Xquisite, Caribbean restaurant, Tulse Hill

We visited this new Caribbean restaurant just after Christmas when we had no money and the January blues were in full swing, but the warming food (and welcome) at Xquisite was just the ray of sunshine we needed!

Xquisite Oxtail Meat, marinated and cooked with butter beans until tender falling off the bone, served with plantains and basmati rice

Xquisite Oxtail Meat, marinated and cooked with butter beans until tender falling off the bone

Xquisite Golden Fried Chicken seasoned with Caribbean herbs and spices, tossed in batter, then deep fried till golden. Served with plantains and brown rice and peas.

Xquisite Golden Fried Chicken chicken seasoned with Caribbean herbs and spices, tossed in batter, then deep fried till golden

xquisiterestaurant.com

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Chapter One, Locksbottom

Regular readers will know my love of all things roast. So when mine and the bf’s five year anniversary meal landed on a Sunday and the crucial question of ‘lunch or dinner?’ was posed, the only option for me was Sunday roast at Chapter One

This Michelin starred restaurant on the outskirts of Bromley in Kent, ran by chef Andrew McLeish, is one of the premier eateries outside of London. You’ll find super attentive staff, clean & crisp decor, and a lounge-bar – order the Cherry and Rhubarb Bellini – which is worth visiting on its own.

The food is super fresh, modern European, with ingredients sourced locally where possible. My starter of chilled pea espuma (no, I hadn’t heard of it either!) was a wonderful surprise, the richness of the egg against the salty pancetta and sweet peas was divine. And Andrew’s dessert of walnut coffee panacotta, which had a real deepness of flavour which you wouldn’t expect from such a light and creamy dish, combined with the ice-cold sweet and tart maple syrup sorbet was really special. As for our mains, I can’t even begin to describe the sheer quality of the beef – ‘melts in the mouth’ would be an understatement. I don’t think either of us has tried a roast beef or steak quite as good – that’s even after I wrote about “the best steak of my life” from alec’s in Essex. 

The wine list was not to be sniffed at either, with an extensive selection of grapes, prices, and bottle sizes (important when one of you is driving) we had a tough choice deciding what to go for, in the end the Cotes du Rhone won.

So next time you’re thinking of treating yourself to a special meal, don’t go for dinner in London, try lunch in Locksbottom.

Chilled pea espuma, warm poached hen's egg, pancetta & pea cress

I ordered: Chilled pea espuma, warm poached hen’s egg, pancetta & pea cress

Ham hock terrine, black pudding & apple puree

Andrew had: Ham hock terrine, black pudding & apple puree

Roast air hung sirloin of beef, roast potatoes, red cabbage, green beans & red win jus

Holly: Roast air hung sirloin of beef, roast potatoes, red cabbage, green beans & red wine jus

Josper grilled USDA rib eye steak, chips & bearnaise sauce

Andrew: Josper grilled USDA rib eye steak, chips & bearnaise sauce

Strawberry mille-feuille with wild strawberrysorbet

Holly: Strawberry mille-feuille with wild strawberry sorbet

Walnut coffee panacotta, blueberry gel & fresh blueberries, blueberry & maple syrup sorbet

Andrew: Walnut coffee panacotta, blueberry gel & fresh blueberries, blueberry & maple syrup sorbet

Caravaggio, Leadenhall Market

We stumbled across Caravaggio by chance, when on a night out I decided it was time to try the infamous Mother Mash, just outside Leadenhall Market; when I saw that it was closed at half past six (!) – heartbroken doesn’t even cover it. That’s where Caravaggio came in, as my restaurant in edible armor, if you will. The beautiful, classic Italian restaurant, just next door to Mother Mash, provided an unexpected night of foodie decadent delights…

My roast venison with walnut mash more than made up for the night’s long-forgotten disappointing start. The meat was perfectly seasoned and succulent, the mash was super-smooth and rich in earthy flavour – a star accompaniment to English game.

Andrew’s steak was so good that he couldn’t wait to get started (hence his half-eaten photo!), and the thick cut chips were to die for.

Going back to the starters, these simple British ingredients created fantastic Italian flavour – light, fresh and oh so moreish. Much the same can be said for our desserts. The zesty Key Lime pie and my English raspberries with home-made shortbread biscuits and thick clotted cream provided the perfect finishing touch to a truly great meal.

Caravaggio will not be a back-up option next time.

Find out more about Caravaggio.

Porridge glorious porridge

Le Pain Quotidien do the BEST porridge, this is my favourite breakfast right now: Porridge with Stewed Fruits. Perfect on a snowy morning with a Cappucino.

Le Pain Quotidien Porridge with Stewed Fruits breakfast