La Porte des Indes – Marble Arch

K and I came here back in 2001 (when we worked together in the Marble Arch area) and thoroughly enjoyed it. We remembered it being ‘posh Indian’ (as opposed to the street food kind of Indian cafés that are popular currently) but we hadn’t been back until now. Hey ho, that’s London – there’s so much choice.

La Porte des Indes differentiates itself from other Indian restaurants by offering French-Creole influenced dishes from Pondicherry, a former French colony in India, in a relaxing, stylish environment. There’s a soothing waterfall wall feature, a marble staircase and Indian furnishings everywhere (see photos here).

And on this occasion, we were after an up-market Indian restaurant in the Marble Arch area so it met our requirements. Time to re-visit.

Lamb rasoul – puff pastry parcels

Parsee fish – sole fillets steamed in banana leaves

We started off with cocktails and – for a starter – I had lamb rasoul, curry puffs with lamb and green peas, served with a sweet and spicy créole sauce @ £8.00, while K had parsee fish, fillets of sole encased in a mint and coriander chutney and lightly steamed in banana leaves (Chef Mehernosh Mody’s speciality) @ £12.00.

Samudri thali – a taster selection of seafood dishes

Shahi thali – a taster selection of meaty dishes

For main course, I had a samudri thali “a galaxy of seafood for the adventurous” @ £26.00 (included blackened salmon, a monkfish curry dish, rice, potatoes, etc) and K had a shahi thali “a royal feast of tantalising curries and tandoori specialities” also @ £26.00 (included a chicken curry and a lamb curry along with rice and veggies etc), and G had a selection of side veggie dishes (sag paneer @ £8, Bombay aloo @ £8, a mushroom curry @ £8, basmati rice @ £4 and naan bread @ £3.50).

Inside La Porte des Indes

For dessert, S had Indian tamarind sorbet @ £6.50 and G had Belgian chocolate mousse @£8.50.

Tamarind sorbet – seriously good, kinda tangy and completely unlike any other flavour of ice-cream or sorbet

Belgian chocolate mousse

Including a bottle of Chenin blanc South African dry white wine @ £29.00, our total bill for four came to £243.58.

The verdict: it’s not cheap but you get what you pay for – really good Indian food that’s a bit different. And waiting staff are very professional and attentive.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian (posh Indian)
~ Address: 32 Bryanston Street, London
~ Postcode: W1H 7EG
~ Nearest station: Marble Arch
~ Website + menus: La Porte des Indes website
~ Photos on flickr: images of La Porte des Indes
~ Location: La Porte des Indes map

La Porte Des Indes on Urbanspoon

Gordon Ramsay’s Maze – Mayfair

Gourmet five-course tasting menu experience – French and Asian cuisine

This five course dinner tasting menu with champagne for two was a very generous wedding gift to K and I earlier this year, from my old and much-loved university friend G.

A red letter days experience

The night before new year’s eve seemed like a perfect time for the booking – following an afternoon of retail therapy (mostly K’s) on Oxford Street, during our long Christmas holidays. And hopefully a climactic LardButty entry to end 2014.

Bar area purple decor and Christmas decorations

Arriving early so we could relax in the cocktail bar, K had a barrel aged old fashioned (Woodford Reserve bourbon, sugar, angostura and orange @ £15.00) and I had a margarita with salt foam (excellent Don Julio Blanco tequila margarita with all the salt but no mess @ £15.00 – the salt foam is made from salt, egg whites, xanthum gum and nitrous oxide and had a real novelty factor while looking like a lemon meringue pie too).

001_cocktails at Maze
Cocktails – orangey old fashioned and salt foam margarita

Tasting menu – click on photo to see enlarged copy

On being shown to our table, a waiter then sommelier explained the choices (with the vast wine list being presented on an ipad). We started with champagne, an amuse bouche of crumbly cheese, onion and salmon and some light and tasty cracker breads (mixed seed, chocolate, cheese, prawn cracker, paprika, and a variation on peas pudding).

002_crackers and amusebouche at Maze
Cracker breads + amuse bouche – a cheese, onion + salmon canapé

Flight of three wines from regional Spain – Louro, Navarra + a Priorat

To accompany a variety of foods, we chose a flight of three Spanish wines starting with a nicely dry white Louro, Rafael Palacio from Galicia, followed by a red Navarra, Emilio Valerio (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache blend) and a Priorat, Planetes, Nin Ortiz (Grenache and Carignon blend).

The first taster course was the English breakfast. How elegant does this look? Digging down into the shell, was a treasure trove of tomato and bacon pieces.

#1 English breakfast – egg, bacon + tomato served in an egg shell with soldiers and crunchy ‘hay’

For the next three courses, there was a choice of two dishes. We ordered one of each and shared so we got to try everything.

The cured salmon was served with mango, pickled onion and tempura crisp – an outstanding treat of flavours, while the octopus had the appearance and texture of a meaty sausage (albeit very tender), served with Szechuan pepper, tomatoes and rocket mayonnaise.

003_octopus and salmon at Maze
#2 Choice of octopus or cured salmon

004_dumpling and sea bream at Maze
#3 Choice of dumpling (seafood) or sea bream with enoki mushroom

The light, melt-in-your-mouth, gyoza-style dumpling was packed with lobster, tiger prawns and salmon. And the sea bream was just amazing – served with enoki mushrooms, dashi (miso soup base) and ginger, some of my favourite ingredients. For me, the sea bream dish was exceptional.

005_pork belly and duck breast at Maze
#4 Choice of pork belly or duck breast

On to course number four. Could it possibly get any better? Somehow it does, as each course thrills and delights just that little bit more.

The tender pork belly with a thin crispy crackling top was served with smoked bacon, tiger prawn and miso broth and decorated with bean sprouts and spring onions.

Again, the duck breast was tender with a perfectly crispy skin (we were so pleased to have recently discovered we both like duck breast) and was served with romanesco (beautiful edible green flower bud that tastes somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower), wild mushroom and lemon.

#5a Blackberry + apple sundae with custard

Swiftly following the blackberry and apple sundae (the first part of the fifth course) came profiteroles with chocolate, Baileys gel and ginger ice cream (divine) and cheesecake – a white chocolate log with ice cream, sprinkled with coconut and Szechuan powder (pepper) on a thin bed of pineapple (which was difficult to cut and could have benefited from being served with a sharp knife – my only, and very minor, criticism of the evening).

006_profiteroles and cheesecake at Maze
#5b Choice of profiteroles or cheesecake

To accompany the desserts we shared a glass of white Castelnau Suduiraut @ £13.50 and a red recioto corgegiara @ £11.00.

Dessert wines + a happy new year y’all

Everything about this experience was simply stunning from restaurant comfort, decor and atmosphere through to service, food and wine. I can’t see how our evening could have been improved. For that reason, Maze gets 5/5 in the LardButty index.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
~ Type: French/Asian
~ Address: 10-13 Grosvenor Square, London
~ Postcode: W1k 6JP
~ Tel: 020 7107 0000
~ Nearest station: Bond Street
~ Website + menus: Maze website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Maze food
~ Location: Maze map

Maze on Urbanspoon

Kettner’s – Soho

Kettner’s in Soho dates back to 1867, when Auguste Kettner (chef to Napoleon III) created his restaurant from four Georgian town houses.

Entering through the main doors in to the hallway, it feels – even today – like stepping into someone’s rather grand home with a sweeping staircase before you (leading up to first floor function rooms), a door to the left through to the bar room, or another doorway to the right leading into the main dining rooms.

Passing the pianist playing a white grand piano, it’s easy to imagine the high society of a bygone age hanging out here.

Glamorous style

What makes it especially appealing is that, while the style is glamorous, it’s slightly shabby round the edges. In a good way. The beautiful parquet flooring is well worn and the marble table-tops look like they could tell a story or two. It looks and feels lived in, and is instantly comfortable (further helped by the abundance of waiting staff who all acknowledged me as I was taken through to our table).


IMG_0793_grilled goats cheese starter
Grilled Crottin goats cheese topped with parsley

IMG_0796b_beef carpaccio starter
Beef carpaccio

For starters, S had grilled goats cheese with a parsley topping and salad @ £7.95, while I had Scotch beef carpaccio with truffle mayonnaise, capers, shallots, rocket, and Parmesan @ £10.50 (I loved the variety of little extra flavours, especially tangy capers).


IMG_0800b_tuna steak
Seared tuna steak salad – generous portion

Chicken with wild rice

Sticking with my preference for raw foods on this particular evening, I homed in on the seared yellow fin tuna (lovely chilli and aniseed flavours in the searing crumb) with green beans, new potato, egg and anchovies @ £13.95 for main course (a generous portion) while S had corn-fed chicken with wild rice, garlic, and a tarragon cream sauce @ £16.50.


Mango + passion fruit pavlova

IMG_0804_creme brulee
Kettner’s classic crème brûlée

We’d enjoyed our first two courses so much, it would’ve been a shame not to check out Kettner’s puddings too. So S had a mango and passion fruit pavlova @ £6.50 and I had a crème brûlée (divine) @ £6.00.

Sample menu – Oct 2014

Kettner's sample menu - Feb 2015
Sample menu – Feb 2015

Kettner’s offers a pre and post theatre menu – two courses @ £18.50 or three courses @ £21.50. Or, if ordering from the a la carte menu (as we were) Tastecard is accepted – 50% off food for up to four people but you must book in advance (no weekends) [as of 2015, Tastecard is no longer accepted]. Our total bill for a three course dinner for two including a half litre of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc @ £16.95 with a Tastecard discount, came to £62.00 (which includes a 12.5% service charge). Great value.

The verdict: smart old brasserie but there’s nothing pretentious or twee about it. Nicely informal, impeccable service and great French-inspired food.

More of the menu

IMG_1466b_Goats cheese and beetroot starter at Kettners
Baked goat’s cheese with beetroot marmalade

IMG_1468b_pork belly at Kettners
Crispy pork belly, braised red cabbage, celeriac puree, calvados jus @ £18.50

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: French, international,
~ Address: 29 Romilly Street, Soho, London
~ Postcode: W1D 5HP
~ Tel: 020 7734 6112
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website + menus: Kettner’s website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Kettner’s food
~ Location: Kettner’s map

More Soho dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Asia de Cuba
~ Cây Tre
~ Criterion

Kettner's on Urbanspoon

Brasserie Blanc – Covent Garden

I don’t feel lazy letting the pictures do the talking on this one…

The story starts with an appetite, in good company, on a hot and stuffy Saturday evening in the middle of Summer.

Aperitifs in the bar – refreshing cold prosecco

Once our table’s ready, we’re shown out to the roof terrace and into the warm evening air.

Roof terrace dining – by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden piazza

We order from the a la carte Summer Menu. Our group’s hors d’oeuvres include:

Deep fried goat’s cheese starter – with tomato chutney, frisee + bean salad @ £7.80

Cucumber gaspacho soup – with lemon crème fraîche, cucumber + dill @ £5.90

Pork rillettes starter – with cornichons + sourdough @ £7.50

Plats cuisines follow

Seabream – a special dish of the day in a very lemony butter sauce (gorgeous!)

Roast Atlantic salt cod fillet – salt cod brandade with red pepper + tomato sauce @ £17.40

Spicy squid, chorizo + espelette pepper cassoulet – with new potatoes + saffron @ £15.60

Viognier – dry, aromatic white wine (classic characteristics of the Viognier grape are peaches, dried apricots + floral aromas)

Some of us share desserts:

Selection of seasonal artisan cheeses @ £9.10

Crepes Suzette alight – for two @ £14.00

Crepes Suzette halved + plated – with orange + cointreau sauce + vanilla ice-cream

The verdict: Splendid. My camera never lies.


More of the menu

IMG_4212b_Hake_saffron sauce_Brasserie Blanc
Roast hake fillet with saffron and seafood @ £16.90

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: French, International
~ Address: 35 Clare Market, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2E 8RF
~ Nearest station: Covent Garden, Charing Cross
~ Website + menus: Brasserie Blanc Cov Gdn website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Brasserie Blanc food
~ Location: Brasserie Blanc Cov Gdn map

More nearby dining:
~ Bangalore Express
~ Canteen
~ Maxwells
~ Zen China

Brasserie Blanc on Urbanspoon

Truc Vert re-visited (NOW CLOSED)

Update 29 March 2017: I walked past this restaurant on North Audley Street in Mayfair this evening and was sorry to see it’s closed down. It can only have happened recently as the furniture and contents haven’t been removed yet. Sorry to see you go, Truc Vert.

_ _ _

We paid another visit to Truc Vert (follow link for more info) last night. It was as good as it’s always been.

The marché area seems to have been cut back to make room for more tables (sensible idea, or perhaps it’s just because it’s winter so there’s no outdoor dining).

We were in time to take advantage of the ‘three courses for £25’ menu prix fixé before 7.30pm, which is great value given a starter is around £9 and a main course around £19 anyway.

For a starter, I had seared cod and salmon fish cakes with marinated fennel, beetroot, slow roast cherry tomato and horseradish sauce (a la carte price: £8.50), followed by roast venison with sweet potato, seasonal vegetables and peas with mint (a la carte price: £18.95). The venison was tender and slightly rich with a liver-like flavour.

roast venison + sweet potato

Another member of the party had roast Gressingham duck breast with mixed bean cassoulet, roast figs and dressing (a la carte price: £18.50) which was also tender and tasty, and not too fatty (as duck can sometimes be) and a definite hit.

roast Gressingham duck

A Viognier Le Versant, Vins de Pays d’ Oc dry white wine @ £20 a bottle went well with the fishcakes starter, as did the Argentine Malbec, Bodegas Los Clop red @ £21 with the red meats.

For the third course, we each opted for a cheese mixed platter served with fresh nutty bread and Truc Vert chutney, with a port.

A couple of jazz musicians were playing which was a really nice touch but made it slightly challenging to have a conversation and hear one other.


See full Lardbutty blog-post on Truc Vert, here.

Square Meal

Rowley’s char-grilled entrecote

**UPDATE, MARCH 2011**
K and I went to Rowley’s last night, 29th March, and had a brilliant time. We were served by a really lovely, bubbly Hungarian girl – service was really great. We both had rare steaks (the house speciality in butter sauce) which were perfectly cooked and tender. As they’re served on a metal platter over a flame, it seemed a good idea to order them rare then you can leave them to cook through a bit further if you wish to. We also tried a mushroom tart for starter which was amazing – divine crumbly pastry and really tasty mushrooms. The atmosphere early evening was much more relaxed than the Friday lunchtime I came previously. And, if you dine before 7pm you can currently download a ‘50% off food’ voucher from Rowley’s website. So, it’s always worth checking their website for latest offers.

Rowley’s may seem a bit twee at first: it’s on gentrified Jermyn Street (famous for its tailors) and is usually filled with an older clientele and pin-striped business-men when I stroll past and peek through the glass frontage during my lunch breaks.

But it is ‘tweeness’ of a good sort – Rowley’s is situated where the Walls meat business began in the eighteenth century. And if you’re a meat eater, you simply have to try their steaks.

Rowley’s house speciality is their ‘famous char grilled entrecote’. Choose from
~ 6 oz – £24.00
~ 10 oz – £32.00
~ 6 oz w/ Larder Trim – £19.50
~ 10 oz w/ Larder Trim – £26.50
~ 6 oz Rump – £17.50
~ or corn-fed chicken breast for £16.50

All are served with a delicious herb and butter sauce and unlimited French Fries or a portion of chunky chips. And, if you’re still hungry you can get a second 6 oz steak or chicken breast for £10 (prices as of November 2010 and subject to change).

I went at lunchtime and the 6oz steak @ £24 with chunky chips and a side of green beans was more than sufficient (although a complimentary bread basket had been served when we initially sat at the table). The meat was served on a platter over a flame, keeping the butter sauce melted (slightly caramelising) and the meat warm – it was such a good cut it really did just melt in my mouth and was cooked medium-rare (as requested) perfectly. Absolutely divine.

rare steak with herb butter sauce over a flame

Having bought discount vouchers from Groupon in advance (£12 for £35 worth of food and drink from the a la carte menu) this was outstanding value. For such quality food, the menu is reasonably priced when it’s full price but do check their website for latest offers (50% discounts are offered if you eat at off-peak times).

A special place to take friends and relatives when they visit London. Twee shhmee.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British fine dining
~ Address: 113 Jermyn Street, London
~ Postcode: SW1Y 6HJ
~ Tel: 020 7930 2707
~ Nearest tube station: Piccadilly
~ Website + menus: Rowley’s website
~ Location: Rowley’s restaurant map

Rowley's on Urbanspoon

Truc Vert – rustic in Mayfair (NOW CLOSED)

Click to see latest info and photos for Truc Vert – March 2012.

Lardbutty restaurant of the week

Truc Vert (green thing) certainly does bring a taste of the country – or something green – into the city. Entering this Mayfair restaurant, you’ll walk through the mini ‘marche’ selling jars of home-made style chutneys and preserves, which contributes to the restaurant’s rustic feel, as do the wooden wine racks lining the walls.

Here, you get what you pay for: really great quality food, and it’s not overly expensive. While main courses average around £17, the prix fixe menu – if dining before 7pm – is around £22.00 for two courses or £25.50 for three.

Changed daily, you can refer to last night’s dinner menu (sample) on the website.

I’ve eaten here several times over the last few years and have thoroughly enjoyed my meal and had a good evening every time. My most recent visit was last night when a friend and I opted for the three course menu at £25.50 (and we were fortunate enough to have bought discount vouchers on Groupon in advance, for a further reduction). Between us, we had:

~ Spinach soup with blue cheese creme fraiche
~ Grilled beam fillet with fennel, dill, spring onion, tomato salad + olive salsa
~ Chargrilled Scottish sirloin steak with sauteed new potatoes, onions, sauteed spinach + mushroom cream sauce (x2)
~ Apple tartin with vanilla ice cream
~ Poached figs in red wine with pistachio ice cream

To summarise: excellent food and wine menu, service and atmosphere. Definitely one to bring your family or visitors to London to. Highly recommended.

Poached figs in red wine with pistachio ice cream

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British / French
~ Menus: Le Truc Vert menus (breakfast, lunch, dinner, tapas, wine)
~ Address: 42 North Audley Street
~ Postcode: W1K 6ZR
~ Nearest tube station: Bond Street
~ Website: Le Truc Vert website
~ Location: Restaurant map


Truc Vert on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Lardbutty index: Palm Court Brasserie

Palm Court Brasserie, King Street, Covent Garden

Amid the chaos and crowds drawn to Covent Garden piazza on a weekend, the Palm Court Brasserie offers a relaxing, chilled respite (particularly pleasing when the weather outside is 30°C, as it was yesterday).

It’s a French-style brasserie, right down to the wood and wicker chairs, serving tasty delights such as steak-frites, seared tuna nicoise and beef bourguignon. While I’m not a big fan of desserts the creme brulee here could well be the best I’ve ever tasted: a deep, moist vanilla custard perfectly contrasted with a brittle, caramelised sugar coating.

French style Palm Court Brasserie

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: French/ brasserie
~ Website, menus, book online: Palm Court Brasserie website
~ Postcode: WC2E 8JS
~ Nearest tube stations: Covent Garden, Charing Cross
~ Location: Palm Court Brasserie map