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8 | Food & Wine

Dinner Date

If you’re looking for somewhere to seriously impress that special someone this Valentine’s Day you won’t find many better than these classy London restaurants, all laying on a special promotion with a twist on February 14th. Sometimes it’s worth pushing the boat out for the more memorable experience that these places guarantee.

12 - 18 February 2013

– ‘The Early Escape’ – is a 3-course meal incorporating some of the menu’s best dishes like Dorset snails and Mrs Beeton’s snow egg, from 3-7pm. At £35pp, it offers exceptional value for this venue. If you’ve a bit more cash to splash, the exclusive bespoke menu from 8pm - including aperitifs, canapés and chocolates - is £80pp.

every couple to take home. All for £30pp, you can’t go wrong.


Royal Exchange, EC3V 3LR

Coffee Cult visits: Allpress Espresso in Shoreditch

By Alex Ivett

tell you what), you really can’t go wrong with the mix plate of fresh avocado, roast tomato, boiled egg, thinly sliced cheese and prosciutto or smoked salmon, with toasted sourdough and rosemary focaccia on the side – all for £7. Simple, filling, delicious.


100 Wardour St, W1F 0TN

The Gilbert Scott

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, NW1 2AR

The venue: London venues don’t get much grander than Grade I-listed St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, the Victorian Gothic masterpiece towering over the Eurostar terminal. Within it lies an elegant high-walled restaurant space named after the building’s architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott, and helmed by Marcus Wareing, one of the best British chefs of his generation. With its massive windows, corniced roof and limestone pillars, it retains the same grandeur as would have greeted diners in 1873 when it first opened. In keeping with this history, Wareing’s retro menu is steeped in nostalgia, paying homage to British classics from the pages of old cookery books. Eccentric standouts include a pig’s head fritter starter and Mrs Beeton’s snow egg for pudding, while the Gower Peninsula fisherman’s stew main course typifies the regional produce on which the menu is based. The wine list is a bit more international, as is the enthusiastic waiting staff, who are happy to offer their own personal recommendations when the choosing gets tough. One look at the menu and you’ll see why. The deal: Two special Valentine’s Day menus are on offer. The first

The venue: On Soho’s Wardour Street in the heart of the West End sits an Indian restaurant that ticks boxes most others don’t tick, most importantly with its ambience and the quality and value of menu. Named after both an Indian spice and an Indian snooker-style game, Carom lies in the capable hands of executive chef Balaji Balachander, who has risen from the streets of Chennai to the Michelin-starred Benares before taking charge at this, D&D’s first Indian restaurant. His menu of authentic regional and pan-Indian dishes of varying sizes encourages a wider, more sharing experience. Highlights include tender lamb cutlets marinated with papaya and green chilli and a Kerala fish curry in a mango and coconut sauce. The venue itself is part of the Meza complex, with Floridita below and Carom occupying the spacious ground floor fronted by a lively bar and lounge – its cocktail list offers signature India-inspired creations that you won’t find anywhere else. Chiffon curtains, dark furnishings and some private booths make for an atmospheric setting, and the service does everything justice. The deal: Watch Carom’s favourite romantic movie - Pretty Woman - in its cosy lounge with some speciallyprepared chocolate-chilli popcorn and a complimentary Valentine’s cocktail, before (or after) a threecourse meal concluded with a ‘lovebox’ sharing dessert selection. Plus a Valentine’s goodie-bag for

Serving up a strip

n Head chef at Maze Grill, Chris Arkadieff,

shows us how to serve up the perfect strip loin, with the added flavour of roast marrow sauce.



> CHRIS ARKadieff

Here at Maze Grill we source aged British strip loins on the bone. The bone enhances the beef flavours, especially during the char grilling process. The bone marrow is sourced form the shin bone of the cow. Ask your local butcher for bone marrow rings. With the end of a wooden spoon push the centre out of the bone and rinse under cold water for ten minutes to remove any impurities. The bones are great for making stock and will keep in the freezer for months. Bone marrow is a great addition to enhance the beefy flavours in any sauce or sautés.

What you need

12-14oz Beef strip loin on the bone.

Sauce • 150g bone marrow • 250ml reduced beef glaze • 2 tsp chopped tarragon leaves • 1 small shallot finely chopped • Salt and pepper to season • 3 bulbs of young garlic cut in half • 100g soft unsalted butter • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme • Salt and pepper to season

What to do

• On a high heat place a heavy cast iron grill plate or skillet. • Season the strip lion with salt and pepper and brush with cooking oil. • When the grill is hot, place the steak on the grill and cook on one side

The venue: If it’s a view you’re after beyond your handsome partner then look no further than Sauterelle, situated on the mezzanine level of the Grade I-listed Royal Exchange complex next to Bank Station. Its interior windows offer an impressive view of the historic central courtyard below, while the exterior ones look out across the grand Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. It may be a favoured haunt of City gents and ladies but its atmosphere is relaxed and jovial, thanks in no small part to the attending head waiters, while its set menus are affordable and offer great value for this part of the capital. Head chef Arnaud Delanney of Provence brings more than seven years of Michelin-star experience to your table, with a fine dining menu of contemporary French cuisine in classic Provençale style. Everything is served and presented immaculately, making Sauterelle one of the rare City venues that hits the mark on all fronts: food, service, atmosphere and location – in this case London’s beating heart with striking views to match. The deal: Not three but six amazing courses from the head chef’s repertoire including scallops with caviar d’Aquitain and Goosnargh duck breast with caramelized chicory, priced £55 with champagne. And if any gents are feeling particularly flush this month and want to make a serious romantic gesture, Sauterelle have teamed up with 200-year-old jewellers Boodles of Bond Street, to serve at the end of the meal a 1.5 carat Ashoka-cut diamond ring, exclusive in the UK. Available from February 7-21, priced £6,250.

Before arriving in London almost 12 months ago, I had already resigned myself to the prospect of a decent coffee free existence once UK based. There is a perception in Australia, spread through hushed whispers behind closed doors, that London is two beans short of a full cappuccino – that it can’t, or won’t, put on a decent brew for those who appreciate a finely poured flat white. I’m sorry to say I bought into the rumours, the slanderous gossip spread by those back home trying to convince you to stay Down Under for fear you’ll go off coffee, convert to wheatgrass shots and suddenly start boring them with Facebook posts about your attempts to make raw vegan carrot cake. What’s more, after a few initial disastrous experiences, I’m ashamed to admit I added fuel to the fire – fanning the flames of anti-London sentiment with my inability to find a good brew. That is, until my friend took me to Allpress in Shoreditch, and I had the coffee that would become the first step of my long love affair with Antipodean coffee shops in London.

The Craic Busy. Casual chic busy. The place bustles with energy, a mix plate of people waiting patiently to order then squeezing themselves onto hard to nab tables, along the bar to oversee the baristas at work, or onto the share table piled with papers. Though, with its corner location on trendy Redchurch Street, there is also nothing better than grabbing a takeaway on a rare sunny day and perching on the outside benches to watch local Londoners heading to nearby Brick Lane.

The Connection It can’t get more Antipodean than being a UK branch of a brand already popular in New Zealand and Australia. Started by New Zealander Michael Allpress to supply roasted coffee to local NZ cafes, it expanded to Sydney with the help of Sydneysider Tony Papas before exporting the concept of quality roasting and good coffee to the UK.

The Crucials

The Conclusion

Though I have been back many times since (always ordering the same thing in the express rejection of Clinton’s 1992 election campaign slogan - It’s Time to Change), it is only fitting that this week’s Coffee Cult resulted in not one, but two, visits to Allpress in one weekend. Both times with Aussie out-of-towners I was eager not to let approach London’s coffee scene with the same misguided folly I was first afflicted with. Two days, four ‘breakfast plates’, eight coffees and three satisfied customers later – Coffee Cult declares mission accomplished. Though there may well be other things on the menu (I couldn’t

It was love at first sip all those months ago, and the honeymoon period shows no sign of abating. One of the vanguard of Antipodean coffee shops in London. Allpress Espresso, 58 Redchurch St Shoreditch, London E2 7DP

Char grilled sirloin of Aberdeen Angus ‘on the bone’ with a roasted marrow bone sauce creating a criss cross pattern on the beef. After 5 minutes the steak should be caramelized to a golden brown colour. • Turn the steak and cook for a further 2 minutes. • Remove the steak and rest in a warm area. The steak at this stage should be medium-rare. Cook a further 4 minutes for medium-well. • Place the young garlic in a frying pan with the butter, thyme and seasoning. On a medium heat, sauté the garlic until the outer skin becomes golden and tender when pieced with a small knife. This should take around 5 minutes. • In a small frying pan on a medium heat add 50ml of cooking oil. When the oil is warm, it will move easily around the pan, place the bone in the marrow and sauté for 3minutes. • Add the shallots, sauté for 1 minute. • Add the beef glaze and reduce on a medium heat to form a thick sauce like

consistency. This should take around 2 minutes. • Add the chopped fresh tarragon and adjust the seasoning. • Place the steak on a warm plate, spoon over the rich sauce and garnish with the warm tender young garlic.

Australian Times weekly newspaper | 12 February 2013  

The weekly Australian Times newspaper: for, by and about Aussies in the UK

Australian Times weekly newspaper | 12 February 2013  

The weekly Australian Times newspaper: for, by and about Aussies in the UK