Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Of the finest provenance


Galoupet, named after the Provencal wine estate of the same name, is just what Knightsbridge was crying out for: a restaurant, bar and wine shop that opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner that offers a menu of healthy Mediterranean and Asian dishes accompanied by a choice of 36 wines available by the glass served using the Enomatic® system.

 Galoupet's Beauchamp Place window featuring a bottle of their Chateau du Galoupet rosé

For those who haven’t experienced it, the Enomatic® system has revolutionised the way wine can be served. Until its inception, wines that could be enjoyed by the glass were generally limited to the lower end of any restaurant’s list but now Enomatic® machines allow Galoupet to offer their full range by the glass. The machines work by conserving the wine through the injection of an inert nitrogen gas in the same volume as that that is removed in each serving, thereby preserving taste and allowing consumers to experience great wines without having to buy a whole bottle. Beginning with a crisp white Insolia IGT Feudo di Butera 2010 from Italy for £8.90 for a 250ml glass, the Galoupet list progresses through such offerings as a  funkily named £14 250ml Kung Fu Girl Riesling from America to such gems as a Chateau Musar 1995 for £55.50 a glass. For those dining alone, eating with someone who doesn’t drink or who like to sample a selection of wines with a meal, this is a system that works just perfectly and friends have commented that they’d love to spend hours experimenting with them. Galoupet also uniquely possesses “The Flute,” London’s first Enomatic® system for sparkling wines and champagne that features a selection such as Ca Bolani Prosecco Brut for £5 for a 125ml glass through to Krug Grand Cuveé at £35 a glas

 Galoupet's Enomatic® wine system

The Galoupet team is of the finest provenance. Headed by Operations Director, Shaan Mahrotri, a creative entrepreneur, Galoupet’s front of house is the most affable Vychith Heuang-Praseuth, formerly of Asia de Cuba and Sake No Hana, and their head chef is Chris Golding, formerly of Zuma and Nobu Berkeley Street.

Golding has developed a menu that is both healthy and tempting. Ingredients are from smaller, artisanal suppliers such as O’Shea’s and the focus has been on creating lively dishes that showcase light, fresh and clean tastes. Galoupet’s menu is seasonal in nature and includes a great value £15 lunch menu, a £55 tasting menu that comes accompanied by paired wines for each dish and an extensive à la carte offering drawn from the very best of Mediterranean and Asian cusines.  Amongst them are a delicious corn crusted courgette, red pepper marmalade and goats' curd plate (£6.50), stone bass with sumac and beetroot risotto (£9), Norfolk white free range chicken with miso, pear and ginger (£12) and Chinese braised beef cheeks with wet polenta and liquorice carrots (£10.50).

Breakfasts are served from 8am and feature granola with organic yoghurt, milk or soya milk (£6), organic smoked salmon with scrambled free range eggs, goats' curd and honey (£12), free range eggs baked in a Josper grill with O’Shea’s white pudding back bacon, apple and sour dough (£10.50). A variety of side dishes, teas from The Rare Tea Company and freshly squeezed juices are also available.

Noel Coward once said: “Why do I drink champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everybody?” Galoupet have seized on this mantra and also offer a Krug breakfast for £40 that includes smoked salmon, goats' cheese, acacia honey on walnut toast accompanied by a glass of this fine champagne. What could be a better way to start the day?

 The main dining space at Galoupet

Galoupet’s décor is informal, welcoming and accessible and features white banquettes faced by wishbone chairs by the Danish designer Hans J Wegner. Angled mirrors and hidden lighting complete the look. The main restaurant area is on the ground floor and complemented by a chic bar below with a private dining area for eight. For those looking for a larger entertaining space, a further private room will be completed on the first floor shortly.

Fay Maschler was suitably impressed and gave Galoupet four out of five. I have to agree with her when she comments: "Galoupet serves the kind of vivacious food that I like to eat and wines I want to explore,” so if you’re looking for somewhere to try for breakfast, lunch, drinks or dinner in Knightsbridge, I’d also recommend you make Galoupet your first choice as a pit stop.

Galoupet, 13 Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, London, SW3 1NQ. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7036 3600. Website: http://www.galoupet.co.uk


Follow the Galoupet blog at http://blog.galoupet.co.uk

Follow Galoupet on Twitter at http://twitter.com/galoupet

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The power of social media


In the last months I gave in to my reservations and set up an account on Twitter.

I had been reluctant to join this form of social media because I thought the Facebook and ASmallWorld were quite enough. I also had a LinkedIn account but frankly hardly ever log in as it seems like pointlessly dull. Frankly, I think I’d rather be LinkedOut. Perhaps one of you might convince me to the contrary but I’d be surprised if you could.


The SmallWorld, which I’d been part of since it started in 2004 was originally a website that was fun and friendly. The banter between the likes of Caroline “Cheeky” Monkey and William Aitken provided endless hours of amusement during my time working in a dull office in Mayfair and the site was incredibly useful for sharing tips. I met some fun characters through it and the early parties were jolly, if somewhat bonkers. Sadly as the network grew, an inevitable change came with it. The people became bland and the conversations inane, odd or just plain  dull. The majority of early members were fun and fascinating. More recently, the chat-room resembled a pickup room dominated by Russian ladies of a certain type and Gucci-clad Arabs looking to hook just such. I followed many friends in showing our displeasure in this change by ceasing to use the SmallWorld this year.


Facebook was a site that I reluctantly joined much later on in 2006 but one I’ve since embraced enthusiastically. It is a website that is both useful and frustrating. I find it great for sharing pictures and news instantly with friends in far away places and it has proved most effective for business ventures I’ve been involved in as an advertising platform. The constant friend requests, however, are most bizarre. I went through a stage of asking: “Where did we meet?” and often got the most curious answers like “I love your photo” and “I’m sure I met you in Wagadugu” (and as far as I’m aware, I’ve never been there). I then went though a period of accepting all the requests I got (and consequently now have 2,178 “friends,” many of whom I don’t have the foggiest about). The result was that I ended up being bombarded by club promoters, oddjobs and bizarre requests from the weird, the wonderful and the frankly insane. For me, Facebook is a forum to share wit and wisdom rather than comments like “I’m bored” and “I’m at Gatwick for the second time today.” A few controversial pictures and silly groups like “Jim McDonald is innocent. So he is. So he is” (for those of you not in the know, he’s in Coronation Street) add to the website’s merits, though, and for these reasons I remain a member.


I began blogging in May this year after becoming embroiled in the remnants of scandal of a certain former ambassador’s wife who had been exposed for the shocking manner in which her charity was and continues to be run. Inspired by my brilliant blogger friend Michael Ezra (who writes at http://hurryupharry.org), I decided I would create a blog Da Steeps Speaks (as someone else was already using my own name for their own) to give my reply to the tittle-tattling pair who thought they could silence my complaints. I could not comprehend the response I have received especially as, when I began fascinated by another story, I moved on and wrote a little piece about the News of the World hacking scandal (http://dasteepsspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/07/news-is-screwed.html). To this day, I find it hard to believe that some 49,000 people have read that particular article and that since I’ve received 289 responses to this and other pieces from my readers. As a result of the blog, I’ve tasted food and drink I’d never considered before and been to events and places I’d never have imagined I’d go. What began as a forum that I briefly intended to use as a response to a scandalous episode involving some pretty vindictive people has ended up becoming a form of great enjoyment for me. I do hope my thoughts on everything from Lord Lucan to tea, Katherine Jenkins to gin and from Heather Mills McCartney to the umami taste sensation have provided you with pleasure or at least amusement as well.


Twitter was something I had great reservations about. I’d read about Elizabeth Hurley (@ElizabethHurley) “tweeting” about her parrots and her relationship with Shane Warne and thought “goodness, how dull” and the irksome Sally Bercow (@SallyBercow) bleating about how she was misunderstood and thought: “This ain’t for me.” On starting Da Steeps Speaks, however, I realised that to spread the word Twitter would actually really be useful and hence I’ve embarked on a journey that has brought me to learn about amongst other things:

-       Posts being limited to 140 characters and how best to shorten links and comments.
-       Hash tags (“#”) – designed to make a topic become a “trend” on Twitter.
-       Follow Friday’s (“#FF”) – designed to encourage your “followers” to “follow” others you suggest.
-       The “@” symbol – which includes another tweeter in a particular comment.
-       “RT”ing – retweeting someone else’s posts to your own “followers.”

Don’t get me wrong: Twitter isn’t for everyone and it is incredibly time consuming and addictive, as people like Stephen Fry prove (@stephenfry) with 3,100,000 followers and nearly 10,000 tweets. The power of the medium, however, is that it provides a quick and easy way to communicate information and

The one important thing to remember about all these social networks though is summed up in a quote from a community manager named Erin Bury (http://www.erinbury.com):

“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”

Some of my favourite Tweeters are Caroline Monk on Twitter at @CarolineMonk, Lyndon Ogbourne @LyndonOgbourne, Christine Hamilton @brit_battleaxe, Michael Ezra @MichaelEzra, Nobby Lobby @veniviedivici,  Martin Miller’s Gin @MartinMillersGin, David Pun @wheresthepun, JING Tea @JINGTea, Sarah Canet @SpoonHQ, Alex Abrahams @AlexBloomGin, Barnaby Rodgers @BarnabyRodgers, Michael Winner @MrMichaelWinner, Henry Deedes @HenryDeedes, Shelley von Strunckel @vonStrunckel

Some restaurants to follow on Twitter I’d suggest are Galoupet @Galoupet, Ilia @Iliarestaurant, La Brasserie @LaBrasserie272, London Fine Dining Group @LondonFineDiner

Great blogs to follow are Michael Ezra’s at http://hurryupharry.org, Henry Deedes’ at http://deedesblog.dailymail.co.uk, The London Perspective at http://thelondonperspective.wordpress.com and Priscilla Pollara’s at http://travelblog.dailymail.co.uk/priscilla-pollara

Follow Da Steeps on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dasteepstweets

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Brasstastic


Since La Brasserie, London’s first all day brasserie, was established in 1972, it has been popular with locals and visitors alike. Recently the founder-owner reinvigorated the venue by installing a large cocktail bar named Pierre’s Bar and as result I have become a regular at this Brompton Cross institution.

La Brasserie, Brompton Cross, SW3

La Brasserie has always attracted personalities but of late the likes of the young royals, Mickey Rourke and Jude Law have also become also regulars. The customer base, though still predominated by customers of thirty years standing, has consequently become much younger and the atmosphere has improved hugely. Sat alongside Chelsea grande dames, businessmen sipping coffee and the local drinking set, La Brasserie is now a place to meet, eat, drink and be merry however young or old you are.

 Peter Godwin, founder and owner of La Brasserie with his team of chefs

The menu is classically French and my favourite has to be the £11.90 omelette paysanne à l’oseille made with sorrel, ham and gruyere and served with frites. The boeuf bourguignon is wholesome and filling and for £18.80 represents great value for money but the restaurant is best known for its £7.70 soupe à l’oignon. Other favourites include the full English breakfast priced at £11.70 and a rather large portion of steak tartare priced at £19.90.

Alex Flores behind Pierre's Bar

Pierre’s Bar itself is ably run by cocktail maestro Alex Flores who has developed an extensive range that includes such classics as martinis, mojitos and the Negroni. These are joined by more recent favourites such as the Porn Star Martini (which comes accompanied by a shot of champagne) and an extensive list of French wines at prices starting at a most reasonable £17.80 a bottle. Daily from 5pm to 7pm, La Brasserie holds a two-for-one happy hour and this does indeed attract a jolly bunch of eccentrics.

Pierre's Bar

Events are also a regular feature at La Brasserie. On the 2nd October they host an evening with Henry Blofeld and Henry Olonga in conjunction with the Lashings cricketing organisation whilst on Monday nights throughout the month of October they will also conduct wine tasting courses for £45 per head.

If you haven’t already, make sure you try this taste of Paris in London. You won’t be disappointed.

La Brasserie, 272 Brompton Road, London, SW3 2AW. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7581 3089. For more information see http://www.labrasserielondon.com

Follow La Brasserie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Labrasserie272