January 2011

Monthly Archive

Portobello Organic Kitchen @ Portobello Road

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 16 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: Restaurants

What nice little gem of a restaurant this is. Portobello Organic Kitchen, as the name implies, uses only organic ingredients to prepare its dishes, and there are a couple of organic wines as well. I don’t know if it’s the organic ingredients or the chef’s skill, but the food tastes fantastic. The place is small, making it quite intimate, and the staff are extremely friendly, making you feel like you’re a visitor in their living room.

We popped in for a quick meal before our film at the Electric Cinema nearby (comfy armchairs, footrest, bar at the back, well worth the cost by the way) and only had time for mains, but they were great; the pork belly with braised cabbage and celeriac puree was perfectly balanced and full of flavour (the braised cabbage was without a doubt the best I’ve ever tasted, and I’m not even much of a fan of it), while the roasted chicken breast with porcini mushroom risotto was fresh and tasty, with succulent meat and the risotto packing a punch. Our side of mixed salad was also good and very fresh.

This place serves beautiful food in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and the fact that it’s all organic makes it all the better (probably partly why it tastes so good!). I can’t wait to be back for the full three course meal.

Mennula @ Charlotte Street

Posted by Yannis Lionis on 08 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: Restaurants

Mennula is an Italian restaurant with Sicilian roots, located in Charlotte Street just north of Oxford Street, a street brimming with restaurants and bars. It recently featured on TV (Gordon Ramsay’s best UK restaurants or something along those lines) and seemed to produce great food, so we thought we should pay them a visit.

And great food it was. The evening started with an unimpressive bread selection, which on the other hand was served with excellent Italian olive oil, while the starters of scallops with pancetta and lentils and buffalo mozarella with aubergine caviar and grilled courgettes were fresh tasting and mouthwatering. The mains were the highlight: a lamb shank with root vegetable puree and balsamic sauce was tender and packed full of strong flavours and the beef with mushrooms, winter truffle and celeriac mash was a great combination while still allowing the beef to shine through.

The deserts turned out to be the chef’s chance to display excellent customer service. While the chocolate cake with pistachio semi-fredo was the chocolate punch we expected, the traditional Sicilian cannoli (pastry filled with sweet ewe’s cheese) came out tasting not at all sweet, almost salty. However, the chef (who was in and out of the kitchen chatting to patrons often) noticed me shaking my head on the first bite of it, went to the kitchen, tried the filling himself and came out to apologise for it and to offer to bring me another one prepared just right! The second one really did taste much better and the chef’s effort was well appreciated.

Service on the whole was friendly if a little slow, the waiters seemed a bit rushed with a full house. The only other complaint would be the cramped space, as the place is quite small, resulting in small tables, uncomfortable sofas and feeling slightly crowded.

Overall, this restaurant has great food and a genuine desire to ensure customers leave fully satisfied. A more comfortable venue would probably make it that bit better for both customers and staff.