Rabbit, Chelsea

I love The Shed in Notting Hill and have a major addiction to their homemade salted caramel Viennetta. So I was elated to hear they had opened a second restaurant, similar in style, on the King’s Road. Rabbit was full to the brim when I went along on Monday evening to meet a friend. The cosy venue has a rustic farmhouse feel to it with shabby chic tables and chairs.

The crowd here is inevitably ‘very Chelsea’, so much so that I think I even spotted a Made in Chelsea cast member as I was leaving. The tight fit tables mean the restaurant is raucous and alive with the sound of friends catching up on the latest gossip. We were quieter on our table, dissecting the delicious plates of food, and debating at length over which desserts to choose.

The idea of a successful family business gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and the Gladwin brothers have got it right on every level. Between the three of them they have extensive experience in the hospitality industry, farming and cooking. And to top that, their mum makes wine on their family vineyard. Much like The Shed, Rabbit champions the British tapas trend. Offering all day dining, cooking up the finest foraged and farmed ingredients, and arranging the food artfully on the plate.

When it comes to the main affair, the staff recommend two or three plates per person. Whatever you do, order the Chorizo, labneh, crisp bread and kale, we scraped up every mouthful of the salty, yoghurty, crunchy delight. The oily residue is so delicious you’ll need some Rabbit wild yeast bread (with shallot butter) to mop up the remnants. Sussex Rabbit Tagliatelli is a comforting plate of lovingly made pasta coated in a rich, almost stew-like lovage pesto with bone marrow and chanterelles. For a lighter option try Grilled leek with cobnuts, honey, dandelion, wood sorrel and yoghurt – a sophisticated dish of buttery leeks scattered with alarmingly black crumbs.

The same Viennetta makes an appearance at Rabbit though still magnificent I found it a little too sweet… I wonder if I am growing up? Chocolate bourbon biscuit with cep and white chocolate is interesting too, and if you have never tried cocoa and mushroom together, I’d recommend giving it a go.

Although the environment doesn’t feel quite as jolly and organic as at The Shed, there’s no doubt that the cooking is of the same calibre. I hope the Sloanie locals will appreciate the thoughtful and innovative food on offer rather than just using Rabbit as a drinking den.

More information and book here: www.rabbit-restaurant.com

Best Ice-cream in London

This year we have gladly welcomed a decent summer, a phenomenon rarely witnessed in the UK. When the sun came out big and strong for an extended period of time the Brits initially panicked… what do we do? What should we wear? What should we eat? Ice-cream is the obvious answer, bringing custom, like never before, to the gelaterias usually only occupied by tourists.

I’ve tasted more than my fair share and, having visited Italy twice this summer, I’ve sampled the ice cream that Europe has to offer. In case we ever get a summer again I thought I’d compile a little list of London’s top ice-cream outlets, so you don’t find yourself in a tizz wondering where to go.

Gelupo – this cute little deli has lived in Soho for just a few years, but is already an institution for late night snacks and ice-creams. The offshoot of the popular Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo across the road, it receives many customers popping over for dessert, but has a firm following separately too. Flavours are innovative and regularly changing, all made from seasonally sourced ingredients.

Chin Chin Labs – these ice-cream magicians found in Camden are definitely the most intriguing on the list. Using nitrogen gas to solidify the creamy concoction, your scoop will be prepared and made before your very eyes. Toppings and sauces are delicious, including caramel coated pretzels, burnt white chocolate chunks and honeycomb. My favourite ice-creamier in London.

Amorino – this chain is located in the major shopping areas… I’ve tried both the King’s Road and Soho branches. For £3 you can choose as many flavours as you like… ideal for indecisive visitors. Salted caramel is one of my favourite flavours, though I love vibrant Strawberry sorbet with fresh coconut.

Freggo – this is my newest discovery. The UK branch of Argentina’s best known posh ice-cream chain. A few minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus, it is the perfect mid-shopping pitstop. This is a place where you can indulge in three luxurious varieties of dulce de leche ice cream, try all three for the ultimate sundae.

I dare you to visit all four ice cream shops in one day…

PS. Try homemade salted caramel Viennetta at The Shed, the amazing Concretes at Shake Shack and the delicious flavours at Gelato MioFouberts is a favourite for families.

Chef’s Table at The Shed, Notting Hill

Anywhere my grandparents recommend has to be good. Culinary experts and keen foodies, they seek out the very best restaurants in London sometimes before they have been reviewed by the critics.

Needless to say, I found out about Notting Hill’s new best kept secret long before most of the locals. The Shed is a family triumph, run by two brothers (a chef and a restaurant manager) with meat supplied from another farmer brother and wine from their mother’s vineyard.

It has a lovely feel inside with rustic mismatched furniture and shabby-chic decor. An eatery for farmhouse fantasies, I can’t fault the menu which changes depending on seasonal stock and their brother’s best meat.

After a glass of the ‘Daily Loosener’ – a delightful cocktail of Chase GB Gin, rhubarb, star anise and ginger – we got started on a feast of food. Sitting on the star chef’s table, just next to the little kitchen, we found ourselves munching on treats which we hadn’t even ordered. Beef heart, for instance, was passed to us when there was some leftover in the pan.

The creative menu has an obvious British influence, but is innovative and exciting beyond any restrictive labelling. Mouthfuls are priced at £1.50 and are literally a mouthful of food: matured beef with baby gem and wild garlic mayo was an absolute dream, whereas mackerel sashimi with mustard was an extremely pungent dish we found a little too challenging. Next came sticky and delicious spare ribs coated in an addictively tasty sauce.

There is plenty to choose from the ‘Slow’ and ‘Fast’ cooking sections. Standout dishes for me were the surprisingly light Garden herb gnocchi with peas, cheddar and mustard beans, and the sticky Spatchcock Quail with spicy ginger and summer salsa, a fresh and vibrant recipe – ideal for a light June lunch.

My guest loved the chunky Lamb chips which have already become a restaurant favourite, and the Scallop with smoked bacon cream, a lovely combination of ingredients composed beautifully on the plate.

Ensure you save room for dessert, the Shed Magnum Viennetta Parfait is the best pudding you will ever taste. Layered vanilla ice-cream, thick salted caramel sauce and shards of dark chocolate, it is dangerously good. I asked for the recipe but sadly the chef was unable to share the secret method and ingredients.

The Shed is a brilliant concept, and deserves all the credit it receives. I can’t wait to try many more Shed sensations.

More information here.