Fiume, Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station is one of the biggest transformations currently taking place in London. While the building work finishes, some of London’s best loved restaurants and chefs are setting up shop, and I predict it will soon be a atmospheric dining destination.

One of the first chefs to take a leap of faith was Italian maestro Chef Francesco Mazzei, with his upmarket bistro Fiume. The stylish eatery offers rustic Southern Italian recipes presented with flair and charm. I visited last week to check out the extensive menu.

Fiume

Fiume is the ideal summertime dinner date location, with wonderful views of the Thames and a civilised but buzzing vibe. The menu was explained to us in great detail by our patient waiter. He couldn’t help but let us know when there was a dish he really liked!

Fiume

After much deliberation we decided on a few starters to share, followed by a couple of bowls of homemade pasta. Of the small plates I urge you to try the Umbrian truffle Grana Panama doughnut, this utterly indulgent creation was sweet and cheesy with a hint of woods truffle. So delicious but not suitable for any kind of dieter! The Zucchini Fritti were also wonderful, the thinnest and lightest morsels of battered vegetable I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

Fiume

From the list of pasta dishes I recommend the Burrata tortelli with hazelnuts, sage and black truffle. It was a rich and comforting bowl of food. Perfect parcels of pasta filled with creamy cheese and coated in a buttery herb sauce. Though rich the portions are relatively small, and I was surprised by the expensive price list, perhaps a little ambitious for this trendy new part of town.

Fiume

Full from the savoury dishes we didn’t try puddings on this occasion, but the restaurant has all the Italian classics you might expect, from Tiramisu to Panna cotta.

When we left Fiume at 8.30pm every table was full, and I expect this reliable Italian eatery to get more and more popular as Battersea Power Station continues to evolve.

More information and book a table at Fiume here.

Lina Stores, Soho

Lina Stores is a historic institution in Soho, known for its charming, Instagram-friendly turquoise facade. Inside there is a unrivalled collection of Italian specialities and a delicatessen selling delicious Mediterranean produce.

Lina StoresLina Stores

And this Spring Lina Stores finally opened an eatery, so fans can try the delicious Italian ingredients cooked to perfection by the Italian head chef Masha Rener. Found on Greek Street, the restaurant is immediately recognisable from its signature stripy awning. Inside a counter offers an atmospheric dining experience or you can choose to sit downstairs in the cosy dining room. Food photographers like me will, I’m sure, opt for the outdoor seats, especially in balmy weather.

Lina Stores

We were greeted with open arms and wide smiles, the staff seem genuinely pleased to see guests, despite being immediately popular with London diners. With guidance from our waiter we chose a selection of the most desirable dishes.

Favourites included the Aubergine Polpette, soft and beautifully seasoned with a crunchy coating and the simple but wonderful Toast with buffalo ricotta and spicy ‘nduja.

Lina Stores

There are pasta dishes to suit every requirement, and the portion sizes lend themselves to sharing – I suggest 3 between 2.   Gnudi is a rich but delightful vegetarian option, a flour-free pasta made with ricotta and spinach and served in a moreish brown butter and sage sauce. I also loved the delicately flavoured courgette & mint ravioli with a vibrant cherry tomato sauce and the Pici pasta with rustic woody porcini mushrooms and aromatic Umbrian sausage.

Lina Stores

Desserts are often an afterthought at good casual Italian restaurants, but Lina excel here too. The Rich dark chocolate cake with whipped cream is perhaps the best of its kind I’ve tried in London, rich but light with a lovely moist texture. Lemon sorbet is great too, so creamy and smooth it could have been ice-cream, but I was assured it has no dairy in it!

Lina Stores is a great place to come for a snack and aperitif, quick pasta pick-me-up or a full blown Italian feast. With so many homemade pasta joints in town the competition is tough at the moment, but unsurprisingly Lina Rick every box, and I can’t wait to get back to try the rest of the menu.

More information and book a table here.

Le Poulet du Dimanche, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught

How many times have you been asked what your last meal on earth would be? It seems to be a question which comes up most weeks between food writers and bloggers. Roast chicken is often the meal I choose, which, for me, brings back memories of my family all gathering round the table on a Sunday to enjoy the most delicious meal together. This must be the reason behind Hélène Darroze’s Le Poulet du Dimanche menu at the Connaught, a magical menu focussed around Sunday roast chicken and all the trimmings.

Helene Darroze

Hélène Darroze at The Connaught focusses on food from Hélène’s homeland, the Basque region of France. This special Sunday menu is centred around the Landes chicken from the Basque, an exceptional bird known for its superior quality and flavour. Each course of the set five course menu features a different part of the chicken or egg, and for Hélène it is a celebration of this beautiful produce whilst also illustrating that her kitchen tries to always be sustainable and utilise the whole animal.

After a glass of wonderfully refreshing Franck Pascal, Fluence champagne we were treated to the speciality freshly baked bread and my favourite vibrant orange espelette pepper butter. The first course was a trio of perfect bites:

Crispy skin and chicken liver mousse

Confit egg yolk and Parmeggiano Reggiano

Chicken oyster and juniper

Each was more delicious than the last, and we savoured this first course, not wanting the meal to be over too quickly! The chicken skin was delicate, carefully sandwiched with rich and creamy liver mousse. The egg was  delicate but rich, masterfully injected with a hint of parmesan. But it was the chicken oyster which was my favourite, this juicy part of the chicken was intensely flavoured and infused with herbaceous flavours that reminded me of the pine-filled forests of France.

Helene DarrozeHelene Darroze

The second course  soon arrived, Le bouillon de la poule au pot comme le souhaitait Henry IV – Chicken consommé, ravioli of Bigotte ham, vegetables from the pot, roasted country bread croutons.

The broth was delicate and clear but full of hearty flavours that would remind anyone of a roast meal… caramelised vegetables and sticky meat juices, seasoned with an abundance of herbs. The tiny parcels of pasta were beautifully made, encasing sweet Bayonne ham, another speciality from the South-west of France. Just as we were about to slurp up the final spoonfuls of broth, the waiter arrived to offer a few drops of Darroze family Armagnac to the sauce. It added a smooth piquancy and depth to the last mouthfuls.

Helene Darroze

The main event was, of course, the roast chicken (Le poulet rôti du Dimanche de ma grand-mère Louise), which is first brought to the table whole, fresh from the oven and smelling divine. The expertly trained waiter then carefully carved the glistening brown breasts and placed each on a pre-prepared plate of asparagus, morels and airy potatoes soufflés. The foie gras under the skin added so much flavour to the perfectly cooked chicken, and the asparagus was a nod to the seasons freshly ingredients. My own slight disappointment was the lack of sauce, which I felt could have nicely brought all the elements on the plate together.

Helene Darroze

Just as we were lamenting the end of our chicken dish, two pretty plates arrived with tiny, immaculately assembled tacos. Using the remaining meat the Hélène Darroze team create Asian inspired tacos, which I’m sure is a nod to her two beloved daughters, adopted from Vietnam. The little bite-sized chicken confit leg tacos were topped with creamy avocado and colourful edible flowers.

Helene Darroze

The dessert offered playful variations around the theme of ‘The Egg’. The assortment of small dishes were light and palate-cleansing recipes, each focusing on tropical fruit flavours.

As always, our meal at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught was faultless. The atmosphere, service and food at this eatery are among the best in London, but what really makes a meal here memorable is that Hélène clearly puts her heart and soul into ever dish, none more so than the Roast Chicken menu. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The limited Le Poulet du Dimanche menu is only available on Sundays, and is priced at £150 to share for 2 guests. More information and book a table for Hélène Darroze at The Connaught here.