Friday, July 24, 2015

Midsummer House, Cambridge: Going For 3 Stars!

Midsummer House by Daniel Clifford The Bar at Midsummer  Amuse Bouche at Midsummer Menu at Midsummer  Parfait Candles Mackerel Crisp Mackerel Crisp at Midsummer Mackerel Crisp Up Close Flowers at Midsummer Teaser Cheese Ball at Midsummer Bread and Butter at Midsummer Smoked Haddock Bread and Butter  Smoked Butternut Squash Veloute Up Close Pot Roasted Pigeon Pigeon Bits Pigeon Bits Up Close  Chocolate Dome Melting Selection of Chocolates Proper Beignets Beignets Outside Midsummer House Exterior of Midsummer House, Cambridge
Midsummer House in Cambridge is a restaurant I had been dying, and I mean, dying to go to for a couple of years. Ever since I watched Daniel Clifford on Great British Menu in 2012 to be exact. I have had this desperate craving to eat his food. There's something about Daniel. And I'm not the only person to think he's special. He is one of the most well regarded chefs working in the UK today. The reverence he commands was evident during the 2012 Great British Menu series. And since then I have booked his restaurant twice and both times I've had to cancel. This time was different.

It was a glorious day in the city that houses the University of Cambridge. We were brought upstairs into the bar area, which is more like a luxurious hotel lounge than a bar. It wasn't very long before we were being served petite Amuse Bouche. Trinkets so sublime it makes me judder just thinking about them. My favorite was of course, the Duck Liver Parfait Candles, resting effortlessly on a bed of Peppercorns. It's a good thing those aren't sold in my local Waitrose, otherwise I would be morbidly obese!

Our waiter attempted to usher us into the dining room, but my wife and I simply wanted to soak in the atmosphere and we made him come back several times. On the third occasion he didn't take no for an answer and simply said, "your table is ready." If we weren't pressured to go to the table we probably could have sat in the bar for the rest of the day, dining on nibbly bits that were clearly made by God himself in a puffy cloud outfitted with Viking Ranges, Agas and Mauviel.

When we did finally sit down we were brought course after course of the most divine food imaginable. The Smoked Haddock with Pickled Onions and Grilled Cheese was followed by Smoked Butternut Squash Veloute with Cannelloni of Mushrooms and a Cep Biscuit. The main course was a stunning Pot Roasted Pigeon d'Anjou with Chickpeas, Apple and Chamomile. It was served with a Pigeon Offal Terrine that was, quite frankly, breathtaking!

Dessert was equally out of this world, with an offering of Poached Kumquat, Tamarind Yoghurt Sorbet with Carrot and Cardamom. That was followed by a Chocolate Dome with Coffee, Almond and Mascarpone that occasioned a lovely bit of theatre along with it. Namely, Hot Chocolate Sauce being poured onto the dome as we watched it melt into itself.

Boutique Chocolate Truffles and Beignets topped off a marvelous meal that will go down in this foodie's book as one of the finest.

Daniel sir, you are on your way to a third Michelin Star and I humbly advise everyone reading this to dine at Midsummer House before you achieve it. I fear getting in might be a wee bit harder once you do.

To view my professional food photography please visit: Taylor Young Photography

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Burger Culture, Tampa: Burger Heaven!

Burger Culture Truck, Tampa Burger Culture Truck, Tip Jar Giant Burger at Burger Culture Cheeseburger at Burger Culture Black and Blue Burger, Burger Culture Fries at Burger Culture, Tampa AVO Burger, Burger Culture
Very rarely am I smitten by a burger joint. In the last few years there have only been a few that really got me excited. And offhand, I can only name one; Patty and Bun in London. I know there are more and if I cared to take the time and reread my past blog posts I could list more, but that's not the point. The point is, that there are very few places making truly excellent burgers. There are lots that pretend to be brilliant, but few that deliver. With a dish that is so easy to make amazing, it often boggles my mind that there are so few, but that's the state we're in.

On a recent trip to Tampa I stumbled across Burger Culture. And I was absolutely blown away. It's not the most beautiful restaurant in the world. Actually, it's not a restaurant at all, but a food truck. Located in a Harley Davidson parking lot off of busy N. Dale Mabry Highway, Burger Culture is miles away from fine dining. In fact, when I went, there was a landscaping crew in the parking lot blowing dirt, leaves and debris everywhere. Luckily, it wasn't long until they found other areas to clean and we were left in relative peace. Except for the sound of their incredibly loud blowers.

In the truck there is one lone cook, whipping up some of the best and most original burgers this foodie has ever had. For instance, the Avo Burger Wrap: Avocado Mash, Red Onion, Swiss Cheese and Cilantro Lime Sauce, all wrapped up neatly in a Pita. The other Burgers I tried were all equally as tasty, with the Black and Blue flying miles ahead of just about any other burger out there. And the Fries were as good as one could possibly make Fries without using fancy Potatoes and triple cooking them before adding a dash of Truffle Salt. Nothing beats that combo!

Well done to the folks at Culture Burger. You've created an excellent product. I wish you were in England. I would get clinically obese on your Burgers. They are very yummy, indeed.

To view my professional food photography visit: Taylor Young Photography

Burger Culture on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Restaurant Story, London: Fat Duck Who?

Restaurant Story Restaurant Story, London A Story in Story Snacks at Story A Lovely Bite Not an Oreo Chicken Treat Treat at Story Wonderful Little Bites Story Snacks Soup at Story Pork at Story Theatre at Story Sea Delight Story Stamp Parcel of Fish Oysters at Story Veal Tongue Beef Dripping Beef Dripping Candle Scooping up Beef Dripping Onion, Apple, Old Tom Scallops, Cucumber, Dill Ash Brioche Triple Layered Butter Mash, Asparagus, Coal Lamb at Story Lemon, Lemon and Lemon Pumpkin Different Ways Almond and Dill Tea Cakes Tea Cake at Story
Normally I cannot wait to write the text for this blog. It's one of the ways I express myself and, especially with great restaurants, the text is almost as important to me as the photos. However, in the case of Restaurant Story, I am going to do something I've never done before. I'm going to let the photos speak for themselves and I'm going to say very little.

As you scroll up and down looking at the photos of this incredible restaurant, I'll just say this; for the money, Restaurant Story is the best restaurant I've ever been to. What did he just say? What about The Fat Duck? What about Gavroche? Surely The French Laundry is the best? No. For the money, Story beats them all. Every restaurant in my top 5 leaves you feeling amazing, no doubt. But it also leaves you several hundred Pounds, or Dollars poorer. The full tasting menu above can be had for £80. It was £75 when I went on April 1st 2015. And for that, you get one of the greatest food experiences you'll likely have in your life.

The highlights for me are: The Beef Dripping Candle with Bread, Brioche and Triple Layered Butter (hello Foie Gras!), Onion Apple and Old Tom, Lamb Served Four Ways, Lemon Dessert Served Several Ways and Tea Cakes to top it all off. Incredible quality, amazing theatre and wonderful food!

Stop reading this and get on the phone to them and make a reservation. You won't regret it.

My highest recommendation.

Restaurant Story on Urbanspoon