Fancy Crab Restaurant Review

92 Wigmore St, London W1U 3RD fancycrab.co.uk

It looks like a Doctor Who style monster in the wild, but once caught and cooked the Red King Crab is one of the finest eating crustaceans there is. Trouble is, it’s not cheap.

Once in Paris I was taken, fatally hungover and feeling like death, to a very expensive and traditional seafood restaurant.

I managed the Lobster Bisque okay, albeit with some heavy pauses, then things took a turn for the worst

The waiters began laying out enough tools around my plate to service a Formula One car, and then came the crab. A whole one, which I was expected to dismantle myself using the tools provided.

Ten seconds after cracking the shell, overcome by nausea I had torn my bib off and was out in the street disgracing myself into a hole dug by the electric company.

The point of this story is to point out, for those people that seem to have been a bit confused, that a King Crab is not the same as a crab and King Crab is the focus of what they serve here.

With a King Crab, you don’t fossick around in the body with surgical tools, carefully avoiding the ‘dead man’s’ fingers, looking for the brown meat. You don’t go near a King Crab’s body at all.

You’re just after the legs, which are enormous, and claws, which aren’t exactly small either. The meat is white and rich and close to lobster in both looks, taste and texture

So, basically don’t expect a Cromer crab shack experience at Fancy Crab, one where you emerge all smelly with crab juice. This is a far more refined experience, as befits the rather opulent and attractive interior.

And it is all about the Red King Crab which comes frozen from the frozen north, but don’t panic. It’s cooked in sea water and then frozen on the boats, so it’s as fresh as can be.

We approached the mains sideways via some shared appetisers. First guacamole served in a large stone mortar with a bowl of tortilla chips and a bottle of Tabasco on the side.

The guaca was made well; a mixture of smooth and chunky just as it should be. It may possibly have been actually made in the mortar, and not with a blender. I do hope so, I’m a romantic.

Popcorn Calamari with homemade tartar sauce had good squid squares, I always find rings a bit naff, as if they had come from a factory, and they are usually rubbery.

These squares were butter soft with a crispy coat, but the tartare sauce was not as gherkiny, capery or indeed as vinegary as it needed to be for contrast and cut through.  Still, not bad by any means.

And so we scuttled onward to mains pausing only to drink very good Broken Dream Stout,  from the Siren Craft Brewery. Absolutely delicious beer and perfect with seafood.

There are various ways to eat Red King Crab here, the purist way is King Crab Legs & Claws on ice or baked over charcoal. It’s priced by weight. It is very expensive.

Millennials though can enjoy king crab in a bun, because they do like things in buns. King Crab Burger made from king crab meat with Belkovich (??) sauce comes in a buttery brioche bun with a crab leg stuck where the cocktail stick should be, making it look very jaunty and, of course, prepped for Instagram.

Or there’s King Crab Leg Gratin – crab meat with béchamel sauce and cheese crust, or Red King Crab Pappardelle using squid ink pasta with a lobster bisque sauce.

We decided to share some pure leg and claw prepped over charcoal, as well as a dish of Singapore Chili Crab with rice.

The pure meat dish was not a lot of crab for the cash, but then again King Crab isn’t exactly scampi so you can’t expect to get a lot.

It was as good as I remember it from eating it in Norway ten years when I had fierce monsters dragged fresh from the Bering Sea.

As I say, it has the texture and some of the appearance of lobster, although it doesn’t get caught in your teeth as much, and is sublimely sweet. The smokiness of the charcoal was a big plus here

A tangle of pickled cabbage served with it was all that was needed; no fries please, this isn’t street food, and we politely offered each other equal shares of leg and claw.

The Singapore Chili Crab was loaded with fresh red chillies, but they turned out to be less Rottweiler and more Poodle in their aggression.

Normally this would have disappointed me, but in fact it was just as well as the crab meat was delicately flavoured and didn’t need to be savaged by chili. Overall it was actually a little too sweet for my taste, and while it didn’t need chili, a bit of salt might have been welcome.

Garlic and lime flavours came through smoothly and spring onions added a bit of fresh crunch. Talking of which, we didn’t come across any crab shell, something that all too often irritates me in crab dishes.

The rice was rather like Japanese sushi rice, round and not long, I would have preferred Thai Jasmine or simple Basmati.

Desserts are fairly standard, but come out looking very pretty. Mine was too sugary but apart from that it was okay. Nothing to crab about.

There aren’t that many places that do King Crab in London and that’s a shame because it is a very special crustacean which for me, and many others, knocks the claws off of lobster.

Here they have got servicing it down to a fine art, and you don’t have to be rich. Set menus and brunches give everyone the chance to get their pincers on some royalty at a decent price.

This review appears on www.foodepedia.co.uk

Romulo Cafe Restaurant Review

343 Kensington High Street London, W8 6NW www.romulocafe.co.uk

How often have you heard someone say, ‘I know, let’s go out for a Filipino? Probably about as often as you’ve heard someone say ‘I fancy a bit of German food tonight.’

Filipino food is, let’s be honest, not a cuisine that has had much exposure. You’re more likely to find a chef from the Ukraine on Saturday Kitchen than one from the Philippines.

So Romulo Cafe is intriguing.  It’s a branch of a small group, there’s also a Romulo Café in Quezon City, Makati and Alabang in the Philippines.

Located in a rather unprepossessing part of West Ken, next to one of those all-night grocers that has everything anyone from any culture could ever want, it’s actually a lot nicer inside than you might expect. Cosy, even. Continue reading

Going On An Extraordinary Odyssey

Out of my postcode, I go out of this world with The Grand Expedition by the Gingerliners. 

The text message came through at 4pm, as promised, with instructions to go by 7pm to a certain station on the Victoria line with directions to a nearby venue.

Three hours later we are somewhat apprehensively emerging out of an unfamiliar station into an unfamiliar postcode. Here be dragons?

The directions are simple enough. With other travellers, clearly on the same adventure as us, we form up as a squad and chat and compare Google maps to make sure we are on the right track.

Shortly after we are outside the venue, which is not very impressive but rather thrilling. Dark and dingy it seems more a place for a dodgy deal, or to meet a Russian secret agent for a Novichok cocktail. Continue reading

Farzi Cafe London

8 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4BP www.farzilondon.com

They apparently spent £4 million doing this place up, but Nick feels they really needn’t have bothered as the food sells itself

Four million quid?  It’s easy to see where £250,000 of it might have gone – the fancy bar, the metal room dividers, the tables and chairs – but £4 million?

It’s like when the Met police say it cost them XX million to police a small demonstration, you’d think someone in charge really should ask to see the receipts.

Still, whatever, it’s definitely an opulent space at Farzi Cafe which is in that stretch of Haymarket where both high and low restaurants vie for their share of theatre-goers’ dinner money.

It’s part of the empire of Indian MasterChef judge Zorowar Kalra, who began in India in 2014 and now has around ten Farzi locations there, as well as one in Dubai. Continue reading

Doing Breakfast At Market Halls Victoria

Looking for somewhere to grab a breakfast in Victoria, Market Halls now has plenty to tempt you. I got out of bed and got in.

The last time I went to the building that is now Market Halls Victoria, it must have been around 2004 it was the club Pacha.It was a place to be seen back then, a classy club so close to the bus stands at Victoria that the smell of diesel fumes vied with the Paco Rabanne.

Well look at it now, it’s a fancy food hall and part of the Market Halls group. Daylight, which never dared intrude at Pacha, floods onto the first floor from a massive glass roof. Up there are more food outlets not open until lunch. Continue reading

Lemons over the Atlantic

With the Beast From The East arriving imminently, Nick probably didn’t pick the best night to go to New Covent Garden Market to see how top restaurants get their fresh veg every day.

“It’s called the ‘Flash’,” one of the market traders tells me, almost invisible under his layers and layers of warm clothing on this freezing night in Vauxhall.

He’s talking about the beautiful display of fresh veg outside his unit on Buyers’ Row at New Covent Garden Market. Boxes and boxes of vegetables and fruits, from the exotic to the everyday, all painstakingly assembled into an eye-catching tribute to the freshest produce money can buy. Continue reading

Tasting the Tapa De Ancho in Gaucho, London

Gaucho_Swallow_street_0071Before the Hawksmoors, the Goodmans and all the rest there was Gaucho, actually first appearing in the Netherlands in 1976 in Amsterdam. A cut above a steakhouse, aimed at people who felt a little declasse in Harvester, this Argentinian temple of meat is rather differerent. Animal hides make up much of the upholstery and the meat in all its various cuts, is paraded around the room raw so you can see what you’re getting. So it isn’t the kind of place you’d want to take Morrissey for a snack.

Always nicely dark inside, you fall over the furniture a lot until your eyes adjust, it also benefits from an excellent Argentinian wine list. At a time when one rather suspected South America was dumping their inferior wines on the UK, the wine list at Gaucho was and remains a taste of what’sreally available if you know where to look. Continue reading