Paradise by way of Kensal Green

19 Kilburn Ln. London W10 4AE United Kingdom • +44 20 8969 0098 • theparadise.co.uk

Yup. That’s actually the name. And it’s quite a mouthful. Unfortunately the food, not so much. But more on that later. Let’s start by talking digs, because I’m starting to get the feeling that you can pretty much walk into any building in London and it will be stunning. Hell, I bet even their meth labs are tastefully appointed, dripping with old-world charm and yet somehow contrasted with just the right amount of modernity and eclectic flair. And Paradise carries that torch handily.

They also carry a healthy bevy of tasty cocktails like the one I had which I can’t even recall the name. All I remember are flashes of mint and gin, which are so deceptively refreshing they will knock-you-on-you-ass before your appetizer ever hits the table.

The food, however, was in stark contrast and a bit of a bore. Not by preparation, but by taste. The burrata and beet root salad with hazelnut and watercress pesto was as flavorless as the food on the flight over. The lamb shoulder was the best of my three courses mostly due to the flavors of the parsnip puree, spiced Swiss chard and Marsala jus, but the meat itself was pretty dry and overcooked. And come dessert, I didn’t even both to finish the ginger pavlova with marscapone mousse, blood orange and red currants. A blasphemous use of Pavlov’s name, because the dish is hardly drool-worthy.

Yes, there’s trouble in Paradise, but nothing a new chef couldn’t fix, because they’ve got it going on just about everywhere else.

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Holborn Dining Room

 

Rosewood Hotel • 252 High Holborn London WC1V 7EN United Kingdom • +44 20 3747 8633 • holborndiningroom.com

Behold! The answer to the age-old question. You heard it here first folks. The world’s first definitive proof that the egg came before the chicken. Well, at least as it pertains to the chronology of my meal.

For my starter I had an amazing scotch egg of Ultimate proportions. Served over a bed of mushroom risotto to sweeten the deal, and by that I mean savory. The only dish of its equal for me would be The Rumpus Room in Milwaukee.

To follow, I ordered the chicken (obviously) pot pie with mushrooms served over a bed of English peas. Sadly, the presentation outshined the flavor, but it was still a solid good. Just an awfully steep step down from the egg that preceded it.

For dessert, the chocolate volcano with ginger ice cream is a really strong get, made with really strong ginger, like sushi grade. Not that sweetened cutesy stuff. It’s real McCoy and it makes the dish shine.

The other thing that shines is the exceedingly cool and expansive industrial décor. Every bit as tasteful as the food- after all, it is a Rosewood hotel… in London. Regrettably the service lacks the energy of the crowd, at least in terms of speed of service.

*** In a follow up visit, the fish and chips also proved damn skippy. That’s Yankee for good.

Tredwell’s

4A Upper Stret Martin’s Lane London WC2H 9NY United Kingdom Covent Garden • +44 20 3764 0840 • tredwells.com

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I so love the vibe here. The moment you walk in you’re hit with the palpable energy of a live pianist striking the ivories beneath a huge clock made out of knives, hanging two stories up on an exposed brick wall. Apparently Marcus Wareing knows how to make an entrance!

He also knows how to make a mean steak, the hangar easily being the best thing we had, cooked like a pro and made even bestier by the braised shallots and a crack-like peppercorn sauce.

The other dish worthy of adulation is the duck. An off-menu prep that sings like a choir boy on Ecstasy, trying out for The Voice while getting simultaneous purple nurples on both pecs. In other words, it was good.

Beyond that though, I found most of the other dishes to be a bit of a let down, from the buratta with romesco and pardon peppers to the pumkin ravioli in hazelnut sauce to the truffled mac and cheese. Okay, so that last one was pretty decent, but nothing you wouldn’t expect to find at a dozen million other places far less schamncy than this. So no points there.

No points for the chocolate cake or the lemon square either. But hells yeah! on the salted caramel soft serve parfait thingy. I just about got my face stuck in the glass.

3 teeth

The Gorgeous Kitchen

Heathrow Airport: Terminal 2 London TW6 1EW United Kingdom +44 7795 636840thegorgeouskitchen.com

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I’m not exactly sure I would consider this place gorgeous, but it is nicer than a Cibo Express. The service is also nice, I have to admit. And most importantly, the food is good. Damn good, actually. Fresh, clean and simple, which from what I gather is the concept here. A beauty-in-simplicity/nature, which is probably the real reason behind the name. Either that or it’s for more narcissistic reasons per the photograph above of the owners.

So simply put, the scrambled eggs with Scottish nova and grain toast are spot on delicious. Full of flavor because they start with choice ingredients that don’t need to be drown in a myriad of spices, herbs and condiments in order to get something out of it.

Even their fresh squeezed orange juice was impressive for a country not particularly well known for its citrus.

My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is that they are a bit stingy with the multigrain toast, which is pretty awesome. So be sure to ask for more or extra or both.

Not a bad way to spend a layover, I gotta say.

3 teeth

The Modern Pantry

47-48 St John’s Square, London EC1V 4JJ United Kingdom Clerkenwell •  +44 20 7553 9210 themodernpantry.co.uk

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I’m not exactly sure why I knew this from just looking at the eclectic menu and the vibe of the place, but somehow I just sensed that the owner was from New Zealand. Thus far, a distinction that has proved to be above average more times than not.

As for the vibe I speak of, it is quaint and minimalist, with an intimate-sized dining room, which is a nice way of saying small, but cozy. And friendly, laid back service which made for a pleasant stay- well, that and a glass of their house-made white wine, which was quite nice actually.

For my starter I went with their signature dish (pictured), an inventive and tasty spin on omelet made with prawn and hot peppers. And if you like breakfast for dinner, go for it. That said, it’s quite filling for an app, so bring your appetite or order something else.

The Cornish cod entrée was also quite nice, served over a bed of lentils, accented by mango. The fish was cooked perfectly and when all of the ingredients made its way onto your fork, the flavors were good, but a touch on the bland side, especially once the ratio of goodies to fish ran out.

And for dessert I chose the equally inventive sounding chocolate mousse. Unfortunately looks aren’t the only things that can be deceiving. This isn’t to say that it was bad by any stretch, but it was basically just a creamy chocolaty mousse with a few candied hazelnuts to mix things up. But the expected heat from the chili never managed to show up on the palate. So all in all, a solid showing, but not exactly a showstopper either.

3 teeth