Yesterday I went to Taste of London Winter; the festive edition of the restaurant festival held again this year at Tobacco Dock.
The three day affair is a mixture of restaurants serving special menus, talks and demonstrations from Britain’s brightest and best (which included Lily Vanilli, Tom Kerridge and the Meringue Girls), producer stalls and special exhibitions from brands, ranging from Nespresso to HBO and AEG. Standard tickets were £19 for entry to one six-hour session, or pay £45 for a champagne ticket that gets you entry, £20 of ‘crowns’ (dining currency), a Taste recipe book and glass of champagne in the Laurent Perrier bar.
It’s grown again this year as you’d imagine, and seems to be moving from strength to strength. The Victorian styling of Tobacco Dock gives it a unique look and works really well, and out of peak lunch/evening times there’s minimal queuing.
There was some fantastic food on show this year, but I’ve picked out my top 5 favourites for you to go and explore.
1. Hansen & Ledersen smoked salmon. Served in the Laurent Perrier bar on Norweigan knekkebrød, with dill and creme fraiche. I’ve raved about them before. Based in North London, they smoke the fish *to order* (which means it’s never frozen, vacuum packed or kept in plastic) in a traditional Norwegian way in an old brick building in Stoke Newington that used to house painting works. Buy online here.
2. Mole Taco Bar’s icon dish; Baja Fish Taco with spicy slaw, tajin (Mexican seasoning) and cascabel chili aioli. Run by the team behind Cocochan, Mole’s 50-seater restaurant serves up modern Mexican fare with South American influence – and is 80% gluten free. That includes their signature tacos, which are made from cornflour. The phenomenal dish you see below and as the featured image is one of those, and was my dish of the day. The slaw was spicy, fresh and zinged with lime, while the fish was crispy, light and perfectly matched the aioli. Well worth the wait. Check out Mole on Picton Place in Marylebone, which serves classic tacos, experimental ones and has a Raw Bar with a changing selection of ceviche. Reservations here.
3. maze Grill’s slow cooked BBQ pulled beef brisket bun. Holy hell! Probably the best run and organised stand in the place, Gordon Ramsay’s maze Grill specialises in rare-breed prime steaks from fillet to rib-eye and triple-seared wagyu, all perfectly dry-aged in a Himalayan salt brick-lined ageing chamber to give the meat a rich, concentrated flavour. Their bun was totally delicious, and cooked to perfection. Reservations here.
4. Joe & Seph’s Christmas Editions. So. I love their gourmet popcorns, but the seasonal selection they’ve crafted for Christmas knock them all out of the park. The Brandy Butter is a buttery caramel popcorn infused with a 10 year old Spanish Brandy, Mint Chocolate is finest Belgian Milk & Dar Chocolate with Peppermint, but the pièce de résistance is the Mince Pie (!!!) – which is air popped popcorn with a coating of festive spices, fruits mixed with almonds and some more Spanish Brandy. They’re just the right amount of sweet; and really do taste like mince pies. Totally delicious, and a perfect gift. Order online here.
5. M’s chicken karaage with English wasabi and chilli. A truly amazing Japanese fried chicken dish that almost took the gold spot for me. The multifaceted venue M in Threadneedle Street has been hailed as one of the most exciting openings of the year and won ‘Best New Restaurant 2015′ in the Harpers Awards. It houses two restaurants M GRILL & M RAW, a destination cocktail bar, a wine tasting room, a secret den and four private dining and events spaces. There’s a new one that’s just opened on Victoria Street, book online here.
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