It's that time of the year again when I try to remember the best of the best. I eat out a LOT. I adore eating out and I love cooking so it's always a pleasure to look back at where I've been and choose my very favourites. I try to only eat out at places I think I'll love - I don't see the point otherwise. There's not enough time for bad restaurants. Sadly good restaurants can have bad days, but luckily most of the places I go are excellent. So here are my best of the best....

Temper - my first two on this list are restaurants from two of my favourite chefs whose food I've always loved. Temper is the first solo venture of Neil Rankin, who headed up Smokehouse in the days I couldn't get enough of it. Temper is bang in the middle of Soho, a huge, beautiful room centred around the open kitchen. Go for the tacos, and stay for the rest of the menu, flights of mescal and ridiculously good puddings.

Kricket Soho - one of my favourites from last year now have a bricks and mortar site in Soho. They've literally only just opened, but have a beautiful site on Denman Street. The interiors are gorgeous - beautiful tiles, gorgeous bar stools, cabin style seating upstairs and long sharing tables downstairs. And the food... the food is even better than I've had in their previous site in Brixton. Lots of the same favourites, with new additions like bone marrow and cep kulcha, Delica pumpkin with fresh paneer and hazelnut crumble, and goose vindaloo with sprout thoran and fried onions. They're taking booking for groups of 4 or more from 5th January. 

Ormer - it's a bold statement, but one I still stand by. Ormer is where I've eaten my favourite dish this year. Shaun Rankin's first London restaurant is definitely at the top end of the scale price wise, but absolutely worth a visit for out of this world dishes. His focus on excellent produce shines through in all the food, he's got a great wine list, lovely staff, and a turbot dish of dreams. Worth saving up for!

Fera at Claridges - another more expensive restaurant (though less so if you use the Bookatable lunch deal of 3 courses for £42), but one that I adored. Fera is headed up by Simon Rogan who's delicate touch with food shines through here. Perfectly balanced plates, as pretty as they are tasty, this is the kind of restaurant to take someone you love, or someone who you want to love you!

Chick n Sours - from the grand and expensive, to the fun and much less expensive. Chick n Sours opened a second site this year just off Seven Dials in Covent Garden. They serve the best fried chicken I've tried, offer spicy Asian inspired sides and pickled cocktails, have a playlist so good you'll want to stay all night, and they play David Attenborough in the toilets.... perfect?!

Six Portland Road - I've only been once, but having just moved not too far away from Six Portland Road, this French inspired restaurant is firmly on my revisit list, having only heard good things since I went. With a splendid wine list and a menu boasting a wonderful game terrine and a potato, brie de meaux and black truffle pie with creme fraiche this really is a gem of West London. 

Koji - no surprise to see Japanese restaurants on my top ten list, with another further down. Koji is smart, sexy and serves excellent food. The menu is long so covers all bases, with sashimi and sushi, robata grill dishes and yakitori, tacos and lots more, all of which was delicious. The cocktails are really good, and there's a bar area in front of the restaurant if you just want a couple of dishes and some drinks. 

Gastrovino - the best Italian food is about great ingredients treated well. No fancy oils or puffs or smokes or flashes of light. Just the best of what's come off the plane today straight from the restaurant's favourite regions of Italy. Gastrovino's menu constantly changes with the seasons but offers homemade breads and cheeses, delicate salads, very few pasta dishes but they're not missed, and a whole list of chef's daily specials. It's also cheap as chips with the most expensive dishes coming under a tenner.

Yashin Ocean House - a very modern Japanese restaurant that I yearn to go back to, but can't afford the number of visits I wish I could! Yashin Ocean blew me away when I went just before my Japan visit, and still blew me away post Japan when I'd compared it to the real thing. They do a lot wagyu dishes, a soy free sashimi island that is the best sashimi I've tried in London, and dishes from their big green egg, like head to tail sea bream. 

The Pointer, Brill - not in London, but one hundred per cent worth leaving London for, The Pointer is everything I love. They have a farm where they raise very well looked after and cared for, free range animals, and grow all the fruit and vegetables that end up in their pub in the local village. The pub has its own butcher, and the food at the pub is phenomenal. We had the best roast I've had all year there and I'm planning another trip in January for more of the same. 

I know this is a Top Ten and I've already listed ten restaurants but I can't not mention Amarante in Paris, and Bodega 1900 in Barcelona, both of which I would travel back to each city for in an instant. Full reviews of both in the links above. 

And because I'm so kind (!!) here's a recipe for you too - a lovely, fresh and zingy salad to make with all your Christmas turkey leftovers :)
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For our third holiday together this year, after a crazy fun weekend in Paris and a wonderful few days in Menorca, Lucy and I went to Barcelona to stay in the very newly opened Soho House. Most of our pre-holiday plans revolve around picking out the best spots to eat and drink, and this was no different. Apart from the fact that it being Barcelona, one of the culinary destinations of Europe, there seemed to be even more to choose from. We'd decided not to book anywhere and go with the flow, hopping from tapas bar to bar and back to tapas bar, but I sneakily made a reservation anyway as I couldn't resist what I'd seen of Bodega 1900 so after dumping our bags at the hotel we headed straight there.

Bodega 1900 is a reincarnation of the traditional bodega restaurants of the past, where the food that's served is modern versions of classic dishes. We kicked off with a vermouth or three, toasting our arrival and the start of what was to be one of my favourite weekends this year. An early start, plane journey and speedy cab ride had left us both feeling a little delicate, so we opted out of the set menu in order to choose our food ourselves. We chose well. First to the table were the "olives" - straight out of El Bulli, these spheres of olivey liquid burst into the roof of your mouth filling it with salty goodness and amazement. Once we'd got over how good they were we moved on to the rest of our choices - thin tubes of confit squid, soft and delicate and stuffed with mince, swimming in a bowl of the herb infused olive oil they'd been cooked in; "la rubia gallega" beef tenderloin cured in salt and spices, which was rich and meaty and so moreish; fresh tomato salad doused in lip lickingly good olive oil and topped with snowflakes of salt; clams "de carril" cooked in a rich tomato sauce (not pictured); and melon drenched in vermouth to finish, which Lucy kindly let me eat nearly all of! 

I'm going to say this about all of the places in this post, but if you go to Barcelona, make sure you eat at Bodega 1900. We ate a lot more than I've written about and drank a fair few vermouths etc, and I think our bill was around 70euros each - not the cheapest place we ate, but worth every cent. 

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Mid December can feel like the time of year when diets get ditched and anything goes, but personally I try to keep more of a balance - indulgences have to be balanced out with a bit more clean eating. So the launch of pop up turned restaurant Ceru has come at the perfect time. Ceru is a "contemporary Levantine restaurant serving dishes and drinks inspired by the flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean cuisine". And it's damn good, and right up my street. They use natural flavours wherever possible, and avoid adding sugar or other nasties to any of their drinks and food. My non alcoholic apple/lime/ginger concoction that was whipped up for me on arrival to their menu preview evening was spot on. 

The new site on Bute Street in South Kensington is open all day, with a breakfast menu (think almond milk porridge with barberries, molasses, pistachios etc, fried egg with merguez and halloumi or salad of avocado, chickpea and feta) and an all day menu which is what we sampled.

Snacks include Pancar - roasted beetroot, yoghurt, garlic and crushed pistachio served with crudites or freshly baked Greek pitta:

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In between all the eating out I do, sometimes I actually manage to cook for myself (and others) too. Helpful, seeing as I run a pop up restaurant........ Honestly though, it often feels like I'm either only recipe testing or cooking for 30+ people with little in between. I've done a lot of both of the above recently and wanted to share some of it here. 

Starting small, I made this dish as recipe testing disguised as Friday night dinner for the girls on my last Friday night in my old flat. I'd been invited to try out some meat from Selfridges' new butcher, Campbell Brothers, so picked up a rack of lamb, ribeye steak and strip of pork belly. None was quite enough to feed all three of us, so I seared the steak and cooked the lamb off in the oven after browning it, and popped it on top of some truffled cauliflower puree (cooked in milk then drained and whizzed in the blender with butter and truffle paste), steamed cavolo nero and purple sprouting broccoli, roast purple carrots and squash, and finished it off with fresh blackberries. 

Another hit with the girls were the tacos I made using Wahaca's new taco kits. Normally I'm a make-it-myself kinda girl, but the marinades and salsas that come in the Wahaca kits with the corn tortillas are really good. Below are the flank steak marinated in chipotle served with herbs and chillies, and a tuna marinated in lime juice with the tomato and garlic salsa, avocado and more herb salad. 

From cooking for 2/3 to cooking for 50.... I offered my services helping out some mates who wanted to put on a supper club to raise money for a Sahara trek they'd done for the charity Trekstock, who support young people with cancer. They hired a proper chef so I just followed orders as he created an epic Moroccan inspired feast for 50 people. It was such a fun evening, and inspired me so much that I've signed up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in August 2017 for the same charity..............! Please feel free to sponsor me if you want to donate to the cause!

Jumping all over the place calendar wise, I hosted a Thanksgiving pop up (on Thanksgiving...) for Tiki Chris, who's celebrated 10 years of blogging this year with 10 different hosted events. It was a fun, friendly night and I think I managed to pull off cooking turkey for 30 for the first time professionally. One up from last year when I spent the afternoon FaceTiming my mate's turkey!

2016 has also seen me doing a lot more food for press events, particularly for River Island, which I love doing. I make canapes and nibbles for their ANEVENINGWITH events which have been hosted by lots of lovely ladies including editor of Glamour magazine Jo Elvin, singer and all round cool girl Whinnie Williams, and Sunday Times fashion chic Pandora Sykes. 

Last but not least, and definitely not all, but I'm not going to bore you with everything I've cooked this year, one of my cooking highlights was a takeover I did at Jeremy Pang's School of Wok. I used influences from Asia to design a menu that was still very much A Little Lusciousness, kicking things off with yuzu marinated salmon, pickled radish and lotus root crisps. I'm hoping to do more at SoW in 2017 so watch this space!

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While I sit here trying to work out quite how we've nearly reached Christmas/2017, I've realised there's a whole lot of eating out I haven't written about yet. I've still got a post to go up on the best of the best in Barcelona as well as a couple more about my time in Provence, and some other more detailed reviews, but in the meantime let's catch up on my recent eatings and feedings at London's newest restaurants. 

No longer as new as when I visited, but still just as good, Margot is classic, stunning Italian in the heart of Covent Garden. Classy, sophisticated with a menu full of pasta, fish and meat dishes, and enough to satisfy vegetarians, this is the place to go to impress. It's the kind of place I wish I could take my parents to and spend a long, cosy evening with them sampling the best of the menu and wine list. Highlights from my visit included the raw Sicilian red prawns, and monkfish with cannellini beans. The pasta that the others had is another reason I want to go back. 

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I've long been a fan of the Polpo restaurants - they do Italian (mostly Venetian) staples so very well, there's always a great atmosphere at their restaurants and the cocktail list isn't too shabby either. So what's better than an evening at Polpo....? An evening at Polpo full of wines and truffles, that's what. Honest Grapes invited me along to their five course truffle dinner with paired wines at Polpo at Ape and Bird for a feast of an evening. After a chat with executive head chef of the Polpo group it was time to get down to the serious business of eating.

Dinner kicked off with what was to be my favourite (if I had to choose one) course - cured halibut with truffle dressing. The lightly almost-ceviche'd fish's delicate taste went so well with the subtle but heady truffle. Such an unusual but delightful pairing, and so pretty too. It was paired with the young, fresh Vette di San Leonardo white wine.

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I'm a big fan of Taste. Bringing together some of the UK's top food producers, restaurants and chefs, there's nothing else quite like it. The summer version takes over Hyde Park, while the winter one is at Tobacco Dock, where you weave through maze like corridors and floors of deliciousness. I headed down just before flying out to Provence for the press night, and we filled ourselves with so much good food and drinks, and good times. It really felt like the beginning of Christmas.

First off we headed to Hix for goat curry and a whipped squash with goat's curd and toasted hazelnuts dish. The whole premise of Taste is that restaurants serve up some of their top dishes, at a fraction of the price and size, so that you can sample as much food as possible. I love Hix's food so wasn't disappointed with our starting choice.

Then it was upstairs to Tredwell's where we had burrata, romesco and basil, and smoked and slow cooked rump cap, caramelised celeriac, truffle and beef sauce, which was probably my favourite dish at the show.

Finally, after a bit of shopping and a drink or three we headed to Action against Hunger's 5 star burger restaurant to sample burgers created by Pascal Aussignac, Sophie Michell, Atul Kochhar, Peter Gordon and Tom Hunt, with sides of delicious sweet potato fries with alioli and padron peppers. 

Huge thanks to AEG for having me at Taste again. It's such a fun night out, and I only wish I could've gone back again over the weekend, but I was off to Provence, more of which will follow on here soon. 

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Afternoon tea's never really appealed to me. I don't really drink tea, not a fan of cake and try not to eat too much bread. But make it a Chinese afternoon tea with champagne and it's a different story! I was invited to try the offering at Chai Wu in Harrods and having read the menu that includes dim sum, savoury pastries and bubbles, it seemed worth checking out.

Chai Wu is the only restaurant in Harrods that's not part of the food hall, so we headed up to the fourth floor, where the restaurant is located. At Chai Wu afternoon tea is much more about the savoury than the sweet, so kicked things off with a glass of bubbly and soup watercress soup, before plates of fried dim sum were brought to our table. We sampled wagyu puff with gold leaves, sesame prawn, lobster wanton, prawn dumpling, chicken gyoza with foie fras and lots of other delicious mouthfuls, as well as a plate of their signature steamed dim sum, and some coconut prawns, and chicken satay. 

Afternoon tea is £59, or £69 with a glass of fizz, which isn't bad value for the quality and amount of food you get. 

Chai Wu also do lunch and dinner so I took Bron back with me to try more of their offerings. The smoking sushi plate was delicious - excellent fish, expertly sliced and served. 

The Harrods special roll and smoked BBQ eel were both top notch - perfectly balanced flavours and texture. 

As was the huge scallop and wagyu beef.

Chai Wu isn't an everyday restaurant. Our bill would've been astronomically high for the main dinner we had there, and as it closes at 9pm, I do think it's better as an option for one or two dishes to break up a long day's shopping in Harrods, than a destination restaurant. Though having said that it was busy both times I went with lots of people eating their way through the menu, so each to their own!!
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If you like pizza (who doesn't) then I know just the place you need to go before the end of November to try seven exclusive pizzas created by some of the UK's top chefs, while also helping raise money for Action Against Hunger.

Pizzicotto on Kensington High Street are hosting a month long event where chefs from some of my favourite restaurants are going up against each other in the Gourmet Pizza Challenge 2016, and you can decide who the winner will be. The chefs taking part are Jun Tanaka (The Ninth), Pascal Aussignac (Club Gascon), Robin Gill (The Manor, The Dairy, Paradise Garage and Counter Culture), Vivek Singh (The Cinnamon Club), Anna Hansen (The Modern Pantry), Steve Groves (Roux at Parliament Square) and Adam Handling (The Frog E1). They've each created a unique pizza, and you can sample each and all of them at Pizzicotto, who've also created a pizza for the competition.

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Earlier this year I visited a new restaurant in Mayfair called Ormer. Sister restaurant to Jersey's Ormer, it's Shaun Rankin's first restaurant to open in London, and it was love at first bite for me. I ate the best thing I've eaten all year and was very happy to have found this gem. A few weeks later when I was invited to go and check out some of the new winter dishes that would be added to the menu, along with the English wines sourced by the in house sommelier, I cleared my diary and headed to Ormer with a lovely group of PRs and bloggers. 

We were welcomed back in to the beautiful restaurant, and directed through to the bar area which I hadn't seen the first time I was there. It's a stunning yet cosy space and somewhere I can see myself wanting to go for pre/post dinner drinks, whether I'm eating at Ormer or other restaurants in the area. We moved through to the restaurant for food, and chose our dishes from a special menu for the night. I started with the heritage beetroot, goat's cheese and kalamata sorbet dish, as I'd already tried the lobster ravioli first time round. The beetroot dish was wonderful - punchy flavours and dreamy textures meant I had to regrets going for the veggie starter. 

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I'm a big fan of Le Bun. I discovered their burgers a couple of years ago and they're one of the few places I'll go for a burger in London. They kept my sustenance levels up at Wilderness, and now they've got a residency at Birthdays in Dalston, so obviously I had to go and check that their food is still as good as I remember it being (it's been a few months). I'm happy to say it is, and not only is it as good, it's actually better - there's more on the menu (Le Mac, chicken burgers, vegan "burgers", ridiculously good chicken wings) AND you can get upgrades to any of these by asking for L'Animal style. 

To really test out the L'Animal upgrade I had the regular truffle cheeseburger L'Animal style, which means more of everything. More cheese, more of that heavenly truffle mayo, more onions = more deliciousness. The same goes for the fries, but they don't photograph so well so you'll just have to imagine them doused in truffly mayo and melty cheese. 

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When good food comes to South West London it makes me very happy, especially when this good food is a nice walk along the river from where I live, and the restaurant in question does an epic Sunday lunch (and apparently pretty good brunch too according to their Instagram - go with a few mates and get the Social Sharer Mixed Grill - sausage, bacon, steak, lamb chop, bone marrow, eggs, mushrooms, black pudding, potato rosti served with a carafe of Gentlemans Baristas coffee). Meat Up have brought an inside BBQ in the form of a josper grill to Wandsworth Town so we headed down a few weekends ago to fill our hungry tummies with their Sunday roast.

We kicked things off with some of the best calamari I've had in a long time - perfectly cooked delicate squid in a light, crunchy batter made with house smoked salt and pink peppercorns, served with a tangy caper mayo.

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Last week something weird happened. Two weird things actually. I discovered somewhere to eat in Hammersmith that is a) better than good and b) I hadn't previously discovered (I've lived near Hammersmith for more than five years now). This makes me happy, but also sad that I've only just discovered it now. The Stonemasons Arms is a five minute walk from Hammersmith station, towards Ravenscourt Park and is part of the Fullers group. It's a cosy pub - a real pub with uneven wooden floorboards, a big bar, local and guest beers, a ridiculously good wine list, and the food is phenomenal. Having spotted pictures of their food on Gary's Instagram I followed up on an invite from Fullers to review one of their pubs and headed to The Stonemasons Arms with Julie for a Wednesday evening catch up over some serious food and wine.

There's an evening set menu (£23 for courses or £29 for three - you'll want three) with wine suggestions for each dish, or a la carte. We mixed it up between the two menus, choosing carefully so we could sample as much as possible. Before our chosen starters we were presented with an "amuse bouche" of charred sweetcorn, cylinders of confit potato, paprika popcorn and tarragon, all brought together by a delicious homemade mayo. With a pouch of warm bread and caramel butter things were off to a very good start, and we hadn't even properly started.

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I'm the first to admit I'm not a natural photographer, but I can normally get an ok shot of dishes I want to tell you about. With some exceptions. Including these. Normally I wouldn't bother writing up a review when my photos are so terrible, but I can't not tell you about Chick n Sours new site in Covent Garden. So bear with me and my dark and dingy photos! I reckon you should go to the restaurant and see (and taste) the food for yourself!

I've been a fan of Carl Clarke's food for a good few years now, and have reviewed pop ups he's done before, and interviewed the man himself, so I'm not quite sure how I've never made it to his first Chick n Sours site in Stoke Newington (maybe it's the fact it's about 90 minutes away from where I live). Anyway, he's now opened a second site in Covent Garden, and I headed there with Lucy to right the wrongs of not having tried this ridiculously good food yet.

Cocktails are a very good place to start in the basement room that is Chick n Sours new site. The "Sours" part of the name refers not only to the vinegar laced marinades and pickles in the dishes, but also to the sour cocktails, which we tried most of. The winner for me was the Earlham Zombie, made with white, dark and overproof rums, absinthe, orange, grapefruit, passion fruit and citrus. I'd say you probably don't want more than one of these if you want to walk home in a straight line, but that's no fun, so you might as well get stuck in! And you'll eat so much food that it should absorb some of the booze anyway.

So, food. Lucy and I like to sample as much as humanly possible so ate waaaay more than we should! But it's all so good I can't really say there's any dishes worth missing. Just go hungry and wear your stretchy trousers. And start with the sticky disco wings, which are coated in a tangy, spicy sauce that clings to the wings and is lip lickingly good. 

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Sometimes this little old blog of mine throws some super exciting opportunities my way - activities I wouldn't do normally end up being evenings so well spent. Like a couple of Mondays ago when I headed to Le Cordon Bleu cookery school for an evening masterclass with Michelin starred chef Pascal Aussignac, the Norwegian Seafood Council and Great British Chefs. Pascal is of Gascon fame and has several restaurants across London including his Michelin starred original site, Club Gascon. 

After being welcomed with a glass of bubbly and some nibbles it was straight in to the state of the art teaching kitchen to get cooking. We started with the "basics" - Pascal's crunchy grapes. A quick and easy showstopping canape idea, we made caramel from sugar before adding crushed seeds and nuts then rolling our grapes in the sticky crunchy mixture. A really fun idea for a pre dinner snack to impress your guests.

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I'm going through a bit of a dim sum phase at the moment. These delicate, flavour packed mouthfuls, steamed to perfection are becoming a favourite (again). I ate a dozen of them at Chai Wu where I went for afternoon tea in Harrods (more on that soon) and another dozen or so at Mango Tree when I visited to check out their menu in Harrods the week before. 

Harrods has various restaurants, most of which are located within the ground floor food hall and are counter top dining. I've previously written about my visit to Pan Chai there, which is next to Mango Tree. I'd been to the Victoria branch of Mango Tree but was yet to go to the Harrods one, so ate all the things when we did go so I could tell you what to order if you visit.

Polly and I headed to Mango Tree Harrods on a Thursday evening. They don't take reservations and it was full when we went, so I suggest going early, or for lunch, if you don't want to have to wait. Once you are seated though service is swift. 

We started off with a portion of lobster popcorn - deep fried pieces of lobster topped with a spicy mayo dressing. It was good, but there was better to come. 

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Cocktails and canapes on an autumn evening in a beautiful setting sounds like the dream, right?! Restaurant Ours is Tom Sellers (of Restaurant Story) not-so-new-but-I-still-hadn't-been-there spot in South Kensington. We visited one evening last week to check out The Living Room at Restaurant Ours, which is the mezzanine level bar and lounge area. It's a gorgeous spot, full of velvet furniture, a bar serving excellent cocktails and live plants in every corner, nook and cranny. 

There were three of The Living Room's signature cocktails to try, so I started with Straight Outta Brompton - a delicious concoction of gin, campari, lemon and triple sec, and I'm guessing some egg white too from the frothy top of the drink. It was a lovely cocktail, with the perfect balance for me of sharp, sweet and fruity. 

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When I think of Tuscany the first thing I think of is food. Rich meat dishes, coarse liver pate smothered on toast, unctuous bowls full of pasta, delicious olives and artichokes, glasses full of deep red wine and everything with a good dose of the best olive oil you can get - it's like the Autumn of Italy if that makes sense?! So when I was asked to come up with a recipe that was inspired by Tuscany I knew exactly what I wanted to make - a rich wild boar ragu made with liver for added flavour and served on homemade pasta with deep fried artichoke leaves to give texture, combining all my favourite Tuscan foods. 

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So many restaurants, so little time! I've eaten out a fair few times over the last month or so - places I've been to before and can't help myself going back to over and over again, new places I've been invited to review, and long leisurely dinners with girlfriends. Here's a quick round up of where I've been and what's good. Starting with my favourite....

Kricket, Brixton

I've been several times now, and will go again and again. The small plates of Indian inspired food are right up there with my idea of food heaven. I'd heard rumour of a new menu so headed to Brixton with Emily and Lou to eat one of everything on the menu, as we always do when we go to Kricket. And as always, not a single bad dish, but highlights included crab meen moiliee with bitter leaves, curry leaves, coconut and peanut; Lasooni scallop with green chilli, garlic, poha and seaweed, and Goan sausage fry with red onion, peanut, coriander and pickled fennel. Look out for their new site opening opposite Brasserie Zedel in Soho in November. 

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There's some restaurants I go to which I know I'm going to love before I've even been. Their menus read like a dream, and when I hear someone like Emily, who I have very similar tastes to (apart from the skinny bitch cali maki incident), raving about it then I know it's a sure fire thing. What I don't expect though is to end up eating the best dish I've tried all year, possibly even ever.... A bold statement, I know. But it's true.

Ormer Mayfair is the London version of Shaun Rankin's Michelin starred Jersey restaurant and it officially opens on Tuesday next week. I popped in to try their menu during soft launch, and am going to have to stop myself going back there weekly for the food. Ormer is in the Flemings Mayfair Hotel and has all the classic feels of an old school, luxury hotel restaurant, in a good way (apart from for food photos as you'll soon see). Service was attentive yet not overbearing, and the food.... Well the food was something else. 

I'm not sure if it's just for soft launch but I was welcomed with a glass of 2009 Nyetimber, which as the sommelier rightly said, has a creamy finish to it having been aged for five years in the bottle. This came with an amuse bouche of the poshest lobster roll I've tried - a great hunk of lobster encased in soft, sweet homemade brioche. 

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There's a few restaurants I've been to that I sort of forget about.... not because they were bad or I didn't like them, but I just get so swept up in all the new openings and going back to local favourites that they slip through the net. So when I woke up one morning at Wilderness Festival declaring that I needed raw fish for lunch, everyone looked at me like I was crazy. But it was all I wanted and what I was determined to have, so off we went in pursuit of sashimi. And we found it at Kurobuta's stall in the restaurant tent. And then I remembered really loving the food at Kurobuta proper in London, so I booked into their Marble Arch branch for dinner with Emily and off we went.

I'd only previously been to the Chelsea restaurant, so it was nice to check out their Marble Arch one. It's lighter and brighter and we nabbed an outside table before working our way through as much food as we could eat. We nibbled on sake, lemon, butter and salt flamed edamame while we read through the quite long menu and sipped on delicious Made in Provence rose, a bottle of which had come free with our meal as I'd booked a table for before 7pm through OpenTable. 

Then our real food started coming, and apart from the first and last dish we had, everything else was spot on. The first dish wasn't bad, there just wasn't enough of it to really tell if I liked it. Salmon gravadlax and avocado tartare, dill mayo, rice crunchies and fresh yuzu zest was light, but at about one forkful each I couldn't tell you much more than that. 

But things drastically improved here on in. I loved the miso grilled hot wings that were all umami and spicy and sticky and plentiful. 

We ordered the sticky miso grilled aubergine with candied walnuts as Emily is something of an aubergine fanatic, and it was a great choice. The twice cooked aubergine was indeed sticky and so full of flavour, with a nice texture added by the walnuts. 

Another dish I have to thank Emily for was the octopus doughnuts, which I wouldn't have ordered myself but were truly delicious. Big chunks of tender octopus were covered in the lightest, crunchiest batter and doused in creamy and miso dressings and chopped chives. 

The skinny bitch cali maki with snow crab, avocado omelette and yuzu mayo were fantastically fresh and light. Emily hated them though so I got the whole plate to myself. I loved the crunch of all the raw veg and the lack of rice, which is one thing I don't normally like about sushi as it fills me up too much which equals less stomach space for raw fish!

From the healthy to the less so, the black pepper soft shell crab tempura. I enjoyed this but would have done more so if it was served whole with a side of sauce rather than chopped up like it was. 

The last dish was the one we shouldn't have bothered with. Tea smoked lamb with smokey nasu and spicy Korean miso arrived a full hour after the rest of the food, didn't really do anything flavour wise, and cost £15.50 for two tiny cutlets.... The chicken wings we had earlier for £6 for a whole plate full. 

Our meal came to £60 each, and we had the free bottle of wine. It's not a cheap place to go but we did eat a lot of food and have a couple of other drinks. Despite a couple of duds, Kurobuta is definitely back on my restaurant list, and I will be back soon, particularly for more of their raw dish options. Kurobuta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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