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Friday, 20 July 2018

The Fabulous Express Elevator Lunch Menu at Oblix West

Words & Photography by Margot Carone and Luiz Hara

Name: Oblix West at The Shard

Where: 31 St. Thomas Street, Level 32, The Shard, London SE1 9RY

Cost: The Express Elevator Lunch Menu is priced at £40pp for 2 courses – starter, main (or main and dessert), a side and mineral water. For a 3rd course, desserts can be added at £7 each. The menu also offers the option of unlimited white or red wine for £20pp or Chandon sparkling wine for £25pp. The menu is available Monday to Friday, from 12:00 to 2:45pm.

About: Oblix West has been a notable feature of the London dining scene since 2013, when it was opened by the chef and restaurateur Rainer Becker (of Zuma and Roka fame). It’s a regular destination for City folk and the occasional celebrity. Regular readers of The London Foodie will know that we are fans of both Zuma and Roka, as you can read here and here.

On the 32nd floor of The Shard, arriving at Oblix West is an experience in itself. Security staff, state of the art lifts, and hostesses to bid us welcome give a real sense of occasion and anticipation. As the name suggests, the restaurant is on the west side, while on the east is Oblix East, a bar with a more casual menu, and live music in the evenings.

Oblix West is a spacious, sleek restaurant, with a buzzing open-plan kitchen, presiding over magnificent views of the London skyline.

The Express Elevator Lunch Menu (go up, dine and down in an hour) has been designed for those who like to dine out for lunch but are time-pressured.  It is aimed at those heading out for a lunch meeting, as well as those visiting the capital and seeking to lunch in style, enjoying delicious dishes and incredible views across the city. However, the unlimited sparkling wine option (see What We Drank) as well as the tempting desserts meant that there was nothing express about our visit!

What We Ate: We started with the truffle flatbread, pancetta and ricotta. With a heady scent of summer truffles, the shavings were sitting delicately on top of the ruffled ricotta and pea-shoots. The flatbread was crunchy and still warm. If you like truffles, you will love this.

Next up was the sculptural iceberg lettuce (a signature dish of the restaurant I tried on an earlier visit) with caramelized walnut, candied cranberry, pickled onions and crumbled Stilton, sprinkled with pancetta and pan-roasted fresh rosemary leaves. This is the poshest iceberg lettuce wedge I have come across, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The first main course was pork chops with feta cheese, olives and pancetta served with freshly-made apple sauce. The pork was tender, richly marbled with fat, and very well flavoured. What a rare joy to find pork of this quality in the UK. The triple-cooked hand-cut chips were the perfect accompaniment.

The 200g beef sirloin (supplement of £4.50) was served with a light, freshly-whipped Béarnaise sauce. The meat was tender, flavoursome and perfectly cooked just as ordered, while the side dish was a well-made Macaroni cheese.

For dessert, the light and crunchy strawberry pistachio éclair had great textures. It was served with a refreshing raspberry sorbet, and sprinkled with fresh basil leaves that added an herbaceous lift.

Even better though was the toffee banana & crème brûlée tart with coffee ice-cream. The light pastry and crispy oats were dreamy. This dessert made us gasp with pleasure. I would go back to West Oblix for that dessert alone.

What We Drank: Cocktails are not included in the Elevator menu, but proved irresistible on this glorious London summer day. We had a refreshing Melon Spritz (£14.50) - a mix of gin, Aperol, bergamot, cantaloupe melon and Champagne.

The menu offers the option of unlimited white or red wine for £20pp or sparkling wine for £25pp by Chandon. We opted for the latter, and had a few glasses of the excellent Chandon Rosé – created by Moet Chandon, using native Champagne varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and produced in Argentina. This is perfect for summer days, with its fine bubbles, delicate flavours and soothing light peachy hue.

Likes: Spectacular setting and views, that banana dessert was the best thing I have eaten in months. Both the pork and the beef mains were fantastic, and it was great to have the option of unlimited, good quality bubbly. 

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: With great food, spectacular views and very fine bubbles, the newly launched Oblix West Express Elevator menu has it all, and at £40 per person (excluding drinks), it’s excellent value too.  Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Temper Soho - Wondrous Meat, Fearless Seasoning and Great 90s Soundtrack

Name: Temper Soho

Where: 25 Broadwick Street, London W1F 0DF, http://temperrestaurant.com/

Cost: A meal at Temper will cost on average £45 per person not including drinks or service. Small-eats (all tacos) are priced between £5 and £11.50, larger-eats (meat on flatbread) cost from £8.50 to £11, with sides at £3.50 to £7 and desserts from £6 to £12.

About: Temper Restaurant is Chef Neil Rankin's latest venture with three London branches in Soho, City and Covent Garden, which opened in May 2018.

I recently visited Temper Soho on Broadwick Street. The restaurant is a raucous affair in the basement of what seems a wine shop. As you walk down the stairs, the loud 90s music, the BBQ smoke, mezcal fumes, and charred meat odours welcome you with a bang.

Temper Soho is cavernous, with booths and tables filling every corner, but if you want a piece of the real action, grab a counter seat around the open kitchen where tacos are hand-pressed, flatbreads are blistered and chefs busily go about finishing off their dishes.

The focus point of the kitchen though is the central charcoal grill where whole carcasses of lamb and goat are roasted over glowing coals.

There is also a cedar wood oven, as well as charcoal and oak grilling areas depending on the dish being cooked.

The menu at Temper Soho is centred on BBQ with South American influences - the meat dishes are designed from every bit of the animal, so everything is used (Temper buys the entire animal) including their fat – think beef fat potatoes, grilled corn in lamb fat, and chilli and bone marrow just three of the dishes which give you a flavour of the food on offer.

Temper City, opened in July 2017, focuses on Indian cooking, with a tandoor oven, offerings of curry and freshly made paratha whereas Broadwick Street has a more Mexican theme with corn tortillas, flatbreads and mezcal-based drinks. Temper Covent Garden has an Italian angle, and serves wood fired pizzas, ragu, charcuterie, wine and vermouth.

What We Ate: From the small-eats menu, we chose the taco of aged cheeseburger (£8.50) - this was excellent, with intense flavours of cheese and corn, and a tender beef patty.

We also enjoyed the crab, dill, pickled onion and pork skin (£9) served on tacos, this was fresh and well seasoned although I could not detect the pork skin.

From the meat course menu, we chose the smoked beef (£10 per 100g) - this is cold smoked for 8 hours over charcoal or wood. Deliciously tender, with yellow fat and a wonderfully smoky flavour, this was simplicity itself and magnificent.

Smoked goat (£11 per 100g) was slightly less smoky than the beef, but surprisingly for such a wiry beast was just as tender.

The weakest link for me was the lamb belly masala (£8.50), with an anemic sauce and shredded meat lacking interest or texture.

Chipotle miso chicken half (£25), was smoked and grilled with paprika, then served with a herb salad of fresh mint, coriander, green chilli, radicchio and burnt lemons. The meat was succulent and tender, and had a great depth of flavour and heat from the miso and chipotle, a great combination of ingredients.

We enjoyed the ‘burnt-end’ Thai larb (£5) with lamb knuckle meat, ground toasted rice, and plenty of heat from the diced fresh red chillies. The larb was fresh, zingy and incredibly flavoursome.

The grilled corn with lamb fat béarnaise and mint (£4) was equally delicious, leavened by the surprising but very effective addition of popcorn. So novel and wonderful.

For dessert, we had the deep dish brigadeiro cookie with fior di latte ice cream (£6). With a sweet and buttery cookie and a neutral ice cream, this was a nice pudding but bore little resemblance to the Brazilian brigadeiro I grew up eating in São Paulo.

Sadly the signature butterscotch kouign-amann with dulce de leche ice cream (£6) was sold out, so instead we opted for the gin and tonic sorbet with honeycomb, grapefruit and a shot of Caperitif (£7). An adult dessert with some astringently bitter flavours, this was a refreshing and light dessert that ended our meal on a high note.

What We Drank: Cocktails are all priced at £10, with wines mostly from the New World, starting at £31 for a Pinot Noir Valle del Maule 2015, with most of the wines priced upwards of £50.  

To kick off, we had a brace of cocktails - Mr Faulty is a blend of rum, basil, rice wine vinegar and lime. Essentially a basil daiquiri, this was refreshing and full of citrus freshness.

Neil's Negroni is a modification of the classic blend of gin, vermouth and Campari, substituting gin with mezcal. The Negroni had a smoky note from the agave, which in this version is burned before being fermented to alcohol.  

With our meal, we shared a bottle of Quinta de Falorca, from Dao, Portugal 2011 (£42). A blend of Touriga Nacional, Rufete, Jaen, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz, this was a straightforward wine, with plenty of red berry fruit flavours and some structure, with soft tannins.

Likes: Bold flavours, excellent meats and fearless seasoning. Catchy 90s soundtrack (Prince, Blondie), lots of seating around the central barbecue pit, reasonable prices, what's not to like?!

Dislikes: None

Verdict: If you like good quality meat, fearless seasoning and a great atmosphere, you will love Temper Soho. Grab a seat at the counter to watch the action (though not for the squeamish). I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Temper Soho and highly recommend it.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

#IbizaSabor18 – Discovering the Unique Flavours of Ibiza and the Balearic Islands

The Spanish island of Ibiza is one of the few places in the world that needs little introduction – its renowned clubbing scene, gorgeous sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets have been attracting large crowds for decades.

But scratch a little deeper, and you will find that Ibiza has more to offer than its clubbing scene and perfect beaches – Ibiza and indeed the Balearic Archipelago, which include Mallorca (the largest of the islands), Formentera and Menorca, have a fascinating history and unique local cuisine very much worth exploring.

And there is no better place to learn about the archipelago’s cuisine and local ingredients than during the #IbizaSabor Festival taking place between early April and late May each year. The festival involves many of the islands major restaurants (this year 54 restaurants took part) and local food and wine producers who offer special festival menus, host workshops, cookery demos, and tastings using native Balearic ingredients.

#IbizaSabor is a great opportunity for visitors to seek out and try a number of traditional Ibizan dishes and produce. To find out more about the festival, 2019 dates and the participating restaurants, check out their website here - http://www.ibizasabor.es/en/.

I went to Ibiza to attend the Mediterranean Gastronomy Forum (#IbizaSabor18), one of the main activities of the festival, with a group of international journalists and bloggers at the invitation of the Ibizan Tourism Board. The London Foodie however maintains complete editorial control over the content published on the site as always.

The Gorgeous Ibiza Old Town
The Ibizan Tourism Board handpicked a number of outstanding restaurants for us to visit during our stay; I will be writing more about them, including my top 5 restaurant recommendations in a separate feature in the following weeks. So as you plan your trip to Ibiza, bookmark this page and the one that is to follow for my top foodie recommendations on the island.

Balearic Cuisine, Produce and Dishes

Unsurprisingly, fish and seafood play a major role in Balearic gastronomy, as do pork and various types of game including mutton and sheep. Due to the lack of cattle, beef is not widely available in the archipelago.

Sustainability - All Ibizan fish are labelled Peix Nostrum to certify they are Ibizan local fish

In Ibiza, excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil, dried almonds and honey are produced, as well as liquors such as the popular ‘Hierbas Ibicencas’ which we had a go at making ourselves (more on this later), sheep and goat cheeses, and their much loved ‘sobrassada’ a lightly spicy, cured and soft pork sausage (akin to an Italian Ndjua), that is very much at the heart of Balearic cooking.

Delicious Sobrassada, the star of Balearic cooking

Balearic dishes are hearty and generous, for example ‘Bullit de Peix’ is a magnificent local fish stew made with different types of fish and seafood, tomatoes, onions and potatoes cooked in a flavoursome stock heavily scented with saffron. 

The beauty of bullit de peix is that the leftover, concentrated stock is also used to cook rice and make a 2nd dish called ‘Arroz a Banda’, which is served after the stew. I enjoyed both dishes immensely, and found a good recipe for them here - http://www.ibizafoodie.com/en/home-2/recipe-the-bullit-de-peix-at-cana-sofia/.

‘Arroz a Banda’ by José Ferrer from S’Espartar

Café Caleta is ubiquitous in Ibiza –traditionally made with burnt wheat as coffee was a scarce and highly prized commodity. Today it is prepared with coffee beans, spices including cinnamon and cloves, lemon, sugar and plenty of brandy. It is a warming and strong coffee that you are likely to experience at the end of many a meal on the island.

Greixonera (a local bread and butter pudding made with 'ensaimada' breakfast bread) and Flaó (an open goat cheese, hierba buena and aniseed tart) are two of the most traditional and popular of Ibizan desserts I got to try on this visit, and I discuss both in more detail in the sections below.

Noteworthy also was discovering Ibizan wines – the island has a number of vineyards including the pioneer Sa Cova, Can Maymó that makes red wines steeped in thyme, Can Rich an organic winery that combines both Ibizan and French grapes, and Ibizkus, a boutique vineyard that uses the Monastrell grape, one of the traditional Ibizan varietals.

Ibizan local varieties are Monastrell and Garnacha grapes for red wines, while the most important variety for white wine is Malvasia. Ibizan wines are made and produced in the areas of San Mateu, Buscastell, and Sant Josep - they are medium to full-bodied, complex and well-structured. Vins de la Terra is the geographic indication that collects all wine production in Ibiza according to EU regulation. When visiting Ibiza, try to order these local wines, they are of excellent quality and comparable to other top Spanish labels.

III Mediterranean Gastronomy Forum - #IbizaSabor18

One of the highlight activities of the two-month long #IbizaSabor Festival is the Mediterranean Gastronomy Forum. In its third year, #IbizaSabor2018 was a great event that brought together some of the biggest names of Spanish cooking from the Balearic Islands and beyond as well as local food and wine producers.

This year’s forum had particular focus on the sustainability and biodiversity of the Balearic sea through gastronomy and the pioneering female chefs of the region. Of the various cookery demos that took place throughout the day, Silvia Anglada’s of Es Tast de na Silvia restaurant really brought home the subject matters of this year’s forum.

A pioneering female chef from Menorca, her doughnut of Picarel (a local fish) was served with a delectable beetroot marmalade, with every part of the fish being used to create the final dish including the bones.

Noteworthy was also Chef Cristian Periscal’s ravioli of squid and sobrassada sausage in a jet black sauce made from the seafood’s own ink. I enjoyed the mix of two of the region’s main staples – Balearic seafood and sobrassada (pork) and the gorgeous presentation of the dish.

We also had the opportunity to learn about one of the island’s famous dishes ‘Guisat de Peix’ -  similar in style to a ‘Bullit de Peix’ as discussed earlier, both are local, hearty fish stews, with Chefs Carles Cardona from Atzaro Beach Cala Nova and Carmen Tur from Pescados Algar.

We attended an epic 12-course lunch with dishes supplied by 12 different restaurants and food associations – each dish highlighted native Balearic ingredients used in traditional or reinterpreted recipes.

Sobrassada croquettes with Ibizan honey by Javier Cardona from Formentera Restaurant

There were so many favourites – Paul Barba’s of Can Domo (one of my top restaurant recommendations on the island) was a delicious dish of lamb gizzards with squid and fish skin soufflé potatoes.

Maki sushi by Moises Machado from Can a Soffia was an intricate rice roll with Can Rich vermouth, orange sobrassada, medlars, Ibizan carob teriyaki and amberjack – I loved the use of Ibizan flavours in such a novel way.

Another magnificent rice dish was prepared by Emilio Benitez from the Fishermen’s Guild of Ibiza – this had Picarel fish and cauliflower and tasted delicious.

We ended the meal with ‘Greixonera’ by Claudio Vidal of Es Rebost de Can Prats – Greixonera is a traditional dessert much like a British bread and butter pudding but made with day old ‘ensaimada’, a local breakfast pastry. The Greixonera was dense but creamy served with a lightly bitter sugar caramel. I found a good recipe for Greixonera here - http://www.ibizafoodie.com/en/home-2/the-greixonera-recipe/.

Besides the informative chef demos and tasting lunch, the Mediterranean Gastronomic Forum was a good opportunity to meet local food and wine producers. Most Ibizan wine makers had their own stands at the conference including Can Rich.

Discovering about Ibizan wines was one of the most interesting aspects of #IbizaSabor18

One of the outstanding wines I was lucky enough to try on more than one occasion during my visit was Can Rich’s Ereso – an organic wine made from the Malvasia grape, it was full bodied and with great complexity – an ideal wine to go with the robust seafood and rice dishes we enjoyed in Ibiza and I highly recommend it.

The wonderful Eresa wine, 100% Malvasia grape by Can Rich
Law Gin was founded by friends Wolfgang, Luna and Alexander in 2013. They distill their gin using 100% botanicals from Ibiza Island, with some unusual additions including padron peppers and prickly pear. The gin is highly aromatic but refreshing and makes for a perfect gin & tonic. If you are a G&T fan, look out for Law Gin in your next trip to Ibiza.

Antonio Adelino and Catalina Ribas Torres, 87 and 82 years old, started making fishing pots soon after retiring. They were one of the many local producers at the forum. They have 7 children and 11 grandchildren, and have been married for 63 years.

The Mediterranean Gastronomic Forum takes place annually; it is an all day, free event open to everyone, professionals or food enthusiasts. If you are travelling to Ibiza between April and May, the forum is a great opportunity to learn about the local cuisine, food and wine produce with some of the biggest names in the industry. For more information, visit their website here - http://www.ibizasabor.es/en/

#IbizaSabor Festival – Workshops and Cookery Demos 

In addition to the network of restaurants in the region offering special menus and the Mediterranean Gastronomic Forum, the festival also offers a number of workshops and cookery demos that are open to the public.

Flaó is one of the most traditional of Balearic desserts, particularly in Ibiza where historical records show it being made since the 13th century. Flaó is an open tart made with a filling of fresh goat and/or sheep cheese, eggs, sugar, orange peel, aniseed and Herba Buena (similar to peppermint but more aromatic) in a shortcrust pastry casing laced with lard.

We had a Flaó recipe demo at Can Berri Vell Restaurant, where we learnt about this exotic tart. The prominent flavours of Flaó are goat and sheep cheese, Herba Buena and aniseed - it is aromatic, sweet and savoury and certainly different from any other cheesecake I have eaten before. I loved it.

I found a great traditional recipe here if you would like to try it for yourself at home - http://www.eladerezo.com/recetas/flao-tarta-de-queso-tipica-de-ibiza.html - I certainly will.

Another interesting demo was at Can Muson – this is an organic vegetable, herb and animal farm created by Maria Mari only ten years ago with the aim of promoting healthy eating and for the kids of Ibiza.

The farm has grown substantially over the last 10 years much to Mrs Mari’s surprise and now has a cafeteria, fruit and veg shop, fields and playground for children. Can Muson also hosts classes on organic farming as well as guided visits which includes a brunch menu using ingredients grown in the farm for €12pp.

After a quick visit to the vegetable fields and animals, we got to make our own Hierbas Ibicencas – a liqueur made in Ibiza with different herbs and botanicals that grow around the island. Usually drunk as a digestif after lunch or dinner, Hierbas Ibicencas is one of the most quintessential of Ibizan products.

At Can Muson, we used 21 types of herbs all grown on the farm including juniper, lemon verbena, Hierba Buena, chamomile and lavender to name just a few. To the herbs we added a local aniseed liqueur, similar to Pernod, and were told to wait until Christmas when it would be ready to consume.

Hierba Buena - incredibly aromatic, similar to mint but richer

Where to Eat in Ibiza – My Top Restaurant Recommendations

If you are planning a visit to Ibiza and would like recommendations for the top restaurants on the island, keep your eyes peeled for my next Ibizan blog post in the coming week. Bookmark this page and the ones to follow for your Ibizan foodie guide.


I went to Ibiza at the invitation of the Ibizan Tourism Board to attend #IbizaSabor2018. The London Foodie however maintains full editorial control over the content published on the site as always.

Travel Essentials

For everything Ibiza, visit:

Ibiza Sabor Festival

To read about Ibizan ingredients, dishes and local restaurant reviews (by a local foodie), visit:

Can Berri Vell Restaurant 

Can Musón Organic Farm

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