is he lowlight of the meal and everything from here on in is super tasty.

The quail is juicy and possesses a delicate balance of flavours: Fire meets spice. Whenever I have quail, I wonder why it isn't more popular, as it is damned delicious. Sorry chicken, all your smaller bird friends are tastier. I had a run-in with a poussin recently that was utterly delectable... I digress. Look at the beautiful amber hue of that quail. Drool. Obviously presentation isn't key here, the quail is just plonked on the plate slightly haphazardly, but who cares if it tastes that good?

Pho is a must at any Vietnamese restaurant and can be used as a benchmark to see the true pulse of its kitchen.
The broth is well-flavoured and is actually the best tasting pho I have had. Sometimes, I find the broth lacking in depth, and needs so much added to it (from the array of sauces on the table) to bring it up to a suitable level of flavour for my palate.
There are lots of finely cut slices of rare beef in the pho, plenty of noodles and quite frankly, the bowl is more like a small swimming pool. Good London value for £8.50 (note, London value is entirely different from value in general).

Another dish that is oozing flavour is the lamb with lemongrass and chilli. Bright and summery, this dish is a winner with this rather formidable dining duo. The lemongrass provides a gorgeous zing and gives the dish an interesting texture, with its fibrous pieces clinging to the lamb. 

Hard to mess up, is greens with oyster sauce. Spot on. Not overcooked and smothered in a very morish, sweet, garlicky marinade.

With a wine list that certainly does the job (Picpoul was our choice with its bone-dry minerality to balance out the spice) there's something to suit all palates. The beer list is in need of some dire attention - hello delicious craft beers, where art thou? - and only has blandish styles on it. 

Service is your typical, fast, although slightly slap-dash, get 'em in, get 'em out kind, but you don't really come here for silver service and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. You come to Mien Tay for exciting Vietnamese fare executed very well.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Enoteca Turi

Enoteca Turi is an Italian restaurant in Putney, that came highly recommended by a couple of foodie lads, and is referred to by the more handsome one (sorry Mr Harris) as arguably the "best Italian in London". Big shoes to fill, Phil. 

When a bread basket that damn fine looking is placed in front of you, the shoes are already starting to fill up. Those spindly sticks are sheer joy. Stick it to me. Again. And again.

At Enoteca Turi, the produce is all wonderfully fresh and the dishes are well-crafted and thoughtfully presented. The entrées are generous. A little too generous for my liking, but for value for money, one cannot complain (set menu, three courses for £21.50).

Vitello Tonnato is a heap of baby-softness with a lovely contrast between the docility of the veal and the clang of the tuna sauce. 

I have the squid served on chickpea purée; tender and I enjoy the sharpness of the chickpeas against the subtlety of the squid (£9.75).

I am a rabbit fan. I get excited if rabbit is on the menu, and apart from Italian restaurants, it rarely is. Why hasn't rabbit made the grade in other mainstream cuisines? Poor little stigmatized bunnies. I'll eat you. Roast rabbit filled with pistachio and rosemary and wrapped in lardo di Colonnata, with braised rabbit and a trio of pan-roasted peppers (£19.75). This dish is hearty and is full of punchy flavours thanks to the rosemary and the lardo (cured strips of fatback).

I have food envy. Not only visually, as Darling Chris' pasta is pretty-pretty-princess-pretty, but in terms of taste too. The ravioli filled with beetroot and buffalo mozarella with smoked ricotta, butter and poppyseed sauce, is a delicate balance of flavours I adore. There is earth, smoke, cream, zing. Gah!  I shed a small tear to a small violin that's playing, as I return to my rabbit.

Full up, as the portions have continued to be molto generous - "You so thin! Eat! Eat!" -  we decided not to have dessert. Then we decided to share one. Then we decided after seeing desserts served to a nearby table, to order another. Hello fatties! The strawberry millefoglie (mille feuille) is classically spot-on; crunchy pastry, rich custard and sweet berries. 

I ordered the tiramisu with pistachio, cherry compote and maraschino liqueur. I am a cherry lover. There's something very sexy about cherries. Unfortunately, it's a little dry, however the flavours work well together.

The liquid side of lunch worked a treat with a Gavi di Gavi "La Minaia" Doc (£42.50) Made from 100% Cortese grapes, it is dry, but not so much it chafes, and it has a gorgeous crispness from the underlying fruit.
A couple of glasses of grappa never hurt at the end of a lovely lunch, and the beauty of having them at lunch is, they won't hurt you the next day either...
Service at Enoteca Turi is polite and polished. 
I eagerly look forward to dining here again, and ordering some of their super scrumptious pasta. Is it the best Italian in London? I cannot confirm that as I haven't had enough Italian in this fair town, however, it certainly was fine Italian fare.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Biggest Prawns

The picture doesn't quite do these beauties justice, but they were the biggest prawns I have seen in my life. If you look at the fork, you might get an idea as to how big they are. 

A simple lunch with high quality ingredients never fails. Sautée some cherry tomatoes and sliced red chilli in a good quality olive oil (I never understand why people skimp on this ingredient, it flavours your entire dish, so quality and taste are imperative) and add the prawns. Cook for about 1.5 minutes on each side or until they are orange. Finally, add a couple of cloves of diced garlic, so it doesn't burn. Stir through tagliatelle and splash on more olive oil. Finish off with torn basil and season well.

Summer lunch in under 15 minutes.

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