Dining at The Depot

This weekend, I went to a fab bistro which goes by the name of The Depot. Overlooking the river Thames in beautiful Barnes, this gem of a restaurant offers fine cuisine at reasonable prices and the menu is something to behold!! For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Barnes is located in South London, but well-worth the trek (you could even watch the boat race here!) as it provides a welcome break from city-life.

Where else do you get a soft-boiled egg, on a bed of serrano ham, with pesto oil, fennel and french beans, pork crackling & sherry vinaigrette?! And this was just a starter – AMAZING! This really sets the tone for the entire menu – fantastic combinations of flavours and textures which all culminate in foodie heaven. My main course was even more impressive; fillet of grey mullet with scallops on a bed of crayfish and baby spinach risotto. You can imagine how good that was!?!

The rest of the options on the menu were just as impressive – I cannot wait to head back and taste their steak. (Surely you have to try and steak everywhere at least once?) Oh and for the chocaholics out there, they have plenty of naughty puddings.. My choice was the dark chocolate cake with chocolate sauce, pistachio ice-cream and raspberries. Visually it was incredible, but the flavours – well..I need say no more. This place just kept on impressing us!!! GO.

I’m looking forward to heading back in the Summer for an evening meal as the sun sets..this is dining heaven!!

(The Depot, Tideway Yard, Mortlake High Street, Barnes, London, SW14 8SN.)

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Time for a tart

It’s a food day and a Thursday..so you deserve a treat! You’re past the hump day , you’ve probably been paid and the weekend is officially nigh so what more could I offer you, other than a truly adulterous pudding?!

Chefs may have flaunted it for some time and Nigella may have recently devoted a whole issue to it in Stylist, but you know what – I made it before she jumped on this bandwagon, so I’m claiming it for myself! I am of course talking about –  the ultimate salted caramel tart!!

For anyone not in the know –  bitter dark chocolate caramel tart served up with crunchy rock salt scattered on top is supremely decadent and truly delicious! It shouldn’t work, but then neither should chilli chocolate or balsamic strawberries and yet these days they are becoming commonplace.

There are plenty of recipes out there for you to try – see Waitrose.com or Deliciousmagazine.co.uk. Insider tip – I’d recommend buying the pastry if you’re short on time. We’re not all domestic goddesses these days so there’s no shame in getting a little help and trust me, your guests will be suitably impressed to bother asking. Go forth and enter the food mecca. You deserve it!

Chocolate by Willie

These days, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good quality chocolate. Green & Blacks, Divine, Lindt – you’ve probably tried it. Equally, anyone who’s stumbled into the back room at Liberty will have seen it piled high with beautifully wrapped chocolate treats in vibrant packaging akin with something created by Willy Wonka.

Anyway, there’s a new Willy on the block and he doesn’t hang out with orange-faced midgets or wear a purple suit. Willie Harcourt-Cooze has travelled far and wide in his quest for the ultimate chocolate experience and since 2009 has been bringing his 70-100% cacao products to the masses. I was introduced to this brand by a well-informed work colleague and haven’t looked back!

(Willie’s Delectable Cacao Sierra Leone 70, 50g, Waitrose, £1.80)

My current favourite is the incredible Ginger and Lime. This bar consists of tangy chunks of fruit submerged in a bitter dark chocolate – a serious afternoon treat. Conveniently this is now available from Waitrose as well as Willie’s website so we can all gain access to his brilliance.

There are many other exotic combinations of chocolate in the range, all with well-designed labels, titles and excellent back stories. It would be naive to think that these items haven’t played a big part in the brand’s success, but then that is what it’s all about – capturing your customer’s imagination. I’m particularly intrigued by the Peruvian Black with a subtle hint of fruit liquor which touts itself as ‘grate in food’ and ‘great on food.’ I’m certainly going to be adding this to the next chilli I make. It would seem rude not to!

(Visit Williescacao.com and start sampling)