So Sarastro – a theatrical dining experience

How do you describe a restaurant where the decor and theme is all things opera and theatre, and great Turkish food is served amid live entertainment? Delightfully quirky?

An unusual sight on a busy central London street, the immense greenery and flower-jungle on the outside is an indication of the eccentricity within; and the smell of fresh rosemary an invitation to enter.

Sarastro – Lardbutty restaurant of the week
IMG00193-20100426-1813_sarastrob

Once inside, Sarastro initially has the appearance of an old theatre props junk shop. All of the decor and tables (some are ‘theatre box’ boothes) creatively relate in some way to opera or theatre.

IMG00195-20100426-2014_sarastrob
Sarastro decor

Eating from the Tenor menu (pre-theatre menu @ £14.50 for two courses) this evening, H and I had mushroom borek (pastries) and hummus starters between us, and both opted for Anatolian lamb with mixed vegetables and mashed potato (slow cooked lamb shank which fell off the bone). Perfect.

Already, we’ve got intriguing, quirky surroundings; excellent value food, and very tasty too; a comprehensive wine list, and, at 8.30pm – live entertainment to complete the spectacle (musicians don’t play every night so check before visiting).

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Turkish / opera
~ Menu: Sarastro menus
~ Postcode: WC2B 5SU
~ Nearest station: Covent Garden / Charing Cross
~ Website: Sarastro website
~ Location: Sarastro map
~ Multi-media (poor quality mobile-phone video of musicians):

Advertisements

Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Cafe

IMG00110-20100307-1310b

Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood Café has been offering excellent specials lately. Its closure at The Berkeley Hotel location may, in part, explain this (the lease ends and it’s closing tomorrow).

I had Sunday dinner here last month – three courses for £25 (sample prix fixe menu below). While it’s a classy restaurant, it was also comfortably casual and nothing was too much trouble for the waiting staff.

Prix fixe – two courses £21 or three courses £25

Starters
• Soup
• Pan-fried Cornish mackerel with wild garlic, tomato and olive dressing
• Watercress, endive and green bean salad with sesame dressing

Main courses
• Vegetarian option eg. Pappardelle with field mushrooms and baby spinach
• Fish option eg. Red mullet
• Meat option eg. Butter-roasted Goosnargh chicken with spring greens, lardons, garlic potatoes and thyme jus OR British beef with Yorkshire puddings

Desserts
• Steamed treacle pudding with Cornish clotted cream
• Brownie, pecan nut and marshmallow ice cream
Montgomery cheddar with oatcakes and spring fruit chutney

IMG00115-20100307-1416b

We drank a Massaya classic red wine from Bekaa Valley, Lebanon @ £26.00. All the food was beautifully prepared and tasty but the final course of Montgomery cheddar with oatcakes (and a glass of port) was the highlight for me.

I look forward to re-visiting Boxwood Café in its new location.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: British
~ Postcode: WAS SW1X 7RL
~ Nearest tube station: WAS Knightsbridge
~ Website: Boxwood Cafe website
~ Opening hours / information: Boxwood Café ceases to be at The Berkeley Hotel from 25 Apr 2010 – new location to be announced late 2010 (Hollywood?)

GustOrganics New York – CLOSED

GustOrganics may be pushing the superlatives by claiming to be the world’s only restaurant serving “100% certified organic food”. But they can have that one: food here is top quality and the organic certification they refer to applies only in the USA.

GustOrganics NYC – Lardbutty restaurant of the week
IMG00155-20100411-1928

The Argentine style empanadas were a popular starter among our party. Between us, we tried all varieties with hempanada being the favourite for originality and taste – made from hemp flour (black appearance), sweetcorn, mushrooms, zucchini (courgette) and mozzarella. The house speciality beef stew was divinely tender and tasty, with a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture like pulled pork.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Argentinian/ Organic
~ Menu: GustOrganics dinner menu
~ Address: 519 Ave of the Americas, New York
~ Post/zip code: New York 10011
~ Nearest metro station: 14th Street, NYC
~ Website: GustOrganics website
~ Location: GustOrganics map
~ Photos at GustOrganics

Gustorganics on Urbanspoon

Smith + Wollensky – steak perfection, New York

Smith & Wollensky on Urbanspoon

“One of the most trafficked restaurants in New York and among the most celebrated steakhouses in the world” – so says Smith + Wollensky’s website.

I was delighted to eat here on this visit to New York (my attempt failed last time – unsurprisingly – with a vegetarian friend!). And even more delighted that it fulfilled my expectations after a three year build-up. Hopefully, the photo below (courtesy of theanorak) shows the quality of the steak cuts and preparation. Outstanding.

Lardbutty restaurant of the week: Smith & Wollensky
20100409_smithwollensky_004b
Fillet and sirloin steak

While Smith & Wollensky might fall into the premium restaurant bracket, it feels very comfortably down to earth with it’s cosy bars and friendly, efficient service.

20100409_smithwollensky_005b

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: American / steak-house
~ Menu: Smith + Wollensky menus
~ Address: 797 Third Avenue, New York
~ Post/zip code: New York 10022
~ Website: Smith + Wollensky NYC website
~ Location: Smith + Wollensky NYC map

Chakalaka – Would you like antelope with your ostrich?

Named after a spicy South African vegetable relish, the Chakalaka restaurants in Putney, Chiswick and Wimbledon serve traditional South African food – something unique in London, even today.

I visited the Putney branch last night and first impressions were good. It’s tastefully yet simply decorated with South African paintings and zebra photos. And, being a busy restaurant, there’s a warm, vibrant buzz with attentive service too.

The menu offers dishes such as boerewors (sausage), ostrich and kudu (antelope) and lamb bobotie (curried minced lamb). There were items on this menu I hadn’t tried before so it greatly appealed to me.

There were a couple of South Africans in our party who rightly recommended peri-peri chicken livers, kudu carpaccio and boerewors sausage for shared starters. For main course I had ostrich (good) but recommend the lamb bobotie.

I had an excellent evening in great company and a good atmosphere, and am pleased to have tried new dishes. And while the food is good enough, it is over-priced (same prices as Santa Maria del Sur and this is not on a par with Santa Maria del Sur quality). Definitely worth trying but I won’t rush back.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 2.5 / 5
~ Type: South African
~ Postcode: SW15 2SP
~ Website: Chakalaka website
~ Location: Chakalaka Putney map

Mayday in March

Venturing out of London, The Mayday in Florence gets the LardButty restaurant/bar of the month award.

Not only was the service super-super-friendly, there’s an extensive (and good value) cocktail list and fine Italian real ales from White Dog Beers. Offering a packed calendar of events, Monday night is “Lost in Translation”, aimed at Italian language students who need help with homework.

Drinks at the Mayday: cocktails, shooters, real ales (White Dog’s ‘brass monkey’)
20100302_Mayday_drinks

Inside Mayday
IMG_9880

K in his element
IMG_9883

There’s a fabulous collection of light-shades in this clip; my favourite looks like a bunch of grapes in blue glass:

Cafe-bar info:
~ Type: Italian (well, it’s in Florence)
~ Rating: 4/5
~ Postcode: 50122 Firenze
~ Website: Mayday website
~ Location: Mayday, Via Dante Alighieri 16/R map

Florence info
~ Holiday highlights
~ Florence photo-set

Bodean’s – Smoke it slow, cook it low

Bodean’s bbq smokehouse: doesn’t the very name make your mouth water?

Bodean’s – a Kansas/Mid-West American style smokehouse – has long been a favourite of mine and my umpteenth visit last night to the Fulham branch was of the usual high standard.

The menu offers such delights as beef burnt ends, proper American style prime beef burgers, chargrilled steaks and enchiladas. I recommend the ‘teasers for two’ (plenty enough for three) – a tasting platter that includes fishcakes, chicken wings, and tender ribs.

While looking at their website just now, I noticed their bbq q card deals (I knew there was a reason for writing this blog!) – up to 50% off your second meal at some branches on Monday nights.

Going to London? Living in London? Not been to Bodean’s yet?

Go.

 

Bodean’s re-visited

IMG_4429_Burnt Ends_Bodeans
Burnt ends – at Tower Hill branch, Dec 2015, @ £12.95 (regular size)

 

IMG_4430_chicken wings
Chicken wings – 6 large buffalo chicken wings @ £8.95

 

IMG_4431_chicken caesar salad
Caesar salad – with crispy grilled pancetta and garlic croutons; plus chargrilled chicken @£4 supplement @ £12.95 – – so, so good!

 

IMG_4432_burger
8oz prime beef burger – topped with tomato, lettuce, red onions + pickles on a toasted sesame seed bread bun @ £8.25

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: American, American Mid-West (Kansas City) style,
~ Postcode: Several, including SW6 1EP
~ Nearest station: Fulham Broadway (for this branch)
~ Website: Bodean’s website
~ Locations: Several. And spreading…