Our favourite food finds, from German cookbooks to a top new Toronto table.
Head chef Barry Quek has brought a world of influences to his veggie-first joint. He’s Singaporean and arrived from London in 2017 on the invite of restaurateur Randy See, who wanted to show him around Hong Kong’s organic farms. Suitably impressed, Quek hot-footed it here to launch a modern European venue that makes the most of Hong Kong’s bounteous homegrown produce.
Beet’s seasonal tasting menu, packed with vegetables, means both carnivores and herbivores can share similarly flavourful plates. Meanwhile, a juice-pairing option was started up in February for those diners who prefer their glass of red to be beetroot-based.
When the Annex hotel opened in the neighbourhood of the same name late last year it raised the bar for design-minded independents in Toronto. In February it nudged the bar again by adding a capacious new restaurant and drinks venue dubbed the Annex Commons. The space combines marble, wood, exposed brick and natural light with some of the city’s best street-food staples. Pair that with a decent wine list and you’ve got a clever and lively culinary experience.
40g unsalted butter
4 tbsps panko breadcrumbs
50g fine semolina
Parmesan, grated, for garnish
For the pasta
400g 00 flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt, large pinch
For the filling
200g white crab meat
100g langoustine, cooked, shelled and chopped (5mm pieces)
4 tsps fresh tarragon, chopped
For the sauce
1 lemon, juice and zest
To make dough, pile flour on worktop and create a well in the middle. Beat eggs, olive oil and salt in a jug and pour into dent. Slowly draw flour into the liquid with your free hand and mix. Dust worktop with a little more flour and knead until dough’s surface is smooth (2 to 3 minutes). Cover with clingfilm and rest for 30 minutes.
While dough rests, mix all filling ingredients together, season and leave in the fridge until needed.
Heat butter until melted (small frying pan, medium heat). Add panko and toast until lightly browned. Set aside.
Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll one piece through the widest setting on your pasta machine (keep the rest covered with clingfilm). Fold into three, like a book, give dough a quarter turn and run through machine again. Repeat for each setting, from thickest to thinnest. On thinnest setting, run sheet through twice. Repeat with rest of dough.
Put 1 sheet on a lightly floured surface, then take ¼ of filling and create even piles 5cm apart. Using a pastry brush, pat water around each pile, then cover with another sheet. Using the side of your hand, carefully push sheet around the filling, removing air bubbles. Repeat with remaining sheets and filling.
Cut between each ravioli using a 5cm-round pasta/cookie cutter then, using a fork, pinch around the edges. Put on a baking tray that’s lightly dusted with semolina.
Put a frying pan over medium heat and heat the butter until brown flecks start to appear. At the same time, Set a large saucepan with salted water over high heat and bring to boil. Cook the ravioli until it floats to the surface (about 3 minutes).
Take the frying pan off the heat and whisk in a splash of pasta water with the lemon juice.
Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon and add to the butter sauce. Serve topped with lemon zest, cracked black pepper, parmesan and crispy panko breadcrumbs.
If the glow of Frenchette’s warming and inviting outdoor lamps doesn’t draw you in from the street, the hype it’s receiving might. Opened by Balthazar, Pastis and Minetta Tavern alumni Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr, it was New York’s most talked-about restaurant for the best part of a year (which is no mean feat). Located in Tribeca, the French-style all-day, (almost) all-night brasserie shows old New York at its best and most contemporary.
The grand dining room has polished wooden floors, soft-glowing pendant lights and inviting tan-leather booths. And the food couldn’t be more, well, French. In the morning, pastries from Sullivan Street Bakery are served along with dishes such as galettes (buckwheat pancakes) and omelettes. For lunch and dinner, the kitchen spins meals of duck frites, côte de boeuf and poulet roti. The latter is a full roast chicken with all the trimmings: creamy mashed potatoes, maitake mushrooms, a decadent gravy and bread to mop it all up.
Primo’s is another Tribeca bar, concealed inside the Frederick Hotel on Chambers Street. With a lot of creative businesses moving in nearby, it was designed to keep the design-minded crowd in decent sippers. “There are a lot of people working downtown who don’t have a place to go,” says owner Aisa Shelley. The glossy interior has a 1970s Italian-meets-art-deco feel, with wood-panelled walls, mirrored tables and jewel-toned stools. The drinks menu is straightforward, with 1980s throwback cocktails such as the El Padre, a tequila take on a gimlet. Nearly all the syrups and infusions are made in house.
Across the East River sits Misi, opposite Brooklyn’s new Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront park. In the open kitchen, which can be viewed from almost every corner of the gleaming white restaurant, a bevy of chefs boil, sauté and dress handmade pasta. At the helm is chef Missy Robbins; she also owns cult Williamsburg restaurant Lilia and can almost always be spotted dashing across the kitchen in signature black overalls.
While eager diners book months in advance to try Robbins’ prevailing pasta (which is prepared in a dedicated pasta-making room), they’ll likely return for the antipasti. Grilled artichokes dressed with mint salsa verde, roasted romanesco with slivers of garlic and coriander – the bold vegetable starters are loaded with earthy flavours. For mains there are straightforward-sounding dishes such as linguine with anchovy and parsley, or the delicate tortelli packed with spinach and mascarpone, served with brown butter.
frenchettenyc.com; primostribeca.com; misinewyork.com
Tuck in: [Global] Publisher Phaidon has reprised its nation-specific cookbook roster with a new flourish: The German Cookbook. The Teutonic text is an artfully judged assemblage of 500 recipes – from stollen peppered with icing sugar to succulent sausages – courtesy of the chef and writer Alfons Schuhbeck. Mahlzeit! — phaidon.com
When restaurateurs Matti Wikberg and Tomi Björck opened Goldfish, their first cocktail bar, they wanted to keep things upmarket and so drew inspiration from the library bars of London’s ritzier hotels. The interior combines black marble, natural wood and brown leather furniture with dim lighting and warm hues. The playful menu by dab-handed bartender Henri Halonen is divided into elements: water, fire, earth and air (plus a section for the classics, which he’s more than happy to make too). “Helsinki has a vibrant cocktail scene and Finns place a lot value on the craft of cocktail making,” says Wikberg, Drink, anyone?
Based in Falmouth, in the UK’s far southwest, Richard Blake’s business started in a leaky barn and with only the use of a coffee-roasting machine from the 1950s. Today Yallah (the Arabic word for “hurry up”) still resides in Argal Home Farm but sells six varieties of single-origin coffee beans that are also available by subscription. Hurry up and try them.
Stuart Forsyth co-founded Minor Figures in 2014 to bring cold-brewed coffee to the UK, when the specialist drinks scene was in its infancy. The team now produce 30,000 litres of the black stuff per day, plus artful in-house oat milk.