lunches at Verveine...

I was surprised to discover that the Hampshire Life 2011 Restaurant of the Year, and Chef of the Year both went to a little fish restaurant about ten minutes from my house in the Forest. I'd had recommendations for Verveine, but somehow it had landed in my radar with more of a plink than a splash.  I've complained about the lack of a decent fishmonger in our area (ridiculous when you live on the coast), and suddenly Verveine re-emerged into my consciousness.

Roux Parliament Square Re-Visited

This is my second visit to Roux Parliament Square in as many months.  Last time we ate here we were dining with chums, and we wanted to come back on our own to try the latest seasonal menu. I also wanted to make a trip up to the fabulous bar, as it had somehow passed me by before!

Upstairs we had a lovely glass of fizz, and some little bar snacks including some excellent gordal olives, some honeyed cashew nuts, and a home-made seed mixture with fennel and pumpkin seeds - it smelt absolutely amazing.

dines at Ben Spalding's Pop-Up...

Ben's menu for the evening
Appalling photographs I appreciate - but I wanted to put them on the blog to show the inventive talents of Mr @benspalding1. Ben did a one-night-only popup at Ben's Canteen, and these photographs are from that event.

I've been a huge admirer of Ben since I tasted his food at Roganic - I've even been the proud owner of Ben's mince pies for the Mince Pie project. There was never any question that Ben would find his way in the world, and though this meal wasn't perfect, I'm amazed he was able to produce anything at all from such a ridiculously tiny kitchen.  I'd follow Ben anywhere to eat his food, and nothing has changed that opinion!

dines at Midsummer House...

Midsummer House in Cambridge is the star attraction of Cambridge's growing food scene. Owned by Chef Patron Daniel Clifford, the restaurant has held two Michelin stars since 2005, and has recently undergone renovation.

dines at Tuddenham Mill... The Tasting Menu...

Having eaten Paul Foster's GBM Menu the night before, we moved on to his tasting menu.This is a better reflection of both the ethos of the kitchen, and of their technical skill.  Ingredients can be foraged from the meadows around the mill and the emphasis is very much on local and seasonal produce.  Paul is a very accomplished chef, and here you get a better sense of his vision and his developing style.

dines at Tuddenham Mill... The Great British Menu... Menu

By happy coincidence I found myself booked into Tuddenham Mill whilst Paul Foster, the Mill's Head Chef, appeared on the Great British Menu.  Even better, Paul's menu was already available to guests, and we were able to try the complete menu before some of the dishes had even aired.

lunches at Ceviche, Soho...

Some months ago I attended the pisco fuelled launch of Martin Morales' Ceviche.  I'd been following Martin's progress for months on twitter, and as a ceviche addict was particularly looking forward to getting my hands on some great raw fish.  That night we found ourselves at the far end of the room and very little food made it to our table - as the waiting staff piled trays high with succulent beef, and raw fish, greedy hands grabbed at dishes as soon as they entered the room.  They did manage to get great glasses of pisco to us, and bottles of beer, and we quickly divided up any morsels which did survive long enough to reach us.  These morsels merely whetted my appetite, and it took some weeks before I was able to get a booking to try Ceviche for myself.

dines at Alimentum...

Based in Cambridge, Alimentum joins the small but growing band of fine dining restaurants in the city.  Mark Poynton, the Chef Patron, came from Cambridge's Michelin starred Midsummer House, before moving to Alimentum as Head Chef in 2008, and becoming the Chef Patron in 2010.