Sunday, July 13, 2014

London Eats more: Christopher's Grill

I have a List of things to Do and Places to Visit in London.
It has hot restaurants, cool shopping districts, hip markets, top shows and events.

But it all went out the window when I got this overseas gig and had to spend a panicked week organising airfares and accommodation (for both myself and Tabitha cat - she's in a cat hotel, sob!).

Anyway, by the time I emerged from the fog of bookings, I was due to leave and there was no time to book anything on my list - and all my must-visit restaurants were booked out up to 2 months in advance anyway!

My main worry was Wills' birthday was 2 days after we arrived in London. He always looks forward to his birthday dinner (usually it's at the now-closed Ocean Room). Luckily, I remembered Christopher's, an American restaurant and bar in Covent Garden. They have several rooms to choose from, so a quick and easy online booking was made. Relief! 

Christopher's is opposite the Lyceum, where Lion King is on. 

The Dining Room has a clubby, masculine feel. We were seated in an ante-room to the main dining area. I liked it because I had requested a window seat and I got the banquette as a result.

This is the food we enjoyed...

My starter: Fois Gras with pata negra (Iberian ham), mango, quince jelly and much more. Two large discs of fois gras and some light and crisp shards of cracker. 

His starter: Blackened Shrimp with black bean salsa, tomato confit, zucchini corn cake. 

My main: Prime Rib-Eye Steak (6oz). The steaks at Christopher's are from Black Angus cattle, bred in Kansas. Served with BĂ©arnaise sauce.
My steak was perfectly cooked and the ribbons of fat through it made it extremely tender. 
There was a table of American and English gents next to us (banker types), and when asked how he wanted his steak cooked, one of the Americans said "Since I'm over here, make it Medium". I wonder what he's worried about...

Birthday boy's main: Surf 'n' Turf steak. This is a 6oz Rib-eye steak with half a grilled Maine lobster.
I didn't taste this, but it sure looked swell. The lobster half was large and meaty and if you like poking about with those lobster crackers and picks, then you'll love this dish. 

We also shared a House Salad and Parmesan Truffle Fries. This is the first time I've had truffle fries with real truffle rather than truffle oil. These fries were incredible. They leave the skins on, and they taste incredibly potato-y. 

Dessert time!
This is a shared dessert plate.
Take a look: 
There was: chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream, New York cheesecake, pecan maple pie with caramel ice cream, key lime tart, and peach Melba. 

Let's take another look: 

And here's the choc fudge brownie because you can't see it in the other pics:

I'll admit that I couldn't finish my half of the dessert, so birthday boy obliged and polished it all off. I did have a small taste of everything on the plate, though, which is why I will ensure next time to leave MORE room for dessert.

For me, there's always room for hot English Breakfast tea. I even asked for the delicate glass pot to be refilled, the tea was so good. 

So that's another birthday done and dusted.
Glad it was in London and super happy that Christopher's made it such a satisfying experience.
By the way, service was friendly and professional. I like how they take your name when you arrive, then after you walk up the staircase to the dining room, the maitre'd knows who you are and takes you to your table. Simple things that make the evening.

Christopher's is at 18 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7DD
ph: + 44 (0) 20 7240 4222

Sunday, July 6, 2014

London eats - Shake Shack and Brick Lane

London really is a fantastic city for food.
I've been spending all of my time in the centre of town, and from a daily sandwich lunch at Pret a Manger to higher-end restaurants, I've yet to have a bad meal.

The summer festivals are in full swing at the moment, and although the weather isn't exactly 'summery' (it's often the same temperature as Sydney in winter), a sunny day will bring out the tank tops and shorts and a wander to the nearest markets.

The Brick Lane Market is a collection of different markets, all located in the Brick Lane area of East London. The Boiler House Food Hall is packed with stalls selling tasty dishes from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.

It's possibly the same food that you could get from your standard food court or mall, but everything is served from these large heated pans that makes the food look so colourful and appetising.

On the Sunday that we visited, the main street was crowded with tourists, and music blared from performers and ghetto blasters on the footpath. Also lots of stalls selling vintage gear and the usual treasures (or junk, depending on how you look at it).


From one tourist area to another.

On the following (rainy) Saturday, we headed to Covent Garden
Because Shake Shack is there.

This is the closest I've gotten to this legendary burger joint and it did not disappoint.
It's pricey but worth it. The burgers were GBP 5 and  7. 
While we were waiting for the food to arrive, there was a massive thunderstorm, but I wasn't going to give up my table for some piddly English summer shower. So we just scooted in a bit and enjoyed our burgers and fries under a leaky market umbrella. Yum!

After, we joined the tourist throng, and intermittent showers, and walked up to Piccadilly Circus via Leicester Square.
I love how English pubs (and even banks!) have those vibrant pots of petunias sprouting from windows and hanging from the awnings.
Even this branch of the Slug and Lettuce chain of bars has classic architecture. 


It's also my mission in London to check out as many phone boxes as possible.
These two are in Carnaby Street.
rating for these is 4 out of 10 (a bit funky smelling)