Saturday, December 23rd , 2006
On Mark Jankels’ (chef at the Notting Hill Brasserie) recommendation I ventured to Holborn to try Pearl, which for some reason I had yet to try.The restaurant is extremely smart, and chef Jun Tanaka has cooked in several top London kitchens such as The Square and the Capital. We had an excellent meal, with dishes such as seasoned venison with red cabbage and other root vegetables, and Brillat Savarin cheesecake with terrine of citrus fruits (a salad is pictured). There were several complementary nibbles, and also a pre-dessert (chilled plum soup). Although there were a couple of minor slips the cooking was generally to a high standard, ingredients were good and service capable. Three courses are only £28.50, which is a steal given the stylish setting and array of nibbles. Overall it was 15/20 level.
I also attended the Cobra Good Curry Awards, an event at the Hilton which happens every couple of years and is organised by Pat Chapman, who set up the Curry Club. The cooking was done by Madhu’s, who deservedly won “best outside caterer” but I have to say that the awards were generally quite hard to figure out (it was not clear what the criteria were). For example the London short-list featured the Babur Brasserie and Mint Leaf, which is fair enough, but also the unknown Nayaab in Fulham and Kasturi in Aldgate. Where are places like Deya, Haandi, Sabras and the Brilliant? Mint Leaf won, and it was certainly the best of the ones short-listed and indeed does have some of the best food in the capital, but the omissions from the shortlist were baffling. Best in UK went to Itihaas in Birmingham, whose chef used to be head chef of Madhu’s, so although I haven’t been I can at least be assured that he can cook.
Other than that I had another fine meal at my regular Zafferano, with a particularly superb simple but perfect bruschetta, and an excellent tagliatelle with seasonal wild mushrooms. I also had another very pleasant meal at local Keralan restaurant Oottupura.
I’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas!