1 More Saffa | Two top finds in two weekends

How it happened I’m not sure, but in two weekends, I managed to stumble across two places of heavenly indulgence.

How it happened I’m not sure, but in two weekends, I managed to stumble across two places of heavenly indulgence.

1: Dehesa — Charcuterie & Tapas Bar: Soho (http://www.dehesa.co.uk/)

Deciding to venture out of the Wandsworth bubble one Saturday sunny afternoon, we walked along Kingly street in Soho. After taking the obligatory photograph outside the Liberty entrance and immediately sending it to my sister to show my appreciation for her old stomping ground, we meandered down the tourist ridden track. Looking for a vibrant and classy pavement special, Dehesa grabbed my attention. Long dark wooden tables lined with crystal clear wine glasses promised instant social gratification. What followed was the sharing of tapas boards which signified the marriage of simple, yet bold flavours presented with artistic inspiration.

TIP: Do not engage in Dehesa’s experience without ordering the below from their tapas menu (http://www.dehesa.co.uk/menu/tapas):

1.1: Duck Liver al la Plancha (£7). Placed before you will be perfectly pink duck livers which ignite in your mouth with the sweetness of sherry shallots and caper berries.

1.2: Pan Fried Sea Bream with fennel and dill puree (£7). The simple, yet effective moist white fish with crispy skin is elevated with the aniseed taste of crunchy fennel and then lusciously creamed with a buttery puree.

1.3: Courgette flower stuffed with goats’ cheese (£4.5). The title alone pulls at the strings of your taste buds. However, to indulge you more.. Imagine a lightly (and most importantly not oily) battered courgette, sweetened with honey drippings and when devouring the bud of the flower, your mouth is filled with warmed goats’ cheese singing in its tamed level of pungency.

2: The Glasshouse Restaurant: Kew (http://www.glasshouserestaurant.co.uk/)

In an attempt to take advantage of London’s current season boasting romantic blossoms and rainbow coloured lawns, it became a Sunday mission to go explore the botanical gardens in Kew. However, prior to any venturing of the acres of spring delight, it is important to gain energy and most importantly from a place where gastronomic sensations become no match for rare tulips and peonies (well at least in my mind!). Due to very strategic ‘googling’, I managed to come across a Michelin star restaurant that was not only a perfect location directly outside Kew Gardens station and within a five minute walk to the gardens, but it overlooks the Sunday market. Perusing the online menu, I was sold immediately. Offerings of bold, original tastes at a cost of £32.50 (on a Sunday) for three courses had me running on the spot in full preparation for heavenly indulgence.

Walking into the restaurant, you are immediately greeted with silver service. Your jackets are taken and you are whisked off to your table; chairs pulled out, napkins placed and aperitifs offered.  Allocated waiting staff each serve their purpose. One for placing and clearing; one for aperitifs; one for wine knowledge and one manager for food orders. You are offered a selection of warm bread (go for the raison and walnut option) and with methodical precision, each item is only presented before you when you alone are in your seat. If you walk around and peruse the bathroom (vital checkpoint for restaurant ratings) by the time you come back, your place is cleared, cleaned, and napkin refolded. These traits alone are impressive, however this restaurant needs nothing more than the perfection and magic of its courses.

Recommendations: The winning choices (http://www.glasshouserestaurant.co.uk/food/recent-menu/):

2.1: Seared john dory with crisp risotto cake. As I sipped on a glass of Riesling wine, this perfectly portioned starter was placed before me. While the fish flaked apart in moisture, the combination of each slice of the crispy risotto cake dipped in the shrimp and tarragon black foam, forced my eyes closed in satisfaction.

2.2: Cured loch duart salmon with prawn beignet. Although this was not my selected starter, I was lucky enough to taste this sashimi style salmon married with wasabi cream and crispy prawn shards. The sensational mixture of cold and warm, crispy and soft, tangy and plain, tantalises that awakening much needed when tasting, chewing and sending the magic into your stomach.

2.3: Breast and stuffed leg of guinea fowl. Having not had guinea fowl before and being warned that its somewhat like chicken, I was interested to see how exciting one’s so called variation of your staple meat could become a phenomenon. This succulent piece of meat was dusted with coriander pesto which complimented the curry flavoured puree that sat beneath. Pairing the elegantly slim potato gratin (making you believe that such fine slices could not possibly add to your waistline) with a bite of stuffed dark meat and black lentil sauce, I was speechless. Taking me back to memories of the Duck and Waffle experience where hypothetical items of clothing would be sacrificed for the food before you, I knew I would immediately be stark naked.

2.4: Valrhona chocolate cheesecake. Finally it was time for desert and although my elected option of the rhubarb crumble was a perfect combination of shortbread crumbs sprinkled over the warm sweetness, the deconstructed cheesecake took the cake.  With a chocolate biscuit base and a creamy mouse, the banana flavoured foam combined with crème fraiche ice cream and peanut brittle pieces sent you into your own childhood dream. Who would have thought that the youthful vigour of pre-teen indulgence in ice cream, chocolate and banana could be rejuvenated into Michelin adult class.

Two top finds in two weekends! Thank you London