Ambassadors at Bloomsbury Part One

I was recently up in London and stayed at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. Staying with friends we had the Christmas dinner at the Number Twelve attached restaurant. I started off with the Chestnut Pasta and had the Ribeye steak for my mains.

The home made chestnut pasta was served with seasonal wild mushrooms and a white butter sauce. I did enjoy this dish, the pasta was cooked well and nice selection of mushrooms.

For my mains I had ribeye of 28 day Donald Russell beef, served with celeriac, braised red onion, wild mushrooms and roast potatoes.

ribeye of 28 day Donald Russell beef

The steak was not the best I’ve had, slightly tough and was certainly not full of flavour compared to others I have eaten. The celeriac was nice as was the onions and mushrooms.

Overall I did enjoy both the started and the main course.

Alba Ristorante Part Five

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends., not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal. Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

One of the dishes that a friend ate was the Platessa con Salsa Bianca or Plaice with spinach, “salsa bianca” new potatoes.

Platessa con Salsa Bianca

He said it was excellent and beautifully cooked.

Breakfast at Bloomsbury

I was recently up in London and stayed at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. I generally dislike having breakfast in hotels, as more often than not they are overpriced and though have extensive choice are not really value for money. For example a month or two back I stayed at the Thistle Barbican Hotel and breakfast (though included in my room rate) would have cost you £15.95. For that you would have to queue up unless you got up really early. Having sat down in the Thistle, if you were lucky, the waiting staff would bring you some coffee and toast. Then it was self-service for the cooked breakfast, which was not very inspiring.

So I was well pleased with breakfast at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. It was about the same price as the Thistle, but unlike that place, at the Ambassadors they served you your cooked breakfast at the table, and what an excellent cooked breakfast it was.

breakfast

Beautifully served, it consisted of a excellent meaty sausage, some very nice grilled bacon, a small bowl of baked beans, grilled (and skinned) tomato, mushroom, bubble and squeak, black pudding and egg. You had a choice of eggs (chicken or duck) and cooked to your liking, I had a poached duck’s egg. It was also garnished with lettuce, not sure about the lettuce.

There was quite a choice of other cooked items as well, such as boiled eggs and kippers.

Along with the cooked breakfast, there was also a (self-service) selection of toast, bread products such as croissant and panettone, fruit, yoghurt, juice, cold meats, cheese and smoked fish.

Overall I was well impressed and would recommend the breakfast, though still not sure about the lettuce.

Alba Ristorante Part Four

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends., not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal. Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

On my second visit for my main I had the Bistecca D’Agnello con Borlotti e Cipolle Rosse or in English, Lamb steak with Borlotti beans & red onion from Trope.

Now don’t get me wrong it was very nice, however I did ask for it cooked medium and what I got was more rare than medium. The beans were nice though.

Alba Ristorante Part Three

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends., not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal. Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

Misto di Verdure alla Griglia Condite al Balsamico

On my second visit for my starter I had the Misto di Verdure alla Griglia Condite al Balsamico or in English, Mixed grilled Italian vegetables balsamic & extra virgin olive oil.

This was very nice, a simple dish which worked very well. There were courgettes, pepper, tomato and aubergine.

Out of the two starters I had, I think I preferred the duck.

Alba Ristorante Part Two

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends; not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal. Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

For my first visit, I had the Smoked Duck Salad followed by the Calves Liver. The Italian name for the calves liver dish was Fegato alla griglia con spinaci & patate; in English, grilled calves liver with spinach & saute potatoes.

grilled calves liver with spinach & saute potatoes

I am not normally a great fan of liver, lambs liver is quite strongly flavoured and pigs liver much too strong. Most of the time it appears to be served as liver and onions and the liver is dry and tough. However I had read many reviews about calves liver so this was an opportunity.

I was impressed.

It was beautifully cooked and was delicious. The flavour was exquisite and the accompanying spinach and potatoes were done well too. The texture was fantastic, it almost melted in the mouth. It had been grilled to perfection and was medium as was recommended to me and as asked for by me. As you can see it was a good size portion which surprised me as the dish was from Alba’s fixed price menu.

It was so good that on my second visit I was tempted to have it again.

Alba Ristorante Part One

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends., not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal.

I will review our meals over a few blog posts over the next few days (or well at least over the next week or so).

Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

For my first visit, I had the Smoked Duck Salad followed by the Calves’ Liver.

smoked duck breast with lambs lettuce & Italian orange slices

Well to give the dish, its proper name, petto d’amamtra all’arancia or in English, smoked duck breast with lambs lettuce & Italian orange slices.

The duck was very thinly sliced and had a delicate flavour which was slightly overpowered by the orange and the dressing.

However it was still delicious and I enjoyed it very much.

What a load of crepe!

One of the issues I have with a lot of department store restaurants (and visitor attraction restaurants) is that they cook the food in advance and then keep it warm for hours on end… Now that is possible with some dishes, but with others it just means dried out food.

One of the dishes that you can get at my local John Lewis is freshly cooked to order crepes. They make them as and when needed, rather than make them at 9am in the morning and keep them warm till 6pm in the evening!

We had crepes the last time we were there, one with chilli beef and one with mushroom stroganoff; both were served with salad.

The beef chilli was well cooked and nice and spicy. A little too hot for my tastes, but not excessively so.

Crepes

The mushroom stroganoff was really nice and went well with the crepes.

Crepe

The salad though was disappointing, I have had much better salads before at John Lewis, this was in the main lettuce with a tiny bit of red onion and pepper.

Overall for a department store restaurant they were really nice and probably one of the better items available. The fact you can buy wine and beer to go with the crepes makes the place even more attractive as a place to go out and get a quick bite to eat whilst shopping.

Tapas for a Tenner

I have been meaning for ages to visit La Tasca. I really like tapas and I really wanted to try their paella – more often then not I am very disappointed with the paella that is offered at other places.

So today I happened to be in Regent Street and popped into La Tasca for a (very) late lunch.

I decided to do the Tapas for a Tenner deal. This deal allows you to eat as many tapas as you want for just £10! The deal varies across the UK, but here it was available until 5pm, whilst in Bristol it is available from 5pm!

Tapas for a Tenner

I went for six dishes in the end.

Patatas Bravas – Fried potato, topped with a spicy tomato sauce.

A Spanish classic and a tapas favourite. The tomato sauce was spicy, but rather too salty for me. Whilst the potatoes were soft and not crispy, slightly oily. A bit of a disappointment for a dish which should be relatively simple to make. It felt like it had not been freshly cooked and left around for a while. For me tapas should be freshly cooked.

Paella de Pescado – Paella with squid, prawns and mussels, served with lemon.

This was a well flavoured dish, but again like the patatas bravas did not taste fresh, felt like it had been cooked a good hour earlier.

Calamares a la Andaluza – Deep-fried rings of squid, served with roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon.

Now this is a dish which again is simplicity, but oh was so wrong. The rings were overcooked so were rubbery in texture. I got the feeling (and I may have been wrong) that these were not freshly prepared, but came from a packet or even the freezer. Good calamari should be cooked using fresh squid. Alas they covered the calamari in salt – if I wanted salt I would have asked for it.

Chorizo Frito al Vino – The spicy Spanish sausage, sautéed in red wine.

This in my opinion was perfect, great chorizo cooked in red wine, bursting with meaty flavours and with a great depth provided by the red wine. This one I would have had second helpings of.

Selección de Embutidos – A selection of cured Spanish meats.

Can you get this wrong, no, and La Tasca didn’t. Three slices each of three different kinds of cured Spanish meats.

Paella Valenciana – A Valencian-style paella, with mixed seafood and chicken.

A different paella to the first tapas, but a similar story.

Overall I kind of had what I expected. La Tasca is a chain (not a family run restaurant) and probably cooks to a system. I did enjoy the meal (despite the disappointing food) and the ambiance and the atmosphere was pleasant, and you have to remember this was a very busy Regent Street.

Will I go again, possibly if I was stuck and there was nothing else to choose from.