We had been meaning to try this 2-Rosette awarded restaurant set in the grounds of Borde Hill Garden (West Sussex) for a while. We have eaten at its younger sister Café Elvira a few times but were always intrigued by the more luxurious Jeremy’s just next door. In the surrounding villages, Jeremy’s seemed to be well-liked and was often mentioned by locals as a place to go.
There is absolutely nothing conventional about the experience of dining at The Man Behind the Curtain. It is avant-garde in every sense: in name, décor, location, people, ambient music and of course, the food. You just have to visit their site’s homepage to get a feel for what I mean - there is a cat with an astronaut helmet floating in space next to a giant open mouth with a man’s face inside and some other strange elements scattered around. Got the idea yet? Me neither.
An exuberant and slightly surreal exterior, a peculiar but cozy interior and an eccentric chef all contribute to making this a unique experience. Tokos is a delightful small restaurant on the island of Madeira that simply should not be missed.
Outside there is an impressive display of exotic flowers and plants, which sets the scene for a truly distinctive journey. Somehow, the exterior doesn’t quite add up and you are left with a feeling of anticipation. Inside is a small room flanked by a tiny kitchen, the décor strange and eclectic, lots of plants, clarinets and plates hanging on the wall together with naïf paintings depicting the chef (and owner), lacy curtains and a tapestry that seems out of place.
We had been past the Rose & Crown a few times and kept telling ourselves we should go in one day. From the outside, it is a beautiful well looked-after 17th century building, inviting, quintessentially British countryside village type. Inside, the same. Think low ceilings, chunky furniture, Labradors asleep under tables and locals enjoying a good pint. But more on that later.
As we arrive, a warm and believable smile greets us from behind the bar. The same smile also greets us at the table this time coming from a different person, together with my complimentary glass of Prosecco (it was Mother’s Day and I was going to be duly acknowledged by these warm and amenable strangers that work at the Rose & Crown). A good start, that’s for sure.
The Grain Store has got some hype. And as you go in the words trendy and hip come to mind. In a great location (you have to check the Kings Cross area now!), sitting in beautiful open square with modern lights, this fresh space is carved inside old exposed brick walls and the whole room is decorated with a mix of wood and steel. It’s got a sort of modern canteen feel. The kitchen is exposed and runs across the main area. On one side, some intimate alcoves are just perfect for quiet conversation and we got lucky as that is precisely where we got our table.
Ruby is a 15m2 room with a huge stove bustling with pans at one end, a wooden counter that runs along the window and three small tables. At lunchtime, it usually has a queue that spills into the street, which is a testimony to the quality of the food. The queue moves fast too because the men that run this place are part of a well-oiled machine, used to serving hundreds of hungry office workers around Shoreditch on a daily basis. You can take away or eat there, but space can be an issue.
They have a set menu and a handful of dishes that change daily, most of which are pasta, with at least 3 different ones being prepared every day.
From the set menu the chorizo, roast peppers and rocket sandwich is delicious. The chorizo is sliced diagonally and placed on a hot plate with the roasted peppers to be finished off and warmed before going into a two slices of ciabatta-style bread with the peppers. The chorizo unashamedly oozing orange fat into the soft bread. Not-to-be-missed.
I had high expectations for Nopi, after all it is one of the restaurants of the much talked-about chef Yotam Ottolenghi. It had been on my bucket list for a while.
As you arrive, the ambience is relaxed with the clean white walls softened by the mellow lighting. The staff were polite and efficient but not especially warm.
The menu is very interesting and quite short, which is something I like, ‘do less things and do them well’ is my kind of philosophy.