22 Ships, Hong Kong

A new Jason Atherton seems to pop up in London every couple of months. Whilst travelling the world I have noticed his significant global influence too. Kensington Street Social has just opened in Sydney’s chic Old Clare Hotel, and he has two successful eateries in Hong Kong.

22 Ships is rather different in style and offering to Atherton’s ‘Social’ restaurants that I have experienced. The small tapas joint is centered around a lively bar, where busy barman mix up White Sangria cocktails and pour glasses of Cava. In the kitchen Executive Chef Nathan Green creates pretty plates of contemporary Spanish tapas. The tasty recipes indicate an obvious influence of Chinese ingredients and produce – roasted suckling pig with pineapple and piquillo peppers is a hit with locals and expats.

I opted for a few of the house specialities including a rich and decadent jamon, manchego & truffle toastie with quail eggs, and the mini pork and foie gras burgers. I loved the perfectly balanced dish of peas, broad beans, goat’s curd and Serrano, a welcome plate of greenery.

The desserts are artistic and exciting, I could see plenty of technical expertise and complicated processes going into each pudding. We devoured the chocolate fondant with malt ice cream and 100’s & 1000’s, a bowl of delicious contrasting textures and tastes. The green tea cheesecake with lime and yoghurt I spotted on the neighbouring table also looked very appetising.

22 Ships is proof that Atherton has a grasp of food trends all around the world, though this little eatery has enough positives to succeed even without his celebrity name attached to it.

More information and book a table at 22 Ships here.

New menu at Cucina Asellina, Strand

Tucked beneath the towering ME hotel, Cucina Asellina is a hotel restaurant with its own personality and character. The main open plan dining room radiates light and colour, it is a modern, fresh venue. Teetering on the edge of Covent Garden, the location is ideal for a pre or post theatre meal or as a sustenance break in between shopping stints.

The menu has recently been updated, dishes are now offered in small tapas style plates, so guests can mix and match or share a range of delights. We sat close to the kitchen, and sipped Bellinis while soaking up the buzzy atmosphere. Groups of friends and office outings are equally comfortable in this versatile restaurant.

Signature dishes use vibrant Italian ingredients cooked and presented in a rustic fashion. We tried a range of different dishes. Finely chopped zucchini coated in a light batter are a joy to pick at while enjoying an aperitif, I recommend ordering them as soon as you sit down, to ensure they arrive prior to the meal.

Veal meatballs are a favourite at Cucina Asselina, I enjoyed the dish though felt the veal could have been slightly better seasoned. The meat was served in a roast tomato sauce and topped with fresh basil and a sprinkling of parmesan, typical and delicious flavours of Italy that you would expect in a Mediterranean eatery. If you want to try a pizzette I would recommend the prosciutto San Daniele, black truffle, fontina and rocket. A light and crispy base topped with rich, indulgent flavours and scattered with fresh rocket. The sweet ham and peppery salad work well together, though the generous slices of black truffle and scented oil was a little overpowering for me.

Burrata with rosemary focaccia and grilled vegetables is a fresh vegetarian choice, ideal for cheese fanatics like me. If you fancy a heartier dish, opt for the honey-glazed rack of lamb with rosemary potatoes; although the lamb was slightly chewy the flavour was good and nicely paired with herby roast potatoes. The wine list in long with reasonably priced favourites from all over Italy. We chose a simple Pinot Grigio to go with our food.

The service had been swift and efficient throughout our meal until dessert, when a lack of communication led to a total absence of pudding and then the delivery of the wrong dish. We mourned the lack of chocolate tortini while nibbling the rather bland apple tart. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable meal.

More information and book a table here.

Food at Puente Romano Beach Resort, Marbella

There are so many reasons to visit Puente Romano Beach Resort, but for me it was the quality of food and variety of cuisines that was most alluring. Wherever you choose to eat, the smiling staff at Puente Romano will ensure you have a memorable and delicious meal. Here are a few foodie highlights from my recent trip to Marbella.

Sea Grill
This newly renovated and re-decorated restaurant has a fresh and stylish feel. With expansive floor to ceiling windows the view of the sea is emphasised, filling the room with natural light. British Interior Designer Andrew Martin has given the space a sophisticated seaside feel with muted beiges and bright blue shades accenting the white backdrop. This chic restaurant offers food to match… vibrant Mediterranean cuisine cooked with the special Tandoor oven and charcoal grill. We sampled a fine chateaubriand steak, cooked to perfection with a lovely crispy edge, garlicky mussels and marinated tandoori chicken with vegetables. For dessert the banana doughnuts came highly recommended so we couldn’t resist trying these little mouthfuls of sugary goodness. The ambience was lovely at Sea Grill thanks to the resident band who play classic jazz songs beautifully (including requests from the audience)!

Dani Garcia Restaurante
Dani Garcia is lauded as one of Spain’s most talented chefs and this restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars less than a year after opening. His kitchen of ‘contradiction’ presents magical food creations inspired by fairytales and the story of Alice in Wonderland. Flavours, textures and smells all contribute to this unusual and unique gastronomic experience. Opt for the tasting menu for the full immersive meal or choose a la carte courses to create your own meal. I was delighted to see half-portion sizes for those with lesser appetites! My starter was a colourful vegetarian risotto garnished with delicate and decorative pieces of carrot, onion, corn and courgettes and peas. The rustic mushroom tart with cured Spanish ham was also a resounding success. Main courses were of the highest quality: Sirloin beef with truffle, and Roast suckling pig with beetroot and prunes. For dessert I would recommend the tropical white chocolate mousse with coconut and pineapple, though the hazelnut soufflé with candyfloss is also great fun! A trip to Dani Garcia’s emporium is truly unforgettable; a choreographed, culinary masterpiece.

This quirky and colourful dining room is Dani Garcia’s more playful and casual eatery. The detailing in both the dishes and décor is immediately noticeable, I particularly loved the characterful upholstery and the pretty pink plates. The chef had kindly prepared us a feast of specialities which we gratefully devoured. We tried regional recipes including Salmorejo, a creamy cold tomato soup thickened with bread and flavoured with garlic and olive oil and topped with soft mozzarella balls, and addictive stewed meat croquettes. Other highlights included salty and sensational pork rinds with fried padron peppers and the sweet caramelised Oxtail brioche which arrived as a mini burger. The meal was accompanied with a wonderfully light and dry white wine, Menade Verdejo D.O Rueda made in Western Spain by the Sanz family. Bibo offers tapas with a twist that will suit every palate… it was a brilliant concept and an exemplary meal.

After dinner we visited this exotic venue for a sake-based fruity cocktails. Namazake serves immaculate Japanese food in a contemporary cool setting, but is also a lovely place for a pre or post meal tipple. Situated in the Plaza Village, the atmosphere is buzzy and benefits from the communal square. Guests can sit comfortably inside or lounge on the Al Fresco stone steps.

Read about and book all the Puente Romano Beach Resort restaurants here.