Han Eats in London

In a consolidated effort to produce a concise post, here’s rundown of not one, not two but THREE eating experiences (and a couple other snippets) that we enjoyed recently, as Han Eats and fam took just a tiny bite out of the capital. Think ‘three for the price of one’ and you’ll think this really is a concise post for Han Eats…


As previously mentioned here on Han Eats, family celebrations for us generally involve lots of food plans. A recent weekend in London, as we celebrated Mum’s ‘special’ birthday, was no exception.

Leicester House

Just briefly before we get down to the main event(s), I just wanted to set the scene at our beautiful sleeping post for the night – Leicester House Hotel – a gorgeous, unassuming Georgian townhouse-cum-seafood-restaurant-cum-boutique hotel backing on to London’s Leicester Square. We were lucky to be staying in the room with possibly my favourite ever hotel bathroom to (sadly, briefly) enjoy and roam around in. Breakfast was pretty ace too.

Thoroughly recommend this place for a treat (secret escapes) weekend, especially if you’re seeing a show or want to do lots of things centrally (alternatively there’s a premier inn round the corner too…)




Part 1: Brasserie Zedel

So, on to foodie adventure number one.

This place is an absolute must-visit from Han Eats, a real gleaming gem on the London restaurant scene.

‘Tucked away’ in between GAP, Jamie’s Italian and all the other international brands that surround the Piccadilly Circus madness, nestled underground here on Sherwood St is Brasserie Zedel.

Pierre Koffman says “this is the only real Brasserie in London” – high praise indeed from one of the greats (I recently visited his soon-to-be closed restaurant at The Berkeley and still haven’t got round to finishing my glowing essay). But really, this is one of the most beautiful places ever.

The aesthetics, atmosphere and art deco design of the restaurant are all reminiscent of the classic French Brasserie dining rooms, very Chartier (possibly Paris’ most famous brasserie). It also happens to house a cafe, cocktail bar and cabaret club.


Enter the restaurant – when you enter a venue and the first thing you pass is a dedicated bread station and cheese trolley, you know you’re in the right place.

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I mean, just wow…

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Couple this with a superb traditional French menu, professional but not overly fussy service, washed down with a Courbières Red and you’ve found a winner. See the traditional fuss and frill-free French grub below:

Starters:

Parfait de foie de volaille, soupe de poisson, frisée de lardons, oeuf poché et tarte de poireaux et Gruyere + LOADS OF BREAD.

Mains:

Steak à la bordelaise, boeuf bourginon, lapin à la moutarde (rabbit in mustard sauce), entrecôte (not pictured, bordelaise looked better)

Just look at that rare steak in the most delicious red wine and bone marrow jus though…

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Dessert – definitely worth the wait.

[From bottom left]: crème brûlée, tarte tatin pour deux (yes this was actually twice the size + ice cream), tarte au citron (soz was way across the table for photos – think slab of yellow tart…), soufflé glacé au café + crème anglaise

Huge thank you to the team for serving this adorable plate of petits fours completely unannounced for the birthday girl:

Brasserie Zedel is actual Paris in London and is an absolute must-visit in the capital.

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Part 1.1: Theatreland

We then (briefly) interrupted our eating with a little bit of theatre. This time our passion for the arts was indulged at Book of Mormon… If you’re not easily offended and you’ve seen Sausage Party/Team America/South Park/The Interview et. al, I urge you go see it.

Part 2: Dominique Ansel Bakery


Now one of the foodie sensations passed down from my foodie elder in the office (more to come) is global patisserie legend and godfather of the cult ‘Cronut’ craze, Dominique Ansel. I can’t honestly say I was on top of the original croissant-doughnut hybrid but it’s clearly a global foodie (and Instafoodie) sensation.

Photo credit: Instagram @dominiqueansellondon
The cronut – October’s flavour of the month in London: salted butterscotch and cocoa nib. Photo credit: Instagram @dominiqueansellondon

Ansel’s fame became even more apparent when witnessing the sheer hype in the run up to the opening of only his third bakery – this time, following New York and Tokyo openings since 2011, London took all the glory. I may have turned myself and my colleague into near-fanatics as we followed his daily countdown to the opening + endless uploads of decadent goodness on social media (I’ve since learned there’s an actual @cronutgirl on Instagram taking this to new levels), as we plotted how we were going to get our hands on Ansel’s best bits. I was the chosen one (and happened to be the next one of us in London).

Our visit came just 2 weeks after the opening, when c.200 eager Cronut beavers lined the pavement in sheer anticipation of being the first in London to taste the baked goods of the patisserie God. With strict orders from the office, we made the pilgrimage on Sunday morning to pick up the goods for Monday morning breakfast: 2 x cronuts (maximum order size for one person), 10 x mini madeleines (heaven) and 2 x the DKA (the original Ansel creation – a caramelised pastry).

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Despite Ansel’s strict warnings on eating the Cronuts within eight hours, we took our chances on eating them the next day – we’re still alive, but with no pics because we were so quick to eat the damn things 🙄…

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DAB London is definitely worth the visit (and the queue) but much better I’d say if you’ve got time to spare to sit and sample your way through the huge variety of beautiful baked treats and tarts on offer here in the cafe over a cup of coffee.

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DISPLAY ONLY but featuring some of Ansel’s other gems I unfortunately didn’t sample [from bottom right]: cookie shots served with Tahitian milk, frozen smores (torched right in front of you), the DKA pastry and the banoffee paella

(Alternatively, if you can’t make it, jumping onto his dreamy Instagram feed will more than suffice for now).

Part.3: Cicchetti

Last but not least. This was the rents’ first San Carlo experience and a Sunday lunch time in London did not disappoint.

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Fit for any part of the day, Cicchetti’s part of the San Carlo family, parents to the much-loved Fumo. These places are great for small or large groups, for sociable occasions with a buzz but with stylish, authentic food too. Do beware – sharing is key to both the enjoyment of this experience and doing justice to their HUGE menu.

Cicchetti’s interior is slightly more rustic than its Fumo sibling; the restaurant, from its windows to its walls, is adorned with Italian culinary decor, again, like Zedel with a bread station in full view for guests to oggle.


The service on this occasion was also less pushy than I’ve encountered at Fumo; still with the same Italian charm, just less all over you. Here’s a little of what we ate below:

[From top left]: Moules, monkfish & prawn skewer, pea & scallop risotto, fish stew with ALL THE SHELLFISH and an amazing bread lid.
[From top left]: truffle buffalo mozzarella and parma ham (strong but heaven), cheesy cannelloni with pancetta, sweet potato and pizza with ham & mushroom
Personal faves were definitely the fish stew and truffled buffalo mozzarella. I could have sampled a lot more, as always, and would certainly return to do so.

Plus these elegant dessert sharers, the perfect end that’s just enough to satisfy that sweet treat craving around the table. The pistachio bite and millefeuille were probs the best – overall more satisfying than this sharer from Gusto:

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Well worth the visit to Cicchetti, either here at Piccadilly Circus or in Covent Garden.

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Overall, an amazing foodie weekend with the fam, celebrating the wonderful woman that is my mother. All the above are highly recommended if you’re looking for foodie bits in the big city.

 

Disclosure: All private celebrations this weekend, all for the love of family and food. Paid in full everywhere, with no prior mention or motive of blogging.

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