If you have ever wanted to a lick a Pikachu, I can confirm that he/she/[insert your preferred gender here] tastes of mango. Yes, that’s right. If your childhood dreams of catching them all actually involved eating them all, you now can. Except, by all Pokémon, I actually mean mainly Pikachu.
Sakura season – otherwise known as cherry blossom season – spreads like a fever for a couple of weeks in April. For those who haven’t been to Japan during this period, you will be unprepared for the sheer decadence of the scenery and the sheer reverence with which it’s treated. You should probably see my blog post here.
In honour of this time of year, upmarket and rather swanky restaurant Sake no Hana held their own sakura festival with their very own sakura menu. The interior was decorated with some rather realistic and beautifully lit cherry blossom trees, and with delicate sakura painted along the counter at the bar.
There are some new doughnuts in town…..but they’re not just any doughnuts. Oh no, these are doughnuts from artisan doughnut chef (yes, that’s what the website says!) Paul Hurley, who has been making doughnuts since 1997. These are breaking away from the stereotype of fat American cops munching them police cars. These doughtnuts are not fried; they’re baked. Apparently, this means only 6 grams in a jam doughnut compared to an average of 17g of fat in their American counterparts.
That’s quite impressive – but what do they taste like? The dough is like a soft roll – almost like the texture you’d expect from an ice-bun. As a person who usually finds doughnuts unpleasantly heavy and chewy, this was perfect.
We also sampled their zebra cronut, which was far lighter than I expected – the chocolate cream was the perfect balance to the pastry. I’m still not what sure I make of cronuts but this was definitely one of the favourites I’ve tried.
Can you think of the problem of healthy doughnuts? Well, they’re in Shoreditch and when doughnuts are hip, they come at a price…
“I’ll just have a quick lunch. After all, I have an exam on Thursday.”
SIX HOURS LATER…. my friends and I re-joined the outside world. Hush Brasseries, already established in Holborn, have recently opened in St Paul’s and offer all-day dining, with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea menus, and even ‘brown bag’ take-out lunches for a fiver.
We called in for the soft opening offer, which gave us 50% and a free spritzer. We ordered Chenin Blanc & Elderflower with Violet Liqueur and topped with Lemonade (£4.95), which was fantastic – subtle and not overly sweet. I ordered a Peach Tea – Camomile Tea, Peach Juice & Honey (£3.95), which was no match in comparison, although again, it wasn’t too sweet as is so often the case.
Half price food meant that we just *had to* order three courses. With a different starter/main/dessert each. So here follows a comprehensive review of their menu.
Caesar Salad with Poached Egg and Bacon (£5.95) – Described by my friend N as the best Caesar salad she had eaten out in London, the portion was generous and the ingredients crisp and fresh.
Lemon Sole Fish Fingers with Tartare Sauce (£6.95) – Very tasty, if a little small.
Dressed Dorset Crab with Avocado and Melba Toast (£7.95) – Light, zingy and refreshing. My friend J was seriously impressed.
Pulled Pork, Yorkshire Pudding with Apple and Calvados (£8.95) – This was my choice because I am a meat fiend. The pork was tasty but the meat was not as moist/soft as it could have been. The Calvados was not detectable and the gravy was too heavy. I found the flavours didn’t quite hang together, although the idea sounds good in theory. I’d like to see this dish reworked.
Crispy Duck Salad with Honey and Mustard Dressing (£12.25) – The duck was coated in hoisin sauce, which I absolutely love, but some might find a little overpowering the context of the salad. I thought the chillies could have been more finely chopped but overall, this dish was extremely satisfying in the concoction of flavours it offered.
Roast Cod with Béarnaise Sauce, Frites (£15.95) with a side of Minted Peas and Broad Beans (£2.95) – This dish was supported by the béarnaise sauce because the cod was a little underwhelming on its own. The chips were perfectly crisp.
8oz Scottish Rib-Eye Steak with Frites (£16.95) – This was my choice and sadly the most disappointing dish of the evening. I asked for it medium-rare and it came medium, although unpleasantly charred on the outside. The meat itself was lacking in flavour and I almost considered breaking my “finish everything on my plate” rule because eating the steak was a bit of a chore rather than a pleasure.
Taglierini pasta with Half Lobster, Chilli and Garlic (£18.50) – the star of the evening. I only sampled a bit of the pasta but it had a rich combinations of flavours and – if I remember correctly – used fennel to great effect (I find fennel often overpowering so I was very impressed).
Classic Crème Brulée (£5.85) – J: “This is the best crème brulée I’ve ever tasted.”
Mars Bar Cheesecake with Crème Fraiche (£5.95) – N: “I want to marry this dessert. It’s not for good times or bad times, because there will never be bad times.” I also tackled this dessert, with emphasis on tackled. It is huge and very rich although the tangyness of the crème fraiche really helped to counteract the sweetness. Eating this cheesecake provides very many good times.
Warm Valrhona Chocolate Pot (£4.95) – This is like a very dense chocolate mousse that is served warm. The chocolate itself is of superb quality but the dessert is served with orange sprinkled on top. And it’s a really strong orange flavour, which somewhat detracts from the chocolate even if you love orange.
Chocolate Brownie with Earl Grey Ice-Cream (£5.45) – The brownie was rich and moist but the Earl Grey ice-cream caused a storm.
J: “I want to fill my fridge with this ice-cream!”
L: “Forget the fridge – I want to fill my face!”
My friends were so impressed with the desserts that they demanded to meet the dessert chef but he was apparently quite intimidated by the prospect of meeting four females who had been proposing to his puddings, and decided to remain in the kitchen!
Another friend joined our group. Our conversations continued.
I was very kindly given a complimentary cocktail and so I sampled their ‘Wall Street’ cocktail (£7.50) – Russian Standard Vodka, honey, apple juice, fresh passion fruit and raspberries. The flavours created a seamlessly smooth crisp and refreshing drink.
This decided it: we will return even just for a dessert and cocktails evening.
It was approaching dinner time and we were full. Sleepily and happily, we staggered into the outside world after nearly six hours. … Hmm … I was supposed to be studying for an exam? Never mind. My food coma made everything seem all right.
Hush Brasseries 4/5 – Hello delicious desserts and drinks.
Food 3.5/5 – The starters and mains ranges from average to very good, but the desserts are fantastic. Value 3/5 – Standard for London and food quality. Atmosphere 5/5 – Laid back. Spent 6 hours there without notic Service 5/5 – Prompt, not pushy. Efficient yet warm.
I was invited to my friends’ for dinner and wanted to make a relatively quick and simple dessert to say thank you. So I happened upon this wonderful article in the Guardian and followed the fantastically simple Elizabeth David recipe.
Sadly, being a dessert novice, no-one told me the difficulty I would have in whisking the eggs “into soft peaks”. People subsequently said to me, “Oh yeah, that’s really hard work with just a hand-held whisk!”
To which I responded, “But I don’t even own a whisk!”
So, in case you’re as much as a novice as me, trying to use a fork will prove impossible, unless you’re built like Popeye.
The result was wondrously chocolatey, but it was more a dense, chocolate mixture than a mousse. I enjoyed it nonetheless, but I felt a little sorry for my friends who graciously accepted it…
4 medium eggs 120g chocolate (at least 70% cocoa – I used Green and Black’s because their chocolate is fabulous in my opinion) 3 tsp sugar (or to taste)
1. Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a bowl over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate begins to melt, turn the heat off. Separate the eggs.
2. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks, add the sugar, and whisk briefly.
3. Mix the egg yolks quickly into the melted chocolate and then whisk in a third of the egg white. Fold the rest very gently into the mixture until just combined (be careful not to overmix), and then put into bowls and refrigerate for at least four hours until set
If you’re feeling fancy, grate some chocolate on top to make it look pretty.
Oh, and don’t forget to continuously sample the chocolate in the process.