The Clove Club 9th Visit — London (7/2019)


It had only been a couple of months since my last visit, but I was now back to lunch with this visit.  Being in the heart of summer, I was looking to see some great summer ingredients with some nice flavors.

They post the short menu outside.  I don’t always get a look at the menus, so I wanted to document when I can their full offerings.  The wine list changes regularly.

To start off, they offered a 2009 English sparkling Chardonnay that they were going to open for by-the-glass pourings.  It was very nice, with the age providing a mellowness to the flavor.

The opening snack was trout Nigiri.  This was served deconstructed, with nori on the bottom with some crème fraiche and rice kernels and a rice and rye cake.  Smoked trout belly topped it all off.

Next up were three regularly seen snacks:  Crab and elderflower tart, buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt, and warm mushroom haggis bun

The next snack was the melon gazpacho granita with charcoal cream and Ibérico ham gelée.

This last snack was almond blancmange (mousse) with Ossetra caviar and scallop roe dashi jelly.  This was a nice cool temperature dish to finish the opening bites.

For this meal, they offered to do a blend of soft/hard pairings, picking the alcoholic beverages when best matched with a dish.  I start with a sake dashi.

The main part of the menu started with flamed bonito, lightly cured in soy and served with green onion purée, lemon mayonnaise and lemon bits and crushed cherry tomatoes.

The next beverage was Fujian white peony tea.

The next dish continued with fish.  It was a Cornish sea bass sashimi with English peas, gooseberry Aguachile, and cucumber.  The fish was salted and brined for a little bit before slicing.  There was a little spice heat, along with tartness and salt flavor.

The next beverage was roasted buckwheat (brewed slowly and long) and chervil tea, served chilled.

The next course featured Hen of the Woods mushrooms (maitake), served with a Spenwood cheese cream (British hard cheese similar to a Pecorino).  This was a very tasty dish, with lots of flavor and mushrooms with a very pleasantly juicy texture.

For the full write-up, click here.

Rich Table 3rd Visit — San Francisco (7/2019)


I hadn’t been to Rich Table in 5 years. Back then, it was a Michelin Gourmand recommended restaurant. Since then, it has been awarded a Michelin star (in 2018 and 2019). It remains a casual, neighborhood establishment. I managed to secure a reservation on a Monday night through Resy. One can also show up right at opening to try and secure a seat at the bar. Otherwise, without advanced planning, it can be difficult to book a prime-time seat for dinner.
Their format remains the same, with several small bites and a la carte items available. They offer a Chef’s Picks tasting menu as well, which must be taken by the whole table if selected. Since I was dining solo, it was an easy choice to go with the tasting menu.

They have added Seedlip non-alcoholic cocktails to their line-up. To start, I ordered Seedlip No. 1, which used Garden Seedlip, shiso, and lime.
As before, for the start of the meal, they bring out a selection of small bites. However, instead of bringing out individual plates for each, they arranged them for me on one large platter: sardine fish and chip with horseradish crème fraîche; warm heirloom tomato with cod, Caesar dressing and aged Parmesan cheese; caviar with Pommes (potato) Dauphine and crème fraiche; buttermilk panna cotta with pomegranate purée (just slightly sweet), sesame seeds and soy oil; dried porcini dusted doughnut with raclette; and Grassy Bar (CA) oyster with a porcini mignonette.

One bite was brought to the table separately: Oliver’s beef dumpling with yogurt, chive oil and chives. The dough seemed a bit too thick and chewy, but the filling was tasty.
I ordered the second Seedlip cocktail. Seedlip Spice, with Earl Grey and soda.

The first course after all the small bites was a halibut tostada. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the photo. It was topped with Serrano cheese, salsa verde, guacamole, and a melon Pico de Gallo. It was a nice combination of sweet, spicy, creamy and crunchy.
The next dish was the scallion pancake, served with corn, pole beans, soy dressing and a side of corn gratin (cheesy and slightly spicy).
The pasta course was the tonnarelli pasta with sea urchin in the sauce and kombu. This was prepared perfectly and was full of umami.

The final savory course from the menu was the 21-day old rib-eye, served with Padrón pepper and crispy potatoes on top.

Before dessert came, I wanted to order the duck confit steamed bun as an additional request. It was served with cucumber and hoisin plum sauce. I was slightly disappointed in the texture of the duck, as it looked more like a hash than what confit traditionally looks like.

For the full write-up, click here.

The Musket Room — New York City (6/2019)


The Musket Room is a restaurant that I ran across in a newsletter listing of ‘must try’ places in New York City. It is located just off of Spring St., in the NoHo/Little Italy areas. The restaurant uses Resy for booking services and has been awarded one Michelin star. The theme for the cuisine is New Zealand, and they offer a short story and long story versions of tasting menus. They describe themselves as a modern take on homestyle New Zealand cooking. The opening page of the menu introduces their concept, and the subsequent pages show the current seasonally-based short and long menu options, as well as a shorter 3-course, diner’s choice option.

I chose the long story (of course). I also talked to the sommelier about a glass of wine. Since the “Man O’ War” did not specify a grape, I had to ask (plus, it had some age to it, which always interests me, particularly for whites). She described it as a uniquely flavored blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. That was good enough for me.

Powhiri (Welcome)
The long story starts out with a few small bites . From the right: pea with lemon aioli, white and green asparagus tart, corned beef croquette topped with smoked cheese. This was a tasty start for the palate.

Kaimoana (Fruit of the Sea)
The next presentation was raw East Coast oysters with yuzu mignonette and trout roe. There was a little dry ice or liquid nitrogen for effect and to keep things cold.

The next dish featured raw diver scallops with a dashi gel, aged soy sauce, and Asian pears. This was finished with horseradish yogurt snow at the table (and more dry ice or liquid nitrogen for effect).

This Kaluga caviar tart was filled with layers of confit egg jam, chives, Greek yogurt, and shallots, and topped with gold leaf. The tart shell was thin but firm. The flavors were very nice together, very much mimicking the flavors of having caviar the traditional way (except for no toast points).
They provided a rehydrated towelette to help with finger cleanup.

The last Kaimoana dish was freshwater crayfish (koura), pickled ramps, fresh watercress and finished with warm watercress soup at the table. The flavors didn’t come forward much for me, and there was a strange saltiness to it.

Papatùànuku (Fruit of the Land)
The bread was a smoked Hangi sourdough. Hangi is the Màori term for cooking in a pit with hot rocks or other material. To go with the bread, I was served a house-made tiki-shaped cultured butter with sea salt, smoked ricotta cheese with citrus olive oil, and chicken liver mousse with fried rosemary. This was all very good.

For the full write-up, click here.

Restaurant Labyrinth — Singapore (11/2018)


Restaurant Labyrinth is a 1-star Michelin establishment that takes the traditional local flavors of traditional Singapore cuisine and present them in new and modern ways. Reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance and can be done with the Chope reservation website/app. They only offer a multi-course tasting menu for dinner, and they feature locally-sourced ingredients (Singapore and the nearby regions that contribute to Singaporean flavors). They do ask about allergies and dietary restrictions beforehand. They have their wine list on a tablet for review.

As part of the introduction, they bring to the table a display of many of the ingredients that will be featured on the evening’s menu.
The first presentation was not listed on the menu and was a oolong tea-smoked quail egg with a runny yolk inside.

With the quail egg, we were brought some kombucha (aged 5 weeks) infused with rosella (hibiscus).
The menu presentations began with three platters. The waffle triangles were served with chicken liver paté, goji berry jam and pandan juice sprinkled on top. Next to it were the homemade lapcheong (like Chinese sausage) with barley, diced chicken, crispy rice, and pickled bok choy in a burnt rice “nori” (or crêpe). On the far right were the small bites (“nasi lemak” cheong fun) made from egg yolk gel and ikan bilis sambal (dried anchovy chili paste sauce) wrapped in rice pastry skin and topped with deep-fried black chicken skin, cucumbers, and fried anchovies.

For the complete write-up, click here.

The Clove Club 5th Visit — London (6/2018)


For this visit, I had mentioned when making the reservation that this was a birthday visit. Normally, for lunch, the present two tasting menus from which to choose (one is shorter than the other). For this lunch, they did not present me with the menu choices, partly because they knew I probably would select the long menu (based on prior history). It turned out they had a slightly different menu planned for me. This was going to be a blind tasting menu experience. For some of my prior lunches, I have opted for the tea beverage pairings. For this one, I selected the overall non-alcoholic pairings.

The beverage pairing for the snacks was Royal Flush Real Kombucha. The first snack was an Ogleshield cheese gougère.

Soon after, the next snacks were served. There was a tart with green beans, ewe’s milk ricotta and hazelnuts. This was followed by the spider crab tart with brown hollandaise and deviled spices.

For the full write up, click here.


Kitchen Table 20th Visit — London (6/2018)


For my 20th visit to Kitchen Table, I had a slightly different experience. Dinner was served as part of a private event. Intead of dining as part of one of two seatings, there was only one seating of 13 people. To accommodate dietary restrictions, there was an ovo-lacto vegetarian menu used in parallel with the planned regular menu when needed. An enhanced wine pairings option was offered. As with a normal dinner experience, we only had a listing of the featured ingredient for each course on the chalkboard as we began.
Although I don’t have any photos of the vegetarian options (since I only had the regular courses), I have provided in brackets the ingredients as described. In some cases, the overall course was the same except for substitutions as needed.

The opening beverage for the first few courses was a champagne: Cédric Bouchard, Roses de Jeanne, ‘Cote de Val Vilaine’ 2015.

The dinner began with a Colchester oyster served raw with an elderflower vinegar glaze and garnished with diced Granny Smith apple, herbs and fresh pink and white elderflowers. The combined tartness/sweetness complemented the freshness of the oyster very nicely. The diced apple provided a good texture contrast.[Elderflower pickled baby carrots, crème fraiche, olive oil, herbs (sorrel, lemon balm, orange flowers, lemon jam]

For the full write up, click here.


Ultraviolet — Shanghai (4/2018)


Even though Ultraviolet has been around for a few years, I had not heard about until it was briefly mentioned in a short listing of highlights for cities around the world in a magazine.  Chef Paul Pairet offers a tasting menu paired with wines/beverages.  The evening includes a broad range of sensory experiences to go with the meal.   There is only one seating a night for a maximum of 10 diners.  On any given night, only one menu is offered, and during a month, most of the menu/beverage variations can be found.  The website shows what is included for each menu variation and the wines that will be offered.  The variations are priced differently, and half of the cost is due upon booking.  On the days that I had targeted for going to Shanghai, the “Special Event” menu was going to be offered.  This is the most expensive option and takes the best items from the other menus and pairs them with some top wines. 

Detailed instructions on how the evening will proceed are provided in advance.  There is no dress code, and still photography is allowed (no video though). We are told not to expect a cell signal in the dining room.  The evening starts with the diners asked to gather by 6:30 pm.  From the meeting point, the diners are taken to an undisclosed location for dinner.  Everyone is returned around 11:00 pm to the starting point.

The meeting point was easily found at their regular restaurant on the 6th floor of a building on the Bund.  Upon arrival, I spoke with the hostess at the restaurant to find out where to wait.  She led me into the restaurant to an area where other guests were already present.  I was offered a glass of pear cider, some water, and a seat with the other guests.

To read the full write-up, click here.