Monday, 29 December 2014

Mince Pies

The mince pie is the quintessential Christmas food! This small fruit-based mince meat pie was traditionally served during the Christmas season. Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices. Christmas would not be the same without mince pies, but please don't buy them! You must make your own, and, with our recipe, you can make perfect pies every time!

1 large jar mincemeat (about 600g)
2 satsumas, segmented
1 apple, finely chopped
zest 1 lemon
little icing sugar, for dusting
For the pastry
375g plain flour
260g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
Place the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together to a crumb consistency. Add the sugar and the egg, and mix together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and fold until the pastry comes together, be careful not to over mix. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 10 mins.
Scoop the mincemeat into a bowl and add the satsumas, apple and zest.
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick. Using a round cutter (about 10cm), cut out 16 bases and place them into muffin trays. Put 11⁄2 tbsp mincemeat mixture into each. Brush the edge of each pie with a little beaten egg. Re-roll out the pastry to cut 7cm lids and press them on top to seal. Glaze with the rest of the egg, sprinkle with caster sugar, then make a small cut in the tops.
Bake mince pies for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool before releasing them from the muffin trays and dusting with icing sugar. Serve.

The Legend of St. Nicholas

The image of Santa Claus has become synonymous with Christmas but not many people know the origin of him and his name. Let our blog fill in the blanks!

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married.

Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married. By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe. Even after the Protestant Reformation, when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged, St. Nicholas maintained a positive reputation, especially in Holland.

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. 

In 1809, Washington Irving helped to popularise the Sinter Klaas stories when he referred to St. Nicholas as the patron saint of New York in his book, The History of New York. As his prominence grew, Sinter Klaas was described as everything from a “rascal” with a blue three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, and yellow stockings to a man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose.”

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Manuel Interview

Today I interviewed Manuel, our wonderful floor supervisor that has worked at Elena's L'Etoile for almost twenty years!

Originally from the small town of Tabuasco in Portugal, Manuel moved over to London in 1985. Although he was initially reticent, the promise of a good job was more than enough to sway him. Manuel started out as a comi waiter (someone who brings food from the kitchen to the table) before working as a bar man. Since then he's been working as a supervisor at Elena's L'Etoile for the past 16 years!

Manuel becomes misty eyed when previous manageress Elena, and namesake of our wonderful restaurant, is brought into the conversation.

He tells me the following: 'Elena started work at 14 years of age. She got to know all the customers and shared their secrets with her. She knew everybody and everyone knew her. She, personally, brought a lot of custom to the restaurant'.

Undoubtably this lead to Elena's tenure at L'Etoile being so very long. When asked about his own tenure at Elena's and whether he would ever wish to move on, Manuel's answer is a passionate NO!.
'I love this place!' he exclaims, 'if you're happy with your job, why would you move on?'

When asked why should people go to Elena's, Manuel is emphatic in his reply 'good food and good service - what more could you want?'. Manuel says that the most difficult thing about his job is the long restaurant hours - sometimes as many as 14 hours a day!

'So why do you stay, Manuel?' He answers with the following: 'anyone that works in industry accepts that long work hours are an integral part of it! But when you enjoy it as much as I do, and when you have a restaurant full of happy customers, you are happy and that makes it worthwhile.'

Indeed, Manuel can see himself here for the next 16 years!

Manuel then goes on to explain that Charlotte street has changed a lot in recent years. Many of the old restaurants have closed, and Elena's is the one of the only which still remains. Elena's orignally opened in 1896 and is still here today, over 100 years later.

In addition to his hectic life at Elena's, Manuel is also a father of two children - 10 month old baby boy, Tiago, and 6 year old Gabriel.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Sound Track to Christmas

Now that Christmas is just around the corner, it's time to get those Christmas tunes going! If you're struggling for inspiration, then look no further than our Christmas playlist!

White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Jimmy Boyd
Jingle Bell Rock Bobby - Helms
The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
You're All I Want For Christmas Brook - Benton
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Bruce Springsteen
Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
Step Into Christmas - Elton John
Have yourself a merry little Christmas - Judy Garland 
Jingle bell rock - Billy Idol
All I want for Christmas is you - Mariah Carey 
Fairy Tale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty McColl 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Mulled Wine Recipe

Now Christmas is less than a month away it is time to well and truly embrace Christmas food and drink, starting with this fabulous winter warmer - mulled wine. Contrary to popular opinion, it's super easy to make and taste exactly like Christmas in a glass. The beautiful warmth comes from the use of festive spices: cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together all the ingredients over a very low heat to help all those Christmas flavours infuse.


To make this festive warmer, you will need:

2 clementines
1 lemon
1 lime
200 grams of caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
2 star anise
2 bottles of red wine


Peel large section of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler.
Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Add in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you've got a beautiful thick syrup.
When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it's warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Christmas cake

Now is the time to make your Christmas cake! With just one month until Christmas, get this made, allow it to mature, and it'll be perfect in time for Christmas.

This is seriously the world's best Christmas cake. Taken from BBC Good Food, the cooker does all the hard work for you and you'll end up with a beautifully rich cake!

1kg mixed dried fruits (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
zest and juice 1 orange
zest and juice 1 lemon
150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
250g pack butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
175g plain flour
100g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
100g flaked almonds
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
  2. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
  4. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  5. To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

Monday, 24 November 2014

New Menus at Elena's L'Etoile

In addition to our exciting new Sunday roast, other big changes have been afoot at Elena's, including a brand spanking new menu!

We've made our menu even more authentically French and you'll find your old favourites still there, together with some new ones which are sure to tickle your taste buds.

We've also got some special deals including a pre-theatre menu priced at £29.95 for 3 courses and an express lunch menu priced at £21.95 for 3 courses. Check out their menus here.

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Sunday Roast

Exciting times ahead at Elena's!

We've always been closed on Sundays, but now we're very happy to announce that we will now be open on Sunday to serve the best Sunday roast in Fitzrovia.

A beautiful beef forerib, fluffy Yorkshire puddings ad a selection of seasonal vegetables awaits!

We'll be serving this beautiful sight from 11.30am to 2.30pm. So what are you waiting for? Book in today!

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Blogging Event

Last week's blog post detailed preparations for our Yelp event. Today we thought we'd share photos of the event itself!

If you're new to the world of Yelp Events, let us explain in greater detail.

A yelper is someone who leaves a review on yelp - nothing more nothing less. You can become a yelper by creating a profile on yelp and leaving reviews on everything and anything. Once you've done that, you're eligible to sign up to yelp event. Restaurants hold Yelp events to encourage people in to see what they have to offer.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Preparing for the Blogging Event

Last night saw a whole host of yelpers descend on Elena's L'Etoile.

For people who are finding the term 'yelpers' more than a little mysterious, let us explain. A yelper is simply someone who write reviews on yelp. An offshoot of this is yelp events - these are events which yelpers are invited to experience the real ethos of a restaurant. Being a yelper isn't an exclusive thing - anyone who writes reviews is technically a 'yelper'. Everyone and anyone should sign up as it's a great way to meet people and experience new places.

Last we night we invited 30 yelpers to Elena's to sample the best we have to offer.

In this week's blog post, we'll share photos of our preparations for the yelp event:

Monday, 27 October 2014

Recipe: Chicken Liver Parfait

Our chicken liver parfait never fails to impress and, luckily, it's easy to make at home. Why not make it for friends and family this Christmas for a Christmas gift with a difference?! Store it in small Kilner jars with a ribbon to ensure it really produces the wow factor.


To make enough to serve 10 people, you'll need:

600g butter
2 large onions, chopped finely
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1Kg very fresh chicken livers, nasties removed
olive oil
250ml brandy

1. Fry the onion and garlic in a large frying pan over a low heat with a little olive oil until the onions turn translucent.
2. Turn up the heat a little, add the livers and cook until just cooked through.
3. Add the brandy and simmer for a couple of minutes.
4. Tip the contents of the frying pan into a food processor and blitz until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add to your Kilner jars, ensuring you leave at least a cm for the clarified butter topping.
5. To make the clarified butter layer: melt the butter over a very low heat. When it separates, spoon the clear butter over the parfait, making sure you don't add any of the small white bits.
6. Store in the fridge.

Your parfait will be ready in an hour and will be good to eat for a further 2 weeks, due to the layer of butter.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Video: Head Chef Deyan shows you how to make the perfect Chocolate Fondants

Elena's L'Etoile is quite rightly famous for its wonderful chocolate fondants. Well, today we have a little treat for you, head chef Deyan shares his top secret recipe for making foolproof, delicious fondants every time! Try them out this weekend to add an extra special end to any meal!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Elena's L'Etoile History

Established in 1896, L’Etoile has been a favourite among actors, musicians and politicians, with diners including Sean Connery, Patrick Stewart, Peter O’Toole and Ella Fitzgerald.

In the middle of the 20th century, “Elena” was added to its name in honour of Elena Salvoni, known as the Queen of Soho, who managed the restaurant into her nineties.

For more than seven decades Elena Salvoni opened doors, waited tables and kept secrets for some of the brightest stars of the stage and screen, earning a reputation among diehard devotees as an endangered link to a bygone era of old-school hospitality.

Elena Salvoni, also known as the Queen of Soho, is a tiny woman of sensible heels and black A-line skirt, started waitressing in Soho in 1942 before starting to work at L’Etoile in her 60s.

When the present owners bought L'Etoile on London's Charlotte Street, they changed its name to Elena's L'Etoile in honour of the matriarchal maitre d’.

Whilst Elena has since retired, the restaurant has retained that same sense of charm and character that she embodied for so many years, with customers retuning time after time to experience our fine French food and customer service which is second to none.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Interview with Deiaa - Elena's L'Etoile's Manager

Today we're turning the spot light away from Elena's famous patrons and a little closer to home. Today we're turning the spotlight on our wonderful manager Deiaa. Few people know, but Deiaa is actually a qualified accountant.

While he was in accountancy training, Deiaa used to work shifts at Elena's as a waiter. Soon he was offered a senior management position. At this point Deiaa was at a cross roads - to continue with accountancy or to follow a career in the restaurant trade?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Recipe: Tarte au Citron

Tarte au citron is arguably France's most iconic dessert. It's ominpresent on pretty much all French dessert menus and, here at Elena's L'Etoile, we sell more tarte au citron than any of our other offerings. Its timeless popularity is for good reason, who can possibly resist the sharp tang from the lemon contrasted with the short buttery pastry casing?

To make your own, you'll need the following ingredients:

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Famous Patrons #1 Sean Connery

Elena's l'Etoile is famed for its famous patrons whose pictures adorn the restaurant walls. Such patrons range from Rod Stewart to Michael Palin and we thought it would be fun to turn the spot light on each one in turn and provide a mini biography.

Today's we're turning the spot light on Sean Connery. Famed, of course, for his role as the first James Bond in Ian Flemming's iconic books.

Sean Connery, or to name him correctly, Sir Thomas Sean Connery was born on the 25th August 1930 in Edinburgh. A proud Scotsman, Sean Connery is an avid supporter of the Scottish National Party.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Turning the spot light on rosé

At Elena's Etoile, our expert sommelier is responsible for putting together our excellent wine list. Our Sommeliers role is far more wide ranging than simply selecting wines. He is also in charge of wine procurement, wine storage, wine cellar rotation, and providing expert advice to our valued customers. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Recipe: Perfect Croutons

The simplicity of salads is often their great appeal. Raw vegetables, cold meats, and a drizzle
of high quality virgin olive oil - light, easy and refreshing.  Yet sometimes, be it a celebratory meal, a dinner party or the simple enjoyment of cooking, one can wish to do more than arrange pre-cooked meat and chopped vegetables on a plate.

Putting a little extra time into a salad does not have to mean huge flavours, complex
presentation or expensive ingredients. To keep your salads simple and delicately flavoured
we have here our recipe for croutons. The perfect addition to any salad, and your guests will
be impressed that you made them from scratch!