Michaelmas Goose Dinner at The Goring, Victoria

The Goring is one of London’s most prestigious and regal hotels with a long and impressive history. The moment you step inside there is a feeling of British excellence and cosy luxuriousness and the staff make sure every visitor feels special. So when an invite to their annual Michaelmas dinner arrived in my inbox I cleared my diary immediately for the occasion.

Michaelmas Goose at The Goring

En route to The Goring, with my best black-tie outfit on, I did some quick research on Google, ‘What is Michaelmas?’ In short, Michaelmas is the feast of St Michael and the angels, a Christian festival celebrated on the 29th September each year. Just like the link between Christmas and the turkey, Michaelmas was always associated with goose. Sadly it is an often forgotten holiday now, unlike the American equivalent, Thanksgiving, but the Goring choose to commemorate this holiday every year with a grand meal for a few lucky attendees.

Michaelmas Goose at The Goring

The meal for twelve was served in the newly redecorated Drawing Room, a magical dining room with beautiful hand-sewn Fromenthal wallpaper designed by Russell Sage. With a glass of champagne in hand we toasted the day of Michaelmas and awaiting Michelin-starred chef Shay Cooper’s goose-inspired six course menu.

Michaelmas Goose at The Goring

The menu for the evening was as follows:

Fermented rye soup, pearl barley, goose sausage

Pressed goose terrine, truffled goose cracker, Waldorf salad

Button mushroom risotto, cured goose liver, spiced duck crumbs

Roast Coleman’s goose breast, glazed faggot, salt baked turnip, maple

Beauvale cheese, Eccles cake

Blueberry and natural yoghurt parfait, Hibiscus tea

Michaelmas Goose at The GoringMichaelmas Goose at The GoringMichaelmas Goose at The Goring

Each course was immaculately presented, carefully constructed and full of wonderfully balanced flavours and textures. The rye soup was light but creamy with a delightfully contrasting crispy topping. The terrine was decadent, with fresh slices of tart Granny Smith apple cutting through the rich taste. I loved the inventive button mushroom risotto, a light alternative to rice with an intense earthy flavour.

Michaelmas Goose at The Goring

The main event was a beautiful piece of goose breast, with a variety of vegetables. The confit goose leg was my favourite part of the dish, highly flavoured and seasoned to perfection. Goose is a hard bird to cook, and in parts it was a little tough, but the flavour more than compensated. To match each of the courses the Goring Sommelier had chosen a complementing wine, with the main course we enjoyed a glass of the rich and elegant Chateau d’Armailhac, Paulillac 5eme Cru Classe 2004.

Michaelmas Goose at The GoringMichaelmas Goose at The Goring

Before dessert we tried a delicious piece of Beauvale cheese which was paired with sweet Eccles cake. Then it was time for dessert, a light and tangy mousse with a hint of fragrant hibiscus tea, it was an absolute triumph.

Michaelmas Goose at The Goring

In case we weren’t full enough, a platter of delicate petit fours arrived to accompany the tea and coffee. I tottered home on my heels feeling like I’d just left a fairytale feast, whatever the occasion The Goring makes every visit memorable with the fine service, high quality offerings and Best of British atmosphere.

More information about The Dining Room at The Goring Hotel here.

Chinese New Year at Hakkasan, Hanway Place

Hakkasan has been on my ‘desperate to try’ list for a while and their special Chinese New Year menu seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit this renowned eatery. This modern Michelin star awarded restaurant is one of the most successful ventures from famous restaurateur Alan Yau. He opened Hakkasan Hanway Place in 2001, and has since opened a further eleven branches around the world. Executive Head Chef Tong Chee Hwee has remained at the Hanway Place kitchen since opening creating contemporary Cantonese cuisine.

Hidden around an unremarkable corner near Tottenham Court Road, the glamorous venue is dark and mysterious with stone steps leading to a regal red and black dining room. I immediately felt engulfed by the exoticism. We passed by hanging red tags annotated with guests wishes for the year ahead and sat at a quiet table.

The special New Year menu at Hakkasan features some of the restaurant’s signature dishes alongside some new creations. Diners can choose from the a la carte selection or opt for the set menu which is priced at £88.88 per person. We started with a refreshing and bitter Kumquatcha cocktail made with a tropical mix including Germana cachaça, Campari, Kumquats and lime. It was tasty but with almost every mouthful I had to dodge fruit pips.

Many of the ingredients and details of the recipes are emblematic and relate to Chinese beliefs and traditions. The Dim sum platter was delicious, an assortment of light dumplings filled with syrupy sauces and finely chopped vegetables. They were delicious, despite the sometimes intriguing textures. Golden fried soft shell crab with red chilli and curry leaf was a favourite for my guest who hoovered it up in seconds. The impossibly light crab covered in crispy salty topping and fried fragrant curry leaves. I thought the Spicy lamb lupin wrap was the highlight: soft spicy lamb marinated in a heavenly array of spices and wrapped in a delicate skin.

The service was very efficient and within minutes our main courses and accompanying glasses of red wine arrived at the table. We were treated to a few off-menu dishes as well, due to my fussy fish requirements. The black pepper rib eye beef with merlot was a luxurious dish arranged ornately within circular rice cracker strands. The meat was wonderfully smooth and richly flavoured, stir-fried with spring onion. We also tried an extravagantly sticky sweet and sour crispy chicken and stir-fried lily bulb with garlic shoot, which tasted far too good to be a humble vegetable! The anomaly on the table was the duck and truffle dish, which seemed like it had been stolen from a French kitchen, though apparently the truffle is used regularly in Chinese cooking. It was immaculately cooked and seasoned but it tasted foreign compared with the rest of the meal.

Dessert was a perfectly petite taster of rich dark chocolate mousse with caramelised macadamia and kumquat. By this stage my tastebuds were tired of the sharp kumquat flavour, but the presentation of the dish was truly beautiful, replicating a fruit tree.

When I think of New Year in the UK several rather depressing things come to mind: waiting for fireworks in the rain, drunken revellers everywhere and hopeless empty resolutions. Chinese New Year however conjures up images of colour and celebration, dancing and feasting. A traditional annual festivity which is recognised and embraced all over the world.

After a cup of fresh mint tea, all that was left to do was scribble a wish down on a red tag and secure it to the wall. I left Hakkasan full of food and full of hope for the year ahead.

More information and book here: hakkasan.com

Paramount High Tea, Tottenham Court Road

Although there are now many higher landmarks in the city from which to view London’s skyline, Paramount at Centre Point is still a very popular venue. Enjoy a meal, a cocktail, or indulge (as we did) in high tea – the perfect champagne celebration.

You zoom up 32 floors to the smart, slightly businesslike restaurant space. From our advantageous table by the window, on a thankfully clear day, we could see all the surrounding edifices and monuments that define London. We appreciated the foldout guide which stylishly explains each iconic building.

First, we were treated to flutes of extra bubbly champagne, which certainly made us feel special as you look out over, and toast, London. Once you’ve chosen your tea from the list of exotic combinations, the food arrives at once on a three tiered stand: sandwiches, scones, and cakes. There are four varieties of sandwich, however the menu description is a great deal more elaborate than the sandwiches appear. My favourite was the poached chicken with spring onion mayonnaise which had a particularly good flavour but was a bit stingy on the filling.

Fresh, warm scones were delicious but rather heavy, the dry texture benefitted from a generous layer of clotted cream and strawberry jam. Cakes displayed various levels of success, the red velvet and brownie came highest.

For £42 per person the food perhaps lacked allure but I think most will admit the Paramount setting makes this high tea unique and lovely for special occasions.

More information here.